Free Range on Food: New Year's nibbles, Russian dressing and more

Baby Onions Monegasque, one of our featured recipes for your party to welcome 2015.
Dec 24, 2014

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 our Christmas Eve edition of Free Range! All you souls who are at your computer on the holiday (or pre-holiday, or non-holiday, depending on your deal) can while away the time asking us questions about holiday cooking, goat, Russian vs. Thousand Island, or anything else that strikes your fancy. What do you have on tap for NYE? Cooking anything? Bonnie collected some spectacular nibbles

We've got John Holl in the house, he of this week's Russian-dressing story (and plenty of knowledge about beer, beer, beer, btw). And we regulars are here to tackle anything you want to throw our way.

We'll have giveaway books for our favorite chatters, so make your queries good!

Great article - I enjoy Anup Kaphle's foreign policy work for the WaPo and always enjoy his weekly recaps of what he made for the weekend. I'm curious how he went about writing the recipe, since I can't imagine he ever bothers to measure spices and oil. Did one of the Food section writers stand next to him with measuring spoons, or did Mr. Kaphle do all of the measuring and recipe writing?

Glad you liked the piece! Did you see Anup on video cooking goat?

To answer your question, Anup says this:

 

On an everyday basis, I never use measuring spoons because learning to cook these recipes came from watching my parents do it over years. Not to sound cheesy, but my mother often referred to "measuring with your eyes" when adding spices to dishes she was cooking. But writing a recipe for an American audience is different. So I carefully took notes with a measuring spoon, how much of each ingredient I was using in both the dishes we prepared for the story. So, yes, I did all of the measuring and recipe writing on my own. 

ARTICLE: The bridge that connects America with my homeland? Goat.

RECIPE: Goat Curry

RECIPE: Blackened Goat

And I helped. :)

My grandparents always ordered Russian Dressing in restaurants, but since they were always given Thousand Island, I generally assumed it was the same thing, but with sweet relish. Seeing the horseradish in the recipe for the real stuff, no wonder it was their favorite - my family are big horseradish people. I can't wait to make it myself. Thanks!

I think that a lot of people generally assume Russian and Thousand Island are the same thing. That was one of the fun parts of reporting out this article.

Over time many restaurants and delis have only had one behind the counter, and most consumers that order Russian get Thousand Island and really don't know the different. It's like ordering a Coke and getting a Pepsi. So, unless it's made in house and not coming from a dressing manufacturer, it's pretty safe to assume these  days that if you order Russian, you're likely getting Thousand Island.

RECIPE Russian Dressing

 

 

 

This question is for Meaghan Wolff. I love this recipe! They are delicious and rich. My question to you is what size pan do you use for the Honey Maple Pecan Bars. I used a smaller cookie tray and the crust was very thick. Should I have used a regular size cookie tray? Thank you, Catherine

The recipe calls for a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet.

 

RECIPE: Honey Maple Pecan Bars

One of my friends was having a debate on facebook about shimp cocktail. Why do some people think that shrimp cocktail is served raw? Just because it is served cold, doesn't mean it is raw.

Wait -- your friend has taken the "raw" position? I see from Googling around that it's something of an Internet poser. For the record, the shrimp is cooked. 

I was going to make this recipe for Citrus-Spiced Mixed Olives. All of the olives on the olive bar at the grocery store are marinated with seasoning. I bought a nice mixture but I'm wondering if this recipe will work or if there will be too much going on with the existing spices. Not sure what's in them - the label on the bar didn't say. Thanks!

There's only one way to find out: Taste those olive-bar olives! See what you think. I suspect that adding just the citrus notes and perhaps the crushed red pepper from the recipe you link to, and serving them warm, might be enough. And good. You're right that the other seasonings might compete. 

The recipe for Pistachio and Feta Dip looks SO GOOD (bonus, I have spare pistachios in the house). Unfortunately, I'm one of those poor souls who doesn't like cilantro (it tastes like soap to me). Leave it out, or swap in something else? Thanks for working Christmas Eve! I feel less alone in my office.

Right you are! It needs the green, so use parsley instead. 

