Question: A question in your column about feta cheese brought to mind a similar one I have with regard to French goat cheese, or fromage chevre-- the type that comes in logs. I have heard that it is low in calories, but the creamy texture tells me otherwise. Can you obtain the nutritive information on this product?
Answer: There are some differences between varieties, according to Arnaud Brassier of Couturier USA, Inc., a French company that produces French-style fresh goat cheese near Fennimore, Wis. Each one-ounce serving of regular Couturier chevre contains 80 calories, 5 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 26 milligrams cholesterol and 93 milligrams sodium. Couturier Light contains 52 calories, 3 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 14 milligrams cholesterol and 93 milligrams sodium.
Q: Why do some recipes tell you to mix ingredients with a wooden spoon? Does it make a difference?
A: We looked into this question several years ago and found there were several practical reasons for using wooden utensils, according to "The Cook's Store" (Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster: 1978) by the editors of Consumer Guide. Wooden spoons are softer than metal and won't scratch or damage cookware.
Because wood is a poor conductor of heat, wooden utensils don't get hot and fingers won't be burned. In addition, they won't discolor delicate sauces or leave any metallic taste behind.
In "The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook" (Random House, 1986), author Chuck Williams says that wood absorbs some flavors from food and recommends keeping separately identified tools for special uses. This ensures that the garlic in yesterday's pasta sauce doesn't end up in tomorrow's custard.
Williams suggests cleaning wooden tools with a damp cloth or rinsing quickly under running hot water. He warns against soaking the tools in water or putting them in the dishwasher--the natural oil will dry out and the wood will absorb detergents.
Q: I would like to know how to make yogurt. I know you can buy yogurt machines, but can it be prepared without any special equipment?
A: Yes, by following this recipe from "Better Homes and Gardens Golden Treasury of Cooking" (Meredith Corp., 1973):
2 cups skim milk
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/4 cup crushed fresh or frozen fruit, optional
2 tablespoons sugar, optional
Heat skim milk to 200 degrees. Cool to 115 degrees.
Place yogurt in mixing bowl. Blend in warm milk. Remove 2 tablespoons mixture and place in custard cup to use in place of plain yogurt as starter for next recipe.
Add fruit and sugar to mixture in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and towel. Place bowl in larger bowl of 115 degree water. Let stand until yogurt is firm when shaken gently, 6 to 8 hours for plain, 3 to 5 hours for fruited.
Change water occasionally, keeping temperature constant at about 115 degrees. Chill yogurt and starter. Makes 2 cups.