Free Range on Food: New barbecue, Cooking for One does eggs, farmers markets and more

Apr 25, 2012

Free Range on Food: New barbecue, Cooking for One does eggs, farmers markets and more.
Past Free Range on Food chats

Welcome one and all, to the food power hour we call Free Range. I don't know about you but Jim Shahin's piece on the New 'Cue (as in barbe-) had me at brisket-stuffed peppers.  BTW, have you entered our bbq sauce contest? One week left! Got eggs on your mind, or matters of homesteading? Joe Yonan's chiming in from North Berwick, Maine.  And, thanks to Becky Krystal and cartographer Gene Thorp, almost 140 Washington area farmers markets are at your fingertips via interactive map and our online listings by jurisdiction (D.C., Virginia, Maryland); check the list of new markets on our All We Can Eat blog, too. Jane Touzalin, Tim Carman and maybe even Spirits columnist Jason Wilson are at your service as usual (loved his grapefruit cocktail today).


Two lucky chatters could snag either a copy of "Ripe," by Cheryl Sternman Rule, source of today's Dinner in Minutes or "Eat With Your Hands," by Zakary Pelaccio. We'll announce winners at the end of the chat.  Ready?

Hello. Thanks for reading my question. I live in a condo so cannot have a gas or charcoal grill. Do you have any recommendations for an electric grill? The reviews online vary quite a bit for Char Broil, Weber, and George Forenan electric outdoor grills. Is there another brand I should consider? I would prefer to spend less than $300.

  Depends on how big a grill you want. The Weber  Q240 is well-built, costs about $265. You can also go with the Cuisinart Tabletop for $150 (comes with a stand, which is kind of nice). They both have pretty decent cooking areas, so you can entertain for about 6 people pretty easily. 

As suggested here last week, I tried to crack raw eggs on the counter instead of the edge of the bowl, but both times, I ended up with egg white on the counter. Not sure what I did wrong or how it's possible to break the shell without some leakage. Is there some sleight-of-hand trick that I'm missing?

I was taught to crack an egg on a flat counter surface as well -- the idea being that a sharp edge might force egg-shell fragments into the yolk and albumen. It takes just the right amount of force/pressure to form a simple crack in the egg. It takes time and practice to get it just right.

With that said, though, I've come to the conclusion that this technique is overrated. I've found shell fragments in my counter-cracked eggs, too.  I don't think there is a completely foolproof method.

Just as a refresher, here's a step-by-step guide on how to crack an egg.

Today's Food section indicated that the list of farmers markets was now available. When will the list be published, i.e., printed? The location citation was not correct in that the "allwecaneat" is actually "all-we-can-eat" (there are hyphens in the name). The layout of the online version is poor. For starters, why is it doublespaced thus taking up much more space to print out? It could easily be two columns. I subscribe to the Post on a daily basis and do not like to have items only available online. The list should have been printed in the Food section and/or the appropriate list printed in the Local Living on Thursday.

I'm sorry you were disappointed. We put a lot of work into that list. First, the url we listed in the paper does work -- it will redirect you to the url with the hyphens. The double-spacing in the blog posts are a result of how our system is set up. Any paragraph break is like that. But I bolded the name of each market so it's easy to see where one begins and ends.

Have you checked out the map? Perhaps that would be more to your liking.

Will it be in print? It's a big list, and we're a small section. I think that's going to be tough.

Honestly, we don't have the space to publish the list in print. Or we would do so! Maybe we can address this next  year...they ought to be able to sell against it as a special pullout section, right? Then again, these days it's about having that information on the go.

I perhaps missed it, but I didn't see the West End Farmers Market. It is a terrific one and on a Sunday, which is somewhat different from a lot. We get meat, dairy, honey, jelly, and eggs there, as well as fruits and veggies.

Yes! I tried to contact someone there via their Web site to no avail. If anyone has a name and phone number or more specific e-mail address, please shoot me a note at This is certainly a living document, and we'll update it as we need to.

Oh my gosh! I can't believe you didn't suggest the use that is the REASON for leftover matzoh: Chocolate Toffee Matzoh, aka Chocolate Caramel Matzoh. Google it to find a zillion recipes, but here's a good one:

Well, we sort of did! It's included in this Marcy Goldman recipe.

I offered to bake a cake for my sister-in-law's 16th birthday. She has requested a chocolate-vanilla marbled layer cake. I'm a fairly experienced baker, but I always rely on recipes from trusted sources, and I haven't been able to find any for such a cake. I've found a couple recipes online (one from Food & Wine and one on a blog), but I'm not sure whether I should try one of these or just make my usual white or yellow cake, swirl chocolate into 1/3 of the batter and marble the batters. Any advice or recipes? Thanks!

Well, I trust Washington Post recipes, don't you? Here's one from Elinor Klivans (1998), and it sounds great.  She's been writing for our Food section for many years, and her recipes work.  Even if you don't follow this one specifically, you can get an idea about the amount of chocolate needed and how to swirl it in....

Coffee and Chocolate Marble Cake

12 servings

The batter for this cake is divided, with one portion flavored with coffee and the other with melted chocolate. Use gentle heat to melt the chocolate: A pan holding the chopped chocolate placed over very hot water is a good method. The melted chocolate should be warm and pourable so it combines easily with the cake batter.

This cake can also be baked in a Bundt pan that has a fluted-shape bottom. If you do use a Bundt pan, do not line the bottom of with paper. And note that the cake baked in a Bundt pan will be done about 10 minutes sooner than one in a tube pan. Leave the cake's fluted bottom-side up for glazing.

Oil for the pan

For the Cake:

3 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola or corn oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup milk

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water

For the Glaze:

1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in 4 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream

1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Oil the bottom, sides and center tube of a 9 1/2- or 10-inch tube pan with sides at least 3 3/4 inches high. Line the bottom with parchment or wax paper and oil the paper.

