Free Range on Food: 'The Splendid Table,' freezing summer produce, juices and more

Lynne Rossetto Kasper of "The Splendid Table" and producer Sally Swift.
Aug 12, 2015

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions. Past Free Range on Food chats

I don't know about you, but I'm all new-pots-and-pans excited to have "The Splendid Table's" dynamic duo -- aka Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift -- for a full session of culinary give-and-take! Good afternoon and welcome to the Free Range chat, where we can talk about the radio show's 20 splendid years, chronicled so ably by Whitney Pipkin in Food this week, plus we can discuss freezing as a method of DIY preserving with Cathy Barrow (who'll join us for the last half hour). Or maybe you're into juice, for juice's sake? Maura Judkis can help. Or you're ready to make the one ingredient that makes a tiki drink sing? Bring it on. This is going to be one answer-packed hour. All we need is you.

 

Editor Joe and and Tim "Steakhouse" Carman are elsewhere. For you Post Points members, today's code is FR3078; enter it by midnight tonight at the PP site under Claim My Points to get credit for it.

 

The best reader input today will win you a "Splendid Table" cookbook, signed by the duo themselves; and we'll also give away "Good Cheap Eats: Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less," source of this week's Dinner in Minutes. Check back at the end of the chat for who the lucky winners are. Andiamo! 

My boyfriend is a fabulous man and I am lucky to have him in my life. We enjoy cooking dinner 5 or 6 nights per week and he is always open to my experiments with new recipes. There is one problem, he "thinks" he hates onions. To the extent that he tells waiters that he is allergic to them. It makes me crazy because these poor waiters don't know how to respond. I tell him he should never enter a restaurant if he is allergic, because anything worth trying has an onion base. We have made some progress, he now uses them in recipes as long as they disappear or are processed to liquid. My question for you is: how can I convince him to try French onion soup? I am convinced he will love onions after tasting a bowl and never look back. I try to describe the sweetness of the onion and the heaven that is a good French onion soup. I truly believe his life will never be complete without a bowl of the heavenly soup. Any advice is greatly appreciated.  

First, kudos for getting him to try them any which way.

First thing that comes to mind is bake onions to see if he gets hooked on the meaty aroma.  Just lop offer about a 1/2 inch of the top an bottom of an unpeeled onion, put it on a piece of foil and bake at 400ºF. until it's easily pierced with a knife -- about an hour to two.   The aroma is akin to a hunk of beef roasting -- lush.  Eat the onion by splitting it in half, sprinkling with olive oil, vinegar and s&P.  He doesn't have to eat it, just get hooked on the aroma. For the onion soup… make a broth with lots of onion that melt into it.  See if he takes to it.

 

I had purchased some sour cherries at my local Farmers Market with the soul purpose of pouring some sugar and vodka over them and let them sit for months (Christmas presents). I simply looked, but had not physically touched the cherries before I purchased them (the farmer simply took the baskey and poured them into a bag). So when I got home I found the cherries very soft and full of juice. I quickly rinsed them and froze them (with pits inside) because I had not purchased the vodka or bottles to start my project. Just so I'm not wasting perfectly gook voda and storing these gifts to be just to find out this is a waste of time and money, could you please assure me that nothing is wrong with using these very ripe, now frozen cherries AND PLEASE, elaborate if you have any other suggestions about what I could add (a little rosemary...??, lemon ??) to make this even better, that is, if it's okay to move forward at this point. Thank you and I love listening, every Sunday @ 2PM. Kalamazoo, Michigan

You can definitely make cherry bounce with those frozen, overripe cherries -- no need to pit them! Or, for a spiced drink, try using them in this slivovitz recipe, just substituting cherries for the plums.

Now that tomatoes are abundant, I'm going to make some recipes from "The Great Salsa Book". Many of them call for blackened tomatoes and peppers. It says one way to blacken them is on an open flame on the stove (I have a gas stove). Any tips on how to actually do this without burning my hands? And do you remove the blackened skin before chopping up the tomatoes and peppers?

Here's where a long fork, the kind used for grilling, comes in handy.  Also know you can blacken a clutch of things under the broiler -- just watch for burning.. and keep turning.

  I think  placing them on a large sheet pan covered with foil ( so there is no cleanup!) and running them under the broiler until they char on all sides is MUCH easier and safer and tastes the same. As far as the skin - I love a little charred skin in my salsa, but I just use some of it - not all of it, Leave a few of the blackest tomatoes  unpeeled and process as instructed. You can always add more if you need it . Also - tiny pinch of sugar will pull that smoke and acid tgether

 

I've been wishing for exactly this -- same wafers, less stuf. I respect Ms. Krystal's preference for the original but mostly, I thank her for letting me know about the new offering.

 

ARTICLE So how do the new Oreo Thins really stack up against their thicker siblings?

You're welcome! There were definitely feelings on both sides during our informal tasting. More people leaned in favor of the original, but there's nothing particularly heinous about the Thins -- except the size of the package.

Do you have a zucchini muffin recipe? Is there a way to reduce the sugar in most muffin recipes without affecting the texture?

I loved the juice article! I've recently started making juices to use up my produce that I'd otherwise throw out (I have weird quirks and find it hard if not impossible to eat produce that looks a little...squishy/bruised/etc.) My current favorite includes beet (root and greens), apple, cucumber, grapefruit, ginger, and carrots. I've had so many comments recently like "oh, are you doing a cleanse?" Uh, nope. Well, my liver and kidneys are, I guess... I just like drinking juice.

 

ARTICLE Start drinking juice just because it's delicious

Thank you! Sounds like you and the folks from Misfit would get along. 

It amazes me how strong the association with cleanses has become. I've never tried a cleanse, for the record. I don't think I'd be able to last even one day! And with so many doctors saying they serve no medical or nutritional purpose, why bother? 

Many kudos for this wonderful dish. I made it for the first time yesterday and am in love. My husband who is an omnivore (sigh) had chicken instead of the tempeh and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Editor Joe will be so happy to hear it. Do you mean you prepared the chicken the same way?

Sauteed Ginger Miso Tempeh

RECIPE Sauteed Ginger Miso Tempeh

 

I heard one prank caller on your live Thanksgiving show. How many have you turned away over the years?

You know what? That was our first one! You should have seen us in the control room - mouths agape and  our nimble fingered technical director Jenny Luebke totally in control .

 We love doing that broadcast on Thanksgiving day  --- actually we love having DONE that broadcast on Thanksgiving Day !  

No question, just love and love and love from San Francisco! Thank you so much for your show (I listen via podcast)!

Love, love, love right back at you ! It has always been particular pain in my side that KQED does NOT have us on the air in that beautiful city. Go podcast go!

 

A pain for me as well, but so good to know you are out there.  Thanks for the kind words.  

Lynne said on one of her shows that she likes a blend of cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, and clove, but she didn't provide the proportions. Could she please provide the proportions (weight percentages maybe) that she likes to use. Thanks Bill from Wisconsin.

You know, the best thing to do is taste as you go. Start with small amounts a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time, allspice and cloves pack a lot of punch in a little bit, so factor that in as you go. Taste - add more cinnamon to smooth things out and don't be afraid to add a bit of salt to round out the edges. All  that said - we have a recipe for a  Crossover Spice Blend with the following proportions  1/4 cup ground cumin, 1/2 cup ground coriander and 2 tablespoons freshly-ground black pepper.   Delicious combo on grilled mets with a little sugar added and nice as is mixed into grain salads, sprinkled on beans etc.....

Brilliant and hilarious!! I nominate this paragraph for inclusion in all sociology classes exploring lifestyle excesses among the fashionable wealthy and upwardly-mobile in the USA during the early 21st Century: "(Roger) Clemens lives in Los Angeles, a hotbed of competitive juicing. It’s a place where, he noted dryly, some people spend a small fortune to inject toxin into their faces in the form of Botox, then eschew food in favor of juices they think will eliminate other vaguely surmised toxins from their G.I. tract."

 

ARTICLE Start drinking juice just because it's delicious

Ha, thank you! Oh man. I love LA. 

Btw, waiting for the baseball fans to chime in about "juicing" expert Roger Clemens

After being scared for a while, my first attempt at 100% whole wheat bread has worked out really well. I like it, and more importantly, my 5 year old loves it. I know it won't keep as long as standard grocery store stuff, but we usually get a week out of the Spring Mill bread we buy at MOM's so can I assume this will last as long? If not should I slice what we're not going to use and then stick it in the freezer?

I vote for the freezer when in doubt. Many things influence how long a bread will keep because each recipe is different.  So use this one as a test case.  

When it begins to go south, get it to the freezer or check out all the super things you can make with stale bread.  As in bread salads, or bread soup (rub the bread with garlic and a little olive oil, put in the a soup bowl and cover with hot vegetable or chicken broth) and the old bread revival trick.

Get the oven to about 350ºF., generously moisten the bread with water, loosely wrap in foil and bake until bread is soft.

