Free Range on Food: Trends in Ethiopian cooking, the new generation of pitmasters and more.

May 17, 2017

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

Greetings, all, and welcome to today's chat! Hope you're loving what we're throwing your way this week, including Tim's look at attempts to glam up Ethiopian food; Alex Witchel on the dish that changed chef Dan Barber's life; Jim Shahin's take on the future of barbecue; Michael Ruhlman's polemic on breakfast cereal; and more.

We're happy to have a special guest today: Chef Chris Roberson from Etete, the beloved Ethiopian restaurant where changes are afoot. Tim will be with us only for the first half of the chat (he is doing the Kojo show today).

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR2954 . Remember, you'll record and enter it into 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 giveaway books for our favorite chatters: "Around the World in 120 Salads" (source of this week's WV recipe, for my favorite new saucy vegetables) and "Simple Green Suppers" by Susie Middleton (source of this week's DinMin recipe, for curried Singapore noodles, a Bonnie favorite).

OK, enough windup. Let's do this.

Many years ago, 2001?, I had the pleasure of eating Ethiopian in Georgetown. Sorry don't remember the name. We had a most delicious chicken dish with red sauce. Our table was served all on one large platter. I remember trying to catch a hard boiled egg with my bread, round and round that platter. I was wishing for a fork or knife to either stab the thing or cut it so it did not have all round edges. I finally caught it and after the first bite it leaped out of the bread and skittered to the floor. I would not change that memory for anything. My first visit to the east coast.


I love to bake and spend a great deal of time doing it. I am wondering if there are any volunteer programs around here where I can teach people who to bake - maybe teaching kids? Does anyone know of any programs like this? I have taken formal classes, but don't have a formal pedigree, but I'm hoping that matters less if it's a volunteer program (or I can show pictures / bring samples as proof). Thanks!

Brainfood is a great organization that works with students. Sounds like you might enjoy volunteering with them.

Second Rising Bakery, which helps people who have escaped sex trafficking, might be another option.

Other thoughts?

I know a lot of people are going to criticize me but where can I buy lobster OUT of the shell? I LOVE lobster rolls and want to try making them however I refuse to buy lobster that I have to deshell myself. I'm the same way with shrimp for example - if I have to deshell it (even easy to peal shrimp) I just won't do it. Is there anywhere in the Fairfax area I can buy this? I thought whole foods but they don't do it.

Wow, a couple of calls to stores in your area have convinced me that lobster meat prices have risen since last summer. $50-$60 per lb. is what I'm hearing.


Mediterrafish in the Mosaic District carries it (frozen). 

Wegmans sells it frozen, too. 

And it looks like there's a place in Chantilly called Lobster Maine-ia where you can buy it, too -- fresh. But it's open Thurs-Sun. 


Check with the biggest farmers market near the past few years some enterprising lobster/seafood purveyors sell there as well. 

I loved your story on the changing Ethiopian culinary scene and find it great that chefs are feeling comfortable and confident enough to push the boundaries of their native cuisine. You see it in fusion restaurants with asian, french and other ethnicities and now it's coming to Ethiopian! For an at-home cook, how do you recommend introducing Ethiopian elements into our cooking? Certain techniques, spices or ingredients to use? How do we incorporate the Ethiopian flavors without following to the word traditional recipes?

The easiest way to get started is with berbere. It's THE iconic Ethiopian spice. You can for use it for seasoning your chicken, by using it as a marinade or a rub. Treat it the same way as you would treat paprika. Do be careful not use extreme heat, as it can burn but go for it. It's got a great powerful flavor. 

Thank you for the kind words. I think berbere would be terrific on a number of foods, particularly vegetable dishes that may need a boost. I could imagine using Ethiopian butter (which is infused with berbere) in an Italian risotto dish. Doesn't that sound great? (Well, it does to me!)


Feature: Ethiopian cuisine is unlike any other. Why are some chefs trying to modernize it?

