Free Range on Food: The things we love, chocolate, this week's recipes and more.

Feb 14, 2018

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

Hi, everyone! No time for a big wind-up intro today, so let's start chatting!

Giveaway book: "Cook Beautiful" by Athena Calderone.

PostPoints code: FR9910 . 

Let's get going!

I am a huge fan of your Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake, as are my colleagues! We have a question- one of us loves lemon and would like to try making that cake with lemon zest instead of orange. Would we need to adjust the ingredients in any way? Also, how much zest do we need, since lemons are a lot smaller than the three navel oranges your recipe calls for? Two tablespoons? More? Thanks so much for your help! We love you in Texas!

Count me in as a #bigfan, too. Nick Malgieri is some kind of baking genius, and he nailed it with this cake. A commenter on Recipe Finder says she used lemons instead (and also subbed half the olive oil with canola oil). I get about 2 tablespoons of zest from a large navel orange; lemons can vary a bit in size and sometimes I can get a loosely packed tablespoon from 1 large lemon. Nick says (yep, he sends V-Day greetings!) because lemon is a stronger flavor, the zest of two large lemons will work for you. 

Hosting my Valentine's tea this weekend wherein all food is red, pink or heart shaped. (ok, well mostly!) I'd love to try to make blood orange curd for its lovely pink color. I tried once before and failed. Any tips to help me be successful? Would sooo appreciate it!! Thanks!

Gosh, I do believe Cathy Barrow's recipe is just what you need.  (FYI: Sometimes the color's more orangey than pink, but that works for me.)


While you're at it, check out this whole presentation, which is pretty fab. 

Is your menu set? I could tempt you with a few more suggestions:

Blood Orange Tart

Blood Orange and Bourbon Boulevardier

Dorie Greenspan's Share-My-Heart Cookies

Nougatine Hearts

Is red pepper hummus a mainstream item found in most supermarkets these days? Can you provide a recipe? Also, your Recipe Finder page brings up a 502 bad gateway error.

RECIPE Stove Top Mac and Cheese With Hummus

Just about wherever I see containers of plain hummus in the grocery store, I find red pepper hummus next to it. But you could approximate the flavor and color of rph by pureeing 1 or 2 jarred, roasted red peppers in a blender and stirring that into the mix. 


Re the 502 gateway thang -- I get that every now and then, depending on my browser and the cache situation. For me, almost always #operatorerror #d'oh

Getting in the Olympic spirit and would love to try to make some Korean food while watching the games. Any recommendations for vegetarian recipes? I am pretty adventurous cooking and have several general Asian ingredients (soy, fish sauce, mirin, miso, hoisin...) but no Korean specific ones. Would be open to buying one or two Korean specific ingredients, but would like to be able to use my general Asian pantry items too. Recipe does not need to be easy/fast to make. Thank you! And go team USA :)

Here's a favorite: Korean Soft Tofu Stew. Delicious. The one special ingredient: gochujang. But you need that in your life, trust me.

Go #TeamKimchi! Editor Joe's Grilled Kimcheese would hit the spot, esp cut up as snack food. And because you've said what to me are magic words ("Recipe does not need to be easy/fast to make"), if you happen to have any meat-eating guests coming over, Julia Turshen's recent Pot Roast With Kimchi + Sweet Potatoes was super/is super. Worth a medal -- and really, pretty easy too.


I made your brown sugar cardamon snickerdoodles again (a favorite). What does cream of tartar do for baked goods?

So glad you like these! Cream of tartar shows up in retro baking recipes because, as an acid, it helps activate baking soda. (Baking powder combines the two.) Of course, it also helps stabilize egg whites (and aquafaba, for those of you who know what that is)!

RECIPE: Cardamom-Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

I'm in the doldrums. Usually when that happens, cooking cheers me right up. But I'm completely lacking in inspiration and can't think of a single thing to make. Can you help me find inspiration? Maybe a few things I can spend a lot of time on over this long weekend? I eat everything and love to do prep work and have things bubble away on the stove all afternoon.

Roasted Mushroom and Swiss Chard Lasagna

Doldrumy feelings usually lead me to carbs, so my vote goes to Domenica Marchetti's lasagna from scratch. It's a project with such great payoff, and includes several parts -- pasta, several sauces, etc. The one pictured above is Roasted Mushroom and Swiss Chard Lasagna; my favorite one of the bunch is the Lasagna Alla Bolognese, pictured below.

