Free Range on Food: Why you should make your own baking mixes, this week's recipes and more.

Sep 20, 2017

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

Greetings, and welcome to today's chat! Hope you're enjoying this week's coverage, including: Charlotte Druckman's take on DIY baking mixes; Maura's funny tale of her pumpkin spice life; Bonnie's recipes for an easy approach to the Jewish New Year meal; Jamie Schler's beautiful essay about caring for her dying brother; and more.

We will have special guests today: Charlotte and baking maven Abby Dodge, who developed the mix recipes; and Jamie, whose latest book is "Orange Appeal." Charlotte is an expert on many things, not the least of which is cast iron cooking (her latest book is "Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes For Your Cast-Iron Skillet") ; while Abby's latest book is "The Everyday Baker," so she can weigh in on any/all baking queries. Jamie specializes in the food and cooking of France, but can handle almost anything, too. So you're in good hands!

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR7645 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

As always, we'll have giveaway books today: Since we have three prominent cookbook authors with us, I figured we'll give away ... each of their latest books! So make your comments/questions good for a chance to win.

OK, let's do this!

Love the bake mix feature! Other than experimenting (who has the time for bake fails?), how can we use the mixes beyond the recipes provided? Can I assume no other dry ingredients are necessary? I'm thinking vegan scones/biscuits, cakes and cornbread.

Scones and biscuits, muffins, cakes, cupcakes, cobblers, cornbread and sweet cornmeal-based cakes like upside-down cakes (that white mix will also work for an upside-down cake). You can use them for cobbler toppings. You shouldn't have to add other dry ingredients, although you may decide you want more sugar or, in some cases, a pinch or two of salt. You can have lots of fun with how you flavor the batters, and what sorts of add-ins you stir through them. Struesel toppings can be plopped on there. You should feel free to experiment. And please let us know what you come up with! 

ARTICLE: Be better than Betty Crocker. Here's how to make your own baking mixes like a pro.

On the High Holiday Challah recipe, what temperature should the liquid be heated to? Looks like a typo online... thanks! 

140 degrees. Thanks for the heads up; fixed! BTW, did you take Kara's fun challah quiz? (I'm a planner; go figure.)

Folks - What's your go-to instant read thermometer? I don't use them often, but it seems that every time I need one, the battery is dead, (which seems bizarre because they get used so little and use so little power). Is there one with great battery life and/or a replacement battery?

I'm a big fan of ThermoPro instant read -- it really is an instant read out!

Ditto.

Double ditto.

The pumpkin spice article got me thinking... if I don't drink coffee or eggnog, what drinks (preferably warm) can I sprinkle nutmeg on? Because I've got multiple nutmeg seeds.

 

ARTICLE I used every pumpkin spice product I could find for a week. Now my armpits smell like nutmeg.

Why not try it on a smoothie? Not the green ones. But I'm thinking one made with coconut or banana could use a nice hit of nutmeg. Nutmilks, or nutmilk-based drinks will also benefit from a touch of that spice. This might be controversial, but I tried dark chocolate flavored with nutmeg and liked it. You might even sprinkle some nutmeg on your cocoa... 

There are also a lot of very nice tiki drinks out there that are enhanced with a little grind of nutmeg. Many a punch is made happier with that aroma!

Like this cocktail!

RECIPE: I Love Humanity

I found an online recipe for No Bake Cookie Dough Bars that says if you are worried about the raw flour. You can toast it in a pan for 3-5 minutes. How high should the toasting temperature be and would it change the taste? Thank you.

I love toasting my flours before I bake with them (really bake, not no-bake)--you can think of it the same way you do toasting nuts. It does something truly wonderful to quinoa flour (in fact, you shouldn't really bake with quinoa flour unless you DO toast it first) and for barley and rice flours. Not a surprise, it's great for nut flours too. So, in this case, if anything, it will make the cookie dough bar taste even better. I like to do it in the toaster oven, spreading it on the tray and putting it in there at 350 degrees for up to 10 minutes depending on how toasty you want it. It'll start to turn a light, then deeper golden color and it will also take on the aroma of just-baked biscuits or popcorn. I recommend taking a fork and whisking through it a couple of times throughout for even toasting. Different flours will bake faster than others, so it's best to watch and trust your nose. You can, by the way, also toast your flour on the stove, as noted. It toast up a bit faster and not quite as evenly. Whisk or shake it as you go. I think you get better results in the oven or toaster oven. But when I'm in a rush, or feeling particularly confident, I'll often just do it in a pan. It's quicker, for sure. 

I was cleaning out the fridge and cabinets and found a few items towards the back that had been there a long time. It seems that everything has an expiration date, a box of dry pasta, jar of pickles, can of corn, etc. I know that some will say, when it doubt, throw it out, but do all products really go bad? Can I use a box of pasta a year after the expiration date? Will the pickles be bad if I eat them? I realize it might be different with something that has been opened, like a bottle of ketchup or bbq sauce and an unopened container.

I'm certainly not an expert and I am careful but I think living in Europe for 30 years has made me less worried. If something looks and smells normal and fresh, we eat it. Things like flour will smell rancid. And of course you want to avoid things in jars and cans that smoke when opened or have a puffed lid. 

Thank you for the article on the DIY baking mixes. At what point should we think about tossing them if they haven't been used up?

The Big Batch mixes will last a long time - 3 months at the least- but I bet you use 'em up well before that!

Over the past few years I've noticed the quality of fresh pineapple get much worse. I remember the Gold Pineapple being ripe and flavorful. Now, it seems, all fresh pineapples are way too green and often prone to rot. Has something happened to pineapple cultivation, possibly disease or pests, and the growers are harvesting them earlier before they go bad? 

We use pineapples in the fresh fruit salad we make for the hotel breakfasts every single day and I find they rot really quickly. I think this is actually because they are frozen or chilled too cold for transport. I now buy the pineapples while they are still green and they are always perfect for eating inside!

I forgot that my little girl planted carrots earlier this year, and they're (past) ready to harvest. What's the best way to prepare them in a way that will make her feel like we're celebrating her gardening? Probably oven-roasting with a glaze or sauce?

I pan cook them in a little butter, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice, and water, then cook until the carrots are tender and the liquid is reduced to a glaze! This is a simple yet special way to make carrots for your daughter!

