Free Range on Food: Zero-proof cocktails, freezer favorites, cobblers with less sugar, this week's recipes and more!

Aug 21, 2019

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've been serving, including:

  • Carrie Allan's primer on zero-proof cocktails and how to make them great.
  • Marcy Goldman's dive into cobblers/crisps/etc. that use less sugar to let the flavor of fruit shine. We talked about this a little last week, but Marcy is joining us this week to answer any questions, so make them good!
  • Maura's fascinating article on cannabis restaurants that are opening soon in West Hollywood, and all the obstacles they face, regulatory and otherwise.
  • Becky's great piece on upgrading your sandwich. We can talk about this more next week, when we'll have a big print package on the theme of lunch, but you can get started now and we won't blame you!
  • Tim's look at the legacy of the late Jean-Louis Palladin, DC's first celebrity chef.
  • Becky also talked to a crop of experts/celebs about what they keep in their freezer. How does it compare to yours?
  • My latest Weeknight Veg, on a stellar fried rice.
  • Bonnie's latest DinMin, for cumin-rubbed steak and chimichurri potatoes.
  • So much more!

We'll have at least one giveaway book for our favorite chatter (s) today, so keep that in mind!

And, as you should know, Post Points is no more, so no code today!

Let's do this!


Some of my herbs and spices are getting a bit aged, so my goal is to clear them all out and then get new ones - and THIS TIME I will label them all with purchase dates (sure I will). Any suggestions on how to go about this? I know it will take some time and a lot of cooking - I can't imagine pairing the marjoram with the allspice - but any ideas would be appreciated.

It's a great idea to refresh and label everything and fall is a perfect time for it. Salad dressings can use up (and revitalize) the dried herbs as well as soups and with the spices (cloves, allspice) cookies and even preserves (chutney for example of a spic

ed plum preserve) can gobble up those spices you want to put to good use.

Two things to add from former staffer Kara Elder

1. Tips on organizing those spices.

2. Recipes to help use them up!

Becky Krystal - Only half of your article is online. "But first, a few sandwich best practices." is the end of the column. Is this part one, or a faux pas?

Yes, it was a production error! The post should have been redirecting to the main project page, which is here. It's fixed now.

BLT With Sriracha Mayo

ARTICLE: How to upgrade your favorite sandwich

I made this for my family the other night and everyone loved it. It was a delicious meatless meal that really takes advantage of the sweetness of Jersey corn. I rated and reviewed it too!

So glad to hear this! It's one of my favorites. I'm getting ready to go to the beach for a week, and it's definitely on the will-make list.

RECIPE: Fusilli With Corn Sauce

My wife has asked for cupcakes for her birthday that taste like a good wedding cake. Do you have any good recipes that would work?

I have two cake recipes that would be very easy to turn into cupcakes. They'd obviously just bake for less time (and you might want to halve the recipes unless you want like 2 dozen cupcakes).

Rainbow Sprinkle Birthday Cake

RECIPE: Rainbow Sprinkle Birthday Cake


Royal Wedding Cake

RECIPE: Royal Wedding Cake

Homemade vegetable stock (frozen in both 1-cup and ice cube/1 Tbsp portions); tomato paste (to avoid wasting half a can); frozen vegetables (healthy quick snack for my toddler...and me); and lots and lots of pre-portioned soups, stews, casseroles, and frittatas to take for lunch (again, for both my toddler and me).

These are all so smart, and I've got some of those in my own freezer, too. Moms of toddlers unite!

Joe- yes re: chain! I wasn't aware of your "threat" but I know exactly who you're talking about and boy did they need it (well, not mayo per se, which is not my fave, but *something* for more moisture). The veggie ciabatta recipe looks delicious, can't wait to try it.

And funny enough, it wasn't the only time I had social-media interaction with that chain based on disappointing experiences! No need to beat a dead horse now, but, yeah. 

Hope you like the ciabattas! SO NOT DRY.

If you hate a dry sandwich, this vegetable-packed, delectably messy ciabatta is for you

I have a HATE relationship with Brussels sprouts. I never liked them growing up and hated them even more as an adult. My husband and I have tried so many different ways to get me to eat them but to no avail. We've done the bacon, bacon fat, balsalmic, cut up tiny in another salad etc. No matter what I will not eat them. That said. We went to passion fish for restaurant week out in Reston and he ordered (surprise) Brussels sprouts. I of course wrinkled my nose when he did because well... yuck. I was mistaken though and they tasted excellent. I think it was an Asian type glaze. According to the website it is a Chili Nam Pla. I ended up eating 4 of them and liked it. Please tell me how I can make this at home or really what goes into it. I'm trying to expand my veggie intake but Brussels sprouts have been off limits because no matter how they're done I've never liked them but the restaurant might have opened my eyes ONLY to that preparation.

