Fan of Chicken Wings Seeks Calorie Data

Times Staff Writer

Question: Can you please provide the calorie and protein amounts for chicken wings? I am addicted to crisp-fried chicken wings and I would like to know my limits, now that I'm watching my diet.

Answer: One chicken wing (fryer-size, about 20 grams) when fried, contains 54 calories and 5.8 grams of protein.

Q: The phrase cream cheese, softened, is often used in your recipes. What does it really mean? I usually stir a little milk into the cream cheese but now I'm doubtful if this is the correct interpretation.

A: When cream cheese is incorporated in frosting, filling, sauce or dip recipes, it should be soft and creamy enough to make the mixture smoother. Softening simply involves bringing the cheese to almost room temperature so it can be easily stirred into a smooth mass. The microwave oven is great for hastening the process.

To soften an 8-ounce package of cream cheese in the microwave, remove the cheese from the foil package and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on MEDIUM 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until soft enough to stir easily.

Q: Can you please tell me how to prepare celery root vegetable? My daughter picked it up from the produce section when she mistook it for fresh horseradish, which I had asked her to buy. How should it be stored and how long will it keep? Can it be eaten raw?

A: Celery root, a light-brown, bulb-type root also known as celeriac, is particularly cultivated for its root flesh rather than for its stalk. The few leaves are not eaten. For more tender and less woody celeriac, select a smaller root. To store, trim the roots and tops and store in the refrigerator (at 32 degrees) with high humidity.

Although celeriac is frequently associated with salad recipes, and people think it's prepared raw due to its crispness, the root should be parboiled for better taste until tender-crisp, then refreshed in cold water. To peel before or after parboiling is a matter of personal preference. If you peel before cooking, avoid discoloration by soaking peeled and cut -up pieces in cold water with lemon juice added. Sliced peeled celeriac will only take 5 to 8 minutes to become tender-crisp in boiling salted water, whereas a whole unpeeled one will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Cooking the vegetable to the tender stage will take 40 to 45 minutes for a whole unpeeled root, and about half that time for peeled sliced root. Tender-cooked celeriac is good served with a rich cream sauce. For salads, a nice vinaigrette with wine or a mustard-mayonnaise dressing with a touch of fresh basil all complement the flavor of celeriac. Interesting recipes using celery root may be found in Bert Greene's book, "Greene on Greens" (Workman: $19.95). Greene uses the vegetable in salads, as a stuffing for roast chicken and in a sauteed dish of wild mushrooms and Black Forest or smoked ham.

Q: How should I store bakery breads or rolls so they do not become hard the next day? Some breads have a tendency to become dry and hard more quickly than others. What causes this?

A: Commercial breads and other bakery products usually contain some chemical additives that act as softeners and that retard staling and molding. Smaller bakeries sometimes do not use these additives because of the smaller volume and because they want to produce products with homemade flavors. It's best to buy these types in smaller quantity, and if you have leftovers, store them tightly wrapped in moisture-proof bags in the freezer. The breads can be warmed in the oven in their frozen state, rewrapped in foil. Storing in the refrigerator will cause drying or moisture loss.

Address questions on food preparation to You Asked About, Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Personal replies cannot be given.

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