Free Range on Food: Our bread issue, including a sourdough primer, an easy white sandwich loaf, gluten-free bread, English muffins and more, plus freezing vegetables, using dried herbs and pantry cooking.

Mar 25, 2020

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

The first thing we want to say to everyone is that we know how difficult the last weeks have been as we try to grocery shop and cook and eat while dealing with the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Food and dining editor Joe Yonan wrote to readers, asking: “What do you most want to read? What types of recipes and how-to articles would most help you meet your challenges in the kitchen these days?” We want to know, so tell us here or shoot us an email at

One of the significant challenges to home cooking has been that we don’t have the access to all of the ingredients that we once had. For example, we're experiencing a flour and yeast shortage at the groceries.

If you’ve got the ingredients on hand, we have plenty of bread recipes and how-tos from which to choose. The authors of a recent batch of bread-baking stories are all on the chat today. They include Kristen Hartke (white bread), Aran Goyoaga (gluten-free), Cathy Barrow (sourdough starter and crackers), Eliza McGraw (sourdough loaves) and, of course, our own Becky Krystal (English Muffins).

These days more than ever what we make for dinner is based on what’s already in our freezers, refrigerators or pantries.

To that end, we’ve been exploring how to get the most out of dried herbs and frozen fruits and vegetables. Becky gives dried herbs their due here. And, food writer Angela Davis, who is also joining us in this chat, offers advice for freezing your own fresh produce

Also on the chat with us this week is award-winning chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis. She’s an expert at from-the-pantry and -freezer cooking, so ask away.

One thing that many of us do have in our pantry is beans, dried and canned. Kari Sonde gathered some her favorite bean recipes from our recipe archive.

We all seem to be reaching for comforting dishes as well. I made a pork chop dish that is served with a heaping spoonful of one of my favorite comfort foods: Rice.

Joe Yonan made the most delicious batch of simple mushroom quesadillas. As he noted: “You can complicate almost any dish, but it’s pretty hard to do that with quesadillas.”

Nourish columnist prepared a batch of sesame olive oil cookies that go perfectly with a hot cup of tea.

Eggs are playing a greater role in many of our meals, too. And, a perfectly poached egg is protein-packed topping for so many dishes. Becky tested a few poaching theories and offers advice on getting it just right.

Just because you’re biting into a sandwich for lunch, doesn’t mean you can’t make it at least a little be more exciting. Kari Sonde rounded up a batch of delicious cold sandwich ideas.

What did you cook this week? How have you changed your eating and cooking habits during this time of “social distancing?”

If you’re having to adjust your eating-out frequency, we gathered a few resources to help the novice cook get a bit more comfortable in the kitchen.

If you’ve got ingredients and aren’t sure what to make, don’t forget to visit our Recipe Finder. Just search for an ingredient and we bet you’ll find a dish you can modify and make. 
All the best.

Just wanted to say thank you for your all your wonderful recipes! I made your Chocolate Chip-Mocha Scones With Cacao Nibs a few years ago, when my partner and I were newly dating. She's having a rough time adjusting to WFH and missing her co-workers and just seeing people. Although I can't fix those problems, I thought I could at least make a special Wednesday breakfast for her today -- and remembered these scones. They did not disappoint! Wednesday scones may need to become a tradition as long as we're home. Also wanted to say when I talked to my uncle over the weekend he was busy making your english muffins!!

Wow, I'm not crying you're crying :')

Chicken & Rice in Lemon Zest Yogurt - several steps, but lots of flavor. Bow Tie Pasta With Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce - I use a can of tomatoes instead of the peppers. The sugar is essential. Fudgy Flourless Brownies, Simple Cinnamon Coffee Cake - also excellent with blueberries and lemon zest Up next: Drop Cream Biscuits and (an oldie) Brown-Sugar-and-Beer-Braised Beef - multiple hearty meals for the housebound.

Fudgy Flourless Brownies

Oh my goodness, gold star for you for doing so many of our recipes! Love it!

And did you mean Dorie Greenspan’s Belgian Beef and Beer Stew? If so, yes, definitely!

I run a small food-cooked-to-order-and-delivered business. What's the most polite way to tell vegetarians that their business isn't welcome?

The most polite way would be to keep it to yourself. 

I'm curious why their business isn't welcome, but I agree with Joe that there's likely no need to broadcast that you don't want them to order from you.

My starter was going great until day five after which it smelled bad, was separated and no more bubbles. What do you think happened?

Did you try giving it a really good stir, taking most out, and feeding it equal parts water and flour? I know the separation in particular can look daunting but you  might be able to bring it back to bubbling with some new food.

Smelled bad? I wonder if it smelled fermented (which is good) or rotten (which is bad.) I can't evaluate from here (social distancing!) but if you get to day 5 again and have that same odor, stop to really evaluate what you are smelling. Liquid is often present at the surface of a starter. It should be stirred in before beginning the feeding process. Lack of bubbles also worrisome. You may want to check the temperature in the space where your starter is stored. Is it too warm -- over 72? If so, it could bloom and deflate and over-ferment. Is the sun hitting it? That could bring the temperature up, too. Good luck with your next attempt. 

I'd love to try GF sourdough. Can I make a starter from scratch at home. Also, I have an egg and a dairy allergy that I have to work around. I'd that possible?

Yes you can. Only takes a Gf whole grain flour (brown rice and buckwheat and teff are great) and water. I have a recipe for it and the sourdough boules in my cookbook Cannelle et Vanille. The bread is GF and vegan 

Hey!! I started a sourdough starter with 100% brown rice flour and it was doing great, I’ve baked my first bread and had great success. So proud! Then I ran out of the brown rice flour and used Pamela’s all purpose flour to feed it. It’s a combination of flours. My starter seems gummy, dull and not bubbling as much as it used to. I’m worried I kidded Glutie Freida, yes I named my starter. Quarantine tell you! Yesterday I sliced a piece of apple and tossed it in the starter little bubbles formed around it. Don’t know if it’s helping. I’m wondering what I can do to bring her back to life. Help. Thank you for your time. Amy.

Hi Amy, I'm  fascinated reading your post! I have never worked with gluten free flours and had no idea how they might work in a starter. It seems like you've done all the right things, especially adding that apple slice. I have no solid advice for you, just a big hurrah of enthusiastic support. Please let us know how it goes.

Hi, yes those blends are pretty much all starch. You need whole grain for the germ where most of the wild yeast lives. So you are probably not replenishing the yeast in your starter. Also, check if the blend has xanthan gum. It likely does and it's making it be gummy. You can use buckwheat flour for your starter too. 

I stocked up with healthy foods. Now I want something sweet. I accidentally grabbed vanilla instead of unsweetened hemp milk. I have a bag of brown rice. Do you have a recipe for rice pudding in a slow cooker. I have honey and white sugar but I would prefer not too sweet.

We have some rice puddings, but none that fit your requirements of hemp milk, slow cooker and brown rice.

Anyone else?

We didn't have any whole wheat flour, but they turned out delicious anyhow with 100% AP flour plus 1 teaspoon per cup of wheat gluten. We would definitely make them again. BTW, we fried half the batch after 12 hours, then the rest 24 hours later (a total of 36 hours for the final rise), and couldn't detect any real difference in quality. Also, the leftover muffins toast beautifully.

Yes!! I am so glad to hear that. I may have to get my hands on some vital wheat gluten, too, if it's around (looks like generally... no). My bread flour supply will not hold up forever, and I'm in decent shape on AP for a bit anyway. Let's hope stores restock soon!

So right on the long rise. When we shot the story, I made one batch of dough on a Friday and then griddled them on Monday afternoon. No problem.

Love hearing from everyone who has been making these. Really brightens my day in such challenging times!

No-Knead English Muffins

RECIPE: No-Knead English Muffins

Not a question, but a heartfelt thank you to all of you! I had made the decision to go vegetarian for Lent, and had stockpiled all of Joe's recipes that I could; I also bought Cool Beans. I'm happy to report that my husband hasn't felt deprived at all without nightly meat dishes. Every recipe I've made has turned out to be delicious, and I especially want to thank you for turning me onto Rancho Gordo beans. The French green lentils are fantastic! Sorry for the long post, but thank you everyone for making my "sacrifice" so enjoyable!

So happy to hear this! Let us know if you have any questions about anything! We're happy to help.

When do you feed the starter? When it's flat or when its bubbly? I get confused... and is it ok to leave on the counter and continue feeding if you bake every other day?

Once you have built your starter or while you are building it?

You feed starter when the yeast is done eating all its food (flour) and water. In my process, once my starter is active, I keep it dorm in the fridge and I activate it at room temperature when I am going to make bread.

Can the bread be made without a stand mixer?

Yes it can. make sure you mix all the flour and water well so it's well hydrated.

Can the recipe be halved?


Some of your recipes in the book call for almond flour. Do you have a comparable sub you recommend for folks with tree nut allergies? Thank you!!

I am assuming this question is about the recipes in my book? You can substitute with half more while grain flour and half more starch. So for example if the recipe has brown rice flour, almond flour and tapioca starch, I'd take the weight of the almond flour and do half brown rice flour and half of that tapioca starch. 

What can you do if the dough mixture is very liquid by the time you need to shape it and split in two?

That may mean it's not ready to be shaped yet. If it's still really puddling on you, give it an extra fold and a little more time, and then try again. High hydration doughs can be harder to work with but stick with it -- you will get there.

How can I hear the chat? Trying to get in to listen but can’t figure out how?

You cannot listen to it. You can only read it. Sorry for any confusion.

A few weeks ago when Brother Andrew was a guest here, I asked him about his recipe that used up ingredients in the pantry, because of the importance of not letting food go to waste. (Wow, was I prescient, or what?). Anyhow, I wonder if you could have him back to discuss dealing with making food from what people have on hand, including improvising, when marketing frequently isn't currently feasible.

As soon as I find all the ingredients, I'm hoping to make the homemade, better-than-Thomas'-English Muffins. Could not be more excited! Question - I have a glass-top electric stove. Is the cast iron pan essential? Everything I've seen says not to combine cast iron and glass cook-tops.

Good news! I never listen to that advice. Yes, you don't want to drop cast iron on the glass or drag it on the glass but otherwise, 100% safe. If I listened to that, I wouldn't be able to cook anything on my cooktop at home or in the lab. 

I do really like using cast iron here. It retains the heat well, which is what you want since the muffins get griddled for so long over a relatively low heat. That being said, I don't think it's a disaster if you use another skillet, but timing and results may vary.

I made pumpkin spice cupcakes with mascarpone buttercream (not whipped cream) frosting. Can I freeze them? Any tips? Should i freeze them unfrosted and frost them later?

No, because I need some of those ASAP, lol.

But, yes, you can freeze. I have frozen both frosted and unfrosted cupcakes. The frosted ones come out pretty well, but if you're particular about the buttercream texture, maybe just do unfrosted. If you have the buttercream, you can freeze that separately. Do it flat in a ziptop bag so it defrosts quickly and then beat again before using.

A couple of weeks ago I made a big Pavlova for the first time. It was for a fancy dinner with some friends and I made a Mandarin Orange and Huckleberry topping mixed into a Orange Marmalade reduction. Sweetened whipped cream on top of all that. It was delicious. I was disappointed in the visual appearance of my Pavlova though. It wasn't white it was kinda light brown and was cracked and frankly ugly. Everything piled on top pretty much hid it's unattractiveness but how do you make a Pavlova that is nice and white and free of cracks.

That sounds great! Not sure you did much wrong! My recipe does turn a very pale light brown and even crack. Didn't bother me. Here are a few tips from Good Housekeeping. You can consider lowering the temp and letting the pavlova cool overnight in the oven, if you didn't do that already.

Simple Customizable Pavlova

RECIPE: Simple Customizable Pavlova

I've recently been attempting to bake the GF bread with caraway seeds and black olives from cannelle et vanille and I was wondering: is it possible to bake this loaf in a cast iron/Dutch oven type set up? If so, how is the cooking time affected?


This recipe needs a bit of structure and that is why I bake it in the loaf pan. If you are going to bake it in a cast iron Dutch oven without support of the pan, I would recommend adding a bit more psyllium husk powder, another 5 grams or so to help it really gel well. Also, make sure not to overproof the dough. 30 minutes is probably enough.

I've been baking sourdough breads for over 10 years. I would like to incorporate more whole wheat into the breads, possibly 100%. Is that possible?

Yes, but your bread may be a bit denser than you are used to. I also find that the bulk rise is a bit longer when I use just whole wheat. You might want to try a 50/50 mix with bread flour and see what you think about that before going to 100% whole wheat. Good luck!

Looks like going out for Easter Brunch is not happening, and my family is not a lamb/ham family. I am thinking of making a turkey. Any ideas of what to serve to make it more spring and less Thanksgiving?

Angela Davis:

Turkey or roasted chicken would be a great alternative. I suggest incorporating some lighter sides than Thanksgiving - think potato salad instead of mashed, sauteed green beans to preserve the bright green color & crispness, any kind of green salad, radishes roasted in butter, candied carrots, etc. Take advantage of spring produce. I would even go so far as to do an herb sauce for the meat instead of gravy, like chimichurri or Italian salsa verde.

I made your Gochujang-Honey Skirt Steak recipe. It was so easy, but I spent so much time trying to clean my grill pan afterward. I tried my usual techniques of kosher salt plus nylon brush, pan scraper, and even boiling water in the pan, but there's still a faint outline of the meat and texture. Does this call for stripping and reseasoning, or should I just keep cooking in the pan as it is? Ideally I'd have a nice smooth surface. Thanks!

Angela Davis:

For my cast iron grill pan, I stick to salt and non-abrasive scrubbers to remove food particles. Over time there is still quite a heavy build up of the patina but this helps make it non-stick, so I don't try to scrape that off. Try Barkeeper's Friend as a cleaner if you aren't getting the results you'd like otherwise.

Becky has some great advice for caring for cast iron here.

Have made mushroom chickpea burgersSnickerdoodle Blondies in the past week, have mapo tofu & mushroom bourguignon on the menu for the upcoming one. Thanks for helping keep our house fed & keep me sane via stress cooking!

Vegetarian Mapo Tofu

Thank you for cooking along with us! All great picks.

i made your amazing fast focaccia bread Sunday, using bread flour in place of about 2/3 's of the all purpose flour thinking that would be all right. Did I alter this too much? Not sure if this bread needed that extra shot of gluten. The bread was consumed in record time; great recipe!

Hey, if you liked the way it turned out, no problem! Of course, I tested the recipe as it's written and didn't think it was lacking gluten. But definitely some room for interpretation.

Fast Focaccia

RECIPE: Fast Focaccia

Your article on poaching eggs didn't mention the simplest solution: the microwave oven. I have an egg poacher similar to this one from Nordic Ware, so I can have poached eggs in about 60 seconds. I actually use it more often for hard cooked eggs for egg salad, it takes another 30-60 seconds.

I really wanted to come up with a solution that didn't require another piece of equipment. Pot, water, spoon and done.

I want to try the English muffin recipe but the only flour I have is all-purpose. Can I use that instead of the flours called for in your recipe? Thanks!

Word on the street from other readers is yes, that should work. Dough might be a little looser/wetter. If you have some vital wheat gluten, throw some of that in. But worth a shot!

I love that you have a recipe for bread using white whole wheat flour. I have some, and have never felt comfortable using it in recipes that don't specifically call for it. Can it freely be substituted for all-purpose flour or bread flour? Might certain types of recipes be too dense? Can you give me guidance on when it works well, or if it could substitute for half the flour in a recipe? Thanks.

