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March 26, 2014

12
P.M.

Free Range on Food: Indian flatbreads, Beer Madness, Dolcezza and more

Total Responses: 84

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, Beer columnist Greg Kitsock and editorial aide Becky Krystal. Guests: Vikram Sunderam, executive chef at Rasika; Meridian Pint beverage director Sam Fitz; bread guru Mark Furstenberg of the upcoming Bread Furst.

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 today's chat! We've got SO MUCH TO CHAT ABOUT today. There's Becky's piece on Dolcezza's new factory (I know it just snowed, but wouldn't some soft-serve gelato help improve your mood right now?), David Hagedorn's look at Mark Furstenberg's opening of Bread Furst (with the help of an apprentice program), Greg Kitsock's blow-by-blow of Beer Madness Round 1, and Shulie Madnick's take on making Indian flatbreads at home.

To help us answer these and more, we have experts galore: Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam (congrats on the Beard nomination, chef!), Mr. Furstenberg himself, David, Greg -- and even (hopefully) an appearance by Sam Fitz of Meridian Pint, our host for this year's Beer Madness. Oh, and us regulars, including Carrie "Spirits" Allan.

We'll have giveaway books for our favorite chatters today: A cookbook TBA, and "The Beer Select-O-Pedia" by Michael Larson.

Let's do this!

Q.

Indian Flatbreads!

Loved the piece on Indian flatbreads today and am so excited to make them! Do you have suggestions for main dishes and sides that would accompany them?
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

With the gobi paratha the ideal accompaniments would be lentils and any vegetable sides. Also yogurt and clotted cream. The mint paratha can be had with all the curries.

– March 26, 2014 12:01 PM
Q.

Vegetarian on a budget in Paris

Don't know if you went this route on your trip but my 19 year old ovo lacto vegetarian daughter will be in Paris periodically over the next month or so - any thoughts on best places for her to eat on a backpacker's/student's budget? Thx!
A.
Joe Yonan :

Two places in the Marais immediately leap to mind: L'As Du Fallafel, the justifiably famous falafel spot (long lines that move very quickly -- it's worth it); and Breizh Cafe, where the buckwheat crepes cannot be beat. (And many veg options).

– March 26, 2014 12:01 PM
Q.

Lentil or Chickpea Flour Bread?

I love Indian flatbreads, but my child eats gluten-free. Can any of these flatbreads, or any other Indian breads, be made with non-wheat flours like lentil or chickpea flour?

A.
Vikram Sunderam :

Uttapam is a good option, it is a rice and lentil pancake made in South India. Also one can make gram flour pancakes. You can add some chopped onions and chilies to the gram flour batter to make it tastier.

– March 26, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

miso

I liked the miso article! But most discussions of miso say that it will last "indefinitely sealed in the fridge. I have a partially-used package (white miso) that's probably 3 or 4 years old now. Is it truly worth using? How can I tell if it's gone off?
A.
Joe Yonan :

I love miso as much as the author of that piece (if not more). And it's true, as a fermented food (with a high quantity of salt) it doesn't really spoil. If you know how it's supposed to smell, and it smells unappealing, then by all means, don't use it, but it should be fine. The folks who make my favorite domestic miso, South River, say that it's technically not even perishable -- they're not required to put any kind of date on it!

Anyway, to something more fun, what are you going to do with it? Here are some ideas:

Chicken-Fried Cauliflower With Miso-Mushroom Gravy

Miso-Marinated Scallops on Soba Noodles

Lentil-Miso Gravy

Barley, Tofu and Spinach Salad With Miso Dressing

Miso-Mustard-Glazed Tempeh With Collard Greens

Miso Tuna Burgers

– March 26, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

Verlasso salmon

I've seen you mention Verlasso salmon a couple of times and you have said it is available at Costco, among other locations. All I've seen at Costco is Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon and wild Alaskan sockeye. I've looked at a couple of locations. Is it frozen or fresh? I've been looking in the frozen section.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Sorry for the confusion! We ran a correction on this the day after those Tosca salmon recipes were published. That sustainable brand from Chile is sold at Fresh Markets and available through markets that are supplied by wholesalers Samuels and Son, and ProFish.

 

– March 26, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

Office potluck; lots of restrictions!

Hey! My small team at the office is having a potluck on Friday. There's 7 of us. Looking for some recommendations of good travel-friendly, easily re-heated (or served cold) dishes. Here's the thing. Our group has two catholics observing lent, so there can be no meat in the dishes. Additionally, the two of them gave up sweets and cheese for lent, respectively. Finally, one person has recently been (self) diagnosed with a gluten allergy! Would appreciate any creative and delicious ideas. Thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :
– March 26, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

Cherries

Hey food folks - just catching up on last week's chats and saw the question about buying sour cherries out of season. I have found them frozen at Persian markets. I have also reliably found them frozen at Russian and Polish markets.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Yes! Give that fan a contract (I'm feeling baseball, drawing closer.)

– March 26, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

Smoked paprika

Holy COW, I just discovered smoked paprika while making the recipe for America's Test Kitchen slow-cooked garlic shrimp. I'm a little (a lot) embarrassed that it took me so long to get my hands on it! Other than using it to spice up things like hummus and other dips, what are your favorite suggestions for using this spice? I need more of it in my life!
A.
Becky Krystal :

It's really good in this German Potato Salad from David Hagedorn. Or how about these Smoky Paprika BBQ Potato Chips?

Smoky Paprika BBQ Potato Chips

– March 26, 2014 12:10 PM
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

Smoked Paprika can also be used to make a marinade with yogurt for chicken tikka or paneer (Indian cottage cheese) which can then be grilled.

– March 26, 2014 12:10 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

I use it all the time. In fact, I have to be careful I don't use it too much, or people will think I have no other spices in my cabinet. (Which, if you saw my cabinet, you would know is so far from the truth. Actually, my cabinet, two drawers, a couple of boxes...)

