Auto Load Responses: 
Font Size: 

October 2, 2013

12
P.M.

Free Range on Food: Budget-minded cooking for furloughed workers, guanciale, cauliflower, remembering Marcella Hazan and more

Total Responses: 101

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Joe Yonan

Joe Yonan

Joe Yonan is editor of the Food section; joining us today are deputy editor Bonnie Benwick, staff writer Tim Carman, Spirits columnist Carrie Allan, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and editorial aide Becky Krystal. Guests: Food section contributor David Hagedorn; Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of the restaurant Vedge in Philadelphia.

About the topic

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions.
Past Free Range on Food chats
Q.

Joe Yonan :

Greetings, all, and welcome to Free Range! Hope you enjoyed today's section, between Tim's tale of guanciale obsession, David's pursuit of cauliflower, and my cooking session with Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of Vedge (my favorite restaurant in Philly).

All of us -- including Rich and Kate -- will be on hand to answer your q's today, and we might even have Carrie "Spirits" Allan and Jim "Smoke Signals" Shahin show up at some point, too.

So fire away!

Oh, wait: How could I forget? We'll have giveaway books, of course, for our favorite two chatters today: "The Washington Post Cookbook" (signed by Bonnie) AND "Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking" signed by Rich and Kate!

OK, now we're ready.

Q.

Cucina Italiana means Marcella

Bonnie, my eyes swelled with tears after I read your obituary of Marcella. Few years ago, I was gifted her famous book (The essentials of Classic Italian Cooking) by my hubby who realised that I'm looking up the net for recipes. After reading her book, I realised I had wasted many years not knowing of her book! Marcella lived up to her philosophy - simple cooking. No glossy photos, just several 100 pages of wonderful recipes with simple instructions. She even educates you, gives you insight on the Italian Art of Eating and I realised that there is no main course! RIP Marcella Hazan, the Italian culinary godmother! Would be great if you can share her 1st contribution to The Post!

A.
Becky Krystal :

Dug back in the old archives via Proquest and found a menu of recipes from 1975, which looks like it may be the first. I can send a PDF if you e-mail me: becky.krystal@washpost.com.

– October 02, 2013 11:58 AM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Thank you! When I was digging into the archives, I found that former Food editor Bill Rice got to attend her week-long cooking classes in Italy.  Envious! 

 

I learned from Bonnie Slotnick, vintage cookbook dealer in NYC, that "Essentials" was a book that didn't go over very well with lots of Marcella fans. It attempted to cut the fat/calories in recipes she'd previously published, in addition to offering about 50 new dishes. Glad you are happy with it.  She didn't use a lot of herbs, did she?

You might like reading her memoir, which I found in the public library. Victor captured her voice there, too. Lots of that commonsense wisdom. 

– October 02, 2013 11:58 AM
Q.

cauliflower puree

I've been attempting lately to make a cauliflower puree and am looking for ways to improve upon the flavor. Typically I steam the cauliflower until it's nice and tender, then I get out my food processor and pour in melted butter and some heavy cream then add some salt & pepper to taste. Anything else I can do?
A.
:

RICH LANDAU AND KATE JACOBY: Try roasting half the cauliflower and boiling the other half- then take it home with some truffle oil - but to be honest I'm a huge fan of vegan versions of this. cream and butter are crutches I wish we could learn to live without. We use a touch of vegan sour cream for this with some of the blanching water and extra virgin olive oil. more flavor, less fat, no cholesterol

– October 02, 2013 12:01 PM
Q.

On Mac and Cheese...

I am terrible at it! The flavors come together nicely, but I always break my sauce when adding cheese. Should I give up the ghost and accept that mac and cheese is a food that requires whole milk (rather than skim--what I have on hand) in order to prevent my bad sauce-making? What am I doing wrong and how can I achieve that perfectly cheesy-creamy delight?
A.
Tim Carman :

Are you making a bechamel or,  more likely, a mornay sauce for your mac 'n' cheese? You can make it with low-fat (1 percent) milk. If you're using a recipe, can you forward it so we can see where you may have wandered off course?

– October 02, 2013 12:03 PM
Q.

Smores (follow-up on last week)

For the chatter last week who wanted to know how to make the smores without a grill -- do you have a small kitchen torch? I've never actually used it to make creme brulee, but put a marshmallow on a bamboo skewer and have a blast with the torch, and voila, the base for year-round smores.
A.
Becky Krystal :

That could work, so long as you're not like me -- I have an irrational fear of those torches. I've also used my broiler to toast marshmallows. You just have to keep an eye on them, because they'll go from nicely charred to a goopy puddle in a hot second.

– October 02, 2013 12:03 PM
Q.

Bulletproof wine taste test

Any reaction to what a wine critic recently said?: - ...If you want a bulletproof taste test,...you should be tempted to drink the entire bottle. By yourself.
A.
Joe Yonan :

I believe that James Lauby of Wine Spectator, source of that quote, was indicating that a great wine should make you want to dive in. Right?

– October 02, 2013 12:03 PM
Q.

roasting cauliflower

What is the best way to roast cauliflower? When I roast it, I want it to have that lovely golden brown color with maybe a little bit of crunchiness on some pieces, but what I end up with is blackened edges on some pieces and no brown on the rest. Clearly my timing and temperature settings are off. And while I'm at it, what is the best way to season it?
A.
:

RICH LANDAU AND KATE JACOBY: Hey there- the key to roasting cauliflower is cutting the peices evenly and making sure that they are all completley coated with a thin layer of neutral oil.  also keep the temperature around 350-400 so that they dont char before the inside is cooked.  as for seasoning - well the sky is the limit but I will take salt, pepper and garlic any day

– October 02, 2013 12:04 PM
A.
David Hagedorn :

If you check out the recipes for roasted cauliflower in my piece in today's Post, I give good tips for roasting. When you cut the florets, give yourself pieces that have a good flat edge on them, then place to oiled pieces flat-edges down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (The parchment promotes browning but no sticking.) Roast at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, less if you want more crunch. Then, transfer the sheet to the upper rack of the oven and broil for 5-10 minutes to get a good char on top of the pieces, too.

– October 02, 2013 12:04 PM
Q.

Shrimp and feta combo

Have an old WP recipe for a shrimp and feta combo aka garides saganaki. It talks about a sauce but I have to add white wine to get a sauce. If not I have no sauce. Searched the data base in case the printed version was wrong but found nothing. Any clue to what the problem is?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I've included the recipe below. Seems like between the 1/4 cup of oil, the moisture released from the onion and the shrimp and the tomatoes, you'd create just enough sauce to bubble in the oven. It's not supposed to be a really saucy dish. However, you can add a 1/4 cup water, or, better yet, do NOT drain the tomatoes, or add a little tomato juice or juice from canned diced tomatoes.  Va bene?

 

Shrimp Baked in Tomato Sauce With Feta (Garides Saganaki) 
4 to 6 servings 

From Aglaia Kremezi's "The Foods of Greek Islands." 

1/4 cup olive oil 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion 
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground aleppo pepper or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds medium tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1/2 cup finely diced tomato, drained in a colander for 5 minutes 
Salt 
2/3 cup coarsely grated hard feta cheese* 
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 

Preheat the  oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add  the onion and stir to coat. Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes and the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the shrimp. Cook, turning them frequently, until they turn pink and opaque, 3 to 6 minutes.

 

Stir in the tomato. Season with salt to taste. Cook for 2 minutes, until a sauce forms. Transfer to a baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.