White wheat flour can really be substituted for any recipe that calls for white flour -- it's not the same as whole wheat, not nearly as dense, but does offer more nutrition than white flour. I've never had any trouble using it as a 1:1 substitute!

I have several recipes that call for equal parts milk and heavy cream (bread pudding, cream soups, custards, etc.). Is there any reason to purchase both as opposed to using half and half?

Not in my experience. I never buy half-and-half (it's neither here nor there). Just combine milk and cream and you've made your own.

What’s the most efficient, effective and “green” way to deal with food items from the grocery store? Angela is the best!

Hi there! I want to be sure I understand your question. Can you clarify what you're trying to achieve or the specific problem you have? Can resubmit as a new question. Thanks, Angela!

How to build a starter for those of us who are need to the process

Hi, I have a recipe in my cookbook Cannelle et Vanille. All you need is a whole grain GF flour like brown rice or buckwheat and water. It takes about 5-6 days to build it.

I am all about the comfort food these days. now that my pan of Rice Krispie treats is finished, I am craving stuffed cabbage. I like to make mine with ground turkey, but it's so low in fat that the 'stuffed' part is often really dry. I know it needs some kind of fat or something to moisten it up...but what? how do i make the 'stuffed' cabbage juicier?

You're on the right track -- add fat! Whatever fat you want!

First suggestion is to make sure you're using ground turkey made from thighs - Whole Foods is one of the few stores that specifies it came from dark meat. 

Duck fat is my trick for adding fat that still tastes like poultry though. Minced sauteed mushrooms can also help increase moisture. -- Angela Davis

Hi Aran! I recently tried your GF sourdough starter and things looked like they were going great (starter was airy and bubbly and smelled like yogurt) but on the last night (night 4) the starter stopped rising (very few bubbles) we continued just in case and prepared some for the bread, it did not rise at all. Currently trying to “revive it” but wondering if you had any tips or ideas for troubleshooting a starter? Thank you!

Hi, likely it was active and too hungry to wait 24 hour feed. Discard half of the starter (use it in. awake recipe in place of yogurt or sour cream). Transfer the remaining starter into a clean bowl and feed it 75g superfine brown rice flour and 95g filtered water at 80-85F. Whisk and ferment for 8-12 hours until you see some bubbles. Then feed it again same amounts. It's about feeding it more yeast particles. Repopulating it. Good luck!

I made a batch of chicken stock this weekend (just flavored water, essentially, not enough collagen to enrich it). I strained it, poured it into some freezer bags and then completely forgot to put them in the freezer, so the stock sat on my counter top overnight in the bags (I had tried to press out air, but there's always a few small pockets that remain). I threw it in the freezer once I realized what I did, but is there any safe way to still consume it? Or should I just toss it out? And I fully understand the FDA would say no, no safe way, toss it. But isn't it also basically just flavored water?

Eh, I would not risk it. I haven't chemically analyzed chicken stock, but I suspect there's still plenty of chicken residuals (protein, fats, etc.) that might not hold up so well at room temp. So frustrating, but better safe than sorry. This is not the time to be messing around with food poisoning!

My college aged daughter is not a fan of beans or onions, but I would like to cook some vegetarian recipes while we are stuck at home. Can you recommend an entry level entree that she might like?

Well, I of course think she just hasn't met the right beans (or bean recipe), BUT here are some ideas for veg dishes that are bean-free. (Well, except for one with chickpeas, cause ... really? She must like chickpeas!) Keep in mind you can/should adapt these to whatever you have around, right?

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad With Crispy Broccoli

Mushroom Quesadillas

Spicy Tahini Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Hello! I have an allergy to flax seed and am wondering what I can use in place of it in your sourdough boule recipe.

Use 15 g of additional psyllium husk powder in its place

Hi Rangers! Where I live has been hit with the flour panic-buying just as my flour bin hit empty. My husband brought home the only flour he could find, which turned out to be oat flour. I made pancakes with it, and the texture was decidedly gluten-free. I found a King Arthur flour recipe for an oatmeal bread that used some oat flour in it, which I'll try out, but any other ideas for a good use of oat flour? Thank you!

Do you have a recipe for rugbrod? I'm hearing so much about this gorgeous looking bread - did not see it on your recipe finder. Thanks!

I have a GF version made with sunflower seeds and buckwheat in my cookbook. It is a delicious bread.

Sorry. We do not. Free Rangers, do any of you?

I enjoyed Mary Beth's presentation very much, and decided to give her Coconut Rice a try. I found it to be really easy, but a little low in coconut flavor - lime is mainly what I tasted. I used the same brand of coconut milk as in the video, and was careful to whisk the contents of the can back together before measuring and cooking. Any suggestions for punching up the coconut flavor in the Coconut Rice would be appreciated - thanks!

When I make coconut rice, I add a pinch of sugar to bring out the flavor. If you're not opposed to the texture, add some toasted (unsweetened) coconut flakes too. You can toast them gently in the oven or in a skillet until golden, then garnish your rice with it. -- Angela Davis

I went out to plant peas and discovered 6 lovely heads of cabbage that had overwintered. I am thinking of trying to ferment some. Suggestions recipes?

Basic sauerkraut is covered in this recipe. If you want to get creative, depending on your pantry, you could make also make kimchi.

Please go to our Recipe Finder and type in cabbage. You'll find many recipes, like this one for Pork Chops and Cabbage with a Mustard Cream Sauce.

If you don't already have yeast, forget any recipes that are yeast rising - none to be found in the stores up here in Frederick. My guess is people bought with good intentions but at least half the people will try once and give up. At least I have enough active dry yeast for a few batches of my usual. But your English muffin recipe had motivated me to get a jar of instant yeast. Guess I'll have to wait.

A few weeks ago before the madness hit I was trying to reach the free shipping minimum on Sur La Table and decided to throw a 1-pound bag of instant yeast into my cart. Boy am I glad I did! I should be set for ages. 

You can probably get away with active dry. Proof the yeast first in a portion of the milk (maybe warm it up slightly) separately. Then add to the rest and proceed with the recipe. I suspect the first rise might take longer, but overnight is probably still sufficient for the second in the fridge.

You read my mind on your timely bread article. I am one of those people who has never made bread but thought of buying flour and yeast during this time. But, I don't have a thermometer. Any tips on how to bloom the yeast without one? Or, should I try to see if I can get one? Thanks!

Sorry if I'm missing a specific recipe you're asking about, but in general you don't have to do this unless a recipe asks you to. Instant can just be added directly to the dry ingredients and King Arthur even says most active dry has been formulated to behave similarly to instant. If you still need/want to get the yeast jump started, you can probably judge a rough temp by hand. I'm sure there are plenty of guides out there, but the water should feel warm but not scalding. If it's too hot for you, definitely too hot for the yeast.

Can I use buckwheat flour to start my sourdough starter?

Buckwheat is an entirely different animal than wheat. I have never made a starter with it, but I have added it to the flour mix when I make waffles. It's wonderful for flavor but not reliable when you're looking for something to rise.

Yes you can! And it's delicious. 

Mmm, really good. I only got eleven because it is hard to measure, i just did two spoonfuls. After they sit in the refrigerator they still look like semi wet blobs.. But once you cook them they blow up into nice muffins. I have an electric stove and cooked them on 3 for seven minutes a side. They dont scorch where there is cornmeal. It is a keeper, thanks. Oh and super easy!

Thank you so much, I am thrilled to hear that!

How do you substitute sorghum flour? How to prevent crumb from being sticky? How to substitute regular flour for home-made gluten free mix on cookies?

You can use another GF whole grain flour like buckwheat and teff although they are earthy flavors. The crumb is likely sticky because your psyllium husk powder is not fine enough (is not absorbing all the water well). Make sure to pulverize your psyllium into a fine powder using a Vitamix or a clean coffee grinder. 

Just in case anyone missed it, here are more tips from Aran on making gluten-free bread. This loaf was delicious!

What to use as a baking vessel for bread if you don’t have a cast iron Dutch oven?

You can use a clay pot. The goal is to create steam within the vessel to develop a nice crust and help with rise. 

I made corn muffins the other night. It's usually hard to peel the paper off after they are done, so this time, I gave all the paper liners a little spritz of butter-flavored Pam before filling them with the batter. It worked like a charm. The recipe already had an entire stick of butter in it, so I didn't notice any extra greasiness. Another great use of Pam: spray the measuring spoon or cup before you measure out honey or molasses.

Yup! Definitely a fan of the measuring cup trick. Or I just measure out oils first in my spoons before doing sticky stuff. For muffins, I also really like baking spray, which has flour mixed in. I tend to use that for muffins so I can skip the paper liners entirely.

cooking oil spray

ARTICLE: Cooking oil spray can do more than you think. Here’s how to get the most out of it.

I have several large pieces of (originally) very good cheese that dried out to point where they can't be cut. (I do know how to properly store them... let's call in a family communication issue.) The usual solution (pureeing into cheese ball) isn't possible because I can't even hack them up with a cleaver. I know that when I drop rigidly hardened parm rinds into stew they soften to point where they're good to eat. Would it be worth experimenting in my instant pot? No guarantees, but speculatively, might I experiment with cheese: on a rack above water with pressure? Steaming w/o pressure? submerged under pressure?  Thanks for any speculations. We're under lockdown and I can't keep giving space to food we won't be eating, but this is likely to be the last time I'll have access to these for some years.

Have you considered grating the cheese to use in another dish, perhaps something baked or a soup? Can use a fine grater as you would for parm.

What are the best flours to use to grow a starter?

In my experience brown rice flour, buckwheat and teff. For the buckwheat and teff I look for the lighter versions. For the teff called ivory 

If you don’t have 2 Dutch ovens, what can you do with the 2 boules while the other one cooks? :)

Good question. Keep the second dough in refrigerator while the first one is baking. This slows down fermentation 

So, I haven't cooked this much or this consistently in a really long time (possibly ever). I have a small condo kitchen -- How do I best keep up with all of the dirty pots, pans, implements, etc?

Do you have a dishwasher? If so, I say use it ALL THE TIME. I know some people try to keep up with everything by hand, but not me. Now, of course, pots/pans are a different story, aren't they? I'm sure chatters have strategies, but one is: Try to rinse it out as soon as you're done with it. It makes it so much easier to clean than if you let food sit in it.

Do you have anyone with you? Put them on dish duty. My sister is quarantined with us and she doesn't cook so....dishes.

My one piece of advice (as someone who also hates to clean after cooking but won't let anyone else do it - I've delegation issues, but that's a topic for another day) is to clean as much as possible as you cook. I know it sounds kind of basic, but that's helped me the most in my cooking.

Run your home kitchen like a restaurant kitchen -- i.e. wash each item as soon as you're done with it. That's how you can keep the dishes from piling up!

I bought a case of sardines recently as an emergency backup food. It was a brand (Wild Planet) that I had never eaten before, so I sampled a can. Wow! They are delicious — easily the best sardines I’ve ever eaten. I read the can and found out that they’re from two Northern Pacific species versus the Northern Atlantic species I apparently had been eating for over half a century. Curious to know if you’ve ever done a sardine panel tasting, or written any articles about sardines? I want to learn more about them. (I did search WaPo and found lots of sardine-y items, but not any tastings or whole articles specifically about sardines and only sardines. Anyhow, I have been eating a can for breakfast every day for two weeks now (with naan) and no end in sight. Thank you for continuing to chat with us. Hope you all stay well.

I'm a big fan of the tiny-but-mighty fishie! They're delicious!!

I'm from the Basque Country in the Atlantic side of Spain and sardines and anchovies are our live. So good for you. I always bring a bunch of cans home when I visit my family. I go straight into the canneries.

I don't think we've done a tasting. You are right on the recipes. There are a healthy number in the Recipe Finder, including this Lightened Up Caesar Salad that looks tasty.

I was raised eating poached eggs in milk. I cook them pretty much as you described in the article. I get the milk simmering then slip the eggs in. I let them cook for a few minutes then start ladling hot milk over the top. I made them this morning and I wish I could send you a picture. They were perfect. No raggedy edges at all.


I enjoyed Tim's favorite bread article today, including the artwork in the dead tree version. My question is about injera. Specifically, have any of you made a truly outstanding version? A while back, a friend and I decided to dig into Ethiopian cooking and found it all fun and easy to make here in the DMV with our plethora of grocery options. But the injera - not so easy. We bought teff and tried at least 8 different recipes, from 100% teff to including ww flour, buckwheat flour, etc. WE fermented but still, the best result was one that resembled whole wheat tortillas. Never got that fluffy, cratered top. Fortunately there is a great Ethiopian restaurant nearby so we now just buy their terrific injera. But still, I feel bad that I can't do this

I don't know any home cook who has made it, so you're way ahead of me!

Here's Tim's story on the top 10 breads, in case you missed it.

I’ve been making your wonderful sourdough for months. My last 3 loaves have had a huge air gap on the top of the loaf but bread is perfectly cooked. I tried reducing proof time but that hasn’t helped. Suggestions? I start it overnight 10 hours. Could that contribute to over proofing?

Hi, I assume this is a GF sourdough loaf correct? You can do various things. reduce first starter fermentation to 4 hours, mix your dough and proof that in the baskets for 1 hour or up to 8 hours in refrigerator. Another thing you can try is to reduce your starter amount in the dough by 10%. Your starter is likely super active so you don't need as much. Good luck.

What's the most polite way to tell vegetarians that their business isn't welcome? Just tell them you can't accommodate their dietary needs. As you would if they requested no nuts, or gluten free, and you couldn't accommodate those!

There will be moments when you have down time - such as sauteing onions before adding anything else. While keeping an eye on it, look for things to put away / put in the dishwasher. Things generally look worse than they are. Top tip: keep your measuring things out in case you need them again.


Resubmitting this bec I’m not sure I submitted it right in the first place… My mothers starter has been going strong for over half a century but I am a terrible heir. I have been way too busy this year to keep it up. Given the shortage of yeast, I am trying to revive it. Two questions. What do I do with the brackish fluid on top - throw it away or mix it in? I have never been harmed by it. Secondly, what’s the most efficient qty to revive it over and over such that I do not waste flour

Brackish fluid should be vigorously stirred in, if it is pale brown but not if it is black. You can revive as little as an ounce or two of the starter, matched with equal weights of flour and water. That small amount (3 ounces) should be fed regularly to maintain the vigor of the starter, and then can be boosted when you are ready to bake something by feeding and not casting off anything.

I have to say, adding a bit of vinegar and making a vortex has left me with no raggedy edges. You didn't find that? My method is to side the egg into boiling water, cover and move off the heat, leave for ~ 3.5 minutes. Turns out a treat. I love with an an english muffin sitting on top of some wilted spinach. No hollandaise though!

It has never really worked for me. I'm not going to say it doesn't work for everyone. I just found that my results were just as good, if not better, being as simple as possible!

I can't give you a list of the WaPo recipes I make frequently, because roughly 85% of my recipes (and I cook dinner 25+ days each month) are WaPo recipes! Lots of favorites and perfect 10s in the mix. I also bought "Cool Beans" and everything we've tried so far is excellent. Congratulations, Joe!

A double-compliment! Thanks so much. Keep cooking!

For the GF boules recipe is it ok to put it in the fridge and bake the next day? How long to proof? Will it affect the rise?

Yes it is. Between 8-12 hours seems ok but depends on how active your starter is. Bake directly from fridge into oven. 

I'm not a fan, but the store had lots of it so I bought a head. I made it with the excellent Chipotle Adobo sauce that accompanies your Spicy Eggplant recipe and it was a great absorber for the sauce. I chopped up the other half and added it to a hamburger stroganoff one-pot casserole. I think I like cauliflower more than broccoli now!


So it's kind of hard - harder than usual - to be watching carbs right now. The tendency is to want to flee to comfort foods. That means bread. Baked goods. CARBS. Any suggestions for what low-carb choices might be best to lean on during this time? Eggs are great, of course, but I can only eat so many of those. Cheese and nuts can be good snacks. Olives too. But on a day like today, I wish I had something warm to eat. How are other dieters doing? Is it just as easy to be a vegetarian during the quarantine as it was before?

Speaking as someone who has been on a plantbased diet for 30+ years, it's no big deal to be a vegetarian now -- in fact, it might be easier for me than some others, just because I already have a pantry full of quarantine-friendly items like beans! And I think that it's okay to have the carbs right now -- our bodies crave what they need -- and balance it out with fresh (or frozen) vegetables and fruit, which are all still readily available at the stores. If we make sure that at least half of each plate is filled with veggies, then we should be in pretty good shape.

Hi Angela, I love the Kitchenista. I made your mac and cheese for Friendsgiving and plan to quarantine cook it again! Thank you!

Angela Davis:

Hey there! Hope it brings you some comfort these days!

My mom always sprayed cooking spray into a sandwich baggie, cracked in the egg, and the whole thing gets slipped into the simmering water. Easy to pull out by grabbing the edge of the bag, egg slips right out in a nice little eggy package.

Sounds sous vide-ish. She was ahead of her time!

I mixed all the raw ingredients for banana bread muffins, before the person I was planning to share them with said he doesn't eat wheat. Am I better off baking the muffins and trying to squeeze them into my already pretty full freezer, or putting the raw "dough" (it's awfully liquid to call "dough") in plastic bags and freeze those? I did bake and eat several but no way I'm going to eat them all in the next few days -- and I'm 100% sheltering in place without visitors except that one man, who brings me groceries. Ingredients = AP flour, sugar, butter, eggs, bananas, baking soda, salt.

You can actually refrigerate the batter for a couple of days., We used to do that when I was a professional pastry chef and mass production. I wouldn't freeze the raw batter. Or like you said, bake and freeze baked muffins. 

I live in Truckee, California, at about 6,000 feet. I am on day 3 of the sourdough starter. How should I tweek the sourdough bread recipe so it works for me?I have been struggling with making bread here. Any suggestions?

King Arthur Flour has a great primer on high altitude baking.

I looked at the original recipe as well but I can't figure out what those grayish lines between the scones are.

I'm not 100% sure what you mean, but I think what you might be seeing is the "ghost" outlines of the scones on the parchment paper. I suspect they were moved after baking to make a prettier shot.

Think baby milk bottle. I started baking bread ca 1960 and would drop the water on the inside of my wrist to make sure it wasn't too warm.


This was how I learned to do it too!

Had to get a new Pyrex casserole dish as the old one somehow chipped on the edges. The directions are contradictory, however. On the one hand, it warns to avoid "sudden temperature changes" such as putting a hot dish into cold water (that makes sense). On the other hand, it says to preheat the oven before putting the dish in the oven -- but wouldn't that also be a sudden temperature change, going immediately from cold or room temp to 350 degrees? I have always put dishes into cold ovens, so that the dish will gradually warm up. Please advise. Thanks.

I've been baking bread for years, particularly since a temporary health issue negated some of the ingredients in commercial bread. I have *some* bread flour and whole wheat flour, as well as soy flour (not sure why I bought it). Spouse came home with a bag of AP. Can I use it alone or in combo with other flours to make a respectable bread? Need to know precise adjustments to make, e.g., additional water, etc.

Honestly, go ahead and throw different flours together, and you'll probably get something respectable out of it. Bread flour and whole wheat will add more structure, AP flour will soften the texture, and soy flour will add some nice protein and flavor. If you are an experienced bread baker, then you probably already understand how your dough needs to feel -- i.e. soft, not too sticky -- and you'll be able to make adjustments. I would err, depending on the recipe you're using, on the side of more bread and AP flour -- say, 3 cups of those combined, with 1 cup of whole wheat and a 1/2 cup of soy flour. I think you'll get something nice out of it!

Do you have any tips for getting your sourdough to be extra tangy? Is it a flavor added thing or a starter technique thing? Thx!

It really depends what kind of yeast and bacteria combo you are harvesting with your flour and water. try reducing your water amount for your starter as this will allow for more acidic microorganisms to grow.

Can you use a gluten free brown rice flour starter to bake non gluten free sourdough breads? I just began a starter using your technique in your cookbook and am so excited to get baking! I prefer gluten free baked goods but am not strictly gluten free and occasionally like to make a spelt loaf. Absolutely love your recipes! Thank you!

I haven't tried myself but I imagine is completely doable.

Benefits to fridge v counter storage? Do you actually need to bake daily to store your starter at room temp? What if room temp is ~60? Also, what’re you fave ways to use leftover starter?

A starter kept at room temperature, even a low room temperature, will need regular feedings. Even though I spend time working in my kitchen every day (literally --- it's my office), the demands of daily feeding were getting on my nerves. So I store it in the fridge. See how it goes in your house. If you're using the starter, or the discard, frequently, you may be perfectly happy keeping it on the counter. In that case, a vessel that is opaque is preferable to avoid sunlight. For cast off starter, I love the cracker recipe, also English muffins, waffles, bagels, and focaccia.

I have a bunch of peppers that I'm hoping to keep from going bad! How do I freeze those properly? And any notes when it comes to defrosting?

I freeze peppers often when I have a bumper crop -- for bell peppers, I like to slice them into strips and also dice them, so that they are useful for different preparations. Spread them out onto a sheet pan and allow them to freeze, then you can portion them into quart-sized freezer bags. You don't need to defrost them, in my experience, just pop them into the pan when you are making a stir-fry or add them into a casserole, etc. If you are talking about jalapeños, then you can freeze them whole on a sheet pan, then bag them up to use later.

From the looks of things, it seems like I'll be self-isolating for my birthday. Is there a fun, decadent dessert I can make in 1 (or 2) servings that I can make at home? Thanks!

Angela Davis:

I'll also be celebrating my birthday on quarantine! Recipes for mug cakes/brownies are one option. But here's a fun one that lends itself better to what you may have in the fridge/freezer by then - try an individual serving of fruit crisp. Apples, stone fruit, or berries work well. (Frozen fruit is great for this.) Toss the fruit with a bit of cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, pinch of cinnamon. Place in an oven-safe buttered dish or ramekin. To make a small amount of crumble, mix a couple tablespoons of flour, oats/nuts, brown sugar, and cold diced butter until you get a crumbly mix. Top the fruit and bake until fruit is bubbly. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

As I've been hunkered down at home - doing more cooking & baking than usual - I wanted to say "thanks" for Joe's bean primer. I pulled out an *old* bag of dried Goya great northerns from the back of the pantry & decided to cook the whole thing (since now I know you can freeze them in their liquid). I did a 4-hour soak (as they were OLD) and then just simmered them w/salt, onion, garlic, and bay leaves as Joe recommended. They were surprisingly delicious! I made beans & rice w/some fresh veg. & herbs, bean soup, & froze the rest. I wanted to encourage others to take the plunge.

So glad to hear this! You know, the humble bean is truly mighty. Those tips are here:

Beans are good for the planet, for you and for your dinner table. Here’s how to cook them right.

Hi Aran! How do you recommend proofing the GF sourdough boules if one does not have a proofing basket? Thank you! Erica

Do you have any glass or ceramic bowls? Make sure they are not very wide or your loaves will be flat. Something in the 8 inch realm will be good. Oil them a bit so they are easy to remove without altering the shape when transferring.

Hi does the newsprint version of the Food section - and the rest of the Post— need to be disinfected? The paper is printed mechanically — is it wrapped in the plastic bag mechanically as well?

Here is what the circulation department responded when I sent them this question:

At The Washington Post, it is our essential mission to serve readers like you and to ensure the well-being of those who bring you the news, especially during times of uncertainty.


As we continue to monitor developments in the coronavirus crisis, we know that delivering you the latest information is more important than ever. You can count on us.


Our production and delivery operations are running at full-scale. To ensure the safety of our carriers and customers, we have taken the following steps at all our facilities:


·        Increased and ongoing deep cleaning and disinfecting over and above our standard cleaning processes

·        All equipment used in the production of the newspaper is being wiped down and disinfected over and above our standard cleaning processes

·        Proper hand washing and precautionary information is posted throughout all work areas

·        Hand-sanitizer, disinfecting cloths and latex gloves have been provided to all those who are responsible for producing and delivering the paper

·        All carriers have been asked to limit their time in our facilities, and to practice social distancing while in distribution centers

·        We have implemented stringent cleaning controls on all fleet trucks after each use, along with daily disinfecting of truck interiors

·        No carriers or other staff members who feel sick will be permitted in the facilities


We’d like to remind you that your home delivery subscription includes unlimited access to our digital content as well, including our app. You can enable breaking news alerts in The Washington Post app to be notified when there’s a major development. If you don't already have the app, download it now.

I started your sourdough starter last Wednesday, March 19. By day 3 it was looking good and bubbling, but then it seemed to fizzle! I had a few bubbles, but it never increased in volume (I drew a line on my container). This morning I finally threw it out. I followed your directions exactly except for two or three (?) days forgot to stir down the starter before I measure out the 113 grams. Could this have been the problem? Any other ideas? Thanks

It's possible that without stirring the starter you did not activate the starter on those days. Is the room colder than it has been or warmer? Make sure the starter is being kept in a spot out of the sun with a consistent cool temperature.

just noting that, along with toilet paper, grocery store shelves are devoid of flour.

I've had luck finding flour and yeast at smaller grocery stores and corner markets (bodegas), even at places like 7-11. And supermarkets in my area are starting to restock again!

Emily did a dive into this! Looks like flour companies will be able to fill the gaps soon...

People are baking bread like crazy, and now we’re running out of flour and yeast

Wow, what a great experience! Thanks for the piece. Adding to bucket list....

Thank you -- it was a great time.

In France the stores limit number of shoppers and the lines outside the stores seem to be a person per 6 feet. What are all of our DC groceries doing to enforce social distancing?

Pretty much the same.

I don't have a question, but I saw in a blog on another media somebody asking a question about why people keep stocking on flour and sugar when they are not cooking pancakes, cakes and muffins every day. I wanted to weep reading that. Let's hope with this whole situation that people will get back to the basics and really learn how to cook!

Maybe they're just learning bake! But really we have no idea what people are cooking at home. Let's give everyone the benefit of the doubt and hope the shelves fill back up.

I've been cooking a lot of dried beans this year (thanks, Joe), but my chickpeas seem to take way too long to get tender. Without soaking, they take 12 hours or more. With soaking, it's still at least four hours on the stove. I use Goya beans, keep them topped with water and always toss in some kombu, but a nice, smooth texture eludes me. Any tips? - Lillian

Chickpeas can take longer than other beans, but this is making me think that you have particularly hard water. Try using distilled water and/or adding 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for every pound of chickpeas. The baking soda should help speed things up, by making the water more alkaline.

Friends and I had virtual breakfast this morning complete with all of their children and it was really lovely. The little kids enjoyed getting to know each other and showing off their food and the parents and I all got to visit when we wouldn't normally. We didn't get super elaborate (same menus etc) but the easiness is what made it happen - overcomplicating by coordinating menus might have been a deal breaker.

What a great idea. I haven't even had the wherewithal to attempt that. But right now we're setting up "friends" (stuffed animals) for circle time.

I just want to thank you all for being here and providing this wonderful distraction from life. You’re all calm and helpful and inspirational as well as nice—thanks!!!

It's our pleasure, truly: We always want to help readers get the most out of their time in their kitchens, and, well, that's more important than ever now.

Thanks for today's recipe and for doing this chat. I could not decipher the quantity or type of flour to use in the sesame cookie recipe today--there may have been extra parens. Can you help, please? Thanks.


2 1/2 cups (300 grams) whole-wheat pastry flour


But if you don't have that, you can use this combination:

1 1/2 cups/188 grams all-purpose flour
1 cup/125 grams whole-wheat flour

Make sense?

I'm cooking and baking for stress relief (let's not discuss the eating), but for many of the cooking recipes, I'm always missing a few key ingredients. What does everyone do?

I think you can always swap things out and in, depending. What do you want to make and what are you missing? Maybe we can help?

A roommate came home with a large bag of bulk-sold rice but we really aren't sure if it's Arborio or Carnaroli. Can they be used interchangeably for risotto and, if so, do you have any good but easy recipes to help use it up? Thanks so much for your help!

I've made risotto using either with equal success. As for a simple recipe, how about this ? one?

You can use them interchangeably but carnaroli is actually the preferred grain for risotto -- it's a little shorter and plumper than arborio and absorbs liquids better. 

I have loved and cooked beans for years. Decades, actually. Yesterday I used a can of white kidney beans in a soup and I loved the taste of them. Yet I do not recall ever seeing them dried at a store. Google tells me they're the same as cannellini beans. True and, if so, is that what dried bean I should be looking for?

That's exactly right -- not a lame question at all! 

My father had an egg poacher -- sort of like a miniature double-boiler, where he put water in the bottom pan, then buttered the top one (which was slightly curved) and gently slid the raw egg into it. Got perfect results every time.

What determines the tartness of the sour dough bread? I prefer sour dough that's just barely sour but I like the texture of a good sour dough.

I'm with you -- I like that texture too. I do find that a longer second rise makes for a more sour dough. My family likes the sort of "country loaf" flavor more than anything very sour, so I tend to get mine baked in the morning after an overnight to keep the flavor deep but not tart -- the timing in the due pane recipe makes for a nice, roundly flavored loaf without puckering sourness.  

I made a batch of grapefruit curd that tastes good but is much thinner than it should be even after a night in the fridge to set up. I know where I went wrong for next batch but I'm wondering if there's a good way to fix this one at this point... Can I gently reheat and cook further? Add cornstarch?

If you want to try to fix it, you can heat it up again and let it simmer to see if it will thicken on its own; if that doesn't work, you can definitely whisk in a little cornstarch that's been thinned with water (even better if you can thin it with citrus juice) and thicken it that way. Just be careful to only add a little at a time -- about 1/2 teaspoon -- so that it doesn't get gummy and taste too much like cornstarch. A little goes a long way!

I'm struggling figuring out what to feed my family 3x/day, every day, since I'm used to breakfast and lunch being taken care of at school for my kids and work for my spouse, but I'm having a grand time making things I don't usually have time for now that I'm working from home. This week's adventure was croissants, using the skills I learned from a class I took last month, and specially requested by my youngest, who devoured the last of them within 24 hours! It's weird having time for fun things and still struggling so much with the day-to-day of life with picky eaters.

There's definitely an opportunity for all of us now to up our cooking game and add some new skills to our repertoire, so that's fantastic! As to having to be responsible for all the meals, that's a lot to adjust to, I totally empathize with you! In our house, we decided that lunch is not a group effort, it's up to each individual to make their own -- that can actually be a good strategy with picky eaters, to set out some items to choose from and then let them put together their own meal from what's available. They might experiment and learn that they like new things because they chose for themselves! Also, be sure to put others on clean-up duty to give yourself a well-deserved break.

