Free Range on Food: Eggs, Beer Madness and more

Apr 16, 2014

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

Greetings, all, and welcome to today's chat! Obviously, we broke a few eggs to put together this week's section. Hope you are enjoying it!

Bonnie and photog Deb Lindsey did a bang-up job with that big cracking egg on the cover, don't you think?

We had Emily Horton's ode to the hard-cooked egg; Bonnie's take on egg cookbooks new and old (including Michael Ruhlman's buzzy new "Egg"); my take on frying eggs the Spanish way (lots of olive oil!); tips, trivia and techniques; and a video where I show a few other eggy tricks.

We have special guests today: Ruhlman himself, who also helped Emily with her story, will be answering questions -- as will Emily. And the rest of your regular team is at the ready. Oh, and for your wine geeks out there, Dave McIntyre will be in the room, too!

So let's get those questions rolling in like so many eggs down the White House lawn.

But first, how could I forget? We'll have giveaway books:  a SIGNED copy of Ruhlman's "Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient"; "Put an Egg on It" by Lara Ferroni; and  "Eggs on Top" by Andrea Slonecker.

Let's do this!

Best way to soft-boil an egg: Go! OK, I'll start. After 41 years, I recently figured out that if I put three eggs in the pan, in water, then turn the burner to high and set the timer for 9 minutes, the eggs come out just right, although the first one I crack is runnier than the other two. That's because the second two eggs are still cooking in their shells while I open the first, right? Seems obvious, although the difference in the yolk, which takes place over just a minute or so time-wise, always surprises me. Sometimes the third egg has a yolk that's too hard, when the first is a little too soft! I can't win, can I?

sounds like you've got the method down. and yes, the carryover cooking results in different doneness. maybe opening them at the same time will slow all the cooking.

I think you've covered this before, but, forgive me -- I forgot. Can one freeze egg yolks and re-use them? Actually, I know you can freeze them. I've got 5 in my freezer now. Can I defrost them and use them like fresh egg yolks?

We have, and can do it again. It's best to freeze egg yolks with a pinch of sugar or salt stirred in; this helps prevent them from becoming too gelatinous, as the Egg Board says. (You can freeze whole eggs, too, beaten, up to a year.) Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

i concur. mcgee recommends a teaspoon of salt or a tablespoon of sugar or 4 tablespoons lemon juice per pint of yolk to keep the yolk proteins from aggregating.

Tried the Brothers Kimchee grilled cheese sandwich for the first time, and there is now no turning back! Wow! My question is, however, after opened and sitting in the 'fridge, the plastic top seems to be puffed out like a big top. Is there some kind of gas thing going on? It's only a few days old and still tastes ok. BTW, try kimchee on a toasted bagel with a melted cap of cheese...

Welcome to the wonderful world of fermented foods! Yes, the kimchi puts off gas as it ferments. Perfectly natural, and nothing to fear.

Of course, I'm well-versed in the Grilled Kimcheese craze. (Think I might have actually had something to do with it.) How about Mac and Kimcheese?

Oh, and I'm not familiar with Brothers -- that a brand of kimchi? (Or do you mean No. 1 Sons? They're my favorite.)

is my 'puter down or is chat delayed?

Here we are! Looks like you were a day early. :)

do you have any fun brunch ideas? I'd like to jazz up my Easter brunch this year with sometime delicious and different. Either sweet or savory would be fine.

How about one of our Easter tarts from last year? Or check out our Easter gallery for more inspiration.

Wow, you guys are timely! Over the weekend I was making a cake for Passover and I have two recipes for the same cake (handed down from two different family members). Very little was different between them expect a few measurements and one had you whip the yolks with the sugar, and the other the whites with the sugar. I just picked one and went with it, but I am wondering what would the difference be between the two?

whipping egg whites to a meringue results in a lighter crumb and better rise, my preference when making cake.

As a non-fan of runny yolks, I appreciated Emily Horton's story on techniques for hard-cooked eggs. I'd love to hear some similar thoughts about scrambled eggs. Any technique recommendations there? The poached omelet scramble recipe you ran today, while interesting, looks a little too "juicy" for my taste.

I suggest the double-boiler method for scrambling in my video: You melt butter in a pan set tightly over a saucepan of simmering water, add the eggs, and cook them VERY slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring with a heatproof spatula and scraping the bottom and sides. It takes a long time, but it's so worth it: They're just amazing. They have a very soft, almost gelled quality to them that's delightful to eat.

Here's a recipe from Patrick O'Connell that uses the same technique. You can adjust the accompaniments to suit your taste. He does it in a stainless steel bowl over a double boiler, but I find a pan works fine, too -- and moves around less! (And cleans a little easier.)


NOW I'm disappointed that my expression of disappointment at last week's Passover recipes was characterized as a plea for a "return to brisketville." Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I'm vegetarian (not that I believe you meant "brisketville" quite so literally) so most traditional Passover recipes don't work for me. Therefore, I look forward every year to the Post (and other newspapers) printing new, innovative, and non-traditional Passover recipes for the Seder and Passover meals. I don't want a "return to brisketville," but is it really too much to expect that the Passover recipe column include recipes that can actually be eaten during Passover?

I was just joshing and am rarely accused of taking anything literally. :) I could disagree over your characterization of what's edible; did you try the Maror Salad? We do have meatless Passover recipes, which are included in our Passover recipe gallery each year. I promise to find some good things for you in 2015. 

I picked some up at an Asian market the other day for a recipe and used one out of the five stalks. How long will it keep in my fridge and do you have any suggestions on what to do with a lot of it.

"The New Food Lover's Companion" says lemon grass will last up to two weeks in the fridge tightly wrapped in a plastic bag. We have a bunch of recipes to check out. Or you could make your own curry paste.

Thank you for recommending this last week -- super easy to make and delicious. Several people asked for the recipe (you got the credit). Question: if I use whole almonds, will the skins discolor the dip?

Eggscellent. (There might be more of that today, just a warning.) Did you roast the grapes? Yes, skins will discolor the dip, but more importantly, perhaps add a bit of unwanted texture and cause subsequent flossing. 

Hi guys (submitting early so I don't miss my chance), the kids and I are dyeing Easter eggs this week and I wondered, is it better to dye them after they've enjoyed some time in the fridge or better to just run cool water over them and immediately dye? We're dyeing with food coloring and vinegar instead of one of those dye kits if it makes any difference. Thanks!!

They should be thoroughly chilled in an ice bath after hardboiling if you intend to eat. Then temperature not a big issue, though room temperature is optimal.

just a comment or two - I cannot wait to try this recipe. I have fried eggs in olive oil, and I love that technique. Second, you brought back memories of my own Texas childhood, and the ubiquitous bacon grease can that every Mom had on the stove. Eggs fried in bacon grease....mmmmm.

Thanks! Glad you like the look (and story behind) the Asparagus With Romesco Blanco and Fried Eggs! It's a fun way to cook eggs, indeed.

Submitting early...I love eggs and am happy to have so much advice and see so many ideas on using them. But I have a question that is not really about eating them. Do you have a preferred way of making them hard-boiled if they are going to be used for dyeing for Easter eggs? I need nice shells but I don't think we will eat all of them. Also, how long will hard boiled eggs keep if they are not refrigerated but still have their shells on? I am wondering if we can eat the ones we hide for Easter. Thanks!

I hard boil the same no matter the use, in pot, bring to boil, cover, wait 15 minutes, plunge into ice bath for at least ten minutes. Hard cooked eggs will keep at least for a few days at room temperature (they've been effectively pasteurized so it's more a flavor issue rather than a safety issue. If it smells bad, don't eat it!

I consider myself a top notch baker and cook. I am making cupcakes and the cake for my daughters wedding. Key lime cupcakes. I am having trouble getting a light textured cake. I hate to resort to box mixes. Any suggestions?

Are you separating the yolks and folding in whipped whites? that's the best way to get a good rise in your cakes

As part of an effort to eat a healthier (and cheaper!) diet, I've started adding various kinds of lentils into my usual meal rotation. I enjoy cooking and eating them, but wasn't prepared for the... uncomfortable digestive side effects. Should I cook them differently, dump Beano all over my meals, or just accept that my body doesn't enjoy lentils as much as I'd like it to?

One thought: Are you new to eating legumes in general? I've found that one of the best ways to prevent the gas is to eat smaller amounts of beans more often, working yourself up to bigger quantities. Lentils typically don't really need to be soaked before cooking them, but in your case, I bet some soaking (overnight, and then drain before cooking) might help, because that helps with other beans. (As does skimming the foam when you're first cooking them, although I don't find that lentils foam up in the same way as other beans do.)

Now, about Beano, you realize that you take tablets of it right before eating the gas-causing foods, right? You don't put it ON the food. I haven't used it all that much, but if you continue having problems you certainly might give it a try.

Now, for lentil inspiration, did you see my January piece extolling lots of new-wave recipes? If I had to point you to just one recipe, it would be the great a powerful Mollie Katzen's Golden Lentils With Soft, Sweet Onions. Stunningly good.

I am heading out on vacation on Friday and need to use up about two pounds of baby potatoes and a cup of ricotta cheese before I leave. Any idea of what I could make?

This Chorizo and Potato Puff Pastry Tart calls for both potatoes and 1 cup of ricotta!

Was the wordplay with "current" in the headline intentional this morning? Very clever if so.

That's Jane Touzalin for you!

I loved it too!

I have a box of old recipes from my grandparents, mostly for baked goods. My grandfather was a baker and most of the recipes have measurements for the ingredients, and the cooking temp and time, but that is it. No directions on what to do. Is there a good way to recreate these recipes? I would love to bring back some family favorites. thanks!

Without any more insight on what these recipes are, it's hard to say. I would look to similar recipes or your own experience for inspiration on what the steps might be. I was in the same situation for a favorite pumpkin bread. Since I've made many a quick bread, I knew to mix the dry, then the wet and then combine.

My grandmother's recipes (and I think many of her generation) were written in much the same way. To echo Becky, in most cases her methods were simple: combine wet ingredients, dry ingredients, combine those, and then bake in a greased pan. I made some "wine cookies" of my grandmother's last year, in which she called only for red wine, which I realized after the fact should have been port. They were still good, if not true to hers. So hopefully, even if your results aren't quite right at first, they'll still be good eating.

The other year I started reading the Nero Wolfe mysteries and have been fascinated with the food descriptions. I've even gotten the associated cookbook and included is a recipe for double boiler scrambled eggs that Nero proclaims the only acceptable way to scramble in one of the mysteries. That was the first time I'd seen that method mentioned and seeing it again in your egg tips makes me even more excited about getting around to try it out! When looking something else up, I only glanced at the search summary, but there was something about keeping your eggs stored sideways to keep the yolk centered. Do you know if this actually works?

The double boiler issue is one of gentle heat. To understand perfect scrambled eggs, use a double boiler, which i recommend in Ruhlman's Twenty. But I typically use a non-stick saute pan over low heat, regulating it by lifting it off the heat if it gets too hot. And yes, storing on side can help; the yolk is suspended in center of the egg from either end by the chalazae, the white coils attached to the yolk.

I made up a nice spinach-onion-mushroom mixture that I would like to add some eggs to and turn into a crustless spinach quiche. Is it just eggs that I add to the veg or do I need flour in there also?

just egg should be fine as a binder. or basic custard ratio is 2 parts liquid, one part egg.

Any recommendations? Panasonic? Black and Decker?

Zojirushi 3-cup or 4.4 cup?

What is the best way to store fresh ginger?. Also, can it be frozen?

My answer combines both parts of your question. I chop the big root into chunks and freeze as soon as I buy it. Makes it easier to peel and grate, in my book. Or you could try Jane Touzalin's method for keeping it alive and well.

Of course you want that. It's the best part! I bet that writer also doesn't like it when bits of cheese ooze out of a grilled cheese sandwich and form little crispy bits on the edge of the bread where they hit the pan. These are the things that make home cooking great.


I love sauteed asparagus with a poached egg, balsamic vinegar glaze and parmesan. Should I blanch the asparagus before sauteeing it? My last couple of rounds of asparagus were tough after sauteeing.

yes, blanche till tender first, then shock in ice water. this will also keep them vividly green. agree few things go better with eggs than asparagus.

I'm so glad to see that Mr. Ruhlman is a guest today, because I wanted to ask him a question! I saw (in another pub) his recipe for making an omelet. It seemed unusual to me because it wasn't flipped, which I'd not seen before. How come? I know that flipping can be daunting, but I like my egg cooked on both sides.

I let the omelet cook through on one side only. I like them moist and they finish cooking as you roll it. but if you like to flip then flip! some chefs finish the omelet under a broiler for a well-done omelet.

I'm looking for something innovative to do with deviled eggs for Sunday. Any suggestions on how to make a flavor that will make people say "What's in this?" In the good way, of course; not the way that's accompanied with a face contortion.

Well, I can't help but suggest my Kimchi Deviled Eggs. They're stellar, IIDSSM.

I'm making bread for Easter. I also have a lot of other things going in the oven, so the day before I try to get as much done as possible. I have a challah recipe that has three risings. What I would like to do is, on the evening before, mix the dough and let it go through the first two risings. Then shape it and put it in the fridge overnight. Will the third rising take place in the fridge? How long will I need to let it sit out until I can put it in the oven?

yes, you should be able to do the final rise in fridge, then give it an hour out of fridge before baking.

Why is it - or is it just me - that egg whites in the carton create scrambled eggs in a puddle. It's gross. I don't have that problem with real eggs (which the carton says they come from) but hate to waste my good yolks for a quick breakfast. Thanks in advance!

Are you talking about egg beaters or something like that? Why would one use anything other than "real" eggs?

I'm confused, too -- you're making egg WHITE scramble? No yolks at all? Or more whites than yolks? Clarify, please.

I've been invited to a "Salad and Dessert Potluck" party. I don't eat sweets, so I want to bring a salad. The hostess wants us to get creative, so "no pasta, 3 bean or potato salads". I'm not even sure what the definition of a salad is, and I don't like to cook, so I'm not sure what to bring. Got any easy, creative ideas that don't require too many ingredients?

My own definition of a salad is any combination of ingredients bound by a dressing of some sort. Personally, I love grain salads (farro is great) for these kinds of things, because they don't suffer too much from being made in advance. You can add beans to make them more substantial, or whatever vegetables (little white turnips, asparagus, carrots, radishes) are in season to fill the salad out and make it ligher. A bunch of chopped parsley or other herbs to lighten it up. And a grain salad, if you keep it simple like this, doesn't require a ton of working time: even when I don't want to cook, it's a good thing to make.

Just a colon is showing up with some responses - no name. Is that Emily?

Sorry about that. That would be Dave! Refresh the page and you should be good.

Re the Turkish dip, no, I did not roast the grapes, just toasted the slivered almonds. Re the Romesco sauce in Joe's recipe today, why would I buy salsa verde instead of making my own, especially if I only use 1/4 cup? I'm sure Joe makes his own, so may I please have the recipe? Pretty please with Easter eggs on top?

Sure, I do, but I also REALLY like Frontera brand in a pinch.

But meanwhile, here's a recipe for a good one!

I'm planning to serve deviled eggs this weekend. How far in advance can I put them together before they're eaten? I'll be going to someone's house for dinner. I'm happy to take them unfilled. Also, any favorite recipes?

Because the yolk can oxidize quickly and covering with plastic will ruin the appearance, I'd make the filling in advance, keep it in a plastic bag and when ready to serve simply cut a corner off the bag and pipe into the halved egg whites. I like curried deviled eggs, my recipe tester likes to add blue cheese and bacon. so many variations!

Miso/scallions is another fave of mine. Also w/deviled eggs, be careful how to store/carry the whites. Don't stack them, or they'll get all misshapen, making them U-G-L-Y.

My jar of kimchi has a warning on the lid to open it over the sink because it could explode.


Hey guys, just found out I've got an Easter lunch to attend on Sunday, and I need a side to bring. The lunch is almost two hours away, so I need something I can prep ahead of time. I will have access to an oven and microwave, although I shouldn't plan on using the oven for any long-term baking. Other guests have said they'll be bringing three salads, so I'm relunctant to bring a potato salad, but as none of the dishes included potatoes, I wouldn't mind some other potato dish. Deviled eggs, alas, also have already been spoken for. I do want to make Stephanie Izard's spicy grilled broccoli with toasted rice krispies, but as that might be a little too out there for some in this group, I wanted to also bring a more traditional dish. Any ideas? The hosts are grilling burgers and brats for the main, btw. Thanks!

A hash might be something different. Here are a few ideas, including potato salads that aren't mayo-based so they'd be good for traveling. Another option: Bring cooked/prepped ingredients separately and assemble: 

Sweet Potato Hash

New Potato and Pea Salad

German Potato Salad (love this one, from David Hagedorn)

Chickpea Potato Salad With Lemon-Garlic Dressing


And here's something I do whenever I cook potatoes for any potato salad: When they're just done and in the colander, draining, sprinkle a generous amount of unseasoned rice vinegar over them. They'll soak it up and be more flavorful. 

Hi Rangers, I am planning to venture into the world of bread baking. Do you have a go-to cookbook for this that you would recommend? Also, I would like give a Thanks! to the person a few weeks ago who recommended cutting the chocolate chip cookie butter content in half. While that proved to be a little aggressive, cutting it by 25 percent changed my normally flat and crispy cookies into chewy treats.

"Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" was my intro to bread baking. Highly recommend. I've also gotten some good recipes from "Fast Breads" by Friend of Food Elinor Klivans. 

I know this question has come up before, so chatters, chime in with your favorites.

As a fan of both runny yolks and Italian food, I love some Eggs in Purgatory on occasion - runny eggs, marinara, and some good crusty bread with a touch of olive oil to sop it all up - should be called heaven! Any favorite recipes for a good, quick, and hearty marinara that would work well for this?

i use a puttanesca sauce in my new book for a variation on eggs in purgatory.

Sorry, I meant to ask if you could give a liquid volume measure for the recommended pans. I have a zillion baking pans, but no pullman and not sure about the molded pan.

I think bonnie should answer this and she criticized the lack of info here! (I use a 1.5 liter terrine mold. but you can use a regular loaf pan, or divide it among ramekins, a very versatile dough.)

The recipe does say it yields a 2-pound loaf, but I'd wager most people don't know how much a standard loaf of bread weighs. Our tester had some Lucille Ball-type issues in the oven using the largest loaf pan she had; hence, the notation. We certainly liked how the brioche tasted, Ruhlman! 



What? Why? I never do that and have lived pretty well so far. What's the science there?

To clarify: It's not that you absolutlely shouldn't eat hard-cooked eggs that haven't been submerged in an ice bath. If you've been making them without, and they turn out fine, then I don't see a reason to start. But it's impossible to control how long an egg keeps cooking after you remove it from hot water unless you cool it very quickly. And the objection to an egg that continues to cook, for some people, is that it takes on a more sulfurous odor and can develop a green-gray ring around the yolk as the hydrogen sulfide in the white reacts with the iron in the yolk. If you absolutely want to keep those things from happening, you should use an ice water bath. Otherwise, insofar as how good the egg is for you, there's no reason it's necessary.

I'm thinking chipotles in adobo could be your friend...

I agree!

I cook mine to hard in less than 5 minutes in a skillet. It's all I have time for in the morning. I also have found cooking them in pyrex custard cups in the microwave works well. Spray cup with canola oil (or rub with butter), drop in egg, add salt & pepper (and some smoked paprika), microwave on 80% for a minute then in 10 sec increments until done (usually once or twice). Also works for scrambling.

You should try making the slow-scrambled ones at night sometime, when you have more time!

Since there are lots of egg experts in the house today, maybe there's an answer for this. Sometimes when I crack open eggs, there's a little brown speck. Usually a little smaller than a sesame seed. I don't always see this, but every once in awhile. What is it? I usually try to fish it out.

It's a blood spot -- fine to eat. Doesn't mean the egg is fertilized, contrary to myth -- it's just the result of a ruptured blood vessel when the egg is being formed. Some say it indicates freshness, because as the egg ages, blood spots get diluted.

Is always folded or rolled, never flipped


To follow up on the previous question: I've sometimes ended up with somewhat gelatinous yolks (even after adding salt/sugar), but they've worked just fine in recipes - so don't be discouraged if they look a little funny.

Good to know. Which kind of recipes did you use them in?

When I need to fill in the blanks on an old family recipe, that's when I consult an old Betty Crocker cookbook we have on hand to fill in the blanks - might not be exactly what they did, but I figure you can't go too wrong just doing whatever was the common baking knowledge of the time. In fact, that's how I got my grandmothers chocolate chip cookies to actually taste like my grandmother's chocolate chip cookies - the missing piece? People weren't afraid of a little Crisco back then.

Right. I've used "The Settlement Cookbook" for similar research.

I just came across this recipe today for asparagus deviled eggs. Can't wait to try it myself!

Yep, that one looks great, doesn't it?

Deb at Smitten Kitchen recently posted asparagus-filled eggs, which look springy and perfectly unique! I also spy Caesar deviled eggs, which sound amazing, too.


I was watching a cooking show this past weekend and they were making a dish with puff pastry. They repeatedly said use a "high quality" puff pastry. How do I know what is a "high quality" puff pastry and what isn't. Thanks!

High-quality should mean all-butter. No shortening. We recommend Dufour.

I am making an egg white scramble. I generally use egg whites from the actual egg. However, on the occasion when I have used the egg whites in a carton (like Egg Beaters, yes), they end up a scramble in a wet puddle - a lot of water. As for why I would use anything other than a "real" egg white, I think I am using a "real" egg white... much like "real" orange juice in a carton comes from a "real" orange. Or is that incorrect and it's not actually 100% egg white as the carton reads.

One brand, at least (Eggland's Best), is pasteurized. I'll bet that is the reason for the difference. They recommend shaking the container vigorously before using; have you tried that?

It's not a book per say, but King Arthur Flour has a huge variety of recipes, that I find to be easy to follow and give very reliable results. I'm sure they have a book, but their website is a great resource as well.

I agree wholeheartedly.

They have many books!

I'd love that recipe.

Me, too! Emily, got it handy?

Drat! I can't, it's in storage at the moment—but I'm almost certain my mom has the recipe, so I'll try to get my hands on it and post another day.

How about next time having another playoff for nationally distributed beers (or at least for beers that are available in the DC area but aren't local to it)? Maybe even imported beers?

Originally, we included beers from across the country in Beer Madness as long as they were available here. We even did a Beer Olympics one year with an international selection. But with so many brands available nowadays (the U.S. now has over 2,800 breweries), we had to narrow down the field and felt there were enough excellent beers in the region to fill our ranks. We could easily fill 68 slots like the NCAAs (even 128 or 256), but that would be getting a bit out of hand!

Locapours rule!

Fritatta in yet another guise? My favorite quick eggs-for-dinner dish. My must-haves: fresh herb topping (variously cilantro, basil, parsley, chives) and sriracha or a similar hot sauce.

Well, master baker Lisa Yockelson dubbed it thusly because just out of the oven, the thing looks like a puffed cake. I'd say it's more of a crustless quiche. Let's just call it delicious. 

We are guests at an Easter dinner and have been asked to bring an appetizer for a half dozen people. Thoughts for something that can be prepped in advance and - this is key - easily carried on Metro? Bonus points for something light for those of us watching our diets.

Not sure if it meets your threshold for light, but one of my new favorite portable party apps is dates stuffed with goat cheese. People love them. I buy the Medjool dates they sell at Trader Joe's (be sure to pit them!), mix some honey and maybe thyme with goat cheese and then use my pastry tip to squirt a little of the filling into each date.

Just to make sure I understood Michael Ruhlman correctly: to ensure a light crumb and better rise, you separate the yolks and whites, beat the whites till they're stiff ... and add the yolks when the recipe calls for the eggs, but add the whites at the end of the mixing process as you would for a souffle? Or do the yolks and beaten whites go in at the same time? Thanks for being on the chat -- your book "Ratio" changed the way I cook! (For the better!) :)

basic sponge method: cream yolks and sugar till frothy; fold in flour; fold in egg whites, yes beaten to peaks

I was raised to always put vinegar in my deviled eggs - it offers a little punch but not too much. I also abhor relish in deviled eggs - why would you do that?

My grandmother put her own sweet pickles in deviled eggs (and egg salad, and potato salad). I wouldn't have them any other way. ;)

I avoid that: Bring eggs to boil. Turn off heat and wait 20 minutes. SErious Eats did a study that they don't cook any more after 20 minutes, so it's foolproof

i always chill rapidly in ice bath to avoid the green gray ring you talk about.

Okay, I made a vow to try to avoid buying the oddball ingredient and then having it on hand for years to come. I've got a 2lb bag of confectioners sugar (for buttermints I never made at Christmas time). Would that be an acceptable sub for superfine sugar? Since it's powder instead of grains, I guess I'd use a little less? For the lemon meringue ice cream? To the person with extra spinach-mushrooms, the Spinach Pies from around st Paddy's day were fantastic, and great size for lunch.

No, don't use confectioners' sugar for superfine sugar! Confectioners' sugar contains cornstarch, and I don't think you want that in the meringue ice cream. If you don't want to buy superfine, just give your regular granulated sugar a whirl in the food processor.

I wanted to make a Passover treat for a friend that has a lot of family in town this week. I planned on making macaroons and I also saw this recipe:; have any of you tried it or something similar? It looks easy but wondered if it would really be that good with matzo instead of saltines. I am open to other ideas as well!

I have made these Marcy Goldman macaroon brownies twice this week, and people were very, very happy. They happen to use up those canned macaroons you might have left over, so for me it's a win-win. 

Macaroon Brownies

24 servings


6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, broken into chunks (do not use chips)
2 sticks unsalted margarine or butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar (granulated or brown)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup matzoh cake meal
1/4 cup potato starch
1 pinch kosher salt
1 1/2 cups lightly packed, coarsely chopped Passover macaroons, preferably almond

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper so that two sides of the paper overhang. (They will act as handles for lifting out the slab of brownies.)


Set a heatproof mixing bowl over barely simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water. Heat the chocolate and margarine or butter in the bowl until melted. Stir to combine; remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.


Add the sugar, eggs, matzoh cake meal, potato starch and salt to the bowl. Use a wooden spoon to gently fold in the macaroon pieces. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.


Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top appears set, is dry to the touch and is beginning to take on a crackled appearance. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the inside brownie edges from the pan. Lift out the slab of brownies; wrap in aluminum foil for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.



Unwrap; cut into 24 squares, trimming the firm edges, if desired. (They make a nice snack for the  cook.)


Could I just shake 'em in the shell and freeze, instead of beating them outside the shell? Also I think a poster recently asked if its okay to stick unshaken eggs in the freezer, too and you were going to check with the Egg Board or somewhere. Twould be so handy!

I only freeze whites, which freeze great just as they are, when making an egg yolk sauce or custard. why would you freeze a whole egg?

Yes, yes, sorry, it was No 1 Sons...knew it was some male relative name..

Funny! Well, glad you found them! Their stuff rocks.

Do you have any suggestions for places to find good recipes for homemade granola (or cereal in general?) I love a good, hearty, breakfast cereal!


Coconut Almond Granola from Lisa Yockelson!

don't forget cauliflower or broccoli. Both are excellent in either scrambled or omelets


So, I am terrified of oil splattering. I have problems whenever I cook anything- eggs, meat, fish- in a pan where I need to use a little bit of oil. The oil popping up when you put in the meat or fish or whatever always seems to splatter me, or threaten too. Flipping the piece of food without getting splashed is difficult. Is it just me? How do other people avoid the oil splattering up when frying things in oil? I

Do you  live near an Ikea? The store sells a very inexpensive splatter screen (that I also use as a tamis for extra smooth spuds). You could use one of those silicone covers with holes in it, too. 


Now, some techniques to reduce splattering: In general, think of a gentle turning with two spatulas, rather than flipping. Turn the food over AWAY from you, not toward you. Cook on a back burner, a little farther away from you. Chatters and others, pls add on! 

I loved today's food section with the focus on eggs. We eat them daily and I've trained my kids that almost any leftover can be breakfast with a fried egg on top - rice, pasta, roasted veggies, etc. One of my favorite dinners is a Spanish tortilla which can be served warm in the winter or room temp in hotter weather. I sometimes add other veggies - sliced zucchini, hot peppers, herbs. Does Ruhlman have any thoughts on the tortilla? Love Ratio, by the way. One of my favorite books.

thanks for the kind words!

I love the spanish tortilla, aka spanish omelet, and all the fritatta variants. a potato frittata was the first dish I made as a 10-year-old home alone after school. every bit as easy and delicious today as it was then!

Hello, Foodies! Thanks for your suggeggstions on ways to eggsplore my favorite dish today! I got so eggcited that I had to eggshale into a paper bag to calm down but now I cannot wait to eggsecute them and eggspect eggcellent results. The spanish eggs in olive oil looks eggsquisite! I bet the eggstacy will be almost eggsual! Mwah!

Wow. Just wow.

I have a hankering for corned beef hash with an egg on top. I am trying to cut back on meat, however, and wondered if any of you had a plausible alternative to corned beef. I have seen many veggie hash recipes, but all included just veggies fried up like hash. I'd like something with the salty/smoky taste and texture of corned beef - maybe marinated tempeh? Help?

why don't you do a potato, onion and diced zucchini hash, or eggplant, or eggplant makes me think of a caponata, which would be great with an egg on top.

Hi, Rangers! Love your chat. I'm looking for ideas for very very simple lunches. I often find myself without enough time to throw something together at home, but I do have access to a fridge, a microwave, and a Giant. Simple is fine (for a few days running, I'll have a whole wheat bagel with hummus and some provolone). Appreciate any frugal and vegetarian ideas for changing it up. Thanks!

How about Joe's Smoked Tofu Salad? Make it at home and refrigerate for up to a week.

Smoked Tofu Salad

Does anyone actually count the Beer Madness votes made by customers at Meridian Pint? and if so, how do they compare with the panelist's results?

Check this out for a recap of some of the differences in early voting.

I'll contact Sam Fitz of Meridian Pint for the latest update. 

Aside from the Italian Easter Bread in the archives, do you have any great recommendations for Easter holiday breads (traditional or not!)? I typically make an army of cinnamon rolls, but I'm hoping to try something new, possibly in addition to the cinnamon roll takeover!

These Saffron Buns could change your life -- or all other brunches you bake for. 


I've made this garam masala deviled egg recipe numerous times, and it has a nice kick: The deviled eggs I've been making for Easter for several years are a technique The Splendid Table adapted from Jacques Pepin. So good.

Older kimchi is the better choice for Korean soup. This recipe is great but you can omit the meat if you prefer:


If I do say so myself!

I've offered to bring dessert for easter dinner. Two of the guests are GF, but not celiac. I'm planning to do a GF carrot cake. I've been looking at a bunch of different recipes, but some are a little paleo for my taste (agave nectar, apple sauce, etc), and I'd prefer to use a GF flour mix so I don't have to buy a bunch of different flours and xatham gum. I'm planning to use a King Arthur recipe, but are there any tips for baking GF? I've made GF brownies before, but never a cake. Thanks!

The Cup for Cup GF blend works well; I've used it in several regular cake recipes and I think a carrot cake application would be fine. I think Whole Foods carries it.


Speaking of GF cakes, these are different and Easter-y.


Kind of a weird question, but how is it that the chicken became the ubiquitous bird of choice for their eggs? Do other fowl species - ducks, turkeys, etc. - not produce eggs that are desirable enough that they are bred for that? I guess people do eat quail eggs, but I've always wondered...

duck, turkey, quail, ostrich all behave in the same way and taste similar. we don't let turkeys reach laying age which is why we don't get their eggs. i love duck eggs for their rich yolks. i love quail for their size. i have never cooked reptile eggs! anyone?!

Agree about the duck eggs -- they're fantastic. Look for them at the 14th/U Farmers Market, among other places.

Last night, I improvised this layered egg dish with on-hand ingredients, which would make an elegant Easter side dish or vegetarian main: thin slices of stale baguette, buttered and spread with some leftover marro (fresh fava puree, garlic, olive oil, lemon and basil), asparagus spears, topped with baguette crumbs and grated reggiano parmesan and pecorino romano, all soaked in custard mix and baked for 35 minutes in a moderate oven. I happened to have had the marro leftover from the weekend, but another vegetable puree would work, too--spinach, broccoli, green pea. It came out of the oven puffed and crusty on top, creamy inside. Absolutely delicious.

A week or so ago, I believe I recollect someone pondering what to do with an abundance of hard-boiled eggs. Aside from egg salad, my favorite post-Easter meal is something we call "Eggs Goldenrod". My mom first had it when it was made for breakfast at her college dorm, but we usually eat it for dinner. Basically, you take your hardboiled eggs - two to three per person, I'd say and peel all the eggs; take half of them and cut them in half and pop out the yolk. Reserve the yolks. Chop up all the whole eggs and egg whites. In the meantime, make your favorite cream sauce (mine is simply milk, butter, and cornstarch, salt & pepper). Once thickened, add the eggs. For the reserved yolks, press them through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. While the egg/cream sauce is heating through, use your favorite bread to make toast; two slices per person. Once done, slice in half on the diagonal. Top with the cream sauce/egg mixture, then sprinkle with the yolks. Serve with asparagus or peas - something green! YUMMY!!!

Okay—I will give this a shot this spring! Bechamel + eggs... Must have potential. 

Mark Bittman has a pretty good template for granola. I think you can find it on his website or the NYT. I've used his recipe a few times and I really like it.

There's an extremely delicious Mexican dish called Huevos al Albanil or Bricklayer Eggs. I think the eggs are shirred in a special hot sauce. Might you have a recipe?

there are countless variations of this, use your fave tomato sauce spiked with hot sauce.

I must be the only person on the planet that cannot tolerate eggs. Especially scrambled eggs. That smell just so turns me off. If you put eggs in cake, tarts, custards I'm good but cooked alone, I'm out. I do wish though that I did like them for a quick and easy dinner I hear others speak of.

Well, you're a good sport to participate in our chat today. (A little yolk: How do you stop eggs from smelling when you cook them? Hold your nose.)

To make my deviled eggs stand out, I like to make them smokey and hot...a bit more devil in them, if you will. I use either smoked paprika instead of regular paprika on top and just a LITTLE bit of dave's insanity sauce mixed in with the yolk mixture, or tabasco mixed in with the yolk mixture. Use what you want, but smokey and hot is excellent with deviled eggs.

I go through egg yolks at quite the pace, as I LOVE my ice cream maker. Last week I made angel food cake cupcakes with Swiss meringue buttercream icing, and used up 17 egg whites - YAY! I still have a dozen egg whites in the freezer, and will have more soon. Can't make meringue cookies or angel food cake too often. Any thoughts on non-sweet things to do with them? Oh, and I hate egg white omelets. Thanks!

There are some savory ideas in this blog post I did on using leftover egg whites.

yes, most applications are sweet. but you can use them as a binder in mousseline, use them to clarify stock, you can use them to set a panna cotta (savory or sweet). my fave use is in cocktails, give excellent body and protein!

I did admit last week that the Maror salad was the one of the four "Passover" recipes that was edible for Ashkenazi Jews. But no, I didn't try it. Dishes with directions to "serve immediately" don't work too well with Seders: either someone has to step away from the service to do the last-minute prep, or a group of very hungry people have to wait even longer to be served. We do a beet salad that can be prepped ahead of time.

We don't disagree on that. Well, you can assemble and not dress the salad till just before it hits the table; that way it becomes > than "serve immediately."  A majority of Passover recipes are make ahead, aren't they? 

From today's paper version, the chatter wanting to know what to do with celery should consider stir frying it. Fuchsia Dunlop has a great recipe but there are several thousand out there. Chop, blanch, and stir fry with ground meat (or without) and sichuan chili bean paste. One of those desperation dinners for me on busy weeknights!

I agree—sauteed celery is wonderful! Pasta with celery (+garlic, red chile, lots of parsley) is also fast and fabulous. I have been itching for a Fuchsia Dunlop book... here's one more reason.

In response to last week's question on a maple flavored pie, I make pecan pie substituting 1/4 to 1/3 of the corn syrup with maple syrup. Makes a nice maple pie. I also found a recipe on Slate that uses only maple, no corn syrup. 

On pecan pie: Cane syrup also makes an excellent one. 

Jacques Pepin uses the double boiler method too.

He's the master.

Things I have seen people do that cause heaviness, other than not separating the eggs: Over beating! Not creaming the butter well. Over baking.

Yes! Yes! and yes!

Scotch eggs


Ew, cornstarchy ice cream does NOT sound good --thanks for the save, Becky! "give sugar a whirl in the food processor." I have a dying Osterizer blender that I bought at Best or Evans in Shirlington years ago that came with a small food-processor attachment--super handy in my World's Tiniest Galley Kitchen. I will miss my blender, but I will miss the lil' processor even more. BooHoo, I get so attached to tools that have served me well.

No problem! Nothing more tragic than a ruined dessert, in my book.

I hear you on the applicances. I have a very basic, not too schmancy blender that was among the first gadgets I got for my first kitchen. Still use it, couldn't bear to part with it. Also, my hand mixer is from my grandmother. My dad says he thinks it was from one of those times when banks used to give out stuff when you opened an account. The thing is probably as old as I am, if not older. Love it.

I have to admit to a bit of a laugh at Joe's, "I had one reaction: Why on Earth would you want to do that? Those edges are my favorite part of a fried egg." Just a couple of days ago I saw a quote from Ruhlman's new book, in which he inveighs against hard scrambled eggs. Egg are one of my very favorite foodstuffs and while I love a soft boiled (or, better, 67c) egg, I happen to prefer my scrambled eggs to be quite hard scrambled -- very firm, with plenty of Maillard-brown coloration. And it drives me nuts when chefs or cookbook writers insist that that's wrong... Of course, now I'm dying to try Joe's olive oil-fried eggs!

Thanks! I tend to like things on the extremes -- so I want my fried eggs crispy, but my scrambled eggs super soft. But the thing is, you should have them how you want them, right? Don't apologize.

I'm definitely going to try this. Are they people who make it Korean? Just curious.

The founders are the sons of an Irish father and a Chinese mother, and they're followers of the great Sandor Katz. Check out Tim's piece on new-wave pickle makers from last year.

I haven't gotten to the current food section from my paper yet, but looking forward to checking all the recipes out (and sorry about the ridiculous title). I don't have an aversion to grocery store eggs, but do you guys have any sources for local eggs around here? I'm in upper MoCo, so the closer to here the better.

Today, your title seems fitting! This gives me the opportunity to give props to Whitmore Farm eggs, which are sold at various farmers markets in our area (and whose farm might be closer to you than downtown D.C.)  We used them for that fab Deb Lindsey shot on the cover of the print edition. I'm sure South Mountain Creamery, even closer to you, sells eggs too. 

OMG this is good. Roast red potatoes (halved) and red onions (sliced) tossed in olive oil at 400 degrees unitl browned/done. While they are cooking, crisp in a black iron skillet a package of maple faux bacon (I found it at WF, Light LIfe brand, I think. Made of seitan) Crumble the bacon into a bowl, then add the cooked veggies and toss with a dressing you made with cider vinegar, black pepper, grainy mustard, and good olive oil. When ready to serve, warm in micro for a few minutes. I used torn cilantro tossed over each serving. My meat eater spouse adores this. Note, it came from this recipe, which I totally modified, obviously.


I'm catching up to the chat late, but just wanted to second the recommendation for them. We have the "smart" one that constantly adjusts, and it makes exceptional rice. It's one of those things where I know it's pretty easy to get great rice in a pan on the stove, but this makes things a lot easier, makes fantastic rice (even if cooked much more slowly), and I love the fact that I can set it up before leaving the house and know that the rice will be done right around the time I'm usually finished making the rest of the dinner. Pay the extra and get one, I'll never go back to the cheaper rice cooker we replaced.

I don't know what kind of recipe you are using but I've found that Cake flour gives me a lighter texture that is delicious. HTH

Love King Arthur Flour's Queen Gueneviere cake flour. Agreed that it is a beautiful thing to work with.

I was asked to bring a salad for Easter brunch that can serve as my vegetarian meal and an accompaniment to salmon for the rest. We will have a couple of picky eaters and one of the guests has both egg and nut allergies. I want something with some form of protein, so I was thinking of a quinoa/veggie/arugula dish, but does this count as salad?

Omit the almonds from this Quinoa W ith Dried Fruit and Honey-Lime Dressing; they won't be missed.



How about Fruited Conchigliette With Pecans and Feta, minus the pecans? 

The recipe for Brioche calls for a pullman pan or a "large, molded baking pan." What is a molded baking pan? Thanks.

Ruhlman had to go...I think he's referring to those pans used for baking boules. If it's something different, we'll let you know next week. 

Well, you've shocked us in a bowl of ice water before starting to peel, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great eggy q's today, and many thanks to Michael and Emily for helping us handle them. And to Dave, Greg and Jim for standing by to jump in and help with wine, beer and BBQ!

Now for the giveaway winners: The chatter who asked about best techniques for scrambled eggs will get a SIGNED copy of Ruhlman's "Egg." The one who professed love for an egg's crispy edges (and bacon fat) will get "Put an Egg On It." And the one who asked Ruhlman about omelet techniques will get "Eggs on Top." Send your mailing info to, and we'll get you your eggs -- I mean books!

Until next time, happy cracking.

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is editor of the Food section; joining us today are deputy editor Bonnie S. Benwick, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin, wine columnist Dave McIntyre and Beer columnist Greg Kitsock. Guests: Michael Ruhlman, author of "Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World' Most Versatile Ingredient"; freelance writer Emily Horton.
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