The Washington Post

Free Range on Food: Super Bowl pizza smackdown, breakfast for dinner and more

Jan 30, 2013

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

Greetings, all, and welcome to today's chat! Hope you're in a smackdown kind of mood today, cause Tim and I have just gotten warmed up and have decided that we're going to set up our pizzas in little retrofitted Rock'em Sock'em Robot rings and see which one REALLY survives. Don't you want a video of that?

While we're working on that setup, we'll handle questions: not just about pizza, but about other Super Bowl foods, about barbecue, about cocktails (if Jason joins us), and any cooking question you might have on your mind. Or at least we'll try.

Fire your questions our way. Tell us your best pizza-making tips. The sources of our favorite two posts will each win a giveaway book. We have "Breakfast for Dinner," source of Bonnie's Book Report in today's section, and I'll throw in a copy of my own "Serve Yourself," because there's a chapter of pizza recipes in there, and despite the title, with a salad you could split one of those pies between two people, or just make several.

Let's do this!

From today's pizza smackdown article: "This was Tim's approach to a Super Bowl pizza: Why bother with a homemade version if a) it couldn't top a delivery pie, b) it would take 20 times as long as delivery, and c) it would just include a pile of kimchi on top, which is Joe's method of improving everything." Nearly spit out my tea reading this at my desk this morning. Hilarious writing in this article, as well as great pizza advice.

Glad you liked it! We each let the other take his shots. Was fun.

I have a philosophy about teasing people in print. You only do it when a) they can take it and b) you actually like the person. I try never to tease people who actually annoy me. It usually comes across as mean-spirited, not teasing.

I love peaches, but peach season is SO short around here I was wondering if the frozen peaches (i.e Dole/Costco etc) are any good? I would be making things like peach salsa, peach crumb bars, maybe a peach cobbler.

I think in general that IQF (individually quick frozen) fruit works well in pie/cobbler applications. I remember we used frozen peaches when Rose Levy Beranbaum came to town

But save that salsa recipe for fresh peaches, please!

I made Eating Well's vegetable chowder over the weekend and it was delicious. However, I have a half of a rutabaga left and NO idea what to do with it. Any suggestions?

Make the chowder again and use the other half? I kid. Sort of.

Have a look at our rutabaga recipes -- most call for more than I think your half would give up. This Apple-Rutabaga Soup sounds the most promising for what you have.

Roast it the next time you're roasting other veggies: You could throw it in a roasting pan with onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, a little rosemary, good couple glugs of olive oil, coarse salt. That pan would serve you in many ways -- as a side dish, cold on a salad, pureed into soup...

mmmm, boy do these sound good. Two questions, 1) can I use a regular waffle iron? I don't have a Belgian one and no space for it anyway and 2) what other light sauce would work? My family is not big on berries. :)

Chocolate Brownie Waffles With Blackberry Sauce

You could, but you should monitor the cooking closely -- as in, don't go by the length of time it takes for a green light to come on or certain number of minutes to pass.  This blackberry sauce is a very good match; you could cut it with chocolate sauce of your choice, or go with a nice local honey or heat up some apricot preserves in the microwave.  

Why do certain recipes call for leaving the skin on garlic cloves when frying something in a pan? How can any of the garlic flavor travel through the skin and into the food when it is just bouncing around in the pan? I've seen this in two different Thomas Keller recipes where you are frying something in a pan. I aways skin the garlic, crush it a little and then add it to the pan.

Might have to do with the heat in the pan and length of time the garlic is in there. The papery skin would protect the garlic from burning and keep it from breaking down; it could act as a tiny steamer for said clove. It does impart aroma and some flavor, because garlic skin's porous, of course. Just guessing here, but chef Keller's all about flavor that doesn't beat you over the head. So keeping the garlic under wraps kind of fits in with that mode of cooking. 

Ok, so I'm a little confused. When I first saw cuties I thought it was just a rebranding of clementines which was clever. Then I learned that no, cuties are something different and actually better than clementines but now I can't find cuties any where. What gives? Cause when I got a bag of clementines there were all a little too soft and not as sweet as cuties. Please help!

Have a look at this very informative article from the Wall Street Journal about Cuties. More to the point, the Cuties site says Cuties are "two varieties of mandarins: Clementine mandarins and W. Murcott mandarins." Not sure why you wouldn't be able to find them, but it's possible they're just so popular that stores sell out.

OK, I know this is a weird question, but is there a good way to flour your counter to make sure the flour is evenly spread. If I spread it with my hands, it just clumps up in spots, leaving other spots bare. I tried sprinkling it through a sieve, but it fell through too fast before I could shake it over the whole area. I do not have a flour sifter and would prefer not buying one, as it would just take up more space. Any other good options?

To paraphrase the Devo song, whisk it. Whisk it good. That will help aerate the flour, and when you sprinkle it will be less likely to clump, I'd think. Also a finer-mesh strainer than the one you're using. If all else fails, and you do a lot of counter-flouring, here's a gadget for you: a flour wand. You can make like a ... wizard!

great as a substitute for or additive to mashed potatoes (can be very lightly mashed, does not require tons of butter etc.) Also great in vegetarian chili. With snow falling here, you have me wanting it... sigh.

When I travel in Canada, I see frozen tart shells and would to use them in baking (especially baking for one). But when I'm back in the States, I can't find tart shells at all. Is it pie or nothing?

Hmm. Through the prism of Google images, I see plenty of them available in the US of A. Perhaps put in a good word with your favorite grocery store manager? Or if you wanted an easy way to make them yourself, start with a good commercial pie dough you like and apply it to disposable (or your aluminum) indiv tart pans. 

I've had luck at mulitple locations of Giant and Target stores for Cuties. Other than those 2 stores, I have never seen them in the DC area. (I fell in love with them in California, where they were plentiful at my local grocery stores).

Thanks for the report. If I'm not mistaken, I have spotted them occasionally at Safeway.

During the last two Ravens games, I cooked purple potatoes (which I found at Giant) and the Ravens won. So, naturally, I will cook purple potatoes again on Sunday. What are some other purple foods? Maybe a slaw made with purple cabbage.


How about a Beet and Apple Slaw side dish? It looks appropriately purple.

A flour shaker is a great way to sprinkle flour evenly over a work surface. Pleasantly surprised to see them available recently at Bed Bath and Beyond. I have one that was my grandmother's. I use it for flouring work surfaces, flouring meat before browning and a host of other things. It might best be described as a tin can with a handle and a perforated, screw-on lid.

My husband and I were at a restaurant this past weekend and my husband asked for additional garlic for the salad he was eating. The server didn't bat an eyelash and brought what looked to be butter. But while it looked like soft butter in the small dish, it was, according to the server, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. I ended up spreading on the bread that was provided and it was fabulous. We asked for the recipe but all the server did was give us some of the garlic spread to take home (which we gladly did!). I ended up adding it to a chicken dish on Monday and it really added a nice flavor to it. Any idea what the recipe might be for something like this? It probably came out of a blender because it was completely smooth. Thanks!

Was it a Lebanese place, by chance? Whipped garlic spread/sauce is traditional in Lebanese cooking. Here's what you do: Roast a head of garlic (cut to expose cloves, wrapped in foil) at 400 or so for 15-20 minutes. Squeeze the cloves into a bowl, mash, season with a little salt. Whisk in the juice of a lemon then 1/4 cup of olive oil, drizzling it in slowly as you whisk. Or use the food processor or blender, of course.

    Well, Joe pretty much covered it. You can also use raw garlic for a more stout flavor. (Me, I kinda like that.) 

    Funny you should have happened upon the chicken pairing. A crispy-skinned roast chicken and a small mound of garlic sauce is a classic Lebanese combo. 

I have a question about this recent recipe: are the onions really browned in water? No oil? Just checking! Thanks!

The water evaporates soon enough, giving those onions a bit of softening boost. Because the onions are red to start with,  they get to this rich color/quality pretty much on their own. And may I say, they smell pretty darn great while they're getting there. 

By pure accident recently, I forgot to add oil to the pan when I started a bunch of caramelized onions. The onions gave off enough liquid that I didn't miss the oil at all. With a pinch of salt, it would be a 2-ingredient recipe. (I added some smoked paprika to make it 3.) Gotta love those, right?

Just knuckle under and get one of those little flour / cheese shakers with largish holes in the top. It works, it costs less than $5.00, and it is cool. They also come with screen tops instead of hole tops. Both work. Both save aggravation. Both are cheap. Just do it.

When you swirl the flour around with your hand, keep your hand slightly elevated and you'll get an even layer with "ridges" around the perimeter. I've been doing it this way forever and find no need to buy a special tool.

Also look out for them in other stores besides grocery stores. I was surprised to see them at my local Walgreens pharmacy the other day.

I agree the browned bits add a lot of flavor but I wonder if they're worth switching from non-stick to things-get-stuck pans and pots. I hate clean-up so much! - Especially scrubbing. What do you think?

Fond of the fond. Worth it. Never met browned bits that didnt eventually yield to will of just-boiled water, a scrubbing with coarse kosher salt or a port wine deglazing. Hungry now. 

is actually fantastic. Growing up, my parents would take us to the local pizza joint and they'd bring a small container of kimchi (yes, we're Korean). To this day, kimchi is still my favorite pizza sidekick. It's also great with spaghetti.

I am on record as praising kimchi everything. Was a fun shot from Tim, but like you, I stand by it. On pizza, it's great with a little ham (OK, I'm not really eating that so much these days) and a runny egg, like I mentioned. Have a recipe for that in Serve Yourself. Also makes fabulous Grilled Kimcheese. And kimchi deviled eggs. And party dip. And and and...

I teased Joe, but I adore kimchi. I'd add it to my oatmeal if I thought it would improve things.


Just for the record, too: I've already gushed about Joe's Grilled Kimcheese sandwiches.

I love fried eggs but have recently cut bread out of my diet for the most part. I'm having trouble thinking of a not too labor intensive alternative "bed" of breakfast food to hold my delicious runny yolks - any suggestions? Thanks!

I don't know if this falls too much into your bread category, but how about some whole wheat couscous? Not breakfast food per se -- definitely not labor-intensive, though.

And how bout corn tortillas for holding those eggs? Nothing like a taco with fried egg, roasted sweet potato, little pickled onion, salsa.

I have to eat more soft foods for awhile. The good news is that I have cans of tuna I should eat up. Tuna salad with mayo is not what I want. Any good creative ways to use tuna to get me through this rough period.

Reminds me to revisit Bouchons au Thon, which are darn tasty and make a lovely light lunch.  Or a tuna casserole, or sauce a la tonnato. what I want. The crust that is a bit charred on the bottom, followed by a little layer of slightly undercooked dough, followed by slightly sweet and garlicky sauce, followed by cheese and whater. Do we have a recipe for that?

Well, if you subscribe to a well-entrenched belief, the only way you can make a genuine Noo Yawk pie is to bake it there. It's the water, you know.


With that said, Kenji over at Serious Eats has devoted a lot of time to creating the perfect NY slice.

I just wanted to send out a thank you! I recently made the Easy Chickpea Curry recipe from forever ago and it was the best home-cooked curry I've ever had. I love Indian food and I've never been able to recreate my favorite dishes at home, but this recipe hit all the great flavor notes and had great texture. Literally changed my life, I could eat it all the time!

Yes, that recipe seemed to go over well. For a slightly different take, check out the Chickpea Curry recipe that our former colleague Kim O'Donnel shared from Madhur Jaffrey several years ago. It was the first authentic curry I ever made and set me off on an Indian food obsession. Absolutely wonderful. We make it at our house all the time.

Hi. I figure there are enough smart folks here that someone has found a way to prevent a French press from spitting coffee out its spout -- for up to several feet -- when the plunger is depressed. Please tell! I'm tired of sponging off the kitchen cabinets, counters and floor. It happened again today even though I used an 8-cup to brew just one cup of coffee, precisely so I wouldn't have the same probo I've been having with the one-cup press. The "spit-take" traveled further than ever before. At least 4 feet in all directions. Thanks so much!

Are you using a medium-coarse grind for your coffee? Sounds to me like maybe you're grinding the beans too fine, because that can create difficulty getting the plunger to press, so you press harder, and it creates pressure, and boom. Spit take. (Lots of spit takes in the chat today!)

What is the point of selling a turkey or chicken with the giblets still inside, if you just have to remove them to cook it?

What's the point? Well, you're already not getting the feet, the head....but you're buying a whole bird. Not all of them come with a package of their own giblets etc these days, I've noticed -- maybe because people don't know what to do with them beyond making gravy. But those parts have their uses, which reminds me of Tim Carman's piece on cooking with all kinds of parts


Chatters, at the risk of sounding much too personal, what do you do with your giblets and gizzards?

I found a recipe for pizza that calls for using pesto as the sauce and topping with a combination of sauted chicken breast, onion and yellow peppers (which I season with pepper and garlic). Even my husband, a staunch pepperoni and mushroom kind of guy, loved it. We like our crust crispy, so I use a simple flour, yeast, water mixture that only takes 20 minutes of wait time. The fermented idea sounds intriguing. I'll have to give it a try some weekend :) when time is not of the essence.

Sounds good! I love pesto on pizza. I like using other bases than just tomato sauce, although that's delish. One of my faves from recent experiments put chile-caramelized onions on the bottom, then topped with roasted rings of winter squash, blue cheese, and walnuts.

Be sure to specify you mean the fruit if you 'phone up grocery stores to ask if they're in stock! "Cuties" also is the brand name of a non-dairy mini-"ice cream" sandwich. (Most of a package of them go bad in my freezer within days, so I've stopped buying them. But they are delicious while they're good.)

we've made pizza w/ brats and kraut and jack cheese and some jalapenos all with standard tomato sauce. yum

Loved the pizza smackdown. Had that "puffy" pizza in upstate NY in college and it is particularly good very late at night (right after the bars would close...) We use our outdoor (gas) grill as long as the temperature outside isn't too cold that it is really fantastic if you like a thin crispy crust. We take chilled dough, roll it out thinly and put it on the pizza peel or a pan, lightly brushed with some olive oil. Then throw it on the really hot grill and cook it. Then flip it over (that is the tricky part), quickly put on toppings (not too thickly), and close the grill lid until the cheese is melted. Amazing pizza with a crust that can be so crispy it shatters.

Sounds delicious!


I'm curious: Do you bring the dough up to room temperature first? I find that dough is too springy to roll out or hand form when it's still cold.

Grilled pizza is great. It's a different animal than baked/broiled, but I do love it, too. (I love many kinds of pizza, in case you couldn't tell.)

Friend of Food Tony Rosenfeld gave us his tips for grilled pizza several years back. Good stuff.

For anything you are going to roll out, use a pastry cloth. I use a dish towel, spread it over the counter, the sprinkle flour on that and sweep my hand over it for a very even coating. Afterwords, shake it out to remove excess flour and toss it in the laundry

Please never suggest that giblets not be included. I always make giblet gravy when I roast a chicken or a turkey.

Add to the pan while roasting for aromatic purposes!

I've been making my coffee this way for years and have never experienced "spitting." I wonder if you're filling it up too high?

The OP says it still happened when s/he used an 8-cup maker for only 1 cup of coffee! So that's not it.

Not a tip, but still my go-to pizza: homemade crust, homemade walnut pesto, grilled eggplan and zucchini, goat and smoked gouda. Crust is rubbed with olive oil marinated with garlic and sea salt. It always goes first, even before the meat-centric one!

They either get frozen for chicken broth later on, or they are much-drooled-over dog treats.

I like buckwheat pancakes that have fermented in the frdige over night, how would buckwheat pizza dough work if it fermented overnight a well. If I have to make a quick pizza dough, I will use your suggestion of buckwehat flour. My only tip on pizza is that a little bacon goes a long way in improving all of the flavors in the pizza. The bacon seems to make all of the other ingredients taste better.

I agree about the bacon! But like Joe didn't rely on his trusted no-knead dough recipe, I didn't want to rely on a universally beloved ingredient for an easy win.


One of my buckwheat-00 Italian flour doughs was indeed fermented overnight. It had more air pockets in the edges of the crust and had developed more flavor. But because the dough is not particularly wet, it tends to dry out. You might consider adding another 1/4 cup of water to the dough and see what the results are.



I hope you can help me out....I bought a box of salmon burgers from Trader Joes but am stumped about what kind of topping/sauce I can put on top. I don't eat a lot of fish, so figured this might be a mild way to get into eating more fish. I'm not fond of spicy food. Thanks in advance!

You could zest lemon or lime into Greek-style yogurt, or chop up some dill and add to sour cream. Or go a different way: cook down pomegranate juice to a glaze-y stage, maybe toss in a teaspoon of fish sauce and minced shallot. Or try a mixture of ground walnuts/parsley/lemon juice, which was an accompaniment to fish that I had at Najmieh Batmanglij's #Sips&Suppers dinner on Sunday night. Still thinking about it. 

I've just started on my home pizza adventures. It's really fun, and even if you don't ripen the dough overnight it is better than most store bought. Can we see Tim's recipe please?

Will Francesco Amodeo be on the chat today? I've recently discovered the joys of home-made limoncello AND will be in Amalfi later this year. I wish that his grandfather's distillery were still operating, but am wondering if he can recommend another local maker.

Francesco suggests visiting L'Alambicco in the town of Agerola or Liquorificio Carlo Mansi in the town of Ravello. Hope that helps!

Good afternoon! So I left a nearly full carton of eggs on the kitchen counter all day yesterday- about 10 hrs. I had literally just bought them at the farmers market on Sunday, so they were super fresh (and organic, if that makes any difference). Do I need to pitch them anyway or do you think they'd be ok? Thanks!

Here's the thing about eggs. If we just left them alone, including their natural protective coating, they would be protected from spoilage at room temperature. That's why you seem them stored that way in so many other countries. Here in the US, though, commercial eggs, are required to be power washed for sanitary reasons, which means that the coating is gone and the eggs need to be refrigerated. I'm assuming that your farm-fresh eggs were not power washed, but to be safe you can always call the farm and get their take on this subject.

I recently discovered oatmeal for breakfast after many years of shunning it as a food that I just could not eat. In particular, I like, and am now always craving, Starbucks steel cut oatmeal with blueberries. Any idea how I can replicate the oatmeal at home? Any brands that you like in particular? Also, is there a way to make it ahead and portion it out in single servings for the week (I love Starbucks, but it gets expensive!)?

I like the Irish steel-cut oats in the can ( McCann's, plus I tend to re-use the cans).  It's easy to make a batch and refrigerate for days or even freeze (like this guy does, to start, in muffin wells). I really like this Peanut-Butter Banana version

and that @$*# water has little to do with it. I make bagels right here in Silver Spring that are as good as anything in New York. Skill and patience and the right recipe are all you need.


link in poster's comment is going to K O'D's recipe and database turns up nothing under this name. Help?

That's where the recipe lives. You've got it!

Sorry, I misunderstood the question. That's not in our database -- the original poster had made the KOD one. We ran a similar Chickpea Curry recipe in Local Living recently that I thought they were talking about.

Well, I for one am stocking up on Natty Boh for the shining event that is this year's Superbowl. But besides blue crab (dip, naturally) or pit beef sliders and the like, can you think of any other B-more specialties I could make into appetizers? Love the purple idea of course. I'm so excited!

Hm, I'm a little stumped on appetizers, but I feel like I'd be remiss in not recommending Berger Cookies.

Berger Cookies

I'm making a lot of pizzas these days (my goal is to make 101 different ones), and Tim's recipe that calls for 10-12 minutes of cooking strikes me as really long and his pizza crust looks kinda dry and flat. None of that chewy/puffiness/bubbliness of a good slice. I've had much better luck if you try preheating to 550 for at least an hour to get everything really hot. Then I'll do 5 minutes or so on the stone, then turn on the broiler to get some browning on the top for another 2 minutes or so. Any pizza I make that's in the oven for longer than 9 tends to become very dry/crackery. If a person can't bake on a pizza stone I think it's much better to embrace these limitations and make pan pizza in a skillet or slab pizza like Joe's, they just come out much much better. Plus, as Joe points out, it's much better for feeding a crowd.

I didn't go this route for the smackdown, but my usual pizza technique uses a no-knead dough that site for a day to get flavor, and gets really nicely puffy and chewy from a super hot oven, as you say. I use the broiler for the whole thing, and it goes on my new favorite tool: The Baking Steel. (I have to say, Edan MacQuaid loved the webbing/structure of the crust when I showed him that one.)

The dough does dry out, but if you pull it out before 10 to 12 minutes, you get a crust that's still undercooked, both on the bottom and in the interior.


Part of the problem with my dough, as Edan pointed out, is that it could use more hydration. I will try that next time and see how it works out.

Higher temp, Tim! Should try it in the broiler and on the steel.

We don't bring the dough up to room temperature -- we have found it rolls out thinly when cold (and yes, we actually use a rolling pin -- it really does make the cold dough roll out thin and stay that way.). It also makes this an easy weeknight meal because you can use Trader Joes chilled dough. If you have a really hot grill you can even put the rolled-out dough in the freezer for 30 minutes while the grill heats up.

Where can we find the new locally-produced digestivi Jason wrote about today? They sound fabulous.

It's available in a number of stores and on a number of cocktail lists in the city. Here is a link to find one close to you:

Tart dough is very easy to make. I especially like the Williams Sonoma cream cheese tart dough, just butter, cream cheese, flour and salt. I always freeze the tart dough prior to putting the filling in before baking. After freezing in the tart pan, you might be able to remove the frozen dough and save it in the freezer for later.

Yes, a cream cheese dough's forgiving, in terms of being able to manipulate it without fear of it becoming tough. 

Fittingly enough, the best pizza I've ever made for myself was a breakfast pizza, using this recipe. I think you haven't lived until you've tried eggs on pizza (also, I got my dough from a pizza place near me, which is a great for those who want homemade but have trouble making yeast bend to their will. ahem.)

Love a breakfast pizza.

On of the dinner time favorites growing up in PA, was when mom would make fried potatoes and eggs (sliced potatoes fried in a little veggie oil and a little onion and scrambled eggs poured on top and cooked). Mom and I used ketchup and if she had leftover baked ham ...that was sometimes added. We loved it ..thought it was a treat; I think looking back it was inexpensive and that's why mom made it.

I'm going to try and make one this weekend. But, I don't have a scraper. Should I go out and buy one? I've never made homemade pizza before, so I'm not sure how important it is.

A scraper is nice and makes for a clean work space. But it's not necessary. At least for my pie. Since Joe's dough has a much higher hydration rate, you might need it.

I'm addicted to my scraper for so much more than pizza dough. Besides cleaning, which is a huge thing, it helps you lift all manner of pastries and doughs, and particularly if you don't want to overwork it, this is a great thing. But trust me, you'll love it just for the cleaning. You can scrape down a countertop in no time flat. You can also use it to lift mounds of things you've just chopped to transport them to your pan.

You recommended blackberry sauce to someone who said their family wasn't big on berries. I don't like fruit with chocolate, and maybe that's what OP is getting at. Maybe some sort of light vanilla custard, instead.

Er, the sauce was part of the original recipe.  I kept it among my suggestions because a) I think the family could reconsider their anti-berry stance if they take the flavor in combination with something they like, as in, chocolate. 

A fresh mango salsa would be tasty too!


Aren't I getting less of the coffee beans' flavor if they're coarse-ground? Is there a site where I can read about why fine-ground causes spit takes? Tanks so much!

No, you're not. The basic theory about the coarseness of the grind is this: The longer the beans come into direct contact with water, the coarser they should be. Hence, espresso grind is very fine, because the water is being pushed through very quickly. With direct-immersion, a la French press (or my favorite hybrid, the Clever Coffee Dripper), you want a coarser grind. If it's too fine, besides the pressing difficulty, you get an overextracted coffee -- too acidic, bitter, not enough of the good flavors, too many of the bad.

Does OP realize the press should be pressed veerrryyy sllooowwwlly? No faster than the coffee seeps above it gently? There's a reason it's called a "press" and not a plunger...

Yes, slowly. That's why I said that if the grind is too fine and it makes you increase the pressure, it can end up going too fast, and cause those spurts.

no, both the poster's link and your go to the same KOD recipe, which you refer to as "a slightly different take." I'm looking for the recipe the poster said was "from forever ago"

Yeah, I added a note to Joe's answer about that. Sorry! The one from forever ago is the one that the chatter was talking about. I read their question too quickly and thought they were talking about a more recent one we ran. To recap:

KOD's Easy Chickpea Curry (old)

Local Living's Chickpea Curry (new)

I used to feed them to the cats. Now that I live in a "no pets" building :( :( they end up in the garbage, where they probably attract rats -- Another reason I should be allowed to have cats!

You could cut up some Esskay franks and make pigs in blankets? Wings with Old Bay instead of buffalo sauce?

Of how I love it, but is there a way to eliminate the odor? I was asked rather emphatically not to eat it in the office! That's even though there's a carry-out place across the street that sells a delicious one and that's only open at lunch. Yeah, I can limit myself to eating it at home but it's so good as a re-energizer in the early afternoon that I'd rather find a way to make it unoffensive to the cubicle-dwellers around me.

Joe can better answer this from a home-preparation perspective, but my feeling is that fermented kimchi, without the pungency of fish sauce and chili powder, is not really kimchi. I feel your pain!

I have just the thing: Find another spot to eat it! Don't compromise on the intensity of the kimchi; that's what makes it great.

Up here, my local place...makes a gyro pizza..tzatziki sauce, the gyro meat and some feta, thinly sliced tomatoes and carmelized onions.

Joe, I basically follow the same process as you, including dough. Do you use the broiler to heat up the oven as well or preheat at x temp, then turn on broiler once pizza is in the oven or what? How far away is the stone from the broiler unit? I also just got a baking steel and I like the way it cooks but hate its size. I really think it needs to be just an inch or so larger all around. Otherwise all the pizzas I make are just a smidge too small for my taste.

My broiler is on the bottom of the gas oven, a drawer setup, so when it's on, the oven is preheating. So I turn the broiler on, take advantage of the oven heat to roast the toppings, and then broil away. I disagree about the steel's size -- I think it's perfect. I think pizzas much bigger than that are too hard to handle. I'd rather make two 8- to 10-inch pizzas than one 12- to 14-inch one.

We had this problem when we used to grind our own coffee beans. Once sleeping (or not) babies entered the picture, we gave up the grinder and just use ground beans -- never had the problem since we switched. Especially if you have a cheap grinder (like we did), the size of the grounds is really uneven and would clog the press. Peet's pre-ground coffee is still very good!

Yep, that makes sense -- a simple blade grinder causes a very uneven grind. I'm a purist; I roast my own beans, grind my own coffee to order every morning. Pre-ground coffee starts getting stale immediately, and it's not a good idea to put it in the freezer, as some people do. But to each his own! I use a burr grinder to get a much more even grind, and no spit takes.

I keep freezer bags of giblets, one for "innards," one for necks and wing tips. When they get full, the bony parts are turned into stock. Next day, the thawed organs are simmered in the stock (heart and gizzard first, liver needs only 15 or 20 minutes). Cooked organs are removed and chopped; rice gets added to the stock along with the chopped innards and any needed seasonings. Sometimes, I throw some vegetables in there. The result is a cheap but tasty meal.

I like to use a chili sauce that I purchase at chinese or asian grocery stores. It is very different than the sweet american style chili sauce.

Filling it too full with water will have the same spout effect. I found this out the hard way.

I just collect them in the freezer until I have enough to make stock. Necks, hearts and gizzards are essential to make stock for my gravy. Some people I know like to chop them up for stuffing. I try not to eat liver any more, but I love a battered and deep fried chicken liver!

How about using a Lodge seasoned flat griddle? Pre-heated of course? Would that be a more economical alternative to the steel thing mentioned?

Sure. I have gone on record as suggesting the back of a cast-iron skillet, but a griddle pan is good, too, cause it's narrower and can fit under a broiler more easily. You can also heat it on the stovetop before baking.

You can come eat kimchi at my office but you have to bring some for me!


Harris Teeter in Falls Church had Cuties in 2 pound bags, but another brand in the crates. I was really hoping for a Cutie crate, so that I could make a cat bed out of it.

Hi Rangers. Two questions for you: 1. I tend to stop reading if I see any mention of bouquet garni in a recipe. I am an apartment dweller who doesn't keep on hand things like fresh herbs, cheesecloth, parmesan rind, etc., and isn't really interested in stocking these things on the off chance I might need them. Can you suggest any kind of work-around? 2. Just curious -- are olives and capers considered fruits?

Really? Cheesecloth doesn't take up so much space, and it's good for containing as well as straining. Fresh herbs now come in single-serve packages. Where's the waste? I guess it's a tradeoff: Where you see Parm rind as a space waster I see it as a flavor booster that you've already paid for. Why not use it? 

Olives, capers categories: The Internet abounds with great discussion of this. They are certainly the fruit of their respective plants. 

Please help - every time I look for "low fat" cream cheese I find Philadelphia Cream Cheese neufchatel but nothing ever says low fat. Am I just missing it or do they really not label the low-fat stuff low fat? Sigh...

You're missing it, kind of. Philadelphia makes a whipped cream cheese that's labeled "light," and the Neufchatel labels I see are labeled "1/3 less fat." My guess is the manufacturers aren't allowed by the FDA to say "low fat" unless certain criteria are met, and they aren't here.

I have a couple of questions about recent recipes in the WaPo. The first is the buckwheat pancakes. Can you use the same batter for waffles or is there an easy way to change this to make waffles rather than pancakes? The other is on the red beans and rice soup a couple of weeks ago. Could I use brown rice instead of the white and just increase the time of the rice's cooking (i.e., put them in earlier)? I love rice and beans, but I am supposed to avoid white rice these days.

Our buckwheat expert Jane Touzalin says:

Waffles made with pancake batter often turn out too soft and dense. Not sure about exact measurements, but I would slightly increase the sweetener and add a couple tablespoons of melted butter or oil to the batter. Also I'd beat the egg whites separately and fold them into the batter at the end to make the waffles fluffier. Should work!

As to the soup question, Danielle Navidi, the source of that recipe, says you can use brown rice.

I love wings but not the tiny bones and absolutely minimal amount of meat per portion. How could the recipe be adapted to use chicken thighs instead? Or is that a no-no?

Buffalo Thighs? That sounds like a band name to me.


I don't see why you couldn't adapt a recipe like this one to thigh meat. You'd have to keep an eye on the baking time since the dark meat will likely take more time to cook.

Do you have a good recipie for pickled red onion? actually not sure they are red onions but they are pink and sweet. Ive had them both as a taco topping and at Cava on the pita wraps they do. So good

I know the ones you're talking about. I make a pretty basic pickled red onion that I got from the "Gourmet" cookbook.

2 cups water

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

Bring water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan. Add onion and simmer, uncovered, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.

And here's another Pickled Onions recipe from our database.

I love making homemade pizza but I find that when the toppings are done, the crust is not. I hate soggy pizza crust! I use a cookie sheet (not a stone) that I preheat in a 450 oven before I put the crust and toppings on, and cook it on the lowest bottom rack, but the crust takes longer to cook that the toppings. Tips other than covering it with a sheet of foil?

Higher temp, preheated a long time. Baking steel.

When I'm going with a non-tomato base, I like spinach artichoke dip on a pizza. Sometimes I add extra toppings (mushrooms!) but other times not. For a crust, I like a recipe from The New Basics Cookbook, which uses 1 cup whole wheat flour to 1 1/2 cups of white. It gives the crust some extra substance without the feeling that you're eating pizza baked on whole wheat bread.

Sounds tasty. Do you ferment the dough overnight or just use it right away?

Just bought some medium pearled barley. Love the flavor of it as well as the nutrient profile -- any new ideas on how to use it? I'm game for making a batch and freezing for easier weekday use, but also fine with longer-cooking-time recipes as I work from home so I can tend the pot as needed. Thanks!

Here are a number of recipes to get your started.

Recent highlights include Joe's Curried Barley and Quinoa Cakes

Curried Barley and Quinoa Cakes

and Stephanie Witt Sedgwick's Grilled Mushroom and Barley Pilaf.

Grilled Mushroom and Barley Pilaf

Joe, great to see your name pop up in my Food and Wine this month. Always nice to see the DC scene get some recognition. I was wondering, however, why you mentioned/reviewed 4 places, out of 9, that haven't even opened yet. Seems unfair to give them such national coverage without having to earn it first. Just curious, still enjoyed the article.

This is the thing with national mags: They want to be far ahead of the game, and they have a long lead time. So the piece was about the newest of the new -- either just open or about to open -- that people are talking about. The editors there made the final decisions about what to include. (Nice change of pace for me to be able to say that!)

I know I'm late to the game, but man is this great cheese. Do you think it would melt/work well in a fondue? Thanks!

Hard aged cheese, right?  Should work fine if you grate it into a mixture/sauce. TJ's has such fierce, loyal fans. 

Yeah but you can still make a 8inch pizza on a larger steel. I don't even have the option of making my unwieldy big gulp pizzas.

You could make a 10-inch, I think, couldn't you? Maybe even 12.

Anyone besides me like cold leftover pizza for breakfast?

Yes pls. Generally speaking, tomato sauce + breakfast = good things. 

No two of my pizzas are alike, really. Sometimes I make the dough, sometimes I buy it. Indoors is always a stone but I'll grill it too. Sometimes white dough, other times honey-wheat or white-spelt or white-barley. Usually raid the pantry and fridge for leftovers or other interesting jarred items to put on top. I suppose like the classic French recipes, I have a loose "mother" recipe that I follow, but anything else is fair game.

I love Hawaiian pizza, meaning pineapple and either ham or Canadian bacon. I think some "purists" consider this as grotesque as, say, a Reuben sandwich on white bread or a fried chicken milk-shake. What say you?

I had too many of these at Shakey's in San Angelo, Texas, to ever appreciate them after I escaped. Plus, I'm afraid you may have lost me with "Za." I do love it as a Scrabble word, but otherwise... ;-)

I made a batch of hummus this week and while it's yummy and normally I don't mind garlic, it's just a tad overwhelming. Any suggestions to balance it out?

    Use less garlic. 

    It's hard to know what to suggest without knowing what you did. Let's assume that you made the hummus using one 16-oz can. If you did, then 2 garlic cloves should be fine. 

I'm going to a Super Bowl potluck on Sunday where the hosts are vegetarian and at least 1 attendee is gluten intolerant. I would also prefer to bring something not tomato -based since it's too acidic for me. Any recommendations for something yummy and substantial (not munchies)? I've been racking my brain.

How bout these grits-stuffed collard rolls? I, er, rolled them out for a healthy-SB snackdown a couple years back.

Instead of a corn tortilla or other grain, why not shred potatoes pan fry them or make soft potato cakes and fry them in some butter. That's more "breakfast like" and will absorb the yolks deliciously.

This is what I have planned: taco meat, hard/soft taco shells, beans & rice, tortilla chips, condiments: salsa verde, salsa, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole. Plan to make quesodillas with the above ingredients for the kids and a taco bar for the adults. We have appropriate beer.

Sounds pretty good. How about one of those pickled onion recipes I mentioned earlier?

I found it too messy to make grilled pizza - I use charcoal and never got a nicely cooked crust until I put my old pizza stone on the grill. Now it sits off to one side and I use it for pizza - get the smoky flavor - and other bready things. Also good for heating sauce pot without charring bottom.

     Gotta tell ya, I love this idea. So much so, in fact, that I was thinking about doing a grilled pizza story sometime this summer.

It's time to revisit! It's been too long.

What's different about the Belgian waffle irons? Thanks!

The Belgian designation seems to indicate the size/thickness of said waffles the iron produces.  Now, a Belgian waffle and other waffles -- different stories entirely. 

I'm partial to schiaciatta; it's the only pizza I ever knew growing up. Kind of like focaccia, but sturdier, with chopped onions, anchovy and torn tomatoes punched into the dough and then a little oregano and parmesan or romano on top. Heaven with a bowl of chicken or lentil soup!

Do you deliver?

"If it's too fine, besides the pressing difficulty, you get an overextracted coffee -- too acidic, bitter, not enough of the good flavors, too many of the bad." Oh, be careful, Starbucks might not like giving away their secret coffee recipe!


My sister taught me a faster method that I now love. Short enough to make fresh every morning. I c. water, brought to a boil in a small pot. Dash of salt optional. Stir in 0.25 cup Irish oats (yes, McCann's) and leave at a boil for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Then turn it down to a simmer and let it go. Stir when you walk by as you do the rest of your mornign stuff. After about 10-15 minutes, it's done (depends on how chewy or soft you want it). I add 0.5 cup frozen fruit (dark cherries are my current fave) and stir for the last minute to defrost them. Then mix with 0.5 cup Greek yogurt (dark cherry Chobani, at the moment, but any is fine) and 0.25 cup All Bran. Healthy, nutrituous and absolutely sticks to your ribs.

That sounds much easier. McCann's also has a number of methods for quicker Irish oatmeal.

Hi team-- Thank you so much for your weekly chats; I look forward to them every Wednesday! As a twenty-something who's just started cooking for one, they've been immensely helpful. I'm considering buying a slow cooker as my next kitchen gadget and have looked around online, but I'd love to hear your opinions of its versatility. Is it worth purchasing when I'm rarely cooking for large groups? Any recipes in particular you'd recommend? Thanks!

I took on the issue of slow-cooking for one awhile back, and here's what I found. You might look at the models that include several inserts of different sizes, so you can sometimes cook smaller quantities and other times larger. As for recipes, I'm a fan of making a pound or so of beans in the SC, pretty plain, then refrigerating, say, half of them and freezing the other half in individual zip-top bags to use over the following three months.

As for more involved recipes, how about Slow Cooker Chickpeas With Sunchokes and Chorizo?


Gotta love both topics! For Superbowl this year I'm also including some Mexican-style corn since everyone's fingers will be messy from the wings already. I have to say my boyfriend and I eat breakfast for dinner at least once a week, sometimes more, and then again for lunch on Saturdays. Our go-to is pancakes or waffles since there are so many options, but we've also been trying to make "traditional" breakfasts from other countries. It's a fun way to try new food!

I'm with you. My husband and I also like to make a batch of crepes for weekend breakfast/brunch and then use them with savory fillings during the week for dinner.

Hi Rangers! I have a question about keeping cookbooks clean. This past weekend I was making Cook's Illustrated The Best Beef Stew and was patting the beef dry with a small amount of blood ran onto my magazine. I immediately wiped it up and resumed with cooking the recipe -- which turned out pretty good. But now I am a bit worried about the residue on the magazine, one that I hope to keep around for awhile. Are there cross contamination issues here? How should I clean this? I feel ridiculous asking this question!

I could be wrong, but when has that stopped me before? ;-) Generally, bacteria need a warm, moist environment to multiply, so I think once you wipe it up and let the mag air out, you'll be fine. It's not like you're going to be wiping lettuce leaves on that spot in the page and then eating them raw, right? RIGHT? (I suppose you could wipe it with a bleach solution if you want to be extra safe.)

I am having difficulty finding a baking rack that will fit into a small casserole dish (8x8 or smaller). The sort of rack that holds a cut of meat, meatloaf or whatever just over the surface of the dish to allow for drippings, basting, etc. All the ones I find in stores are for 13x9 or larger pans, or are round (why?) and I am not sure I am using the correct term for an online search since "baking rack" gets me a lot of shelving for kitchen clutter.

Sometimes you can find one that fits if you look in a microwave-friendly section of bakeware. But you could create your own rack by using crumpled up lengths of aluminum foil, right? Or even celery/carrots/parsnips. 

How much does one weigh?

The 1/4-inch version weighs 15 pounds. Not light.

Saute thinly sliced fennel bulb, maybe add a pinch of fennel seed to boost the flavor. Try it, you'll like it. Plus, you'll get another serving of vegetable with it. For additional flavor, simmer the sliced fennel in a little o.j. Remember to add salt & pepper.

Like the sound o' that! 

I substitute cornmeal for some of the flour in my dough to give it a litlle more texture, Last night we had this with sauteed portobellas and onions, very thin sliced jalapenos, toasted sunflower seeds and crumbled-up the patty-style veggie sausage. The tomato sauce used fire-roasted diced tomatoes. Delicious!!

I make homemade pizza every Friday give or take. I have been working on a recipe for several years now, tweaking it to suit our tastes. I have it down to our family's liking except it needs the chew. I do a thin crust but it doesn't have the pull back (if that makes sense) right before the bite goes through. Please help me get the chew. I use Lancelot flour because it's high gluten, water, yeast, a smidge of salt and generous olive oil in the bowl for rising. Thoughts? Many thanks.

I'm no pro on this subject, but my understanding is you need a well-hydrated dough and a lengthy fermentation time to achieve a nice, chewy crust. Food & Wine suggests this recipe.

If I may recommend a famed former WaPo-er, try this from Kim O'Donnel

Loved the pizza smackdown article today, and both pizzas sound fab (especially after exchanging tweets with Tim about my home pizza making this week). But instead of telling us to be careful not to measure out too much flour for Joe's pizza, how about also giving us a weight to use? (and for the record, I use a Pastan dough recipe that was published in the Washingtonian in the late-ish 90's)

Sure! Use 20 ounces bread flour, 4 ounces semolina, 21.6 ounces water.

If the person does not want to go with the suggestions listed, he or she could always prebake the pizza crust until it is close to done and then broil the toppings to melt the cheese and caramelize the others.


it sounds like you are having a mixture of beans and rice. I personally like the texture of refried beans over beans and rice.

I am unfamiliar with the term "lamb breast," on sale now at a local market. It is fairly thinly sliced and appears to have some fat striation. Any thoughts? (I bought 1# of lamb shank, also on sale, and braised it Sunday. I had expected the shank to be a solid piece, but this had been cut into chunks. Still worked pretty well and was tasty.)

Probably lamb belly (as in pork belly). Braising till tender, while rendering that glorious fat, seems like a good way to go with this cut as well. Sometimes people stuff it and go the roulade route....

I think it might be more akin to veal breast, which is leaner.

They looked so good, I checked out the recipe. It was written for the old size of a can of tuna (6 oz.) and now they're all 5 oz. Should adjustments be made?

You're right. Might reduce the creme fraiche to 1/4 cup. I'll retest and make a note in the recipe; how about that?

Try pan roasting a few cloves of garlic (with skins on) and squeeze or scrape out the garlic. The roasting mellows it.

Ahhh! Count on our chatters for some actual help. 


You're missing hot chili peppers and cilantro!

Well, you've baked us until we're dark brown around the edges are our cheese has melted and browned deeply in spots, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great questions, and hope you found our answers helpful and entertaining.

Now for the giveaways: The chatter who proclaimed the glories of eggs on pizza (and linked to the breakfast pizza recipe) will get "Breakfast for Dinner." The chatter who asked about using a slow cooker for single-serving dishes will get "Serve Yourself." Send your mailing info to, and we'll get you your books!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating, and reading.

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is editor of the Food section; joining us today are deputy editor Bonnie Benwick, staff writer Tim Carman, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and Spirits columnist Jason Wilson.
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