Free Range on Food: Maggie Austin at Buzz, pulses, citrus DIY and more

Maggie Austin's Apple Bread.
Jan 13, 2016

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 our coverage this week, including Becky's look at wedding cake artist Maggie Austin LaBaugh's new venture at Buzz, Cathy Barrow's ode to winter citrus (and how to preserve it), my Q&A with a pulse (do you know what that is?) farmer about the United Nations designation, Dorie Greenspan's gorgeously simple French yogurt cake, and more.

We have special guests today: Maggie Austin LaBaugh herself, Cathy "Mrs. Wheel-" Barrow (the DIY queen), and author and nutritionist Cynthia Sass, who can help with questions about pulses -- and not the kind you find on your wrist.

For those of you who want to chat with Dorie, know that she'll be up RIGHT AFTER US, so follow this link to send her questions early, or come back live at 1 to connect with her.

And for you PostPoints members, here is your code: FR2348 . Remember, record and enter it into the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

We'll also have a giveaway book for our favorite chatter today, so make your questions good!

Let's get started.

Bonnie, The tortas sound great! How many does a batch make?

Thanks! I really liked it. One batch = 6 jumbo-muffin size tortas. A reader contacted me this morning about what size a jumbo muffin well is, so figure it's 2 3/4 to 3 inches wide. You need that width/depth of the larger muffin well to pack in the tuna mixture and allow for the layer of spinach etc. -- or so I think!


RECIPE Tuna Spinach Tortas


This article was very informative as well as fascinating. How long can lemon, lime, and orange zest be kept in the freezer?

Thanks so much! I have kept the zest in my freezer at least six months. Longer if I forget it's there! 

ARTICLE: How to squeeze, spiral and zest every bit of specialty-citrus season

I've learned not to eat lentils the day of or even the day before I'll be in close quarters with anyone, 'cause I know I'll ... toot-toot! That is, pass gas, be flatulent. Beans are okay and so are chick peas, in my case. But lentils and a show or lentils and a shared car ride? Not a good idea. Please tell me how to circumvent this dilemma! I love lentil soup and even lentil salad!

Hi there. Interesting that you find this with lentils, but not other pulses like beans. Some research has found that eating pulses daily helped decrease flatulence - in week one 35% of those who added pulses reported an increase, but by week 8 it was down to just 3%. If incorporating a serving of pulses into your eating regime daily isn't practical for you peppermint tea may help. A cup of hot water steeped with one teaspoon of caraway seeds is also an oft-cited home remedy, as the seeds can stifle the enzymes that cause gas. 

I've also had luck adding a strip of kombu to the pot when I cook beans. (Haven't tried it with lentils, as they haven't really been a problem in this regard.)

My vegetarian son was excited to see this tofu recipe in today's paper but then we realized it had quite a bit of fish sauce in it. For recipes that contain only a little fish sauce we have successfully substituted miso paste. What can we use as a substitute for the 1/2 cup of fish sauce called for here?

The fish sauce is an important element in the sauce. Have you ever tried the vegetarian fish sauces available at Whole Foods? If you're feeling DIY-ish, here is a recipe for a Vegan Fish Sauce

I'll also chime in with this one from America's Test Kitchen I've used and really liked.

Is there a particular variety of apple recommended for this recipe?

Maggie Austin’s Apple Bread

RECIPE: Maggie Austin’s Apple Bread

I love granny smith apples for this recipe. They have a bright, tart taste and a firm texture that holds up nicely during baking.  The apple bread is very moist and tender and the slight crunch of the apple is a great complement!

I've used Fuji and Grannies the couple times I've made this, both worked well. You'd want a variety that won't get mushy in the oven. Speaking of apple varieties, have you noticed the price of Honeycrisp ($3.99! in DC supermarkets) as opposed to others ($1.29-$1.79)?

Bonnie, my husband refuses to eat any variety except honeycrisp! We've had success at H Mart in Annandale.

Hi, I've made the roasted portobello mushroom pecan and chestnut wellington twice, to rave reviews. But: why scrape off the gills of the mushrooms (which I did, btw)? is it a texture thing? or something else? Thanks for a great recipe! You probably got lots of extra hits on it, when people asked me for the recipe :-)

So glad you've liked this one! (But, um, why don't I see your rating on the recipe -- and/or comments? Add, add, tell others about your experience!)

The reason you remove the gills, which I suppose I could/should have included in the recipe, is because they will turn the stuffing very dark and unattractive if you leave them in.

RECIPE: Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Pecan and Chestnut Wellington

I just want to say thank you for this recipe. I made it over the holidays, down to the fried sage leaf garnish. They looked great and were just slightly sweet. Making the meatloaves in the muffin pan, "meat muffins," my guests said, was a great way to manage portion sizes too.

Meat muffins -- like it! Another thing in a muffin pan...hmm. I must be in a zone.

RECIPE Quince Glazed Meatloaves

Maggie, this is such a different project for you! How do you find the time?

We are incredibly busy. I'm also working on a book! But we love being busy. Buzz is giving me an opportunity to vary my focus, which is a healthy thing for any creative person. I also have an enormous amount of support from my own family as well as my Neighborhood Restaurant Group family.

ARTICLE: She bakes cakes fit for a queen. Now commoners can afford her treats, too.

