Washington Post writers recently answered reader questions.
Q: How should I cook spaghetti squash? Do I have to cut it in half first? Are there seeds to scoop out, like with a regular winter squash?
A: The easiest way to cook it is to cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and place it, cut side down, in a roasting pan that you’ve poured a little water into. Roast at 400 or 425 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, until it’s tender.
Use a fork to scrape the flesh into those pasta-like strands, season, and eat.
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Q. What’s a good strategy for making chicken stock and soup? Is it best to roast a chicken first and use the carcass for stock? Or can you just start with a fresh chicken?
A. Many cooks prefer the flavor that roasted chicken bones bring to a stock, so if you have the time and some ideas for what to do with the roasted meat, then go with roasting first. For a beautiful, golden stock, a fresh chicken’s always good.
One thing to note about roasting first: Go light or skip your usual salt and pepper seasoning. It’ll make a better, more useable stock — say, in case you’re going to reduce some of that stock to make a sauce; reducing a salted stock intensifies the salt aspect sometimes to an unhappy degree.
Q: I was surprised by a new convection toaster oven as a Christmas gift. I have never used convection and don’t know how to adjust my cooking style to take advantage of that feature of the toaster oven.
I know the new oven will be faster, but what changes do I need to make when cooking dishes?
A: The convection oven cooks your food by circulating hot air around it. Basically, it means there will be more-even heat through the oven.
Convection ovens, generally speaking, cook foods faster. You can either use a thermometer to measure the temperature of your dish (my recommendation, if you have one) or start checking your dish about three-quarters of the way through its cooking time.
Q: I made some fondue and had about half left over. I put it into a glass container and pushed plastic wrap against it, then put the lid on. I’m planning on reheating it in about five days for friends; should I leave it in the refrigerator until then? The freezer?
It was half bittersweet and half semisweet, with milk and vanilla, so your basic fondue.
A: I’d leave it where it is, or maybe transfer it to something more airtight, so it doesn’t pick up off flavors from other stuff in the refrigerator. (If I were feeling lazy, maybe I’d just seal a zip-top bag around the jar, pressing out excess air.)