Free Range on Food: Veggies as carbs, roast beef sandwiches and more. With special guests Rich Landau, Kate Jacoby and Jim Webster.

Oct 05, 2016

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

Greetings, all, and welcome to today's chat!

We've got tons of food coverage for you this week: Maura Judkis' fun piece on the zoodles/cauliflower rice trend, Jane Black's look at the wheat of the future; Jim Webster's tour of roast beef sandwiches; and my conversation with the chefs behind Vedge and V Street about vegan cooking (and traveling). 

The latter, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, will join the chat this week -- they're pros at vegetable cookery, so hit them with your best questions. As a prize, we will give our favorite chatter a SIGNED copy of their latest cookbook, "V Street." 

Jim Webster, a Friend of Food and Post copy editor who just wrote his second cookbook with Mario Batali, "Big American Cookbook," will also join us today to talk beef.

Don't forget: You've got a two-fer this week: Dorie Greenspan, who wrote about a genius baked apple recipe this week, will follow this chat with her own from 1-2 p.m. Feel free to ask questions of her now, come back to us live, then hop back to HER live after! Chat-hopping galore!

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR6178 . Remember, you'll record and enter it into 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.

Oh, one more giveaway book: We'll also give Martha Rose Shulman's "Spiralize This!" cookbook. If you've got one of these gadgets, you'll want her ideas on what to make with it...

OK, let's do this!


I try to avoid simple carbs (white rice, white pasta, potatoes, white bread). I love risotto though and have experimented with substituting farro for the aborio rice. The dish is either undercooked (the farro is too tough) or too mushy (I end up trying to turn it into a casserole by baking the leftovers in the oven). Any ideas what cooking adjustments would work better or other complex carbs I can try substituting for the rice?

Cook's Illustrated recently developed a recipe for farro risotto -- farroto. The keys to their success included using whole instead of pearled farro because of the chew and also cracking half the farro in the blender so that the grains can release starch and make the dish thick and creamy. Here's the link (if you don't have access, shoot me an email and I'll send along the article and recipe).

We also have some ideas for you in our Recipe Finder:

RECIPE: Meyer Lemon Barley Risotto

RECIPE: Barley Risotto

Farro and Black Quinoa 'Risotto' With Pea-Shoot Pesto

RECIPE: Farro and Black Quinoa 'Risotto' With Pea-Shoot Pesto

Five-Grain Risotto With Broccolini and Brussels Sprouts

RECIPE: Five-Grain Risotto With Broccolini and Brussels Sprouts

Barley Risotto With Turnips and Miso

RECIPE: Barley Risotto With Turnips and Miso

My husband gave me a spiralizer for my birthday. He apologized over and over about what an embarrassing, terrible gift it was. I think it was a very good gift and I use it frequently. The thing with spiralized zucchini is: you can't compare it to pasta or try to make it something it's not. Just accept it for what it is and enjoy it.

Loved the article on roast beef sandwiches (though, reading the comments, it would seem that not everyone read the entire thing...) And thanks so much for the beef on weck recipe!! I first had the sandwich at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo about 12 years ago. I know Staychock said humidity is a killer for these rolls, but I might try making my own rolls anyway, because I'm stubborn.

thanks! definitely give the doctored kummelwecks a try. you won't have any problem with humidity if you use them the day you make them, or even the next day, they'll be fine!

About six months ago I purchased a kitchen scale. It has revolutionized my baking (and cooking, on occasion.) I find that my baking is much more consistent and the finished product is as the recipe writer intended. As a result, I now struggle when baking from a recipe that only designates cup, tablespoon, etc. measurements. For instance, Ellie Kreiger's recipe for the Double Chocolate 'War' Cake does not indicate weight measurements, so I am hesitant to try it. I know it would be a tremendous hassle, but have you considered including weight measurements on all of your recipes? Thanks for your consideration of my request.


I appreciate your thoughtful request, and congrats on the acquisition! Adding ingredients to the same bowl as you TARE away on your scale is liberating. We're always open to improving the reader experience here at's some of my current thinking on adding weights to all baking recipes:


* For simple cakes like Ellie's, measuring by weight's not all that important. 


* We'd have to select and go by standard weights for a huge range of flours and sugars, etc.  You'd be surprised  -- as we are -- by how many times what we weigh and what King Arthur Flour indicates can differ. And weights can vary depending on the humidity factor in your environs.


* Speaking of surprising, not that many home cooks have or use kitchen scales. :(


* We like to keep recipes as simple and clean-reading as possible, when we can. And frankly, introducing more numbers also raises more opportunities for mistakes. 


That being said, we're open. Open! Chatters, weigh in. 

We generally support the idea of more cooks using scales, but Bonnie is right about the issues.

Read Alice Medrich's recent take on just this thing:

ARTICLE: This simple device will take your baked goods to the next level

Where is the roasting in loose meat, cheese steak and pit beef sandwiches? If a loose meat sandwich is roast beef doesn't a hamburger also fit this category?

There is a transition in the story that acknowledged we were shifting away from roasted meat. and we didn't address hamburgers because it sort of feels like a category unto its own. But admittedly they would be in the genre.

ARTICLE: One America, but so many roast beef sandwiches

Every year I make a big batch of chicken corn soup based on a recipe my mother learned decades ago when we lived in Lancaster. This year I remembered your corn chowder recipe called for using the cobs when making the stock. I did that and it made a big positive difference in how the soup came out! It almost seemed like I had added cream to the pot, but it was otherwise the way I always make it. Thanks, folks!

A tasteful testimonial! Which chowder recipe caught your eye?

Double Corn Summer Chowder

Vegetarian Corn Chowder

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder With Saffron Cream




I'm making lactation cookies to include in a care package for a friend who just had a baby. Apparently Brewer's Yeast and fenugreek seeds are key ingredients. I won't be using anywhere near all of either. Are there any other uses for these two ingredients? I don't plan on lactating any time soon...

We love fenugreek!  It's one of the key components of any good curry powder.  Grind the seeds up in a coffee mill and add them to any Indian, Moroccan or Caribbean dish.  

As for brewer's yeast, what form does it come in? I see tablets and powders out there -- but might you be able to use nutritional yeast flakes? I love those, and there's lots of things you can do with them -- grind them up with nuts as a way to approximate Parmesan, or use them in the old classic way on popcorn, like the following. Lots of other uses, too.

RECIPE: Herbed Popcorn

Hi! I really enjoyed the article on roast beef sandwiches as well! Can you recommend a vegetarian option? I have tried roasted walnuts and also roasted tofu, but nothing is quite the same as far as the taste and texture. Thanks. 

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to our weekly troll. At the risk of poking the sleeping giant, thank you for not including some homophobic double-entendre joke. And may one day you find a more productive use for your energies.

What nutritional data base does the Post use for their recipe information?

Nutribase Pro, 11th edition, chefs' edition

Hello. I don't have a stand mixer for dough, so how do I adapt a recipe that calls for one? Or do I look for a different recipe? Here's one example: "Combine the flour, water, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes." Do you think those 5 to 10 minutes double, triple, or more if I knead by hand? Do most newer bread recipes assume we have stand mixers? Thanks.

While baking is so exact, the recipes themselves inevitably leave themselves open to interpretation - every kitchen is different, and kitchens themselves vary day to day.  I make dough at home by hand, and it's all about knowing what you're looking for.  You will likely knead about 1 1/2 times as long, but it's best stop when you think you've met their description (tacky, just forms a ball, firm ball, etc.)

No mayo ever. Putting mayo on roast beef is grounds for summary execution. Mayo is for turkey only. Roast beef deserves a horseradish or a good horseradish sauce or a good deli mustard. Mayo on roast beef is a mortal sin and one of the Eight Deadly Sins in the Roman Catholic Church.

I'm a big believer in there being no absolutes in food. But if that's the rule at your house, I'm not arguing.

I have baked homemade pretzels a few times but they are not soft like the ones I purchased from the store. What can I do to make the pretzels soft?

Can you tell us any more about the recipe, or link to it? I think we'd need a bit more info if we were to try to even venture a guess.

I splurged and bought the Breville Fast Slow multicooker over the weekend. Do you have any good fall pressure cooker recipes I should try?

Why yes!

30-Minute Mole

RECIPE: 30-Minute Mole

This is good on meat or roasted veggies, but also makes a nice dip with chips.

Wild Rice, Mint and Pomegranate Salad

RECIPE: Wild Rice, Mint and Pomegranate Salad

Barley Risotto With Mushrooms

This has been bothering me for awhile... nutritionist Ellie Krieger published a pumpkin bread recipe that uses olive oil, and touts it as a "healthy" substitution. But most olive oils have a low smoke point, making them unsuitable for baking at 350 degrees. Low smoke point unsaturated oils are more beneficial to us when raw or cooked at low heats. Wouldn't it be better to use, for example, sunflower oil in this recipe?

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

RECIPE: Olive Oil Quick Bread

Smoke points matter more when you are directly heating up oil as its own entity -- in a skillet, deep-fryer, etc. Incorporating it into a batter is a different type of situation. A 350-degree oven doesn't mean what you're baking will reach 350 degrees. In fact, most breads/quick breads are done when they reach an internal temperature in the neighborhood of 200 degrees.

Just curious -- what's your source on the smoke point of olive oil? I don't think it's especially low -- 350 to 405, depending on whether it's extra-virgin and of good quality. (Also, not sure what smoke points have to do with olive oil for cake batter.)

THIS. Use it as a great vehicle for a great salad dressing, or savory sauce. I've never understood the sub-veggies-for-your-grains thing. Spaghetti squash, a sweet rich vegetable, with marinara on it? I tried that and hated it. Eat cauliflower for what it is, use appropriate spices or sauces; don't try to pretend that it's mashed potatoes. Sorry, pet peeve here...

As the chill returns and the farmers market selection dwindles, how do you maintain your enthusiasm and creativity for vegetarian fare without resorting to months of soups and stews?

Love this question!  Cook with the same soulful depth that you would with any animal protein.  Create deeply flavored, rich, dark sauces and caramelize your vegetables.  Smoking, grilling and roasting are great ways to get that extra layer of flavor into your sauces, soups and stews.  Don't forget all the beans and grains!

Yes! Life changer! I booked marked the King Arthur webpage that converts volume to weight for their flours along with other standard baking ingredients. I think it makes clean up a lot easier since you don't need to worry about measuring cups. I recently made a honey cake and it was so nice just to squeeze honey in a bowl on a scale and not try to get it out of a measuring cup.

Good on ya. Is a l'shana tovah in order?

I get a cheap-ish kitchen scale and have tried weighing ingredients for baking, but I don't think my scale is sensitive enough to measure small quantities. Do you have any brands or models that you like the best?

Oxo Good Grips all the way!

I'll second that. We have one in the Food Lab, and at least three of the team members has one at home. 

Maybe a compromise? I remember from Home Ec class back in the day that weighing was much more important in baking than in cooking. If you do a bread or pastry recipe, provide the weights at the end of a recipe and the brands you used? If I was a food tester, I'd appreciate having the weights of ingredients.

For the past few years, we have been including weights in our bread recipes, and in pastry recipes where weights definitely matter. 

Help! My (really wonderful) mother-in-law is coming to us to flee the hurricane this weekend. I think I'm making spaghetti pie for dinner one night and quiche Lorraine for Sunday brunch, but I'm at a loss for greens to put on the side (we're terrible about vegetables, and she is conscientious about them). Suggestions? Also open to suggestions on snacks to give her with her evening glass of chardonnay!

For the quiche, how 'bout Broccolini With Roasted Red Pepper Relish and and Feta

For the spaghetti (or quiche, for that matter), Sauteed Green Beans and Spinach would be nice and simple, or you could do a big salad, like this one.


Because she likes greens, you could continue that theme for evening snacktime, with this terrific Georgian Spinach Dip With Walnuts or these easy Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Green Bean Rollups.

We love Asian Greens - blanched for a bit depending on thickness of stems/stalks, then seared up with sesame oil, some garlic and ginger, topped with toasted sesame seeds.  Use tamari instead of salt, use white pepper and a touch of black vinegar for acid...

As I'm getting older, I find it increasingly difficult to open water bottles. Sometimes I just can't twist off the top (this goes for V-8 bottles and soda bottles too). But the water bottles are filled to the top, so, as I have to hold the bottle while removing the top, sometimes water squirts out. Is there perhaps a brand of bottled water with caps that are easy to remove or some hints on how to do it? Should I buy pliers?

Try something like these.

..but as Bonnie (my Model in All Things Culinary) says, if the item is simple just use the King Arthur equivalents and don't trouble yourself. Weighing can be great fun, however. Baking is chemistry, eh what?

Well, this is turning out to be one of my favorite chats. :)

Have you ever considered coming up with a standard measure of ingredients that you specify by number, like a clove of garlic, a "medium" onion, or a shallot? Either by weight or volume would be helpful as these things are not necessarily intuitive.

We try to include a parenthetical about the desired amount from, say 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup), and we'll increase our diligence in that arena. We often refer to The Book of Yields by Francis T. Lynch -- a handy guide to have around. 

I have mixed feelings about this, because while I value precision, I also think that putting in too many unnecessary equivalents -- and by unnecessary, I mean that the recipe doesn't turn on the number of teaspoons or tablespoons of garlic -- we make the recipes longer, which can make them more off-putting/inaccessible-seeming. Also, I really don't want people to think that making a relatively simple recipe HAS to involve their measuring cups each time. So it's a balancing act.

Yes. Pliers give you the mechanical advantage that the gripping "cloths" Joe pointed you to don't. I speak as one who is getting arthritis in my hands too. Also, plastic water bottles have become more difficult to open overall because of the industry reduction of BPAs or whatever that soft-plastic chemical is.

Hi! I made a crab dip that uses 16 oz of tofu for the base. The recipe called for imitation crab meat but I used the real stuff. I doubled the crab meat but the dip still didn't have much crab flavor. I added Old Bay which helped. I plan to cut back on the tofu next time. Can you suggest any ingredients (non-dairy please) that would add to the "crabbiness" aside from more crab? Here's a link to the recipe. Thank you! 

Hmm, a few things come to mind, depending on how much effort you want to put in. Hoping chatters will weigh in as well. 

* Increase the amount of crabmeat! To a full 16 ounces.


* If you can get your hands on some king crab legs or just crab shells, simmer those in water to make a crab stock. Boil that down further for a more intense, and either mix into the dip along with your real crabmeat, or perhaps let the crabmeat sit in some broth before draining and  using. 


* Maybe omit or reduce the onion and pickle relish in this recipe, which may overwhelm the crab flavor. Use lemon juice and/or zest instead.

Several members of our family swear by the Oxo Good Grips Jar opener. It is useful for a wide range of bottle/jar sizes and has a silicone mat that helps hold the can/bottle on the counter.

Try this Jokari Magic 3-in-1 Beverage Opener, 3 Pack-Count. Gives you a little extra leverage

King Arthur Flour has a pretty good recipe for making them from scratch. Look up "kummelweck" in their recipe database. It worked for me, but I'm an experienced roll baker.

And here it is, under "kimmelweck." I thought Jim's recipe hack was pretty clever. 


RECIPE: Buffalo Beef on Weck


Oxo tools have changed our arthritic lives.

YES. Don't tell me that cauliflower-crust pizza is just like eating regular pizza. It isn't even close. I would much rather just enjoy veggies as those veggies, rather than as imitations. Though I do own a spiralizer, I use it more for stuff like salads than as substitutes.

I grew up eating what we called "black bread" and others call Russian bread. Either way, I haven't found any really flavorful one in DC. Please point me toward your favorite loaves!

Black bread tops my list of baking projects that have yet to produce the desired results. One of these days...

I've purchased it from various Russian/Eastern European stores (Rus Uz market in Arlington and Russian Gourmet in Rockville) with mixed's usually a little dry but is almost right if it's toasted or dipped in soup.

The bread folks at Eastern Market sometimes have it -- it's definitely good but not quite the stuff that I remember from when I was in Russia. Russia House in Dupont has some of the best I've sampled in the area (and after practically fawning over the bread once the very kind waiter put a whole loaf -- !!! -- of it in my leftovers bag, but that was a few years ago, sigh.) I forget where they get their bread from, but it's worth investigating!

I love eating zoodles, but it took a little bit of tweaking to make them palatable. If you boil them or heat them, they'll end up soggy and unappealing. I think the best way to eat them is to have hot pasta sauce at the ready, spiralize room temperature (not cold) zucchini, then add the hot sauce to the zoodles. The sauce will raise the temperature of the zoodles, but they'll still retain their crunch. At work, I keep the sauce in a mini/portable crock-pot (so cute!) and just add it a bit at a time so the zoodles don't get soggy and I don't have to rush. I really do think zoodles are satisfying and a great pasta alternative.

Thanks! Good tips.

op here. I have a recipe from fatfreevegan for zucchini noodles with sesame-peanut sauce. My husband loves Thai food and this is similar. We like it a lot.

Congrats on your cookbook! How did the collaboration with Mario Batali come about? I'd love to hear a bit of the history of how you met him and started working with him. How was the experience of making this cookbook?

Thanks! This is actually my second book with Mario. It sounds funny to talk about now, but I actually met him about 9 years ago when I won a grilling contest he was running. We became friends and started looking for ways to work together. He's amazing to work with, a truly nice guy and surrounds himself with an amazing team.

So on Wed mornings, first thing I read is WaPo Food. Who knew you could crave a burger at 7 am? Will be trying that one - for sure. Thanks Bonnie

Put an egg on it, as they say. Sriracha Pork Burgers make a fine breakfast! 

I'll be first in line when V Street opens next year! The last few years I've been going to a structured pot-luck so we just bring our seasonal favorites (some meat, vegetarian or vegan all included). Is there a great globe-hopping recipe that includes what everyone thinks of as a traditional Thanksgiving food (pumpkin, squash, potatoes, etc.) but celebrates how diverse and inclusive our diet has become? Or a dish that could become the new favorite to bring every year?

Thanks - can't wait to see you there!  Our Vedge book has more traditional Thanksgiving/Holiday fare, but the first that comes to mind from the V Street book would be the Grilled Sweet Potatoes with black vinegar - I'd be pretty excited if that showed up on the Thanksgiving table...   The Carrot Asado could also be translated into a centerpiece dish.

I like mayo with horseradish on roast beef sandwiches. thank you.

We could eat well together!

A few years ago the New York Times had a story about pasta risotto, basically cooking pasta as you would risotto, using quick saute with some shallots, ladel in broth slowly. It releases its starches and you end up with this deliciously creamy concoction. You can definitely do this with whole wheat pasta.

Good memory. I think this Mark Bittman piece is what you're talking about.

I've been doing that as a side dish for years. I like to toast about half the pasta in oil before I start adding the broth, then add olives and feta in at the end. Delicious.

Link does not work.

Thanks for pointing it out! Fixed.

Cooking/baking using a scale is so much faster and cleaner than using measurements (in addition to more accurate). It's so nice not to have to clean all those darn measuring cups and you don't have to try and interpret what one cup of packed brown sugar (and the like) really mean.

I hear you! But 1 cup packed brown sugar's fairly straightforward. It's not heaping or crowned, but it is pressed down and leveled off -- as opposed to clumps of moist brown sugar that may or may not have air pockets in that cup. 

I'm from Chicago, and usually find time to pick up a "wet and sweet" Italian (the beef is a given) when I visit the old digs. I'd like to make this at home, but how can this be done without buying shaved beef from a deli? Certainly Italian grandmas knew how to go about this, or is this something just done by people with an industrial slicer?

It's hard to slice it thin when it's hot, but if you make the roast beef a day or so ahead of time and refrigerate it, you should be able to slice it very thin with a long, sharp knife. Then just reheat the meat in the warmed broth.

I too am a kitchen scale convert. I keep the King Arthur weight chart on my fridge and just convert the cups to weight. It's so much more convenient to not get as many measuring cups dirty and I make much less of a mess. You do have the issues you referenced, but you have them anyways considering the flour brand and baking conditions are also different from the recipe writer's.

I get it - zoodles will never be noodles, but what are some good hearty fall side dishes to try using a spiralizer? I just bought one, and I'm not sure what to try other than using zucchini. Thanks!

These onion fritters are very tasty, though not sure they fall under the "hearty" category. You could always put an egg on it?

Onion Fritters With Middle Eastern Spice Mix

RECIPE: Onion Fritters With Middle Eastern Spice Mix

Do all the WaPo cookbook authors do weight measurements? Since it's a longer term project, it may be a good place to put them. Gives your readers another way to try a recipe?

They do not. But that's a thought....

I'm having a big dinner party in a couple of weeks, for which I'm making mashed white and sweet potatoes. A lot of the food is last minute, so I'm wondering how far in advance I can make them. I usually do it the night before and reheat them in a casserole in the oven (which works really well). Could they go in the freezer if I made them this weekend, or would that screw up the consistency too much? Could I make them Wednesday and leave them in the fridge for the Saturday party? I can wait (like I do every other year!), but I was hoping I could get on the stick earlier this year so I'm not saddled with a million things the night before. Thank you!

Definitely go with Wednesday prep and storing in the fridge.  Freezing potatoes leads to lots of water build up and ice - they'd be waterlogged...  Good luck!

Get a roll of ConTact Grip Liner. It has many uses such as cut a piece to open jars or a larger piece to hold a pastry board in place or small pieces to put under bowls to keep them from sliding off plates.... Hey, you can even use some to line shelves.

In case any chatters really are interested, seitan makes a good vegetarian roast beef substitute. I also like To-Furkey's version of roast beef. You also might try veggie beef strips by Gardein and Morningstar. For those, I marinate in Liquid Smoke and vegan Worstershire sauce prior to cooking.

Our favorite way to make Seitan Roast Beef is to char grill it with a marinade of: neutral oil, minced garlic, tamari and vegan worcestershire.  Char grill it and throw it in the fridge - the next day, you can't keep your hands off it!

Joe just made a seitan dish and brought it to the office. I liked it and suspect it would be an interesting substitution into any variation of beef sandwich.

I can vouch for that Vedge seitan dish -- scarfed it down at the restaurant. Amazing.

My 13 year old daughter has become a reasonably accomplished baker (her gift for her 13th bday was a stand mixer). This is both great --homemade treats! --and awful -- I'm gaining weight! I've tried to encourage her to cook more, but I think she likes the chemistry aspect of baking. Any ideas for recipes that are like baking but for savory AND healthy foods? Thank you!

Get into pickling and canning!  Fermenting is all the rage!  One word: Kimchee!

Okay, confession time, I made honey cake just because I kept seeing recipes for it last week and I really like cake... I enjoy learning about the food traditions of other cultural/religious holidays and trying new recipes, so thank you for the articles you post on them!

Got it. Re honey cake -- Becky went looking last week and couldnt seem to find recipes for said cake in our Recipe Finder, and I knew I'd tested a bunch a few years back. We located them online and Kara put them in...they'll all be up by week's end so feel free to check this out and see the differences. 

I inherited some rather nice liquor decanters. What are the best liquors to use these for, in terms of shelf life? Do any liquors suffer from being in a decanter (vice a bottle with a tight cap).

Sweeter liquors tend to attract visitors (fruit flies), but so long as you keep the cap/top in place when you're not pouring, you should be OK.  You also might find a nice Madeira to store in there - it's already completely denatured by heat and oxidized, so it will last, unchanged, for essentially ever...  Cheers!

I saw a recipe for scrambled eggs made in a microwave. Does it smell bad to those who aren't eating them? It would be a great option for a mid-afternoon snack, but I don't want to offend my co-workers.

Nah, it's not like fish in that way.

I make pizza in the winter quite frequently and I usually use 3-4 cups of flour. Then I came across an Alton Brown pizza crust recipe and he is very strict about using weight. Best Crust I ever made.

Yes, I'd say flour for pizza is worth measuring.

I've been tasked with making snacks for a picnic. I'm considering making your Candied Lavender Pecans. They look pretty good and they'd be easily transported. My question: My officemates aren't the most sophisticated eaters and I'm wondering if the lavender would be too "out there" for them. If I used herbes de provence would that make the recipe more accessible or should I just make the pecans for myself and do something different for them?

I think if the Candied Lavender Pecans sound good to you, you should make them and take them. You will have fulfilled your obligation, and if no one eats them, you get to take them home! But I bet they will. As far as substitutions, you could definitely sub in any herb or spice you like in a recipe like that. I don't know that herbs de Provence would be any more or less accessible. But it would work.

This is not one of those hit-you-over-the-head-with-lavender recipes. Noticeable but subtle -- very nice. Give them a shot.

RECIPE: Candied Lavender Pecans

Can Arancini be made and frozen ahead of time? I was thinking of making them on Thursday and freeze them for a Saturday dinner. Tips?

Absolutely. Form and place on a baking sheet so they freeze individually and don't stick to each other (a few  hours should do it), then you can toss them in a zip-top bag. Wait to do the eggwash-breading step until just before you fry them. SeriousEats has a comprehensive take technique here.

My scale changed my (baking) life. So, so much better. Please do include grams, if you can. Also, Joe, that four grain risotto--1100 mg of sodium?! Holy cow. I assume that is the parm? I will be using the nutritional yeast instead, for sure, if that is the case.

The miso is the culprit. It's essential, too, so can't advise on a sub there. Just have an otherwise-light-sodium day?

Don't forget about portobello mushrooms! There's a great sandwich place near me that includes a few veggie options on their menu, but I often get their "Thai beef" sandwich with portobellos in place of the beef.

I just baked the cake last to make and so deliciously light. Daughter was very interested in the history of the cake and how eggs and butter were rationed during WWII. Thanks!

Baked goods and a lesson. I call that a win-win.

Double Chocolate ‘War’ Cake

RECIPE: Double Chocolate ‘War’ Cake

Fantastic article on all the ways we crazy Americans eat beef on bread. Learned a lot (as I always do from your columns), but can't wait to ask my friend from Buffalo about beef on weck. Gosh that was funny.

Thanks! I've had the chance to eat a lot of these things in their respective places of origin, but I haven't actually been to Buffalo or Iowa yet. And they are now on my list!

Just what is it? Where do you buy it? Sorry to be such a newbie to it!

So much more than just a vinegar - it has so much flavor and it's a staple of so many regional Chinese cuisines.  Of course you can order it online, but you should be able to find it in most Asian markets.  Koon Chun is a great brand.  It's a little sweet (like Balsamic) from fruits, so stick with the regular black vinegar (no need for the "Sweet" style)...

Bonus: I wrote a while ago about using black vinegar, too -- as a way to cut some of the soy sauce for sodium-reduction purposes. I'm a huge fan.

WEEKNIGHT VEGETARIAN: A new technique for defusing those soy-sauce sodium bombs

I wish you guys would open a restaurant in my town. We need you.

Where exactly?

Me too! It apparently being a "deadly sin" is yet another reason I'm glad not to be Catholic. #teamheathen :)

The Food Police force can be rigid.

I recently purchased the Jack Lalane juicer. Haven't used it yet. Anyone own one, and have tips for the best way to use it? What fruits does it juice best? Thanks.

With a centrifuge style juicer, watch out for super fibrous things like celery or ginger - that can clog up really easy.  And be sure to clean it immediately after use.  If you send anything like carrots or red beets through there, they stain pretty quickly.  Also, lots of root vegetables get really sweet - try juice a little lemon!

Are they the same? We saw a Rosh Hashanah recipe for rugelach that reminded us of the "Hungarian Butterhorns" mom used to make, except that the dough did not use yeast as ours does. Is yeast forbidden for Rosh Hashanah? Or is this just one of the regional variants in cookies? I know that many cultures and traditions have a rolled-dough-filled-with-tasty-stuff cookie.

Yeast is fine for Rosh Hashanah -- or else all those round challahs would be pancakes! We'll see what we can find out about the butterhorns/rugelach continuum.

Do you like the Oxo tabletop one you have in your Lab? I bought a cheap one - disappointing, so would love any recommendations anyone has. As far as veggies as pasta, if you put enough butter and cheese on anything, it always tastes good.

Eh..."like" is not the word I would use.

It was alright, but the bottom grip/suction thing that's supposed to keep it from sliding while you spiralize doesn't work for every counter surface (although we did find it worked well on marble). It also feels a little cheap and plastic-y. On the plus side, you'll get an arm workout if you're spiralizing a ton of root vegetables at once...

I keep a pair of clean gardening gloves in the kitchen (the kind with the rubber palms) to wear when I have trouble opening bottles or jars. Also helps when unscrewing a stubborn light bulbs. I guess you could use plain rubber gloves, but I like to garden more than I like to clean.

Brilliant idea! I have several pairs of these. Only issue is: They're usually pretty dirt-crusted, but maybe this is an excuse to at least start rinsing them off when I'm done, if I know they'll be used to handle a food/drink item.

You need a microscale. This one has worked well for me and it's only $9.

Some chefs I know use a jeweler's scale for weighing small amounts of ingreds like agar-agar.

I've been following a cool baking and food blog written by an orthodontist in the UAE (chefindisguise). She keeps specifying something called Nabulsi cheese. I can tell it is salty and firm. I checked Yekta Market and they have only one kind that just didn't seem right. Any ideas? Yes, I've asked her but she isn't aucourant on what we have here.

I just called the Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe in Alexandria (352 S. Pickett St.) and they have it!

By the way, here's a recipe from our database:

Chickpea Salad With Nabulsi Cheese

RECIPE: Chickpea Salad With Nabulsi Cheese

They are the highlight of fall cooking as far as I am concerned. Plus, there are so many types of stews to make when all the cuisines are considered.

Some of your readers might be interested in the new, smaller version of the Artisan mixer which has a 3 1/2 qt. bowl rather than a 5 qt. bowl. I would have liked that when I lived in Manhattan and had to store mine on top of the fridge....

KitchenAid website reports it's 20 percent smaller! 

They're terrific for flavoring oil or butter (a standard in Miter Kebbeh). Just put them in with the oil and let sit at low heat for awhile. Strain and use as you like! Also, Methi leaf is from the same plant and can be used as a substitute for spinach. Not sure if it helps lactation, but makes a terrific saag paneer.

That's interesting, but puzzles me since I thought yeast-raised flour items were the most flexible in terms of amount of flour; you work it in until it "feels right" which depends on the weather, specifically humidity. Just wondering.

You're going to always work in some extra amount of flour, but I guess the chatter found it was a good amount to begin with. Feel is important, to be sure -- the more you cook, the more you come to rely on it. Thanks for bringing that up.

Was it just my grandma, or was there an urban legend many years ago about corn cobs being poisonous? Some little boy gnawed all the leftover corn cobs at the picnic and died... (Actually, this would be more of a rural legend, I guess, as we were in a very small town!)

Cobs are basically not edible/digestible for humans, and are toxic for dogs.

That person was stating a prejudice, not canon law. I dislike mayo as a sandwich spread myself but that's no reason why anyone else shouldn't eat it. I'm strictly a mustard spreader, on sandwiches and burgers, but that's my palate, not some Law of the Universe.

You and I would seem to share a common belief system. I'm with you.

I've just been looking at this recipe and it calls for sumac. I don't have that. Could I substitute za'atar? I think za'atar is different everywhere you buy it.

It's available in Mediterranean markets, but I think za'atar would be great in that recipe.

One of my challenges in cooking vegetarian meals is that so many vegetarian recipes end up being essentially a big bowl of vegetable jumble, instead of a meal with different components (protein and 2 veg, for example). What are some of the techniques you use in coming up with more composed dishes? And come to Petworth in DC!!!

Great question!  We feel the same way about so much veg cooking - most entrees are big stir fries or stews with small pieces all jumbled together.  We have always been big fans of putting vegetables in the center of the plate and serving them in big meaty hunks.  At Vedge, we do a whole grilled carrot.  We've done a cauliflower steak, a meaty maitake mushroom, etc.  It's all about the effort you put in.  For instance, celery root can make a great big steak, but you have to blanch and roast it before grilling.  It just takes some extra time, but it's well worth it.  

It was the double corn chowder.

Got it! A good one.

Any chatters have ideas before I spend $?

I know I sound like a broken record, but it's only because I'm logged into the Cook's Illustrated site right now.

- Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer (highly recommended)

-  Spiralizer Tri-Blade Vegetable Spiral Slicer (recommended)

- Paderno World Cuisine 4-Blade Spiralizer Pro (recommended)

I am in the market for some reusable containers to bring leftovers in to work to heat them up. I'd prefer they be glass, but have a lid that clasps on. Does anyone have any that they really like that are microwave save. I'd prefer two sizes, one narrower and deeper for soups, and one wider and shallower for other foods. Currently I use old chinese food takeout containers.

GlassLock came out on top of a Cook's Illustrated equipment review.

What about a bento box?


I stopped by Ivy City Smokehouse for the first time and saw that they had lionfish (snakehead, too). I had other plans, but would love to try cooking it. Any suggestions?

We need you in Kansas City, specifically.

Thanks!  We'll add it to the list!  :)

I bought a food scale the week we moved to England, and I'm used to converting once I've weighed the ingredient that I measured in U.S. recipes. Just keep a pencil in the kitchen, and then you have your conversion for the future. Europeans are pretty much nonplussed when they get a U.S. recipe that calls for cups of dry ingredients, or butter in sticks.


Well, you've fried us for a minute or two, until golden brown, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today, and many thanks to Kate, Rich and Jim for helping with the a's. 

Now for the giveaway books: The chatter who asked about vegetarian cold weather cooking will get a SIGNED copy of "V Street" by Rich and Kate. The one who said, about spiralized vegetables, "Just accept it for what it is and enjoy it" will get a copy of "Spiralize This!" And, as a bonus, we'll give a copy of Mario Batali and Jim Webster's "Big American Cookbook" to the chatter who wrote in about making Italian beef. Send your mailing info to, and she'll get you your book!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading. And don't forget -- keep chatting with Dorie right now until 1!

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.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby
Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, co-owners of Vedge and V Street in Philadelphia, are the authors of "V Street: 100 Globe-Hopping Plates on the Cutting Edge of Vegetable Cooking."
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