Free Range on Food: Breakfast, recipes to make the house smell good, Beer Madness finale and more

Apr 11, 2012

Free Range on Food: Breakfast, recipes to make the house smell good, Beer Madness finale and more.
Past Free Range on Food chats

Have you all recovered from the big cooking/eating holiday weekend? We're ready to dive into Free Range, talking about breakfast in Washington with staff writer Tim Carman, Neighborhood Restaurant Group co-owner Michael Babin and Going Out Guru Fritz Hahn, one of many hands who helped compile the dozens of weekday breakfast reviews. There's lots to discuss in the way of good-smelling food that won't keep your house from being sold, a fun read by former Food staffer Candy Sagon; also, Jason Wilson will stop in to answer your Spirits queries and I bet he'd be happy to discuss details of his recent cognac-ery at Remy Martin; and Greg Kitsock will talk beer and defend the honor of this year's Beer Madness 2012 judges' pick: Maui Coconut Porter (recipes by Palena pastry chef Aggie Chin and mixologist Gina Chersevani sure did a good job with recipes that use the stuff). Food aide Becky Krystal's on board; recipe editor Jane Touzalin's off this week.


We'll have a few cookbooks to give away, as usual: "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook" (source of  today's terrific carrot cake pancakes recipe) and "A Taste of Australia: The Bathers Pavilion Cookbook" (source of today's fab spiced baked bananas recipe). Dazzle us with  your holiday menus and we'll see whether they merit a reward. We'll announce two winners at the end of the session.  Onward!





boy, you really hit a nerve with me on the breakfast story. I'm from LA where everyone eats breakfast out on the weekends. There are so many excellent places with interesting menu items - many with outdoor seating. People ride bikes and then sit outside in the sunshine sipping coffee and eating huevos rancheros. When I moved here, all I could find were greasy diners or fancy brunches. But I do think there's a market - when we go to the Original Pancake House in Bethesda or Rockville, it's packed.

Couldn't agree more with you.  We do a great quick breakfast business at our Buzz Bakeries, where we recently added waffles and expanded our quiche offerings, but there is definitely room in the market for more weekday, sit-down options. 

Hi food geniuses! I tried making the Passover popover rolls last weekend and they turned I feared. I followed the recipe exactly but my popovers are hard as a rock on the outside and oddly doughy on the inside. I've attempted several Passover "breads" over the years and they all come out a little off - is this just the nature of trying to make baked goods sans leavener or am I doing something terribly wrong? Thanks!

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. I was the recipe tester for those rolls and both times I made them -- including two one-and-a-half batches for Bonnie's seder -- they came out quite airy on the inside with a nice crunch on the outside. Look at those pockets in the picture!

First I'd make sure you're not overdoing the matzoh meal. Don't pack it into the measuring cups. You could also start with room temperature eggs, which helps with the lift. Lastly, I'd suggest you check your oven. It could be running hot.

Passover Popover Rolls

Hi all! I was hoping you could point me in the direction of some quick but filling breakfast recipes. I usually eat a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit in the morning but I am always starving two hours later. Got any ideas for something that can really fill me up without involving too many pots and pans?

Sure thing. How about Creamy Breakfast Oats and Quinoa, which you can make ahead? Or a potato chip omelet? Or cinnamon popovers? Or a fruity Swedish quickbread? How about broiling your favorite citrus and/or other fruits then topping them with demerara sugar and yogurt?

The lemon and honey chicken sounds really good. Looks like you used green tomatoes in that. Where would I find them and, if I can't, would you substitute red or do without?

It is really good -- that goes for aroma and flavor. I even riffed a version of it for my Seder.  We used a mix, actually: green tomatoes (as in the unripe kind you can fry) are around at grocery stores. I popped them in during the last 5 or 10 mins of oven time just to soften them up. The other tomatoes in there are Kumatos, those brown/stripey ones you also can get at the grocery store. I've seen a few Green Zebras at Whole Foods already, assuming they're the hothouse variety. I think I'd try to go for yellow vine-ripened toms instead of red ones. It's a nice color contrast for this dish, and a more acidic tomato balances against the sweetness of the honey in the dish.

I'm from Baltimore and now live in Northern VA. I believe that Baltimore "might" have more breakfast spots/time simply because traffic is not so ALL OUT RIDICULOUS as it is in the D.C area. But when the article states that breakfast is not that important I have to disagree. I guess I'm just old school, but I fully buy into the whole breakfast buoys your immune system first thing in the morning. I can't be the only one right?

I think you're not alone in your beliefs, no. Personally, I subscribe to Marion Nestle's philosophy of eating when you're hungry -- and eating well. Not too much sugary things in the morning. Fruit, toast, yogurt. Those are mine main morning items. Coffee, too, of course. But that's more about addiction.

