Free Range on Food: Easy twists on latkes, how to use anchovies, this week's recipes and more.

Nov 28, 2018

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 the chat! 

Hope you've recovering from T-Day and are enjoying what we threw your way this week, including:

Tim's deep dive into the company trying to "grow" bluefin tuna in the lab.

Bonnie's take on a latke shortcut: Starting with pre-shredded frozen hash-brown potatoes. The results are delicious, and the process so much easier.

Becky's look at Yotam Ottolenghi's pantry suggestions, along with recipes from his new book "Simple."

Tamar's column on preservatives: why we are so worried about them, and why we pretty much shouldn't be.

A head start on our cookie extravaganza, coming in print a week from today: Becky's take on the 9 ESSENTIAL cookies everyone needs to know how to bake. Good stuff.

So much more -- recipes, how-tos, reviews, more!

We'll have a giveaway book for our favorite chatter today: Guess what? It's "The Washington Post Cookbook"! 

And for you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR9599 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

OK, let's do this!

Would vegetable shortening (e.g., Crisco) work as a vegan replacement for butter in your Brown Sugar Shortbread recipe? If not, what vegan substitute would you recommend? 

It would work, but given that there's so much butter in these, and shortbread in general has a buttery flavor, I'd instead use a vegan butter like Earth Balance or, even better, if you can find it, Miyoko's Cultured (vegan) Butter. It's salted, so I'd leave out the salt in the recipe if you use the latter.

Hi, thanks so much for doing these chats! Is there a good place in the District to pick up Burrata (to take home)? I had high hopes for the market at Centrolina but they didn't seem to carry it. Should I try making it myself?

Love love love burrata. I've gotten it at Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's also carries it. Another option is A Litteri. They're out of stock at the moment but should be getting it in later this week. It's also at Officina, the new market/cafe/restaurant from chef Nick Stefanelli at the Wharf.

Having a few bad experiences from buying burrata from a chain grocery, I would also check with Italian markets like Cornucopia in Bethesda, Vace in Cleveland Park, Salumeria 2703 in Brookland, the Italian Store in Arlington and others.

I went on a family vacation to Iceland in early November and made the pilgrimage to Braud & Co. Twice. I even hauled home a seeded rye sourdough loaf and oven dried it in cubes for stuffing. I am going to cry when the stuffing is all gone and I blame Kara for mentioning Braud with such praise that I remembered it when I went. Are there any known recipe sources for actual or copycat versions of their cinnamon buns or anything else that they make? I'm fantasizing about their baked goods as I submit this question.

This makes me both very happy and extremely sad, because I know exactly how you feel. I emailed them a while ago to try to get a recipe (for the blueberry buns topped with licorice), but they didn't respond. SIGH. Worth a followup, I'd say! 

(By the way, I've converted part of my sourdough starter into a rye starter so that I can attempt to make this Danish rye bread, which looks quite similar to a Braud & Co. loaf that I lugged back.)

To make latkes gluten free, what type of g.f. flour would you substitute for the 1/3 cup in Bonnie’s recipe?

A cup-for-cup blend that you find in most grocery stores is always the safest bet!

RECIPE: Hash Brown Latkes With Caramelized Onions


I have half a bag of whole cranberries left over. Any suggestions?

Make a giant Christmas tree for your living room? (Kidding!)


We have a number of good recipes for cranberries in the database. Among them:

Figgy Cranberry Sauce (good for leftovers and any turkey sandwich)


Cranberry-Almond Crisp

Or even: Cranberry-Ginger Punch


I'm a big fan of Yotam- particularly Plenty, which I honestly use at least once a week. But a confession- I still havent bought preserved lemons- I usually just sub in lemon juice/lemon zest when he calls for it. My reasoning- I have no idea what are the good/bad brands when it comes to preserved lemons, and their relatively high price point has me wary of making a bad purchase. Can you recommend a good brand for preserved lemons, or point me in the direction of a good recipe?


ARTICLE: 11 ingredients to add to your pantry and channel Ottolenghi’s favorite flavors

Afraid I don't have a favorite brand. We currently have a jar of Les Moulins Mahjoub Natural Preserved Lemons in the food lab, just $6.99 at Whole Foods. You do get a briny, salty flavor that you'll definitely miss out by just using peel and/or zest.