Lasagna Alla Bolognese

Also check out Domenica's article on other pastas that are easy to make at home (but still require a level of time commitment). 

I love Hellmans although recently I tried Dukes and it goes down pretty good too. Anyway, at work one day my coworker told several of us that she makes devilled eggs using Miracle Whip and some sugar. We all had an immediate, loud, visceral reaction. It was as if she'd sucker-punched us. I guess we made her feel bad because she quietly said, "I guess you won't be getting any of my devilled eggs." Good. Still makes me shudder just thinking about it.

Aw, I hate the idea of this poor coworker feeling shamed, but I do agree w/you about Miracle Whip.

An ode to Hellmann’s mayo, the lone star of my childhood sandwich

Ok but -- hear me out -- just a little Miracle Whip *can* give a mayo-based salad a certain ... je ne sais quoi. 

(Please do not revoke my Food membership.)

As long as you don't call it mayo, Kara, I will allow you to remain.

I occasionally heard Splendid Table on NPR, but your article on Francis Lam convinced me to subscribe to the podcast. I was disappointed that Francis was missing from first one I listened to, but there was Joe! A little later there was Bonnie! Are you both regular contributors?

How Francis Lam, son of immigrants, became the voice of America’s food culture

I have been on a few times, and would be happy to do more!

I'm on there about every month or so. Radio is fun!

I have found some very very old WearEver aluminum pans. One is thoroughly stained on the outside with decades of cooking evidence, shall we say. What would be a good way to clean the worst of it, while not tearing the surface up? There's no coating on it, just the aluminum. I'm thinking 00 steel wool, baking soda and elbow grease? Help please?!

I've had good luck w this stuff called Dip-It (and now also labeled as Lime-Away). Chatters?

It says "no chats scheduled today."

This one? I see things on there.

Many cakes call for oil instead of butter. I have found that cakes made with oil have a greasy mouth feel, and they also leave a grease stain on paper plates and napkins. The cakes also seem heavy and dense. I have not been successful in simply swapping out the oil for butter. Your Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake looks interesting, but the oil makes it a non-starter for me. I know that one person's "moist" is another person's "greasy". Is there anything I can do to make the swap-out successful?

Was just discussing with this another chatter! Nick M's cake is neither greasy nor dense. The experiences you've had might have to do with the kinds of oil -- and how that oil is produced, and how it tastes -- called for in the recipes?


As I mentioned, one reader made the oil a blend instead of using straight olive oil -- and, for what's worth -- I remember having to track down just regular ol' olive oil (instead of extra-virgin)  for testing his recipe. Want to try Nick's and check back in with us? Also always available via 

Hi Joe, I made your chocolate truffle recipe with coconut milk and the truffles were excellent! I alternately rolled them in pecans, coconut, and cocoa powder, then gave them to my sweet valentines. Thank you!

Is Food Anchor a new title? What does it mean? Sounds vaguely maritime: Washington Post Food Anchor Mary Beth Albright

It means TV/video host! We've been happy to have Mary Beth part of the team...

Here you can read all about her in the hiring announcement.

Here's a page with a bunch of her recent videos.

Hello food experts! In what may have been a moment of mimosa and king cake (homemade!) induced enthusiasm, I suggested to my husband last night that we give up meat and go pescatarian for Lent. We go meatless a few times a week, but the idea of no meat at all is intimidating to me, particularly with picky kids. Cookbooks are always a good source of inspiration for me, so I was hoping that I could get some recommendations from you on some good ones with which to start. Thank you!!

Sara Moulton does a nice job with her Sunday Supper recipes, which appear monthly in The Post Magazine -- they are designed to feed a family. So I'd suggest her Sauteed Fish With Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette and Lemon Aioli, for starters. 

Fish Tacos, for sure

Love this Asian take, and I bet the kids will too.

And there's also Cod and Corn Chowder Pie,  and Crunchy Crumbed Cod. Salmon's a whole other story! #checkback


Hello, Each time I go to either to any tropical country I search for fresh guanábana since it’s apparently “banned” here in the States. I’ve read that it’s due to BigPharma not wanting it to be readily avail since it has many intensive cancer fighting properties . However I’m not sure if this is fact or fiction . Do y’all have any info on obtaining said fresh fruit stateside ? I absolutely Love the taste Thank you Ivy in Texas

Hmm. I'm not sure about this! I took the question to my friend, cookbook author and TV host Pati Jinich (of "Pati's Mexican Table"), and she says this:

Great question because: I cannot find it anywhere, Joe! It is an absolutely exquisite, nutritious ingredient and it is so frustrating to not be able to find it. So what I can say is, I share the frustration with Ivy from Texas. 

