Free Range on Food: Pie, chickpea pancakes, the herbicide glyphosate and more

Butternut Squash Farinata.
Oct 07, 2015

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

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

Hope you're enjoying this week's food coverage, from Tim Carman's look at the ambitious plans of chef/restaurateur Jeremiah Langhorne to Kristen Hartke's exploration of the wacky and wild wonders of bean liquid for vegan desserts (it's aquafabulous, as she says!), Cathy Barrow's call to get some holiday pies in the freezer, Tamar Haspel's well-reasoned take on the controversy over and realities of glyphosate (the chemical in Monsanto's Roundup), Fritz Hahn's look at how/why Narragansett became the new hipster beer of choice, and more. Plus, there's that little thing called Tom Sietsema's Fall Dining Guide that we've been rolling out for the last 10 days -- and he's been chatting about, of course. (New 4-star restaurants!)

OK, let's get started. As you can see, we have lots of expert help today, with Kristen, Cathy, Carrie "Spirits" Allan and Tamar joining us. Jim "Smoke Signals" Shahin is traveling.

For you PostPoints members, your code today is FR5275 . 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.

AND, we'll have giveaway books, naturally: Tal Ronnen's "Crossroads: Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine," source of this week's Weeknight Veg recipe; and another that will be a surprise until the end of the chat!

Let's do this!


It says yield is four servings. I live (and eat) alone. I think I know the answer to this, but I'll ask anyway -- does this hold up as leftovers? If not, can I make all the components in advance and just combine per serving? Or is it (as I suspect) something you either consume in its entirety right away or forget it?

RECIPE Warm Spinach Salad With Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

If  you made it with kale, it'd hold up for a day in the refrigerator. But why not use our handy scaling feature on Recipe Finder? It'll take the dish down to 2 servings. What might work best is to make the dressing in advance and refrigerate it; you can reheat just as much as you need, gently on the stove top and toss just before your meal. You can have the onion and greens ready to go, in a zip-top bag. 

Not a question but a comment on quick barbecue. Go ahead and scoff, but a pork butt, a cup of water, tablespoon of liquid smoke and pinch of salt in a pressure cooker for 90 minutes is amazing.

I think I just heard Jim Shahin pounding his head against the wall. :)

I heard it, too. That might all taste good, but it ain't barbecue. (** Says the former competitive barbecue judge who now also makes Jim pound his head against the wall by suggesting he start smoking tofu.)

My wife is allergic to eggs and we're always looking for egg substitute solutions -- so the aquafaba idea is very interesting to us. Does it work as an egg substitute in savory dishes as well -- such as frittatas or souffles? As a glaze on breads?

I have actually tried to use aquafaba as an egg substitute in an omelette and found that it's best to whip the aquafaba into stiff-ish peaks first, then add a little of the chickpea flour (which Joe wrote about beautifully this week!) to give it a little more heft, as it's pretty delicate. I spread it carefully into a heated pan and then dotted the top with diced vegetables, then pretty much cooked it like an omelette. It works really well as a coating for fried foods as well -- dip in the aquafaba first, then dredge in flour.

ARTICLE: Trust us. You can use the liquid from a can of beans to make dessert.

A question for Mrs. (Wheel)Barrow. After doing nothing until late July, my mild banana pepper plant is exploding and I can't keep up. We've been eating them fresh and cooked, and I've made several batches of refrigerator pickles, but was wondering what you'd recommend for a canning recipe to put them up for later. Thanks!

Everyone is seeing a pepper explosion now. Peppers are a low acid food and need to be pickled to be safely canned in a waterbath. If you want to have pepper strips to add to stir fry or stews, slice the peppers and freeze on a baking sheet, then place in a ziptop bag. They will keep for about six months. The peppers will fall apart as they defrost, but the flavor will be intact. 

To can, you can check out the marinated roasted red pepper recipe in my book. I don't seem to have a link online.

We're having a party this Saturday, and I'd like to make a seasonal punch. Any suggestions? Maybe something rum or applejack-based? Any ideas for a non-alcoholic option, beyond apple cider? Thanks for all your good work!

Ah, one of my favorite parts of the season! This one from thekitchn blog sounds great to me. If you want to keep it simple, you could also batch a classic Stone Fence and add some spices to infuse a bit in the applejack before adding the cider. I did one last year where I let fresh grated ginger sit in bourbon and a few dashes of black walnut bitters for an hour or so, then added lemon juice and sparkling cider -- really good. I think you're getting into the season where some port/cognac punches with autumn spices would be terrific, too.

For nonalcoholic, obviously apple is the go to this season, but I'm a big fan of doing pears instead. Try roasting fresh pears with spices (cinnamon, allspice, star anise, a scraped vanilla pod) for 30 minutes or so at 350, until they're soft, then blend the pears and strain the solids (this doesn't have to remove ALL the texture, just the big chunks). Supplement with pear nectar (you can get that at Whole Foods) and possibly a bit of lemon to tone down the sweetness. Usually I do this with a spirit in it, but it's delicious without booze as well, and can be warmed up if you like.

I was idly leafing thru my "Joy of Cooking", and saw that they say to cool loaf bread by placing it on its side. I've been baking bread for many years, and no recipe ever said to do this... Do you cool loaf bread in this manner, and why do you think 'joy' says to? Weight? Thanks

I have done that before. Possibilities:

1. to hedge against the bread sinking in the middle (heavier breads, like potato breads, are prone to being a little underbaked inside and cause a crater effect on top); in other words, this technique may help maintain the bread's shape.

2. allowing steam to escape from the bottom. 

3. The recipe was written before widespread home use of wire racks for cooling?

4. Turning some types of bread on their sides (crusty) makes for easier slicing.

My brother's house in Nevada is surrounded by very, very productive olive trees, and I'm trying to help him figure out what to do with the many pounds of fruit that'll ripen between now and Thanksgiving. We're avid canners, so somehow curing / pickling is a good start... but do my favorite foodies have other ideas? (That'd be y'all, of course.) Thanks!

Great question! I have been thinking about curing olives, too. There are two methods - brining and lye-curing. Here is a terrific tutorial. 

I have no constructive suggestions whatsoever, but I have to register my envy.

I will second that registration.

Can you make a carrot cake and freeze it to use later this month? I have free time this weekend and would love to make ahead of time. I assume I would need to frost it the night before though.

Yes! My friend and professional baker Gail Dosik taught me to remove the cake layers from the pans as soon as possible, then, while warm, wrap them individually in cling film and then in foil. Overnight, defrost the layers in the refrigerator and frost your cake while it's still cold. Works beautifully.

Is this a common problem that I've never heard of? A few pieces of my flatware and dishes have picked up what look like rust spots after going through the dishwasher. The spots do not come out. The other flatware and dishes from the same sets are fine, even though they were washed at the same time and had the same food on them before. I've never put anything rusted in the dishwasher and don't mix silver with silverplate or stainless. I use liquid dishwasher detergent and no rinse aid. Do you have any suggestions?

What's your flatware made of?

Is there a secret to using vanilla as a flavoring in yogurt and keffir? When I try adding vanilla to plain yogurt or keffir, the result tastes nothing like the vanilla yogurt or keffir available under many brand names. Of course, each brand tastes a little different, too, but when I add vanilla, it tastes like a completely different ingredient, even when I also add a sweetener. When I make my own yogurt, should I add vanilla at the same time as the starter? Thanks.

Have you tried adding the seeds scraped out of a vanilla bean? Vanilla extract is made from beans soaked in alcohol and that may be what you are tasting.

Hello! For Christmas this year, I really want to make some edible gifts for people. I'm thinking homemade vanilla extract and some cinnamon glazed nuts. Any suggestions for good places to buy vanilla beans and nuts in bulk?

Penzey's in Rockville has very fresh, plump vanilla beans. And Trader Joe's has wonderful nuts. For even more nuts, check out

I like to order the beans through Cook', and I like to buy nuts at Yekta in Rockville. 

On the Great British Baking Show's Pie episode, everyone had to make a double crust fruit pie and the bottom crust was NOT to get soggy. However, very few of the contestants took any of the routes that I have learned to help keep the crust from getting soggy -- prebaking and also coating with a thin heated/strained coating of cooked apricot or raspberry preserves (to form a hard layer). One person put some corn meal in the bottom -- another tip, I've heard. Do these methods not actually work, or is it that our thanksgiving holiday has given Americans more pie crust knowledge, especially with apple and pumpkin pies which can get quite soggy. Any ideas? this is the only time I watched this show and wondered why they were doing what they were (most of the time, I'm just amazed or know I wouldn't have a clue either).

I saw that and had a conversation with my television set. I've found that starting a pie in a very hot oven, then reducing the heat to finish results in a crisp, flakey bottom crust. I like your idea a lot and I'm going to try it with my next pie.

Visiting my folks in Maine, I discovered Nasoya's packaged fresh udon noodles in their local grocery store. They were great for stirfries-I really liked them. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any kind of fresh udon noodles (or really any fresh asian noodles beyond the zero calorie shirataki noodles) in Harris Teeter or Giant near me. Should I be trekking out to a specialty Asian market, asking the manager of my local megamarts to see if they'll be willing to stock them, or is there another source I don't know about?

