Ask Chef Rachael - April 2012

Q. I found a recipe for yakitori. What is it?
A. Think kebab (or Shish kebab). Recipes for skewered meat is often called "yakitori" in Japan. It's also known as "brochette" in France and "spiedini" in Italy.

Q. How is Roquefort cheese different than plain old "blue" cheese?
A.
Roquefort is to blue cheese what Champagne is to sparkling wine – it's made in a specific region in France and laws protect the improper use of the word "Roquefort" to describe just any blue cheese. While purists will argue, it's probably not an issue to exchange one for the other in most recipes.

Q. Do dried beans last forever?
A.
Nothing lasts forever, but you may have some beans in your pantry that make you wonder. They will last a really, really long time – probably years, but like anything that has an element of moisture in it (albeit a very small amount), they will continuously lose that moisture to evaporation over time (in this case, very, very slowly). For this reason "old" beans may take longer to cook, get mushy or break down too quickly.

Q. Can I substitute Dutch process cocoa for natural cocoa powder?
A.
If your recipe doesn't call for baking powder or baking soda (or another acidic ingredient like buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, etc.), then yes. Recipes calling for natural cocoa powder usually require baking soda to neutralize the acidity, and recipes using Dutch process cocoa are most often made with more neutral baking powder because the cocoa itself has already been treated to tamp down the acidic, bitter natural taste of the cocoa.

Q. I have some almond flour I bought to make a cake. What else can I do with it?
A.
I only just rediscovered my love of homemade pancakes, and I have my own bag of almond flour to thank. I love really tender pancakes, and when I recently replaced half of the flour in a basic buttermilk pancake recipe with almond flour, I was thrilled at how tender they were. I also loved the nutty sweetness the almond flour contributed. They were delicious! You can also try replacing some of the traditional white flour in similar recipes where tenderness (and less structure or chew) is desired. Muffins and quickbreads (think blueberry and banana nut) would be obvious choices.

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