RECIPE Pistachio and Feta Dip

I just found out that we will be hosting my sister and her husband for dinner this evening, and I don't think I have enough food at home to feed all of us. Any thoughts on where I could pick up something like a baguette, salad or pre-made side dish, stuff for a cheese plate in the Penn Quarter/Downtown area before I get on the Metro? Something like Menu MBK or Cowgirl Creamery would have been perfect, and I'm hoping there's something similar around I don't know about. I'm willing to make a few stops but would rather not get off the Metro as I head into MD on the red line. Thanks for any suggestions you may have!

Which direction on the Red Line are you going today? Union Market seems like an obvious choice -- bread from Lyon Bakery, cheese from Righteous Cheese, and salads or sides from any other number of vendors there. At least Righteous Cheese is closing at 3, and the market is having a "soft closing" at 5 p.m. Or you could combine Calvert-Woodley (closing at 6 p.m.) and Bread Furst (closing at 5 p.m.) for cheese, bread, nibbles, sides, etc. I have a feeling many other shops in the area are closing a bit earlier today, at least based on what I've seen in the Twitterverse. Maybe you can run out in the afternoon?

Boiled cider! I've had some thick versions on pancakes before and it's delicious. For extra lemon juice, I'd freeze cubes or chunks to use in brines for poultry.

Good thoughts on both! We even had a recipe for Boiled Cider.

Boiled Cider

I'm a Hyattsville native back home for the holidays. I'm looking for a cooking class to attend with my mother as a Christmas gift since we both love to cook. I'm open to anything in terms of cuisine or scope of the class. I just turned 21, so it might be neat to have something with wine or beer we can enjoy together in a classy manner. I'm working on a budget- are there any classes you suggest that I might be able to get for under or around $40 per person?

I've been doing our cooking class list for years, so I'm pretty familiar with what's out there. Unfortunately, you're really not going to find a full-on cooking class, let alone one with alcohol, in the $40 and under range. Most cooking classes are more in the $70 to $90 range. Now, wine/beer tastings can definitely be had in your budget. Options include Flight Wine Bar, Chain Bridge Cellars, Cheesetique, Sona Creamery and Screwtop Wine Bar. You might also check with your local adult education program. I know Arlington County has one-off classes more in the $40 to $50 range (not with booze, though). 

Is theres a way to substitute those 3 cups of fresh bread crumbs?? Im looking for a low carb friendly ingredient, perhaps mushrooms? coconut flour? THANKS!!

RECIPE Eggplant "Meatballs" in Tomato Sauce

 

This is somewhat risky territory, I'd say. Breadcrumbs do unique things in meatballs and meatloaves (even ones with quote marks around them). I'd say the safest thing to do would be to seek out a low-carb bread, which you can find in some supermarkets these days because of the Paleo phenomenon. For instance, Pepperidge Farm has a line called Carb Style that I've seen in some supermarkets, although I can't point you to exact spots at the moment.

I think TVP (textured vegetable protein) might be a good substitute. That recipe's author, Domenica Marchetti, says bulgur could work as a lower-carb option.

Anyone who thinks shrimp cocktail is raw has never seen a raw shrimp.

Fair point.

I'm a terrible teacher and haven't done well by my children in teaching them to cook. Is there a cookbook designed for beginners with simple recipes as well as explanations of cooking terms (mince vs chop finely, simmer vs boil, etc.)? Ideally recipes would have only a few easily-found ingredients.

The one I recommend all the time is Linda Carucci's paperback "Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks." She's an instructor and does a terrific job in explaining principles and techniques and storage info very well. No fancy recipes. (You might like it, too!)

Are your children fully grown? If not, you should check out ChopChop magazine (and cookbook).

Are there any simple rules of thumb for converting recipes from stove top to slow cooker? I have a steak and mushroom stew that I use to make meat pies and it would be handy to put it in the slow cooker and leave it. I normally cook it for about 90 minutes (after browning, etc).

Here are two rules of thumb Candy Sagon mentioned in her 2009 piece on slow cooking:

1. For every 30 minutes of cooking time in a traditional recipe, cook one hour on high or two hours on low in the slow cooker. (For example, a soup recipe that calls for an hour on the stovetop needs two hours on high or four hours on low in the slow cooker.)

2. Reduce the amount of liquid in the traditional recipe by about one-third for the slow cooker, since there's little to no evaporation in the latter.

Read about it for the first time a couple of days ago and now I want to make it at home. I want really fresh ingredients, particularly de heavy cream. I’m in Rockville and I know that there are dairy farms up north where no public transportation is available. Where can I get fresh cream accessible by public transport? Also any recommendation to do my first batch of cultured butter? I want to try a peanut butter cookie recipe but what other recipe will be great using cultured butter?

You can definitely Metro to a number of markets where you can buy fresh cream. Check out our map. You can look into Clear Spring Creamery at the Sunday Dupont FreshFarm Market. Or Trickling Springs Creamery, which is sold at a variety of locations, including Dawson's Market in Rockville and at the creamery's shop in Union Market.

If I had some really nice butter, I'd maybe use  it in some sugar cookies, biscuits or simply on top of some good bread or pancakes.

Hi Foodies, thanks so much for doing the chat today and Happy Holidays! I'm having guests on the first weekend of the year and would love to use my new Nordic Ware Bundt pan for something impressive. (It's the Heritage swirly one). Can you suggest some delicious options from your archives? thanks so much!

Well, the Tunnel of Fudge is a classic, but I think you'd be quite happy with Lisa Yockelson's Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Cake.

Also, the boozy Irish Whiskey Cake.

 

My family always has a standing rib roast for Christmas. Is there a preferred beer to have along with roasted beef?

You're likely going to have success with a roasty porter. Think about how the roast cooks. Bit of a crust on the outside, with the fat caramelized and maybe even some little black bits, and then inside with the savory juices you'll want a beer that can stand up to both. So a roasty porter will have some of those caramel and deep (but not overpowering) coffee or chocolate flavors. That compliments the outside of the roast. The beer is also a bit sweet, so it will nicely contrast the savory inside. Now I'm hungry. And thirsty.  

It really isn't cooking, but I've been craving Caesar salad, and love it when you're picking up those romaine leaves in your fingers with all the good stuff on them.

Who says it's not cooking? I think the Willard Room's Caesar and David Hagedorn's mom's version are about the best recipes around. 

 

The Russian dressing is a lot like a sauce I make as a creamy seafood dip/sandwich spread, except I add Old Bay to mine. I've heard Thousand Island described as French dressing with sweet relish, but the Russian dressing sounds closer.

Over time a lot of these dressings and sauces, or spreads really all moved towards a center spot. So while there are differences, too often, and sadly, they live in the mind's eye of the eater. I'm going to try adding Old Bay next time I make a crab salad sandwich. Thanks for the tip. 

Joe, Would you consider teaching a beginner class on preparing a Sushi some times in 2015?

You obviously like the look of the Vegetable Nigiri, and I'm glad about that, because I had a blast making them, and they're delicious. But I have to say, I feel woefully underqualified to teach sushi-making in general. Even if it were vegetarian, I'm certainly no master at the making of the vinegared rice or the forming of the rice balls. But you know who is, if you're in the DC area (which I assume you are)? Kaz Okochi at Kaz Sushi Bistro. He teaches classes for groups of 10 to 20; if you can get that many together, email him through the restaurant website!

RECIPE: Vegetable Nigiri

 

This sounds like such a beginner cook question, but how do you keep steamed vegetables from getting cold quickly? It seems every time I make anything steamed, the water just sits in the veggies (despite draining it) and makes it cold in a few minutes flat. Is there any trick that I'm missing? I'd rather not stick it in the oven to keep warm.

Are you steaming them in a bamboo basket or stainless steamer insert? How long do you need to keep them warm?

I'm sure you'll have lots of end-of-year thanks, so wanted to add mine. I spent several months unemployed this year and used the time to explore new things in the kitchen. You all answered every question I submitted - from the best fresh pasta recipe to canning advice. I won't have as much free time (for which I'm thankful because it means I'm working again), but I plan to continue to find new and fun things to make with your help. Happy holidays.

Sweet! Thanks for your thanks! And thanks for following along -- we appreciate you for reading us, and cooking with us!

I loved the article on goat. Fortunately, it's available at a few places in Alexandria (Fair Value as well as Global Market). I've used goat in a Mexican birria recipe and it turned out great.

Glad you liked it!

 

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/veg-greek-meatballs-in-a-fragrant-tomato-sauce-with-feta-cheese/

Hmm. This links to a recipe that calls for 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, Mr. or Ms. Amazing.

I was excited to see a vegetarian version of this, as an Irish pub near me does a killer Beef & Guinness pie. I'm sorry to say I was really disappointed in the results - it was way too bitter for my taste, and I'm aware that stout is bitter. On the plus side, it looked great, the texture was perfect, and I love the idea of topping it with sweet potato. Can someone recommend any tweaks I could make to this recipe to make it less bitter, and a bit more like a traditional savory vegetable stew? Replace some of the stout with water or vegetable stock? Reduce or eliminate some of the umami ingredients (not really sure the olives were necessary)? Thanks!

So sorry to hear you didn't like how this turned out! I thought they were great when I made them -- and I ate LOTS of leftovers of them. 

What stout did you use? Curious, because while stout certainly has some bitterness, its malty sweetness compensates for it, making it not taste as bitter as other beers that have the same bitterness but less malt, if that makes sense. Anyway, you could just absolutely cut the stout with some vegetable stock next time (maybe half/half), or you could switch to a less-bitter booze, like red wine (in part or whole). I wouldn't take out those olives, if I were you: I thought they were a brilliant addition, adding a little sharp note. And they wouldn't be responsible for bitterness, IMO.

 

 

RECIPE: Mushroom and Stout Potpies With Sweet Potato Crust

 

I'm going toward Shady Grove, sadly Union Market is out. I'll take a look at Bread Furst, etc. Thanks!

Good luck!

I've got Stilton, a gorgonzola dolce and Roquefort in my fridge. We're big into the blues. I know the recipe says crumble the blue, but I presume that is more so it can mix well. So would you go drier and crumblier or sweeter and softer? Merry Christmas to all.

I'd go with the Stilton. These are so good. Merry Christmas to you and yours, too! 

RECIPE John Martin Taylor's Cheese Straws

On the beer front, try pairing these cheeses with an India pale ale. It's a hop forward brew with notes of resin, citrus fruits, and should have a bit of biscuity caramel malt in there as well. It's one of the great and classic beer and cheese pairings 

Thank you for all the recipes and tips you've given us this past year and for being the only major paper food section that dares to hold a chat like this. A special shout out for your guest columnist, Mrs. Wheelbarrow, for her canning help. I never made a blueberry jam I really liked before. Her spicy green beans will be on our holiday table tomorrow. However, the most useful recipe all year was one of the simplest, egg salad. Both the technique (mashing the eggs with a potato masher) and the flavorings changed my sandwiches forever. Thank you all.

So glad to hear. We love doing our chats: Not only do they keep us on our toes, but it's so great to get a real back and forth with readers, to see what you're into (and not into) and what you have questions about.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow and Lisa Yockelson (source of the canning and egg-salad recipes, respectively) will be thrilled at the shout-out!

RECIPE: Blueberry Jam

RECIPE: Classic Egg Salad

Thanks for chatting on Christmas Eve - The entire staff members of The Food Section are very thoughtful as you bring me joy each time I get the chance to join the chat sessions. I can't wait for 2015. I'm appreciative of your kindness and unlimited knowledge.

It's now officially a year-end love fest! Thanks so much for mentioning it -- and backatcha!

What's the best place in DC to buy olives (like in an olive bar situation)? Preferably within half a mile from a metro station? I've been shopping at Whole Foods and have been pretty happy with that, but I'd love it if there's something cheaper/higher quality than that. Thanks, and happy holidays!

Cornucopia, an Italian market  in Bethesda, has a nice selection of olives -- it might be a bit farther than 1/2 mile from the Bethesda Metro but worth the walk. Be sure to call about holiday hours. In the District, I know Dean and Deluca in Georgetown has a good selection -- no Metro and almost assuredly not cheaper, though. You can stop into Kellari Taverna on K Street NW; they'll sell from their display, by the pound.

I didn't pay attention around Thanksgiving because we had a fresh turkey breast to cook. However, the power went out early Wed. and didn't come back till late Friday. Well, turkey was off. Now I have a turkey breast in the freezer. How to thaw it by tomorrow?

In a bucket or in your sink in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Allow about 30 minutes per pound. More info from the USDA here. Keep in mind, the USDA recommends cooking it immediately after thawing with this method.

I like the sound of Russian dressing but can't think what else to put it on besides salad and a Reuben, or that sloppy joe you mention.