Bake for 10 minutes, uncovered, or until bubbly. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

* NOTE: If you leave feta uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, it will dry a bit and harden. The hard cheese can be easily grated.

 

– October 02, 2013 12:05 PM
Q.

Wine for outdoor, casual wedding

Hi Free Rangers! I'm getting married next month and we have no idea what to do about wine at dinner. We're serving brisket and fried chicken in a casual, low-key event on a farm. My fiance and I are not wine drinkers so don't know much about it but want to have some available at dinner for those who want it. I'm leery of going with three-buck Chuck but we really don't want to spend more than $6 or $7 per bottle. We'll have several different kinds of beer on hand, along with iced tea, lemonade, water, and a couple of alcoholic punches. Do you have any suggestions for a red wine that drinkable but won't bust our small budget? Thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Dave McIntyre says

My go-to winery for such requests is Cousino-Macul from Chile. Their basic line, now called simply Cousino, offers tremendous bang for little bucks. Try the merlot for a crowd-pleasing red. You should be able to find it at any Montgomery County Liquor Store and at major wine stores in the District.

– October 02, 2013 12:05 PM
Q.

Under cabinet lighting

I know this sounds more like a home-improvement question, but I actually would love the advice of people (like me) who really use their home kitchens. I just moved into a new condo. I had halogen under cabinet lights that I installed in my former home, but they got really hot. I see that LED is now widely available and am considering those instead. Any advice about what to look for and whether you think LED is a better way to go? Thanks.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Our under cabinet lighting guru, a.k.a. Jura Koncius, has halogen as well and testifies to their hot qualities. LED is prob better, she says, but wonders whether it's worth it to go to the expense of changing them as long as your halos are still working. 

– October 02, 2013 12:05 PM
Q.

Can I rinse/prep Collard Greens and then store?

Hi! Have a TON of collard greens. I usually break down my vegetables and store them after shopping. But I can't find advice on storing prepped collard greens - got any?
A.
:

RICH LANDAU AND KATE JACOBY: The best way to store mass amounts of greens is to blanch them first. cut them into small managable peices and dunk into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes. they will keep for a few days in your fridge but if you if you have too much then just feeze them. 

– October 02, 2013 12:05 PM
Q.

Butternut Squash (follow up from last week)

Hey Rangers! Well, I sliced into my year-old squash yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it more or less looked/smelled/felt fine. Upon comparison to the fresher squash I had, though, I felt like it didn't necessarily smell as "bright," and the seed cavity definitely didn't look as good as the fresh one, so not wanting to become a candidate for a Darwin Award, I sent it to the great compost heap in the sky. However, now I have a cubed butternut squash sitting in my fridge, and would love to recreate or come close to making a fabulous butternut squash pasta sauce I had this weekend - I believe the brand was "Dave's Gourmet" and know that it contained, among other things, the squash, a little tomato paste, roasted red peppers, and the usual suspects. Might you (or any fellow chatters) have a similar sauce recipe? Other great squash ideas are always welcome, too. Thank you again!!
A.
Joe Yonan :

First of all, thanks for checking back in. That's so funny about your old squash! Glad it found a good home.

The rest of your question is fascinating because I JUST LAST NIGHT made a pasta with red pepper and squash sauce that might be just the ticket. It's going to be my Weeknight Veg column/recipe next week, so look for it! It might have more red pepper and less squash than what you're imagining, but it'll give you a good base from which to start experimenting. I added a little cinnamon and red pepper flakes for fall warmth.

– October 02, 2013 12:05 PM
Q.

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin

Can't wait to try this recipe! I'm wondering if I can incorporate the potatoes and rutabaga I'm getting from the CSA this week - if I slice them thinly, can I just layer them with the cauli, or should I parboil first? How about the kale/chard I get every week - can I layer that in, or should I saute first to reduce the moisture? Thanks!

A.
David Hagedorn :

This gratin, I have to admit, is so delciously cheesy and caramely that it is hard to stop eating it. (Could be the cream, too.) You need to parboil the potatoes and rutabaga first. I would do them in cubes so you have an evenness of textures an everything cooks at the same rate of speed. Saute the kale first--the enemy here is water, as you not, and you want to get rid of as much of it as possible before baking.

– October 02, 2013 12:05 PM
Q.

Smores without a grill

I use my toaster oven! Just watch it carefully depending on how close the marshmallows are to the heating elements. Browns nicely.
Q.

Guanciale!! Yum

My husband and I did the Roman cooking date night at CulinAerie earlier this year. One of the dishes was freshly made pasta with a cream sauce that had guanciale in it (it was called...something about a pope, I can't remember). Anyway, we were supposed to be using pancetta, but the instructor saw the guanciale as she went to buy the pancetta, so we used that instead. Oh my lanta. That is stuff from the heavens. Is there anywhere in VA that I can buy it, or do I have to trek to D.C.? I think that all of the places mentioned in today's piece were in D.C.
A.
Tim Carman :

You're in luck. The Red Apron location in Merrfield carries Nate Anda's guanciale. I would buy it while you can!

– October 02, 2013 12:10 PM
Q.

Carrots, Lentils and Harissa

I am a little confused by the recipe in today's paper. Is this something to be served at room temperature, cold, or hot? You mention you can make the individual parts in advance and then refrigerate, but I didn't see anything about reheating. Thanks!

A.
Rich Landau :

The carrots and lentils should be served hot and the harissa cold or room temp.

– October 02, 2013 12:10 PM
Q.

Edamame

I got a huge pile of fresh edamame in my csa this week - yay! However, I boiled it last night, tossed it with some salt and garlic, and finished maybe a quarter of it. It is so. much. edamame. I guess I could peel the rest and freeze them, but that sounds boring. Anything else? I don't particularly want to make a dip with them since that requires me to go buy dippers.
A.
:

RICH LANDAU AND KATE JACOBY: If you have them shelled already then why not make a japanese chilli ?  Use onions, chili peppers and garlic -- saute in sesame oil -- add the edamame, chopped tofu, cilantro and a touch of tamari. It's suprisingly good ! 

– October 02, 2013 12:11 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :
– October 02, 2013 12:11 PM
Q.

Hershey's Ice Cream

Where can I buy it? I'm in love with their cappuccino chunk, which I've had scoops of at Kloby's Barbecue in Laurel, but I don't know where to buy quarts or half gallons.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Let's tap the peanut gallery. Anyone have a tip for this chatter?

Alternatively, you can try using the store locator on the Hershey's site, which apparently involves filling out a form, which the company will respond to via e-mail.

– October 02, 2013 12:12 PM
Q.

Tim's piece on Marcella Hazan offerings at local restaurants

Just curious, did you have to rearrange other articles in order to get this piece in today's Food section? I would have thought much of your content is less time-sensitive (in that Tim's piece was clearly written after Ms Hazan's recent death). In any event, it's nice to read the acknowledgements of her influence on local chefs.
A.
Joe Yonan :

We can turn on a dime here at the Food section. Well, as long as that turning can happen before Monday night! Yes, we shuffled things around a little bit to get that piece in. Didn't take much!

BTW, did you read Bonnie's great obit of Marcella?

– October 02, 2013 12:12 PM
A.
Tim Carman :

Interestingly enough, as I was calling local chefs, I noticed a distinct demarcation between older and younger generation cooks. The older ones -- the chefs who grew up in an era before regional Italian cooking was well known in the States -- beloved Marcella. Some of the younger ones did not have much sense of her import, which is somewhat understandable. They didn't grow up eating at Italian-American restaurants or popping open jars of Ragu sauce.

