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Peanut Butter Pieces Tracked Down


Question: Some time ago I clipped a recipe from the Times Food Section for peanut butter fudge. It calls for a 12-ounce package of peanut butter pieces. I have been to several markets and no one seems to even know what I'm looking for.

What are they and where can I get them? I'd love to make the fudge for Christmas if you can help me out.

Answer: What you are looking for is Reese's Peanut Butter Chips. According to Helen Burke of the Hershey Chocolate Co., manufacturer of the peanut butter pieces, they are available at Albertson's Inc., Alpha Beta Co., Hughes Markets, Lucky Stores Inc. and Ralphs Grocery Co. and Vons Grocery Co. stores.

Check the baking section. If you still don't find the peanut butter pieces, ask the store manager.

Q: For years I've been trying to make sourdough bread. I've purchased just about every sourdough starter that is on the market, received starters from other bread makers who swear they make sourdough, I've even tried wild starters, used the sponge method, tried triple risings, but never have I been able to obtain that taste of commercial sourdough bread.

So, if there is any mercy in your soul, and I trust there is, you will delve into this phenomenon that so ethereally eludes me and inform me that it is the special yeast, some special additive, a special flour or some magic potion known only to the baker and his certified blood progeny.

A: One possible reason you cannot obtain the taste of commercial sourdough bread might be the age of the starter. According to Rita Davenport, author of "Sourdough Cookery" (HP Books, 1981), the older the starter, the more tangy the flavor. Most sources recommend using young sourdough starter for pancakes and waffles and waiting until it ages to make breads. That's the good news.

And now for the bad news. In his book "Beard on Bread" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1974), the late James Beard claims that starter can react differently from one location to another. He even found variations in its performance from one neighborhood of New York City to another.

Q: I've been making and freezing mousse in small containers; it's a boon for dieters. My question is, does freezing kill Salmonella since the recipe contains an egg that is not cooked? I'm noting all the warnings against consuming undercooked or raw eggs.

A: No, freezing does not kill Salmonella enteritidis when it is present in eggs. According to the University of California Cooperative Extension office, the low temperature temporarily retards or stops the bacteria growth, but once thawed growth resumes.

Q: Recipes in the Times Food Section sometimes call for lemon zest. What is it?

A: Lemon zest is fine strands cut from the outer peel of the fresh citrus. Zest includes only the yellow 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 small holes with cutting edges on the end of a blade and plastic or wood handles.

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