Free Range on Food: Food labeling battles, Rachael Ray's "return," Honey Molasses Wheat Bread, this week's recipes and more!

Apr 17, 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 our chat!

Here's what we've been throwing your way lately:

We have some heavy-hitters joining us today: Lucinda Scala Quinn, and Angela Davis! They can answer questions about much more than salmon and lamb, of course, so hit us with anything. (Becky and Bonnie are multitasking, helping with a photo shoot today.)

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR4850 . 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 today, so make your questions good!

Let's do this.

I found a recipe for a Passover blueberry pie in your database. Do you think the crust is strong enough to form the base of a rustic apple tart on a sheet pan or do you think I need to bake it in a pie plate so the crust does not just melt away? Thank you for these chats.

Yes I do think it would be strong enough. Rustic would be the word, though, as it would be kinda misshapen. Will be helpful to refrigerate that dough or freeze for 15 mins before using. 


Good choice! Happy Pesach! 

RECIPE Passover Blueberry Pie


What does it take to become a food stylist?

Lots of practice. There are classes/workshops here and there, but the best, like our own Lisa Cherkasky, have been on thousands of shoots honing their skills each time.

I mean, look at these beautiful drips of curd and perfectly sugar-dusted berries:

I subscribe online to both the Washington Post and the New York Times. I love finding new and interesting recipes. But on the NYT web site, after reading a article about a delicious-sounding dish, I can't actually see the recipe without paying an additional subscription fee (I already pay $15/month). Boo on them. Thank you guys for making all the food columns and recipes part of my regular monthly subscription.

You're welcome!

I need to take a black bean salad to a potluck, but there will be at least 15 hours between making it and eating it. Cilantro is one of the ingredients. Is there any way to keep the pre-chopped cilantro looking fresh? I was thinking about waiting until the potluck to to add it into the salad.

Do you really need to chop it in advance? i'd keep leaves on stems, wrap in barely damp paper towels, stash in plastic OPEN bag and then just tear them to bits at the potluck. 

I watched one of her new episodes. I've only seen that one, but I felt like she's toned down the "perkiness" that probably irritated a lot of people (and I hate EVOO and other cutesie constructs), but I always felt like she knew her stuff. Her food is not too complicated for the average cook. I'll probably watch her a few more times, though she has nothing to teach me since I've been cooking for most of my life. The show may offer some inspiration for new dishes, though. I will say she's a lot easier to watch than The Pioneer Woman, whose fame continues to astound and puzzle me. She's horrible. That all said, I liked it better when Food Network had more skilled chefs - and even nonchefs like Ina - than this trend of ridiculous contests and "we're just like you" so-called home cooks. I like a challenge and new information about cooking.

I was always a fan -- I never minded her perkiness or whatever you want to call it -- but I do agree that perhaps it's been toned down a little. I agree that she really does know her stuff. Even if you look past the actual recipes, you can tell there's a lot of experience behind the techniques and her tips.

It will be interesting to see whether this is the start of any revision in strategy for Food Network.

Rachael Ray

ARTICLE: Rachael Ray’s ‘30 Minute Meals’ changed how we cook. Now she’s back to teach a new generation.

I loved the smoked fish articles because I have some smoked black cod in my freezer (purchased at the Arlington Courthouse Farmers Market). I assume I can sub the sable fish for most of the recipes you provided, but I'd welcome any other suggestions--it's a bit outside my comfort zone but looked too good to pass up (and sable fish is my favorite). Thanks!

ANGELA DAVIS: Lucky you! Smoked sablefish should be a fine substitution for the recipes, especially where hot-smoked salmon is used. Another fun way I like to use smoked fish is in a skillet potato hash. Simply fold the flaked fish in at the very end. It's amazing topped with a poached egg.

ARTICLE: Skip the ham this Easter, and let smoked salmon do all the work for you

I like the idea of using a microplane for garlic and ginger because then i can avoid mincing. However, every time i do it, I just end up with a kind of garlic- or ginger-juice along with a clogged microplane. Is that just what happens or should i look into getting a different microplane?

Try the larger holes on a standard grater!

ANGELA DAVIS: I haven't had that issue with garlic using a decent Microplane. A great tip for ginger is to freeze peeled ginger root when you buy it. It'll grate like snow, and then you just pop the unused portion back in the freezer for another time. (Keep it wrapped in plastic.)

After a belated cleaning of our freezer I realized we need a better system to organize things and keep track of what we have in there. My husband loves to get deals on meat... Only to discover we should have used it months ago. This is even more important as we currently need some space for breast milk, too. Our freezer is the drawer on the bottom with one top drawer and then a vast space below. Any tips?

