Ask Chef Rachael - July 2013

Q. How much applesauce can I use instead of vegetable oil in my recipe for banana bread?
In most quick bread recipes, you should be able to use an equal amount of applesauce in place of the oil called for in the recipe. This will also work just as well in most muffin and brownie recipes, especially ones made from a packaged mix.

Q. My cookies always seem to get dark on the bottom well before they seem done. What am I doing wrong?
Years ago I switched to using parchment paper to line my baking sheets, and it has made all the difference in the world. I'd suggest you try it, as it is a quick and inexpensive possible fix. Also consider your cookie sheets. Dark nonstick cookie sheets brown faster than lighter ones. Finally, use caution when assessing doneness of the top of a cookie. Many drop cookies will appear slightly underbaked when you take them out of the oven but then firm up as they cool on the sheet pan and then on a baking rack. Good luck!

Q. I noticed some of your cakes have a sticker on them that says “Best When Eaten at Room Temperature.” How long can I leave the cake out before it starts to spoil?
That sticker is an important one! Trust me; while our buttercream-frosted cakes are great straight out of the cake case, they taste even better when they're allowed to sit at room temperature for a few hours. The sugar in our Family Favorite Icing acts as a natural preservative even when it is left out 1 or 2 days.

Q. I don't have a food processor, but so many recipes call for one. Why?
A food processor can do the work of several utensils and small electrics in the kitchen. It can quickly and efficiently purée, grind, shred, slice and so much more. I find it makes better scone, biscuit and pizza dough and pie crust than I can make with my pastry cutter and electric mixer, too. If you prefer, you can usually substitute a blender, mortar and pestle, spice or coffee grinder, pastry cutter, box grater, electric mixer, mandoline, whisk/bowl and knife/cutting board, depending on the recipe.

Q. Even when I cook my pork chops to 145° they are still pink in the middle. Are you sure they are safe to eat?
For many of us who grew up cooking pork to 160°, the sight of a pink center in our chops or tenderloins does provoke concern, but in fact pink pork that has been cooked to 145° and given at least a 3 minute rest is not only perfectly safe, it is delicious. Think of it the same way you would think of a steak cooked to medium and enjoy.

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