Sep 15, 2010

Free Range on Food is a forum for discussion of all things culinary. You can share your thoughts on the latest Washington Post Food section, get suggestions from fellow cooks and food lovers, or swap old-fashioned recipes the new-fashioned way.

Busy session today, so I hope you've got lunch next to the keyboard.  Our fermentation cover girl Monica Corrado is here, plus "Turkish Cookbook"  co-authors Sheilah Kaufman and Nur Ilkin (hopefully, from Ankara) are in the house.  Baker extraordinaire Lisa Yockelson, too, who made today's fab sharing cookie. Spirits columnist Jason Wilson may drop in.

We're giving away a copy of their book and a copy of "The Africa Cookbook," by Jessica B. Harris, source of this week's Dinner in Minutes.  As all you regulars know, we'll announce the chat winners at the end of the session; if your name shows up in lights, be sure to send us your mailing addresses.  Joe and Jane are away. Let's get going!

"The lentils need to be soaked for 3 to 4 hours" -- huh? Don't lentils cook in 15 minutes? Or maybe the ones I get at the supermarket (Whole Foods, Giant, Superfresh, etc) aren't what you mean by "green lentils" --? Once that's cleared up, I really look forward to making this recipe; it looks super-yummy and I've been hoping for a recipe that will use some of the dried mint in my cupboard (I tried to make mint jelly with it but it didn't work.)

Each cook has a favorite way of doing this.  In some books there will be one green lentil soup where they are soaked, and another recipe where they are not.  I would be interested if you tried to make it without, and let me know how it is.  There is no absolute right or wrong.  Also depends on how long the lentils have been sitting on the shelf in the store.  That is a big factor.  Please write me from my website which is  I am not sure if the green lentils in Mediterranean markets are the same as the ones we get in our supermarkets.  I will check with Nur and if you write me, will have an answer for you.  Sheilah

Lentils need to be soaked for a minimum of 7 hours in water and a neutralizer. Neutralizer could be whey, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Rinse well and then cook for 45mins-1 hour. For soaking all beans, legumes and grains, see

Great recipe for jambalaya today! I'm looking forward to trying it. One question I always have regarding peppers is if I should take the skin off first. What do you all think? And what's the best way to do it?

I thought it was pretty good. And if Clinton Portis wants to eat it once every other week....for this recipe, you don't need to skin the peppers. But if you wanted to in general, I'd char them over an open flame, cover to let the steam do its thing, then peel.

The description of this in the article sounds heavenly. Can you share the recipe? Wonderful introduction to Turkish food - thanks!

I would be happy to share the recipe.  Please go to my website at or email me at and I will send it to you.  Know you will enjoy it.  Sheilah

I am visiting DC for the first time in way too long (coming from Chicago for a job interview). What are the can't miss places to see from a food perspective? Eastern Market is on my list. But where else? I'm here Saturday through Wednesday. I will be in Baltimore on Sunday so I can only see Lexington Market from the outside.

Chatters, where should this food lover go on Saturday? Plenty of good farmers markets around, including the one at the Courthouse in Virginia (easily reachable via Metro). I'd try to have a meal at Birch & Barley on 14th St. If you have a car, maybe go to the Great Wall market in Fairfax?

On Sunday, don't miss the great farmers market beneath the JFX expressway downtown. It's a 15-minute walk from the Harbor, with plenty of parking around.

I need your help on finding a heritage turkey for Thanksgiving this year. Is it too late? If not, is there a good local source for these birds? Thanks!

AT a recent Farmers Market I met the people from Fox Hollow Farm that have fresh turkey.  They are in Gaithersburg, Md. at  or 301 330 0165 and 301 219 9629.  I don't know if they have what you want, but perhaps they can tell you where to get it.

Definitely not too late. We'll run a list in early November, but if there's a poultry vendor at your farmers market you should be able to place an order.

Hi, I bought a bag of maple sugar at a New England farmers market ... 3 years ago. Do you think it would work instead of the turbinado in the almond crumble? Or, how do you suggest I use it? And, does it need to pass a sniff-test or anything first, to make sure it's still good? Thanks ...

I have worked with many granulations and intensities of maple sugar and, if yours is one of the coarser granulations, it would--technically--work in the recipe, though the maple flavor would be lost in the shuffle of the almond flavor.  The almond flavor is highlighted in this cookie. I would recommend that you save your maple sugar for use in apple-centered recipes, since we are approaching the autumn apple season.

I feel like I should know this, but how should I cook a marinated pork tenderloin? My meat thermometer gave up the ghost and I haven't had a chance to replace it. No grill, sadly. Broiler? Oven? Thanks.

I'd start by searing the outside all over in a pretty hot pan on the stove, then transfer it to roast in a 350-degree oven. It should be firm with a little give to the touch, with juices that run clear.

Thank you so much for today's article! Ever since Whole Foods stopped selling kombucha (tear), my palate has been missing that clarifying, sour taste. I'm planning on trying the peach chutney recipe.

