Free Range on Food: Cottage cheese, healthful African dishes and more

Feb 20, 2013

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 Free Range! What's on your mind? Did Bonnie inspire you to DIY your cottage cheese? Anxious for Bluejacket brewery to open? Did Delece Smith-Barrow make you want to add a healthful twist to food with African roots?

Ask us any and all food-related questions, and we'll do our best to answer. And for our favorite posts, we'll have a prize: a cookbook! Today's are Better Homes and Gardens' "The Ultimate Soups & Stews Book" and "The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook" by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman.

Let's do this!

OK, call me crazy, but.... I used up a jar of (organic) black olives, and have only the liquid left. There's a lot there. Ingredients in that liquid are basic - (white wine, I think) vinegar, olive oil, grapemust, and one other that escapes me at the moment. So I got thinking--these ingredients are basically what at least some salad dressings are made of--so would it make sense to use this liquid to make one? Would their be any harm in this? And if it was a good idea, how would I go about it? Thanks for your thoughts!

I do this all the time, with the dregs of anything brine-y like olives and of almost-empty jars of jams, salsas and the like. You have to make sure you like the taste of it, first and foremost. And then add more vinegar, oil, maybe a little Dijon mustard and honey, all to taste. The traditional vinaigrette proportion is 3 parts oil to 1 part acid, but I usually go to more of a 2-to-1 or even 1-to-1 ratio, because I like things tarter and because I don't want all that oil. So you have to play around with it until it meets with your taste.

I'm an dedicated omnivore who decided to give up meat for Lent this year; I'm trying to keep a varied menu in my home cooking so I'm not just eating some variant on pasta or stir fry all the time. Would you be able to provide some suggestions for dinner recipes to switch things up a bit? Thanks!

The stuffed shells recipe looks great! I've already bought Pomi tomatoes in anticipation of making it. But I'm a little surprised the recipe shows 14 grams of fat -- that's all calculated by some sort of software, right? If I eyeball it based on ingredients we have at home (admittedly not the same brand of noodles, for instance), I get something closer to 12 grams of fat, and that's with whole milk ricotta rather than part skim. (Not to quibble, I'm fine with 14 grams -- just seemed like a lot with only 1 T oil in the recipe.)

Vegetable-Stuffed Shells

Yes, that's definitely not a huge difference, especially given how nutritional content can vary based on brand. Don't forget that recipe also has an egg and parmesan cheese, in addition to the items you already mention.

was hoping to get some info on cottage cheese. And African dishes, food that might have an Africa origin. Was hoping to ask some questions. Whats with sorghum ?

Hi. Yes it is. What's your question?

I need a recipe please for a chocolate sauce that I can pour over ice cream sundaes.

Here you go: Bittersweet Chocolate Fudge Sauce. Happy pouring.

I have a recipe for soda bread (Irish) that we enjoy but I've noticed a problem with the past couple batches. The bottom crust gets overly crisp- to the point of being hard -- while the very center seems to be a tad under-done. Although I make it infrequently, I don't think I've changed anything in what I do. Do you recommend trying a lower temperature for a longer time, a different pan, different shape? The recipe is simply buttermilk, flour, baking soda and salt, mixed, kneaded to hold its shape and formed into a 6-inch round, baked at 425. I put it on a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet. (I had tried it in a cast-iron skillet, but I thought that was the cause of the hard bottom crust. Thanks for any guidance you can offer. We love the recipe but can't quite figure out why it has gone awry.

First, make sure your oven temperature is where you want it to be. Second, you might try doubling up on the cookie sheets. That's what Marcy Goldman had us do with her breads the other week. It will keep the bottom from burning too much while allowing the center to cook more.

You wrote, " 'Natural flavor' is added to tubs of cottage cheese in the grocery store dairy case." What does that even mean?! Is it like "faking sincerity"?

If we had a nickel for every time we saw "natural flavor" in an ingredient list, well, we'd be nickel-rich. In fact, we'll see if we can get a general answer about that and post as a Chat Leftover next week. 

Under the Code of Federal Regulations, "natural flavor" is defined as: "the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

That clears things up, right? ;-)

The "Print This Recipe" version doesn't include all of the information in the Recipe Finder version. Specifically, it gives the Nutrition Facts per serving, but not the number of servings on which it's based, and often they're variable. Can you change it to include that info? Alternatively, is it safe to assume that it's always based on the largest number of servings (i.e. the smallest serving size)? Thanks for a great resource.

Thanks -- We'll mention that to our tech folks for the next upgrade of the Recipe Finder. But if the number of servings is a range, yes, the numbers are always based on the smallest serving size. So for a pie that serves 12 to 16, it's based on 16 servings.

Thanks for pointing out that inconsistency. It's odd because the "(based on XX)" we add to the nutritional info for recipes with a range shows up in the label you see on the main database page, but you're right, it doesn't seem to be carrying over to the printer-friendly version.

This may be a silly question, but I thought Pinot Noir was red -- the bottle shown in today's paper is white?

It's an empty bottle.

So I start to make the pumpkin turkey pasta dish in the Post a few weeks ago. I seed the tomatoes, then I look around. I have tomato flesh, I have seeds/core (to throw away), I have pureed tomatoes, I have tomato paste. I think to myself, why do I have all this? I ended up putting the seeds/core in with the puree and forgetting about the paste. The dish was fine (albeit, I have no idea how it was supposed to come out!). My question is why are there three kinds of tomato products in this recipe? What do I think about when deciding whether to use a different combination, how might the final dish be better/worse/different?

The tomato paste adds a little sweetness, further thickens the sauce. In using puree, you add volume to the sauce. The fresh tomatoes add texture. Sometimes seeds can taste bitter, which is why they're omitted from this dish. But hey, if it worked for you, that's what counts! This is a pretty forgiving, flexible recipe. 

Little Miss Muffett here, wondering about pouring dairy products into my plants as suggested in today's cottage cheese article. Really? Is there any downside to feeding plants a non-vegan diet? (I don't want my indoor garden to attract insects or turn into a Little Shop of Horrors.)

Really. I did this all last year in Maine, and the plants loved it. I watered it down -- up to one part whey, 9 or 10 parts water -- and they drank it down. This is an old, old use for whey, and I have heard of no Audreys resulting. (BTW, some people add it to their bath water and say it makes their skin nice and soft.)

Ooh, what perfect timing - I had recently decided that I should finally try cottage cheese for the first time in my adult life! I know, I'm bad. Someone told me when I was a kid that cottage cheese was moldy milk, which really grossed me out and I refused to touch it. But then I got used to not eating and just never thought about it again until recently. So I love that I now have to a DIY recipe to try! I guess my biggest question is what does cottage cheese actually taste like? Are we talking something like blue cheese, but creamier and not as salty? Or is it tangier like yogurt or sour cream?

Flavorwise, I think a little bit depends on what kind of coagulant is used.  When you make your own, you can make the curds as soft or firm as you like,  and that may affect the flavor (as in, level of noticeable salt) as well. Best I can say is that it should taste fresh and clean; not as tangy as sour cream or yogurt. And definitely not sour! 


Last summer I took my family to Buck's and ordered Vickie Reh's cottage cheese with high-season tomatoes, as a starter for the table. They looked at me like I was crazy! But they all ended up scraping the plate. Scraping it. I've been a little obsessed ever since. Took a while to convince Vickie to share her recipe with you, dear readers. And her cottage cheese was very good in these pancakes, too. Try it! question, just a thank you. I was the chatter who asked about a pot pie recipe that wasn't the regular chicken or turkey. I didn't end up making your suggestion, because, it turns out, my husband was all about the traditional. No worries, because the book I got from the chat had plenty of great recipes, one I did end up using. So, thank you!

Glad to hear it!

Best way of storing leafy greens like kale, chard, etc?

