Lynne's Mailbox

The secret to a crowd-pleasing cheese platter.
To clean mollusks scrub their shells and submerge them in a bowl of ice water, salt and cornmeal.
Cooking without alcohol? Substitute vinegar, broth and maybe a little butter.
Dear Lynne, Why is it so difficult to hard boil an egg? I get a green ring around the yolk, or I peel the egg and take half the white with it.
Buying part of a cow? Here is what to tell the butcher.
Collect big, thick butcher block cutting boards and stack them to the height that is right for you.
If your dining companions won't let you pay for your portion of the bill, try explaining your situation. If that doesn't work, offer to buy them wine in exchange for the meal.
With the heirloom trend, a lot of new (at least to us) pears are showing up in markets, but what you will always find is the standard quartet.
If your olive oil freezes, it's still OK to use.
To dress up store-bought cookie dough, there are two approaches: before baking and after baking.
A sauté pan has straight sides while a skillet or fry pan has sloping sides.
The secret to crisp roasted potatoes? Giving them ample space and using good olive oil.
When selecting wine glasses, you want clear, colorless, undecorated glass.
You don't want to do a lot to sage flowers because they are fragile in aroma and taste.
Lynne explains the differences between iodized table salt, kosher salt and sea salt.
A lot of the very inexpensive gadgets that slice, dice and chop tend to not do a very good job or they fall apart just when you come to love them. It's kind of like having a boyfriend who lets you down.
One idea: Take a recipe you're comfortable with and change the main ingredient.
Look for a flat-bottom wok with a long, wooden handle. Or, you could use an independent propane gas unit as your heat source.
Soak sliced onions in ice water for 20 to 30 minutes or sprinkle them with an acid such as vinegar.
Lynne explains how to rinse fresh, unpackaged greens. If you do buy those "pre-washed" salad mixes, always wash them again.
Lynne shares a sampling of reliable pasta brands. (Hint: If the box says to rinse the pasta, don't waste your time.)
Attention to temperature is paramount in making good puff pastry.
"I've come to the conclusion that the best way to roast a chicken is fast and hot," Lynne says. "But an even better way is to use a vertical roaster."
Roma or plum tomatoes are relatively tasteless. When tomatoes are in season, there are many other choices with far more flavor.