Anyway, some more ideas from me:

Spanish-Style Chard With White Beans on Toast

Smoked Tofu Salad

Kale and Black-Eyed Peas With Smoky Grits

Beet, Kale and Bulgur Soup

Tacos With Smoky, Spicy Lentils

– March 26, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

freezing cheesecake

I have a recipe for a bailey's chocolate chip cheesecake that I would like to make for a dinner party in a few weeks. Can I make it a week or so in advance and freeze it? If so, should I take it out of the springform first or freeze it in the pan and any hints on wrapping it up? I know to wait and put the whipped cream topping on it until I'm ready to serve it. Thank you, food gurus, for any assistance!
A.
Becky Krystal :

First, that sounds really good. Second, by all means, go ahead and freeze. Remove the sides of the springform pan, but leave the cheesecake on the round insert. Wrap in maybe two layers of plastic wrap and then foil. Then freeze. Give it at least an overnight to thaw in the refrigerator.

– March 26, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

Gobi Paratha

I was just saying to someone yesterday that it was good that making Indian breads like naan and paratha were so time consuming, or I'd be making them all the time. I can't wait to make some of this gobi paratha, probably to accompany some aloo gobi! I don't have an excuse anymore!
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

Other accompaniments could also be dal makhani, punjabi kadi, cucumber raita and clarified butter (Ghee) or clotted cream (Malai).

– March 26, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

Kimchi sausage

I bought some smoked kimchi sausage at Union market but I'm stumped with what to do next. Suggestions?
A.
Tim Carman :

I figured you might have bought the sausage from Red Apron, so I called up Nate Anda, chef and butcher behind the operation at Union Market. He said the pork kimchi sausage is actually not smoked, but fresh. You'll need to saute it, grill it, cook it in some fashion before eating. Nate also mentioned the sausage does not have shrimp paste or fish sauce, so it's not as pungent as you might expect.

 

I suggested to Nate that his sausage would be great in migas, for a cross-cultural mix of Mexican and Korean flavors. He agreed. I would start with a recipe like this for migas, and substitute the kimchi sausage for the breakfast sausage.

 

Nate says he grills the sausage for about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes and serves it atop a Vietnamese-style salad of julienned carrots and cucumbers marinated for an hour in rice wine vinegar. Once marinated, remove the slaw, put it on a plate, top with the grilled sausage, chopped up salted Thai chilis, toasted coriander and fresh cilantro.

 

You can also do a variation on the above recipe, Nate says: You can cook up your favorite pasta (he uses a tri-colored carrot fusilli at The Partisan, the restaurant next to Red Apron on D Street NW) and then mix it with the coriander, cilantro, Thai chilis and Vietnamese slaw from above. You can then open the sausage casing, take out the crumbled meat and saute it in a hot pan. There should be enough fat in the sausage not to need any extra in the pasta dish.

Finally, Nate says, you could also just serve it as a hot dog, in a toasted bun with more kimchi on top and perhaps a sweet relish condiment tucked into the bun, too.

– March 26, 2014 12:10 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

One word: tacos.

– March 26, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

broccoli stems follow-up

I hate peeling broccoli stems, so for the chatter last week who loved eating the florets: saute some onions, add chopped, unpeeled broccoli stems and cook briefly in white wine, add veg stock and cook until tender, puree until smooth, add in perfectly cooked florets and some cream or milk (whatever kind). Season to taste and watch it be demolished. Did I mention peeling broccoli stems = not very much fun?

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Thanks for the folo/method! C'mon over to my house. We'll have fun peeling. 

– March 26, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

Vegan options for lunch in the District

I would like to take a friend out in the District for a celebratory lunch. My friend is a vegan, and while I'm not, I do enjoy vegan food. Any ideas for special places that are either vegan or vegan friendly? PS Love the Food section!
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

Rasika Penn Quarter, Westend or the Bombay Club are good places to go to as the menus have a lot of vegetarian and vegan options.

– March 26, 2014 12:11 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

That's certainly true! Vikram's cooking is some of my favorite in town. As a vegetarian, you really don't even have to think twice or even announce yourself, while vegans will find lots of possibilities, too.

– March 26, 2014 12:11 PM
Q.

flatbreads

Thanks for the interesting flatbread recipes. Are Indian flatbreads essentially the same as (wheat) tortillas, or is there a difference in ingredients, methods, or thickness? For example, do all Indian flatbreads involve whole wheat, and are tortillas more commonly non-whole wheat, or is that just how they've been most often marketed in this country?
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Flatbreads are everywhere in the world, on all continents and they are essentially the same.  Dough made without leavening and baked, griddled, or fried, done in frying pan in a wok, on the back of a wok, in the oven, in a tandoor.  With or without oil.  A variety of flours from wheat to rice to lentil.

– March 26, 2014 12:11 PM
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

Indian Flatbreads can also be made with various other flours such as gram flour, refined flour, maize and also add vegetables or spices to the dough like fenugreek, cumin, horseradish.

– March 26, 2014 12:11 PM
Q.

mincing ginger

I am not knife-adept at all and at a loss as to how to safely mince ginger as I find that it sticks to my grater, not just a bit, but totally. As in, grater had to go into the wash and I had no usable ginger. How is this done effectively, with no blood resulting!
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Do you have a microplane.  It works well.

– March 26, 2014 12:12 PM
A.
Becky Krystal :

I'm a proponent of freezing ginger. I find it makes it easier to peel and grate. When frozen, it doesn't stick nearly as much to the grater. Comes off in little gingery wisps.

– March 26, 2014 12:12 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

I'll make another plug for my favorite ginger gadget: A porcelain ginger grater. Love it.