I recently ordered 10 lbs of bergamot. Five lbs went into marmalade, and with the rest I plan to make cordial/syrup (kinda like the lemon squash recipe), freeze juice for cocktails, save zest for baking and making my own earl grey tea, add some to chocolate, infuse some olive oil, and finally candy some peel. How many times do you think I should blanch the extremely fragrant peel before candying it? I have candied orange, lemon, and citron but with this potent stuff I am wary. Do you have any other ideas for using bergamot? Thank you for all the wonderful preserving ideas. Intrepid cooks may also want to try preserving lemon or limes in the Indian way. I am using the recipe from Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon. Linda Ziedrich has a recipe too, for those that are wary of the traditional methods (oil pickles).

Oh, I love love love bergamot. The tofu recipe is wonderful with bergamot, by the way. Very fragrant! I keep the peel in the freezer and add it to panna cotta, ice cream and flan. I've never had enough to candy, so I don't know if it would work well. Please report back.


And add some of the peel to black tea for a DIY take on Earl Grey, of course!

It's not cheap, but it does kill the flatulence if you take it before a pulse-ful meal.


I am going to try making marshmallows this weekend. I'm tempted to dip some of them in chocolate. Can I dip them right after cutting them up? Or should I let the dry out a bit?

Give in to the temptation! It makes them so, so good. You'll at least want to shove the marshmallows in the refrigerator for a bit. Cooling them will make them a bit easier to handle and help the chocolate set.

I've done this many times following the process and proportions in the recipe below. Have fun!

Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Marshmallows

RECIPE: Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Marshmallows

I'll need to pack both lunch and dinner one day of the week between now and May. Lunch is pretty straight forward. Dinner....that's another thing entirely. It has to be easy to pack in the morning and be sustaining enough for dinner. I'm at a complete loss. No microwave available. I know i need containers that hold heat well, especially in the winter, since it'll be stored in a vehicle in a parking lot.

To be clear, you're talking about food that you want to keep warm all day, presumably out of the bacteria zone (40-140 degrees)? Only thing I can thing of is a thermos-type insulated container, and maybe some kind of vegetable soup?


Because there's no microwave available, I'd recommend bringing in a portable burner, induction or otherwise, to reheat foods that you can refrigerate/store safely.

Your article on local coffee shops and outside competition got me thinking about my own coffee predicament. I would love to try a local roaster, however, I'm pregnant and currently limiting myself to decaf coffee. Do you know of any local roasters currently producing Swiss Water Process decaf coffee? Or should I just wait a few more months and try out the local roasters once I'm back on the fully caffeinated bandwagon?

I'm checking with a couple of roasters, but I can't think of any right now.


For those who haven't heard of it, the Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company claims to decaffeinate beans without chemicals, unlike the standard process which is heavy on them. The company famously opened a pop-up in New York that sold only decaf coffee, hoping to show the City That Never Sleeps that their cuppa Joe doesn't have to suffer without caffeine.


Joel Finkelstein from Qualia Coffee just sent this response:

"We sometimes get SWP decaf. It just depends on from which importer we are getting coffee. Royal NY, which I believe Zeke's and Compass rely fairly heavily on, uses a different brand called Mountain Water Process. Generally when we get decaf from InterAmerican Coffee, it's the Swiss Water brand. I can contact my person at InterAmerican and find out whether she knows of anyone locally who is purchasing decaf from them."


ARTICLE: Coffee outsiders have their eye on D.C. Are they going to hurt the local shops?

Bonnie, thanks so much for tonight's dinner recipe! One question, though. I don't have a jumbo muffin pan, but I do have a mini loaf pan like this. Will it work ok?

Huh, hadn't thought of the mini-loaf size. I don't think one batch would fill all 8 wells of this pan; maybe 1 1/2 times the recipe would, though.

So very pleased to see this article! I'm always trying to save peel for cooking and cookies but it's never turned out very well. Coincidentally, I just read two articles about preparing home-made cleansers and they suggest adding powdered lemon or orange peel to boost cleaning power and add a nice smell. So thanks to you, now I can save citrus rinds to cook in my kitchen and then to clean the kitchen afterwards :)

That's great advice! I've used orange zest to stop those annoying tiny sugar ants that show up in the spring, too. Citrus, it's not just for breakfast! 

I (mostly) use a natural cleaner, for countertops/etc., and it's water, distilled vinegar, and orange peels. One word of caution: Be sure to put BIG pieces of peel in your spray bottle. If you chop it up, like I did the first time, you can just guess what happens. Yep, stuck in the sprayer.

What do you recommend for a new vegan, focused on pulses as a protein source, for serving size of pulses to start, and what buildup schedule to ease into eating larger servings and more regularly, without gastric consequences?

Hi there. I've had vegan clients who eat 1/2 cup of a pulse at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so 1.5 cups total without experiencing bloating or gas, but everyone is a little different. In my experience 1/2 cup of cooked pulses in a meal once a day is a great place to start!

My husband and I both like beef jerky. We already have a dehydrator and we recently bought a meat slicer. (Actually the slicer has been great for making pork chops, cutting bacon etc) but we're trying to find some good seasoning to make jerky. Everything we've tried always has soy sauce and we've expiremented with our own which was a giant fail. Any blends, recipes or suggestions? We like a sweet and spicy type or maybe something with taquila?

Homemade jerky is so delicious. I like to use Chinese Five Spice with beef. It brings out all the very best in the beef. 


A few years ago, I became semi-obsessed with Vietnamese jerky, these dehydrated beef strips that are spicy, sweet and chewy. I wrote about them for a Food section story in 2012.