For the cake: Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed for about 2 minutes until the mixture is fluffy, thick and lightened to a cream color. On low speed, slowly mix in the oil, vanilla and milk. Mix in the flour mixture just until it is incorporated. Put 1 1/2 cups of the batter in a small bowl and stir both melted chocolates. Stir the dissolved coffee into the plain batter that remains in the first bowl. Pour about 3/4 of the coffee batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Spread all of the chocolate batter evenly over the coffee batter. Then spread the remaining coffee batter evenly over the chocolate batter. Dip a rubber spatula in the batter and draw it around the pan and through the center of the batter to marbleize the batter slightly. This will leave large areas of chocolate in the cake.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 70 minutes, or until the cake feels firm when you gently press with your fingers on the middle, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Use a small sharp knife to loosen the cake from the sides and the center tube of the pan. Invert the cake onto a wire rack. Carefully remove and discard the paper lining. Place another wire rack on the bottom of the cake, invert the cake and finish cooling. The cake is now right-side up. Or, if you baked the cake in a Bundt pan, use a small sharp knife to loosen the cake from the top all around the outside and around the center tube. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and cool.

For the glaze: Stir together the dissolved coffee-cream mixture and the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Immediately use a small spoon to drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. Let some glaze drip down onto the sides. Slide the cake onto a serving plate. Serve at room temperature. The covered cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Love the "20 meals that take 35 minutes or less" slide show. For the Crab-Swiss Melts with Asparagus, is there something I could substitute for the goat cheese? I don't care for it or cream cheese, but am open to anything else. Or, could I just leave it out? Thanks!

So, you're not a fan of soft cheese, I take it? There are lovely triple-cream cheeses; you could use Camembert or brie.

I'm putting together a BBQ themed gift for a family member and would like to round out the package with a nice bottle of sauce. Any ideas? Something unique, or artisanal, or otherwise fancy or interesting would be preferred. Price is ... well, it's not NO object, but I'd be willing to shell out more than the usual $5 for a major brand bottle. Thank you!

   Price is not a big deal when it comes to even the most artisanal sauces. I can suggest three, all, by the way, prizes that we are giving winners of The Washington Post Smoke Signals BBQ Sauce Recipe Contest. Entry deadline is Wednesday, May 2. Get yours in! The three are any of the offerings from Rocklands, Pork Barrel, and Hill Country. All three make interesting sauces. Take a look at their websites and choose one that sounds good to you. 

Hi there, I'm wondering if anyone has a recommendation on a bakery that can make a delicious AND beautiful chocolate/chocolate cake. This is for a graduation party this may, so I'd like something that looks great but tastes equally as good! Thanks!

I'm sure everyone else has some ideas, but I'll chime in for Patisserie Poupon and Buzz Bakery.

Do fresher eggs taste better -- say, one-day-old vs one-week-old? Or does it depend on the chicken feed or something else? A friend with a farm once told me that grocery-store eggs can be months old by the time they reach the shelves, but he said that in the 1970s and I'm guessing things may've changed in the past ... 40 years!

Well, I've always thought my sister's hen's eggs were much better tasting than supermarket eggs, and figured it was because of the freshness, yes. But the fabulous Tamar Haspel wrote a very interesting piece for us last year debunking that idea in a blind taste test. It's true that supermarket eggs can be many weeks old by the time they get to the shelves. I just fetched some eggs from the coop right before joining the chat, and I'm going to try not refrigerating them to see if I can tell a difference there. People who don't refrigerate their eggs swear it helps them taste better. (And if they are farm-fresh and haven't been washed, the protective coating keeps them fine for about 20 days, I'm told.)

I have a meal exchange with a friend and this week he gave me (admittedly) some rice and lentils with chicken that turned out overcooked/dry. Brainstorming how to fix it- bake with a sauce in a casserole? Add some dressing and make a chicken salad?

You're definitely on the right track with the chicken salad. I don't know about you, but even when an overcooked chicken is covered in salsa or mole or marinara, I can always taste the dry, dessicated meat.

You might try this recommendation from SlashFood. It suggests tossing the meat with an herb-heavy vinaigrette.

As a fellow egg lover, I really enjoyed Joe's article. I was particularly intrigued by this sentence: "Studies have debunked the idea that eating high-cholesterol foods translates to high cholesterol in your bloodstream." My husband has very high cholesterol but is otherwise healthy. I've been avoiding making eggs (and shrimp) for years because of the cholesterol. Does this mean I can now make omelettes, quiche, and poached eggs with abandon??

Yeah, I thought that might get a response! Indeed, there's not a direct link between the cholesterol in eggs (or any other food) and cholesterol in the blood. It just doesn't work that way; not so simple. It's more about the amount of fat, particularly saturated, in the diet -- and one egg has less than half the sat fat of a cup of whole milk and less than a third that of a mere tablespoon of butter.

ok, so i NEVER would have thought to use spaghetti squash instead of pulled pork in a bbq sandwich, but now that i am trying to cut meat out of my diet, i think it is GENIUS! what type of bbq sauce do you think would complement the sweetness of the squash? maybe something with a little spicy kick? vinegar with some habanero or something?

   I haven't made this, so I don't know. But I would use something with butter and habanero (though I would go light on the latter, so as not to overwhelm the squash). I'd add a little vinegar and a touch of brown sugar. I'd want to achieve something with a little zing but also clean and light tasting. I wouldn't use, say, a tomato-based sauce because it just doesn't feel as though that works with relative delicacy of spaghetti sauce. 

Loved Jason's column on using grapefruit juice in cocktails. I'm a big fan of grapefruit in general and love its bittersweet floral flavor. I recently made a cocktail I really liked similar to the Antibes but with cointreau and club soda also added. What would you think of pairing grapefruit juice with bourbon? Not sure what liqueuer to also add.

There is a classic bourbon-grapefruit cocktail called a Brown Derby: 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, and a half-ounce of honey. And a variation on this, named the Honey Fitz, uses aged rum instead of bourbon (and adds a couple dashes of Peychaud's bitters)

In fact, since people have been calling me out on Twitter today for not including this or that grapefruit cocktail recipe, let's put a few more on the table from my archives: the Blinker (rye, grapefruit, raspberry syrup); the Bitter French (a French 75 with grapefruit instead of lemon); and the Public Enemy #1 (with Irish whiskey, grapefruit, and ginger beer.) The last of these is named for the infamous movie scene in which James Cagney smashes a grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face.