I thought it was great that wait staff at all kinds of restaurants in New Orleans called me "baby" even when I was twice the age of some of them. It's nice that some regional habits of speech persist, and the service in New Orleans restaurants was phenomenal.

Love NOLA! Thanks for this.

No sweetie in sight ... so I'm handing out (wrapped) Valentine candy to police, fire-fighters, bus drivers, the receptionist in the doctor's office -- people who make my life better and who aren't on my Christmas/Hanukkah list. Also to people who look like they could use a nice gesture.

I love the idea of trying new mac and cheese recipes, I just tried J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's three ingredient mac and cheese on SeriousEats and it is gooey and smooth and pretty fun to make. I also found a Swedish recipe for stewed macaroni (Stuvade Makaroner) and it is just cooking elbows in milk for 25 minutes (no cheese!) which sounds like a very convenient list of ingredients. I'll be trying it soon. All that said, I appreciate the addition of hummus, and therefore something a little healthy, to a dish like mac and cheese, which is comfort food at its best in my opinion.

A #foodtolove, with benefits. 

These short pieces were a real treat. Kara Elder's piece in particular spoke to me, I am also a fan of An Everlasting Meal (not to mention Arrested Development). Here's to leftovers in all their excellent forms! Question -- what would you do with the juice left over from a jar of green olives? I am thinking maybe using it in a meat marinade. Haspel is mum on this subject, I think.

We love that you love them!

And thanks! Was really hoping to hear from the maybe dozens of people who would truly appreciate the Everlasting Meal/Arrested Development crossover. :-)

As for that green olive first thought turned to a bloody mary. Your meat marinade sounds like a swell idea, too. Our Bread-n-Butter Pickle Corn Bread recipe makes me think that olive juice would be excellent stirred into quick breads. And I'm sure it'd make a nice briny salad dressing (mixed with some mustard, oil, salt, pepper and may a little lemon juice to brighten it up a bit) -- maybe for a Nicoise-type salad?

In a recipe for scones that includes 4 T butter: "Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Rub in the butter." How does one rub butter into flour? Thanks and happy Valentines Day!

It means use your clean fingertips -- just forefingers and thumbs might do it. What you're doing there is coating the flour with fat, which will help produce a tender flaky crumb. Keep the step quick and chilled (I like to use flour straight from the freezer for my scones), so the butter doesn't get warm. After that step -- before any liquid goes in, you'll prob want to have a crumbly mix with flour and coated bits of butter no larger than pea-size -- as the recipe writers like to invoke. Happy V Day to you too! #loveourchatters

Was Cook’s Illustrated’s lawsuit against Christopher Kimball ever resolved? I remember you did a big article about it, but I haven’t seen anything more recent news. Thanks

I don't believe there have been any developments, but we'll try to keep on top of it!

Yes, it's there now, but for at least the first ten minutes of the chat, it said "no chats scheduled" and there were no posts on the chat page (I used two different browsers)/. I'm assuming there was some kind of Post-wide glitch that got fixed.

Glad it's working!

I have tried making the El Rey nachos twice now. They have amazing flavor! But the cheese sauce is so runny. I wonder if the cheese I am using is the problem. "Sliced American Cheese" means those slices wrapped in plastic, to me. Am I misunderstanding a coy way to refer to a particular brand of cheese? Please help. I really want to make this recipe work.

Hang in there, because it sounds like you're doing fine, recipewise. The sauce is supposed to be . . . saucy! Not gloppy. Won't congeal in that same way that takes 27 chips with it when you reach for one in the pile. This is a good thing.


Feel free to scatter another kind of grated (by you, not the coated stuff already shredded in bags) cheese on top! Or you could try adding 1/4 cup less heavy cream -- although I think cook Carmen Nunez's sauce is topnotch as is.


Re the American cheese: I bet you are using the right stuff. It can come in a block or sliced, and not always made by the same manufacturer (I think).


RECIPE El Rey Nachos  (plus fun graphic and video!)

Joe, you're lucky you're far enough out of The South to avoid death threats for picking Hellmans over Dukes. I do have a question though about what actually makes their uses different. I know Sean Brock has *very* strong opinions that Duke's has a superior acidic flavor but why do certain recipes insist on using one brand over the other? is just just the loyalty of the chef?

I know! I'm sure if Duke's had been available to me as a child, things could have gone another way, but they didn't!

Don't get me wrong: I think Duke's tastes great. It just wasn't the one that got my loyalty when I was growing up.

As for why certain recipes insist on one brand over another, there could be many reasons: Preferences because of the flavor, or regional allegiances, or both!

I'm not sure I've ever had Miracle Whip, and if I have, it hasn't been in a side-by-side tasting with Hellman's and Duke's (I like mayo, but that actually sounds pretty gross to me). What's the difference?

Miracle Whip's first ingredient is water, not oil, and its third is high-fructose corn syrup. When you know that ingredients are listed in decreasing order of quantity, that gives you a clue. It's not allowed to be called "mayonnaise" for a reason.

Question about storage of dried beans once they have been soaked. I like to pre-soak to have them ready for cooking but unsure of how to store them. should I cook them then freeze? Help - thanks.

Yes, cook them and freeze them in their cooking liquid. I like to do that in quart-sized zip-top bags, so I can freeze them flat and they defrost more quickly.

Mom never used mayo, always Miracle Whip. Mayo has short life span. My devil eggs are made with Miracle Whip and mustard--never any sugar. They are eaten quickly.

I've never met a deviled egg I didn't like, so...

I grew up in the Philly area (yay Eagles) but have been living in San Francisco for nearly 20 years. I was so confused when I first got here and saw Best Foods ripping off the Hellman's branding! I've since adapted to this bizarro mayo, but you are so right that the tag line just Does Not Work with Best Foods.

Hah, I had the reverse west coast -> east coast mayo mixup and will remain loyal to Best Foods branding. (The jingle just does not work with Hellmann's, sry.)

Love that video!

Yeah, but i could really do without the "baby girl" that was attached to the directions to my seat at a theater recently. I'm in my 60s. I agree about Hon, though.

Joe that recipe looks delicious. Since my spouse is gluten free I was thinking of putting it on sliced polenta.


I'm trying to eat more fish and cod is a readily available option. Sadly, every time I try a cod recipe it turns out bland or dry unless I deep fry it (which obviously defeats the purpose). Do you guys have any great - EASY-ish - recipes for the fish?

This! (Made with cod, obviously!)

Creamy Halibut

RECIPE: Creamy Halibut

Also try: 

Cod With Tomato Sauce and Garbanzos

RECIPE: Cod With Tomato Sauce and Garbanzos

Cod With Ginger Beer and Bok Choy

RECIPE: Cod With Ginger Beer and Bok Choy

Cod and Corn Chowder Pie

RECIPE: Cod and Corn Chowder Pie


I read and hear about putting a parmesan rind into minestrone -- but what really happens when you do? Does the cheese melt into the soup and make it thicker? Does it just impart that salty, parmy taste? Do you have to fish out the remaining rind before serving? I have several Jarlsberg rinds in my freezer (saved from wedges), thinking I might use them the same way. Can I? What to do with them (besides giving in to my sad-eyed dogs and giving bits to them)?

Generally, there's not a lot of melting/thickening action -- I guess that depends on how big the piece of rind is and how long it simmers. It's about a depth of flavor, and the natural/edible rinds are optimal for this purpose. Your Jarlsberg rinds are most likely waxed, so you might want to trim them or at least fish them out before serving. Jarlsberg is really a semi-soft cheese, and I think in general the rinds of hard cheeses are also preferable for a soupy-stewy treatment. So...lucky dogs!

Mac & cheese with crudites on the side, or a salad. Frozen fish sticks are plain enough that meat-loving kids usually like them. Tuna sandwiches. (Old Catholic here, can you tell?)

Thanks, Joe, for the answer. It reminded me of a neighbor in the '70s who was 95 years old. He told me of his days selling a new product, baking powder, in the midwest. He also talked about seeing Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Memories!

Thank you so much for the Cipes Pineles book, "Leave Me Alone with the Recipes," which I won during last week's chat! Her artwork is incredible, and many of the dishes are ones I love (although as a vegetarian, I'd need to adapt some of the recipes, and skip a few). I recommend this book highly, especially as a gift book for family/friends. Thanks again!

If you are willing to cook all day try a Nonna Sunday gravy. I recently discovered Genovese Sauce. It takes literally pounds of onions but they cook down to a wonderful richness - think of onions in French Onion soup. I started with an AllRecipes, cutting the onions down to 3 pounds yellow, and two large red onions. Yes, you read that right. It's a big heaping amount of sliced onions that barely fit in the pot. As the sauce cooked I added in beef broth, not water, as necessary. I cut a 3 pound chuck roast into large cubes for the meat. After several hours it is so tender you just shred it with a fork to get bits of meat throughout the sauce. Bonus is that you can freeze leftover sauce for later days.

Basically I made the regular recipe, except instead of ham or bacon I cooked up some frozen peas, then added them plus their water add the end for a final toss. My only complaint is that out of an abundance of caution I didn't use ENOUGH peas!

I think roasted-until-crisp slices of shiitake mushroom caps would be great in a veg spaghetti carbonara, FWIW.

Chap chae can be made vegetarian (no meat necessary), use a lot of Asian ingredients, and you only have to buy one extra ingredient: sweet potato noodles (can be found at any Asian supermarket). It's what I make for my veggie and vegan friends and those leery of trying new food. And if you use GF soy sauce or equivalent, can be GF.

If you plan to do this a lot it may be worth investing in a pastry blender (not much of an investment; they're inexpensive), but rubbing with fingertips really does work, even though it doesn't sound like it would.

I reckon everyone's palate is slightly different, but to me Dukes has a deeper, more savory flavor, while Hellman's is kind of sweeter (and blander) by comparison. I don't know what the heck Miracle Whip is...chemicals, I guess. Born and raised in DC, btw, although I think DC trended more southern back then than it does now.

I love reading this series every February. Your work inspires me to describe beloved things in my kitchen. Thanks to all the writers who contribute pieces to that series and to this chat every week! A favorite in my kitchen: Instead of being shackled together and imprisoned in a cluttered kitchen drawer, my color-coded magnetic measuring spoons are free to make a design statement above the stove. It would be easy to hate this set because the magnets are wimpy and the stainless steel is a bit flimsy—no using them to pry the stubborn lid off a tin of tea, for instance, which would bend them right out of shape. But the plastic inserts add a cheerful pop of color to a bisque background, one end is round for measuring liquids and the other is oval for dry ingredients, and it was easy to boost the magnets by adding a strong rare-earth magnet on top of the weak one embedded in the handle. Spread out along the edge of the range hood, whichever spoon that’s needed is always within easy reach throughout the day: 1/4 tsp for adding a pinch of turmeric to turn scrambled eggs a lovely golden, 1/2 tsp of apple pie spice for seasoning my morning oatmeal, 1 tsp for adding vanilla extract when baking, 1/2 Tbsp for scooping green tea leaves into a mason jar for cold-brewed tea that my household consumes by the quart, and 1 Tbsp to make comforting hot cocoa on a chilly winter night. Life is better when these are right at hand.

Nice! Thanks for the ode!

Get the kind with wires, not the rigid blades one. The latter holds onto stuff and you have to keep scraping it out. Also, the wire kind is the absolutely perfect tool for making guacamole quickly and with the right consistency.

Grilled cheese sandwiches plus tomato soup, and either a cooked veggie or salad (if they like the latter).

You guys are pushing my food buttons with your articles this week. I love Hellmans and I love black licorice. I think black licorice has an addictive quality to it. Once I start eating it, it's hard to stop. When I went to Amsterdam I went in a bulk candy store that was only licorice, floor to ceiling. I walked out with three kilos in my backpack. I lost my mind. I still think about that store. Sometimes it's really good to be a grownup.

Ooh, I would love that store, too! It really is addictive. When I get a bag of those Haribo licorice bats, it takes all my willpower to make it last more than a week. So glad that a fellow licorice fan appreciated my story!

I have a giant bag of dried pigeon peas, and no ideas how to use them. Any recipes? Maybe even just substitutions of other beans in recipes that they would fit in?

I like them with rice (like in an arroz con gandules situation). They'd be good here, instead of kidney beans:

Rice and Peas

RECIPE: Rice and Peas

Or really ... anywhere you'd add some beans!

I'm pretty sure I've seen it in Miami (if not fresh, then definitely in juice form), which granted, may as well be a foreign country. A quick google search found a few sources, including this one:

They were slightly smaller than half sheets and fit nicely into the stupid 24" wall ovens of the late 1950's. Mine are so old (early 1960's) and dented! I want new ones, but they can't be found. Loved Bonnie's piece on quarter sheet pans. Mine have been workhorses for decades.

11 by 17's are still around, available at culinary stores, Target, Bed Bath Beyond and easily obtained online. Is that a kind of standard jellyroll pan size? I have absolutely no evidence to back this up, but  I assume that as the gap narrows between what professional kitcheneers and home bakers use, the 9 by 13'ers became more of  a go-to. Or we are just not jellyrolling like we used to. #bringitback?


Thanks for the shoutout!

Joe, what do you think of Kewpie mayonnaise? I’ve heard good things but haven’t tried it.

It's good! Millions of Japanese fans can't be wrong. Super creamy, tastes great -- with the help of a little thing called MSG.

Not a question, more of a PSA to fellow diners. The Lunar New Year starts this Friday! It's usually a huge weeks-long celebration that traditionally focuses on family and friends. As Americanized as I am, it weighs heavy on my heart whenever I can't be with my family this time of year. For all who may be dining out at Asian restaurants particularly these next few days, please remember that many of the employees waiting on your table and cooking your food are probably missing their families and friends, wherever they may be. Be kind! And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

I grew up in Richmond, so I'm hardcore Duke's. (Which lives in my fridge for long periods without ever going bad--not sure what OP means.) The Miracle Whip of today is not the Miracle Whip of the 70s (it has changed), which one of my babysitters served us. (And I loved it then.) However, I know a number of folks that use MW in deviled eggs, and I will happily eat them. They're a good match in my opinion.

I am wondering what would be the best way to cook a turkey or chicken in one of those disposable metal trays. I assume the same instructions do not apply as a cast iron pot, so I am curious if a lower temp or higher would be appropriate. Also, would a pizza stone or something equally hot underneath be helpful here?

I almost always put the disposable aluminum pan on a rimmed baking sheet, for easy moving in and out of the oven. (Even for the heavier-duty pans with exterior wire framing and such, which sometimes tear when you move them across a less than pristine oven rack.) Temps do not have to be adjusted but some bottom browning may occur, which is another reason to use the baking sheet underneath. Very thin aluminum feels hot to the touch but it's not a super great heat conductor -- especially for low-and-slow cooking. 

you're not keeping it in the fridge, or you're not using it up fast enough. Buy smaller jars.

I saw all the mayo questions and, not remembering a Food section article from this morning's paper - maybe I missed it - found it here. Question: I've been on the receiving end of horrified stares when I tell people I grew up eating broccoli served with mayonnaise. I had no idea this was verboten until I was out of college. Is this just a "poor people" thing? (We were middle class, at best, in the 1970s.) My wife informs me that customers at the Shoney's where she worked would request mayo on the side with vegetables. That grossed her out as a teenager. I hated to break it to her that mayo-on-the-side was how I learned to love broccoli! Today? I've graduated to mustard.

That's the piece! 

I don't get all the horrified stares, really. I mean, mayonnaise is one of the French mother sauces, so that makes it SUPER FANCY. Just tell the starers that next time.

I was contributing cookies to a brunch and a number of them broke in transport. I removed all the broken ones from the platter and rearranged the rest. Would you have done the same or was I too hung up on presentation? I sometimes am accused of perfectionism.

I might have done the same. But I would've saved those crumbs -- I hope you did! Pop em in the freezer, and you've got the makings of a dessert garnish (or maybe an icebox cake!) many times over.

Keep your chocolate, give me licorice!! I've loved it ever since I was a child. Maybe it was the boxes of Good & Plenty at the movies, I don't remember, but nowadays I definitely prefer it without a sugar coating. I'm surprised to read that anyone hates it -- unless they hate the scary-looking black tongue they have after eating a lot of it. Questions: Why is the main ingredient in most black licorice (candy) listed as wheat? (I found a brand of wheat-free hard pastilles for a gluten-free friend, so it can be made without wheat.) And, as it happens, I recently bought a spice-jar labeled "liquorice powder" that lists its only ingredient as liquorice. (Distributed by Strong America Ltd.) Any idea how to use it? It tastes intriguingly savory and maybe woodsy. Thanks and happy licorishy Valentines Day!