Thanks! Hope you like the peach chutney. Know that you can make it with nectarines or mango also and it will be just as yummy! Do you know you can make your own kombucha at home?---I teach classes on it all the time. Check out my website for a class schedule, Be well, and ENJOY! Monica 

I'm posting early with the hopes this can be tossed out to the peanut gallery early on in the chat. It's looking like a good friend of mine is going to be induced a month early, so not only are they going to be new parents, but they're going to be new parents to a small preemie. What would be good meals I can make for them to stock their freezer and pantry? They like everything. I was thinking, of course, lasagna and pesto cubes, but I was also thinking maybe a dry soup mix, if anyone knows of a good recipe? Icebox cookies? Never having been a parent myself, I'm not sure what sounds good...

I have some wonderful easy chicken recipes that can be made ahead and frozen, great freezeable desserts, quick veggies, and great soups.  If you want to go to my website at  and write me, I would be happy to send you some recipes.  Sheilah

Hi, Perhaps not exactly fermentation, but do you all ever make Japanese pickles? If you do, have you a favourite?

hmmm Japanese pickles. Give me more---I know that we make fermented ginger (aka "pickled ginger") that is lovely with sushi. Is it a particular type of cucumber? Monica Corrado,

I've read and heard all sorts of conflicting advice on which fruits and vegetables shouldn't be stored next to each other. I have a two-tiered produce basket that I keep everything in, making sure to separate onions and potatoes. Now I read that bananas and tomatoes can spoil nearby produce as well. Could you give me some sort of definitive answer on what non-refrigerated produce I should separate (and whether putting them in the two different levels of the same produce basket is enough separation)? Thanks!

Tomatoes should be stored on the counter stem side down and never refrigerated.  I usually hang my bananas on a basket with a hook.  Sheilah

Definitely keep onions and potatoes apart. Or if they have to be stored in stacked baskets, put onions on the bottom.

Feelings on the paleolithic diet? Good? Bad?

So stone age. (Wrong chat for this q. We don't like to use the d--- word.)

We have a LOT of basil. And sadly my boyfriend does not eat basil, which means I have a lot of basil to use. I was planning on making some pesto to freeze. Beyond that I was hoping to save most of the basil to use during the next few months. Can I freeze plan basil? How do I do it? Do I chop it and freeze in a container? Keep the leaves whole and put in a bag? I have never done this before and I am hoping you can help. Thanks.

We ran a comprehensive article by Susan Belsinger a few weeks back. Here's what to do with your basil.

Often I see recipes in the Washington Post that are attributed to 1 source. Other recipes are "adapted from". Some are "traditional". Is there a standard for how to attribute or adapt a recipe to make it unique? What number or degree of "tweaks" make a recipe "new"? Some recipes on the internet have comments that say, I made this but made 6 changes and added 4 spices and it was great! At that point, it doesn't even seem like the original recipe anymore - way more than tweaking. Does that make it a "unique" recipe or an "adaption" or an "inspired by" recipe? Is there a consensus on this - what if the Food section adapts or tweaks one of its own recipes? At what point does "Aunt Ida's Chicken" become my own?

hmmm interesting question. Hi there, Monica Corrado here. First of all, cooking is meant to be a CREATIVE ENDEAVOR. That means a recipe is meant to inspire you to take what is given and tweak it to make it your own. What I have done and did for the recipes in the Post Food Section today is to find the patterns in recipes...specifically, in lacto-fermentation. That is what I teach in my classes. So if you come to a class, you learn the principles behind lacto-fermentation, as well as the things needed and the steps to get there. That is what I would call the "technique". As you walk out of a class, you will have everything you need to take some vegetables or fruits and ferment them. The recipes in the Post today were originally inspired by recipes in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. Then I learned them and added more of this and less of that, and different ingredients. But the TECHNIQUE is the same. Hope that helps. Monica Corrado

Much of the time, we use "adapted" because we have added further information to the directions or information about substitute ingredients, or even where to f ind ingredients  (full-service shop here!).  Even if the recipe is a far cry from the one that inspired it, we still like to say "based on a recipe" or something similar.

This weekend I am cooking for "multitudes," making a dozen or so tarts. I've already made and froze the pastry, all that needs to be done is rolling out the dough disks to fit the baking tins. Could I blind bake the tart shells the night before the party? That would save a lot of time the day of the party. Thanks in advance.

The specific answer to this question depends upon what type of tart dough you are using, and the fillings that, later, will be used to fill them. In a perfect world, it would be preferable to bake the shells the day they are to be filled, but for masses of shells, it is not really reality. So, I would think that the tart shells could be baked, cooled completely, and stored in a covered container at room temperature for filling the next day. Yet, I would reserve final comment when I understand what type of pastry dough you are using.

I submitted late last week and don't know if my question was too silly or if you ran out of time, so I'm submitting again. I bought my first bottle of brandy recently from a distillery/winery that specializes in "fruit wine." The place had two brandies: One was an apple brandy, one a pear brandy. I loved the pear brandy and bought a bottle, along with a brandy glass, but am wondering if there's a way to drink it other than straight. It went down pretty hot, which I liked once but think might get old after the first few tastes. Any recommendations? Or is "pear brandy" a silly idea meant to sucker novices such as myself into overspending on something considered a joke in the "spirits community"?

