Free Range on Food: Doughnut Wars finale

Jun 26, 2013

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 Free Range! We're still recovering from our doughnut immersion, but I have to say, tomorrow's going to roll around and I'm going to miss those tastings!

We've got two -- wait, three! -- doughnut experts with us today. There's Jason Gehring, whose creme brulee doughnut at Astro won our 13-week competition; Tiffany MacIsaac of GBD, who came SO CLOSE with her chocolate-pudding-filled yeasted doughnut -- and who gave us a couple of killer recipes for using up leftover doughnuts; and writer Nevin Martell, who chronicled the whole shebang.

Of course, we are capable of answering q's about more than doughnuts -- Bonnie, for one, has been cooking out of her favorite summer books for awhile now, and has opinions/ideas galore about all of those.

In that vein, we have two book prizes for the source of our favorite questions today. I'll keep them secret so as not to steer the conversation, but will announce at chat's end.

Let's do this thing. Fire away!

Great job on the doughnut competition! Last week after I read about Mamas Donut Bites, I ran over to Ballston and got a dozen of the apple cider and they were wonderful and exactly as you described. I did a follow-up trip and got the red velvet doughnuts which did not taste at all like red velvet. They were nice because they were warm but there was no taste to them. This seems to be the reaction of your team to the doughnuts as well so I'm hoping she is able to improve the recipe. I've got quite a list to work my way through so thanks for all your hard work!

Good luck getting through that list. I'd recommend bringing along a few friends to help and making sure your gym membership is in good standing.

What a fun idea.  A doughnut tour of the DC area...  I'd be in if I had more time.  Happy eating!

Hello Free Rangers, I grew up in Montgomery County and have been watching your Doughnut Wars pieces in eager anticipation that my favorite donut place of my childhood - Donut King - would finally get its place in the sunlight! I have such fond memories of that place and always thought that doughnut chains never measured up. I was a little shocked by the drubbing you all gave them a few weeks ago but not entirely crushed. Your segments may have inspired me to get some for my mom this past Mother's Day and some of their donuts were just plain awful. Sugar raised was still delicious though!

It's always disappointing when a fond childhood memory doesn't live up to a present day reality. Good for you for being objective during your return visit. Now might be a good time to create some new memories by visiting Astro Doughnuts, GBD, Nothing But Donuts, or one of the other high scoring spots. 

I have to admit, Fall is probably my favorite season for a lot of reasons, but a major one is the abundance of pumpkin in everything. I cook it well through the end of Winter, but retire it around the spring. Is there anything lighter and more "summery" that I could use it in, without losing the great pumpkin flavor? I have a few cans stacked in the back of my pantry.

I think a cold pumpkin soup would be nice! Could give it a spicy undertone with some crushed red pepper flakes and/or curry, swirl in some Greek yogurt or creme fraiche when serving.

I love pumpkin too so I totally understand missing it the 9 months it's not on ANY menus :)

You could makean ice box cake.  A more mousse-like prepapration using the pumpkin as a base.  Maybe a candied ginger shortbread crust rather than the classic molasses filled gingersnap cookies.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Thanks for the great cookbook roundup this week. I just bought the cooking with flowers book for my mom at Anthropologie. It's gorgeous and very interesting. But since Joe's cookbook isn't out until August what cookbooks are in your bookshelves already for using up the farmers market bounty?

I eat Astro Doughnuts all the time because it taste so good. I have several favorites including the Creme Brulee and the chocolate cake Doughnut. So what is Astro Doughnuts Chef Jason Gehring's favorite Doughnut? Why? Is Chef Gehring going to introduce new items to his already tasty menu selection? Thank you!

Hi there, thank you for the kind words. While it's impossible to pick a favorite "child," right now I'm liking the coconut cake doughnut (available Wednesdays) and the birthday cake doughnut (available Saturdays). I'm working on a couple new doughnuts -- mum's the word for now, but we'll post on Facebook soon with the info.

Who is your favorite chef that you've worked with (for the Post, other jobs, cooking segments, restaurant tour, whatever)?

What a silly questions... It's obvious that it's me (Tiffany) and Jason Gehring.  Hehe

Over the last three and a half months, I noticed that the judges routinely dismissed every maple doughnut we heard about--you even mention that maple should be real from the tree in the recap, Joe! I am forced to confess: I have a lifelong soft spot in my heart which is occupied by grocery store maple-frosted long john doughnuts (thank you, Kroger!), but I know I can do better. What would you all do to create the perfect maple-frosted doughnut?

Great question; can tell you were a close reader. We found every maple-related doughnut we tasted like something imitation had been used. We can't know for sure. But there was too much of it used. We'd like bakers to follow that "real" commandment: use good-quality, actual maple products, whether they are maple sugar or syrup. And there's really no reason why the flavor must be relegated to icing only. 

Mine is just pure maple syrup and powdered sugar. The powdered sugar helps it to set so it's not too messy. Start with confectioner's sugar and slowly whisk in maple syrup until it reaches a pourable consistency. Hope this helps, and good luck.

Same for GBD...  Hign quality syrup we reduce slightly and, of course, makers mark to round it out.  Gotta add booze where ya can!

I just finished off a 1.5-liter bottle of Cabernet Sav two nights ago, so I read Dave McIntyre's column today with interest. Yes, I've grown weary of the BIG cab style, which my Big Bottle of wine featured prominently. I moved on to a 750 ml bottle of Cabernet Franc from Horton Winery in Virginia, and had a few glasses of it last night. I liked it so much it was hard to stop! My question for Dave has to do with those 1.5-liter bottles. I picked up a few of these at the wine store during my last trip, thinking that between my wife and me, we'd polish off each Big Bottle before the wine turned and started to taste not so great. The wine isn't the best, but it's a great value. However, is there any secret to storing wine a bottle twice the size of most bottles we consume? I drink a glass a night, and my wife usually has a half-glass. We'll knock out a standard 750-ml bottle in a few days, but 1.5-liter bottle requires a more dedicated focus. At the level we consume wine, does Dave recommend we stick with 750-ml bottles?

Dave says:

Well, I recommend drinking the wine that gives you the most enjoyment and value for the price. The 1.5 liter format tends to be cheaper, but isn't necessarily the best value if you don't enjoy the last few glasses as much as the first. You may want to reserve the large bottles for parties. 


Whichever format you use, I recommend investing in a VacuVin - this is a small pump along with some special rubber stoppers. The pump creates a vacuum seal that protects the remaining wine from oxygen. The wine should be fine for a few days on the counter or in the fridge, just reseal it after your next glass. These are a ail able at just a out any wine or even kitchenware store. 


I love the Horton cab franc by the way - it is consistently good quality and value.

Not a question, just a thank you for your recommendation of the walnut and red pepper dip at our Turkish supper club. It was a huge hit! In addition, we also made zucchini with bulgur and cabbage rolls with chestnuts (both from the Post's recipe box), which were both quite yummy. Thanks again!

So glad to hear! For those following along from home, that would be:

Walnut and Red Pepper Spread.

Zucchini With Bulgur.

Cabbage Rolls With Chestnuts.


I have a book club picnic this weekend and one for my bible study group next weekend. To both, I've been asked to bring a salad. I'd like to make the same one for both events. I need something that can sit for a few hours at the picnic, easy to transport (on the metro, so I'd prefer not to have to bring all toppings packed separately, though I'm sure I could manage a separate jar of dressing). Should be vegetarian - and I guess cheeseless since one of the ladies is lactose intolerant. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Check out this great picnic feature Bonnie put together a few years ago -- lots of delicious dishes that might work for you. And here's the link to all those recipes in our recipe database.

Sweet Potato Salad

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I love this German Potato Salad from David Hagedorn.

Hi! Not to make the chat too political, but I am pumped after this morning's decision and immediately invited a few friends over for a celebratory dinner tomorrow night. I would love to have a really colorful 3 course meal - what would you serve to hit the spectrum of the rainbow? So far I'm thinking your raw and roasted carrot salad to start and something with blueberries for dessert. Appreciate your input!

Hi - I'm excited about this morning's ruling too, love the idea of a colorful meal. What about a fruit salad with blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, kiwi, and blackberries. Top with fresh mint and a little whipped cream or ice cream.

Lemon curd on the side will hold up that color! And you could do a raw carrot/beet salad (just keep them separate to avoid bleeding -- dress both in OJ, cumin, salt and pile the beets in the middle of the carrots).

What's left? Maybe blue potato salad -- that ends up looking kind of purple. Green is easy: sugar snaps! Green beans! Kale!

I'm SURE our chatters have other thoughts...

For our honeymoon, my fiance and I are renting an RV and doing a southern tour of the US. I have a couple questions I'm really hoping you and chatters could help me with! First, what to stock the RV with? We will have at least a day or two that we're on the road all day, or a half day, and we'll need some snacks, plus a couple nights of doing dinner on our portable grill. Second, our goal is to thoroughly enjoy all the random stops and amazing food along the way, but I'm overwhelmed with the amount of information available. Do you have any apps, blogs, books, tips or tricks to finding the best places to grab grub on a trip? The major cities (New Orleans, Austin, etc) are easy enough but it's the in inbetween that I need to figure out so we're not eating at a McDonald's when there was some famous BBQ fives miles down that we just didn't know about.

As far as food, I'd suggest nuts, yogurt, crackers, cheese and fresh fruit for good snacks. For the grill, maybe simple kebabs. For resources, Roadfood is one site you should check out. And if you check out this Travel chat from the other month, you'll see some great travel planning recommendations from fellow readers, including Roadside America and

I know I can make my own yogurt (hopefully) but do I need to do anything different to make it drinkable. My little one likes drinkable blueberry yogurt and I want to make him some with whole milk rather than low fat milk.

Actually, the usual problem people have with making yogurt is that it doesn't get as thick as what they're used to (especially if they love, as I and so many others do, Greek yogurt, which you can make by straining, btw). Go to Cultures for Health and browse their yogurt culture selection and choose one that creates a thinner yogurt -- or go one better and start making milk kefir. They have cultures for that, too. And get "The Art of Fermentation" by Sandor Katz.

Hi Joe! Thank you for your wonderful article on nooch. I am a huge fan of that wonderful little tasty flake after being introduced to yeshi years ago by my vegan master. Are you aware of any champagne made from nooch? As a humanitarian vegan, I often struggle with yeast and though the titilation of the bubbles on my tongue usually has me abandoning my principles, it would be wonderful to find some sort of sparkling wine created from deactivated yeast for my conscience. Merci.

Thanks -- but my column is just as much about what NOT to do with nooch, isn't it? Anyway, because nutritional yeast has been deactivated, you can't use it the way you can regular yeast. That is, it won't ferment the bubbly. Having said that, and at the risk of starting a firestorm, you realize yeast is classified as a fungus, right? Single-celled. Like mushrooms. Or the probiotics in yogurt. Not an animal with nervous system, etc. So I consider it vegan.

Help! I'm looking for a chocolate dairy-free frosting for a kid's birthday cake (birthday girl has allergies), one that will hold up long enough to decorate the cake (intermittent refrigeration ok) and, once on the cake, can handle being out of the fridge long enough for songs, pictures, etc. I've made frostings that are equal parts Earth Balance/vegan margarine and shortening, but they start melting pretty quickly. Which of the following options do you suppose might be the most successful? Or something else entirely?? --recipe from Sticky Fingers cookbook which is approx 1 cup shortening with 1/4 cup margarine --recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World that uses powdered soy milk --one from the Crisco website (ick?) that's shortening and meringue powder (I'd need to substitute of cornstarch) Thanks! I learn so much from WaPo food chats

Thats a tricky one.  I've never done it myself but I think a rich fudge frosting would work.

I melt chocolate and cool it then beat into creaming butter (or substitute) & powdered sugar.  Mix in the melted chocolate and a cocoa powder mixture to strengthen the chocolate flavor and let sit at room temp a few hours to set.  I'd be happy to share a recipe I use if you'd like.  

Something in the snippet on Home Made Summer (lavender salt!) got me wondering....I would love love LUV to hear from Rangers and chatters about the easy little "extras" you make and keep on hand to make all of your dishes pop that extra bit. I'll go first! Sherried ginger/gingered sherry: slice ginger in coins, cover with quality sherry, keep in fridge. Use both the ginger and the now-infused sherry, top up each as ya go ;) Cherry balsamic vinegar: frozen cheries (why use fresh for this when the season is so short?) quality balsamic. Keep in the fridge. This with just a whisper of oil is all the marinade you need for Twin Oaks fine herb type tofu. And of course, vanilla sugar!

Like your ideas. Last summer I went a little nuts making infused simple syrups -- with fruit, with herbs. They take a few minutes and can last in the fridge for months as long as they are sealed airtight.  I macerated fresh fruit like sliced nectarines for savory salads and for fruit I put on the grill. I used them in sparkling sodas and cocktails and smoothies and dressings. I brushed cake layers with them. I even blended into glazes for grilled chicken and applied right at the end -- those didnt work quite as well. 


Re the lavender sugar -- make sure you use culinary lavender, which doesn't have as strong a "soapy" taste or smell as what you might find, say, in a wildflower bouquet. 

Lemon rind mixed with sea salt is always great to finish dishes like fish. You could also add lemon rind to sugar for a nice citrus sugar as a topping for sugar cookies.

Great list of summer books! You've got me wanting to quickly buy them all with one click! Alas, guess I'll be making a few trips to the library since I certainly don't NEED to add a dozen books to my shelf this season... though I am sure a few will certainly find their way there anyways! (Especially Joe's -- as a single vegetarian myself, I am incredibly excited for that book!!)

Thanks! If you were going to invest in 3, though, I'd go: Bakeless Sweets, Smoke & Pickles, Animal Farm Buttermilk.  Each has enough different recipes in it that I bet you wouldn't have them in the cookbooks you now own. 

Well, three now, and one more come August... ;-)

Hi Free Rangers - love the chats! I need a new blender. A friend just got a Vitamix and is raving about it so I went to check it out. Sticker shock! Wow, is it pricey! What is so special about it to justify getting one over a KitchenAid or Oster blender? Is it worth it? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

It's very much worth it and you can probably find the best deal at Costco. The motor is very powerful so it purees things smoother than other blenders. A Cuisinart immersion blender is much cheaper and that's what I use at home, which works well.

Funny, I just watched one of this season's episodes of "America's Test Kitchen," which had a review of blenders. ATK's top pick was the Vitamix, but the alternative at about half the price is the Breville Hemisphere Control Blender.

I agree with Jason.  The vita mix is pricey but sooooo worth it if you can swing it.  You might try looking up refurbished models online to get a better price.  Breville is a great brand all around so you might try looking at what they offer too.

Would kale freeze like spinach does? Or would it actually wilt less since it's a little "sturdier"? I want to freeze a bunch that I got but can't eat before vacation, but I don't know if I should saute it first and squeeze out the water, or just freeze as-is and still try to use it raw.

I'd blanch, shock in cold water, drain/squeeze out the water, and freeze in ziptop bags out of which you've gotten as much air as possible. (Or use a vacuum system.)

I'm trying to eat more salads at home, and two things are in my way. First is wet lettuce. Any recs for a salad spinner? I'd also like to make the tiny matchstick carrots you find in pre-bagged salads. I think a mandoline is the tool I want for this? Any suggestions on brands? And what else can I use it for?

I (heart) my Oxo salad spinner. And I love my Japanese hand-held mandoline, but I just read that Oxo has a nifty one of those, too. (I have the big Oxo mandoline, which I like, but I tend to not pull it out as much as the little hand-held one.)

Hi Tiffany, I'd love to have your recipe! Ok to give you my email here?  Thanks so much.

We gave Tiff that email and she'll be in touch!

since you brought up the brand, let's take a moment to appreciate founder Sam Garber, who passed at age 88 this week. Great product designer!


I've never cooked collards before, but ended up with a bunch in my first CSA box. Ideas?

There are lots of opinons as to how to make proper Southern collards, but I always cook up some bacon, and then saute the collards in the bacon fat with salt, pepper and garlic. Add chicken stock, chopped bacon, and cover the pan. Cook until tender.

But I just wanted to give a big, fat YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to Joe. :)

Why wouldn't I publish that? (Even though I'm not sure what I did to deserve it!) ;-)

How long will homemade kimchi last in the fridge?

As long as the kimchi's been properly sealed, the best way to tell is not by calendar/label but by taste and smell. It will get increasingly sour, and then it gets kind of tangy in a not-very-appetizing way.  Even then, some folks will rinse it thoroughly, chop it up and use it -- but I've never gone that far.  Sometimes you can tell by how soft/mushy the cabbage is. The Korean palate can handle the stronger/older/more sour stuff than we can, I think.  


By the way, we've got some excellent kimchi recipes in our Recipe Finder database, including a few by kimchi-loving Editor Joe and a basic Napa cabbage kimchi that can last about a month refrigerated, or so the headnote says! 

I'm new to bread-baking. White bread has been fine. But following the recipe on pita and rye bread I have had a bit of trouble. The pitas baked up fine if a tiny bit tough, but the dough was so sticky, it was almost impossible to flatten and transfer to the stone. On the rye bread -- well it tasted good but had it been curling season, the loaf might have better been used in that sport it was so heavy. Could this have been because I let the second rising go too long?

It could be. If you let your dough proof too much, the yeast loses its ability to do a third rise in the oven, making it denser. If the bread tasted somewhat sour and yeasty that's probably what happened. Try cutting down the time of your second rise and see what happens. Another consideration would be if you used whole wheat flour in the recipe. You might want to substitute bread flour in place of some of the whole wheat, because the whole wheat makes for a denser bread. Good luck!

The article on organizations certifying food sources and preparations was fascinating, but in the end it was mostly a teaser. This program will work in DC if it gets a lot of good word-of-mouth. How about if the Food section starts a reference page listing which DC restaurants are certified by whom? It would be wicked helpful in selecting places to eat. If the certifying organizations would send, say, monthly updates, it wouldn't be all that much work for you ...

Thanks for the idea, but I do think this would be a good amount of work. I'll keep it in mind, though. For now, you should use Jane's piece as a guide to which certification program appeals to you most, and follow them.

We used to blanch and freeze, but now we make Kale chips. So east, cut up the Kale and bake in about a 250 degree oven until crips - I can't give an exact time, it depends on how dry it is before you start. Then experiment with different seasonings - plain salt, garl, etc. Keep in a ziplock or airtight container for as long as the chips last (not long in our house:))

Yes, kale chips are great! Thanks.

Have you ever heard of this? Theory goes: ground beef in pot with chopped onions and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, breaking up chunks with wooden spoon and cooking until no longer pink. Said that draining off the boiling liquid removes the fat that cooks off the beef, and there is no smell in the house that you usually get from browning ground beef. My first question, of course, is -- if, in fact, all that grease is tied up in the boiling water, is it such a great idea to pour it down the drain? Second, does it really eliminate the smell? I can't see how. But, before I ... ahem... throw the beef out with the boiling water, I thought I'd ask.

My dear departed mother used to do this, although I never asked her why. (I thought it was because it would keep the meat from drying out. She cooked all red meats till they were gray...:)) You don't have to subject your drain to such torture. It's easy enough to let the water/oil mixture sit in a jar until it separates, or you can refrigerate so the fats congeal and then dispose of them.  As for eliminating the smell -- of what, exactly? 

Hi guys! I'm trying to drop some weight and live a healthier lifestyle, and I came across your discussions about VB6. It sounds like a great idea and it's something I'd really like to try. I have a big problem, though. I'm a nurse and I'm starting a six-month night shift ER rotation, which is going to really mess up my ability to keep with the diet because the times I should be eating vegan will be times I'll be sleeping, so I really wouldn't be making any changes at all. Is there a similar diet that would be more time flexible for us night owls? Hoot!

Hi! People are getting stuck on the idea of the 6 p.m. cutoff time with VB6, when really it's about just marking off one meal where you eat what you want and go vegan the other times -- or, frankly, trying whatever else works for you to eat less meat/dairy. Pick which meal is the one you're most likely to eat out, I'd say, and make the other two vegan (or close to it).

I love entertaining but have a hard time doing so in the summer months (which in DC runs May through October!) because turning on the oven makes my entire condo into an inferno of heat. i can generally figure out entrees on the stovetop but what about dessert? i've been making cakes in my toaster oven which turn out ok (get a little brown on top bc of the distance to the heat element) but any other ideas? other than the obvious ice cream and berries..

I hear you. Definitely check out this week's recipe for Lemon and Sour Cream Custard. We also have a bunch of no-cook and no-bake recipes in our database. When it's peach season (almost!), I recommend Peaches With Rosemary-Mascarpone Whipped Cream.

Peaches With Rosemary-Mascarpone Whipped Cream

My work and home kitchen does the same thing! At work I just suck it up (if you can't handle the heat, right?) but hat home I try to stick to stove top recipes.  You can mix sooooo many things into rice krispies and people LOVE them so that's a big BBQ go to for me.  At a recent party I brought Thin mint and fruity pebble krispies and they were a hit.  Plus they usually use between 3-5 ingredients.  

A panna cotta is always a nice option. You just have to scald the milk to melt the gelatin, but that happens quickly. You just need to refrigerate it to set. E-mail me if you want a good recipe!

Did I somehow miss it, or did your doughnut report fail to tell where these places are?

Check out our breakdown of each doughnut in the finale to find out the the address of the store that made them (and get a link to more info on the shop). 

You wrote another cookbook and we're excited for you, Joe!

Aw, shucks.

I second your recommendation. Dave Hagedorn's recipe is so easy and so very good!

Now that you're done covering fattening donuts, how about a column or two about how to cook with "superfoods", such as chia seeds, amaranth, flax seeds, hemp seeds, etc.?

Sign me up for that story! My dietitian would be thrilled (and so would I). 

OK, it's not super chic but is easy to assemble and travels well: Broccoli Slaw

1 bag broccoli slaw

1 red pepper, chopped

5-6 spring onions, chopped

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup slivered toasted almonds

1 pkg oriental flavor Ramen noodles

To toast almond: 10 min in 250 degree oven. Break noodles into pieces. Toss all ingredients together with dressing. Dressing:

Seasoning pkgs from noodles

¾ cup vegetable oil

½ cup sugar

1/3 cup white vinegar

Whisk together until sugar dissolves. Make 6-8 hours to overnight before serving.

Thanks for sharing. Reminds me a little of this Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad we recently ran. I think that would work for the chatter too.

Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad

How difficult (impossible?) is it to think that I will be able to eat lactose free and - ideally - gluten free on an upcoming trip to Paris? Would love to get your advice and any recommendations you might have

I think this largely depends on whether the gluten is a severe allergy/intolerance that requires you to avoid cross-contamination, or whether you just don't want to eat it. If it's the former, I think you might have a tough time in a lot of places making sure they haven't, say, cut a loaf of bread on the same countertop they then make a salad on. But if it's the latter, I think you could do it. It'd be difficult for me to avoid cheese and bread in Paris because I love both so much, and they do both so well, but there's plenty of other things to eat and drink in town: They love good vegetables, and fruit, and  charcuterie, and of course wine.

NEVER throw away kimchi, no matter how old it is. We give old kimchi new life by cooking it. It's wonderful sauteed with bacon or Spam (yes, Spam!) over rice, or cooked in ramen, kimchi-jigae (soup).

On pizza.

In Grilled Kimcheese sandwiches.

In deviled eggs.

In Mac and Kimcheese.

It takes more time, but get a few ham hocks and throw them in a pot with a bunch of water, some chopped onion, garlic, peppercorn and a bayleaf and cook for a few hours. Then add the chopped collards - remember to remove the tough center stem to the ham both - and cook until done. We like them really cooked, so say about an hour. The collards will be great but the "pot liquor" - as the ham broth is called - is to die for.

My husband and I are taking my parents to a wine tasting over the weekend. I'm planning on packing a picnic lunch. I know that I'll bake some bread and pick up some nice olives, cheese, and charcuterie, but Husband has requested some sort of crackers and dip (his favorite is spinach & artichoke dip). Thoughts on something I can make that will be OK in a cooler for a few hours? I had an idea to bring something sweet as well; will welcome suggestions for that, too!

For something sweet that will stay fresh in a picnic basket, I'd make brownies. You can leave them at room temperature and they'll retain their moisture. And who doesn't like really fudgy brownies and booze. Just don't frost them to avoid a mess.

Sorry, couldn't get past the introduction that referred to something called "leftover doughnuts." Does not compute!

I know, right? These recipes, though, are good enough that you might want to buy doughnuts just for the purpose!

You've probably covered this, so I apologize if I missed it. Can you point me to some canning resources that would be helpful for a total newbie? I can't tell from reading some of the FDA stuff (for example) when I can keep things in the pantry and when things need to be refrigerated. If it helps, I'm looking to make a big batch of onion jam. Thanks.

The National Center for Home Preservation has a ton of great information. There's also this guide from the USDA. Ball is also a good resource -- I'm really liking their cookbook. Great for a beginner.

Thanks for the recommendations! I've looked at the handheld and larger OXO mandolines online, but only the larger one specifies it does Julienne cuts. Will the handheld one do them, too?

I'm lactose intolerant, and I brought my trusty generic "lactaid" pills with me, and use them whenever I had any suspicion whatsoever that a dish might contain milk products. I had no problem whatsoever with that precaution. French pharmacies have their version of the pills, of course, in case you run out, although I cannot remember what the French version of "lactose intolerance" is.

Thank you for sending me the Honey cookbook last week. This weekend I made the orange honey glazed chicken and honey oat cookies. Already my family is asking for me to make those recipes again. I will cook them again and try more once I buy more honey. My wife particularly liked the chicken recipe for her lunches. Thanks for identifying these great cookbooks and sharing them with your readers.

You're welcome. It's a win-win part of my job. I plan to explore many more honey varieties this summer, don't you? 


I live in an apartment with a tiny kitchen that has a slightly uneven stove. I bought a Lodge cast iron pan last year because I'd heard so much about it's even heating properties but I can no longer ignore the fact that that doesn't seem to be the case for me. Food I cook in it definitely cooks faster in one spot unless I'm constantly rotating the pan. I keep it well-seasoned; have I misunderstood what it means for the pan to heat evenly? Or are there ways to insure more even cooking besides constant attention?

Cast-iron, in my experience, does not distribute heat as evenly as, say, my copper pots. This fact is, in fact, a topic of discussion with some Lodge owners. Check out this thread on You'll find both sympathy and some unique approaches to deal with the problem.

My daughter makes rainbow kabobs all the time. Strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, kiwi, etc. on a kabob in rainbow order. We serve it with a side of marshmallow/cream cheese dip (just stir those two ingredients together) and/or chocolate sauce.

I use a julienne peeler for this--you get pieces even thinner than a matchstick, but I find it easier to use than a mandoline.

The one gadget I've worn out and replaced is the Kyocera large julienne slicer. I use it almost exclusively for carrots - makes it easy to put them in everything. Yes, it's single use, but it's great. I have a real mandoline, but it scares me.

Does Tiffany have a dessert cookbook out yet? Is there one in the works? Surely it would be a best-seller (I'd certainly want one!).

Mom, is that you?

Just kidding.  That's really sweet.  Lots of ideas rolling around in my head but not a lot of time right now to work on it at the moment.  But it's on the bucket list so hopefully someday :)

I have some frozen shrimp (shell-on) that some neighbors gave me. I believe the bags, of which I have two, are about 1 pound each. Do you have a recommendation for a simple recipe that I could prepare?

I have an interesting one, Indian-inspired coming up as next week's Dinner in Minutes. Check out this hit list from our Recipe Finder: I just did an Advanced Search using terms "shrimp" and "fast" -- 75 recipes! Have to say that Ginger Shrimp With Carrot Couscous is one of my faves for a weeknight meal. It takes 25 mins start to finish, an all-in-one dish. It's in The Washington Post Cookbook

Thanks for such a great response from everyone! I'm excited to roll up my sleeves and get to it this weekend. And Tiffany, know that you have won over a Kentucky girl as fond of her bourbon as she is of her maple doughnuts.

Yay! For the main, you could do chicken or another protein (pork, tofu,etc.) in a BBQ sauce for a red color? Or salmon?

I read the ravings about grilled lettuce and cabbage, but right now my garden is busting with Rainbow chard. As I'm going camping this weekend, I'm tempted to try grilling the chard - any thoughts or suggested recipes?

I think you could use the same basic technique/approach as my Grilled Cabbage, but grill the whole leaves (instead of cutting at all), right? Then let cool, chop, and season -- I think a spicy dressing would work well with these.

I just harvested the first of 30 blue potatoes from my garden and am overwhelmed with blue potatoes. They taste great but are blue. We have some friends visiting this weekend. what would be some good recipes for blue potatoes that would not scare kids off of trying because the potatoes are a different color.

Interesting question. I've never cooked with blue potatoes, and I understand your concern. Presentation is such an underappreciated quality in home cooking. Who tends to eat blue mashed potatoes or blue corn on the cob? (Purple carrots seem to be bucking this trend, I think, which is a good thing.) 


A quick scan across the Interwebz finds a few good possibilities, like thish fresh corn and blue potato hash, which sounds like it would be both colorful and appetizing. Likewise, this blue potato salad has a sort of appetizing beet-like appearance about it. I'd give it a try without batting an eye.

Last weekend for a brunch party I made a potato dish with tiny blue potatoes and French fingerlings, both from Tree & Leaf Farm at Dupont Farmers Market. I boiled until barely tender, then tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted until crispy. When they came out I sprinkled them with chaat masala, the Indian tart/earthy spice mix, and people loved them. Of course, there were no kids in the group.

Like others, I have summer potluck gatherings and one is this weekend. I was asked to bring pasta salad but I want to do something different and with a wow factor that you just don't normally see with pasta salad. Any suggestions?

How about Smoky Cabbage and Udon Slaw? Noodles are pasta-y. You'd have to scale it up, but it'd definitely be different, with a wow factor!

I tend to go asian for pasta salad too.  Udon noodles with a peanut/spicy bean paste/soy/lime dressing or flat noodles with a mixture of equal parts lime/fish sauce with a dash of rice wine vinegar is a good go to.  You can look up a recipe for just start mixing until it tastes good (my usual home technique)

You can add the same mix ins to both salads.  Scallions, sliced peppers, LOTS of large herbs, peanuts, bean sprouts...  

When I first saw the thumbnail photo of the Doughnut and Berry Pudding, I thought it was some kind of doughnut pizza. Which got me anyone doing doughnut pizza? Is it a good idea?

Doughnut pizza could be the new cronut. I feel like Will Artley at Pizzeria Orso would be a good candidate for this project, since he already makes blue ribbon zas and dougnuts. Will, if you're reading...

Hi, Rangers, When I was growing up, I think we had a different name for filled doughnuts vs regular but I can't remember what it was. Does that ring any bells? Also, when the dough was twisted, even though it was doughnut-shaped, we called it a "cruller." Is that a regionalism?

Sometimes you'll see a filled doughnut with no hole, which is called a bizmark I believe.  I just made about 600 of them for an event the other night so I became fast friends with that style of doughnut.

A crueller is made with pate a choux. Typically, you would pipe it onto parchment paper in a twisted pattern and then chill it so it retains its shape, and then fry it. It's something I'm working on doing as a special.

Don't know about rye bread, but when I make whole wheat I add 1 tablesoon of vital wheat gluten for every cup of flour. It lightens the bread considerably. You could try it with the rye bread to see if it works.

Is it possible to make a healthier version of pulled pork? How much fat can I trim off pork shoulder before slow roasting for pulled pork and still have it taste good, not dry out, etc.? We haven't decided yet whether it will be done on the grill, or in an electric roaster. would the two cooking methods affect how you prepare it (other than perhaps adding some smoked spices for added flavor if we have to go with the electric roaster)? Any other considerations to keep in mind? I'm making plans for the 4th, and we'll probably have about 20-25 people over.

Hmm. When I compare pulled pork recipes from Eating Well and Cooking Light, I see they both recommend using a slow cooker. (The Eating Well recipe creates more yield by using lots of onion.) The liquid the meat cooks in helps keep the meat moist. You can drain away some of that liquid and its fat after the pork is done to tenderness. 


When you'd roast the butt/shoulder, seems like the fat would be helping to self-baste and keep the meat moist. So trimming a lot of it would make it harder to monitor the healthful quotient. Figure a 3-pound roast would yield 8 to 14 servings, done the slow cooker way. 

a bulk freezer pack of cow from Polyface Farms. We get it on Saturday and I know we'll be getting a cow's heart in it - what in the world do I do with it.


Beef heart has a wonderful flavor, even though it's fairly lean. My favorite preparation is one available in Peru and other Latin countries: the sliced, marinated and grilled dish known as anticuchos. We have an excellent recipe for it in our database. Give it a try. I suspect you'll love it.

I loved Dave's article this morning on Napa cabs, which are probably my favorite wine to drink. I like all types--including the big, bold ones, but also the ones that are more subtle and "old world." I have a number of bottles that we acquired 2 years ago from a range of wineries (Chateau Montelena, Hess, etc.). They are mostly 2006 or 2007 vintage. I've been saving them, since a lot were fairly expensive for what we usually spend for wine, but I'm wondering if I should make more effort to drink them soon. I don't know when their optimal drinking date is, and I understand that you don't want them to go for too long (these are mostly $30-$75 bottles, not the super expensive ones that people age forever).

Dave says:

Provided you have stored them carefully (in a cool space and on their side or upside down so the wine keeps the cork moist) these wines should be fine. Montelena and Hess age fairly well, from my experience. If you like really old cabs you might want to keep them a bit longer. My guess is by now the rough tannins have softened but the full character may not yet have emerged -- sort of like a kid in the late teens. 


I suppose I should be ashamed to admit this, but I've actually been enjoying this summer's "American Baking Competition" on CBS. It's not as though hostt Jeff Foxworthy knows the first thing re baking, but like Tom Bergeron on "Dancing with the Stars" he's just so darn engaging and likable. And the judges don't rant and rave and humiliate the competitors, even when their baked goods don't turn out so well.

Don't be ashamed!

Don't forget dessert! Instead of fruit salad, make a beautiful dessert trifle: Layer Pound cake and whipped cream between layers of: Strawberries/Raspberries, Mandarin Oranges, Pineapple, Kiwi, Blueberries, and Blackberries - top with whipped cream and a sprig of fresh mint!

Never forget! I suggested lemon curd, which could also work as the base of a fresh-berry tart for LOTS of color.

It's also possible that your dough is too wet. How does the texture pre-baking compare to your white bread dough?

OP, are you reading this?

My father (who died 17 years ago yesterday) would use leftover doughnuts in his signature dish, Bread Pudding. Yummmm...

Doughnut bread pudding is a dish of joy in my book. Try our recipe for Doughnut and Berry Bread Pudding from Paula Shoyer, baking teacher and author of "The Kosher Baker" (Brandeis, 2010) and the upcoming "The Holiday Kosher Baker" (Sterling, 2013), which will include a chapter of unusual doughnut recipes.

Bread pudding with doughnuts sounds delicious. Along those lines, I'm actually working on a french toast doughnut, which should be available in the next couple of days here at Astro. You'll have to come try it.

As a kid, I would have LOVED to eat blue potatoes! How neat and different! Then again, my brothers and I used to get really excited when mom would buy different colored cauliflower or we had orange pancakes (made with yams).

Yes, I'm with you. I think blue potatoes with red ketchup on them might be a real draw for the kiddos, no?

This recipe looks delicious---any particular reason it is made with the boneless skinless thighs? i always use bone in thighs because i think they tend to dry out less that way. and can i use any citrus or is orange the one...such as, can this become honey lime chicken? :) I have variations of the ingredients in the house now and it's too hot to go out!

Because they cook faster, and that's part of what Dinner in Minutes is all about. Tack on extra time and use the bone-in thighs. I did like the sweetness of the orange juice in this dish. If you have enough limes to produce 1/4 cup juice, go right ahead -- and report back next week! 

With all due respect, the founder of OXO was Sam FARBER. And he will be much missed.

Corrected word.

The resources you mentioned are great. If the OP wants a demo/hands-on class, s/he might check with the local university extension office. Many offer free or low-cost canning demonstrations and instructions at this time of the year. These are research-based sources, not Jeb's DIY Roadkill Cannin' Fixin's

Great advice. 

My mother used to cook beef heart with short ribs in a pressure cooker. The fat from the ribs seemed to moisten the heart. To be honest, she wasn't the best cook, but if I was doing it, I'd add a sliced onion and a bay leaf, and put them in a slow cooker.

I like the sounds of that approach. It would add some fattiness to the heart muscle.

I way over-indulged last night by eating several doughnuts and even though they were delicious, I've been feeling queasy from the unaccustomed quantities of fried dough and sugar. If you've ever over-indulged like this, what did you find the best remedy? Thanks much.

Ha. Been there. My remedy after Doughnut Wars tasting sessions was just not to eat again until I was really hungry. Which would sometimes be a freakishly long time! Also, Pepto never hurts. :)

Water. Time. And after a couple of hours, vinegar-dressed broccoli rabe. That was my regimen during our 13 weeks.

Bismarck, presumably named after the 19th century German Chancellor Otto von, right?

Well, you've fried us, filled us, glazed us and dusted us, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks, all, for the great q's, and thanks to Jason, Tiffany and Nevin for helping us handle them!

Now for the book winners: The chatter who asked about a rainbow-colored meal will get "Fresh Food Nation" by Martha Holmberg. The chatter who asked about homemade condiments will get "Fresh Happy Tasty." Send your mailing info to Becky at, and she'll get them to you!

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 Benwick, staff writer Tim Carman, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin, new Spirits columnist Carrie Allan and editorial aide Becky Krystal. Guests: chef Jason Gehring of Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, the winning Doughnut Wars bakery; chef Tiffany MacIsaac of GBD, our second place Doughnut Wars bakery; Nevin Martell, freelance writer and author of our Doughnut Wars series.
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