My guess is they used a Thai fish sauce (nam pla) and maybe spiked it with chilis. Or perhaps they made nam prik pla, which is a sauce using fish sauce, lime and peppers. We made some with Andy Ricker of Pok Pok when he visited us; here's his recipe for the dipping sauce. I'm thinking you could toss the cooked Brussels sprouts with that and cook them until they're coated and glazed.

We have two similar preparations in our archives, which you could play around with, too.

Tamari-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

RECIPE: Tamari-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Thai-Style Brussels Sprouts

RECIPE: Thai-Style Brussels Sprouts

Got this in too late last week, so will try again! Someone gave me a new electric cookie press. What are your best suggestions for recipes, something sweet, something savory, and something I might not have thought to use a cookie press for?

It's always fun to make savoury bites with a cookie press such as a cheese or herb-based 'cookie' (Southern cookbooks have some great suggestions) that's good with wine or appetizers. You can also make a stacked cookie offering by making different varieties of sweet cookies and stacking them high (perfect for a wedding shower). Flour-free nut-based cookies do well in a cookie press if you want a nut or gluten free cookie that also has a pretty shape. Herbed butters are another application but the temperature of the butter has to be just so.

For that great cheese/herb "cookie" idea, seems like John Martin Taylor's blue cheese straws could work!

I like to bake so I keep my chocolates, flours and grains in the freezer. My husband buys what he calls "emergency food" which is Costco frozen meals in the event that I'm not there to cook. That's about it. It doesn't sound like much but our freezer is always full.

Smart call on your baking supplies! It is amazing how quickly a freezer can fill up. I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new fridge, as my current one is on its last legs. In addition to having a freezer that doesn't fluctuate by 20 degrees every day, I'm looking forward to getting a bit more storage with this model!

I am really enjoying Becky’s freezer article while I check back for new chat messages. While I already have many items on various lists in my freezer, there are other ideas to take on... if I can squeeze them in! I will also be adding some ideas in comments and look forward to seeing others’ there.

Thanks, and thanks for chiming in down in the comments! At least one commenter told me how ridiculous it was to expect someone to have everything in the piece in their freezer and ... I can't even.

We just love the lunchbox pasta recipe. I've been using Rancho Gordo Indio Oregano in it and I think it takes it to another level. So good (the recipe and the oregano)!

How long would you let the dressing sit so that the dried herbs absorb enough liquid to not , well, be like dried herbs to the tongue? Does it depend on whether it's a vinaigrette or a cream-based dressing?

That's a great question. When I use dried herbs in a vinaigrette I immediately mix the herbs with the vinegar (or lemon juice) and allow the dry herbs to bloom or rehydrate. This is the same for creamy or regular vinaigrette: acid and herbs first. Then I add the salt to allow it to dissolve in the acidic ingredient as well. Then I whisk in all else. The acid (vinegar usually) goes a long way to reconsititute dried herbs as well as dissolve the salt (which will never get dissolved if it's added with the oil component).

I don't care WHAT people want to smoke, I don't want to eat in a restaurant with smoke. Not tobacco, not cannabis, nothing.

You're not alone! But smoking cannabis will not be a thing that happens at just any LA-area restaurant. There are an extremely limited number of permits for cannabis smoking cafes -- literally just eight of them, for now -- and restaurants have to jump through tons of regulatory hoops to get their license. The restaurants will be destinations for smoking cannabis in the same way a cigar bar with an attached restaurant operates -- and they have tons of expensive vents and air purifiers. The Lowell cafe will have a walled-off patio where no cannabis consumption will be allowed, for people who just want to get a bite. But it's safe to say that most of the people who go there will be interested in smoking -- and you don't have to worry about all your favorite restaurants in LA becoming cannabis lounges. 

ARTICLE: Cannabis restaurants are coming to California, with ‘budtenders’ and ‘flower’ service

Well it sure could use a cleaning, but mostly it contains frozen bits and bobs--onion skin/tops, ginger peel, etc.--I use those to make stock, which I also freeze. I save overripe bananas and any extra fruit for smoothies. I also freeze curry pastes and citrus zest.

Yes to all of the above! Love those bits and bobs for stock, such as Joe's Scrappy Vegetable Broth. And we always have a bag of overripe bananas destined for muffins.

Thanks a million! I've noticed that older cookbooks use far less sugar, and I confess I'm the poster who always asks "why/why-so-much sugar in this recipe?" Today is the farmer's market and I'm going for white peaches and Metheny plums. Thanks too for the almond meal tip for the gluten-free -- I'm not, but I'm trying to cut down on my wheat, which is difficult in cobbler season.

Glad you liked the lower-sugar cobbler feature! I think less sugar and some things like almond meal (which adds the benefits of the nuts and is gluten-free) go a long way to make traditional desserts shine. But you're right - older cookbooks simply used less sugar to begin with. 

ARTICLE: With less sugar, these cobblers, crisps and crumbles let their fruit flavors shine brighter

Becky - Thanks for the clear and concise article about sandwiches. Your advice is spot on! I had a FABULOUS tomato sandwich for lunch today. I took your advice on quality ingredients (a REAL tomato from a farm stand and sturdy bread), not overstuffing, and protecting the bread by toasting it and using mayo to prevent sogginess. I haven't had a sandwich this good in months. It just goes to show that you can elevate the simplest, humblest ingredients into something memorable! Can't wait for next week's column.

Well, golly, thanks! (Not my mom, guys, I swear.)

My recipe column next week is a lovely little one-bowl cake. Stay tuned.

on the cannabis pairings? I really can't smoke the stuff, it tears up my throat and lungs something awful, so I can't wait for the edibles to be available in these restaurants. P.S. Maura's articles are the light of my life.

Thank you, you are too kind! 


Yes, I'll continue to keep tabs on the cannabis restaurants -- Lowell should be opening in September. Colorado is taking steps towards allowing these types of licenses, too, and I know other states that allow recreational use are looking into it. Everyone's going to be watching West Hollywood to see how it goes. In the meantime, you might be interested in a story I wrote earlier this year about cannabis cookbooks! They have a lot of lessons on pairings, terpenes, and the like. 

If a person forgot about the cream cheese and heavy cream, which was in a bag, in the house. How long could it truly, safely last? Think the rule is 2 hours - correct? Yeah, I messed up. Another expensive mistake.

Heavy cream is probably better to pitch. Cream cheese might be OK! It holds up pretty well and for plenty of recipes you need to leave it out on the counter to soften anyway. How long was it out there?

I'm planning to bring the peach and raspberry white sangria to the beach this weekend. Would it be better to have the peaches and berries macerating in the sugar for the road trip or should I add the brandy to that as well? I'm planning to add the wine when we're ready to drink it. Thanks!

How long's the trip? I don't think there's too much harm in letting it go longer than the hour I mention, although the fruit will break down a bit more. Great for flavor, maybe a little less so for presentation. But as long as you have some extra fruit for garnish or putting in at the last minute, should be fine! I'd hold off on the brandy just because that seems a bit riskier transport-wise.

Hope you like it!

White Sangria With Peaches and Raspberries

RECIPE: White Sangria With Peaches and Raspberries

Or at least send you some free beans

Ha! Well, I'm not the only fan.  And shhhh: Please don't tell them to send me any beans, because I already have so many from them and other purveyors that I seriously need another pantry.

I used to keep Lean Cuisine's "ginger/garlic chicken" with rice in my freezer because if I needed something to take for lunch or have for dinner, I could nuke that partially, add some broccoli or other additional vegetables to bulk it out, dump it into a microwave safe dish, and add the nam prik I always - always - have going in my refrigerator. But Stouffers has apparently discontinued that item. By the way, when I make nam prik I add cilantro and lots of thai basil (especially now when it's plentiful, albeit fading, in my yard). It's just a great dipping sauce for everything!

I put all my purchases from my fave Indian grocery into the freezer for a day before putting them into glass jars in the cupboard, after a few experiences with those tiny beetles that always seem to live in spices, legumes, and flours.

Not sure if it was the chain Joe threatened, but Taylor's Gourmet once had a seasonal (summer) turkey sandwich that had a slaw made from cantaloupe, cucumber and mint. Not sure what else was in there but I'd sure love to be able to make it. Any recipes for that?

Hmm, no recipe per se, but I'd just start chopping/slicing, and toss with vinegar and season with salt and see what you think, and adjust!

For last week’s questioner, lemon curd and blueberries are a great match. I like to split a one layer yellow cake, generously spread the bottom half with lemon curd, cover that with blueberries, and either sprinkle a little confectioners sugar or a bit of whipped cream on top of the assembled cake. Elegant, easy summer dessert.

I just bought a brand new stove since my other one died. It's electric since we don't have any gas running to the house but it's now a ceramic cooktop versus the old coil one I had. In the instruction book it specifically says not to use anything cast iron on it. I have 4 cast iron pots/skillets that I love and used a lot. HOW can I use cast iron now? I used it all the time from reducing sauces to making cakes to searing off steaks before putting in the oven.

Oh pshaw. I've been living in a temporary place for 3 months with a ceramic topped electric stove and use my cast iron all the time, both my skillets and my enamel over cast iron Dutch ovens. 

I misread a recipe and bought a bag of oat flour when I could have just grabbed a bit from the bulk section -- so now I have most of a bag of oat flour to use up. Do you have any suggestions on how I can use it? Is it interchangeable with other flours? What types of dishes are going to be best?

Oats don't form gluten like wheat flour, so don't swap it for all-purpose. You could probably use it in lieu of other gluten-free flours, at least partially. But we've got some recipes to help you use it up.

Peanut Butter Chickpea Energy Balls

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Chickpea Energy Balls

Every-Monster Cookies

RECIPE: Every-Monster Cookies

Sesame Oat Crackers

RECIPE: Sesame Oat Crackers

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies

RECIPE: Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Baked Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

RECIPE: Baked Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

Ha, I picked up Laurie Wolf's cannabis cookbook in California last year since I remembered her profile in The New Yorker!


Where can I find it in the DC area? I've searched a number of grocery stores, specialty shops, and even a few bougie gelato shops - help!

Hi, they sell it by the pint and half-pint at the Italian Store in Arlington. (They used to sell it at A. Litteri in NE DC, but no longer.)

I, too, used to hate Brussel sprouts, and most other vegetables, because my mother boiled everything until they were mushy and tasteless. Now I roast most of my veggies, especially brussel sprouts, cut in half, drizzled with olive oil, cut side down, until they begin to get caramelized. Yum!

Hey, so this was mentioned on a canning group just days ago... and today I saw the recipe and thought I would ask since Cathy Barrow might weigh in. How does this recipe stack up against recipes we can safely can, water bath or pressure canning. Are there other recipes that can be water-bathed safely that are as versatile and tasty as this one? It IS tomato season, but I only have so much freezer space.

Thanks for asking about preserving the Voraciously tomato sauce. It's got onions which makes the pH questionably safe for canning. To waterbath tomatoes, it's best to rely on crushed, whole, or pureed tomatoes with only citric acid (or lemon juice). Use those tomatoes in a jar to make this delicious sauce well into the winter.

I just made this sauce and kept it in my fridge for days, using it for all sorts of things. So good! My favorite use: I had some yellow wax beans that were starting to get not-so-fresh, so I braised them in the sauce until they were falling-apart tender, and topping the shebang with feta. Wow.

This fresh tomato sauce is rich, flavorful and yours in under an hour

A 50th anniversary piece of cake and the icing medallion that adorned it.


When/where did Joe comment about dry sandwiches and a chain (I have my guess on that one!) known for them?

Um, he only talks about it almost every time we talk about sandwiches.

Kidding. Sorta. ;)

I'm so predictable, aren't I, Becky? Hey, at a certain point you run out of new stories so you have to keep telling the old ones over and over. You'll see.

But in print, my comment appeared here.

Heavy cream, cream cheese, left in air conditioned house for probably 24 hours. Yes, I will be doing the walk of shame and hoping the check-out person doesn't mention that I just bought same stuff yesterday. Anyone else do mindless things like that?

Yeah, that's probably too long, sorry! Who cares what the checkout person thinks and they probably won't remember anyway, haha. I do stuff like more often than I care to admit (mom life), except I'm too Swiss-cheese-brained to remember any of them at the moment.

I've been using them on a ceramic cooktop for at least ten years, and no problems.

Dozens of quart bags of blueberries, green beans, cut corn, Swiss chard from our garden. No, not mixed together ;-)

Love it.

I forgot to say -- that piece of cake is now 22 years old!

Double wow!!

Always has broth and tomato sauce portioned out in baggies. I hate opening a can of tomatoes or broth and wasting half. Better to make homemade and take out just what I need at the time. Unseasoned and versatile.


