washingtonpost.com
Free Range on Food: Cupcake Advice from Georgetown Cupcake's Owners, Sides for Chili, Cabbage Ideas and Jacques Pepin Anecdotes

The Food Section
of the Washington Post
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:00 PM

A chat with the Washington Post Food Section staff is a forum for discussion of all things culinary: food trends, recipes, ingredients, menus, gadgets and more. You can share your thoughts on the latest Food section, get suggestions from fellow cooks and food lovers, or swap old-fashioned recipes the new-fashioned way. The Food section staff goes Free Range on Food every Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.

A transcript follows.

Transcripts of past chats

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Joe Yonan: Welcome, all, to the most important thing happening today: Free Range.

Seriously, I realize that dinner might not be the top thing on everyone's minds after yesterday's historic election, but we don't have any intention of shirking our duties, and stand at the ready to take all your food-related questions.

And, of course, we had our own results in the section today, the results of our own little election -- really, an appointment by a select group of judges with incredibly good taste, if we do say so ourselves. We crowned Georgetown Cupcake's Chocolate Ganache as the winner of our Cupcake Wars. It's been a blast working on this for the last couple of months, but our waistlines are glad it's ending.

But we're going out with a bang. Our special guests today are Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis, the baking sisters of Georgetown Cupcake, who can help you with your cupcake-mania questions. (Someone please ask: How do they resist eating tons of their own cupcakes every day and gaining gaining gaining weight?)

For our favorite posts, we'll have giveaway books: Jacques Pepin's "More Fast Food My Way" (in honor of my shopping and cooking expedition with him) and, of course, "Cupcakes" by Shelly Kaldunski. (The cupcake on the cover, btw, if not for the candied violet, is a dead ringer for the CW winner.)

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Maryland Burbs: Fess up... how much free "I VOTED" food and drinks did you scarf down yesterday evening?

washingtonpost.com: Rock the Vote, Get Free Stuff (Going Out Gurus blog, Nov. 4)

Joe Yonan: None! Unless you count the fun food at an election party Jane and I went to...

Bonnie Benwick: My son made the rounds in Bethesda -- Starbucks and California Tortilla included.

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Alexandria, Va.: Now we know who Joe Yonan was with on last Wednesday's shopping expedition. I love watching Jacques Pepin cook on PBS and I love the way he puts ingredients together so quickly and easily to create such delicious looking dishes. With regard to the photo of baked apples with lemon zest, could the same effect be achieved, again quickly and easily, using some lemon curd instead of the zested lemon peel? I have seen jars of lemon curd but have not bought one.

At 12:30 I am being taken to lunch by our daughter for my 66th birthday, so I will miss the chat. I am giddy with excitement over Barack Obama's win.

Jane Black: That would certainly add sweetness. What was delicious about the baked apples -- the best I've had -- was that zing/tartness from the lemon. So I'd just use the peel. Cheaper and healthier too.

Joe Yonan: I miss Jacques.

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McLean, Va.: My husband and I opened a bottle of champagne last night, but only drank about half of it.

I couldn't recork it, but was wondering if there are any good recipes I could use it in for dinner tonight.

Thanks!

Bonnie Benwick: Hmmm...champagne. Last night. Historic election. I get it!

You could do saucy things, but I'd get a couple of salmon fillets and poach them in the champagne. Maybe throw in a few flavoring agents such as complementary herb you like, a few whole peppercorns or lemon peel. Wouldn't take more than 10 minutes. You could also use it in your favorite risotto recipe; replace some of the stock/broth that's called for.

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Rockville: Hi there. I bought some dried black beans to fill a draft snake but have some leftover. I'd like to use them but am not sure how much they'd make. For example, if I'd like a cup of hydrated beans, how much dried beans should I soak? Thanks!

Joe Yonan: Dried beans typically triple when soaked and cooked. So if you want to end up with a cup of cooked beans, start with 1/3 cup of dried beans. For recipes, check out the recent Rancho Gordo piece Jane wrote.

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Bread recipe please!: Hi Foodies -- My boyfriend taught me how to bake bread (the old-fashioned way, without a bread machine) this past weekend. Lots of fun but unfortunately he brought a recipe he grabbed from the Internet instead of his bread cookbook. It used a little olive oil, honey, and milk. I'd rather not have a dairy recipe (I'm kosher so can't eat it with everything.) Do you have a good bread recipe that is non-dairy to share?

also, I now have one-third of the bag of bread flour left over. What can I make with it? Thanks for helping a baker out!

Bonnie Benwick: You can use your leftover bread flour in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe...I like Alton Brown's "The Chewy" recipe but it calls for butter, so that won't work for you, right. Or use the flour to make some zippy wine biscuits with cracked black pepper. Come to think of it, maybe you should check out Lisa Sheldon's "Olive Oil Baking" cookbook (Cumberland House, 2007).