Hello, dear licorice aficionado! I probably will never outgrow my love for the sugar coating. As for your wheat question: I cannot explain it, but I suspect it is an American candymaker thing. I have 5 (!) packages of licorice on my desk right now (left over from the photo shoot, sorry to make you jealous!) and I see that the American-made Twizzlers and Good & Plenty contain wheat, while the remaining three types, from Germany and Sweden, don't have any. If you're in the DC area, Cafe Mozart has tons of good imported licorice including the very salty kinds. As for the liquorice powder -- never tried it, so I'm not sure! Let me know how it goes! 

I haven't killed myself yet, but I have kept jars of Hellman's way, way, way past their use by date. I know those are guidelines, but I'm sure if you exceed them it should be reasonable. With me, it's that I just forget to replace it, as I don't use mayo very much.

In my family for three generations, we put mayo on steamed asparagus, and use it as the dip for artichokes.

No. My husband, an Army brat, grew up with mayo served with all crucifers: broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Only crucifers though, for no known reason.

I once had a male co-worker, much older than the rest of us. Three of us were female managers (including the department head) and roughly the age of his daughter. If he ever knew that when one of us knocked on his door his response was "What do you need, honey?" he would have been mortified. He truly liked and respected all three of us but I think after 40 years of addressing his daughter as 'honey' it was automatic and he was unaware he was doing it. I still miss working with him.

I've been trying to make tart shells with one of those bladed pastry blenders. It just gunks up instead of forming nice crumbs like the recipes all promise. THANKS person who pointed out the wire kind. I'll try again.

I'm one of those hard-core dark-chocolate lovers who turns up their nose at white chocolate even after reading your article on it a month or two ago. Then I talked to a truffle-store owner who waxed erudite about the meta-five crystals or something like that, that made white chocolate a useful addition to the structure of various chocolates. Did you put it into the fondue recipe for the sake of richness or something? (By the way, thanks for the article; we enjoy seeing the resurgence of fondue, since we were married in the Year of the Fondue Pot 40-some years ago; we got three as wedding presents.)

ARTICLE The heart races -- for chocolate


You are welcome! I am a white choc fan, as long as it's of good quality. I liked the way the swirls looked in it, and it mellowed the dark richness a bit, which some people might prefer.  And if you ever get the chance to caramelize white chocolate in the oven for a few hours, you will be rewarded with a fantastic result. 


I'm also a sucker for old fondue pots -- my dear friend Patti has one from the early 60s that's about the color of this one. Mazel tov on 40+ years -- pre-registry, I take it? :)

Maura: Have you read Candyfreak by Steve Almond? It's such a good read. He's a kindred spirit when it comes to candy.

I have not! Thank you for the recommendation, this sounds right up my alley. Everyone on our Food staff (lovingly!) teases me because I will jump at any chance to write about candy. Like my ode to gummies last year, or the time I made everyone rate those Valentine's sampler boxes

Here's a link for anyone with a sweet tooth.

I wan to make this tonight! I don't have Campari, but I have Aperol and Cynar. Which one would be the best substitute? OR should I wait? Thanks! Love these chats.

I vote for Aperol.

Help me out, Joe! (But no tempeh, please.) I feel like seitan might be too bland?

It's not exactly pot roast, but I say, Cook this Vegetarian Meatloaf. (It has tempeh, but you won't notice, I SWEAR.)


Sir Kensington's avacado oil mayo

I like it!

How spicy is this? I've never cooked with kim chi before.

On a scale of 1 to 10, about a 3.5.

Will it work with plain hummus? I'm not excited about the kick, but like the concept?

yes! first tested it that way and the recipe says use either.

You linked to this recipe above. It calls for coconut juice. I realize that's not coconut milk, but is it the same as coconut water? Or is there a coconut juice product out there that I've never seen?

They are the same, really. we will update that recipe language, thanks!

I recently got into making galettes, but I'd really like to make ones with meat in them. The main reason is not so much that I don't like vegetarian options but that I really hate melted cheese. Any suggestions?

You might like this one, although it does have some melted cheese ... 

Parmesan BLT Galettes

RECIPE: Parmesan BLT Galettes

Also if memory serves me correctly, this veg-filled galette isn't too cheesy/uses feta, which might not count as melted cheese in the way that you dislike? (Or you could just leave out the cheese or sprinkle some on after it's baked):

Harissa Squash and Feta Galette

RECIPE: Harissa Squash and Feta Galette

Last week's pot roast was sublime. Browned a chuck roast in my instant pot, tossed in the rest, and went to the gym. Came home in an hour to what is now my favorite pot roast. Ever.


For anyone intimidated by going no-meat for Lent (or for whatever reason) I strongly I encourage you to view the process as "what kind of foods do I get to ADD to my life?" as opposed to "how can I replace this meat in my usual recipe rotation?". Sure, it might take a little bit of work initially to discover new recipes or new foods but it can be fun! It took me about 2 years into becoming vegetarian to realize that focusing on "meat replacements" is disappointing at best. News flash: tofu bacon will NEVER taste like real bacon. For cookbooks, America's Test Kitchen Complete Vegetarian Cookbook was my gateway and the recipes are so darn good and versatile that you'll forget they are meat free.

Oh yes. I mean, there were registries for china, but really nothing else, back then. Our classic fondue pot is flame -- remember when everything was flame, harvest gold, or avocado?

Esp appliances! #mistywatercolormemories

I will hasten to Cafe Mozart. Is the licorice sold for carry-out or is it menu items: "I'll have a Viennese coffee and an order of licorice bats"?

Oh you don't have to ask for it, they have a little market with shelves chock full of candy! An excellent Haribo selection, but no licorice bats the last time I was there, unfortunately. They have German, Finnish, Australian and Swedish licorice in varying degrees of salty and sweet. 

I was given a bag of honeybell oranges (15-20?) by someone going out of town for several months. By which I mean to say it was unsolicited and I accepted only because they would've rotted otherwise and I hate to see good food go to waste. I'm not an orange fan. Love me other citrus (lemons, limes, darling grapefruits) but find oranges cloyingly sweet and sticky and make me feel like a kindergartner again, so I've not yet used any. I've had no success pawning them off on others either. I do find the occasional recipe that uses them in a way I don't find overwhelming (usually in the '1/2 c juice into a big stew' proportion) but don't have a party or something upcoming I could make a cake or candy the peel or something for. So my longwinded question is, if I zested and juiced them (separately), would each bit freeze well? Or is there a better preserving method? Willing to try canning but that doesn't seem to be a thing? Have preserved lemons but oranges utter sweetness seems anathema to that treatment. Ideas? (anyone in NoVa want them?!)

I want them.

And ... yes, you can freeze the juice and the zest (separately)!

Not a bad idea, cause you can save the former for those occasional recipes, or you can just defrost and serve the juice at the occasional brunch, with or without booze spiking it.

I love the chocolate recipes! Is there a way to pre-prep the molten chocolate peanut butter cakes, so that they can be baked at dessert time?

Yep. Chill the batter in the ramekins and plop in the peanut butter while the oven is preheating.


The best coleslaw recipe comes from The Pantry in Los Angeles. However, when time us short, or you don't have the long list of ingredients on hand, you can come close by using just a touch of MW.

*furiously googling*

What would you think of subbing salmon? It has a stronger flavor, but it seems it might work.

I think it could work too. Or arctic char.

an abomination proving that deep in the Scandinavian soul there is still some stark strangeness despite their current mild good-citizen reputation.

I like a touch of salt, but I once tried some salty Swedish licorice that was absolutely masochistic.

I took them home and ate them!

(thumbs up)

I made Corean's Oatmeal Cookies this weekend (there's just so many bowls of oatmeal one can eat from a 9-lb box of old-fashioned oats from Costco before it tastes stale), which calls for 1 cup of vegetable oil. I used canola because that's what I had on hand, but I noticed that after the initial rack cooling period had passed, the cookies still felt greasy and left a bit of it on hands. Letting them sit out overnight probably helped some in general, but I actually put them between sheets of paper towel - which turned visibly clear by morning. Otherwise delicious and would make again, but questioning whether to try it with butter next time.

Hmm. I haven't experienced this! If you want to try with butter, go for it -- and report back.

Well, you've gently inverted us onto individual plates, so you know what that means -- we're done!

The chatter who asked about needing inspiration to get out of the doldrums will get "Cook Beautiful." Send your mailing info to, and she'll get you your book.

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.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Maura Judkis
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.
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