I discovered that oat flour is a great binding agent in things like meatballs, meatloaf, vegetable fritters (squash, zucchini, etc) because it doesn't get gummy.

Roasted brussel sprouts with a balsamic glaze are nice. I cheat and use the bottled glaze. At least we're eating vegetables.

For the person with a bag of rice four make. Scottish shortbread is often made with rice flour along with AP. I buy it just for this purpose.

Hi team-had to write and thank you all for your suggestion of the crumble lemon bars to use up my two jars of lemon was a huge hit! my only issue was that i did not line the pan with parchment so it was hard to cut them up but otherwise big hit. thanks!

Years ago I found a recipe for grating up the sprouts, stir-frying them in olive oil with some garlic and fresh ginger (grated), orange zest and juice. Good warm or cold.

"questionably safe"? That doesn't sound, well, "safe," to me.

Yes. It's decidedly not safe. I shouldn't have been mincing my words. Garlic, onion, and peppers will lower the pH of already low-acid tomatoes making the combinations appropriate only for pressure canning and not for water bath canning.

is full of real bagels and croissants we order from NYC shops. I'm in a rural area and none of the bakeries can make good versions of either.

After a grand clean-out this spring, I've slowly been restocking and reorganizing. Zucchini in a sauce or chopped and blanched? Triple check (it's been a bumper crop). Pesto anyway you can make it (basil, cilantro, etc.)? Got it. A bottle of vodka? In there. And that's about it, give or take the odd bag of frozen veggies or a pork chop or two. Looking forward to what the other chatters have in their freezers for some inspiration ...especially for keeping track of it all.

Definitely also pop into the comments in that post, too, if you can read over the nasty ones. Some good ideas in there, other than, you know, bodies and cash.

Thanks a million!! I somehow had the idea that they should be put into the oil component. You've made my day.

Oh you're most welcome ! I actually learned this trick about vinaigrette-making in pastry school when the head chef shared that fantastic trick (trust a baker to know cuisine :). Salt will just stay suspended in the oil whereas if it goes in with the vinegar, it dissolves.

Ice! Makes and keeps drinks cold, is good when wrapped in a washcloth for little kid boo-boos, a handy way to water indoor potted plants (the slow melt means the water doesn't just run through the soil), handy for shaking up a cocktail, and essential if a hurricane comes through and knocks out the power!


Like I said, my freezer is iffy at the moment, and ice cubes are kinda fusing together, so I WISH I had some good ice. Not sure I even own any cube trays at the moment either.

Cast iron pans are just more likely (than a lighter and smoother-bottomed aluminum or copper pan) to scratch the surface, or to break it if you drop a pan. Just be careful not to drag the pans across the surface (or drop them, of course). The exception is if the cast iron pan is the sort with raised rings on the bottom; these won't heat well on a smooth surface.

Yes, dragging and dropping are the biggest issues. I use my Dutch oven and cast-iron skillets and grill pan on my cooktop all the time. I'm just careful. Can't imagine not being able to use them.

just oat flour! I discovered this completely by accident one day when I ran out of wheat flour and I've never looked back.

Thanks for the tip! I just got a shortbread mold for my birthday and have been waiting for the inspiration to use it. I think I'm there...

Haha, sounds weird, but Cathy’s recipe for cabbage rolls sounds like pot pie filling and it’s made me excited (as a vegetarian) to try pot pie like fillings in those cabbage rolls.

Hooray! These are the most unusual and delicious cabbage rolls and I hope you will try them. I thought about how I might convert the recipe for my vegetarian husband and I'm going to try making it with roasted mushrooms in place of the chicken.

RECIPE: Sesame Chicken Cabbage Rolls


I have ground beef, ground turkey, and ground pork in my freezer, divided into half-pound portions. Every so often, I defrost one pound of each and make a huge batch of meatballs, and I have ziplock bags of meatballs in my freezer. I also roast a half-dozen sweet potatoes, cut them them into cubes, and freeze them. I can take out a few at a time and put them in my lunch dishes.

Sounds like a great system.

I roast peppers and divvy them up for future use. I also cut up / portion fruits that I wouldn't get to before they went bad and freeze those. What I do not do is label them (I know, sloth is bad, but there it is), which usually turns out badly, but not always. Last night I had a bowl of greens with four pan-fried scallops and I meant to have some roast pepper with them, but instead I had a serving of mango. And it was really quite good!


If it's not organic, should I throw it out, or what are good uses for it? BTW where can you buy organic watermelon?.

If you are ready for a project, make some watermelon rind pickles. Here's my recipe, cut into star shapes because why not? 

I'm freezing all my overripe bananas because I fear that bananapocalypse is almost here. I might be able to sell them on ebay. Ha!

Or at least you'll be able to make a lot of banana bread.

...and when the ice cubes fuse into a huge block, you pull the block out and set it on top of the compost pile, if it hasn't rained for a while.

Someone last week (or maybe 2 weeks ago?) asked for gf/non-nut breadcrumb alternatives. We always use Rice Chex, they're celiac-friendly, smash easily, and taste good when not in use as a “breadcrumb" Also, we have an inside freezer and an outside freezer. Outside: meal-prepped stuff in foil pans, meat purchased in bulk, frozen farmers market veggies (bulk sizes), about 10 pint jars of frozen chicken and veggie broth, and the ice cream maker freezer bowl. My *inside* freezer is tiny and mainly stores popsicles, small volumes of ready to eat/ready for oven meat (like meatballs and salmon filets) for fast meals with small kids, microwavable veggies, and fruit for smoothies (including a bag of brown/peeled bananas) And my bag of veggie scraps for stock. Also: I need to take inventory of the outside freezer!

These are all good ideas! Definitely envious of the extra freezer. My parents had a separate full freezer in the garage of the house where I grew up. It was so useful. They recently sold the house (sniff sniff) to move up here (yay!), and my mom was so completely gobsmacked that the new owners did not want to keep the freezer!

Lemon zest in wrapped 1 teaspoon packets and all tossed in a freezer baggie , lemon juice frozen in 1 Tablespoon ice cubes and tossed in freezer baggie, leftover whole milk poured in freezer baggie and frozen into flat slabs (for future baking).. Always Lots of ingredients....but wait...where am I to put my real ready to defrost and eat food? Ha.

The struggle is real.

Anyone have recommendations? Experience? I've researched a ton. Too much info - my head about to explode. Anyone out there who can help? I'm leaning towards PJ's recipe, but no time to test this one. PLEASE HELP - I have to go rebuy the cream cheese and heavy cream that I left out.

Tres Leches Cake is amazing! I have a recipe for it in my cookbook, The Best of I'd be pleased to send it to you via the Washington Post team or email. I tested my recipe repeatedly and I think you might like it.

Feel free to email us at if you want that recipe, and we'll forward it from Marcy!


I ask this question all the time. 

I have no reasonable answer to this. #eternalsummerquestion

I feel this.

Let's start a support group.

I just remembered a pound of "sausage meat" I thawed yesterday and didn't cook (yard work = carryout). What should I do with it? I can't remember what I had in mind when I took it out of the freezer.

Breakfast egg sandwiches, for dinner. Pretty much what I'm doing tonight anyway. :)

I saw what you did there.

That Cherry Vamp sounds just the thing to serve my mom next holiday: she just told me (as she handed me a bottle of wine I’d gifted her earlier) that her meds preclude drinking alcohol.

Just make sure that the 1/2 teaspoon of bitters in here won't be a problem. It's a very small dose, but I don't know how sensitive she might be. As Carrie writes, bitters can be a good way to add complexity to a virtually no-proof cocktail, but it's not 100% alcohol-free, so keep that in mind.


RECIPE: Cherry Vamp

Is there a good website for entering ingredients of a recipe to get the nutritional information? I know your recipes include it but many don't. Thank you.

There are some online, but since we have a paid program we use, I've never tried any of them. Any recs from the crowd?

You can also do some calculating yourself using this USDA database.

A serrated peeler works great when you want to peel one or two peaches.

A huge black hole where I can't find anything (bottom drawer-style freezer). Any helpful tips on keeping everything organized and findable?

I feel you! Labeling with contents, amounts and weights/volume is good. Things that can be frozen flat in bags are efficient and easy to pile. If you're really organized (maybe I can do this once my new fridge arrives), keep a running inventory of what's in there so it's easy to know what you have.

I found an uncooked turkey breast in the back of my freezer that I had from Thanksgiving but never got around to making. This time of year what would be a good wet brine? I was thinking something like a sweet and salty? It's boneless breast and while we won't eat it for dinner it is something I'd munch on as snack or lunch (I do a low carb/keto diet).

I drape bacon slices over turkey breast while it roasts. No need to brine! It keeps the meat moist and juicy and adds some smoky, salty notes. I do this regularly so I have sliced turkey for lunches.

For real - make this cake - you will get standing ovations. Flip side, more requests - making it again for the third time. Whatever the audience wants

Remove tops/bottoms, seed, chop, freeze raw in bags. Cook up just fine in soups/stews/egg dishes.

Although usually I just toss in the whole peppers and do the prep work once I'm ready to cook.

A friend once left a container of apple cider in the trunk of her car and forgot about it - until it fermented and exploded, all over the place. She had to get the car detailed. I've avoided putting groceries in the trunk ever since. We just thanked God it wasn't milk.

My sister and BIL in Maine spilled RAW MILK in their car a few years ago. No amount of detailing got that out. Honestly, it lasted for the rest of the car's life -- which was, thankfully, only a few more years, but still.

Mix with ground beef, make a big batch of Bolognese Sauce (freeze the surplus).

painters tape--I read that what's chef's use, and now I am not painfully peeling masking tape off my containers!

Absolutely. We do this, too. We use a bright yellow one in the Food Lab, cause it's easier to read than black-on-blue.

We bought 25 pounds of Roma tomatoes to make homemade sauce with. We used the KitchenAid Juicer/Strainer Attachment to deseed and get rid of skins and then reduced the liquid down several hours and we only got about 6 cups of sauce! Any ideas why we only got 6 cups of sauce?

That yield is entirely due to reducing the liquid. When I can Romas, I depend on 25 pounds making 6 quarts of tomato puree (and about 7 quarts of crushed tomatoes.)

Homemade pesto frozen in ice cube trays, then the basil-ly cubes stored in freezer bags. Lemon juice cubes also stored in freezer bags. Home-grated Parmesan cheese. Lemon zest in small freezer bags (whack on the counter to loosen enough to spoon out). Ice cream.

I really need to do the lemon juice thing. I never seem to have a lemon when I need it. I made baba ghanouj the other week, had none of the requisite lemon juice, used white wine instead. It worked pretty well!

*mandatory link to ice cream project*

Kahlua Ice Cream With Dulce de Leche and Espresso Beans

ARTICLE: How to create the ice cream of your dreams

In one Seinfeld episode, Elaine unknowingly eats a prized piece of cake from King Edward VIII's wedding to Wallis Simpson that she finds in her boss's refrigerator or freezer. I've wondered if it could possibly have been kept fresh so long.


Mash a banana, one egg, and 1/2 a cup of oat flour. Pour onto a greased skillet. Makes healthy and tasty pancakes. My kids prefer them to traditional pancakes.


I bought a couple of leeks at a major grocery store chain. One leek was so tough I could not cut through it. The other was "cuttable" but I did not use a lot of it because I was not sure what would happen after cooking. It was for a soup recipe (I know its summer...). Any guidance or suggestions as to how I might have avoided the tough leeks. Thanks.

Look for thin leeks which will tend to be younger and less tough. Remove outer tough leaves when prepping the leeks and slice very thin if it seems as though the leek might be woody. Even if the leeks are old, you can still use them to flavor stock and soups, just tie them with kitchen twine and remove after cooking and before serving.

I'll be a charter member.

Welcome to the first meeting of the Zucchini Dissatisfaction Society.

Takes too much space in the freezer.

Depends on your priorities and what else you have in there. Not to mention time!

New fridge--side by side to replace freezer on top. Less space (lots more air). I keep wide mouth pint jars filled with bean stews, stock, ragu. I also have pork chops divided with wax paper into single servings, ice balls (round cubes), frozen DF GF pizza, ice blocks, frozen apple sauce (instead of ice blocks in lunches), bacon when I find meaty thick cut, frozen meal components. Most of my Pyrex doesn't fit the new freezer, so no lasagna.

I couldn't do a side-by-side thanks to the way my kitchen is set up, but I do know the space is definitely less generous. My parents had one in their old kitchen, hence the extra freezer in the garage.

The Alton Brown recipe - it's a proven winner

I have to clean out one of them today. Please wish me well.


My mom used to buy raw milk and we were headed home (I was driving) when I hit the brakes and the gallon jars fell off the car seat and broke. We had a milk swimming pool in the car and like yours, the smell never ever went away.


Years ago I could not figure out what had happened to the orange juice I had bought at Giant. I was sure I had bought it but it was nowhere with my groceries. I don't drive real often, so it was quite a few days before I opened the car doors again, and something smelled odd, kind of fruity and musty. After some searching, I discovered that a container of frozen orange juice had rolled out from a grocery bag and under the driver's seat and melted. It was summer. it smelled like I was making cheap wine in the back of the car. No amount of cleaning really helped. Even getting the car detailed didn't make much difference. It was a couple of years before the car smelled normal again.

Recipe sounds delicious. Can you freeze them after cooking? (Assuming I can make room in my ingredient filled freezer. Ha?)

Yes! I tried freezing, defrosting, and gently reheating, and it worked perfectly.

Yes, zucchini is tasteless. Only reason I cook it is because of garden (agree with Joe) will not grow again. With zucc, you can put lots of stuff on top of it, cheese, onions, spices, bake it in a pie crust other stuff and don't tell anyone. They will like it . And breads, cakes - it works.

I will say I like a zucchini pancake/fritter. 

So Tim says we shouldn't eat lunch at our desk and yet, here I am.

I hear you. 


I eat at my desk a fair number of days, too. My essay is more aspirational!


ESSAY: The real reason you should stop eating lunch at your desk

As late as during WW II, my grandmother, who lived in rural coastal California, used to make homemade root beer, bottle it, then store it under her bed. One night a batch exploded, and she instantly feared the Japanese were bombing her region. She never made root beer again, so I (born after the War) never got to try it.

That is an amazing story.

For the chatter from last week with an overabundance of home-grown herbs: I put fresh thyme and rosemary in the “snack”-size Ziploc bags, suck the air out, and freeze. They keep fine that way, although I try to use them up within a few weeks. Fresh thyme leaves get stripped from the stem and chopped fine before freezing. (The recipe for Dorothy Sietsema’s Three-Bean Salad uses 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme to flavor the dressing, which is quite a heap.) Fresh rosemary leaves get stripped from the stem before freezing but not chopped. Those get tossed into zucchini chunks sautéed in olive oil near the end of cooking. Generally, I use half a package at a time of fresh herbs from the supermarket in whatever I’m making, and freezing the rest keeps it from going to waste. Even if the leaves have developed a few ice crystals when I go to use them, I’ve found they still work fine in recipes.

Thanks for this!

Asking based on another chatter's comments. Thought that was not good thing - meaning bar chocolates, chips, etc. used in baking

Nah, you can freeze it! Just make sure it's airtight, and let it thaw in the fridge for a day first.

Similar to corn sauce, I made creamed corn and stuffed large pasta shells, finished with some left over stinky cheese, and topped with some fresh mozzarella. Who'd have thought corn pasta. But there you have it. Yum

10/10 would eat.

As the season changes, what produce is of the moment right now that I should be grabbing up this week or next from farmers’ markets before they go?

I think it's somewhat of a safe bet to assume what you see is what's currently 'in season' and yes, snag up fresh and ripe stuff and hopefully at appealing prices. That said, always check where the produce is coming from so that you can get as local and as fresh as possible fruits and vegetables. At a certain point, local stuff will be upstaged by produce that comes from further away - which isn't a negative but why not buy what's around you first and truly 'in season'? My best trick with this btw is to buy and freeze peaches (or whatever is in season) for preserving later on when my kitchen is cooler. 

Write everything down on a paper outside the freezer (or a whiteboard) and have generalized locations where things go. This is key for me: bread area, fake meat area, small things bin so they don’t get lost (bagged cubes of things) and in the freestanding one, only certain things go in certain shelves so you have an idea where to look (frozen fruit, cheese, fours and nuts).

Well, you've served us as is, or with half-and-half, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today, and many thanks to Marcy and Cathy for helping with the a's!

Now for the giveaway: It's not exactly a book, as it turns out, but it's a year of free access to Marcy's site, The winner is the chatter who asked about tres leches cake! Send your info to, and she'll connect you to Marcy.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables," "Serve Yourself" and the upcoming "Cool Beans." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Maura Judkis
Maura is a staff food writer at The Post.
Becky Krystal
Becky is the lead writer for Voraciously.
Tim Carman
Tim is a staff reporter for Food and writes a weekly column on casual dining for Weekend.
Olga Massov
Olga is a food editor at The Post.
Carrie Allan
Carrie is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Kari Sonde
Kari is the food editorial aide.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow is the author of "Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet and Savory Slab Pies" (Grand Central Life & Style, 2018).
Marcy Goldman
Marcy Goldman is a professional pastry chef, cookbook author and host of
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