In our Food Lab, we label and date every single item that goes in there, and have a list (written on easily removable tape) of every item in every drawer. At home, I just have a list of what's in my fridge, freezer and pantry. You can try taping a list of what's in your freezer on the door. Or, get a small, magnetic whiteboard (with an attachable marker, found at any office supply store), and stick it on the door. You can list what's in there, expiration dates, etc. 

By this I mean - - finding baking or boiling potatoes that have not been sitting out under bright store lights, getting green. I love potato skins, but as we know, green skins are both nasty and nasty. Does any grocery store handle potatoes to reduce greening??

Ugh! I think the problem is that they put out huge piles of potatoes and shoppers don't go through them quickly enough, so yes, they turn green. The green itself, btw, isn't a problem, just an indication of chlorophyll development from the light exposure, but the same light also causes potatoes to develop the digestive irritant solanine, so the green is a good indicator of that.

I never see green potatoes at my favorite grocery store in the area, Mom's,  which seems to put out fewer potatoes at a time, leaving the rest stored, I assume, in boxes or another method that keeps them in the dark.

You should call the Times subscriber help number. I didn’t need to pay for the cooking thing, just had to sign up with my existing NYT account. Perhaps I was grandmothered in or something but it’s worth a check.

We'll be guests at friends' parents' Passover seder on Friday. I'd like to bring something, but have no idea what would work other than flowers (planning on it) and wine (which my friend said they often have too much of). They keep kosher year-round, but my kitchen isn't. Add to that, we're traveling to Pittsburgh Tuesday, so whatever I bring needs to be non-perishable. Any food ideas that I can pick up this weekend, that will keep and travel and perhaps help out over the week of Passover?

There are so many delicous styles of coconut macaroons available from artisan producers (and commercial) with various add-ins, and they stay moist and yummy for a while. Most have Passover friendly ingredients.  Maybe try that?

I bought my Easter kielbasa this past Sunday but won't be eating it until *next* Sunday (Orthodox Easter). Should I freeze it, or will it be OK in the fridge? Thanks!

I generally freeze if I'm going to keep it more than 4 days.

Defrost in fridge night before. And, YUM!

How long do you think an unopened vacuum-sealed package of smoked salmon is good? I've searched the package for an expiration date and I cannot find one. I also don't remember when I bought it, but it was a really long time ago.

ANGELA DAVIS: If the package doesn't indicate a specific date, a safe bet is 2 to 3 weeks from the time of purchase, unopened.

I'm on tap to make a frittata for an Easter celebration this weekend, with a travel time (car) of about 45 minutes between our house and the destination. Should I cook it ahead of time and let it sit (room temp in the car or on ice?) and reheat when I arrive? Cook fully, refrigerate, then transport & reheat? Or attempt to assemble and fully cook on site, although that's more of a pain? I'm super conscious of food temps and safety, so want to make sure I choose the right course and am not heating, cooling, reheating, etc. too many times. Also I've never made a frittata, so this will be an experiment on many levels... HELP!

I've made so many frittatas and traveled. They are very hearty and will be fine fully cooked for an hour in the car. Don't make in site, as you never know what last minute things come up!.

Reheat low temp. I even love it room temp! Good luck.

If you need a recipe, Angela's Smoked Salmon Frittata is a great one!


I'm going away on a trip next week-yay! My flight back home arrives late afternoon, and after 6 nights on the road the last thing I want is another restaurant meal. Any tips for meals I can safely pull out of the freezer and into the oven/pan quickly for a healthy meal?

To tell you the truth, I just make pancakes when I get back from a trip. Not exactly healthy, but satisfying and usually puts me right to bed so I can forget about the plane ride.

I really love making pasta with aglio e olio for a sauce, but the last two times I made it, the flavor was pretty lacking for me, especially the garlic, even though I used five cloves of garlic instead of the four the recipe called for. When I made it last night, I didn't add enough salt to the pasta water and it was also under salted (I can't remember if that was the case for the second to last time). Could the lack of salt have affected the garlic flavor as well? Or do I need to just add more garlic?

Yep, adding enough salt is crucial, especially for a pasta with so few ingredients!

Just sayin'

Yes, she is! I mean, look at these swirls:

For the love of all that is fair to cilantro-haters, PLEASE put the cilantro in a separate container alongside, so those who like it can help themselves, while sparing those of us who loathe it from having our black bean salad contaminated by the taste of soap.

What took you so long? ;-)

Do I really have to peel it, or can I just use more? Peeling takes forever, even with a spoon, and there's always still patches of peel remaining.

I find a birds beak knife the easiest for peeling ginger. I don't peel when slicing ginger, but to mince you really need to get the woody skin off, even if a few little patches are left!

