Free Range on Food: The secrets to making great ragu, cornmeal, Persian Purim and more

Porcini and Mushroom Ragu. (Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Mar 13, 2019

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

Greetings, and welcome to today's chat. Hope you're enjoying what we've been offering, including:

Domenica Marchetti's deep dive into real Italian ragu, and how to make several delectable versions.

Rebecca Powers's look at the history of cornmeal, and recipes that showcase it.

Olga Massov's menu of Persian-inspired recipes for Purim.

Alex Van Buren's memories of fake green cupcakes and Shamrock Shakes on St. Paddy's Day.

Becky's latest essential recipe, for Crispy Herbed Falafel -- just published!

My vegan mac and cheese/cheez/trees

Bonnie's latest DinMin, a sheet-pan special for chili-rubbed salmon!

More recipes, how-tos and the like!

We have TWO new staff members to introduce to you chatters today: Kari Sonde, our new editorial aide; and the aforementioned Olga Massov, our new part-time editor. Welcome them, please!

We will also have Italian-cooking guru Domenica Marchetti joining us today, so even though Bonnie and Becky are tied up with a photo shoot you will be in good hands.

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR8123 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

As always, we'll have a giveaway book for our favorite chatter, so make your questions/comments good!

Let's do this.

Is there really a huge difference between brand name beans, such as Rancho Gordo or Palouse, and generic beans available in the grocery store bulk bin? Rancho Gordo sells dried chickpeas at $6/lb whereas I can get the generic stuff at $1.70/lb in my local store. At that price, I feel like Rancho Gordo should be 3x tastier.

In a word, yes! Don't get me wrong: I think you can make very tasty beans from the "generic stuff." But Rancho Gordo's products (I'm not as familiar with Palouse) are distinctive for two reasons: The company sells heirloom varieties that have interesting flavors and textures that you might not have tasted in other beans, and their beans are just fresher, so they cook up more quickly and evenly. Think about the price this way: $6 a pound is still so cheap for something that will give you so many healthy meals! I don't think you have to buy those kinds of beans all the time, but you should try sometime just so you can see! You can treat them like a special indulgence, too -- the cheapest one imaginable, really.

Anyone who makes this or eats this should be forced to be Anthony Weiner's probation officer after being waterboarded and thrown into rendition

Thank you for your open mind! I always appreciate that.

Hi, In Maura's article on Soleil Ho, she mentions, as does the picture caption, Ho's "ethical code." I read the whole article because I was interested in the details of what this would be, but I don't think it's ever explained? It's even unclear whether this is a code Ho holds herself to, or a code she applies to the restaurants she's reviewing? Could Maura explain this a bit more? Thanks!

Hi, sorry for the confusion! The ethical code is the same one that many food critics and writers at major newspapers and magazines across the country follow, laid out here by the Association of Food Journalists. They're the same standards that Tom Sietsema holds himself to, except for Ho, there's an added complication since she isn't able to be anonymous. They basically boil down to:

1. Pay for all of your meals.

2. Don't use your position for leverage (to get desirable reservations, etc). That's why we withheld her sister's name when I ate dinner with them -- Ho uses it to make reservations so that she doesn't get special treatment. 

3. If you can't be anonymous, do your best not to tip the restaurant off that you're coming (which is where that exchange about the host stand with her husband came from -- she didn't want them to see her before she sat down at the table in case she was recognized). Do your best to have a regular person's experience at a restaurant. This also means paying close attention to the tables around you to make sure they're getting the same treatment as you. 

4. Avoid conflicts of interest -- so, don't be friends with chefs, and if you are friends with chefs, you can't write about their restaurants. 

Hope that helps!

ARTICLE: Soleil Ho is a young, queer woman of color who wants to redefine food criticism

The article mentioned that in Tuscany, they omit dairy from their ragu. Does that mean that they just omit the dairy ingredients of a bolognese recipe like the one printed? Or is the Tuscan version similar to the southern Italian pork and sausage recipe? Trying to figure out if a dairy-free version of bolognese is doable.

Hi there,

The short answer is yes, you can definitely make a non-dairy ragu (though technically it would not be a Bolognese ragu). I would add a little more tomato puree to compensate for the loss of liquid. And feel free to add some complementary herbs like bay leaf.

RECIPE: Ragu Alla Bolognese

I was making the hummus recipe from an Ottolenghi book, follow it to a "T", then, when taste testing it thought that it was much too thick and dense, so i had to modify to salvage it (don't worry, I still ate the whole batch!) Upon closer review of the recipe, I noticed that it called for light tahini, whereas I'd used the Ziyad brand tahini. What is the difference between these two pastes? Is it worth keeping both in the home kitchen, and, if so, does anyone know where I can buy light tahini in DC?

Not sure I have seen that, and I visit Med stores around DC fairly often! Next time you have density issues with your hummus, try the trick I learned from a Lebanese cook: a couple of ice cubes, as you are pureeing in the food processor. It lightens and brightens!

 

Agreed with BB on the ice-cube trick. You also can just add cold water, or -- my favorite -- some extra chickpea liquid!

How many pounds of hydrated beans will one pound of dry beans yield? Double, triple?

I haven't measured by weight, but one pound of beans is about 2 cups, and it yields about 6 cups cooked beans (plus liquid). I tend to get 8 cups total, beans and liquid -- which I know because every time I put them into two quart-sized Mason jars!

Hi. I'd like to use some of my frozen peaches as a topping for angel food cake. Can I just put them in the fridge to thaw? If not, what's the best way to get them to a usable state. Thanks!

Yes! The fridge is fine. You can also just defrost them at room temperature -- or even by immersing the package (not sure what they're in) in water.

I was planning on making an Iranian-style dinner this weekend, when, to my surprise, you all published the chicken and tahdig recipes this morning, hooray! Does anyone have any suggestions for a vegetable side I could add to this spread?

While not exactly Persian, this lovely turnip and prune tagine would pair beautifully.

It really should include veal, beef, and pork. Each adds flavor and contributes to mouth feel. I make mine using Wegman's meatloaf mix which contains all three. Or I if I am really going for it I hit Wilson Farm Meats for ground pork, beef, and veal. I ahve tried most of the butcher shops in the DC area and for a bolgonese sauce their's is the best and the freshest. Also the most reasonable. Oh and they only take cash.

Hi there,

My mom always used a combination of beef, pork, and veal in her Bolognese sauce and I often do, too. I really like the combination of all three. However, the "official" recipe from l'Accademia Italiana della Cucina contains just ground beef, plus pancetta. Here is a link to the official version (in Italian).

Thanks for the butcher shop recommendation!

Unfortunately I wasn't reading the chat live last week but I thought the question on how to use carrot tops so weird because I had just seen a recipe for them on Instagram! It was Food 52's recipe to use the carrot tops as a salad base in a soy sauce dressing.

Thanks for this! #loveourchatters

I didn't realize this morning as I prioritized reading the ragu article that it was Domenica's article and recipes. Domenica, I have your Preserving Italy cookbook and have had a lot of fun using it. Thanks.

Thank you for writing to say so. I loved researching and writing Preserving Italy, and it makes me happy to know that you are enjoying it.

Hi Free Rangers! In hour of Pi Day, I’m going to attempt hand pies, which I have never attempted before. Several of the recipes I have seen online recommend freezing the stuffed pies before cooking. This isn’t something I have done with traditional pies. Any thoughts on why this is a good step for hand pies? (Is it a good step?) Also, should egg washes be yolk only, whites only, or whole egg? Fruit centers if that matters. Thank you!

First, I endorse how Pi Day has been co-opted by the food universe. #everydayisPieDay

 

I think the freezing's done to help preserve the shape of them, so I guess it depends on the recipe -- if you are working with the dough/filling so much that it becomes soft, then firming it up before baking's always a good idea.

 

 

Re egg washes: Yolk only might make the coating ever so slightly firmer, and it will lend shine and a golden hue.  Whites only, you're left with yolks to deal with, and you may get more get more even browning (but not so much sheen). Epicurious takes a good, geeky swipe at the egg wash world here.

 

Please make Cathy Barrow's cherry handpies! They are so very good. 

I'm hoping you or the other Free Rangers can help me out. I make a mean pizza dough - the recipe we use is one that's served us well for years. However, when it comes to bread dough I'm a failure. I've been trying numerous no-knead recipes but the end result is always a wet dough that refuses to hold any sort of shape. Do you have any tips for me, or maybe a recipe that's truly fool-proof?

You're in luck! Becky has been tested Jim Lahey's original no-knead recipe and having great results -- so stay tuned for that. It's set to publish a week from today!

Last year I made a lemon curd filling for my hamantaschen that was very tasty but a bit greasy, so this year I decreased the amount of margarine (I use Earth Balance so that it's pareve). But it was runny. What do you recommend for this to come out thicker next year; should I have cooked it longer, or should I just use a different recipe (I see that you have a Meyer lemon recipe online)? The recipe I have is: 3 lemons 1.5 cups sugar 1 stick margarine (this year I used 3/4 stick, and it was not greasy) 4 eggs 1/2 cup lemon juice 1/8 tsp kosher salt Also, FYI, the link to your Lemon Curd Tart (from April 7, 2004) is broken. Please fix it; I'd love to see that recipe! Thank you!

Butter (or margarine) really helps lemon curd set properly, so that's probably it. But I have great news for you: We are about to publish a set of incredible curd recipes from Maria Speck that will qualify as pareve and that are SO EASY. They're pubbing tomorrow at noon, so look out for them!

As for that Lemon Curd Tart, I'm not sure why that link in the RF is broken, but will look into it!

 

I'm sending this again because the screen refreshed while I was typing and the first effort disappeared. About those tortillas Some friends and I stopped at a Mexican-Salvadoran place for a quick after concert meal last weekend. One member of the group frequented the place and recommended it highly. I had advanced warning and so was able to go online and check out the menu. What I saw there suggested that I might be better off putting together a meal constructed from sides rather than the main menu items. I kept it simple: I ordered three tortillas and some salad greens (in an effort to channel tacos made with quelites) and blue cheese dressing. I’ve been making my own tortillas at home for over thirty years. Count me among those who think a homemade corn tortilla (made from masa; nixtamal did not enter my vocabulary until much later and has yet to make an appearance in my kitchen) still warm and scorched marked from the griddle is one of the most delicious things I eat. So when I entered the taco place, I had high expectations. I asked if the tortillas were made in house (“yes” was the response I heard, but perhaps that meant that they were made in house by a tortilla machine). The tortillas I was served looked just like the one in the photo of today’s Taco Tuesday recipe. Same diameter, same perfectly circular outline, and too thick. Too thick to wrap around fillings without breaking. ‘Fess up: those are store bought, machine made tortillas, right?

I'm sure Joe will chime in on your gotcha-q, but I wanted to make two observations. 

 

1. I share your joy over freshly made tortillas, hot from the griddle when they are browned and still puffy. Such tortillas can transform a good taco experience into a great one.

 

2. Most taquerias don't make their own tortillas. They consider it too expensive, not so much because of the cost of ingredients (which are nominal) but because of the cost of labor. It routinely drives me crazy when superb taco filings are placed in substandard tortillas.

I would chime in, but I'm not sure which photo you're referring to! Linky-link please?

I was given some medium-sized daikon radishes; how can I cook with them besides pickling them? On-line searches all led to pickles. There must be something else....

Consider yourself blessed! The daikon I find in supermarket produce depts. are all the size of submersibles. It's very good for stir-fries because daikon chunks stay nice and crisp. Daikon also takes well to braising/roasting and becomes quite tender. Try this simple roasting recipe! This slaw is terrific, too, and also simple.

I use a Sam Fromartz recipe which isn't really no knead (but close enough) and then I use Leahy's dutch oven baking method. Combining the two has worked really well for me.

Good to know! We love Sam.

As a native New Orleanian, I only use Camellia beans for my red beans and rice. For me, the difference is the creaminess.

I really like Camellia beans, too! For red beans, yes -- and I'm a fan of their lady cream peas, these little white beans that are gorgeous and tasty.

I have VERY limited space on my kitchen counters (it would be a galley if there were counters on the other longer side, but there aren't. I have a new Instant Pot and it looks like a good idea once I figure it out. But there isn't any space near a power outlet. I think I want to keep the tiny Foreman grill out. I have used it (mostly for veggie or turkey burgers). I like that it has heat on both sides. I know that I could do the same thing in a pan on the stove so it could get put away. Unfortunately, it is between the fridge and the dish drainer so there is zero prep space next to it. I would have to transport ingredients from the other side of the sink. The other spot that I could free up is where the toaster oven sits. That is probably the best option. I'm low carb, so I don't need it for toast. I guess its only use is for a quick broil and the oven will do that. I guess this is a question about kitchen architecture. Do you need to put these appliances in places where they are always available. I find myself to be an "out of sight, out of mind" person in the kitchen. Is that normal, or could I train myself out of it.

This is the thing about countertop appliances, and one of the reasons I resist them for functions that I can do on the stovetop: Absolutely, out of sight/out of mind is perfectly normal. I'd say it's of course also about how often you want to use something, isn't it? If you're tight on space, save the countertop for the things that you do most often. If that's chopping for a stir-fry, then I'd say you should put a cutting board out there. It does sound like your toaster oven could go away -- or at least out of sight!

Domenica Marchetti mentions bay leaf. My five foot bay tree is spending the winter potted in the kitchen, well within impulse picking range. These fresh leaves have much more vibrant and complex scent and flavor than the dried ones. I'm trying to come up with ways of capturing and using those flavors. Béchamel is one obvious way, and so too would be ice cream. Any others?

Lucky you! I have tried to grow bay leaf with no success. I may give it another go. In addition to the ways you've already mentioned, I like to use bay leaf when sauteing pork chops, along with garlic and lemon. I also put it in fish stews. If you like liqueur, you can make bay leaf liqueur, which is a lovely green color. It's made by infusing alcohol with bay leaves for a period of weeks, then adding sugar syrup. I don't have a specific recipe, but you should be able to find one online.

How can we not raise our glasses for a toast to the internet on its anniversary week? We wouldn't be here sharing questions and answers today without it, nor would we have a world of recipes and food discussions at our fingertips without it. Cheers, Internet, you've been great!

Cheers!

Submitting early, will miss the chat. But my office is hosting a St. Patrick's day office party. Looking for party-food ideas, either Irish, or green themed (ie, someone is doing green goddess dip for a veggie tray), that can handle being carried to an office, and not served hot (unless nuked in our ancient office m-wave). All ideas well, several of us still need good ideas. Thanks!

I'm thinking a little outside the box, not so much with the green food coloring. Options:

 

V keen on these Spinach Pies, for starters.

This shaved asparagus salad w pistachios might be unexpected but I guarantee it'd be appreciated.

A fresh herb kuku would be great, because you can serve it at room temp (green eggs!)

And green almond cookies for something not too sweet.

Made them from your recipe but would like to enhance the mushroom flavor. Are there different mushroom types you'd recommend or can I just add another 4 oz of mushrooms?

Shiitakes and creminis have a lot of flavor, so I wouldn't switch -- and I wouldn't just add more mushrooms, or you run the risk of the mixture not holding together. Instead, how about getting one of my favorite ingredients -- dried porcini mushrooms -- and pulverize them to a powder in a spice grinder. Add the powder to the mix -- a tablespoon or two -- and you should boost the shroominess considerably. 

Mushroom-walnut ‘meatballs’ add a plant-based dose of retro comfort to your pasta game

My attempt at making Classic Strombolis was a massive fail. The dough turned out more like a batter than a dough. What went wrong?

Author Joy Manning says:

My first question is did you use bread flour? It absorbs more water than all-purpose flour so that may be part of the issue if so. Assuming you used bread flour, it might be that the water content of this dough is more than what you're used to. This is a higher hydration dough, which means better flavor and texture, but it also means it's stickier and more frustrating to handle, especially if you haven't worked with higher hydration doughs before. (This recipe was adapted from a professional chef who makes a lot of bread and has a lot of practice.) It's normal when working with a dough like this that it will wet and sticky. It doesn't mean it's not working. Just do the best you can. This is why I say to oil your hands when first shaping the dough ball and then to generously flour the work surface when forming the stromboli. These steps help make it more manageable. If you persevere, I think you will be rewarded with a very good tasting final product. 

Pi Day is funny, just don’t call it π day (the Greek letter π. In English we pronounce this “pie”. In every other language which uses the Roman, Greek or Cyrillic alphabets, it’s pronounced “pee”. When we English speaking people hear speakers of European languages asking about “pee day” it only reinforces our view of them as confirmed dipsomaniacs.

I bought a Calphalon non-stick pan 10-15 years ago and even though I was really careful, food started sticking more and more, until I was about ready to toss it. By a fluke (not the fish!), one morning a few weeks ago, I decided to make an omelet in it instead of my usual scrambled eggs -- and the omelet slid out without even a nudge from a spatula. Huh? I've made several varieties of omelet in it since, including first sauteing onions, peppers, garlic, mushrooms, and still, every omelet slides right out. I don't understand why the pan behaves so differently with an omelet than it did with a scramble and everything else, but I'm thrilled. I might even try to scramble in it again, in case it's somehow regenerated its original non-stick qualities.

You may need to not ask questions and just thank your lucky stars.

St. Patricia's feast day is in August and no one really celebrates it.

What timing - my boss just asked if I had ever made salt rising bread! I've looked at the King Arthur recipe, and it's a bit tricky. This is a bacterial fermentation, not yeast so it's a higher than room temperature proofing. My guess is the cornmeal, which is used as starter, would be critical. You need the Clostridium spores. Plus Clostridium is an obligate anaerobe so that's tricky. Has any one tried this?

I always use Maida Heatter's recipe for Hamantaschen dough and fillings and they've always been oh-so-good. I just checked - she's still alive at age 102!

Yes! She has a new book coming out soon too!

I have some boudin from my local butcher and I haven’t found a side to go with it that really matches. Do you have any suggestions?

Why, red beans and rice, of course!

 

And in every other country that uses those languages, it's not even Pi Day, because everyone in the world but USA-ans uses day/month/year. So if you're going for Pi Day anywhere else,it's July 22.

I've got two pounds of skinless, boneless chicken thighs to cook today. I usually use them to make chicken shawarma or chicken Marbella but feel inspired by neither recipe today. What would you suggest? I've got a well stocked pantry and can also stop at the store on the way home from work so no limitations except that I won't have tons of time to spend on prep. I've also got some tomatoes, onions, spinach, and broccoli rabe that I could use. Thanks so much.

For something #DinnerInMinutes quick, I'd make Chicken Thighs With Mustard-Orange Sauce.  In a regular rotation at many households, I am told.

 

With a little more time, I'd go with this chicken schnitzel, which uses fresh rye bread crumbs in the coating. Terrific.

 

I loved the article on cornmeal. When I was growing up my mother would make fried mush for breakfast sometimes. I don't anybody who does that now. So good.

In an effort to cut some carbs from my routine, I bought a spaghetti squash. We've been giving each other the side-eye for a few days now, and it's time to have at it. My plan is to halve it, roast it, and fill the "bowls" with chicken meatballs, spinach, and marinara. Any tips for (a) avoiding chopping off a digit, and/or (b) other suggestions for the squash, assuming this attempt goes well? Thanks!

A) Make sure you use a sharp knife! A good chef's knife, not a small paring knife, obvi. And I like to start by setting the squash on the counter lengthwise, so its stem is, say, at 12 o'clock and its base at 6. Then I stab down into the center of the squash, "Psycho" style (but just once), and pull the knife handle down, so you're cutting lengthwise through the middle, until you're through. If need be, flip it over and repeat on the other side, and then rotate it so the stem is at 6 o'clock, and repeat on that end.

B) It can get a little watery, so I like to roast the halves cut side up.

Joe asked for a link to the tortilla photo. See the photo on page E 2 of today's Post with the Taco Tuesday article.

Oh, of course -- apologies, I'm so focused on digital that I forgot that headline!

Those are slightly thicker, Salvadoran-style tortillas bought from a local market. I don't know how they're made, but we thought they at least looked good.

Take peanuts from snack to star in these crunchy, spicy plant-based tacos

My mother tried and tried to duplicate the salt rising bread she remembered from her childhood. It's super tricky and I don't think she ever got it quite right. I know she used a yogurt maker to keep the temp consistent and I think there's something about using cornmeal with the germ still in it. I've never tried. I think it's out of my league.

We never had this growing up 'cause it invoked too many memories of the Great Depression for my mother when she came home from work and cornmeal was the only food in the apartment.

I saw a challah recipe I'd like to try. It used oil for both the dough and the cinnamon filling, and in reading the comments, readers were appalled, saying it should properly be butter for both. Apparently the recipe used oil to keep it kosher, so it could be eaten with anything. I don't need to keep it kosher, is it worth switching it over to butter? Pros, cons?

Appalled? Oy to the vey.

The oil makes for a pareve challah, meaning the bread can be served with any meal (meat or dairy, in terms of keeping kosher). I've made challah doughs with both and they each have their charms. 

I have two goat shanks in my freezer. My instinct was to brown them in the Le Creuset, remove to plate. Add standard mix of onion, carrot and celery to pan, brown and add garlic in last 30 seconds. Add glop of tomato paste with oregano and brown. Deglaze with wine. Add some veggie or chicken stock and crushed tomatoes. Add back in goat shanks and cook on low for hours. Remove shanks, pull off meat and mix into sauce. Serve over pasta. Suggestions from the Food Crew?

This sounds delicious. I'm looking at a recipe for goat ragu in a book called "Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese," by prolific cookbook authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. They add some spice to theirs ~ allspice, coriander, and fennel seed ~ plus chopped fresh sage leaves, and serve it over pappardelle (wide noodles).

We tested that recipe! Here you go, for future ref.

Domenica Marchetti wrote: "I have tried to grow bay leaf with no success. I may give it another go." Bay is marginally hardy in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Years ago there were old, thriving examples outside a once famous herb company in Arlington. My plant comes from a cutting of a plant which grows in another Arlington location. Pick a location against a south facing heated house wall. Severe winters will cut it back. It grows quickly and is not fussy,

That's how I cut a big watermelon. Psycho stab.

It's cathartic, isn't it? Just don't get carried away!

Part of this is the shlep to put the appliance in place - sometimes perceived shlep. I got some more really accessible space create in my kitchen and it made a huge difference. My kitchen is open to the condo stairs and hall. Under the stairs had a stupid desk. I got the desk taken out out and - wait for it - two custom built carts with three levels (bottom large to fit food processor, air frier etc. The space under the stairs is deep, so easily being able to wheel it out and just pick off ... the blender is sheer joy. Makes such a difference.

I can grow a bay tree indoors? Tell me more. Is there a specific variety I should look for? Last night I made the rub for my corned beef and it called for fresh bay leaf. I had to omit it because in my town and in the winter that's just not a readily available ingredient.

As Joe notes, Salvadoran -- and Guatemalan -- tortillas are thicker than Mexican. And they're almost always made from corn, but the ones in the photo look like wheat.

They're corn, but I know what you mean -- they do look like flour in the photo, don't they?!

I've had good luck stabbing it a few times (Pyscho style) and then microwaving it until the skin softens a bit. Then, I'll cut in half and steam cut side down in the microwave with a little water in the bottom of the pan, scoop out the strings, and then finish on the stove top in a saute with some garlic.

Glad to see that Domenica continues to use "ragu" or "sauce" when referring to Bolognese ragu. Otherwise, to this Italian's ear, it sounds like we're talking about eating people from Bologna. :) Despite the many years I've lived here, when I hear Italian words and phrases my mind goes into direct Italian vs. translated Italian mode. And that can get weird at times! Regarding ragu, I will have to try the online once with porcini mushroom one. I swear I've had something like it in Italy but have had a hard time finding a recipe that looks right.

Ha ~ you are absolutely right. And yes, please do try the porcini ragu. It's as good as a meat sauce. I've had something similar (though without the fennel) in Liguria, so I know it exists in Italy.

Indoor culture probably won't work well. Instead grow it in a big pot, put the pot outside for the frost free months, then bring it in to brightly lit room. Keep it as cool as possible but above freezing.

I have an expandable wooden kitchen table I bought at a used furniture store. It holds some of our countertop appliances with working space left over. The rest go underneath it. If I really cared, I'd make a cloth skirt to hide them.

I am making this right now! Here is a recipe: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/recipes/bay-leaf-and-rosemary-liqueur The orange and rosemary are optional. I did not get that great green color, even with fresh bay from the herb section of the produce department, but someone with a tree might! The scent is wonderful--definitely takes me to Italy! In addition to throwing it in beans and grains like farro, I like to infuse milk or cream with bay for creamy soups. It is such an under appeciated herb.

Thank you for the link. I think I know what my weekend project will be. And thanks also for the suggestions. I also add bay leaf to beans and some of those hearty bean and grain soups. Delicious.

Well, you've cooked us until the vegetables have more or less melted into us, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and thanks to Domenica for help with the a's.

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who just posted about the Italian term ragu will get a SIGNED copy of Domenica's great book, "Big Night In." Send your mailing info to Kari.Sonde@washpost.com, and she'll arrange to get the book to you. 

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is the lead writer for Voraciously.
Domenica Marchetti
Domenica Marchetti is a food writer and cookbook author. She blogs at domenicacooks.com.
Olga Massov
Massov is a Washington-area food writer and editor.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
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