Bummed to see that a beer from my home state of NJ lost the title but I'm excited to try the winner. Where can you find the Coconut Porter? I haven't seen it in NJ but I'm heading down to D.C. in the next few weeks so I'd definitely make a pit stop in the area to pick some up. Thanks!

Flying Fish Exit 4 won last year and came within one vote of repeating, so that's quite an accomplishment.

As for the Coconut Porter, Fritz Hahn reports they have it at Chevy Chase wine and Spirits at $3.49/can, $18.99 a sixpack, or, if you really like it, $64.99 a case.

You can also check Total Wine and Whole Foods.

Our Beer Director, Greg Engert, has made sure that the Coconut Porter is available to drink at ChurchKey and for retail sale at Planet Wine in Alexandria.

My boyfriend comes from a greek background and I'd like to make him lamb for Greek Easter. It'll just be the 2 of us and I don't eat lamb. I was thinking I could cook a lamb chop for him and a pork chop for me. Do you have any suggestions for preparations that would be good for both? Thanks.

Try this way: a walnut-mint-garlic gremolata that you can serve on top of both kinds of chops.

First, let me add to the breakfast list - both Taqueria Distrito Federal and Moroni and Brothers do breakfast every day. Second, While TDF does chilaquiles, and that comes close, I'm looking for a place that does migas for breakfast. Any thoughts?

Agree totally on Taqueria Distrito Federal, though I'm a more frequent visitor on weekends.

Migas aren't as easy to find as I thought they would be. As you note, Taqueria DF doesn't do them, and neither do District Taco or Pica Taco. (What can I say? I have tacos on the brains.) GOG Restaurants Editor Justin Rude has mentioned the migas at Taqueria Poblano in Del Ray, but they were ineligible for our breakfast story -- we only included restaurants that serve food before 9:30 a.m. during the work week, and Poblano doesn't open until 11 on weekdays. (You can, however, get migas at their Mexican brunch, which runs from 10 to 2 on Sundays.)

I'm submitting this early in the hopes you'll have time to contact Agnes Chin to ask - the recipe calls for steel-cut oats, noting that quick-cooking or instant should be avoided. Does this mean "no quick-cooking/instant steel cut oats", or just no quick-cooking/instant oats (the rolled kind) in general? I have the quick-cooking 5-minute steel-cut oats, but would like to know if I need to use the regular steel-cut kind - that you normally have to soak overnight - for this cake (which looks amazing, by the way). Thanks!

You'll want to get the regular steel-cut kind. They'll give you the full effect of the crunchy texture that Agnes was going for. It's worth it, believe me. I made that cake twice for recipe testing purposes, and people just could not get enough.

Chocolate coconut porter cake

You don't have to give up broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cabbage -- I think I got this hint from First Magazine -- just place a stalk of celery in the pot or steamer whenever you cook any of these. The celery, being very porous, absorbs odors. My neighbor tried this with both cabbage and Brussels sprouts and my sister tried it with broccoli and both said it was successful.

Really? We'll have to check it out.

Are there any aerosols that have the aroma of baking bread? Or other good food cooking ?

I see mentions of various sprays online, but our special aroma correspondent Candy Sagon quotes the experts as saying that such products don't tend to fool anyone. You might have better luck making one of the delightfully fragrant and easy recipes we featured today -- and you get to eat them! Also thought Candy's  technique of buying store-bought cookies and  just heating them up was a simple solution.

Lemon- and Honey-Flavored Chicken

Slow-Cooker Rhubarb Applesauce

Coconut Rice Pudding With Caramelized Pineapple


I didn't make an extravagant holiday meal. Just one dish that almost did me in: pecan sticky buns. They were a tremendous amount of work! These are the ones on this month's Bon Appetit--they are very appetizing looking. I wasn't prepare for the multiple steps though and what I thought would be a nice Easter breakfast treat wasn't ready until about 1. Yikes. Despite that though, they were divinely good.

I have yet to run across a very good recipe for sticky buns that doesn't involve steps. But at least this recipe, from Tiffany MacIsaac (hey Michael Babin!) can be done in advance.

Are you serious? Start by finding unhomogenized milk and making your own whey? I'll continue to get my pupusas at Salvadoran carry-outs.

You're referring to my attempt to make an American-style breakfast pupusas in which I suggest you make your own cheese. First of all, I'd say there is nothing like fresh homemade cheese drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. It's one of life's simple pleasures. It is also surprisingly easy to make. It's far easier than making the pupusa itself.

