Free Range on Food: Reusable straws, endlessly adaptable galette, this week's recipes and more.

Sep 19, 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 what we've cooked up for you recently, including: 

Our package on plastic straws, including Kristen Hartke's take on what companies are doing to move past them and Maura's great alternative-to-disposable "taste" test.

Polina Chesnakova's fantastic recipe(s) for an amazing galette dough (easier than pie!) and how to use it.

Nevin Martell's piece on taking his kid's rejected bread crusts, apple peels and broccoli stems and turning them into new dishes he'll love.

Becky's primer -- just posted today -- on cooking pork chops, thin or thick.

So much more, including my black bean taquitos, Bonnie's green tahini salad,  and and and ...

We will have two special guests today: Polina, an excellent baker who can also handle plenty of great savory cooking; and Nevin, who can help with any quirky-kid-food questions (and many others). Hit them both -- and all of us -- with anything that's on your mind! Note that Ms. Benwick is out for Yom Kippur today, but we will struggle on without her wisdom!

We'll have a giveaway book today: "The Washington Post Cookbook" -- I think you know the one! 

And for you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR2600 . 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.

Let's do this.

I've been thinking about the chatter last week who asked about leaving the eggs on the counter and the advice was to throw them out. Specifically, I started thinking about recipes that TELL you to use room temp eggs. Even a cool room temp is about 30F above fridge temp. Wouldn't that take a while to warm them up and what are we supposed to do? Usually, I don't think about those things and end up using a cold egg, but if I'm on top of my recipe in advance, what should I do?

Eggs come to room temperature relatively quickly, about 30 minutes or so. (You can also cheat by placing cold eggs in warm water for 5 minutes.) For that short period, you're not really going to risk salmonella running rampant. Room temperature eggs are often recommended for baking, because they can do a better job being incorporated into batters and also incorporating air so you get better texture and lift.

I had a bag of limes to use up, and after making lime bars I thought I'd try my hand at making candied limes. I thought they'd make a nice garnish for the bars. I simmered thin slices in a 1:1 sugar syrup for 15-20 minutes, let them dry, then coated in sugar. They were not good. There was some weird aftertaste that was even in the leftover syrup that was really unpleasant. I didn't think it was bitter, or I'd suspect I was just tasting the pith. Other than not using your recipe, what could have gone wrong?

It could've been the pesticides sprayed on the skin or certain compounds that were released during cooking.

When I candy grapefruit, I put it through a few rounds of blanching (Place it in a saucepan with cold water, bring it to a boil and let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat process 2 to 3 times, using fresh water for each round.). This removes any bitterness or unwanted flavors. I'd maybe try doing that before simmering your slices in sugar syrup. 

My favorite sandwich in the world is Busboys and Poets's vegan Vegan "Tuna" Salad Sandwich. I've tried recreating it at home, but while this recipe is good, it's not the same. Busboys and Poets lists the ingredients on their menu, but I haven't had success guessing the right proportions. Any chance you can get their recipe?

I'll ask, sure!

We've got our own take on chickpea salad -- a curried one that's excellent, but still wouldn't be just what you're looking for. I see that B&P includes nori, relish, vegan mayo. I'd be tempted to throw some Old Bay seasoning in there just to amp up the seafood-esque-ness.

I am looking for recommendations for a Korean cookbook. Do you know of any that fall in between easy - moderate difficulty recipes?

I haven't had a chance to cook from it yet, but I'm excited to try Korean Home Cooking by Sohui Kim with Rachel Wharton

I'm making Halloween shaped cookies, and it seems like none of my recipes are conducive to rolling and cutting them. Any good ones you guys know of? Not sugar cookies please I'm looking for something with more flavor.

Having a flashback to the Freaks and Geeks Halloween episode now. :)

Anyway, how about these chocolate and chipotle ones? (Ignore the Christmas decor.)

Chocolate Cinnamon Chipotle Cookies

RECIPE: Chocolate Cinnamon Chipotle Cookies

Or these winners from Dorie Greenspan (they're vanilla, but check out the variations at the bottom -- and of course you could play around with other spices to make them more flavorful.)

Dorie Greenspan’s Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan’s Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough

Also REALLY liked these ones -- they're not super sweet, have a delicate anise flavor, and are made with lard (but you can use vegetable shortening if you'd rather). 


RECIPE: Biscochitos

I made salad dressing with tofu as its base (a block of silken tofu, a spoonful of greek yogurt, fresh herbs, S&P, garlic), and even though I whizzed the tofu and yogurt in my Vitamix for about 30-45 seconds, it came out grainy. Is this just a feature of tofu dressing, or do I need another brand? Maybe blend it longer? And while we're on the subject, do you have any good recipes for this that I could try? Googling "tofu salad dressing" mostly returns salads with tofu in them. Thanks!

Did you use the silken tofu that's in the shelf-stable asceptic package? I haven't had graininess with that, and love it, but make sure you use the one also labeled "soft," shown here.

And do I have a recipe for you! It's so good I've been making it in many variations for 10 years or so now. It's a ton of herbs, oil, garlic, vinegar or citrus, s&p. Incredible. No yogurt needed -- and you can vary the ingredients to your heart's content.

RECIPE: Cilantro Goddess Dressing

Hello, I’ve tried twice now to make Ellie Krieger’s lemon poppyseed bread, which was mentioned in a recent chat I think. The first time it sunk in the middle and was liquidy on top, even after baking more than the suggested time. The second time, it wasn’t liquidy and top but still sunk in the middle. The flavor is really good so I would like to try again – any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong?

Hm, do you have an oven thermometer? Your oven temperature might be off and need to be recalibrated. Or perhaps your baking powder or baking soda is expired?

Which size loaf pan are you using? 

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

RECIPE: Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

I picked 30lbs of asian pears last weekend. That's great, but I only have so much room for so long in my fridge. I've looked through recipe finder and experimented on my own, but I need help. I made asian pear slaw w/ tacos, I put asian pear in a salad, I made asian pear sauce (fresh the texture was weird, cooked, the flavor was absent). I've dehydrated some for later. Will they freeze at all usefully for baked goods later, like standard pears? I can't quite imagine their delicate flavor coming through in much, but I would love a crisp. I read David Hagedorn's 2012 article and would love to try the homemade gingerbread newtons, but I've got asian pears and not the extra things he used. But his discussion of the cooked texture of the asian pears (not breaking down) and my own not-applesaucy asian pear sauce experience has left me stumped since I was planning on subbing them in. Would roasting them still work, like apples or pears? We like to eat them fresh, but we also like to have other things in season!

Ah, so many possibilities.

May I suggest making a shrub out of them? If you're not familiar with shrub, it's a tangy fruit syrup preserved with vinegar that can be used in cocktails, vinaigrettes, or my favorite- simply mixing it with seltzer or club soda for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink. My go-to recipe is a 1:1:1 ration of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. I love using apple cider vinegar, but any will do! And I know that's a lot of sugar, but it's produces a concentrated syrup - a little goes a long way. Whisk your sugar into the vinegar until its dissolved and add to it pears that have been coarsely chopped or sliced (no need to core or peel!). You can play around with additional flavors - fresh ginger I think would be delicious, or a star anise or two, whole cinnamon stick, citrus peel... really anything! And then just pop it in the fridge and wait for ideally 2 weeks. Strain and you've got shurb! Easy, no cook way to use up surplus seasonal fruit - and the raw vinegar and fermentation process is good for your gut too!

As for your freezing question, I think they would freeze up beautifully- just make sure to peel and core them beforehand. Asian pears have such a lovely crisp texture - I think they'd really go well in, surprise, a galette! Core, peel, and cut into 1/4-inch slices, toss with sugar, lemon zest, any spices you'd like, and a bit of melted butter, and lay them out in a beautiful concentric circle or just pile them into a big mound before folding edges of the dough and baking. I just wrote about my favorite dough recipe here

Peeled and cored, I think they'd freeze beautifully! 

I have gotten into the habit of cooking some chicken breasts in the instant pot, shredding it, and putting it in the freezer for later use. Later use being limited to on top of salads or a yummy chicken and kale enchilada casserole. Any other suggestions for using the shredded chicken. I'm cooking for one and freeze in one cup packages.

#TacoTuesday or tossed with soba noodles, chopped scallions, cilantro, carrot matchsticks, and a soy or sesame dressing. 

I just missed the live chat last week and I don't know if you bother posting chatter recommendations a week later but if so, I can't recommend Le Foodist enough. They have all sorts of classes from cooking full meals to specific baking classes for breads or pastries. They also do market tours and wine tasting classes and everything is taught in English. The owner, Fred, is a great teacher and a really fun guy to chat with.

Can you use them safely? I wash thoroughly and roast them for sauce - for big ones, cut off the split parts - but for the little ones, what do you do? Kills me to compost them all and yeah, the blasted birds.

They're totally fine to use. Not sure why you even need to cut off the split parts?

Hi all, I've gotten into the habit of making a big vegan stew out of whatever I have on hand once a week and eating it for as long as it lasts. So far not using a recipe has worked out fine, but what I made on Monday is meh. Not sure why... maybe added too much acid via lime juice? I also used some peppers from a relative's garden that I was unfamiliar with, after tasting for heat, and think they may have added an unpleasant note after the 45min or so they cooked- they looked like greenish banana peppers but tasted (raw) like mild green peppers. Started with a base of sauteed onions/garlic, added poblanos, mystery peppers, cumin, coriander, paprika, two Chile en adobo, diced fresh tomato, bunch of spinach, can of chickpeas, quinoa, juice from a large lime, and probably other things but I forget. Was hoping for smoky/spicy but it's fairly acidic w a surprisingly bland undertone. Ideas on how to fix it? I'm not willing to scrap it but unexcited about the 4+ dinners left.

Hmm, sounds like those peppers might have been part of the problem indeed. But also sounds like you need some more umami to help pull it together and add some depth. When I'm in this boat, I usually try some miso and/or tamari, liquid aminos, tomato paste. And ... a little sweetness sometimes helps pull thing together, and in this case would help tone down the tartness. Honey if that's not out of bounds, or a touch of agave, molasses, or pinch of good old sugar.

Thanks Joe - good to know

Does he eat the brocc stems?

I'm so glad you liked the article. I'll admit, the broccoli stems took some convincing, but now he'll eat them, though he still prefers the florets. Personally, I like the stems more, so I'm always happy to eat any of the leftovers.

ARTICLE: How I turned sandwich crusts and my 5-year-old's other food rejects into dishes he loves

Thank you for your response - last week (?) about Dr. Gundry.

You're welcome!

For those who missed it, it's here.

Don't compost your tomatoes, unless you can be absolutely sure that your pile is reaching a really hot temperature. Tomatoes carry all kinds of plant diseases that need hot composting to kill.

It's not exactly a cookbook, but this site offers a variety of Korean recipes adapted to the American kitchen. She also has a youtube channel that has great step-by-step recipe videos. Also, Robin Ha's Cook Korean! is a fun comic-style cookbook that has some tasty recipes.

I'm having a dinner party this weekend and am feeling uninspired by the prospect of another round of summer dishes, but my apartment is not yet really cool enough for fall braises or soups. What are you all liking to cook for a crowd in this in-between time?

Last week I made a great vegetable lasagna. It didn't feel too heavy for me at this time of year, and I got to use all the nice eggplant and summer squash still at the farmers market. And this week my family is chowing down on black bean burgers.

What about a big grain salad? You can even cook your farro (my vote, it has good texture and holds up well to vinaigrette and wetter ingredients), quinoa, barley- or even green lentils?- ahead of time. Before serving, toss the grains with whatever fresh or roasted vegetables you have on hand, maybe some nuts or seeds for crunch, and fresh herbs for a pop of color and flavor. Crumbly feta, goat cheese, or shaved parmesan isn't necessary, but would certainly be a delicious addition. 

This past weekend, I made a big paella -- one of my favorite foods, but feels particularly good for shoulder season! I put chickpeas, green beans, shishitos in it.

Almost anything from Ottolenghi's cookbooks, but particularly something like the Peach, Rosemary and Lime Galette or the Figs with Young Pecorino and Honey.

Any word on how restaurateurs in the path of Hurricane Florence are faring? I assume most are closed for the duration, and perhaps taking their talents (and surplus foodstuffs) to kitchens that are feeding first responders, evacuees and other helpers in the region. Kinston, NC., where Vivian Howard's restaurants are located, seems to be a particularly badly hit area. Are some of them collaborating with José Andrés' operation?

Restaurants in Wilmington, which took the brunt of Florence, started to open as soon as 24 hours after the hurricane, according to news reports. The key was getting the power back on quickly, and NC officials were right on top of that. The state had many crews just waiting to restore power. Food safety is obviously a concern when the power remains out for prolonged periods, but one restaurateur came up with a creative solution.


The scene was much the same in Fayetteville, a couple of hours inland from Wilmington. Restaurants reopened soon after the storm had passed.

hey - just wanted to say thanks for the weekly newsletter. So far I've cooked 2 recipes each for weeks 1 & 2 - I'd prefer a more traditional layout of ingredients & instructions, but I am enjoying the actual food. Thanks for giving me something new to cook and not making me do the work to put the shopping lists together!

To ramp up the flavor of a stew or stir-fry: add a couple of splashes of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. It makes a big difference.

Yep, I suggested tamari/aminos, which do the same job as soy sauce. This one was too acidic, the OP said, so don't think vinegar is the key, but I do like to employ that generally, thanks!

I've been trying to recreate some of my old favorite comfort food recipes from childhood. One that I can't get to come out the same is my mom's cream of potato soup, which used up leftover ham. I'm OK with these not being identical to the originals, but I'd like to get closer than what's essentially a bowl of milk, potatos, and basil. Any idea what might make a good substitute for ham? (I'm not sure if such a thing as vegetarian ham exists out in the wider world, but if it does, my grocery store doesn't carry it.)

Maybe some large beans seasoned with lots of smoked paprika? It's not the same texture as ham, but it'd give you a slight chew (and also a bit of protein) and then the paprika would lend a nice smoky flavor. If you're cooking the beans from dry, you could drop a few black cardamom pods into the broth -- they're a little funky and add an almost bacon-y flavor.

But when I think about soup with ham, it's really the chewy texture of the ham that I like...maybe you could cook cubes of tofu (again, seasoning well with smoked paprika or something else smoky) until they're a little chewy, and add that?

I'm also stuck on the idea of the tofu that tops the Vegan Ramen Bowls that Joe wrote about a while back -- the hoisin glaze made the exterior crispy and caramelized, and if you cut the cubes on the smaller side, they get a little chewy on the inside, too. You could try that technique, but with, say, a sweet-ish, KC-style barbecue sauce instead of hoisin.

Or there's probably some product out there that you can buy. But why buy when you can experiment, right?

I didn't know that about tomatoes. What if I freeze them first, will that make a difference?

Just what is malted milk? Is it appropriate for celiacs? I know it was popular in the fifties. Does anybody drink it any more? Is it available in supermarkets? Under what brands? I presume this is done with cow's milk. Do they malt any of the other milks, like almond and soy?

Pretty much everything you want to know about malted milk powder is in this post from Stella Parks at Serious Eats. It's a mix barley malt, wheat, milk and salt, so alas, not good for celiacs. Sure, people still drink it -- you've heard of Ovaltine, right? Ovaltine and Carnation are the brands you will probably see at the store. Looks like this may be a malted soy milk.

I have a cup and a half of heavy cream from a local farm, five medium potatoes from the farmer's market, and some fresh cremini mushrooms. I really need to use them up for dinner tonight since today's farmer's market will no doubt load me up with more fresh produce! ANy ideas?

You've got a stellar, easy meal in the making! Saute those mushrooms with onions, garlic and maybe some fresh thyme if you've got that around, add some cream (not sure you'll need all that depending on how many mushrooms you have). Meanwhile, roast the potatoes, roughly smash them, and spoon the mushrooms on top. Yum!

(If you want to get a little more ambitious, of course, you can boil the potatoes whole, smash them flat while warm, and then roast at high heat after drizzling with oil and adding a lot of salt.)

Never been to Busyboys & Poets (I'm in California), but I love this Smitten Kitchen recipe for her smashed chickpea salad. I think kalamata olives are key

Sure, but this one is a chickpea "tuna," so the OP is looking for something that gets closer to the seafood-y flavors. The B&P recipe, as I mentioned, includes nori.

Never thought of that, but I don't know. Where's Adrian Higgins when you need him?

