Free Range on Food: Pies, Beer Madness, Benihana, Passover and more

Apr 09, 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! Did you get as big a kick as the rest of us did at today's piece by Bonnie on taking up the red toque at Benihana? All together, now: Bonnie-hana! Bonnie-hana!

Or maybe you're interested in Passover recipes? Rhea Yablon Kennedy is on hand to talk about her piece today on taking a Biblical approach to the meal. And we also have Teeny "Teeny Pies" Lamothe on hand to handle any questions -- she knows her pie, after a yearlong tour that had her apprenticing around the country as she blogged and worked on a book.

So much to talk about today, we need to get started! Oh, we'll have a giveaway book of course, but I'm keeping the ID a secret until the end of the chat.

Let's go!

I see pie is a topic today! I know it is more of a fall thing, but I really would like to try a maple pie of some sort. I love maple flavor (and am pregnant and I just want it). Do you have any recipe ideas for a pie with maple in it? Also, what is the best pecan pie recipe that you know of? I adore pecan pie but have never been able to make it as delicious as the pecan pie at dixie bones, which is yummy and cheap so why bother? But I want to bother!

Hi! I don't specifically have a maple pie recipe of my own, but I just came across this fantastic new series from PBS and they have a cute little vignette about maple pie 

I do, however, have a couple of  stellar pecan pie recipes in my new book, including bourbon bacon pecan pie and browned butter pecan (if you're not into bacon) Check out the online download, and happy baking! 

My favorite pecan pie is from Virginia Willis: Mama's Pecan Pie. High nut-to-goo ratio.

Hi Free Rangers - I just wanted to send a huge thank you to you for all of the work you do, but especially for the vegetarian and vegan positive attitude you have. After your piece and subsequent discussion(s) about VB6, and Joe's great vegetarian endorsements, I've slowly amended mine and my family's diet toward these ways of eating, and we've all loved it. It hasn't been about eliminating foods necessarily - we buy our dairy and meats directly from their sources and feel good about what we eat when we eat it - but about trying new things, and a new attitude about our meals and plant-based diets. It's been enlightening, to say the least, finding and trying new recipes and foods. So thank you, thank you, thank you - you truly make a difference!

You're welcome!

Can you suggest a non-dairy, non-legume dip for raw vegetables? I am serving people who won't eat legumes during Passover, so hummus is out.

Lovelovelove this almond dip. Roasted grapes, roasted unsalted almonds, garlic, kosher salt, olive oil. That's it! 

Did you see the pie chart

I love it! I own this one :)

Since Easter is so late this year, we have a better chance of nice weather and breaking out the grill for the traditional leg of lamb. My family has been using a marinated butterflied leg of lamb recipe from The Three Rivers cookbook for years. Kind of Greek influenced with olive oil, crushed garlic and other things. But really salty. Would you have any other suggestions? Thanks!

You betcha. This one's got rosemary, basil and mint, with roasted red potatoes to boot.

Or if easy's your thing, try this one from chef Jonathan Krinn. Definitely not too salty, with a nice winey sauce. And I really like this Moroccan one, with a ras el hanout rub and honey. Boo no photo :( -- it's gorgeous. 


I'm trying out different cornbread recipes and some call for milk, some for buttermilk. So now I have a container of buttermilk to use up. What happens if I use buttermilk instead of regular milk in a recipe? Does it just add more tang to the taste or is there a chemistry difference (i.e. effect on the baking powder)? Please note I am not asking how to turn regular milk into buttermilk - I know how to do that. I'm just asking how the two affect a cake batter.

I would recommend looking up buttermilk cake recipes (in my opinion it just changes the flavor, but I only use buttermilk for pancakes, so it's not a scientific answer by any means!) 

Because it's acidic, buttermilk also reacts well with baking soda to provide more leavening in a cake, and it tenderizes the gluten, too.

Here's a Buttermilk Chocolate Cake recipe you should try!

I love strawberry rhubarb, but not so much pie. Can I make this mixture in a different type of dessert?

Sure! It would be great on top of angel food cake or even ice cream! Just make sure if the recipe calls for a thickening agent of some kind (cornstarch, tapioca starch, flour, etc.) that you combine the ingredients and then cook them together in a saucepan over a medium heat to cook out the flavor of the thicking agent. Be sure to stir constantly so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan, and bring it to a low boil before setting it aside to cool! 

I also like to just make a rhubarb sauce (sometimes with ginger), and then fold fresh strawberries in it for all sorts of purposes: On cakes, as a fool, etc.

One of our two seders will be vegetarian. I've got the starters, sides, and dessert all set but I'm at a loss at the main course. We can use dairy (also a first for me at the seder but a welcome change, especially for dessert!) and our guests are all pretty adventurous. I want something that feels satisfying and special, so that nobody leaves at the end of the night feeling like they missed out on the traditional brisket. Any ideas?

Check out this roundup of favorites from our Recipe Finder. This matzoh lasagna might do the trick -- especially if you added layers of your favorite roasted vegetables. (The Zucchini Quajado pictured below it's a nice option, too. Maybe serve with a roasted red pepper sauce?) Indian cuisine-inspired dishes like Saag Paneer with Goat Cheese or Stuffed Potatoes and Beets in Tamarind Sauce, from Vered Guttman, could work well. That last one is probably your best bet. It's deeply flavored, different, delicious. Hag sameach!

That was an interesting and informative article on Tuesday. Why was Tamarian food article published in the science section rather than the food section?

It could probably go in either place, don't you think? The Tuesday section is Health/Science, and this was definitely a health focus. We run lots of Tamar's stuff in Food, too, as you know -- particularly her monthly Unearthed column.

I'm looking for a great spinach pie recipe for dinner. Something substantial but without meat.

I love the combination of spinach and ricotta cheese, and the addition of eggs in this recipe makes it pretty substantial. Do you eat eggs?

That picture doesn't look very chocolatey to me. ;-)

Doesn't mean the cake's not good!

My mother still has that very nut-grinding device (that screwed onto the top of a jar)! It sure took some elbow grease to operate. Now she uses the food processor.

She's not alone!

Thanks so much for the chats! I have been purchasing a high quality canned crab (Heron Points is the brand name, I think) and it is great for a quick meal. The only issue is that I only cook for two and it comes in 1 pound containers. The can is sealed and refrigerator section. Can I open the crab, use about half, and freeze the rest? Thanks!

Yes you can -- for a few months. Rinse it, pick it over to remove cartilage. Pack it tightly and wrap in plastic wrap, to reduce ice crystal possibilities.

Hi free rangers! I have a question about Joe's recipe. He says to use extra virgin olive oil for sauteing for both the beans and cauliflower. I've always been under the impression that EVOO is never used for frying and sauteing, and that one should use regular olive oil for that. Have I been wrong all this time? I can't remember the reasoning, whether it had to do with the smoke point, the price, etc. It would be nice if I were since then I would only need one bottle of olive oil in my pantry for everything.

Millions of Italians (and Spaniards) can't be wrong, so fry, fry away.

Part of the reasoning is that you shouldn't pay top dollar for an oil that you're using for cooking, which destroys some of the subtle flavors, so you should save that fabulous oil for drizzling at the end of cooking. And part of it is the idea that  olive oil has a lower smoke point, yes. But the thing is, the latter isn't really true. Here's what The Olive Oil Source has to say about it.

Also, think about this: How easy is it to find NON extra-virgin olive oil? Not at all, right? So there you go!

I agree with Joe here. I use mid-priced EVOO for sauteeing and frying, and try to keep some extra flavorful EVOO on hand for vinaigrettes, marinades and drizzling on fresh tomatoes. A great mate for good olive oil is a cast iron pan. It holds heat well and seems to reduce the danger of burning the more delicate oils.

What is the proper way to measure grated cheese? Many recipes call for a cup or half cup of grated cheese and I never know whether to measure it like flour by sprinkling loosely into measuring cup and leveling it off, or like brown suger, where you pack it into the measuring cup. Okie Mike

Depends on the cheese -- hard or semi-firm -- but as a rule you can figure 4 ounces per cup of shredded, loosely packed. Doesn't have to be leveled off. What dish was hurt by a little extra cheese? If the recipe ingredient's written, "2 ounces fontina cheese, shredded," then maybe you'd want to do it yourself anyway. 

That peanut butter brownie pie sounds great. But could you use a natural peanut butter instead of one that has sugar and oil added? I realize that sounds kind of crazy - it is a dessert after all. But I don't buy the other stuff, so I'm just hoping to use the peanut butter I have on-hand. Thanks again!

Hi! I don't think the question is crazy at all, I would much prefer to use what I had on hand as well. I would go ahead and see how well it holds together when you heat it up. The peanut butter really is just warmed and drizzeled into the brownie mix, so as long as you mix it really well before putting it into a saucepan and hopefully the oil doesn't separate too badly you should be fine! 

You all are as bad F&W. Come on now if you all are on the local bandwagon for meat, produce and seafood then you also ahve to be on the local bandwagon for VA and MD wines. The WP needs to devout at least one column a month to local winea. Next we can work on local hard liquor and espeically moonshine. They have been making shine in Bath and Highland counites for almost 400 years. Longer than anywhere else in the US.

Dave McIntyre says:

Interestingly, nowadays I get the opposite complaint more often - that I write too much about local wine.

Did you miss my column in early March on the Virginia Governor's Cup, won by Williamsburg Winery, and the Governor's Case of the "12 Best" Virginia wines from the competition? My recommendations that week featured two Virginia tannats that are included in the Governor's Case. Over the past five and a half years I've been writing this column I've regularly included wines from Virginia, Maryland, Texas, Idaho, Michigan, New York, Arizona. I've written features on Virginia and Maryland ciders, pairing Virginia wine with Szechuan cuisine, RdV Vineyards, Boordy Vineyards, the growth of a "Mid-Atlantic" wine region stretching from northern Georgia up the Blue Ridge through North Carolina into central and eastern Pennsylvania, the difficulty of finding local wines on local restaurant wine lists, efforts by Virginia's (then) first lady to promote the state's wines ... Need I say more? Well, I am also co-founder of Drink Local Wine, the nation's first locapour movement, which has held annual conferences in Texas, Virginia, Missouri, Colorado and Maryland to introduce bloggers and other writers to these regional wines. I've probably forgotten a few articles to mention here, but I think you get the picture.

It's so much more than "local wine." Our perception of "American Wine" is changing, because of the increase in quality of wines from Virginia, Maryland, and all the other states I mentioned above. A new generation of wine drinkers is receptive to wines that aren't from California. This won't diminish California's dominance of US wine production, but it adds diversity, variety and interest. And we're all better off for that.

Did Bonnie get a good recipe for teriyaki? Would love to pour some over broccoli for the kids to gobble up.

Ohdearohdear. That title might take a while to live down. (My Food section colleagues have been working it for weeks.) In fact, I DO have a teriyaki sauce recipe fit for broccoli and steak. It's not from my new pals at the restaurant but it is in next week's Dinner in Minutes column. A preview, just for you: 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 5 tablespoons mirin, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes so it thickens a bit and reduces. It's not too sweet. 

Any ideas on things to bring on a very-early morning picnic breakfast? I'm willing to bake the night before and definitely prefer homemade rather than store bought, but I realize we're leaving the house pretty early and so nothing too difficult. Thoughts? Thanks!

This Dark Chocolate Granola could do the trick. Bring yogurt and fruit in separate containers. (And it contains a superfood!)

Did you catch the Benihana reference in the movie, Wolf of Wall Street? So funny.

Well, I have now, through the gift of YouTube. I'd better refrain from linking to the clip here, as we are family-friendly chat. (There was fire! Maybe that part of the act will return to Benihana teppans soon, if exec chef Tony Nemoto has his way.)

Hi, I enjoyed the article by Tamar (and can only imagine the intense comments it's going to generate in the chat) but had a question about the meat and egg section. She says the milking cows and laying hens aren't given antibiotics routinely or while in production. Does that include submedicinal doses? I had the impression those were pretty standard in conventional agriculture. Thanks!

Tamar is on her tablet in an airport, but she says:

They are pretty standard (or were -- they're increasingly frowned on and seem to be on the way out), but only in animals being raised for meat.  Laying hens and dairy cattle don't get routine antibiotics, and if they get ill and need to be treated, they're pulled out of the food supply for a specified period to avoid the problem of antibiotic residue in eggs and milk.

Depends on the size of the shreds and the hardness of the cheese. Large shreds of hard cheese need to be packed down, in my experience.

Um, right. What she said. 

I have been asked to bring cupcakes to a party, and I'm seeking recommendations for a really delicious cupcake. My internet searches tend to yield Pinterest-worthy creations, but I'd rather go for flavor than whimsical decorations. I'll also take any tips you have for putting on the frosting, especially tips where a small amount of extra effort makes them look considerably better. Thank you!

One of my favorite blogging bakers is Smitten Kitchen, and she has absolutely stellar cake recipes on her site and this cupcake recipe (which looks amazing). I like her because she's usually got really original flavor combinations that aren't too hard to pull off. I would recommend seeing if any of those recipes catch your eye and simply scooping the batter into cupcake tins rather than baking a big cake. The bake time will change, but if you set your timer for traditional cupcake times and check for doneness with a toothpick, you should be fine. 

You're also going to want to make sure your cupcakes are completely cooled before trying to frost them... otherwise the frosting will melt right off. happy baking!

I have seen a few claims recently that sea salt or even kosher salt is lower sodium than regular salt. How is that even possible? The only things I can think of is that sea salt may have traces of minerals other than NaCl and therefore have slightly less sodium by weight because of tiny amounts of other stuff. And with kosher salt, I guess if they were measuring the sodium by volume, it could have less sodium per teaspoon because the larger granules don't pack as tightly and more air equals less salt which means less sodium. That is all I can think of, and neither one sounds like a valid claim to me. Am I missing something?

You got around to the crux of the matter: volume. A 1/4 teaspoon of larger, flaky crystals will give you a lot of salt bang but cost less in terms of sodium, nutritional-analysis-wise.

I have a whole bagful of limes but -- they all dried out in the 'fridge. There's no mold so I'm wondering if they're "preserved" limes, equivalent to "preserved" lemons. Can I use them in something besides potpourri? Thanks.

If you're crafty, you can make the limes into pomanders - the decorations that appear around the winter holidays as oranges studded with whole cloves. Using an embroidering needle, pierce the limes all over and press in the cloves. Hang up by a ribbon and pretend you just took a road trip to Frederick.

I read Tamar's article on Monday with great interest. I have a daughter and have always purchased organic milk and beef because of the bovine hormones and their (specious) link to early puberty in young girls. I also bought organic chicken because of its supposed benefit over conventional. I won't pretend that these choices don't have a significant budgetary impact. If I'm understanding Tamar's article correctly, the evidence actually shows very little to no benefit of choosing organic, correct? Are her findings going to influence food choices the rest of you make? I have to admit that the idea of lowering my grocery bill is tempting...

Tamar writes:

Budget is always an issue -- at least in my house.  And the problem with writing about a topic as big as organics is that you always have to leave stuff out, or it would be a book and not an article. While this piece dealt only with the health problems, the reason I buy organic meat and milk is that there's pretty compelling evidence that those animals have better lives.  It does cost more -- sometimes a lot more -- but I compensate by buying less.  While organic animal products don't have meaningful health benefits, we probably all could do well to eat less meat (and there's a raging argument about milk, which I won't go into here!).

Should be considered terrorists and sent into rednition and forced to eat Big Macs. Living long healthly lives is not good for the economy and social security.


This recipe if from Tyler Place -- a resort in Vermont. They just sent it out on an email blast today because it is sugaring season in Vermont. When I grew up in New York we tapped a big maple tree in our backyard and let the sap cook down on our wood stove. I do wish DC was just cold enough for sugar maple trees to grow well!

Nothing attached/inserted!

I love ume (Japanese pickled plums) and sour cherries (lots in my freezer!) Do you think the first part of the maraschino cherry recipe would make my cherries like substitute ume?

You're referring to Plate Lab, the swell new Post Magazine feature that Editor Joe and I get to trade off doing each week? That could be great. I got a pickled cherry recipe from Scott Clime as well (tested, but didnt publish) -- might work even better. Call Passion Food Hospitality and tell him I sent you. Till cherry season comes, make the trip to a Mediterranean store to get frozen or jarred sour cherries. They're what you need to get that ume thing going. 


It tastes saltier, so it takes less to satisfy you

Right again! Unless you're addicted to the stuff. 

The recipe doesn't say to roast the grapes - are you supposed to, or did you just include the word roasted in front of grapes by accident? This looks great! Thanks

Oh, you're right. I guess it's a tweak I made after a while. Either way, you'll be happy. 

Hi! I'll be in Paris next week and wanted to know what you would recommend bringing back with me food-wise. I've got lentils du puy and fleur de sel on my list so far, but would love to know what else I should stock up on that would be otherwise much more expensive or unavailable here in the US. Thanks!

Oh, my -- so many possibilities. Did you see the piece I wrote on shopping/eating in Paris with Patricia Wells? Some suggestions included therein (particularly in the accompanying details box), but some other ideas: Mustard, honey (particularly buckwheat honey, which you can find at the market at Breizh Cafe, where you should go for crepes) and these things mentioned by the fabulous David Lebovitz. Ceylon is preferred over cassia due to high levels of an ingredient that can cause liver damage.

Yes, that's true. But if you read one of the leading studies about these two types of cinnamon, it points out that the potentially harmful compounds (known as coumarins) have mostly been shown to be toxic in animal studies. The authors conclude:

"Differential metabolism of coumarin in rodents and human indicated that it is less toxic to humans. However, idiosyncratic toxicity observed for coumarin in human clinical trials showed that a subpopulation was sensitive to this compound. Ingesting substantial amounts of coumarin on a daily basis may pose a health risk to individuals who are more sensitive to this compound."


It doesn't say how much you need to ingest before you become sensitive to the compounds.

I must say I'm disappointed in this year's recipes. One rather ordinary green salad, and three recipes that are forbidden for Ashkenazi Jews (unless you make the matzo with matzo meal, which seems to me to defeat the purpose).

Seemed like an interesting story for Rhea to share, and the recipes needed to support her text.  We also offered this roundup of Passover favorites from our Recipe Finder. Next year, back to brisketville, okay? 

Maple Sugar Pie Ingredients: Your favorite pie crust, prepared 3 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup real maple syrup 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest Pinch of salt Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a pie plate with your favorite pie crust. Whisk all ingredients together and pour into the unbaked pie crust. Bake at 350 until set - for about 45 minutes. Enjoy (and dream of Vermont).