Hope this helps… and keep baking. 

I know that the Top Tomato issue was postponed this year, but my tomatoes ripened right on time. I have the happy problem of an overabundance of sungold tomatoes -- far more than I can eat straight from the vine as I usually do. Last weekend I roasted some, but the skins are quite tough. Can you suggest another way to prepare them that would make them last a little longer but not highlight the tough skin?

Top Tomato's right around the corner (in print Aug 19, with stories and recipes online before that). Ever since this recipe from Rose's Luxury chef Aaron Silverman came our way, it's been my favorite method for SunGolds. Yowza is it good.

Bucatini With Sungold Tomato Sauce

RECIPE Bucatini With SunGold Tomato Sauce

You can let these babies get by you.  They are too fine.

Another thing to remember in these days of tomato insantity is they freeze beautifully.  Use a freezer bags, press out all air, label and tuck them away.  Yes, they'll be mushy when defrosted, but they're for cooking, or pureeing into fresh soups and sauces, so mush doesn't matter.  As for those skins, they slip off easily.  

Please tell your boyfriend he's doing a disservice to those of us freaks who actually are onion intolerant. I eat at plenty of restaurants and find tons and tons of food to be perfectly delicious without them.

Hi. I'd like to make pork bbq as a meal for a family member who recently discovered how much he likes it. I never eat or cook pork and am finding it very difficult to pick a recipe--I guess because I have no frame of reference for whether it sounds good or not. I need to make it in the oven or slow cooker (no grill). Could you recommend a recipe?

Okay- I am certain I will be hung up by BBQ purists, and maybe I will just  say that this is not a BBQ recipe at  all. There. Now I am safe. I  love to rub pork ribs with loads of spices like cumin, coriander and cinnamon and salt and a bit of sugar, pile them on  racks with lots of room so they can render and brown and slow cook them at 325 ish for a couple of hours. They are irresitable- I promise. 

Lynne, I just started listening to your show when I was pregnant with my baby 3 years ago. My husband knows how much I enjoy food things, and we enjoy listening to the podcast every week. Your positivity comes through really well through the broadcast. I love how open you are to new things and are able to come up with interesting recipes, like the orange pasta with Josh Bell, I believe. Are you doing any live shows in the near future? I would love to meet you or have you come to my house and cook!

I love that you started listening when you were pregnant.  We started making the show when 3 of the 4 of us were pregnant!  We are doing a live show in honor of our 20th anniversary on October 22 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul - so come and visit !

We are trying to introduce more vegetarian dinners in our household, and was wondering if you had any tips on how we can move into this new territory... in particular ideas for protein. In addition, I love tofu, but my husband isn't a big fan and was wondering if you had any recommended recipes/method of prep to make him a convert. Thank you!

Beans are a great, versatile source of protein. Particularly chickpeas -- my favorite. I feel like we talk about this recipe every week, but I can't live without this chickpea curry featured ages ago on Kim O'Donnel's blog.

RECIPE: Easy Chickpea Curry

Joe also has been espousing the virtues of tempeh.

ARTICLE: Weeknight Vegetarian: Make 2015 the Year of Tempeh (recipes included)

Sauteed Ginger Miso Tempeh

RECIPE: Sauteed Ginger Miso Tempeh

As to tofu, baking or frying often helps people get over their issues if it's a texture thing. Also, good sauces that the tofu can blend into.

RECIPE: Baked Marinated Tofu

RECIPE: Kung Pao Tofu With Broccoli and Peanuts

Spicy Basil Tofu Fried Rice

RECIPE: Spicy Basil Tofu Fried Rice

Gingery Tofu Sliders

RECIPE: Gingery Tofu Sliders

I think Joe Yonan's piece tempeh today is really smart and right on. Cooking it in the marinade  is key. Also - NO ONE can resist a tempeh reuben - sauerkraut - cheese - thousand island dressing on pumpernickel .......

I totally agree with Maura Judkis: Juice is delicious -- and satisfying -- and good for us. Hence the saying, "If you have a lemon, make lemonade!" Questions about the cantaloupe/cardamom recipe: I have cardamom that is brownish in color. Is the green cardamom raw and the the brown cardamom roasted, and will the taste be very different if I use what I have?

Here's a rundown on the colors of cardamom and their respective flavors. Black is smokier, and green is sweeter. 

But hey, as the first paragraph of my story says: It's juice. Give it a try!

Howdy, Free Rangers! Here's my (or)deal: I've been successful in having a bountiful cucumber harvest this late spring into summer. However, the fam is FED UP w/ cukes used for tzatziki, pickles, salads and smoothies. O, wise FR's, what else can I possibly do w/ them? Ratatouille? Anything else? Thanks a lot!