From Jason: Pear brandy or pear eau de vie is not silly at all. In fact, when it's good quality it's one of my favorite spirits, especially taken neat after a meal. I've written about about fruit brandies here. I've also published a few interesting cocktails to make with pear brandy -- one a perfect brunch cocktail with champagne called a Brasserie Lebbe, and a punch (by Adam Bernbach of Proof) called the Hans Punch Up. Both are delicious.

We got all ready to make ketchup the other day and found our whey had gone "off." We didn't feel like waiting to strain a new batch so we tried using apple cider vinegar. The result is delicious, but am I still getting the benefits of a fermented food?

Vinegar is not generally found in true, live ferments. It is used to stop fermentation, not allow it. You've got something yummy and a lot better than store bought...remember that IT IS NOT NECESSARY to use whey. It is just that whey is used as a sure-fire inoculant. It is full of lactic acid and lactic acid bacteria (which we want.) You could have used another tablespoon of salt instead.  be well, Monica Corrado 

I've tried making a version of the Kofta kabob recipe on my grill, but every time I try it, the meat doesn't stick to the skewers( I have flat ones) and falls off into the fire. Is there anything I can do to keep the meat together? Thanks!

The recipe  in the section today had a good consistency -- grabby enough to hold together. I had no probs keeping the meat on the skewers. If you're doing these on the grill and not under the broiler, I'd just make sure that the skewers are placed perpendicular to the grill grate.

I'm reading your recipe for Kofta Kebabs (which look delicious) and I noticed that it recommends salting the lamb mixture and then tasting. Is it common that you recommend tasting the raw meat? What if I don't have a farmers market where I am and am using raw lamb from Whole Foods - does that change the advice? Thanks!

You don't have to taste the raw lamb.  Just salt as you would for other meat recipes and salt can be added after cooking.

I must say I do it regularly. Then again, I buy good-quality meat. Maybe those good bacteria are working for me.

I have never soaked lentils. My Israeli friend says Americans cook lentils too long to be mushy, and after that I cut my slow cooker time from 8 hours to 3 and they have a nice bite and texture now.

Nur suggests soaking lentils, which are usually soaked in Turkish cooking because it cuts down the cooking time.  Black eyed peas,  beans, chickpeas, lentils not red) are all soaked.

when fermenting wild purslane from garden should i use salt and whey or just salt? the purslane has naturally abundant amounts of mucelage. does that affect anything? maybe i should not chop in one-inch pieces instead use in as whole form as possible?

Hello, you may use either whey and salt or just whey or just salt. Remember that whey is full of lactic acid bacteria and lactic acid, so it makes for a sure fermentation. And yes, it is a good idea to keep purslane in bigger pieces so it is not so "slimy."  be well, Monica Corrado

This is a question for Jason Wilson. When I was in the ABC store (Virginia), I remembered your mention of Plymouth gin, so I bought a bottle and was blown away by it in a gin & tonic. Would this be a good gin to use in the Alaska you gave in your column today, or would you recommend another gin? Also, do you have a favorite tonic water to use in gin & tonic? I don't drink much, but I do enjoy your columns.

I think Plymouth works great in almost any gin cocktail (including the Alaska). Though for the Alaska my ideal choice might be a more "juniper-forward" gin like Beefeaters or Tanqueray -- the Chartreuse has a lot of herbal/botanical flavors happening. As for tonic, I like Fever Tree and Q -- they're a little more expensive, but worth it.

It never says to grind the hazelnuts. All it does is tell us to toast them, and then talks about adding "ground hazelnuts" to the mix. So, how finely should they be ground? Or is fine chopping enough?

The recipe should have said "finely ground" skinned hazelnuts, so pls grind them in a food processor. We'll fix online.

I'm making challah for a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast. I have a recipe that gives baking instructions for rolls, a 1 lb challah, and a 1.5 lb challah, each just increasing the baking time. If I want to make a 2.5 lb challah to feed a crowd, can I just extend the baking time? Anything else I need to adjust? Or am I better off with smaller loaves?

Without reviewing the recipe itself, I would agree with your observation regarding baking smaller loaves, and I would think about baking two smaller loaves.

Wow, I just read the article! Yay! I love the idea of arranging a book by region - I'll plan my travels by what food sounds best. I also love the idea of a vegetarian Turkish cookbook. Let me know where to sign up!

Thanks for your lovely comment.  Go to my web stie at  and leave me your name and I can keep you posted about local Turkish classes and new book.   Sheilah

I had a Turkish dessert at a restaurant in NY. It was a warm tart with cheese, maybe ricotta cheese, and had a honey syrup on top. Can you tell me the name of that dessert and is there a recipe in the cook book.

Tarts are not part of  original authentic Turkish Cuisine, and may be an adapted dish.  If you tell me the name of the restaurant, perhaps I can get the name and recipe.

It sounds intriguing, and I've seen it referred to elsewhere in Turkish recipes. Where can I buy it here in the US? Preferably locally.

Turkish food stores, or on line, perhaps Mediterranean markets.  I think Tulumba site on line has it.  They have a lot of Turkish products.

I came away with more than 30, yes 30, peppers in my CSA. Not positive what they are exactly, but they are shaped like an anaheim pepper. I've been trying to eat them up, raw, added to whatever is being cooked, etc...but that only is making a small dent. They're not spicy, and not sweet as a bell pepper, I've been adding hot sauce to them to get some taste. Can I freeze them? Have an idea how to use them up?

Hi there

Make a fermented pepper relish or salsa. You can chop up the peppers and add corn and onions and tomatoes or apples and raisins...and ferment them. Check out Nourishing Traditions cookbook for more recipes and ideas. Or, just come up with a quart of chopped veggies, add 1 T good salt and 4 T whey, water to cover, leave an inch at the top, and let it sit on the counter for 2-3 days... for more, see Be well, Monica Corrado

Why can't onions and potatoes be stored together?

A great science experiment happens...gases build up that make the onions go soft and the potatoes tend to rot faster. Sometimes they can be placed in cold storage together, but then the starch in the potatoes doesn't do well.

Hey guys, the stuffing for those cabbage rolls does sound pretty yummy - but, alas, not the cabbage. You guys mentioned this could easily be used for other things, but my imagination is on a break right now. Any suggestions?

I love that filling so much, I make it without the cabbage , or there is a similar pilaf  recipe in the book.

Maybe you can s tuff in mushrooms, tomatoes, crepes, etc.  Experiment and let me know.  Sheilah

If mom is allowed to breastfeed...remember to keep the dishes free of gassy or garlicky products. Baby will not tolerate it.

Challah baking times depend in part on the shape - if you make your 2.5 lb loaf a longer rather than a larger version, you'll be okay with the smaller loaf baking time. And do a braid, rather than the turban-shaped bakes through better when braided. Use a thermometer deep into one of the braids and go until the bread registers about 190 degrees - the currently fashionable push to higher temps for artisan bread doesn't work for any challah recipe I know of. I've tried a lot of them. Or just tap the bottom to see if it sounds hollow. And you may need to tent with foil so it can finish baking without burning - the glaze sometimes darkens before the bread inside is done. Good luck!

I tend to make things up as I cook, so don't have recipes to follow. This means I don't know very well how the seasoning is going. So, if it's something involving ground meat that I'm flavoring, I'll just take a teaspoon of it and throw it onto a nonstick for 30 seconds or so on a side, just enough to cook it. Then I know what it'll taste like cooked! It's amazing how often I underseason until I really taste test.

A good, safe solution. You're in the running, TRM.

Hi, Rangers! I have Friday off and am planning on making applesauce to celebrate the cooler weather. Does the type of apple matter tremendously? When I was little, I remember my grandmother using a combination of apples, but since it's a little early in apple season there aren't that many varieties available yet. What do you think? Should I hold off until later in the year, or can I go ahead and satisfy my cravings now?

I have prepared applesauce with both single and multiple varieites of apples, and the results have been wonderful. My favorite apple varieties for sauce are Empire, Northern Spy, and Jonagold. So, go ahead and make some sauce!

No reason to wait for this recipe, which is now my go-to in the fall.

I have three bottles of a reisling/vidal blanc wine blend that I'd like to use up to make a mixed drink to take to a picnic this weekend (it's not that excellent and it's getting old). Any suggestions on something tasty to make that can basically be premixed and taken in a pitcher? I'm lost!

Why not try a variation on a white sangria. Here's one that calls for gin instead of brandy, the London Dry Sangria, from Duggan McDonnell, who owns Cantina in San Francisco:

12 ounces  white wine

6 ounces gin, preferably London dry

6 ounces Simple Syrup

1o dashes orange bitters


8 ounces ginger beer

In a pitcher, combine all of the ingredients except ice and the ginger beer and stir well. Add ice and stir again. Strain into ice-filled rocks glasses and stir in the ginger beer.


Someone suggested oatmeal to me when I started breastfeeding, and I've discovered that I love it! The problem is that my infant's morning eat/play/nap schedule doesn't fit well with the 30-40 minutes it takes to make a serving of steel cut oatmeal on the stove. I know some of these questions have been addressed before, but I thought that maybe with the cooler weather, others might have the same questions. So, my questions: Can I make a large amount of oatmeal to freeze for later? Can I make it in my slow cooker? If so, do I need to bring the milk to a boil first and then transfer it to the slow cooker? Most importantly, will reheated oatmeal still taste good? How should I reheat it -- stove or microwave? If you have time to answer, I thank you, and my son thanks you, since he will also be reaping the benefits of Mommy's oatmeal consumption!

Hi there. No need to cook steel cut oats or any oats for 30-40 minutes. It is all in the soaking before. One MUST soak grains for at least 12 hours-24 hours to PRE-DIGEST them, and thus not put a strain on the digestive system. It will help your child a lot too, and not put a strain on your infant's digestive system. Here's the recipe, and yes, you can double or triple it, and make it in advance to reheat later. NEVER USE A MICROWAVE. You will lose the nutrients you so need right now to breastfeed that baby to be a thriver. 