I love Jamie's braise/glaze technique, too. Do that a lot. And other times I like to roast them whole with some warming spices -- cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika (plus salt and olive oil) -- and then drizzle with honey or maple or pomegranate molasses when they come out of the oven. Those are really stellar on a bed of hummus... And hey, you could do something really cool and hold out some of the carrots for making Carrot Hummus for that bed underneath the other roasted ones!

RECIPE: Carrot Hummus

I also really like the look of Bonnie's honeyed carrot salad. I don't celebrate the Jewish New Year, but that won't stop me from making this!

RECIPE: Honeyed Carrot Salad With Squash and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette


BTW, I have a bumper crop of carrots coming, too, so excited to be thinking about this! (And, I don't really think they can be past ready to harvest, can they? Carrots hang out in the ground until you're ready for them!)

I was thinking of buying some silicone lids for pots and pans and the description says, "Heat proof up to 464 degrees Fahrenheit (and heat resistant up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit)." What is the difference between heat proof and heat resistant?

I believe it's comparable to the difference between "waterproof" and "water resistant." If it's heat proof, it means its indestructible (by heat, up to 464 degrees F, in this case), and if it's heat resistant, it means, it will feel and pick up that heat up to a certain point, and then it's going to start to break down. So for that description, at 550 degrees F, those lids are going to start to betray you. They may melt or burn. But 550's pretty hot. Really, it'll get you through most baking in a conventional oven. Broiling would be a no-no, but you take the lid off for that anyway. What you wouldn't want to do would be to use one of those lids in a pizza/wood-fired oven, or a super-hot grill. 

My favorite oatmeal cookie has dried cherries, chocolate chips, and toffee bits. The toffee bits are almond brickle. I want to make a batch for a co-worker's family, but one child has nut allergies. Is there such a thing as nutless toffee? If not, suggestions for adding that sugary, crunchy "oomph" in a nut-free way?

Do you make the toffee? I'd swap the almonds for pumpkin seeds. Or use Pumpkin Seed Brittle (maybe leave out the cumin for this use!).

Also those cookies sound great -- can you share the recipe?

Or just heat up some fresh apple juice and grind in the nutmeg.

It seems more and more people (in my world, at least!) are eating a healthy diet and at work, when someone brings cake or cookies for a celebration, half of the food goes uneaten. Is there anything you can think of to bring for a farewell or birthday party at work that feels festive but won't sabotage people's good eating habits?

One of my favorite desserts is a twist on a traditional Moroccan orange salad - just marinate orange slices, peeled, of course, in orange blossom water and a dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar for a few hours. Then, for something festive, top with pomegranate seeds, chopped pistachios, and fresh mint. It's refreshing and light when holiday meals tend to be heavy! And it is very colorful and elegant! You can really top fresh orange slices with so many things: grated chocolate and chopped nuts with a drizzle of hazelnut oil, for example, for a healthier dessert option.

I always thought it was cheaper to buy the frozen shrimp. Take what you need and leave the rest for later. But, it seems that all too often, the shrimp has freezer burn. Sometimes, I even pass it up at the store because it looks icy. Tossing food is never cheaper... Any tips or tricks, besides always buying fresh shrimp shortly before I need it, because, sometimes I don't know in advance that I want shrimp.

Good question. Are you sure it's freezer burn, or just shrimp that has been individually quick frozen and each seems coated in ice? Freezer-burned cooked shrimp may be discolored; if the date on the package indicates they are still good (typically for 1-3 months in the freezer), they may be.

 

 

 

When I buy frozen shrimp, I look for a wild-caught US brand, and try to buy in 1-pound packages when I can, or I divide 2-pound packages as soon as I get home. Refreezing raw shrimp = no-no.

 

 

Thank you for the wonderful article on DIY mixes today! As a variation, could I substitute whole wheat or oat pastry flour for the white flour? Would I need to adjust the amount of the whole wheat flour added as the second ingredient?

Hi there! Using 100% ww in the mixes can be done but your baked results will likely be denser than they would be using the combo. I'd try the oat pastry flour a try in place of the AP flour. I haven't retested the basic recipes with this combo but I **think** it should work.

Keep up posted!

I cooked a pound of shrimp in court bouillon, then froze the liquid. I had a sense at the time that a flavorful broth would be useful but now that I have about six cups of it taking up space in my freezer, I need to figure out what to cook with it, or if I should just toss it.

I vote no on the toss! It adds great depth to any seafood soup -- bouillabaisse, a lobster bisque, cioppino, even a ragout. Also a good base for a sauce to accompany fish and you can use it to poach shrimp or salmon, too. 

 

FYI for those of you who aren't familiar, court-bouillon is a quick-cooking broth typically made with aromatic veg, herbs and often wine or lemon juice. 

I make a coffee cake with Bisquick that was my spouse's mother's recipe. The recipe came straight off the box. So if I make my own bake mix, will the coffee cake taste the same? I realize it might be even better, but we're talking a recipe I've made for many years, so one gets used to it. Also, do you really need the sugar in the cake if you have some in the topping?

It won't taste the same just because Bisquick's Bisquick and it has its own distinct flavor/texture/results. It SHOULD taste better, but nostalgia has a strong hold on people, and even though it may go up in quality, flavor-wise, if it doesn't taste the way one expects or remembers, that can be its own disappointment. The mixes were developed with a minimal amount of sugar to give everyone more room to play around--so you can use different types of sweetener and make it more or less sweet according to your taste, and to fit the modifications of the baked good you're preparing. You probably don't want a scone to be as sweet as a cake, for example. For a cake, you would want to add some more, yes, even if you have some in the topping. If you're topping's exceedingly sweet, consider using a bit less of that added sugar in the recipe for the cake itself. And/or something I do when I'm in doubt on something like this, give the batter an extra pinch of salt.

The instant read thermometer question reminded me of something I've been wondering for a while... can you use an instant read thermometer (I have a ThermoPop) as a candy thermometer? I always use it for meat, but the temperature reads up to 572F... could I use it for candy? I don't want to have to buy another kitchen gadget if I don't have to.

You can use your ThermoPro for candy-making BUT with the sugar mixture so hot and steamy, you will likely burn your hand if you don't use long tongs. I'd stick with the clip on style.

My sister came to visit, and she cooked dinner one night. She bought a canister of cornstarch for this. I already had a box of cornstarch so old that I can no longer remember why I bought it. I can't donate the new canister to the food bank because it's open. What can I do with corn starch?