Really, the best way is to cook them when they're still fresh and store them in their cooking liquid, or drizzled with olive oil. Short of that, I think they last longest stored like salad greens -- and in my fridge that's washed and spun dry in the salad spinner, and then stored IN the spinner. Seems to keep just the right amount of humidity. You can also store them like cut flowers, but in the fridge. Just make sure to recut the stems every day or two.

Grey Poupon. When you can't scrape any more out of the "shoulders" of the jar, put in some wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar or balsamic, and shake it vigorously. Just keep it in the fridge to add to olive oil & you've got it made.


The cottage cheese article today was great. I love the homemade cottage cheese at Bucks (I love a lot of things at Bucks actually, it's such a great place). It's almost wrong to call it "cottage cheese," given that most people will just think of the grocery store variety, when what Bucks is making is so different and superior. For making this at home, how would you feel about using less cream or substituting half-n-half or whole milk to make it slightly less fattening?

Thanks! You know, for this recipe, it might be worth a try. Or maybe a fat-step up: light cream. I wouldn't use less cream, because as the cottage cheese sits, the curds absorb all of it. After a day's refrigeration, I stirred in a few more tablespoons. 


... of introducing new cooking styles is not to inform diners what you've done before they eat the food. (I realize the writer of the African food article is young.) If you don't tell them there's less salt, you find out whether they notice the missing salt or not. If you tell them, they're sure to notice. She also needs to do some reading up on the current thinking about healthy fats like coconut oil. Don't confuse unhealthy portion sizes with unhealthy food.

Fair point. On the coconut milk thing, I do think it's a balancing act. You're right that there has been new thinking about the benefit of those fats, but still you need to watch those calories. For recipe that includes two cups of it, those serving sizes would need to be VERY small.

Not only that, but if you start your seeds indoors, there's a thing called some kind of wilt that pouring milk over the seedlings will cure. Seriously.

Where is Tom's First Bite today? I don't see it on the Food section home page. Do I have to go somewhere else now to find it?

Sorry about that. We rely on someone in the Going Out Guide to add First Bite (and Good to Go) to their system before we can get it on our page. We will try to ensure that happens in a timely manner. It's up there now, but here's the link.

Our GOG friends are promising they'll produce it on Tuesdays, so you should see it by Wednesdays going forward.

They thrive on decomposed animal products. It's one of their jobs in life. Just sayin'...

Thank you.

So, I can freeze tomato sauce, yes?


Not only a whole Food section without glorifying pizza, but a beginning of a discussion of possible adverse effect of convenience foods on health. Every obese person struggling with diabetes has it brought upon themselves more often than not by daily indulging in delivery pizza and convenience foods. This is why I stop reading Food section the moment I see a picture or discussion of "the pies." (The only acceptable pizza is the one made from scratch at home. For full disclosure - your pizza and pizza baking technique on turned up side down cast iron pan is excellent and is (often - every 6-8 weeks) made in our home. Not counting "Lucy," I have no African ties, but I have thoroughly enjoyed Delice Smith Barrow's article, I found it very inspiring although I've never heard of the dishes and some of the ingredients she mentions. Nevertheless, she is on the right track. I will follow in my own way. I promise. Meanwhile, may I make a suggestion, make her life easier: teach her knife skills. With a sharp knife, a little guidance and some practice chopping can turn from formidable to rewarding and even therapeutic after a hard day at work. Give her a lesson and let her report.

Thanks! We have gone MANY Food sections without glorifying pizza, but we'll take your compliment...

If you're buying your produce in a grocery store, get rid of those flimsy plastic bags that cling to the produce. Something about those bags seems to speed up the rotting.

Yes. As does the crisper drawer, which I call the "rotter."

Thanks, Bonnie. I don't mind the seeds, and do mind the extra effort of seeding!, so for me the choice is obvious. I will include the tomato paste next time. Forgiving is just what I need at this stage of my kitchen "career". And thanks for the original recipe, I'm grateful!


Hi, thanks for your chats! I will soon be moving from a home with a Viking gas stove/range and a gas grill a few steps outside the kitchen door, to an all electric condo kitchen that doesn't allow grills on the balcony. After decades of cooking on gas, I feel like I have to learn to cook all over again! Can you recommend any cookbooks that are good in my new environment? And if you can think of anything that focuses on fish on the stove or in the oven, that would be even better. Thanks so much.

Have you considered induction cooking? That's what I'd do if I had to have all-electric. My sister and BIL switched to induction in Maine so they could power the stove with their solar panels, and while it takes some getting used to, I became a fan. It's so responsive, more so even than gas, but you have to get used to not picking up and shaking the pan all the time. As for cookbooks, hmm, I'm drawing a blank on something that would be particular to electric. Chatters, any thoughts?

Definitely making the cottage cheese - though will the recipe work as just half the batch? I don't want that much the first time through. I love good cottage cheese with (home-canned) apple butter or syrupy peaches and granola or wheat germ. On those lines, cultured buttermilk: can you make it at home? There's a local supplier in North Carolina that makes the most deliciously tangy (cultured) buttermilk; it's occasionally so thick that I need a spoon to get the first bit out of a bottle (and its delicious with stuff like granola). Since I no longer live in the area, I've been trying to figure out a way to get it--or replicate the flavor. Any ideas?

Yep, you can cut the basic recipe in half. And you can make cultured buttermilk at home; one way is to get a starter kit from places like this one.

Made some frosting last week but now have a lot of condensed milk leftover in the fridge. Any suggestion on how I can use it besides putting it in coffee?

Boil it down into dulce de leche! I like this technique, wherein you first transfer it to a glass jar or jars...

I have just roasted some otherwise inedible cherry tomatoes (mistake on SO's part) to use in sauces, etc. I will use some tonight but what is the best way to store the rest and for how long?

Stuff them into a ziptop freezer bag, get as much of the air out as possible, and freeze for, oh, I'd think up to a year.

Seriously? You really don't know what you're talking about!

I love the idea of healthful African dishes but we need to know how much sodium is in these dishes. The spicy chickpea and potato stew has 700+ per serving. Is there a way to cut this down?

You know, we did cut the sodium significantly, by using no-salt-added broth/tomatoes/chickpeas! I guess you could cut the amount of salt in the spice paste -- wouldn't go below 1/2 teaspoon. 

Lactic acid from the dairy products is used in many current anti-aging skin care products. It is alpha-hydrox or AHA. Citric , acid and glycolic acids are also on the list. Makes the skin smooth and soft.

While I partially agree with this poster, I'm not sure the statement "every diabetic obese person eats convenience or fast foods." While this certainly may be the case in the writer's observation, to say a large group of people all have the *exact* same situation seems unfair. Not to mention there are probably thin, non-diabetic people who also rely upon fast or convenience foods. The tone of this post was rather judgmental and unkind. There is a way to talk about weight and diabetes that does not shame people suffering from these disorders.

The poster did say "more often than not," but I take your point. And to stop reading the section anytime there's a mention of pizza seems a bit extreme, but, well, there you go.

I love condensed milk in chai or other strong Indian tea. It only takes a little. What about a single serving of tres leche cake?

Love it. Like muffin-sized!

I remember a favorite salad I grew up with: My mom would slice tomatoes and onions, add greens and a drained can of kidney beans, and make a dressing of oil, oregano and the juice left over from a jar of sweet pickles! I knew whenever we were running out of pickles that we would soon get that salad. So it's not just briney stuff that works -- and I never even thought of using jam jar remains. Thanks, Joe!

I'd really like to try this recipe, but... My local grocery store is a small one, and I won't be able to get okra -- either fresh or frozen. What would you suggest for a substitution? And: I don't have/can't easily get cumin seeds, though I do have ground cumin. Should I substitute even-steven or will the amount need to be reduced a bit to...what, 1 tsp? 1-1/4? Thanks!

Frozen green beans (the thicker kind) could work, but the okra does help thicken the stew. So add a slurry as well:  say, 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water, stirred together then added to the pot. To use ground cumin instead, try 1 teaspoon. 

Do any of you use these at all? I love them both! I throw hemp seeds into my quinoa porridge or into my yogurt, and love making chia seed 'puddings'. Any other uses or recommended recipes?

Hello guys, My boyfriend is a meat eater who is gluten free. He complains that I'm starving him when I cook vegetarian for him. Do you have any suggestions of filling, nutritious meals that we can enjoy together? Thanks so much!

I use left over pickle juice as a marinade for chicken or pork

Yep, and in potato salad, and as an electrolyte-replenishing drink, and as a pickleback, and made into a popsicle, and and and ...

I've always felt that electric ovens are more precise and responsive (provided you measure to make sure they are the right temp) while the gas burners are more responsive. Switching between the two is not a huge difficulty I promise. Just pay a bit of extra attention for a month or so while you get the feel. And just a word of caution about induction cook-tops. I've used them, and love them. BUT you must have certain pans (stainless steel I think? - aluminum won't do) AND my engineer husband who works with electromagnetic says we can't have one - he's concerned about the radiating EM waves that make it work and the effect they might have on people.

There are some pans that won't work with induction -- the basic test is that a magnet has to stick with it. So the most common that can't work are aluminum. Stainless steel are usually fine if there's a high enough percentage of steel. Cast iron works. Coated cast iron works. Copper doesn't work. But induction has gotten so much more popular, most pan manufacturers are adjusting. I tell people to just take a little pocket magnet with them when shopping for pans, and if it sticks to the bottom, it'll work on induction. I can't comment on your husband's worries, I'm afraid. Worth investigating, though.

You also can use whey to preserve vegetables (lactofermentation)--carrots are particularly tasty done this whey. (sorry!)

Of course!

No question ... just a thanks for the laugh-out-loud that I got.

You're welcome.

Let him cook his own meals, and you cook yours.

So harsh!

I know, you are reading and responding quickly. That said, do you really need to post things that include, " Every obese person struggling with diabetes has it brought upon themselves more often than not by daily indulging in delivery pizza and convenience foods. ?"

It's called a dialogue. If you have a response, please weigh in.

I just drink it.

Iced Vietnamese Coffee...tall glass, lots of icy with sweetened condensed milk in the bottom and the place I get it has little individual espresso drip maker, that is placed on top of the glass and hot water is added.


"Every obese person struggling with diabetes has it brought upon themselves more often than not by daily indulging in delivery pizza and convenience foods." Judgmental, aren't we? You may be surprised at the diseases you develop as you get older. Diabetes is quite common in India, for example, where there is little pizza and far fewer convenience foods.

Thanks for weighing in...

I asked a question last week about how to use dark miso, which I bought by accident. Most recipes calls for white miso. What's the difference and how can I use the dark miso I bought?

Generally, the lighter the miso, the sweeter and milder. The darker, the saltier and stronger and more aged. I like red miso in glazes for eggplant and squash (and for meat eaters, pork and red miso are a great combination). But it's also great in salad dressings -- just balance it out with other ingredients. My favorite miso dressing includes toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, miso.

Hi Rangers! Love the chat, I look forward to it every week. My fiance and I are trying to eat more seafood, in particular salmon. Any favorite cooking methods or flavor combinations that appeal to you? Last week we had a maple & rosemary combination that was lovely, but I would appreciate some more ideas. Thanks again!

There's a Walnut-Crusted Salmon in The Post's Local Living section tomorrow; already online now. To mix things up a bit, salmonwise, you could work your way through these recipes from our Recipe Finder:

Early Salmon Spring Packets (season's just around the corner)

Porter Ginger Salmon Skewers (beer!)

Poached Fillets of Sole and Salmon Thailandaise

Tarragon Salmon Kebabs With Sour Cream Sauce

Tomato and Smoked Salmon Pasta (i loved this one)

My son asked for spaghetti and meatballs for his birthday dinner. I looked up several meatball recipes but they all call to brown them in the pan. I would prefer to just bake them off, as it seems easier and less time consuming. I'll be using ground turkey. What temp and for how long should I bake the meatballs?

I'd have to see your recipe, but the browning step is aimed at getting some caramelization on the meatballs, not necessarily cooking them all the way through, and then they get finished in the sauce. You could bake, but I think you might risk drying them out, and it would take longer to get any kind of caramelization going.

adding a bit more fiber, ie. beans, into food helps to fill empty vegetarians.

replace the liquid in fresh bread recipes...delicious!

I love hummus and I love roasted chickpeas. Has anyone ever tried putting the two together to make roasted chickpea hummus? Would that even work?

I, too, love hummus. I, too, love roasted chickpeas. I, too, have not tried making roasted chickpea hummus. Would it work? Try it and let us know. 

I like topping hummus with fried chickpeas.

So glad you mentioned this in the article - Richard Nixon eating cottage cheese with ketchup. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline! That's because when President Nixon's liking for this odd combo first came to light in the early 1970s, my college roommate was aghast she and he had anything in common and she swore she wouldn't eat it again. Which got me to try it. And it was surprisingly tasty. If I don't mis-remember, at that same time, Mr. Nixon also revealed that he liked to drive on the Los Angeles freeway to relax.

Strange man. Still, we can't hold that against cottage cheese. 

I'd like to make the cottage cheese recipe, but what can I substitute at the end to make it a little healthier?

See earlier answer; this recipe's not a healthful one and shouldn't strive hard to be. But you could possibly reduce a little of the fat by using light cream or half-and-half instead.

Bake in foil packet along with with orange juice or white wine or terriayaki. Easy, no mes, and ohhh so tasty. Add spinach or squash to the packet for the veggie part of the meal.

Came back from California and am inspired to make fish tacos. However, I don't want to fry anything. How would I season and cook my fish?

In my last book, I had a reipe for fried catfish tacos with chipotle slaw, and I gave an option for baking the catfish fillet. For one serving (2 or 3 tacos), I used a 6-ounce fillet, cut into 2-inch strips. Season it with salt and pepper on both sides. Whisk an egg into a bowl. Spread 1/2 cup panko flates on a plate. Dredge each piece of fish first in the egg, then in the panko, packing it lightly with your hands to get it to stick. Bake on a small rack set on a baking sheet, at 425 for 10-12 minutes, or until ligh golden brown and crisp.

Just made a nice pot roast by combining Epicurious recipes. But have come to realize that this is not the country kitchen/diner meal that my husband really wanted. Any suggestions for a recipe for pot roast that doesn't include wine-It seems to give it such a "dark" flavor to him. Also, any suggestions for left over meals with the left-over pot roast? Like could you make a pasta sauce or soup out of it. Vegies are very soft-like mush

Pasta sauce would be easy; you could separate the meat from the veg/sauce and puree the latter, then shred the meat and return it to the sauce to heat through.


I bet you could riff on this Dark Pot Roast Chili from David Hagedorn. It was really, really good. Don't be daunted by the length of the ingredient list. Lots of spices. 

I make large batches of meatballs all the time, and I bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. I've found that baking them on a wire rack, rather than a baking sheet, lets them brown on all sides. I use equal parts ground beef, ground turkey, and ground pork, plus spices, egg, milk, and breadcrumbs in my recipe.

Back in the era of ice boxes, milk went "off" quickly, especially during warm weather. So my grandmother, the daughter of German immigrants, had learned from her mother to use soured milk to make cottage cheese (just adding a bit of salt for flavor), because they couldn't afford to waste food. By the time I came along post-WW II, my parents had a Servel gas refrigerator, plus my mother grocery shopped every other day, so it was rare that milk spoiled. But when it did, my mother would still make cottage cheese, although I never liked it as well as store-bought (guess I didn't know any better!). Nowadays, my husband and I only grocery shop once a week, and don't have lots of time for kitchen projects, so soured milk just goes into pancakes in lieu of buttermilk, while cottage cheese is bought in 24-ounce tubs. My great-grandmother must be spinning in her grave!

So glad you could share that. I feel like a generation of cottage cheese memories could be jogged loose and reenergized -- at least to bring back the Cowgirl Creamery version, if not some enterprising dairy vendors' takes on it, at farmers markets. 

I did that when I was a kid, but I've graduated to the brine that my capers come in. I must have some kind of electrolyte deficiency.

You can achieve a nice dark gravy by adding a little soy sauce.

I'd love to make the Smoked Beer-Braised Beef Shanks mentioned in last week's chat but I can't seem to find Beef Shanks, so what can I substitute? Also, what is smoked beer? Brand examples?

Smoked beer is just that, beer that is lightly (or not so lightly) smoked. The German Rauchbier is the most common. You can find it at Whole Foods and some select liquor stores. Rogue also makes a smoked beer. 

Ask your butcher for the beef shanks. They become meltingly tender, like a kind of osso bucco. But if you can't find beef shanks, you could go with a slow, long braise of a small brisket.

I enjoyed the cottage cheese article, but noticed that it is very similar to making paneer. The differences being that I bring the milk up to a near boil and use milk with a higher fat content (2% or whole). One question. Could one get away with whole milk or half-and-half instead of cream?

Paneer, pot cheese, farmers cheese, ricotta...all similar methods at some point. Whole milk prob not. See earlier answer; it's a lovely indulgence! 

is there any way to pick the crisp ones? or is it just too late to be buying apples. seems like half are and half aren't.

The only way to really know is to sample. But generally, we're getting to that part of the year when the apples stored since last fall indeed have lost much of their crispness, even if stored well.

I just meant, let him bring a meat dish of his own when he's over at GF's and she's cooking.

But I like the idea that maybe he can learn to enjoy some meatless meals, too.

Thanks for the wonderful article by Delece Smith-Barrow regarding making her family's traditional recipes healthier. I am in a similar situation as a child of Persian immigrants who was born in Iran but grew up in the States. Many of the meals I grew up eating and enjoying, I realize now are not the healthiest. BUt like Delece, I've learned to make slight adaptations---ie: broiling the eggplant rather than pan frying for stew. It's a process but there is a way to enjoy ethnic and traditional foods without sacrificing health!

My MIL, when informed that her husband the picky eater really wanted to eat spinach, made him a spinach quiche. He was polite but disappointed as he had been longing for the overcooked lump of watery seaweed of his childhood.

Bonnie, you've gotta come up with a recipe to give this name to! You can start people thinking that cottage cheese thighs are desirable! And that will make many of our lives much easier, especially in bathing-suit season. Thanks in advance!

I'd give this an LOL but it hits too close to home. :(

Why do we even think of cottage cheese as diet food? I remember I used to order a tomato stuffed with cottage cheese for lunch, thinking it was non-fattening. But if it's made with cream, how "lite" can it be?

Your order was prob as non-fattening as  you thought it was. The stuff you can buy at the grocery store is mostly likely NEVER made with cream! Curds are formed from nonfat milk; nonfat milk plus thickeners can be used to finish it off. Homemade cottage cheese is a different story!

Well, you've pinched off bite-sized pieces of us, letting us fall into a large bowl as you work, then you've gently folded in a cup of heavy cream until we slightly thicken. So you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the questions today, and the great answers. Now for the giveaway books.

The person who asked about using up olive brine will get "The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook." And the one who asked about "natural flavor" in cottage cheese will get "The Ultimate Soups and Stews Book." Send your mailing info to, and we'll get you your book.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is editor of the Food section; joining us today are deputy editor Bonnie Benwick, staff writer Tim Carman, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and Spirits columnist Jason Wilson.
Recent Chats
  • Next: