Free Range on Food: Rosh Hashanah and Sephardi cuisine, Hoppin' John, slivovitz and more

Sep 12, 2012

Vered Guttman shares some different dishes to bring to your table for the Jewish new year. Also, John Martin Taylor joins us to talk about the 20th anniversary of his book.
Past Free Range on Food chats

A glorious good afternoon! Many questions already so I must be brief. Joining us: Vered Guttman, who enjoyed all that great Sephardi food and Ladino song with the Vijitas de Alhad group; John Martin Taylor, celebrated low-country cookbook author who's just released a 20th-anniversary edition of  "Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking" and subject of Tim Carman's piece; Cathy Barrow, who has talked us all through the making of slivovitz; plus, Jane Touzalin, Becky Krystal and maybe Spirits columnist Jason Wilson, who we welcome back to Food by raising a toast with a McClelland Cocktail.

 

Two chatters will earn prizes today: either "The $5 Dinner Mom: One-Dish Dinners Cookbook" (source of today's Dinner in Minutes) or "Turkey: More Than 100 Recipes With Tales From the Road." We'll announce winners at the end of the chat.

Let's roll.

Thank you so much for this article -- and the recipes. I have several albums of hauntingly-beautiful Ladino music (perhaps "haunting" because it is the music of my ancestors) including one album sung by the amazing Flory Jagoda, whose voice I've adored since I first heard her at the Park Road GALA Theater in the 1990s -- That's her in the right corner of the photo, dressed in blue. She is a true international treasure! But I had not read about Ladino food until now. You leave me wondering if I love eggplant-and-tomato dishes because of some inherited taste memory! If only I spoke Ladino, I'd apply to join this group. One teensy correction: You note that Jagoda is from Bosnia, but then you leave Bosnia off the list of places of origin. Again, thank you, "grasyas" for this lovely read.

 

Thank you! You can still apply to the group, they welcome people who are interested in their heritage. Shana tova!

 

My parents are moving into a new house (with a lot more counter space and cabinets than their current kitchen) and I am looking to buy them a housewarming present. I'd like to give them a gift that contains the basics (plus some extras) for making homemade bread (my Mom likes to make bread, and both my Mom and my Dad like to eat it). I was thinking of getting them a good bread cookbook (probably Beard on Bread) and would also like to get some utensils for helping to make, bake and enjoy bread. Is there anything that you'd recommend be in a "bread essentials" kit--such as scrapers, pans, rolling pins, serving baskets, etc.? Thanks!

Do they have a baking stone? That would be at the top of my list. And an excellent bread knife. A bench scraper isn't a bad idea, especially because it can be used for a lot of things. Same with the rolling pin. This bread baker from King Arthur looks pretty cool too.

I don't get it. Are Washingtonians just such workaholics that they want to eat at their desks and not go further than the nearest curb to get their lunch? Does the whiff of air while standing in line make truck food preferable to delivery? Are there bells that evoke childhood memories of the Good Humor truck, or is it a boyish fascination with trucks themselves? The prices don't seem substantially less expensive than at sit-down places or delivery, or maybe I'm wrong about that. Please explain!

 

Have you actually eaten at a food truck or are you just raising rhetorical points in an attempt to bash food trucks?

 

Because if you've eaten at these trucks, you would realize that the variety of cuisines, the quality of the food and sheer innovation of the industry make these street-based bites often more attractive than the standard, ho-hum sandwich shop on the corner.

 

If you need suggestions, I'd point you to Chefdriven or Pepe (operated by Jose Andres, better known for the bricks-and-mortar operations that you prefer) or any of the Fojol Bros. trucks, including Volathai. Others worth chasing down: D.C. Empanadas, Basil Thyme, El Floridano, Goodies Frozen Custard, Phonation, Red Hook Lobster Pound, SUNdeVICH, Tasty Kabob, Rolling Ficelle and others.

What is the origin of Lowcounty shrimp and grits? Ray

That's probably too long a story for chat, but basically "shrimp and grits" was long a breakfast dish in Charleston, preferably using the tiny little creek shrimp of spring and summer. There's a recipe called Charleston Breakfast Shrimp in the Junior League of Charleston's Charleston Receipts of 1950, using bacon grease, onion, pepper, and flour in the sauce. Bill Neal of Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, began serving Shrimp and Grits in the mid-80s, but no one in Charleston was serving the dish before I opened my store and championed whole-grain grits there. I make a stock with the shrimp heads for added flavor. That recipe's in my book, along with several other versions. My book has just been released in a 20th Anniversary Edition with a new preface. Stone-ground, whole-grain grits are available from my commercial site.

I live in a remote area where unusual and trendy recipe ingredients are hard to obtain. Even items that are not all that exotic to people who live in bigger cities, are hard to find. For instance, the only fresh mushrooms available to me are button and portabella, although if I drive to a bigger city 2 hours from my home, I can find other varieties. Is there a source to help an adventurous cook decide what might make a good substitute that is readily available? An example that comes to mind is a recipe I wanted to try for steak rubbed in aleppo pepper with fried baby artichokes a few years ago. I found out that aleppo peppers have a smoky flavor, but I did not realize that they have some heat. I made a paste of red pepper and smoky salt. I liked the result (despite the fact that I couldn't get baby artichokes!) Now that I have been able to pick up some aleppo pepper from an exotic spice vendor, I know my substitution was not on the mark at all!

We recommend "The Food Substitutions Bible" by David Joachim.

Remember that if you do want to add things like aleppo pepper to your pantry -- and I heartily endorse! -- you can order through online purveyors. Maybe around the holidays you can find special or free shipping rates.

Does this book have much in the way of vegetarian recipes? I'm always on the lookout for inexpensive meals that don't require too much prep time, but most books don't have a lot for me....

Looks like there are 13 of them, at least in a specific chapter.

I love the brisket I made but my husband, not so much. He'll eat it once but then not the leftovers. I like the leftovers but let's face it, briskets are pretty large so that's a lot of leftovers for one person. Is it possible to freeze cooked brisket? Do I need to freeze it separately from the sauce? Thanks for any advice you can give me on this!

Freeze it, absolutely, with the sauce.  Leftover brisket is super for tacos, chopped up for shepherd's pie, homemade pasties/handpies, even adding to chili or stew. You might want to to refrigerate it for a day or so, just to allow fat to congeal at the top (easy to remove before freezing, if that's a concern to you). There are briskets of lesser sizes -- how many pounds do you usually buy?

 

BTW, did you see chef Adam Sobel's Holiday Brisket recipe? Might try it this year for Passover. The horseradish intrigues me. (Oy, have I ever typed a sentence like that before?)

I often freeze single portions of leftover brisket, but do freeze the sauce separately. It just heats up better. I wrap the meat in parchment, then foil, and pop the wrapped portion in the toaster oven at 350° for about 20 minutes (if defrosted.)

Also, most brisket recipes work really well with short ribs. Just take the meat off the bone and treat it like a small version of brisket.

I have a pork loin recipe that calls for balsamic vinegar in the marinade. I have a bottle I have had for several years (never opened). Does balsamic vinegar go bad?

Starting with my default answer here:  That depends.

 

Did you store it in a cool, dark place? Was it a fine, aged balsamic? You'll have to open it to tell....does it smell off/slightly rotten? If so, the mother's gone bad. It can happen, especially with balsamic that's less than top-quality. Is it looking cloudy at all? (You might be able to strain it and use it, if there's no bad aroma.)

So how much is that apple cake going to suffer if I need to use a pareve margarine instead of butter to serve at a Rosh Hashanah meal?

 

On other notes, Tim's piece on Hoppin' John was wonderful (as are his stone-ground grits!) and the piece on slivovitz was great. My dad put some up with damson plums in 1973 and forgot about it until 1986, by which time it was beyond delicious and had a texture like silk!

 

I won’t lie to you, it’s going to suffer .… Maybe try to find an apple tart recipe with a puff pastry base. Those come parve and the main component of the tart are actually the apples, so you’re not compromising much.

 

I agree with Vered. One of the stellar things about the cake is its rich, buttery flavor, which would be lost with margarine or oil. Save this one for after the holiday!

For the first time in 22 years our flowering quince has great big yellow fruit. Do you know if these are edible and if so, any recipe suggestions. thanks

 

I’m not sure if the quince in your yard are edible, but if they are there are many Sephardi dishes you can prepare with them, including a Rosh Hashanah staple: a quince jam. You basically cook the peeled and cubed quince with sugar and water for a long time, 1.5-2 hours, until it is soft and changes its color to deep orange. Use 1/2 sugar and 1.5 cups water for every lb. of quince.

 

What I can do to make granola with less carbs and thus less sugar? Im avoiding adding sugar and using only certain dry fruits and mostly using almonds because of its relatively low fat content (compared to other nuts) but Im having difficulties dealing with the oats because of its high carb content, so any suggestion for a relatively low carb granola recipe will be appreciated!

I did a quick Google search and found a number of recipes for low-carb granola (is that an oxymoron or what?), like this one with coconut, pumpkin and flax seeds and this one with sunflower seeds, pecans and peanut butter.

 

Good luck and let us know if these recipes work!

But I'm looking for a recipe for peach/pear butter. would the method just be the same as for apple butter? Thanks in advance!

I've made pear and apple butter by simply putting the fruit in a low oven overnight, straining it, adding spice, and doing the same thing the next night. Lazy man's work!

Thinking ahead here--do any of you have any recipes on hand that would make great Christmas gifts? (I need to start in advance because I'm getting married soon, and that will take up a lot of time I would normally spend getting ready for the holidays). I'm comfortable with just about any recipe, but prefer something that will stand up to at least 5 hours in the car.

Check out this story from a few years ago by Friend of Food Nancy Baggett. Basically they're various types of mixes you can give as gifts. I also think any kind of jam or preserve would be nice. Check out some of the canning recipes we've run recently. I'm kind of obsessed with the Pear and Chocolate Jam.

Pear and Chocolate Jam

Make my bourbon balls in today's paper.

bourbon balls

Cannot over-recommend the Jewish Apple Cake recipe that ran in The Post in the '80s. I am not Jewish, so I cannot definitively state whether it is kosher (pareve?) for Rosh Hashanah, but it is worth a look. Easy to do and ALWAYS plays to raves. Joan Nathan recipe, I believe -- layers of batter and apple in a tube/Bundt pan, batter made with oil and a bit of orange juice. I have subbed applesauce for up to half of the oil with great effect. Just gave the recipe to two friends for this fall, though we are lamenting the shortage of fresh, local apples due to the Midwest drought. (Maybe time to learn more pumpkin recipes...)

Was it this one? I don't think  I've met an apple cake in The Post that I didn't like....

 

MARGIE SIEGEL'S APPLE CAKE

 Makes an 8-inch cake

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup matzo cake meal

1/3 cup peanut oil

5 apples, pared and sliced

Topping:

1/3 cup walnuts

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix the eggs, sugar and cake meal together. Add oil. Mix well. Pour half the mixture into a lightly greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Spread a layer of apples over the batter. (If desired, add mixture of sugar/cinnamon, white raisins and nuts on top of apple layer.) Pour the remaining batter into the pan and cover with the rest of the apples. Sprinkle the topping over the apples. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. To make a larger cake, double the recipe and place in a 9-by-13-inch oblong pan.

Have you noticed that tomato sauce comes to a boil faster than plain water? How come?

So, so glad you asked. It prompted me to get back in touch with our former Food 101 columnist Bob Wolke, who, I just found out, helped edit parts of the 43-pound "Modernist Cuisine," and wrote a pertinent section in the work as well.

 

Bob says it's a matter of convection.  When you heat water, it essentially stirs itself; warm parts at the bottom rise, cool parts fall down. That makes it heat up uniformly, in the end.  In a thick, viscous sauce, the little bubbles that form at the bottom cannot migrate up easily -- not buoyant enough --  so they tend to stay below, collecting into columns of steam that erupt/burst as big bubbles that splatter you, the stove and your backsplash. (He calls it blurping; MC called it belching.)

 The net:  Convection does not take place in a thick sauce. And when you see those blurps, that's not really boiling, he says. Boiling occurs when a  liquid achieves a high enough temperature to change into vapor/gas.  The temperature in a viscous liquid like tomato sauce is uneven and doesn't have the same pure boiling point as water. Don't you love that? I feel smarter now.

 

The best way to reheat a sauce without wearing it, then, is to keep stirring it, so the heat disperses evenly.

(This makes you a strong contender for a prize today, just sayin'.)

I want to make salsa verde for a party that's a little under two weeks away. Can I freeze it so it holds? Or, how long will it last in the fridge? I can probably wait a few more days to make it, as my tomatillos are still in decent shape.

If I were you, I'd wait. Freezing is likely to turn the salsa weepy, mushy and not very fresh-tasting -- the opposite of what you want in a salsa.

I agree with Jane. But I thought I'd also check with Pati Jinich, a Friend of Food and the chef for the Mexican Cultural Institute. She says salsa verde will freeze well for about a week, but will go south if you hold it longer. Writes Pati:

 

"As it sits in the fridge, the spiciness winds down a bit."

My soon-to-be 4yo isn't a fan off cake, but loves ice cream and icing. A friend pointed me toward a pinterest idea of scooping ice cream into cupcake wrappers in advance for his birthday party, which is perfect. I just don't know how to go from there to make it special... regular icing on top seems weird (not that most kids would mind). Some kind of whipped cream? That can withstand freezer storage, since I'm not "frosting" 30 ice cream "cupcakes" at the last minute? help!

I know I'm not the only one thinking of the icing on those Baskin Robbins cakes. So sweet and kind of slick but weirdly addicting. Haven't been able to locate a great recipe so far, but would a chocolate topping work? This Bittersweet Chocolate Fudge Sauce is quite thick and hardens when it hits cold ice cream. So you can drizzle that on in advance, although with a group of kids, they might like the magic shell effect of pouring the sauce on and seeing it harden.

Bittersweet Chocolate Fudge Sauce

What are your thoughts on today's Low Country Boil recipes found in most restaurants that include corn on the cob and sausage?

All low-country boils should have corn, shrimp, and sausage.  And some added seasoning, especially if the sausage isn't spicy and smoked. OTHER ingredients are the odd ones out -- potatoes, crab, etc.

You are the only people I thought could answer my question and now I am even more hopeful with someone fro the low country. This year I grew cowpeas (aka black eyed peas) in my garden. (I was hoping for beans that I could dry and eat over the winter) Well I let the pods grow brown on the vine and when I open them there are black eyed peas. The question is how to store them. Do they need more drying? Can I put them in a air tight jar to keep? Should I blanch and freeze them? Help.

They're already dried on the vine, right? I grew a dozen heirloom varieties in DC several years ago in a community garden and ate them fresh and dried for months, but when I went to make my hoppin' John on New Year's Day and pulled them out, they were riddled with bugs. I have read that you can freeze them first to kill critters, and of course you can freeze about anything, but what happens when you THAW foods is the ticket. I have found the best way to put away cowpeas and butterbeans for the winter is to go ahead and cook them the way you want to eat them -- if you use a smoked ham hock, go ahead and cook them that way. THEN FREEZE THEM IN BATCHES. They're taking up freezer room already, so you may as well have them ready-to-serve.

To respond to the previous chatter, Yes, on the days I get food from trucks, it is often because I have a limited amount of time for lunch and not enough time to go to a restaurant. A food truck is a much more appealing option than the wilted salad bar in my office cafeteria, especially when I can get the amazing food and friendly service, at outlets like Chef Driven, TaKorean, Chupacabra or Carnivore BBQ (to name a few of my favorites). I make a point of varying my lunches to include brought-from-home, sit-down restaurant, take-away restaurant, cafeteria and food trucks. All of them have their benefits and I wouldn't want to lose any of them.

I wouldn't want to lose them, either. They've become an integral part of the food landscape in Washington. But some of the truck owners are worried about their future here. See my blog item from yesterday.

I'm not one for fried foods but if I had to pick a favorite it would be fried fish and hushpuppies. Would Hoppin John use the same oil to fry both foods?

Absolutely. On my blog there's a video of me catching bream, cleaning them, frying them, and making hush puppies to go with. My Fearless Frying Cookbook is a steal at $11. Perfect frying every time if you follow my instructions. I use peanut oil for pretty much everything deep-fried because it has a high flash point and is more stable than most. Here's a link to the page on my blog with the video.

I'm a big fan of okra, and was happy to see the recipe for okra and stewed tomatoes today...my mother makes a similar dish that I have adapted since its not always so easy to find fresh okra...you can do the same with frozen sliced okra and it is divine. very warm and homey...

I've been having good luck lately finding fresh okra at my local Harris Teeter. Also, it's very often available at the large Asian grocery stores, such as H Mart and Great Wall.

It's interesting to notice that althought the okra recipe in the paper was Southern, okra in tomatoes is a very popular Sephardi dish as well.

I went to Turkey last fall and one of our best meals was at a tiny hole-in-the-wall cafeteria-style place in Selcuk. We selected our food from a glass counter and had a seat at a tiny table with paper napkins and utensils. We didn't expect our meal to come out as a beautiful four-course meal! The stuffed eggplant was incredible - the restaurant actually comped us rice pudding for dessert because "they were so happy to see us enjoying their food." Thank you so much for providing the recipe - can't wait to try re-creating that meal!

Stuffed Eggplant (Karniyarik)

Thank you, hope you'll enjoy it at home as well!

Love the idea of chili in the fall (who else is loving this cooler weather!) but my problem is that I do not eat bacon and many of the recipes out there call for bacon. what can I use to substitute? Is there anything comprable?

Try substituting smoked paprika. I add about a Tablespoon to a large pot of vegetarian chili that I might otherwise start with two or three pieces of chopped up bacon.

Turkey bacon would work in the Spinach and Bacon Chili recipe. It'll render a small amount of fat in the pan, and provide the necessary chewy bits.

Thinking ahead here--do any of you have any recipes on hand that would make great Christmas gifts? (I need to start in advance because I'm getting married soon, and that will take up a lot of time I would normally spend getting ready for the holidays). I'm comfortable with just about any recipe, but prefer something that will stand up to at least 5 hours in the car.

Try making the Slivovitz in today's paper. I've been giving it for gifts for years and no one has ever complained.

Slivovitz

Bought a bottle of malt vinegar for a "British pub" dinner related to the Olympics opening. Now we have... a bottle of malt vinegar. Recommendations for uses that don't involved fried potatoes? Thanks.

I like it on all fish, even when it's not "pub-fried." You can add to marinades and salad dressings, of course. A splash in a soup when you don't have fresh citrus on hand.

Weird-but-good combo for me: with thick slices of Asian pears. And I've been known to stir it into a mayo-based tuna fish concoction.

For those of us who work in an area where there aren't a ton of restaurants, walking over to the "union station" food trucks is wonderful. Also, I usually pay no more than $10 for a food truck lunch, if I was getting delivery it would probably be far more than that with min. and delivery charges.

True, plus with delivery the food often is compromised: It's either lukewarm or the texture has been altered because it steams in on itself.

Hi, I love the explanation of why tomato sauce blurps! I've got it all over a one-foot radius around the stove right now and had to change my shirt twice while checking up on it! For a chuckle, check out the "mud blurp" sound effect here.

A stone, a scraper, a big enough bowl, a reliable food scale, a good liquid measure and some of those long-handled measuring spoons. After that, the cloche from KA or elsewhere is fabulous. And maybe a starter set of flour. But don't go with "Beard on Bread." Outdated though good as a second book. Look into more modern beginner books. Avoid rose Levy Berenbaum, who is cake-oriented and doesn't get bread. Check out the wonderful Web site called thefreshloaf.com. Basics and lots of knowledgeable posters who like beginners. And welcome to a big and wonderful adventure.

Scale. Great idea. 

Er, not sure I'm with you on the Rose Levy B. part, but this is a democratic forum....

Is there a good one?

I have to admit, the best Sephardi cookbooks I know are all in Hebrew. But books by writers like Claudia Roden, Joan Nathan and Gil Marks all have nice collections of Sephardi recipes in them (next to Ashkenazi as well, of course).

 

I grew up with quince trees in our yard so yes the fruit that grows is edible. A great way to enjoy is making quince juice--pureed type and candied. Also, try it in a meal such as Moroccan beef/lamb with quince tajine.

Also these Quince Honey Challah Knots. Wow.

Quince Honey Challah Knots

The chatter was asking about quince bushes, not quince trees. They're very different (about 20 feet different!) but the fruit of both is edible. I had a quince tree in my Arlington back yard and it was a real education! The fruit is as hard as a rock -- cutting it was a risky business -- but once cooked, it becomes fragrant and delicately delicious. Wish I still had it.

Love them, love Shulie Madnick, their maker.

Your mention of a cookbook of recipes from Turkey reminds me how much I love Turkish coffee, so thick you can almost chew it! Any thoughts on what sort of roast I should buy, and how to make it at home? Thanks!

 

You can get Turkish ground coffee at Middle Eastern markets like Yekta in Rockville. And here’s a video on how the prepare it - you need to boil the coffee three times if you’re serious about your coffee!  

 

Is there a way I can make a liqueur with all my fresh blackberries? Wouldn't that make a cool holiday gift for all my friends!

Absolutely. Fill a quart jar with clean blackberries. Add anywhere from 1-2 cups of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries. Fill the jar with vodka, brandy, eau de vie or grain alcohol. Some people just add wine. Wait two to three months, strain through a coffee filter and serve. Consider adding vanilla or other spices. Some citrus peel is also good.

bring a variety of good food to places that have not much, such as Foggy Bottom. Without the trucks it would be Subway or the cafeteria or the worst chinese restaurant in DC. AND we get a nice short walk outside as a bonus.

I understand why these bricks-and-mortar restaurants wouldn't want the competition: They expected to have a captive lunch market. But now that they have competition, one hopes they would be inspired toward more innovation instead of what many have tried to do: Kill the competition.

Why is it important to get stone-ground grits? And actually, what other kind is there?

It's not just enough to get stone-ground. You want stone-ground, WHOLE-GRAIN, and, preferably, HEIRLOOM corn grits. Why? For both nutrition and flavor. Grits sitting on a grocer's shelf, unrefrigerated, have been degerminated. That is, the germ, which is where the oil is, has been removed. We all know that fat carries flavor. This degermination process can be done several ways, but the most common is by soaking the corn in a lye solution. Of course, you need to keep whole-grain products like mine in the freezer, and you have to cook them longer (a slow cooker is great overnight or while you're at work), but the flavor is unbeatable. Also, unless it says stone-ground, the corn (hybrid varieties that are flavorless to begin with) has been ground between steel rollers which both grinds too fine and actually cooks the corn. Of course it lasts forever on the grocer's shelf, but it tastes like the carboard it's packaged in.