Ooh, one of NEXT WEEK's Top Tomato finalists will give you something good to do with them. Be sure to check back. Until then, how about a cool cucumber shrub?

Cucumber Shrub

Or this refreshingly different rice salad with grapes and cucumber?

Rice Salad With Cucumber and Grapes in Aromatic Oil

Or an easy Thai cuke Thai Cucumber Saladsalad?

Or this cucumber sorbet, which I'm making for a dinner party this weekend?

Cucumber Sorbet With Cucumber Salsa

Hi Lynne, has a caller to The Splendid Table ever stumped you?

I feel I must weigh in here.  NEVER.

Sally is too kind!   I've had to do a lot of backpedaling with some callers as the brain scrambles for an answer.  

 

HA! 

Should I core/seed tomatoes before freezing them, or just put them in freezer whole? Eventually I would like to turn them into sauce/can them. Thank you!!

You have a choice. Either pop them in a bag in the freezer whole and stem and seed and skin them when they come out (it's surprisingly easy.) OR Peel, seed and core the tomatoes then freeze the pulp to make sauce later.

One curious thing to consider.  

Awhile back Reading University in the U.K., working with chef Heston Blumenthal, researched the sources of the tomato's flavors. They found the majority of flavor came from the gel around the seeds.  So I gave up seeding forever more.  

Did I detect more flavor? Maybe. Even more interesting was that I rarely get any bitter flavors, which was believed to come from the seeds...

Interesting, no?

Related, maybe: One of the Top Tomato recipes we tested was for chocolate tomato muffins; the seeds were left in, and the bake (so #GBBO) was incredibly bitter.

Hi, Lynne and Sally -- I'm wondering what you thought of that SNL sketch with Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon in the 90s, in which they played hosts of an NPR food show called Delicious Dish. I didn't think of it as a Splendid Table spoof at the time, but a couple of years ago, Ana told "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me": That she was indeed inspired by both ST and Good Food, a show in California. Did you recognize yourselves in it? I thought it was hilarious, but I can't repeat any of the sketches here because they were too double-entendre naughty.

Lots of people thought it was about us and while I would love to claim that  it was, it  wasn't. I have a friend who was on staff of SNL at the time and the writer  of the sketch who lived in Santa Monica was inspired by the wonderful  Good Food broadcast. 

We  love naughty btw

Maybe Lynne should ask Alec Baldwin to come on "The Splendid Table." I'd listen to that. :)

Maybe take calls on Turkey Confidential !

I make pesto in a small food processor and it is always a beautiful bright green until i add it to the hot pasta. It turns brown! what am I doing wrong? Thanks.

Nothing. Pesto turns brown because the basil is oxidizing. Read a little more from the Kitchn -- you can try blanching your basil first to prevent this. Some acid such as lemon juice may also help.

Before we left on vacation, we meant to eat, freeze or toss anything in the refrigerator that would otherwise go bad during our absence. But we missed a couple of things. The problem is, the odor of those decayed items lingers on the food that didn't go bad, including some cheese, fruit, veggies and bread. Is there a way to remove the smell -- which imparts an unwanted pungency -- or do we toss the "innocent bystander" food items, too?

A lingering odor on your bystander food will likely dissipate when you a) toast or grill the bread, b) use the cheese in a recipe and c) broil, grill or bake the fruit and vegetables. But first try a simple wash of those latter two.

When I have too much kale or other greens, I put them in a colander and pour boiling water over them to wilt before freezing.

That's a great idea! I usually to use the microwave to avoid introducing any water. No one likes soggy greens, but if you squeeze all the water out, they freeze really well.

I have been making pickles like a madwoman the past couple of weekends, all refrigerator because I think they come crisper, and I don't have to be in clouds of steam in my kitchen. Now I am seriously thinking of freezing my tomatoes using a FoodSaver this year, instead of canning. Should I cut out the stem and freeze whole, or should they be halved or quartered? I have a surplus of zucchini (surprise, surprise), can I spiralize it and freeze it in bags as well? I really appreciate all the helpful advice from you folks!

Freeze tomatoes whole and then stem and remove the skin after defrosting. Vacuum sealing is great, but not at all necessary. I spiralize and grate zucchini in packages sized for my favorite recipes. Make sure you remove all the air from the package.

ARTICLE Tips for freezing summer produce

Yesterday at a restaurant we overordered mixed roasted olives, and wound up with a good-sized (REALLY good-sized) to-go container. I figured since they're already roasted and oiled and herbed/spiced, I would pit them and chop them up and I would have a tapenade with no extra work. But I have so many: can I freeze a tapenade? Is there any other ingredient you'd suggest in addition to the olives, flavored oil, and spices? Also, any hints on how to pit the green olives that stick to the pit even after roasting? The other pits just pop out, but those seem to be "clingstones."

The beautiful thing about tapenade is that it's made to last without any need to freeze it. Just make sure the tapenade is entirely submerged in olive oil and it won't dry out or mold for quite awhile (a month or more.) 

For those pesky clingstone olives, smack the olive with the side of your chefs knife and the "meat" should release.

Hi Free Rangers! I am throwing myself a birthday party this weekend with a Mediterranean food spread (hummus, whipped feta, dolma, grilled chicken and shrimp, pita, etc.). I would like to have a bubbly bar, even though it isn't the most logical choice, because it's my birthday and that would make me happy. My thoughts to make it more thematic were to include pomegranate juice and rosemary simple syrup as options, but would love any other suggestions. Thank you!

What a great idea. I obsessed right now with a recipe for Salted Lime Syrup from a new cookbook called Infuse by Eric Prum and Josh Williams. It's grated lime zest , agave syrup, sea salt, water and lime juice. It is utterly addicting and delicious mixed with bubbly water ......or maybe gin!

 I will be posted on splendid table.org later today I believe - so check it out.  The book is good - worth the shelf space 

Do you have any tips on how to clean fine mesh strainers? I've tried soaking and brushing, but there's always tiny particles trapped inside.

I invert it and pour a kettle of boiling water over it, bang it, then stick it in the dishwasher. (Doesn't sound so Heloise, does it?)

TheKitchn's got a helpful thread of conversation on this.

My spouse is having a bad week at work so I want to make a special dinner tonight. Any suggestions for a good "comfort food" meal?

So subjective, this comfort food thing.  I'd go for corn on the cob that you can roll in combos like lime juice and ground chile, or sour cream and Parmesan cheese, or drizzle with a blend of soy, vinegar and a hint of sugar.

Chicken pieces you just roast in a shallow pan with garlic, fresh herbs, tomatoes, onions and peppers (the easiest one dish dinner I know).  Serve this in a bowl with a big green salad on the side.  Pick up his favorite dessert on your way home.

Fingers crossed this fills the bill. 

I just made 12 cups of corn stock - other than corn soup what can I use it for

Good for you I'd use it as a base for any summer chowder or a base for a light sauce for grilled or sauteed fish; as liquid in a spoonbread recipe. Chatters?

How about barley - corn risotto with parmigianno?

or how about barley- CHARRED corn risotto with a like hot chile and parmiggiano !

No matter what, I can't make a good pan gravy to go with sauteed food--meat or fish. Help!

It might help to know what you've been doing, but I'd say: slurry, or that little mixture of pan juices or water or broth or white wine or sherry or Madeira plus cornstarch that you first whisk until smooth, and then stir into the bubbling pan juices, whisking until you get the right consistency. No lumps. Season with s&p.

Can you please recommend some recipes for canning tomato sauce or chutney. I saw the recipe for crushed tomatoes. Novice canner here... Thank you!

Crushed tomatoes are the most useful jar in my pantry, so I recommend canning as much as possible to avoid buying cans of tomatoes in the winter! Tomato sauce is harder to can - pH matters in this case, and the addition of onions, peppers and garlic can make sauces unsafe for canning. (Commercially canned sauces are produced under very different conditions than those that exist in a home kitchen.)

canned crushed tomatoes

RECIPE Canned Crushed Tomatoes

I've been using Cathy's recipe (see above) for a couple of years, and having those jars come January makes me h-a-p-p-y.

Hi Lynne, Where can I get the marinated chicken recipe mentioned in the Wapo article about "The Splendid Table?' I have never listened to your program but I definitely will now.

That was just an idea for a caller off the top of Lynne's head, you can always hear those ideas though in our podcasts -  so subscribe here (and follow, or any podcast provider such as iTunes)!

Last winter, I spent way too much money buying bunches or packages of herbs (sage, rosemary, basil, parsley and more) for casseroles, stews and soups, and ended up tossing a lot because so little was called for in most of the recipes. So this summer, while I am not a gardener, I potted some sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, mint and others. To my surprise, all are growing like wildfire, and I'd like to save some to use this coming winter. Please help! And thank you.

I'd like to make cinnamon rolls this weekend. I've seen recipes that have the rolls rise twice and some where the dough only rises once. Is the second rise necessary? I've used Paula Deen's recipe in the past, and I'm curious if I need to let them rise in the pan before they're baked.

Is there overnight or long refrigeration for the dough? That's usually why you're rising a second time -- to relax the dough and give a chance to do its thing before it goes in the oven. If it's a yeasted dough, that is . . . .

Hi, You mention "spiralizing" zucchini. Does it (and squash in general) need any prep before freezing? I'm concerned that it will turn to mush on thawing. Thanks for any pointers!

I've found spiralized foods are a bit softer when they emerge from the freezer, but not mushy. Also, the yellow squash seems to hold up a little better.

I was in St. Louis, trying to find my way to the airport through some local roads. Something went wrong and I got lost so I could see the airport but not find a road that went there. Only the fact that Lynne was on the air kept me calm and cheerful enough to eventually reach the airport in time and give them back their rental car and get to the plane. So thanks.

Glad to have helped!  Now if I could do that for myself when in those situations, I'd be really happy!

Good afternoon! I'm making a braised country pork ribs and would like to make a batch without using wine. Is there a good substitute besides just more chicken stock?

Apple cider or juice would be delicious...... and a dash of apple cider vinegar.....

I have a holy moly amount of collard greens right now from my CSA and at this point in the season, I'm pretty sick of your standard sauteed greens (kale, chard or collards take your pick). Last time I had a bunch of collards I tried subbing them in for cabbage in stuffed cabbage rolls but it was just ok. What can I do that will be more interesting??

We made a killer vegetarian stuffed timbale for our Thanksgiving show one year. It's at splendid table.org - called Timbale of Sweet Peppers, Greens & Hominy.

  We lined a big dutch oven with blanched collard leaves and stuffed it with peppers , onions, hominy  tomatoes etc and then baked it up.  

 You do a smaller version or use collards as you would grape leaves - they would be delicious. 

 I also had a wonderful shredded collard salad the other day, essentially treated raw collard like cole slaw and  it was delicious. 

Ha, I was watching an old Cooking With Julia on PBS recently, and I saw this exuberant woman cooking up pasta for Julia, and I knew I'd heard that voice somewhere and couldn't quite place it, and then one Sunday I was listening to the Splendid Table, and BINGO!! I knew it was Lynne--what are your memories of doing that show with Julia?

Don't get me started.  We started at 6 am and Julia had been writing since four.  We quit at 6 pm and decided I'd cook dinner for Julia and friends. I went back to my hotel for a quick shower, and when I walked into her kitchen, the lady was on a stool with a glass of gin at her elbow prepping that pasta dish.  

My husband had just flown in from Europe so he was bartender and wine steward, and we all ate, drank, gossiped until we were falling on our noses while Julia was marveling at our lack of stamina.

As the saying goes, "We shall not see her like again."

Orange pasta sounds intriguing. Could we have the recipe, please?

It's on our website, splendid table.org. Inspired by a 16th century banquet dish, it's pretty special.

If some evil being limited you to one cookie recipe for the rest of your life, what would it be? No cheating and using the same dough with different toppings or shapes.

No question. Dorie Greenspan's World Peace recipe. Butter - good chocolate - good salt.

World Peace Cookies

RECIPE: World Peace Cookies

 

I hope it's not too cliche to say, but chocolate chip cookies. What is more comforting and beautiful than that? My favorite so far is one from Cook's Illustrated that uses melted butter, but this Lisa Yockelson variation is a pretty darn close second.

Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies

RECIPE: Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hmm, think I'd go with some kind of shortbread -- butterbutterbutter. I've been making these ginger-tinged ones for a long time, and they still hold up. They're my older son's favorite, so maybe there's some sentimentality stirred in.

Shortbread

Makes 3 dozen*

This recipe makes a non-crumby dough that's pale enough to see the flecks of cinnamon, and it re-rolls easily, holding the shape of even the most faceted cookie cutter. The aroma while these cookies are baking could sell a house with no closet space. I'd like to be able to tell you that this shortbread lasts a while in an airtight container. But at our house, it never, ever lasts. Adapted from "Gingerbread: 99 Delicious Recipes From Sweet to Savory," by Linda Merinoff (Simon & Schuster, 1989):

2 to 2 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface

1/4 cup rice flour (may substitute cornstarch)

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup superfine sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together both flours and set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown and superfine sugars, egg, milk, ginger and cinnamon and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times, just until smooth. (Dough should not be sticky; if it is, keep adding a bit more regular flour.) Pat out or use a rolling pin to make the dough 1/4-inch thick. At this point, you can use cookie cutters or a knife to cut the dough into shapes or rectangles 3 to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. If you use cutters, be sure to re-dip the sharp edges in flour before each use, to ensure easy release.

Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a nonstick baking sheet; they do not spread while baking so you can place them pretty close together. Bake for 30 minutes or just until the edges of each cookie are pale brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Cool completely.

*NOTE: A thinner roll of dough will yield more cookies; the thinner cookies will take less time to bake.

Per serving: 88 calories, 1 gm protein, 9 gm carbohydrates, 5 gm fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 3 mg sodium, trace dietary fiber

Mix fresh spinach leaves in with the basil. The oxalic acid in the spinach keeps the pesto from oxidizing, and you don't taste the spinach.

Good answer too!

Use as liquid for making polenta. I use it as the broth for masa dough when I make vegetarian tamales.

With cantaloupe and honeydew, the innermost third or half is always sweeter, darker, and I guess riper, than the part nearer the rind. Does the juice recipe assume this disparity? Is there an almost-foolproof way to know before cutting it open if a melon is ripe all the way through (if it ever is!)?

Yep, the recipe calls for the entire melon, peeled and seeded. From our archives, here's a guide to picking out the perfect melon!

For picking a ripe cantaloupe, I use the smell the stem end (smells like the fruit) and the least amount of green background color on the exterior....honeydew, i usually go with the heaviest one in the pile.

Maura Judkis, THANK YOU for the juicing story--absolutely pitch perfect, and full of brilliant quotes.

Thank you, fellow juice fan!

I've been fascinated by the growth in podcasts, but seems to me that most of the really good ones, like yours, Lynne and Sally, are from professionally produced radio shows, so they're really more like the radio equivalent of DVR'd TV programming. Anyway, I'm curious what food podcasts all of you like -- any really fun ones we food freaks should be on the lookout (listen-out?) for?

You know what ? I never listen to food podcasts! I need diversion from work I think. I have been listening to You Must Remember This about the lost stories of Hollywood which just gets better and better, also The Moment, Culture Gabfest and the very geeky Victoria & AlbertMuseum - Art, Design, Culture. 

And I agree with your opinion that most good podcasts are professionally produced. 

I listen to Food52's and sometimes to America's Test Kitchen (girl crush on Bridget and Julia, I admit).

I have a request to make a birthday carrot cake, but OMG it is fattening! I found this recipe. Questions: Can I halve this recipe with reasonable results? What is a substitute for fromage blanc? If I halve the recipe, I'll need 1/2 oz!

Actually, as far as desserts go, this doesn't seem too bad! I'd be tempted to just make the whole thing and freeze pieces for future indulgences! But I don't see why you couldn't try halving it -- maybe in one 9-inch round cake pan. Just keep an eye on the timing.

I cant even bear to open the link, but I'm hoping it doesn't call for raisins.

Hi Lynne, big fan and love your show! With the rise of vegetarianism in the country, I am hearing more and more about several new vegetarian proteins in addition to tofu. Interested to hear your thoughts on some of these - tofu, seitan, tempeh, beyond meat, etc. Does the vegetarian/vegan community like these proteins or view them more as processed items? Thanks!

The vegetarian community loves those soy proteins. For some variety, think grains and beans which make a complete protein -- rice and beans, corn and beans (Mexico is calling!), quinoa and beans, whole wheat pasta and beans and so on.  

The great thing about beans is each tastes different, canned ones are good and they take to all kinds of dressing so no heat required.

World Peace Cookies link not working!!!! Can you repost? They look like magic.

They are going to change your life! I keep a log of them frozen in my freezer and whip them out when have friend for dinner. Ask anyone have fed - they will all confirm  

http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/world-peace-cookies

Yes - I poached them in different pans, the chicken for less time so they wouldn't get over cooked. Then I sauted the chicken on a higher heat (again - so it would brown quickly) and added half the sauce at the end. We both loved it.

My flight to my Uncle's in Vermont got cancelled last year (not delayed, cancelled)! I had never, ever, ever not gotten home for Thanksgiving before. I'd had a few Thursday morning train trips, but never an outright miss. Listening to that broadcast (which I usually listen to with my uncle, his husband, and whoever else is puttering around the kitchen on T-day before we set the table) was the only life line I had to being with them since we couldn't stay on the phone all the time. I had a lovely dinner with some friends later in the day, but I really needed that radio show. Thanks again!

You could have Mediterranean bubbles - cava from Spain, prosecco from Italy...

Trust me, the lemon- and honey-flavored chicken will do the trick (I made it just last night and all I heard from my husband was groans of pure pleasure!)

That was one of our top recipes of 2012, continues to draw raves. Love it.

RECIPE Lemon- and Honey-Flavored Chicken

Guess what I will be making tonight?! It sounds great.

Rice flour? I guess I need clarification on why one would use rice vs reg flour in a cookie recipe. Does it make the cookies crispier or more delicate somehow?

It's a lightness/texture thing; you'll see plenty of shortbread recipes call for cornstarch. The rice flour's a good alternative.

Can you help with my aversion to tofu? About 30 years ago I made a recipe (from some supermodel) that consisted of tofu blended up with some cinnamon and something else I can't remember. The next day I got the flu (no association of course), but I still cannot think about tofu without associating it with getting sick. I'd like to try it again, I guess, but how?

Ick! I don't blame you. See our answer on this topic above. And start browsing our Recipe Finder!

I know this is one of those questions you get all the time but here goes: I'm trying to use up some eggs so I thought I'd make cookies and freeze the dough. The recipe I want to use has candied orange peel in it. Will the orange peel survive the freezing? 

It's in the dough, so I think you're all good.

You missed my question about a substitute for fromage blanc. I'll need a teeny amount, and don't know if I can find the real thing where I live.

Sorry, we do this on the fly and are trying to move as fast as possible. I'm just using Google to read up on this. How about a little Greek yogurt?

Interesting what Lynne said about the Reading University study. Julia Child, I believe, used to say that you should get rid of the gel and seeds because they have no flavor. Oh, well, I guess she was wrong about just that one thing.

Make pickles! If you don't want to bother canning, they'll last quite long in the fridge.

Once a year (usually in the fall) I make a batch of veal stock that I heard about from Michael Ruhlman on "The Splendid Table." It's complicated, expensive (it's really hard to get veal bones now) and totally worth it. I usually use it for risotto (cut with chicken stock) or a really rich stew.

Big fan of the Splendid Table!! I first learned of it when getting stuck in traffic on my way to my brother’s one Thanksgiving. Best call-in show ever! As people were describing their crises and you were coming to their rescue, I kept imagining what was happening in my brother’s kitchen, where his new wife was cooking for her us for the first time. I was sort of dreading the visit, and I didn’t want to stop listening to your show, but I finally arrived, and told them all about this great radio program I’d heard on the way over. And when the gravy went awry, I knew how to help, thanks to one of your tips, and we bonded, and the rest is history!

Question about the book... is it actually REALLY 30 minutes or less recipes? I ask because I've done those type recipes before (looking at you, Rachael Ray) and it almost always takes me at least 15 minutes more. I know I'm slower than RR at chopping/prep- that's a given. But my pans also seem to take more time to heat up, water more time to boil... it all usually ends up closer to 50 minutes.

I only tested 3 recipes in the book; batting average was .666, in terms of taking as long as advertised. Don't worry about how fast it takes to chop things (or take a knife skills class, if it does bother you to be "behind" the timing).

They are magic. Just total bliss.

In order to stave off the takeover of my yard by mint, I took a bunch of it, soaked it in Everclear, and added sugar water to make a nice liqueur (kind of like limoncello, only with mint instead of lemon). Now, other than shots, I can't think of anything to do with it! Any suggestions for mint-flavored cocktails?

Oh let me count the ways.  How about shaking up the syrup with ice, a little fresh lemon juice and a few strawberries?Strain into a martini glass and plop in a another strawberry.

Another take -- pour some over a tall glass of ice and finish off with bubbly water and a sprig of mint.

 

Well, you've pureed and blended us into Venetian whipped cream, so you know what that means...we're chill (and done)! Thanks to Lynne, Sally and Cathy B for their expert advice and recipes. We're honored to know them.

 

Cookbook winners today: The "Introducing Vegetarian" chatter gets the signed Splendid Table cookbook; the tomato overload chatter gets the "Good Cheap Eats" cookbook. Send your mailing info to kara.elder@washpost.com and she'll get those right out to you.

 

Till next week, which is TOP TOMATO TIME, happy cooking and eating!

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow's first cookbook is "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving" (W.W. Norton). She blogs at www.mrswheelbarrow.com.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Lynne Rossetto Kasper is host of "The Splendid Table."
Sally Swift
Sally Swift is managing producer of "The Splendid Table."
Maura Judkis
Staff writer Maura Judkis wrote this week's story on juice.
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