Free Range on Food: Dominique Crenn, Father's Day, grain salads and more.

Jun 13, 2018

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! After 3 weeks away, I might be a little rusty, so pardon me if I'm slower than usual today!

Hope you're enjoying this week's content, including:

Much, much more!

We will have special guests today: Alex Levin and Emily Horton! Throw any and all baking questions at Alex and plant-based questions at Emily! (I'll be off the hook!)

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR5234 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

We will also have a cookbook to give away to our favorite chatter today, so make your q's and comments good! (I'm keeping the identity of the book secret until the end of the chat...)

OK, let's do this!

That's a list of all the veggies in my fridge (yay for CSAs!) that I'd like to use in one or two dinner recipes. Any fab recipe ideas?!

How about this one?

Roasted Beets With Kale, Asparagus, Green Beans, Onions and Scallions


Seriously, what I'd do is a good old chopped salad. Roast the beets (wrapped in foil) until tender, at 450. Put the asparagus and green beans and sliced onions on another roasting pan and roast until tender (with the whole salt/olive oil thing). Then thinly slice the kale, massage it until tender, and chop up the vegetables, and toss with a great dressing!

My husband bought some frozen cod a couple of weeks ago (fillets individually vacuum-sealed), and when I pulled it down to thaw, it had a strong odor straight out of the pouches. I let the fish thaw in the fridge during the day, and then cooked per the instructions in the evening, but the end product was still super fishy, so we ended up tossing it (and the remaining frozen fillets). I'd never had cod that smelled or tasted that fishy before. Expiration date wasn't until December 2018, and we had kept them frozen the whole time. Do you think we overreacted, or maybe got a bad pack? Now I'm afraid to buy/cook fish at home. The fish was purchased at Walmart, and had a certified sustainable seafood logo on it.

Really good questions, and timely, because the subject of frozen fish is on my radar screen right now.

I might have returned the unused stuff in packages to the store, but otherwise you did the right thing -- from what you describe, you didn't eat any of the fish? A lingering odor is generally not a good thing, but I will say that sometimes any protein that's cryovac'ed can initially have some off aromas.

Couple things might have happened with the fish you bought: It might not have been so pristine when it was packaged; it might not have been handled well in shipping/storage. 

That said, I would hope that this doesn't keep you from cooking fish at home....frozen still provides consumers with a very good product. Check back in a couple weeks w me, or send your email to so we can correspond.

Opened Monday's article just as I was about to brew a pitcher of sun tea to see if there were any suggestions I should implement, so I was shocked to see that there was no mention of the time-honored tradition of brewing tea on the porch on a sunny day. This was an integral part of my childhood and I make several pitchers a week now that it's nice out. Am I the only one? I guess when I think about it, it's a little bizarre to have to wait a few hours for your tea, but it's among my favorite childhood traditions.

At least theoretically, the risk of bacteria from sun tea is higher than if you boil the water. So I didn't quite want to go there.

But hey, if it works for you, keep on keeping on.


ARTICLE Sip your way through summer with a batch of homemade iced tea

This week's recipes using honey look fantastic! Is there any way to make your own chipotle-infused honey, or should I splurge and buy one of the bottles you recommended? Thanks!

When you're right, you're right. They are! I am enjoying everything I have Post-It-noted in the book so far.  It's a small splurge; the Asheville Bee Charmer one is terrific and we also liked Mike's Hot Honey. You may find you'd be drizzling it on lots of stuff, as we did in the Food Lab. So yes, I recommend the splurge.


You could try infusing the honey on your own -- warm it over the lowest heat with dried chipotle peppers and then strain  out the solids; in a pinch, you could stir in adobo from canned chipotles (would affect the honey color the most) or even maybe a good pinch or two of dried chipotle chile powder. But I'd definitely warm all those up, rather than just stirring them in at room temp.

RECIPES Chipotle Honey-Marinated Steak; Kale, Clementine and Hazelnut Salad

NY Magazine had a helpful piece on the Superiority burger recipe, just sharing! 

Thanks! I heard people had some trouble forming them/getting them to hold together, right? -- I did not, and neither did Kara when she made them recently!

RECIPE: Superiority Burgers

I’m jumping on the browned-butter bandwagon;when I substitute it for regular butter, do I need to make any other adjustments to the recipe? I thought I read somewhere that you need to adjust for the lower water content in browned butter, but now I can’t find the article.

A good rule of them is to look at butter as 80% fat - 20% liquid. When you brown butter, the liquid boils off and the remaining milk solids turn brown. You are actually left with 80% of the original amount of butter since all of the liquid is gone. If you want to be a perfectionist, you can add back that amount of liquid into the recipe. But in my experience, I just go for the even substitute brown butter for regular butter. In doing that, I add a little more butter to the recipe to make the substitute even. 