– March 26, 2014 12:12 PM
Q.

Paris Vegetable Food

There are a lot of delicious North African places in Paris (sorry, I can no longer remember names. It has been a while!) that offer vegetarian food at good prices.
Q.

Bread Furst

Thank you for David's great article on Mark Furstenberg and his forthcoming bakery, Bread Furst. My waistline is in a lot of trouble: Bread Furst sits between my Metro station and home. I'm excited it will open soon and look forward to bringing home some amazing fresh-baked goods, although it sounds like there will be a lot more going on in the kitchen besides just bread. Would you share more about what types of baked goods the store will offer? Are we talking mostly breads or also sweet treats like cakes and cookies?
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

There is a full pastry kitchen that will do croissants, danish, biscuits and other morning breads, turn to cookies and ice cream and ice cream drinks in the afterrnoon with whole cakes, pies, and other American sweets for the evening.  Quiches and other savory pastries too.

– March 26, 2014 12:17 PM
Q.

Smoked Paprika

I love it too and I find it's pretty versatile. I put it in salad dressing a lot. A simple combo of honey and smoked paprika goes nicely with chicken, shrimp and certain vegetables.
Q.

Parathas with chickpea flour?

Ooh, I've got a head of cauliflower and what's left of my whole wheat flour. Would it be okay to substitute a little chickpea flour (less than half) for the whole wheat flour? All of these little breads sound yummy.
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

yes, you may blend both the flours but keep in mind to make the dough a little harder as gram flour makes it soft as there is no gluten in gram flour to hold it together. 

– March 26, 2014 12:17 PM
Q.

Adding some zazzle to pesto pasta

I have some pesto ready in the fridge, and some homemade angel hair pasta that I'm looking forward to devouring tonight. I'd like to add something else (vegetarian) to it but can't think of anything but broccoli, which I'm just not feeling right now. Do you have any suggestions?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Sun-dried tomatoes! I've also been known to toss in some goat cheese into a dish like that.

– March 26, 2014 12:18 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Spinach! Peas! Olives!

– March 26, 2014 12:18 PM
Q.

Boned? Boneless? Lamb for Passover Seder

I know this question is a little early for this kind of thing, but my church's annual seder was dropped in my lap this year. There was some unclear discussion about whether to seek out boneless leg of lamb, or a boned leg of lamb (and ask the butcher to remove it from the bone and do whatever dressing is necessary + keep a bone for the seder). My question is two-fold. First, which cut should I be looking for, in terms of tradition, relatively easy cooking (that can be scaled way, way up--scaled for at least 50-75 people), and rock-star results? Second, where should I be looking for best results with the best price (lamb ain't cheap)? I live in the Southern Alexandria area, but I'm mobile and don't mind traveling a little in the metro area!
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

 I love the taste of lamb cooked on the bone (That bone for the Seder should be shankbone, fyi.) If you buy American lamb, a bone-in leg could serve 10 to 15 people. New Zealand or Australian leg's a bit smaller -- maybe 6 to 8 servings. A boneless/butterflied leg of lamb is easy to marinate and serve, but a tad tricky to assess doneness because of the various, natural inconsistencies in thickness, etc. Then again, it makes for great seasoning all the way through....you could toss lots of garlic, parsley, oregano, s&p, olive oil all over it, then roll it up and tie it (for more consistent serving/cooking). 

 

We have some great recipes:

Roast Leg of Lamb With Herb Jus

Chef Krinn's Effortless Leg of Lamb

Lamb With Ras el Hanout and Honey

Roast Leg of Lamb Studded With Sweet Garlic

To make things MUCH easier, you might want to go in the direction of a braised ragu, which would be easier on your budget and would eliminate the worry of overcooking the meat. Check out this Slow-Cooker Lamb Stew Agrodolce.

 

Re price: You might try a good hallal butcher near where you live. I find prices there most reasonable. 

– March 26, 2014 12:18 PM
Q.

Cooking Class In Italy (from last week)

I spent a week at Casa Gregorio a little over a year ago and it was a blast! Go, you won't regret it.

A.
Becky Krystal :

Thanks for following up.

– March 26, 2014 12:18 PM
Q.

The peanut soup

The spicy vegetarian peanut soup recipe looks awesome, but I don't have any good vegetable broth on hand right now and no time to make it. I do have chicken broth -- whether the soup is vegetarian or not doesn't matter to me, so will substituting chicken broth do violence to this recipe?

Spicy Vegetarian Peanut Soup

A.
Mark Furstenberg :

No, not at all.  My recipe used to have chicken stock.  My son, Philippe, turned it into a soup made with vegetable stock.  If you use chicken stock, however, water it down a bit so that the chicken flavor is very much in the background.

– March 26, 2014 12:20 PM
Q.

Cranberry stuffed chicken

Hi free rangers- My husband just found out that the beloved cook from his fraternity days recently passed away. One of his favorite meals was cranberry stuffed chicken, which we remember as pounded chicken breast spread with some kind of sauce made from dried cranberries, rolled up and baked. I'd like to try to recreate it as a way to honor him, does this sound like any recipes you've come across before? Thanks for your help!
A.
Becky Krystal :

These Spiced and Fruit-Stuffed Chicken Breasts sound like they could work. Just use dried cranberries (or a mix that includes them) for the filling.

Spiced and Fruit-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

If you wanted a sauce also with cranberries instead of the one in that recipe, this Triple Cranberry Sauce uses dried cranberries.

– March 26, 2014 12:21 PM
Q.

Is the date set for your....

Passover section? I am feeling totally uninspired this year. Maybe it is the constant snow. When it is warmer it is easier to contemplate 8 days of no bread and no pasta.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

April 9. We have some unusual, simple recipes this year. I'm psyched. I've already started eating matzoh brei -- lured by those five-set boxes on sale. Oy to the vey. 

– March 26, 2014 12:21 PM
Q.

Overnight oatmeal

I've recently discovered overnight oatmeal (or yogurt oatmeal, or no-cook oatmeal). I suppose I might get sick of it down the road, but in the meantime it's like a breakfast revolution. My question: do you know of other grains besides rolled oats that soften enough to be edible with overnight soaking? If you don't, it's not like I can't play around a bit, but if you can save me some failed experiments. . .
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Overnight soaking works with all whole grains.  It hydrates the grains so that they can be cooked very quickly, have more flavor, and more moisture.  Add a little salt when cooking.  We hydrate whole berries, wheat, rye, and the like before cooking them and adding them to bread doughs.

If you don't want to cook them at all you can use the microwave.  Or you can try rolled oats/wheat but those lack the nutritional power as whole grains.

– March 26, 2014 12:25 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

I make soaked oatmeal all the time during the summer. Almond milk (or, yes, yogurt), oats, overnight, fabulous. But I don't know of any other grains that soften the way oats (particularly rolled oats) do overnight.

– March 26, 2014 12:25 PM
Q.

Low-alcohol beer

For the person looking for a high-quality low alcohol beer last week, I recommend Bitter American by the 21st Amendment Brewery. It's a very hoppy session beer that comes in cans. I'm not sure about the calories, but I assume that less alcohol means fewer calories. The flavor is very strong, not at all anemic.
A.
Tim Carman :

I would also suggest going to Right Proper Brewing Co. in Shaw, where they brew some wonderfully low-alcohol beers, some as low as 3.5 percent alcohol.

– March 26, 2014 12:25 PM
A.
Greg Kitsock :

I mentioned some lower-alcohol session IPAs last week, and I'd like to add Route 1 from Fordham Brewing Co. in Delaware and the forthcoming Easy IPA from Flying Dog in Frederick. That's a new style that's really generating a lot of interest. 

– March 26, 2014 12:25 PM
A.
Sam Fitz :

Writing from Maine I'd recommend the farmhouse offerings from Oxbow Brewing Company. They make a range of low abv farmhouse saisons and grisettes that clock in below 5% and are bursting with flavor. Grizacca in particular is an awesome American take on a grisette with a big hop bouqet.

– March 26, 2014 12:25 PM
Q.

ISO miso

Is miso available at the typical Giant? is it a refrigerator item or an Asian dry goods item? I keep wanting to try some of your recipes, Joe, that call for miso.
A.
Tim Carman :

I called the new Giant location at the O Street Market, and they said they don't sell any miso. (And they made me listen to John Denver music while they checked!)

 

But you can find miso, in its various shades, at Whole Foods.

– March 26, 2014 12:26 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

It's usually refrigerated, and at WF, it's near the kimchi and mock meats. Of course, it's also available at H Marts and other Asian superstores, and at the lovely Hana Japanese market on U Street.

– March 26, 2014 12:26 PM
Q.

lentils at Bombay Club

I'm hoping you can help me, either this week or another week. I am obsessed with the lentils (dal) at the Bombay Club. Any chance you can either get their recipe, or give your readers an approximation?? (Pretty please with sugar on top???)
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

I have offered the same plea to Vikram.

– March 26, 2014 12:27 PM
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

Definitely we can give you the recipe! Please send us your contact details or call us on 202-466-2500. 

Lentils take a long time to cook, approximately 12-18hours. 

– March 26, 2014 12:27 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

This is why Vikram is a Beard-nominated chef, and I am not. I've never cooked lentils anywhere near that long!

– March 26, 2014 12:27 PM
Q.

Butternut Squash

Any ideas on a main dish I can make with my butternut squash, that will satisfy my carnivore husband (so reasonably high protein)? It doesn't have to be vegetarian - but bonus points are awarded if I don't have to go grocery shopping today, and if it will go with the asparagus in my fridge. Thanks!
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Team cubed butternut squash with a grain -- quinoa, for example, by roasting the squash with a little oil, cooking the quinoa, adding caramelized onions, toasted walnuts, and a little seasonal fruit -- pear or apple or a dried berry.

– March 26, 2014 12:27 PM
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

You can roast the butternut squash and then saute it with tomatoes, onions, cumin, ginger and green chilies. 

– March 26, 2014 12:27 PM
Q.

Smoked paprika

I also discovered smoked paprika this weekend thanks to the WaPo! I'm going to plug this recipe, which is delicious (I'm eating leftovers for lunch, yum)!

Q.

peeling ginger

I recently read somewhere (maybe here?) that you can peel your ginger by scraping it with a spoon! As for mincing it, I try to make tiny matchsticks and slice thinly. Grating it is another story. It sticks to my food processor :(
A.
Becky Krystal :

Sounds like something we might have said! As Mark noted, the Microplane zester is what you really want for grating.

– March 26, 2014 12:27 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Spoon -- absolutely. Seems to work best. For grating, porcelain!

– March 26, 2014 12:27 PM
Q.

Edible Front Yard from Last Week?

I asked last week about local resources to help me figure out how to design my front yard so that it is edible instead of lawn. I could not find your post in "Local Living" or on Facebook, and I'm not twitterpated (I don't do twitter), so if you could just post a link that would be very helpful. Thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :
– March 26, 2014 12:27 PM
Q.

