Auto Load Responses: 
Font Size: 

March 7, 2012

12
P.M.

Free Range on Food: Beer Madness, slow cookers and more

Total Responses: 93

About the hosts

About the host

Bonnie Benwick

Bonnie Benwick is interim editor of the Food section; joining us today are recipe editor Jane Touzalin, staff writer Tim Carman, Food aide Becky Krystal, Smarter Food columnist and former Food staff writer Jane Black and beer columnist Greg Kitsock. Guest: Greg Engert, Neigborhood Restaurant Group beer director.

About the topic

Free Range on Food: Beer Madness, slow cookers and more.

Past Free Range on Food chats
Q.

Bonnie Benwick :

Neutron walks into a bar, orders a beer and asks, "How much will that be?" Bartender says: "For you, no charge."

Pint-size humor! Big yucks! Because it's time for Beer Madness, The Post's annual taste-off inspired by some minor basketball tourney that happens sometime around now.  Today kicks off consecutive weeks of Food coverage that will reveal the results of our panel's rounds and rounds of  tasting 32 all-American craft brews, in a very amiable atmosphere provided by Greg Engert, beer director of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. In fact, he's here today to answer questions about the Madness and beer or cider or aluminum cans. . . doesn't take much to get him started.  Hopefully, Beer columnist Greg Kitsock can chime in as well. Jane "Smarter Food" Black can fill us in things sustainable/attainable. 

Joining them are Tim "food truck tax" Carman, Jane "Mac-and-cheese-o-matic" Touzalin, Becky "Market Roundup" Krystal and yours truly, who learned a lot about beer, and beer fans, in the past few weeks.

Prizes today for two lucky chatters: a Beer Tasting Tool Kit, and "Slow Cooking," the cookbook I reviewed.

Elbows in the locked position? Here we go.

Q.

beer

I have never been a drinker. But this competition every year does gather my interest somewhat. This "crisp" category sounds especially intriguing as part of my issue with beer/alcohol has always been that I didn't like the taste. Is this a good place to start?
A.
Greg Engert :

Maybe...these beers, like refreshing Pilsners and Pale Lagers and Kolsch, tend to show milder "beer" flavors...but they are still quite "beery". Those who dislike beer tend to dislike the bitterness accrued from hops, so while these may be less hoppy than Pale Ales or IPAs, they still showcase some solid bittering. If bitterness is not your bag, go for maltier (Malt category) styles--Scottish Ales, Dark Lagers, etc.--or Fruit & Spice brews, all of the somewhat sweeter Belgian Ales and Bavarian Hefeweizens should do the trick. On a side note, I have had great success getting wine lovers into beer by way of Tart & Funky ales, beers that showcase some alluring wine-like aromas and acidic tastes. Rodenbach Classic & Duchesse de Bourgogne are two generally available vinous brews that are delicious and suited to both oenophiles and beer enthusiasts!

– March 07, 2012 12:01 PM
Q.

Reduction by simmering

I have a question on how quickly I should expect to reduce liquids by simmering. I have a recipe in one cookbook that says I should expect to reduce about 3/4 cup of liquid to a half cup in 2 minutes. another cookbook says it will take about 10 minutes to reduce about 1 cup of liquid to 2 tablespoons. In practice, it takes me lots longer. I know the pan size and geometry matters, but I am using what the recipes call for. For the record, I get the liquid to a point where it is almost boiling (a few occasional bubbles). Any thoughts would be appreciated!
A.
Tim Carman :

The kitchen chemistry involved here is beyond me. We'd need to get Harold McGee in here to give you the kind of satisfactory answer you may be looking for. But I will say this: Cooking times are just broad guidelines. They're not ironclad timeframes that you should slavishly follow, which is why good cookbook instructions also give you visual clues.

– March 07, 2012 12:01 PM
Q.

slow cooker veggies

i can't wait to try the eggplant and prunes dish in today's slow cooker feature. i love the idea of using the slow cooker for vegetarian meals. other than beans, what are some other vegetable dishes that can be prepared in a slow cooker? i've done daal, but that' s about it!

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I lovedlovedloved this dish -- unfortunately it just doesn't photograph as good as it tastes. It'd be great as a main dish served over couscous or polenta.

Maybe we'll keep you mind to nab that "Slow Cooking" volume today. Here are some veg dishes in it: Chickpea and Vegetable Curry; Kashmiri Spiced Vegetables; Veg and Red Pepper Gratin; Wild Mushroom Risotto; Button Mushroom and Tomato Stew. (Hungry yet?) Chatters, what veg dishes do you like to slow-cook?

– March 07, 2012 12:02 PM
Q.

How long will Guinness keep for cooking use?

A few years ago I bought a 6 pack of Guinness for a great Irish stew recipe from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival; I still have a few cans left. I assume it's gone flat and is no good for drinking, but might it still be okay for the stew? Not being a beer/ale/stout lover, I'm not sure I would be able to tell whether the flavor's gone off just by taking a sip -- unless it's REALLY bad!

A.
Tim Carman :

I've been trying to research this question, and the consensus seems to be that your beer is kaput. Some beers, like barleywines, could age that long, but not a stout like Guinness. It sounds like your cans are bound for the garbage -- just don't tell Cathal Armstrong over at Restaurant Eve. He may die inside a little.

 

– March 07, 2012 12:03 PM
A.
Greg Engert :

Aging darker, stronger brews can be a fantastic experience...we feature close to 60 vintage brews on BBCK's bottle menu that are fantastic in their maturity...

Guinness will gain nothing for the drinker with age and should always be consumed fresh...BUT you may be on to something with cooking. Provided that the brew has not soured, the aging will allow fo a softening of the roasted bitterness that is so key to enjoying Guinness fresh...but bitterness (from roated grain sugars or hops) is the achilles heel of beer & food pairing as well as cooking with beer: it has a tendency to overwhelm the food in both cases. If bitterness has mellowed it may be better for cooking, and some interesting oxidized flavors (think toasty, raisiny, port-like notes) could bring some new flavors to your stew...

– March 07, 2012 12:03 PM
Q.

Saag & Paneer

I'm ready to give a break to my favorite Pakistani restaurant, don't take me wrong, the economy is not that good so I am ready to my first saag. Any no fail recipe suggestion? After this I will attempt to make paneer (yeah I know ambitious), what is the basis to make this cheese cubes? Or should it be better to get them in a specialty store?

A.
Becky Krystal :

Funny you should ask. We had a recipe for paneer in our Indian Macaroni and Cheese variation that ran as part of Jane's Mac-and-cheese-o-matic. Both Jane and the other tester were amazed by how easy it was to make the paneer.

Indian Macaroni and Cheese

But you've asked about saag paneer. The above recipe came from Raghavan Iyer's "660 Curries," and he has a recipe for saag paneer as well, although he suggests using a different type of paneer. Here's the recipe for it all (these call for specific types of garam masala in his book; you can try to find equivalents at the store, or e-mail me and I can send you that info):

Whole Milk Cheese (Doodh Paneer)

Makes 1 1/4 pounds

 

1 gallon whole milk

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

 

Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent the milk from scorching. When it comes to a boil, stir in the vinegar. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside until the cheese separates and leaves behind a pale green, thin, watery whey, 15 to 30 seconds.

 

Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth or a clean dishcloth, making sure there is about 2 to 3 inches hanging over the rim of the colander. Place the colander in the sink, then pour the cheese and whey into the colander, and let it drain. Once the cheese is slightly cool to the touch, gather the edges 0f the cloth and fold them over to cover it.

 

Fill a heavy pot with water, and set it directly on top of the cloth-wrapped cheese in the colander. Set this aside until the cheese is firm, 3 to 5 hours. (The weight will press on the cheese and force out almost all of its moisture. )

 

Remove the weight and unwrap the firm, milky-white cheese. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 1 week. (You can also freeze the cheese, sealed in a freezer-safe self-seal bag, for up to 2 months. Thaw the paneerin the refrigerator before using it.)

 

Saag Paneer

6 servings

 

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium-size red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

6 medium-size cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

4 lengthwise slices fresh ginger (each 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/8 inch thick), coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons Bin bhuna hua garam masala 

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 tablespoons tomato paste

8 ounces fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed and coarsely chopped

8 ounces fresh mustard greens, well rinsed and finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt

1 1/4 pounds Doodh paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes and pan-fried (in 1/4 cup canola oil, until crispy, about 7-10 minutes)

1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1/2 teaspoon Punjabi garam masala

 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry until the onion is light brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the Bin bhuna hua garam masala and the turmeric. (The heat from the browned onion will be just right to cook the spices without burning them.)

 

Transfer the mixture to a blender jar, and add the tomato paste and 1/4 cup water. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, to form a smooth, reddish-brown paste. Return the paste to the skillet. Pour 3/4 cup water into the blender jar, and whir the blades to wash it out. Add this to the skillet.

 

Place the skillet over medium heat. Pile handfuls of the greens into the skillet, cover it, and let the steam wilt them. Stir, and repeat with the remaining greens. Once they are all wilted, cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are broken down to a sauce-like consistency and are olive green in color, 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Stir in the salt, paneer cubes, cream, and Punjabi garam masala. Continue simmering the curry, covered, stirring occasionally, until the cheese and cream are warmed through, 5 to 8 minutes. Then serve.

– March 07, 2012 12:03 PM
Q.

Root vegetable redux:

Hi! Love the chats and rely on them for advice. My CSA is flooding me with root vegetables, esp. sweet potatoes and parsnips, which my daughter doesn't care for (especially when they're roasted, the way I love them). Any suggestions? We're also all souped out. Thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :
– March 07, 2012 12:03 PM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I'm a big fan of purees. You could go ahead and cook the vegetables, then freeze in portions. Have you ever tried parsnips  in a slaw?

– March 07, 2012 12:03 PM
Q.

food safety help

Yesterday I made chicken stock - I've got about 2.5 quarts. I came down this morning and realized that the fridge door had been left ajar over night. Can I reheat and boil the stock for a few minutes to get rid of any nastiness that may be lurking? I really don't want to throw this out!
A.
Tim Carman :

Your stock should be fine. (Insert legal waiver here in case any advice dispensed causes a terrible evening in the bathroom.) Your refrigerator has a temperature gauge and will continue to run as long as your unit has not reached the required coolness. More than likely, you just wasted energy last night, nothing more. Plus, unless you live in the tropics, the weather probably wasn't hot enough to raise the temperature level in your refrigerator into the danger zone.

– March 07, 2012 12:03 PM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

If you're worried about the stock, sure, boil it up. I've done that at times when I've meant to stash the stock in the freezer within a few days but got caught up in, um, other things...such as baking batches of hamantaschen like I did this a.m. Happy Purim!

– March 07, 2012 12:03 PM
Q.

Sick of wnter comfort foods

This mild winter did not make me drag out winter comfort foods. Now with these warm breaks what do you recommend for spring and lighter wines? thanks!!!
A.
Jane Black :

Yes, it's tricky. Because we don't have spring foods even though the weather feels like we should. My go-to spring cheat are peas, which are almost as good frozen as they are fresh. I make a lemon, pea and shrimp risotto, which goes well with an off-dry white wine. Sadly, I have no recipe. I just wing it but this is a lovely recipe from our database for Risotto Primavera that would be a good place to start. 

Any one else got ideas?

– March 07, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

Hangovers

What is in certain beer, seemingly lower quality beer, that results in a hangover? It seems that for the same volume of a high quality beer, the effects are much less dramatic than those from a cheap beer. Thank you.

A.
Tim Carman :

Maybe because you drink more cheap beer than you do microbrews? :)

The reasons for hangovers are many. The Mayo Clinic breaks them down here. None has to do with cheap beer. Mostly it has to do with dehydration of the body due to the diuretic nature of alcohol. Hence the more you drink, the more dehydrated you'll become.

– March 07, 2012 12:09 PM
A.
Jason Wilson :

Yes, I would definitely disagree with the premise here. I have been way more hungover after an evening of drinking high-alcohol (11%+) extreme beers. You'd have to drink a gallon of Miller Lite for the same effect.

– March 07, 2012 12:09 PM
A.
Greg Kitsock :

The purity of the beer might be involved as well. Some beers contain trace amounts of higher alcohols called fusel oils, which have been implicated in head-pounding hangovers. They can manifest themselves with a floral, rosey aroma.

Otherwise, a piece of advice from fellow beer writer Fred Eckhardt on avoidng hangovers: drink a glass of water for every beer you imbibe. It slows down your drinking and prevents dehydration.

– March 07, 2012 12:09 PM
Q.

salmon-scallion corn cakes

just want to thank you for an AWESOME recipe! I made these last night and loved them. Added in some chopped serrano pepper for a little heat, and didn't need to add in any milk to get a good consistency. I let them sit in the fridge for a few hours to hold them together, and had no problems flipping them. And that cornmeal crust -- delicious!

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Do you mean these, from Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick?

– March 07, 2012 12:09 PM
Q.

Meatless Meals for the Meat Lover

My husband and I both grew up eating meat at almost every meal. I think it's one of the culprits of his appallingly high cholesterol for a 31 year old in great physical condition. I'm trying to incorporate more meatless meals besides fish (great choice but I only like it fresh so it's expensive/inconvenient) but he doesn't like dishes with just veggies. Last night we had a smoked mozzarella pasta with asparagus, mushrooms, and avocado, which he enjoyed because of the cheese, but that's not exactly a healthy alternative. What meatless meals are satisfying yet healthy for a meat lover?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Sounds like you are a perfect candidate for "The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour" from our former Post friend Kim O'Donnel. And here's a recipe from that book for Tempeh Hoagie-letta that we ran.

Tempeh Hoagie-letta

I find dishes centered around items such as lentils, pinto beans and, my personal favorite, chickpeas to be quite satisfying as well.

