Free Range on Food: Homemade pretzels, cocktails for Dry January, plenty of pasta, this week's recipes and more!

Jan 22, 2020

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 slurping up what we've been pouring, including:

  • Carrie's take on cocktail recipes that can work with or without booze. You know, Dry January or Wet January or Damp January. 
  • Becky's cracking of the soft-pretzel code. We can vouch for these! So good.
  • Ann's latest DinMin recipes: a beef-and-broccoli stir-fry simple and good enough to get you to forgo takeout; and, just pubbed online yesterday, this pasta dish that might become your new favorite.
  • My latest WV recipes: more pasta, this time with mushrooms, a Lidia Bastianich classic we pubbed a few days ago; and in today's print section, these loaded sweet potatoes that I can't stop thinking about.
  • Our new year resolutionarys are back with another update: Are you following one or more of these threads particularly closely? See how they're doing, and ask them anything.
  • Emily had fun trying to follow a Paris Hilton YouTube video about lasagna, and ended up with a surprising take: that Paris actually has some kitchen lessons worth learning.
  • We're coming up on Super Bowl time, or so I've been told, and Becky responded to the call with a buffalo chicken dip that seems like just the thing if you're into, you know, sports and buffalo chicken. (I'll be over here munching on my kale chips and watching "Cheer" instead, of course.)

That's at least SOME of what we've been up to lately. What have you been making, what do you want to hear/know about?

We will have a giveaway book today. In honor of our pasta recipes, it'll be "Felidia" by Lidia Bastianich.

OK, let's get started!

I don't do much baking, but I'm interesting in trying the soft pretzel recipe. Can I use all purpose flour? I just bought a 5-lb bag, so I don't want to buy another 5-lb bag of bread flour. Also, I don't have a stand mixer, or barley malt syrup. (Perhaps I should try something simpler for my first bread-making recipe.)

So excited to here you want to make the recipe! Yes, you can use AP flour. The King Arthur Flour recipe called for it, and we liked them very much, but just appreciated the slightly more chewy texture I got with the bread flour. And you can absolutely make the pretzels by hand. I did that on one of my tests. No worries about barley malt syrup -- like the recipe said, you can use honey, molasses or leave it out. Or even a little brown sugar.

Not a bad recipe for a first time bread maker! But you could also try my bagels, which may be slightly less involved, especially because there's no huge long rope and twisting. Also throwing in a few of my no-knead breads because those are really simple.

Best-Of Bagels

RECIPE: Best-Of Bagels

Fast Focaccia

RECIPE: Fast Focaccia

No-Knead Whole-Wheat Bread

RECIPE: No-Knead Whole-Wheat Bread

So I have half a bag of glutinous rice and would like to know what else I can do besides sticky rice and rice pudding...Im thinking about onigiri, perhaps horchata what else is out there?...Is it possible to ferment??

So many ways to use it up... onigiri is a great idea. Another thing you can do is make it sushi-style and make poke bowls with it. You can make congee with it.

Thank you for the excellent article and recipes. This is my second Dryuary - the first a few years ago was a drag, but I'm having an easier time with this round, partially because I had a bad cold for the first two weeks and didn't want to drink, and because it's more popular now. With my wife and several friends participating, and more dry options at bars and restaurants, the feeling of deprivation is not as strong. (Shout out to Dos Mamis and Pom Pom for their dry options!) It's been interesting to realize how much of my default social activity revolves around drinking or eating out, and how to find other options. Going forward, I am going to give more attention to moderation and mindfulness, i.e., am I making a cocktail or opening a bottle of wine out of habit, or because it is something that I will truly enjoy? Regarding dry cocktails, I've had a hard time finding shrubs, so made my own. I would also like to buy seedlip, but am not sure where to find it. Do you all have any suggestions?

Glad DJ is getting easier! So many options now. 

Making shrubs is great (and Michael Dietsch's book on them has lots of good options!). But they're definitely out there to buy, too. I've seen them at Whole Foods, Old Line Wine in Beltsville, Batch 13, Salt & Sundry. Lots of shrubs are available on Amazon (required ethical disclosure -- Amazon's head Jeff Bezos owns the Post), and Amazon actually carries Seedlip as well. That Meyer lemon syrup works nicely with both the Garden and the Grove flavors of it -- I haven't tried it with Spice, but suspect it'd be fine there too.

ARTICLE: Have it both ways for Dry January with these cocktails that shine with or without the booze

was really good. It was hard not to just eat the roasted carrots. Two questions - why was an emulsifier not suggested instead of a blender (I used it - it was fine - maybe a little pulpy) and why do my cashews sink when serving the soup. You guys are the best! Thanks.

An emulsifier? Not sure what you mean.

I like a Vita-Mix or the like for this -- it gets the cashews really smooth, and handles the rest of the ingredients beautifully. 

I think your cashews sank because your soup wasn't quite as thick as mine, or maybe because it wasn't blended quite as intensely?

RECIPE: Roasted Carrot and Cashew Soup

This article in today's WaPo was very timely, as I had just used an entirely inadequate hand mixer to make 7 minute icing (double boiler, eggs, sugar). It sort of worked, but took way longer to do much. I don't need a hand mixer very often, but what I have is way too small, I see now. My mother had a black and white Sunbeam mixer that unhooked from it's stand that, with enough muscle, you could hold long enough to make 7 minute icing. Sadly, it has long gone to it's reward... In the decades before big stand mixers, we kneaded dough with our hands and arms. There were no dough hooks! We kneaded bread dough by hand, which is very therapeutic, and you can feel the development of the dough in a much different manner.

Yes, you do need patience with the hand mixer! I typically use my stand mixer for dough, but I agree, there is something very satisfying about kneading by hand, too.

hand mixer

ARTICLE: Don’t underestimate your hand mixer. Here’s how to put it to work for you.

Morning! I just accidentally bought two pounds of Kerrygold salted butter at Costco... meaning to buy unsalted of course. But now, what do I do with it besides putting it on bread? Any recipes come to mind? Thanks for all you guys do!

Something as high quality as Kerrygold can be used in anything and everything you want. I've successfully baked with salted Kerrygold butter and it's been fantastic. I sometimes adjust the salt, and other times do not -- but I like my desserts to have a slight salty component.

Lucinda Scala Quinn wrote a primer for us on just this question!

ARTICLE: How to put fancy, high-fat butter to its best use

I have about 14 fluid ounces of heavy whipping cream that I bought on a whim. Do you have any suggestions for pasta sauces it could be used in? Or other vegetarian lunches or dinners? I know it’s more of a dessert thing, but I don’t cook desserts that often.

BISCUITS my friend!! These Drop Cream Biscuits, to be precise. 

This gorgeous Pasta With Gorgonzola, Walnuts, Rosemary and Chocolate also uses 1/3 cup of cream and tastes fantastic. 


Follow-Up: Several chats ago, I asked about cloth storage bags for lettuce, and several chatters recommended Vejibags. I'm sure those are lovely, but I was determined not to spend that much money on this endeavor. I tried sewing my own bags, but I had trouble figuring out sizes and realized that the flap closure makes it hard to get a head of lettuce in and out. So, after much experimentation, I have found that you can replicate the Vejibag idea with far less cost and greater functionality if you buy a flour sack towel, get it lightly damp, wrap it around your greens, pull the corners of the towel together in a rubber band to close, and throw the parcel in your crisper. The crisper actually lives up to its name in this scenario by preventing the flour sack towel from drying out. Goodbye plastic produce bags. For Matt: This week's update on lunch packing while running late made me think of the box I have in our freezer labeled "We slept in and/or we're at war." Said box contains single-serve cups of soup, granola bars, applesauce cups, breakfast sandwiches, pop tarts and French toast sticks, etc. (all homemade) so that we can pack lunch or eat breakfast quickly when things go sideways. All the breakfast stuff is toaster friendly or quick to microwave, and all the lunch stuff either thaws quickly and safely at room temp (granola bars) or defrosts easily in the office microwave (soup cups).

Thank you for this! The flour-sack-towel idea is stellar, as is your freezer prep. I think Matt and Becky will both appreciate reading about this!

Hi all, Ok, I'm craving a chocolate cake that I'm not sure I've ever actually had... I want a cake that's more like a mousse or a truffle texture. Flourless cake recipe searches are turning up recipes with nut flours and while the cakes are delicious they're not what I'm looking for. Not looking for a tart or anything. Can you help a chocolate-craving lady out?

This one is pretty promising! 

Torta Divina

RECIPE: Torta Divina

There's also a Chocolate Truffle Tart in the Gourmet cookbook that is outrageous. Such a family favorite. Email me and I can get you the recipe.

Were you looking specifically for a flourless cake? If you're okay with two tablespoons of flour, my Chocolate Mousse Cake is darned good if I do say so myself. 

I really want to like hummus and eat it more because it's so high in fiber (one of my goals this year is to eat more fiber). However, while I don't dislike, I don't particularly like it either. I just find it kind of boring. Certainly boring enough where I don't find it worth my time to make my own. Do you have suggestions for either a store-bought hummus that does a good job of adding flavor or a way to add flavor to store-bought hummus?

Drizzle it with really good extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with excellent za'atar, smoked paprika or sumac. 

The "loaded sweet potato" links to the mushroom pasta recipe.

No, it doesn't! (whistles innocently as he fixes...)

Or add fresh lemon juice. My homemade hummus is very zingy from that and lots of garlic. But I second and third the olive oil and spices.

I remember reading that parmesan rinds can be used to make... what? I saved them, but I didn't save any recipes. Can you help? Thanks!

Throw them into soup! They'll infuse flavor into the broth. 

Agree with Kari! Adding them to soup will give your liquid so much flavor! I also throw them into a pot of simmering chickpeas and save the broth to build a simple eggy soup topped with Parm.

I'm slavering over those stuffed sweet potatoes but wonder about substituting dried for fresh? I have a big jar of anardana (dried pomegranate seeds from an Indian grocery) and wondered whether I should try to reconstitute them or just toss them in? or go out and buy a fresh pomegranate?

Ooh, cool! I've read about anardana but have never tried them. I think they'd be fantastic on this. And if you have any leftover, can you send them my way? 

RECIPE: Spiced Tahini Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Instead of a bag of bread flour, buy a box of vital wheat gluten. You can just add 1 teaspoon of the gluten per cup of AP flour. We store gluten in the refrigerator once the box is opened.

Another option!

I tried to start a sourdough starter that came in a sealed envelope. It didn't take, and I threw it out when it grew mold. My house is kept in the high 60s during the winter - would that have caused the failure?

That is doubtful - my house is in the high 60s right around now and my sourdough starter is thriving. Could be that the jar you used wasn't clean enough when you started. Or that the jar wasn't covered properly. I'm happy to help you troubleshoot it, and you can even start you own starter with nothing more than flour, water and time. 

Any chance your archive experts could dig up a non-alcoholic sangria recipe the WP Food section published around 1982 or 83? I remember making it for my middle school Spanish class fiesta and the teacher liked it but would only let everyone have a small sip because she was worried I put wine in it.

Hey! Email me at and I'll see if we can dig it up. 

I loved kneading, but now that I'm older and arthritic, I depend on my dough hook. Especially since I took up scalded rye breads that require ten straight minutes of working a heavy sticky dough.

It definitely depends on the person and the dough, for sure.

Is there anyway you could put the food chat for each next week up earlier so people could submit questions? I can't tell you how many times throughout the week I'll think of a question I'd love to ask y'all but then forget it by the time the chat is up!

We'll try!

This is what we do with it: Saute a couple of sliced shallots in olive oil. Add a couple of chopped tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes start to break down. Add your cream. mix well. Taste for salt. Add sliced basil. Serve over pasta and a nice fish fillet if you are so inclined.

I've suddenly found myself with a lot of spare time in the evenings and have been really enjoying cooking and baking. But there's only one of me, and it's best that I not consume all of these banana breads, apple breads, and and and... by myself. So I was thinking I'd start bringing treats into the office, but I'm sure my colleagues would also appreciate not being bombarded by sugary sweets all the time. Can you recommend some healthier snacks? I can spend about 60 minutes of active time and several hours of inactive time (oven, etc.). Everyone brings their own lunch to work, so I wouldn't bring a salad or anything like that. Just some finger food that folks can bring back to their desks mid-morning or mid-afternoon -- like a slice of banana bread or a muffin. My colleagues will thank you!

Becky's cookin' up something that will absolutely hit that mark (keep an eye out!). In the meantime, check out some of our Nourish columnist Ellie Krieger's healthier bakes: 

Morning Glory Muffins

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

And here's a guide she made on how to make healthified muffins that taste great. 

Come on up to Ellicott City and visit the amazing Caspian Market and Ganesh Bros.!

((leaving chat, getting in car))

Back in the 1940s one could still buy flour and sugar in cotton sacks. My grandmother saved them for straining cooked fruit when making jelly. And the much larger feed sacks? A matching pair of them had enough fabric to make a little girl's dress! I know, because my mother made me several!

Just wanted to send a quick thank you! A few years ago I won the giveaway book of "Plenty More" by Yotam Ottolenghi during this chat, and I've enjoyed it since. This Christmas we were in London and had a wonderful dinner at NOPI. Thank you for introducing us!

You're welcome!

I have just discovered Parmesan crisps, which are now my favorite one-ingredient snack that isn't a fruit or vegetable. (But should be because then they would be heathy.) Multiple questions -- The recipes I looked at online say to put spoonfuls of Parm on a baking sheet that's covered by silicone or parchment paper and cook at 400 degrees for I think 5 mins. Do you agree? And why are the packaged ones so expensive if it's really that simple? Will any Parm do? Have you tried this with other cheeses, like Swiss and Cheddar and maybe others, and was the result simi,ar,y delicious?

It's really that simple! It can actually be done in a non-stick skillet, too!

I've used Gruyere and Parm, and both were great. 

You've just reminded me - I want to make bagels at home but will the dough overwhelm my mini kitchenaid? Or will it be ok as long as I'm paying attention?

I think it will probably be okay! Cook's Illustrated actually evaluated the mini KitchenAid and found it did well with bagel dough, and since my recipe is a variation of theirs, you should be good to go.

What variety is it - this makes a difference. Prepare dishes from the relevant cuisine. Also - especially if the rice is not from the US - it's helpful to rinse it. Rice from some countries grow in water with a lot of arsenic. While this is generally not a problem to overall health, it' best avoided.

Ugh. The Paris Hilton bummed me out food sanitation wise. Carrying the dog around the kitchen and not securing her very long hair. I just couldn't get past it!

I had a large pot (not for heating) with a dough hook built into the lid that would do most of the mixing and kneading work. You turned a crank on top of the lid.


Not a WP recipe (sorry) but this one might work for the person looking for truffle-like texture.

No need to apologize -- we're fans of Lebovitz over here!

A number of years ago I helped a Russian lady make pirozhki. I know how to make the filling but she arrived with the dough already risen and ready to roll out. She was kind of mean and had shredded my language skills so I never learned how to make the dough. Can you recommend a recipe for a soft, yeast dough appropriate for pirozhki?

I definitely have a few lying around I could dig up. Want to shoot me an email at I promise to be a non-mean Russian lady :)

The Torta Divina recipe is in my collection - very easy!

Here's a truffle pie:


3 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup sugar

½ cup butter, melted

Filling: 11 oz semisweet chocolate

2 ½ cup heavy cream

2 T milk

2 T brandy

Mix butter with sugar and crumbs. Press into 10 inch springform pan, bottom and up sides. Chill 1 hour.

Get cream out of fridge to warm up a bit. Yes this goes against every other time you whip cream but you don’t want it very cold for this recipe. Beat cream with milk and brandy until thick enough to leave a ribbon trail – just before soft peaks.

Melt chocolate, remove from heat and stir to cool it down just a bit. DO NOT let it get down to room temperature. Too cool and you won’t get the chocolate and cream to blend evenly – you will get cream with flakes of chocolate.

Beat 2-3 spoonfuls of the cream into the chocolate to lighten it. Fold rest of cream into mixture. Spoon into crust, chill at least 5 hours.

Veggie gratin - blanch veg, add cream, top with grated cheese and possibly breadcrumbs.

GoRemy would have some things to say about "jazzing up" hummus. We add a LOT of strong olive oil to our hummus. All the right oil in all the right places....

What do you guys prefer to eat for dinner when you have nothing in the house and the thought of cooking something is just more effort than you feel like putting in? Do you open a can of soup/make a boxed mac&cheese/order out(where and what)?

Sometimes I'll make a spicy pasta dish that a roommate of mine used to make for us when we got home from our respective restaurant shifts, sometimes I'll make boxed mac, sometimes I'll get pho. Sometimes I'm very kind to myself and have frozen pierogis already ready to boil. Sometimes I'll just fry up a bunch of chickpeas and eat that. 

I turn leftovers into tacos.

I've resorted to a bowl of cereal, of course. I like to keep cheese, apples and crackers around for nights like these. We make a little cheese and fruit board and that's dinner. If I've got any sausages, I might fry those up, too.

Dumb question: Don't they have wax on the outside? I assume one cuts that off first, right?

Nope, the rind is just hardened cheese from the aging. Not wax.

Nostalgia-worthy? Are these like the ones once sold from carts on the streets of NYC along with hot, roasted chestnuts?

Um, maybe not exactly? Regardless, we loved them.

I live in Paris and I am counting the days till I get back to Howard County. Ganesh Bros, Patel Bros, Lotte, H Mart, Great Wall up Rt 40, Caspian Market (I miss the owners, such kind people!), the Turkish market that used to be Sizar's....

Grilled cheese sandwich, canned tomato soup.

Yay! I have sweet potatoes, chick peas and even sumac ready to go. But no pomegranate seeds, parsley or mint. I'm sure the recipe is great even with just the tahini, but any thoughts on other toppings here? For the person bored with hummus, I'd add mixing with roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives or some combination.

How about toasted pistachios or another favorite nut for a little crunch, maybe some scallions? Chopped kalamata olives would be good, too. Lots of possibilities.

But seriously, in Paris you can't find Indian and Middle Eastern groceries?

A bread maker!! These can sometimes be found in antique stores (where we found one for my bread-making brother's landmark birthday). They were made of tin or steel and usually stamped with the appliance maker's name.

I absolutely love eggs, in any form, and believe they make almost all dishes better. I also rely on them pretty heavily for nutritional value as an active person and most-of-the-time-vegetarian. That being said I'm just not sure what to buy! They've all got 10 different descriptor words that all seem to mean very specific things about how the chickens were raised/eggs were laid and treated- and those lead to wildly difference results in quality. Anyways I'd just like to stay on the side of environmentally conscious and ethically sourced products (happy to spend more), and high quality. If it makes any difference my go to is a 6.5 minute boiled egg. Any advice on words or brands etc?

I agree with you! Eggs make just about everything better!

If money is no object and you prize quality (and animal welfare) above all else, consider getting your eggs from a trusted farmer at your local farmers market. Make sure the hens are "pastured" and not just "free-range", a term that doesn't mean much these days, unfortunately. If farmers markets are too far away, look at your grocery store for "organic" and "pastured" eggs. In the most perfect case (farmers market pastured) you can also ask the farmer what the hens are eating -- hopefully, the answer will be "everything they find" or "whatever they peck at", which would suggest seeds, shrubs, worms, and whatnot. Chickens are omnivores and their eggs are best when the chicken diets aren't just grain feed. Hope this helps!!

We keep a variety of good cheeses and crackers around for just such evenings. And good olives (thank you Dimitri's of Baltimore). Which usually leads to more wine consumption than usual...

Oh yes olives! I could eat olives forever. With an orange.

I just tried making a shrub for the first time, and it was super easy and turned out great. But I'll continue to buy Shrub District whenever I run across it. That stuff is great -- I just finished a bottle of their blueberry basil. I've found it at farmers markets and Shopmade DC.

Just picked up these spice blends without ever having used them before. Any suggestions on what to make with them? Are they similar?

So, berbere is Ethiopian whereas Ras el Hanout is Moroccan. The former can have over a dozen ingredients, including cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, allspice, paprika, etc. The latter is similar, but in my experience has fewer spices in it. Are they interchangeable? Depends on what you're making, but if you want to do something in the North African genre and borrow flavors here and there, that should/could work. If you want to make, say, a tagine, then definitely stick to Moroccan blend. Does that help?  

Here are some recipes from our system that'll be tasty: 

With Berbere: 

Spicy Sweets and Green Beans

and Awaze Beef Tibs 

With Ras el Hanout:

Dorie Greenspan's Sheet Pan Chicken With Apples and Kale


WOndering if you know if Jose Andres is feeding Puerto Rico again and maybe Australia? Also, I was in Tenleytown last night and sad to learn that Beefsteak, his vegetarian carry-out on Wisconsin Ave, closed almost a year ago -- do you know why?

World Central Kitchen is looking for volunteers to help with PR earthquake relief, so it's definitely there, and is also working with local charities in Australia to help after the fires. As for why that Beefsteak closed, I have no inside information, but must not have been doing a good enough business!

I'll admit I'm old, but finding out something I bought new in my youth can be found in antique stores...really makes me feel old!

Canned soup, Trader Joes Indian over tater tots, Trader Joes dumplings.

Why not the Food section’s own Triple Chocolate Bypass cake? It’s a huge hit around here, and is mousse-y as requested

Wow, I had almost forgotten about this one! Thanks for the reminder. Quick q for you: Does your oven get to 175? I think mine goes only to 200, but imagine it'll still work...

RECIPE: Triple Chocolate Bypass

One caveat about baking with European butters: They have less water content than American butters, so baked goods that use a lot of it will come out different. I make butter cookies every Christmas (ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a whole heck of a lot of butter) and decided to go fancy with European butter one year. Didn't work. They turned out to be too dense and not really that much more flavorful. So while Kerrygold and the others are delicious, it's not the same as the stuff we're used to.

Yes, but you need to either drive a ways or take the bus or Metro. Stock is nowhere near as wide as at US stores. Transportation strike for past 6 weeks put all African, Latin and Indian markets out of reach. Don't ask me about Asian groceries or I will start to cry. If you grow up with Chinese and Korean markets, Vietnamese ones just don't have what you want. I will be grateful to Paris for introducing me to Vietnamese coffee however.

Dimitri's sells olives with orange zest in them!

If we only had emojis in this chat! This made me so happy.

I made chicken and rice soup, and didn't put the rice in closer to the end. It cooked, but then became bloated as the soup cooled and was later reheated. How can I keep the rice like it should be, even in leftover soup?

Interesting question! I'm not sure it's possible to avoid this -- so throwing it out for some crowdsourcing wisdom!

Over the years I've seen some recipes, mainly Scandinavian, it seems, for breads that were practically all nuts and seeds. Do you have any favorite recipes for something like this? I like the though of so much concentrated fiber and good stuff. My cooking project this week is turning a 10 lb bag of unbleached flour into a big batch of seitan. I grew up making it the old fashioned way, before vital wheat gluten became prevalent and easily accessible, so there's a comfort food factor in going back to what I know.

I love this type of bread, too. Let's see: I don't think we have a good recipe for it in our Recipe Finder, but there are lots of great-looking ones in Amy Chaplin's new book, "Whole Food Cooking Every Day."

Why is it that I can't stand to eat olives, yet love olive oil in/on many different foods? Seems so illogical to me, yet there it is.

I'd say it's because olive oil is made before the olives are cured, so it must be the salty/briny aspect of them that you don't like?

if you live in the DMV, go to Mom's Organic Market. They partner with several local farms for truly pastured hen's eggs and they will happily tell you about the farms they work with!

Favorite (good) brand of tea? I'm running low and thinking of trying something new.

Harney & Sons! Great tea, free shipping (and they always give you samples). Also a big Twinings fan.

Where can I get Ketjap Manis? I don't see it at most of the DC area grocery stores.

I think you have to go out to one of the big Asian superstores for that: Lotte Plaza, H Mart, etc.

And to finish, for all those people who think it is insane to want to cook anything but French food, seriously, I have concluded that French people really don't cook a lot at home. Grocery stores and even open-air markets are given over to a lot of pre-made food. Shopping for food here and trying to plan menus of even European-only meals is very frustrating at times. The range of food items available is very narrow.

A teenager once said to me, "Oh, right, I remember my grandma's old cable box..." The advantage of those bread makers was that you could mix, knead, proof, and bake in the same container.

Do what a friend's mother would do: Cook the rice separately then add to bowls of hot soup.

Maybe, like with pasta, cook up just enough for one meal's worth of soup, then place some in each person's soup bowl?

I make something similar to this (add garlic, leave out the parsley and char the peppers in the oven).

You've conquered bagels and soft rolls and pretzels. Maybe sometime you could do the same for kaiser rolls, aka hard rolls?

Could be fun!

Yup - you're either going to want to take that day's portion out of the pot and put it in another pot. You can then either cook the rice separately or just add it to the new pot. The rice is going to keep sopping up the broth if it sits / is stored with rice.

We have an open-plan kitchen-dining room-living room, so can watch the Senate impeachment trial from the kitchen. This makes for a great opportunity to undertake afternoon-long cooking projects, like those using homemade yeast dough!

Of course there's always Fettuccine Alfredo. We also love Marcella Hazan's Tomato and Cream Sauce (I use more cream than she calls for!).

I HATE this. I have recently started cooking the rice separately in chicken broth, and adding it only to the soup I'm going to eat at the time.

Baked apples. WaPo recipes has a good baked apple recipe from...Jacques Pepin? From a budget cooking series? It calls for creme fraiche but I have been known to use either sour cream or fresh heavy cream for the garnish when desperate.

Are you referring to this recipe? If so, it uses sour cream - and sounds heavenly. 10/10 would eat!

I love polenta, but I live alone and am not about to make it one serving at a time (is that even possible?) on the other hand, polenta leftovers aren't exactly the greatest. Any tips for bringing cooked polenta back to life before eating?

You've got to whisk in some hot liquid -- broth, milk, water...

Does anyone know where I can buy this magic stuff locally? I don't know of any German or Scandinavian groceries in DC or Maryland.

I'm not sure, BUT there's a German restaurant with a bit of a grocery in the front called Cafe Mozart in DC--it might carry it.

They're close to where we live - lucky us! They're now selling CBD infused drinks.

I dug mine out after you recommended using it but I can only find one of the detachable wands, whatever they're called. Do you think it's okay to try using it anyway? Ican't think why not but maybe you can ...

Hmm. I see a few potential issues. With one beater, everything's going to take longer and you won't get as much coverage as you would with two. Also I think the beaters work in combination with each other, giving you twice as much effort in a single spot and kind of pushing ingredients into each other's path. Might work, might not. Might also depend on what you're making.

���� emojis - you just need to bring up your character viewer. At least that's what it's called on my mac... .

That's not my experience. My French friends cook all the time. They buy ingredients every day. The might add something premadeas as a part of the menu but mostly they cook straightforward food, relying on the quality of the ingredients - not a lot of spices, sauces etc. Talking about that - yes, the variety is less, but the taste and freshness is so good and often flows with the seasons,

Yes, that is the one. It is luscious.

Thanks for the sweet potato ideas, Joe! Also to the chatter on adding gluten to make bread flour. I keep that around to make seitan. What is a flour sack towel vs. any old dish towel?

So, only water and milk allowed inside the Senate chamber. But does that include soy milk, almond milk, etc? How about those watching at home or a bar -- Surely there are cleverly-named drinks and snacks.

My oven doesn’t get to 175, but the cake turned out beautifully at 200 degrees!

Good to know!

What I do is, while the polenta is still hot and creamy, I form it into a sausage or a cake and then I have luscious baked polenta leftovers.

While the polenta is still warm, form the leftovers into a cylinder and put it in the fridge. The next day, slice it and fry the slices in good olive oil or butter. Top with sauteed mushrooms, or tomato sauce and sausage and cheese, or a mix of veggies, or just about anything.

They're working anywhere and everywhere. I highly recommend following them on Facebook, where they regularly post videos and photos of their food and the volunteers who make it. The stories about local vendors who contribute their kitchens are also wonderful. Jose Andres is a national treasure. I feel proud that he calls our fair city home!

Ooooo, you've reminded me of the baked apples wrapped in dough with cream poured over I had at the Kutztown festival in PA decades ago.

I bought a bag by mistake. Do you have any suggestions for a non-fan of Injera? Thank you.


Teff Oatmeal Cookies With Whiskey Currants

RECIPE: Teff Oatmeal Cookies With Whiskey Currants

Halvah Fudge Bars

RECIPE: Halvah Fudge Bars

Teff flour is also a staple in gluten-free baking, so definitely look around for recipes from those types of sources.

Washington locals really need to check out Rodmans before saying they can't find something European. I don't recall beet syrup, but you never know. The parking lot has a lot of embassy plates. They have a huge assortment of teas as well.


How do the canned soup manufacturers make their soup so the rice doesn't become bloated?

Hmmm... Is Campbell's reading this?

Is this the same as Lyle's Golden Syrup, also made from sugar beets? Maybe my neighborhood is just full of Brits, but Lyle's is easy to find in Howard County.

Not sure it's the same, but I LOVE LYLE'S.

Could you post the link to the baked apple recipe. Most photos don't show up on my version of Safari.

It's linked in the previous answer.

No! You fry the slices in bacon fat, and drizzle maple syrup or honey over it, before you put on your mittens and snow boots to catch the school bus...old midwesterner here, who ate fried cornmeal mush before it was polenta.

Wow - that killed one fantasy. Wonder what Dorie would say.

Is it possible to order a new beater from the company or somewhere else?

Possible, though might be trickier if it's an older model.

any thoughts on how my bread would turn out if I substituted some GF flour for KAF AP flour in my standard sourdough loaf? I don't know why I would ever need to do that, but I'm curious what would happen!

Try and let us know! As we mentioned in an earlier chat, Aran Goyoaga has some stellar g/f sourdough and other breads in her "Cannelle et Vanille" book, and they're ALL g/f -- her own blend of flours. She bakes them for a long time so they aren't gummy inside. I'm not g/f, but have been meaning to try myself.

Apparently the chatter doesn't realize that a lot of people have one or another health or dietary restrictions that precludes bacon fat.

As someone else mentioned, actual flour sacks used to be a thing, but now I think it just refers to a thin, strong, cotton dish towel. I had a ton of them left from a craft project, so I used those, but I think any thin to mid-weight clean dish towel will do. I've had great luck using this method for kale, lettuce, and broccoli that gets delivered with no packaging from our CSA (Chesapeake Farmery in Southern MD). The main thing is just to keep it in the crisper and keep the towel lightly and evenly damp. I haven't tried it with baby spinach yet, but that day will come.

I'm the OP who wrote about her pears being hard on the inside while feeling OK on the outside. I read the pear primer (thanks) and felt the stem on one of the pears I had at home. It was slightly soft, so I took a chance and cut it open. Hope springs eternal, I know. Sad to say, this smaller Bartlett pear was not edible. I looked at it carefully and saw that the endocarp, the stiff part that holds and protects the seeds in the center, was terribly enlarged. It was easily four or five times larger than the seed within it. I looked at the bottom of the pear where the blossom was ages ago, and it was slightly discolored. However, pears often have blemishes of this kind. So buying a smaller pear was not the answer. Perhaps this problem is insect or fungus-related. My next move will be to switch from Bartlett to Anjou pears. Has anyone else had this problem?

Like I said the other week, I'm stumped!

The notes and comments on the KA Flour site underneath the recipes are SUPER helpful, and you might check their recipes for sourdough or even search and see if they have a GF sourdough recipe.

Agree with that bacon grease rather than olive oil (though bacon grease ain't what it used to be). Also, works great for left-over cream of wheat.

Cannot wait to make those pretzels. Will be so much fun. Already got the bread dough, next the malt stuff

Yay! Sorry/not sorry. ;)

Those embroidered day-of-the-week dish towels that used to be a popular bridal shower gift are equivalent. You can find them un-embroidered at Michaels and other craft stores.

It is in the midwest, where they have the sense not to breed all the fat out of pigs to pretend that pork is low-calorie.

This is a constant problem for me. They are either stone hard or mush - no in-between, I only eat pears in season from the farmer's market.

Well, you've rotated us halfway through baking, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and thanks to Carrie for help with the a's.

Now for the giveaway book: 

The chatter who asked about rice soup will get "Felidia." Send your mailing info to, and she'll see to it.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables," "Serve Yourself" and the upcoming "Cool Beans." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Carrie Allan
Carrie is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Emily Heil
Emily is a staff food writer at The Post.
Becky Krystal
Becky is the lead writer for Voraciously.
Ann Maloney
Ann Maloney is the Food section recipes editor.
Tim Carman
Tim is a staff reporter for Food and writes a weekly column on casual dining for Weekend.
Olga Massov
Olga is a food editor at The Post.
Kari Sonde
Kari is the food editorial aide.
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