But for those who don't want to make your own cheese, you could use mozzarella (which La Casita uses on some of its pupusas) or Jack cheese or a fresh cheese you find at the store.

I've been trying to get into finer olive oils since your lovely article last year. I invested in a couple finishing oils but was curious about how using the oil in cooking. I was under the impression that a lot of the flavors were lost when you heat olive oil - what sort of quality should one look for when selecting a *cooking* olive oil?

Good for you! A little parsing of information's in order. Some extra-virgin olive oils will break down under high heat. But plenty of cuisines cook and deep-fry using non-virgin olive oil, some of which can take more heat than you'd probably be  giving them (over 400 degrees).


I tend to spend a fair amount on olive oil (in the range of $18-$30), under the "cook with wine you'd like to drink" theory. Good-tasting oil = good-tasting food.  The oil I use for salads, vinaigrettes, etc., is something that has the freshest date I can find; now that I've had my share of tasting absolutely new fresh olive oil I can't get it out of my head. You probably won't find label vintages on bottles you buy at the grocery store. But there are more boutique-type olive oil shops in the Washington area these days, and they'd provide a good starting point of purchase -- if the freshness thing matters to you. I've also come to appreciate that olive oil likes to be stored relatively cool, and away from the light. I've got some good stuff stashed with my red wines.....

I decided to make chicken soup last Saturday. The results were less than stellar. Bear with me: - I had a mental lapse and just plunked the chicken right into the pot, covered with water. Totally forgot to wash it or take out the giblets. Considered trashing the whole batch due to food safety concerns but hoped that boiling would save me.


I'm here to tell the tale so I guess it was okay, but did my absent-mindedness affect taste?  I live alone and my biggest pot is 4.5 quarts. Maybe not big enough because the soup didn't have adequate amount of liquid and was more like stew. I really don't want to have to buy a bigger pot that will only get used on rare occasions.


Recipe that I followed (not from WaPo or it wouldn't have been so lacking in detail) said to throw everything in the pot and bring to a boil: chicken, water, whole unpeeled onion, unpeeled garlic cloves, carrots, celery, parsnips (potatoes came later). Then it all simmered together for 2 hours. Result was a pot full o' mush. Recipe never said what to do with onion or garlic so I tried to fish all the nasty bits out -- including the forgotten giblets -- at the end.


I am forcing myself to eat this because I cannot bear to waste food. But yuck. It wasn't worthy of the matzo balls I'd been planning to add. I am not deterred from trying this again, however, and would love your expert guidance on doing it RIGHT next time.

Sourced columnist David Hagedorn and I discussed this at length. He's done the same thing -- tossed in a chicken into a stockpot with the giblets packet inside, and lived to tell the tale. Broth did not look good, as you suggest! Here are a couple of things to think about for the next time:

1. If that size pot's all you have, put the vegetables in first and see how much room they take up.  Then the liquid. The onion can be cut in half, and most importantly, so can the chicken -- make it fit into the pot you have. Obviously it'll cook faster than a whole bird, so watch the time.

2. Maybe leave out the garlic clove? Unless it's for specific use, the stock will be of more use to you without it.

3. The "mess" you had: Did you strain it several times through layers of cheesecloth? Might help.

4. If you wanted to still use it as a base for matzoh ball soup, dill and a little lemon juice would go a long way toward brightening the flavor.

I will meet a chocoholic friend briefly over the weekend and would like to bring something chocolately to share. The thing is that it will take two hours using public transportation for me to get there, so it needs to be a dessert that travels well, not too cumbersome to carry and has at least a cacao content of 60%. (I will love to have something infused with orange, but I already made the chocolate covered orange peels, that unfortunately did not travel well). Any help will be greatly appreciated!

I think these Frangelico Crinkles will travel quite well, and you can splurge on some excellent chocolate to knock them out of the park.

Frangelico Crinkles

Fresh-brewed coffee: Great aroma! But, which kind of coffee-maker extracts the most caffeine from the beans? I use a French press normally but since I hurt my hand a few weeks ago, I've been using an electric coffee maker -- the kind where you put water in the back and it drips through a (reusable) filter into a glass carafe. The thing is, I'm not getting the usual "kick" from the caffeine. Is that because the water spends less time in contact with the grounds?

We've been working with MadCap Coffee to expand our coffee program, and Trevor Corlett (MadCap's leader) tells me that you're exactly right--because the french press is an immersion method, it's going to extract more oils, therefore more caffeine.  You might want to look into the Clever Brewer (you can find them at's an immersion brewer that doesn't require the press.

As I was sitting enjoying my breakfast and reading the Food Section this morning (clearly I'm not one of the people written about in the article who have abandoned breafkast), I started to think about breakfast sandwiches. I used to make a pretty simple one with English muffin, scrambled or fried egg, sausage patty and melted cheddar, but I bet there are more interesting options. Any good suggestions?

Well, I'm biased, but I think Tiffany MacIsaac's breakfast brioches (brioche baked with eggs, cheese, and sausage or bacon in the middle) are pretty special.  Some very illustrious food writers share my opinion. 

I submitted my (long) question last night. Is it lost in the crush of questions now? I need help...

Just posted an answer for you! Look for the looong one.

I admit I find breakfast overrated but even I would be more interested if we could get things like the breakfast tacos you can find in the southwest with FRESH salsa and tortillas, or bagels that weren't frozen and shipped in from wherever. The problem for me and breakfast is convenience: I'm not going to trek all over creation just to try another version of a breakfast sandwich or egg scramble. Not to mention who can eat something so heavy before heading into the office?

I agree. I think breakfast, like lunch really, is a matter of location. You'll seek out those spots nearest you, because you're in a hurry or prefer to save your calories for a more elaborate dinner.

You're also right about the bagels and tortillas in this area. Last time I was in Mexico, I just stood outside a tortilla factory and watched them make 'em. They are so good when fresh.

I agree 100 percent here vis-a-vis location. As much as I love the Eggs Bay Ridge with jumbo lump crab at Grump's in Annapolis, I'm probably not going to make a habit of driving out there from D.C. in the mornings. (Weekends, though, are another story.)

As far as breakfast tacos with good and fresh ingredients, a number of us are fans of District Taco and Pica Taco.

Do you have a recipe for a power house of a muffin, filled with fiber and nutrients. I've heard there are some out there low in fat, with lots of good ingredients (e.g. grated carrots, oatmeal, flax seed, etc) but I've had no success with recipe searches. Something grab and go to eat with coffee later would be great!

A generous friend in California sent me a large box of Meyer lemons. Any healthy suggestions for using them up? Today's Lemon & Honey Chicken would use a couple, but I need more ideas -- I really don't want them to go to waste. Perhaps homemade limoncello?

Limoncello indeed. Here's Jason Wilson's recipe from the other week.

Basic 'Cello

I made the Passover Rolls from your recipe for our Passover dinner. They were easy to make and turned out really well. Thank you!

Hurray! Glad you liked them. I feel like I'm going to be making them every year now.

I acquired a jar of Chinese XO sauce, which I may have read about in the Post a long time ago, touted to be a great culinary accessory. My question is, what can I do with it now that I found it, besides stir it into rice? Thanks!

You'll find that once you start spooning a small amount into your stir-fries, marinades and sauces, you'll need to acquire more jars. It's bottled umami; made with shrimp roe, soy sauce, dried scallops, garlic and other seasonings, according to wok maven Grace Young. Last night, I mixed a little with some sweet soy sauce and used it to coat drumsticks that roasted in the oven. (Shhh....not kosher for Passover.)

Just wanted to let you know the Holiday Crepe Cake turned out fantastic and the addition of lemon zest was perfect. It wasn't complicated at all, just a big time investment - by the 15th crepe I was questioning was this worth the effort but it totally was. Everyone was very impressed and I will definitely make this again. I do have a question - is there some trick to turning crepes? Using your fingers may work if you are making a few but for a big batch there has to be a better way.

Excellent! Well, if you're on par with Jacques Pepin you can flip them once you get going. But I find that loosening them with the edge of a thin slotted fish spatula and using that to turn them over works pretty well.

Love the All We Can Eat blog and want to encourage fellow chatters to check it out if they're not already reading it! But (and apologies if I'm missing something obvious), I can't seem to find a way to go back to older posts, e.g. a "next page" link. Is clicking on the Full Archives link and having to go to each post individually the only way to access previous posts?

Aw, thanks, we're blushing. You have a few options other than the full archives. At the bottom of each post (right above the comments), you'll see links for the "previous" (which actually goes forward in time) and "next" posts. And the blog front also has a bunch of the most recent ones as well.

As the nominal editor of the blog, I'm glad you're a fan. We could always use more ideas and suggestions on what readers are looking for, too. Please send them to

Good smells: Apple crisp, chocolate chip cookies. Yum! Breakfast: Eggs with very few carbs keep me going for hours and hours. Also old fashioned oatmeal made w/ milk, dates, nuts, unsweetened coconut, raisins, and/or dried cranberries plus very little sugar. Easily digested carbs in the morning (bread, doughnuts, etc) just seem to make my appetite go into overdrive, sad to say.

Funny you say that. I used to consume a lot of carbs in the morning: I used to eat a bagel or two every morning. These days, they just feel heavy to me -- and not what my body craves.