– March 07, 2012 12:09 PM
Q.

Slow Cookers

I've had one of these for years, but have never used it. I guess I can't get over the feeling of leaving something "on" while I'm out of the house. They really are safe, right?
A.
Jane Touzalin :

If they weren't safe, do you think millions and millions of them would still be allowed to be sold every year? Of course, any electrical appliance can be problematic; we've heard of dishwashers catching fire. But being turned on and left to cook for hours is what slow-cookers were expressly designed for. There are some common-sense things you can do to reduce risk. If you have countertops that could melt or burn, you can operate your slow-cooker on a metal baking sheet or a pizza stone. Don't use it directly under kitchen cabinets or other type of overhang, or right next to something flammable. Make sure the cord isn't bent or frayed. And use your cooker a few times while you're in the house, to get a feel for how hot it cooks. Some slow-cookers run so hot that you wouldn't want them to be on for eight hours when you're not there. (The solution would be to cook on LOW.) Enjoy your appliance!

– March 07, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Tired of the grunting and sweating

Hey foodies! My new partner is a huge fan of Indian food - but I have just never been able to enjoy that type of cuisine unfortunately despite many tries. Are there certain things to maybe look for and to avoid to get used to it for somebody whose system is more tuned to a European and American diet? I would love to be able to share this particular delicacy with him but really don't like the usual consequences. Thanks and ciao!
A.
Tim Carman :

I hope your partner appreciates the extent to which you are trying to accommodate his tastes, just so you can share this experience with him.

If I'm reading this correctly here, you're saying Indian food is too spicy for you and causes digestive issues. Yes? If this is correct, I'd direct you to milder dishes like kormas, which are creamier and not at all spicy. There are also many milder vegetables dishes in Indian cuisine, almost all of them delicious. If in doubt, ask the kitchen to tone down the spice level on anything you order. They should be happy to do so.

– March 07, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Pork Tenderloin Recipe

It's like you guys were in my fridge this week and knew I had a pork tenderloin begging me to use it. I had NO idea what to do with it, but now the Lemon Oregano Pork Tenderloin is on the menu. So if I wanted to cook it a little more well done, but not 160, what do you think would work? Also, I have a Thermapen but how far do I stick it into the tenderloin to determine temperature?

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

***ALERT! FOOD CHAT ANSWER, NOT TO BE TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT***

Insert that thing into the center of one of the ends, about 2 inches should do it. Re the cooking: Do you mean you don't think it'll be done enough for you? I like it with a slight blush, as shown above. It's safe, not to worry.

– March 07, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

beer-can chicken

I've seen recipes that call for "sitting" a whole chicken on an open beer can, so the can goes inside the chicken cavity, and then putting this in the oven to cook. Is this safe? If it is, please recommend a recipe, even if it's just chicken + beer can at 350 degrees. Thanks!
A.
Greg Engert :

I must admit that while many people swear by this method, I have never tried it...I think the idea is remove the top of the can, which is full of beer, and cook the whole chicken with this open can inside of the chicken. Supposed to moisten the bird and give it a crisp skin...

Whether you participate in this science experiment or not...try pairing rome roasted chicken with a Biere de Garde, a toasty, earthy, mildly sweet French-style ale. Delicious interplay of sweet, bready malt and the toasted, slightly caramelized chicken skin...look for Schlafly Biere de Garde or Jenlain Biere de Garde locally...

– March 07, 2012 12:13 PM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Did you see this Pecan-Smoked Beer Can Chicken in our database?

– March 07, 2012 12:13 PM
Q.

Parsnip/celery root slaw!!

You've done it again. I bow to your superior knowledge.

Q.

Blind baking pie crusts

I am a fairly accomplished baker, however blind baking a pie crust is my nemesis. I usually use parchment baking paper and dried beans or rice to fill the shell to be baked. It seems that using recommended baking times (12-25 min. with beans) followed by another 12-15 minutes without beans is insufficient for baking the bottom of the crust. When adding several cups of beans it takes too long for the heat to penetrate the crust, leaving me with undercooked pie crusts. Taking the beans out earlier to cook the bottom causes the sides of the crust to slump. Any suggestions?

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

One of our favorite pastry chefs, Tiffany MacIsaac (who btw just started her own blog; check it out), says this:

1) I use rice.  This way I can use less and build a sort of well in the middle, pressing rice out to secure the sides.  You are left with a much thinner base of rice and still able to hold up the sides.
2) Remove the weight halfway thought cooking.  At Buzz and the restaurants I take the weights/parchment out as soon as I feel the sides are set so there is more even cooking/coloring.  If the edges start to darker before the center is set, use a layer of foil around the rim as armor to protect the dough from heat.
– March 07, 2012 12:15 PM
Q.

Stir-Fry

A few weeks back you sent a poster the recipe for Hot and Sticky Stir-Fry. It wasn't me, but thank you! You have transformed my stir-fries. However, the only chili sauce I could find had high-fructose corn syrup as the main ingredient. Is that the nature of the product or are other versions available? Thanks again!

A.
Becky Krystal :

The more traditional varieties shouldn't use high-fructose corn syrup. One option is Mae Ploy. And there's always good ol' Trader Joe's.

– March 07, 2012 12:15 PM
Q.

Caramelized onions

I made a big skillet of caramelized onions over the weekend (for party canapes) and have half of them left over. Will they freeze? And what else should I use them in? (They were good in an omelet this morning and as cracker snacks and soup garnish, but man, I've got a lot of them.) I also have a large crock of bacon bits left over, but I don't lack ideas for those. Mmm, bacon . . . .
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

They freeze just fine. They'd be great for little goat cheese tarts; as  a grilled cheese sandwich add-in, with thin slices of apple; on pizza; stirred into a simple pasta dish (with long thin noodles and a grated hard cheese); mixed into hash browns; mixed with panko as a topping for fish; as a layer between the spuds and meat of a shepherd's pie; mixed with sauteed kale or spinach, as a filling in a savory handpie or empanada; on cheesesteaks; mixed with cauliflower and potatoes.

Did you happen to see today's Dinner in Minutes? It's almost like divine providence! And here's a link to some other Recipe Finder dishes that call for caramelized o's, including a very nice Onion Pie With Lavender, Bacon (hey!) and Blue Cheese....

– March 07, 2012 12:17 PM
Q.

quinoa (rinse?)

When I first heard of quinoa (either on this chat or back in the days of Kim O'Donnel... one of the two), it was made very clear that one must rinse the grain before cooking it, to remove a bitterness that would otherwise ruin the dish. Lately, I've seen several recipes in magazines and online that say not a word about rinsing. Is my memory going (!) or has something changed, or are these sloppy recipes that assume I know to rinse? I suspect not the latter, since they have been (a) "intro to quinoa" type recipes and (b) in reputable magazines and sites, not the content mills. Thanks.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

The short answer is:  Some brands of quinoa have come a long way, baby. You need to read the label. In the past few months I've cooked some that needed rinsing and some that didn't.

– March 07, 2012 12:17 PM
Q.

Beer Madness

Salivates. Hangs head. Walks out door to attend AA meeting. You guys enjoy!
Q.

Caramelized onions again

Oops--I posted the original question early. Then I picked up the print edition this morning and saw your quesadilla recipe. Yum--that should do the trick. Thanks!
Q.

Expanding my beer taste

First off, so excited for Beer Madness. Second, I was wondering if you had suggestions for getting into darker beers. Love Belgiums and IPAs, but most of my experiences with anything darker than a brown reminds me of charcoal. Should I go for porters over stouts? Just upgrade in quality and hope for the best?
A.
Greg Engert :

Generally speaking, Porters are less charred-roasty than Stouts...generally. But styles you can count on for a softer, silkier, less roasty dark brew, are darker Belgian ales (Dubbel, Belgian Strong Dark, Quadrupel), sweeter Stouts (Milk Stout, Oatmeal Stout), Dark Lagers (Dunkel, Schwarzbier, Doppelbock, Eisbock) and I think you'd especially like some of the Belgian Stouts coming out, like Allagash Black, one of our Madness contestants.

– March 07, 2012 12:21 PM
Q.

bad cheese

a while ago you all asked for food safety questions and used, 'can I cut off a moldy piece of cheese and eat the rest?' as an example. Did you ever post the answer to that??? Also, Bonnie, looking forward to seeing you at the Giada event!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Ah,  yes! I'm hoping to kick that off soon on the blog. We'll announce on the chat as well.

– March 07, 2012 12:23 PM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Should be fun, at Sixth and I with Giada. I spoke with her yesterday by phone -- she's a pro at interviewing, I can say that. 

– March 07, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Greg Kitsock :

From Greg K.: Correction on today's Beer Madness article: The main article states that Sierra Nevada Porter is no longer available in DC or VA. Actually, it's Sierra Nevada Stout that we used in Beer Madness, and that the DC and VA distributors dropped. The porter is still readily throughout DC/MD/VA, says brewery rep Brad Phillips. I apologize for the error.

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

We'll run a correction in print in Thursday's paper, but we hope to get this fixed online today, folks.

– March 07, 2012 12:24 PM
Q.

Unopened beer goes bad?

That seems to be what Tim Carman wrote in response to "How long will Guinness keep for cooking use?" Or is it just Guinness? I keep a few bottles of beer in the 'fridge for up to a year. I figured if they're not opened, the beer doesn't go flat, and if it's not flat, it's good. Now I'm hoping I haven't served bad beer to any guests!
A.
Tim Carman :

I'm sure our beer experts can provide more detailed answers, but beer is an organic product. It will lose carbonation and flavor over time.

– March 07, 2012 12:27 PM
A.
Greg Engert :

Even if beer is firmly capped, corked, or canned it will over time lose a measure of Co2...that said, I have opened 10 year old beer--deliberately aged in a dark and relatively dry place at cellar temp--and had it still show some bold effervescence (this can also be caused by a bacterial fermentation...if the beer pours with foam after aging it is not necessarily infected, but taste it to find out...if sharp and vingare-like, discard!).

 

Beer, like wine, does deteriorate over time...but certain examples of both can be beautiful in their decline. While bolder aromas and tastes will mellow, the malty notes will evolve and incorporate some cool oxidized characteristics. DO NOT AGE HOPPY BREWS! Pale Ales, IPAs, Imperial IPAs need to be consumed as fresh as possible to enjoy that for which they are rightfully prized: snappy bitter notes and gorgeous aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, pine, etc.

– March 07, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Drinking Beer from Bottles vs. Glasses

Is there anything to be gained from drinking from the bottle vs. poured into a glass? As an adult, I've always followed the rule that a beer should be poured into a glass in order to release it's complete flavors. A relative of mine, who will remain nameless, contends that you can gain a "hop rush" by drinking IPAs from the bottle.
A.
Greg Kitsock :

Pour the beer into the glass! By allowing a head to form and some of the CO2 to bubble off, you fully release the beer's aromatics. I've never heard of this "hop rush." But you wouldn't chug a fine wine directly from the bottle, would you?

– March 07, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Food invention?

I think I may have invented something this week! I usually roast all manners of vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale) in the oven at 350 to 400, in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. This week, I tried roasting the head of cabbage that had been staring balefully back at me from the bottom of the refrigerator. I shredded it on the mandolin, tossed it in the barest amount of olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread it on a half-sheet pan. In 20 to 30 minutes (stirring a couple of times) it had turned into the sweetest, most amazing vegetable. My new favorite thing.
A.
Tim Carman :

Sounds tasty, like roasted minimalist version of coleslaw.

– March 07, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Last week

Having suffered through that bug last week that seems to be going around, I slept through several days of my favorite chats. I was able to catch up on all of them except 'Free Range on Food,' which I cannot find in the Recent Live Q&As listing. Was there a chat last week and, if so, would you be able to provide a link? I may not be able to offer my two-cents worth, but I love reading the recipes and recommendations everyone offers. Thanks.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Hope you're feeling better! Here's our chat archive (if you lose the link, it lives toward the bottom of the Food section front online).

– March 07, 2012 12:28 PM
Q.

'can I cut off a moldy piece of cheese and eat the rest?'

Well, I'm 66 years old and have done that all my life without getting sick from it, so my answer would be, yeah probably...
Q.

mac-and-cheese-o-matic

loved it! My idea of high-tech gadgetry!

Q.

Today's quesadillas

I thought the recipe sounded great, and our local grocery had two brands of cheddar with horseradish! But no quince preserves. What would you think of substituting fig jam? Or do you have another suggestion, including where I might find the quince preserves?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Fig would be nice. You might check near the cheeses....quince paste and jams tend to hang around there, hoping to get picked up and paired with some quarter-pound of something.

– March 07, 2012 12:30 PM
Q.

Not a fan of hops

I too dislike the hops flavor. So for years I never tried any bears. But eventually learned that I really like Belgian Lambics and Hefeweizens. The other thing I like is all flavors of hard ciders. Most bars I have been to will have at least one of these. If you get lucky, you find bars and restaurants that have them on tap. this way I can have a refreshing brew without the bad tasting hops.
A.
Greg Engert :

Real, authentic, hand-crafted ciders are another passion of mine...and to this end I stock over 30 varieties by the bottle (and often on draft) at ChurchKey. These are complex ciders, made with cider apples (which look like crab apples yet offer tannin and acidity in addition to sweetness), fermented often with naturally occuring yeast, and even some times matured in oak. Some great US producers are Aeppeltreow and Farnum Hill, Oliver's and Westons in England, Etienne Dupont in France...and for those looking for something funky and almost Lambic-esqu, try some Sarasola Sagardoa from Spanish Basque Country.