Cornstarch seems to be a pantry staple in France where I live! We use it instead of flour to thicken sauces or even curds. Sometimes I switch out a bit of flour in cake batter with cornstarch to lighten the cake a bit. 

If you want to use a bunch of it up in one fell swoop, these recipes use larger quantities than you might be used to! 

Gluten-Free Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

RECIPE: Gluten-Free Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

Bittersweet Chocolate-Cardamom Pudding

RECIPE: Bittersweet Chocolate-Cardamom Pudding

RECIPE: Walnut-Olive Oil Sponge Cake

Gluten-Free Kimchi Pancakes

RECIPE: Gluten-Free Kimchi Pancakes

Crispy Vietnamese Crepes With Shrimp, Pork and Bean Sprouts (Banh Xeo)

RECIPE: Crispy Vietnamese Crepes With Shrimp, Pork and Bean Sprouts (Banh Xeo)

I made a loaf of Challah for the tonight, and it's been in the freezer since Sunday. What is the best way to defrost - counter? microwave? brief stint in the oven? Thank you! (And I'll try to save the answer this year.)

Happy New Year to you!

I thaw frozen breads  unwrapped (loosely covered is fine) on my counter sitting on a wire rack.

Sounds yum!

Please let us know what your current favorite food trucks are? Are there any that opened this year that are great?

The D.C. food truck scene has changed considerably since 2009, when the modern era of curbside vending was introduced with the Fojol Bros during Obama's first inauguration. 

 

Many good trucks have left the scene since then, including the Fojols. At present, the scene is dominated by trucks featuring kabobs, Indian curries and tacos, many of them mediocre at best. But there are still many good meals available on the streets. The Red Hook Lobster Pound truck still vends, even though its operations have been affected by the increasing price of lobster.

 

Lately, I've enjoyed food from the Brooklyn Sandwich  Co. (a glatt kosher truck), Urban Poutine, the Sate Truck (one of several vehicles now specializing in Indonesian fare), Cap Mac (a veteran vendor that keeps improving) and the Killer Tomato pizza truck (which actually has a wood-burning oven on board). And you can't go wrong with frozen treats from Goodie's, the vintage truck with old-fashion shakes and ice cream.

 

ARTICLE: In demand and pricier than ever, lobster rolls have become the cupcakes of the sea

I'll throw in a recent favorite of mine: The Corn Factory: I loved the arepas.

This week Harris Teeter is advertising "cube steaks or lean stew meat." Can cube steaks really be used for stew? I have some in my freezer (part of an Omaha Steaks gift) and I don't care for chicken-fried steaks, and wondered what to do with them.

Cube steaks were on a regular rotation in my childhood home. Mom cooked them like a burger - seared on both sides - and smothered them with sauteed mushrooms and onions. I wouldn't use 'em for stew.

I find that an awful lot of commercial baked goods, and even recipes for baked goods, contain a lot more sugar than, say, my grandmother's old cookbooks call for. Can you give me some guidance on how far to cut back on sugar in, say, a cake recipe, without its affecting the structure too much? My sweet tooth has waned with age but I also have to think it was never meant for today's sugar-laden goods.

If you're using granulated sugar, I'd start by reducing the amount by 20 to 25%. But something else you could think about would be using honey or maple syrup, or coconut or maple sugar, or agave syrup. They tend to be lower on the GI (Glycemic Index), but, with honey and agave, especially, they TASTE sweeter, which means you WANT to use less. So you end up with less sweetener, and a lower GI reading, if that makes sense. For honey, if you do a 1:1 ratio, you will probably find the results too sweet. So use 3/4 the amount of sugar called for, in honey. You may need to reduce your liquids accordingly (by 2/3). It depends how MUCH liquid sweetener you're adding. Abby (Abigail Dodge) included some guidelines in the Big Batch recipe to help you. When substitutes for sweeteners aren't mentioned, it's because we believe substitutes aren't the best idea for that recipe. But you can still try reducing the sugar itself a bit. Toppings and mix-ins can make up for the difference. Some spices have an indirect sweetening effect too (anise, I find, does this). 

Do you have any suggestions for something cheaper? Thermapros are pricey.

I have had good successful with my Polder thermometers. So much so that I now have TWO of them. They run in the $20 range at your local hardware store.

 

ARTICLE: The one device that gives me confidence when cooking meat

Is there a standard recipe/general guidance we can use for the cake mixes (e.g. 4 cups of mix, 4 eggs and 1/4 cup of melted butter or vegetable oil) or for each of the various mixes ? I was sure there would be one in the article or recipes somewhere; what's the point of making a huge batch of cake mix if all you can do with it is make the same blackberry cake over and over again? But if it's there, I didn't see it.

A "basics" recipe for pancakes and cupcakes are posted under the Basic Dry Mix. Will check into adding more -- there's sooo much fun to be had here! You can also riff off of Charlotte's brilliant recipes!

I was having a conversation about sandwiches the other day. There was a lot of eye-rolling aimed at me, but I maintain the sandwich is underappreciated. It's like people hear the word and immediately think of PB&J or Kraft Singles or those bologna slices and don't stop to consider just how interesting they can be . . . even if you're vegetarian, like me. (My two favorites lately are onions/cucumbers/romaine/green peppers with either garlic mayo or pesto and lots of cheese, and roasted tomatoes/scallions/tater tots/jalapenos/cheese with chipotle dressing.) What are your favorite sandwiches?

I'm a sandwich lover, too. And I have to say, that roasted tomato concoction grabs me -- especially with the tater tots! Whoa. As I demonstrated with my recipe this week (it's not a sandwich, but still), I do like a little carb-on-carb action.

Now for a few of my favorite sandwiches: 

RECIPE: Roast Broccoli Hero Sandwiches

RECIPE: Curried Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

RECIPE: Grilled Kimcheese

RECIPE: Beet, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

RECIPE: Tomato, Pesto and Ricotta Sandwiches


AND, next week, I'll have the recipe for another of my favorite sandwiches, one that just happens to currently be in a little charity sandwich competition at G by Mike Isabella, for those of you in the area. While you wait for the recipe, go get a Sloppy Yo (or maybe 12!!!), and benefit Houston Food Bank (while also proving that a plant-powered sandwich can win this thing for the first time!).

My mother made a tomato salad. Very simple, rub a bowl with a piece of sliced garlic, add tomatoes, sliced onions, salt, pepper, tiny bit of sugar, oil and vinegar. I made this over and over again and it never tasted like my Mom's. I finally realized my very frugal mother would NEVER spend the money to buy extra virgin olive oil. Made it with canola oil, et voilà!

Nice!

Hi everyone-- I'm planning to make a cake that layers devil's food and angel food for a birthday this weekend (frosting TBD). I'd heard that old fashioned devil's food cake only uses egg yolks (which would be great for balancing out the number of egg whites I need in the angel food cake), but I can't find a yolk-only recipe. Can you please recommend a recipe or give me any tips on how to adjust a standard one to use only yolks? Thanks!

Hi there! I'm not familiar with the "yolks only" rule when it comes to Devil's Food Cake. That said, using egg yolks will make the cake nice and rich. General rule of thumb is to use 2 Yolks for every whole large egg. So, if your recipe call for 2 WHOLE eggs, use 4YOLKS from large eggs.

I can only wish my armpits smelled like nutmeg. In my dreams ...

I was talking with friends about recipes we've made and decided to never bother with again, or just never make in the first place. These were the leading peeves: 1. Slow cooker recipes that involve a lot of prepping and browning and fussing - the whole point of slow cookers is that we throw it all in and they do the work for us. (Southern Living's "easy" bolognese sauce was a particular marvel of fuss) 2. Recipes that require a small amount of some obscure ingredient that's usually only available in large amounts and is usually expensive, and will never get used again. I'm not buying a $20 jar of unicorn whosits for one teaspoon in one recipe. (Honestly, this is why I don't tend to make recipes from the Post - obscure and pricy ingredients I'll never use again.) 3. Online recipes where there are a million photos and an incredibly long and boring story to scroll through, meaning the page crashes over and over before you can find the actual recipe. (Bloggers are especially bad about this.) I don't think I'm alone in these peeves. Why are so many recipes just so impractical? Why is there a disconnect?

Interesting to hear! These would not be my top peeves in the recipe dept, but then again, that's what makes the cooking world so diverse. (On the eve of the High Holidays, I am focusing on the positive. But this is certainly fodder for an entire Free Range chat -- not to mention many late-night email exchanges between Charlotte and me!) I  respectfully submit:

 

Many newer models of slow cookers allow for one-pot browning (as you know). Rather than dismiss a good recipe on a 'fuss' technicality, why not donate an old one to a good cause and give  yourself an added tool in the kitchen?

 

Few unicorn whoseits in WaPoFood recipes. We have been dialing down that aspect for years; if something might be unusual, we tell you where to find it and typically what else it can be used in (who does that, in the large recipe universe?). 

 

The scroll and multiple-photo presentation is not for everyone. But Smitten Kitchen's certainly done well, for one, and it does serve as a step-by-step guide for certain types of cooks. 

I'm with you on the exotic engredients and complicated recipes. I tried to avoid both - or be very careful - when I developed and wrote the recipes for Orange Appeal. I think I am particularly sensitive to ingredients because I have lived and cooked in 3 countries (often with the same, family-favorite recipes) and cannot always get the same ingredients in each place that I have lived. As for complicated, fussy recipes, sometimes just reading through a recipe from beginning to end can make you realize that the recipe is, after all, quite simple and it is only a matter of organizing and prepping everything early on. 

I have been using my cast iron in the oven a lot recently and realized that my usual oven mitts won't cut it any longer. Do you have any suggestions for oven mitts that can live up to a really hot cast iron handle in the oven?

Shopping Cart: Honeycomb HotSpots

I use these with cast-iron -- their texture helps with the grip, too. If you'd rather a mitt, though, look for something with silicone, which tends to have a high degree of heat-resistance. 

Or you could go the handle holder route, like these from Lodge, but a mitt seems more multipurpose.

I picked up cans of hazelnut, walnut, and avocado oil over the past six months and would like to know how stable they'll be once I open them (I'd keep them in the fridge). Also ... what do I use them for?

Oils do go rancid and I would follow the "use by" dates on the cans. I usually don't refrigerate oils so I don't know if this will make them last longer. You can use them to drizzle over fruits and vegetables and also use them in vinaigrettes and salad dressings, switching out some of the olive or vegetable oil you usually use. 

agree with Jamie -- these oils are fragile but delicious! They will last a bit longer in the frig but bring 'em to room temp. before using. The nut oils are delicious in baked goods but go easy as a little goes al ong way!

Same here. We're on our second or third, in 20-some years. We have the kind that has a probe that you can plug in, so that it will beep when it reaches a pre-set temperature. That way we don't have to keep opening the oven to check the internal temperature.

I want to make the queso from last week's recipe but cannot find American cheese in its non-singles form. Can one buy American cheese in blocks or chunks? If so, are you aware of any sources near Rockville? Thank you

You can buy it in a hunk at the deli department counter; ask them to cut to size. I got cheese for testing these babies at Harris Teeter....

 

RECIPE Soft Cheese Tacos

Hi! I have whole flaxseed and I'm trying to figure out how to grind it - I don't own a coffee grinder or pepper mill or mortar and pestle or food processor. Any other ideas? I guess I could buy a pepper mill or mortar and pestle but .. I'm afraid I'd never use them apart from the flaxseeds.. do you have other fun uses for them? Thanks!

I'd get a cheap coffee grinder and use it not only for flax but for any whole spice. Why would you do that? Well, whole spices stay fresh much longer than ground, so if you don't use them much this will help. Also, you could grind your own blends!

I really like the idea of a DIY mix, and I would like to try it, but I have a weird weak spot. I can bake a torte, I can make Christmas dinner for 15, solo - but I can not make decent pancakes. I've tried scratch, I've tried mixes, varied temps and oils, but I either burn them or they're raw or they're greasy or (you name a way to make a pancake bad, I've done it). On occasion I get a batch right, but I can't duplicate. Help?

We all have a weak spot! Try the pancake recipe for the Big Batch Mix. I think you'll concur that spot! 

Big Batch Dry Mix

RECIPE: Big Batch Dry Mix

I have one made by Taylor that has a scan function as well as a probe. It's very handy especially when you have too little oil in a pan to use a probe.

I LOVE that feature! How accurate is it in scan-mode?

I find that this happens whenever I eat something, anything, with fenugreek in it. I don't know why it goes straight to the pores when other spices don't seem to. (Fortunately I love fenugreek and it doesn't stain ;-)

Does anyone have a good, budget-friendly mandoline recommendation?

Look at Oxo -- its Good Grips models (a little more expensive for standing and less for handheld) are great...

I've been really happy with my lavatools javalin - have had it for years without needing a new battery, and it's about $25 on amazon.

That's what I use, too; ditto.

I love baking but run into what is probably a common starting out problem - I have an already small kitchen which becomes smaller since I have 2 roommates and we have to share the space. I bake a fair amount of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and brownies since I can fit a cookie sheet and 9x13 pan in pretty easily, plus the ingredients are straightforward and can be used for other things. If you had space for 2 more pans/tins etc. what would you add? And - are there certain cookbook authors who rely more on basic ingredients that you don't buy once and then have to store?

What? No muffin tin? I would buy one regular and one with shallow or smaller indentations - you can make muffins, sweet and savory, financiers and madeleines, mini cakes and cupcakes. You can use different sized muffin tins for so many things even if the original recipe doesn't call for a muffin tin.

Won't the oils in the flax seed clog the grinder? I had read that putting cornmeal through a spice or coffee grinder (the hand-grind kind) would clean it, but all it did was clog up the grinder so I had to take it apart and wipe out all the clogging.

Nah -- coffee beans have oils, too, and that's what these are designed for.

To clean, BTW, I like to use raw rice.

Our little town's residents' association is having its annual party for the whole town. I've been charged with bringing a side dish, but not potato salad. Grass fed beef hamburgers will be served. What do folks really like to find at a pot luck? I learned from past parties not to bring my serving pieces since the last time, my slotted spoon disappeared. This time I bought inexpensive serving pieces from Amazon.

People love potato salad. This is something I've learned. We try to present all these new and exciting alternatives to potato salad, but potato salad makes people happy. And there are lots of ways to do it. You can do the classic mayo-based deli variety, or a warm-ish (served at room temperature) potato salad with bacon bits and scallions. If you're not into bacon, you can do it with parmesan, scallions and toasted almonds. You can play around with heat, too. For something different! People also love sesame noodles. And it's something else you can serve cold or at room temperature. The Washington Post ran this recipe and there are tons more to be found online. If you're feeling a bit more creative, you can do a salad that combines fresh fruit--a combination of roasted and raw ingredients is easy and sophisticated. 

Glad to see the spelt flour in the baking mix. I avoid wheat - is 100% spelt possible? Oat flour instead? More generally, I think baking really intimidates people. Box mixes give people some level of assurance that they won't fail. To me, the solution is getting comfortable with the odd failure.

So many options and so little time! Charlotte and I are working on GF (and others) Big Batches!

At first I struggled with the point of making the baking mixes - I didn't see how pre-mixing 5 or 6 dry ingredients would do anything for me the next time I wanted to make a cake. It would save me 5 minutes or so. But then I wondered if half of this is psychological; for the busy Mom or others who just can't bear the thought of having to make something from scratch with limited time - I can see then how having one of these mixes (purchased or homemade) would make getting over that hump just a little easier.

These mixes are wonderfully versatile! I bake everyday (for business and pleasure) and which I could use these mixes for everything and every job.

The scanning feature on the Taylor thermometer seems pretty accurate from the results I get when frying. It does show you where the hot spots in your pan are.

I don't know anyone in my circles who matches this archetype. The closest match, I'd have to say, is me.

 

Well, I take that back. I know ONE person who matches the description. But he's a tool outside the kitchen too. 

I made this Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille this past week and the tomato sauce with capers was revelatory! Not ashamed to admit I ate half the dish in one day. But would that sauce work if I used green tomatoes? Asking, because I'm a failed gardener. Thanks in advance! LOVE the chats!

Huzzah! I am not sure the green ones would give off the same amount of liquid/flavor, but I'm all for using what you have. So maybe add some extra tomato juice, or a small can of plain tomato sauce?

I make granola with them, and they are wonderful on pasta (think butternut squash ravioli). They seem to last months in the fridge. Drizzle on anything where the nut flavor sounds appealing!

The instructions to make the pancakes aren't clear. 12/3 cups of mix? And it says to add butter but there is no quantity listed.

fixing!

I've spent good money on a thermometer and been disappointed, but never disappointed with the $10 version at Walmart. You also don't feel (as) bad when you drop it in your pot of molten candy, frying oil, or in my case, boiling wort. They usually have large numbers, too, which makes them easier to use.

How about some kind of slaw? I've had delicious apple/fennel cole slaw, and other variations like jicama/apple/carrot.

My starting out basics were: 2-3 cookie sheets, 9x13 pan, muffin tin (get one that nests into the 9x13 pan and no additional storage space is needed!), two 9 inch round pans, and a loaf pan (I love quick breads...). Even now, I've got a few more, but those are the ones that get reached for regularly.

Did the recent storms to our south destroy asparagus crops? Or the ability to truck crops to our area? The lady at my Giant's customer service desk said there was no asparagus (advertised in the weekly flyer) because of the storms and she left me with the impression it might be months before any shows up. I'm hoping the store was simply sold out and that this isn't further bad news for hard-hit farmers in Irma or Harvey's path. And, less importantly, for consumers. I saw news footage of oranges bobbing in the flood waters and a farmer saying he'd lost half his crop ...

It depends, I suppose, on where your store buys its asparagus, which is a traditional spring crop. Asparagus is produced all over the globe. The top-producing country, according to this source, is China. It's not even close. China produces nearly 20 times more asparagus then the next country on the list: Peru.

We all have own definition of what's exotic, but I know I've passed up a lot of recipes for the reason of needing to buy more than I'll ever use. Maybe related, I picked up a bottle of grapeseed oil the other day because it was on incredibly deep discount. I can't imagine it goes bad, but now I'm not sure what to use it for. Just that I've seen it reference before and thought how I didn't have any.

I burned three fingers when a corn fritter I was frying spit hot oil on my hand. I immediately put it under cold water and kept it wrapped in a cold, wet cloth. The burns still blistered. Five days later, the burns still are red and sore. Do you do anything else to treat cooking burns? BTW, the fritters were very tasty. It was the recipe my late MIL used and probably came from the can: 1 c. flour 2 t. baking powder 1 egg 1/2 t. salt 1 T melted shortening (or oil or melted butter) 6 T milk 2 c niblets I made a half recipe and used kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn.

Oh, that's dreadful! I'm so sorry. Although, I'm glad the fritters were good. They sound good. A few years ago, I had a burn on my arm and a chef asked me if I'd run it under cold water after I'd scalded it (putting something into the oven with make-shift potholders). I said, yes, of course. And he said DON'T DO THAT. According to him, and I think other chefs follow this, when we rush to plunge our burns into cold water or ice, we stop our body's own natural defense against being burnt. I don't know if that's true. But I stopped running my burns under cold water and instead I started treating them with a burn salve (shea butter's pretty effective here, or any product made with it). You have to stay on top of reapplying it. Bacitracin's good too! And/or Neosporin (especially the kind with anti-pain action). But moisturizing it with something intensive is best. Butter/olive oil/coconut oil are actually more efficient than you'd think here as well. 

Nice recipe in today's Post. I have yet to use my molasses. However, as a nonmeat eater, I'd appreciate your recipe recommendations for veggies and/or seafood. Thank you.

The stuff is fantastic to drizzle on roasted vegetables. Wait till they are three-quarters' done, then add. I think pom molasses would be lovely mixed with a little honey and orange as a finishing sauce for pan-seared scallops.

I used to hate cooked carrots, but the WaPo carrot hummus and this awesome smitten kitchen recipe converted me! Sadly, our carrots didn't grow at all this year... 

Adding to the one about the fussiness of recipes, which I wholeheartedly agree with, we've also got the ones that get waaaaay too many dishes dirty. I suppose that's all part of the same issue, but I think it deserves a special call out; I've got a few wonderful recipes I won't make any more because the pile of dirty dishes takes all the enjoyment out of the food. Seriously, these days, if it's not a one-pot meal (or can be turned into a one-pot meal with a little adjusting), I rarely bother.

When my husband cooks, the meals ends with a gazillion dirty dishes. When I cook, there are very few, and this is only because I have, somewhere along the line, gotten into the habit of washing pots, pans, bowls, and utensils as I go. I don't even notice it anymore. And so when we get the meal on the table there is very little cleanup left. 

Thanks for reminding me of sesame noodle salad. That's a perfect suggestion and no one else has ever brought it.

I nominate the chatter who refuses to buy unicorn whosits for a cookbook award.

There is no nomination process, I'm afraid. ;-)

Hi, If any chatters have seen asparagus for sale in DC this week, please say so. My local Giant advertises them in the flyer but doesn't have any and I was told the hurricanes made it unlikely there would be any available in the near future. Terrible for the farmers if the whole crop was wiped out -- and disappointing for us.

Jamie's essay about nourishing her brother was very moving and brought back sweet memories of when we cared for my dad. Our family also placed a great deal of value on feeding each other during that time, with food as well as spiritual and emotional nourishment. Thank you.

Thank you so much. We are so used to preparing and sharing food as a pleasure, a joy, or as something celebratory that it isn't until we are cooking for and feeding a sick loved one that we see this other side of food, how it can be a special and comforting bond. And a necessity to nourish another.

ESSAY: My brother was deteriorating before my eyes. I could think of only one thing to do.

I've got 3/4 of a head languishing in my fridge and I'm out of ideas... not excited about a basic braise with apples or a slaw. Would love some inspiration - maybe something in my many cast iron pans?

Try grilling thick-ish slices of it that have been brushed with olive oil and lightly seasoned. The darkened edges lend a surprising sweetness! 

I love pie, especially at this time of year, but can not make it if my life depended on it. I can never get the crust right- ever. Particularly when it comes to rolling out. And then the filling is either too moist and makes everything soggy or sinks too much so the pie is only half full, or...or...or... Any idiot-proof advice for improving so I can make pies and not have to banish children from the area (so they don't overhear the profanity)?

You suffer from what I call "Pie Anxiety" and you're not alone!  A couple of suggestions: do banish the kids whilst making the dough - a little piece and quiet is helpful. Try this recipe - divine and easy! Also, The Everyday Baker has some awesome step-by-step technique shots to help guide you through it! 

 

I found bargain containers of grapeseed oil at a nearby Middle Eastern-to-Central-Asian grocery, and since it has such a high smoking point, I use it for frying or browning anything that requires high heat (I have a Super Boil burner on my gas stove).

Last weekend I watched the episode of Pati's Mexican Kitchen where Joe went to see her and she made sweet potato and bean tamales. I was very excited! About the food and seeing Joe on TV! I was inspired to make the tamales and they were good but I think I could do better if I try it again. But I have some tamale questions - can they be assembled ahead of time? It is so time consuming and I would like to assemble them in their corn husk packets without cooking them, and then steam then the next day. Also, is it worth getting a tamale steamer? I used my stovetop but was having to check the water constantly and I was unsure when they were done. Are tamale steamers good for anything else? Can tamales be cooked in a slow cooker? Thanks for your help!

Thanks! Glad you liked the episode. Pati is a dream to cook with, of course!

You can absolutely assemble tamales ahead of time -- just refrigerate, covered -- until ready.

On a tamale steamer, I'd say get one only if you plan on making a lot of tamales -- although you can certainly steam other things in there (like corn). A big pot with a steamer basket or insert can work, too. 

 

As for the slow cooker, I've never tried that with tamales, but I know people do it! Check out this Cooking Light video.

I find it interesting that I cited fuss and expense as recipe peeves for myself and my friends, and Bonnie's advice was to get rid of our trusty slow cookers and go out and spend money on a new piece of expensive equipment that we don't need or want. I mean, I get that peeves are peevish. But it really does show why there's a disconnect - a lot of home cooks just aren't going to buy unicorn whosits or new equipment. We don't want to just shovel bland easy nonsense into our mouths every night, but we also don't have the time or energy for complicated meals with fussy ingredients or special equipment. Why does it seem like there so little available for the middle ground? More specifically, why does the Post put so much time and energy into pages and pages of complicated gourmet recipes, but so little into things I can actually make without tearing my hair out?

Really, browning ingredients ahead of time is one of the secrets to making slow-cooker meals that taste good. Try it both ways and see if you agree, and if you don't, then don't do it! A slow cooker with a browning function could be a seen as a nice middle ground, but if you don't want another piece of equipment, then absolutely, that's fine! 

To your bigger point, we're always trying to come up with easier and easier recipes that still taste great -- it's not always easy, but I think you'll find them more and more. The dry mixes this week? Not a specialty ingredient to be found, and we give you the option to make basic versions of things -- or to add options if you'd like. Nice and flexible, and no hair-tearing necessary.

Thinking of you and hoping all is well with your friends and families despite yesterday's earthquake.

I had the same thought after hearing the news, which seems to get worse with each passing hour.

 

It's hard to know how to express the same concern over and over to those people in harm's way, whether Houston, Puerto Rico or Mexico. But I hope I speak for many WaPo readers and chatters in saying that we hope/pray/wish (depending on your particular level of faith) for a speedy recovering for all those people affected.

 

ARTICLE: Death toll in Mexico earthquake rises as citizens frantically look for the missing

and my sister-in-law told me this morning (I am making dessert for Rosh Hashannah) that a microplane is a totally essential kitchen tool. I've never had one. Am I missing something essential? She handed it over because I am going to need nutmeg and they only have it whole, not ground. Doesn't look too hard and I don't need that much, but should I get one when I get home?

They're wonderful! People lived many years though without them and were perfectly fine. But having used other graters and then trying a microplane, I realized it's a smoother, more efficient grating experience. You may find you want multiple microplanes for different tasks. There are wider ones and those are great for grating cheese. Then you may want one for garlic and ginger (both so potent) and one for citrus/spices. But start with this nutmeg experiment and see how it goes. Freshly grated nutmeg, by the way, is always better than the already-ground stuff. You're in for a treat!

I'm surprised that three or four chatters haven't provided their link to their on-line supplier of cheap unicorn whosits.

Funny.

One of the many things I've learned from America's Test Kitchen over the years is never to buy raw shrimp. Often times it has already been frozen and ATC says unless you REALLY REALLY know the fishmonger, you have no idea where the shrimp came from, how long it's been sitting on ice or if it's been frozen. My go-to recipe is the Post's Garlicky Shrimp from a few years ago. Made in a slow cooker. Weaving two chat threads here :)

I almost never buy cooked shrimp, because it's not at texture I like (rubber chew toy). I tend to believe the packaging on frozen raw shrimp. Props to that ATK slow cooker shrimp recipe are appropriate!

Instapots seems to be the new "It" kitchen appliance. Do any of you have one? Is it worth it and what do you cook with it? I'm vegetairian so particularly interested in meatless ideas, but if it would make it easier to occasionally cook meat for the rest of the fam that works too. I find the idea intriguing but my slow cooker already lives in the guest room and doesn't get enough use.....

I don't have one, but when we used it in the Food Lab to test recipes, it was pretty darn convenient. *If* I didn't already have a pressure cooker and did have more storage space, I'd consider getting one. But I do, and I don't, so... meh.

ARTICLE: The Instant Pot is hot. But can it handle your favorite recipe?

I saw a sale ad for cast iron pots and pans that appear to be enamel-covered. Do those count as cooking in cast iron, where flavor is concerned? My cast iron pan is nothing but 100% cast iron...

They "count" BUT they can't handle as much heat as the un-coated, straight-up cast iron... because that enamel will start to peel. I think of them as somewhere between a regular saute/fry pan and a cast-iron pan, if that makes sense. 

I followed the advice from last week's chat and reheated the mac and cheese I defrosted from the freezer in a pan with some milk and a bit more extra cheese, over very plow heat. It came out with a much better texture than the microwave, which I usually use. Thanks! And for the potluck person, I've got one coming up and I'm taking a pot of baked beans. Those would go well with hamburgers, too.

So glad to hear it!

My usual method to make hard boiled eggs is to bring them to a rolling boil and then turn off the heat and let them sit for 15 minutes. This always results in perfectly cooked eggs but I often have a dickens of a time peeling them, to the point where I lose some egg white in the process. I typically buy eggs from the farmer's market or CSA so are they just too "fresh"? Any suggestions for making peeling easier?

Eggs are easier to peel when they're older. I've had better luck with peeling when I steam them rather than boiling (my favorite technique), too. And folks in the know swear that pressure cooking eggs makes them a BREEZE to peel.

My grocery store sells pumpkin spice flavored unicorn whosits. Haven't tried them yet.

I really need whole cranberries for cake making for tonight. I'm in NYC (upper west side - yes, waiting in the return line for Hamilton is totally worth it) and if Fairway and/or Zabars don't have it, I'm not sure who will. Any ideas? Have any of you (or chatters) seen whole cranberries yet?

Maaaaaaybe Whole Foods? Last year they had some (frozen, not fresh) earlier than you would've thought they might. (I don't remember how early, but worth a shot.)

Otherwise, could you sub in another tart something? Rhubarb, maybe? 

As the Unicorn Whosits OP, I insist that no cookbook be awarded to me unless a recipe literally calls for one sprinkle of unicorn whosit, and unicorn whosit is only available in a gallon jar costing at least $40.

I received a bottle of an espresso liqueur as a gift, what can I do with it? yes, make coffee drinks...anything else?

Mmmmm. I'd use it in panna cotta, rice pudding, and anything similar! Add some to ganaches, glazes, frostings!

Maybe because I'm old and an experienced baker, but I've felt this way since I started baking for myself in my 20s. What do you gain? It takes less than 7 minutes to get out and combine the individual ingredients. At which point you have a set of ingredients best-suited for the specific recipe. Perhaps if I had kids I would want baking to look simple and alluring to them, or if I had a teeny kitchen and didn't want to store separate ingredients or something I could get behind mixes. Am I a curmudgeon or just a different use case?

Hardly a Curmudgeon! You are an experienced baker who likes the process and I hear you. These mixes are a fun alternative to the process and you might want to try a half a recipe  of the Big Batch and do some experimenting based on your own recipes and experiences.

Same here. I rinse things as I use them, sometimes so I can use the same measuring cup or spoon for another ingredient; I make sure to use the tablespoon for a liquid before I use it for an oil, I set the food processor containers in the dishwasher as soon as I dump the stuff out of it, etc. It's really an easy habit to get into.

Find a recipe that uses a couple of TB or less of regular molasses for baking and sub it with the PM. I make some pretzel/breadsticks from the Bob's Red Mill baking book with PM, and people love them.

I've been asked to bring cut up fruit for the Jewish New Year lunch for about ten people tomorrow. I hoping for something a little more sexy than just fruit. Do I have enough time to do Joe's oranges or do you all have a different, pretty fruity, idea. Thanks so much. Happy Healthy New Year to those who follow....

Does it have to be fresh fruit? A compote's nice, and so is beautiful platter of dried fruits and nuts. 

Figs are around now, and quite beautiful. The sexiest fruit, some would say. 

Please don't get rid of them entirely - part of what I love about the Food Section is that it encourages me to try new things! Especially for spices, I've started using the bulk spice section of my grocery store, which makes it much easier to buy just a little more than I'll need for the recipe the first time around. Plus it's so much cheaper than the jarred spices in general...

+1 to you!

Plus let's remember what's exotic to you may not be exotic to others...

What I hate is That Other Newspaper's insistence on presenting a recipe only in video format. I want to be able to click and print and save the file!

I haven't been able to post for a few weeks but can't stop laughing over this review for Franzia's boxed Cabernet: "Like Bazooka Joe chawed down on a big wad of bubble gum and used it to filter storm water runoff." I live in a South Texas city too far inland to have been affected by Hurricane Harvey, but that didn't stop many residents from stocking up the Friday before just to be on the safe side. I didn't make a grocery store run until the Monday evening afterward and found shelves still bare. I like Franzia's Merlot, but it was all sold out so I tried their Cabernet, No wonder there were still so many boxes on the shelf! Wish I had read the review before buying.

Glad you liked it! (The review, not the wine, obviously.)

ARTICLE: 29 of America's cheap wines, rated

I almost never buy fancy or flavored olive oils, but was sold on a blood orange olive oil recently when the store owner offered me a bite of a delicious brownie made with her infused oil rather than canola. Now that I have this bottle, what else should I be trying to infuse with blood orange flavor?

Vinaigrette! And I think it'd be so much fun to do an orange-flavored Magic Shell to pour over ice cream. There are a bunch of recipes online that show you how to make the equivalent of Magic Shell at home (here's one: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/how-to-make-your-own-chocolate-shell-with-just-two-ingredients-article). You can try using the blood orange olive oil instead. You can also bake olive oil cakes. Any olive oil cake recipe is fair game here. 

I agree on the vinaigrette! But also creamy salad dressings and even, dare I say, homemade mayo? I'd probably just be drizzling it over loads of things, too, like roasted vegetables and bowls of soup such as carrot or pumpkin. 

Seven minutes is a considerable amount of time when you're a two-job household or have kids running around or are making multiple dishes at once.

The one I tasted was tasteless -- had no flavor at all. In a friend's kitchen, and she said that's the reason she uses it. I had expected it to taste like avocados.

I have 3. I love them. For garlic, nutmeg and my favorite, parm. The cheese comes out so fluffy.

Over the weekend a friend brought me some foraged chestnuts. We roasted them and ate a few warm. Now I have a gallon ziptop bag of roasted but unpeeled chestnuts and a couple dozen raw. I've been looking at recipes and may make a soup and stuffing around the holidays. But what's the best way to store these for a month or so till I'm ready to cook them? And should I nuke them a minute or so to warm them up to make them easier to peel? I did peel a cold one today to see how hard it might be. Didn't taste so good cold, though.....

Roasted chestnuts can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks, in a container or bag that allows a little airflow. But for a month, I'd freeze them and then defrost in airflow-y container overnight in the refrigerator a day before using.

I have this recipe which I got from the WashingtonPost magazine in the mid nineties. It's one of my favorites. I've only ever made it as full-size muffins but it actually calls for mini muffins. Now I have my mini muffin tin and I'm prepared to try it. Should I cut the ginger even smaller (maybe 1/4" pieces)? The pan looks so small I'm afraid I'm going to screw up the recipe.

You don't have to cut it smaller--it's more about the kind of bite you want to have. Do you like having something a bit substantial, texture-wise, to chew on? If so, don't bother cutting it. If you'd rather have a smoother chew, cut it smaller. This applies no matter what size your baked good (from cake to mini-cookie). Remember your muffins will cook FASTER because they're smaller. So don't bake them as long as you would have regular-size muffins

Are you folks talking about the ThermoPro TP03A? Amazon says it takes the temp in 4-7 seconds. I can handle that amount of time, but Abby emphasized that it "really was instant". Just want to make sure I'm getting the right one. Apologies if this has already been discussed above. I'm the OP, but I just logged into the chat and wanted to get the answer before you sign off and I won't be able to read it all before 1:00 Thanks!

This one is faster if a bit more $$ 

Tiramisu!! Here's a wonderful and relatively easy recipe where you can sub the rum for your liqueur: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/21412/tiramisu-ii/

Cornstarch is an amazingly versatile substance with lots of non-cooking uses. It works pretty well on silver! https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/25-uses-for-cornstarch

I bring apple slices (tossed with a little lemon juice to keep them from going brown) and a dip made of three parts Greek yogurt to one part orange marmalade or peach preserves, with cinnamon to taste. It's sweet, but not decadent, and fall-appropriate.

I am so thrilled with the diy baking mixes. I bought some cornmeal from the Indian museum and I have been trying to decide what to make with it. I will now do the cornbread/muffins. Love this section of the newspaper and you guys.

Well, you've cooled us for 15 to 20 minutes on a wire rack, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Now for the giveaway books: The unicorn whoseit OP will get "Orange Appeal." The chatter who asked about toasting raw flour will get "Stir, Sizzle, Bake." And the one who asked about cutting back sugar in baked goods will get "The Everyday Baker." Send your mailing info to Kara.Elder@washpost.com, and she will facilitate!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating, baking 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.
Charlotte Druckman
Charlotte Druckman is the author of “Stir Sizzle Bake: Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Skillet," (Clarkson Potter, 2016).
Abby Dodge
Abby Dodge is an author and baker. Her latest book is "The Everyday Baker: Recipes and Techniques for Foolproof Baking" (Taunton Press, 2015).
Jamie Schler
Jamie Schler is a writer and speaker specializing in food and culture. Her first book is "Orange Appeal: Savory and Sweet" (Gibbs Smith, 2017).
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