Question: I have lost my booklet with a few recipes that came with my slow cooker. Is there a cookbook for this appliance available somewhere? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Answer: Mable Hoffman, author of "Crockery Cookery" (HP Books: 1975, $8.95), tells us her book is currently selling very well, so it sounds like people must be rediscovering their slow cookers. The book should be available at local bookstores and in some supermarkets, or ask if they can order it for you.
Q: I've noticed that several recipes in The Times Food Section call for the use of lemon and orange zest. What are these two items and where can they be purchased?
A: Lemon and orange zest are fine strands cut from the outer peel of fresh citrus. Zest includes only the yellow or orange part of the peel, not the more bitter white portion. Tools for cutting zest are available in cookware departments and specialty cookware stores. The stainless-steel implements have five small holes with cutting edges on the end of a blade and plastic or wood handles.
Q: Once cheese molds, must you throw it out?
A: It depends on the type of cheese. Mold spots on semi-hard or hard ripened cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan are harmless and "can be scraped off and no change in flavor will be noticed unless the mold has penetrated deeply into cracks in the cheese," according to information from the American Dairy Assn. "In such cases the molding portion should be discarded."
The blue-cheese family is an exception to the rule because the mold is responsible for their unique flavor and is consumed along with the cheese. Soft ripened cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert, may not develop mold but become overripe and too strong-tasting when stored for long periods. Mold growth on unripened cheese--cottage and cream--affects the flavor of the entire product, so these must be discarded.
To reduce mold growth, keep all cheese refrigerated. Ripened cheeses may be stored several weeks; however, a sharper flavor may develop. To preserve the original flavor and appearance as much as possible, store in the original wrapping or cover cut surfaces tightly with plastic wrap or foil to exclude air and protect the surface from drying out.
Soft cheeses are highly perishable and should be used within a few days of purchase. For its most distinct flavor, cheese should be served at room temperature, except for cream, cottage and Neufchatel, which are best served chilled.
The National Dairy Council advises that the following varieties of cheese may be frozen: brick, Camembert, Cheddar, Edam, mozzarella, Muenster, Parmesan, Port-Salut, provolone, Romano and Swiss. They go on to say that "Some limburger, Colby and Gouda cheese will freeze well, while others will become crumbly and mealy. Blue, Gorgonzola and Roquefort may become crumbly, but will be suitable for salads. Freezing will affect the texture of soft cheese such as cream, cottage and process."
To freeze cheese, cut pieces no larger than 1/2 pound and wrap tightly. Use a moisture-proof wrapper to prevent evaporation. For small pieces of cheese, the original package may be used if the package is airtight. Freeze quickly at -18 degrees or lower.
Slow thawing in a refrigerator in the unopened package is recommended. Use cheese as soon as possible after thawing is complete.