– October 02, 2013 12:12 PM
Q.

Link to Marcella Hazan recipes on recipe finder

Although the caption under the photo of Ms Hazan says we can "find her Washington Post-tested recipes at www.washingtonpost.com/recipes," but what's the best way to do this? I used "Hazan" as a search term and only came up with two recipes, one of which was from a cookbook by her son. I'd love to see more if there's an easy way to find them.

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I apologize! Was out the office yesterday and couldn't get these links functional in time. It's on my priority list today. Promise! See whether these recipe titles tempt your midsection. (We can add more, too.)

Blasut's Chicken Thigh Pasta Sauce With Herbs, Tomatoes

Fricaseed Chicken With Vinegar

Monte Bianco (a mountain of chestnut puree, chocolate and whipped cream. Ahem.)

Broccoli and Mozzarella Pasta Sauce 

Pizza Margherita

– October 02, 2013 12:12 PM
Q.

Halloween bark

I want to make some Halloween bark tomorrow night to bring in to work and bring to some friends I'm visiting this weekend. I'm having a hard time visualizing the chocolate amount in my head, and haven't found a definitive source online. So far I have three bags of semi sweet chocolate chips and candy/pretzels for the topping. I want to aim to make 3 pans of it since I know it'll go quickly. Do you think that's enough chocolate, or should I grab a couple more bags?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Need a little more help here....what size pans/what ounce bags? Check the ingred label on your chips -- if there's any paraffin maybe you want to use baking/bar chocolate instead? (And what makes it Halloween-y, exactly?)

– October 02, 2013 12:13 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Something tells me orange-colored candies might POSSIBLY come into the mix. Call me crazy.

– October 02, 2013 12:13 PM
Q.

Fried Cauliflower

Loved the piece on cauliflower, one of my family's favorite vegetables. Best prep though, is florets coated with breadcrumbs that have been seasoned with Parmesan, garlic, parsley, and fry in olive oil. You can use egg or egg white first to make more breadcrumbs stick to the vegetable, but we don't. Make twice as much as you think you'll need, because everyone, including the cook, will be snatching them from the plate while you're trying to get them all cooked.

A.
David Hagedorn :

Oh, that sounds absolutely wonerful and I love the tip for coating with egg white to maximize breadcrumb crunchy goodness! 

 

My mother used to top cauliflower with what she called Polonaise sauce, which is essentially what you are talking about. Brown breadcrumbs in butter with paprika, salt and pepper, then stir in some lemon juice. Garlic, parsley and Permesan cheeses are good additions to this.  

– October 02, 2013 12:13 PM
Q.

Indian corn

I bought some pretty Indian corn to hang on my door for the Fall. When it's time to take it down and put up some winter holiday decor, can I do anything with it? I'm fine letting it just be a pretty decoration, but thought I'd ask.
A.
Tim Carman :

Growers of such corn will typically tell you the ears are not food-grade, meaning they're not meant for human consumption. Some are even lacquered. But one enterprising chef tried to turn those ornamental ears into something tasty, and he had surprising results.

– October 02, 2013 12:14 PM
Q.

English muffin bread

I am planning on making some english muffin bread this weekend, the KA recipe in particular. I've never made it before, but have generally had good luck with their recipes. I want to make two loaves, though. One to eat now and one to freeze and bring on a plane with me next weekend for my sister. Good/bad idea? In my mind it would thaw on the plane ride and be perfect by the time I handed it over.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Sounds reasonable to me.

– October 02, 2013 12:14 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

I love English muffin bread! Might you make three loaves and send one my way?

– October 02, 2013 12:14 PM
Q.

re: Cauliflower puree

I would recommend roasting it in the oven instead to get more flavor, and throwing in a bulb of garlic while you do it, then puree the garlic in the mix as well. And maybe top it with some crispy spinach or kale, for some texture?

Q.

'shrooms

In his article about Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, Joe mentions 'portobello, cremini ("baby bellas")'' and other sorts of mushrooms. This got me wondering, are cremini really are smaller portobellos, or interchangeable anyway? Or am I losing something if I use them instead of portobellos?

 

A.
Rich Landau :

Creminis are indeed baby bellas... but to me they lack that meaty punch of their big brothers.  They function more like a button mushroom with a little but more flavor.  That being said- always buy the freshest product possible and if that's creminis - then its creminis for dinner !

– October 02, 2013 12:14 PM
Q.

Marcella Hazan

I only learned about Marcella Hazan earlier this year, but after making a couple of her recipes (Bolognese Lasagna and Pasta e Fagioli Soup) I quickly become a devotee and plan to regularly return to my copy of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I appreciate her exacting techniques for building flavor, including some good basics like simmering things uncovered rather than covered to concentrate their flavor. She will be greatly missed. Any favorite recipes of hers among the Food staff?

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

In "Marcella Says," she fries leaves of Belgian endive in pastella batter.  Simple, and brilliant. See whether this description doesn't make you rethink any fear of frying: "For a crust that is cracking crisp and airy there is no batter that can equal pastella. . . . the pristine vegetable sealed by a deliciously crisp, firmly clinging, weightless crust."

– October 02, 2013 12:16 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

I'm a fan of "Marcella Says," too, because her voice comes across even more strongly than in her other books (where it's mighty strong, too). Just love, love, love the tone. The recipe of hers that always stands out to me is risotto. Not any one in particular, just her instructions on how best to make it. You really feel like she's there with you in the kitchen when you read and do it. Made it that way many years ago and have never looked back.

– October 02, 2013 12:16 PM
Q.

Instructions for non-stick skillets

I learned years ago never to use Pam-type sprays on my nonstick pans to keep the nonstick properties. So, why do so many recipes begin with "spray a nonstick skillet...?" I never use spray and my pans stay nonstick until they need to be replaced for other reasons. I buy inexpensive, but heavy, skillets from a restaurant supply and they're good for 7-10 years, depending on how often I use them for bone-in cuts of meat.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I'm winging it here, but I think it gummed up earlier versions of nonstick pans. I use it on the eco-friendly ones I have and it seems to work fine, do no harm. 

– October 02, 2013 12:16 PM
Q.

cauliflower puree

Another shout out for the Vitamix. Makes a silky puree and you don't need the butter or cream... I throw roasted garlic in with mine for a little added whoomph. Also experiment with spices - curries are especially tasty.
Q.

Orange Wine in Virginia?

Does Dave McIntyre know if any Virginia wineries offer orange wine? His column today focused on orange wine from other states. I've got Virginia wine on the brain because I spent Saturday at a festival with Virginia wineries. None of them offered orange wine, and frankly, although I champion Virginia wines, none of the Saturday offerings was particularly good, until, on my way out, I stopped by the Ingleside Winery booth and VERY skeptically asked to sample its sangiovese and cab sav. Imagine my surprise when the stuff turned out to be delicious! I don't know, maybe I was under the influence of too many not so hot samples from other wineries, but the very wines I was sure would be duds becasue the grapes don't do well in Virginia turned out to be winners. I'm not sure what my anecdote has to do with orange wine, but there it is.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Dave's answer:

The Ingleside Cab is indeed quite good.  I have it in next week's column in fact. 

I don't know of any Virginia wineries making orange wines - at least not intentionally. Castle Hill Cider in Keswick does age some of its ciders underground in qvevri, and they are quite good. It's an interesting contrast to more traditional cider. 

– October 02, 2013 12:17 PM
Q.