The lamb recipe sounds just delicious, but seems like 120 degrees is whoppingly rare? A big roast beef could be that at very center but isn’t the butterflied cut flatter? I do like rare though!

120 is for the thickest part, just out of the oven, and the temp will actually increase as it rests. As it is a flat piece of meat with an uneven thickness, there will be a range of doneness, I promise AND even the rare won't be too rare (although my mom always wants it that way. :)

Yes to brining it uncapped with you. If you feel the need, can you bring a small chopping board and a knife with you?

It took me too many years of cooking and washing dishes to learn that my life is significantly better when I have a true non-stick frying pan. I use it twice every day for the most part. I've been happy with the $20 T-fal one I bought at TJ Maxx a couple years ago, but it is definitely wearing out. Does one exist that if I pay more for it, it will last longer? (Yes, I do have a seasoned cast-iron one that I use for certain things as well)

ANGELA DAVIS: I'm a big fan of Calphalon's Contemporary Nonstick and Ceramic Nonstick lines. Some of the pieces were more of an investment but they have outlasted everything else I bought in the past.

Hi gang. Love the Food section; love your weekly chats; love the love you've been showing to plant-based recipes over the last few years. Speaking of which, what is your favorite recipe for a filling, tasty chickpea stew? Cooking time matters less than the flavor and feel of the stew. Thanks!

Not sure your exact definition of a stew, but I'm going to obviously endorse my curry!

Easy Chickpea Curry

RECIPE: Anyone can make Indian food at home, and this chickpea curry is how to start

Please support your US farmers and ranchers and buy US lamb and not the gawd awful tasting stuff from Australia and New Zealand. Even better if you buy local. US lamb tastes better than its cousins from down under and more flavorful Also its more tender.

ANGELA DAVIS: Agree! The American Lamb Board has great resources for folks in search of local purveyors. 

For many reasons I am a fan USA origin lamb. And if you are looking for a mild flavor, it is definitely the best choice.

So sad about Notre Dame and thought making a classic French dish might help. (Food always does help). Any recommendations? I don't know much about French food (yes unforgivable, I know).

Try a classic like the chicken stew dish called Coq Au Vin which is easy to make in advance and reheat for a meal served along with a French Baguette and a salad (and eaten with best wishes for a rebuild/renovation).

I'd like to make a quick "cheating" aïoli based on commercial mayonnaise for dipping homemade French fries, so checked online and found that one recipe had chopped RAW garlic added to the mayo (as well as a little olive oil and lemon juice) in the blender. Do you think roasted garlic would be preferable? Do you have a favorite "cheat" for this?

It really depends on how much of a garlic bite you want the aioli to have. Raw garlic will be more pungent, roasted garlic sweeter and mellower. If you do use raw garlic, please cut it open and look for any little sprout, and get rid of it. That will cut down on the harshness.

For peeling, I find an everyday teaspoon is ace. I don't tend to, but worry about any pesticides / contaminants.

I don't know why tv chefs like to peel ginger with a spoon. Is it because it looks more "chef-y?" I just use a standard potato peeler and it works fine.

I use a spoon because the vegetable peeler is hard to maneuver into the little bends in a ginger stem. 

Agreed! I find the spoon really easy. It seems to pull off just the thinnest bit of skin, too, without chunking into the ginger.

My daughter brought back garlic olive oil from Greece. She got a small bottle, not knowing how good and potent it would be. Now we need a local source. Also, I love the pistachio/sesame/honey bars she found. Where do I find these? in NYC is an excellent source for these ingredients

If you're in DC, check out The Mediterranean Way, a great market in Dupont Circle. They have gorgeous Greek olive oils, and I see one garlic-infused one on their website. (I'm not generally a fan of infused olive oils, because so many are done badly, but I bet theirs is stellar.) They also carry halvah, Turkish delight and other candies, so they might have the bars.

How about a wonderful salade nicoise, now that the weather is good.

Try keeping your cilantro in a small jar half filled with tepid/cool water. Snip a bit of the ends off, place a plastic baggie over the bunch, creating a little greenhouse effect, keeping the leaves hydrated and fresh. Snip off more of the ends (to keep refreshing your bunch) over time (ex. 8 hrs or so) and change the water as needed. This is a bit of serendipity too, I caught this today on Rachael Ray's show in relation to keeping basil fresh and green. I've been watching her recently for meals that'll last a few days and she really does give good tips.

Thanks! Yes, we have recommended this technique. (The OP, though, was asking about taking a dish that includes chopped cilantro to an event, not about storing the herb generally.)

Just heard that Shoppers Food Warehouse is closing all its stores. Where else is there that combines low price on staples and a good selection of ethnic food?

ANGELA DAVIS: I shop around for non-perishable pantry staples - Target/Walmart can be reasonable, Amazon Prime too. For ethnic food, Wegmans has recently expanded its international aisles and stores like Lotte Plaza Mart can't really be beaten.

That makes me sad! 

Lotto stores are good on ethnic selection. 

I get what OP was talking about with a clogged Microplane, but for me it's the thready-type fibers from ginger that sometimes is left even after the dishwasher! As for peeling, when I'm Microplaning it, I often don't peel it. It ends up a mush, anyway, so why bother?

I plan on roasting a turkey for Easter, and I was wondering if you guys had any fresh spring takes on turkey recipes. Thanks!

ANGELA DAVIS: I think what you serve alongside the turkey can shift the menu toward spring and away from winter holiday food. Instead of gravy consider white wine pan sauces or something herbaceous like chimichurri or Italian salsa verde. Potato salad can replace mashed potatoes, candied carrots, a pea salad with lemon and mint, etc. Think fresh and seasonal!

How about baked ziti? When I get home after a trip, I crave something comforting like that. I actually prefer rigatoni because I like the lighter quality it has with the bigger pasta.

During my most recent trip to Mom's, I noticed an entire section of shelving devoted to bulk bins of dried bugs (crickets, mealworms, etc) and chips/other snacks made with the aforementioned bugs. I feel like I'm pretty hip to the now when it comes to wellness trends but where in the heck did this come from? Has anyone at the Post tried them yet? (looking at you, Maura) I tried the cricket tacos at Oyamel a few years ago after a few margaritas and I know insects are a staple of many other worldwide cuisines... but I was not expecting them to become the next cool snack.

Haha--I tried Seek food snacks (cricket protein) and liked it. We need to embrace these alternative protien sources somehow!

I've tried various cricket snacks (as well as actual dried crickets) and found them to be actually quite tasty. They're definitely taking off as an alternative protein.

I take all of the staff and questioners words as gospel so here goes. Do I have to keep butter in fridge? Should it be in special dish if on counter? Thank you

Gosh, I get this all the time because you can see my antique butter dish on my counter in instagram stories! Unless it's blazing hot, I keep mine in that dish on the counter, but we are a daily butter-using family!

I was trying to figure out the source of a rice pilaf I wanted to make again. I searched WaPo for "lemon pistachio rice" and got zero results. So, I figured WaPo wasn't the source. I did the same search on Google and, lo and behold, this was on page two of search results.  Not sure what's up with your internal search function, just passing along. It's a great recipe, and I'm glad I found it one way or another!

Yeah, agree the internal search on the Recipe Finder is . . . problematic. A Google site search can be a safer bet. Sorry about that, but glad you found what you were looking for!

We eat a lot of chicken, and I’m always looking for ways to incorporate different flavors. Imagine my delight at the new recipes today! I have one question per: I would think that the whole chicken would tend to float in the brine; if so, do you recommend weighting it? And what’s the upper limit on how long the chicken for the skewers can be left in the marinade; say, if I wanted to start it before work could I leave it in the fridge till I got back? Thanks for this fabulous chat!

David Leite's terrific brined bird stays submerged, not to worry. For the accompanying photo, we propped up the chicken a bit so you could see it! 

Re the #DinnerInMinutes Spiced Chicken Skewers, they could be refrigerated in the marinade as long as overnight.


To the chatter who asked about Alphonso mango puree last week, you could make frozen desserts - ice cream, kulfi, sorbet. In India, Alphonso mango puree is often eaten as is with a dash of powdered cardamom or black pepper - that intensely sweet and flavorful mango needs little else although a poori (fried bread) wouldn't hurt for scooping it up. If you're looking for something savory, try a Kerala style ripe mango and coconut curry. I'm curious about Becky's mango dal - in my 30+ years of eating ripe Alphonso mangoes and dal, never have I seen the two combined.

Shoot me an email if you want the recipe!

And, yes, I looooove mango kulfi. This is a great recipe.

Mango Ice Cream With Cardamom

RECIPE: Mango Ice Cream With Cardamom

Kohlrabi tastes, to us at least, like a slightly blander version of broccoli stems. I use it in stirfry and generally just treat it like broccoli (roasting and raw as Joe mentioned, but also steaming lightly). We eat it almost as much as we eat broccoli (my husband finds it bland, but the teens like it a lot) and I've been known to blanch and freeze it for later.

Kohlrabi and broccoli stems are excellent to use in the Spicy Broccoli Slaw recipe from the recent Vietnamese Any Day cookbook from Andrea Nguyen.

You often mention Jim Lahey’s recipe for no- knead bread - i’ve made it several times, but have always been disappointed- the crust is great, but the inside always seems too wet, and the precise timing is too fussy. I’ve had much better luck with Peter Reichart’s recipes that use the stretch and fold method, particularly the one for ciabatta. It makes delicious bread and the dough is much more forgiving - you can keep it in the refrigerator for a few days before baking. And, no struggling with trying to dump the batter into a burning- hot casserole.

I'm a big fan of Jim's recipe that I ran a few weeks ago, but of course anything by Peter Reinhart is probably going to be good, too!

No-Knead Whole-Wheat Bread

RECIPE: The path to homemade, no-knead crusty bread goes through your Dutch oven

Thanks so much for that recipe - can't wait to make them. Hope Hellman's will work too. Think mayo is like spaghetti sauce, whatever your mother used or made. I think WaPo Food had an article about Duke's long ago. With all respect to Angela and other Duke's lovers, we tried it, but had to go back. Would love to know how the two differ in ingredients. Not a recipe, but there's something different.

ANGELA DAVIS: Duke's has more vinegar in it than many other brands, so it has that tangy kick. I find that I need to add more acid in my recipes when I'm not using it. 

For a quick weeknight meal thats super versatile, I'm a huge fan of WaPo's chickpea chorizo stew as a baseline that I can work off of. I usually add chorizo or some protein if I have it or just add a lot of pepper flakes/smoked paprika if i don't. Also add in a leafy green if I have it, serve it over couscous or rice if wanted. I usually double it to have enough for lunch the next day.

I have read the peel is bitter, and if not super fresh it can certainly be tough. I also use a teaspoon (the cheap really thin metal ones are best), but I often save the peels in the freezer to use in stock--I figure those small amounts are okay. If lucky enough to get fresh ginger (with transparent peel), use the whole thing with abandon!

Have you checked websites in Gilroy, California (the garlic capital of the world, which I truly believed after smelling the sublime aroma while driving past there!).

Years ago I made deviled eggs with smoked salmon incorporated into the yolks, but I can't remember how I did this. The yolks remained smooth. (And I did put a small piece of the salmon to show what was in them.) Anyway, I was able to find packages of Acme salmon scraps and trimmings in the fish section of a good grocery. Suggestions on how to do this?

ANGELA DAVIS: You can puree the egg yolks with smoked salmon and mayo to make something like a mousse. It works for dips, so I imagine it would work as a deviled egg filling too.

Hi love the chat-need last minute suggestions for a vegetarian coming to Passover seder. The simpler the better-Thanks

This morning I made this dish, which is so good and versatile. 

If you add the cilantro, some people might not realize it's in the black bean salad, so their servings will wind up in the trash. You don't want that, do you?

Probably since they made it big on Shark Tank ... .

Would love to know what RR recipes chatters have made.


For years, one of her Thai peanut curries was a staple in my house, and I used the sauce in this stir-fry recipe.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Stir-Fry

RECIPE: Spicy Peanut Chicken Stir-Fry

I’ve been making cured salmon from a recipe in Israeli Soul these days. Can I sub it for smoked salmon in any of those recipe?

ANGELA DAVIS: I'd use it where cold-smoked salmon is called for, such as the deviled eggs or scrambled eggs. You just won't have that smoky flavor.

I know this is in real time, but I just turned off the current episode with her husband in the kitchen. I don't really eat any of her recipes--no fish or shellfish, no beef or lamb, no gluten or dairy--but I watch for technique. I do appreciate that she includes prep time in the 30 minutes--stir fry may be fast to cook, after 45 minutes of prep!

Had not seen any with her husband yet! I suspect he'll show up a few more times throughout the run of the show, which airs new episodes until the end of the month.

Hi! My family loves cauliflower, and occasionally I hit on just the right alchemy when roasting it only to come up short the next time. I've dismantled whole heads into florets, sliced slabs, and emptied bags of frozen. I've parboiled it before roasting or gone straight in with just salt and olive oil. Like Goldilocks, I don't want it too tough or too mushy. We all love the crispy bits. Is there a most reliable strategy?

Crank up the heat to 450 or even 500, and put the baking sheet in the oven while it's heating. Toss the cauliflower (I do like slabs, for creating more flat surfaces to sear on the baking sheet) in a bowl with olive oil, salt and whatever spice you like -- I'm a smoked-paprika freak, but also za'atar, and SUMAC. Make sure you aren't overcrowding the cauliflower -- you want space between all the pieces, so it roasts rather than steams. That should get you there.

I don't know that it counts as infused because it's actually pressed with lemons, but Zingerman's has a wonderful lemon olive oil (Agrumato Lemon Oil)--but it's not cheap. I don't see Greek olive oil specifically on their site, but they often have a lot of olive oils on offer.