I'm embarking on a rather ambitious cake creation next week. I would prefer to break it up a bit rather than spend many long hours on one night after work. If I bake the cake layers in advance, how far ahead can I do that, and how should I store them? If frozen, do they need to come back to room temp to assemble and decorate? Thanks!

We're impressed! Baking ahead and freezing's the way to go, definitely. You can wrap the cooled, individual layers in a double layer of plastic wrap -- tight! -- and they should be good for at least several months. (It will help if  you can make sure your freezer's as odor-free as possible -- or take further precautions by placing wrapped layers in large zip-top bags.) Before storing the layers, some pros brush them lightly with a simple syrup (cooked sugar/water) to help keep the crumb moist. 


Re when to decorate: The cake layers are easier to trim when they're frozen; and it has been my experience that the cake defrosts fairly quickly, so I tend to start applying the frosting within 10 mins of unwrapping frozen layers. Then again, some folks just transfer the frozen layers to the fridge to defrost overnight, and decorate/frost while the layers are in that "cool" mode. Certainly, a crumb coat is easier to apply to cooled/firm layers, and you can chill the crumb-coated cake briefly before final decorating. Hope that helps; chatters, care to add your tips?

What are some good recipes for using up homemade yogurt from whole milk? I really don't want to strain it so, please, no recipes that call for Greek style yogurt. Sweet and savory recipes welcome. Thanks!

Now I'm totally day dreaming about doro wat pot pie. And by day dreaming, I mean drooling.

When Marcus opened in the MGM National Harbor casino last December, that was the one dish that made me think Ethiopian fusion could really work. It was smartly engineered. Unfortunately, it is no longer on the menu. Maybe Marcus will bring it back?

I bought the smallest package I could find (16 oz) of organic, refrigerated sauerkraut to serve with smoked sausage sandwiches. Delicious! However, I still have most of the package leftover with no idea of how to use it other than more sandwiches. Any ideas? Thanks!

Sauerkraut is great in lots of things. I like to use it as an element in a veg/grain bowl, but I've also used it as a soup topper and even in a pasta dish (a recipe I got from chef Mike Friedman at Red Hen). Recipes for those last two follow, as well as some other ideas.

RECIPE: Chickpea Soup With Fried Sauerkraut

RECIPE: Cavatelli With Braised Sauerkraut

RECIPE: Hunter's Stew (Bigos)

RECIPE: Gertie's Sauerkraut and Apples

We went to buy nutmeg, and the smallest package they had was 4-5 seeds, so we're trying to come up with ways to use it. I could have sworn that I asked you about this and you suggested a cookie recipe, but after checking the recipe finder and googling nutmeg cookies, I'm coming up empty. Any suggestions for a cookie recipe that would use a lot of nutmeg? I'd also take a tea cake/pound cake recipe. Thanks for all you do!

You bought it whole, which means you don't need to be in a rush to use it -- shelf life for whole nutmeg stored away from extremes of light and heat should last for 4 years. Just use a Microplane grater/zester to grate the little at a time that you'll need.


And more importantly, I think, you never need to use a lot of nutmeg in anything, because its flavor is that potent (with the exception of eggnog, perhaps, but we'll save that for December).


The spice is very good with apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips; in creamed spinach and a pinch of it in mac and cheese, to be sure. And with peaches! (See further.) Cookie-wise, you'll typically find nutmeg used in concert with other warm spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger). But it works solo in  these Cherry Pistachio Oatmeal Cookies, so try 'em.

You'd get a strong sense of the spice in these Golden Nutmeg Buns. I love the nutmeg in these Pain d'Epices Cookies, too. For a tea/pound cake, try this Chocolate Spice Bread -- a fave o' mine. Deluxe Peach Shortcake, huzzah! 

Please thank Tim Carman for the suggestions for dishes to eat with chicken piccata.

You did  so already! You're welcome.


Which one did you try and how did it go?

We were lucky enough to travel to Croatia last year and brought back real maraschino liqueur... so much better than those horrid candy red "fruits"... but I digress. We've been using it in Hemingway daiquiris, but could use more suggestions of things to use it in, since we'll be moving soon. Any cocktail or punch ideas?

Excellent! And absolutely -- it's key in a number of classic drinks, including one of my absolute favorites, the Last Word, and also the Martinez and the Aviation (I'm less a fan of the latter two, but they have passionate advocates). Here are some more you might want to play around with, too. Also, don't fear -- if you end up liking it, you can also get it locally at a lot of good liquor stories these days.

Throwing this question out to you guys and Tom Sietsema--I'm road tripping down to Savannah this weekend and hope to stop for BBQ somewhere in North Carolina. Any recommendations that are close to the 95 corridor?

      Two of the best in North Carolina, regardless of location,  happen to be not far from I-95 (though not right off the highway). One is Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, the other is  Wilber's Barbecue in Goldsboro.   

        Here is a map of historic NC barbecue restaurants.

      You can find a more comprehensive map of NC barbecue restaurants here.

Husband has put on a low-salt diet due to high blood pressure. Reading the dietary info on packaging has been a real eye-opener, with far more salt in a lot of prepared foods than seems necessary. In many cases, we're just eating simple fresh foods. Bread's a different matter, however, so the past two weeks I've baked basic yeast bread for us, using half the amount of salt the recipe calls for. It seems not as tasty, but I don't know whether that's just my imagination or not. Bread-baking tips?

I know what you're going through: the shock of realizing how omnipresent salt is. A number of years ago (wow, was it really six years ago?), I went on a week-long diet to reduce my salt intact to the levels recommended by the USDA. It was almost impossible.


Article: How hard is it to reduce your salt?

I'm in the Twin Cities, and we have a good truck that describes itself as Afro-italian fusion. All the main dishes are seasoned with berbere. You've convinced me I have to try it now!

Yeah, it's a really powerful flavor. All the main dishes in Ethiopian cuisine use it. Give it a try! 

You included a recipe for making it, which means buying many things that I may not use again. Can it be purchased at a spice store or best to make it?

Sure, you can buy Berbere spice blend at Whole Foods Markets as well as spice shops. But these days, you can also buy just-what-you-need amounts via bulk spice bins or that brand of small 1/4 ounce boxes....

I started today with some dental work. Any suggestions for some tasty soft food would be very much appreciated.

Scrambled eggs, oatmeal, gazpacho, rice pudding, regular pudding, ice cream, mashed potatoes, risotto...

I was raised eating soft scrambled eggs. My husband likes his cooked dry. I married him anyway but I always cook our eggs separately. I just cannot eat an egg cooked the way he wants it. Not happening.

I, like Dan Barber, was scarred by ridiculously dry eggs made by my father. But when I finally had some soft-scrambled ones, everything changed. Have you taken this to an extreme and ever tried the REALLY slow ones, like these from Patrick O'Connell? They're magical.

RECIPE: Lightly Scrambled Virginia Farm Eggs

ARTICLE: One simple dish changed the course of this visionary chef’s life: Scrambled eggs

RECIPE: Dan Barber's Scrambled Eggs

I don't really like raspberry; I find it too tart, and I much prefer cherry. But so many things are available in chocolate/raspberry, possibly even more than chocolate/strawberry, and I'm wondering why so few chocolate/cherry items are available, except for black forest cake.

I'm not sure I can muster an appropriate answer to your flavor query...but I can treat you to Recipe Finder modes of chocolate-cherry deliciousness, perhaps somewhat deflating your concept of "few":

Brandied Cherry Chocolate Cake

Brandied Cherry Chocolate Cake

Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Bark

Chocolate Cherry Baguette

Chocolate Cherry Baguette

Cherry-Chocolate French Toast

Sweet Cherry Cobbler With Chocolate Truffle Crust

Cherries and Fudge Ice Cream Cake


Great Food edition today. Loved the articles because I learned a lot. Tim's article on Ethiopian, Jim's on BBQ especially informative. Oh they were both great!

Thank you. I always learn a lot from Jim's work.

      Thanks. And at the risk of seeming obsequious, I feel the same way about Tim's articles. Glad you liked the section today!

Thanks for the compliment! I love all our contributors and staffers...

Another wonderful one, and hope to see more of that in future, along with all of the other good stuff.

Yes, she's such a pro. I have high hopes for this occasional series! Dan Barber was a great start.

I'm late in sending this compliment, but I really liked the summer fruit punch photo you had on the front page of the Food section a couple of weeks ago. That was nicely laid out and looked refreshing even before making the recipe. It would be more appropriate for today's weather than the cool weather we had then! How far in advance do you have a photo layout for the Food section prepared? I assume there must be some lead time. In any case, it still looks lovely and is one of my favorite Food front pages!

Thank you!  Although I believe it didnt look half as tasty as Carrie's Summer Garden Punch actually is. hope you try it, and the others!

We shot that just a few weeks in advance of when it ran -- waiting for the heavens and sunshine to align. The plan all along was to shoot the punches outside, in natural light. Props to Deb Lindsey, who photographs a lot of WaPoFood and for the Post magazine. She's a pro! 

Mac 'n' cheese!

Hi guys! I bought some carrots (with big, leafy green tops) this past weekend. I'll likely roast the carrots, but any ideas for using the greens? I'd hate to toss them.

The greens can be great if you have the opportunity to fry them and add them to a salad mix. They can be very fibrous and tough depending on how old they are, but it's great to try it out. Also, be sure to wash them really well first.  

No idea where they came from, but all of a sudden, there were gigantic cauliflowers at the grocery store this weekend. I got two since they last for a while in the fridge. One is nearly 4 pounds (not fully trimmed)! Anything you can think of to turn a gigantic cauliflower (plain, white kind) into something happy and spring-like? Also, does anyone know why some vegetables are almost always sold per unit (cauliflower, bell peppers, heads of lettuce) and some are almost always sold by weight (onion, potatoes, squash)? It isn't because the former come in standard sizes. They vary wildly in my experience. Thanks.

Well, nothing beats the look of a whole roasted cauliflower. There are lots of recipes out there, but we have a simple one here that combines it with a tart-spicy chimichurri sauce. I've also been doing it lately on a bed of romesco sauce, and/or hummus dolloped with harissa.


RECIPE: Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Chimichurri Sauce

Another idea, of course, is to grind that all up into "rice." I've been doing this weekly, varying my approach a little bit each time, in terms of the spices, but usually it's just sauteed garlic/onion/ginger, maybe some turmeric, a couple cups of chopped spinach leaves to wilt, then the cauliflower, plus salt and pepper and maybe a very small splash of water. Cook it just until the cauliflower starts to become tender -- it's very quick. And then squeeze on some fresh lime juice. Perfect.

Here's Ellie Krieger's great take on cauliflower rice:

RECIPE: Cauliflower 'Rice' With Cumin and Saffron

And then, there's this recent beauty. A new favorite of mine -- and it will be of yours, too, I bet. (It's so good even cauliflower skeptic Bonnie Benwick liked it!)

RECIPE: Sriracha-Roasted Cauliflower

Oh, and to answer the second part of your question: That's a really good question, and I don't know the answer. Any chatters have an idea? If Michael Ruhlman were joining the chat today, I'd ask him, but he's on a busy book tour. I'll shoot him a note and see if he's around and can answer.

Would it be ok to grind the poppy seeds? If so, would you use a poppy seed grinder (inherited from my MIL) or a modern electric nut grinder?

Sure, I suppose so! Use whatever contraption you'd like, I say.

When I was eight, we spent 1976 living in Heidelberg. We went on many a dayrip to Srasbourg. One of the pleasures for me was that we'd always have choucroute. I only found out later, that my mother didn't really like it - but she was able to get something else, while my father and I gorged.

Greetings, I’ve been slowly moving towards a richer plant based “diet”. So far it’s been a nice road of almost a year off and on. Besides tofu, would you recommend vegetables that I can cook the same way I cook chicken? I'm thinking about Maangchi’s wonderful recipe on Korean fried chicken (Dakgangjeong). I dont miss chicken, but I need a vegetable "sturdy" enough to replace chicken in that recipe. Thanks!!

Cauliflower comes to mind. Thinking of the awesome General Tso's cauliflower I had at Junction Bakery & Bistro and Alexandria recently and also this recipe for Buffalo cauliflower from Serious Eats.

And this:

Chicken-Fried Cauliflower With Miso-Mushroom Gravy

RECIPE: Chicken-Fried Cauliflower With Miso-Mushroom Gravy

I also love making "burgers" out of a whole portobello mushroom cap.

We usually serve spaetzle as a side to soak up the sauce.

Dear WA PO food gurus, I am making a concerted effort to eat more fish, including those little sardines and anchovies. I've slipped anchovies into lamb dishes, I've made pasta con sarde, and I now I want to make both a more regular part of the routine. Do you have suggestions? And what about brands? I just looked at the price for Ortiz sardines in extra virgin olive oil and almost swooned. Any advice would be so welcome. Thanks!

Thanks! For chatters who missed it, here's a link to that question from last week.

You need other ways to develop flavor if you're reducing salt. One great way is to let the dough proof/ferment slowly in your fridge (the first proof) for at least overnight and perhaps for several days. This will get you a deeper flavor overall. You can also culture a sourdough starter for more flavor (if you don't like sourdough bread, keep eating it and really focus on the flavor; it does grow on you). Another idea is to start adding in other ingredients - roasted seeds/nuts, dried fruit, cheese, etc.

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I hope this question isn't off-putting but I'm wondering if you think the recipe would work with veggie noodles instead of rice noodles?

Happy to share, and not offput by your q. Personally, I like the textural balance that the rice noodles bring to this dish. And this recipe has plenty of veg already....I'm a fan of Susie Middleton, who included the dish in her new cookbook; hope you win it today! 


RECIPE Curried Singapore Noodles With Stir-Fried Veggies

My attempt at an herb garden is going surprisingly well! I didn't expect this and don't really know what to do with my bounty. I have things like sage, tarragon, oregano, rosemary, and chives. What do you suggest?

You know how everything looks like a nail to a hammer? Same with cocktail columnists :) So many great garnishing options in what you've described -- since so much of what we perceive as flavor is fragrance, it can transform the experience of a drink. Take a sprig of whatever and give it a light smack between your palms, and slide it into a cocktail. Can also blend or muddle herbs directly into drinks and then fine strain them out. 

Blend them up with oil to make pastes that you freeze. Hang them to dry. Stuff them into bottles and top with vinegar. Snip the softer ones directly onto salads. Toss them into pans of roasting vegetables (or poultry or fish or meat, of course). Tie them into bundles to flavor soups, stocks, sauces, soups. And when all else fails, use them in big bunches as aromatic arrangements in the house -- with flowers, or without.

Thank you for a great, informative article. Now, I just must ask - Duke's mayo? Really? Maybe mayo is like your mom's spaghetti sauce, you just love what you grew up with, and I grew up with another mayo. I tried Duke's, but yuck to me. Just wondering - maybe other chatters have an opinion. Is it better for some things?

        Duke's is a Southern food icon. Its history is traced back to a woman in 1917 named Eugenia Duke who sold sandwiches made with her homemade mayo to soldiers at a training camp in Greenville, SC.

       I think those who grew up with it really love it. Some of those who didn't may feel as you do.

        Whatever the case, the recipe was from Elliott Moss, of Buxton Hall BBQ in Asheville, NC. Moss grew up in South Carolina and has a deep appreciation of Southern foods. If you want to use a different mayo, have at it.

Roast it and then make a nice roasted cauliflower soup with a but of sherry. So tasty, and it freezes well too.

Would Chef Roberson mind weighing in on the various kinds of injera served in the DC area? It seems to me that not all are made with tef, which to my palate has a wonderful, mushroomy taste. Also, it seems to me that most restaurants -- not Etete -- have tamed the heat in their food since the days of the Blue Nile on 16th St & Mama Adesta's (spelling?).

There are a number of different providers in the area, and they use different ratios and variety of of flour, teff, and barley, that combined with some other factors all can impact the taste. For Etete, we offer two options: one traditional (and gluten-free) version that we import right from Ethiopia, and one that we source locally that has a higher ratio of flour. You really just have to experiment to find what you like. I can't talk much to what others are doing, but we offer a number of different heat levels in everything from cocktails to the dishes. 

Oh that brings back memories. A Polish roommate made it once. It was delicious but rather much for someone not used to such hardy fare.

I need to bake several dessert items ahead of time and freeze them for a week or two. I've read that cheesecakes freeze well, so that's on my list. No cookies or bars -- these need to be plateable desserts. And they'll need to be taken directly from the freezer to thawing to the plate, so no cake layers that will need to be assembled and frosted. (I'm making these for someone else who doesn't want to mess with assembly of any kind.) Any ideas?

Hello, Editor Joe! I'm curious to know if you're still following the Buddha's Diet guidelines after finishing your New Year's diet reboot. I read another article from an athlete who's been following a similar "8-hour window for eating" plan, and I'm pretty intrigued... Thanks for any insights you have on this, and of course thank you all for my favorite chat of the week!

Yep, I'm still on Buddha's Diet. Well, at least the time window -- most days. I'm having a tough time sticking to it six out of seven days (the 7th is a sanctioned "cheat day"), but I'm probably hitting it on five. My weight loss has plateaued as a result, so I'll probably get stricter about it soon enough. Mostly, it works!

Add lashings to salads - I love me a herby salad!

Thank you for this recipe - easy, great and my family loves it. Keep more coming.


#loveOurChatters If you haven't already, share your enthusiasm in the comments and ratings of our Recipe Finder?

Here's the link for those of you who missed this recent DinnerInMinutes. 

Made in slow cooker the other day. Cooked about 1 1/2 hours for two eggs with herb garlic cheese. Came out very nice.

You could use tempeh too. Whenever anyone asks me why vegetarains eat that 'fake meat' I answer - sometimes I want that texture, not flavor but texture. It doesn't occur very much on a vegetarian diet.

Tempeh and seitan are both good options.

I'm a tempeh fan. And I agree with you on texture -- hugely important. My recipe next week helps in that regard: Stay tuned!

I've had great luck making them into an salsa verde (Italian, not Mexican) or chimmichuri as a sub for some/all of the herbs - people always love the sauce and they're shocked when they hear it's carrot tops. Make sure to blend well in the food processer / blender to deal with the stringy issue!

I am afraid I don't have any great suggestions, but maybe email the nice people at King Arthur flour for tips or a recipe. Also, at the risk of being Captain Obvious, perhaps you could make the regular recipe and your husband could cut down his bread intake - one slice of toast vice two or open face sandwiches instead of two slices of bread. I would rather have one slice of great bread than two that are blah.

All the fab bakery bread I had in Umbria on a lovely trip years ago had no virtually no salt in it (not unlike this). You can get used to the flavor, especially if there's something else going on, like herbs.

I saw the Injera Tacos in Tim’s story and want to try them. But I’m curious, how does injera work for a taco?

Great question. To make the injera a little more rigid to work for the tacos we grill it so that it will work to hold the doro wat sauce. Additionally, we chose to grill the injera instead of toasting it because it gives a nice char and smoky flavor to enhance the doro wat. 

Hello all! I am trying to prepare some meals in advance for a friend who can freeze and reheat them easily because she is on medical leave for a severe hip injury and awaiting surgery. She has celiacs and while I have gluten-free flour, it's better not to have recipes with a heavy reliance on bread. Do you have any healthier (and please not too time-consuming) recipes that you could recommend for this situation, please? I was thinking along the lines of some baked egg dishes or polenta squares with baked chicken or something. Maybe a crockpot recipe since I want to make a few dishes? Thank you! :)

Your ideas sound good!

Here's another good one:

Everybody’s Chili Verde

RECIPE: Everybody’s Chili Verde

Or these handy freeze-able packets (just make sure the seasoning and sausage is gluten-free, obviously!)

Cajun Shrimp in Foil Packets

RECIPE: Cajun Shrimp in Foil Packets


I loved the article on breakfast cereals-I am constantly struggling with breakfast options and have jumped on the bandwagon of reducing sugar (especially added sugar) in my diet. But it leaves my options few--and I'm not a big egg fan. I tried making the steel cut overnight oats but they did not absorb the liquid like normal oats do--I did a 1:2 ratio oats to almond milk. what are your favorite breakfasts?

I love a good muesli, especially as we're coming into some hot weather. You can follow a recipe like the one below, which is fabulous and uses apple cider (!), or you can just combine rolled (NOT steel-cut) oats in the ratio you described with dairy (or non-dairy milk) of choice. (I love almond milk, too -- especially Malk brand from Austin, which we just started getting at Mom's markets in the area.) When I pull the muesli out of the fridge, I add some nuts and dried fruit to it, maybe a little honey or maple and yogurt. (Some people put the dried fruit in to start, but I like the extra chew of adding it at the end.) 

RECIPE: Apple Cider Muesli

ARTICLE: Breakfast was the most important meal of the day -- until America ruined it

My husband I made it last night - and posted a rave review in the comments. It was great, wonderful depth of flavor. As a vegetarian, I'm thrilled to be able to make it at home now. And I even have a lot of home-made madras curry power!

Two hips and hooray! #loveOurChatters#2

I love nutmeg feather cake. I use the recipe from an old Betty Crocker cookbook, but this one looks very similar. I make it with all butter, bake it in a 9x13 pan, and serve it unfrosted with whipped cream.

Looks good!

Pimentos vs roasted red pepper. Can't wait to try the recipe for Pimento-ish cheese, but wondering why to use roasted red peppers vs. pimento? Maybe I missed an explanation in the article, and regardless, will follow recipe, but wondering.

        A pimento is a chili pepper, typically sweet but sometimes hot. Pimento is more available in jars than in fresh versions and, in the bottled form, they lose their distinctive flavor and firm texture. Fresh red bell pepper is more readily available and has a wonderful sweetness and a great crunch, which provides a nice textural contrast to the creamy cheese.

       My wife, who grew up in Texas eating pimento cheese sandwiches, somewhere along the line started substituting jalapeno peppers for the pimento. It's a spicy version worth checking out sometime.

RECIPE: Smoked Pimento Cheese

Regarding the bouquet garni can I use a combination of fresh and dry herbs to make the bouquet?

Looking forward to next week's recipe - any online?

Next recipe is not for tempeh, but for something that can help you add crunch to every vegetarian (or not) meal.

But we've got 15 tempeh recipes in our Recipe Finder, right here.

A long time ago, I had to cook for a family member on a NO sodium diet (100mg per day). We had to shop at health food stores or make everything from scratch. It is a lot easier now to find canned tomatoes, beans, etc. with no salt added. The only salt-free thing that really tastes awful is pretzels with no salt.

worth every penny. Try their tuna--seriously worth it!

We planted some mustard greens early this spring and they've taken off - we're basically lopping a foot off the top 1-2 times a week to keep them from shading out the rest of the plants. Any ideas for how to use them up? We've done salads, a (not very successful) omelet, and I cooked the last harvest into enough Indian saag to last us a month... The variety we planted is purple and has kind of spiky delicate leaves.


A few more ideas for you: 

Angelo’s Eggs With Mustard Greens and Ricotta

RECIPE: Angelo’s Eggs With Mustard Greens and Ricotta

Orecchiette With Mustard Greens

RECIPE: Orecchiette With Mustard Greens

Tofu Curry With Mustard Greens

RECIPE: Tofu Curry With Mustard Greens

And basically I'd use them anywhere you'd find another sturdy green, like kale or chard. Maybe in a frittata, for example. 

Farmers Market Frittata

RECIPE: Farmers Market Frittata

I can vouch for that tofu curry. Amazing.

How about what I call 'eggplant bake' - eggplant parmigiana without the breading and pre-frying. You can just layer the raw eggplant on the bottom, then tomato sauce, then cheese and pop it in the oven. It's very comforting. I bet it would freeze well before cooked and bake up a treat.

I'm a huge fan of salads, always have been (family nickname, Rabbit). When I was a young adult, a friend I was visiting stretched her supply of lettuce and tomatoes into a salad large enough for an impromptu meal for 6 or 8, by adding cans of beans and bags and boxes of whatever else was in her kitchen. I was doubtful but it worked. Chop't makes me think of her. Jose Andres's Beefsteak pours gazpacho over veggies. Is there anything that doesn't go well in salad? Really, anything?

Thanks for all the tips, especially re bread-baking. Fortunately we raise an extensive vegetable garden every year, so have a good supply of salt-free frozen vegetables and canned tomatoes (also canned peaches and homemade applesauce), so don't have to run THAT gauntlet dietarily.

How exactly does one go about steaming asparagus? I feel like I missed something somewhere because in spite of a detailed article from that paper up north I still can't manage anything other than sticking them in a frying pan until they char a bit. I want to replicate the version I had at Kapnos with lemon sauce but that seems a ways off if I can't even steam the veggie part!

We have about 2 mins left so here goes: shallow pan, 1/2 inch water, asparagus. med-high heat, covered, till water's about gone. 

Avocado on bread -- toasted or not -- is a reminder of my childhood in Chile. There was a sandwich shop near my school in Santiago that served pollo con palta -- slices of white-meat chicken (pollo) topped with sliced avocado (palta), on white bread. I remember they'd look at me like I was weird because I never ordered anything else. Because this was the most wonderful food combination I'd ever come across. Until I went to Mexico and tasted guacamole.

I have to contribute to a shared buffet of finger foods on Saturday after a senior recital, but can't start until Friday evening, and will have Saturday morning and early afternoon to prepare. Another parent (whom I do not know) is making a crab dip and bringing a cheese plate. I am tentatively considering making mini shrimp rolls. I will be making rosemary nuts (by request) but need help rounding out the spread (25-30 people). There will be cake, so dessert is covered. Would love an easy but delicious punch recipe (nonalcoholic) and some ideas for additional yummy finger foods. (No meat.) Thanks so much!

I love a recipe I call the Nectar.  It combines oranges, lemons and lime with sugar for a good crowd pleasing drink.  For 30 people I recommend about 5 juicy oranges, 3 lemons and 3 limes. You first squeeze each fruit into a pitcher, then add the remaining fruit rinds. Top it with sugar (to taste) for 15 mins then add about 4 cups of hot water, meaning off the stove hot! Stir it to dissolve the sugar, add ice and serve it within 4 hours of making it (before it gets bitter from the fruit rinds). If you're feeling really fancy, add some herbs like lavender or leftover rosemary from your nuts dish! 

Any good cookbooks or blogs you'd recommend for those of us who'd love to learn more about the traditional recipes and start playing around with the flavors at home?

I love a cookbook from the 90s that features a number of local restaurants called Exotic Ethiopian Cooking, Society, Culture, Hospitality and Tradition by D.J. Mefin. Bonus, you can learn how get your gursha on :)

Well, you've stirred us until well incorporated, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and thanks to Chris, Carrie and Jim for helping with the a's.

Now for the giveaway books: The chatter who asked what to do with a bounty of herbs will get "Around the World in 120 Salads," which should help! And the one who asked about subbing veggie noodles for the Singapore Noodles recipe will get "Simple Green Suppers." Send your mailing info to, and she'll get you your books!

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.
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.
Chris Roberson
Chris Roberson is the chef at Etete Restaurant in the District.
Recent Chats
  • Next: