Free Range on Food: Four foods that immigrated to become American icons, high tech vegan ice cream, pear danishes, this week's recipes and more!

Oct 16, 2019

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

Greetings, food lovers, and welcome to today's chat!

Here's what we've been up to, as you no doubt know:

What have you been cooking up lately? What's on your kitchen agenda? Throw questions and comments about any- and everything food-related our way, and we'll do our best to give you helpful answers!

We'll have a giveaway book for our favorite chatter today: "The Silver Spoon Classic"! So make your questions and comments good!

OK, let's do this.

I was lucky enough to inherit a set of Le Creuset cookware including three Dutch ovens, size D, E, and F. They are pretty old, as they are brown enamel, a color that is no longer offered. I use them regularly, although they are pretty heavy. Question: one of them is pitted on the bottom from a meal burned long ago. Is it safe enough to still use? I cook in it, then empty it immediately, so cooked food does not sit in it. If I must dispose of it (SOB) should I recycle it, or just throw it away?

Nah, I think you're fine. After all, underneath the enamel is just cast iron, which of course you can cook in. Just make sure there's no rust and it seems decently seasoned to prevent sticking.

dutch oven

ARTICLE: How to pick, care for and cook in your Dutch oven, the one pot every home cook should own

My spouse says brown lentils “taste like dirt,” but her nutritionist has ordered her to eat more of them. I need some vegetarian lentil recipes that will make her forget she’s eating lentils! I’ve already got some good ones for red lentils, notably your Pasta and Lentils, Sicilian Style and your Apricot and Red Lentil Soup, both super delicious. But now I need something for the brown ones.

How about this stunning recipe featuring roasted radishes, potatoes, and French lentils? I could eat this every day!

How about these Lentil-Stuffed Bell Peppers?

 

OK, they do look pretty good, but "as easy to make as a toaster waffle"? Clearly a bit of hyperbole on the part of the Post's Headline Writer.

We actually meant they are as easy to make as it would be to manufacture a toaster waffle from scratch. ;-)

It looks so easy when someone on TV lines a loaf pan with parchment, or rolls dough between 2 sheets of it. That is NEVER my experience. Because it comes in a roll, I find it impossible to work with. It won't stay put in a pan when it's meant to not just fit the bottom but come up over the sides of the pan to help you remove the cake later. Suggestions?

Buying pre-cut sheets is one way to make life easier. If you're using a roll, take some time to roll the paper in the opposite direction it was in the package and/or flatten it out under a baking sheet. Greasing the pan also helps parchment stick to it. Try to fold the paper into the creases, too, to help it stay put.

I was watching Christopher Kimball on Milk Street the other day and he was sampling an Asian dish and eating it with chop sticks. I was struck how odd it looked for him to be using chop sticks. I mean here is a guy that is the epitome of a WASP, raised using a knife and fork pretending to be a member of a community that was raised using chop sticks as their primary eating utensils. I've always thought it looked odd to see non Asians using chop sticks and even a bit disrespectful when they are using them badly and joking about it. Maybe just my own pet peeve but to me it smacks of cultural appropriation. Thoughts?

This is a good opportunity to talk about what cultural appropriation is and isn't.

Cultural appropriation is when a dominant group, with power and capital, takes a cultural marker from a minority group that has historically been stripped of or denied power and capital, and tries to profit off it (in regards to reputation or actual money) with some or all of the following:

a) without acknowledging where it came from (subsequently implying that they came up with it),

b) by changing the meaning to the point where it no longer is accurate,

c) disrespecting it/mocking it (and therefore the culture/group itself), 

d) not channeling profits back towards that group,

e) spreading misinformation or stereotypes about the group which perpetuates harm towards that group.

Here's a fairly recent food centric example of cultural appropriation in Eater. 

Kimball using chopsticks to eat Asian food is...Kimball using the correct culinary tool to eat Asian food (assuming that the food in question is of a culture that does actually use chopsticks, as there are plenty that don't). 

Here's a great piece Tim wrote discussing the topic as well in regards to Andrew Zimmern's recent comments on Chinese American food.

Hi there! I'm having 6 guests over for dinner for a pre-Thanksgiving meal - two are vegetarians, and others are slightly conservative in taste. In the past, I've tried to do a vegetarian main dish (think frozen Tofurky loaf, eek - it was a frozen chemical football), but never found an entree that really compensated for the lack of bird. Any suggestions? We're pairing it with the usual suspects: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted veg, obligatory expensive Pinot Noir, so what do you (and the readers) think? Thank you!!

I'm the resident veg-Thanksgiving guy, and here are all my concoctions from the previous several years collected in one place! If I had to pick a favorite, it's that Wellington! This year, I'm on a pumpkin crostata -- it's pretty easy, too! That recipe will appear in a few weeks, if you can wait.

Hearty vegetarian and vegan mains to satisfy at Thanksgiving

I have to second the Mushroom Wellington, we had that at Christmas last year and it was so delicious. Also on that mushroom route, maybe:

Mushroom and Stout Potpies With Sweet Potato Crusts

Mushroom Bourguignon

I LOATHE cardamom, so would you recommend vanilla or almond extract as a replacement?

For the pastries, would recommend a pinch of cinnamon, or vanilla if you prefer. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of almond extract (it tastes fake to me). If you go the cinnamon route, keep in mind, it's quite potent, so use about 1/2 as much as recommended cardamom.

Sounds delicious, except for the kale. Any suggestions on what could be substituted? Seems as if everyone suggests spinach as a kale sub, would that work? Seems like a different weight, consistency

I'm so surprised that people are hating on kale so much! I know it got a little ubiquitous there for awhile, but ... Anyhoo, spinach would absolutely work just fine, as would Swiss chard.

Here’s a hearty way to get your greens: In a cheesy pan of lasagna

Good afternoon, this may be a Carolyn Hax question. I would like to have a few friends over for dinner. My mother-in-law lives with us and is vegan and only eats Indian food. (She fixes her own food.) My friends are not vegan and do not eat Indian food. I would like to be able to prepare something that everyone can eat. Any ideas? Thank you very much.

In regards to your friends, they "do not" eat Indian food, or they "WILL not" eat Indian food? If it's the latter, I'm afraid you might have to make two things. 

Hello I would like to experiment with cooking with a variety of beans. I have been successful and failed with some dried beans. I have bought some but after soaking for days, nothing happened; they never got soft. If I am buying from the local groceries stores is there a way to tell if the beans will become soft after soaking overnight? Do you have a source you buy from? If I buy from a smaller store will they be fresh? I found a restaurant supply that sells to individuals but I can't use 20lbs of beans especially since I want a variety of beans. https://www.webstaurantstore.com I want to make bean soups, bean salads and add them to other recipes so I am looking to buy a variety of beans including Lima Beans, Adzuki Beans, Mung Beans, Cranberry Beans, Appaloosa, Pinto, Navy and others. Thank you!

I'm sure Joe will jump in with thoughts on beans, seeing as he's got a book coming out this February that's all about beans (COOL BEANS is the title!) -- but I am a huge huge (did I mention huge?) fan of Rancho Gordo beans. You can order them online, and it does ask you to pony up a big order to get free shipping, so I usually split the order with friends and we just get a few bags each. The beans are incredible quality, always fresh, far better-tasting than any other beans I've tried, and the CA-based company offers lots of hard-to-find and heirloom varieties. If you sign up for their newsletter (free), Steve Sando, the founder, also suggests recipes on how to cook certain beans. I could evangelize about Rancho Gordo forever :) I love them that much! As for what to do with all those beans, look no further than here.

I agree, of course, on Rancho Gordo -- stellar stuff. There are some other good online sources, too: Camellia, Bob's Red Mill, Gustiamo, Masienda, Kalustyan's, La Tienda. For beans that are widely available in supermarkets, Goya is an excellent product.

I'm wondering if you might have particularly hard water in your house; that can cause beans to resist getting tender. If so, try using distilled water -- or add a pinch of baking soda (1/4 teaspoon for each pound of beans) to the cooking water. I also always add a strip of kombu (dried seaweed) to my beans; it also helps soften -- and helps cut down on beans' musical qualities!

Even when you soak the beans, they will still, of course, be hard to the touch -- they don't really get soft until they have been completely cooked. But you might also try working with some smaller beans - I love Lady Cream Peas, a very small white bean, which you can order from Camellia — they have a lovely creamy flavor and texture. Mung beans are also great to work with, and I love cannellini and black turtle beans too!

I'm pleased to see you address High Altitude Baking since most recipe developers don't pay attention to the fact that altitude can ruin baking. This is not a question but rather a recommendation for another book which will help with this very real problem for bakers. As a cook who moved from sea level after 30 years to almost 5,000 feet above sea level I have relied on the book "Pie in the Sky Successful Baking at High Altitudes: 100 Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Breads, and Pastries Home-tested for Baking at Sea Level, 3,000, 5,000, 7,000, and 10,000 feet (and Anywhere in Between) by Susan Purdy". Some of the suggestions in your Voracious article about high altitude cooking are good but misses the fact that baking at 3500 feet is quite different than baking at 10,000 feet. Tweaks that work at one altitude may not work at all altitudes. I'd also like to add a suggestion that works for me and for my daughter who lives 700 feet lower than I (4300). We subtract 1 tablespoon sugar for each cup required in a given recipe while adding 1 tablespoon flour for each cup of flour called for. We also decrease leavening agents by 25%. This keeps our cakes from falling and our cookies from flattening but use this formula only at altitudes ranging from around 4000-5500 feet. One other suggestion, search for recipes reflecting high altitude fixes. On our small blog, my daughter and I list the changes we make for all the baking we do. There are others who do similarly.

I actually did mention that the effects vary by altitude and give suggestions for different ranges, but thanks for your tips.

I love the veg wellie. Another great part is you can make the filling in advance which takes away from the day of faff. Just make sure you have appropriate oven room!

Great tip, thank you!

Do any of you use a tortilla maker? Is it worth the price, and the storage, or should I just keep rolling out (lopsided) tortillas by hand?

I do, and if you make tortillas regularly, it's worth it. They're super cheap in Latin stores! And they're small.

It's a kissing cousin to a Lancashire Hotpot!

Am hoping the image problem in safari will get resolved sometime!

Forwarded to our tech folks!

I've been buying raspberries at the Baltimore farmer's market for many weeks now. The vendor told me how to extend their shelf life: don't wash them until you're about to eat them. Spread them out on a plate in the refrigerator so they are only 1 layer deep, not piled up, and cover with a paper towel. This was been working great for me; they last 4 or 5 days. I take a handful for lunch every day to eat with yogurt.

Dear Joe, The sweet potato pot pie looks amazing. Can I use a baking dish instead of individual ramekins? How would the recipe change? Thanks.

Yep, you can! I don't think the timing would change, or not much, because basically you're just waiting until those sweet potatoes get tender, and I don't think the size of the dish would affect that.

You can skip the pastry. These vegetable pot pies use a sweet potato crust.

Do yourself a favor and try Cote du Rhone instead. Made for game, which turkey actually is.

Do you have any recommendations for gingerbread (cake or cookie) desserts that do not use molasses? I like the gingery-warm-spiciness of gingerbread but neither I nor any of my eaters like the sulfurousness of virtually all molasses. I've subbed maple syrup in recipes once or twice, but it seemed as if that made the spices fall flat. Not sure what I need to switch up to make it work. (Yes, I agree that it isn't yet Halloween, and we shouldn't rush the seasons. I am not going to BAKE it now, just think about it.)

One of the best gingerbread cakes I have made was from Edna Lewis, and she uses all sorghum syrup. It was amazing -- give it a try!

"for a while"? It's everywhere! Still!

People clearly need to eat faster.

How do you pick a promising mango? I've resigned myself to having to wait a week or more to eat them after buying them because they only come in two forms at the store: rotten and really, really unripe. But every once in a while, I get a batch that never ripen, no matter how long I keep them. They just stay hard and then start to shrivel. Now, I do keep them in the fridge because I have a fruit fly issue whenever I leave them out, so that may be part of the issue. But they turn out fine a lot of the time, so that can't account for all of it. Am I just picking the wrong ones? What's your diagnosis?

They do need to sit out at room temp to ripen, so that is definitely a problem. The stores also sell them at various stages, so some of the time you may be picking ones that are already ripe. 

ARTICLE: How to prep and enjoy a mango, the sunniest fruit in the grocery store

mangoes

How do I develop a more sophisticated palate? What are some steps to get started?

Depends on what you mean by sophisticated. If you mean developing a more expansive palate, e.g. finding more things to like, start gradually trying things outside of your comfort zone. If you mean tasting the deliciousness of things that are widely considered "sophisticated," and are more often than not just fancy expensive things, the answer is still to try them. And if you don't like them, that's fine. 

I promised a pumpkin cheesecake to a friend. Don't know when I'll see them, probably next week or week after, and would like to go ahead and make the cheesecake. What is best way to freeze?

Cheesecakes freeze really well — after you bake it, let it cool completely on a rack to room temperature, then place it on a baking sheet uncovered in the freezer for a few hours until it freezes solid. Then wrap in layers of plastic wrap and an outer layer of aluminum foil and keep in the freezer until you are ready to deliver!

I use mine to flatten the dough balls for pita bread right before tossing them onto a screaming hot cast iron pan in the oven. Works like a charm.

Filtered water will do, if you have a Brita pitcher or a Pur filter attached to your kitchen tap.

When cleaning out my parents' house, I took 2 vintage, star-shaped molds that I think belonged to my grandmother, since my mother never used them. They're 9 in. at the widest part & look a lot like this one on etsy. One is a tube pan & the other isn't. Any ideas on what to do with them (besides decor)? It seems like a cake would get over-baked in the points, but turning out a gelatin salad would also be tricky. Thanks!

I'd try a cake, absolutely! Go for a Bundt cake recipe, and grease and flour HEAVILY to help with the release. You're never going to know until you try, right?

Love mine - especially as my husband is celiac and it's hard to make corn ones without a press. I took Joe's advice and use Bob's Red Mill masa masa harina. Just took the recipe from the back - it works a treat and so much more yummy.

So glad! I've also really liked the masa harina from Masienda (mail order). Good stuff.

I went to Chrome just for the chat; I am also still having problems with viewing images in Safari.

I attend a large Thanksgiving dinner where probably 17 of 24 people are vegetarian but we still have a turkey because for non-vegetarians, it's not the Thanksgiving meal without turkey. And I've seen some of the vegetarians partake of the gravy! So unless the poster's vegetarian friends can't stand to see or smell meat, I say, have turkey, too. You can buy just a leg or just a breast if you think a whole turkey would be wasteful.

For the no-molasses person, perhaps dark cane syrup?

I'm planning on making molé sauce tonight and I have about a cup of leftover pumpkin mash/puree in the fridge as well. Any good tips for incorporating the pumpkin into the molé?

 I love pumpkin mole, it has such flavor! Typically the pureed pumpkin is added after the garlic, onions, chilis, and spices have been cooking and creating all that beautiful depth, so all you really need to do is to whisk the pureed pumpkin in when you add your stock, then allow it to keep cooking down to the correct, and perfectly silky, consistency. Also, if you use pumpkin seeds as a thickener in the mole instead of more traditional almonds, it really amps up that pumpkin flavor! 

Roasted Squash With Pumpkin Seed Mole

I (eventually) learned to just use (cheap) bottled water to make beans, when I lived in areas with particularly hard water. But I would emphasize that beans don't really get all that soft after just soaking.

I hope this doesn't seem like a dumb question but, how long does butter stay good sitting out on your counter? I'm talking butter from the grocery store so it has some preservatives I'm guessing. I have a friend who says a month! Thank you. And on another subject I made the one bowl sour cream maple cake, delicious and easy!

Butter should have no preservatives - ever. It should be cream, milk solids - and that's it. Sometimes, you'll see it say "natural butter flavor", which I'm not sure what that means or why butter needs its own flavor. But my recommendation is to seek out one without. You might also see "cultures" listed on cultured butter (which will have a tangy taste). As for keeping it on counter. I know a lady who keeps butter in a butter keeper on the counter and uses it for toast. It gets finished before a month is out. But it's supposed to make the butter last longer at room temp. I would, however, refrigerate the sticks of butter you're NOT eating/using.

I am looking for great vegan ice cream recipes that do not use coconut or soy products.

I've loved some ice cream recipes I've made using cashew cream, such as this one from Isa Chandra Moskowitz. (I effectively veganized a traditional red bean ice cream recipe for my next book using this technique!)

One of my pet peeves is the sprinkling systems in the produce section at large chain supermarkets. I hate coming home w/soggy parsley & cilantro, & I typically spread it out on the counter to dry before putting it in the fridge since I feel like the sogginess makes it go bad faster. Am I the crazy one? (There is even that "thunder" sound when it's about to start!)

I honestly only enjoy that rain effect in the produce department when it's a hundred degrees outside and I'm hoping to get a little waft of cool mist from it. I always shake off the excess water before putting it into my cart (and typically I don't use the plastic produce bags at the supermarket either), then I also shake everything off again before putting produce into the crisper. A little damp is actually not a bad thing for fresh greens!

I was one of the winners of Cathy Barrow's When Pies Fly. I've sent my info twice but no book. Should I send it again? If so, to whom and what should be the subject? My initials are FE.

So sorry for all the confusion here--could you try sending to food@washpost.com? 

As always, a wonderful chat. Food images really pop todays. Thanks.

Aw, shucks! Thanks!

Honey!

So sweet -- hi back, honey!

The other day I saw a video of someone doing a Basque cheese cake and he poured water in the paper, then crumbled up, shake of excess of water, if any, and voilá, ready to use, super malleable parchment. Bonus: the cheesecake ended up with unique form on the sides due to the "crumble" effect.

COOL!

Gellied moulds are due for a modern day twist resurge. They look so amazing and don't have to be like your grandmothers - please get right on it!

Buy a container of one spice you don't normally keep around, and add it to your regular recipes? For instance, try a little cumin in your chili con carne, or a pinch of allspice in your beef stew. A bit of cardamom in your cake or cookies. Then start looking for recipes that feel familiar but have maybe two herbs or spices you wouldn't normally use in them.

Do you have easy recipes that can be made by, or at least with, a child? My granddaughter (just starting kindergarten) loves to help cook, and I'll be visiting her this weekend. I'd love to have a recipe for a tasty treat that she could help make. Especially if it is somewhat nutritious. Thanks.

I grew up cooking with my mom in the kitchen, and remember getting my first cookbook -- one written for children in French, actually, so I was learning cooking and another language at the same time! -- when I was 5. I always remember making, with supervision, bruleed bananas, which was basically just bananas that were split in half and brushed with butter and sprinkled with brown sugar, then they went under the broiler for a few minutes (that was the supervisory part!). So good and easy and I felt so accomplished to bring the dessert I had made out to the table.

Here's some great ideas from Becky Krystal that might also give you some ideas! 

I bought some caviar lentils from rancho gordo but I don't know what to do with them. I assume they'll cook pretty quickly. Do you have any good recipes with them in it?

They're great! They hold their shape when cooked, much like French green lentils, so you can sub them in for those in any recipe. Good in salads!

Here are a few options designed just for these:

Black Lentil 'Caviar' With Potato Blini

Black Lentil Salad With Tzatziki and Avocado

Black Lentils With Collard Greens and Cardamom

I read somewhere that it's not okay to substitute European butter for US butter in baking, unless some sort of adjustment is made (probably to reduce the amount of butter but I was so surprised, I don't remember). Given that the European (and Australian) butter costs more, I've only made the substitution once, in banana muffins, and not only did it work, the muffins were transcendentally wonderful. But maybe it was dumb luck. What are the facts?

European butters are generally higher in fat and lower in water, so this can definitely affect how things bake. You can get more spreading, for example. Here's a Twitter thread from baking authority Stella Parks to check out. A little more in this piece from her about pie dough, which can get soft and greasy with European butter.

As to your muffins, because it's a sturdier, thicker batter, that's a situation where you're less likely to have adverse affects from softer butter. You may have liked them better because of the higher fat content. But if you had, say, made sugar cookies, the chemistry would have caused a lot more problems.

What about something like a veg biryani and let MIL add Indian spices to hers? Ditto for a sautéed spinach?

I learned a simple trick which makes parchment paper MUCH easier to use. After tearing it off the roll, crumple it into a ball. When you uncromple the paper, it will be tamed!

So I have a 12-muffin tin that started out non-stick but now has some rust on or in a few of the muffin cups. Is it still acceptable to use if I use paper liner cups or avoid the rusted cups?

If you use liners, I think you'll probably be fine.

Not a kale hater. I want to love it, really want to. I've tried, tried, and tried. Maybe a smoothie recipe with kale? Kale hates me.

I MIGHT regret asking this, but what have been your issues?

I won a book months ago - and didn't get it. Didn't follow up. There seems to be a glitch in the system as each week someone says this.

We're depending on email, and sometimes emails just don't come through! But you should definitely follow up! You can always email us at food@washpost.com.

Especially a dark honey, like some farms sell, where the bees have feasted on interesting flowers? Or Lyle's Golden Syrup, a British product made from sugar beets?

Oh, boy, glad you brought up Lyle's -- it's so delicious. I went through a major phase years ago; time to revisit.

Adding Indian spices is a tricky thing -- you can't just sprinkle them on the way you can sprinkle cinnamon on a sweet thing and have it taste right. The spices have to be sauteed in oil or ghee and then mixed in.

I know they are nutritional powerhouses, but am nevertheless curious as to the specific reason a nutritionist recommended them. I also think that they taste completely like dirt! I can tolerate them with lots of olive oil in a salad, however, and in soups, especially with spinach. Also, please send me all the kale and vegan Indian food!!

There are so many other dark green leafy things out there. Forget the kale and try the others.

Of course! Lots of options. For instance, I think mustard greens don't get the love they deserve. Spicy!

Thanks for the tips on high-altitude baking. Up here at a mile high I usually have problems with my cakes falling in the middle unless I remember to slightly decrease the amount of leavener. I don't have problems with too much else (though pasta takes FOREVER to cook because water boils at a lower temp here). Also, not on the high-altitude baking, but that chopsticks comment about Chris Kimbell...I don't get it? Why would you complain that somebody is using traditional utensils to get some food in their face? Does that commenter honestly believe that only Asian people should use chopsticks? This has baffled me. (FYI, random fact, in Thailand most people use a fork and spoon as utensils -- chopsticks are for noodle soups!)

I noticed that after living as a "regular eater" for the first part of my life, when I switched over to a mostly vegetarian/non-processed foods eater, so many things started to taste differently after the first year or so. Candy was too sweet (frosting on cupcakes, forget it); vegetables had this sturdy, rustic quality I didn't notice before; and my former favorite, Einstein Bagel's Vanilla Hazelnut coffee, tasted like chemical dirt after not drinking it for a long time. If you start replacing your diet with food that isn't processed (and if you're a smoker, stop smoking), your taste buds will start to realign. (I know it sounds hippy dippy, but I'm just offering empirical evidence...)

Move to Southern California or the Caribbean. Or better still, India. When I find a really ripe mango, once in a blue moon, I rearrange my menu to fit it in.

I was so hoping to give your Beans cookbook as a Christmas gift to my bean hating former Pringle eating trying to go plant based friends. Feb?

Thank you! Yes, Feb. Valentine's gift?

Any ideas how to use leftover bagels other than pizza bagels?

Bagel chips!! Slice them thin and dry them out in a 300 degree oven until crisp! I drizzle mine with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. They're addictive and make for a fun cracker substitute.

For me, kale = some people's raisins. OK? But I've tried.

If you want a good mango, avoid Tommy Atkins. Go for Ataulfos. (Unless you have access to Alphonso mangoes from India, but those can be hard to find in the U.S.) Buy the Ataulfos when they're yellow/golden, neither hard nor mushy. When they start to wrinkle a bit, they're ripe. Most importantly, Tommy Atkins mangoes suck.

Seconding this. After a bout of colitis, I was put on a strict diet, and the first bag of potato chips I tried after a month tasted like chemicals.

I love to make a pita sandwich stuffed with a combo of caviar lentils and bulgur with some chopped tomato and fried onions (not coated with anything).

Ooooh, let's go back to tomato aspic!! Or a liver mousse?

Not to pile on, but I moved to the DC area in 1999 and after a short time here won a cookbook in the weekly chat. I was so excited! What a welcome! Never got it. Never followed up, and am not commenting because I expect something (I don't!) but to point out it doesn't seem to me it is a new issue.

Wow, 20 years later! I guess the lesson is that email has not gotten better since then!

I made the wellington and then also altered it when I made it again. I actually made the filling ahead of time, and even froze extra for future use - I chopped the mushrooms and had to modify the recipe for allergies (garlic and olive oil) but subbed in shallots and canola oil, and then made mini hors d'oeuvres with the puff pastry. These were for an appetizer at a retirement party, and also as an appetizer for veggie eating friends at Thanksgiving. Such a versatile recipe and sooo delicious!

So glad to hear this! 

First, fantastic article. "They are American, in all of the messy and gorgeous collisions that entails." Wow, that can apply to so many other ways to describe America. Thank you.

Thank you for reading it! The project, I think, shows off the depth of talent we have at the paper now, across many departments: design, photography, video, features. I'm grateful that Editor Joe gave me the time and space to research and, just as important, think through how to tell the stories of these dishes. 

PROJECT: Made in America 

After reading Becky's article on Dutch ovens, I recalled an aluminum one that my mom had. It was thick aluminum and I mostly remember her making pot roasts in it. I never cooked in it, so I can't give you my own recollections. It did a wonderful job and seemed easy to clean up. She also had a Club Aluminum pot that she used a lot. The Club pot interior did discolor some, as I recall. Neither of these pots was terribly attractive, but is there a reason why these pots don't seem to be seen or mentioned very much? Is there an issue with them I'm not aware of?

Yeah, aluminum that has not been treated a certain way or coated in another material is very reactive with acidic ingredients, such as tomato and vinegar, which means you can get pitting in the pots and off flavors in the food. And because it's such an effective conductor of heat, it's pretty easy to scorch food in it if you're not careful.

I love the complexity of mole sauce but I can't taste it for more than a second before the heat takes over. But a large proportion of the spice mix or basic recipe consists of various chilis, so I'd appreciate some advice on keeping intense flavor while lowering the Scoville rating. Hot peppers can be a migraine trigger for me, btw.

You might try using anchos (dried poblano peppers), which generally add more warmth than heavy spice. Here's a handy primer for dried peppers that might be helpful.

OK Joe, because I want to love kale, I'll try your kale lasagna and if it isn't good. will you and Kari try a raisin-laden recipe?

No deal. ;-)

Would be an Anglo American mom producing a line of chopsticks to teach your kids to eat more mindfully like those more spiritual Asian people. Which now that I imagine it, I’m afraid I’ll find out it actually exists. Using them to eat foods traditionally eaten with them is, to mix metaphors, a When In Rome kind of thing and totally appropriate if you can do it halfway decently.

Hello! Do you all have any favorite asian market (or any store) where I can find good asian ingredients such as fresh rice noodles, bird's eye chilis, thai basil, lemongrass, etc.... I live in DC so would prefer markets in the district! Thank you!

I like the Bangkok 54 market in Arlington. Obviously H Mart is great, but farther out. Hana market in the District might have some of those things, too.

Anywhere I'm forgetting?

Years ago, I won a book AND I received it. I had to follow up, but I did get it....

HALLELUJAH.

Try storing the ripening fruit in the microwave when you are not using it. No bugs.

There are SO many different kinds of lentils out there -- ask any Indian or Pakistani! I'd ask the nutritionist whether s/he meant specifically the brown lentils or will any kind of lentil or legume with the husk on will do. Chick-peas? Mung beans? etc.

I'm a fan of Bon Ami cleaner and I have a question about it. The instructions say to rub the wet powder "preferably in circles." I find it harder to do in circles (thanks, arthritis) but to my surprise it does work better and faster than up & down or side to side! I've tried it with other cleaning and for some reason circular motion is indeed better. Why is this? Is it mechanics or physics?

Are you just covering more ground when you go in a circle?

I buy boxes of full sheet sized PP at my local restaurant supply. Incredibly cheap for 1000 sheets. Just cut to the size you need.

I wonder what is so special about lentils vs. split peas and other legumes? If that would work, in addition to the great lentil recipes here, how about this split pea recipe that can be combined in advance and stored for easy prep, frozen when cook and made into a gift item? 

Sounds wonderful. Any tried recipes? Emphasis on tried. Cheesecakes can be tricky.

I think people get scared of cheesecakes, especially that they crack badly, but if you focus on a "low and slow" method, they pretty much work every time. I happen to really like the overnight method on a very low oven.

 

And this chèvre and honey tart that I made for a WaPo story a couple years back is absolutely glorious -- and easy.

I am up to six cookbook wins and only once did I have to follow up to get it. Just adding this for balance. Oh wait, once I was sent the wrong book by mistake (We Fed An Island by Jose Andres) but I loved it and they told me to keep it even after I got the right book.

Why is it that only vegetables are complained about as ubiquitous. No one ever says chicken is everywhere! Or french fries for that matter. I'm always happy to have beets, brussel sprouts, or kale.

No, I've been careful to correct for that. It's the motion within a given space. I just wonder why.

#clueless

Joe, any favorite sources for easy vegan meals for the freezer? These could be prep and freeze or freeze then cook. I didn't find any easy way to turn up ideas from the recipe finder. The first couple I found said "don't freeze" or that you could freeze a component. Also, while there's a meatless option, I didn't see a vegan search option. Maybe the tech team could consider that, if it's not there already. Thanks!

Here are some options for things you could freezer and reheat. In the first case, you'd veganize with vegan cheese.

Baked Pasta With Cauliflower and White Beans

Eggplant "Meatballs" in Tomato Sauce

Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Kale and Mushroom Lasagna

I grow horseradish in a pot (to keep it from taking over the neighborhood) JUST for the greens!

Between my farmer's market and my compost bucket, I would be inundated by fruit flies were it not for Gardener's Supply Company's fruit-fly traps. Yes, they have to be replaced regularly but they really do work.

I've won 5 cookbooks over the years and never had to follow up so the email does, indeed work for some of us.

Thank you, signed a former food aide.

Google dal makhani and make it. Calls for black lentils but brown will work fine. Don't skimp on the spices.

They aren't. I complain regularly about the ubiquity of honey mustard and balsamic vinegar.

Am now seeing veg wellies vol an vont

My brother the dessert king makes a pumpkin cheesecake by following the recipe on the pumpkin can but substituting cream cheese for the evaporated milk. It often cracks across the top, but it really works.

Thanks for the tip. There's a small farmers market across diagonally across the street that might make a fun combined adventure for some. https://www.yelp.com/biz/columbia-pike-farmers-market-arlington

Yup, I know that market! It's nice.

I've made the fast French onion soup twice (the second time at my husband's request), the first time using a HUGE oven our favorite farm stand bought at an Amish produce auction, the second time with Vidalia variety onions from Peru purchased from our local grocery store. The Vidalias were so watery in comparison, nothing like the horse fertilized onion grown by the Amish. BTW, could the new version be placed in the recipe finder database too?

Yeah, Vidalias have more water than yellow onions, which is what the recipe called for. Glad you liked the recipe!

What do you mean by the new version? It is in our Recipe Finder here

On my "dinner soon" list. I know she's been gone for awhile but I'll miss Bonnie's Dinner in Minutes column. Hopefully you have something equally as delicious in store for us working stiffs who enjoy a home-cooked dinner that's quick and tasty.

Yep, it will be back after not too long!

In June, I won a book. Sent in my info...nada. Tried again...nada. Sent a letter to the Post...got my book. Last month, I won again. Got the book three days later. Persistance pays off.

Yes I remember you! Just so you know, I've kept the letter. 

Also, for anyone having issues with their emails not coming through to us, please do call us and leave a message at (202)-334-7575. 

fabulous red popcorn! The best!

There's nothing better in the world of cheesecake. I caught my always-dieting MIL sneaking a piece the morning after Thanksgiving.

If your guests do not eat Indian food, perhaps you can use rice as a base, and have an Indian main for your MIL and a non-Indian main for your friends. Like roast a chicken for the friends, steam some green beans or something (which maybe could be incorporated into the MIL dish), and everyone shares the rice? Or use naan as a base and have some kind of kabob situation with protein and veggies?

Looking forward to a baking day (yay temps and rain) and I am going to try out the lovely apple butter cake (made the butter last week), but it got me thinking about pan sizes again. We know about pan sizes by volume now, thanks, but weirdly I was thinking about my smaller bundt and how it’s nice to make a variety of desserts w/o getting bored of them. But pies and tarts! Are there any sort of half-recipe sized tart pans because those don’t freeze well and there are so many to try!

There's actually a pan that I just started trying that is by Chicago Metallic that is a divided pie pan -- so you can make two different pies in the same pan. Double the fun, I say!

Well, you've baked us until golden brown on top, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and thanks to Kristen for helping with the a's!

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who had nice things to say about the last line in "Made in America" will get "The Silver Spoon Classic." Send you mailing info to kari.sonde@washpost.com, and maybe, just maybe, you'll get it!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables," "Serve Yourself" and the upcoming "Cool Beans." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow is the author of "Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet and Savory Slab Pies" (Grand Central Life & Style, 2018).
Kari Sonde
Kari is the food editorial aide.
Kristen Hartke
Kristen Hartke is a Washington-based food writer and editor.
Emily Heil
Emily is a staff food writer at The Post.
Becky Krystal
Becky is the lead writer for Voraciously.
Tim Carman
Tim is a staff reporter for Food and writes a weekly column on casual dining for Weekend.
Olga Massov
Olga is a food editor at The Post.
Carrie Allan
Carrie is The Post's Spirits columnist.
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