Q: I have heard that I can prevent my pumpkin pie filling separating from the crust after I've baked it if I brush the crust first with egg. Can you explain how that works?
A: Jim Dodge renowned pastry chef, cookbook author and senior vice president of New England Culinary Institute in Vermont says an egg wash technique can help prevent the filling from separating from the crust but he says the problem can usually be prevented in the first place by not overbaking the pie. Overbaking causes the egg in the pumpkin custard filling to contract and pull away from the sides of the crust.
If you want to use the egg wash technique just in case, mix one egg with 1 tablespoon water until very well blended. After the crust has been formed in the pie plate, prick it and then brush lightly with the egg wash. Then pour in the pie filling and bake. Also check the pie as it bakes. The custard filling is done when it forms a bit of skin in the center and is loosely set like a cheesecake filling would be.
Q: Can you make lasagna without cooking the noodles?
A: If using traditional lasagna noodles, the best flavor results from cooking the noodles. I have experimented with versions using uncooked noodles where it's necessary to increase the amount of sauce. The result is a much starchier (almost pastelike) texture. A lasagna noodle product claims noodle cooking is not necessary and this works quite well.
Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.