I thought today's broccoli soup sounds quite tasty. Love the bold spice combination and that it uses yogurt instead of cream. I'm having trouble envisioning what's going on with the croutons. For the grated cheese, are you talking about the fine shred (1/8-inch) vs. the coarse shred (1/4-inch) or actually using the rough grater that you can use to crumble parmesan? (Although I never do, since it makes such a mess). Also, would an immersion blender work as well as the transfer to the blender?

For the cheese, shred doesn't matter. I used already shredded stuff in a bag. I tested this recipe with an immersion blender as well, and it really didn't work as well, unless you've done a spectacular job of finely chopping the broccoli. It takes longer, too, than whizzing a few batches in a stand blender -- and it's all about getting it done in 40 minutes, for this particular adaptation of the recipe. Of course, if you'd care for a chunky version of this soup, use the stick.

I had the best cinnamon-walnut-raisin cream cheese in New York this past weekend. For me to re-create it, is it simply as easy as adding those ingredients (with a touch of brown sugar) to softened cream cheese and stirring? What other mix-ins might be yummy and homemade? Thanks!

By golly, I think you can do it! Perhaps you'd want to create a mix of cinnamon-sugar and add that, for balance. I'd toast and cool the walnuts, too, for extra flavor.  You could even plump the raisins in warm water or a touch of liqueur before stirring them in. As for mix-ins, I might just stir in some mascarpone or very finely grated crystallized ginger...kinda like to keep things creamy and smooth in my cream cheese.


In raisin-related news, have I mentioned that I dislike them? Nevertheless, I had house-made raisins in a rice pudding at Woodberry Kitchen in Balto this weekend. And they tasted like dried grapes, and they were pretty good. (They dry them on their roof, apparently.)

I'm hoping you can guide me on what might have gone wrong, so that next time it will work out better. I used this recipe at the result was rather wan and lacking in flavor. Are they supposed to be extremely subtle, or is something off with the proportions? Or is it something I did in the preparation?

Sorry to hear it didn't work out.

It's hard to say without testing the recipe myself or seeing what you did. But in reviewing the recipe, it seems like it should be packed with flavor. You're not dealing in subtle flavors here: ginger, cloves, powdered mustard.

Did you adapt the recipe at all?

I tested them! Send me specifics:

So I'm currently obsessed with green smoothies. I've never been a huge fan of greens, but I've found that I don't taste them in the smoothie (despite the color!) So far I've been doing spinach and kale, fruits, and a little vanilla yogurt or coconut water. Any suggestion on other combinations? Also, I wonder about adding flax or chia seeds to the mix. Thoughts?

How about this green gazpacho smoothie I whipped up last year in a piece on the intersection of smoothies and cold soups? Pretty great. Definitely experiment with some flax and/or chia seeds -- a little at a time will add some good healthful oomph.

I'm not terribly interested in a lot of the grilling recipes I've used in the past. Do you have any good ideas for simple recipes or know of a book with them that would work well on a gas grill (so no smoking)? I'm looking for a good mix of meats and veggies. Simple would be great. Also, on top of this, I want to try cooked radishes (only ever had them raw and pickled). Would grilling be a good way to go? If so, how should I do it? Thanks!

  There are a zillion grilling cookbooks out there. You can't  go wrong with Steven Raichen's "The Barbecue Bible." He explains methods very clearly and provides good, easy-to-follow recipes. 

As for grilling radishes, I have yet to meet the food item that can't be grilled. You can grill radishes one of two ways. One, whole. The other, sliced (fairly thick slices, though). Either way, you want to grill over a direct medium-hot fire for only about a minute, maybe less. You just want them blistered, otherwise they will lose their crispness. You might also want to use a grill basket, so that that the radishes don't fall into the fire. 

Team, In the past, you've suggested freezing pesto without the cheese included but the last couple cooking shows I've see recommend freezing with cheese. What's right?

The general thinking on this, if I can synthesize what I've read on the subject, is that it's perfectly fine to freeze pesto with the Parmesan in it. The key is then to use the frozen pesto soon. Don't let it sit in your freezer for weeks on end.  The cheese apparently loses its flavor when stored too long in the freezer.

Joe's Egg in Hearty Puttanesca looks delicious, but is there a good substitution for the anchovy fillet to make this vegetarian friendly?

Egg in Hearty Puttanesca

Thanks! You might try a little umeboshi paste -- it's got a tartness that the anchovy doesn't have, but will give a good salty, umami kick. Or a dab of miso.

Hi free rangers- I'm stuck in a salad rut of red lettuce, kale and spinach. Any other suggestions for leafy greens to add in? I made the mistake once of adding raw collard greens and it didn't turn out so well..

How about Swiss chard or arugula? Both were showing up at markets last week, and I'm guessing they'll be around this week too. My newest roundup will be posted on the blog tomorrow morning.

Thank you for this wonderful article about eggs. I often cook for one, and cooking with eggs is my favorite go-to dinner. Soft-boiled eggs make great pasta sauce (especially for for lazier nights), and I love to make shakshuka (eggs poached in tomato and pepper sauce) at every chance I get. I just wish I had eggs as fresh as the author!

Thanks! Glad you liked it. I do love my eggs. What is better than that runny yolk enriching whatever's underneath/around? Please share your shakshuka recipe if you've got it handy -- can you post or provide a link if it's online? Also, I'm also curious what other CF1 folks are into -- what are some of your other go-to dinner strategies?

Hi, I would like to make a veggie lasagna, any suggestions for your favorite veggies to include, other than spinach? thanks!

Mushrooms! Here's a list if you want some additional inspiration.

Mushroom Lasagna Bolognese

I second Becky on the mushrooms, and I also like eggplant and zucchini.

My favorite veggie lasagna of all time is this Butternut Squash Lasagna, which we probably refer to at least once a month on this chat. Not super healthful, but oh so delicious.

Great story on The New 'Cue, Jim. Have you ever experimented with that type of stuff?

    Yep. I've done it off and one for awhile. Last year, I made a tasting menu of off-road barbecued items. You can do whatever you can imagine. (How's that for a bumper sticker.) Me, I imagined a thimble of charred corn and hatch chile soup as an amuse bouche, smoked chicken wings three ways (one of them included a rum and vanilla sauce), a grilled watermelon square with feta, and some other stuff that I can't recall right now. Anyway, the point is, the grill ain't nothin' but a vehicle. Drive that thing. 

It's ANZAC biscuit day! How do you say NOM NOM NOM in an Aussie accent?

I don't know, but I'd like to hear Hugh Jackman say it. Or anything, really.

P.S. Here's our Anzac Biscuit recipe.

My husband and I just moved in to a house, and after years of apartment living, are finally free to use a grill and smoker without restriction! We don't have much experience with smokers, other than eating the yummy finished products, so we wanted some advice on where to start and if there are any good on-line resources or books that would be helpful for smoking newbies.

    This is a lot bigger question than you know. You can get a pretty cheap (around $250) offset smoker at a chain hardware store; the downside is that they are inefficient and leak smoke, but the upside is you really come to understand fire in a way that few other smokers can teach you (plus, there's something fun about being so interactive with your cooking). You could also go with a Weber bullet smoker, which, as the name suggests, is shaped like a bullet. Its a standard on the competition circuit (for newbies, anyway); holds smoke very well and is good for grilling, too. If you want no-fuss-no-muss, you could go with a Big Green Egg or something like it; they hold heat extraordinarily well, but the price range is about $800 and up. 

      There are so many books and websites and resources out there. I suggested Steven Raichlen's "Barbecue Bible" as a starter earlier in the chat. But the best thing to do is spend an hour at a bookstore, go through a few and see what makes most sense for you. A lot of the Weber cookbooks are pretty good. I also like "Cooking with Fire and Smoke" by Phillip Stephen Schulz; good charts on cooking times. 

     One of the best Web sites out there is It has just an incredible archive of well-researched material. You can also try

I love cake but I don't like buttercream frosting. To me it always tastes like I'm just eating a stick of butter. What kind of recipe would make a similar frosting to the kind on store-bought cakes? I'm looking for a frosting that's sweet and fluffy, but not whipped cream, cream cheese, ganache, or buttercream, and hopefully less artificial and a bit less sweet than the the kind on store-bought cakes.

A puzzler. We asked ace baker Lisa Yockelson, who says: 

Perhaps you would like frosting made with confectioners' sugar. If you beat a certain amount of butter with a flavoring of choice, plus a little liquid, and a requisite amount of confectioners' sugar until very smooth and lightened, it may resemble the type of frosting you're describing. The more liquid you add (though be careful!), the softer the frosting would become. The butter is present in the frosting for flavor, so the resulting ftosting would be palatable.

What is the difference between seltzer and club soda. if there is one? Is one healthier than the other? (I think club soda has salt and seltzer doesn't, but maybe that's not always true.) Thanks!

I like it when people answer their own question!

Many will tell you that seltzer and club soda are exactly the same: that they're both carbonated water. This is true to a point. But club sodas like Schweppes includes sodium chloride and potassium sulfate.

In other words, if you want a cleaner flavor, go with seltzer.

I recently tried to bake eggs for the first time, because like Joe, I love them for my vegetarian single-person dinners. But I was weary of the whites not being done - so by the time those were set, the yolk was no longer runny. Any tips or recipes for the perfect baked egg?

Well, one trick for the classic Eggs en Cocotte is to use a water bath: Boil water, and after putting the egg in the ramekin (on a bed of whatever you'd like), put the ramekin in a roasting pan and pour the boiling water so it comes up halfway. Then bake the eggs at a relatively low 325 for about 15 minutes, until the white is set and the yolk is just thickened but not firm. 

FWIW I totally agree with Tim. Unless you're smashing the heck out of your egg shell on the bowl rim, you don't get shell fragments. And it makes me crazy to have to go back and wipe up the dripped white from the counter. So no counter-cracking for me!

Actually, you can get microscopic bits of shell and possibly bacteria in the food when you crack against the rim of the bowl. Jacques Pepin says don't do it;  isn't that all you need?

I wasn't advocating the rim-cracking technique. I was just suggesting the counter technique isn't, ahem, everything it's cracked up to be.

It may not be the freshness of the eggs that makes the farm-fresh ones taste better, but that those chickens typically supplement their diet with bugs and grass, whereas cage-raised chickens (even the free range ones in the big barns) don't as much. It adds some vitamin (D? beta carotene? I forgit) and usually makes the yolk more orange. Freaked my husband out the first time he cooked with a backyard chicken egg.

Yep, that yolk color is VERY flexible depending on the feed. When we fed our chicks shrimp shells after I got a bunch of those glorious little Maine shrimp in February, the yolks were beautifully deep-colored. Almost brick.

What are the best spices or herbs to use on eggs, sunny-side or scrambled or omelets, besides salt and pepper and chives? At what point is it best to add the spices or herbs?

So many spices go well with eggs, but I'm partial to pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika), ground ancho and other chilis, smoked salt, curry -- all things with pretty powerful flavors that I think play nicely against the smooth richness of the egg. If scrambling, I like to whisk the spices right into the egg, along with salt, before cooking. (If you let it sit for a few minutes, the salt makes the egg more tender, too.) If frying, I sprinkle the spices on top.

As for herbs, I do like chives, yes, but also garlic chives, flat parsley, French tarragon leaves. And I prefer sprinkling them on at the end of cooking, just before serving.

Good day, when does the HHS Farmers Market open in DC or is it already open?

