The Washington Post

Free Range on Food: Sous-vide at home, vegan 'honey,' chef Cindy Wolf and more.

Apr 26, 2017

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

Good afternoon, chatters!


We're running lean and mean today. Joe and Becky are out today, and Bonnie is 50-50 at best since she'll be calling in from the train, which, if my experience is any indication, has TERRIBLE wifi connections. Last night, all three attended the James Beard Awards for media in New York. We didn't walk away with any hardware, alas, but as everyone likes to say, we are proud just to be nominated. (A cliche that also happens to be true.)


If anyone understands being a runner-up in the Beard Awards, it's the great Cindy Wolf, chef at the lowcountry restaurant Charleston in Baltimore. She's walked away empty-handed five times, but she's again nominated this year in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category at the Beard Awards, which will be held May 1 in Chicago. Martha Thomas tells Wolf's story in today's Food section.


Cindy Wolf is one of several guests we have today on the chat. We also have Kristen Hartke to talk about her story on Bee Free Honee, an innovative company co-owned Katie Sanchez and Melissa Elms, who sell their vegan honey substitute. Both Katie and Melissa are joining us, too!


But we're not through yet: We also have Lisa Fetterman on the chat today. She's the co-inventor of Nomiku, a new sous-vide system, as well as a co-author of "Sous Vide at Home." She was featured in Maura Judkis's compenhensive look at sous-vide cooking. Maura will be joining us, too.


We'll have our regular contributors, too, including the fabulous and beautiful M. Carrie Allan (hey, she's my wife; I can say that!) and the fabulous and hilarious Jim Shahin (hey, he's my friend; I can say that!).


One last bit of housekeeping: This week's code for Post Points members: FR7865. 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.


By the way, we'll be giving away cookbooks today to two lucky chatters: The first is "Cork Dork" by Bianca Bosker, and the other is a Lisa's aforementioned "Sous Vide at Home." So let's get started!

So I got one of those sous vide things for Christmas, but it looks like a big production to use it! So it is still in the box. Any suggestions for a simple "first use" recipe? (something non-meat, since we don't have a lot of meat eaters in the house) I don't really want to go buy a big plastic box and a bunch more accessories.

That's such a great question! I feel you on the hurdles. The best recipe to start with is eggs for sure since they don't even require any bagging. They're conveniently already in nature's natural bag, their shell. I love a good gooey egg on a sandwich.

I asked Tom, but I wanted to cast a wider net: any restaurant recs for Dallas-Ft. Worth? We like everything, and any price range is fine. Thank you, Rangers!

I'll be curious about people's answers to this, too -- headed to Dallas next week! Recs that I've received:  Pecan Lodge, Tacos Mariachi, Keller's Drive-In, Slow Bone BBQ and then for bars, the Deep Ellum neighborhood. 

I was there about two years ago. Don't miss Pecan Lodge, one of the urban barbecue restaurants in America. The place does Texas-style barbecue right.

I'm not a very practiced baker, but I can do simple things. I have a family chocolate frosting recipe that firms up like soft fudge, and it's not that hard when it goes on, but it's a little difficult to spread. Can you recommend a chocolate cake recipe that's hard to screw up but (relatively) easy to frost?

Couple ways to go, each quite luscious and reliable. And to make frosting easier, you may want to refrigerate the cooled layers for 15 to 30 minutes first (you may want to briefly zap your fudgy frosting in the microwave in 5 second intervals till it gets to a more spreadable consistency:

Duke's Chocolate Cake

Duke's Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake


Cindy, I'm curious about the role that being in a smaller (but awesome!) city like Baltimore has played in your career, and how the city's sensibility and culture have impacted your restaurants. Have you ever thought about expanding to DC or Philly, or are you happy just where you are?

As a chef it has been a treat to work in Baltimore. I have gotten great support. And I have always been able to cook whatever I have wanted to. People respond well to it and that's a great pleasure for a chef. I am happy just where I am. I used to work in the DC market and familiar with it, but I am thankful to be here in Baltimore.