Beans without meat

I think that this is a question for Vegetarian Joe: I'm gradually moving our eating habits toward more vegetable-based meals. We're solidly in the "meat as an ingredient" camp, and like it. But now I'm looking at all the dried bean dishes on the rotation, and I'm a little disappointed by how much they rely on meat -- pork hocks, sausage, ground meats -- for fundamental flavor and umami. Don't get me wrong -- I love beans and even belong to Rancho Gordo's quarterly bean club -- but how do I ease out of a reliance on supplementing them with meat for flavor? Thanks for this chat, and for the Food section in general!
A.
Joe Yonan :

You're way ahead of the game by cooking your beans from dried, IMO. You come away with that beautiful bean-cooking liquid that adds so much flavor to anything you do with it. As for how to wean yourself off meat, I think you need to just go cold turkey and look at aromatic vegetables and spices to do that flavor-building thing they do so well. The aforementioned smoked paprika is fantastic with beans, as are chilies, onions, garlic. Try a bean dip with smoked paprika, roasted garlic, white beans, a little vinegar, and olive oil, and you'll see what I mean.

– March 26, 2014 12:30 PM
Q.

Grating Ginger

I do have a porcelain grater like Joe suggested, but I prefer the Microplane!
A.
Joe Yonan :

To each his own, of course! Use what works for you. I love how the porcelain grater pulls the fiber out of the ginger and sends the juice to the outer moat, where it's so easy to swipe into whatever you're cooking.

– March 26, 2014 12:31 PM
Q.

Curious about hazelnut oil

I'd love to try using nut oil, but my daughter is allergic to certain tree nuts (not allergic to hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans, but allergic to pistachios, for example). Do you think there's any hope of finding a single-source nut oil I could use? So often what I see in stores is "processed on same equipment" as unspecified tree nuts, so I'm afraid to risk it.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

According to the Peanut Institute, unrefined and/or cold-pressed nut oils are the ones that might cause a problem. (Peanut oil's highly refined and there are studies, again, according to the institute), that show its use poses no risk to those with peanut allergies.  Best to call the maker of a good hazelnut or walnut oil (my faves!) and ask them about their specific processing practices. Chatters, any further intel to share?

– March 26, 2014 12:34 PM
Q.

But how do you get the pocket?

Some flatbreads open nicely for stuffing and others don't seem to. Is there a technique or ingredient for getting pitas and puris and parathas to open?
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Pita and other pocket breads typically contain yeast and open well if they are proofed before baking.  Many other flatbreads are made without yeast.

– March 26, 2014 12:34 PM
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

For flatbreads that are made without yeast like puri, firstly the dough needs to be firm. Secondly, they should not be rolled too thin. Approximately, 1/8th of an inch and when you fry them the oil should be hot enough (atleast 350 F).  

– March 26, 2014 12:34 PM
Q.

Lamb

I've gotten pretty good boneless leg of lamb at Costco for cheaper than the regular grocery stores. But I only need one, so it might sound more reasonable for my little gathering than it does when you need a bunch...
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Good prices there, for sure. 

– March 26, 2014 12:34 PM
Q.

ground farmed deer meat

I have been given a couple of pounds of lovely, tender, lean farmed deer meat. I would like to make it into sausage. I am thinking apple, ground pork and sage but I am only guessing that that combo would work. How should I go about it? I am stumped, please help!
A.
Tim Carman :

Hank Shaw, the hunter and cookbook author (whose work I trust), has a recipe for sage and juniper sausage, which sounds close to what you're aiming for. You'll need some other ingredients, like fat back and hog casings. Your local butcher should be able to help you with those.

– March 26, 2014 12:34 PM
Q.

Tofu 101

I bought a package of firm tofu and now I need to know exactly what to do with it. My husband enjoys it fried at Thai restaurants, but can it be made in a pan, rather than deep-frying? Also, how do you press out the liquid and for how long?
A.
Joe Yonan :

There are lots of ways to cook tofu. One of my favorites is to marinate it in sesame oil, garlic, ginger, soy, rice vinegar overnight and then to toss in cornstarch and bake it. Dries it out and gets it a litle crunchy on the outside, and makes it great for tossing in stir-fries, salads, etc.

But first, yes, I press the water out of it. My preferred method is to wrap it in paper towels, set it on a plate, set another plate on top, put a can or other weight on top and let it press for a half hour or so, then take off the paper towels and pat it dry. (Although I have to say, if you haven't tried Twin Oaks tofu from Virginia, you should -- it's vacuum packed, not in water, so no pressing needed.)

– March 26, 2014 12:35 PM
Q.

Microplaning ginger

You guys really like that method? Maybe I'm doing it wrong, because I plane and plane and plane and make little headway on producing actual mince. More like mostly juice. Is there a trick? Could my microplane need replacing? (I've wondered if the little blades get bent down over time due to use and/or washing.)
A.
Becky Krystal :

Yes, I like it, but with the caveat that I like it that way best when the ginger has been frozen. (Although I did grate fresh ginger this weekend with pulpy though acceptable results.) You're never going to get a mince from the zester. For that, you should just use a knife.

– March 26, 2014 12:37 PM
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Yes, microplanes are not forever.  I just a few weeks ago threw away mine and replaced it with a new one.

– March 26, 2014 12:37 PM
Q.

smoked paprika uses

I use it in a coating for roasted chickpeas along with brown sugar, salt, and cayenne (or chili powder if I don't feel like having that cayenne kick). The key to getting the chickpeas crispy (and staying that way!) is to rinse and drain them very well, then pat them very, very dry with a towel. Mix the spices in the olive oil, then toss the chickpeas in that mixture. Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 10. I tried using smoked paprika as a popcorn topping, and wasn't a fan. :/ But I do love it so, and am always on the lookout for other uses.
Q.

Farm raised salmon

Gawd Wegman's is touting locally grown farm raised Salmon. Its from WVA! Only thing I drink or eat from WVA is moonshine! Have you tried it yet? Shame on Wegman's for offering any seafood that is farm raised!!!
A.
Tim Carman :

Not all farm-raised salmon is alike. Like our colleague Tamar Haspel reported last fall, salmon farmers have listened to the complaints and have improved their operations to make them more sustainable and environmental. I can't speak to the West Virginia farm, but I suspect Wegmans has standards for any fish product it sells.

– March 26, 2014 12:37 PM
Q.

OP cranberry stuffed chicken

That's it! Thanks so much for your help! You guys rock :)
Q.

Shredded beets, no horseradish

Any suggestions for where to find a jar of shredded beets *without* horseradish? I'm in VA but would go into DC or MD to find it. (FWIW, Kielbasa Factory in Rockville hasn't had it when I've gone the past two years.) Thanks.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Depending on how much you need, any jar of Manischewitz borscht with shredded beets in it won't contain horseradish. That brand's widely available in area grocery stores. Othentic brand shredded red beets are just that, no horseradish; you can buy them online via shopOrganic. (Mom's Markets in the area carries the Othentic brand but it's a shredded beet/cabbage combo.) 

– March 26, 2014 12:39 PM
Q.

Tempeh?

Hi! SO after Joe said his favorite new thing since becoming a vegetarian is tempeh, I made an impulse purchase at the grocery store. Now what do I do with it?!
A.
Joe Yonan :

Cut it in half equatorially (you know what I mean?) to make thinner steaks, then pan-fry it until golden in 1/4 inch of oil or so until golden brown on both sides, then pour out the oil, turn down the heat, and pour in a little teriyaki or tamari or another dressing.

That's basically how you make my mustard-miso-glazed tempeh. Or you could make these kebobs.

 

– March 26, 2014 12:39 PM
Q.

Sunshine almost always makes me high

Thank you, Tim Carman, for gritting your teeth through John Denver for me ;-) I'll go to Eden Center--miso everywhere
A.
Becky Krystal :

As an additional option, I got mine at Mom's this weekend.

– March 26, 2014 12:39 PM
A.
Tim Carman :

Anything for our readers! :)

– March 26, 2014 12:39 PM
Q.

artichokes

Joe, I always feel it is a waste to buy whole artichokes and then use only the heart, as I am a big fan of artichokes. Once you have pulled off the leaves to get to the heart, is there any reason they couldn't be steamed and eaten as usual?
A.
Joe Yonan :

No reason at all!

– March 26, 2014 12:39 PM
Q.

Miso at Giant

I've had no luck finding miso at any Giant stores near me (or Food Lion). I did find it in the Asian/International aisle at Harris Teeter.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks!

– March 26, 2014 12:40 PM
Q.

Re: Office Potluck

Gee whiz, at what point do you draw a line and just tell people to bring their own food? (and change it from "potluck" to "brownbag")?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Ha. That's one way to look at it, I guess! But it is fun to try dishes from a bunch of different people.

– March 26, 2014 12:40 PM
Q.

Bread

Years ago in a different city, I used to buy a Baltic rye bread, dark crust, no caraway, earthy, chewy, thick on the inside. I spread butter and sardines on it. It was my favorite lunch ever and I've never quite met its match. I hope there's an earthy bread like that coming although I love brioche and croissants too.
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Wait a few weeks.

– March 26, 2014 12:40 PM
Q.

Public Service Announcement

I don't know if I'm just super late to the game, but I had to share. I went to the new TJ's on 14th (yay! cheap wine and cheese!) and discovered that they have upped their game from cookie butter to cookie butter and cocoa swirl (i.e. nutella). It. is. amazing.
Q.

Lamb

Please give local lamb a try. It worth price and superior to lamb imported into this country and sold at Safeway, Giant, Costco and Whole Foods. VA lamb is also superior to lamb from out west.
A.
Tim Carman :

Craig Rogers, is that you?

– March 26, 2014 12:43 PM
Q.

Not all flatbreads are alike! Though I love them all

There is great variety in texture if nothing else - some are bubbled up, some are crisp, some are fluffy, some have rims like pizza, some are curved. And THEN we get to the flour differences, the fluid and fat differences, the fermenting differences, etc. I've spent a decade making different ones at home, and there is no end to the variety and pleasure. I recommend Alford and Diguid's Flatbreads and Flavors for inspiration, though some of the recipes are...impressionistic.
Q.

Edible Front Yard (again)

Thanks for the link, I was really hoping more for information about a class or a person who could help me design my edible front yard. Someone like Fritz Haeg would could look at my yard, and tell me where to plant what. I would like to get the most bang for my buck foodwise, but still have everything look appealing. I have a bigger space (almost an acre) and could really use some design help. I've tried the garden planners, but have a hard time visualizing what things will actually look like.
A.
Joe Yonan :

An acre! Wow, I'm jealous. I'm not working on anything like that scale, just doing a little 150-square-foot thing in the city. You might check out Love and Carrots; I've seen some of their work, and it's great.

– March 26, 2014 12:46 PM
Q.

Lentils, dal, cooking times

I'd love to hear Vikram expand a bit on cooking lentils and making dal. I've been making Indian food at home recently but haven't really perfected dal. Tips? Advice?
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

It is always good to soak lentils overnight so that they become soft and cook faster. Turmeric can be used while boiling to add color and flavor. Add enough water to cook them and temper them with cumin, garlic, ginger, green chilies and tomatoes. Asafoetida (hing) also enhances the flavor. 

– March 26, 2014 12:46 PM
Q.

matzoh brei

Would Bonnie tell us how she makes her matzoh brei? I've tried making it several times, from several people's instructions, but it never comes out the way theirs does. Help!
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

A very basic way, for breakfast: Break up 1 or 2 sheets of matzoh into a bowl, bite-size pieces. Pour lots of just-boiled water over it. Soak for 15 or 30 seconds, then drain. (I like mine with some crisp edges, so the matzoh's not completely soft.) Stir in 1 large egg, quickly, so the matzoh looks kind of yellow-coated. 

 

Melt butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Pour in the matzoh and let it cook UNDISTURBED for 2 minutes, then start shoving it around with a spatula until the matzoh pieces look a little soft yet separate easily. Takes about 3 more minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup (yes, that's how I roll.) Foolproof! 

– March 26, 2014 12:46 PM
Q.

I'm on dinner duty tonight...

What is a quick cooking (less than 20 mins, not including resting) cut of red meat that I don't need to marinate?
A.
Becky Krystal :
– March 26, 2014 12:46 PM
Q.

Local

Since the Wp and Food section is always touting locally grown and produced how come this doesnt pertain to local wines??? When was the last time the Food section tasted anything local! Come on guys. At least once a month the wine column should feature local VA and MD wines. You all are as bad F&W when it comes to local wines.
A.
Sam Fitz :

I think it is time to give local wine a place in our discussions. Boxwood in Middleburg, VA is making some great Bordeaux-style wines and we do well with their products at Meridian Pint. I've also grown quite enamored with the ciders and meads coming from Millstone in Monkton, MD. Just a different type of wine...

– March 26, 2014 12:48 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Columnist Dave McIntyre is a huge proponent of local wines, so I'm sure he'd be interested in answering this, but doubt I'll hear from him in time. So come back next week and see what he has to say!

– March 26, 2014 12:48 PM
Q.

Peeling ginger

Spoon works pretty well, but vegetable peeler is the best b/c it rotates and has a pointy end - easier to get into all the nooks with a piece of ginger that has lots of arms coming off it.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Disagree, respectfully. I find the spoon easiest to get into those nooks without chopping them off!

– March 26, 2014 12:48 PM
Q.

Desperately seeking frozen tart cherries

Original poster, very grateful for the suggestion of Persian markets...can you please specifcy WHICH Persian markets? Thus far I am coming up empty. Many thanks!
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Yekta Market in Rockville carries them; also in jars, which I've found are good quality. 

– March 26, 2014 12:48 PM
Q.

grill pans

How much smoke should I expect from a grill pan (indoors)? We have a glass-top electric stove (not induction) and a recirculating fan (not exhaust). What should I expect from using a grill pan (a) now or (b) when we can open windows, should that happy concept of warm weather ever arrive (Wisconsin)? Or should I give up until we can get the gas range and exhaust fan of my dreams?
A.
Becky Krystal :

I've never been smoked out of my house from using my grill pan (not the same way as when I make pizza), but it might vary based on what you're cooking. I guess you can give it a try, and if you need to open the window for a few minutes when it's still chilly outside, you'll probably live!

– March 26, 2014 12:48 PM
Q.

healthy make-ahead spring meals

I enjoy making (and eating) healthy meals; however, I frequently don't feel like cooking after work. This is fine during the cooler months where I can make soups and stews, spaghetti sauce, and casseroles on the weekend and freeze them... but in the warmer months I prefer to eat lots of fresh veggies and lighter food. Any suggestions for good make-ahead meals for the spring and summer? Thanks!
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

I confess that cooking for myself is recreation after a long day of cooking for others.  Nevertheless, I have this short cut:  Blanch appropriate seasonal vegatables, e.g. green beans and ice them.  Keep them in the refrigerator for quick additions to dishes.  One large loaf of bread well made lasts five days.  Rice and other grains can be cooked and then reheated.  I have varieties of partially cooked ingredients in my refrigerator and change combinations.  Then at the end there is always a nice seasonal vegetable soup.

– March 26, 2014 12:48 PM
Q.

Rosemary extract?

I'm seeing rosemary extract on ingredient labels an awful lot lately, usually right at the end of the ingredient list. Any idea what purpose it might serve? I don't taste rosemary in these items at all--which is a problem, because I'm allergic to it. I'm normally quite good at checking labels, but it seems to be cropping up in items it was never in before (i.e., stuff I thought was safe for me). It doesn't seem to be there as a flavor; any thoughts?
A.
Joe Yonan :

Can you tell us what items you've seen it in?

– March 26, 2014 12:49 PM
Q.

Storing cooked-from-dried beans

Is there any way to store (long term) dried beans that I've cooked? there's many times I think of using beans for something too late too cook them, but I don't usually keep too many canned beans around. Can I freeze cooked beans, or would they last a few weeks some other way? Or am I just better off keeping commercially canned beans around?
A.
Joe Yonan :

Freeze them in their cooking liquid in zip-top bags. They freeze beautifully this way, and defrost quickly.

– March 26, 2014 12:49 PM
Q.

Local Lamb

No its not Craig Rogers. His lamb is mediocre. There are better producers of lamb in Va than Mr Rogers. Dare you to post this!!!!
A.
Joe Yonan :

Dare accepted.

– March 26, 2014 12:49 PM
Q.

Puffing flatbreads

Make sure the dough is fully risen, and give it a few moment to recover itself after you pat or stretch or roll it out to size. Also helps to bake on a stone rather than on the stovetop, in my experience which may not be typical.
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Stone can mean untreated quarry tiles available for 75 cents at hardware stores.

– March 26, 2014 12:49 PM
Q.

More chickpeas please

Those roasted Chickpeas sound great-would love to get more details on amounts of sugar and spices used. Thank you
Q.

BEANS WITHOUT MEAT

I add some chipotle chiles to many bean dishes. It imparts that umami flavor that makes up for the absence of meat.
Q.

edible front yard

May I make a plug for your university extension system? No matter where you live in the country, your state has a university extension system with a horticulture division. Among other things, it provides all manner of information and resources for home vegetable and flower gardening, lawn care, etc. -- all research-based, all free or at nominal cost, all tailored to the growing conditions in your area (e.g., weather, soil conditions, etc.) You also can get a soil test for a nominal cost, so that you know what nutrients your soil does -- and does not -- need to nurture healthy growth without unnecessary added chemicals. You can get free advice from master gardener volunteers. YOU are paying for this through your university system. Enjoy it!
A.
Joe Yonan :

So glad you mentioned this! Yes, extension services are great. I'll be writing more about this at another time!