– March 07, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

seeking substitute for favorite Mexican beer

It's called Noche Buena and it's only available in Mexico during Christmas-New Years season. I've never seen it here. If you know it, can you recommend something similar that I can find in the DC area? Gracias.
A.
Greg Kitsock :

Chocolate City Brewing Co. in DC markets a beer called Cerveza Nacional which is a dark lager more or less in the style, maybe  a little darker and chewier. The berwery produces draft beer only, butI understand they're now offering growler fills at the brewery.

– March 07, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

parsnips pudding type recipe

I do not have the recipe at my finger tips, but I like to shred the parsnips and then slowly simmer them adding just enough water so that they absorb it all. You can then add a little vanilla extract and sugar and salt to taste.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

That sounds lovely. Parsnips and vanilla -- a definite affinity there.

– March 07, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

Margaritaville

Found a bottle of Margaritaville - Last Mango (tequila and mango liqueur) in the back of the cupboard. What could I make with this?

A.
Jason Wilson :

I would make...a hasty retreat from that particular bottle.

– March 07, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

beer tasting tool kit

What exactly is involved in such a kit? My husband and I are huge craft beer fans (we recently started homebrewing, even!), but I've never heard of such a thing-- I'm curious!
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

sounds like something for a party -- notepads, labels, a booklet, reference cards, stuff to create a blind tasting.  Personally, I think I'd take a class with Greg Engert....but this giveway today is free!

– March 07, 2012 12:35 PM
Q.

Home-made granola bars

I'm officially sick of store-bought granola and cereal bars. I've yet to eat one that isn't too sweet, has an off flavor and/or leaves a nasty aftertaste. Do you have suggestions for recipes I can use to make my own? I want it to be packed with protein and grains, and just a little sweet.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I believe you need these nut, fruit and seed bars from Lisa Yockelson.

 

– March 07, 2012 12:35 PM
Q.

Why is my borscht turning orange?

I love making borscht and have a recipe that tastes great. I wish I could figure out, though, how to keep it that nice bright beety fuchsia color -- for some reason, as it simmers and sits, it turns orange. Is there a secret to keeping the bright color?

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Does your recipe have carrots or tomatoes or tomato paste in it?

– March 07, 2012 12:35 PM
Q.

Vegan birthday cake

Hi everybody! Turns out my almost-ready-to celebrate-his-first-birthday baby is allergic to milk and eggs (for now!) I am looking for a tried and true vegan birthday cake recipe. If I can stay away from vegan margarine or vegan cream cheese or other vegan "fakes" and just go with simple ingredients, that would be perfect! Thanks so much!
A.
Jane Black :

I'm no expert but I did a little research and the picking seem slim for a classic birthday cake. (For vegan cakes it probably makes more sense to do an apple cake or a carrot or chocolate because that helps give the heft and moisture.) But, for what it's worth, here is a simple sponge and "butter cream" from the Vegan Society. Good luck!

– March 07, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

Slow cooker newbie

Hi. I have an electric crock-pot that's been sitting on a shelf for years. Is this the same as a slow cooker? If it isn't, is there some adjustment I can make so it works like a slow cooker? Or are they as different as oregano and thyme?
A.
Jane Touzalin :

 Crock-Pot is a brand of slow-cooker (the first kind ever made, according to the manufacturer). So if that's what your appliance says, then it's a bona-fide slow-cooker.

– March 07, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

so much oil!

i really would love to make the slow cooker eggplant recipe, but 7 tablespoons of oil in total?! that seems like a lot, particularly as a side dish. is there any way to cut back on that amount some, and by how much? i love eggplant, but generally shy away from it as it acts like a total sponge with oil...

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Well, she answered sheepishly, I took it down from 8 to 7 during testing....thing is, the eggplant really soaks up the oil and helps create that silky texture at the finish. And what doesn't get absorbed by the eggplant is needed for the onions etc. Try it with 6T?

– March 07, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

Spent beer stuff

Rangers, My husband is a home brewer and I swoon from the delicious aromas that fill the house. He in turn loves it when I pull a loaf of freshly baked bread from the oven a couple of times a week. Is there some way for me to use his beer leftovers in my homemade bread? We have no bread machine, if that helps.
A.
Becky Krystal :

You could try this recipe we ran for Slow-Rise, No-Knead Rustic Caraway-Beer Bread. America's Test Kitchen also uses beer in its Almost No-Knead Bread 3.0. King Arthur Flour suggests using beer in a pizza crust.

– March 07, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

salmon-scallion corn cakes

They do sound good. Can I use canned salmon and frozen corn?

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Survey sez: Yes!

– March 07, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

Best Butcher in DC area

Made the drive from Clifton to Wagshal's and the Organic Butcher but found a better place. Now they only take cash but the drive is about the same as Wagshal's and the Organic Butcher when you factor in traffic. Service is an order of magnitude better and the customers way more interesting:  Wilson Farms Meat in downtown Catlett. Even beat the butcher in Ashburn who went out of business years ago.

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Thanks for the intel!

– March 07, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Sweet potatoes and parsnips

bet you could add the parsnips to the sweet potato mash for Sweet Potato -Chick Pea Shepherd's Pie. And, in time for St. Pat's. That's what I'm having for dinner tonight.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Erin, you go bragh.

– March 07, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

pressure cookers

forget slow cookers, it seems as though pressure cookers will be the next rage. Any plans on discussing what to buy, how to use, and all that?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I hear you. Pressure cookers for another time.  New ones aren't scary to use. We'll work up something good for you.

– March 07, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

granola

hey Food folks - any suggestions for how to get granola to turn out more clumpy? I'm new at making it homemade and one of the reasons I want to do more of it is that I like clustery granola as opposed to bottom-of-the-box crumbs kinda texture. What clumpifying ingredient should I look for in recipes?
A.
Jane Black :

I've seen "clumpy" granola recipes that an egg white or two to the usual mixture of oil, sugar, maple syrup etc. I can certainly imagine that would help. But it's also possible that you can use your regular recipe without using them. I make granola all the time and when I want it clumpier, I pack it together more tightly on the baking sheet and make sure not to stir at any point in the baking/drying process. That gives me a half-cluster, half "crumbs" sheet.

– March 07, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

Mac and Cheese

I ate at a pub in England last year that served a wonderful mac and cheese with a cheese called Stinking Bishop. A friend found some for me recently. I'm looking forward to making my own mac and cheese with last week's guidelines. Timing is everything!
A.
Jane Black :

Love that cheese. And the name. They do have good names for things over there. Toad in the Hole. Spotted Dick...Well, maybe they're not all great names. But it keeps me entertained.

– March 07, 2012 12:41 PM
A.
Greg Engert :

Stinking Bishop is delicious...semi-gooey and funky as hell...both the Green Flash Rayon Vert and The Bruery Saison Rue would be killer with this cheese...effervescent to dig into the creamy texture of the cheese and rustic, farmhouse funk in the flavor profiles of both makes for an old world marriage of perfection.

– March 07, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

Substitutions in Indian vegetarian food

My daughter is allergic to coconut milk. Is there anything I could susbtitute, or is it usuallly so essential to the flavor that I should you just choose another recipe?
A.
Becky Krystal :

You could try heavy cream or half-and-half or even regular milk depending on how thick you want it.

– March 07, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

Getting into Beer

I thought I didn't like beer until I started trying out some of the more unusual / flavorful beers - think dark beers (Guiness and other stouts) and wheat beers. These beers had a lot of flavor beyond what I had previously thought of as "beer flavor" (read: mass market lagers / light beers), and introduced me to a wonderful world of beers (Greg, I love your Fruit & Spice and Malt categories!) Belgians were also a good starting point for me.
A.
Greg Kitsock :

That was my experience too when I first began drinking beer. Fortunately, I grew up not far from the Yuengling brewery, which at the time (we're talking mid-1970s) was one of the few breweries in the country producing an ale and porter that differed from the mass-market suds. Now, we have about 1,900 breweries in the country and hundreds more in the planning stage, guaranteeing us a steady stream of interesting beers. Prost!

– March 07, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

Indian mac+cheese

This recipe sounds so delicious, but a question: does the sauce ever thicken up like "usual" mac+cheese? I don't see any thickener in the recipe, and it's not clear the paneer would melt to make a gooey sauce, and 2 cups sounds like a lot of pasta water to add ...
A.
Becky Krystal :

Well, I ate some of what Jane brought in for us to taste, and I can say it was not runny. I liked the consistency.

– March 07, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

Ricotta

I have about a half a cup of ricotta leftover. I don't like eating it straight. Got any good recipe ideas? Thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Most of our recipes with ricotta call for more than 1/2 cup, but here are a few ideas:

Buffalo Mozzarella Toast

Flatbread Pizzas With Canadian Bacon, Asparagus and Fontina Cheese

Scrambled Eggs With Ricotta

Scrambled Eggs With Ricotta

– March 07, 2012 12:42 PM
Q.

Slow Cooker!

I LOVE that you are giving us great recipes for the slow cooker, especially vegetarian recipes, though we are not vegetarians. I am getting more adventurous with my slow cooker (think cakes!) and I am looking forward to trying the Eggplant With Prunes. One problem - I can't get Chinese salted black beans out in the boonies where I live. What can I substitute for it? Many thanks!
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

You can leave it out. Still good!

– March 07, 2012 12:42 PM
Q.

tri tip steak

This one's for Shahin. What is a tri-tip steak and how would you smoke or bbq it???? Thanks
A.
Jim Shahin :

   Tri-tip steak is a delicious grilled beef. If Memphis is famous for its wet and dry ribs, North Carolina for its pulled pork, and Texas for its brisket, the town of Santa Maria, California is famous for its tri-tip. 

     The tri-tip is cut from the bottom sirloin. It can be a little tough, so it is often marinated for a few hours before grilling. It is cooked over medium or low heat, typically an oak fire. It is not a long-cook. It can take as little as  30 minutes on the grill or up to 90 minutes, depending on whether you grill directly the entire time or cook it indirect for part of the time, the thickness of the meat, and the heat of the fire. 

– March 07, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Slow Cooker

I read with interest the review today--I own a slow cooker which I'm sure I don't get enough use out of and look forward to expanding my repetoire. Since I'm allergic to eggplant, do you think there's anything else I could substitute for today's recipe? Would zucchini get too mushy?
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Zucchini would get mushy, but that's the end result, anyway. Not sure the texture would be the same. Maybe try celeriac?

– March 07, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

Clumpy Granola

I believe I saw this very discussion and recipe in the latest Cooks Illustrated. They are a bit fussy about paying for online recipes, but I've never had anything they suggested not turn out.
Q.

Vegan cake

Bon Appetit ran a recipe today for a vegan chocolate cake (note frosting is not vegan).

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Are you sure this is the right recipe? This one calls for butter and egg whites.

– March 07, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

re where to buy quince jelly or preserves

Every Latin market has it. I's called "membrillo." Often it's sold as a jelly or aspic in a big, oval tin. We sometimes eat it with cream cheese. Yum!
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Si! Bueno!

– March 07, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

re: Margaritaville

why? can tequila go off? or you just think it sounds gross? I thought maybe I could add some juice or something, dunno.
A.
Jason Wilson :

I'm just not into the pre-mixed thing. Last Mango is 25% abv, which means it's more of a ready-to-drink cocktail than a "tequila." I'd also like to know what kind of tequila I'm getting into -- a lot of the pre-mixed deals (like Skinnygirl for instance) use poor-quality mixto tequila, aka. The Hangover Maker.

– March 07, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Mead

Do any of you beer guys know where one can find mead in the DC area. A friend's brother owns a meadery in Boulder Colorado and I've been curious to try the stuff, but have never seen it in stores.
A.
Greg Engert :

The Whole Foods on P St. in the District, right around the corner from BBCK in Logan Circle, stocks a nice selection of craft-made Meads....domestic and imported...right in between the beer and the wine sections.

– March 07, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Parsnips, sweet potatoes and apples. Oh my!

I got this tried & true recipe from AICR. It has become one of my favorites. Roasted Parsnips with Sweet Potatoes and Apples in Soy & Honey Serves 6 Canola oil spray 1 ½ cups parsnips, peeled and chopped 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks 2 medium crisp red apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite-size chunks 1 tablespoon canola oil 1 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced-sodium ("lite") Salt and freshly ground black pepper Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking pan or casserole dish with oil spray; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, place parsnips, sweet potato and apples; set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix oil and honey; warm in the microwave 10 seconds, to thin. Stir in soy sauce. Pour sauce onto vegetables and apples. Toss to coat well. Transfer to the baking pan and cover with foil. Bake until very tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.
A.
Jane Black :

Sounds like a lovely mix of sweet and savory.

– March 07, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

My daughter was allergic to eggs when she was 1 as well

So for her first birthday cake, we made rice crispy treats and decorated them with frosting. She loved them and had fun getting dirty with the icing.
A.
Jane Black :

Thanks for the tip!

– March 07, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Bonnie Benwick :

For the chatter who wanted walnut-kidney bean recipesn a few weeks back:

Armenian Bean and Walnut Pate

Spinach Walnut Bean Tart

Red Beans With Walnuts

 

 

Q.

tres leches cake

My sister, who is at best a cooking novice, is not at all confident in her baking abilities, and yet she wants to bake a tres leches cake for her husband's 30th birthday. Do you have a simple recipe that she could (try to) follow?
A.
Jane Black :

Not gonna lie; it's not the easiest cake for a newbie.  I looked up Rick Bayless's recipe for you; he's who I trust for Mexican food but it's certainly more complicated than a novice baker is going to want to take on. So maybe take a look at this one from Alton Brown. Good luck.

Ingredients

For the cake:

Vegetable oil

6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces sugar

5 whole eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup half-and-half

For the topping:

 2 cups heavy cream

8 ounces sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.

 

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

 

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

 

Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

 

For the glaze:

Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.

 

Topping:

Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

– March 07, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Beer Madness

I went to vote today and didn't. The only beer I'd heard of was Allagash. But it's probably regional because this is the Post, right? I'm from Central PA and we tend to drink our own stuff. Troeg's FTW!
A.
Jason Wilson :

There were plenty of beers in the brackets that were both available in PA (Great Lakes, Lagunitas, Dogfish, Flying Fish?) and from PA (Victory?)

– March 07, 2012 12:47 PM
A.
Greg Engert :

Yes we included a number of PA craft brews...one of the original, and still phenomenal, regions for craft beer in the USA.

When choosing the brews I was looking to include a bunch of local craft breweries, and this extended out to the mid-atlantic. All beers needed to be available year-round and in botted form in the greater DC region. I made an effort to include breweries that recently began distributing in the area (New Belgium, Sixpoint, Maui) and new locals (DC Brau) as well.

I chose specific beers based on a few things. Within the bracket categories I wanted to have face-offs between representatives of newly popular styles like Black IPAs, Belgian IPAs, Belgian Ales spiked w/ Brettanomyces (wild yeast for funky rustic notes), etc. Oh, and I wanted to include some beers that were brand new and year round (Green Flash Rayon Vert, Flying Dog Wildeman) and once occasional brews now available year-round (Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, Dogfish Head Burton Baton).

 

– March 07, 2012 12:47 PM
A.
Greg Kitsock :

When you're only tasting 32 beers, it's impossible to include every regional brewery! I have seen beers from Harrisburg's Appalachian Brewing Co. in our area, but only in northern VA, and we tried to include beers available more widely throughout the DC-VA-MD region.

– March 07, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

How to identify non-bitter eggplant?

Last week I made an eggplant dish I'd made several times, and was so disappointed that the eggplant I'd chosen turned out to be very bitter. Before I try the eggplant with prunes recipe, can you advise me about how to choose a better eggplant next time?
A.
Tim Carman :

Bitterness is usually a sign of a non-fresh eggplant. Look for eggplants that are firm and shiny; the skin should bounce back when you press it.

But should you find yourself with a bitter eggplant, just slice it or cube it, salt it liberally and let the salt extract the moisture in the vegetable. The process should draw out most of the bittering compounds as well.

– March 07, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Indian

The person who wants to like Indian might also have a problem with a particular spice (I love Indian, but am sensitive to cilantro) or to ghee - lots of westerners have trouble digesting ghee.
A.
Tim Carman :

I've heard that many people, including my dear friend Lou, find the soapy taste of cilantro unpalatable.  But I've not heard of digestive issues tied to cilantro. Of course it's easy to avoid cilantro with Indian food: Just ask the kitchen not to use it as a garnish.

Ghee, well, that's another story.

– March 07, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Pie

You could also try the Rose Levy Berenbaum trick of baking it on the floor of the oven at the beginning.

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Great idea.

– March 07, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Americano

Jason - what is the best sweet vermouth match to use with Campari for the Americano?
A.
Jason Wilson :

I usually go with Martini sweet vermouth ($6-8 depending on the size). If you want to a little more top-shelf, you could try Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica. Bottom line is it's gotta be Italian.

– March 07, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Shahin's blog

Yesterday's blog mentioned wild beaver/alligator/shark - do you think these food would be available generally or will they continue to be "specialty items" in certain areas?
A.
Jim Shahin :

    I haven't seen a lot of wild beaver in my local supermarket. Survey says... Specialty items!

– March 07, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

meats for barbequing

What meat is best recommended for a tender kabob???
A.
Jim Shahin :

   Personally, I love 'em all, but I especially like lamb. In fact, I will have a lamb kabob recipe in the paper later this month when Smoke Signals writes about lamb for its monthly column. 

– March 07, 2012 12:48 PM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I love me some grilled lamb.

– March 07, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

slow cooker veggie

I make a veggie Moroccan tagine with chickpeas, sweet potatoes, curry.

A.
Bonnie Benwick :

Nice.

– March 07, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

buttercream

Having trouble with my buttercream using my handmixer. Am I just not mixing long enough?
A.
Becky Krystal :

A few more details, please. What kind of trouble? What are the ingredients?

– March 07, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Greg Engert!

I am really excited to see someone like Greg on the chat - he once spoke to a group of folks on the Hill and I never knew I could be that interested in beer or how the type of glassware a beer is poured into can affect its taste and experience. Since his talk I've opened my horizons to beers I thought I didn't like - and of course I love them!
A.
Greg Engert :

Thanks! I love being on the chat...almost as much as I love giving beer talks...

There is nothing better in my work then seeing that moment when a person converts to craft beer and just kind of gets it and then continues to explore and experience. It rules.

 

– March 07, 2012 12:49 PM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :
– March 07, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Vegan no-"fakes" cake

There are a lot of cakes that don't use fakes and end up vegan; even your old stand-by Joy of Cooking has a vegan chocolate cake. They usually go by the name "war cake" or "wacky cake" are are a one-bowl type cake that uses vinegar to react with baking soda and oil as the fat.
A.
Jane Black :

Another good idea. I don't have a Joy of Cooking to hand or I'd type out the recipe for you. But certainly worth checking out.

– March 07, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

SLOW COOKER

Not a question but wanted to tell you about a trick I use when I want to cook beans and forgot to soak them and want them done in a few hours. I put them in the crockpot with boiling water, put it on low, and they are done in about 3 hours. I love my crockpot and use it year round!
Q.

for poster asking about chunky granola

Cook's Illustrated latest edition (March 2012) has a recipe. They say that more oil is the key to chunky granola and recommend 1/2 cup oil to 5 cups oatmeal and 2 c nuts. I think the recipe may be available to guests for the next few weeks but can't be sure since I have a subscription.

A.
Jane Black :

Cooks Illustrated is right a lot of the time about these things. Sounds like a good rule of thumb.

– March 07, 2012 12:50 PM
Q.

I love Bonnie!

Hahahahahahahahahaha, thanks for the laugh! Bonnie Benwick : ***ALERT! FOOD CHAT ANSWER, NOT TO BE TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT*** Insert that thing into the center of one of the ends, about 2 inches should do it. (</snip>)
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

:)

– March 07, 2012 12:51 PM
Q.

recycling beer

Apparently the Yards Brewery in Philly actually ships its used grains (malt, etc) to a bakery that uses it for their bread
A.
Greg Kitsock :

Last month, DC Brau teamed up with Pizza Paradiso to use their spent grain in baking bread that was donated to a local charity. The brewery would like to do this on a regular basis.

– March 07, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

Vegan devil's food cake recipe

INGREDIENTS: 1½ cups flour / 1 cup sugar / ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa / 1 teaspoon baking soda / ½ teaspoon salt / 1 cup water / 1/3 cup vegetable oil / 1 Tablespoon white vinegar / 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. DIRECTIONS: Mix together and sift dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add liquids, beat till just combined. Pour into pan(s). Bake 40-50 minutes, or fill toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center of cake. Cool on wire rack. TOPPING: Sifted 10X (powdered) sugar, or melted bitter- sweet or semisweet chocolate for coating, raspberry jelly, cherry-pie filling, and/or non- dairy whipped topping.
A.
Jane Black :

Chatters to the rescue. Here's another option for a vegan birthday cake.

– March 07, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

Baking Question: Melting Nonpareils

Hello Free Range, This is probably an obvious fix, but when baking and using Nonpareils for decoration, I find they melt during the baking process on breads and cookies. How do you stop that from happening? Do you not add them at the start of baking (which I do) and add them towards the end instead? I'm gearing up for Easter baking and want to get this right. Thanks so much!
A.
Becky Krystal :

I think they probably should not go in at the beginning. The last few minutes would suffice if that makes sense for what you're making. When I make peanut butter cookies with Hershey Kisses on top, I just plop the chocolate into the cookie when I take them out of the oven. They're soft enough to do that. Perhaps something like that will work for you.

– March 07, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

beer and smoking meats

Jim, is there a way to utilize beer and smoking or bbqing meats? Would one use beef only or could pork or something else be used? Thanks.
A.
Jim Shahin :

    The most famous beer/bbq treatment is Beer Can Chicken, which I believe has gotten a bit of attention during this chat. It's pretty simple. You just rub the chicken with your favorite spice mixutre, set the cavity of the chicken over a can of beer, then cook on the grill for roughly an hour. Comes out moist and delicious. 

– March 07, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

liquor

Are there liquor tastings at liquor stores, like wine stores have wine tastings? I would like to learn more about the different kinds and figure out what I like and don't like. When I order at a bar or restaurant I don't feel like I can order in an educated way, I just wing it. Also, what's a good way to stock a home bar and experiment there without spending a ton of money?
A.
Jason Wilson :

Liquor store tastings aren't as common as wine tastings, in part for legal reasons -- I believe only 43 states allow it. Virginia only legalized in 2010, I think. However, even at the stores, you're only going to get to taste what a distributor or importer is pushing. A good bar or restaurant, however, with a good spirits selection, would be a better place to taste a number of different things.

As for stocking a home bar, here is a column I did during the holidays. And here is one I did several years ago, for summertime.

– March 07, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

salmon-scallion corn cakes

Is there a way to make them without fish -- in other words, ovo-lacto vegetarian?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Seeing as salmon is a headliner ingredient... no.

Sounds like you need a totally different recipe. Perhaps Sweet Corn Fritters With Roasted Tomato.

– March 07, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

Vegan Birthday Cake

My family went through the same issue, with an added allergy to wheat. Applesauce makes a good substitute for eggs, oil for butter, water for milk. You won't get quite the same texture / flavors, but it's an option.
A.
Jane Black :

No wheat, eggs or dairy makes a cake hard to pull off. Thanks for sharing.

– March 07, 2012 12:56 PM
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

I'm thinking a nut torte might do the trick.

– March 07, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

bay leaves

Hi! I have a bunch of fresh bay leaves, do you have favorite recipes for using them when they're fresh?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Yes! Wait one week and you will have a recipe for bay ice cream that I've tested. YUM.

– March 07, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

subbing veggies

I made salmon cooked in foil with thinly sliced leeks and carrots (along with ginger and garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil). Delicious. Any suggestions for other veggies and/or fish that could be cooked this same way?
A.
Tim Carman :

You could use fennel or spring onions or pea shoots or fiddleheads or asparagus, depending on what flavor combinations you're aiming for. The choices are practically endless. As are the type of fish; the only ones I'd avoid, I think, are the meatier types, such as tuna.

The method you're employing sounds like cooking en papillote. We have a delicious recipe in the database for halibut; it comes from Esther Lee, the long time chef at the amazing Obelisk in Dupont Circle. (Pictured above.)

– March 07, 2012 12:58 PM
Q.

P.S. re Vegan devil's food cake recipe

Oven temp is 350F.
Q.

Spring vegetables

I know it's still winter, but I'm starting to yearn for some spring foods. I guess I've had enough kale, parsnips and squash for this winter (all delicious, but just ready for a change). Is anything coming into season right now that I should go check out? In general, do you know of a good resource that says when popular fruits and vegetables are in season?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Not sure where you're writing from, but here's a nice chart from the Virginia Department of Agriculture.

Shameless plug -- you can also check out my weekly Market Roundup for a report of what you'll find at our area farmers markets. It's published every Thursday on the blog.

– March 07, 2012 1:00 PM
Q.

Ricotta

Marcella Hazan has an amazing ricotta-and-spinach pasta recipe. A little butter, some shredded parmesan, pepper and salt. Improvise from there.
Q.

for fresh bay leaves

Don't know if enough time. Slit small potatoes almost through and insert a bay leaf. Rub with olive oil and roast. Bay permeates the potato in a lovely way.
Q.

Lamb

US lamb is superior to Aussie lamb you find at Giant, Safeway, HT and Wegman's. US lamb is also superior to NZ, Canadian, and British. Scottish lamb is a close second but not imported fresh to the US. Its a shame Wegman's doesnt sell US lamb.
A.
Tim Carman :

I'm not sure I completely agree with everything you say here, but I will wholeheartedly endorse this lamb producer: Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm. Sourced columnist David Hagedorn profiled Craig last year.

– March 07, 2012 1:03 PM
Q.

homemade ghee

when I took a cooking class, the chef took a bar of puglia butter and let it boil until the bubbles slowed down. when it cooled down it solidified, thus ghee. of course, I haven't had the guts to try it. I'm afraid I don't know when it would be done.
A.
Bonnie Benwick :

It's easy to do. Bring to barely a boil. At the point where it stops producing foam and you've skimmed it all off (the butter solids)  to yield a golden liquid, then you can refrigerate and use as ghee.

– March 07, 2012 1:06 PM
Q.

re: buttercream

It was what is considered an American buttercream. butter, sugar, bit of cream and vanilla. I guess the problem was the texture, too chuky and well, sugary. just couldn't get it to go smooth.
A.
Becky Krystal :

OK. Make sure your butter is very soft. Leave it out on the counter overnight or while you're at work. Give it enough time with the mixer to whip it into smooth submission.

It's possible your recipe isn't great either. You might want to try Baked's Vanilla Buttercream. And I had wonderful success with this Fluffy White Buttercream Frosting.

– March 07, 2012 1:06 PM
Q.

Bonnie Benwick :

Well, that hour went faster than the 2-ounce pours during  Beer Madness judging! Thanks to the Gregs (Engert & Kitstock), Jason, Jim and Jane Black for their expert advice today.

 

Chat winners: The chatter who was looking to expand his/her beer taste wins the Beer Tasting Tool Kit, and the  person who asked about slow-cooker safety (probably what a lot of people wonder) gets a copy of  "Slow Cooking." Send your mailing info to Becky Krystal at krystalr@washpost.com and she'll get those right out to you.

Next week, look for Round 1 results -- 32 down to 16. And food, of course! Happy cooking and eating!

Q.

 

A.
Host: