Free Range on Food: The world and recipes of Paula Wolfert, cooking ham and lamb for a small gathering and more.

Apr 05, 2017

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

Greetings, Free Rangers! It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and we are thankful you're spending the hour with us.

We're here to talk spring holiday menus, up-and-coming vegetarian restaurant fare, $26 sandwiches, non-intimidating terrines, Indian home cooking and other things culinary. With us today are Bring It! columnist Cathy Barrow and Chitra Agrawal, co-founder of the small-batch chutney enterprise Brooklyn Delhi, and author of "Vibrant India," source of this week's #DinnerInMinutes column. Editor Joe's away.


We have a copy of Chitra's book to give away to a curious and/or helpful chatter and seasonal cookbook as well, so stay tuned. We'll announce winners at the end of the hour.


One more bit o' business: Jewish cooking expert Joan Nathan will join me in the WaPo Food Lab at 3:30 today to demonstrate a recipe from her new "King Solomon's Table," via Facebook Live (go to the WaPo Food Facebook page or Post main account page). It's interactive and easy, so I hope you tune in.


Here's this week's code for Post Points members: FR9860. Remember to record and enter it into the Post Points site under "Claim My Points" to earn those points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to get in there by 11:59 pm Wednesday to get credit for participating. 


And . . . we're off! 

I read your article last week about Joan Nathan. And then...lo and behold our local JCC is hosting her next week! Right here where I live. So I got a ticket to see her speak. I'm so excited. And I suppose I might just get yet another cookbook. You guys are the best.

We're official Fans of Joan, to be sure.  Here in her hometown of DC, she's doing an interview tonight with Wolf Blitzer, and later today, she'll be in the aforementioned Facebook Live session with us @ 3:30 in the WaPo Food Lab today...come and join in! 

Joan Nathan was also recently on the Leonard Lopate Show where she discussed how a trip to Kerala in South India sparked the idea for her new cookbook. It's a great listen.

Your article on eggplant was timely. It's my favorite vegetable (fruit?) and I've been craving it. At the same time, I was a little bored with my usual ways of making it (mostly with red sauce, like the jersey "parm", sometimes grilled and packed into a veggie sandwich). I bet the steamed eggplant with garlic sauce would be a great lunch over rice with some tofu or chicken tossed in the same sauce. And those rolls? OMG, I must try those. Now I just need to pick which one I want to make first.


ARTICLE Culinary travel via the eggplant? Yes, that's the ticket.

Thanks! Technically a fruit, yes, but definitely treated more like a vegetable. The eggplant rolls are a regular in my kitchen -- LOVE them.

Fried Eggplant Rolls With Walnut-Garlic Filling (Badrijani Nigvzit)

RECIPE: Fried Eggplant Rolls With Walnut-Garlic Filling (Badrijani Nigvzit)

Here's another idea for eggplant with North Indian flavorings. It's a stuffed eggplant dish I learned from my father.

And this is one I make from the Food of Taiwan cookbook.

any tips for getting turmeric stains off my (plastic) immersion blender? Not the biggest problem but would be nice to resolve

Try soaking the blade end in lemon juice. Unplugged, naturally. That might bleach it out or at least remove any residual eau de turmeric.

"He did take particular note of the compliment from one woman, who said the jambon beurre was just like the kind you'd eat in Paris." Wrong. A true french jambon beurre isn't stacked and loaded with ham like some sandwich from a NYC deli. It has one thin slice of ham on it, two if you're lucky.


ARTICLE This $26 sandwich -- literally ham, butter and bread -- says everything about D.C. dining

Haha, duly noted, thanks.

The recipe says, "If the lamb roast comes in cotton netting, you can leave it on." Do you then apply the rub over the netting?

Yes! it'll go right through, over and under. 

Can you point me to something festive for easter that I can prepare on Thursday for a Saturday celebration and that will survive an 8 hour car ride? The basics (chocolate chip cookies brownies etc) are covered and my presence is a surprise. I'd like something relatively sweet since that's the part of the meal where we never have enough.

Last night I tossed it with some sweet potato "noodles", topped it with charred corn, black beans, roasted poblanos, avocado and cilantro. A fabulous weeknight vegan meal! The left over salsa is going into the mix for deviled eggs this weekend.


RECIPE Spicy Chipotle Eggplant With Black Beans

Ooo love the deviled egg idea. The "noodle" dish sounds great, too. Thanks for reporting back!

I'm considering making the lamb for Easter but I don't have a stove-top safe roasting pan (it's very seldom I need one and have no room to store it). Not sure how big the piece of lamb will be but can I use a large oven-proof skillet or dutch oven? I live in upper NW, near downtown Silver Spring - I can travel anywhere, but are there some nearby options you would recommend to purchase a good lamb roast? Thanks!

Depending on  how many you are serving, and if you shop for a roast on the smaller side (the recipe calls for a 4 pound roast), it should easily fit in a Dutch oven or a large skillet.

You should be able to get a decent butterflied leg of lamb in that weight range at the Whole Foods in Silver Spring....ask the guys in white coats behind the counter to tie it for you. 

With the exception of mint I have all ingredients necessary for the Layered Med. Eggplant and FetaTerrines. Do I have to have mint or could I use parsley or dill that I have in my fridge.

I think all parsley, or a parsley and dill combo would be divine! Let us know how you like it.

Hi Free Rangers! I've been asked to contribute a Passover-friendly sponge cake to our family Seder this year. For nostalgic reasons, I'd like to keep it fairly close to my great grandmother's typical sponge cake. For culinary reasons, we're looking to try a new recipe--sadly we don't have her recipe and a few recent attempts have not worked out well. I haven't had much luck searching online. Do you have any suggestions for avoiding typical Passover dessert pitfalls or any specific recipe endorsements? We don't keep strictly kosher so dairy ingredients are fine. Thanks!

I don't know what your grandmother's cake was like obviously, but here's one to consider. Pitfalls? At least with this recipe, I think you just have to be careful when you beat the egg whites -- getting them to stiff peaks but not overdoing it.

Poppi's Spongecake

RECIPE: Poppi's Spongecake

Hi there, I attempted this cookie last night - it is basically leftover room temp pie dough rolled out, topped with butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup, and then rolled up like a cinnamon roll would be, cut into cookies, and baked. It should be very simple, and most I've seen online are beautiful pinwheels, but all my sugar leaked out and spread on the baking sheet. Any ideas on how to fix this in the future? Thanks!

Hmm. Maybe you don't need the maple syrup. The mixture of butter and brown sugar should be enough. In some recipes, the rounds of filled dough are put into the wells of a muffin pan -- that would solve any leaking issues, for sure. 

I'm a lover of curry powder but get overwhelmed by all the varieties out there! Could you explain some of your favorites, staples and how to best use them? Also, do you have a good DIY blend that one can whip up when the jar is empty?

I actually don't buy curry powder as there are different spice blends that are used for different Indian dishes. I tend to just mix in the spices as I go. Here is an example of how I do that.



Also, if you are looking to make chana masala for instance, at the Indian shop, you will actually find a spice blend labeled as 'Chana Masala' Here's an example.


For South Indian dishes, I mainly use sambar or rasam powder. Sambar is a lentil and vegetable stew and Rasam is a tomato and lentil soup. I use these spice blends sometimes to flavor vegetable or rice stir fry dishes. One of my other favorite spice blends is vangi baath powder, which is used to make an eggplant rice but I also like to roast vegetables with it too.  I have recipes for all of these blends in Vibrant India or you can purchase them at an Indian market, I'd recommend 777 brand or MTR.

When you're told to score meat in diamond shapes and push a marinade or rub into the slits, how close together should the slits be, and how deep? I tried to re-create a favorite childhood restaurant dish and it didn't turn out well at all. It's a steak called London Broil. I bought it on a whim when I saw it on sale half-price at a dependable butcher. The great majority of the recipes I found on line said it needed to be marinated. Some even said it's not a particular cut but the marinade that makes it London Broil. What I'd bought looked like plain beef that hadn't been marinated. Most of the marinade recipes were similar. I chose one that was well-reviewed and followed it exactly, scoring the meat on both sides as directed. The result was extremely disappointing as it tasted more of marinade than steak. I'm wondering where I went wrong, starting with whether I should have marinated it at all, and ending with whether I cut too deep into the meat and put the slashes too close together. Can you give me some pointers?

Nathan Anda, the butcher and chef behind Red Apron, kindly took your question via cell phone. He says a London Broil can vary, depending on the butcher, but it's typically a 100 percent lean cut. Which means it has no fat and therefore has a beefy, but not rich and buttery, flavor profile. This is why you marinade the meat: to both tenderize it and add some flavor.


With that said, Anda says he's no fan of scoring.  Because a London Broil is typically about an inch and a half thick, scoring can easily lead to over-marination. Anda only scores a cut of meat if it has a thick fat cap, and he wants to render some of it.


Bottom line: Try your well-reviewed recipe again, but don't score the meat. And let us know the results!

What's a good source for non-Balsamic vinegar in the DC area? I'd love some great sherry or red wine vinegars for making salad dressings but I feel like the DC grocery stores carry pretty meh versions.

Dean & Deluca has a good variety of vinegars, including a 50-year reserve sherry vinegar! Among the options is a personal favorite, a banyuls vinegar, made from the French fortified wine. It makes for a terrific salad dressing.

Lindera Farms is a good one -- they have an online shop and were also sold at the Inn at Little Washington farmers market last year. 

Or there's Keep Well Vinegar, sold at Little Red Fox in the District. (Haven't tried them yet!)

Chitra, I was excited to receive your new cookbook, Vibrant India, which features authentic south Indian recipes like the ones my mother made. I bought a few copies to give to friends as gifts, and was thinking it might be a nice idea to also make them spice kits to go along with them. What are the key spices that you would include? I'm also wondering if there is an online purveyor you prefer.

Thanks so much! That's such a great idea. I would start with these spices: black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal, urad dal, turmeric, asafetida, dried red chili peppers. You can throw in some dried curry leaves in case they live in an area where fresh curry leaves are hard to come by.  I usually buy my spices from Patel Brothers.

Also, in the back of the book on page 207, there is a Starter Grocer List, which would be helpful to point your friends to if they are beginners to the cuisine.

Can I substitute pomegranate molasses for the molasses in this recipe?

Go for it. 

I've got a challenge for you: what would you make that features fresh broccoli that takes ten minutes or less? I seem to have an abundance of it, and I've been steaming it, and eating it, and liking it...and now, getting a little bored with it. Thing is, I've got about zero time for cooking during the week, so if I do something different with it, it's got to be fast and easy.

OK. I'm going to take some liberties with your question. As soon as you are in the door, turn the oven to 425°. Then, take off your coat and look through the mail. Next, carve the broccoli into pieces about the size of a large walnut. Scatter it on a baking sheet, splash olive oil here and there and use your hands to make sure all the broccoli has some oil on it. Now sprinkle salt here and there and put the sheet pan in the oven. That is less than 10 minutes right there. Roast it for 20 to 25 minutes, until it's browning on the edges. When it's done, grind black pepper over, grate some parm. over the top, if you want, or a pinch of red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Would the asparagus pesto be a good use for some unfortunately elderly asparagus? Bought a bunch at the grocery several days ago (not local, so it was probably a few days old by then)-- just before we both got too sick to care about cooking. If I can salvage it with the pesto, I might be tempted to get back into the kitchen for something more than soup. Also, thank you forthe ideas for small lamb roast-- calling the butcher will be my second try at caring about food again. Thanks.

Sounds like a fine way to use the ol' stalks. And you're welcome, re the lamb roast. I bet even if you bought a butterflied leg of lamb at the grocery store you could tie it yourself. 



RECIPE Penne With Asparagus Pesto and White Beans

If you want to try a different take on lamb, try boned leg of lamb flamed with gin. It's a recipe from the late Michael Field. You soak 1/2 cup juniper berries in gin for 24 hours, which plumps up the berries. Drain the berries (keeping the gin aside). Open up the lamb, sprinkle salt and pepper, distribute the berries, retie the lamb, then marinate the lamb in the gin overnight. Again remove the marinade, cook the lamb. When finished, flame the remaining gin in a small saucepan, and pour into the roasting pan with the pan juices, and boil. Even if you don't like gin, this is an awesome recipe. The juniper flavors of both the berries and the gin marry very well with lamb.

Love our chatters :)

Also try A. Litteri. They have good vinegar.

Ah, the local market with new, worldwide props! 


ARTICLE The world's best places to buy Italian wine: Italy, and one tiny store in D.C.

Let me say right away that I'm really sick of sweet cheap balsamic in everything, but I love the intense flavor of the real thing. So I bought a dark fig balsamic at a gourmet store, because the taste was so intense...and now I"m not sure where to start. A couple of drops in a pot roast sauce? Deglazing a steak pan with it? Help!

Why not make a vinaigrette with it? Some good olive oil, a little mustard as emulsifier, salt, pepper. It could be a killer salad dressing.

Thumbs up to both those things. It'd be good on grilled or roasted fruit, too. 

Hi there. I'm making pizza for dinner tonight. I've started baking my pizza crusts twice: first with no toppings and the second time with. My little boys like to have their own pizzas (even though they put the same toppings on each), so I thought it might be faster to do the first bake now while they're at school. But what do I do with them after they're done with the first bake until dinner? Can they sit out? Do I need to wrap them or put them in the fridge? Thanks!

I think they'd be fine on the counter -- but maybe at least drape a clean dish towel over them or pop them in a container until you need them.

post points is down. It is rejecting everything as an incorrect login. Thanks.

Try it again? They're saying it must have been a temporary glitch. 

Hi everyone, lovelovelove your chats every week. Hoping you can offer some guidance on an eggplant dilemma. I cannot eat any fried foods, and anything with oil in/on it makes me very sick very quickly. I love eggplant but can't seem to find any recipes that make it without oil. Can any of your recipes be made using a cooking spray in place of the oil, or can anyone suggest eggplant dishes that are steamed or baked without any oil? Any ideas for substitutions? I miss my eggplant and would love to be able to work it back into my diet.

     I'm sure others will have suggestions, but, if you have a grill, there's nothing like some grilled eggplant. Slice the eggplant into about 1/2-inch rounds, spritz with cooking spray, place over medium-hot fire for 3-5 minutes per side and serve as a side dish. Or dress with some garlic, vinegar, and herbs to add to an antipasti. You can also slice a little mozzarella on top as the eggplant finishes grilling, and, at table, drizzle some marina sauce for a delicious (if faux) eggplant parmesan. 

I have friends coming over to dinner this weekend but there are some pretty big allergies---no nuts and no eggs. Any ideas on what to make for dessert? I'm stumped and not a big fan of fruit crisps. HELP!

Is there a difference in using soy sauce vs tamari in Chinese cooking? I have no gluten issues but sometimes soy sauce is on sale but rarely tamari. Just curious about the difference.

The main difference is that soy sauce is brewed with both soy and wheat. Tamari is usually the byproduct of miso production and contains little to no wheat in it. (But check the labels; not all tamari is wheat-less.)

I love the pav bhaji at Woodlands and wonder how I can make the vegetables at home. It just seems like mashed veg but it tastes oh so wonderful.

I love pav bhaji too! To make it you flavor the veggies with a host of spices: black pepper, cloves, chili peppers, cumin, coriander seeds, fennel etc. You can also buy pav bhaji masala or spice blend at the Indian shop. Just make sure to get very fresh fluffy bread and don't forget the butter and fresh onions!

My husband has spoken of Indian bread pudding which is cooked differently than American bread pudding and I'm hoping Chitra can explain how Indian bread pudding is made please.

Desserts vary from region to region in India. Bread pudding is not a recipe I grew up on but I wonder if your husband is referring to the bread pudding that is famous in Hyderabad, a city in South India. This dish is made from triangle pieces of toast that are fried in ghee and then layered with sugar syrup and condensed milk flavored with cardamom and saffron.

I admit it is not my favorite and I sometimes avoid Indian food (Mexican too) because it is so prominent a flavor in so many dishes.

It's true that some folks really dislike it. Ex-Post copy editor and Chat Leftovers contributor Jane Touzalin (hi Jane! Miss you!) could practically smell an 1/8 teaspoon from 40 paces. 

When a recipe calls for Sriracha sauce, like your cashew, eggplant and chicken stir-fry, can I approximate it without buying that exact brand? I have at least 10 bottles of different hot sauces and pastes, including Thai hot sauce, which seems similar to Sriracha but sweeter, and maybe 6 different kinds of dried chiles, and one or two fresh chiles.

Great question. Sriracha does have a bit of sweetness to it, and I think your Thai hot sauce would be fine. (This is not a fussy recipe.) 


RECIPE Cashew Eggplant Chicken Stir-Fry

I found a bag of dry polenta in the pantry and I'm not sure how to turn it into a meal. I imagine serving it with vegetables in a tomato base.

I keep hot pepper sesame oil on hand for, among other things, sprinkling on steamed broccoli. The brand I usually buy is Eden Selected. It's adds a nice flavor kick and takes seconds longer than just steaming.

A friend of mine puts it in fizzy water from her Sodastream and drinks it. She has multiple flavors of balsamic and this is how she uses all of them.

Can vouch for the fruity balsamic + soda water treatment; I do that with a mango balsamic. (Also nice to float a few drops of bitters on top, if you're into that.)

I have a recipe, sadly not from you, since if from WaPo would work. Mine calls for brushing chops with mustard then pressing cumin seeds on, then searing on high heat and finishing in the oven. they taste great BUT, the coating never stays on. Advice? Thank you and despite pork question, happy passover!

Perhaps a final coating of fresh bread crumbs or panko that you've tossed with olive oil and quickly heated in a pan till golden would do the trick. 

Coincidence that a friend while we were having breakfast Saturday asked me if I had ever heard of Paula Wolfert to which I replied no. She wanted me to order her book on Amazon which I must confess I forgot. However, I am also happy to see recipes that do not include cheese - one of my many dislikes. I cannot wait to make the Megadarra. So love these food chats making Wednesday my favorite day of the week!

Ours, too :)

That recipe is one of the more moist renditions I've had. Be sure to try her Mint and Egg Salad, too. So simple, but really terrific.

ARTICLE 'Unforgettable' pays tribute to 'the most influential cookbook author you've never heard of


RECIPE Megadarra

It may sound crazy, but I've never tried Indian food, but I am interested in trying to cook it at home. Do you have any suggestions for a beginner?

My corn stir fry is a quick and easy dish from Vibrant India which I always point beginners to. You can find the recipe here.

Yes. Americans often forget that our sandwiches are huge by non-U.S. standards. We have a funny story of an American friend who ordered the roast beef sandwich in an English tea room, and was very let down to see small triangles of crustless thin buttered bread containing one thin slice of beef. Served on a doily with mustard-&-cress scattered on it.

Finger sandwiches serve a different purpose, to be sure. 

my first easter in dc, I decided to invite a friend over for easter brunch since everyone was with their families. I went to the store and bought lamb, potatoes and all the fixings and dutifully pulled up a recipe and cooked along. But had no concept of cooking for just two since all recipes seem to be for families. Needless to say there were a lot of leftovers!

Things are diversifying in the world of culinary portions. 

I can't believe I never thought of that, since I keep both cranberry and tart cherry concentrate around to mix with seltzer! A friend also just put me on to tamarind concentrate in seltzer. Very refreshing.

It probably had horseradish too ... . Pret a Manger is more a European style sandwich.

US lamb is superior to the Aussie stuff in the supermarkets etc. There are also many fine local producers in Md, VA, WV, PA, etc. So for Easter go local for lamb.

My grandmother made artichokes stuffed with a mixture of beef, veal and pork. It was a meal unto itself. However, no one in the family can figure out how she did it - we recall it baking for a while in a covered pan with water. I just tried making artichokes, covered and baked in olive oil and herbs like at my local restaurant - they swear the artichokes are not par-boiled. But everytime we all try these things, the artichokes seem to dry out too much. What to do?

Have you tried using water not oil in the bottom of the pan? I knew an Italian family growing up and recall seeing a large deep roasting pan filled with meat stuffed 'chokes. They were hip-deep in water and baked, covered, for a very long time, then finished with the cover off to brown them. 

Interesting article, I am intrigued by the bean-and-parsnip purée with roasted pumpkin and fig dressing. I think I will skip the bread and try this as a vegetable side, or even a main for lunch, but I wonder what the fig dressing is like? Any chance of getting the recipe?


ARTICLE At Baba, next-gen cocktails and lots of personality

We'll contact the restaurant and give it a shot. Send us a note, to

Writer - please tell us how to make these! Thank you.

Dried sweet potato noodles are available at Asian markets. They come in a fairly big package, but I'm betting you'll find ways to use them up. 

Nope. In Yorkshire at the time, horseradish was for big hunks of beef at dinnertime.

Hi, Chitra, I've never been to India but I **love** the Indian food at DC's Masala Art and of course Rasika and a few other places. My question is if I did go to India, would I find the same dishes that are served here or in NY, and would they taste pretty much the same? I ask because so much Mexican food made in the US tastes thoroughly different from how it tastes in Mexico, or else it's dishes that Mexicans don't even make. I've heard that the same is true of food in Chinese and Ethiopian restaurants here, and even with French food.

For the most part Indian restaurants in the US are serving North Indian cuisine - naan, curries, etc. I have not been to Rasika but I know the chef incorporates some dishes from South India as well. Depending on where you go in India, you will find that Indian food varies tremendously region to region and that is due to culture, religious customs, local crops, etc.  If you love Indian food, prepare to be wowed by the variety when you visit India. I wrote a short article on the difference between North and South Indian cuisine here that may give you more a of a sense of just how varied the food landscape is in India.