Specialty Asian might be your best bet. Bangkok 54 Market in Arlington sells refrigerated/fresh udon noodles (not made in-house). They might be made at Honeycomb in Union Market (NE DC), but that's a longer reach than maybe you're interested in.

Hi free rangers! Having a party for about 2 dozen next week where I want to serve hearty food, but less "dinner party", more people standing around with paper plates. I'm trying to keep it simple, so I'm thinking of grilling or roasting sausages with peppers and onions, and then making a giant pan (or two?) of vegetarian lasagna. Any recommendations for recipes? Love the chats!

Ok, maybe trauma is a little dramatic. For years I've enjoyed putting turkey wings in the crockpot with some season all, sage, and garlic with a little water and letting them cook to "fall-off-the-bone" perfection for 6 hours. Well now I can't find my beloved turkey wings or I find the kind with the massive drumstick attached. How much longer will I have to cook the wing with the drumstick :( attached do you think? I don't want my delicious wings to dry out just trying to cook the drumstick part.

A heavy chef's knife or cleaver can easily separate the wings from drumsticks. but if you don't want to do that, I'd go 8 hours on the joint turkey wing/drumsticks, maybe add more water? Check after 6 hours; nothing should be drying out in the slow-cooker, right?

See description below of yummy and expensive thing: "Calabrian oranges, soaked in a constantly refreshed bath of simple syrup for three weeks, cut in quarters, smothered in dark chocolate. Each piece is the size of a large chocolate truffle." Is this something I could make at home? Thoughts on a recipe? I keep finding recipes for orange peel, but I like the idea of the quartered orange. Or should I peel it and soak the segments? Questions abound!

Orange rind candies are all the rage, but years ago this recipe for confit orange caught my attention. The oranges were delicious. Yes, I think you could do this with clementines and quarter them after the confit stage.

The most difficult step will be coating a sticky, syrupy orange in chocolate. 

If you try this, please let us know.

Do you or any readers have a go-to mac-n-cheese recipe for the slow cooker? The recipes I've found online have different techniques (cook pasta separately vs. add uncooked pasta to the slow cooker, for example) and I'm curious what others have found to be successful. Thank you!

Been poring over Kenji Lopez-Alt's "The Food Lab," and his extensive testing suggests there's no need to cook the pasta beforehand.

We have rice cooker mac and cheese -- it's a good one!

I made Mrs. Wheelbarrow's lovely sounding blueberry jam (from berries I froze this summer) this weekend. Even though I'm a fairly experienced jam maker, I tried to follow the cold plate test (which was new to me). I shouldn't have. Instead of 4 jars of jam, I have 2 and a half jars of some really really chewy blueberry tasting stuff. It actually tastes ok, but is even stickier than salt-water taffy. Is there any hope of loosening it up? Or at least of prying it out of the jar so I can reuse them? I should have turned the blueberries into pie...

I'm so sad to hear this and I imagine you are, too. Rubbery jam is difficult to resuscitate. Try submerging the sealed jar in hot water to loosen the jam. Once out of the jar, warm it with hot water or fruit juice to a better consistency to use as a sauce or even as the basis for a cocktail. 

I, too, am rethinking the cold plate test. If the jam remains on the stove cooking away while testing, it can overcook. Next time, watch for the foam to subside as that is an indication the water has cooked off and the jam is set. Remove the jam from the heat and let it sit for 3 minutes. Press against the surface and look for a wrinkle like a stone skipped over the surface of a lake.

This almost always happens to me with blueberry jam, btw -- not necessarily to this level, but it gels up pretty stiff. I've found that simply aggressively stirring it when I take it out of the fridge is often enough to loosen it to palatability...

I'm loving all the cool ideas for using chickpeas in new and interesting ways. They are so great and amazingly versatile--even more than I knew. Any thoughts on how to incorporate them into holiday dishes, such as something that would be served for Thanksgiving?

I would definitely recommend having fun with aquafaba (chick pea cooking liquid) for holiday dishes, because, when whipped up, it has a beautiful marshmallow-y texture that could be delicious on sweet potato casserole or a pumpkin pie!

I can imagine using the farinata idea for Thanksgiving. You could make the base plain and then top it with roasted butternut squash, walnuts, blue cheese. Spectacular.

Can you post a link to for people to learn more about aquafaba? For some reason that link was conspicuously absent from this week's articles.

This article was mostly focused on the Facebook group "Vegan Meringue -Hits and Misses!", which is a group of very dedicated home cooks who are doing pretty fascinating things with aquafaba. Just googling "aquafaba" will result in an enormous amount of recipes and insights!