– March 26, 2014 12:51 PM
Q.

Re: EDIBLE FRONT YARD (AGAIN)

I can't echo Joe's keep it simple motto enough. I've had a large garden (~1500 sq ft.) for the last couple of years, and at a small fraction of an acre it takes many, many hours of planning and time. Keeping up the weeding is a job in and of itself. For an acre you'd need many helping hands. Start small and work up from there.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks!

– March 26, 2014 12:51 PM
Q.

Cherries

Yeketa had them last time I was there. There is a Russian Market in the same shopping center that also had them. Kielbasa Factory also usually has them. So does Russian Gourmet (I think that's the name?) in McLean. As the old yellow pages ads said, let your fingers do the walking and call those places first.
Q.

Sheep dude

Guys, you KNOW that uptight VA person is the sheep dude that we are all so tired of. Please, please, don't encourage him!
A.
Joe Yonan :

It's like picking at a scab -- sometimes I just can't help it!

– March 26, 2014 12:53 PM
Q.

Today's quick dinner

The pork chops and salad look great, but I cook for a family that includes several cumin haters. Can you suggest an alternate spice choice for the chop and the salad? In general, is there one specific substitute for cumin in most or at least many foods?

A.
Tim Carman :

You can substitute ground coriander for the cumin or even caraway (the latter will add a licorice aroma, however).

– March 26, 2014 12:53 PM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

For the cumin-averse, maybe make just make half the paprika mix without cumin, or with 1 teaspoon of turmeric PLUS 1 teaspoon lemon juice (instead of the 4 teaspoons of cumin). You shouldn't be deprived -- seasoning's good here, I think. 

– March 26, 2014 12:53 PM
Q.

Please commiserate

I bought two tubs of hummus, one for me, one for my partner, on my way to work this morning since I have a bunch of carrots at home. I just went to the fridge to get my lunch out and someone had opened not one, but BOTH tubs of hummus and eaten half of each! They also fully scooped out the middle part of roasted pine nuts and olives. I might cry.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Oh, that's such a bummer. Who are these people?! There's someone running amok at my husband's office eating everyone's food -- so much so that management is starting to get involved! They call him/her the Tasty Kabob Bandit for their apparent affection for food from the truck. Although the person will eat pretty much anything from salads to home-made beans. Seriously, it is out of control.

– March 26, 2014 12:54 PM
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Someone in your workplace committed humm-icide.

– March 26, 2014 12:54 PM
Q.

re: smoked paprika

Add it to a bit pot of homemade chili. It'll add a whole new dimension. Also, make these immediately: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/12/sugar-and-spice-candied-nuts/
Q.

rosemary extract

Rose mary extract is used as a preservative. The Organic regulations allow rosemary extract as a preservative.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks for the intel!

– March 26, 2014 12:54 PM
Q.

DC

Does DC have an extension service?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Appears so, at UDC.

– March 26, 2014 12:55 PM
Q.

Edible front yard

Check with your local zoning rules too first before going through all the trouble. All kinds of stories out there of people getting fined or having to dig everything up when they tried to turn their entire yard into a food garden.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Sure, but as far as I know this hasn't been an issue in the DC area -- although I'll be writing about that in the future, too!

– March 26, 2014 12:59 PM
Q.

edble front yard

The key to an easy edible landscape is not to rip up all the lawn. Rather, use perenial food producing plants, shrubs and trees. We have mulberry trees, cherry trees, blackberries, black raspberries, wineberries, blue berries, asparagus, etc spread throughout our one acre yard. We do have a more intensively managed vegetable garden, but that is not something that would be easy to keep over the entire yard.
Q.

for the hummus-deprived person

famous poem of inadequate apology, can be adapted to hummus This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold
Q.

chicken korma

Eating leftover chicken korma (recipe ran last week maybe?)--awesome flavors, and coworkers passing by the microwave while I was reheating were jealous ('smells good'!). My sauce broke a bit though, so it's not all that attractive. Maybe the heat was too high when I added the yogurt, or maybe the water should have gone in first? Simmering 10 minutes with yogurt seemed problematic.

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

High heat can be an issue, and sometimes a full-fat yogurt behaves better than a low-/nonfat one. But you can generally pull it back together by whisking in extra yogurt, or even a little cornstarch/water slurry. 

– March 26, 2014 12:59 PM
A.
Vikram Sunderam :

You can also hold the yogurt together with cashew nut paste for this recipe. Also gram flour is a good binding agent for yogurt.

– March 26, 2014 12:59 PM
Q.

Flatbreads that puff when they shouldn't

I make flatbreads regularly, and some puff when I don't want them to. Even if they're thin. How do I keep them from bubbling up or puffing entirely?
A.
Mark Furstenberg :

Get a cheap roller docker and roll it over the breads just before baking.  The holes it makes will prevent puffing in the oven.

– March 26, 2014 12:59 PM
Q.

Lamb OP

More than happy to try local lamb! Where would I find it, if not at the stores listed?
A.
Tim Carman :
– March 26, 2014 1:01 PM
Q.

Joe Yonan :

Well, you've cooked us until craterlike bubles start to form on our surface, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today, and thanks to all our special guests for the a's!

Now for the book winners: The chatter who weighed in on low-alcohol beers will get "Beer: What to Drink Next: Featuring the Beer Select-O-Pedia" by Michael Larson. The chatter who asked about smoked paprika will get "Mediterranean Cooking" by Ellen Brown. Send your mailing address to Becky.Krystal@washpost.com, and we'll get you your books!

Until next time, happy drinking, eating, cooking and reading!

Q.

 

A.
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