The idea of a fool proof way to cook meat (I tend to over cook and things can get a bit dry) is appealing. But another gadget-plus-subscription service is not appealing at all. The less said about the juicer that was less efficient than the hands of some WSJ reporters, the better. But I'll include other subscription food as well. I was accosted the other day near Union Station by some young people doing direct marketing/sales for one of the ingredient delivery places (no idea which one). Their opening line? "Do you want to cook more?" I don't eat out much at all. I already cook all my food. And I don't need to pay a premium to have someone else measure out tiny little packets of spices that are just enough to make two servings of something. Part of the joy of cooking is to figure out what else to make with what I have at home. (The other big joy of cooking is having the meal AND the leftovers). I guess my problem with the services are that they are trying to make home cooking as much like a restaurant as possible - someone else chooses the pairings, decides how to season it, creates a portion that isn't going to accommodate having enough for more than one meals, takes you that extra level away from buying your own food. Oh, and the cost! Not really meaning to sound so "Bah, humbug," but there is a real value in cooking from ingredients, not a kit. If nothing else, if you need to pull back on your budget for a few months, you will have some clue about how to do it.

Ha! I feel you, having an appliance that serves one purpose + a subscription is quite a commitment. That's why we don't do that. With the Nomiku Sous Chef there's not a traditional subscription, because it's connected we're able to refill you when you need it, i.e. when you're down to your last few meals. There's no "oh no, I have to eat all of this this week." And you don't have to use our machine exclusively for our meals, it's a great standalone connected sous vide device. You can opt out of the food program entirely with our other model. I also have a bestselling cookbook called, "Sous Vide at Home" that can help you get started. Oh, and of course there's an app for that, it's called "EatTender" and can help you with thousands of recipes you can send directly to your machine.

The Miss Manners column in today’s Post makes the surprising suggestion “that more people should patronize the restaurants that have decided to abolish tipping…” Can anyone suggest some local restaurants which have adopted this policy?

There are few places in DC that don't take tips. Some, like Sally's Middle Name, experimented with a non-tipped system, but then abandoned it in favor of the traditional model. It tends to be successful in places that sell tickets ahead of time, and have built the servers' wages into that price. Pineapple and Pearls and the Columbia Room have done it successfully. 

For what it's worth, Miss Manners' answer is a pretty simplistic take on the issue, which is extraordinarily complicated. Yes -- as she says -- people will pay the same if the price of service is built into the product. But some servers prefer the system because there are built-in legal protections for tips, which may be jeopardized when more restaurants abolish tipping in favor of a service charge. And some restaurants find that people get sticker shock when they see service-included prices, making them less likely to patronize those places, harming business overall. 

But there are also many reasons to support a no-tipping system -- I wrote a story about it two years ago that breaks down some of these issues. Tipping invites people to treat servers unjustly, punishing them for things that may not be their fault. It can also break down along gender and racial lines, with women in tipped positions being subject to more harassment, and minorities being tipped less than white servers. It's also a system that results in servers being paid much more than cooks making the food, in many restaurants. So there are strong cases to be made on either side. 

Why some restaurants are doing away with tipping


Hi! My son's First Communion is next Saturday and we are having lunch at the house after. I'd like a couple of special appetizers I can make ahead and pull out of the refrigerator when we arrive home with our guests. I'd appreciate any suggestions so I don't just end up with a veggie platter. Thanks!

Congratulations! Lunches are my favorite meal to put on for open-house type guests. Not sure about your numbers, so I've chosen Recipe Finder faves that are make ahead. Beyond the veggie platter:

Champagne Shrimp on Endive

Champagne Shrimp on Endive (make sauce, cook shrimp, separate leaves; assemble just before they arrive)

Scallion Bread

Scallion Bread Crazy good, and different. None will be left! Cut into wedges.

Olives With Citrus Zests and Fried Herbs

Olives With Citrus Zest and Fried Herbs Pretty and aromatic.

Guacamole Eggs Fill the cooked-white halves several hours before serving (and refrigerate).

Parmigiano 'Gelato'

Parmigiano-Reggiano 'Gelato' Nothing to do with dessert or ice cream here; this is a whipped spread that's terrific.

My Asparagus Soup recipe is very seasonal and you can make it a day ahead. It's only better. All you have to do is heat it up. I serve it in espresso cups and that makes it easier to serve. I also recommend Rockfish Ceviche that you can put on small appetizer plates. You can pre-slice the fish and lay it out on a sheet pan with parchment paper brushed with corn oil. Put another piece of parchment piece on top and stick it in the fridge. When you're ready to serve you can put it on the plates and garnish with ceviche marinade of finely chopped jalapeno, finely chopped shallots, cilantro, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fleur de sel.

Asparagus Soup

Want to throw a make your own breakfast taco party. Anywhere in the area to buy hand-made tortillas?