I tried a recipe last week: they never got crunchy. Cut back oil, raise temp & time?

Fry them. That never fails.

Or, yes, raise the temp. I go up to 500. And make sure they aren't crowded in the pan. Don't think you need to cut back the oil.

Has anyone ever tried the $3 Whole Foods wines inside the front door? I'm wondering if I could get away with using it for a sangria.

For a sangria, I have found, you could get away with most any plonk, so do it!

I made a tres leches cake this past weekend that was really good except for one issue. Even though I poked holes through the cake before adding the 3 milk mixture, not all of the cake inside was uniformly saturated with the milk. Do you have any suggestions for obtaining even saturation? The cake tasted better the more days after it was made as well. What is the optimal time to make the cake before it is served?

poke more holes? :) 

I'm not sure, actually but I know when we used to make tres leches cupcakes we always did several pours of the milk mixture. I want to say we did at least two pours (one pour, wait til it's absorbed and then a second). I would suggest trying a second pour. 

I'm always a firm believer in letting things set for a bit in order to let all of the flavors meld and come together nicely. I would make a cake a day or two ahead of time (espeically if you've tasted it after day 2 and it tastes better than the day you made it) 

Oh please no. The rest of the wine-making world is making wines so superior even to Va's (and Md wines, frankly, are largely lousy) that one column a month on local wines would cut out most of what most people like to drink.

Dave writes:

Well, here's what I was talking about! I agree that there are many, many wonderful wines produced around the world, and I try to find those for you. It is not easy to keep up!
Yet while I agree that the world of wine is an extensive topic, what's happening right around here is very exciting. I disagree with your premise that wine is inferior simply because it's local, and hope you will try to search out the wineries that are making great quality strides. I will certainly be covering them in the column, as warranted, with no forced schedules. And remember, if I write about a local topic in the column, the recommendations may include wines from elsewhere.

Just like with dairy and poultry, antibiotics are not given to meat animals before slaughter. There is a drug withdrawal time. In addition, USDA does check for antibiotics in carcasses on a routine basis.

Tamar writes:

Yes, absolutely true. That's why so few carcasses test positive for antibiotic residue.

Kudos to Bonnie not only for braving the rigors of executing a frenzied Benihana meal with only a quick study but also submitting to some fun and enteraining photographs of the experience! I've never eaten in a Benihana, and I'm not sure it's my kind of place, but I found the article to be fun way to start Wednesday morning.

Signing off on those photos was difficult! Deb Lindsey did a great job of catching the shrimp midair -- props to her. And my colleagues had to eat the stuff. If I managed to entertain you, I guess it was all worth it. :)

I made the Post's champagne cupcakes for a birthday party in Feb, and they got RAVE reviews. Seriously, so many people asked for the recipe! I did a raspberry frosting instead of the passion fruit, but the cake was the same.

Glad to hear it!

A largeish star tip on a pastry bag is about the easiest way to ice cupcakes prettily. Just pipe in a swirl around the top of the cupcake.


Hi Rhea, really interesting article. I'm curious what will be on your final menu for Passover!

Thanks so much! I'm going to be a guest for both Seder nights, and my contributions will be the Maror Salad I learned about as I worked on the article and charoset. I know the second one isn't from the bible, but it's one of my favorite parts of the Seders I grew up with!

My husband's Jewish but I'm not. Obviously, he's not observant, but he does try to stick to the Passover rules and I try to help, but since I didn't grow up with it, I have trouble with all the meals that aren't the Seder. Suggestions for lunch in particular would be most appreciated. BTW, don't forget to remind people of the best dessert, those crunchy, buttery, chocolate caramel matzos.

That's a great question. As I'm sure you know, Passover menus for the observant can't include most grains or any bread. Many people also avoid legumes. Quinoa dishes, like Tomato and Spinach Quinoa, are a great choice. I also love frittatas, like this smokey version with a kick. Those eight days of Passover eating can seem to stretch on forever, but they may also lead you to new dishes you'll eat year round.

I'm making high tea for my spouse and I (anniversary thing). We have our favorites-- chicken and cashew salad, cucumbers on white bread (I add ranch dressing). Any novel sandwich ideas worth trying? We're good on the scones and should cut back on our sweets, so I'm focusing on the sandwich aspect. Thanks!

Loverly idea. A thin slice of cheese with watercress; translucent slices of radish on lightly buttered bread; maybe small eggy tarts with onion and chives? Anglophiles should weigh in. . . .

I have two dessert rules: #1 If it's not chocolate, it's not dessert. #2 If it's not dark chocolate, don't bother. Just halfway kidding! But I do favor dark chocolate cakes over a light milk cake. Thanks for the try anyway!

Aren't you sweet? Take a breeze through our Recipe Finder and look for many ways to use that buttermilk -- and lots of things that call for dark chocolate. Not necessarily the two together, which is what I was going for.

I'm excited to try the matzah alternatives in Rhea Kennedy's article. Assuming we have leftovers after seder (which I can't imagine), how long will they hold up? Any recommendations for integrating these into other meals during Passover?

Keep in mind that the Karaite matzoh's NOT recommended for a traditional Seder, because of the ingredients and way it's baked. But if you've got some flexibility there, they'll hold up longer if you refrigerate them after 2 days. Reheat/recrisp in a 200-degree oven.


NOTE: We retested them and rolled them thinner than what's shown  in our Recipe Finder today; we're reshooting the matzoh and will update that recipe photo this week.  

Our hosts always have either an artichoke dip or a walnut dip. Sorry, I don't have the recipes.

Dave ever thought about running for office. Nice way to not answer the question lets strive for one column a month on local wines. actually it should be one column a month on none local wines. I make a $250 donation to a chatters favorite cahrity if in a blind tasting they can pick put thier favorite cult Cali cab from fines Virginny cabs.

Dave writes:

I believe I did answer your question - you complained that we never cover local wines. So there. And see my response to the chatter who disagrees with you. I'll duck to get away from the cross-fire.

This eggplant dip from Ina Garten is easy, delicious, and only calls for roasted veggies, a little olive oil, and some S&P.

Any tips for making regular non-Karaite matzah? We have a recipe (wheat flour, water, mix, roll out, bake on pizza stone) but previous efforts haven't crisped up properly.

Did you use a docking (perforating) tool or at least a big fork to poke holes? 

You can freeze it too. I would do it in small ish portions, so you're not unfreezing a huge amount and then not knowing what to do with it...again. I freeze whey from my yogurt and use it as buttermilk/milk in recipes.

Thanks for mixing it up a bit - there are many sources for the regular yearly stuff. I was lucky enough to meet Remy a few years ago when researching some Karaite practices, and I'd love to go to her Seder.

I love our Free Range chatters. All of them. 

I saute with extra-virgin olive oil a lot. I buy California Olive Ranch brand, which manages to be both affordable and very tasty, so perfect for sauteing and salads. The only time I've had trouble is if I add oil to a pan and let it get too hot--like if I'm delayed because I add the oil and then the prep takes longer than I anticipate. But I've had that happen with vegetable oil too. The smoke points of the different oils aren't so dramatically different that once a pan starts getting really hot it could be a problem with any of them. If you're cooking over medium or a dash higher of heat, it should work fine.

I have a cookie recipe that calls for 2 tablespoons almond paste. How can I store the remainder for long term storage? It's not a regularly used ingredient.

it should be fine if you wrap it in plastic, put it in a ziplock baggie and store it in a cool dry place. 

Organic regulations do not prohibit the use of CAFO's. Feedlots, chicken barns, etc are all allowed as part of the organic industry. There is a big gap between public perception of organic practices and actual organic practices.

Tamar says:

It's certainly true that organic doesn't prohibit all the things those of us concerned with animal welfare care about.  But two points -- first, the standards do require basic standards of decency, like grazing (for cattle) and elbow room (for chickens).  But the second point is just as important, and it's one I gleaned from the global meat buyer for Whole Foods, Theo Weening, who has seen more farms than all of us put together.  He said that often (although not invariably) organic farmers have a different mindset.  You're less likely to find the worst conditions on organic farms, even if some of those conditions aren't strictly prohibited.  That's why, when I don't have the choice of buying meat from a farm I know (my first choice), I choose organic.  That said, your point is an important one.  Organic isn't a cure-all.

Can I use butter, eggs and milk in this recipe instead of the vegan substitutes?

It's worth a shot, IMO. Just report back about your results!

Use butter and milk and 1 egg instead of the margarine and soy milk and egg replacer in the batter, and use butter instead of both the margarine and shortening in the frosting. Give it a try!

About how long would you say homemade lemon curd lasts in the fridge? I made some... um... awhile ago. It looks the same as it did when I first put it in there (no spots, etc.). Thanks!

about 3 weeks

I can do that and I"m not even a connosiour.

The challenge is on. And then can we follow up with a spelling and/or typing challenge?

Does the same poster send in that wine complaint every week? Maybe it stands out because I don't drink, but man, I've seen that a lot.

It came in a couple of weeks ago, but we didn't have a chance to run it by Dave until now, and the chatter resubmitted, which I took as a chance to post Dave's response.

I like the catering to different cuisines and traditions. Surely the Post recipe archive has plenty of material for Ashkenazis. Personally I get tired of brisketville every year.