I tend to give eggs a quick rinse in warm water before cracking them on the theory that if there's bacteria on the outside of the shell it won't get into the egg. Does that make sense? Does it matter if they are commercially packed eggs vs. farmers market eggs?

Well, just beneath the porous shell there are outer-shell and inner-shell membranes  that help protect against bacteria. And the egg white itself has some antibacterial compounds, according to the American Egg Board. Commercially packed eggs get rinsed/washed before they're packed, so you don't really need to clean them further.


If you're washing your eggs, I think the water has to be fairly hot to do any good, in terms of removing bacteria, etc.  And definitely don't let them sit in the water, which might bring contamination into the shell itself.


It's always good to crack them on a flat surface next to the bowl, instead of on the rim of the bowl, too....

Could I use tomatillos in place of some of the tomatos?

Sure! I'd toss some in for the whole time and cut up a few for the last 5 - 10 mins of oven time.

I'd love to give a cookbook to someone I know who believes she is a great, creative cook but definitely is not. She relies on recipes, which is a good thing given my gift idea. But she picks the worst recipes ever. Case in point - she served tri color matzoh balls in her soup last week for Passover. The yellow ones were loaded with turmeric, the green ones had chopped spinach in them, and the red ones had tomato paste in them - it was just awful!!! She uses complex recipes for all vegetables, not embracing the idea that simple ingredients and simple preparations usually make the best meals. So her veggies are typically cooked to death and awful in both taste and visual appeal. What cookbook(s) would you suggest I can give her? Thanks!

Oy. "Ripe" by Cheryl Sternman Rule is a nice new book that celebrates the natural fabulosity of vegetables grouped by color.  That might appeal to her; the recipes are not overwrought.

I bought a bottle of Luxardo but I'm not sure how to use it. I've made enough Martinezes and I still have 3/4 of the bottle left. How long will it last? Any good recipes that don't require 10 different ingredients?

My favorite Luxardo drink is also one of the simplest: The Aviation Cocktail. Really simple to make at home, too: 2 ounces of gin (I like Plymouth or Beefeater for this), an ounce of Luxardo, half an ounce of fresh-squeeze lemon juice. Shake and garnish with a strip of lemon peel and a little zest.

I read the food smells article this morning and am not sure what to think. I like food smells in a home. I find that many of the sprays and scented candles to have a strong chemical or gasoline smell. Anyhow, my mom's trick for getting rid of (or covering up?) fried food smells in the home is to set a couple of bay leaves (fresh from the yard, but perhaps dried will work as well) in a simmering pan of water for 30 minutes or so. I find the smell of bay very homey. Much more than cookies (I'm a savory guy).

Love the bay idea. Smart. Makes me think of that Bay Ice Cream recipe we ran recently.

Thanks for your response :-)

No self name-calling required!

What oil do you recommend for stir frying vegetables? I know it has been done but what would be a good sauce?

I like peanut oil works for Asian stir-fries (maybe with a little sesame oil thrown in), but you can't go wrong with all-purpose vegetable oil. Have a look at these recipes for inspiring sauces. I really like the one you make for the Hot and Sticky Vegetable Stir-Fry With Honey and Ginger. You can also experiment with this Vegetable Stir-Fry.

Hot and Sticky Vegetable Stir-Fry With Honey and Ginger

Oh, so incredibly delicious when prepared just before serving, with fresh fruit! Bananas are the only "must" for their special mouth-feel. The rest can be grapes, melon, apples, oranges ("it's apples and oranges"), mango -- whatever you have on hand, and all of the above is best of all. Too bad that as a kid, I was served fruit salad from a can and assumed that was what fruit salad was. It took a trip to Nicaragua to discover the amazingness of the real thing, fresh. There is a question in here -- Is there a way to make the salad the night before, so it's ready when I get up, without it getting soggy?

The only possibility I can think of is to cut your fruits and individually wrap each one and put them in the fridge. This would (perhaps) prevent browning of the apple slices and keep the pieces somewhat crisp. I'm guessing. I've never tried it, but it also strikes me as wasteful, with all the cellophane required.

Anyone else have ideas?

Speaking of fruit salads: I have you noticed how bad many of the ones are at corporate coffee shops? God only knows when they are chopping and preparing those fruit cups.

I used to be a sad sufferer of the "But I Ate a Huge Bowl of Cereal for Breakfast and Now Two Hours Later I'm Starving" syndrome. Eating protein is definitely a key. And there is certainly no shame in having a healthy snack (fruit, some almonds, a Greek yogurt) between breakfast and lunch. :-) Changing my breakfasts and my snacking helped me lose over 40lbs! But - thanks so much for posting the Breakfast Oats & Quinoa recipe. Will try that this week!!

Put a chunk of stale bread in the cooking water with Brussels sprouts and the bread soaks up the stink! Thanks to my ex- for that one good lesson.

Another method to try. We'll report back via All We Can Eat!

We discovered this place in Sarasota, and I see there are a few franchises up here (but alas, all far away from us in Alexandria). We had no idea it was a franchise--it feels like a small, locally-owned place. It is FANTASTIC and you can get the breakfast items any time. Love it.

Thanks for the tip. I see that First Watch -- isn't that an odd name for an eatery, like some sort of illegal-border-crossing watchdog group? -- has created one of those corporate-speak names for a dish: Crepeggs.

Here's the menu.

I have a stand alone dual oven that is not matching its set temperature. The upper oven is almost 50 degrees off and the bottom oven is about 35 degrees off. It's getting to the point that it is difficult to cook anything. Is there a company in the DC area that does oven tuneups?

My colleague Jura Koncius recommends first calling your local gas company to see whether they could come and check the temperature.

She adds that you need to call the manufacturer to get their best recommendations for local repair people. And can you get your hands/eyes on the manual, perhaps online?

Make Moroccan preserved lemons! Or make and freeze delicious lemon curd. So many uses for that stuff.

Good thinking. Here's our recipe for Quick Preserved Lemons.

So, I left my celery out of the crisper overnight and returned in the morning to completely limp head of celery. Clearly no longer good for snacking with some hummus or adding to tuna salad for, what can I do with it? Celery soup? Sauteed celery?

Don't drop it into a broth just yet.  You can trim the roote ends a bit and stand them in cool water. Or you can cut the celery into pieces and place it in a bowl of ice water. Ought to come back just fine.  You know, my mom used to wrap celery in alum foil before she put it in the crisper (aka rotter drawer, as Editor Joe says) and I swear, just the thought of it put my teeth on edge. But the Googled universe seems to agree that it prolongs celery life.


So, if you're left with only limp celery, you can freeze it and use it for making stock, or you can puree it in a blender and add to a gazpacho or even mashed potatoes. Chatters, what do you do with it?

Where can I find morels and fiddleheads, the former I seem to find at Whole Foods, and some farmers markets. Fiddleheads, that grow wild in Maine and perhaps Michigan or Washington State, and Canada, used to be carried by Balducci and Whole Foods, haven't seen them this year, and I wonder how the weird weather is impacting the cropt.

Wegmans carries them, but hasn't gotten them in yet. Might still be too early.

I'm interested in trying white asparagus, which I don't think I've ever had. How would you recommend preparing it?

They're nice in a salad, peeled, with shaved Parmesan. I like to do a shallow braise with broth and herbs, just until they are tender.

Hi Free Rangers! I enjoyed the article on breakfast in the DC area. A personal favorite of mine is Cafe Aurora, an Eritrean place in Alexandria. I'm a fool for Fu'ul. The kitcha fitfit (marinated Eritrean bread, similar to injera) makes a filling breakfast. They also know their coffee.

Cafe Aurora was definitely one of our favorite breakfast destinations, and made it into our gallery of best breakfasts. The Fatta -- French bread in tomato/onion/hot pepper sauce, with a side of yogurt -- was our favorite.

Bonnie says "It's always good to crack them on a flat surface next to the bowl, instead of on the rim of the bowl, too...." Why? Won't I end up with egg on the counter instead of in the bowl?

Nope.  Bonnie says "a light rap on the counter won't cause any of the egg to fall out."  You don't want eggshell or cooties in the bowl, do you?

Hi! I'm not from a religious background, and received no invitations to holiday meals this past weekend, but all the chatter about it left me craving lamb, which I've never cooked before. Lamb chops were way out of my price range, so I now have a lamb shoulder roast sitting in my fridge. Any recommendations for a classically delicious way to prepare it? Thanks!

The shoulder's often cut into cubes and used in stews, kebabs, etc. This Moroccan Braised Lamb from Joan Nathan's most recent book is very good, a classic, and so is this Lamb With Ras el Hanout and Honey.

Will this work for cooking with kimchi? Hmm, that would be great.

Let us know!

I make batches of muffins and freeze them - if you load up on the whole grain flour and nuts, they're surprisingly filling. Another option I've been wanting to try for quick weekday breakfasts are mini crustless quiches / fritattas - make them in muffin tins, freeze, and microwave in the morning. Even adding protein (yogurt or nuts would work) to your current breakfast routine might help.

We had potato galette, roasted asparagus, and lamb sirloin on the grill from here You should really check them out--amazing people and the lamb is truly remarkably good.