Freshly made tortillas can most likely be found at a local Mexican market.  In our markets, they are usually near the deli counter and often kept in a "help yourself" beverage cooler to keep them warm.  You can call ahead to make sure they have them or even to check what time they are made so you don't make the trip only to find they have since sold out!

Curious to hear from others, but I've yet to find great store-bought tortillas in these parts. But you can order some really great -- like really really great -- ones online from the California-based Masienda. (The cost of shipping is totally worth it, IMO.)

Shopping Cart: Masienda Bodega corn tortillas

The best bagged tortillas I know are made by Moctec, the fresh-masa producer in Landover, Md. They deliver them to your door within 24 hours of making them.


But I'd also recommend making your own tortillas. They're fun and easy. Nothing says party like making your own tortillas.


Story: How to make the single most important element of a taco, at home

What a wonderful quote about Mexico's foods! -- “It’s like looking at the stars and you say, ‘pick one’ ” as your favorite ingredient, says the chef. Please ask Tom to tell more about eating the charred banana skins ...

Tom Sietsema responds:


"Those charred banana skins are mixed with orange juice to create a pleasantly smoky, subtly citrusy, midnight-colored sauce that pairs well with the delicious apple bananas. The sauce is thin, not thick."

Why is French bread (e.g., baguettes) sliced on the diagonal instead of crosswise perpendicular to the length of the loaf (the way a sandwich loaf of bread is)? Is it to increase surface area per slice in order to accommodate more butter?

The crust on baguettes is pretty chewy, the reason for the bias cut is to even out or balance ratio of a soft interior and a chewy crust.  If you cut straight across (Because of the large holes from the proofing process aka rising) you are more likely to get a lot of crust with not a lot on middle.

How does sous vide's slowness fit in to modern life where people can hardly be bothered to spend 30 minutes preparing their meal? - bob

That's such a good question Bob! We asked ourselves the same question and that's why we invented the Nomiku Sous Chef so that you can have delicious chef made meals in 30 minutes!

I was a sous vide newbie before I started writing this story. It does take a little planning, but one benefit that I experienced was starting a steak, and then spending the 60-90 minutes that it's in the water bath making some nice side dishes and drinking a glass of wine. On Saturday mornings, I'll sous vide some poached eggs and spend the time it takes to cook them either going for a run, or doing some errands. It's allowed me to multitask because it's so hands-off. 

Last summer I had a wonderful meal featuring braised celeriac in a lemon-flavored white sauce in the restaurant of London's National Theatre complex. Since then I have barely been able to find it in Northern Virginia food stores, though Harris Teeter near Tysons 2 recently had some (mislabeled parsley root). This is the most delicious vegetable ever, which a lovely nutty flavor! Further, it is perfect as the main ingredient of a meatless main dish. Why is it so hard to find? Also, why are there so few recipes to be found? I had to improvise to recreate the memorable meal in London.

I love celeriac. It's hard to find because there's just little demand for it. I like to peel it, slice it thin, toss it in corn oil, a tiny bit of sugar, proper amount of salt and pepper and roast it at 350 degrees until it turns golden brown, about 7 or 8 min depending on your oven. I will often mix this with bias cut carrots and parsnips. It makes a great root vegetable accompaniment to braised beef short rib or a piece of grilled tenderloin or pan-roasted magret. I also fry them, thinly sliced, tossed with salt and sugar. Delicious. Take it to work, share with the kids, have as an appetizer.

Hi-you guys are my go to for all food inquiries so hopefully you can help me with this one-I am hosting a dear friend for dinner on Saturday and she has requested Napolean for dessert as it's her favorite. But I've never made one and am slightly intimidated. I don't want to just do the puff pastry with the whipped cream-want more of a traditional napoleon (but with puff pastry--pastry dough intimidates me!) any help would be so appreciated!

Here are two recipes for a twist on a Napoleon that might serve as a jumping off point -- they're not traditional, however, but plays with it in a different way.


RECIPE: Ann Amernick's Mocha Custard


RECIPE: Banana Pudding Napoleon


I somehow ended up with a pint of grape tomatoes, and I thought I would slow-roast them with olive oil and sliced garlic. Would they do better cut in half? 250 oven? Thanks.

I don't cut grape tomatoes in half when I roast them, but you certainly can if you want to, or cut a little slit in them, which is meant to help them release their juices. However, they'll release their juices whether whole or cut; if you want to slow-roast them, then a 225°F oven will do the trick, just toss them in olive oil and herbs or garlic, spread on a sheet pan and leave them for a couple of hours. For a quick version, increase the heat to 375° and roast for 20 minutes. Here are some inspirational recipes: 

Pasta With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper

RECIPE: Pasta With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper 

RECIPE: Pasta With Roasted Tomatoes and Corn

Couldn't help myself with the name (no shame!). I have a question about honey swaps, particularly with baking. I love the moisture and depth of flavor honey adds to baked goods (banana bread, cornbread, Jewish honey cake) but always have trouble with dense results. What can I do to get the nice crumb I want with the sweet, caramel flavor of honey?

When honey is substituted for sugar, you are adding moisture, this often creates a denser product if you do not make other adjustments.  The rule I go by is this:  1/2 cup of sugar = 1/3 cup of honey.  Lower the oven temp by 25 degrees so it browns & does not burn, and add 1/4 tsp. of baking soda.  I hopes this helps you achieve your desired results! 

I was baking over the weekend, and the blueberries bubbled over from the pie pan to the baking sheet - and I cannot scrub them off. It's a non-stick pan so steel wool is out. Appreciate any advice from Post or readers. Thank you.

Is it a rimmed baking sheet? If so, fill with a mixture of hot water and baking soda (maybe 1/4 cup of the latter for every cup of water) and let it soak overnight. Or you can invert/sink that burned-on part into a tub of the same mixture. A plastic scraper (like a bench scraper used in making bread) ought to help!

I'm going there for lunch today and can't stay more than an hour and 15 minutes. Reviews say service can be really pokey. What do you recommend I order? It's my first visit. Thanks!

The lagman noodle dishes there are the heart of Uyghur cuisine, and they're also prepared very quickly! I really love the pumpkin and beef-stuffed manti. There's also the lamb kebabs, which were a favorite of Tom's, and the goshnan, a meat-stuffed flatbread. 


ARTICLE: Is their crossroads cuisine ‘the next big thing’? Uyghurs hope so.


In the article, it mentioned that Millenials didn't want to eat nasty frozen food. As a GenXer, I definitely am interested in sous vide (since we're the current 'sandwich' generation caring for aging parents and kids). Glad this chat is anonymous, cause I have a dumb question: does cooking sous vide change anything about freezing leftovers?

Haha, you are so sweet!

If you cook sous vide and then freeze it your frozen meals won't taste like they were ever frozen! Sous vide is a such a gentle way to cook that releases the water from cells of whatever you're cooking gently so that when you freeze it it doesn't break the cell walls thus making your food mushy.


The Nomiku Sous Chef program was made with elder care in mind actually, we want seniors to have the freedom to make their own delicious and nutritious food without turning on the range. Being connected means that family can be passively alerted when their loved ones eat and what they're eating.

The plastic bag seems unappealing. Is it a special kind of plastic? (Good luck to Cindy Wolf!)

Thank you very much!

This is a common and understandable concern.

Modern food safe plastic bags are plasticizer-free and will not release harmful chemicals into your food while it is being cooked. Strong vacuum-sealable bags that are often used in the food industry are especially safe for sous vide. When cooking sous vide, the plastic that touches your food is made of polyethylene and has no plasticizers or estrogen-like compounds (another common concern when cooking with plastic) and thereby have no BPAs or phthalates that will leech into your food.

When looking for a bag to use, make sure they are food safe well over 100C (even though in sous vide cooking you will rarely go above 70C) and are NOT organic, plant-based, or reusable–even though we encourage you to do Mother Nature a solid and recycle any food safe bags you do choose to use.

Also make sure your bag does not have the “sliding” closure, instead, opt for the traditional double seal that you can feel and hear the “click-click-click” of. It’ll ensure no water gets into your ingredients. It’s like sous vide music to the ears.

Tom didn't get to my question today, so I thought I'd throw it to you fine folks. I'm having dinner with a group on H Street Saturday. Where would you recommend we go for drinks beforehand? I haven't been there in a long time, so I'm not even familiar with some of the names that come up in a search. Thanks!

For cocktails, I think Copycat Co. is one of the best bars in the city. There's a rotating/seasonal menu with at least a dozen drinks on a chalkboard, but the bartenders are talented enough to make something delicious if you just suggest a base spirit and a flavor. (I named them one of the most underrated bars in Washington last year.) The newish Hill Prince has great cocktails, too, and its larger space makes for a convival atmosphere with a group.

If the weather's shaping up to be as warm as forecast, I might steer you towards a long communal table in the huge beer garden at Biergarten Haus, where you can hoist a liter of German pilsner. (If you can grab a table on the rooftop deck, do so.)

And if you're at the "other" end of H Street, towards Union Station, you can't go wrong with a cocktail or a glass of wine at Boundary Road

Well we did get a sous vide for Christmas, but a smoker this spring! Are there classes in the area on smoking meats? I'd love to send my husband as a gift. He's done some online research and is pretty good but I'm sure he'd like to refine his skills. (And me too, yum!). We've always done pork shoulders, but interested in branching out to fish, chicken and other meats!

Ooo la la! What kind of smoker did you get? I take a lot of lessons online just by watching this guy's youtube.

      You should check Hill Center, which has grilling and smoking classes. (Humble-brag; actually, brag-brag: I taught one of them.) Also, Straw Stick & Brick offer workshops, mostly cured meats and butchery, but sometimes smoking as well, and you can ask for a customized class, too.

Got a pound of millet flour to do a sourdough starter that didnt go well. What else I can do with it?

Here are two ideas for you!

Spiced Apple Crumb Bars

RECIPE: Spiced Apple Crumb Bars

I bet you could play with the fruit/spices to make it more seasonally appropriate. Maybe use rhubarb!

Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi

RECIPE: Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi

How people spend their money is their business, not mine. But this reader, who budgets himself about $300 per month for food, has a hard time understanding why articles such as the Noma Mexico one are placed in the food section. The vast majority of the human race will never taste this food. There are people who pay comparable amounts for choice theatrical productions, productions reviewed and advertised in the Style section. In my view, articles about $600-per-person meals belong in the Style section, not the Food section. Such meals would seem to be primarily entertainment, not dining.

Tom responds:


"Anywhere one of the world's most famous chefs cooks is a big deal, and the pop-up in Mexico (in a jungle!) is the most challenging yet for Rene Redzepi and his team from Noma. I was as intrigued with how they brought the idea together as with the tasting menu. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's remote. But Noma Mexico is also news and of interest to food fans world-wide (demonstrated by the speed with which the event sold out). Why shouldn't it be featured in Food? We aim for a balance, after all."

If the chatter is open to Vegan I recommend Spiral Diner. Delicious food and a cool retro vibe. For another blast from the past I like the original El Fenix near-downtown location on McKinney Avenue. For another taste (pun intended) of old Dallas try the Zodiac at the original Neiman-Marcus downtown on Main Street. The Blue Mesa Grill has a fantastic Sunday brunch. Several locations but I go to the one near North Park Mall.

Ooo, *I'm* into vegan! Thanks for the recommendations. I'm sure the OG chatter is thankful too. :)

Throwing this out there since it was mentioned in the topic section. I use Bee Free, which I think I got online from Vegan Essentials.

Thank you so much for the support & the shout out!  Just a thought, if you warm up your honee it will thin out to pure maple syrup consistency.  Add some fresh raspberries to your warm honee and mash it up with a fork - it makes a mind blowing raspberry sauce that is fabulous on pancakes, yogurt, ice cream, everything; I use it in vinaigrettes.  

I haven't tried making aquafaba yet, but, frequently use canned chickpeas to make chickpea salad sandwich spread (mashed chickpeas, mayo, celery, green onions, almonds, dried cranberries, sweet gherkins, salt, pepper - YUM). If I froze the liquid I drained from those cans each time, would it still work ok for aquafaba when I thawed it out later?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze the aquafaba for later use -- in fact, that's a very practical thing to do!

I made this recipe this morning for my teenage son, but it seemed rather egg-y...almost a sweet quiche/custard instead of a pancake. Is there a way to add more flour with out ruining the taste?

RECIPE Honey Whole-Wheat Clafoutis With Raspberries

I'd say your assessment is correct -- this is is more custard than pancake. But because this is Ellie Krieger's healthful take on the French creation, it has less egg in it than classic versions. If you still find it eggy, try adding another 1/4 cup of the whole-wheat pastry flour here.

Honey Whole-Wheat Clafoutis With Raspberries

When I made this, the steak had the texture of roast beef rather than steak. Why?

Interesting! Definitely depends on the time and temperature and the cut of steak you used. I really like this bavette recipe

I like my steaks cooked from 54C-57C but no higher for at least an hour per inch.

I know if you're afraid of plastic that there are alternatives like mason jars. What kind of food can you make with mason jars?

Dessert! Lisa's book has a recipe for sous vide pots de creme in mason jars, for example. 

Hi Jim-- I'm thinking about replacing my Hasty Bake, which has served me well for many years, and is starting to get rusted out. I've been wanting to get an offset smoker, but not sure about making a major investment in one, since I also do a lot of grilling. Should I replace it with another Hasty Bake? Get a good off-set and a Weber Kettle for grilling? I'm spoiled by the adjustable charcoal rack in the Hasty Bake. What's your rec for an offset smoking rig?

    First, let me say that I am jealous. I've always wanted a Hasty Bake. If you have enjoyed your Hasty Bake and have been able to do everything you want with it, then, yes, I'd get another. 

     That said, your offset/Weber kettle is exactly what I have. Truth to tell, I have come to rely mostly on the kettle. That's because I can smoke pretty much everything on it - from a pork shoulder to even a small brisket (I get a butcher to slice off about 4-5 pounds of the fatty end). But I still give the offset some love, especially when I want to do a lot of stuff at once.

        For a cheap one, I like the Brinkmann Trailblazer. It's a step-up from the real cheapos. Better built. Pretty good air flow. I can't recall the cost, about $300, I think. Once you move on from there, you're really getting over $1,000. 

        A guy named Meathead Goldwyn runs one of the best sites out there for bbq info, including grill/smoker analysis. The site is called Amazing Ribs. Check 'em out here:

It looks so fancy and intimidating, you seem to indicate that it's an easy way to cook. Is that true? How does it work?

Oh my goodness, I love your curiosity!!! YES IT IS SO EASY! All you have to do is clip a Nomiku to a pot you already own and put your ingredients in a bag.


In the new WaPo article out they introduce Nomiku Sous Chef which takes every piece of guesswork out of cooking sous vide. All you do is wave the meals in front of the machine and then drop it in the water!

Thank you for the answer to the question I posted Monday. However, I have since found out that one of the people attending does not eat gluten. Any gluten-free chocolate cake recipes?

Sure thing. The first one doesn't need frosting. I'd make it as well as the other!

Chocolate Almond Tweed Torte

RECIPES Chocolate Almond Tweet Torte

Chocolate Pistachio Cardamom Cake

Bought a circulator and have only done chicken thighs (great!), 90% lean burgers (funky taste, texture), and tried a ribeye (done OK, but grilling it for a sear after wasn't the same). What are some other newbie foods to try to get my confidence up? Am tempted to use it for a foot soak next!

Oh I love this question and that you're experimenting and trying new things! 

I love EGGS for newbies, they are so versatile and absolutely FUN: sous-vide-egg-tomato-sandwich, scrambled-eggs.

And I love salmon, make sure to buy it really fresh aka "sushi grade."

Desserts and cocktails sound sophisticated and are very straight forward sous vide.

EatTender is a free recipe app that connects to any connected sous vide device. I also wrote a best-selling book called "Sous Vide at Home" if you're interested!

Please remember to post the postpoint code. Thanks. Tom K.

The code is mentioned in the intro, up top.

I would like to do an easy cabbage curtido or tsukemono recipe. Problem is I don’t own a kitchen scale yet. I really don’t want to mess this up as I know the salt content is crucial at the time of fermenting. What can I do?

A lot of co-ops have ounce scales in the bulk section, you can see if they would be willing to let you buy your salt there & then measure out a portion in the bulk section.  I don't know of a co-op that would refuse the request.  They are usually pretty accommodating.

For anyone who likes Indian food try: Kalachandji's in East Dallas. It's a vegetarian Indian buffet with garden courtyard seating within an exotic Hare Krishna temple.

I am on a restricted diet for weight loss and have to reduce my carb intake. I am sick of hard boiled and poached eggs. How can I make them delicious without a lot of bacon or bread added in?

A perfectly scrambled egg is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Plus it only takes a minimal amount of butter. If you cook it well, over low heat, constantly shaking and stirring the pan, it will be beautiful, it will be delicious, and you will love it. I eat scrambled egg often.

Amen to that, chef!


Check out the recipe for same in next week's special Grad Guide Edition of TWP. Small revelations therein!

I just did a post-Passover rebound baking spread for my synagogue book club. Lots of yeast and wheat items on offer. What did they like best? The chocolate/pistachio/hazelnut Passover biscotti from Ms. Shoyer made with matzoh cake meal and margarine. I haven't told them the secret.

Love it.

I received a Food Dehydrator as a housewarming gift. I'm a huge fan of fresh fruits and veggies, so not sure what to attempt with this. Any ideas?

Dehydrators are great. We have done thinly sliced strawberries, you could do thin slices of peaches or pears, and I also love to dehydrate tomatoes. We primarily use them as garnishes. For say a grilled shrimp salad or a calamari, the dehydrated tomato is an great addition to the dish.

I'm a big fan of the reverse sear (bring steak up to desired internal temperature in a low temperature oven and then sear at the end). That being said, a friend hosted us for dinner and served sous vide short ribs that were divine.

*droooooling* yum! I love everything about this.

I love short ribs done sous-vide. The late great Michel Richard was a forerunner of the 72-hour sous-vided short ribs.


Now, steak done sous-vide? Not so much.

Could I try including some white whole wheat, or is the texture wholly dependent on using white flour?

I think white whole wheat would be fine here.

How is a sous vide machine different than a crock pot? Aren't they kind of the same?

That's an excellent observation that both take time to cook. 

You won't find crock pots in Michelin starred kitchens because unlike the Nomiku they can't control temperature very well. 

The secret ingredient in the kitchen is heat and with the Nomiku you're able to control heat to point 1 degree C, that's very powerful for getting the exact result you want in a cook.

Each ingredient has it's own specific temperature it really flourishes at and our app EatTender can help you, I've also written a book called "Sous Vide at Home". 

Thanks for the pizza-like recipe! For allergy reasons, l've been trying to track down more alternatives for pizza or other types of bread that don't use yeast, but still have a passable texture/taste. Any other recommendations to get out of the tortilla/wrap rut?

Hummus, Pepper and Gorgonzola Flatbread

RECIPE Hummus, Pepper and Gorgonzola Flatbread

Did you check out the extra links to more recipes at the end of Dinner In Minutes?



It seems like frozen pizza (and the ready made crusts) want to be cooked at 425-450, and I know they talk about fancy pizza ovens getting to 500 degrees. But we live in a tiny condo, and anything at 400 or over has a decent chance of setting our smoke alarm off. Is it possible to make a slow and low pizza, or am I doomed to take-out?

I make A LOT of pizza at home, so it's a subject near and dear to my heart. Typically, you do want to bake pizza at 500° because you're looking to get that crisp crust, but with a bit of chew still on the inside (both thick and thin crusts are baked at that higher temperature). However, you can cook at a lower temperature — although I'd be concerned that you won't get good results at lower then 400°. I'd suggest using a good heavy pizza stone, placed on the bottom rack of the oven, and maybe opening up a window to help with any residual smoke so the alarm doesn't go off. Even at 400°, the pizza stone should help to give a little extra crisp to the crust, but you might have to bake an extra 5 or 10 minutes.

Nothing causes smoke in this flatbread prep -- maybe it's time for a spring oven cleaning? #dreaded

One meal costs more than one month's local minimum wage household income. I do hope the local hires and suppliers are being paid extravagantly well and getting to eat there for free. (Just my two pesos' worth of opinion.)

I've been making home-made tortillas since back in the days when the only masa available from the grocery stores was Quaker masa harina. That product shaped my expectations for great tortillas. Quaker was eventually displaced by the sabor auténtico products which, to me, taste flat and dusty. Does anyone know of a source for the Quaker product in the DC area? And about those bagged tortillas in the grocery store: am I remembering correctly that some of them have a shelf life of 30 days?

Chatters, can you help with Quaker product question?


The shelf life of tortillas, I assume, depends on if they have preservatives in them.

I buy "honey dust" from The Bee Folks (a honey company in Mt. Airy, MD) to use in place of sugar when I make cornbread. Since it's dry rather than liquid, I can do a 1:1 substitution in recipes. 

I used to keep home-made sauces at the ready in the 'fridge so I could have delicious meals without much delay at the end of a grueling work day. Somehow, I fell out of the habit. But now that you've supplied all those recipes, I hope to get back into this excellent practice!

I love grilled tomato basil vinaigrette. Thickly sliced ripe tomatoes, lightly rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper, grill lightly on one side. Take off and immediately put it in a bowl so that you don't lose any of the juices. Now head to the blender. With fresh basil leaves, more extra virgin olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper and the grilled tomatoes. Blend on high, pass through a fine sieve, and enjoy. Top on grilled chicken, calamari, fresh fish, almost anything.

I cook a lot and relatively well. I've had an Anova for about 18 months. It is wonderful for "poaching" chicken breasts and terrific for duck breasts which then get seared. I really don't see any point in sous vide cooking eggs - even for a crowd. If space or money is at all scarce it really isn't worth it

You sound like a great cook! No need to sous vide anything you're already an expert at, especially if you can do it faster than the machine. 

You recently had an article that included a recipe for pineapple upside down cake made with agave nectar. The recipe calls for four cups of flour.  Can you substitute almond or coconut flour in this recipe? How do you know how much to use and if the substitution will work? Thank you. 

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

If you're trying to make it gluten-free, I'd go with a blend that's meant to be a cup to cup substitution (such as Cup4Cup brand).  If you're just trying to add some variety, though, you could probably sub in a cup of almond flour for a cup of the all-purpose and be good to go. (Substituting flours can be tricky, and I'm not the star baker here, but that's what I'd do!) 

Congrats on your nomination, and thanks for these chats! I grew up in DC but have since moved away. I'll be back next month with a friend who loves handmade cocktails (making, and consuming). Carrie (and others), where are the best cocktail spots in DC these days?

When I was rounding up my list of the 10 best bars in Washington for last year's Dining Guide, it was dominated by cocktail spots. The Columbia Room was #1 overall, but you don't have to do the $79 three-course prix-fixe, as you can get excellent a la carte cocktails in the "Spirits Library" or on the patio garden. I enjoy the weekly menu of creative cocktails at 2 Birds 1 Stone, which feature plenty of homemade sodas and syrups. All Souls is a lower-key spot to enjoy a few simple and delicious cocktails, and one spot where I regularly spot bartenders after their shifts.

The Passenger can be a lot of fun, if it's not too crowded. Espita is the destination for mezcal cocktails (and if you're not a believer, you will be by the time you leave), and the quirky drinks at Tiger Fork are enjoyable, especially with a shot of baiju.

I love the WaPo chats and attend quite regularly. I've never had anything negative to say until today. Today's chat has way too much Nomiko placement in it. I would welcome a general chat about sous vide but really...

Aw, sorry about that. Being the CEO of Nomiku and the literal author of the book sous vide it's really hard not to talk about my company especially in the context of the home revolution I created.

I bought a flat at the farmers market several weeks ago (I'm in San Francisco) and hulled/froze at least two pints' worth. Any baking suggestions beyond my usual fruit crumble? No rhubarb, please!

Running outta time, and this isn't a baking suggestion, but I love these:

Double-Strawberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta

RECIPE: Double-Strawberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta

I'll write a little piece on baked goods featuring strawberries, though! Check back online soon. Or dig through our Recipe Finder -- tons of inspiration there.

This depends how long you leave it cooking, no? I mean, if I leave a rib-eye in the oven too long, no matter the temperature, it'll keep cooking..."A boneless rib-eye steak in a sealed bag can’t get hotter than the water that surrounds it, so it will always come out of the bag at exactly medium-rare — as long as you set it to 131 degrees."

Time and temperature definitely matter! As long as you have done your minimum amount of time it's usually pretty safe to hold it at a pasteurization temp for a long time. 

Well, you've bagged us and cooked us under pressure. In other words: We're done for this week. Thanks for all the great questions!


The winner of the "Cork Dork" cookbook is the chatter  who asked about the charred banana skins at Noma Mexico, and the winner of "Sous Vide at Home" is the chatter who complained about buying one more home gadget! (Now you get one more cookbook!)


Please contact Kara Elder at and provide all the pertinent details, so she can ship you out a copy of your cookbook.

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.
Kristen Hartke
Kristen Hartke is a Washington-based food writer and editor.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Fritz Hahn
Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003.
Maura Judkis
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.
Lisa Fetterman
Lisa Fetterman is the chief executive and co-inventor of Nomiku, a new sous-vide system, as well as a co-author of "Sous Vide at Home: The Modern Technique for Perfectly Cooked Meals," (Ten Speed Press, 2016).
Cindy Wolf
Cindy Wolf is the executive chef and co-owner of Charleston in Baltimore.
Katie Sanchez
Katie is the founder and Co-owner of Bee Free Honee.
Melissa Elms
Melissa Elms is a co-owner of Bee Free Honee.
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