Soup stock question

I enjoy making homemade soups, and my family loves a minestrone-type with lots of vegetables and pesto. So I was eating olives the other day, and had the thought: hey, can I put olive pits in vegetable stock? And, er, are they poisonous or anything? I didn't see the answer on the internet, but I'm at least inspired to try and sprout some now. Thanks!
A.
Rich Landau :

Well, that's something I have never tried.... and although I like your adventwerous spirit it doesn't sound like it would add anything except bitterness. (It's a pit, after all.)  

– October 02, 2013 12:17 PM
Q.

Vedge cookbook - second weel, home their here :)

Guys, love your restaurant and your cookbook (and loved Horizons, too). As nice as it was to have the Vedge recipes simplified for the home cook, I would really love you to collaborate on one that does vegan cooking for those of boundless ambition, something at the top professional level. Pretty please?
A.
Rich Landau :

Thanks so much for the kind words!  We try to keep this home cook-friendly, but we really appreicate your ambition.  Why don't you come work with us? :)  

– October 02, 2013 12:19 PM
Q.

re: wine for wedding

You might also want to check out local wineries. If you have time, you can go do taste tests and have some friends who know wine come along. The local winery might also be willing to give you a discount, and you can save on shipping.
Q.

re: Cauliflower puree

If you don't want to go vegan but want to cut down the butter and cream, you could also use some low fat ricotta. Top it with some toasted seeds or nuts and some warmed olive oil, hummus style.
A.
David Hagedorn :

Good tips here. Using stock and then just finishing with some fat (sour cream, cream, butter) cuts down on the calories, too. I always boil my potatoes for mashed potatoes with garlic cloves, so I'm with oyu on using them for cauliflower puree, too.

– October 02, 2013 12:43 PM
Q.

undercounter lights

Sounds as if the OP **had** halogen at the previous home but needs a solution for the new home. We just bought 3 undercounter LEDs at Lowe's and are quite pleased. We used a longer/larger one in the main prep area and two smaller ones in less-used areas. We love that they have three settings (off, high, low) and that you don't have to fumble with the switch -- just get your hand in teh vicinity and it will turn on. The set we bought can be linked (e.g., you can have a few in a series off the same cord) or used singly. BTW, we got a Lowe's coupon as part of our post office change of address package. I think the contents of those packages vary by location, but you might look for it... saved us a bundle on stuff we needed for the new location.
Q.

butternut squash problem

Last time I peeled and chopped butternut squash, my fingertips went numb and the top layer of skin came off, as thought they'd been sunburnt. I can eat butternut squash without problem, but I'd like to be able to prep it, too. Should I just wear disposable gloves? Have you ever had a problem like this, with squash or another veggie?
A.
Joe Yonan :

God, I love the Interwebs. Welcome to irritant contact dermatitis! Apparently relatively common w/butternut and acorn squash, although I've never experienced it personally. Yes, gloves will prevent -- and apparently cortisone cream will ease.

– October 02, 2013 12:22 PM
Q.

The golden florets party!

Wow! Food is an art form, it need to appeal to you visually before you grab a bite. That crisped cauliflower with lemon Tahini sauce is just irresistible. These golden florets pairs with many sauces. Can you suggest some sauces so I can make multiple sauces for a party? Thanks in advance!

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

David's food = easy to make it look good. And there's also the fine work of regular Food photographer Deb Lindsey, who used to be a photo editor here at TWP.

– October 02, 2013 12:23 PM
Q.

PR backlash resulting from Barilla Pasta CEO's comments

I've read about the Barilla Pasta CEO making really non-PC comments about having non traditional families in its advertisements--to the point that any non-traditional families should eat other brands. It makes me wonder what to do with my pantry full of blue boxes and what to replace them with.
A.
Tim Carman :

Barilla Pasta is in major crisis-management mode, based on this video from its CEO retracting his statements.  Depending on whether you believe the executive, you could just hold onto your pasta. Or maybe you could donate it to a food pantry (is passing along damaged goods to someone else ethical? Hmm.) and buy Buitoni pasta, which quickly capitalized on its competitor's public crisis.

– October 02, 2013 12:24 PM
Q.

fresh figs, sort of

A friend gave me a bag of fresh green figs from her yard, which have been sitting in my fridge for two weeks because I don't know what to do with them and they are a bit mushy. I don't have the heart to throw them out. Anything I can make other than jam?
A.
Rich Landau :

We're serving "melted figs" on our cheesecake.  You can make them with any stage of ripe fig.  Take off the stems, split them in halfs or quarters, toss them gently with a little brown sugar and port, then roast in the oven at 400 for about 8 minutes.  Splash a little more port on top to deglaze when they come out.  Delicious warm or room temperature, spooned on cheesecake, ice cream, etc.

– October 02, 2013 12:24 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Want. Now.

– October 02, 2013 12:24 PM
Q.

Under-Cabinet Lights

Thanks for following up on that question. Since I submitted it last week, I did end up getting the LED lights and they are great. I put a single 2-foot strip under the cabinet by my work area and three smaller strips along the cabinets near the sink. They look great, with a better color light than the halogens. And they aren't going to melt chocolate chips in the cabinet above like the halogens did!
A.
Joe Yonan :

Glad to hear!

– October 02, 2013 12:25 PM
Q.

Cauliflower

I used to despise cauliflower until I tried my in-law's recipe .... so simple. Cut up the veggie into small flowerettes toss w/ olive oil and salt. Broil (turning once) until tips are blackened. It's now a family favorite we call "cauliflower popcorn".
Q.

sweet potatoes

I have sweet potatoes from the farmers market on todays dinner menu. I need to find a side for my vegetarian family. Should I throw more veg into a roasting pan as a main or is there a non-starchy addition to the meal you could suggest?
A.
Rich Landau :

I like your idea of throwing extra veggies in the roasting pan. but since we have been talking a lot of cauliflower today - how about a simple roasted cauliflwer steak?  just cut 1 inch planks of cauli - and roast wtih a neutral oil, salt, pepper and herbs until its tender.  makes a great "statement" in the center of the plate and any vegetarian would be thrilled  (we hate when we are afterthoughts!)

– October 02, 2013 12:26 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Love planks of cauliflower like this! I have a recipe in the new book for chicken-fried cauliflower. I lightly steam a plank, then sprinkle with smoked paprika, dredge in flour, pan-fry and top with a miso-onion sauce.

– October 02, 2013 12:26 PM
Q.

office potluck

For the non-furloughed staff we're having an office potluck tomorrow. What should I bring? Mains and desserts seem to be covered.
A.
Becky Krystal :

I think we need a little more guidance than that! What kinds of dishes are you interested in making? Or what ingredients do you want to use?

– October 02, 2013 12:26 PM
Q.

Apples and Brownie Pie

1) What are the best apples for baking? I make caramel apple bars every year and I'm just so confused on the best choice. I'm a fan of sweet over tart, but I know I need a mix. 2) I made the three chocolate upside down brownie pie. I think the ganache was too warm when I poured it. Any tips for cooling it off? Thanks!

A.
David Hagedorn :

This is a great apple chart from the almanac. I still find that Granny Smith apples are the best for baking. They have a nice tartness, they retain texture and aren't watery, so they are reliable.

As to the ganache, here is my tip for cooling it off:  wait. Y0u just have to let it sit long anough for it to be pourable enough that it will coat the whole pie but not be so thin that it all runs off. You can also take the chocolate that has run off of it and repour it over the pie.  If you are really in a hurry, you can stir the ganache in a bowl set over ice water, but there is a very smal;l window of opprotunity here before it becomes too thick to pour.