When I see ratings for a recipe on your recipe page I don't see comments. Is it possible to leave comments and how to see them? Thanks

You can definitely leave comments in our recipes! Just not a ton of people have, especially because we have so many recipes. You'll have to have a free account to be able to share comments, but once you do, it's just a matter of scrolling to the bottom of the page and entering them in the comment box.

I like cumin if the seeds are toasted and then ground, but preground cumin is not at all pleasant to me. Not entirely sure why that is.

I agree with you. I rarely use cumin powder as I was taught to fry cumin seeds in oil when starting a dish off. It really makes a difference in the flavor! If using cumin powder, it's probably best to grind it fresh from the seed.

Hi, Chitra, Do you have a favorite recipe for garam masala that you'd be willing to share? Or do you vary your mix by dish? I've bought it from several spice merchants and each one varied tremendously. All were delicious, though :)

Here is my great aunt's recipe for garam masala. It has some esoteric ingredients that you can leave out if hard to find, but this is my go-to.

I have always made Paula Wolfert's hummus and there is just no going back. I cannot handle the sliminess of eggplant dishes though. And I have tried.

First time hosting the family for Easter and looking for the traditional (and vital) components for Easter breakfast in the MD area (closer to DC part of MD): polish sausage- fresh and smoked, slab bacon, ham (a given), Italian pastries (or any great pastries- Italian is what we've always ended up with), fresh horseradish root. Trying to avoid a trip up to Baltimore if possible. As a vegetarian, i don't find much need of many of these things. Thanks!

Have you tried the Polish Market in Vienna? They have hams and sausage and even Polish pastries (if you're willing to stray from your history with Italian pastries and it looks like you are). Here's the website, with a contact number and directions.

I picked up a honey cake with matzo flour on impulse (it was strategically stacked by the check-out line at WF). When I tried to cut off a slice, I could hardly get a sharp knife to cut through it. Really, it was pretty much like cutting through raw carrots. Is this normal with that kind of cake? I'm thinking of taking it back to the store.

Definitely return it. Some of those packaged Passover cakes have been on the shelves for a month by now. BTW, did you see Paula Shoyer's recipes for Pesach pies?

5 or 6 moments before I contacted you. Seems to be better now.

Chitra, welcome, I make Indian food frequently, but even when not making it, I am always using my mini-chopper. My first one was made by Moulinex and I bought it at Kitchen Bazaar. Eventually, I broke it (after 30 years) and the only replacement I've been able to find is on web sites that cater to those preparing Indian food - I think it's called a wet-dry mini-chop. Do you know this tool and have your found a reliable source for it?

I am unfortunately not familiar with this tool. In my kitchen, I use a medium sized food processor for chopping, a Bullet for making pastes and chutneys and a Vitamix for larger blending jobs. 

Something like an apple crumble would be nice, or whatever fruit you like (pear crumble). And you could buy vegan ice cream to serve with it.

The OP was not a fan of fruit crisps but otherwise this is a great idea for people in similar situations.

I really liked the Chat leftovers column - will that continue? I hope Jane is doing something fun and knows we miss her!

We miss Jane, too! But she decided to retire, and the chat leftovers went with her into retirement!

Well, you've tied us with butchers' twine at 2-inch intervals, so you know what that means . . . we're done! Thanks to Chitra, Cathy, Carrie and Jim Shahin for joining us today, and to you, dear readers. 


Cookbook giveaway: The chatter who asked about curry powder varieties gets a copy of Chitra's "Vibrant India"; the chatter who asked about scoring London broil gets "Prime: The Beef Cookbook" by Richard H. Turner.

Send your mailing address info to, and she'll get the books right out to you. Till next week, happy holiday cooking and eating! 

In This Chat
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.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Chitra Agrawal
Chitra Agrawal, co-founder of Brooklyn Delhi, is the author of "Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes From Bangalore to Brooklyn," (Penguin Random House, 2017). She blogs at
Tom Sietsema
Tom Sietsema has been the Washington Post food critic since 2000. In leaner years, he worked for the Microsoft Corporation, where he launched; the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; the San Francisco Chronicle; and the Milwaukee Journal. A graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, he has also written for Food & Wine, Gourmet, GQ, Travel & Leisure and other national publications. In 2016, he received an award from the James Beard Foundation for his series identifying and rating the
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