The market will be opening May 23 and will continue on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Oct. 3. It had been a FreshFarm market, but now it will be operated by Jim Coleman and his Fresh Vista Farmers Markets. We'll add this to our list as well.

When can we expect for rhubarb to start popping up in the area? I have my eye on a shortbread recipe with a tangy rhubarb filling, and I was hoping to get some from a farmers market soon!

Editor Bonnie says she saw some at the Bethesda Central Farm Market last week, which is great. Because the week before, I could barely find any spring produce at the Takoma Park Farmers Market.

A spokeswoman for FreshFarm Markets says that these vendors currently have rhubarb (or will have it soon):

FreshFarm Foggy Bottom market on Wednesday: Blueberry Hill has it now.

FreshFarm Dupont Circle market on Sunday: Anchor Nursery has it now; Gardners Gourmet will have it soon.

FreshFarm Penn Quarter market on Thursday: Anchor Nursery has it now.

FreshFarm Silver Spring market on Saturday:  Three Springs Fruit Farm has it now.

Hi there. I'm tasked with bringing a Mexican-food appetizer to a dinner and one of the ingredients must be cocoa. Any ideas on what I can bring? Thanks!

Seems like you could do a cocoa powder and chili-powder-based rub on turkey tenderloins or beef skirt steak, then sear it, cut into chunks and use in some quick quesadillas -- perhaps with slices of roasted poblano pepper and your favorite melty Mex cheese?

What could I substitute for the crab? I'm vegetarian.

Gosh, it's a pretty big component of this dish. When we get questions like this, I wonder: a) is it on the level? b) at what point does substitution become another recipe altogether c) I'd like to have a crab cake now.

Loved the article! One of my go-to meals is to fire up my rice cooker and make a rice bowl with any leftover meat/veggies and top with a scrambled or fried egg.

Thanks! And yep, that's a good one, definitely.

Sing the refrain, Joe. You know you want to.

You're right, I do. (Clearing throat.)

All my single cooks! All my single cooks! If you like it then you better put an egg on it, if you like it then you better put an egg on it...


I bought a few pounds of Vidalia onions because they were on sale for less than other onions, but they're so mild, they don't really work for me in salads or guacamole or even scrambled eggs. I guess I could use them in fake hypnosis -- "you will now bite into this raw onion and imagine it doesn't bite back" -- but I bet you have better suggestions. In what dishes are Vidalia onions best? And btw, do they take a capital "V"? Thank you!

Well, the mildness is sort of the point! They are supposed to be quite sweet. They're grown in Vidalia, Ga., hence the capital V. Here are some recipes from our database that call for them, so you can use up your supply:

Grilled Spice-Rubbed Vidalia Onions

Pasta With Roasted Cherry tomatoes and Sweet Pepper

Sweet Onion Slaw

Vidalia Bourbon Relish

Has the Post published a list yet of this year's community gardens where people can rent a plot cheaply, in order to raise some of their own vegetables? If so, could you please link to it? Thanks!

Don't think we've done that, and I'm not sure we plan to! Where do you live? Maybe we can help you find a resource.

I recently started using anchovies in some recipes that call for a little bit (like one or two pieces chopped or mashed up). Problem is, I then have the rest of those little cans of anchovies and I'm not sure whether or how they can keep. Since they are an odd size, I don't think resealing is really an option.

You can save those leftover anchovies, but you'll need another, airtight container and some olive oil to cover them. Here's a step-by-step process on how to store them.

To the chatter last week who wrote in with the thai coconut sweet potato soup idea: thank you! I made it, it was delicious, and now I may have to go buy another coconut so I can make it again!

It's so great when chatters help chatters. Group hug!

Thanks once again, Jason, for that awesome grapefruit article and recipe. I love grapefruit as a mixer but it's so under-utilized. Can;t wait to try this one this weekend.

Grapefruit is under-utilized! We need to spread the word!

I feel that I never eat enough greens, as I don't particularly like them. I have taken to making smoothies with a powdered greens product called Super Food. It even comes in a chocolate flavor! I add a scoop of that and also a tablespoon or two of crushed flax seeds (you can buy them in a pouch already crushed) along with all the standard smoothie ingredients.

Whatever works for you!

For what it's worth, when I lived in Greece a few years ago, eggs were sold on the shelf, not the fridge even in the grocery store and they seemed way tastier and had much more brightly colored yolks. Still miss those eggs...

Yes, this is true in much of Europe.

You know, I am a trained pastry chef, and I've never, ever forced an eggshell into the yolk while breaking an egg on the side of the bowl. I get a much more reliable break and as another poster said, am not left with egg white all over the counter. I've also never had a problem with any contamination, hundreds of pounds of french buttercream behind me!

I think we have a full-fledged egg argument on our hands. I see a blog item in my future!

What do you prefer a fork or a whisk to scramble raw eggs in a bowl? I was told it was inefficient to use a fork...but I scrambled a dozen last night for dinner in under 2 minutes (cracking the eggs on the edge of the bowl and opening them one-handed too). Is it more of what you grew up knowing? Grandma and great-grandma both used forks, so did my mom.

I use a fork much of the time -- it really depends on whether you are trying to incorporate some air into the eggs or not. A fork works just fine in terms of getting everything broken up and ready for the scrambling pan.

Is there an expiration date for bread stored in the freezer? I tossed a package of supermarket whole wheat bread in there in February and still have quite a bit left and was wondering if it would be no good at some point.

About 3 months; here's hoping you wrapped it in something more than the bag it came in. Keeping air and other freezer smells out is key.

are good on pizza.

my parents just got back from australia, and brough back some tasmanian leatherback honey, and ginger marmalade for me. i dont' want these unique gifts to be used in "regular" recipes....any ideas on how to make them really shine? especially the honey....i'm stumped!

Be sure to check out our Recipe Finder database to find dozens of recipes that make good use of honey. Among them, you'll see this one for Apple, Honey and Walnut Sorbet, which stresses that you need to "choose an excellent honey." Sounds perfect for you.

Hey guys, I'm trying to loose weight through exercising and eating better. I'm not interested in trying one of those fad diets that tells you to cut out one kind of food altogether or eat like a cavewoman. I'm a firm believer in just eating good food that's either in smaller portions (if it's full of delicious calories) or good food that doesn't have a lot of calories. I know there are a TON of diet cookbooks out there, but it's hard to know which ones aren't full of yucky recipes that tell you to use no-fat cheese (can that even really be called cheese?!) and other similar awful tasting items. Even the ones that do seem to want to give truly well thought out recipes seem to rely on recipes that are sweet, in an evident attempt to help satiate the dieter's sweet tooth. The problem for me is I don't have much of a sweet tooth. So I guess I'm asking for a cookbook that has good recipes using a wide variety of fresh food and savory flavors. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Ellie Krieger's books sound right up your alley to me. In "Comfort Food Fix," for instance, she does things like uses half whole eggs and half egg whites in slimming down a dish that called for all whole eggs, or she bakes instead of fries, or boosts the level of beans and other veggies to add fiber and other nutrients. She uses real cheddar, Parm, blue cheese, but she just uses less -- and tries to use it more strategically. I respect this approach immensely.

Thanks, Tim. Those chemical ingredients sound yucky. I'm trying to figure out which -- seltzer or club soda -- is more like mineral water such as Perrier or Tehuacan, with delicate bubbles. Is one fizzier than the other, or does one have smaller bubbles? Thanks lots.

I know chemcial names often sound yucky, but often they're not. Sodium chloride is just salt, for instance. Some days I could eat salt striaght from the shaker.

I suspect you'll want club soda over seltzer if you want something like mineral water. As the name suggests, mineral water includes trace amounts of naturally occuring minerals, which gives the water a distinctive flavor.

Steamed veggies in spicy peanut sauce (also my "meatless Fridays during Lent" standby, and "I've been eating too much meat and need a veggie fix" standby).


If one really wishes to print it out, it is not that hard to copy the text into a Word document and delete the extra spaces. In fact, if it would be of help to your readers, I will volunteer to do that work for all the 15 minutes it will take, and I'll send PDFs to the Post. I don't even live anywhere near the D.C. metro area, but I am grateful for all the work you put into an excellent food section and would be glad to help you and your readers (and to counterbalance some of the whiny karma). Let me know if you'd want the PDF to post or to e-mail to whiners.

That's the ticket, answerwise. Even if you're not angling for a coobook, I could give you one right now.

I suggest roasted butternut squash with sage, goat cheese and hazelnuts.

When are you going to drop off a sample?

I've always used Smitten Kitchen's shakshuka recipe. It is delicious and coincidentally my dinner tonight! My cooking for 1 strategy was usually to make enough for 2 and save the rest for lunch the next day - this usually involved a lot of chicken. Chilis and stews in the winter time were easy to freeze the excess to enjoy at later, lazier dates.

Yes, that's a good one. Thanks!

When I visited Vietnam and Cambodia a couple of years ago, I was surprised to see that grocers keep eggs unrefrigerated -- dozens and dozens of eggs -- even in the tropical heat.

Unwashed whole eggs have a natural defense/coating, actually. We tend to be super-vigilant about refrigerating them in this country because commercially packed ones are washed/rinsed.

Sorry mixologists are way to special to know this but club soda on a clean towel removes finger prints and grease from stainless, steel, plastic, and brass and doesnt leave behind any residue. You then use a little catsup to polish the brass and you are done for the night, Catsup is a great tarnish remover. Tonic water just doesnt ahve the smae properties as club soda from the gun.

Tonic water includes a bittering agent called quinine. It's quite different from seltzers and club soda.

Joe, You asked for a few other cooking for one ideas with eggs. I always have some bulgur or quinoa cooked in the fridge. I'll saute a diced shallot in my small frying pan, then add whatever veggies I have handy - say, mushrooms and kale. Once they're cooked, I'll add some herbs (again, whatever I am feeling like - you can go dill and lemon or curry or Italian or what have you) and then sprinkle over with the quinoa or bulgur. Mix up one egg then pour it over, season with salt and pepper, and cook on the stove until cooked through (you can cover to make it cook faster). It's kind of like an omelette, but the wheat really takes it more to a dinner.

Great idea -- thanks for sharing!

I was given a head of cauliflower and told to roast it with sugar. Thoughts? I was also given a 1/2 head of cabbage (green) what shall I do with it? I am making stir fry tonight and have asian veggies for it, I could add a little cabbage but I'd still have a lot more to deal with. Thanks for the farmers market listing (and awesome map!). Looking forward to fresh veggies, even though I'm not the greatest and using them.

Hm. Sugar? I've not heard of that, but I suppose there are a lot of things I haven't heard of. You can try this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower With Brown Butter or, of course, a scaled-down version of today's Smoke Signals recipe for Whole Oak-Smoked Cauliflower With Chile Arbol.

Whole Oak-Smoked Cauliflower With Chile Arbol

As for that cabbage, I want to channel summer, so I'm going to suggest some kind of slaw.

Anyone know where to get a real egg cream in the DC Metro area (preferably DC itself or close-in MD suburbs)?

It's on the menu at the Parkway Deli in Silver Spring.

I enjoyed Joe's article on eggs, I'd love to keep chickens if I had a bit more space and get eggs from a nearby farm in the meantime. I lived in the UK for a while where duck eggs are popular and in most large grocery stores. They make a great cake, better than hens' eggs and I always used them in a victoria sponge, weighing the eggs first to determine the amounts of flour, butter and sugar. They seem to make a lighter, moister cake - delicious!

Thanks! Did you see our Victoria sponge recipe from awhile back? Very fun story attached.

Hi Team, I'm looking for new ways to get my toddler to eat eggs. Right now, she only likes them hard boiled, just the white part. She's into french toast so if you have suggestions where the egg doesnt stand out in a recipe, that would work too. Thanks!

Interesting question, since I just served eggs at a party, and the toddler in the room ate one -- which her mother said was a first. It was a deviled egg, with a simple stuffing of yolk, mayo, toasted sesame oil, and sesame seeds, topped with chopped scallions. I wonder if the yolk were lightened with other ingredients that might be something she would like, since she likes the whites.

As for something where the egg doesn't stand out, what about a quiche that's filled with some of her other favorite ingredients?

And what's wrong with just eating a stick of butter? But maybe the poster would like the kind you make with egg whites and sugar syrup, which I think is sometimes called 7-minute frosting?

I'm not expecting a baby or anything exciting like that, I'm just really lazy. What are 2-3 good foods I can make ahead this weekend that will do well in the freezer until I'm ready for them. Lasagna is already on my list!

I will refer you to our Make It, Freeze It, Take It recipes.

Hi, Bonnie, Could you tell us more about this? Are commercially-packaged raisins dried in some weird way that robs them of flavor or makes them not taste like grapes? BTW I love raisins by themselves or in chicken salad or couscous -- but I hate them with corn flakes or other cereal -- maybe it's the idea of putting them in milk, I don't know, but - yuck!

Oh dear, this could be another hour.  I am victim of early childhood raisin trauma; I won't go into it, but let's just say I see them as t-i-c-k-s.  (Joe doesn't, either; there are groups of us out there.)  Woodberry Kitchen raisins didn't taste like raisins. They weren't particularly sweet or too wrinkly. It was a huge step for me. That said, I sampled off someone else's plate; didn't order it myself! Go and try them, I say.

Try making caramelized vidalia and fig quesadilla with brie, and drizzle with a balsamic reduction (you can do similar combos on a pizza to, especially with prosciutto). You can also do a really great soup with them.

That quesadilla sounds awesome.

I loved this dish when I was in Korean, for some reason I didn't think they cooked with was a great dish for breakfast since I like more savory breakfast foods. Do you have a good recipe for it?

I'm with you. I love bibimbap. In my experience, it is usually served with a fried egg on top, which you then mix into the other ingredients.

Here's a legit recipe for bibimbap from "The Korean Table" cookbook.

Hello, I understand that in the US even free range eggs are not fertilized. Is that correct? What about eggs from a farmer at the farmer's market? If the chickens are truly ranging out on a field, is that still the case? (This is not a joke question -- as an otherwise strict vegetarian, I've always struggled with the egg issue, since I LOVE eggs).

There's only one factor that can determine whether an egg is fertilized or not: a rooster. That is, hens lay eggs with or without a rooster around, and the only way they lay a fertilized one is if they mated. That won't happen with commercial eggs, because none of those operation let hens have access to roosters. In smaller operations, they might be with roosters, but in the US, eggs must be refrigerated before being sold, and refrigeration halts the growth process of a chick. Nutritionally, btw, there isn't a difference.

Moosewood Restaurant's Cooking for Health is very good -- it is vegetarian, however, if that is a problem. But they at least include calorie counts in all their recipes, and do not generally use things like fake cheese.

A terrific and classic suggestion.

I do love a good egg, though I'm a recent convert. Back in the day, eggs were "bad" due to cholesterol. Are there reliable guidelines for healthy egg consumption nowdays? I have borderline cholesterol, so I do try to eat healthfully without going too draconian.

As I answered earlier, the cholesterol risk is really more specifically about saturated fat in the diet, not consumption of foods high in cholesterol, according to the research. I'm no doctor, but ...

Looking for wedding present suggestions. She loves to bake, and they are young, poor, college students. I'd like to give a lasting, useful gift. Can't seem to think past baking stones. Any great suggestions to add? Need to stay under $100. Thanks!

If she loves to bake, you might put together a nice kit of baking essentials -- some high-quality cookie sheets, cake pans of various sizes, Silpat liners, etc. Also a kitchen scale would be nice. I use it for baking a lot.

You can take it so many directions! A few of my favorites are Italian (roasted cherry / grape tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, parm or mozz), Indian (onions, savory Indian pickle or curry paste, chillies if you want, cheddar, serve with sweet chutney or wrap in a tortilla), and "Spanish" (potatoes, paprika, maybe some ham). Mmm... I may be having eggs for dinner tonight!

I feel like eggs tonight, like eggs tonight...

The Moosewood cookbooks might be a good option too - they emphasize whole foods and the type of cooking the OP seems to be looking for. Lots of veggie-heavy recipes, and the ones I have all include calorie count information, which is something a lot of cookbooks don't have.

I'd also suggest Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Cooking" and "Super Natural Every Day."

Some European mineral waters are extremely high in salt/sodium. And those brands usually have a really nice flavor to boot.

Correct on both counts!

Have you tried a 7 minute frosting? You beat egg whites, corn syrup, sugar, flavoring and a little bit of water over a double boiler for about 7 minutes. It has a soft, marshmallow consistency. I've used peppermint extract, root beer flavoring, strawberry, with good results. I've found the recipe under the name Boiled Frosting or White Mountain Frosting too.

This came to my mind too. The only time I tried a 7-minute frosting, I failed miserably for reasons I'm still trying to figure out. But I will conquer it one day.

Not to be a grapefruit Debbie Downer, but the fruit may interfere with certain common medications, so be sure to check your meds labels before consuming the fruit regularly.

Absolutely correct. Pomelos and Seville oranges can have the same effect. Examples of common medications that could be affected are Zoloft, Allegra and Lipitor.

i do green smoothies every morning! some of my faves to throw in there are kale, spinach, cucumber, lemon juice (very refreshing). sometimes romaine lettuce, beet greens, 1/2 a beet, orange fuice. romaine, avocado, cucumber, tomato, dash of hot sauce (more like a salad in a glass!). or my standby...kale, romaine, pear, apple, banana, lemon juice. enjoy!


I'm leading a group that will bake 16 loaves of challah for an event, and I'm trying to work out the logistics. Based on the timing (availability of kitchen, rise time, baking time, etc) we will have to transport about half of the loaves hot out of the oven to the venue that is an hour away. Any tips on how to do that? Cooling them on a wire rack in a moving car doesn't seem practical.

And yet I can't think of anything more practical than that. Maybe someone else has an idea? You don't want to put them in the trunk to cool, and you can't lash them to the top of the car, so you might as well lay out racks in the car and cool them that way. Run your air conditioner!

We have a great challah recipe from Joan Nathan and it can be made in about an hour! Check out Anise-Flavored Challah With Sesame Seeds. It's a Moroccan-style loaf.


Hey Jim! I know there are a TON of methods and techniques for smoking meat and making BBQ, and have experimented with some of them from a beginner to intermediate level. With the "new barbecue" craze that seems to sweeping parts of the nation, would you recommend any alternative techniques that would be easy to try at home?

    Not sure what you mean by "alternate techniques." Smoking and grilling are pretty basic, though, also, complicated (if that makes any sense). 

    Even with the New 'Cue stuff, you generally start with the basics - slow-smoked barbecue - then build from there with flavor profiles you like. Of course, you can do marinade with exotic ingredients before putting in the smoker, which adds a dimension not commonly in traditional barbecue, which tends to use rubs. 

This weekend my meat-loving fiance was out of town so dinner (on more than one occasion) was quinoa with a ton of barely steamed asparagus on top with liberal dusting of lemon zest and cracked black pepper and a poached egg over it all. Spring perfection.

Indeed! Especially that egg. I've been taking to combining it with sorrel and ramps lately, for more springiness.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but my standard on long days is frozen Trader Joe's dumplings and stir fried veggies.

WWFY! (Whatever works for you!)

It's just that I love all the other ingredients in the sandwich. What it I just made the recipe as-is, minus the crab? Or do I need something to bind the mayo, like chopped Vidalia onion or a little grated Parmesan or Romano or Asiago?

Ah, good to know. You could do mild onions or even a slaw mix.

Besides the cauliflower and the goat ragu papparadlle, were there other dishes, Jim, that you liked during your explorations? Is this stuff just fancy or is it actually good?

   Absolutely. I was crazy about the Woodshed's ramen noodles and bulgogi. I also liked a dish I didn't even mention in the article - Fatty 'Cue makes this unbelievable smoked butter that is wrapped in maple leaves. 


Smoked butter. I'm going to be thinking about that for  A WHILE.

Am I the only person who washes eggs before cracking them? And for my choice of surface, my bowls are sanitized in the dishwasher, which I cannot say of my counter top.

I do it if the shell looks dirty. Last night I was separating six eggs for a recipe and ended up washing one of them because it had obvious crud on it. Otherwise, nah.

You can always put a piece of paper towel on that counter top, or put down a thin plastic cutting board thingy.

Yesterday's Washington Post included a short item, picked up from Men's Health magazine, on how pork rinds are much healthier than their reputation would indicate. Those of us who embrace "whole foods" have known this for some time. But after years of eating the suckers plain and with guacamole, I've hit the wall. I need some other topping, or dip -- something low-carb, preferably, since pork rinds are the low-carbers' crunchy snack. I know some folks like salsa on pork rinds. Is there something else I'm overlooking, something to dress up the rinds a bit?

Maybe put the racks in a box first so you don't have to worry about the loaves sliding off?

Cut into pieces, season with olive oil, garlic, curry powder, salt, pepper. Roast at about 375 for 15 min until it starts to get soft. Toss in a handful of sliced almonds and raisins, switch to broil for a few minutes. It's fantastic and vaguely middle eastern.

I think roasting cauliflower is magical no matter what you add! But this sounds terrific.

The frosting person could try googling asian whipped cream frosting. It may require refrigeration, but it is delicious and not buttercream (which I don't like either).

Whipped cream frosting is a great option, but the chatter is correct to point out that it needs to be refrigerated. Also, whipped cream frosting tends to disintegrate and start to "weep" after a while if you don't use a commercial stabilizer. Most home bakers don't have that in their larder.

I want to point out this website that I use for reference constantly regarding storing food: (No, I don't own it, just am a constant user of it)

Thanks for passing it along. I haven't explore it yet, but will. It looks like the site uses reliable sources for its information on the shelf life of foods and storage recommendations.

At Little Serow, they serve pork rinds to dip in a spicy eggplant puree.

And it is delicious!

Alas, on some nights, I will have a TJ 3-cheese frozen pizza (not the whole thing, of course), which I usually doctor up with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and olives. It's actually pretty good pizza, nice thin crust, esp if you cook it at a higher temp than the box recommends. And of course on many other nights, it's a basic combination of whole grain (pasta, quinoa, etc)/ veggies/ and either beans, chickpeas, tofu, and/or an EGG!

Depending on where you are, Chantel's in Sterling/Dulles makes Amazing cakes.

Soups and chili almost always freeze well. I also like freezing semi-prepped ingredients to use later. Oven roasted tomatoes end up in quick soups and pasta sauces, frozen beans can be used for all sorts of things, herb pastes add instant flavor, etc.

sautee a big bag of fresh spinach with garlic and rosemary, then sautee about 12 oz of mushrooms, the mix ricotta with one egg and spice to your taste. Layer slices of polenta, tomato sauce, spinach, mushrooms. Sprinkle cheese on top, bake until hot. Amazing

And put a link to the PDF on the page with the listings, for those of us without our own computers? Smartphones only take one so far...

Well, I guess that's eggsactly all time time we have, although we wish we could have answered all your questions. Thanks to Joe and Jim and Jason and to you, dear readers, for chiming in.

Today's cookbook winners: The "Egs for One" chatter and the person who first asked about cracking an egg (to be continued!). Send your mailing address and which book you'd rather have to and Becky will get those right out to you. First come, first served!


And remember, send in those barbecue sauce recipes for our contest. Next week, the chatters who've been after pressure cooker recipes  might find relief at last....

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie Benwick is interim editor of the Food section; joining us today are interim recipe editor Jane Touzalin, staff writer Tim Carman, Food aide Becky Krystal, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin, Spirits columnist Jason Wilson and Cooking for One columnist Joe Yonan.
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