The Post does have a wealth of recipes in the Recipe Finder. Here's a quick link to Passover recipes, many of which are appropriate for the Ashkenazi community. Also feel free to email me through the Post Food section. I don't want you confined to another year of Brisketville, for sure! 

An interesting Kosher for Passover cookbook someone gave me this year. Some good stuff there, beyond the Ashkenazi cannonballs

Yep, got it. I might do a post for next week. 

Make a big batch of Ina Garten's homemade Ranch dressing. So heavenly. And addictive.

Edible glitter! Go to a baking shop (I like Little Bitts in Wheaton) and get some edible glitter to sprinkle on top of frosting piped on with a star tip.

Buttermilk will last in the fridge a surprisingly long time. It is only un-useable if mold appears on the open edges. It also adds a good tang to moisten the bread in Italian meatballs or meatloaf.

Can you recommend recipes using celery or how to store it? I usually end up throwing half of the package away as I can't eat it fast enough. Where can I find more black rice recipes.

As while back, Cooks Illustrated recommended wrapping celery in aluminum foil (not plastic wrap) and refrigerating it. The foil apparently facilitates the escape of a certain compound that breaks down the vegetable faster. People all across the Interwebz swear by the tecchique.


As for recipes, we have a slew of celery dishes. (Remember: You can always use celery for mirepoix, the aromatic base for so many stews, soups, sauces and stocks.)

A few recipes:


Scott Drewno's Chicken Curry Salad


West African Peanut Soup


Pasta With Chickpeas, Celery and Parsley


And many more in our Recipe Finder.

As for black rice recipes, try this Forbidden Black Rice Salad With Ginger Vinaigrette.

And ... Check the Post Mag for an upcoming Plate Lab installment on a fantastic celery/walnut/pecorino salad from Etto!

I googled it beforehand, but forgot to update my question.


Why do you keep posting Mr. Argumentative's questions? Look, Dave covers some local wine, some US wine, and some international wine. (although I would like more coverage of US wine that's not California, because it varies SO wildly, and I find it interesting.) But seriously, this guy has the same complaint every week. It gets old.

We want to make sure everybody's complaints are heard -- I never want to be accused of avoiding criticism. I think you'll be able to find a way to live with it, right?

Passover condiments are so expensive, yet everyone (including me) feels compelled to buy them. I know I can make kosher-for-Passover mayo pretty simply and cheaply (egg + olive oil + lemon juice + salt), but what else? Got a good ketchup recipe? How about ranch dressing? (I have kids, one of whom is a picky eater, and getting her to eat means letting her drown things in ketchup or ranch.)

Bravo for the idea of making your own condiments this year! This could be an opportunity to jump into the popular practice of lacto-fermenting. Start with one recipe for fermented ketchup and search for others, with more tips. Don't be intimidated by the fish sauce. You should be able to find some made with anchovies that is kosher for Passover, or turn up a recipe that doesn't require it. Homemade salad dressing is also delish. Try a blend of feta cheese, yogurt, your homemade mayo, and some herbs of your choice (dried dill or organo, perhaps). Puree and then let the dipping begin! 

I know I want to try authentic Portugues Egg Tarts, any other native food you can suggest I make sure to try?

Given its location next to the Atlantic, Portugal is famous for its fish dishes, including the salted cod known as bacalhau.


Here's a brief primer on some classic Portuguese dishes.

Did you have luck finding out if Badia brand is in fact real cinnamon?

I haven't heard back from the company, which is based in southern Fla. Shoot me an email ( and i'll let you know soon as I hear!

I'd love to make a lemon meringue pie to welcome in spring, but I don't have a kitchen torch to finish off the top. I know they are fairly inexpensive, but is there a way to do it without one? Or a way to make it taste just as good?

A few minutes in an oven on the broiler setting does the trick for me. Just keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn!

Yup, we used a rolling docker - previously used on pizza dough so maybe it was Revenge of the Chametz or something. Will try to roll out thinner this year.

Ha. Call the Chabad in Potomac. I bet they'd give you pointers and a demo. 

What you are describing is NOT HIGH TEA. It's afternoon tea. High tea is a working-class supper that consists of cooked dishes, with meat, and isn't necessarily accompanied by tea. Dainty sandwiches are AFTERNOON TEA.

Which is good. If a local wine is compared to,say, a chenin blanc, which I don't care for, that gives me more data points. If it's compared to a California Cab, I'm going straight out to look for it.

This is certainly not my premise. You didn't notice that I acknowledged that a lot of Virginia wines are good. And I certainly do not consider wine inferior merely because it is local. I do happen to have a palate.

Once I made Pink Lemonade Cupcakes, I have never been allowed to turn back. Anyone who tries them loves them, and they are delicate and perfect for spring. If you just google "Pink Lemonade Cupcakes" you can see a whole variety of recipes. I've tried them all and I've found the key is to make sure you have fresh lemon zest. The other differences don't matter, so use what you have on hand.

Try the sweet pea guacamole that's on several Internet recipe sites. Thawed frozen peas, olive oil, pepper, Tabasco, salt, cilantro. Tastes good....but only if you eat peas on Pesach

If you're keeping it to cook (as opposed to eating raw), it freezes well. I chop it, zip it into zippy bags, and freeze.

Cheddar and chutney sandwiches are great. I once had one with a VERY well-aged cheddar and a tomato-onion chutney that I practically drool over when I remember it.

lightly toss in cinnamon afterwards

Yes! Thank you. I read one set of instructions that said to store the pomander in cinnamon for a while, to cure it. 

I'm going to echo the thanks that you guys do a good job of balance on the food. Thanks for encouraging and helping all of us to enjoy our own likes and to branch out and try new things. This is one of the few food related places that I have been to that does a good job of recognizing that much of what we as a society eat is based on personal preferences. The fact that there is so much respect for each other and such a variety of personal preferences among the Food Gurus and the commentators means this is a must read every day. Please keep it up and keep encouraging and providing new ways to approach our personal preferences. You guys (and Tom) are really worth the subscription alone, just to have access to these chats.

Aw, shucks. Appreciate it!

Joe Yonan has a great recipe for celery soup in his last book. I have made it a couple of times when I have had a lot of celery to use up.

Thanks! Glad you like it. There's a version of it here.

I read teh article, but I don't understand the comment. Whyare some jews forbidden from eating the foods that the bible said to eat for Passover?

From the article: "Jews from Ashkenazi rabbinical movements, which include Conservative and Reform, tend to avoid serving lamb on Passover because it too closely resembles the paschal lamb sacrifice, a practice that ceased with the destruction of the holy Temple." Does that help? 

Are any of the Karaite dishes that you prepared going to be used at your seder?

Indeed! The Maror Salad is a must for me. 

There is 'organic' milk - or 'regular' milk - but on most 'regular' milk it says clearly that there are no antibiotics. I'm pretty particular about buying all sorts of dairy products and checking carefully that it says no antibiotics (shout out to tillamook!)... but is there a difference between *that* and specifically 'organic' milk?

A few years ago, the USDA tightened the organic rules to say that all meat and milk sold as "organic" must come from livestock that spends at least four months a year grazing in the pasture.

Tamar says:

There are no antibiotics in milk, either organic or conventional. Every tankerload is tested, and if one tests positive for residue,  (which one does, every once in a while) it is pulled from the food supply.  By law, when a conventional cow is given antibiotics for illness, her milk cannot be used for a set period of withdrawal.

There are other differences, but they are very small, and have more to do with the cows' diet (the amount of grass, specifically) than with whether the milk is organic or conventional.  I always buy organic milk, but not for health reasons.  Organic cows are required to spend the entire grazing season grazing, and I like to support farms that send their cows outdoors as much as possible. 

Why not regular guacamole? Avocado + onion + lime + salt. Garlic, clilantro, tomato, if you want. I sometimes add cumin, which I do not believe is forbidden (though I'm not super-observant so I don't know for sure).

Rhea, I loved the new-old take on tradition! I am thinking of making the matzoh in non-Passover times, and wondering about any tips you have on good things to pair it with?

So glad you enjoyed the article. My answer to what goes with the Karaite matzoh: Everything. Or nothing. When I tested the recipe, I snacked on the coriander-infused cracker goodness plain until they were all gone! You can also dip them in a creamy dip like the one I recommended to the Passover-friendly condiment seeker. Or crumble the crackers over soup or salad.

larger crystals don't taste saltier. Smaller crystals increase the mass to surface ratio so that a smaller quantity of a fine grained salt will taste saltier than a larger quantity of large crystals.

Yes, and your observations are borne out in a recent study on crystal size and salt delivery.

Well, you've cooled us for a few minutes, then broken us into individual crackers, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and many thanks to Teeny and Rhea (and to Dave and Tamar, virtually) for help with the a's.

Now for the giveaway books: The first chatter, who asked about making maple pie, will get a SIGNED copy of "Teeny's Tour of Pies." And the chatter who asked about celery will get "The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook" by America's Test Kitchen. Send your mailing information to, and she'll get you your books (once she's back from vacation next week).

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is editor of the Food section; joining us today are deputy editor Bonnie S. Benwick, staff writer Tim Carman, Spirits columnist Carrie Allan, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and Beer columnist Greg Kitsock. Guests: Washington Baker Teeny Lamothe, author of "Teeny's Tour of Pie: A Cookbook"; freelance writer Rhea Yablon Kennedy, and Toshiya "Tony" Nemoto, executive chef of Benihana restaurants.
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