Free Range on Food: Slow cooking for summer, the Georgian version of ratatouille, this week's recipes and more.

Aug 15, 2018

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

Greetings, and welcome to today's chat! Hope you're enjoying all we've cooked up for you recently. I have less time than usual to run it all down for you, so we'll just right into your questions. Bonnie is starting her well-deserved vacation today, so she won't be joining us.

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR5455 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

We'll also have a giveaway book for our favorite chatter today: It'll be, surprise surprise, "The Washington Post Cookbook"! So make your questions good!

OK, let's go...

My fig tree is very happy and I am getting about a dozen ripe figs a day. I've had them in ice cream and in salads.Today I'm making fig jam and tomorrow a fig pizza. Any other suggestions?

You might give this pitcher cocktail a try! 

Can't wait to make the coconut turmeric cake! Do you have any plans to review/rate the entire book? How involved are the recipes in terms of number of ingredients, steps, cooking/prep time? More importantly, are the outcomes worthy of the effort?

No more plans at the moment, although I do have one more cookie recipe I tested from the book that might be featured at some later point. My recipe columns on Voraciously allow me to cherry-pick recipes that I think are appealing, so I get to expose you all to a wide variety of cookbooks and sources. Based on my perusal, the ingredients and prep seem pretty approachable. As far as the outcomes, I only have 2 recipes from which to judge, but they were obviously both good.

Coconut Turmeric Sweet Bread

ARTICLE: Coconut turmeric cake looks like a sunset and tastes like tropical paradise

I want to try roasting cauliflower 'steaks' tonight. I'm overwhelmed with the variety of instructions I'm seeing in an online search for a good recipe. Has anyone here tried this? Should I pan fry before roasting, or is it okay to pop them straight in the oven?

Yep, I've done it -- I don't think you need to pan-fry AND roast. When I cut mine into 1/2-inch steaks, they got done in the pan easily.

RECIPE: Crispy Cauliflower Steaks With Ginger Scallion Sauce

A few years ago, when I did a "chicken-fried" one, I wanted thicker "steaks," so then I quickly steamed them in the pan before breading and frying.

RECIPE: Chicken-Fried Cauliflower With Miso Mushroom Gravy

Both recipes are keepers!


Hi Free rangers - looking for some advice. My office has been voluntold to host (and bartend) a cocktail party to raise money for the Marine Corps Ball in Panama City, Panama. I'd like to have a signature cocktail to serve at this event - probably using rum. My question is less about a recipe and more about scale -- how do ensure that we'll have enough of it? Say we have about 40 people at the party, but probably not all of them will get the cocktail -- should I make enough for about half the people to have one? 3/4? I don't want to make too much and have a lot left over, but I want to have enough so a good number of people can get one. Chances are good that our community office will advertise that we have the cocktail as a draw to the party. Thanks for your help!!

Honestly, depending on what you know about your guests' drinking proclivities, I'd make enough for 40. Assume that some will not drink and some will have two servings, it's safer (and more hospitable) to live with some leftovers (and you can pour them back in a bottle and take them home). Also, the lighter the recipe you end up using, the more you'd likely want to make (my guess is at a work event, if people taste that the drink is pretty boozy they'll drink less of it. Hopefully.)

Okay, so now I’m a little peeved. I’ve asked twice for advice on (non-crazy) cookbooks to help me transition to my new no-carb reality. As I stared previously, I’m part of a long-range clinical trial and we’re restricted to 30 grams PER DAY. Atkins, keto, paleo all seem semi-religious. Last week you were able to entertain a question from someone on the other end of the spectrum. Can I get a little help?

Hmm, sorry to peeve you! We got a lot more questions here than we can answer, obviously... 

I'll take a stab and then throw it to our knowledgeable crowd: How about looking at one of the South Beach Diet books? There are different phases, with different amounts of carbs in each, which might help. I've always thought of it as less restrictive than, say, Atkins or Keto -- so it's worth looking into, if you haven't already.

Chatters, other ideas?