Among the people I spoke to was Charles Phan, the talented chef behind the Slanted Door in San Francisco (a must-visit restaurant next time you're in the Bay Area). He has an unorthodox jerky recipe that doesn't call for a dehydrator. But I think you could easily adapt it for the dehydrator, and it would be even better.


ARTICLE: Chew on this, jerky fans


RECIPE: Charles Phan's Beef Jerky

before my local one closed for the season. However, unlike supermarket celery which gets mushy and nasty when it gets old, this wonderful stuff just seems to have dried out a bit. There are long air tubes going through it so it isn't that nice to eat plain with almond butter any more. Suggestions? I found a recipe for braised celery that looks good and I have some fat and gelled stuff from roasting chicken thighs that I could sub for the butter and beef broth, right? Does that sound like it would work. I can't imagine the lemon and herbs from roasting the chicken would clash with celery. Thanks for any tips or other hints or ideas.

Seems like it would be good for making stock and chicken noodle soup; also, I can recommend this recipe, which is so simple but kind of wonderful.

RECIPE Tarragon Roasted Celery

Hi Maggie! How far in advance does a bride have to contact you to book a cake? Do you work with the couple for a long time to create the design? I love your cakes so much! They are truly one of a kind masterpieces.

Thanks for your question! Short answer soon as possible. Because we only take on a few custom projects per year, I'd recommend reaching out as soon as the venue is booked. Each couple is so different! Some know immediately what they want, others are looking for more of a collaborative process. 

Just a quick thanks to the team for helping me use up "extra" tubs of pimento cheese! If anyone finds themselves in a similar position, I belatedly discovered that the Palmetto brand website has a ton of recipes. My family loved the pimento mac and cheese and I'll even make it on purpose next time!

Glad to hear! Thanks.

Wow! Now I know how to use up the last couple of blood oranges before leaving on vacation! The Roasted Orange Salty Caramel Tofu sounds just amazing. Thanks.

You're welcome! 

The recipe sounds delicious! Can I substitute whole wheat flour for all or part of the regular flour, AND, do you recommend any particular type of apple?

I like to use granny smith apples because I'm a fan of the tart  flavor and crisp texture that holds up with baking. Bonnie has also had success using a combination of fuji apples and grannys. For the flour question...I think it would be fine. But I'd experiment with subbing half instead of the whole thing for the first trial.  Good for you for being health conscious! :)

I'm interested in trying that recipe. The places where I shop don't sell no-salt-added chickpeas, but they do sell kinds that use sea salt. Should I rinse the chickpeas really well, and add less salt, or what? I'm not interested in hunting for the no-salt-added kind. We already go to enough stores. Thanks for your time! I've learned so much about cooking from your chats.

Yes, rinse, drain and dry -- and then taste before you add any more salt when they come out of the oven. They might be salty enough, or they might not -- so you can judge!

RECIPE: Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

ARTICLE: Why a food you have never heard of could be key to feeding the world

OP here: Last week you requested that I re-ask my question re any significant nutritional differences between bleached and unbleached flour. So, here it is!

Well, thanks for coming back! We ran 1 cup of each through the Nutribase analysis software -- and by "we," I mean our very capable editorial assistant, Kara Elder:

BLEACHED: 460 cal, 13 g protein, 95 g carbs, 1 g fat, 0 g sat fat, cholesterol & sodium, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar


Nutrientwise, each has more than 50; the top three "values" in BLEACHED are DFE folate, total folate and folic acid.

In UNBLEACHED, they are just the same.

Both kinds go through some version of a "bleaching" process, but I think the bleached one goes through more of a process, with different chemicals. Hope that helps!

How many servings do you recommend having? Can clients pick more than one flavor for a cake?

We recommend allowing one slice of cake per person. If you are including an additional dessert buffet (often provided by caterers) you may be able to lessen the amount of cake offered. May be more cost effective too! ;) As for flavors, the only rule is that the couple gets exactly what they want. 

My family loathes canned tuna and loves canned salmon - if I use the good stuff in a can might the torta recipe work? I would squeeze out a lot of the extra salmon liquid.

Yep, I'm sure it would. Maybe you'd want to get rid of the larger bits of cartilage.

I have a mini crockpot that holds one serving of food. I put leftovers in it and one hour before eating, I plug it in. When I start to smell the food, I remember that it's there and ready to eat! It cost about $20 and I love it!

It's a good tip, but not sure it will work for this chatter -- sounds like their only option is storing in their car.

After all the talk about the cauliflower shortage last week I was pleased to see a basket of it at my local urban market grocery store in San Antonio on Sunday. Didn't buy any then because I had too many other vegetables that needed to be eaten first. If there are any cauliflowers left when I go back this weekend I was thinking about buying one to roast whole in the oven. Last recipe I tried called for olive oil and dijon mustard. It was delicious but I would like to try something different this time. Any ideas?

I once made a casserole for a potluck and after it baked I realized that one of the ingredients had meal moths in it. I didn't have time to remake the casserole so I brought it to a potluck. Everyone is still alive, and yes, I did eat some of the casserole too.

I was a bystander at a private event and saw the family dog pull down the gorgeously plated leg of lamb. The catering staff made quick work of wrestling it away and off to the kitchen for a trim before too much damage was done...

does your shop have any tables or is it all to go?

Yes, Buzz has tables! Both the Alexandria and Ballston locations are great for enjoying a bite and a sip. And bring the kids! Our renovated Slaters Lane shop has some wee seats that are a hit. 

Hi, submitting early because I won't be able to make the chat. As an Indian-American who grew up eating primarily Indian food at home, I appreciated your nod to the use of pulses in Indian food. But it is really not just quicker-cooking lentils. For example, we often make rajma, which is made with kidney beans, instead of daal. Pulses are also used in less obvious ways -- for example, urad dal which is soaked, ground, and fermented to make South Indian dosas. Or chick pea flour, which is used to make pakoras and also stirred into the North Indian dish called karhi (you won't find this in restaurants). There are even desserts based on pulses -- like besan (chickpea flour) laddoos (again, good luck finding in any restaurant!). Your recent interview with Madhur Jaffrey quoted her as saying Indian cuisine is the best vegetarian cuisine in the world, in part because it has existed and been refined over thousands of years. One of the things that makes it the best vegetarian cuisine is the creative use of beans and other pulses, which, along with the myriad ways of cooking all kinds of vegetables, result in what I think (biased of course!) is really the best way to eat.

Thank you for this! One of my favorite things about pulses is how versatile they are. I also incorporate pulses into desserts. In my book Slim Down Now I use beans in three different types of pulse pudding - ginger fig, dark chocolate, and mango vanilla - as well as in coconut cherry pulse pops. I also use chickpea flour in the pulse brownie bites and pumpkin spice mini muffins. In the U.S. just 14% of people eat pulses on any given day, only about 6.5 pounds per person per year. I'm hoping that the word pulse in relation to food will become a household term, and we'll see pulse intake increase. Not only are they delicious, nutrient rich, good for you, and affordable, but they're incredibly versatile in terms of how they can be incorporated, in both savory and sweet ways.   

Hey food folks - on my PC, in firefox, the chat is extra wide today, so I can't read it, as the right column is covering a lot of content.

Sorry, our fault -- should be better now?

I've got some leftover braised kale and was thinking of putting it in a frittata tonight. My debate: warm it up in the pan and pour the eggs over it, or warm it up in the microwave and "sprinkle" it over the eggs once they're in the pan? A little worried about moisture, but more worried about burnt kale, I guess.

It's pretty sturdy, that kale, so I'd choose Plan A.

I bought Cathy Barrow's book a few weeks ago and started looking for the best pressure cooker for my needs. I want one primarily for low acid foods like chicken stock, beef broth, stuffed cabbage and peppers, etc, not jams or sugar loaded foods. I've read quite a few customer reviews on Amazon and I am completely lost. I don't want pressure gauges flying across the room. I am also concerned that apparently not all Canners go as high in pressure as necessary for low acid foods. A friend swears by the Instant Pot, that sounds amazing for all it does, but I am afraid it won't work for safe low acid food canning. I don't worry about the price since I think if I use the canner it will pay for itself. My big concern is safety. Please advice. Thanks

I've used both dial and weighted gauge canners and I'm a big fan of the weighted gauge. It's a lot easier to use (I detail how I made my choice in the book, at the beginning of chapter two!) I've been using this one for 10 years and it's fool-proof. 

My wonderful husband brought me back some nduja from a business trip this weekend. Yay! So far I've been enjoying it on crackers with mozzarella cheese, warmed slightly in the microwave. Also planning to use some with pasta, though I'm not sure whether to cook it in a sauce or just toss globs of it with hot oriechette. Thoughts? Other suggestions?


Back when the Food section used to have its own blog, we had a weekly cooking feature from the wonderful Edward Schneider. He developed this visually dazzling dish with nduja as its filling. The buns looks just like cinnamon rolls. (See photo above.)


Alas, the old blog is hard to access, and if you find the pages they are usually compromised. (Lots of missing information and photos, for some reason). But never fear, I still have Ed's original text. It's below.



There was a vivid travel/food story a while ago in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, all about the centrality of pork and chilies in the cooking of Calabria – the toe of the Italian boot, south of Naples. Since pork and chilies are fairly central in my own cooking too, I read this eagerly, in particular ogling a photograph of what looked for all the world like a pan of cinnamon buns: spirals of dough and filling baked together so you could pull them apart and enjoy them with your breakfast coffee. 


Except they weren’t cinnamon buns (and that’s not coffee in my cup): what might have been a brown sugar and spice filling was in fact … pork and chilies. Oh boy! 


The dough was akin to pizza dough, and the pork and chilies took the form of ’nduja, a spicy spreadable sausage that is gaining modest popularity in the United States (to pronounce it, just move the A in andouille to the end of the word). You can get an excellent version from California’s Boccalone Salumi online or in some specialty stores. 


I used my normal food-processor pizza dough: two scant cups of flour (bread flour would be fine, but then so would all-purpose), a good half a teaspoon of instant yeast and a big pinch of kosher salt (Diamond Crystal – less if you use the denser Morton’s or fine table salt), with blood-temperature water gradually added to the workbowl to form a soft but not sticky dough. Taste it for salt (despite what your mother may have told you, a scrap of raw dough won’t explode in your stomach), then, with the machine running, incorporate a generous tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Put it into a closed container and leave it to rise for a few hours – or all day if you like (punch it down if you can, but there’s no harm if you don’t). 


From the cook’s point of view, once the dough is made this is as close to a ready-meal as you can get without actually reaching into the freezer case for a TV dinner: the ’nduja is already perfectly – and highly – seasoned, so all you need to do is take about 7 ounces of it out of its casing (which may leave you with a little to snack on), briefly warm it in the microwave (or in a bowl over hot water) to soften it, smear it over the dough (rolled / stretched into a rough rectangle maybe 18 inches wide and a foot deep), coil it tightly like an 18-inch-long jelly roll, cut it crosswise into inch-and-a-half lengths, arrange these in a baking dish or cake pan, let rise for 45 minutes or an hour, covered with plastic wrap, and bake in a 425-degree oven for 35 minutes or thereabouts, until medium brown. Leave the buns in the pan to cool, covered with a towel – the towel will keep them from getting hard: you want them crisp-soft. 


During the baking, chili-colored fat from the ’nduja will gather at the bottom of the pan; luckily, this will be reabsorbed by the rolls. You can serve them with or without cheese as a drinks snack for five or six (for cheese, think ricotta salata or some sort of smoked ricotta – something that will contrast with the spicy sausage). Or, as Jackie pointed out, two people could eat them all, with a simple lettuce salad, for dinner. 


A friend of ours, who has a keen visual sense, proposed devising some kind of cheese-sauce topping that could be drizzled over these buns to make them look even more like cinnamon rolls. Sounds like fun.

would it work with lemons instead of oranges?

Check with Dorie herself; on this same bat channel, she's got a chat coming up at 1 pm! (You can submit a q early.) If that's not convenient, I could venture an answer: I'd go with Meyer lemons.

does you bakery have a place to sit down or is it takeout only?

Please come in and have a seat! We have ample tablespace at both Buzz locations. Hope to see you there!

How now? What's this?? Sounds like something I need to learn! Thanks!!

Just sprinkle fresh orange zest where the ants are entering the house. They'll turn around. I did this last spring when they were marching across the floor of the kitchen and remembered reading that orange scented cleaners would work, so tried the real deal. It was very effective.

Love this recipe-and came just in the nick of time as I have a vegetarian friend whose birthday is around the corner and want to make her something special that doesn't make her feel left out when the rest us are eating meat. Is this hearty enough for the meat eaters as well? Was just printing up the recipe thinking that I'd solved the dilemma when realized one issue-it has pecans and chesnuts and she has a nut allergy! what can I substitute.

Absolutely hearty enough -- that's why I wrote about it! As for the nuts, do you know what she's allergic to specifically? Some people are allergic to tree nuts but not others. (Both pecans and chestnuts are tree nuts, of course.) Anyway, you can usually go with seeds, like pumpkin seeds, as a substitution. But the chestnuts are so meaty and different that I'd probably bulk up the mushrooms, too, to take their place.

Just wanted to share that my Grandma is currently compiling all of our family's traditional recipes and plans to "publish" them in a book with a copy for each family member, so they aren't scattered across emails and index cards. Grandma on the other side (who doesn't do computers) typed up her favorite recipes, made copies, and mailed them to everyone.

I'd be proud of them as well. It's an effort!

I can't think of a better heirloom. My mom has a floral (stained!) box with handwritten recipe cards that she guards very carefully. 

I made the oatmeal recipe from last week's chat and it was out of this world delicious. However, can I portion it out and freeze it?

RECIPE Morning Glory Baked Oatmeal

I know, right?! I've sent the recipe to 3 out-of-town pals. So delicious (without those raisins, even). Yes, you could freeze in portions; for reheating, I'd add more milk.

I'm trying to read the chat (using Firefox) but ads and Food Section blurbs are obscuring the right hand side of the website!

This should be fixed!

Etto's Celery, Celery, Celery and Walnut recipe rocks! It's a regular on our Thanksgiving table. I used it with some celery I bought at the Mosaic District farmer's market last November.

Of course! I should've added that to the recipe. I made a HUGE batch of it at Christmas.

RECIPE: Celery, Walnut and Pecorino Salad

What's a channel knife?

A channel knife is a garnishing tool, sometimes called a stripper. In the photo of tools, it's the one on the far left. To use, pull the knife across the citrus fruit to cut slim strands of zest with some of the pith attached. 

Just asking.

They freeze beautifully. I freeze a batch of beans every month or so, in their cooking liquid.

Yes! I frequently work from home and on chilly days I love throwing lentils and veggies in a pot with spices for a quick healthy and filling soup. Very easy to scale for a meal for one, or to make a big pot if I want leftovers.


I was a bit surprised by the criticism Tamar received last week over her late-morning breakfast comment. My mother was among those who seldom ate breakfast. Most mornings she had no desire for food, only coffee, and never seemed to suffer from it. Work days are the only times I have early breakfast and three meals a day. One cup of coffee at home, followed later by breakfast at my desk at work. This typically is cereal with fruit, soy or hemp milk, chia and hemp seeds. Non-work days usually is a tofu scramble of whatever veggies I have on hand, cooked early, and allowed to set indefinitely to blend the flavors. During this time I leisurely enjoy juice and three or four cups of coffee. Breakfast is more like brunch, eaten between 10 and 11, and no lunch. Once I retire I'll probably make this a near-daily routine. My point is that not everyone has the same eating needs as others.

Here's what Tamar Haspel (visiting DC this week) says:

The idea that breakfast is an essential part of sensible eating has entered the canon despite the fact that there is no substantiation for it.  (And this is for adults -- there's plenty of evidence that kids should eat breakfast.)  It's like that 8 glasses of water myth -- it just somehow gets traction.  If you find that breakfast gets your eating day off to a good start, by all means eat breakfast.  If you find you do better when you postpone it for a while, or even skip it altogether, that's fine too.  You're absolutely correct.

This is not a new phenomenon. When Starbucks started moving into DC, it seemed to me it always opened shops on the same block as established mom & pops, I guess because obviously there were coffee-lovers nearby. And in 6 months to a year, the mom & pop -- which had offered fewer coffee choices -- was gone and Starbucks stood alone. This time around, I suspect we're all inured to the thrill of being able to order cappuccino or latte so it'll be more a matter of taste, and hopefully -- HOPEFULLY -- the old and new can both thrive.

It's a different coffee environment here in 2016.


Specialty shops like Peregrine Espresso, the Wydown and Colony Club (not to mention local roasters and coffee shops like Qualia, Compass, Swing's and Zeke's) each have their own identity. They work with particular roasters that have a particular style of roasting. They have their preferred methods for making fresh coffee and espressos. They have their own ambiance.


In other words, they're not just offering drip coffee sitting for hours in a Bunn pot and selling wholesale bagels. These specialty shops are populated by coffee geeks who have devoted themselves to the industry. It's particularly crushing for them to see their efforts undercut from a company with a massive infusion of investor capital and little genuine interest in the local market.

We were having an old school friend over for dinner when he came to town on business, so I set a stick of butter out on a plate on the dining table an hour or so before he was due to arrive. Just before our guest was due, I spotted our relatively new adult rescue cat up on the table licking the top of the butter. I shooed the indignant feline off the table, grabbed the butter plate, managed to slice a thin layer off the top of the butter, and set it back on the table. Kitty was consigned to the basement until dinner was over.

Sounds like a Fawlty Towers episode.. Basil the Rat!

because I am trying to disguise the fact that the celery is a bit dried out. I'm hoping that cooking it with a liquid will make that less noticeable.

Well, there you go. But the next time, you know what to make!

Now that the cold weather has arrived in our area, I'm feeling the need for stick-to-your-ribs food. I love the Post's Brunswick stew recipes, and think I prefer the one from St Simon's Island that you published a couple of years ago. Are there any other, really good, soup/stew as a meal recipes you can recommend? Vegetarian and vegan are even better! Thanks

I love a hearty stew when it's cold outside! I have found that nearly any stew or soup recipe that includes meat can be made vegetarian by replacing the meat with pulses (beans, lentils, or peas, like split peas) and using vegetable broth, so if you have some other recipes you can make those swaps. For a quick hot and hearty dish I will often saute yellow onions in coconut oil and a little veggie broth, then add more broth, additional vegetables, and seasonings (like garlic, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and coriander), bring to a quick boil, reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, and then stir in a cooked pulse. I find that dishes like this feel hearty, but leave me feeling full, satisfied, and also energized, not sleepy or sluggish!   

My collection of recipe bookmarks has officially gotten out of control. I've been looking at various apps and websites to help organize recipes (including the Washington Post's article from about a year ago), but I haven't come across one that has all the features I want (a bookmarklet to clip from any web browser, the ability to import from photos of recipes, tagging). What do you all use and/or recommend? So far I'm leaning towards OneTsp.

I don't use any of these, so throwing it out to the chatters. Recommendations?

A question for Carrie. I'm in my mid 40s and have just discovered that I may have a taste for gin. I'd never really gotten into mixed drinks as an adult, and my memories of sips of gin-based drinks from childhood are, of course, bitter. Other adult friends who drink occasionally will mention that they like different kinds of alcoholic drinks, "except gin." So maybe I'm an exception. I have no idea whether Bombay Dry Gin is considered worthy, but having recently finished my first bottle, I want to explore the world of gin. I'm assuming it comes in different levels of, well, dryness, if that's an appropriate word, and might have the same type of nuances across brands that you get with coffee or wine. Please correct me if I'm wrong in that assumption, but if not, tell me where to go next. I should add that I have a diet tonic for my SodaStream that I'm enjoying and am looking to mix with any future gin purchases, although I'm open to mixing the gin with other drinks as well, of course.

Oh, I'm so excited for you! This is a great time to be a gin-lover. There are so many interesting gins coming out these days. I would suggest a couple of possibilities, depending on your tastes. Tanqueray 10 has a beautiful citrusy note; it's one of my favorite gins (and here's a nice little write-up about what makes it different). Tanqueray also makes a gin with rangpur lime, where the citrus is stronger (and notably different). You could also delve into the Old Tom gins, of which Hayman's and Ransom are the most well-known examples; that's an older, somewhat sweeter style. And we've not even touched on genever, the predecessor to gin, which is available again. I like Bols' aged version, but it's on the pricy side. Finally, if you want an example of how weird some modern gins are getting, try Monkey 47. At Tales of the Cocktail this year, at least one gin authority boldly proclaimed that it is not a gin at all -- but that's how it's been marketed. It has its lovers and haters and it's really expensive. I'm in the lover camp, but admit that I wouldn't put it in most classic gin cocktails, partly due to price and partly due to its weird (delicious) berry note. Hope that's enough to get you started!

Beano (now sadly only as a chewable/meting tab) works well. Some cooks swear by epazote added to a bean stew, but I don't have measurements per cup :(

Have you all forgotten the Dave Barry column on Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' endorsement of the "Beano" product to eliminate, um, "toot-tooting"? 

What's going on with the employees there who seem to have become surly and very unhelpful over the last 3 mos??? Butchers never had a problem before when I asked them to grind NY strips for burgers but on Sunday you would have thought I was asking for them to commit a felony. They made all kinds of excuses and claimed they had never done it before. One of the alleged butchers had done it for me right before Christmas. Management doesnt seem to care when you complain at either the store or corporate level. I get better service at Shoppers and Wal Mart. its a shame because Wegman's always had friendly staff who were eager to help!!!!

That has not been my experiences at Wegman's and I shopped there a lot in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday when I was roasting up a small gang of turkeys.


Anybody else had bad/good experiences at Wegman's?


ARTICLE: This gadget was built to help you cook turkey. Why do kitchen gurus hate it?

I don't see Ellie on the chat today but perhaps someone else can address my question. She said she learned recently that regular pasta, cooked al dente, has a moderate glycemic index. I have a diabetic in the house so this is really big news for me. How can I get more info on this topic? I would love to let pasta back in my house, but don't want to find out later that the findings were wrong!

Read this.

We like to serve basic vegetarian and vegan stews over couscous. Another similar meal is meatless chili served over cooked spaghetti, Cincinnati-style, with grated cheddar or sour cream (or both) on top (some folks like finely chopped raw onions as well).

I got a deal on beef shanks at a farmers market. They're cut crosswise just like veal shanks you would get for osso bucco. They've been sitting in the freezer for months waiting for cold weather and inspiration. Is there a way to make a meal out of them instead of just making stock? I'm thinking a long braise, but how long before the beef gets tender? Also, any suggestions on amping up spices and other flavorings?

     Beef shanks cook very much like veal shanks, but have an earthier flavor and are not as silky in texture. They will take about 3 hours at 300 degrees in the oven and up to 5 hours over low heat on the stove. 

       Depends on what you mean by "amping up". To intensify the flavor of your spices, toast whole ones in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, then remove immediately to a plate. Don't burn them or let them smoke.  You can then grind them, if you wish, and add them to your dish. 

     If by "amping up," you mean doing something different with the flavorings, you can try something non-traditional, like a Southwest approach, using ground or fresh chilis and coriander, or North African, with harissa, cloves, and apricots. 

If I wanted to make it without the citrus flavor (I love orange, but my six-year-old does not), could I just leave out the zest and the orange oil? Or do I need to add something else (more vanilla, maybe?)

Please ask Dorie herself! She'll be answering q's starting in 15 minutes.

I saw a really cool documentary at the Environmental Film Festival a few years ago about a scientist who was looking to find the original wild chickpea. [Spoiler alert] He found the right plant in a former SSR I think just before the end of the show - naturally. They needed them for the genetic diversity seed bank in case our current chick peas are ever devastated by a disease. Seems the genetic diversity of commercially grown chick peas is nearly nonexistent so if some of them get sick, they are all going to get sick. The wild ones did not look like modern chick peas, at least not the ones that I have seen.


I use Pepperplate.

I love the mussels Republic (Takoma Park) serves. Does anyone have a knock off recipe?

Those are Addie's Mussels, so named because chef and restaurateur Jeff Black debuted them at his first eatery, Addie's in Rockville  (RIP).


The Washingtonian tracked down the recipe. You can find it here.

I just moved into a new house with a gas range. Unfortunately, I'm finding the gas is leaving a lot of black soot/residue on my pots. This especially seems to happen on the burner with the "power boil" option. I've never had this issue before with a gas range. Any tips? User error, or is my stove not burning cleanly? I am noticing some yellow flame on top of the blue when using the power boil burner, does that indicate anything? Thanks for any tips you have.

Hmm, I have no idea about this! Have you contacted the manufacturer?

Carrie, I'm surprised you didn't suggest Hendricks. It's also a bit pricey but really delicious, both on its own or in a cocktail that allows it to shine.

Hendricks is another great gin outlier -- thanks for throwing it in! Roses and cucumbers but still junipery enough to be ginny. Great nose. (There are hundreds of others I didn't mention, either. Again: great time to be a gin-lover.)

I made some pate fermente for a recipe last week, used half of it, and forgotthe other half. It's been sitting in the fridge. Can I still use it to enhance the flavor of a recipe? It looks okay, no mold or strangeness.

I've seen some recommendations online for using it within 3 days. Other people said they've used it fine when it's been older. I think you can probably give it a shot, and if the bread's no good, then there's your answer!

I have a loaf of chedder jalapno bread and I keep thinking strata. Suggestions on how to proceed? Love to do it in slow cooker.

Use it in this recipe, and save the slow cooker for something else! (You need the oven for this, as it gets nice and crusty.)

Breakfast Strata Primavera

Quartermaine has an amazing swiss water processed decaf - can't remember the bean (Sumatra maybe), but medium dark not too acid roast. Worth stocking up on! And while not all non-swiss water decafs are processed with formaldehyde and other chemicals -- either way, I think swiss water tastes best. -Decaf coffee junkie

Thank you for the intel! I plan to check it out, even though I tend to avoid decaf like, well, like a New Yorker.


Also, I just received a note from Michael Haft, co-owner of Compass Coffee. He says Compass goes back and forth between the Swiss Water-processed decaf coffee and the usual kind. You should give them a call and find out which version is currently available.

Hi there! I made several of your holiday cookies from the 2015 collection, and had trouble with 2 of them -- the iced coffee cookies and the crunchy almond cookies. For both, I think the trouble was with my egg white volume (the icing for the coffee cookies and dough for the almond needed additional liquid to come together). I used large organic eggs -- is it possible that the volume of an organic egg differs from a non-organic one? If so, is there a good mechanism to adjust? Thanks.

I find it helpful to keep a small container of liquid egg whites (from a regular grocery store) in the fridge. If I'm a couple grams short due to inconsistency in egg weight, I can easily pour in from the container.

The chatter needing a more substantial meal could consider a layered salad with a fair amount of starch and protein. Another idea would be reversing lunch and dinner: eat the warm meal at noon and the cold one in the evening. Meal moths (from the chat leftovers): It's important to re-package not just things that are sold in boxes, but also items sold in plastic bags. We've even had them in tea. Heavy plastic containers are enogh to keep the moths away. Lavender oil or extract is suposed to help deter the moths. I put some in water and wipe down the storage areas.

Good thoughts, all.

Hello. Egg prices really went up last fall because of bird flu concerns. The prices are still high. Is the worry of bird flu still that immediate? Thanks.

We've noticed a significant drop in our wholesale prices for eggs just this past week.  Hopefully that translates to the grocery store very soon!

C'mon. If the local coffee shops are producing a superior product that people want, they don't have to worry about any out-of-towners coming in. They only have to worry if the new guys produce a superior product, and coffee drinkers vote with their feet.

By and large, I fully support your statement. If you're good, you should not be afraid of competition.


At the same time, I understand the fear of the small coffee shop. A 10 percent drop in revenue is much harder to overcome when you don't have deep pockets. The other issue is this: People don't go out of their way for good coffee, even if they recognize it as good coffee. They will go to the closest source, out of convenience.

Just read the article "Admit it, you didn’t know this about baby carrots" and am wondering whether "baby" carrots are less nutritious than large ones I peel/slice myself. Link:

Doubtful. There was a particularly interesting tidbit in the first comment, did you see? That the variety used for baby-cut carrots has no core. Makes sense, I guess, that if you whittled down a reg big carrot with a core, you might not get the tender kind. Anybody biting into a baby-cut carrot right now -- see any core?

I roasted sa leg of lamb recently and have about half of the meat left. I was considering making a Brunswick type stew for this cold weather. Can I use thought it is still rare? Any good recipes for this with lamb?

Shred it and make a lamb ragu. Gyros with cucumber-mint sauce and onions would be pretty fab, too.

My husband has an employee who is retiring and as a gag gift they want me to make a jalapeno pie. This employee loves jalapenos. I consider myself a serious baker so I want to make something edible which this guy will actually enjoy. I've searched online and have only found recipes for quiche and egg-based "pies." I don't have a huge amount of imagination so I'm scratching my head over this request.

I'd probably start with adapting a good quiche recipe. Joy of Cooking is always a good start.  Their Quiche Lorraine calls for the usual suspects of good cheese and bacon and also some freshly chopped chives.  How about subbing some chopped jalapenos for the chives. And maybe consider "decorating" the top of your completed (and baked) quiche with some whole jalapenos. That way you get the drama of the presentation, but they can be easily removed before serving.

It is not free, but I think Plan To Eat is well worth the money. Recipe Storage, Meal Planning, Shopping List Generator... it's awesome.

I like using daikon in simmered dishes, but the smell when you cook it is awfully strong and unpleasant. Any tips to reduce the smell, short of cooking outside?

According to this discussion on Serious Eats, peeling the radish or soaking it in salt can reduce the smell.

I actually bought a bottle of Bulgariana at Pentagon COSTCO for under $10. It was pretty good. I bought it because in the sixties there used to be excellent red wine imported from Bulgaria that cost around a buck. Can't remember the name. Apparently it was the time when South Africa because of apartheid could not sell wine in US, so Bulgaria came to the rescue. After apartheid became a memory, so did the excellence of that particular Bulgarian wine. LOL!

I'm continually grateful for Teaism, since none of the new coffee places (and definitely not "we'll serve you 16 oz of luke warm water and a pathetic tiny tea bag Starbucks") serve anything but coffee. Are there any that are serving tea or perhaps a relatively unsweet chocolate beverage?

Blue Duck Tavern in the Hyatt (West End/Georgetown) has an outstanding tea program. Sit in the afternoon and be happy with a pot brewed to perfect temperature.

I asked a smiliar question awhile back about the difference between baby carrots and the non-babies. Regular carrots to me taste better cooked, such as roasted. Babies are good for snacking uncooked.

I want to make this with mushrooms, lentils, chestnuts, onions, carrots, green peas, red peppers. Is that too many to include?

Hmm -- you've caught us at the last minute, so not sure how helpful I can be here, especially since I'd need to see the full recipe, including proportions, binders, etc.

Well, you've cooled us in the pans on a wire rack, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and thanks to Maggie, Cynthia, Carrie and Jim for helping us with the a's!

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who asked Cathy about freezing zest will get it! We'll keep it a secret until you claim it. Send your mailing information to, and she'll make it happen.

Don't forget to head on over now to Dorie Greenspan's chat for more cooking talk!

And until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!


In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow's first cookbook is "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving" (W.W. Norton). She blogs at
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Maggie Austin LaBaugh
Maggie Austin LaBaugh is the culinary director of Buzz Bakeshop in Arlington and Alexandria, as well as the
Cynthia Sass
Cynthia Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author and nutritionist.
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