Sadly, not at his desk (which is in my line of vision).

I'm just recently learning to freeze things for later consumption - I often freeze poached chicken breasts, but sometimes that's too much. Thanks for the shredding idea. So simple, yet I never thought of it.

Maangchi! She's got a website so you can try things out there before getting the book.

try some "mushroom bacon/jerky"! I toss thinly sliced criminis or shiitakes in aminos and liquid smoke - then put them in the oven at 300F until you get the texture you want. It reminds me a LOT of the "fried ham" (basically searing thin slices of deli ham in a skillet) that my grandpa used to make for breakfast when I was a kid.

Mushroom dauphinoise would be amazing


Second Maangchi's Korean cookbook. She also has a website and a YouTube channel if you want to try before you buy. As for Asian pears, Maangchi uses them a lot in marinades. I'm also partial to eating them, but we've made a galette out of ours and Dorie Greenspan's custard apple squares with excellent results!

My farmer's market had purple-hulled peas last week, and I set about three cups of them to simmer for the potato-pea salad from your field-pea article in about 2014. Then I forgot them, and they're now more like canned chick-peas for texture. They don't taste that much like cannellinni beans or garbanzos so I'm wondering what's the best use for them?

More like canned chickpeas in texture doesn't sound overcooked to me! Why can't you still use them in that potato salad? It was delicious, I remember!

I have had success using the recipes at Maangchi has also written a cookbook so if you like the online recipes, you may choose to buy the book.

If you start investigating the subject, I think you'll find almost universal praise for this volume: "Koreatown: A Cookbook," Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard.

If they look weird, they go into yard waste recycling - not my compost - figure that is better than going into a landfill. Trying to do my best.

I've decided to get back to making my own yogurt, and I guess I've never known how to guesstimate an expiration date. Would it be the same as the milk I use to make it? Or should I just sort of arbitrarily say no longer than two weeks?

Because yogurt is a living thing and your homemade version doesn't have any preservatives to keep it fresh for longer, I think it's hard to put a set expiration date as they do in the store. That being said, I think the general rule is about 2 weeks. There's also always trial by taste :) If if it still tastes good, go for it. If it taste's off, listen to your survival instincts and scrap it!

Thanks for the tip, the recipe, and the link! It's funny because I used a tofu that I had actually just picked at random at H Mart---which was the exact same brand as the one you sent me to, but it was the blue package, which is firm, not the red package, which is soft. I'll try again! I'm a meat eater who's trying to integrate healthier, less animal-product-dependent foods into my diet. If I can get the consistency right, this seems like it could be a 1-to-1 replacement for cream- or mayo-based dressings.

Absolutely, I love it so much. I make it every few weeks.

Carnation (I believe that's the brand) still makes malted milk mix. My grocery store carries it next to the Ovaltine. When I can't sleep, I make a glass of Ovaltine using milk and add a spoonful of the malted milk mix. According to a very old doctor I used to see, malt helps you sleep.

Hey, if it works!

whew! wiping brow...we have so much trouble with early blight and late blight and everything in between that we just gave up on raising our own tomatoes.

I've been growing tomatoes for 20 years, both at home and at a community garden. While it's true that tomatoes are subject to many diseases (fusarium, verticullarium, early and late blights, etc.), I don't think composting them will appreciably add to the risk of your tomatoes (or other plants) getting affected. The diseases are in the soil and become airborne when rain splashes on the ground so, while your soil may be fine, your neighbors' might not be. There are things you can do to reduce the effect on your plants but I've found they all eventually succumb to one or more diseases. I think a bigger issue is that unless you maintain a hot pile, the tomatoes might attract rats.

Can you recommend resources for the best ways to use an electric skillet? I know it is an "old school" tool and people have insta-whatevers now -- but I vaguely remember my grandmother using a rack in an electric skillet to make roasts, etc. -- sort of like a mini oven. I'd love to make more use of ours, especially as it would save a lot of heat (maybe electricity?) when it is just the two of us. I realize it is not suited to baking per se, but what uses are there beyond it being a skillet? Thank you.

Afraid I don't have a ton of recommendations for you. But people do swear by them for making latkes!

Anyone else?

I've twice run into recipes that say to "saute [something] slowly," which to me is a contradiction in terms. I thought saute-ing meant quickly over high heat while tossing or stirring. How do you do that slowly? Is it saute-ing if you lower the temperature? Help!

The term "saute" has become inaccurately synonymous for any cooking in a pan. The original French meaning is "to jump," meaning you're tossing the ingredients at high heat. So just cook it without worrying about the terminology!

Well, OK, I'll try it, and report back.

Thanks for the suggestions! I had soaked some dried mushrooms to add but they ended up in a different dish, so that would've helped with the umami. Will play around with it when I get home- adding soy sauce (or maybe Maggi) + agave (honey is fine, I just have a lot more agave) to tonight's portion and then to the remainder if it's a win.

All of the recipes sound great - but give me the first one to try that may please my audience - I think they are savory - so guessing the mushroom? Can you suggest another herb to sub in for fennel? I don't cook w/it much, but if anything tastes like black jelly beans, I'm in trouble.

I think you could easily substitute the fennel and shallot for an equal amount of yellow onion (about 1 1/2 medium-sized). Mushroom and caramelized onion are a classic pairing and for a reason - they're delicious together! 

For more filling inspiration, the Post has a delicious harissa, squash, and feta version and they recently put up a recipe for one filled with heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese. You can still use my galette dough recipe and just swap out the filling! As I've stated before, the beauty of galettes is that they're endlessly adaptable. 

Is a restaurant legally required to provide straws for the disabled?

Via the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, italics mine

Q. What Other Services Are Restaurants Required To Provide Customers With Disabilities?

A. Restaurants are required to make reasonable modifications to their policies and procedures to prevent discrimination against customers with disabilities. Keeping straws on hand for use by customers with manual impairments and unwrapping them if requested; cutting up foods if requested by a customer; providing a glass, cup, or different sized dish that is easier for a customer to handle if requested; and providing assistance to customers who request help removing their coats or jackets are examples of reasonable modifications for most restaurants and bars.

However, a quick search of the ADA website's fact sheet on food service shows straws as a "quick tip" and something that will be appreciated. So it is unclear whether straws, specifically, are legally mandated -- but they are certainly recommended as a basic accommodation. 

Someone asked last week about using apples (maybe Jonagolds?) for pie. Most states where apples are grown (and for that matter, quite a lot of orchards) list the best uses for each variety. The U.S. Apple Growers Association also has a list Virtually all of these lists tell you the best uses for each type, such as eating out of hand, soft pies, firm-slice pies, sauce, etc.

What a great resource - especially for us bakers. Thank you!

Not quite the same thing, but I make a corn/cheddar/beer chowder with lots of diced potatoes in it, plus a little bit of diced red and green sweet peppers (we chop peppers in-season, then freeze for the rest of the year).

Well that sounds lovely!

Also another thing, ham replacement chatter: Mushrooms! Thinking the big, hearty ones such as king trumpet (chopped and cooked before you add to the soup) would be perfect.

Is that the same ingredient that soda jerks used to add a spoonful of to a Chocolate Milkshake before mixing on the machine? I haven't had a Chocolate Malt in DECADES (yes, I'm shouting), but now I have such a hankering for one!!!

Yes, it is! Go forth, and make a chocolate malt!

I also like it in my pancakes and waffles.

Cook it slowly and pretend the word "saute" isn't in there, or actually saute?

The former.

Make Joe's kim-cheese, of course! You're not going to use up 30 pounds of them that way, but it'll be a delicious start!''

Grilled Kimcheese

RECIPE: Grilled Kimcheese

Love that recipe.

Aw, shucks!

I have died and gone to heaven! THanks!

One nice thing about disposable straws is not having to worry about sanitizing them. Another is, they don't add a flavor to the drink. When I was in elementary school, I had a reusable metal straw at home that made a loop part way down (like a roller coaster) and it was only mine so it seemed really special but things tasted different through metal. And I didn't carry it around with me. As to wood, I've heard it doesn't sanitize in the dishwasher so you wouldn't want to use a not-new one in a restaurant, just like you don't use used chopsticks. Or maybe that's not true about sanitizing wood?

That was our big concern with the bamboo straws. We felt like we'd never be able to get them clean enough, and we worried about the inside of the straw shedding little splinters when we stuck a brush in there. We put one in the dishwasher as an experiment! It did not end well. 

They're great for making potstickers.

The Honeyed Fig and Walnut Galette is a recipe that I would like to prepare, Where can I fine fresh figs? Additionally, I'm having a wine and cheese tasting and the appetizer I will be serving is a smoked king salmon pate' what wine would you suggest I should serve with the pate'?

To answer your first question, I've had a lot of success at Trader Joe's! You can get a whole pound's worth of black mission figs for less than $4.00... They also tend to have other varieties, as well as organic ones, too. I've been stocking up while they're available! Another place I've seen them is at Whole Foods and it never hurts to check your local farmer's market. 

As for the wine question - maybe someone with more experience can speak to it? 

I sent Dave your wine-pairing q and am hoping to hear back before our time is up. In the meantime, what else is going in your pate besides the smoked salmon? That might help us figure out a good rec.

I used to eat a lot of pork, but then pretty much stopped as I learned about how abusive the hog industry is. I discovered Niman Ranch humanely-raised pork products a couple of years ago and buy their brand exclusively. They taste so much better as the hogs are allowed to move around freely and are fed better food.

I take it this is regarding my piece for Voraciously? Thanks for sharing. I know people are fans of that brand.

pork chops

ARTICLE: How to cook the best pork chops, through thick and thin

I have gout (Thanks, Mom!) and so can't eat the following: shellfish, citrus, mushroom, pork, beef (rarely), black beans, tuna, asparagus, peas, spinach. Basically, everything I love. I can have some beans, tofu (yeah!), most vegetables, chicken. What can I make to take the place of tuna salad that isn't egg salad?

Those chickpea salad ideas we mentioned earlier in the chat could work (if you can have chickpeas?). Sub in a little Old Bay and/or crumbled nori or nori flakes for the curry in the Curried Chickpea Salad recipe I posted, and see what you think! And if I get the chickpea "tuna" salad recipe from Busboys and Poets I'll post it.

How do you make sure a galette won't leak?

Two ways:

1) You want to make sure your filling ingredients aren't too wet. You can avoid this by roasting veggies to help rid them of their extra moisture or tossing your fruit in cornstarch or flour (along with your sugar and other flavorings) to help absorb their liquids. Also, putting down some kind of base like ricotta, chevre, or in the instance of my honey-fig recipe, a nut and sugar mixture, helps kind of "glue" your toppings into place.

2) You want to make sure you fold the edges of your dough so that they're overlapping- any gaps will lead to leakage. After you assembled the galette, pop it into the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow the glutens to relax and the dough to absorb moisture and chill. If you really don't want your edges to budge and insure that nothing leaks, pop it into the freezer for another 15 to 20 minutes. That'll make the crust sturdier and hold its shape better. Hope that helps! 

I just made this last night, using Polina's dough and my own filling -- I kept the ricotta base (using Kite Hill vegan ricotta), along with kale (cooked so most of its liquid was gone), sliced potatoes (that I had jump-started in the microwave), chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes. Was really good, and didn't leak a bit!

Tofurky makes the BEST ham roast! When I can't find it in my local grocery stores I buy online from It comes with a glaze. With some added mustard to it, it's like the roasted ham we had when I was a child.

I absolutely LOVED this as a child - yes, in the 1950s. It was sold in jars in gumball-size tablets that I would pop in my mouth. I think the brand name was something like Horchows? They were very, very fattening and wonderful. I can taste them just thinking about them, which is certainly a less-fattening option than eating them!

Sounds like a fond memory! 

I had a friend with cerebral palsy. She could not open paper packets of sugar. Friends can help in other ways, eg., when we'd buy a pizza to go, usually the square-slice kind, I'd cut them into pieces she could handle.

My jalapeno plants are producing like crazy! I have already pickled many pints, now I want to make cream cheese poppers and freeze them. Most of the recipes I see call for adding cheddar cheese. Does the cheddar keep the cream cheese from melting out while cooking? If not, I would rather do straight up cream cheese.

I feel like cheddar/other cheeses are added more for flavor. Try straight cream cheese with a few peppers and see how you like it!

I plan to serve the salmon pate' on crackers.

Using other online sources, it seems that the problem is composting tomato plants, not the tomatoes.

I'm 100% with Todd Thrasher. I wish he'd go a step further and only stock metal straws, and charge the $2 or whatever it takes to cover the cost.

Charging extra money is an excellent way to get people who don't really need straws to give up on them quickly. But it could be seen as discrimination for people with disabilities -- and they have a harder time with metal straws than plastic ones. So any restaurant that is thinking of this will need to build in protections for people who truly need the straws.  

I've had Feliz Navidad stuck in my head ever since you posted the cactus cookies! Love, your former next door neighbor (waves from Columbus!)

!!! You're welcome, hope Columbus is treating you well!

For the poster looking for ideas - what can't you use it for!? Besides your enchiladas and salads, it can be used in any number of pasta dishes (tomato-based sauces, cream-based, Greek-inspired, etc.), chicken curry, sandwich fillings (not just chicken salad but stuffing pita too), quesadillas (I like chicken mushroom poblano), added to soups. It does everything.

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I have some peaches and will try them tonight!


So it got hot again and tonight I'm serving roasted veggies, chickpeas, and naan, all to be cooked no the charcoal grill. I'd love to make the galette- would it work on the grill?

Oh, now that's an interesting take on galette I've never thought of! One of the keys to baking these sort of pastries, pies and tarts include, is starting them out in a really hot oven so that the butter doesn't have a chance to melt out.

If you want to go for it, I'd say: get your grill hot- about 400 and 425 degrees- and carefully, but quickly, transfer your galette (freeze it for about 20 to 30 minutes so that it's sturdier) over onto the racks. Shut the lid and let it bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then adjust heat to 375 to finish it off. I'd do this all over indirect heat! We want a golden brown, not charred crust :) 

If you try it, I'd love to hear how it goes!

Thanks for the tofu salad dressing recipe and all the fun veg-related info today. Add me to the list of folks who'd love the B&B tuna recipe, if they'd be willing to share.

Tim - really like your column and have visited many of the places you recommend. Always been curious (and I'd ask Tom this too) after you decide to write about a place, do you call the restaurant and say we're doing a review and sending a photographer out? Full disclosure - have no affiliation w/any restaurant - just wondered how it works.

Thank you. I'm so grateful that you're a devoted reader of the column.


It's a good question. I call the restaurant owner and/or chef only after I have finished my visits. I'm clearly trying to avoid tipping them off about the review. 


With that said, there have been numerous occasions when I have spoken to a chef and/or owner and they've told me about a dish that I missed during my visits. If the review will feel deficient without a mention of that dish, I will go back and try it. In that case, they may spot me or know I'm coming, but I consider it the price to pay for a complete review. (I should note that the restaurant doesn't always ID me when I return; many of the places I visit are not used to spotting critics.)

I was out to lunch with my parents and talking about straws when, lo, I came home and read (then forwarded) the article to my mom. She uses straws since she's had some neck vertebrae fused. She uses them all the time and they were concerned about a need to stockpile them.

Tim, did you ever do your survey of viet namese restaurants - I'm still looking for some place good convenient to NW DC - not sure where to go since Nam Viet closed in cleveland park.

Still working on that!

How about Pasta e Fagioli (pronounced "pasta-fazhool" in some Italian dialects)? I first heard of it (as well as pizza pie) in Dean Martin's early 1950s hit "That's Amoré,"and although my schoolmates and I loved to sing the song during recess, none of us had any idea what those things were!

Of course! Yes!

Pull up the menu here.

Works well in quiche - I do this for my meat eating husband and I have a veg quiche. He enjoys it

I made the cherry bounce and am pleased with how it turned out, but I noticed that after I put it in a bottle, a little more sediment has collected at the bottom. Is this a problem other than somewhat spoiling the appearance? Should I decant it again?

Cathy Barrow says:

Perfectly normal. Drink up!

Well, you've brushed us with egg wash and baked us for an hour, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and many thanks to Nevin and Polina for helping with the a's.

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who first asked about split tomatoes (prompting the discussion of composting) 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.
Maura Judkis
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.
Polina Chesnakova
Polina Chesnakova is a baker based in Seattle. She blogs at
Nevin Martell
Nevin Martell is a Washington area writer
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