Hi Food Gurus -- Very long-time reader here -- probably close to 15 years of getting inspiration and advice from you in this chat. Please help me update my pots & pans. When I got married in 2010 I knew enough from reading your chat not to get a set but to get individual pots & pans. My husband and I cook a lot and kind of were a little rough with some of them, and now all of my nonstick Calphalon Unison pans need to be replaced -- they're all scratched from using knives and metal utensils and I know not to use them any more because it's dangerous. Also, I now know not to use knives and metal utensils in them! Someone had also gifted us with a couple of the Todd English green pots, and several years ago I burnt one pretty badly and now it's not looking good either. Would you please suggest a line of pots and pans to replace these. I would love to upgrade to something that will last longer than 8 years. I'm thinking end-of-summer/labor day sales would be a good time to shop... Thank you for all your great inspiration and recipes over the years!

Generally I like to pick and choose between brands and lines to build my own set.

That being said, I swear by All-Clad. Over the years, I have -- with sales, coupons, etc. -- built up a collection that covers almost all my needs. I really like the three-layer stainless steel. In fact, I am using it more and more these days as opposed to a nonstick. It cleans up well, cooks evenly and should last a lifetime (keep it looking great with Bar Keepers Friend). Well worth the investment. Oven-safe, too.

Right now I have the 10- and 12-inch covered fry pans (the sales currently online on the All-Clad site are pretty good), in addition to 2- and 4-quart saucepans.

I am really happy with the nonstick All-Clad 12-inch skillet we have in the lab, if you want that option, too.

Other must-haves: a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, such as Lodge. A 10-inch is nice as well. Also an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, at least 5 or 6 quarts. Le Creuset is the big name, but other brands are available, of course.

Hope that helps!

You really should correct an error in your Slivovitz recipe. You say that you can use Everclear - but neglect to say that the Everclear-based mix needs to be diluted with water before drinking it. I presume that consuming essentially pure alcohol could kill. Your liability lawyer might frown such an omission.

I made this with Everclear and am happy to report that I'm alive and well. When sipping this (please note use of the word "sip"!), you should of course exercise restraint and SIP not sling back shots of it. It's something to savor and enjoy in moderation (like most alcoholic beverages, to be honest!).

Also worth noting that there are different proofs of Everclear -- 151 (so 75.5 percent alcohol) and 190 (95 percent). One or both types are also banned in some states.

If you'd like to dilute it, go for it! Which brings me to Cathy Barrow's response, via email:

The Everclear is not consumed without dilution because, in essence, the plum juice and sugar combine to make a fruited simple syrup. There is no need to dilute the Slivovitz before drinking it, but if you wish to, I like it served over ice with sparkling water stirred in.


RECIPE: Slivovitz

Well, you need to define your "non-crazy," first.

Too bad we don't have a "like" button for the chats ;)

I'm in a new office where half the folks are doing keto/no carb/no sugar diet. If I want to bring in a treat what would I bring? Chatters any recommendations please?

How bout deviled eggs and/oror pimento cheese or another low-carb dip, with raw vegetables instead of crackers for dipping?

RECIPE: Horseradish Deviled Eggs

RECIPE: Smoked Pimento Cheese

I just made them with fresh peaches and holy cow they are amazing. This is my new go-to muffin recipe.

That makes me so, so happy! Thank you for reporting back. I love how people are experimenting with this recipe because that was kind of the whole point. Fresh peaches sound awesome.

All-Purpose Muffins

ARTICLE: The best kind of muffin is warm, fluffy and made by you

I need to produce a birthday cake at a hotel a Saturday. If at all possible I would like to make it on Thursday and bring it rather than rely on whatever the nearest grocery store will sell. Is there such a thing as a cake that can be made 2 days ahead of time (can't use alcohol, so no fruitcake-type concoctions)? I can think of frosting options that will work (maybe jam decorated with fruit), but if you have any other suggestions in that area I'd appreciate that as well.

Actually, a layer cake with buttercream will be OK for a few days at room temperature. Up to 5 days, according to baking guru Stella Parks at Serious Eats. Read more from her on the Kitchn here.

Hi guys --- just wanted to give a huge shout out to the entire WaPo food team. I love the weekly chats, and the Recipe Finder is truly my go-to whenever I don't have any ideas for what to make with my ingredients. For example this week I got tomatillos in my veggie CSA -- what the heck do you do with tomatillos?? I'll tell you -- you go to the WaPo Food Section, search the Recipe Finder, and make a fabulous Mango Tomatillo salsa for dinner (served last night on top of fish tacos!) It can be so time-consuming and stressful to do a generic google search and decide on a recipe. I'm so glad the Recipe Finder exists. Thanks again!

Wowowow, thanks so much for the kind words! And happy you made that salsa.

If you've got more tomatillos, here's another great way to use them:

Roasted Tomatillo Salmon

RECIPE: Roasted Tomatillo Salmon

Bonnie is on vacation, but I think on her behalf -- and the rest of us -- I can say a big thank you back to you. 

Try Googling funnel cake pouring pitcher. It has a very long spout and could help you direct your ice cream base into the container as long as it's not a chunky mix.

Thanks for following up!

It's almost time for the county fair where I live. Our favorite exhibits are the food competitions, especially the baked goods. My husband will tell me my cookies, pies, whatever look better, but I've never taken the time and effort, and I'm sure it's a LOT, to enter a competition. I want to thank all those people who do. Kudos to them!

...and gorgonzola (and maybe a little honey) is an absolute dream combination.

When I saw this pop up on the site, my mind immediately cast back 18 years to when That Other Paper Up North published a recipe for a Tuna Coconut Cake which feature a large amount of turmeric. My then boyfriend, now husband spent the next 3 or so years cracking jokes about whether we were having it for dinner. So around 2003, after we’d bought a house together, I surprised him with the cake for dinner. I don’t recommend it. He no longer finds recipes to joke about for fear I’ll do it again. (I’m sure your recipe is delicious)

Wow, that does sound... interesting.

And, yeah, ours is delicious, so maybe it can win your husband back over to a coconut turmeric cake!

I opened it two months ago, and it looks and smells okay. No advice on the package, unless some of the Japanese writing is providing it.

It's a fermented food with a high salt content, so it doesn't really go bad, it just changes...

I'd just like to give a shout-out to this great recipe from a couple of years ago because for some reason my computer isn't letting me rate it or put comments. It was delicious and let me use a lot of the kale, tomatoes, squash, eggplant and broccolini that are bombarding me from my garden right now. I thought other people with overproductive gardens might enjoy making it, too.

Glad you like it!

Balsamic Farro Salad With Tomatoes, Grilled Veggies and Kale

RECIPE: Balsamic Farro Salad With Tomatoes, Grilled Veggies and Kale

I know this is a very basic "have you tried turning it off and on again" response, BUT, double check that you're signed into your account and then try rating and commenting again. (I myself have made this mistake, so no judgement. Sometimes our site randomly signs you out.)

If that doesn't work, send an email to and include screenshots if you can -- that'll help support determine the problem. Thanks!

My (and my dinner guests) favorite summer dessert - cut figs in half, brush each side lightly with mixture of melted butter, brown sugar and vanilla, and stick in pie plate or other over proof dish. Put in oven not in use for cooking (I stick mine in the microwave to get it out of the way.) Do this before dinner. Then about 15 minutes before dessert, turn on oven to about 375-400 - goal is to get figs bubbling a bit. Meanwhile remove ice cream/gelato from freezer to soften (I like butter pecan, dulce de leche, vanilla - you get the drift). Get out your 25-40 year balsamico bottle. Give everyone a bowl, pass around the gelato, then the figs, then the balsamic. Make sure guests know to go very lightly with the balsamico!

I hope that OP can come to realize that 30 grams of carbs per day is a crazy-extreme restriction (and that's probably why he/she is part of a clinical study on it) so OP will probably be limited to cookbooks that cater to such an extreme ("religious") lifestyle.... actually, this clinical study amount of 30g aligns with what the Keto diet preaches so OP, you should probably just accept the fact you are testing the Keto diet and go borrow/buy a cookbook or 2...

Last week I made the corn on the cob curry. I substituted ap flour for the chickpea and it worked fine but I should have decreased the amount. I had to add a lot of liquid to get the desired consistency. Also, I just couldn't do the corn on the cob so I cut the kernels off and tossed them in, uncooked. It came out like a curry creamed corn which wasn't a bad thing at all. It tasted great!

Thanks for reporting back! Yes, a few folks have asked about subbing AP flour, and I suggested starting with way less, so I guess my instincts were correct! Good to know definitively. Glad you liked it! Now, can you share your experiences with others by rating/reviewing and putting in your take? THANKS!

RECIPE: Corn on the Cob Curry


Classic Pound Cake (I like the old-fashioned recipe, where eggs are the only leavening)! No frosting required.

LOVE today's article on vegan-friendly restaurants! It included some surprises for me, which is awesome. Just wanted to say thank you to the Food staff! 

vegan food

ARTICLE: 9 vegan-friendly restaurants where everyone can eat well — no matter their diet

That was actually published by our friends over at Going Out Guide, although it was written by frequent Food section contributor and veghead Kristen Hartke. I know she would be pleased to hear your feedback!

I've been meaning to submit this for a few weeks: what nuts work as nut butters? Do any nuts NOT work that way? I have made my own almond butter and cashew butter, and wonder if others would do well with a long spin in the processor.

Love love love hazelnut butter. Also the other week at Alta Strada in the Mosaic District, chef Matt Adler had the most amazing pistachio butter that I could have eaten by the spoonful. It was actually on a spicy watermelon salad, which was phenomenal.

I've seen pecan butter, cashew butter, macadamia butter, and the two Becky mentions -- and many more. Go for it!

Maryland banned the 190 proof, to the annoyance of people who need it for various things like CBD tinctures (Maryland has medical marijuana). So an ingenious company named Luxco came up with a 189 proof.

They must feel so smug in the best way.

Agree 100% with your recommendation on All-Clad pots & pans. Have been using them for years, and they cook evenly, hold up extremely well, and feel like they are more ergonomically designed than Calphalon. Here's a tip: to soften the blow of the cost of these not-cheap pans, consider buying factory seconds. You can save a bunch of money, the blemish is usually almost impossible to find, and ultimately who cares if you have a scratch on the underside of the pan, it's going to get scratched anyway! Check out Cookware & More for seconds, and watch for their periodic open stock sales of 20% off the factory seconds price. You can also sign up on for their email, and you will periodically receive notices of their overstock closeouts, sometimes first quality, sometimes seconds.

Good tips! All-Clad also holds a twice-a-year factory sale out in Pennsylvania that is quite an event itself. We wrote about it years ago -- people are pretty hard-core!

How about a Bundt cake? I find my marble-cake recipe comes out very attractively using a Bundt pan.

Lodge makes a killer enmaled Dutch Oven at a fifth the cost of the same size Le Creuset. Just as good sunce i purchased the Lodge to replace my chipped Le Creuset

Unfortunately, it does go bad. I opened a new tub which had been sitting in my fridge unopened for several months. It was moldy. Aargh. I had to go to plan B for dinner.

That's a REALLY BAD miso right there. Shouldn't have happened, so if I were you I would avoid that brand.

Could people please spell out words? Today so far I have seen AP and OP. What are we talking about?

All purpose and Original Poster.

This made me laugh as figs and stilton are ubiquitous over The Holidays in the UK

I'm in cast iron camp all the way. They do take a little love but give it back plenty. Bonus - roasting in them gives a great crunch. I have my father's from before h was married so they're at least 55 years old! They last well and mine are virtually non-stitck, although this does take a few years to achieve. I can even do my morning over easy in it egg without incident. I cook almost exclusively in cast iron.

I'm wondering if it's time to shop elsewhere or if it's an area-wide problem. For a few weeks now, the tips of all the fresh corn at my nearby supermarket have been black and rotten-looking from insects or disease or - ? The farmers market doesn't even have corn because of all the rain during growing season. Also, the avocados are tasteless.

A few weeks back, when I was testing my corn recipe, I found surprisingly good ears at the Whole Foods near my home in Hyattsville. 


Curious, where do you shop? And how long as the bad corn syndrome been going on?


RECIPE: Steamed Corn on the Grill

hi team-love your chats. i know you get tons of questions and have to pick the ones that will be most appliable to a broad set--but hope you can help me out. I recently moved and was gifted with some generous gift cards to crate and barrell and william sonoma. i think its' time for some big girl knives---really good quality knives that wont cost a mortgage payment. any suggestions? i dont want a knife set because i dot think that i need that many. I'm a home cook. THANKS!

Great gift! Take a look at an article Tim wrote for Voraciously, on just this subject: Skip the 18-piece set. A chef’s knife is the one blade you really need.

And once you've got your knives, check out Becky's piece on maintaining them: Take good care of your kitchen knives, and they will take good care of you.

I really want to make the coconut turmeric cake to take along this weekend when I visit family, but I'd have to bake it Thursday night for a Saturday trip. Will it still be good on Saturday, do you think? Refrigerate or no?

Yup, thanks for asking because I forgot to add that note to the top of the blog post! Pasting it in now. Up to a week at room temp in an airtight container. Not that it will last that long, haha.

Growing up, "almond tofu" was one of my favorites! I forgot all about the dessert until this recipe. Do you think the texture can be simulated with agar powder or flakes? I was thinking a technique from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Pie in the Sky might work.

Yes, I think you could use agar to get the right texture. (Especially if you've got a good technique to work from.)

Let us know!

Almond Jelly With Blueberry-Ginger Compote

RECIPE: Almond Jelly With Blueberry-Ginger Compote

Paring knives are great, but I use my bird's-beak carbon-steel knife from Lee Valley Tool Co. all the time for everything in the kitchen that requires a short-bladed knife.

Great grilled with grilled halloumi and a honey balsamic reduction

Interesting choice of words by Becky "My recipe columns on Voraciously allow me to cherry-pick recipes that I think are appealing" made me wonder if cherries are so expensive because each one is inspected before being picked?

Now if only I had a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary on me! (Apparently it was added in 2003.) That for me is the definitive source when it comes to word origins, but plenty of other folks have taken a stab at it.

Our plants have gone crazy this year and we're going to have way too many eggplants. We've already made ratatouille (the regular and the Georgian, which was interesting) and babaganoush. It's to hot and sticky to do eggplant parm or mousakka. Any suggestions? Plus, is there ant good way to freeze slices to use in the baked casseroles or do I just need to drop off unmarked bags at the neighbors? :)

A few recent favorites:

Eggplant Tacos With Pico de Gallo

Spicy Basil Eggplant With Dates and Cashews

Bucatini in Chunky Eggplant Sauce

As for freezing, yes -- but it's best to cook it before freezing. See this primer from our friends at the Kitchn.

It's people who demand utterly unblemished produce who cause so much perfectly edible food to go to waste in our society. As a home gardener, as well as customer of our local farmers' market, I know that having to cut away a few bad spots (which go on our compost pile) is a small price to pay for reducing food waste. GRRRR!

Is there anyway to make tabbouleh and have it ready to eat immediately, or does it need to set for an hour like most of the recipes I've looked at?

Well, it helps to let the bulgur absorb some of the flavors, but I don't think you need an hour -- 20/30 minutes is enough, probably even less. But here's the other thing: Taste  right after you make it, and decide for yourself!

Depending on what type of cake you're making, consider refrigerating it (or even freezing, if appropriate) once it's made, until you're ready to leave on your trip, so it'll only be out of the fridge for perhaps a few hours.

I can confirm it lasts well over 2 years in the fridge. Don't remember the brand. The Post's recipe for fish in miso broth is a great way to use it up.

Just for the HALIBUT I'm including that recipe here. (So sorry.)

Halibut in Miso Broth

First, I agree with the previous poster who said all produce does not need to be perfect. 1) I have been getting superb corn at the Arlington Courthouse Farmers Market. 2) Just cut the tip off!

Your corn recipes for the summer came right ln time since I have an abundance of corn. I liked the corn and spinach pancake recipe. Is there a way to make it gluten free? Also along with corn i have a lot of poblano peppers and thinking of a cor poblano pepper chowder? Any recipes of suggestions for the two?

You could use a gluten-free flour blend in place of the flour (such as one from Bob's Red Mill, Cup4Cup, or King Arthur Flour).

Corn and Spinach Pancakes

RECIPE: Corn and Spinach Pancakes

Corn and poblano chowder sound DELIGHTFUL. This souffle from Jacques Pepin is worth trying, too:

Corn Souffle

RECIPE: Corn Souffle

See also: Grilled Corn, Peach and Poblano Salad and Poblano, Bacon and Cheddar Skillet Corn Bread (use a gluten-free flour blend for that one, too).

I have a small galley kitchen. What should I be storing in the cabinets over the stove? The easy answer, and what I've been doing, is pots and pans. But often I'll set a pot of water on to boil and then find myself reaching up and over the steaming pot and hot burner(s) to get another pan, which seems like a burn waiting to happen. Now I'm considering putting rarely used items there and the pots somewhere less intuitive but safer, since I'm not probably not going to be the organized person who gets all the pots out ahead of time. You all probably have hoods over your stoves, but if you didn't, what goes best in that space?

I keep a motley assortment of stuff up there. But nothing too perishable because of the heat and nothing too heavy that will break/bonk me when it inevitably falls out. So, dog treats, the emergency paper plates and plastic cutlery, napkins, muffin liners, my canning tools and probably other stuff shoved to the back that I can't remember. I do keep a set of mom & dad oversized coffee mugs there, which is probably a mistake, but they won't fit anywhere else and I'm very careful with them!

I've had good results with buttercream frosted layer cakes that I've frozen for a couple of days (wrap well in plastic wrap and foil after the buttercream has frozen). When ready to leave, place the frozen cake in a small foam ice chest with ice packs,. It will stay frozen for at least a day and will be fresh tasting when defrosted and served.

I wouldn't castigate someone for refusing to buy produce that's obviously gone bad, as opposed to apples wwith some brown spots.

This summer I had a delicious pork saltimbacco that was sautéed in a parchment lined skillet and then finished off in the oven. The pan required very little clean-up, and I wondered if that would be a good technique for sauteeing other meats so I tried it with pounded out chicken breasts. The first time, I coated the chicken in olive oil but the parchment started to scorch before the chicken was done. The next time, I splashed olive oil on the parchment and while the clean-up was easier, it was harder to brown the chicken. Do you have any advice for cooking with pans lined w/ parchment? Maybe it only works well for meats that sautee quickly?

I have never heard of such a thing! Honestly. I would think quickly cleaning out a pan would be so much easier than dealing with fitting in the parchment, keeping it from scorching, etc. -- plus, less waste.  

Hi all, not your usual areas of expertise, but I was wondering if you could recommend a local bakery for a baby shower cake! I'm from out of town, but will be traveling to DC to host a baby shower for my sister and would love to get something local.

Buttercream Bakeshop in Washington makes fabulous (if on the pricier side) cakes. That's where my baby shower cake was from! Probably my favorite bakery in town. The similarly named Bakeshop in Arlington kind of flies under the radar, but I think their stuff is outstanding, too. Baked & Wired and Buzz are great as well.

I usually steer clear of "stuffed veggie" recipes because they're so carb-ful, but several years ago (like maybe 15?) I clipped a recipe from your Food Section that called for slicing deep slits in eggplant halves and cramming in a mix of chopped green olives, capers, fresh parsley, lemon zest -- and, yes, some bread crumbs -- and baking it. Heaven warm or cold.

Sounds like this, minus the bread crumbs and 15 years!

Eggplant Steaks With Salsa Verde

RECIPE: Eggplant Steaks With Salsa Verde

Hate the idea of carrying worms into my apartment and maybe finding them inside the corn when we eat it. Yes, we're city people.

You're not going to miss any worms once you shuck the corn, trust me. I like seeing bugs because it seems to indicate that the food wasn't sprayed to death with pesticides.

I second the Arlington Courthouse farmers market comment - bushels of excellent corn from several vendors. And I know one of the vendors also goes to the Dupont farmers market. it's out there!

which of course is where rain is going to perhaps accumulate and cause some damage--it does not mean inferior corn. To pick a good ear of corn, pick it up and feel to see if it has some heft to it, it should feel "full"--do not peel all the shuck off, because that protects it (and this also makes it less appetizing to the next person shopping).

Know this is really late, but Pistachio Butter!!

We covered that one! So good.

I admit cutting off the top of my home grow corn to remove the corn borers. The rest of the corn is tender and sweet.

If I see an All Clad pot at Home Goods or TJ Maxx, can I assume it worth buying? Are there lesser All Clad lines that might show up there?

I think you are probably safe! I'm not sure anything is really lesser. I use the 3-layer cookware like I mentioned, but they do have a 5-layer, for example, but I don't think that's a must-have or a strike against the 3-layer.

I'm curious what you think about a topic circling around Gene Weingarten's chat yesterday. When eating chicken wings, do you prefer flats or drumettes? (Obviously vegetarians are exempt from answering this question.) I mentioned it to my husband of 20 years, and a close friend I've known just as long, and was shocked to find a deep, passionate commitment to flats. I prefer the drums, because the the meat-to-skin/sauce ratio, but I'm not so picky as to really register it as definite preference. I guess I just didn't notice all those times the flats disappeared off the plate of wings! (And those mostly cartilage tips? Cats love 'em and they are safe for them to eat, even cooked.)

Hot take: I hate eating wings. :-D

That sounds heavenly. Do you think it would be most similar to making almond butter or peanut butter? For almond butter I find I have to roast the nuts first or they take forever to process, but I don't have the same trouble with peanuts. What do you think about pistachios? Roast first or no? Yes I could google but I trust your opinions!

Yes, always roast!

I took my father in law to Jinya over in Mosiac on Sunday and he loved it. I've made Ramen at home plenty of times but can never get the broth right. Of course I tried asking for their recipe since we LOVED it but they wouldn't give it up. Any idea's what makes it so much better? Ideally I'm looking for their spicy chicken ramen recipe.

Without sneaking into Jinya's kitchen to pilfer its recipe, I'd suggest walking through these ramen steps from Epicurious. Great ramen doesn't require a ton of skill. It just requires a ton of time. 


It also requires some basic building blocks of flavor: like a kombu dashi; a robust tare, or base; and a deep, flavorful stock (built with the chicken parts, bones and aromatics). 


I suspect that, with time and repeated practice, you can make a ramen every bit as good as Jinya's.

It looks like it's on its way towards becoming huitlacoche. Like, rot more than bugs. Is that still ok to eat minus the tip?

Just let the huitlacoche develop, and then sell it for big $ to Victor Albisu or the folks at Oyamel.

Okay, admittedly that was to get attention. But it is for a good cause: good food fast. A frozen pound cake (yours, Sarah Lees) can go upscale while still frozen. Take it out od the pan and poke it all over with a skewer. Put it back still frozen into its pan. Pour deeply colored liqueur around on top with some running down the sides. Set it aside to thaw unevenly during dinner. Slice. The slices look great but frame them with Real whip or piped whipped cream. Put a few slices of nice fruit inside the frame.

I've been in search of the perfect honey wheat bread recipe. I thought I had found one on Rock Recipes for Honey Oat Bran Bread While it holds together when cut, I still get a lot of crumbs coming from the slices. Is this by nature of the recipe? Something I'm doing wrong? Any suggestions for a bread recipe that won't leave me covered in crumbs when I have a sandwich?

Could be! Could be that the oat flour is keeping it crumbly, and there isn't quite enough gluten? Just a stab.

Here are two recipes you might like from us.

Oatmeal Batter Bread

RECIPE: Oatmeal Batter Bread

Whole-Meal Bread

RECIPE: Whole-Meal Bread

I'm having a moving party and trying to drink up most of my alcohol. Any suggestions for a batch cocktail to be served at brunch with either gin or tequila and that hopefully features lemon juice? I coincidentally have a lot of that freshly squeezed Something easy and light would be best Thanks!

You might try this one? There's also a lovely cocktail called a Carondelet that can be batched quite easily.

I steer clear of too-hot peppers, but I love the tang and flavor of paprika, both hot and sweet. Is there some way of finding out what Kashmiri consists of?

Kashmiri chile peppers are not hot, compared to the other flamethrowers available in India.


According to Pepper Scale, Kashmiris range between 1,000 and 2,000 Scoville Heat Units or SHU. That makes the pepper generally milder than a jalapeno. 


Compare that to, say, the Naga Morich, which is sometimes called (rightly) the serpent pepper. It's SHU is more than 1 million!

Well, you've spooned us onto rolls, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the q's -- and thanks to Carrie for help with the a's!

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who wrote in about using fresh peaches in the muffin recipe will get... "The Washington Post Cookbook"! Send your mailing info to, and she'll get it to you.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is the lead writer for Voraciously.
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