Same! Though me and some people have been butting heads about some things...

I'm just choosing to see it as a giant episode of Chopped, which will get more interesting as I work my way through my pantry.

Great attitude.

are probably responsible for what appears to be a nationwide shortage of cranberry/borlotti beans. I printed out the orechiette recipe but even Rancho Gordo and Bob's Red Mill are out of stock!

I don't think it's me, but thank you! I think it's something about a global pandemic...

But wait -- look at this!

Orechiette With Borlotti Beans, Bitter Greens and Lemony Bread Crumbs

After last week's chat, someone in the comments noted a possible error in the Sourdough Crackers recipe. Cathy Barrow, can you clarify? Thanks! Here's the question/comment: "25 grams (3 tablespoons) olive oil" A tablespoon of olive oil weighs 13g. Three tablespoons weigh 39g. So which is correct? 3 tablespoons/39g - or 2 tablespoons/26g? That's a big difference in liquid, and I only use a scale, not volume measurements.

To be extra sure, I've checked all my notes. I used 25 grams, so that would be closer to 2 tablespoons. If the dough seems dry to the touch, add a little more. This is a forgiving dough.

Fyi After searching in vain for Yeast At the usual places - supermarkets, Amazon, gourmet markets, King Arthur website - you name it - My husband found it in like six minutes at our nearest international grocery which happens to have a more Hispanic clientele but there are plenty of other different international stores in my area... he came back with lots of packets. I guess I should’ve been googling it in Spanish :-)

Yes, I'm finding that lots of small markets and convenience stores are great sources for items like flour and yeast that have been disappearing at supermarkets!

I would team up with a veg / vegan business and send them there. 'I'm not focussed on vegetarian food, I suggest to contact X, they'll be able to help you.' You might not get extra business out of it as it's not likely to be reciprocal but why not help a fellow business out?

I like this idea.

Is it possible to substitute potato starch for tapioca starch in gluten free bread recipes?


They act a bit differently but because I know a lot of ingredients are backorder or out of stock, go for it! It will work. 

I legitimately want to know why you don't want my (vegetarian) money?

I'm assuming it's about not wanting to make vegetarian options, but, really, in 2020 this is not hard. Just offer something in each category that's veg, and include a line that says "We're sorry, but substitutions are not possible" or some such.

Have some delicious lox that I have used to make toasted brie/lox sandwiches, and creamy pasta. Any other ideas for using it up? Plus how long will it last in my refer?

You can freeze it. I repackage smoked salmon into 4 ounce packets for our 2 person household. That's enough for a pasta dish or for two bagels. If you don't want to freeze it, chop and blend it into cream cheese and add a squeeze of lemon or if you have pickled onions, add some brine to the cream cheese mixture.  Excellent appetizer or lunch on a cracker. Chop up the salmon and add to slow cooked caramelized onions for an egg scramble. Tuck that into a tortilla. 

Angela actually shared smoked salmon recipe ideas with us last year! Lox should fit in quite nicely. 

Skip the ham this Easter, and let smoked salmon do all the work for you

What’s a sign and issue of over proofing gluten-free sourdough?

When your crust and crumb detach. 

It's very difficult to see before the dough goes in the oven if it has over proofed. So if it has happened to you, you have to change a few things until you get the loaf you want and stick to that routine. 

1. Reduce fermentation time. And how much will depend on your environment. I would start by reducing the time in half both the first and second proofs. 

2. ferment at a colder temperature. Use colder water or put your doughs in colder environments.

3. Reduce starter amount by 10% in your dough. Your starter might be very active and you don't need that much. Nothing else in recipe needs to change if you add less starter.


Good luck.

I appreciate what you've been doing with pantry/freezer friendly recipes. I'd like to see more of them and particularly more on substitutions and how they affect the recipe. I'm finding I'm frequently missing one or two ingredients. Thanks!

We're on it!

First, wow. Second, why? Third, if vegetarian cooking isn't in your skillset, that's one thing. But why the judgment when you could simply print a menu or order form of items that you do cook?


Made my first-ever batch of sourdough starter last Thursday, and we've already enjoyed a batch of castoff biscuits, waffles, and I'll be doing a batch of the Cathy Barrow's crackers shortly. Flour is still available here in Chicago (we're not hoarding - we always have a good supply on hand!), and we're glad to have bought the big bag of yeast at Costco last fall... that just might outlast us all. Be well, and thanks for all your inspiration!

Wishing you many happy bubbles of sourdough, airy loaves, and waffles for everyone.

I’ve been making your sourdough since the day your book came out. It’s been great. However the last 3 loaves have had a separation of the top from to loaf. The loaf still tastes great. I assume it was over proofed so I’ve been reducing the rise time and am down to 2 hours 20 min at this point. I also would say my overnight time is more like 10 hours. Could that have an impact? Any suggestions. FYI Love your books

Hi, yes reduce the overnight proof to 4 hours and the dough one to 1 hour OR alternatively, ferment your starter for 4 hours at room temp, mix your dough and ferment overnight in fridge. Can bake straight from fridge. Good luck!

I hope that wasn't confusing. What I mean reduce the sponge fermentation (starter flour and water) to 4 hours

As in, what will drive you out to buy if you run short? We've been getting by with an ample pantry and occasional trips to Safeway during geezer hour for eggs, coffee and dog food. But I'm running low on fresh thai chiles and I'm pretty sure I'll perish without them. Contemplating an Hmart run. What MUST you have?

This is so personal, but for me it's an arsenal of Mexican, Indian and Asian spices, fish sauce and various soy sauces, shiitake mushrooms, dried beans, and a few other things i'm not thinking of. And butter.

For me, I always need to have a supply of beans (canned and dried), firm tofu, canned coconut milk and tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, flour, yeast, pasta, and hot sauce (because you can add quick depth of flavor to anything with a few dashes of hot sauce!). But if I ran out of earl grey tea, then I'd have to leave the house ;) I am wishing I had a car for an HMart run, because there are so many things there that I'd stock up on if I could!

Angela: I had a friend ship me plantains and dried Mexican chiles from her city since I couldn't find them here and I'm not willing to risk going out right now. That's my emergency LOL!

I would wither away without chickpeas, black beans, cumin. 

This is my grandfather's recipe, on its third generation. He was the cook in the family.

Rice Pudding from Marion Cunningham

4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice, long grain
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium egg, beaten

In a double boiler, cook rice, salt and 2 cups of milk for 1 hour. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon, egg and raisins and cook an additional 45 minutes. Note: For company or a potluck: separate the egg and fold the beaten white in at the end. Bake until lightly browned on top. It makes for a pretty top crust.

Thank you!

I don't have red pepper flakes - would chili powder work? Crazy, yes, but self quarantined and trying to use what's on hand. Thanks

So, gochugaru is a pretty specific type of chile... and I would try to get it, if at all possible. you can get it via amazon, if you're ok with it. The heat imparted by gochugaru is very subtle and blooms as your kimchi ferments.

Turns out I’ve been reviving my sourdough Totally incorrectly. It’s actually my mom’s – started in 1964 - which is still going. I seem to be doing all the wrong things including let it go for months in between. OK, so now there is a worldwide shortage of yeast So I decided to revive it again after probably six months or longer. Recommendations for what to do with the black stuff on top? I’m terrible - I usually just pour it off and keep going. My mom probably would mix it in…

I'm so sorry to hear that your starter has black *stuff* on top. I'm afraid that sounds the death knell as it is surely some sort of mold. Fortunately, it's easy to make a new starter. What you tell your mother is between the two of you.

I'm ready to break into my haul of canned peaches. Any ideas or recipes to share for cakes, cobblers, quick breads?

I love to make Dutch Baby pancakes and fill them with my home canned peaches. 

My husband read 52 Loaves by William Alexander and was inspired to make his own starter from the apples on the trees in the yard, directions are at the end of the book. It has a slight fruity smell. It has been going for at least 10 years. At times the starter looked dead but giving it food 50/50 flour and water revived it. Just give it a good stir, even if it is covered in brown water and smells fermented, it can still be brought back to life.

I have a fruity starter, too. It's got such a distinct sour smell. Love using it!

I would add a little tomato or sour cream - or both even.

I'm in an apartment so don't have the option of leaving groceries in a garage or even by a back door, and wonder how to handle them - literally - while we're worried about COVID-19. I'm wiping closed boxes (pasta, eg) and bags (of apples, packaged brown sugar, etc) with a Lysol wipe but that's not really an option for a paper bag of 5 lbs of sugar or flour. Or is it? If the virus dies after 3 days, is it enough to just leave the groceries in the shopping bags by the front door for 3 days? What to do with refrigerated items like eggs, milk, juice? Help! And thanks

It's likely that the virus doesn't live very long on organic materials (such as paper and cardboard) -- as short as 3 and up to 24 hours -- and up to 3 days on plastic; for things like flour, dried fruit, etc., I'm then putting them into separate containers anyway and discarding the original packaging. Soap and water is actually adequate to remove it, so I've been wiping food containers with that. I've also adopted the "quarantine" method that some folks are taking, and setting aside items that I don't need to touch right away for a few days until the virus will have naturally died on its own. 

We talked with experts about this. Their advice was to wash your hands after handling items from the grocery. You can wipe down cans and cardboard, but they said it is more important that you wash your hands after handling packaging. 

In this piece -- The coronavirus isn’t alive. That’s why it’s so hard to kill -- the writer explains the science clearly, noting: "... Recent laboratory research showed that, although SARS-CoV-2 typically degrades in minutes or a few hours outside a host, some particles can remain viable — potentially infectious — on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic and stainless steel for up to three days." 

probably too last-minute, but wanted to give a shout-out for this recipe - so easy, tasty, and just the comfort food we wanted. thanks!

So glad!

I consider myself a competent home baker and I have made many loafs of homemade bread. Sadly I've come to the conclusion that I can't make it as well as a good bakery. I don't know if it's the oven, the yeast or what but a good boule from a bakery is always better then my home made. Still bake bread from time to time for fun but ,honestly, it's just not as good.

Maybe you just want to start with some dinner rolls or a simple sandwich loaf, and then work your way up as you become more comfortable with mixing and shaping, which are the keys to good bread -- now might be the perfect time to have your own personal bread-baking challenge!

I enjoy how each week's chat can take on a different theme -- like last week on cabbage. It was especially timely since cabbage was (a) in the market, & (b) keeps well in the fridge. I wanted to follow up & share the idea of a "coleslaw bowl" from a visit to St. Simon's Island, GA. Essentially it's adding a protein to coleslaw, the way you might add chicken to a Caesar salad at a fast casual restaurant -- but the restaurant's options include chicken, shrimp, scallops, catch of the day. Could obviously also be vegetarian w/tofu or chopped hard boiled egg, or sub cubes of cooked ham. Pick your favorite coleslaw: it's not rocket science, but delicious. I don't know if this is a low country dish or a St. Simon's specialty, but it's easy to replicate at home.

Just yesterday I was looking for my old English muffin recipe (not my Olde Englishe muffin recipe but the one I used decades ago) and voila! I'm also considering trying again to make scalded rye started.

So glad to hear it!

Clearly your written directions have served me well - I have baked your Due Pane twice in the last week & today is 'dough' day again! But I would like to see the 'wet fold' and other directions in video if you can!

We do have gifs in this piece about how to make sourdough.

See if they help.

May I suggest you do a primer on baking with unusual flours since that's all that's left in the stores? I'd love to know what to do with cassava flour and quinoa flour.


Never mind, I used the Recipe Finder!!

It is a terrific resource. Find it here:

Making these tonight--so good!  What do you like to serve as a side? Pantry not fully stocked . . . need to get creative!

I don't know that you need a side when you serve tacos, really! Now, a dessert...

I have 1.75 lb bit of short ribs. I have never made short ribs. I have a crockpot though not an Instapot, and a decent selection of herbs and spices. Help?

Angela: This is a small amount of short ribs and will lose quite a bit of volume after cooking due to the fat rendering. My suggestion is to use your crockpot to make a soup vs trying to braise them to serve whole. You can basically start with any vegetable soup, but flavor the broth by simmering the short ribs for a few hours first with onion/carrot/celery/garlic and some chicken or veggie stock. Add more tender veggies towards the end, can also add potatoes and/or beans to bulk it up. Plan on 4 hours high or 8 hours low for short ribs to be falling off the bone tender, but this will vary by size.

was delicious but I couldn't get the skin off the salmon, so I just cooked it skin-side down and didn't flip anything. We both loved it. I also substituted blanched kale for the broccolini since I had the kale on hand. The olive oil and generous amounts of lemon made even my kale-hating husband eat it.

Our grocery shelves are bare but Costco has 25 lb bags of AP flour. I didn't buy it because in the past I found the brand wasn't that great for cookies and cakes. It was fine for bread. I'm still struggling with my decision because I'm almost out of my regular flour. I'm trying not to just buy things because they're better than nothing. Do you guys do that?

Yes, you've gotta have standards! There's plenty of good flour out there that will make its way to the stores and so I don't think you have to panic-buy something you really don't like to use as much.

Thank you so much for including Aran Goyoaga in this chat. As a person with Celiac, I usually skip over the bread questions. Today I enoyed the whole chat with interest. I'm looking forwrd to buying her book.

Appreciate any formulas or equivalents for subbing in different GF flour in recipes. Have had many disasters! TY

Hi, Do you mean converting wheat recipes into GF? If that's the case, really depends on the recipe. Cakes and cookies lend themselves to pretty easy conversations. You can use AP GF mixes and those work fairly well. I try to always use weight amounts. So 1 cup of AP flour is about 140g so I use weights in my conversions. In GF baking my ratio is about 60% whole grain GF flour and 40% starch to mimic the structure of AP wheat flour. For bread you cannot make direct conversions as you must include different binding ingredients. 

Hi all,
Thank you for joining us for today's chat. We enjoyed hearing from you. It was lovely to have so many well-informed guests in our chat. We appreciate that they and you took time to be with us today.

Remember, if you are looking for a way to use a specific food, you can visit our Recipe Finder and search by ingredient.

All the best, and see you next week.

In This Chat
Ann Maloney
Ann Maloney is the Food team recipes editor.
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and author of "Cool Beans." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Kristen Hartke
Kristen Hartke is a Washington-based food writer and editor.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a staff reporter for Food and writes a weekly column on casual dining.
Kari Sonde
Kari Sonde is the food editorial aide.
Emily Heil
Emily Heil is a staff food writer at The Post.
Angela Davis
Angela Davis is a self-taught home cook, food blogger, recipe developer, and food photographer. She is all about taking comfort food to the next level, and believes every dish has a story. Head over to her blog, The Kitchenista Diaries, to learn more:
Aran Goyoaga
Aran is a Seattle-based, Basque Country born and raised cookbook author, food stylist and photographer. She recently wrote a piece on the perfect gluten-free loaf for The Washington Post.
Virginia Willis
Award-winning chef and cookbook author Chef Virginia Willis is a respected voice on Southern food and culture. She is the author of Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South. She writes the popular food blog “Cooking with Virginia” on and has been featured in People Magazine and the Washington Post.
Eliza McGraw
Eliza McGraw is the author of "Here Comes Exterminator!" as well as two academic books. She wrote about going to bread camp and how to bake sourdough for The Washington Post.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer at the Post.
Olga Massov
Massov is a Food team assignment editor.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow is the author of multiple cookbooks, including "When Pies Fly." She writes The Post's Bring It column.
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