And at the top of that Facebook group, of course, there is a link to that site!

Even if glyphosate is not the potential carcinogen some believe it to be, there is another aspect of its widespread use which you article does not address: the surfactants used with Roundup are suspected to have a negative effect on amphibian populations. What’s the latest on this? There are other effects not directly related to human food. For instance, the use of herbicides based on glyphosate seems to be destroying the chain of milkweed populations which once grew along and defined the migration routes of monarch butterflies: now, it’s beginning to look as if no milkweeds, no monarch butterflies. Shouldn’t potential glyphosate users be required to demonstrate a knowledge of its environmental effects?

Excellent questions, all.  I'm familiar with the research on surfectants, and the answer is actually similar to the answer about cancer.  The question isn't whether surfectants can be toxic, because anything can be toxic at a certain dose -- we can die from ingesting too much water.  The question is whether the dose that amphibians are likely to be exposed to is dangerous, and I have seen no compelling evidence that it is, although high doses do seem to affect tadpoles.  As for milkweed, there's no question that increased glyphosate use (in both GM and non-GM crops) affected milkweed, and there are efforts by both industry and farmers to mitigate that problem, which I don't believe was foreseen.  And that last question -- of the people I talk to, the ones who know most about glyphosate (other than the scientists who develop and study it) are the farmers who use it.  All that said, I think we all need to take pesticide toxicity seriously because it does, in aggregate, clearly put farm workers at risk.  

ARTICLE: It's the chemical that Monsanto depends on. How dangerous is it?

I'm sure Langehorne is a fine chef but the restaurant sounds, to this fuddy duddy, like a bridge too far. I'm sure glad the food crew is hard at work helping me make my home cooked meals delicious AND affordable. Joe, the farinata squash dish looks very good!

From what Jeremiah has told me, the Dabney will not be expensive. He estimates that snacks will be in the $4 to $8 range, and main dishes in the $10 to $22 range. Large, shareable plates, like whole ducks or chickens, will be $40 to $50.


While the kitchen will have a theatricality, given its open-flame hearth, the restaurant itself will be sort of homey and unpretentious, I think. All the work that Jeremiah puts into his pantry items and ingredients will be invisible to eaters.

ARTICLE: Why this chef plans to avoid lemons and olive oil

I use vanilla bean paste. It adds a little sweetness along with the vanilla.

I purchased some vanilla beans and have some great bottles. I have had vanilla steeped in bourbon and loved it. It was so sweet it was crusty around the lid. Any recipes for making this? Do I do a simple syrup, bourbon, vanilla bean mix? proportions? How long- time before Christmas for gifting purposes? My beans are about 4" long, pretty small.

Vanilla extract is nothing more than beans soaked in booze. Bourbon is lovely. Rum is sweeter. Brandy has wine-ish undertones. Vodka is the least expensive.

Make a slit along the length of each bean and add to the jar. Use 12 beans to one quart of booze. And let it sit for at least two months. To make bottles up for gifts, include one bean in the bottle so the flavor continues to develop.

I hit the farmer's market this morning. Huge eggplant, onions, peppers, hot peppers. Suggestions for what I can make with this combo? I also have some fresh cilantro and rosemary and various spices.

How about a Thai curry with some coconut milk and a red curry paste? (I always have a jar of that in the fridge.) Garnish with cilantro. I think all those veggies would also work great in fajitas/tacos. I make my own fajita spice mix with cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne and salt.

This would totally inspire me to do a spicy ratatouille -- perfect vegetables and herbs for riffing off of a French classic. 

RECIPE: Ratatouille

After I wrap the cake in plastic wrap and foil, do I put it in the freezer still warm or is it safe to wait until it cools?

Let it cool, then put it in the freezer. Otherwise, it could heat up anything it touches in the freeze which is not good.

makes great crackers too. Lots of recipes on the Interwebs for them.

Where can aquafaba be found in the grocery store? Recommend an Indian Grocery store in Washington.

Aquafaba is actually just the liquid that you find in a can of chick peas (AKA garbanzo beans) - or in the cooking liquid when you make the beans at home - so all you are doing is using that liquid. Use the beans for hummus and save the liquid for the aquafaba butter. It's that easy!

Any suggestions for a fun Halloween themed snack for pre-schoolers that doesn't involve a ton of sugar (there will be plenty of that already!)?

This pumpkin recipe just ran in KidsPost. Check it out.

Roasted Pumpkin Hummus

RECIPE: Roasted Pumpkin Hummus

Wild mushroom coming on, chanterelles are prolific. Any ideas for soups or sautés that highlight this seasonal delicacy? Also, can I dry them in my dehydrator and reconstitute later? What about smoking them?

I'll chime in on the preservation aspect!

Yes, dehydrated chanterelles retain all that glorious flavor to be reconstituted in the cold months. Dry until leathery but not powdery. If you do dry them too far, whir in a spice grinder for mushroom powder to put on, well, everything.

Toss a few in the smoker for sure, then make a pan sauce with madeira or sherry for, well, everything.

One note on smoking chanterelles: Don't let them go long. Mushrooms don't like a lot of smoke. In other words: Don't cook them in the smoker, just perfume them!

I love reading Cathy's articles about food preservations. Living in a small apartment, I don't really have the space for much of that, but I did think of Cathy when I roasted a last batch of summer tomatoes and stuck then in the fridge for....I'm not sure. Any thoughts on a fall-like dish that could benefit from frozen roasted summer tomatoes?

Good move! Freezing tomatoes? That's the first step on the slippery slope to canning. 

I use roasted tomatoes to make a pasta sauce, based on Marcella Hazan's famous butter and onion sauce.

Puree and simmer the tomatoes and use as a pizza topping. 

Does anyone know the nutritional aspect of the water; is it mostly protein, carbs or exactly what?

No, the nutritional content of aquafaba is not known at this time, so it's hard to know exactly how much protein or carbohydrates it actually contains per serving. 

After shopping for some new cookbooks recently, I couldn't help but notice how many are from bloggers. What are your thoughts on these? Though I follow a few food blogs, I never had the desire to buy something when there are so many free recipes still to try. Admittedly I did just pick up Sara Forte's new book since it was the type of food I want right now - uncomplicated and healthy.

I think publishers are keen on authors with a platform and built-in following, which a popular blogger can provide. For me, "free" isn't the No. 1 quality I'm looking for in a recipe online, but rather reliability. Reminds me of a certain Cathy Barrow, aka Mrs.Wheelbarrow, a food blogger who produced a spectacular first book! 

Where were you shopping, btw?

I made this recipe the other night. This is not the first time I've made a tofu curry and it's tasted like this, which is most definitely not the taste I was going after, so two questions. One, what did I do wrong? I used ground ginger since I didn't have real ginger to grate and mince and didn't have cilantro stems but that doesn't seem like that's the reason for the taste. Perhaps my coconut milk was sweetened? I've thrown out the can so I can't confirm. I've made curry before but it only seems to get that funky taste when I've made tofu curry (is it the tofu?! If so, can you/others recommend a good tofu recipe?).


Two, how can I doctor this to make it palatable? I hate to waste food and throw it out. Last night I mixed it with spinach and other veggies to make a wrap, which was okay but I'd really like to eat curry and not a random fusion dish. Thanks for your suggestions!

Hmm. Lemon Pledge is definitely not what anyone would be going for, so, wow. I share your suspicion about the coconut milk -- not necessarily that it was sweetened (although that would definitely be a problem) -- but that it just might have been really old or off-tasting. I've certainly had some brands that had off flavors, perhaps from the additives/preservatives. Or perhaps your ground ginger was particularly stale, or had picked up other flavors from the spice drawer? I'm not sure how/why the tofu itself would cause this, but I do love the product from Twin Oaks, if you're in the area.

Anyway, how to doctor it? Well, this is tough. If you really hate the flavor of that sauce, I might just drain the tofu and vegetables and start over, building a new sauce with onions, garlic, canned tomatoes and your favorite curry powder?

Finally, here's a good tofu curry recipe from Bryant Terry. No Pledge here.

RECIPE: Tofu Curry With Mustard Greens.

I'm concerned about possible conflicts of interest in Post reporting about agricultural issues. Tamar Haspel's article did not explore some of the most pressing concerns about glyphosate -- for example, farmworker exposures or community exposures in heavily sprayed areas -- and yet she presents a rousing defense of glyphosate. Ms. Haspel recently explained in a Post chat that she gets paid to speak and moderate at events about biotechnology issues. I am wondering if she could explain which companies or groups pay her and how much of her income (percentage wise) comes from those sources? Isn't this a conflict of interest to get paid by agricultural interest groups and also to write about these issues as part of a regular beat?

You can find a complete list of the places I speak, and the criteria that I use to decide whether to speak, at  In short, though, if you believe that any group involved in agriculture, with interest in or an opinion on biotechnology, is a group that no journalist should be associated with, there's not much to talk about here.

Thanks for this -- but keep in mind, Tamar's not a beat reporter covering agriculture; she's a columnist, and therefore the result is more pointed and even opinionated, even though she anchors everything she writes in much, much research. I wouldn't call her latest a "rousing defense of glyphosate," either -- she explores both sides of the major issues at some depth. 

If you read her explanation of how she approaches speaking engagements, you'll note that she accepts them only when they are sponsored by voices from both sides of the debate. As a freelance contributor, she is not subject to quite the same level of restrictions on travel as a staffer -- we can't accept travel expenses or payment from almost anybody -- although I can impose whatever rules on freelancers I deem necessary. I support Tamar's way of approaching these things -- I find it a reasonable balance.

A bit off topic, but I'm hoping y'all can help: is the going out guide chat on Thursdays permanently canceled? I haven't seen it run for the past few weeks. Also, the wonton soup from The Source that Becky reviewed looks great - if it basically serves 2, is the idea that 2 people would actually share a bowl, or that one should expect to deal with leftovers (I sometimes have trouble reheating soups with a variety of ingredients in it)? Thanks for letting me hijack a bit!

Hi, there! Not really off topic as I am here too. :)

Fritz has taken over the GOG chat, and I believe it has switched to an every other week schedule. (He's been doing a bunch of stories, so maybe they were canceled?)

Good question about the wonton soup. They split our non-broth ingredients into two bowls and poured broth over each. I think if it was just you, you'd get it all in one bowl with less broth. I don't think I would have had any problems polishing it off solo. That broth -- hoo boy. Good stuff.

wonton soup from the Source

BLOG: The Source is serving the best ($16!) wonton soup you may ever eat

Or, how about using a very small spoon, spooning it out into small balls and rolling it in a sugar/spice mix and calling it a candy - Sort of a take on Turkish Delight? Little balls of it might also make a beautiful decor/accent for a lemon chiffon pie (or something similar).

I've made this recipe twice now, and it's been a hit both times. I cook the pasta waaaaay under al dente, and I think I might try not cooking it at all the next time I make it.  

Velveeta alert! Looks deliciously ooey-gooey.

After making some terrible rapini last night (totally my fault), I'm seeking solace. What's the most recent complete fail you've had in the kitchen? Anyone?

Been there! As I mentioned in my online cooking class story, I completely mucked up two candy recipes from ChefSteps. One was a Starburst-style candy that turned my hands blue for days. The other was a chocolate Turkish delight that was so hard, I was sure it was going to break my chef's knife.


ARTICLE: They’ll let you cook in your PJs, but can online classes improve your skills?


Also for story, as Bonnie can attest to, I had an epic pasta fail during a photo shoot at her house. Recipe proportions were off, and I had sticky, uncooperative dough. Boo.

Been there! I was pretty excited the other night to make a rye bread with some freshly-milled rye flour that I had recently picked up at the farmers market on a trip to Detroit, and to try out a recipe in the new cookbook by the owners of Philadelphia's Vedge Restaurant. As I was adding flour, I thought to myself "This feels like too much flour" but I followed the recipe proportions, rather than my instincts, and ended up with a seriously dense bread (let me add, it was also a very humid, rainy night). Bottom line -- always follow your instincts in the kitchen!

I made an inedible vegetarian "meat" loaf. Really disgusting.

I love the idea of chickpea pancakes. My son is allergic to just about everything that makes up a breakfast food or a baked good, but he can eat chickpeas! I am putting this on my list to make ASAP. What's it like without the butternut squash in other words plain? How does it keep and does it reheat well? Any other suggestions of things to add in it to give it flavor? Where do you buy chickpea flour? Health foods store? Any other alternative flours that can be treated the same way?

RECIPE Butternut Squash Farinata

Great! Keep in mind that it doesn't really come across as a pancake pancake, right? As in a breakfast pancake. It's delicious without the squash, and you can other herbs and spices to your heart's content. It stores just fine in the fridge and reheats well. You can find chickpea flour at Whole Foods and lots of mainstream supermarkets these days. Look for Bob's Red Mill (garbanzo bean flour), or yes, natural food stores -- or Indian markets (gram flour or besan).

Hello to the best food writers anywhere! I'm hosting a small group (8-10) in a couple of weeks. Two of the group don't eat gluten, two others don't eat fish, two more don't eat lamb, and I can't count on the weather to stay nice enough to cook outside. Can you offer me a few ideas on great main dishes that wouldn't take lots of last-minute attention? Thanks so much- you always come through for me!

Serve any of these with sides of rice or salad, and you'd be good to go:


A roasted pork loin can be lovely; this one with herbs inside certainly is, and you can make it ahead and reheat. 

Indian butter chicken might provide a nice change of pace; a classic. 

And this roast chicken in pomegranate and date molasses is terrific; again, easy to make in advance and reheat.

Hi y'all - thanks for these chats! They make my Wednesdays brighter. I am having a couple friends over for dinner this weekend and one of them is a vegan. This rules out my typical go-to dishes and I am feeling stumped. I would love to make something that I can put in the oven ahead of time so I'm not cooking right when they arrive. Any ideas? Any/all cuisines welcome, although preferably not too complicated... just delicious. Thank you so much!

Wow, where to begin? I always suggest staying away from things like lasagna and pasta (because that is what is typically served to both vegetarians and vegans) and trying something new. Joe's Butternut Squash Farinata can be made ahead and even served room temperature with a beautiful array of pan-roasted vegetables on the side.

Butternut Squash Farinata

RECIPE: Butternut Squash Farinata

And, of course, a vegan dessert made with aquafaba buttercream!

Vegan Italian Meringue Buttercream

RECIPE: Vegan Italian Meringue Buttercream

Ok guys, you made me buy it. Now what? Where to start?

Hi! And Thank YOU. Right now, you can make Marinated Roasted Red Peppers and thank me all winter. And Caramel Pear Preserves. 

So glad to see an article about using an ingredient that usually goes down the drain, namely the water in a can of beans. Maybe you could do a series on uses for stuff we usually waste, beyond the usual making broth with veggie scraps and chicken carcasses. For example, when I have feta cheese in a jar or fish in a can (anchovies, tuna), I incorporate the packing oil or water into salad dressings. Thanks in advance!

ARTICLE Trust us. You can use the liquid from a can of beans to make dessert.

We have just that kind of thing in the works...

I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year for the second time (and it just so happens that my birthday is on Thanksgiving this year; I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday than in the kitchen, so win-win!) I'm now inspired to freeze the pies ahead of time, so a HUGE "thank you" for the tips! I'm leaning toward the pear and cranberry tart.

It's a bit of a project but so worth it. Invite a lot of friends over. You'll want them to swoon and make a fuss over you.

ARTICLE: How to check those holiday pies off your list: Fill and freeze.

For 43 years I have been firmly anti-olive. But I recently tried an olive that was part of an charcuterie plate and have become obsessed with finding out what kind of olive it was because it was beyond delicious. I should have asked while at the restaurant, but didn't (and can't go back because it was in Iceland). The olive was green, smallish, salty, not brined, and had a pit. The Google has been no help. I'm hoping you can be.

A brighter shade of green, you mean? Maybe Castelvetrano? See if you can pick it out of this lineup.

To my delight (and surprise), my potted Meyer lemon tree has produced quite a lot of fruit, from the size of a grape to the size of a golfball. I've been popping them in my mouth and puckering; any other ideas? They're too small to zest and juice or even peel, really, but I could chop them.

Oooh, lucky -- preserved lemons would be my vote. Personally I'd put them in a martini. I'm sure Cathy Barrow has lots of ideas!

You could chop them and make a version of limoncello by infusing them in vodka for a month or so, then adding simple syrup. 

I read an article about wine from Mexico recently, but I don't remember where I read it. I just moved to Mexico and have no idea what to look for in the available wines. Any tips?

Dave McIntyre says: 

My experience with Mexican wine is limited to a single tasting several years ago. But Karen MacNeil includes three pages on Mexico in the new edition of "The Wine Bible," due out next month. Here are some of her tips: The Baja Peninsula is Mexico's main wine region, with several valleys extending spoke-like from the port city of Ensenada. The Guadalupe Valley is the premier growing area, akin to Napa. MacNeil recommends these wineries: Adobe Guadalupe, La Lomita, Jose Luis Durand, and Santo Tomas. She also mentions this historical trivia: "The first winery in the New World -- Casa Madero -- was established in 1597 in the Mexican town of Santa Maria de las Parras (Holy Mary of the Grapevines), and the winery continues to thrive today." 

It sounds like you have a lot to explore!

Any fun ideas for savory food gifts? I've done vanilla extract, spiced nuts, crackers, and preserved lemons and am looking for a project for the upcoming holiday season.

How about homemade jerky? Also, as the OP pointed out, it's looking like a good foraging season for mushrooms - dehydrated or powdered mushrooms!

I'm glad I wasn't the only one having a conversation with the contestants! I'm curious, because there is is much that they bake that I have NO CLUE about, if other chatters have found certain bakes to be frustrating in the same way.

Bakes! we're all using that now. 

I found myself wondering why Ruby was the only one who used little parchment tabs to help her remove those pesky custard tarts that everyone had such trouble with. Seems obvious that you'd need something!

I think the time they had for that challenge was very short, so maybe there wasn't really enough time for pre-baking? Just a guess. I was impressed they were able to get a whole pie done in 2 hours, since that's usually about how long I take to get the dough made, chilled, rolled, and chilled again. Signed, GBB-O addict.

I know, that time was really tight! Especially because most pies need a ton of time to cool down. I questioned the setup as well, but hey, it makes for interesting TV.

Signed, Fellow GBBO addict.

I admit, I've already watched that episode more than a *few* times now ("Hello, my name is Kristen and I'm a GBBO addict") and I was astonished at the time limit on that challenge. I think I would have needed an extra few minutes to keep that crust from getting soggy!

I'm a firm believer in the Dorie Greenspan shortcut: roll out the dough right away, fit it into the pie plate, then refrigerate. Cuts out a step, and I havent noticed any lesser quality of the crust. 

We are trying to eliminate flour from our diet -- not completely, but we wanted to try making tortillas from chick-pea flour. Do you have any advice on how to do this? Will they stay flexible enough after cooking to use as wraps or tacos?

Try using that farinata recipe as a base, but pour a much thinner layer into a crepe-sized pan. I can't imagine why that wouldn't work! (In fact, I may try that myself...)

Look to indian recipes for inspiration. There are dozens of blogs out there with great recipes for vegan dishes. I like Manjula's kitchen (she has some recipes with paneer but you can sub tofu) and also Holy Cow and Anupy Singla at

So, to get aquafaba, all I need to do is open a can of chickpeas and catch the liquid I would normally drain away? That's it?

Yes, it's crazy, right? That's all there is to it. And it freezes beautifully to be reconstituted later. I freeze it in ice cube trays and then put the cubes into a Ziploc bag for later use -- works perfectly!

Vegan meets paleo and decides that aquafaba is good but the legumes themselves are bad. Please, get us that remainders article STAT!

Ha! Yes, I can see that, too. Please, no!

My mom is coming in to town to watch our baby while we take a much-needed vacation. I'd like to prepare some dishes in advance for her. Any suggestions? She will eat almost anything, but doesn't like baked pasta. I'm already planning a sweet potato chili. Thanks!

Nice mom! I think you mom will give thanks for your thanks if you make her one of Pati Jinich's Mexican casseroles.

Mushroom and Rice Casserole (Cazuela de Arroz con Hongos)

ARTICLE: Make It, Freeze It, Take It: The Mexican casserole

A few months ago there was an article about a tool/machine that is great for canning but doesn't require you to do the water-bath but will seal the jars w/o risk of bacteria. Does this sound familiar? I'd love to can but am afraid of all the steps and this sounded like the perfect tool for a novice or someone just not wanting to deal with all the steps. Thanks!

I'm not sure that there is a safe way to seal the jars with out some of the steps. This year, things have gotten more streamlined as the Ball Jar company put out new recommendations that make the process much easier. It is no longer necessary to boil the empty jars before filling. Just wash in warm soapy water and fill. Also, it's not necessary to warm the lids, either. Two fewer steps!

There is also the Ball Countertop Canner

Bought some at Fresh World on impulse and am now drawing a blank.

Do farmers in other countries use glyphosate? In US I strictly adhere to no gluten diet, although I love bread. I am not allergic to gluten, but 15-20 minutes after I eat a sandwich arthritis pain in my hands becomes intolerable. I forget that I have arthritis when I don't taste/eat bread for a while. However, in Europe, and recently in Peru I ate bread and pastries everyday, and had no side effects.

Yes, glyphosate is used all over the world.

Thanks for the link. Based on the photos, I'm thinking it might have been Cerignola.

There you go. 

For the reader who hit up the farmers' market, this ratatouille recipe is excellent and can be made with canned tomatoes if need be. This comes from our local CSA

I will try this, and you will hear the cheering (or weeping) all over the greater DC area! But I'll also report back to the chat. You guys are awesome.

Well, you've transferred us to airtight containers and refrigerated us for up to 2 weeks, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and thanks to all our VIP guests today for helping with the a's.

Now for the giveaway books: The chatter who asked about vegan dinner party ideas will get "Crossroads." The one who asked about the tofu-veggie curry (Lemon Pledge!) will get "Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking." Send your mailing info to, and she'll get them to you!

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.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow's first cookbook is "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving" (W.W. Norton). She blogs at
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Tamar Haspel
Tamar Haspel, who farms oysters on Cape Cod and writes about food and science, is author of the monthly Unearthed column, winner of a James Beard Award.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Kristen Hartke
Kristen Hartke is a Washington-based food writer and editor. She wrote this week's story about aquafaba.
Recent Chats
  • Next: