Free Range on Food: We're here to answer all your cooking questions and talk about Juneteenth, vodka, gathering safely, this week's recipes and more!

Jun 17, 2020

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions. Submit a question by clicking on the 'submit now' button at the top and bottom of the chat.

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Past Free Range on Food chats

This year’s commemoration of Juneteenth on Friday won’t be a celebration for chef and cookbook author Lazarus Lynch.

“This Juneteenth, I’m in mourning,” he wrote in his searing essay for The Post, in which, he explained how standing over “the altar of the barbecue pit” this year he “will make a spread informed by the killings of my beloved sisters and brothers by police.”

Lynch shared the history behind his recipes for jerk chicken and mango chutney, but more than that, he shared the wrenching anguish that he feels right now and called upon us to do more than eat and drink together. He wrote: “Keep the sympathy. Lean in. Make your listening active and proactive. Do something.”

Breaking bread together on Juneteenth — or any time — is fraught due to the ongoing pandemic.

Emily Heil reported on the steps we can take so we can responsibly come together to cook and eat. After all, as Donald Schaffner, professor of food microbiology at Rutgers University, said the safest course — not socializing at all — comes with its own mental health risks.  

The pandemic has curtailed many of life’s simple pleasures. For staff writer Marian Liu, it meant doing without her regular bubble tea meet-ups with friends, so she decided to figure out how to make her own boba from scratch. 

Sometimes a little pinch of this or that can elevate a dish, making it into one you really want to share. Nourish columnist Ellie Krieger adds a smidge of saffron to her pasta with cod and dazzled her family; and Kari Sonde sang the praises of harissa, offering ways to incorporate it into every day dishes.

Certain recipes scream the season they are in. That’s the case with Joe Yonan’s Bulgar Pilaf With Spring Peas, which allows him to use the harvest from his garden; and my spicy shrimp roll, which always reminds me of a backyard party or a day at the beach.

If your back yard party includes cocktails, take note of M. Carrie Allan’s piece on vodka. She explored a change to the neutral spirit’s official definition allowing for subtle flavor notes.

Pulled out the blender out to make a frozen drink this summer? Keep it out and check out Kari’s round-up of savory dishes and dips that come together with a whir.

And, Becky Krystal, who is all about making smart food substitutions when you can, did a little kitchen science and pancake testing and then took a stand: If a recipe calls for buttermilk, use it. As, she notes: “Buttermilk is relatively inexpensive, widely available, lasts basically forever in the fridge and forever and a day when frozen.”

This week, she also made the case for the utility of that square pan by showcasing recipes that range from brownies to a no-fry eggplant Parmesan. 

She also dug into her own family history to share a recipe for Wine-Braised Chicken With Mushrooms that was handed down to her by her grandmother.

That the food we love to eat and make for one another often reflects who we are and a bit about our heritage. That concept will be showcased in a new Hulu series, “Taste the Nation,” which will begin June 18. Staff writer Tim Carman caught up with its host Padma Lakshmi, who will travel the United States interviewing Native Americans and immigrants about their food traditions.   

As Lakshmi notes in the show’s trailer: “This is what American food looks like.”

I’m part of a revolving potluck dinner group that used to meet in members’ homes, usually 8 to 10 people with everyone bringing an assigned part of the dinner to share. We’re trying to figure out how to safely meet for dinners this summer, such as dining outside, maybe in a park. We could each bring our own food, but that’s no fun. How can we avoid sharing serving utensils if we keep the potluck aspect? Each person serves everyone a portion of the dish they brought? 10 sets of serving spoons for each dish? Haaaalp, please. So we are trying to think of ways to resume this summer, such as meeting in a park to dine outside.

Hi! I wrote a piece about how to start getting together that might be a good reference. First, you are smart to keep it outdoors -- that's what all the public heath experts advise. Do watch your numbers and check the limits on the number of people allowed at gatherings in your locality. As for a method of serving, the most important thing is that you maintain social distancing between attendees. The new CDC guidance this week says for cookouts you should "encourage people to bring their own food and drinks and identify one person to serve shareable items." So I would say if you really want to share food, possibly designate one person to plate everyone's plates with each dish. That person (and everyone else) should be careful about washing their hands or using sanitizer before and after serving. These are just suggestions, and know that ANY interaction comes with risks and you can try to minimize them. I really understand our need for human, non-Zoom, connections these days. You just have to think through every potential scenario really carefully. Best of luck! 

Help! I bought the ingredients for a recipe I think I saw here but now can't find the recipe. It was for a pasta-less easy lasagna in which ricotta, tomato sauce, mozzarella and who knows what else were layered on a base of eggs a frittata. Can you help me find the recipe?

Hello, I think I know the one you are talking about. It is from Charlotte Druckman's piece on cooking for one. Let me know if this is it: Frittata Affogata alle Lasagne

I enjoyed Dave McIntyre's column today on virtual wine tours and wanted to ask him for any recommendations for wineries to visit in the Charlottesville area. Not virtually, but in person. My wife will be down that way this weekend, and she's offered to stop at Horton on the way to pick up a few bottles. Having read Dave's recent column about red wines, including one from Afton Mountain, I've suggested she stop there as well, and perhaps at Veritas, where we had a good experience several years ago. Since then, the number of wineries in the area seems to have expanded. I saw several winery names on the Monticello Wine Trail that I didn't recognize. Any suggestions?

Dave couldn't join us today for the chat, but  he sent along this note to you:

"There are indeed several wineries to visit in the Charlottesville area. If your wife is going to be at Horton, I’d suggest she stop at Barboursville (practically across the street). If she’s driving there along US 29, a stop at Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison County is a must.

"Afton Mountain and Veritas are great, but they are a hefty distance from Horton, so driving time and convenience should be factored in to her thinking."

If you missed Dave's column, here it is: Virtual winery tours are bringing wine country to you

I made the braised chicken last weekend, and yum. I used boneless breast, because I had some in the house I needed to use, but next time I will use thighs as indicated. I'm reading your cornbread recipe, and this sounds fab as well. But a question - if there any reason I can't just eat it out of the refrigerator? I mean, maybe I'd warm it, but I also want to take it in my lunchbox. I imagine it's not quite as tasty cold, but I've have some decent stuff that holds up cold.

So glad you made the chicken with mushrooms! I have honestly been blown away by the response to that recipe. I only wish my grandmother (who died 35 years ago) could have seen it.

Also happy to hear you're interested in the cornbread. It doesn't even have to go in the fridge, though. Store at room temp for a day or two. Definitely will dry out and/or stale quicker in the refrigerator.

Buttermilk Corn Bread

RECIPE: Buttermilk Cornbread

Tim, thank you for your article on Padma - I only know her from her hosting role on Top Chef so it was great to get a little more background. I have to say, however, I am saddened by the comments - the amount of racism and sexism is astonishing (though maybe it shouldn't be).

Thank you, and I hear you about the comments.


Part of my goal was to strip away many of the misconceptions and two-dimensional stereotypes about Padma and offer a full portrait of her journey. I've received a fair number of emails and DMs saying nice things about he story, so I'm not sure the comments are a fair representation of how readers feel about it. But still, I'm with you:  There's something about Padma, her glamour, her intelligence and her career that bring out the trolls.


ARTICLE: With a new series of her own, Padma is at the top of her game

Good morning! I've been baking quite a few cakes during our quarantine....always from scratch, generally using recipes from America's Test Kitchen. They are good - but not great. I am ready to take my skills to the next level and want to invest in a cookbook or two to help me get there. Any suggestions?

So many of us have been swooning over "The New Way to Cake: Simple Recipes with Exceptional Flavor" by former Great British Baking Show contestant Benjamina Ebuehi.


- "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" by Rose Levy Beranbaum

- "BraveTart" by Stella Parks

- "The Fearless Baker" by Erin McDowell

I also have a few recipes you might like!

Royal Wedding Cake

RECIPE: Royal Wedding Cake

Rainbow Sprinkle Birthday Cake

RECIPE: Rainbow Sprinkle Birthday Cake

Sour Cream Maple Cake With Maple Buttercream Frosting

RECIPE: Sour Cream Maple Cake With Maple Buttercream Frosting

Yes to Becky's suggestions, and also, a long time ago, Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen fame gave me Sky High Cakes as a gift and it's been one of the best books on my baking shelf! Highly recommend.

Seconding "The New Way To Cake!"

This recipe looks delicious but what is browning sauce and can it be replaced with something else?

Browning Sauce is a bottled sauce made of caramel and burnt sugar. It is used throughout Caribbean cooking. Grace brand sells it. It is not Worcestershire sauce. A good replacement is Kitchen Bouquet. 

Often, after buying and using part of a container of sour cream, I'll have some left over--less than a cup, more than half a cup. Any ideas for how to use it up? I'm tired of it going to waste in the fridge!

I vote for salad dressing--it's one of those foods that is so much better when you make it yourself. Add garlic and lemon juice and salt and pepper. Or a ranch dressing.

Hi Folks, I so appreciate this Q&A - I learn from it every time I tune in. Could you clear up a question for me about garlic? Before using, are you supposed to remove the sprout (or center sprout area -- also sometimes a different texture even if it hasn't sprouted)? Always or sometimes, and if so, when? Thanks!

We love this chat as well. Glad you joined us.

It depends on how big the sprout is. If it is just the pale little germ inside, I do not remove it.

If the garlic is going to be quickly sauteed or eaten raw like say in a vinaigrette, then I'd remove the germ if it is prominent and starting to turn green. If it is going to be added to a casserole or long-simmering sauce, I wouldn't bother removing the green germ.

If it is so big that it is sticking out of the clove, then, sure, go ahead and cut it off.

Some people say the green germ adds bitterness. I don't really taste that so much, but lots of folks do.  

While we're on the topic, here's a piece from Becky: How best to harness the power of garlic in your everyday cooking

I'd like to see the comments function disappear entirely. If you have something useful to say, put it into a letter to the editor. A friend just posted on Facebook: "God, grant me the serenity to refrain from reading the comments, the courage to refrain from reading the comments, and the wisdom to refrain from reading the comments."

The comments function always attracts more negative than positive views. I'd like to see it go away forever.

(Submitting early because I have to miss Wednesday’s live chat.) Hi Rangers! I somehow have an unopened package of almonds that have been in my fridge for a year. Do you think they are still useable? If so, can you recommend a gluten free substitute for the bread in the almond and cherry gazpacho? That looks delicious, but I’m GF for medical reasons. Thank you for continuing to inspire my cooking.

I bet they're fine! The freezer is even better for long-term storage of nuts, but open the package and taste one to see -- if it tastes good and not rancid, you're good.

The easiest g/f swap in that recipe would be some g/f bread! Can you have access to such at your favorite store(s)?

If not, another good thought would be to try ... chickpeas! I did that for my latest cookbook, since they're starchy like bread, and it worked like a charm. Measure out 5 ounces if you have a scale, or try, say, 1/2 cup drained/rinsed -- and blend in more if it seems too thin.

And please let us know how it goes!

RECIPE: Almond Gazpacho With Cherries and Flowers


The lettuces are flourishing, tomatoes are plumping, and the time for BLTs is nearing. What is your vote for the best bread (recipe or type) for a BLT to complement the flavors, texture, and structure? What about other summer favorite foods? Assuming I can source flour, I'd love to bake a few of the bests to accompany summer's abundance. Thanks.

I like a thicker, hearty white bread, although I confess to doing just store-bought! As in this recipe.

BLT With Sriracha Mayo

RECIPE: BLT With Sriracha Mayo

Some of my other favorite summer foods: panzanella, ice cream, and gazpacho

As far as baking, here are two popular ones!

any-fruit cobbler

RECIPE: Any-Fruit Cobbler

Summer Fruit Crumble

RECIPE: Summer Fruit Crumble

I bought my first house a few months ago and was hoping that the strange looking plant in the front yard was something fun. I’m now suspecting that it is a blackberry bush, which is a big step down from the raspberry bush I was hoping for. What do I do with all these upcoming blackberries? I usually find them too tart and haven’t bought them much.

What a great bonus. I bet you'll love them once you figure how you'd enjoy them most. We have lots of blackberry recipes in our Recipe Finder, like this One-Bowl Blackberry Cobbler With Easy Cinnamon-Sugar Buttermilk Biscuits. Take a look there. 

I just made these and wow! The tartness really works here.

Blackberry Sage Pops

RECIPE: Blackberry Sage Pops

So, did you get a chance to try them? I can't remember where I first came across this, but since making them many times now, with both sweet and savory toppings, I have made it my mission to spread the word! :-)

Thank you for the reminder! I am making a note to do so this weekend! I totally forgot. However, have we ever eaten anything with puff pastry that wasn't good? Nope!

Due to supply-chain issues I’m flat out of bread flour, but I do have a lot of AP flour and a bag of vital wheat gluten. I’m thinking that if I replace about 2-3% of the flour with gluten, I’ll approximate the ratio in bread flour. Does that compute?

Check out this piece on Serious Eats, which is pretty comprehensive. I think you may be in about the right ballpark.

I'm trying to eat less red meat, and am therefore experimenting with various vegan "sausages" -- especially in soups and stews, to replace kielbasa and the like. However, in my experiments so far, it seems like vegan sausages break up and turn into mush when cooked in liquid (even though they hold up OK when broiled or fried). Any idea of products/brands to try? On a similar note, can you recommend any vegan substitutes for ground pork? I have a good recipe for ma po tofu; vegan "hamburger" crumbles work OK texture-wise but don't deliver quite the same flavor.

Which ones are you using?

I have to say, I haven't used them in soups/stews, so haven't had this experience. Have you tried frying them first? I'm thinking of the Beyond Meat brats, which I think you'd def need to pan-cook first.

I haven't found anything that really approximates ground pork, but you might look at some of the tempeh "bacon" products. You could crumble them, and I think the flavor profile would be a little closer, though not the same. Or you could crumble plain tempeh, pan-frying it with a little smoked paprika and a good amount of salt and black pepper?

I know that food is central to a Juneteenth celebration. As an Asian American wishing to show allyship, how can I best honor Juneteenth? Cook and explain why I've cooked a certain dish?

Thanks for your allyship. Rice dishes are common in both Asian and African diaspora cultures. You can try making my Jerk Chicken and Rice and Peas with an Asian twist. Actually, my Jerk Chicken recipe calls for sesame oil. You can also try supporting a Black-owned restaurant. You can go fusion. 

As a fellow Asian American, I feel you, but I also worry about appropriation too, because it happens so much to our own food. I think the first step is listening and learning, also checking out black restaurants. The Post also had a great story on black chefs.

Consider reading Black cookbooks and taking the day to learn!

I live in the Baltimore suburbs, and in July-August-September I typically go to the Baltimore City farmer's market every Sunday morning. It has just reopened, with many restrictions, including limiting the number of customers in the market area. I read one comment that said by 7:30am, the line of people waiting wrapped around the block. If it's still restricted when the local heirloom tomatoes are ripe, I hope I can find another, smaller farmer's market.

I lived in Baltimore for 4 years and love the market. In DC, one of the biggest markets is at DuPont Circle and they started doing reservations by OpenTable. I reserve weeks in advance for my desired time and then can skip the line (which is also around the block)--maybe suggest that to organizers, or a different reservations service?

Been getting a bunch in my veggie delivery boxes lately. Best recommendations for how to cook them? Not enjoying roasted, which is a shock as I love all things roasted.

Hey, Kari pulled this together: 7 ways to make beets taste as good as they look. This tarte  tatin is the one I've been planning to try. Lots of other beet recipes in our Recipe Finder. Anyone have any other favorite beet recipes?

I don't have any rum (or similar alcohols that might be substituted). Can I just use vanilla bean paste instead?

I think so! I also have used bourbon in place of rum once making Joe Froggers and have had great results.


What are the pros and cons of silicone bakeware? Do you have favorite brands of bakeware for bread baking?

Among the pros: They release baked goods well. I'd say cons are that you're really not supposed to use nonstick baking sprays on them, if you prefer the extra insurance. It can also be hard to get a good crust and browning with silicone, which is why I hesitate to suggest you go that route for baking bread. I have silicone muffin tins, but they're so wobbly that we typically have to put them on a baking sheet just to make it easier to get them in and out of the oven.

there seems to be an attitude that you cannot use too much salt. I have a codition that forces me to severely restrict salt. It would be nice once in a while to see some alternative seasoning strategies in good food

There are so many conditions that require limiting salt. In addition to salt-free seasonings I often add extra citrus to dishes when I can't use a lot of salt. Lemon and lime and sometimes even orange brighten flavors in a similar (but alas, not exactly the same) way.

I really enjoyed Joe's barbecue lentils - sweet, mild heat, savory - which I made w/a Dutch oven in the oven since I don't have an Instant Pot. I grew up w/Campbell's canned "pork & beans" served with hot dogs (!), so I thought as an adult that I didn't like "baked beans." A visit to a Forth Worth TX barbecue joint w/a local friend opened my eyes to what real baked beans can taste like, & I appreciate Joe's short-cut of using lentils. For one meal I ate them with romaine lettuce wraps, inspired by Kari's collection of wrap recipes. Thanks for helping me break up the quarantine w/new recipes & satisfying food!

So glad to hear it! Thanks for letting us know!

RECIPE: Barbecue "Baked" Lentils

Do it like at a cafeteria?

Appoint one server and wear new gloves per dish. I know, it's a lot. Do not cross-contaminate. 

I have a box of shelf-stable Almond Milk with a Best Before date back in April. Never been opened, was stored in my pantry. What do you think? Use or ditch it? Thanks!

Oh, totally, use it.

I retired in 2017 and moved to Florida and to a beach house up north. In the course of the move, the movers somehow lost the jar (and lid) to my blender. I unpacked every last box in both Florida and the beach house, and it’s nowhere to be found. In Florida, I live a few miles from my mother, and she told me she seldom uses her blender so I could just borrow hers. I recently moved from my apartment in Florida to a condo, and, guess what? In the course of the move, the movers somehow lost the jar (and lid) to my mother’s blender. A replacement jar is no longer available to fit my 2013 Breville, let alone my mom’s 1980s Oterizer, so I guess I need to buy a new blender. What do you recommend? I have Vitamix at the beach house, which I love, but it’s quite pricy. The cheaper model is too tall to fit under my kitchen cabinets, not that it matters much since the kitchen is too small to leave the blender out when not in use. What are you guys’ favorite (current model) blenders? My personal pet peeve in blenders is when you have to keep opening them and stirring, to get the food to hit the blade.

This might not help, but have you checked on Vitamix cost in Costco? I have found their pricing to be consistently FAR more competitive than elsewhere, on various models. Alternatively, I'd consider a refurbished Vitamix. I've played around with other blenders, but none compare and I won't spend money on another brand because the cheaper ones don't do the job well and the expensive ones aren't as good as the Vitamix. Let me know if you find a cost-effective options. My Vitamix is factory-refurbished and has been kicking strong for 8 years now (knock on wood!)

I know that baking bread at home is now popular, but does that alone explain why the stores still don't have yeast available?

Keep checking your local supermarket. The one near me in Florida just restocked. Also, check if they have self-rising flour, which can work for quick bread.

I made this last week and it was really good. But I had a question about the gherkins the recipe calls for. It doesn't specify what kind and at the store there were sweet and dill. I ended up choosing the sweet ones. The sauce tasted great so I think I made the right choice, but can you verify that? Might it have been even better with the dill ones?

Funny, I was just looking at that recipe this morning!

I actually found the original recipe on Google Books in the cookbook and the author doesn't specify, so there you go! If you liked what you did, great, if you want to try the dill next time, I think those would be delicious too.

Grilled Chicken Thighs With Pickled White Barbecue Sauce

RECIPE: Grilled Chicken Thighs With Pickled White Barbecue Sauce

What do you think about using pepitas in place of the sunflower seeds?

Hm, I really think it might not be quite as creamy. I find sunflower seeds more buttery than pepitas. Then again, I don't think it would be a total disaster either! If you're okay with giving it a shot, go for it.

Sunflower Ranch Dressing

RECIPE: Sunflower Ranch Dressing

thanks for responding to my Q, but I was wondering if browning sauce could be replaced with a different product altogether, not just a different brand from what was suggested in the recipe. I hate buying an ingredient, using one teaspoon, and then not touching it again until the time comes to throw it away!

Yes, try molasses!

You guys are turning my kitchen world upside down with this bread vs refrigerator wisdom. I took my store-bought loaf out of the refrigerator after your advice last chat but left the muffins in. Now I'm wondering if any kind of bread lasts longer refrigerated And what about freezing? And breadboxes?

I freeze all my bread, I find it preserves the texture MUCH better than storing in the fridge. 

if i forgot canned soups in my car on a hot day, should I pitch them?

Check the expiration date. Should be good or if not, compost. 

This. My favorite green goddess dressing lists equal amounts of sour cream and mayonnaise as the starting point.

I agree. I've started making own just about every week. I've had some wonderful salads as a result. I'm really taken with the one in this feature by Nourish columnist Ellie Krieger: Avocado green goddess dressing is the star of this crisp, bright salad

I can't justify spending $300 -- and even at Costco they cost at least that much. I acknowledge that Vitamix is a world-beater but for those of us in sticker shock when wishing to replace our Osterizer, can you recommend something less pricey?

People seem to like this one a lot. But I have no personal experience with it.

Hi. I need some ideas for gluten free appetizers. No other food restrictions in play. Thanks a million.

My recipe for bubble tea today is gluten free!

You can use our recipe finder to specifically search for gluten-free recipes. I checked off "gluten-free" and "appetizer" and here are a couple options that popped up: 

Mushroom Pâté

Gluten-Free Shrimp in Spicy Tempura

Sadly not in my area recently. It's been increasingly hard to find, and the prices seem to be going up. And the stores near me (I'm in the west) only sell it in larger containers, so I'm finally trying to freeze it.

Freezing is smart! Wonder what's up with the higher prices, it's a few bucks around here.

Someone gifted me a nutri Ninja a few years ago and I love it. I've never had a Vitamix, so am not sure how it compares, but it makes great smoothies and will pulverize anything, it seems.

I've been happy with my ninja iq pro for home use.

I was thinking of making your feta cornbread because I have a bunch of feta around, but I'm having trouble imagining what feta and cornbread would taste like together. What's it like? Any other feta ideas?

Haven't had that one, but here's a feta recipe we did fairly recently that I LOVED: 

This roasted feta with grapes and olives is a salty, tangy powerhouse of an appetizer — with zero effort

Well, how did they turn out?

Just going to chime in that we have run this recipe for folks interested.

Smoked Salmon Waffles With Wasabi Yogurt

RECIPE: Smoked Salmon Waffles With Wasabi Yogurt

Loved the article on cooking for Juneteenth. However, what I need is a vegetarian menu in honor of Juneteenth.

Try jerk eggplant and mushrooms. You  can marinate them for at least 30 minutes in the jerk marinade and grill them. You can also do rice and peas, and mango chutney to go with it! 

I know we aren’t supposed to referendum things like bacon, ground beef, veggies, etc. but I don’t understand why. I’m all ears.

Here's what the USDA says:

Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.

If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly.

In general refreezing can be problematic because of texture. Especially in vegetables, ice crystals form the first time and can rupture cell walls, which is what can make them mushy. Not something you want to put back in the freezer.

I wish to prepare this dish but would like to know if there is a substitute for ketchup?

Try tomato paste and an extra pinch of sugar.

I put 2 big pieces of fresh gingerroot in the freezer to keep them fresh. Maybe a pound total. The chunks I've thawed out to use look and feel vastly different from their pre-freezer appearance. Dark inside, and somewhat shriveled inside and out. It smells almost candied. Is that to be expected?

I freeze ginger all of the time. I've never had it turn dark or get shriveled, but the texture does change after freezing. I peel it, wrap it in a small bit of plastic wrap and then put it inside a resealable container to keep it fresh. Then, I usually use frozen ginger in recipes that call for grating, so I don't defrost it, just pull it out and grate it. Maybe others have ideas.

Have you been eating them raw? The tartness definitely mellows with baking. Mix them with blueberries or cherries if you still find the cooked ones too tart.

Yes! I love blackberries.

Hi! This may be outside the scope of this chat, but I have around 4-5 lbs of beets that I let winter in the garden that have bolted. Would you know if they're still edible? The largest is around 8" in diameter and I suspect it may be odd consistency-wise, but the others are reasonably sized. THANKS!!

They won't hurt you to eat them, but they might be tough and/or bitter. But there's only one way to find out...

This came out really well. I used a Le Creuset braiser, and it kept a tight seal over the chicken as it was cooking in the oven. I used breasts because it's what I had, and they came out very moist, and the breading adhered throughout the process. Thanks!

Thrilled to hear that, thank you! We have a beautiful Le Creuset braiser sitting abandoned and unused in our Food Lab and man, do I wish I would have grabbed that and... everything else, not that I have room at home.

What frozen brand of shrimp do you recommend or have tried?

Maybe try Trader Joe's Argentinian Red Shrimp

No, it isn't, not in my part of town, in 20016. I have to go to Rodmans, a quirky, wonderful store that I wish were closer to where I live.

I mean, it is a pretty standard grocery store staple -- but I guess that doesn't mean it's carried in every single place. Just curious, where are you shopping that doesn't have it? Maybe you can see if they'd considering carrying it?

Yes -- I missed the chat last week. There was a fabulous recipe for a fruit drink in the paper. When I read the amounts -- I realized that it was for about 10 people. During this lovely period of time -- it is just two of us in the house. Is it possible to get more drink recipes just for two? Main dishes I can usually split -- we are so over leftovers no matter what.

Appreciate the feedback! I also think big-batch drinks are among the easier things to scale down. Have you played around with that feature in our Recipe Finder? And certainly for recipes that start with a syrup or something similar, those tend to last well in the fridge.

Tried making a batch of those ubiquitous Portuguese papo-secos, and was delighted with the results. Only thing I did different was to add a teaspoon of dry yeast to the dough. They're really good with butter or queijo fresco (fresh cheese). 


Hi, At my office, our executive director is retiring and we'd like to get a him a cookbook as a going away gift. He loves chocolate, but only flourless chocolate cake/brownies. Do you have one to recommend? Thanks!

I'm a little confused, sorry! Are you looking for a cookbook or recipe? If the latter, here are some options.

Fudgy Flourless Brownies

RECIPE: Fudgy Flourless Brownies

Triple Chocolate Bypass

RECIPE: Triple Chocolate Bypass

Chocolate Almond Tweed Torte

RECIPE: Chocolate Almond Tweed Tort

RECIPE: Chocolate, Pistachio and Cardamom Cake

RECIPE: Torta Divina

I don't think you'll find a whole cookbook devoted to those specific types of recipes (correct me if I'm wrong!), but something devoted to gluten-free would be a good place to start.

Don't thaw them out! Grate what you need then stick it back in the freezer.

Agree. I also just freeze them in small pieces.

I saw a short clip of Jacques Pepin making butter at home in a food processor. Have any of you done that and how does the butter taste and how does it cook compared to store-bought? Also, how would the leftover buttermilk be compared to the buttermilk Becky Krystal discussed in her informative article on buttermilk? Thanks.

The best homemade buttermilk -- thick and tangy -- comes from making cultured butter. Here's a good primer from our friends at TheKitchn.

Someone mentioned this last week and I decided to try it. However, the broccoli I had didn't look so good, so I used the recipe as a template and used the veggies I had including slightly blanched, cooled, dried sugar snap peas. Oh, and I used a strip steak since these old teeth can only chew so much...Since it wasn't a real saucy dish, I served it in corn tortillas I did have on hand. That worked! We ate every bit.

It might have been me singing praises to Ann's beef & broccoli, which, incidentally, we're making for dinner tonight, thanks to a generous CSA broccoli haul this week!

I am struck by how many questions you get regarding sour milk, buttermilk, cream, etc. I never throw these away. They make great additions to cakes, pancakes, quick breads, etc. I use them to moisten my bread to make binders for meatloaf and meatballs. A naturally sour dairy product is far superior to adding lemon juice to milk to sub for butttermilk. And, if you don't have the quantity you need, add fresh milk to make up the difference and wait a little bit.

We do get a lot of questions!

I would be elated to get my hands on garlic scapes. Have DC chatters seen them at any supermarkets? There are no farmers markets near me and I'm frankly afraid to take Metro to get to one since I'm in a COVID-vulnerable group. But I'm thinking maybe I could get them delivered from a large store.

I believe I've seen scapes in Whole Foods in previous years, but not anywhere else, since this is such a local-farmer thing, and not usually a supermarket thing.

I have a problem cooking chicken. Many of the recipes I've been using seem to use much less the amount of time for cooking chicken. Last night I followed a recipe by cutting breasts in half horizontally. Recipe said to cook on the stove for 3 minutes on each side. They really needed about twice that time. This happens frequently no matter whether the chicken is whole, thin, or cubed. I think the heat on my burner is at an appropriate temperature. Does this happen to you?

I have not had this problem exactly, but I have cooked on a lot of different stoves. The heat from the burners can vary depending on the type of stove (gas, convection, electric) and the mechanisms. Also, the thickness of the chicken and the amout of water in that particular chicken. Maybe someone else has ideas?

I refrain from reading most comments. But they are so useful in the recipe articles. Big bonus when the author responds as Becky did when I had a question about her braised chicken thigh recipe. Thanks Becky. It was delicious and will go into the rotation!

Yes, recipe comments can be useful when people aren't being rude and/or hostile. :) But I sift through even the muck so I can try to answer legitimate questions like yours!


Buh-bye. Emily Heil wrote this on the subject this morning.

It took them over a century to do the right thing. 

I made it by accident while making whipped cream with someone's super-powerful mixer. It was definitely butter but it needed salt.

Hmmm - this isn't a problem for me. I put veg sausage in etouffee weekly - tofurky andouille and lifeline chorizo. They're usually simmering for half an hour or so. How long are you simmering them?

Good question!

I found this out because I had home made bread in the fridge and tried to make a sandwich. Oof. I looked up why it crumbled and that's what I found out. However, I have never had this problem with store-bought bread, so I assume it's the preservatives, etc. My problem is if I leave bread out on the counter too long, it molds. Maybe I'm using the wrong type of container for it?

No, you're just encountering the fact that your nice preservative-free bread won't last as long on the counter! You'll want to eat it within a day or two for best quality -- if you're not going to eat it all right away, freeze some of it.

My problem is I've got the world's smallest freezer, so not a lot of room for bread, but yes, nearly all breads go stale quicker in the refrigerator than at room temperature (bread box or pantry) . The possible exception is flour tortillas: they last longer refrigerated than at room temperature, but they're still better frozen than refrigerated.

With you on the struggle for freezer space!

I like to boil them up, shred using the large holes on a grater, and dress with oil and apple cider vinegar while hot. You can eat it hot or cold. Last night, a friend said she eats them sliced and sauteed in butter. Never tried it, but will be doing that soon!

Yum! I also like to grate them raw, along with carrots, for a Moroccan-style salad!

Do you have a recipe to share?

One is in my cookbook, Son of a Southern Chef, for eggplant. However, if you use the same jerk chicken marinade ingredients on the Washington Post website, you can marinate any ingredient. 

Link to recipe: 

Jerk Chicken

I never have buttermilk on hand, and have therefore the powdered buttermilk substitute in the refrigerator. Can I use that successfully in any baked good that calls for buttermilk? Also, I never have sour cream on hand, but always have full fat Greek yogurt (I mix fruit and it's often my lunch). Can I substitute that for recipes that call for sour cream. For instance, the maple cake/frosting? Thanks

I think buttermilk powder is an okay sub in baking where there are plenty of other ingredients to supply structure -- like a cake, muffins, quick bread. I hesitate to recommend it for something where buttermilk is so up front, like biscuits or pancakes.

Re: yogurt for sour cream, depends. I think in the cake it would probably be fine. I'm just not sure about the frosting. Not sure you'd get quite as good texture or flavor.

Does it make sense to buy an electric bread machine now, while yeast and bread flour aren't readily available? It's a good price but not so much for a doorstop ...

It depends. If it's just the price motivating you, I wouldn't let that sway you. If you think you would use it a lot, that's one thing. And if you have the room. We've heard from people who like it for kneading dough, either due to arthritis or lack of stand mixer, and then they bake the dough in the oven. My mom likes hers but the breads she makes in there are very different from what I do in the oven -- generally quite soft.

I echo the same thing. The bread machine makes things easier - you don't have to worry about the bread rising right or kneading it enough. But, I also transfer my bread to the oven so it browns and is shaped right.

The darkness sounds worrying. Candied sweet is odd. Something went wrong. I freeze my ginger all the time too. Eventually it will get frostburned where it goes light not dark, shriveled, and spongey. Cut that bit off and grate away.

Yeah, I've never had that. I wonder if the ginger was already kinda rotten and it just kept going bad??

Our favorite farmstead has them. What to do with them?

Use them as you would regular garlic! Its flavor is a little greener and less concentrated! Make garlic scape compound butter! Add to pesto! Etc. etc! 

Some market vendors offer delivery service--google all of the markets in your vicinity to see what kind of services are on offer. Quickly--they will be out of season soon.

I finally bought some reusable plastic bags, and while I mostly like them, I realized I can't write on them with a sharpie to note what the food is and the date, which I try to do for all my food before freezing. Any tips? I thought about masking tape, but that still seems wasteful as well.

I don't know of a better way than freezer tape.

Cook in a pressure cooker if you have one, so they don't take as long. Plunge in cold water, peel, grate of dice fine to use in Borscht.

The pressure cooker comes in handy for so many things -- thank you!

In the early days of the pandemic shutdown we bought a 20-lb prosciutto leg from Pitango and hung it in our front closet. As the weather started to get warmer we finally decided to crack into it and, after some serious work, I have a whole lot of prosciutto slices, several larger 8-oz to 18-oz chunks for later slicing, and an enormous denuded prosciutto bone. Do you think I could make broth from the bone? And do you have any ideas for using up all that prosciutto? We are delivering care packages to friends and freezing some diced chunks for pancetta-like cooking later, but it's utterly delicious and we'd love to make good use of it without, y'know, pigging out.

This seems like a wonderful "problem" I wish I had too. Maybe fancy pizza or sandwiches?

Try eBay for missing jars and lids!

Try add a little shredded red cabbage, too! Maybe a bit of shredded horseradish as well.

I do appreciate the comments on recipes (as opposed to features). If you read them regularly, there *are* some "usual suspects" who harp on the same topics & who you can learn to skip/tune out. But there's useful info., too, on successful substitutions, cooking adjustments (timing, pan size), etc. Plus you all sometimes weigh in!

There sure are some usual suspects, some of whom really have it out for us individually. It's... upsetting. Anyway, yes, we do make a concerted effort to be in there!

Jacque Pepin has been doing short videos on FB during the pandemic and he recently made Hummus. He didn't have Tahini sauce so he just substituted with creamy peanut butter. Duh, makes it so much more accessible as Tahini is not something I stock and when I did buy it to use in Joe's Hummus it was so messy I said never again. With this "hack" I'm going to try it again.

Yep, I've done this, too! (Having said that, I LOVE tahini and always find things to use it on -- and there's no mess with one of my favorite brands, Mighty Sesame, which comes in a squeeze bottle!)

Hi all,

Thanks for joining us for our weekly chat about food and cooking. We appreciate that chef and cookbook author Lazarus Lynch was able to join us this week.

We love your smart questions. It's also great to hear about the success you've had with our recipes.

Come back next week at the same time. Let's continue the conversation.



In This Chat
Ann Maloney
Ann Maloney is the Food team recipes editor.
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and author of "Cool Beans." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a staff reporter for Food and writes a weekly column on casual dining.
Kari Sonde
Kari Sonde is the Food editorial aide.
Mary Beth Albright
Mary Beth Albright is the Host and Editor of Food Video at The Washington Post.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer at the Post.
Olga Massov
Massov is a Food team assignment editor.
Lazarus Lynch
Lazarus Lynch is an African-American entrepreneur, author, musician, multimedia host, and the author of "Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul." He is a two-time Chopped champion and the host of Snapchat's first-ever cooking show, Chopped U, and the Food Network digital series Comfort Nation.
Marian Liu
Marian Liu is The Washington Post's Travel Operations Editor. She wrote about bubble tea.
Emily Heil
Emily Heil is a Food staff writer.
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