You can definitely make your own!

RECIPE: Quick Preserved Lemons At Arlington Courthouse Farmers' Market and Mom's--great stuff!


I have a large box of instant mashed potato flakes that I bought for a parker house roll recipe, but now I am wondering whether there are any other ways to use them up (aside from the obvious).

You could use them to make latkes!

Crunchy Parsnip-Carrot Latkes

RECIPE: Crunchy Parsnip-Carrot Latkes

Also thinking you could add a tablespoon to any ol' bread recipe you might be making, although you then might need to adjust the liquid a bit. 

Chatters, any other ideas?

They're a great thickener, for soups! 

Hi! I grew up in PA where hunting was popular and always refused to try venison. Now that I'm a more adventurous eater I'd like to try it when I'm home for the holidays. Do you have any ideas of how to cook it?

Does that mean you got the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving off due to hunting season starting? :)

Here are a few from the archives to try. I've also had ground venison in chili, so you might try that as well.

Venison Tenderloin With Blackberry Brandy Beurre Blanc

RECIPE: Venison Tenderloin With Blackberry Brandy Beurre Blanc

Hunter's Stew (Bigos)

RECIPE: Hunter's Stew (Bigos)

Kefta Kebabs

RECIPE: Kefta Kebabs

I made turkey quesadillas the other night, with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It's a really easy recipe that I cut out of an El Paso newspaper when visiting Texas almost 20 years ago. Is there a way I can submit this recipe to you guys for inclusion in the WaPo recipe collection?

No promises, but we'd be happy to look. Send to

I impulse-bought an Instant Pot on Black Friday and am excited to break it out tonight. I'm planning to make a black bean and chorizo stew as the inaugural recipe, but do you have any suggestions of good non-dairy recipes to try in the future?

Big fan of this honey sesame chicken. (It also works well with chicken thighs instead of breasts.)

Pressure Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

RECIPE: Pressure Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

I cheat for Caesar salad. I buy refrigerated Caesar salad dressing and then I buy anchovy paste. I add anchovy paste, black pepper, lemon juice, garlic, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard for my taste. It works for a fast substitute on a weekday. I then add shaved Parmesan to the Romaine salad and toss with dressing. I will be glad when Romaine is safe to eat.

Sure thing! You're really missing only the egg and oil from the classic recipe, but if this helps you do it more often, good!

RECIPE: Retro Caesar Salad

Thanks in advance for responding -- Is it safe to use cutlery that has small pits? I've started to notice them on some knives, forks and spoons from assorted sets so it's not just that a particular set is wearing out. The internet hasn't yielded a definitive answer so we're pulling them from circulation as the problem arises. Careful hand-cleaning doesn't remove the black or dark-gray inside the pits so presumably that's whatever metal is underneath the shiny exteriors. Also, is this inevitable or avoidable? The cutlery is sorted into different baskets in the dishwasher and no lemon-scented dishwasher soap is ever used.

Bonnie says:

Pitch them. It will keep happening and has created a porous surface.

Hey. You guys have convinced me! I'm getting my husband, who loves slow cooking, an Instant Pot for Christmas. My question is--if you had to limit yourself to two cookbooks for it, which two would you choose? As you've noted, there are some terrific-seeming ones out there, but my Christmas budget does have some limits. Thanks!

Bonnie says:

“The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook” by Coco Merante and "Instantly French" by Ann Mah.

ARTICLE: As the Instant Pot goes mainstream, a crush of cookbooks follows

Obviously you members of the Food staff share recipes. And we love you for it. But do you keep some recipes secret? Readers, how about you? This is on my mind because when I asked for recipes at a friend's bring-a-dish Thanksgiving dinner this year, the two people I asked gave a resounding No! One was "a family recipe" only shared inside the family, and the other was simply "secret - I'll never tell!" Of course I let it drop but I was surprised because I always share recipes, not that I'm asked for that many.

There's only one scenario in which I don't share a recipe: I made something off the cuff and didn't write anything down, so there is no recipe! Happy to talk it out and somebody can take notes, but there's not always time to write something down. Other than that, why on earth wouldn't you share? I guess it's some kind of ego/power thing, but honestly...

I always want to share! It's like the biggest compliment I can get when someone asks for a recipe. I feel like most of us on staff have already shared lots of family recipes. I know I've got more than a few in the Recipe Finder.

My Dutch oven, a Cooks Illustrated’s budget pick about 15 years ago, has been a good little workhorse, but it was very inexpensive and it’s in sad shape. I’m ready to upgrade to Le Creuset. Your recent gift guide recommended a 7 1/4 quart. I’m a solo household with an occasional need to cook larger meals. 7 1/4 quarts just seems large. Any drawbacks to sizing down that I might not be thinking about?

It might be a tighter fit for very large batches of soup or big cuts of meat. But I have a 5 1/2-quart at home and that's worked well for me.

gift guide

ARTICLE: 14 Essential Kitchen Gifts

Hello! Self-professed recipe non-follower here (as in I use recipes for inspiration but my brain cannot seem to follow the actual instructions [which is why I don't bake])... I successfully made potato/zucchini pancakes this weekend that my kids actually ate and loved. <gasp> This week's latke recipe, as well as others I've found online, lists baking powder as an ingredient. What does the baking powder do? I didn't use it this weekend and it was a success so I'm trying to decide whether I should add baking powder or just leave it alone. Thanks!

It makes them a little lighter and less dense, giving the mix a little lift. But there's no reason to mess with success, unless you feel like experimenting!

I get the idea of the frozen potatoes, but for me part of the charm is the preparation. I know, that makes me a masochist. But it's spending time with people while doing the work, too. I use a food processor, so no scraped knuckles.

Bonnie says: 

Good for you. You can spend time caramelizing the onions! Potatoes in the food processor give off even more moisture to get rid of — for me, anyway.

ARTICLE: The easy way to make the best latkes starts in the freezer aisle

They could not be easier to make and definitely have a "fresher" taste when homemade. You can also add in some spices--see Paula Wolfert's recipe.

Just got this from the library and have a very well stocked pantry BUT black garlic??? - there are recipes to make it out there all of which say it takes three weeks and stinks up the surroundings. For preserved lemons, on the other hand, it is really simple to make your own ( and they don't smell) whole lemons, salt, jar,+time.

Not saying you have to make the black garlic. You can buy it. It's carried in the produce section of some supermarkets these days. We got ours at Whole Foods.

Make more Parker House rolls? Or if you didn't like them, add a little to other yeast-bread recipes.

Im looking for options that dont include mushrooms or corn. Would like something different but any suggestion is welcome!

Was just seeing our friend Pati Jinich promoting some sweet potato and black been tamales she made for Joe. I think that would be a good combo in an empanada, too.

Absolutely, it's a classic pairing. Throw in a little chipotle for a trifecta!

How long can they be held after cooking? Every Sunday we have a family dinner with everyone bringing a dish. I need to finish cooking an hour before and transport the food. Usually don't need to reheat since I have an insulated bag. BTW most weeks I make a WP recipe - they are well received.

Bonnie says:

That insulated bag will render them uncrispy.

I would just place on an unlined baking sheet and reheat in the oven upon arrival if possible.

Crispy latkes = not bad at room temp!


Hi food section! I have been reading the book Zahav and am wondering where I can purchase tahina like the kind described in the book. Also, do you have any favorite recipes from that book or other favorite Israeli recipes? Thank you!!

Yes, Amy Shelby and Jackie Zitelman are the sisters behind Soom Foods, and they're also the ones responsible for the tahini used at Zahav. They sell the product online, too, for mere mortals like you and me.


Keep in mind, however, that tahini products by Achdut LTD of Ariel, Israel, specifically tahini products made between April 7 to May 21 of this year (including those by Soom), have been recalled from the FDA for potential salmonella contamination. Achdut's tahini produced after May 21 is apparently safe.

If you're ever going to make bread, you'll want the larger dutch oven. i use mine a lot for that.

I always share but but understood why one might not to when my sister shared a recipe of mine with her friend who then posted it on her for- profit commercial website, and give my sister credit. ALso, agree with JOe, can't share if there wasn't a recipe, but do try to tell someone who is kind enough to ask what I can

I should add: When I'm developing recipes for publication, either cookbook or Post, I hesitate to share BEFORE it's been published, unless it's a good friend, especially if there's a chance there will be changes. Although I have roped people into testing this way!

Just saw a talk-show host read instructions from somewhere saying turkey and even stuffing from Thanksgiving are no longer safe to eat and should be thrown out. What?! I figure if it feels and tastes okay, it is, plus doesn't reheating kill any bacteria?

Personally, I'd be ready to pass at this point. From the USDA:

Not enough consumers know that food can become unsafe in the refrigerator after four days. In fact, 31 percent of participants in our recent research indicated they would eat leftovers kept longer than four days in the refrigerator. After four days, spoilage bacteria can cause food to develop a bad smell or taste.

And some bacteria won't even give off a bad smell or taste, soooo... yeah.

Especially when you consider that for most of us, the food is out longer than the standard four-hour restriction on the day anyhow, yeah, time to toss!

Consider weight too. I finally got rid of mine, as washing it was too onerous! I swear it aggravated my tendonitis.

Good point. They are pretty heavy.

I have been buying it from Earthy Delights for years. And I was pleased to see that my pantry already holds 8 out of the ten items listed by Ottolenghi!

I purchased some frozen Brussels sprouts to ice an injury (long story and they were on sale). Is there anyway that I can make them taste good now that I am done with their first purpose?

They're still in the bag, yes? ;-) 

Crank up the oven to 450, preheat a large rimmed baking sheet in there. While it's heating, toss them (still frozen) in olive oil, salt and your favorite spice or blend -- I like smoked paprika, of course -- and then onto the preheated sheet, and roast (making sure they're in one layer, not touching) until they're nicely browned. 

I know this is TMI, but my husband had that surgery you get when you don't want any more kids, and we went through a whole bunch of frozen corn and peas. They were fine after they served their purpose.

Again, you left them IN THE BAG, yes???

I stopped sharing recipes when I got blowback when the requester's result wasn't exactly like the one they'd tasted. I have several recipes that others want, and which are written down with all the extras, but I don't share. Unless you are willing to committ the time and ingredients to make something with me, you don't get the recipe.

If you were going to keep your Thanksgiving leftovers this long, why didn't you just freeze them?

I wrote in last week wondering about baking the pumpkin caramel tart in a tart pan instead of a pie plate, and I wanted to report back that it worked just fine. In fact, the amount of filling was perfect for my 9-inch tart pan. I was surprised. One hiccup: I swapped out the hazelnut crust for a speculoos cookie crust. It tasted great, but during baking, butter and sugar oozed out through the bottom of the tart pan. I didn't realize this and let the tart cool completely. When I went to slide the side of the pan off, I found it had been cemented to the bottom with hardened caramel! Next time, I'll remove the tart while it's still slightly warm.

Awesome, thanks for the report! Good to know the filling amount was just right. Just be careful with a warm tart, I'd be worried about it not being cool enough to stay together when being popped out. I do wonder if maybe there was a little too much filling, and that's why you had some seepage. The recipe does call for lining the springform pan with parchment and that might not be a bad thing to consider with the tart pan, too.

Pumpkin-Caramel Tart With Toasted Hazelnut Crust

RECIPE: Pumpkin-Caramel Tart With Toasted Hazelnut Crust

I have three in various sizes, but as a singleton, I find the smallest most useful (is that the 5qt?). But I love being able to haul out the bigger ones when I have a huge item to make. I plan to bequeath them to my grandnieces and nephews in my will.

I'm sure this question has been asked before so I apologize in advance. I'm getting bored with my recipes and cookbooks. What are some of your favorite recipe blogs or websites other then the Washington Post which I use frequently! For reference, I prefer simple and fewer ingredients recipes and don't have any dietary restrictions. Thanks!

I think you'd like Smitten Kitchen and Simply Recipes if you don't follow them already.

Well-deserved, for feeding tens of thousands of people following disasters like hurricanes and wildfires. 

At this point, so many people have emailed and tweeted about how influential José Andrés has been in their lives. He may or may not win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he's won lots of hearts already.


ARTICLE: José Andrés is nominated for a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, congressman confirms.

My $.02 - I have a 4.5 QT Le Creuset oval and I love it. I've made bread, baked whole chickens, soups and stews in mine. I entertain so yes, every once in a while I wish I had a larger one, but day-to-day, I think mine is perfect. If I ever get a larger one I'd probably go to 5.5 QT but that 7 Qt oven is a monster, and really heavy.