Recipe: 1 cup oats, rolled or steel  cut, 1 cup room temp water, 2 Tablespoons whey, or plain yogurt, or cultured buttermilk, (or lemon juice or apple cider vinegar if you are not doing dairy). Let soak overnight, 12-24 hours, on the counter with a cover. In the morning, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and dump the entire soaked bowl into the pot of boiling water. Add raisins or cut up dates at this point for a little sweetness. Cook for 5 minutes on med-low for rolled oats, a little longer for steel cut, like 10 minutes. You may wish to add some water for steel cut if they get too dry as they are cooking to tenderness.  Be sure to eat your oats with a good amount of grass-fed butter. You need fat to absorb the nutrients in grains.

To reheat, place your desired amount in a pot with additional water and stir. Add as much as you need to get it to your desired consistency. Heat on low on the stove for a few minutes. To make this quicker, add boiling water to the leftover oatmeal.

For more information about soaking whole grains and beans so they are digestible and the nutrients are available, see

All the best to you and your little one. 

be well,

Monica Corrado

I'm hosting my first Yom Kippur break-the-fast this year and I'm at a loss as to what to serve. I'll need to do the bulk of the cooking on Friday, both because I'll be in services most of the day on Saturday and because it's pretty tortuous to cook while you're hungry. There will be about a dozen people, including a few elementary-age kids. I thought about a french toast casserole but I'm worried it's too rich for very empty stomachs. Any thoughts?

Mazel. You may get some good ideas from what the Greenbergs do in this All We Can Eat blogpost from yesterday, not to mention a good blintz recipe.

What if I cut up a tomato and won't be able to use the rest for another day or two (or three, if I forget)? Should it still be kept outside the fridge and if so, how should it be protected--aluminum foil, plastic wrap?

No, put in a baggie or wrap and refrigerate in vegetable drawer.

I'm so excited to see the article about Turkish foods in today's section! My husband is Turkish and I've been slowly learning how to cook those delicious dishes (though I'll never be as good as his grandma...I've accepted it). I agree about measurements in most recipes, metric I can deal with but when you're trying to bake pastries and the recipe calls for "one small glass of milk and three large glasses of flour," disaster isn't far away. Anyway, my biggest problem with traditional Turkish dishes is that they aren't difficult, but take forever! So they end up being weekend-only treats. Does this cookbook have any tips on quicker ways to cook Turkish foods? If so, I'm definitely getting it (and probably will anyway). Thanks!

Our  book is with perfect  measures that you can do easily, and  there  are some  very  easy  recipes you can do  for  your  husband, good  luck

Speaking of good sources, a reader e-mailed this morning to suggest "The Art of Turkish Cooking or Delectable Delights of Topkapi" by Neset Eren. Sheilah has a copy in her collection, so it must be good.

Hi Monica, I've seen this offered at my co-op - they actually have a large dispenser when the individual bottles proved to be so popular. I've had it a few times & like the taste, but wonder what the gray, kinda slimy bits at the bottom are. I'm not one to be afraid of bacteria, so generally give the bottle a good shake and put it down the hatch. Is kombucha something that is helpful to have everyday? Thank you!

Hi there

The gray, slimy bits are bits of the kombucha culture itself. I know you know that kombucha is a live food. So the culture will keep on growing, albeit slowly, when refrigerated. No worries. Drink away!

be well, 


What do you think of this tempting book - recently published. I know it isn't all totally authentic, but is it worth buying (in case you k now)?

What is the title and author of this book.  I have a collection of Turkish cookbooks, but don't know this one.  Was in published in America or overseas?  We have a lot of wonderful baked goods in "The Turkish Cookbook," the kind you see at Turkish bazaars and markets. And if you are lucky enough to be invited to a Turkish home for tea/coffee and sweets.

how do you decide what spices to use when you ferment? i have been fermenting for about 2 years and picking what seeds(spices) to use has been the most difficult. I have looking for good receipes i have sally fallons, sandor katz books but i am still looking for good practical receipes.

I just go with flavors that I like.  Basil and oregano always go well together. Thyme is wonderful. See what fresh herbs and spices there are available and go from there. When I teach my "fermenting cucumbers" aka, "pickles" classes, I encourage folks to try adding Thai basil or lemon basil, or thyme and garlic. There is also a book out that is called The Herb Bible. They give herb and spice might try that. Be creative!

be well, 


Hello everyone, love the lentil recipe in today's Food section. I am betting that I will have a hard time finding that pepper somewhere close in downtown Silver Spring or DC but I'll give it a look see. Anyone found it in the past in these places? Also, I am looking for za'atar and so far the Lebanese Taverna said they are hoping for a shipment at the end of the month - any where else I could find it in SS or DC? Thanks so much

Aleppo pepper is sold at La Cuisine in Alexandria, and close by, you can find za'atar at the Spice and Tea Exchange of  Old Town Alexandria (a few blocks over on King St.).

Lisa, thanks for your answer. I am using Cindy Mushet's flaky pie or tart dough recipe, 1 stick of butter/ 3-4 T ice water/ 1/4 t salt. Making mostly savory tarts. Most will have a layer of 2 kinds of shredded (by me) cheese and a layer of beautifully arranged vegetable circles on top, tomato-zucchini, eggplant, etc. A tiny bit of olive oil expedites vegetable cooking, and basil chiffonade & fleur de sel added at the last moment make these tarts very good. I've always made them a few hours before the party, but this time the party is at noon.