– October 02, 2013 12:27 PM
Q.

Mac & Cheese

To the chatter who's having trouble with cheese sauce, if they're up for it, I'd recommend the Modernist Cuisine recipe. It's really easy. The hardest part is getting your hands on sodium citrate (but you can order online, including from Amazon). Because it contains only water, sodium citrate and cheese (and whatever seasonings you want to add), the flavor is amazingly cheesy.
A.
Tim Carman :

 

I'm sure the Modernist recipe is incredible, but my instinct is to keep it simple with mac and cheese. Try something like this one, adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe.

– October 02, 2013 12:29 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Also, c'mon, folks, have you or have you not looked at Jane Touzalin's fantastic Mac-and-cheese-o-matic graphic? Must-read. Must-keep. Must-use.

– October 02, 2013 12:29 PM
Q.

Hershey's Ice Cream

I've seen some at the Walmart in my parents hometown, but that's in the Tidewater area of Virginia. Probably not that helpful to you, but maybe your Walmart will have it, too?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Worth checking.

– October 02, 2013 12:30 PM
Q.

Huacatay

Does anyone know where I can find huacatay paste in NoVa? Looked in most of the mercados in Arlandria with no luck.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I see LaTienda.com and Amazon have it online. (And I also see that you're not the first to be looking in the DC area.)  Sounds interesting -- what are you going to make with it? I've just called 6 stories in VA/MD and nobody has it, either. Send your email to food@washpost.com and we'll see whether we can track it down through a Peruvian restaurant. 

– October 02, 2013 12:30 PM
Q.

vegetarian Thanksgiving

My husband, who had bronchitis and is finally feeling better, has decided that he just wants to keep Thanksgiving small, and not invite anyone. I have to admit that while I always make Thanksgiving my big cooking debut of the year, but I'm less inclined to go all out with just him and the kids because making a veggie only meal is time consuming. I was wondering if you could offer some suggestions and inspiration for a vegetarian (hold the tofu) Thanksgiving feast.
A.
Rich Landau :

Glad you recognize how much work goes into veggies!  :)  We are big fans of a centerpiece on the table since that's how we all grew up.  Try a large winter squash, cut in half and stuffed as your centerpiece.  Big meaty portobello mushrooms are great too.  Especially with lots of porcini gravy.  

– October 02, 2013 12:32 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Fear not, as part of our big Thanksgiving package this year I'll be writing about my vegetarian feast last year in Maine. On the menu: sunchoke/celery root soup; polenta stuffed with mushrooms, kale and squash; Moroccan-spiced carrot/beet salad; other sides; and desserts of hazelnut honey pie, cranberry apricot pie, and Persian-spiced sweet potato pie.

– October 02, 2013 12:32 PM
Q.

Keeping the kale

I bought one of those big bags of prepped (washed/cut) kale this week because the loose stuff I normally buy was looking pretty weak. Problem is I've just realized that while I'm having raw kale salads for lunch for the next couple days, I've only got one night I can eat some for dinner before we leave town for the weekend. I'd rather not juice everything that's left and so I'm wondering -- anything I can do so that the kale will hold over until Monday? Should I just sautee it all? Or if I transfer out of the original bag into a big Ziploc will it be ok raw for an extra 3 or 4 days before getting slimy/smelly?
A.
Rich Landau :

Like I said earlier, there is not shame in blanching and freezing.  It's better than throwing it out!  In our cookbook, we have a recipe for a sensational kale spanakopita that will last several days in your fridge.    

– October 02, 2013 12:33 PM
Q.

Barilla

If you're upset about the CEO's statements, PLEASE don't just throw out the pasta. I've seen so many Facebook posts with pictures of those blue boxes in the trash can. If they're unopened, I'm sure some food pantry would willingly take them. And if they are opened, are you really accomplishing anything by not eating the pasta? You've already given the company your money for it. And let me state for the record that what he said was disgusting. But I still have that brand in my pantry because I refuse to waste food that I purchased with my hard-earned money.
Q.

non-stick skillets

That aerosol spray has ruined the non-stick coating of some of my mom's pans and some of my baking sheets, and they're not that old, so I don't really think it's an "earlier version" issue. Maybe it just has to do with eco-friendly vs., well, not? Regardless, I stick to using a Misto-type sprayer or just rubbing some oil in. I only have two non-stick pans--my pots and other pans are stainless Calphalon.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Doesn't quite make sense. It's just oil, right? Maybe it has to do with high heat, which is never a great thing for nonstick. 

– October 02, 2013 12:34 PM
Q.

Storing recipes from cookbooks

How do you remember recipes from your favorite cookbooks? I've tried an online organizer, but that was time consuming. I've tried just bookmarking the books, but that can be hard on a Tuesday night when you're just trying to figure out a dinner. I know the key is planning, but I'd love some guidance.
A.
Becky Krystal :

My husband built us a "What's for Dinner?" spreadsheet with a list of dishes, who makes it, whether it's a weeknight meal, etc. I think that might work for you, so long as you include which book the recipes are from!

– October 02, 2013 12:34 PM
Q.

overcooked granola :(

Is there anything to do w/ this except toss it? It isn't black but it has a slight charred taste! So sad! Give it to the birds? Anyone? Beuller?
A.
Joe Yonan :

You think that slight charred taste would still bother you once you crumbled it into granola and added honey and fresh fruit?

– October 02, 2013 12:35 PM
Q.

Hagedorn's Cali article

You just CAN'T mention Mike Isabella's astounding sando and not help us out on the recipe there! "Isabella stuffs a sesame hoagie roll with al dente pieces of roasted cauliflower, charred scallions, fresh herbs (dill, mint, parsley), shishito peppers and pickled shallots. The sandwich is dressed with lemon paprika vinaigrette and a house-made romesco sauce."
A.
David Hagedorn :

You asked for it, but once you read it you might agree with me--this is one of those things best left to someone else to make, lest you have an entire day to devote to it.

 

G Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich Recipe

 

1 Toasted Sesame Roll (9 inches)

Roasted Cauliflower

Paprika Lado-Lemono

 

Roasted Cauliflower

 

1 Cauliflower head chopped into 2inch florets

½ c vegetable oil

Salt (to taste)

 

Method: Roast 425º F for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until al-dente and golden brown.

 

Paprika Lado-lemono

 

1 c lemon

1 c vegetable oil

½ c olive oil

3 tbl honey

1 tsp smoked paprika

Salt

 

Method: In a blender add lemon juice, honey, smoked paprika and salt. While the blender is on low begin to emulsify/drizzle oil gradually turning the speed higher as the oil is being added.

 

Romesco

 

2 Spanish onions (cut in half and charred on a grill or in a sauté pan until they reach a dark caramel color but are not cooked all the way through)

 

4 Red Bell Peppers (roasted, skinned, seeded)

4 Garlic (clove)

1 c toasted almonds

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

White bread (2 slices, substitute with the equivalent of any other bread or omit for a gluten for a sauce)

Red wine vinegar (to taste) roughly 2-4 tablespoons

3 cups water

 

Method: Rough chop charred onions, peppers, and garlic. Sauté items in a medium saucepot, add almonds, smoked paprika, cook for 5 minutes.

 

 

Add water and bread; reduce by half on med/low heat.

Puree while hot.

Add a splash of red wine vinegar and salt to taste.

 

 

GARNISHES

Charred scallion

Dill (sprigs) ½ c

Mint (leaves) ½ c

Parsley (leaves) ½ c

Arugula 2 c

Shishito peppers (Fried, until a they get a bit of color, discard stem, cool)

Pickled Shallots  (Sliced) (Bring to a boil, 1 oz. sugar, 2 oz. vinegar, 3 oz. water and pour over the sliced shallots while still hot, cool and reserve)

 

 

Building the Sandwich

 

1.     In small sauce pan heat 8 to 10 oz. of roasted Cauliflower with 2 oz. of Paprika lado-lemono (reserve hot)

2.     Toasted Bun

3.     Spread 1-2 oz. total of romance on bread (top & bottom)

4.     In a small bowl toss together, all herbs, shishito peppers, pickled shallots, charred scallion and arugula.

5.     To finish, place the cauliflower on bread and top with the herb mixture.

 

 

 

– October 02, 2013 12:36 PM
Q.

LOVE Cauliflower

Thank you for the great recipes using cauliflower! Fall is my favorite season for all these great veggies. I also love using the cauliflower "rice" in any asian dish as well. The nutty taste actually adds value, in my opinion. My favorite cauliflower dish, however, isn't necessarily so good for you, just comforting: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/swiss-chicken-casserole-ii/ I make think slices of cauliflower, roast them, and use them instead of chicken as the base for this casserole. It is addictive!

A.
David Hagedorn :

That sounds like a decadent dish--I think I'd make my own veloute sauce with a roux, good chicken stock, garlic, herbs, etc. rather than go the condensed soup route, but subbing cauliflower for chicken is a great idea.

– October 02, 2013 12:36 PM
Q.

Snallygaster

Are any of you going to Snallygaster? Any paritcular beers to look out for? My favorite last year was the Schlafly pumpkin.
A.
Tim Carman :

For those not familiar, Snallygaster is an annual craft-beer-and-food fundraiser for the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, a demonstration farm that serves as a teaching ground for kids and sources some of the ingredients for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. There are so many great beers on the list this year, I don't even know where to turn. I guess I would look for one that just doesn't taste like pumpkin-pie beer!

– October 02, 2013 12:36 PM
Q.

Best flavors to mix with tempeh

Hi! Big fan of Rich and Kate and Vedge- especially after seeing him on "Chopped"! I've been a vegetarian for 10 years and while I have eaten tofu all along I'm just recently getting into tempeh. While I feel like tofu can easily mix into any dish as its mostly flavorless to begin with, I find that tempeh has much more of an original "flavor" and its not as easy to mesh with other things. I was wondering if you had favorite "flavors" or types of foods you thought mixed well with tempeh? (ie- citrus, spicy asian, etc.) .....Thanks!

A.
Rich Landau :

Thanks so much!  I am just getting into tempeh too as I've always been more of a tofu person myself.  I think the nuttiness of tempeh lends itself easily to South Pacific and SE Asian cooking.  Coconut milk is a perfect match.  But that said, the dish I made on Chopped worked like a charm with those Italian flavors.  Try it with a steak spice sear on it.   

– October 02, 2013 12:37 PM
A.
Rich Landau :

Kate here.  I loved a dish Rich had on the menu years ago.  A Spanish dish.  He braised the tempeh, then coated it with a garbanzo batter and fried it.  Served it over black lentils, with a preserved lemon cream, and topped with a hearts of palm-stuffed piquillo pepper.  There was a pool of tangy green salsa verde on the plate too.  I loved the salty/sour punch...   

– October 02, 2013 12:37 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Holy Moosewood,  that sounds good.

– October 02, 2013 12:37 PM
Q.

Thanksgivukkah

I've been reading about Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coinciding this year and decided it's going to be the best eating day of my entire life. Have you guys done anything on this? I'm sure there are a lot of Thanksgivukkah recipes that people could incorporate into their holiday meal! I'm so excited!
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Yes, it was the talk of the Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur break-fast dinners I went to in Sept. (Always talking about the next opp to eat Jewish.) In my life I can't remember a time when it's hit on the first night, although it must have. Anyway, sweet potato-latke-ing seems indicated. Frying the turkey? Adding apple cider doughnuts to the groaning holiday dessert table? Only good things -- and better gelt, perhaps -- can come from this. 

– October 02, 2013 12:37 PM
Q.

cauliflower puree

I steam the cauliflower in chicken stock instead of water, and with several cloves of garlic. Adds some good flavor. A few pulses in the Ninja and it's silky. Also a big fan of cauliflower rice when I'm trying to stay lower carb. Works just as well, and even absorbs a little better when you're doing curries or other saucy dishes.
Q.

Barilla

It's amazing how quickly deeply held values evaporate when they cut into the money train.
Q.

Care package for my federal employee sister?

Even though she says she doesn't need it, I thought it would be nice to send a food care pkg to my sister and brother-in-law who are both "non-essential.' I live in MA so it would have to stand up to the mail ( next day is OK). Bonus if WaPo or chatters have recipes for something veg and savory as compared to sweet.

Q.

Mac and Cheese

A quick look at the Google tells me I'm making a mornay once the cheese is added. This isn't really restricted to one recipe, I've tried several to fix the problem, suggesting that something is wrong with my technique. I've tried lowering the temperature, adding cheese slowly, mixing up my kinds of cheese, but I end up with broken sauce (sometimes more severe than other times).
A.
Tim Carman :

Sounds like the recipe is off. I'd suggest looking at other recipes for mornay sauce, like this one, and see if there are flaws in the one you're using. Do you make a roux first, by chance? If not, the sauce will not thicken properly.

– October 02, 2013 12:39 PM
Q.

Hershey's Ice Cream

There's a store in Wheaton Plaza (MD).
Q.

re: Veggie Thanksgiving Main

You could do a really beautiful salad, topped with Fall produce such as roasted sweet potatoes.
Q.

lunch portion size

This is sort of a two part question. I'm trying to lose weight, and since I have amped up my workouts, I'm now moving onto the food part. I generally eat healthy foods but I find that since I sit at a desk all day I snack a lot and convince myself that I am hungry (even though I know that I am not!). I'm trying to brainstorm some lunch salads/stirfrys/sandwiches, etc. that are protein packed and will keep me going a bit longer without a snack. I am a vegetarian, so maybe a quinoa salad, or creative hummus sandwich...any ideas? Then I find that when I make things like quinoa salads or stirfrys I generally sjust fill whatever tuperware I am using regardless of how big or small it is...what is the correct lunch portion for a filling meal? 1 cup salad, 2 cups, etc? I know it is vague because I am not talking about a specific meal, but just a general idea of "how much" should fill me up would be great! Thanks!
A.
Joe Yonan :

What you need to be thinking about are the portions for the part of the meal that has the most effect on your waistline: the carbs and the fat. For example, the rice or pasta with the stir-fry should preferably be only about 1/2 to 1 cup, the beans up to 1/2 cup, the nuts just a tablespoon or two, the cheese no more than an ounce or two. But you can have plenty leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables without having to worry about them.

I suggest that you think about a program like Weight Watchers that helps you figure out portion sizes of various foods for your body type, size, age, gender, etc.

– October 02, 2013 12:44 PM
Q.

freeze hummus?

Can you freeze hummus, such as the little clear plastic bins you get at Whole Foods? Fresh, never opened? "Seal' intact? Going away and don't want to waste it...
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

It would affect the texture. But perhaps if you defrosted and whizzed it up again, perhaps with a glug of olive oil and some lemon juice (maybe even an ice cube or two, a trick I once learned from a great Lebanese cook), it'd come back for you. 

– October 02, 2013 12:44 PM
Q.

Pakistani Spinach

My son's old babysitter was from Pakistan and made a spinach that he loved - if I followed a recipe for Saag, do you think this would be close. I'm either going to use 101 cookbooks recipe or one I have from Madhur Jaffrey (leaving cream out because I don't remember there being any in the babysitter's dish).
A.
Tim Carman :

A quick Google search turned up this Pakistani spinach recipe, which, as you suspected, does not include cream. It has ghee in it, though. Does this look closer to what your son had?

– October 02, 2013 12:44 PM
Q.

Cut up squash

I am making the squash/rice dish from last week tonight, but just realized the recipe only uses half the squash. I cut it up last night to make things easier on myself tonight, but now have to figure out what to do with it. I'd love to save it and make that squash sauce next week (especially since I have a roasted pepper in the freezer). Could it last that long?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Go ahead and cook/blanch the rest of the squash, then you can freeze till you need it. 

– October 02, 2013 12:44 PM
Q.

Congratulations to David Hagedorn!

I read about your wedding and want to send my congratulations!
A.
David Hagedorn :

Thank you so much for that. Surrounded by our friends and family, Michael and I could not have asked for a more perfect wedding, thanks largely to Fabio and Maria Trabocchi and the entire staff of Fiola Restaurant.

– October 02, 2013 12:45 PM
Q.

Dessert for dinner!

Rich and Kate, after a tiring day, please suggest a dessert that can be whipped up quickly!
A.
Rich Landau :

Joe will tell you - the chocolate pot de creme is super easy.  And it sets up very quickly.  I also used to make "unfried" ice cream on our menu years ago.  Grind up tortilla chips in the food processor with cinnamon and exta salt.  Sear banana slices on high heat in neutral oil, deglaze with dark rum.  Roll vanilla ice cream in the tortilla chips, top with the bananas.  You can build more of a sauce in the pan with agave and lime.  Delicious.   For extra crunch, sprinkle with toasted brazil nuts...

– October 02, 2013 12:46 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Yes, it does. Love that pot de creme! I actually made it again over the weekend without the beets, and it's good that way, too! So easy with just the chocolate, coconut milk and cornstarch! The beet gives it a little undercurrent of earthiness, but you can do it plain, too. I drizzled mine with really good olive oil and smoked sea salt; that was pretty fantastic.

– October 02, 2013 12:46 PM
Q.

Re: another use of crispy cauliflower

I've used them to replace wings. Toss in buffalo sauce, serve with blue cheese or ranch.
A.
David Hagedorn :

YES!!!

– October 02, 2013 12:46 PM
Q.

Honoring Marcella

Please note that people are joining Mrs. Wheelbarrow's tribute to Marcella by hosting dinners on Oct. 26th with only Marcella's recipes. I think that's a great idea and i have signed up to participate.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

She told us! Great idea, and so noted. Deets

– October 02, 2013 12:46 PM
Q.

mac & cheese

Try a baked version. The crusty cheese is marvelous and no fussing over a bechamel.
Q.

Marcella and salt

There was much to like in Marcella Hazan's cookbooks, but goodness she used way too much salt, and worse yet, was utterly defiant and unapologetic about it, despite the well-known hazards to blood pressure. Heck, my palate couldn't even tolerate how much salt her recipes called for, and I quickly learned to reduce her listed amounts by 3/4, then taste on the off chance I might need more.
A.
Tim Carman :

Marcella was my kind of cook. I love salt, but I realize others don't, particulary those with high blood pressure. I suspect reducing the salt by 3/4 in her recipes would result in dishes that don't appeal to me. I'd end up adding salt at the table.

– October 02, 2013 12:46 PM
Q.

Non-furloughed party

Bring sweet pea guacamole. Defrost a pound of frozen peas. Food processor-ize them with a tightly packed half cup of cilantro, a hot chili, two TB of olive oil, and a little salt. Or use tabasco instead of the chili. Chill together for at least 4 hrs. Top with more cilantro and some chopped red onion. Guacamole with less fat!
Q.

non dairy fennel puree

how would you make it?
A.
Rich Landau :

Easiest thing in the world!  Just roast the fennel first to caramelize it and bring out lots of flavor.  Then puree with a little veg stock, olive oil, salt and pepper and vegan sour cream...  

– October 02, 2013 12:50 PM
Q.

Re: Best flavors to mix with tempeh

Thanks! Those tempeh dishes sound great! Can't wait to try them.
Q.

Broken cheese sauce- Mac & cheese

Try adding the cheese after the bechamel has cooled for a few minutes. I believe this is what Julia Child's directions say.
Q.

Cauliflower-beet

In the fabulous Russian cookbook "Please to the Table" there is a most excellent recipe for "Two Colored Cauliflower and Beet Puree Bake." I am having trouble finding it online in a linkable form right now, but for the person wanting to make cauliflower puree, it is WELL worth finding. (It's on google books.)
Q.

Huacatay

May be too far for the poster but I've seen this paste at Korean Korner on Randolph/Viers Mill Rds. in Wheaton, MD.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Just called them. They have aji amarillo pastes, but none that mention the huacatay. 

– October 02, 2013 12:52 PM
Q.

re: What's for Dinner spreadsheet

Uh...can he make one for me please? Is it one giant spreadsheet or also divided out by types of food, etc.? I can see this becoming something too complicated. Maybe I can make my own flow chart.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Haha, he would probably love to. It's super-easy, though. Basically one spreadsheet we share on Google Dogs -- colums for dishes, type of cuisine, chef (hehe), weeknight (yes/no) and vegetarian (yes/no). It's not complicated at all. Just add a column for source and you're golden!

– October 02, 2013 12:52 PM
Q.

David Hagedorn :

Just wanted to get a plug in for the interactive class I'm teaching at the Hill Center this Saturday from 11am to 1pm. I teach you how to brand your dinner party style and how to construct a meal that keeps you with your guests instead of in the kitchen. Oh, and I buy your affection with food, too. Sign up here.

Q.

Post Printable Recipes

Despite now having a reader and often sending myself recipes via email, I still like having printed out versions so I can easily add notes about adjustments, tips, and spill on it without concern. I would love it if the printable format of the post recipes didn't waste so much paper- sure, I can copy and paste and re-format it some myself, but I would love it I could print without having to make adjustments or to have a short recipe fall onto two pages.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Noted! We're unveiling a new design for the database, so we'll pass this along, and if it's not too late...

– October 02, 2013 12:53 PM
Q.

office potluck

So after seeing the mac and cheese photo, I'm leaning towards bring that. Thoughts or am I just nuts?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

You would come home with a baking dish licked clean, I'd imagine.

– October 02, 2013 12:53 PM
Q.

Not "just oil"

Most of them have lecithin added (which I believe is part of oil,) a lot add silicone, and then there's the propellant. Pam brand has other stuff, probably preservative(s).
Q.

re: halloween bark

Not sure of the dimensions, but I was going to use silpats, the "average" size, if that helps. I just want enough to make people at work, on the roadtrip, and some at my fiance's work happy. The bags I have are the regular Hershey, and WF brand chocolate chips, so, I think 12 oz? Sorry, should've looked into this more!
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

call 2o2-334-7575 after 4 pm today and we'll talk through it. 