If no one is looking, I'll just stand in my kitchen and eat it from the container with spoon. But, I realize that's not for everyone. Simple works in this situation. Try it with Crudites, instead of Ranch. That's a good conversation starter and a fun way to introduce people to this most awesome of dressings. 

Sauce Andalouse!! http://www.food.com/recipe/andalouse-french-fry-burger-sauce-394930

Better than Russian dressing? From the looks of it, this one is derived from Russian, or Thousand Island at least.

But, for a statement like that I demand pistols at dawn.  

I'm going to make Nancy Baggett's chese crisps for a dinner tonight, but I can't find smoked salt. Can I sub regular salt plus smoked paprika? Or where can I find smoked salt today, Foggy Bottom or downtown (Whole Foods doesn't have it here)

You can make these with just regular salt, as Nancy says in the recipe. But a little pinch of smoked paprika never hurt anything -- it's one of my favorite spices. So go for it! Let us know how it turns out.

RECIPE: Zippy Peppercorn-Chive Cheese Wafers

For the person with the new Nordic Ware Bundt Cake Pan, may I recommend the Spiced Bundt Cake with Whiskey-Coffee Glaze (adapted from Dorie Greenspan and Bon Appétit) for winter and SmittenKitchen's Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Cake for summer? Both delicious and easy to make, and both look wonderful in Bundt form.

Why, yes you may!

To any or all of you: What was your most favorite or most memorable breakfast this past year?

I was in Chicago and visited the Little Goat Diner on W. Randolph, and ordered the Kimchee and bacon and eggs and pancakes Asian style Breakfast Tasty Thing. Also on the table: Smoked Corned Beef Hash. It was supposed to be a quick breakfast. Turned into three hours. It was delightful. I need to get back to try their Breakfast Spaghetti 'n clams 'n crab. Stephanie Izard and crew know good food.  

At home, I would say the legit everything bagels I made the other month. Whoa. Eating out, my husband still talks about the fried chicken biscuit we had at GBD. Oh, and the totally, ridiculously massive cinnamon roll and "LeFou's Brew" we had in Disney World in October -- not so much for it's gourmet-ness but because of the setting and how we felt like a couple of big kids.

Every morning I have had a cardamom-pistachio morning bun from Frenchie's at the H Street FreshFarm Market has been a good morning.

St. John Bakery in London. Baked-to-order madeleines so buttery they started blotting through their tasteful paper bag before I could finish them. A proper cup of tea to go with. 

I generally use a steamer basket. Frankly, I'd like it to keep warm long enough for a first round of serving but it seems like no matter what it lands on the table cool.

If you warm up the covered serving dish by filling it with just-boiled water and letting it sit for 5 minutes before draining it, there's a good chance that food you put it in it will stay warm quite a bit longer.

I need to serve hot cider at an organizational event in a few days (for over 50 people.) What's the best way / best appliance to heat it up quickly? And any recipes for mulling spices? Thank you for a delicious 2014, Food Section staff, and happy holidays.

I'd go with a big pot over low heat, so you'll want to start it in advance of guests showing up. For the spices: Try 6-8 whole cloves, 6-8 allspice berries, a few sticks of cinnamon, and a few black peppercorns. Add half an orange peel (with as little white pith as possible) and a few slices of fresh ginger, tie it all up in a spice sack or cheesecloth and add it to the pot as you warm the cider.

How long do you think a flourless chocolate cake can be frozen for? I'm contemplating making a dozen or so for my wedding--but that plan only makes sense if I can make and freeze them at least a few weeks in advance. (And it might not make sense even then!)

I am almost a little nervous answer this since it is for your wedding(!). I would think, yes, should be fine. But you know what I would do? I would make one, like, now, give it a few weeks and see how you like the results. Also, do you have that much freezer space? (If so, I am envious.)

Just be sure to wrap it carefully! First in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Many layers of each.

The picture makes it look very thick and solid, sort of like a thick hummus. So, Russian dressing is not something you can pour? What should the consistncey be like?

You can totally pour it. It has the consistency - or should - of a thick salad dressing, like Ranch, or creamy Italian. It can pour from a bottle easily. But, if making it at home, it's just easier to spread. It won't be nearly as thick as a hummus. 

The Washington Post Food Section on Wednesdays would not have meant so much without this weekly chat! Thank all the staff and the guests who participate and make our lives more interesting! Wishing you all a great holiday season and wonderful New Year! Thanks again.

Aw, you're welcome. So glad you're with us today -- and every week.

I am a novice baker and made the lemon sables you recently featured. No mishaps, and the results were tasty! Thanks and merry Christmas!

Tasty indeed!

RECIPE: Lemon Sablés

Lemon Sablés

My husband has been talking, wistfully, about the sausage rolls he ate around this time of year while studying in Scotland. I've googled recipes but some suggest using puff pastry (which is not what he remembers) and some use lard (which I would prefer to avoid, if possible). Can you suggest a good approach? Thanks and happy holidays!

You'll always have Scotland. Why not start your own tradition with these sausage bites?

My uncle and his family send home made canned (bottled) stuff for gifts and I've already opened mine. Love most of the stuff, but confused about a few others. One is lables just as "hots." They are veggies, but I'm not sure what that means. Yes, I will call to thank and can ask then, but I'm curious if this is an actualy item that I have never heard of before. Also, What on earth do I do with pickeled garlic cloves? Is there something they are particularly suited for over regular garlic?

My cocktail purist friends will howl at this, but why not shove the cloves into a few olives, and toss them into a stiff glass of gin with a wisp of vermouth. The freeing power of the spirit can help you ponder other uses for the garlic. 

Mine came out greenish from all the chopped chives. Was I too enthusiastic with the food processor? They taste great.

Perhaps! Green's a nice color for the holidays. :)

Hi. Thanks for hosting the chat today! I'd love to make muffins tonight that have the profile (almond, spice, dried fruit) of stollen. This would give me a quick hit of nostalgia tomorrow, allow me to freeze the leftovers in individual portions to avoid over-indulgence, and avoid the mess and hassle of kneading yeast dough. Any suggestions?

Emily Luchetti's Pear-Ginger Muffins. You could enclose a good pinch of almond paste at the center. I'd toss some sliced almonds and currants on top before baking. 

 

Speaking of yeast dough, I'll be making these Swedish buns tomorrow morning for a brunch. Yeast is involved. The aroma of these is amazing. 

RECIPE Saffron Buns

 

I asked Lisa Yockelson if her Holiday Almond Cake (which has some stollen-esque qualities, if not the dried fruit) could be adapted into smaller portions, and she said this:

 

The almond cake batter is far too dense to bake into individual muffins and retain the typical rise and texture of a quick bread batter. However, the batter can be baked in individual tart molds, with a reduction in baking time--the resulting little cakes would bake at the same temperature and you would look out for the same finished look/testing as the bigger cake. The baking time would be based on the diameter of the smaller molds or pans.

I haven't authorized this with Lisa, and she might not agree, but it seems to me that you could also put some dried fruit at the bottom of those pans, to avoid risking compromising the batter...

I might just put some marizpan in a standard muffin and tart it up with some spices and dried fruit!

This just in from Lisa:

 

The batter would support a stir-in (not placed at the bottom of the pan) of diced apricots or golden raisins. Amount of stir-in of fruit: 1/2 cup firmly packed (maximum).

In junior high school, I checked a copy of the Fannie Farmer cookbook out of the public library, from which I began learning how to cook (even how to knead yeast bread dough!). Several years later I bought my own paperback copy, then as a bride was given a hardbound of the latest edition -- it's now in shambles, but still a reliable basic reference.

Well, you've pureed us until we have a nice, rustic texture, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for all the great q's -- and for the year-end love today -- and thanks to John and Carrie for helping us answer them!

Now for the giveaway books: The chatter that asked about shrimp cocktail will get "School of Fish" by Ben Pollinger and Stephanie Lyness (because some education is in order)! The chatter who asked if I would teach a sushi class will get "A Visual Guide to Sushi-Making at Home." Send your email to Becky.Krystal@washpost.com, and she'll get them your way!

Until next week -- the last chat of the year, OMG -- happy cooking, eating and reading. And happy holidays, natch.

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew. ... Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is the Food section's Spirits columnist.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff writer for the Going Out Guide and former Food section editorial aide.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
John Holl
John Holl is the editor of All About Beer magazine, and author, most recently, of “The American Craft Beer Cookbook.”
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