I've read in a number of cookbooks that to safely bring eggs to room temperature before using to make baked goods you should put the eggs in a bowl with warm tap water for 5+ minutes, but from what you suggested above this is actually increasing the chance of contamination. Thoughts for getting eggs (and for that matter, other dairy products) to room temp safely?

The eggs can just sit on the counter to come to room temp.

Please, please, I need a fast breakfast that does not contain wheat (told that this aggravates allergies) and I don't do eggs in any form. Preferably something I can grab and take to work to eat without cooking when I get there.

We're thinking that a combo of yogurt, fruit and gluten-free granola carried in separate containers might do the trick for you. Chatters?

I bought some beets at the farmers market and was planning on oven roasting. However everything I read online said to roast them wrapped in aluminum foil rather than in a pan. Do you agree? How should I roast them? They are rather small (about the size of radishes) I plan on scrubbing the outside. Do I still need to peel them?

You do not have to use foil. Here's a version from Deborah Madison that calls for baking them in a pan with water.

You'll want to keep the skins on while roasting, by the way, then peel the beets afterward.

As for the wide use of foil, I think that often has to do with beet juice, which can stain your pans.

Peeled beets = better eating.

Aren't we supposed to crack them in one hand, like Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina?

Well, sure. It's not hard to do. I demo'ed the technique at the Intl. Food an d Wine Festival in February and someone from the audience was able to do the same! BTW, do we need a separate egg hour? (We'll have another shot to discuss eggs next week, because Editor Joe's Cooking for One column will be an eggy one.)

Hello- I was reading today's Food section (a must first read for Wednesday) and I thought I would pose a question to you - perhaps specifically to Jason Wilson. We are hosting a Spring party at the end of April (45-50 adults) to celebrate a 65th birthday, 40th wedding anniversary, one son's 30th birthday will be casual, heavy appetizers, wine, beer - hopefully we can be outside as well as inside. The food is being catered but our adult sons will serve as bartenders (we are supplying wine and beer and soft drinks). A friend mentioned that we should serve guests a "signature" cocktail upon arrival. Any suggestions? We are looking for something that is easy to make/simple to pour - make in a large portion for a pitcher that our sons could pour from...perhaps a Vodka base? Can you help us? Thanks much.

If your sons are not experienced home bartenders, you want to keep it simple with a crowd that size. Probably the best thing to do is a prepare a punch or two ahead of time. One that I've found goes over well with different groups is the Thieves' Punch, with cachaca, port, and lime juice. If your group is more into the gin & tonics or Tom Collins, I'd suggest a Gin Punch, with gin, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice. And if it's more of a wine crowd, you could try the Light Guard Punch, which is a lovely warm weather mix of sherry, cognac, Sauternes, and sparkling wine. Have fun!

Hi guys! I'm in search of a "super food" to try and feed my 3-year old son. He is SUPER picky (as in his whole diet consists of key lime yogurt, bananas, craisins,and crackers - EVERY DAY!). I want to get him to try a food that has most of what he needs, but I can't remember all of the super foods. I'd love some suggestions and/or ways to try and feed him something new. He's VERY resistant. Thanks!!!

Try a smoothie. This True Blue Smoothie sounds like a winner. According to the intro, "In addition to its lovely color, this smoothie contains protein, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that promote brain growth."

I also made this recipe for the first time this year and took them to a Seder I was attending. I doubled the recipe but, to be safe, made them one batch at a time (I was afraid I may not be able to incorporate the eggs properly if I had doubled everything up to that point). The rolls were great - as a matter of fact, one attendee ate four of them before the meal even started because she thought they were so good. She asked me for the recipe and even took several home after, so perhaps there is an oven problem with the earlier chatter. The only problem I had is that the rolls were much smaller than I expected, even though each batch divided into 15 rolls. Thank you all for the great recipes (I also made the Zucchini Glazed with Ginger and although it was a little too sweet for me, it, too, was a big hit).

Yeah, they're definitely not big rolls. I can see how your friend gobbled down four of them!

Fritz, Creme de Violette is the most important ingredient in an aviation. And the most delicious.

I'm sure Jason can chime in here, but I don't always make my Aviations with creme de violette, and the recipes I pull from my collection of vintage '30s cocktail books don't necessarily call for it either.

I do like Creme de Violette, though. Another variation: My friend Kat Bangs (formerly of Komi) made me a great Aviation with Creme Yvette in it...

There are two ways to make an Aviation, with or without creme de violette or Creme Yvette. The version without came to be simply because for a few decades you couldn't find a violette liqueur on the market! I've written about this issue, both here and here.