It sounds as if the filling is just right for baked-off tart shells. One trick that I could pass along--if you have time--is to lightly (and GENTLY) rewarm the shells just before filling. BUT, in this follow-up explanation, it sounds like you are filling and rebaking the shells. Is this correct? If you are, there is no problem whatsoever in prebaking the shells.

I have tried several recipes for lentils. Every time I have followed the recipes to a "tee" and the lentils end up with a texture of being underdone which is the main reason I'm not a big bean/lentil fan. However I would like that to change. Is there a good sources for people who would like to learn to eat beans and lentils?

There are some wonderful cookbooks on lentils and beans.  I think Aliza Green did a "bible" on it a few years ago.  There are tutorials on line, perhaps if you google "cooking beans and lentils."  I just do whatever Nur taught me and don't have a problem.  Again, can depend on HOW LONG they have sat on the shelf in the store.  That is what makes it hard when you use them.  Sheilah

I was told in a cooking demo years ago, to salt raw meat and then make a teeny tiny meatball and cook it to taste the seasoning. It's an obvious, though often overlooked solution.

That is a great idea.  I will use that in my cooking.  Do you mind if I pass this tip on to my students? Sheilah

So nice we're publishing this twice.

When I opened the Post today, I felt like I had hit the jackpot - Monica had been our demo chef at the Olney Farmers Market in August, and Sheilah will be our chef this Sunday. Susan Belsinger has been with us twice. And Patricia Jinich has cooked for us! We have a great schedule of chef demos: has more details.

Hollah, Olney!

Based on years of experience, you definitely want to serve light non-meat, comforting foods. Blintzes are great and bagels/lox are always a good go-to. I'd also recommend quiches, salads, pasta, and the like. I think that your french-toast casserole sounds perfect, as long as its not TOO heavy on the cream. In all honesty though, don't expect people to eat as much as you might think. After a fast, your stomach can't handle that much food anyway. Make sure to serve OJ (lots of sugar to replenish what was lost) and coffee (since most people will be dying for some caffeinated-headache relief).

It's time for me to buy more olive oil, and with bottles ranging in price all the way up to $50 (and probably more), I'd love it if you'd do a label-by-label review. Is the inexpensive Trader Joe's brand, say, good for cooking but not for salad, or is the relationship of all supermarket-available olive oils to good olive oil as those old cello-packs of three tasteless tomatoes are to farmers market varieties? I'm thinking of extra-virgin olive oil but please also tell us if the non-virgin oil also has uses. Thank you so much!

Seems I've been up to my elbows in olive oil lately. (Check next week's section.) We ran a tasting several years back so maybe it's time for us to do another one. What I do know is that I prefer dated, fresh-as-possible extra-virgin olive oil, so I steer clear of supermarket oils.  Taste whatever you have BEFORE you use it. Just like wine, the olive oil you use for cooking should taste good enough to use on salads.

Hi Jason - I've had the Alaska with green chartreuse and it was pretty good. Have you tried it this way, or only with yellow chartreuse?

I have, and it's not bad. It's simply personal preference. I like the yellow better because it allows the gin to be more pronounced. A variation of this that calls for green Chartreuse is called a Bijou, with gin, Chartreuse and sweet vermouth.

Might want to hold off on adding the liquor/wine until you get there. Don't want to get cited for open container violation with it in the car in a pitcher.

You could keep it in a cooler in the trunk?

I made croissants at home last night -- boy was that a lot of work! After all the mixing, rolling and chilling I forgot to chill the croissants in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking to lock in the butter. When I checked on them half-way through baking, I found them sitting in huge pools of butter and burned on the edges. Yuck. I always assumed that croissants were from France, but last week I heard that they're from Turkey. Apparently that's the reason they're crescent-shaped. Any truth to that?

I have not heard that croissants where Turkish.  THere is no recipe for a similar bread in Turkish cuisine.  The cresent shape could stand for something else, for instance the bagel shape is suppose to be from the King's Stirrup on his saddle.  Sheilah

In response to the baking results-- it is important that the formed croissants are well-chilled and that the oven is properly calibrated and preheated. With those factors in mind, you should make sure to use reasonably heavy baking sheets. The pooling of butter could also be the result of the butter layering process--if the parcel of butter is not evenly dispersed between the layers of dough, the butter can ooze out as the croissants are baking.

they were  first  made  in Austria  when Turkish  armies  were in the borders, the  bakers , early in the  morning started doing cresent shaped bakery to  inform the  citizens about  the Turkish  invasion, thats the story  behind  it.

If the pepper is light green, it might be a banana pepper. Those taste great sliced on sandwiches!

Prudhomme's recipe beat Mike's anyday. No cayenne? Cilantro? Promis oil? Come on. If you don't use lard then extra virgin olive oil.

Thing is, this was supposed to be slightly more healthful recipe than an authentic rendition. And remember, Clinton likes it.

Of course I don't put garden tomatoes in the fridge, but the one time I tried to keep the pack of grape tomatoes out of the fridge, they spoiled.

I put the grape tomatoes in the fridge too.  I think keeping them out, stem side down is to keep the flavor and taste.  With grape tomatoes, I don't worry about that too much since they are going in salad and will have dressing, etc.

Hope there's time to get some responses to this -- An elderly neighbor has bad arthritis and can't cook anymore but neither does she want to accept outside help, a relative told me. I figure I could drop something off, claiming I made too much, but I don't know what to make. Are any foods especially good or bad for arthritis? Thanks for any and all suggestions!

I have been told Nightshades are VERY bad for arthrisis  and include Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Eggplants.  Not sure what else.  You need foods that have ingredients that act as anti-inflammatory agents.

Again, google for those foods.  Sheilah

You have got to get good old-fashioned chicken stock or beef stock to any ailing neighbor. Or new mom. Very nutrient-dense, very easy on the digestive system. I would also encourage an alkaline diet--lots of fresh vegetables --stay away from the refined sugar, no white flour. Good, old-fashioned nourishing, traditional food. 

be well, 


One of my favorite treats from childhood was pickled corn. Unfortunately, no one in my family ever made it and the technique is lost to me. I think I just need to layer the corn in a crock with salt and water, but it's so scary! Any suggestions? I'd like to make it off of the cob and in jars, but can only remember those few details about making it on the cob and in a crock.

Hi there, 

No need to be frightened! Fermenting is fun and easy to do.  :)

There is pickling (done with vinegar) which stops the production of lactic acid producing bacteria, and fermenting which encourages their growth. If you would like to ferment your corn (which they may be calling pickled corn anyway), I would take it off the cob, pack it in a wide-mouth ball jar, and cover with water, any herbs you like, and 2 Tablespoons of salt. Make sure the corn is covered. Leave one inch of room (air) at the top and put the lid on tightly. Leave out on the counter for 2-3 days, or until the lid is tight on top. Then into the refrigerator. 

If you would like some recipes, see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon or Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix.

be well, 


It's called Turkish Bakery Delight, by Deniz Gokturk Akcakanat Published in the US. Looks intriguing.

Who is the US publisher?  Would like to get a copy.

So ready for fall that I made some soup yesterday. Chicken soup with curry dumplings. Dumplings are the drop dough into hot liquid variety. I put the leftovers all together and my lunch today is soup with dumpling bits. What is the best way to store and reheat? Thanks

To avoid "dumpling mush," you must take the dumplings out when storing in the refrigerator, and then reheat the soup and add the dumplings later. Just warm gently on the stove and then store in a stainless steel thermos for lunch. Dumplings do not like microwaves.

be well,


This is from a chatters question a few weeks back, and something I learned from moms who feed their families simple nourishing meals like my friend Lee Ann in Michigan. I love to transmogrify leftovers, and tacos are an easy one. Start with 1-2 cups of taco meat in a large skillet. Add any leftover refried beans, or a can of refried beans. Add 2 to 3 cups cold leftover cooked rice and 2+ cups of salsa or picante sauce (you want saucey, not a chopped fresh salsa). Heat gently until thoroughly warmed. Serve with cheese, sour cream, on a bed of lettuce or scoop up with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

The nearest good Za'atar to Silver Spring is at the Kosher Mart on Boiling Brook Parkway. Pereg and the other brand that comes in pyramidal containers are both authentic. That chain grocery whose name starts with H that I am blanking on has the good Za'atar at its Rockville Pike store and at the one off 270.

My best friend's family always made sure to have a good selection of fishes. For some reason, fish is a better protein than heavier meats after a fast. So, herring and cream, lox, sweet and sour salmon, white fish salad, were all staples. Have a variety of sweet and not sweet carbs. Not everyone likes the sweeter carbs like challah, danish, or coffee cakes. A non-sweet kugel is good. Also a variety of fruits usually goes over well. You can mix in a variety of egg dishes (quiches are easy to make ahead and reheat) and cheese dishes (the afore-mentioned blintzes) .

Penzey's has it. And it's good. their za'atar is not good, however.

Thanks Bonnie for the spots in VA - nothing in downtown SS or DC? The article mentioned Whole Foods and I wondered if anyone had luck finding it there.

I just published a few from our helpful chatters.

After doing online research, I've remained unconvinced that soaking grains is helpful for digestion. I've read studies and counter-studies, heard inconclusive arguments that our ancestors did it that way, etc. Since Monica just mentioned that soaking is a MUST, please help me out. Is there a conclusive study from a non-biased source that explains why grains really MUST be soaked?

First of all, grains are the hardest thing for the human body to digest. (Heck, cows have many more stomachs than we do, and they don' t eat them unless they are forced.)

In order to easily digest grains and have their nutrients available to be absorbed by the body, three things have to happen: 1. neutralize phytic acid found in grains. Phytic acid binds with minerals your body needs and prevents them from being absorbed in the small intestine. 2. neutralize enzyme inhibitors so that your body will actually have the enzymes for digestion and 3. break down the long -chain proteins in the grains. The most notorious of these is GLUTEN. When grains are pre-digested, the gluten is broken down and is easily digested by the body. 

Oh, btw, SPROUTING grains or "sourdough-ing" will also accomplish these goals. 

