Free Range on Food: American artisan cheese, setting up a home bar, this week's recipes and more.

Oct 04, 2017

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

Hello, everyone -- welcome to the chat! We've got lots of ground to cover today, between Jason Wilson's piece on American cheeses making a splash in Italy; Carrie's primer on how to set up your home bar, a few bottles at a time; Dave McIntyre's debunking of the special-glass-for-each-wine nonsense; Cathy Barrow's brilliant recipe for fig brandy (and brandied figs!); Bonnie's piece on the new "Rasika" cookbook (publishing any minute now!); and more.

Jason and Carrie will join us to talk about their pieces and their respective fields of expertise (which overlap considerably!). Cathy Barrow is traveling, but we can send her questions by email, so don't be shy. And "Rasika" coauthor David Hagedorn will join us NEXT week, but ... we're giving away a copy of the book today, so feel free to send q's about it now!

For you PostPoints members, here is today's code: FR6909 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

In addition to the "Rasika" cookbook, we'll also have this book for a chatter today, someone who is particularly interested in cheese, of course: "Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese" by Bronwen and Francis Percival. So make your questions good!

Let's do this!

Does the American Cheese Society have tastings in the Washington, DC Metro Area, if not are there plans for the future?

The American Cheese Society is a trade organization for cheese professionals - about 1800 nationwide. So, many of the fine cheesemongers and cheese shops in the area are likely members. You can check their website for more info.

ARTICLE: How good has U.S. cheese become? Good enough to worry the Italians.

My dad is very serious about his coffee, and feels that drinking coffee from any kind of plastic container makes it taste bad. The problem is, almost all travel mugs that you drink directly from have plastic, especially at the mouth. His girlfriend had gotten him a mug with a ceramic lid, with a silicon seal. He liked that, but dropped and broke it. He can't find a replacement, and neither can I despite googling. I was hoping any of you wonderful chat hosts or the chatters would have a source for an insulated travel mug that has no plastic parts. Thank you!

When I was in Chicago last month, I bought a new travel mug from Intelligentsia, the regional coffee roaster. It's a double-walled stainless steel mug with a rubber-seal top. I love it. It keeps the coffee hot for a loooong time. It's dishwasher safe. And it looks great.

 

You can buy it here for $13.

A very gracious house guest gave me a jar of honey, and honestly, I'm not big on honey, so I don't use it much. Wondering if there's a cookie recipe where honey replaces sugar? I looked at your oatmeal sour cherry sandwiches, but they only used 3 tbsp of honey. I'm looking for a recipe that will use a cup of the stuff! (PS: I know, it will last thousands of years, but who has the pantry space for that?)

Honey Baklava Batons = 1/4 cup

Honey Peanut Wafers = 1/2 cup

Spicy Peanut and Toasted Coconut No-Bakes = 1/2 cup

 

Mama Katy's Melomakarona (Honey-Spice Cookies) = 2 cups! 

I love roasting vegetables and do it at least once a week. Broccoli, cauliflower, potato, carrots, whatever. I usually just toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings strike my fancy. My problem is that I they just don't get quite as crispy as I would like. I usually have my oven temp set to 450 or 475 (and I've had my oven tested, so I know it's generating the right heat). I'm wondering if the problem is lining my baking sheets with heavy duty aluminum foil. It makes clean-up so much easier, but is it preventing the surface from getting as hot it would without the foil?

I'm wondering about two things:

1. Do you crowd the vegetables? The more space between them, the better the air and heat can circulate and help with browning/crispiness. Use two pans if needed!

2. Have you tried preheating the sheet pan? Put it/them in when the oven is heating, with the foil (which I don't think is the problem), and the pan will be nice and hot when the vegetables go in, which helps, too!

Hi Tom, not a question, but a thank you. My wife and I took a trip to Philly this past weekend. Based on one of your Q&As from ~3-4 weeks ago I booked a table at Vernick Food & Drink without laboring over where we should go. Sans the roasted chicken, everything was amazing. All around it was one of the best meals we've had in ages, with a very unique menu. We'll definitely be going back. If any readers are looking to go, many locals we spoke to (who also had high praise!), said depending on the day/time you may need to book 3 months out to secure a table.

Vernick is great ! (I'm based in Philly and have been going there for years). It's busy some nights, but I don't think you need to book three months in advance!

I'm wondering why, when baking a cake I am supposed to butter a pan THEN line it with parchment paper. Is there a reason that will make this step feel less skippable? Common sense tells me that butter should be on cake side of the parchment paper to release the cake easier. Does the pan deserve butter if I'm just covering it up with parchment paper?

A question for the ages, often asked by home bakers. Consensus is that a small amount of butter helps the bottom parchment liner stay in place while you are prepping the  pan and later when you pour in the batter; the parchment itself helps ensure the bottom of the cake comes out in one piece, with a smooth surface. Some people also butter the batter side of the parchment, but that may depend on the type of cake batter more than anything. 

Despite the impending warm weather, I'm craving some kind of baked, gooey thing to bring for lunches this week--mac and cheese, lasagna, chicken casserole--something like that. But as much as I want a traditional cheesy, decadent version of any of these, I really need it to be on the healthier side. Got any recommendations that will scratch the itch without making me feel too gluttonous? Thanks!

Do you like kimchi? Because this casserole is a great one:

Mac and Kimcheese With Mushrooms

RECIPE: Mac and Kimcheese With Mushrooms

You may also be into Baked Polenta With Cheese and Swiss Chard.

Other healthful (but not so cheesy) ones:

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

RECIPE: Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Cod and Corn Chowder Pie

RECIPE: Cod and Corn Chowder Pie

And keep this one tucked away for leftover turkey season.

Turkey Tetrazzini With Butternut Squash Sauce

RECIPE: Turkey Tetrazzini With Butternut Squash Sauce


When I was a kid in the 1970s my dad's favorite piece of advice was: "Don't waste your money on domestic Gorgonzola! It's not fit to eat!" Times are changing.

Haha! I would have said the same thing even 10-15 years ago! But that Rogue Creamery "Oregonzola" -- among others -- is amazing.

I've seen this brand in stores but it is fairly expensive. Is it really worth the price?

I'd say it's worth the price for the tonic water, which is really good, less so for the club soda. Other club soda aficionados might argue that, though.

Hi - I want to make Halloween finger cookies (long thin cookies rolled in a 'finger' shape with an almond as a nail). I tested out a recipe this weekend and, sadly, they spread a lot. This was the recipe I used. However, I used regular sugar instead of powdered sugar. So, two questions: 1) do you think using regular sugar instead of powdered sugar caused the spreading? and 2) can you think of a good no-spread cookie recipe for making fingers? Thanks, guys!

The red "fingernails" are such a nice touch! The recipe calls for both kinds of sugar; are you saying you used 1/2 cup + 5T granulated sugar?

 

I don't think the swap would cause the cookies to spread...for a cookie that needs to hold a certain shape, the dough should be pretty firm to start with -- as in, add a bit more flour till you think it's a sturdy dough --  and also chilled (per the recipe), with the rest of what you are not working with hanging in the fridge till you need it.

 

Or, you can shape the fingers and put them back in the fridge or freezer for a bit before baking. 

 

The dough that Tiffany MacIsaac uses for this sugar cookie tower is quite firm and has no baking powder or baking soda, either  -- it holds its shape nicely. I recommend trying that one! 

Hi! Can you all recommend any good online sources for raw cashews? They are impossible to find in my tiny town. Thanks!

I really like Navitas Naturals brand for lots of dried fruit and nuts, including raw cashews. I see them online here and of course here. (Insert standard Jeff Bezos/Amazon/Post disclaimer.)

I like nuts.com, too.

My cookie plans this past weekend were interrupted by an uncooperative baby. So now, instead of a batch of oatmeal cookies, I have 2 dozen balls of frozen cookie dough in my freezer. I've never frozen the dough before, so not sure how to proceed from here. Do I need to thaw the cookie dough before baking? Bake according to the instructions? Adjust time? Can I bake 1-2 in the toaster oven? All I wanted was some oatmeal cookies...

You can bake them from frozen, but tack on a few extra minutes to the baking time. They might stay a little gooier or softer than baking from room or fridge temp. (This is a good thing, I think.)

I have been assigned an Indian side dish to bring to my Supper Club. I was hoping to have the new Rasika Cookbook in time but that will be too late. Any ideas for something interesting? Plus I live in an area with only a Food Lion and Walmart for shopping so ingredients would have to be not too esoteric. Thank you.

Not a question, just a thanks! I made this this week and not only was it wonderful, it actually came out just like the picture! I was so excited I had to take my own picture of it so I could show my friends.

Hooray for you! That makes my day. #OnePan appears monthly in the Washington Post Magazine.

RECIPE Onion Mushroom Tarte Tatin

Trader Joe's

The OP was looking for an online source, but sure, for people near a TJ's, all their nuts are good. Oh, and these aren't raw, but the TJ's Thai chili lime cashews are a personal addiction.

This may be a stupid question, but what do folks make for breakfast that is healthy, and realistic. I ask because I often see tv cooks and books with all these suggestions for breakfast that don't understand I don't have an hour to prep and cook it at 6am while getting myself and kids ready. What are a few things you make?

I hear you about the need for a speedy, nutritious breakfast.

 

How about something like this?

Cherry Berry Smoothie Bowl

Are there crafters in his life? knitted or crocheted mug/cup/beer-stein cozies are very big -- quick projects that can have fun stuffed worked into their fabric, and protect ceramic with their padding. If not, send me the dimensions and I'll make him one.

That's kind of you, though I think the chatter was looking for a new mug, not an emergency koozie.

Hi guys... I am a hardcore cheese collector. I frequent cheese counters at Whole Foods, Wegman's, Cheesetique, Screwtop, Trader Joe's... you name it, and can't stop myself from buying little wedges of everything. Problem is, when I eat it I try to stick to 1 oz servings, so I end up with a large assortment of cheeses in my fridge that sit around for weeks at a time. Whenever I go to eat it, I run into a different issue -- it seems to mold so fast! Sometimes I'll just cut off the moldy part, but other times it's beyond saving. I'm talking all types of cheese -- hard, soft, semi-hard, I don't discriminate. Help -- how long is cheese supposed to last? Is keeping it for weeks/a couple months too long? Is it safe to cut off the mold? Is there a way to keep cheese fresher and not get so moldy? Thanks!

So the standard storage advice is to use wax paper or parchment rather than a ziploc bag. Here's what the American Cheese Society advises:

"Always re-wrap cheese in fresh wrapping, preferably in waxed or parchment paper, after the cheese has been opened to avoid having the cheese dry out or pick up other flavors.  Remember that natural cheese is a living organism, with enzymes and bacteria that need air and moisture to survive.  Thus, re-wrapping the cheese in paper and then in plastic wrap to create a micro-environment for the cheese is the preferred storage treatment.  However, you should not leave cheese in the same wrappings for extended periods of time."

That said, I'll admit that I often use bags -- and just eat the cheese quickly enough. And I'll just cut the mold off harder cheeses too. Definitely get rid of cheese that gets a slimy texture or has a whiff of ammonia.

Bought a tube for $2 on a lark. It has tomato, olive, parmesan, mushroom powder, balsamic vinegar, etc. in it. So, I guess I mix it in the next time I make something sauce like and savory? Like spaghetti sauce? Anything else that you can think of? I'm not really a stew person (mostly because I am terrified of cooking red meat, mom's red meat dishes always came out like shoe leather). Thanks.

For starters: In scrambled eggs; a vegetable soup; in a vinaigrette; mixed into a queso-type dip; and combined with a little olive oil and tossed to coat vegetables for roasting.

I'm a longtime discussion wallflower from Wisconsin where I'm just learning how to pickle (starting with quick pickling). I spent last weekend pickling anything we had in excess from the garden — jalapenos, onions, beets, cucumbers, etc. Now I'd like to try my hand at giardiniera but I'm curious about the use of olive oil in giardiniera recipes — does it separate? Or does the oil solidify in the fridge when quick pickling? Any other tips/hints would be appreciated!

Our favorite canning expert, Cathy Barrow, says:

Giardiniera is such a great pickle, it’s a terrific addition to your already expanding collection of briny beauties. Yes, the oil will separate and solidify in the refrigerator. Bring the mixture to room temperature before serving, shaking the jar to combine the oil and vinegar.

 

 

Giardiniera can be chopped into small pieces - the better for topping a Chicago style hot dog - or left in larger pieces to serve as an antipasto or side dish. 

A friend gave me a bag of jalapenos and I decided to pickle them. My husband loves spicy, vinegary food. I googled recipes and kind of bumbled my way through the process. I boiled my jars but didn't actually process (can) the peppers. I just put them in the jars with the hot liquid, cooled them, put the lids on and put them in the fridge. This was a week ago. This won't poison my husband, will it? We haven't eaten any yet. I picked out the garlic pieces because I had a vague idea that garlic would promote botulism.

And Cathy Barrow says:

As long as those pickled peppers are kept cold, they will be fine for another month or so. Even with the garlic!

 

Carrie, what is this for? How does its function differ from the holes in the top of my cocktail shaker?

It's essentially performing much the same function as the holes you're referencing -- which are found on a cobbler shaker, one of several kinds of shakers out there. A julep strainer will fit into the mouth of a mixing glass or a Boston shaker, neither of which have the little lid with holes you're talking about. Here's a nice breakdown of the difference -- but in a word, if you're using a cobbler shaker already, you're probably good (though, that said, if I'm making mojitos -- granted, a rare occurrence -- I far prefer to use a Boston shaker because I find the mint clogs up the holes in the cobbler lid.)

My mom also made stuffed bell peppers and also used green (could we even get red bell peppers at the store when I was young?). They were Italian-style with ground beef and dried basil and parmesan (from the green can - it was the 70s in a small town) baked for a long time along with potatoes and carrots in a homemade tomato sauce in one of those awesome Corning dutch ovens - the heavy kind with blue cornflowers. Thanks for reviving a memory.

I have started seeing special glasses for hard cider. I had just been using a regular beer glass. What supposed advantage does a cider glass give when drinking hard cider? is it worthwhile?

Most people think of cider like beer, and something you just drink out of a pint glass or whatever. But as you get a little deeper into cider, it's really more like wine than beer. In fact, many of the better artisan ciders are sold in 750ml format bottles like wine. So if you don't have "special" cider glasses (which I don't have either) I'd just recommend just using a wine glass.

I was taught to butter & flour the bottom and the sides of cake pans, but my grandmother said that she only did the bottom, because she said it made the cake rise higher. Any truth to this?

I'm not sure why you'd need to flour the bottom in addition to the butter -- the parchment seems to serve the flour function. As to the rise...I would not refute a grandmother's word re baking.

Sorry--jumped the gun. Maybe Amazon can acquire them too and they'll be online soon enough. ;)

Is there any way around using a non-stick skillet for a spanish tortilla? Just had a fail this morning using a well-seasoned stainless skillet although I was able to scrap the mess back together and it ended up tasting fine.

I've made Spanish tortilla many times using a seasoned cast-iron skillet. The key is a lot of oil, IMO.

My mom just gave me a bag of asafetida. What do I do with it?

Good question.

Asafetida is an unusual ingredient, a powder that comes from the dried gum of a plant in the carrot family. Called "hing" among Indian cooks, the spice has a strong sulfurous smell (read: it stinks like rotten eggs). But when used in a recipe, it mellows out, mimicking flavors more associated with garlic, onions and leeks.

 

You can use it in lentil dishes like this, as a substitute for the garlic or ginger (though I'd caution to use smaller amounts than those listed).

Dal

 

Dal Shorba (Red Lentil Soup)

I find that Lidia Bastianich's Linguine with Swiss Chard, Ricotta and Walnuts reheats well, and would fit the chatter's bill for a lunch that's healthful without too much fatty cheese.

And here's another way to go: Gooey Chicken, Brie and Cranberry Pies. (Yep, fresh cranberries are now in stores!)

On my first trip to Topo on the island of São Jorge in the Azores (the village from which my ancestors hailed), a cousin took me to the famous cheese factory there, where I was introduced to their namesake cheese. Whenever I go back to visit the islands, I always bring a wedge home (it's even sold at the airports on the larger islands!), but in between trips it's hard to find in stores. My point is that I've noticed ads for some California cheesemakers manufacturing São Jorge style cheese, and wonder if you know how it compares to the real thing, as I assume it's cheaper to mail-order than the imported original.

I have to confess, you've stumped me on this cheese...I've never had it! On quick search, though, I can see that the original, from the Azores, is imported into the U.S. and is available via some online retailers. It may be a little more aged by the time you get it than when you buy it there, and so will taste somewhat differently.

As for an American producer of São Jorge-style cheese? I'll open that up to the forum for suggestions...

Just wanted to say that the Slow Cooker Caponata recipe from a few weeks back is so good that I may never go back again to making it on top of the stove. I had been using the recipe from Marion Morash's "Victory Garden Cookbook" (in 35 years of use has never had a recipe fail and deserves to be reprinted. The new recipe had the same flavor and consistency without the quantity of oil and all the frying.

A terrific Ellie Krieger recipe, indeed. Funny you should mention Marian and "TVGC" -- they figure quite prominently in a fun story by Charlotte Druckman, coming soon to WaPoFood!

Their smoky blue is the best blue cheese I've ever had. OMG.

Oh, my word. You should've been here when we were tasting it after a photo shoot. I swooned every. Single. Time. A truly amazing cheese.

By the time the Italians at the tasting in Bra got to the Smoky Blue, their minds were sufficiently blown.

...is one that doesn't cost $2+ a piece. I'll be sticking with green peppers!

You do you!

Not the OP, but I too have wondered how it would work to bake a mini-batch of cookies in the toaster oven. Would they be more at risk of burning, due to being close to the heat source? If so, what precautions should I take to prevent burning?

Burning has not been an issue, in my toaster oven cookie baking experience. Temp at 350 for up to 12 mins, that is.

Why is this even called soy sauce? It has more molasses than soy! At least my bottle does. Wish I'd noticed that before substituting it for regular soy sauce in a dish. Thought it would have an extra-pungent or extra-strong soy sauce taste. Instead, it's sweet! Just needed to grumble ... and ask if you can think of other ingredients with misleading names so I don't screw up other recipes.

There are many varieties of soy sauce (here's a brief primer from Serious Eats); they're not all interchangeable. Black soy sauce is supposed to be sweet -- that's kind of the point. So this name wasn't misleading at all, and in fact told you exactly what to expect. 

But now that you have it, here are two recipes that calls for it.

Spicy Mint Beef

RECIPE: Spicy Mint Beef

Fish Fillets in Spicy Vinegar Sauce, Beijing Style

RECIPE: Fish Fillets in Spicy Vinegar Sauce, Beijing Style

The only other misleading names I can think of offhand are pork butt (which is shoulder), head cheese (which isn't cheese) and mincemeat (which doesn't include meat, although it used to). Chatters, any others?

Can I make a batch of scones up to the baking a day before actually baking and serving them? Can I keep wrap them in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge?

You can refrigerate the dough for a day, sure. I think scones are at their peak when freshly baked.

 

For baking in advance, I would either cool, wrap and freeze, then reheat before serving, or just let them sit under cover at room temperature for a day. 

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

I swear by these granola bars from Eating Well. There was a time that I was making them every week for breakfast! You can use any kind of nuts dried fruit you like. I've used apricots, as well as mango with a little coconut thrown in. Tip: if you swirl the honey a bit while it's on the stove, the bars come out softer, which I prefer to crunchy. I also just use all oats and no wheat flakes because I don't know what they are and where to find them or where I'd put them in my bursting cabinets if I bought them, and the bars turn out just dandy without them! 

Even though I try to be vegan as much as possible, my seasonal allergies have been so bad starting late summer that I am trying wild honey as a remedy, in addition to my arsenal of OTC and homeopathic meds. Two weeks in, no relief yet. Has this worked for anyone here, and if so, any suggestions? Thanks!

This remedy, as promising as it sounds, is really a myth, as WebMD explains.

Bombay duck, which is a dried fish. Or Welsh rabbit, which is grilled cheese on toast.

So glad you did this article, Tim. I've been following José Andrés on Twitter and have been just knocked out by his generosity, energy and ability to get people together and make things happen -- like getting food to villages in Puerto Rico many days before federal and private aid. One of his restaurants here in DC also held a fund-raiser for Mexican earthquake relief. We're lucky to have this talented, good-hearted man as a neighbor. Two questions -- Are he and his fellow chefs donating all that food and transportation and storage costs? Also, in the settled lawsuit with the owner of that T-initialed hotel on Penn Ave where José Andrés decided not to open a restaurant (because of the owner's comments about Mexicans), did he have to give money to the hotel owner, or did that person accept JA's suggestion that they both donate to charity? Thanks.

Thank you.

 

Jose is an inspiration to many. The way he's going, I have to think the folks who pass out the Nobel Peace Prize are paying attention. It often goes to people focused on humanitarian causes.

 

But to answer your questions:

 

1. I think some food and equipment are donated and some are purchased. I don't know the split between the two. But Jose's nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, does take donations to cover costs.

 

2. The settlement was sealed and no one would talk about it. If I were a betting man, I'd say Jose didn't cough up a cent.

 

ARTICLE: José Andrés, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has become the face of American disaster relief

 

Are there still local figs available around DC? I was thinking of trying the fig brandy but my tree (Arlington, Va) is pretty much done for the year. It produces figs later than my neighbors trees so I assume that they're all done too. I missed plums this year :(. Usually I make Cathy Barrow's version of Slivovitz, though I use a white grappa (Bertagnolli Grappino). Now I have to stretch my remaining batch until next year!

Not sure about local, but I have seen lots at DC area Giant and Whole Foods Markets in the past few weeks.

 

Her slivovitz, ah!

I often bake in my toaster oven...and the best suggestion I've got is to try it a few times and learn exactly how your particular toaster oven works. Cookies are actually a pretty excellent test for that, considering you can do a few at a time just to see what happens. My own has heating elements on both the top and bottom, and I can choose to bake with either or both running; I've personally had the best luck with alternating between both and just the bottom. Time-wise, I don't need to make much of an adjustment. (Though it's nice that it needs about 60 seconds to preheat; I guess that's a time adjustment.) I recommend playing around with it, though, since it's a really efficient way to bake something small. These days, I adapt recipes to fit my toaster oven just so I can use that instead of my big one!

Since I slice mine in half lengthwise I search for peppers that look as if they'll not roll around in the pan. And I agree with the other poster: I want them to cost less than $2 each. .

Thank you!!! I admit, I store the cheese in ziploc baggies too... I'll need to be better about wrapping them in paper.

Homeopathy doesn't work (other than perhaps as placebo effect). Please check with your doctor for effective treatments.

I have an on line subscription. Is there a way to read sections of the paper, like it is printed? You reference stories in the opening to the Chat, and some aren't on the Food home page.

We publish stories online every day, so the best way to read is to read frequently. You can of course also follow those links, right? But we also have something called the e-Replica. Look for it here.

Recently our local PBS station began rerunning a few of Julia Child's original "French Chef" TV episodes from WGBH-Boston in 1963, and I noticed that the director was Russell Morash. Presumably he was related to Marion?

Husband! 

I don't understand the rotten-egg description of asafoetida. To me it smells warm and resinous. I use it with enthusiasm in Indian cooking, and I always like opening the jar and inhaling.

To each his/her own, right?

 

Personally, I love stinky foods (cheeses, Durian fruit, etc.). Others find them extremely off-putting.

What could you substitute for the chicken for a vegetarian? They sound amazing! Maybe apples?

Yesss.

Happy National Taco Day. Any favorite vegetarian taco recipes?

If you are feeling virtuous (read: want something more healthful):

Tacos With Grilled Plantains

RECIPE: Tacos With Grilled Plantains

Walnut Tacos

RECIPE: Walnut Tacos

If you want something teetering on the edge of being healthful: 

Tacos With Tofu Chorizo and Potatoes

RECIPE: Tacos With Tofu Chorizo and Potatoes

And if you need to feel like a warm blanket is wrapped around you and everything will be ok:

Soft Cheese Tacos

RECIPE: Soft Cheese Tacos

Is the Thai green chili pepper a fresh pepper, or something canned that I have to buy at an Asian market?

Fresh pepper, which Harris  Teeter typically has in its produce department (for one), or you can sometimes find them frozen, in bags. 

For the comfort food poster... it's not quite lasagna per se, but I can attest that this spaghetti squash lasagna recipe is healthy and AMAZING. It tastes like fabulous Italian comfort food without the calories. Even my picky husband will eat it. You don't even need to deal with the hassle of the boats; just cook it all up in a cast iron skillet: 

Mix honey and tahini for a terrific sauce.

Couldn't you cut off just a teeny bit of the outside of the bell pepper that's going to lie on the bottom of the pan, to stabilize the pepper?

That's what I do!

I bought a ceramic travel mug with silicon lid at World Market a few years ago. Haven't shopped there recently, but guessing they still sell something similar.

For some reason I couldn't find the linking the recipe finder to the veg lobster roll Joe recently shared. Can't wait to try it! What is your favorite low fat greens & beans/lentils/split pea recipe, either vegan or easily modifiable? Thanks!

Veg lobster roll? Hmm... Have never seen, let alone linked to, such a thing! Maybe you're thinking of this vegan take on crab cakes I wrote about several months back?

As for greens/beans, I love the combo (and now always think of this viral video). A favorite:

RECIPE: Green Lentils With Spinach and Chipotle

I'm DYING to know if the green curry recipe is in the book. Every time I go to the restaurant I get it. I always look up recipes online but have been afraid it won't be up to snuff. Will the recipe be in the new book?

Not sure I see that one. But good stuff in the Sauces chapter, to be sure.

ARTICLE Think recipes from an Indian restaurant's cookbook will be too hard? 'Rasika' proves otherwise.

How did anyone figure out that it would taste good when cooked if it smells that bad when it isn't cooked? I would never have tried it. Does anyone like the smell of rotten eggs to the extent that they would want to eat something that might taste like the smell? All hail the first Indian cook who figured this out. I never would have.

It's all individual. Some people like aromas that others don't.

FWIW, hing doesn't smell so sulfurous to me ... more just pungent and funky. Maybe sulfur is in the nose of the beholder.

I've been buying a fantastically flavorful scalded rye bread locally for some time now but the round or rounded oblong shape never toasts evenly in either my Cuisinart toaster or my new toaster-oven. It's like the electric wires are shaped to heat only in supermarket-square bread. It's very discouraging. Is there a brand you recommend?

I have a Magimix toaster with a long wide slot and glass walls, which are brilliant. Btwn the temperature dial and being able to see the toast as it cooks, I never burn anything anymore. It wasn't cheap, but I've had it for many years and it's knock-on-wood doing great. Fun for houseguests.

I also want to thank you for posting this recipe. I couldn't believe how tasty it was. It was very good the next day as well. I will be making it again!

I like to bring in homemade treats for my team. Feed me some good ideas for things that are easy to carry on metro, can be made the night before or in the AM, aren't too sweet. I've done oatmeal cookies, banana bread, pumpkin bread, muffins, etc.

Banana Cookies (5 ingredients!)

Get minute quantities of the allergen (in this case pollen) into your system to teach your immune system it isn't dangerous. However, there is this little problem with eating it - your digestive tract. Even if you are eating some pollen with the honey, your body isn't going to recognize it as pollen once your digestive system gets through with it. It isn't fun, but allergy shots work eventually. Probably only worth it if your allergies leave you getting actually sick with viral diseases because your immune system is distracted.

The problem is also that honey may include pollen, but it's pollen from wildflowers, and that's not what people are allergic to.

Hooray! Have been hoping for this for a long time. Do you know how veg-friendly it's going to be? Can't wait to see the palaak chaat and how to do that at home. Maybe I can see it when my husband and I are celebrating our 27th anniversary at Rasika West End this weekend. It is our favorite restaurant.

You'll be happy with it, I'm sure. Congratulations! 

Maybe you could have them lay out the page more like the front page, so we don't have to keep hitting "load more" to see the stuff from earlier in the week?

Not really how the Web works, I'm afraid. 

Sorry Joe! Must have confused it with one in VegNews. I thought I'd seen two. Your crab cakes are fab! Great excuse for us to have reminded people about that recipe :-).

Puddings are known to be English so why would it be showcased at an Indian restaurant? Weird, no, given the whole Colonization thing?

The chef headed a restaurant in London for awhile...

Well, you've folded us in dill, so you know what that means -- we're done!

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

Now for the giveaway books: The chatter who wrote in about my new favorite cheese, Rogue Smokey Blue, will get "Reinventing the Wheel." The one who asked about bringing an Indian side dish to a supper club will get "Rasika." Send your mailing info to Kara.Elder@washpost.com, and she'll get you your book!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Jason Wilson
Jason Wilson wrote this week's article on American artisan cheese.
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