I had a conversation with my aunt re self-rising flour. I don't want to overbuy because it won't keep. She said if I put it in the freezer, it will keep for a really long time. How is that possible? The freezer doesn't keep baking powder from losing its stuff, does it?

kinda apples and oranges. Flour will stay fresher longer in the freezer (whole grain flours benefit most because they can go rancid). baking powder (a mix of sodium bicarb and cream of tartar) loses its effectiveness to provide lift in baked goods -- after 6 months, per recommendations. 

I always wonder if the meals cooked on these shows are served to the studio audiences. I'd hate to be in the presence of all that great-looking and great-smelling food for an hour or so but only get a protein bar or a small bag of chips. I mean, this chat makes me really hungry but I can run to the kitchen while it's underway! Of course, the TV staff would have to prepare additional portions of the food off-camera, as one bowl or pansheet probably wouldn't suffice.

Good question! I suspect there is no audience on set of "30 Minute Meals," but if it's anything like our set, the food is gobbled up by staff.

For her talk show, the audience didn't sample the food she cooked on air, though it did smell good! Maybe the crew gets to eat that, too, but one cool thing they do is have a different person cook at least for the guests passing through the green rooms. 

OOOoooo. this makes sense. I may be hip to the now but clearly need to get hipper and watch more Shark Tank.

From Tim's article, know that DMV Burger Kings won't have them now, but are local Red Robins using that "meat?" They have a veggie burger on the menu. May have missed something in the article.

Tim says:

Yes, all locations, including those in the DC area, have the Impossible burger on the menu. It may not actually be listed on the menu, however. The location in suburban St. Louis did not specifically mention the Impossible burger, but the server told me that you can replace the patty in any burger with the Impossible version. I assume that holds true around the country.

ARTICLE: Burger King's Impossible Whopper tastes even better than the real thing

Is there a video on how to peel ginger with a spoon? I have tried it and failed miserably, But I will try again. How hard can it be? For me, HARD!

Pop  your ginger in the freezer for 15 mins or just keep it there, it'll help. Then scrape with turned-over METAL spoon -- preferably an oval shape with slightly pointy end rather than a round soup spoon. does that help?

What's the difference in results between an egg wash made with whole eggs and one using only the whites? I'd like to emulate the golden color my favorite bakery (no longer where I live) has on their croissants.

ANGELA DAVIS: It's the yolks that give baked goods more of a deep golden color and glossy appearance. Egg whites will add some color, but not the sheen. So just depends on the look you're going for there.

my husband brought home a BIG BOX of roasted chestnuts - divided into little snack bags - from a BIG BOX store. i tried one of those chestnuts and could barely keep from spitting it out. yuk, so far. can you recommend any recipes that include chestnuts but not necessarily feature them so i can help my husband work through that BIG box? please?? if not, would anybody like a snack bag of roasted chestnuts?

If faced with this quantity, I'd make candied chestnuts and put them up for shelf stability then use for desserts like mousse, ice cream sundae etc

Made this recipe for Christmas and it was absolutely amazing:

You can use roasted chestnuts in place of the cooked & peeled ones indicated. 

If you want to know more about how The Food Network morphed from cooking shows into culinary reality television (which I despise), find Allen Sankin's book "From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network." It's a fascinating read of how unknowns like Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri got their start in TFN and the changing corporate ethos of the network. (And how they tossed aside Emeril in doing so.) It's still in print and can be found in e-reader format, too.

For a non-Passover use, that also would make a good pita filling especially with the browned onions, chopped tomatoes, a bit of tahini and some olive oil to moisten a bit. Bulgur is a good replacement for rice.

As good as that recipe looks, doesn't work for people who avoid kitniyot. We usually have a quinoa pilaf - we use spinach, onions, and peppers, but you can really dress it up with any vegetables and flavor profile you want.

I've made that with what my local German deli calls Hot Sticks--a very spicy cured sheep sausage--that worked really well. Any cured sausage with some bite would also work, I think, when I don't want to drive to find cured chorizo (don't know why it's hard to find in my neighborhood as we can find almost any ingredient from any country here).

As Easter Sunday approaches, think of your past Easters and tell ... 1a. Do you eat the chocolate Easter bunny ears first, or what? 1b. Optional essay question: Why? 1c. Does everyone in your family do the same as you and have you always eaten it the same way, no matter your age or where you were living ? 1d. Do you judge people negatively if they eat their chocolate Easter bunny differently than how you eat yours? 1e. Do you feel a momentary sadness when you puncture the bunny? 2. Does the hollow chocolate of most Easter bunnies strike you as somehow superior to solid chocolate? 3. What's the longest you've put off eating a chocolate Easter bunny because it was too "special" or the wrapping was too pretty? 4. Do you freeze your chocolate Easter bunny because it's less "melty" that way? Thanks for your responses! I'll either feel reassured or uncomfortable about my own habits, depending what you say.

As long as it's a white chocolate bunny, yes to all of the above (except freezing and putting off eating it:)))

I also have a list taped to my freezer. It's separated into categories (meals, sides, meats, fruits/veggies, dessert, etc.) and things get crossed off as they're used. I also use the list when writing my grocery store list (or snap a picture of it if I'm not making a list for the store). It's really helped me to avoid buying, say, 4 packages of pork tenderloin because "wait, DO I have any in the freezer??"

I can guess where your husband bought those. I also bought some. Once. Gak. Never again.

Throw your best asparagus recipes at me please. Seems like the season is so short.

My favorite thing, really, is just to roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper until they're crisp tender. But we eagerly gobbled up this dish when I made it for our shoot the other week.

RECIPE: Asparagus and White Bean Salad With Feta and Lemon Dressing

Made this yesterday and it was gobbled up.


First, I'm a garlic loving fiend. I'd add double the amount of garlic for garlic and olive oil over pasta. Try chopping the garlic into chunky pieces and sorta thin slices. Put them in a cold pan with the oil and cook on low heat, that'll give the garlic more time to infuse the oil and impart great flavor. And salt the boiling water enough to taste it, it does concentrate as it boils down even a little. Plus, I like to finish with one or two med. sized cloves finely minced, placed in more olive oil to add to the finished dish. Only for garlic lovers out there.

One of the hugest disappointments in my life.

Is R Ray in person the same as on TV?

Ha! I don't know that I can give you the answer you want, having only spent 40 minutes with her in the context of a sit-down interview. She was smart, gracious, blunt and intense -- like, very focused and you can tell how hard she works and thinks about what she's doing.

On one show she had a recipe for pasta with a vodka sauce? Does that sound right? Anyway, she said if you make it for a date, it will be a grand slam. Maybe she made it for her husband before they were married. I need that recipe or something like it. Any recipes that can be used to please a date. An important date.

Sure, vodka sauce is great. We have a couple great options:

Bow-Tie Pasta With Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce

Penne Alla Vodka With Chicken

FYI, veggie burgers are not the same as the Impossible Burger or other meat-replacements. Veggie burgers typically made from a variety of plant-based foods (vegetables, beans, grains) and supposed to clearly be vegetable based (e.g., you can see the veggies). the Impossible Burger and the like are specifically designed to mimic meat as much as possible, without much indication they are animal-free. Splitting hairs, I know, but the distinction is there and seems to be market-driven.

Simply steamed, then topped with blender Hollandaise sauce.

One often reads that a dish can be prepared and frozen "for up to [specified amount of time]". What impacts that specified duration, and what happens if you consume something beyond the specified time? Those sad containers in the back of the freezer need to know!

ANGELA DAVIS: After too much time in the freezer, you start running the risk of freezer burn or flavor loss. But I've found this has more to do with the way it's stored than simply time alone. Your best bet is always to vacuum seal if possible because food that isn't exposed to air will keep fresher longer. The USDA has a fact sheet for freezing tips that you may find helpful.

Thanks Angela, that's good to know about Duke's. We didn't try it in recipes, but on sandwiches, so we'll give it another try.

ANGELA DAVIS: Enjoy! Kensington's is another good one to try, it tastes closest to homemade mayo in my experience.

Love Kensington's!

Had this at the buffet when a lunch guest at the University of California-Berkeley Faculty Club ages ago: steamed, then chilled asparagus dressed with an Italian-style dressing, but with cracked Coriander seeds in it. What a difference they made!

I was gifted a jar of date syrup and would like to find a passover dessert to make with it. Any thoughts? if not one for passover, actually any recipe that uses it would do

Tehina and date syrup are like peanut butter and jelly, slathered on good. Maybe take that as an inspiration?

My kids love her side dish of smashed peas with ricotta, parsley and lemon zest.

.. but have to watch it in snippets because that's what my spouse wants to see during baseball game commercials. It's even worse than car commercials.

Had a list taped to the freezer. Lost it. It's probably behind the washer or dryer. I made another organizational list. Short, to the point - one big fat question mark.

Use it like regular molasses in baked goods. Yum-o.

This has messed me up since I was a kid; have always tried to avoid the bunny and stick to (SOLID! hollow is a travesty) eggs.

Couldn't the suggestion be useful in both instances? Given a 15 hour difference between prep and the event, I would think so. Sorry if I misunderstood.

In the late 1990's my sister gave me a chariest recipe. It was supposed to be a "Sephardic" recipe (we're Ashkenazic); it had dried apricots in it. The secret ingredient was Grand Marnier. Well, it -had- to be a secret, didn't it; when I realized Grand Marnier was not kosher for Passover, I threw the recipe away in disgust. So, 20+ years later, I've found kosher-for-passover triple sec and would like to try the recipe again, but my sister doesn't remember it even existed. Googling has uncovered myriad Sephardic charoset recipes, but none quite so heavy on the dried apricots and none with any type of orange liqueur. I thought you and the nutterati might be able to assist? Any help is greatly appreciated.

email me directly ( and i will try to track down for you. Happy Pesach!

We made pizzas and we're left with two bags of preshredded mozzarella and one log of it. What can I use it in? Would it work in your macaroni and cheese or should I just make a few baked zitis and freeze some?

By "your" you mean a WaPo recipe? Otherwise for me Lucinda, that is a huge YES to Mac & cheese espeically if mixed with another cheese like cheddar.

ANGELA DAVIS: I use mozz in mac & cheese all the time, but definitely better to use the log and shred yourself - assuming whole milk! The pre-shredded cheese is coated with substances that can mess up the cheese sauce. If using my recipe, I sub it in for the Muenster cheese. Still want to have lots of cheddar for flavor, but mozz will deliver that dramatic stringy effect.

I love mayo. Never heard of Kennsington's. Is that a regional thing? Any place in DMV to get it?

Full brand name is Sir Kensington's. I see it at Mom's and Whole Foods in the DMV, probably more places. There's a find-us link on their website.

Love you chatters. Learn something new every week.

Hello WA PO, the Teach Dave videos are charming. I have one question though, technique related: it looked like the chicken dish involved browning the chicken and sausages on only one side. I have always assumed both sides should be browned in a recipe? Please enlighten us. Thanks.

We endorse browning on all sides! Maybe that was going to happen next. :)

I keep a running list on my weekly planner of what's in the freezer and what we received in our CSA box. Helps me remember to use everything because I have to rewrite it every Monday a.m. That's probably more work than most people want to do ;)

I was thinking of the studio audience for the Rachel Ray Show, which was on just before this chat, not 30 Minute Meals.

Gotcha! Yes, alas, no feeding of the audience there. Although they do often do giveaways. Books usually, I think, but I caught a recent episode when the audience got a whole cookware set from Rachael's line. It was very Oprah.

Yesterday, Gene Weingarten opened his chat with a recipe for French Onion soup that takes 10 hours (not all of it active prep time). It got me thinking, the shepherd's pie (made with lamb cubes) that I will serve for Easter dinner will take more than that. On Sunday, I defrosted the lamb, trimmed the fat, browned it, and put it back in the freezer. I spent another hour cleaning up the spattered oil. Next weekend I will cook the veggies and mashed potatoes and bake the pie. And now my son & his wife asked if they could bring another couple to Easter dinner, so I will have to prepare more.

Maybe I'll make both. If it works, you're invited to my wedding.

WOW! Fingers crossed, then!

I love Chopped and hate baseball, so there! I have a recipe for "Venetian" haroset that might be what Grand Marnier chatter was looking for. It doesn't include any liqueur though. And I don't have it on me right now. I recall pine nuts, dates, almond paste, dried apricots...

I have NEVER tasted a ramp because I ALWAYS miss the season! When might they appear at DMV farmers markets? Thanks so much!

Ramps keep you guessing until the last minute. But I bet it's going to be soon, so keep checking!

Well, you've garnished us with salmon and capers, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today, and many thanks to Lucinda and Angela for helping with the a's.

Now for our giveaway book: The chatter who FIRST asked about peeling ginger will get Lucinda's latest, "Mad Hungry Family." Send your mailing info to, and she'll make the arrangements.

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.
Olga Massov
Massov is a Washington-area food writer and editor.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow is the author of "Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet and Savory Slab Pies" (Grand Central Life & Style, 2018).
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kari Sonde
Kari Sonde is the Food Editorial Aide.
Lucinda Scala Quinn
Lucinda Scala Quinn is the founder of Mad Hungry, the headquarters for home cooks looking for proven recipes, tools, and inspiration. She is the author of six cookbooks, appears regularly on both morning television and QVC and hosts her own television show. Follow her on Instagram @madhungry.
Angela Davis
Angela Davis is a self-taught home cook, food blogger, recipe developer, and food photographer. She is all about taking comfort food to the next level, and believes every dish has a story. Head over to her blog, The Kitchenista Diaries, to learn more:
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