– October 02, 2013 12:53 PM
Q.

re: Halloween bark

Me again. Sorry, forgot to answer the second half of the question. What makes it Halloween-y is 1) some white chocolate tinted orange and 2) it will be put in cute little Halloween plastic candy bags.
A.
Joe Yonan :

I suspected we'd see some orange, indeed!

– October 02, 2013 12:54 PM
Q.

Cleaning Le Cruset pans

I know it's be talked about before but I just could not use bleach on my stained pan so I used baking soda and it worked well.
Q.

Must you preserve?

I've never had the urge to can or preserve anything but I found a recipe for apple jalapeno jam that I would like to try. It wants me to do the whole rigmarole of sterilizing the jam jars even though I plan on just keeping them in the fridge. Beyond just running through the dishwasher do I really need to do to boil the jars if I'm not doing a canning bath?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Freeze it in a zip-top bag. IMHO, gotta get past that rigamarole attitude. It takes less than you think to water-bath/preserve that way. Inserting happy face here. :)

– October 02, 2013 12:54 PM
Q.

Speaking of Cauliflower...

The Washington Post's Tomato Braised Cauliflower is one of my favorites. The first time I served it, my husband said "Why didn't I know cauiflower tasted this good before?" I've made it for dozens of people and always have to give out the recipe.

Q.

Fig suggestion

Make the fig paste that is part of the Challah with Olive Oil and Fig Paste recipe at Smitten Kitchen. GREAT in the challah, but really nice for other uses too.
Q.

Spinach person

That looks like it, except for the mushrooms. We all love them though, so I'll give it a try. Any reason to use ghee instead of the coconut oil (which I have)
Q.

Everything bagel topping

I've got a bag of this stuff from King Arthur - lots of seeds and some dried onion and garlic. It tastes really fab. If you tire of bagels, you can sprinkle it on plain cracker dough, or mix some into whole wheat bread. Bliss. Thought everyone should know.
Q.

Ganache

Thanks for the tip. I think I need the recipe to say "wait for the ganache to cool before pouring" b/c sometimes I act before really thinking about it. I had a lot of yummy ganache on the foil to eat later, though. The pie was still very delicious, even if the ganache wasn't really thick.
Q.

Corn for fall decor

I don't know how readily available this is, but we get colored popcorn on the cob in our CSA box. Last year, I did use some for decorating and then (forgive me) used my husband's air compressor to blow off any dust that might have collected on the cobs so we could pop them.
Q.

No onions!

It seems like everything I make starts with sauteing onions. I'm fine with that! My kids, less so. :( If they know there are onions in it, they won't eat it, doesn't matter if they can taste the onion or not. This is a problem ... So I am looking for suggestions of food to make, something that fits my tastes (comfort foods, meats with sauce over pasta, spaghetti with veggy sauce, that sort of thing) but excludes onions from the preparation. And mushrooms! :( :( I make too many meals for one that don't have to be, just need the right things to make.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I lived through the onion/no green specks in food phase in my house. You might be able to get around the former, I found, as long as you cook the onions to sweetness/puree consistency. Or start working onion powder into your pasta sauce. 

– October 02, 2013 12:58 PM
Q.

The French Slow Cooker

I just bought this and The Mediterranean Slow Cooker. I have a couple recipes that jumped out at me, but have you looked at it and is there anything that you would recommend?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Well, we included two recipes from "The French Slow Cooker" in our database!

Slow-Cooker Prune Custard Cake

Slow-Cooker Prune Custard Cake

Slow-Cooker Spicy Curried Pork

Slow-Cooker Spicy Curried Pork

– October 02, 2013 12:58 PM
Q.

lunch portion size and snacks

My tips - plan to eat healthy snacks during the day - a small container of hummus with a few carrot or celery sticks, a few grape tomatoes, a handful of nuts (always premeasure your nuts and only take what you need to work so you don't eat a whole jar of peanuts), fat-free Greek yogurt with fruit . . . plan for the hunger pangs. And drink water to stay hydrated and feeling full.
Q.

Canola oil substitute

So many of your recipes call for canola oil. What would you suggest as a healthier substitute? Also, I'd like to point out another source for guanciale--Three Little Pigs on Georgia Avenue--which uses locally sourced pork.
A.
Tim Carman :

Thanks for the tip on 3 Little Pigs.  I like that place.

 

As for healthy cooking oil replacements. That's not as easy to answer as you might think. I don't mean to pass the buck here, but I would do some online research on oil comparisons. Many sites will tell you the saturated fat as well as the  monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat content of each oil, as well as the smoke point of each. Then you can decide which one works best for you.

– October 02, 2013 12:58 PM
Q.

Office potluck

I've had good responses when I've brought a vegetarian soup (so many main-dish options seem to have meat, at least in my office). The catch is that my office doesn't have a good way to heat a big pot of soup, so I lug my slow cooker to work and set it up to heat the stuff a couple hours in advance. Not necessarily practical for public transit, but it's worked out well for me.
Q.

Cauliflower

Loved David's cauliflower story and recipe today. I've been thinking about making some cauliflower dishes soon and the selection he offered was just perfect. Really want to try the risotto--what an interesting idea. I was also thinking it might be interesting to roast the grated cauliflower a bit before proceeding with the risotto recipe. Thank you!
A.
David Hagedorn :

That's a good idea--maybe spray lightly with cooking spray and broil it briefly to get color on it fast, I'm thinking?

– October 02, 2013 12:59 PM
Q.

Buying non-stick skillets

I just saw some scratches on my non-stick skillet, so I'm planning on buying another one (you should still do that, right?) I'm a little shocked to see how expensive some of them are. It doesn't make sense to me to spend a ton of money on an item I know will last me only a few years. Is there any good reason some are worth more than others, or is this just a brand profiting off of its popularity?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

It does make sense, though, not to eat bits of nonstick coating. Buy a good-quality pan and take an oath, over a can of Pam, to avoid using scratchy utensils on it. 

– October 02, 2013 12:59 PM
Q.

Fire Pits

I live in the Virginia suburbs, and my wife wants a fire pit in our backyard. Her sister-in-law in Southern Virginia has one and uses it for cozy outdoor fires. My question is, if the localities permit such a thing, can the pit be used for cozy fires as well as for cooking? Specifically, I've been inspired by Michael Pollan's "Cooked" to explore barbecue-pit cooking. Trouble is, I'm a novice and am not sure a fire pit in my backyard is the best place to start experimenting with pit barbecue. But if I try it, can I then use the same pit for wood-burning fires? I think I know the answer to this question, and the fact that I have to ask probably screams its own answer about whether or not I should proceed with the whole pit-barbecue thing. But I'm asking just in case there's a shred of hope that I might be able to kill two birds with one stone.
A.
Tim Carman :

I don't see why you couldn't use a pit for both. People use hearths for both purposes, by in a day. As long as you cook only for yourself and not commercially, I'd think you're fine. But don't take this as the final word!

– October 02, 2013 1:00 PM
Q.

Joe Yonan :

Well, you're worked in batches as needed, then carefully added us to the hot oil and fried us for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown, then used a slotted spoon to transfer us to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the q's today, and thanks to Rich, Kate and David for their help with the a's. And now for the winners of our cookbooks!

The chatter who first expressed mac/cheese difficulties will get "The Washington Post Cookbook." The one who asked about a vegetarian Thanksgiving will get "Vedge." Send your mailing information to Becky at becky.krystal@washpost.com, and she'll get you your books.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading...

A.
Rich Landau :

Thanks for having us...! 

– October 02, 2013 1:00 PM
Q.

 

A.
Host: