Free Range on Food: FreshFarm Markets, tempeh and more

Are you cooking with tempeh yet? If not, you should be, Joe Yonan says.
Jan 07, 2015

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

Good icy afternoon! We've had a little hiccup in getting started, but the bottom line is, we are now talking FreshFarm Markets' next moves (founders Ann Yonkers and Bernie Prince will join us in a bit), Indian comfort food, Dinners in Minutes -- and anything else culinary you have in mind. 


Couple of lucky chatters will win cookbooks, which we'll announce at the end of the hour. Time's a-wastin'.....

So far we are 0-2 when it comes to CSAs. Our first CSA stopped nearby deliveries the second year. Last year the CSA closed operations half way through the season. Just don't seem to be a lot of options in the Springfield-Annandale area.

Sorry you've been burned! I'm am about knee-deep updating our CSA map and list for this year, so perhaps you'll find something there when we publish it in the next month or so (date TBD). In the meantime, check out last year's map for some initial research. You can sort by pickup region if you like, though I should mention the Olin-Fox Farms CSA listed in Springfield/Annandale last year has closed.

I'm obsessed with making perfect homemade pizza and own both a Fibrament and a pizza steel. I'd say it's a toss-up between the Fibrament and the steel. The Fibrament is heavy but the steel is HEAVY. The Fibrament is also sensitive to water so it never gets a scrub down in the sink. The steel definitely creates superior pizza crust because it cooks it faster, but I found that because my oven isn't a 800 degree brick oven that often meant the toppings like cheese were undercooked even though the crust was ready. I personally don't think you could go wrong with either.


ARTICLE: Chat Leftovers: A stone or a steel for pizza?

Bonnie, I'd like to use butternut squash instead of sweet potato (that's what's in my fridge) and tilapia instead of shrimp (my husband is allergic). Do I have your blessing?


RECIPE: Sweet Potato Curry

Sweet Potato Curry

Go forth and curry! 

Is there any easy way to peel a lot of shallots? I have a wonderful chicken and shallots dish that I rarely make because it takes so long to peel 15 shallots.

This strategy from the Kitchn sounds pretty reasonable.

After two year's of underwhelming, overpriced Valentine's Day dinners, I have decided there must be a better option. We would like to do a participatory cooking class (there are 6 of us). Do you or any of your readers have any experience with chefs who do this, either in their own space or in client's homes? We are adventurous eaters and price is not a problem. Thanks for any help you can provide.

So many options for you to check out in our cooking class list! If you search for "by appointment," you can find a good assortment of people who will arrange group lessons for you. Anyone have experience with someone they'd like to recommend?

Hi Joe, I started making tempeh reubens last summer based on a recipe very similar to yours. Just wanted to mention two things: they totally rock if you substitute kimchi for saurkraut; and the marinated tempeh, once cooked, is a great sub for bacon in BLTs, omelets, or anyplace else a smoky meat might be called for.

Yes, the combination is great! (I'm a kimchi obsessive, too -- for proof see Grilled Kimcheese and Mac/Kimcheese w Mushrooms recipes!) In fact, the folks at V Street, an offshoot of Vedge, one of my favorite Philly restaurants, have a kimchi/tempeh taco that sounds just perfect, don't you think?

And yes, those tempeh pieces for that salad in Terry Romero's book are called bacon bites for a good reason!

RECIPE: Tempeh Reubenesque Salad

I'm traveling to CT Sat to attend a party. Staying over night then coming back. I thought I might take a home made coffee cake as a hostess gift. I'd have to bake it Fri night. Do you think the coffee cake would survive until Sun morning? And would you have any recipe suggestions? Thanks for your help!

Oh, yes, I think that would be fine.

One of my all-time favorite WaPo Food recipes is this Pecan-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake. Have mercy.

Pecan-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake

Other options:

Granny's Christmas Coffee Cake

Granny's Christmas Coffee Cake

Avocado Coffee Cake

Avocado Coffee Cake

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I hope you can help me, I don't do that much cooking and baking and always wish I loved cooking as much as you and all your readers. I am taking a sweet potato casserole tomorrow night to a party and the host has gluten intolerance. I think it has about a millions calories, but so, so good - eggs, half n half, pecans, etc. It's from the You're Doing It Wrong Column at Slate. It also has three tablespoons of flour. What can I substitute for the flour? Thanks very much if you can answer this for me.

I checked that recipe out. Looks like the flour is only for the crumble, so I think something like almond meal would be a reasonable substitute.

I would like to make a vegetarian stuffed pepper dish please. I have leftover rice, but just not sure what to add to it to give it flavor.

Mediterranean's a good way to go. In this Stuffed Peppers With Ancho Sauce, there are scallions, mint (I think dried mint would be great), tarragon leaves, cinnamon, coriander and pine nuts. 

I bought head on shrimp recently and I would like to know if the heads can be used to make fish stock?

A seafood stock, sure! Or straight-up shrimp stock. If you don't have quite enough, you can just chuck 'em into a bag and freeze until you're ready to use them.

This is on your most popular recipe list (#4, I think). It looks great. Just a couple of questions out of pure curiosity. 1. why both onions and shallots? 2. Am I the only one to think it would be odd to serve over brown rice when it's already quinoa-based?


RECIPE: Spiced Lentil and Quinoa Stew

Spiced Lentil and Quinoa Stew

We don't have quick access to Elaine Gordon, the source of that recipe. I mean, you do get different flavors out of shallots and onions. That being said, if you just wanted to add more onion instead of the shallot, I see no harm in it. And if you think quinoa + brown rice is odd, it's totally optional. Just a serving suggestion. Doesn't seem weird to me, but to each their own. It would probably also be good with some naan or crusty bread.

Look for already peeled shallots. I bought a container of peeled cipollini onions yesterday and they were peeled nicer than any I ever peeled. The same producer does shallots and pearl onions. Of course, you pay for the peeling which would make shallots for a crowd very expensive....

I'm not sure I'd recommend them. Expensive, yes, but more significantly, the pungency of a fresh shallot's lost in those babies.

Love to see my fave protein get some love on your pages! And really hope your tips help people tackle it; it can be really intimidating at first. As thorough as you were, there's a tip I think is missing -- if you've found tempeh too assertive, steam it for about 15 minutes (after the slicing) before addding to the marinade. It takes some of the sharpest notes out but largely seems to work by better preparing the tempeh to absorb the marinade.

Thanks for the love for the love. You're right that some people recommend steaming first. I found, though, that for me, steaming made the tempeh a little too soft for my taste, for most purposes. Another way at the same goal is to cook the tempeh IN the marinade, as you do with the Pumpkin-Seed-Crusted Tempeh. The marinade is discarded, the tempeh's flavor is tamed, and it softens it a little bit -- creating a nice contrast between interior and exterior.

RECIPE: Pumpkin-Seed-Crusted Tempeh

I'm going to Roanoke, VA this weekend just to get away for a few days. The hotel I'm staying in has a small fridge and microwave. Given the fact that I'm a penny-pincher and I don't eat out that often, what foods can I prepare ahead and take with me? I getting tired of the same standbys (chicken and tuna salad, cheese and crackers, fruit salad). I can take a mid-size cooler. Thanks!

How about a nice, hearty soup or stew? Some ideas in these two posts from yesterday:

ARTICLE: Recipe Finder: 10 hearty soups to help you take winter down a peg

ARTICLE: Most popular WaPoFood recipes of 2014

Any tips on how to use an indoor fireplace as a grill? I’ve got lots of oak and hickory, a clean chimney, a fire extinguisher, and a wife who just might put up with it. I’ve seen things such as sticking a hibachi in the fireplace, but I want to go beyond that: use the fire itself. I’m worried about oil drips and perhaps excess smoke, but that just may have to come with the territory. Any of you try it yet and how were the results?

I'm not blessed to have a fireplace, but we had a fun piece by Bonny Wolf a few years ago on cooking in hers, using a Tuscan Grill. Check it out.

ARTICLE: Cook it in the fireplace

RECIPE: Mussels in Almond-Garlic Butter

RECIPE: Tuscan Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

I really want to make some home-made marmalade this year. Do you know where I may be able to find Sevilla oranges in the DC area? Or do you have any suggestions for another variety of citrus?

I couldn't immediately find Seville oranges after a few calls, but you can buy them online here.

Whole Foods on P Street does have blood oranges, which some use for marmalade. You could also try using cara cara oranges or navel oranges and mix in a little bitter grapefruit.

Finally, the Food Substitution Bible suggests that you could use kumquats instead. Here's a David Lebovitz recipe for kumquat marmalade.

Want to make my own tempeh. Do you know where I can get the starter for it?

Good for you! And yep, a good source for all fermentation cultures and other supplies is Cultures for Health. Let us know how it goes!

I'm feeling a little reubenesque myself after the holidays, so I must try the reubenesque salad! welcome back Joe! because I missed you, I checked Eat Your Vegetables out of the library and am enjoying it quite a bit--creative and full of great tips and careful instructions.

Too funny! I know what you mean, re wanting Reubenesque because of your Rubenesque-ness! Thanks much.

It's not a CSA, but this fall I met the From the Farmer folks at at the Columbia Heights farm market. They deliver produce boxes to your house. The price is good, the produce is good, and the service is, so far, excellent. Maybe the person in search of a CSA should check them out.

Certainly an option. Some CSAs do deliver, so that's another possibility.

Hi, my husband is allergic to eggs and wants something different for breakfast other than...toast, oatmeal, etc.

I'm confused about shallots. If a recipe calls for a shallot, is that the whole bulb or one clove of the bulb? with garlic, recipes usually specify number of cloves, but not so with shallots.

Seems like some shallots have gotten multi-bulbular and kinda huge lately, but figure you need just one contained bulb, or lobe as Editor Joe likes to call them in his recipes. 

What are some changes you forsee coming to organization under new leadership?


ARTICLE: FreshFarm Markets founders to retire this year

We expect FFM to continue with farmers in our region as the focus. Changes will come from the opportunities presented by the very active food sector such as new methods of distribution, using technology, etc.

Thank you for the tempeh article. I love tempeh --- its ability to provide complex and nuanced tastes and textures rivals the best aged red wines and aged cheeses. I haven't been brave enough to make or cook my own, but your article inspires me to try! I eat in restaurants, and particularly recommend Teaism's Vegetarian Bento box (with marinated organic tempeh, broccolini & spaghetti squash with celery, pumpkin seed & lime-tamari dressing, coconut kabocha & smokey salted pear, and sticky rice).

You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed it. Indeed, Teaism does a nice job with tempeh -- thanks for mentioning it.

Please check out my favorite l'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg and Bethesda!

Yes, of course. Looks like they can arrange private events too.

During holidays with extended family, my SIL broke out a box of pasta clearly marked as having expired two years ago. When I pointed this out, she said it didn't matter, pasta is good forever. I've been told it gets rancid and stale and I guess it could make one ill. We had rice instead, but would it have been risky to eat the pasta?

As pointed out a dry pasta can often be eaten well after the expiration date, but with a couple of caveats: If the pasta hasn't been stored properly and has picked up outside moisture, the noodles could be a breeding ground for bacteria. The pasta may also take on off flavors over the years.

Depends on what it's made of. Whole-grain pasta will go rancid, but plain old wheat noodles should be okay for years, in an airtight box at room temperature. 

Almonds instead of pine nuts? Would like to avoid anaphylaxic reaction to the pine nuts.

oy, sorry. Toast slivered almonds, sure! 

What's the rationale behind only using the white and light green part of a leek? I use the dark green part and don't seem to have suffered harm. Gray-green or limp I toss. And as I cut from bottom to top I'll discard the gray-green outside layer and keep chopping the inside. I suspect the advice has to do with the amount of dirt towards the top. Am I right or is there something I'm missing?

The dark green parts of the leek can be pretty tough, so what you do with them in the recipe matters a great deal. 

where can I find white truffles for sale in the district?

Dean and Deluca in Georgetown carried them in December; you may be able to call and order them. Sounds like the season for their DC availability is brief! If you are buddies with a restaurant chef, getting him/her to order some for you might be your best bet. 

Hi, Rangers, I received an immersion blender for Christmas. I love it and have already used it multiple times. Do you think I can get rid of my (old, hand-me-down) regular blender at this point? With the regular blender, I usually just pureed soups anyway. There were a few smoothie failures, too...

Personally, I would hold onto it. Immersion blender are great for soups and sauces, but not so much for bulkier foods that you can just dump into an upright blender's bowl and puree till smooth.

Joe, could you recommend a restaurant in the Washington area that would have a tasting menu of Tempeh dishes?

Editor Joe had to run, but passed on a sigh and an "I wish!"

Hi free rangers, having a casual dinner party and looking for suggestions on main dishes to serve. At my housewarming I served lasagnas, so something along those lines that can be prepared ahead of time and just popped in the oven, and then sit out for a few hours. Looking for one meat and one veggie dish, have some unadventurous eaters so something more traditional would be preferred. Thank you! Love the chats!

Such perfect timing for those soup recipes! I'd just been wondering if coffee, tea, soup or oatmeal would be the quickest way to warm up. Coffee and tea are faster to make, but soup seems to last longer inside me! If you would, please share the best way to reheat soup -- is it okay to microwave so it's ready faster? On high or 50% or what?

I usually reheat in the microwave on high in 1- to 2-minute increments, stirring in between, until the soup is hot again. On the stovetop works too, maybe over medium heat.

My feelings about Tempeh mirror the introduction in Joe's article. Perhaps I will resolve to give it another try this year, following one of the published recipes. Having grown up around Milan I have a small quibble about the Ellie Krieger Minestrone article. Minestrone is not "Italian-like", it is and Italian soup. That being said and knowing that the ingredients will always vary with the season, I would recommend using borlotti (cranberry) beans or cannellini beans for a more authentic soup (use the bean broth in the soup if cooking the beans at home) and swap in some shredded cabbage or other greens for the red pepper. Dice potato is always nice too. In the Milan area arborio rice is a traditional swap for pasta, though both are used.

If he wants something hearty, can he try things other than traditional breakfast foods? Like chicken soup, maybe? Or something like oat groats, that take a long time to cook but no time at all to heat up in the microwave, and they stick to your ribs much more than rolled oats do.

Come down to the Dupont market on Sunday and get a bag of Next Step Produce's organic oats which are freshly made and so much more delicious than the oats sold in supermarkets.

Do you buy your search results for 2014? I don't--sorry, but how can there be 3 hits on lentils? Kale was an 'it' food, so I guess that is possible. Only one sweet? again dubious, IMO. Did the WaPo stop doing the top recipes of the month, or did I just keep missing that? I enjoyed it and hope it resumes (or that I pay better attention if it has been ongoing)

Buy, as in believe? Yep, the results come straight from our site traffic monitor -- although I was surprised that a few very popular cookies didn't  merit a higher ranking. We did stop doing top recipes of the month; would you like to see that feature return?

Where in the area can I find good dried beans? I'd rather not buy bags of them from the store, since those often end up old (and don't cook up well). I've ordered from Rancho Gordo before, but the shipping price is a bit steep, plus I'd like to be able to browse in person. Any suggestions?

Have you tried the bulk section at the Takoma Park Co-Op? The store offers a wide selection of dried organic beans, including pinto, kidney, black beans, lima, chickpeas, Navy beans, red beans, etc.


The co-op is located at 201 Ethan Allen Ave. in Takoma Park. Phone: 301-891-COOP (2667).


I discovered Clairette de Die in Paris over the holiday break and fell in love. I really liked this sparkling sweet wine. Where can I find it in DC?

Good time to use I found a few options.

I want to keep eating salads through the winter, but can't bring myself to slap on cold dressing on top of cold veggies. Is there a vegetarian version or type of dressing as the warm bacon vinagrette? What would be a good blend of cooked and raw vegetables?

Using smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton) or the adobo from canned chipotle peppers ought to work instead. Try whisking either one of those whisking with a little agave, lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh chives, extra-virg olive oil, a small pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper; heat over a low flame just until warmed through. For veg, try raw fennel and kohlrabi, cooked sweet potato and fresh bitter greens? 

What are you most proud of? What are your favorite accomplishments over the years?

We created a local food economy and it has made a huge difference for the economic survival of our farmers. Every other accomplishment we have had flows from having created the most successful working model of a producer-only farmers market and building on the initial Dupont market to create a network of farmers markets in partnership with the business and community entities at all of our market sites in our Chesapeake Bay region.

How much does it reduce sodium to rinse canned beans (e.g., kidney beans)? Looking for a comparison to the higher priced cans that claim a 50% sodium reduction. (Yes, I know I can cook my own from dried, and occasionally do. But not always.) Thanks.

If you believe what's in this flyer, draining and rinsing will reduce sodium by 41 percent. Different people cite different numbers sometimes, however.

That's why we like to use the no-salt-added varieties whenever we can. No guesswork. 

Yes, buy as in believe, ha! we recently migrated to a new platform and our search results need some tweaking, to say the least, and with your results being so soup/stew heavy I was surmising that the results are from more recent search activity. And I for one would enjoy your return of the monthly best-of results, at least online. Thanks!

It seems appropriate to toast France today, with French freedom fries, a glass of wine, your onion soup recipe, whatever ...

I'm hoping you can solve a mystery for me. Every now and then, I find that a batch of scallions has some sort of clear, jelly-like substance inside. It's difficult to detect in the store, but when I slice them up, it oozes out of the dark green parts. What is it? Is it safe? I can't imagine that it's any sort of man-made substance that made it into the onions, but I honestly don't know. Should I toss them, squeeze it out and wash really well?

Seems to be harmless; rinse well to get rid of it and proceed apace! 

There is lots of talk now about bone broths. What is the equivalent for vegetarians/vegan?

Not really sure there is an equivalent since, well, there would be no meat or bones, right? So, vegetable broth it is.

RECIPE: Scrappy Vegetable Broth

Scrappy Vegetable Broth

I love this vegetable but find myself cooking it the same way - oven roasted in a cast iron skillet with garlic, olive oil or Magic Vegan Bacon Grease and am looking for a new, but easy recipe. Suggestions? Thanks!

I've cherished the great Madhur Jaffrey's Indian and Vegetarian cookbooks for decades now. She first put me on to tempeh, which was a great help when we had vegan guests to dinner. One thing I like to do with khichri is substitute chopped fresh parsley for cilantro when we have soap-tasters to dinner.

How considerate of you, as a Free Ranger and a dinner host.

ARTICLE:  Kitchari is easygoing Indian comfort food

Yes you can find it in the DMV. I fell in love with it this past summer in Paris as well, along with a strapping Walloon Zénobe (my first!).

Check your fridge setting--maybe they're getting frozen inside? that has happened to me.

A colleague of mine grew some indian corn in his garden and then ground it using a grist mill instead of a stone mill. The corn meal is not very fine, but is very colorful. I tried using in cornbread and polenta, but the texture was still course. Any suggestions on recipes that would work well with course ground and colorful corn meal?

Have you tried grits? Here's a recipe using Jimmy Red, a Native American corn.

Whole Foods (hopefully not just the Norht Bethesda store) has a decent variety of dried beans in their bulk products area. I've never had problems with freshness and the good thing is you can buy exactly the amount you want. P.S I've always thought Rancho Gordo was worth the price but lately they seem not to have many of my favorites in stock. This is the first year in a long time I didn't place an order in the fall.

Well, we hiccuped our way through some technical difficulties today, but now it's time to go. Thanks to Ann Harvey Yonkers and Bernie Prince for joining us, and to you, dear chatters, as always. 


Cookbook winners: The chatter who asked about Seville oranges gets a copy of "Tasting the Seasons" by Kerry Dunnington; the Eternal Pasta chatter gets a copy of "The Southern Living Community Cookbook," source of this week's Dinner in Minutes recipe. Till the 14th, happy cooking and eating! 

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Travel editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew. ... Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is the Food section's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is Food's editorial aide.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Ann Yonkers and Bernie Prince
Ann Harvey Yonkers and Bernadine "Bernie" Prince are the co-founders of FreshFarm Markets.
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