When I once had my house on the market I put potatoes in the oven and set the timer to have it come on in time to cook them for dinner. When I arrived at home that night the potatoes were cooking and a family was looking at the house. They commented about how good it smelled--and ended up buying the house.

Really resisting the urge to make a hot potato joke...

Hi Bonnie, I think the questioner was asking about bringing eggs to room temp before baking QUICKLY. My go-to America's Test Kitchen baking book has that tip - they say that if you don' t have the hour or so it takes to bring eggs to room temperature, you can place eggs in hot (not boiling) water for about 15 minutes to get them ready for baking. I have long been curious as to whether or not that affected the quality of the egg, but I figured it ATK suggested it then it's okay :)

Oh, sorry! I guess I wouldn't use that technique now that I'm up to speed on my egg safety.

I saw migas burritos available at Marvelous Market in Dupont yesterday. Not quite the same as sitting down to a hot plate, but it's something.

Some advice for the Migas fan...

My trick for making the crepes for crepe cakes fast is to use two pans -- Do one side in one pan. Throw it on the other side in another heated pan and get a second crepe started in the first pan, while the first crepe finishes in the second pan. Continue to repeat.

A while back you mentioned this was a topic with a bit of interest. Any chance you'll have a section on it coming up in the paper? Would love to see one (hint hint)!

Okay, okay. We're feeling the pressure.

After I tried to do that, I exclaimed, "The yolk's on me!"

Practice makes perfect -- and some scrambled eggs, I reckon.

Great story on breakfast. I lived in the DC area for 10 years and was constantly disappointed by the lack of anywhere to go for a good reasonably priced breakfast- on a weekday or even a weekend. Very happy now to be in Portland Maine where there are almost too many places to count that do very good breakfasts every single day! If you come north, check out Hot Suppa, Ohno cafe or Bintliff's just to name a few...

Thank you for the pat on the back. I never realized Portland, Maine, was a breakfast town. Maybe because it's colder?

Plus, when you microwave them to defrost them, your house smells like you just baked!

Other options would be oatmeal (can be made in advance and stored in the fridge, then microwaved at work) or smoothies (store frozen fruit in pre-mixed bags to speed things up, add yogurt and nut butter to increase protein). I'm also a fan of packing up a few containers of yogurt with a dollop of jam or fruit butter at the beginning of the week, then topping with nuts right before I go out the door (nuts get soggy otherwise). Preparing breakfast the night before is key for me in getting out the door quickly.

Since I can't ever cook with bacon (see below), do you have any substitution suggestions for recipies where the flavoring and/or "mouth feel" of bacon really counts? Liquid smoke? Smoked paprika? [For our Kosher-for-Passover seder, I made two kinds of chicken -- fessenjan (Persian Walnut & Pomegranate) and Orange Chicken (and if you think finding kosher-for-passover pomegranate juice or orange marmalade is easy...), plus asparagus marinated with lime juice and grated ginger. Dessert choices were a date-orange-walnut cake and orange-scented meringue cookies.]

Turkey bacon's the closest thing, I think, if you want the mouthfeel and chew. Seder menu, very nice!

And with the leftover juice from the limoncello, make lemon curd - I did this last week and it is out of this world amazing. Used a recipe from Fine Cooking where you mix all of the ingredients and then cook, which was very easy. I do recommend cutting the sugar by 1/3 if you like tart - I did and it came out fine. You can also freeze the juice in small portions to use later.

I just finally made it to the gallery - wow, you guys covered a lot of ground! There are some great options there. (And I love it that you note when breakfast is served all day - I would eat breakfast at anytime of the day!) Thanks.

Thank you. It was Bonnie's suggestion that the Food and Going Out Gurus staffs team up for this effort. I think it worked out incredibly well. Here's the gallery to judge for yourself.

Juice the Meyer lemons, freeze in ice-cube trays till hard, then bag and store in freezer till ready to use. Zest the shells -- I cut off the zest, then zap to grated consistency in the food-processor -- and freeze in an air-tight sandwich bag; you can break off amounts of frozen peel as needed for recipes.

Quick hour! Thanks for joining us, chatters, and thanks to Michael Babin, Greg Kitsock, Fritz, Jason and the gang.

Cookbook winners: The fessenjen Seder chatter and the potato galette/lamb for Easter chatter each win a book today; send your mailing info and book preference (as mentioned in the intro) to so Becky can get them right out to you. '


Next week:  A new column from David Hagedorn that will help all of us to cook better....until then, be happy in the kitchen!

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie Benwick is interim editor of the Food section; joining us today are staff writer Tim Carman and Food aide Becky Krystal. Guests: Going Out Guru Fritz Hahn; Michael Babin, co-owner of Neighborhood Restaurant Group.
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