This month's Harry and David box has arrived full of nectarines. What do I do with them aside from eating them out of hand? Would I be able to puree them and feed them to my baby in a few months when he's able to start eating real food?

You can freeze peach puree in airtight containers for your baby for up to three months, but I wouldn't go beyond that. (I frequently stretch use-by dates, but I probably wouldn't where an infant is concerned.) Here's what to do with them now -- I love, love, love this very easy, free-form pastry that will use up four of your nectarines: Nectarine-Raspberry Crostata. It's not only tasty, but quite pretty.

Vered, can you point me to a recipe for biscochos? My grandmother made them and I haven't tasted them since.

Thanks! Assuming you’re talking about sweet biscochos, here’s a nice recipe to start with. I would add anise seeds, especially if your grandmother used to do that too.

 

because they don't use grains or refined sugar

I've been religiously eating locally and going to farmers markets all summer for the best deals on produce. But now that it's turning to fall and all those wonderful tomatoes and beans are disappearing, how can I still create vegetarian meals (not all squash and sweet potato based) that are focused on veggies -- without spending all my money at the grocery store? Are there any good ways to save money on produce?

The subject of produce prices is very painful to me. I still can’t understand why would tomatoes cost more than chicken -- summer or wintertime. And why the USDA who recommends we all eat more veggies give most of their subsidies to beef-related industries. I would try getting outside of the city center for produce shopping, places like H-Mart and other ethnic markets seem to be selling veggies for much less year-round.

 

Tom's chat mentioned shishito peppers. How are they different then Padron peppers? Are they more available? Because I love Padron peppers. Thank you.

My initial research shows that while they're similar, there are also differences. Shishito peppers are generally milder. I'm not sure about availability. Anyone have a scouting report?

A new frozen yogurt establishment opened in my office building, and I eagerly paid a visit. Imagine my shock to find a wall full of yogurt options and offerings, all of which were labeled FAT FREE! or 98% FAT FREE! I asked the cashier if there were any whole-fat options, explaining that the cultural pendulum has swung back toward whole foods and an appreciation of full-fat options. No, she said, they have only the fat free and almost fat free stuff. "How very 1988 of you," I responded. Do you know of any frozen-yogurt establishments that aren't wedded to the idea that FAT FREE is the way to go?

Good question. For better or for worst, froyo has been marketed as a healthy, low-fat snack option, despite the fact that it can have a high sugar content.

 

My suspicion is that few or none of these froyo stores will carry whole-milk, full-fat yogurt (instead of the stuff that you have to add pectin to give the yogurt body in the absence of fat). Just out of curiosity I called a couple of stores quickly: Both FroZenYo and Pinkberry only sell low-fat or non-fat froyo.

Are parsnip tops edible? I know that carrot greens are perfectly fine to eat but what about parsmip greens? Are they safe to ingest? Thanks!

I have cooked Hoppin' John for many years and I love it but now would like to cook it without meat but still have the smoky flavor I get from the meat. No faux meat either. Is there any spice I could use to achieve this?

I can't imagine how you would get the smoked meat flavor without using meat. However, if you are into smoking foods yourself, you could smoke some onions and peppers (for that matter, you could put raw rice in your smoker) and smoke them. There's a smoky paprika (Pimentòn) from Spain that you could use to add a smoky flavor. Some people use Liquid Smoke in recipes, but it tastes weird to me.

Do you think I could sub walnut oil for peanut oil in the recipe for MARGIE SIEGEL'S APPLE CAKE? I have huge can of walnut oil leftover from a risotto recipe, and I prefer walnuts to peanuts.

I don't see why not, as long as the oil's in good condition.

I have a lot of leftover cantalope chunks in my fridge following a brunch this weekend. Any ways to use it up creatively other than eating it straight out of the container-I'm already bored with that method!

You could puree and freeze (flat, in a freezer bag), or puree with other fruit, some honey and yogurt to make a smoothie. I've seen cantaloupe and pasta recipes that look interesting (almost said intriguing again. yikes).

No, a lot of it starts out bad. ;-) Last week's Chicago Tribune had an excellent article pointing out how overused BV is and how low-quality most of the BV in your average supermarket is.

Nice. thanks for pointing that out!

Tassajara Bread book is a wonderful source for a beginner.

For Jason: Looking for some things to try with a bottle of Laird's bonded apple brandy. Jack Rose, of course, or in an old-fashioned, are both good but was looking for some more ideas. Found the recipe on the Post for the "Diamondback" with apple brandy and rye which sounds very good, though I only have the green Chartreuse, not yellow. Obviously it wouldn't be exactly the same, but any reason just making it with green wouldn't work?

Here are some other drinks using apple brandy:

Apple Toddy, Calvados Sidecar, Corpse Reviver No. 1, Della Mela.

If you're interested in cooking with it, try our Cider Herb Gravy with your Thanksgiving turkey. And wait a couple weeks: Apple brandy will figure big in a pudding cake we'll be running.

Sorry, can't answer the Chartreuse question, and Jason seems to be running late. Maybe ask him in a future chat, or just try using it and see what happens?

"They dined on mince, and slices of quince. Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon, the moon ..." -- Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussycat. I've often wondered about that menu ...

Another excellent quince recipe: short ribs with quince.

Buy one of the GOOD bread machines. But don't bake the bread in it. The good ones do an excellent job of mixing and kneading bread dough, and of rising it too. It can give you confidence in how dough is supposed to look and work. And helps a lot once arthritis sets in.

Ah, yes. Here's a story on that exact strategy, written by our colleague Steve Luxenberg.

Making a birthday cake with vanilla cake and a caramelized pear filling, and planning a Swiss buttercream for the outside. Can I turn it into a bourbon buttercream by using a teaspoon of bourbon instead of a teaspoon of vanilla where called for? I'm not sure whether to risk it.

YES

use smoked salt and/or smoked black pepper for the veggie hoppin' johns. plus super flavorful stock to begin with.

hi rangers! i wanted to make a quantity of dried black beans and freeze them in individual portions. however, i've never been able to cook dried beans well - can you help? i want tender beans with lots of flavor, but don't want them falling apart, if that makes sense. thanks!

You must let the beans boil for 5 to 7 minutes. After that, turn them down really low and let them cook, tasting them often, until they're done to your liking.

Here are some tips from Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo.

Sorry for the false alert, folks. Jason's traveling in Italy but promises to address your Spirits questions next week.

I have the same frustration buying yogurt in the grocery store. It is almost impossible to find whole milk yogurt I have to go to whole foods or other health food stores to buy it.

Yes yes yes! I've had to stand there peering at the rows and rows of nonfat and lowfat yogurt containers in the supermarket trying to make out one, just one, that is full fat. What I've found is that I can find it, but not in containers smaller than 16 ounces. So I buy it, but sometimes it ends up going bad before I can use it all. So frustrating.

And by the way, you'll need full-fat Greek-style yogurt for a great pasta recipe we'll be running next week.

Jane and I were just bartering over the tub she has in her fridge.

How many employers do you know who actually allow a long enough lunch break to go out to a restaurant and wait for sit-down service? Especially in the DC area.

Well, I do agree that D.C. does seem to have a high percentage of workaholics. But even if we had all the time in the world, I'd still pick a food truck a couple times a week, just because I like many of them.

 

The trucks are particularly nice now that the weather is turning cool and you can eat your lunch in the park. Sweet, that.

In the answer to the food truck complaint/comment, there is a picture of a cookie; a wonderfully tasty looking cookie. I want that cookie! Where is the recipe? Thank you.

That would be the Chocolate and Hazelnut Ice Cream Flauta from Pepe.

And the Food section said: It was good.

I tried a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that called for melted butter instead of room temperature butter. The texture was great and I'm wondering if I can use that for other cookies

It really depends on the cookie. For similar type drop cookies, like oatmeal raisin or chocolate chunk, you could probably assume the same textural qualities will endure. If you've gone to the trouble of melting the butter, maybe go a little further and make true brown butter? Here's my technique -- in a small saucepan, let butter melt, cook and sputter on medium heat making little brown flecks on the bottom of the pan, and when it goes totally silent, that's brown butter.

Doesn't melted butter in a cookie promote that good chewiness? Or at least it helps dissolve sugar crystals in the dough...

Nope, that's not the one. The one I use doesn't have matzo. Unfortunately, I don't have it handy here, but a quick GoodSearch run shows this as the closest:  Nearly sure the one I use is Joan Nathan. My dad clipped the recipe from the Post (Maybe the STar, but I don't think so...) in the 80s. Has an optional honey-based topping, which in understand to be more relevant to Rosh Hashanah.

Gave a quick search in our deep archives and didn't find it.  Send your email to food@washpost.com and we'll try to track it down for you.

Any reason not to melt in the the microwave? Like maybe it gets too hot --?

I do it. Just let it cool, and go slowly, in 15-20-second increments.

I found some roasted tomato sauce in the fridge that I made about two and half weeks ago. I'd like to use it for dinner tonight, but I'm a little concerned about its age. It doesn't smell at all bad, and I tasted it last night and it seemed fine. So long as I bring it to a hot bubble do you think it will be okay? I'm cooking it with other ingredients -- beef, onions, mushrooms and some fresh chopped tomatoes.

Some quick research on the subject seems to indicate that pasta sauces (typically the commercial types) only hold four or five days in the fridge.  Your homemade batch is well beyond that. I'd say, to be safe, toss the sauce and make a new batch.

See the loong tomato sauce blurping q&a...you'd have to make sure the sauce really came to a full boil, and now we know that might be hard to achieve!

Thanks for the inspiration. I'm on my way to Magruder's to stock up on Italian Prunes. And now I know what to do with the jars of cloudy fruitless syrup left from last summer's gallon batch of brandied fruit (started in June, finished in September). Essence of 2011 Summer Liquor, here I come!

Strain it through a coffee filter and bottle it!

I am so excited that its cooled off so that I can get back to making soups and stews on the weekends. One project I've been meaning to try now that I have my lovely new Le Cruset Dutch Oven is a meal that starts on the stove top and transfers to the oven - Like a Beef Bourgniogn (sp?). Do you have fav recipes for these types of dishes?

I do lots of dishes that way, especially dishes that require you to brown the meat  beforehand -- rabbit stews, beef stews, and the Eastern European classics like gyuvetch and kavarma.

How about these Boiled Cider Baked Beans?

Boiled Cider Baked Beans

Oh, come on. TJs has it , Whole foods even has goat milk full fat yogurt, and my Soviet Safeway has it...

If they have it in containers smaller than 1 pound, I'll be thrilled. At the Harris Teeter and Safeway in my neighborhood, they do not.

If you have a Montgomery Cty library card (and maybe othe places) you can search full text of the Post back to 1960 or so. It's in one of the newspaper archive search products they have under Electronic Resources. Works beautifully.

Good to know. We use ProQuest for the tough ones.

I just opened an aseptic (shelf-stable) carton of almond milk and, while it tastes okay, it has white flecks that float to the top of my coffee, like regular cow's milk does when it's starting to turn. I'm confused both because this is marked as not expiring until April of next year and also because, well, it's not cow's milk, it's some combo of water and almonds -- right?

If you search online, you'll find that curdling almond milk is very common. Everyone seems to have different theories about it -- an incomplete emusion, a chemical reaction -- but one common thread seems to be that usually it doesn't mean there's a problem with the milk itself unless the carton appears to be bloated, the milk's color looks off or the milk smells sour. When in doubt, I always call the manufacturer and ask.

I've used your recipe to make hummus twice, and both times the flavor is blah. I've added additional lemon, olive oil, and minced garlic. Do I need to just go crazy on the amounts? I've made it with canned beans, and beans I've prepared myself. I'm used to the stuff that I buy in the store, which usually has garlic or harissa (i think) in it. Is my palate just messed up from what "think" hummus should taste like?

 

As any hummus cook would tell you, it’s hard to give accurate quantities (although if you’re talking about this recipe it seem quite right). Start with the recipe you have and taste it. Now decide if it’s too liquid-like add more tahini. I usually use more than the 2 tablespoons in the recipe, if you like it more lemony add that, or garlic and salt (especially since you like strong flavors). It’s your hummus!

 

It's whole milk yogurt and they have it in 2 oz containers (6 to a pack). Yes you have to buy 6, but they are all individually sealed so they last longer

As long as it's meat-free, I eat it even several weeks old -- until it starts to grow mold. I've never had a problem but maybe that's dumb luck!

Thanksthanksthanks for joining us today! Chatters, JMT, Cathy, Vered. Good times.

 

Chat winners: The tomato sauce/water chatter gets the "Turkey" cookbook, and the chatter who asked about the high price of vegetables gets the "The $5 Dollar Mom" cookbook. Send your mailing info to krystalr@washpost.com and Becky will get the books right out to you.

 

Next week, look for our apparently larger than many recent years Washington area cooking class listings (go, Becky!). Till then, happy cooking and eating!

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie Benwick is interim editor of the Food section; joining us today are interim recipe editor Jane Touzalin, staff writer Tim Carman, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Spirits columnist Jason Wilson and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin. Guests: Vered Guttman, who writes the Modern Manna food blog for Haaretz.com; John Martin Taylor, author of "Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking"; Cathy Barrow, slivovitz maker and blogger at MrsWheelbarrow.com.
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