One more thing...isn't it interesting--is there a connection--with the number of people and children in our country (the land of amber-waving GRAIN) and celiac, IBS, eczema, ulcerative collitis, allergies, etc. and that these traditional soaking methods have been out of our culture since WWII? hmmmm 

be well, 


Lisa, thanks for your help. I was really worried about prebaking tart shells. I do bake my veggie tarts after I fill them. PS: I have three of your books, and love Chocolate, Chocolate despite "too much" sugar.

If the filling is placed in the pre-baked tart shells, and the filled tarts are baked off, you should not have a problem. Regarding a chatter's reply about storing the shells in an airtight container: if the container is NOT plastic, they store beautifully; I store mine in cookie tins. Regarding sugar, in ChocolateChocolate: this is a baking cookbook and sugar is an essential ingredient that drives up and counterbalances the flavor of chocolate. Without sugar, chocolate-centered baked goods would taste flat,possibily bitter, and their textures would be seriously impaired, if they would bake up properly at all! My recipes are carefully titrated to balance flavors and textures, and I stand by the results.

Can you please post a link to the green lentil soup? Thanks!

If you go to my website at and email me, I will send the recipe or try and put it up.  Thanks.  Sheilah

My garden has produced a lot of pumpkins this year. We have been stuffing and roasting like squash. However I see some recipes that call for peeling the pumpkin and cutting into chunks. Any easy way to peel a pumpkin? Second abundance has been the habanero pepper. We used one in a chili and it was very hot so we are not sure how to use the many that we still have. Do you have any good recipes? I am thinking of making habanero jelly. Any recipes for that?

We're almost out of time but the easiest way to peel pumpkin is to first cut the pumpkin into large pieces, then use a sharp knife to cut each one.

My spouse is allergic to all forms of nuts. As you can expect, it can create a challenge when cooking and baking. We have figured out how to substitute pine nuts in pesto (use soy nuts), but any recommendations?

I have found baking with coconut flour or other alternative grains helps. I am teaching a class for GF grains and baking--see my website for details. 

be well!


OOH, do you have folks in the house today who can tell me how to make the pink pickled turnips one often finds in middle eastern restaurants? I would be very, very grateful!

Iam sorry Ihave  no idea about  pink pickles, i wish icould be heapful .

I know you can find some at the Takoma Park Farmers Market on Sundays. Check out Pleasant Pastures. 


be well, 


Could it have been a Greek tart?

Turks and Greeks  have  lived many  centuries  together so we  have many common dishes.It  doesnt matter  what the  name is , only there are few differences in preparing them.

I like to do things that are easily freezable (in case they have a lot to eat right now), that can be more of a full meal. So, I have done beef chili, but included sour cream, corn bread, and a few beers. Or Moroccan braised beef in harissa broth, with a box of couscous and bag of frozen peas. That way they're not JUST eating the main dish, but also get a meal out of it. Not everything needs to be freezable, but it helps. Also, now that it's getting cooler, it's easier - think stews and soups and the almighty braise.

As a parent of two preemies, I suggest that you make one dish, freeze it, and another dish that could be frozen, but don't freeze it. Let the parents decide if they need a break tonight (unfrozen dish) or would rather stock the freezer for later. Also, please, please, bring another dish, cooked but not frozen, when the babies are about four months old. By then the sleepless nights have really caught up with the parents and getting dinner ready is nearly impossible. Ideas: beef stew, chicken tagine, chili, cassoulet, pot roast, braised short ribs.

For the person who is pre-baking tart shells: I suggest storing them overnight covered, but NOT air tight. They will get soft and stale tasting if they are in an air tight container. They will stay crisp and not need to be re-baked if you just cover them with tea towels or something similar.

I'd like to challenge the notion of avoiding garlicky/gassy foods when breastfeeding. Some studies show that babies eat more when mom has consumed strongly flavored foods and this has proven to be true in the case of my three kids. Babies don't know to expect the homogenized, neutral milk that we are accustomed to. Exposing them to variety early makes for less picky eaters later, in my experience.

Since someone brought it up again, I think my taco recycling idea came in too late that day. When I had leftover taco meat a while back, I used the leftovers to make a shepherd's pie. I put into the bottom of a pyrex pie plate, added frozen carrots and peas, then make quick mashed potatoes on top. I mixed some of the leftover shredded cheese into the mashed potatoes. If you have leftover hard taco shells, you can crush them and line the bottom of the pie plate before you put the meat in. Easy recycle!

I know that dumplings don't like microwaves, but sometimes you're in a what I do is take a paper towel, dampen with water and loosely wring it out (so that it still has a bit of moisture to steam the dumpling) and wrap the dumpling in that, covering all sides including the bottom. Microwave just enough to reheat and steam the dumplings then add back to soup.

The time FLEW by. Thanks to Monica, Sheilah and Nur, Lisa and Jason. Chat winners:  "Tasting raw meat," who reminded us of a good kitchen tip, and "Cooking for an elderly neighbor," because mitzvahs deserve notice.

Be sure to send your mailing address to Next week, we run the list of local cooking classes online, and Jason Wilson's new book, "Boozehound," gets its proper due.  Till then, happy cooking!

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