Question: I have not, to date, been able to acquire a list of perishables that should be stored in the refrigerator--mayonnaise, mustard, etc. My refrigerator is overstocked and my cabinets empty of items that I'm not sure should be refrigerated. Would you have such a list?
Answer: The Food Marketing Institute publishes a pamphlet entitled "The Food Keeper," which may be of some assistance. It includes a chart with recommended storage location (refrigerator, pantry or freezer) and length of storage time for more than 100 food items. Also included are special handling instructions where applicable. For a copy, send 25 cents and a legal-size, self-addressed, stamped envelope to Food Keeper, Food Marketing Institute, 1750 K. St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006.
Q: A friend and I have a longstanding disagreement over whether frittatas are an Italian or Mexican concoction. Can you clear this up for us?
A: All our references agree-- frittatas are Italian. But there are many variations of the egg-based recipe, incorporating a variety of other ingredients.
Q: What has happened to Port-Salut cheese? We've looked everywhere--Los Angeles, Culver City, West Los Angeles, Westwood, Ridgecrest, Bakersfield--to no avail.
A: The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, 419 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, carries the French cheese and can ship it by overnight mail. Contact them for prices and details.
Q: I have a first-place lemon pie recipe from the Ventura County Fair that calls for lemon zest. Can you tell me what it is or where I can buy it?
A: Lemon zest is fine strands of the outer layer of the lemon peel. Tools for cutting zest are available where cooking equipment is sold. The stainless steel implements have five small holes with cutting edges on the end of a blade and plastic or wood handles.
Q: I use margarine for greasing baking sheets and it burns the bottom of my cookies. Is there something that would work better?
A: Many cookies should be baked on ungreased pans to prevent the dough from spreading too much, so only grease baking sheets if directed to do so in the recipe. Use an unsalted vegetable shortening rather than butter, margarine or oil.
Q: How do you make your own cake flour from regular flour?
A: In an emergency, one cup minus two tablespoons all-purpose flour is equivalent to one cup cake flour. However, since all-purpose flour is made from a combination of hard and soft wheat, it will not give quite the same texture as cake flour, milled entirely from soft wheat.
Q: Can you tell me why I can't find any canned black beans? I see them in recipes fairly often now but have been unable to buy them in any markets.
A: We, too, have been unable to find a source for the beans in canned form. Perhaps another reader will be able to help.
Address questions on food preparation to You Asked About . . ., Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Personal replies cannot be given.