I've been invited to a potluck party with the theme "Tofu that is not Boring". The host is probably partially joking and did say that it's fine to cook/bring something else, but I'm happy to attempt a tofu dish. The problem is I only cook with tofu a few times a year so every time I use it it's novel to me, which means I have no idea what's "boring" vs. not. Any suggestions for something interesting that's also pretty easy to make and can ideally be accomplished with stuff I can get at a regular grocery store?

Wait... are you telling me there might be a way to have my blue fin mercury free while pregnant?! I miss it so much!

Well, if you're pregnant 10 years from now, yes. Or maybe.


ARTICLE: A new way to fish: Can we save the prized bluefin tuna, and its habitat, by growing it in a lab?

After last week's spate of stories about malfunctioning appliances I had to laugh- My brother always carves our turkey but is not usually involved in anything else. FOR A REASON. This year he decided to be helpful and poured all of the drippings/grease/fat/ whatever ends up in the bottom of the turkey roasting pan down the drain... a drain that already doesn't work very well and leads to a septic tank. I remain surprised that my mom didn't have a heart attack (and that the sink still seems to be working)

Good luuuuuuuuck.

As a matter of fact I was talking about this the other day at work, because we publish forecasts and someone asked us for our formula. My boss said we would look into it. He told us later that if we give away our formula, people might stop buying our forecasts. He said that's why his grandmother never told anyone her secret recipes: they wouldn't ask her to cook anymore. One of our team members said that her grandmother took some of her secrets to the grave, and they had fun trying to duplicate them. No one ever managed to pull it off, but there were four different yummy versions of her signature dishes.

I seriously doubt that if your grandmother gave away her recipes nobody would ask her to cook anymore. People are lazy. By this logic, every restaurant that has published a cookbook would be out of business, and far from it.

I have used almost all the options and they still aren't the same. Joe -- do you make Latkes? Anyone do them egg free? They kind of stick together when I just leave the egg out, but ...they just aren't the same. (I looked at that latke recipe, carmelizing, might have to try that!)

Have you tried aquafaba, from a can of chickpeas? Flax egg?

I have some experience with this in my own family! My mum's side of the family always did a cookie exchange at the Christmas dinner. My uncle (by marriage) always brought his family's Belgian waffle cookies -- and they were my favourites! From the time I was seven (first year I had them) through when I left for university, I would ask him for the recipe. The answer was always no. It belonged to his family, and would be passed to his children, but nowhere else. This stung the first few years, but as I grew older, my asking and his declining became something of a joke between us. Imagine my surprise when, the Christmas before I was set to leave for an extended study abroad, my uncle called to ask me if I wanted to help make his waffle cookies! He and my aunt walked me through every step of the recipe -- the traditional one, and the tweaks they'd made -- and showed me how to make them: one at a time, in a special cast-aluminum mold, over a gas range. He even told me which out-of-production mold to look for on eBay! It remains one of my most treasured Christmas memories. Long story even longer -- while it stung at first to be rejected, I grew to understand that the recipe was about more than being a simple cookie -- it was his whole family line and something that was special for them that they could share with the people they loved. I don't mind if people don't want to share and I enjoy letting them have their culinary moment in the sun. OR - Just be their devoted acolyte for 12+ years, and maybe they'll finally let you in on the secret! :D

I'm heading to Iceland for Christmas/the new year. Braud & Co are now on my list. Thank you! Any other recommendations for anything to eat or do? So excited for this trip.

For Reykjavik things: Hot dogs from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (on Tryggvagata 1) for some very cheap and very tasty hot dogs made with lamb, beef and pork; Matur og Drykkur for less cheap but very good "modern" Icelandic food and cocktails; Reykjavik Roasters for coffee (went to the one on Kárastígur, obviously). Also get shots of Brennivín (distilled spirit flavored with caraway) because you will need it. And check out the Reykjavik Grapevine for lots of food, drink and cultural picks and tid bits from locals. (You'll probably see printed copies of that in various bars/restaurants/shops around town.)

For things to do, HIGHLY recommend the punk museum. We also went to an improv show (in English! it was amazing and awkward and wonderful) and I want to say it was by Improv Ísland because that's what's coming up when I google, but not exactly sure. We just sorta stumbled upon that one.

And also, you know, nature stuff.

Are you going elsewhere/outside Reykjavik? If so, could dig up a few other recommendations. 

Two parter: my brother has recently expressed an interest in learning to bake bread (probably pretty simple ones, like white loaves, to start), do you have any suggestions for a good basic bread cookbook? And my uncle loves candy, and makes a pretty good peanut brittle, any thoughts on good candy cookbooks?

I'm a fan of the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" series for beginners. Other authors to consider: Peter Reinhart, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Jim Lahey and Jeffrey Hamelman. America's Test Kitchen also had a bread book a few years ago that I really like.

Stella Parks's "Brave Tart" book has a bunch of good candy recipes in it, along with many other fabulous sweets.

I'm going in March. Where do I find this bread you speak of?!?!

Braud & Co. Tell them to email me back please. :)

He's doing amazing wonderful work. I do wonder that he's not at the US-Mexico border now keeping people fed ... but I suppose he'd be criticized for it.

I think he'd argue that's a man-made disaster, not a natural one. :) 

So you would have to go to Epicurious (sorry WaPo!) but they have a wonderful Cranberry Spice cake - it has become a favorite at my work. It makes a 8x8 cake and has a wonderful lemon glaze that adds just the right bit of tartness.

I use the "deer roast" my hunting friends give me to make stew the same way I'd make beef stew. Always good but doesn't especially highlight the flavor. In other words, it tastes exactly like beef stew. For what that's worth.

Someone I used to know refused for years to share his recipe for key lime pie, which I'd never eaten before. He made the pie for every pot luck we attended and always got oohs and ahs. Turned out the recipe was on the bottle of key lime juice!

Love this.

I have a mexican cookbook and there's a recipe in there that uses chick peas as the filling. Some onion and some mexican spices -- it adds a little cream but since we've gone dairy free, I sometimes add a little coconut milk, sometimes not. and some walnuts. cook it up on the stove, put it in the food processor and it's good to go. I couldn't find anything on line that even comes close to the recipe. I hope that helps!


They might just be embarrassed because you thought it was some big/complicated project and in reality its vanilla cake mix combined with some other ingredient and cooked in a snowflake shaped pan for presentation. Or they bought and don't want to tell you.


My 9 year old loves to bake. We're both big fans of the Great British Bake Off and Kids Baking Challenge. And while baking is something I love to do with him, I'm trying to allow him to do more on his own. I'd love to get him a baking themed gift for Hanukkah. Any suggestions? I was thinking maybe a cookbook with fun, but approachable recipes. Maybe some recipes he could do all by himself. I have considered getting him his own starter kit of measuring cups, bowls, spatulas etc. But because I love to bake as well, we already have all of the basics. And it seems silly to store an extra set of everything just so he can have his name on it. But if there is some special tool that might be cool for him, I'm open to suggestion. Thanks.

It's not geared to kids, but "Mary Berry's Baking Bible" has a lot of great recipes that are not that hard (some are more complicated, but he can move on to those later). It's a great book. And with the GBBO connection, I'm sure he'd be thrilled.

Does he have an apron? You could buy him a "star baker" themed one on Etsy perhaps. Not sure if it is up his alley, but for anyone wondering, series illustrator Tom Hovey sells prints of his drawings.

He also might enjoy a baking cooking class!

I bought 4 salad dressings in the spring of 2017 because they were on sale and I loved this type of dressing. It then disappeared into the vast black pit of our cabinet only to be found yesterday. The dressings say they expired in August of 2017. Maybe that's why they were on sale, ha. Would you eat these and risk food poisoning? The dressings are a miso-ginger type and a sun dried tomato vinaigrette. Thanks :)

Personally, I'd dump the contents of those bottles down the drain and toss the containers into the recycling bin. I wouldn't place bets on my health with year-old salad dressings.

I bet they had a best-by, not an actual expiration date, on them. In that case, you can definitely eat them safely after the date has passed -- the date is about peak quality, not safety. I see highly variable info out there on the Interwebs, from a few months to a year after the date has passed.

Thank you! the refrito beans and sweet potato + chipotle sounds great. I will be using canned refrito beans...unless theres an easy way to get that creamy dreamy texture at home.

Cue the Ina meme: Store-bought is fine.

Or check out the strategy in here:

 Poblano, Mushroom and Refried Bean Tortas

RECIPE: Poblano, Mushroom and Refried Bean Tortas

We had so many many that my mom shoved all of the stuffing we had left into my hands as I was leaving the house. I now have a huge bowl of stuffing. I already had my share at Thanksgiving but I don't want to keep eating it as is (am so sick of it) but also don't want to waste it. So I'm hoping you can help me answer two questions: (1) Is the stuffing still good? I think my mom made it Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. (2) Is there any way I can reuse the stuffing?

Honestly? A week later? I would just toss it. USDA says 4 days, so we're definitely past that point.

In future years, you could have some fun making stuffing waffles.

Also endorse stuffing waffles for next year. (And know that a little maple syrup stirred into gravy is an excellent stuffing waffle topper.)

But, I used the last of our turkey on a sandwich for my lunch today. It's been sitting out since I got to work this morning but I think it will be fine.

You do you!

Ha! Reminds me of that friends episode where Phoebe and Monica were trying to figure out Phoebe's grandmother's cookie recipe. And it was on the back of the tollhouse chocolate chip package the whole time!

My adult son is finally graduating from cup-a-noodles & frozen pizza to simple cooking. Is there a good cookbook or blog to give him for Christmas? Perhaps ones that have just a few ingredients/simple instructions? Bonus if it includes pointers for basic cooking skills.  :) :) :)

As far as books, I'm a big fan of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Plus you can point him to the Netflix show.

Wait...what? I didn't know you could do this. I have been trying to make bread and fail every single time. Both bread recipes I've tried told me to use either a bread pan or the glass bowl thing. Every time, my bread just does not come out well. It's all dense and everyone's answer is either "you proofed it too long" or "you didn't proof it enough." WHAT ARE YOUR SECRETS?!?!?!

Well, it is possible your proofing is off, but the Dutch oven is nice because it helps create and trap steam. Check out this blog from King Arthur Flour.

Well, someone thinks that California's recent Camp Fire was man-made, due to a failure to rake the forest floor.

I believe it's the same man who said that the cold weather proves that "global warming" is exaggerated.


But maybe we need to get back on topic. :)

Oh, I completely agree. I'm sorry I didn't make that clear: I think that this was an irrational fear, and a lot of people might hold it even though it isn't very rational. Of course, she might also have been pulling her grandson's leg.

Many years ago a friend gave me and several others her signature cake recipe. Easy peasy, essentially a dump cake, but with a twist on the method that made it super delicious. She was in her third bout of cancer, wanted to share it because she wasn't able to make it that year, and asked up never to divulge the recipe. Turned out she lived another 15+ years. But I made it for every family gathering and work potluck, it was always requested. Several years after she died, I gave the recipe to a few people and stopped making it myself (moved on to new recipes). I don't anyone has made it. Once they found out it cost about $20 to make because it had bourbon and butterscotch chips in it, they passed. Okay when I was making it though!

Not sure how I missed this but it looks amazing. Guy I live with is allergic to Hazelnuts and Almonds, would this tart serve in a 'regular' pie crust?

Sure. I think a gingersnap or graham cracker press-in crust would be awesome too. Actually, I'd probably go with one of those over the regular crust. Will give you a texture more akin to the hazelnut shortbread.

I followed your advice from last week's chat on how to get crispy skin on the turkey: leave it uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. It was a great success. My family ate all the skin off the turkey long before it hit the dinner table.

Is the steel cut oatmeal I bought from a bulk bin last winter still good? The weather seems to call for it.

Steel-cut oats, like other grains, can go rancid, but you'll know with a smell. If it smells fine, go for it.

I'm not sure if there's a difference between potato pancakes and latkes other than the name but when I make mine I use those dehydrated hash browns from Costco that come in a little milk carton. They work well for me.

another plug for miyoko's butter- it's AMAZING. almost all of her products are exceptional, but especially the butter and vegan mozzarella. enjoy!

It's a cake recipe that I'd bake and bring to an office where I long ago worked, and for which I always received compliments. One of my co-workers was a particularly unpleasant individual who kept pestering me for the recipe. I knew that she'd usurp the recipe, i.e., make it to bring to our office and try to one-up me by making hers fancier -- this was her modus operandi with others, and I didn't want to give her the satisfaction. When she later quit, she still didn't have the recipe from me.

I see! There are definitely extenuating circumstances. You did the right thing. I might've been tempted to give her a version slightly changed in a really crucial way...

What are the ingredients? If it's a basic oil and vinegar I'd taste it to see if it's still good. Something with yougart/cream etc I would toss, even if it's been been sealed with preservatives.

Ooh, ooh -- you can make Jim Lahey's no-bake bread in a Dutch oven! It's so easy. And I'm always amazed by how good the bread is for so little work. I often add herbs (love herbs de provence for this) or roasted garlic or caramelized onions to the dough to spice it up a bit.

In search of a really good recipe for spiced nuts (or something of that ilk) to give as holiday gifts (love cookies, we just all get so many!). Thoughts?

Everyone in the office loved these. They're shiny and very pretty. (And crunchy and addictively spicy.)

Maple Spiced Glazed Nuts

RECIPE: Maple Spiced Glazed Nuts

I've really been enjoying Little Spice Jar lately.

I always share - years from now, friends and relatives will tell their friends and relatives where they got the recipe for my grandmother's exquisite hot milk cake. It will become their cake. If you don't share recipes, they die with you.

So true! I made my family's pumpkin cake for my husband's great aunt, and she made it and took it to her knitting circle. Everyone asked for the recipe, and now she thinks it's all over Nantucket. I love that.

A former friend served the same, delicious chicken casserole every time. Finally swapped her recipe with me in exchange for my specialty dish. Except it didn't taste as good when I made it. A mutual friend asked me if I'd correctly incorporated the herbs. The recipe I was given omitted the herbs!


I am happy to recipe share most times with most people, but have been burned more than once by people asking for recipes for the things that are my potluck/party go-tos, then promptly starting to claim 'dibs' on making them for the same events. And they were in fact old family recipes (ie. not common), and ones that were routinely popular. So I have become both person and recipe selective on sharing that way. Burn me once, shame on you etc.

You can buy it at MOMs and Whole Foods if you want to avoid shipping costs. (I just bought a jar of the chocolate tahini at MOMs ... so good!)

The chocolate tahini doesn't appear on the FDA recall list, so you look to be in the clear!

Are your sure your friends aren't messiing with you and giving you store bought beef instead of venison??? I get venison for stew from my friends who hunt and its doesn't taste like beef stew when I make it.

We bought our daughter the same type of apron they wear on Kids Baking Championship last year and it was a big hit!

My wife is making stock with our turkey bones. She's several steps ahead of me and could probably answer this question, but I'll put it to you: What do you use turkey stock for? By which I mean, I understand chicken broth and beef broth. But turkey broth? For what?

We've been using it in place of chicken broth around the Food Lab, since we are figuratively swimming in quarts of turkey broth from all the turkeys that Bonnie tested. Use it anywhere you'd use broth, really!

Lately my cookies have been coming out flat, spreading way too much. I have researched for possible causes but without much success. I usually bake with Earth Balance. My question is: should I always start with softened or room temperature margarine? Only a few of my recipes indicate that I should have it out of the refrigerator for a while before creaming it with the sugar.

I think it really does depend on the recipe. I don't have a ton of experience baking with Earth Balance, so I'm going to work under the assumption that the principles are largely the same as with butter. If you're creaming, you don't want the butter too hard, but you also don't want it too soft. Either will affect how much air you can incorporate during creaming. Not enough if too cold, and if too warm, things are just going to start to melt.

I've started sticking to Stella Parks's recommendation of cool room temp for the butter (65 to 70 degrees, if you have a thermometer to check, use it!). Should be somewhat pliable but not very soft. Like you can make a fingerprint indent, but not a huge crater.

Also just make sure you are creaming for long enough. Like at least 5 minutes, or more. Alex Levin once told me he thinks people always under-cream, and I know it has been true for me in the past.

Make sure your oven is not running too hot, as well. And you can always stack baking sheets for a bit of extra protection.

Does the chatter mean "no-knead"?

Ha, yes! No-bake would be, um.

Well, you've transferred us to a wire rack to drain, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's! 

Now for our cookbook winner: The chatter who told about the key lime pie recipe being on the jar will get "The Washington Post Cookbook" -- you can share these recipes with EVERYONE. Send your mailing info to, and she'll get it 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.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
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 the lead writer for Voraciously.
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