Question: Where can I purchase a packet of sourdough starter?
Answer: Packets of sourdough starter are available at Williams-Sonoma stores in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Woodland Hills and Costa Mesa. It's also possible to make your own. The following Basic Sourdough Starter recipe is adapted from "Sourdough Cookery" (HP Books: 1977, 1981) by Rita Davenport.
BASIC SOURDOUGH STARTER
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 package dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
2 cups warm (105 degrees) water
Combine flour, sugar, yeast, salt and water in large bowl. Beat with wooden or plastic spoon. Mixture does not need to be smooth as fermentation will dissolve small lumps. Cover bowl with cloth. Let stand in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 2 to 3 days. Stir mixture several times each day.
To use, remove starter need for recipe. Refrigerate remaining starter in plastic container with lid that has air vent or hole. Replenish every 7 to 10 days by stirring in equal amounts water and flour. After replenishing, let stand at room temperature overnight. Return to refrigerator. If clear liquid forms on top, stir back into starter. Makes 3 to 4 cups.
Q: A recipe in the March 17 Times Food Section called for smoked mozzarella. It reminded me that I have been unable to locate this cheese for some time. Can you tell me where to find it?
A: It should be available at most Italian delicatessens, cheese shops or specialty food stores such as Irvine Ranch Farmers Market. Check your local Yellow Pages directory for listings in your vicinity.
In response to the March 17 You Asked About . . . column on garam masala, M. Trotter of San Diego sent the following recipe from "Better Homes & Gardens Classic International Recipes," (Meredith Corp.: 1982) for those who would like to make their own seasoning:
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
Combine peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, cardamom seeds and cinnamon stick and place on jellyroll pan. Bake at 300 degrees 15 minutes. Place in food processor or blender container and process until finely ground. Store in airtight container. Makes about 1/3 cup.
Variation: Combine 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon ground cloves and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to yield 1/4 cup.