If you know you need 4 ounces of brown butter, take that number and divide it by 80% or 0.8. You get 5 ounces of butter to start, which when browned becomes 4 ounces.

But there's no right or wrong way about it.

Our family (includes a 3yo and 6yo) joined an outdoor pool for the summer which means lots of meals by the pool to maximize swim time. It's only been a few weeks and I'm already grasping for more meal ideas that can be eaten at room temp and can be prepped ahead of time. We've had sandwiches, crackers/hummus, pasta salad... What else am I missing? Or is this it? Please help! And thank you!!

What about some cool/chilled noodle dishes?

Peanut Noodles

ARTICLE: Hot days call for cold noodles, and these 5 recipes fit the bill

Or one of Emily's grain salads?

Wheat Berry and Lentil Salad With Carrots, Parsley and Harissa

ARTICLE: Four steps to making a great grain salad, every time

And do wraps count as separate from sandwiches?

Barbecue Chicken Wraps With Celery and Sprouts

RECIPE: Barbecue Chicken Wraps With Celery and Sprouts

Could the Post please compile and publish a list of restaurants where diners can watch World Cup matches while eating? Because of time zone differences, presumably the meals would be mainly breakfast and lunch. Força Portugal!

Hi there. We'll have a list of World Cup viewing spots (both bars and restaurants) in print on Friday and online soon.

Because of the time difference between D.C. and Russia, most matches will be kicking off at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. or 2 p.m., so we have plenty of breakfast and lunch ideas: Fava Pot in Falls Church will be serving Egyptian breakfasts while their team plays, for example, and Appioo Restaurant in Shaw will have specials on kelewele, suya and West African beers whenever Nigeria and Senegal are on TV.

If you're a Portuguese fan, by the way, I had a great time watching a Portuguese match at Espresso in Manassas in 2014. 

I am looking forward to what you discovered one has to do so the Superior Meatless Hamburger "sticks together" so you can form it into a "Hamburger Shape"?

I didn't have any trouble forming these -- the potato starch was an effective binder, and I packed them easily by hand. They were a little delicate when I turned them, but they didn't fall apart.

Do you have a recipe for the dry substance that is used alongside olive oil in some Mediterranean / middle-eastern restaurants? You take your bread, you dip it in olive oil, and then you dip it in this stuff. I thought it might be za'atar, but the ones I've seen/bought at spice stores are finer, plus that is pure herbs/spices and quite strong. What I'm talking about has the za'atar spices in it (I think), but is mixed with other things - it's chunkier and not as powerful. Some of it is sesame seeds, but I have no idea what the other similarly-sized bits are. Possibly poppy seeds? Half-crushed things? Help?




I think it's just another za'atar -- there are as many varieties as there families in the Middle East, it seems. Some have more thyme, some more sumac, some more sesame seeds, etc.

General question here. Weighing ingredients has changed how I cook, especially my baking. Do you think American cookbooks will ever fully incorporate weight-based measurements?

Good for you! I think American books on baking might incorporate more weights in the future, but given the way cookbooks come together these days -- with most of the heavy lifting relying upon the author and not a team of full-time publishing company editors, etc. -- I'd say it is a step fraught with introduction of conflicting information (medium carrot = 3 ounces? 5 ounces? in grams, too?) and much too time-consuming for the recipe development process. Chatters?

I'm with you! It's changed how I bake too. I'm an advocate for going on and getting an Escali scale. But I don't believe that American cookbooks will evolve towards weight based measurements. Bonnie is spot on regarding conversions of items that vary in size. I suggest just writing the weights next to the ingredients so that the next time you use that recipe, it's already converted into ounces or grams - particularly for baking.

I saw recently that Sonic Drive In fast food business will be offering four new flavors of slushes: Blue Hawaiian, Bahama Mama, Tiger Blood and Pickle Juice. Their website does not give a hint as to what these frozen "treats" are supposed to taste like. Their website gives no flavor hints. Pickle juice sounds very off-putting and I can't imagine what "Tiger Blood" would be. Can any readers fill in the gaps for me?

A quick Internet search seems to indicate Tiger Blood is a mix of watermelon and strawberry. So not as carnivorous as it sounds. :)

I just took the survey about Voraciously and it mentioned a recipe that (I thought) contained chicken, lemon, and tarragon. I've been through the Voraciously web site and used the recipe finder, but couldn't find it. Can you help? I'm wondering if my mind substituted tarragon for rosemary in my memory. In any case, any suggestions for chicken with lemon and tarragon? Thanks!

I'm thinkin' it was this Lemon Rosemary Chicken Skillet. In truth, if we had fresh tarragon in the Dinner in Minutes Pantry, (you know about that, right? all #DinnMins recipes use only ingredients in the pantry so you always will have the goods on hand to make any of these dishes) 


I'd have used that instead of the rosemary because it pairs so well with chicken and lemon. But rosemary's no slouch here, either.

What's the reason for removing ribs and seeds from peppers? I see the instruction in recipes for all kinds of peppers from fresh bells to dried anchos and the hot little red ones in Chinese food. Unless the idea is to avoid having to floss the seeds out of our teeth later, it seems like unnecessary extra work - and waste.

It's not so much a cosmetic/annoyance issue as a matter of taste and flavor control. The ribs are the source of the heat found in most peppers. The attached seeds are typically coated with the same substance (capsaicin) that brings the heat and spice.

I just read the book review of the Asheville Bee Charmer book and it reminded me of a few nagging questions I've been asking myself for awhile--what do you all think is the best local honey brand? Also, I think those large chunks of honeycomb that are for sale in specialty stores always look so beautiful--and expensive--is there any use for them outside of cheese boards? How else could one use them?

Not sure I have a local favorite -- but I guess I always think that what is sold at farmers markets at those dear prices is the real deal, and not blended with non-honey syrups. Do you have a favorite?


As for honeycomb, which is typically natural and edible, I think it provides the perfect vehicle for "holding" a bit of honey in place atop anything you like -- hors d'oeuvres, small chunks in a dessert.

ARTICLE This one ingredient could upgrade your summer eats

I love honeycomb so much, and you are right in that it often appears on cheese boards. I've used honeycomb in the past on desserts as a piece decor - particularly if there is honey in the dessert. I know some folks who love to cut up fresh fruit and place small pieces of honeycomb on that too.

I'm trying to limit sugar and calories so got some sugar substitute only to find it says "not for use in cooking or baking." Why not? This particular one is dextrose with maltodextrin and aspartame. Is there another one that I can use in cooking, including stir-fry and marinades, and for baking?

The big issue with pure substitutes are the bulking agents like the maltodextrin. They will just burn when exposed to heat and won't develop any caramelization the way that sugar experiences when exposed to heat. If you read carefully on the labels, many sugar substitutes may even have sugar in them - just less. One example is Splenda for Baking -- it actually has some sugar in it -- helps it act like sugar and caramelize while cooking or baking. The best sugar substitute are sugar alcohols like Maltitol - but there are some side effects that are unpleasant though temporary for some people. My suggestion is to use an ingredient that you love that is not sugar - something like agave or even a small amount of honey. All natural and no side effects!

Hey Bonnie - FYI, whoever you spoke to at Yes! about pine nuts when we were discussing them a few weeks ago was wrong. All their pine nuts are from Mongolia.

Le sigh. 

Good afternoon. Looking for an 8" nonstick skillet that is actually non-stick for longer than a year and isn't toxic (PTFE-free, I think). My always hand-washed one-year-old Calphalon does bad things to my morning egg so I need to find a replacement. I've tried the white-vinegar/baking soda soak but she's a goner. Any recs greatly appreciated.

You mean PFOA-free? All-Clad's nonstick coating qualifies. We have a 12-inch nonstick from them in the food lab that we love, and it does come in 8-inch, though you might need to buy it in a set with a 10-inch.

my husband and I are still devastated by his death - I don't think I've quite accepted it yet. We are trying to think of ways to honor him - I think I'm going to try blood sausage at some point because I *SWORE* I'd never touch it (particularly cause I'm plant based!) but Tony loves it. What do you guys think? Any tributes/ways to honor Bourdain?

The best way I think you can honor Tony is to explore the wide world of food around you, with passion and without harsh judgments. Try to understand it. Try to grasp why people eat what they eat. Try to appreciate the beauty of foods foreign to yours. Don't act like you're discovering it, either. Be humble around those whose restaurants or kitchens you have entered. 


This is what I learned over the years from Tony.

I know that there is about a 10% difference in the fat content of heavy whipping cream, and double cream (double being the higher fat one). Since it's hard to find real double cream here in the States, could you make a mock double cream by adding melted butter to heavy whipping cream? I've seen recipes for making mock whipping cream by adding butter to milk, so it seems like it might work? And, if so, how much would you add?

3 parts heavy cream to 1 part melted butter. You will need to mix the two together slowly at first and then let the mixture whip in the mixer. If you want to ensure that it is totally homogenous, adding a few pinches of Agar or Carageenan would help too.


I couldn't find whatever article the previous chatter referred to, so apologies if my question is answered there. Can you explain "raw" honey and whether it can be used interchangeably with "regular"(?) honey?

Here's the link again: This one ingredient could upgrade your summer eats

The main difference in those labels on honey has to do with pasteurization (a heated process) and filtering. You might encounter some issues if you used raw honey in baking -- maybe chef Alex can speak to this? And the flavor of raw honey might be more intense.

So, i probably should stop making tea by just steeping it on the counter for a couple of hours? Yikes! back to the old boiling water for tea thing. [At least theoretically, the risk of bacteria from sun tea is higher than if you boil the water.]

Maybe? Also probably inside at room temp is better than outside in the direct sun.

What's the best way to handle honey that has crystallized in the jar?

Fill a pot with water and bring it to a simmer. Remove it from heat, and then place the jar of honey into the water bath. It would melt back into a liquid. Some people will stick it in the microwave - but not all plastic is microwave safe. If it is, a few pulses in there will work too.

Not really a recipe but our family's favorite snack at the pool is frozen grapes. My kids get sad if I somehow forget or don't have them. Great stand-alone snack or side with anything chicken, cheeses, etc. Doubles as an "ice pack" to keep the other foods cool.

Yes! Great idea.

YES! That looks like what I was asking about! I imagine everyone adds their own twist to it, but now I have a place to start. Woo hoo! Hugs all around!


While the heat level obviously isn't a concern for bell peppers, I tend to remove the ribs in that case as well for textural reasons - in the larger peppers the sponginess of the ribs (which I find off-putting) is more noticeable.

I have just retired, which means I am at home alone for lunch every day. How do people cope with this if there aren't dinner leftovers to go for? Most of the time I don't want a sandwich, and eggs get old fast. Grain bowls? Something with lentils and greens and..? Pasta plus whatever is in the fridge?

Well, I think I'm going to put in a plug for grain salads here... grains + veg + optional protein + dressing (and optional fixins). So much versatility, and you can really adapt your salad of the day (s) to what you have on hand. Something I like to do is cook a batch of grains and legumes, go ahead and dress them, and vary the mix-ins for two or three days. Really minimizes the in-the-moment work when you're hungry.

ARTICLE: Four steps to making a great grain salad, every time

Please elaborate.

If a large amount is consumed, some people experience some stomach cramps and the effects sometimes mimic those of a laxative. But only some people experience them, and they are temporary and a quick tolerance develops.

Thank you for the buns recipe. The hamburger rolls from this dough were very good, but as hot dog rolls, it was terrific. They really elevate the dog. I'm going to make another batch of all hot dog rolls for the summer.

Aces, all the way! From Cathy Barrow's Bring It! column. We were happy to have them at our Voraciously cookout


RECIPE Cookout Burger and Hot Dog Buns

Is made by Heinz. Did you know Heinz makes 3 versions of its catsup? One with corn syrup, Simply Heinz which is made with cane sugar and its organic also made with cane sugar. Simply Heinz tastes like good ole Heinz catsup from back in day and Trader's Joe's can't be distinguished from Simply in blind tasting either by itself or on 5 Guys fries.

I like the ceramic-coated pans (usually white interior) that I get at Bed Bath & Beyond but I'm sure other places sell them too. They are inexpensive, but the ones I'm using now have lasted for several years without a problem. And yes, they are heavy enough. Just be careful if the handles are not metal, then the handles need to be protected from too much heat.

I just got diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so my diet has to change rather dramatically for the next three months. Do you have any recommendations for high-protein, low-carb recipes, especially of things that would work for dinner? Vegetarian/vegan preferred.

Here's a good one for you!

RECIPE: Tofu Curry With Mustard Greens


I have a ton of peppers that I got from my garden last year and de-hydrated. Mostly cayenne and habanero, what can I do with these? I also have a gallon bag of frozen (not-dehydrated) Tabasco peppers that I planned to make hot sauce with but have not been able to find a recipe. Help? I toss a few Tabasco peppers in when I make bbq sauce but they are extremely hot so you can’t use many like this.

I like making a basic vinegar sauce with hot peppers, and it works great with dehydrated ones, too. Just make a slit in each one and stuff a bunch into a little glass jar or bottle that has a tight-fitting lid. Pour white distilled vinegar over to top, seal up, and leave for a couple of weeks. It keeps at room temp.

Yes to grains and salads. I also like different dips for veg dipping or on best bread. Pepper eggplant tapinade and the all time fave humus etc

Yes! I suggest hummus over humus, though. Less gritty! ;-)

They're also making Vintage 1899 Spicy ketchup. It is a bit spicier than the others and has sugar rather than corn syrup in it.

No suggestions, but you have my sympathies. I had this when I was pregnant and I was shocked by what I was and wasn't supposed to eat. I remember it was really, really hard to actually consume the amount of protein the dr wanted me to eat. It would be much harder as a vegetarian (which I was not at the time but am now), particularly because beans have pretty high carbs. Wishing you luck!

In the southeastern US it used to be on every table in a diner. Yum.

I bought lots of potted herbs for my devastated garden bed, and found that I had picked up something labeled "Barbecue" rosemary instead of regular ol' officinalis. It does actually taste a bit smoky! How can I optimize my use of it? And I put in some summer savory because it was pretty, and I find I love the slightly lemony tang it has. Any recipes to highlight the savory?

Ah, summer savory! My favorite garden herb. I think of it as a cross between marjoram and thyme, and I use it where I might use either of those. I think it's really lovely stirred into a pot of beans, or a batch of pasta with legumes or spring or summer vegetables. Also wonderful mixed into scrambled eggs/omelets/frittatas. I suspect it would also be nice as a component of a green salsa, maybe with parsley as the only other herbal component, where its flavor would still stand out. As far as pairing with other ingredients, I think it's a natural with tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes--you might try using it to season your next tomato sauce or a summer ragout of peppers and onions. Happy experimenting!

I've been reading the news and everything surrounding his death, as well as the comments (maybe I shouldn't). There are often many people that say "oh it's scary because he had the perfect job," or other people saying "smile/be more friendly with each other." Not that I'm not advocating for that--obviously friendliness and love among everyone on earth would help tremendously. But I have dealt with depression and you can have the most wonderful things happening, even the dream job Bourdain had, and still be depressed. It's so sad. It truly is a disease, like cancer. The best description I've heard of suicide is, imagine being stuck in a house that's on fire and you can't escape. The fire reaches closer and closer, and finally you jump out the door. That's suicide, where the "fire" is depression. My heart goes out to Bourdain's family, yes, but also to Bourdain. To live that suffering every day is incredibly difficult. I hope he has found peace.

Thank you for your words of wisdom and sharing your own history. The deaths of Tony Bourdain and Kate Spade have shed a lot of light on suicide. I hope people are beginning to understand the disease, if they don't already. 


Personally, I'm not sure social media is a good barometer for what people understand about any subject. It's mostly a bully pulpit. 


And please, if you are struggling with depression and feel as if you have nowhere to turn, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.

I've wanted to try it, but I'm not sure I fully understand - I will actually be eating wax? Or do you spit it out after getting flavor out, like you would a seed?

Yes, it's basically wax (made by the bees), and it's edible and delicious!

I think it's great to eat the whole thing. There is a little bee's wax in it but it is edible. However, if you don't care for it, it's totally ok to spit it out like you would a seed.

Hi there, I'm having around 10 adults and 5 small children over for a father's day luncheon on Sunday. One guest has a preference of gluten-free and cow's milk free, another is vegetarian, and my dad doesn't like "messy food" (tacos or ribs). I'd like to use the grill and make a lot of it ahead so we can spend time with our guests instead of cooking. Any recommendations, especially for dessert? If I make homemade goat's milk ice cream for dessert, do I need to change the recipe at all?

I would do some kind of skewer for the main. Customize according to diets. 

Scorched and Skewered Fruit Salad

Article: 7 skewer recipes that prove anything can taste better on a stick

Also some dessert options in there too.

Maybe seek out a goat milk ice cream configured specifically for goat milk? The flavor profile is different and you might want to tweak some other ingredients to accommodate. Or try a 1-to-1 swap and just taste in advance to make sure you like it!

I recently came back from France with a kilo-sized bag of pearl sugar. Other than chouquettes, which I've already made twice, in what other recipes can I use it?

Belgian waffles! Any sweet waffles!

I love pearl sugar! It has an incredible texture and adds an unusual element to whatever you bake.

 It's a great garnish for breakfast muffins, cakes, and even breads like brioche. Just sprinkle right on top - generously. For breads, you will need to place a bit of egg wash on the surface so the sugar will stick.


Specifically Liege waffles! I've made these. Thumb's up.

Le sigh, science ruins everything. Thanks for the article even though it ruins my fun. :)


Bacon is a rare indulgence. But ever since I heard Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones sing "Mama's cookin' chicken fried in bacon grease Come on along boys it's just down the road apiece" I've figured bacon grease was something to save and reuse, especially with chicken. But, how? Refrigerate? Freeze? Leave on the counter? How long before it goes bad? I tried pouring it into an empty coffee can but now I'm worried that might get metal or rust in the oil. (The song is "Down the Road A Piece").

I've seen cooks leave it on the counter for so long that it made me question the concept of "goes bad." Coffee can storage is a classic because you can offload when the stuff is hot, of course, but that's a mighty big container to fill. Depending on how often and how much you like to have on hand, you could just use a small metal tin -- like the ones used to store spices. I let the fat congeal/cool, then strain it into small Tupperware and keep those in the freezer.

Does this method also work for similarly crystallized maple syrup and preserves?

Absolutely for maple syrup. For preserves, I have not seen sugar crystallize because there is not usually as much of it. But I would definitely try it out for that too.

A bee keeper/honey farmer told me that if you leave any of the crystals in the warmed honey, it will solidify again. So, carefully pour that liquid honey into a clean jar and it will stay liquid (works for me).

That's a real possibility. One of my best friends makes her own honey. She will just take a spoonful of the crystallized honey and eat it just like that. It's basically honey candy with no corn syrup or processed sugar! You can pour it into a sanitized clean container. The downside though is that you will lose some of the honey in the process.

Wouldn't the UV from the sun kill bacteria in the tea? I guess you probably couldn't promote this for liability and all, but just a thought.

I think no... Not a scientist obviously, but I think when UV is used to sanitize it's much stronger and more concentrated than whatever you are just getting outside.

This is one of my pet peeves, especially if the opening isn't large! Particularly in winter, when it crystallizes more easily. I recall once having to cut a plastic jar open (not safe!) to scoop out the honey. Also re dukkah -- Trader Joe's sells little jars of it (at least they used to). I think Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks has a recipe as well.

I've been informed by a reader that TJ's sells dukkah only "seasonally" -- although I can't quite figure out why, or what that season might be. Apparently, though, it isn't right now. :(

They're complex carbs, though, unlike bread and cereals. They can usually be safely eaten on a low-carb diet because of their Glycemic Index (a topic worth researching for diabetics).

I read Maura's article about camel milk. Last fall, while on a bicycling weekend in Lancaster, PA, we passed a farm with camels grazing in a field. A Google search showed us they are producing camel milk. Some people believe it helps their autistic children, and they are willing to pay a lot of money for it.

For the perfect answer on lunches. Means I can vary things by day, but not take forever to pull lunch together when I'd rather be on the couch catching up on all the books I've been saving up for retirement.

Is it okay to chop and freeze leeks for future use in soups? will the quality change. Thanks.

Survey sez: Yes! Up to 6 months. For best results, make sure they are grit-free clean. Spread on a baking sheet and freeze till firm, then you can gather the bits in a freezer-safe zip-top bag.

One thing to add - when you are ready to use them, you can add them to a recipe frozen or semi frozen. Then, cook them as you would normally.

Ha, my mother has a whole set of aluminum canisters from her 1952 wedding, all labled Flour, Sugar, Coffee, Salt, Pepper, and...Grease.

Oh, I scrape that stuff out of the original jar and save it separately. Or just lick the spoon.

I bought some to matchstick for bibimbap and it was great - but I don't know what else I can do with it. My internet searches say that the daikon we get around here is very different than the Asian staple white radish/daikon and all i know to do it is bibimbap.

Daikon pickles! You could also ferment them, but pickling is much lower maintenance. I used to make a version tinged with turmeric that was really nice, but even a simple brine yields very tasty pickles. If you enjoy them raw, you could add them to salads (like a shredded cabbage salad with lots of herbs and a lime-sesame dressing) or grain salads (love them with short-grained rice, carrots, scallion etc.) If you'd rather cook them, you might add them toward the end of a miso soup, sliced thinly, to cook until barely tender, or add them to a stir-fry. It's warming up a little more than I like for oven cooking, but they roast nicely, too.

I was served a mix of chopped olives and raisins and other things with baguette in a restaurant in Canada, It was really good. Any idea what it is called and anything else I need to know about it?

I've seen that in Canada too - Toronto specifically. I believe it's just an olive and raisin crostini. When I tasted it, the olives were slightly roasted and it was served warm. 

which sits on the counter. I scoop it into the wastebasket if we haven't used it for a couple of weeks and start another cup. You might want to refrigerate during summer but onlly to keep the flies out of it.

I'm going to make your Quinoa Salad With Zucchini, Poblano and Avocado tonight but am considering substituting cucumber for the zucchini. Would that be weird?


They used to carry a mustard called "Sweet Hot Mustard," which was actually neither that sweet or that hot, but was excellent in salad dressings as an alternative to Dijon. I was told by TJ's that it was "seasonal," and the season for mustard is apparently winter. I would have thought it would be summer, i.e., grilling season. Who knows what dukkah season might be? Gotta love the Trader! Seriously, I live 1/2 mile from one and visit several times a week.

I prefer a canning jar, it can stand the heat and you can put a lid on it and put it in the fridge. I suggest a strainer to keep out the burned bits.

Help- what am i doing wrong. Want tender poached chicken breast to add to recipes but I almost always end up with tough muscular pieces. Any suggestions for what I'm doing wrong or is it the chicken that has changed?

Couple tips: Don't boil/rush  them. The liquid needs to be barely simmering, really. I often wait till the liquid is close the right temperature before slipping the chicken into the pot. And make sure the meat is totally submerged.


If you are doing several boneless breast halves at a time, you might want to pound them so they are roughly the same thickness; that way, you won't overcook the thinner sections to make sure thicker ones are completely cooked through.


You can test doneness with an instant-read thermometer (165 degrees) but I generally just use the sharp tip of a knife, poked into the center. No pink should show.

What would be the best way to freeze part of this, single pieces or larger hunks, and how best to thaw?

Really it's up to you. I am a fan of cutting the cake into portions that you know you will finish within 1-2 days.

Make sure to wrap the piece well in plastic wrap first. An extra layer of aluminum foil helps protect it too from any accidental bangs from other things in the freezer.

When thawing, just let it sit at room temperature until totally thawed. It's nice right before serving to refresh it by placing it into a warm oven (300F) wrapped in aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes.

My grandmother would smile at the thought of beeswax showing up on cheeseboards today. She and my grandfather kept beehives in their yard in the 50's, and we grandchildren often helped extract the honey. It required a scrupulously clean barrel in which the honeycombed frames were placed, then we cranked like crazy, centrifugal force creating the golden flow of honey below. We were given a chunk of sun-warmed honey comb as a treat for helping. Nice memories!

I find it utterly impossible to get every bit of ground coffee out of the can. This is frustrating when I want to get the last of the coffee into the coffee pot but also discouraging if I want to reuse the can for bacon grease or anything else, including crafts. Have you solved this dilemma?

I wouldn't sweat the last couple bits to go into the coffee pot, and I would just rinse it.

In the late 1940s my mother saved bacon grease in washed-out Campbell's Soup cans. Apparently during WW II, people donated leftover meat grease to the war effort, used in making munitions. A tasty way to use bacon grease is for frying leftover boiled potatoes sliced thin, with onion.

The burned bits always sink right to the bottom so I just don't use the bottom quarter-inch.

Quick question -- I bought some hot pepper jelly a a farmer's market last week and it's SO SWEET. No spice at all. I'm thinking of scooping it all out of the jar, heating it on the stove, stirring in another jalepeno or two, and jarring it back up and putting it in the fridge. Bad idea?

Sure, go for it! I'd splash in some vinegar, too!

So glad to see that Alex is a guest today. A while back, he was kind enough to have me in the kitchen with him one day at Osteria Morini. Alex, thank you again for that opportunity. I incorporate a lot of what I learned that day into my baking now (mostly confidence in myself: coming up with an apple-based dish because the market had a lot of great apples would be beyond my comfort zone, but the ease with with you and your staff put together a hell of a dessert was inspiring). I've started crossing off a lot from my baking bucket list. Up next: probably some sort of laminated pastry.

That was the best, best part about writing a story about Alex years ago -- working with him in the kitchen! He is a patient instructor, and really wants your hands involved in the process.

I am blushing! And thank you for taking time to say hello.

I LOVE when people reach out to do a day of baking with me in the kitchen. It's one of my favorite ways to spend a day. Recently, I've been teaching some friends how to make challah, rugelach and other things in their homes. That's a lot of fun too! 

If anyone out there would like to spend a day in the kitchen with me, don't be shy! 

I recently decided to start saving bacon fat by keeping it in the fridge. I like to make biscuits and I wanted to try substituting the bacon fat for the crisco I normally use. It worked and I'm a happy biscuit eater.

It's an unmistakable, valuable ingredient (for omnivores). Too late to do a "bacon uses" callout for this chat, but maybe in future?

Can someone remind me why we're not supposed to buy pine nuts from Russia or China?

Pine nuts are one of the main sources of food for the prey of the Amur tigers that live in those regions... trees have often been overharvested there, depleting tiger prey of those food sources and in turn depleting the food source for the tigers. When I can't find an alternate source, I often substitute something like pistachios or pumpkinseeds instead.

My dad had bees when we were young. We'd take a piece, chew the wax as gum. Mainly I remember the centrifuge in the garage. And that he gave honeycomb to neighbours in mom's best china!


I enjoyed baking homemade yest breads this winter. Now with summer heat fast approaching, I checked out some recipes for bread dough to bake in the microwave. They indicate that the result won't have a crispy crust, but at least one likened it to English muffins (so I suppose I could slice, then toast a serving, right?). Do you have any experience or tips re baking bread in a microwave oven? Or is it a fool's errand?

The live yeast will not like the microwave! They will think that they have arrived in the tropics only to be consumed by a volcanic eruption...And the crust will definitely be off. If you love baking bread and you are doing it yourself, my suggestion in the summer is to bake early in the morning before it gets too hot. :)

If I am shredding chicken or using strips (from poached or any other application), is there a reason I can't cut it into similar-thickness/size pieces rather than pounding? I often see the reference to pounding, which makes sense if I am serving a full piece or using it in a cutlet format. But for other uses? If I am poaching and shredding, can I just cut it to similar-sized pieces?

I think that keeping the breasts in one piece makes for more tender/juicy meat; sometimes the exterior of poached chicken can get tough, depending on how you drain and dry it. 

Confirming we did not eat the fish! I did think about returning the rest, but was mostly just grossed out and wanted it out of my house at that point. I have a fish taco recipe I've been wanting to try, thanks for the vote of confidence to do it! Unrelated – I made you cold sesame noodle salad for dinner last night and it was very tasty. Added some rotisserie chicken for protein. So looking forward to leftovers tonight, when the flavors have had even more time to develop :D

Two thumbs up!

Anyone wanting more elaboration of the side effects of sugar alcohols should go to and search for "Haribo sugar free gummy bears" and then read the reviews. It will all become very clear.

King Arthur sells the stuff, and has lots of recipes that use it on its website. Great on cookies.

Yup, have bought from them!

We can start with the fact that green beans, in the midwest, are never served without a dollop of bacon grease. ;-)

Our H-Mart opened about a year ago in Frederick, and it's wonderful. I don't know that much about the various vegetables available beyond the basics like bok choy. What is a good way to learn about thing like other members of the choy family - how they taste, good uses for them?

I highly recommend Jenn Louis's recent book, "The Book of Greens." Lots of ideas in there.

Going back further, I see on the Interwebs this book, which seems tailor-made for your question: "Beyond Bok Choy: A Cook's Guide to Asian Vegetables" by Rosa Lo San Ross.

Grandma ate this stuff on rye every day, lived to 89. Mom didn't, but kept the bowl for her. We used to keep it on the kitchen counter, but that was too much of a temptation for our cat, who otherwise had exceptional manners. So instead we had two small bowls in the fridge. Mom would let the grease cool enough so that it didn't crack the bowl, then just scrape it in. There were two bowls: one that grandma was using for spread, the other that was being actively collected; when grandma finished the one, she'd start on the next, and the first would get washed, then go back in for more.

I live in SF and tend to avoid trendy restaurants here, which rarely live up to the hype for me, but the tasting menu at Petit Crenn was spectacular. Definitely a splurge but completely worth it, if anyone's planning a visit.

Good afternoon food folks - I am looking for a strawberry salsa recipe FOR CANNING. Any chance you have one? Everything I have found on the net does not appear to be tested, and I don't want to take any chances!

Our canning expert Cathy Barrow says:

"Salsa is a tricky recipe for canning. Because it traditionally would include peppers and onions without sufficient acid to make it pH appropriate. I suggest you make and appreciate strawberry salsa freshly made."

I brought back a bottle of guaro from Costa Rica and it's just been sitting there, waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. I'm throwing a block party this summer for National Night Out, might be a good chance to make some big batch of something with it. Any ideas?

Seems like you could likely use it in most places where you'd use a white rum or cachaca, given its provenance in sugar cane, though you might need to tweak the recipes depending on how sweet it is? I also see that there's a traditional shot made with tabasco, lime, tomato juice and a local sauce called Lizano -- that would be a more savory direction for it, but sounds like it could be tasty (and it'd be worth checking some local international markets for the Lizano component). Here's a recipe that doesn't call for that ingredient, though!

There was a shaved ice stand in my town growing up, their Tiger's Blood flavor was watermelon, strawberry, and coconut.

Coconut seems to be common in there too!

Well, you've reserved some of us for garnish, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and thanks so much to Alex, Emily and Carrie for help with the a's.

Now for the giveaway book: The just-retired chatter who asked about "the lunch problem" will get "Prep Ahead Breakfasts & Lunches" by Alea Milham. Send your mailing info to, and she'll get you your book!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Maura Judkis
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.
Emily Horton
Emily Horton is a freelance writer based in Seattle.
Alex Levin
Alex Levin is the executive pastry chef of Schlow Restaurant Group.
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