Here's a winner from Rose Levy Beranbaum:

No Better Basic Bread

Makes an 8-inch round loaf or a 9-inch sandwich loaf or 16 dinner rolls or 12 hot dog buns or 8 hamburger buns

If you use instant yeast, you don't have to "proof" the yeast first in warm water, a process that takes the yeast cells five to 10 minutes to bubble, an indication that the yeast is viable.

The addition of honey helps the crust turn brown.

3 cups minus 2 tablespoons bread flour or 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for the work surface

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

11/4 teaspoons instant yeast (may use rapid rise, bread machine or any brand)

11/2 teaspoons sea salt

11/3 cups water, at room temperature

1 teaspoon mild honey, such as clover

1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil (optional for soft crust for sandwich bread or buns), plus additional for the bowl

In a bowl, whisk together the bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and yeast. Whisk in the salt. Stir in the water and honey and, if desired, the oil.

Using a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment or using your hands, knead the dough until smooth and springy (about 7 minutes by machine or 10 minutes by hand). The dough should be soft and just sticky enough to cling slightly to your fingers. If it is still very sticky, knead in a little additional flour. If it is too stiff, spray it with a little water and knead it. Shape the dough into a ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and lightly spray or rub the top of the dough with additional oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. Set aside to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Gently stick a finger into the center of the dough; if the indentation remains once you've removed your finger, it should be ready.)

To refrigerate the bread and bake it the next day, use your hand to gently press down the dough. Place it in a large, oiled, resealable plastic storage bag, leaving a tiny bit unzipped for the forming gas to escape, and refrigerate the bread for up to 8 hours. Remove it to room temperature 1 hour before shaping.

When ready to bake, have ready a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly sprinkled with cornmeal or flour. Place the dough on a very lightly floured counter and, using your fingertips, flatten the dough gently and shape it into a round ball or a football shape. Transfer it to the baking sheet, cover with an overturned large container or an oiled piece of plastic wrap and set aside to rise until the dough has almost doubled in size. (Gently press a finger into the center of the dough; if the depression fills in very slowly, it should be ready.)

While the dough is rising, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it. Place a cast-iron skillet or a heavy baking sheet on the floor of the oven or on the rack. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees for at least 45 minutes.

Using a very sharp knife, cut one or more long, 1/4-inch-deep-slashes across the top of the dough. Mist the dough with water and quickly but gently place the baking sheet directly onto the hot stone or hot baking sheet on the rack.

Then immediately toss 3 to 4 ice cubes into the pan that is on the bottom of the oven, quickly shut the door and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 210 degrees.) Halfway through baking, turn the pan around for even baking.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely or until just warm.

VARIATIONS

Seeded Add up to 3/4 cup of mixed seeds such as cracked flax, sesame, poppy, sunflower or pumpkin seeds to the flour mixture. (The sunflower and pumpkin seeds have the best flavor if toasted at 325 degrees until they are just beginning to color -- about 5 minutes.)

Sandwich Before shaping the dough, gently press it into a buttered loaf pan. It should come no more than 1/2 inch from the top of the pan. Trim any excess dough and bake it as rolls. (Use a scissors or knife; do not tear the dough.) Gently turn the dough back onto the work surface, roll or press the rest of the dough into a rectangle and, beginning at 1 long side, roll it up tightly, pinching the seam with your fingers to seal it. Place the roll, seam-side down, in the pan. Let it rise until almost doubled. Slash if desired. Bake the loaf at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. (The lower temperature forms a thicker crust, which supports the higher sides of the loaf.)

Per serving (based on 12): 170 calories, 4 gm protein, 26 gm carbohydrates, 5 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 292 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

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Washington, D.C.: Hi. I've been considering taking a class or two at l'Academie de Cuisine. Recently I got an e-mail about a new option for cooking classes called Culinaerie. The location would certainly be more convenient for me (especially if I want to take one of the wine tasting courses!) -- I was wondering if you'd heard anything about it? They have some nice guest chefs lined up (e.g., Ris Lacoste, Gerard Pangaud). But since the classes are not cheap, I'm not sure I want to risk it on a place that might not have their act together yet.

Joe Yonan: We thought Susan Holt, one of the founders of CulinAerie, was a real pro when we worked with her on a Chef on Call piece. But we haven't taken any classes yet. Fellow chatters, have you?

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pressure cooker: I hope you have Jacques as a guest today. My estimation of WP will just skyrocket! I have seen a number of videos with Jacques' pressure cooker and I would love to know what brand it is. It has a little red knob that pops up when the food is done, rather than having a loud whistle like ours. His just seems so much more high-tech.

Joe Yonan: Jacques couldn't make it today, unfortunately. But I'll see if I can reach him to ask about that pressure cooker brand.

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chocolate cake: I don't suppose Sophie and Katherine have a favorite chocolate cake recipe they could share? Moistness is always the key, and unfortunately, the challenge for most of us.

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: Hi chocolate cake! You can find the recipe for our Chocolate Ganache cupcakes in today's Food section!

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Obama country!: Is there a way to search for keywords in your archives? For example, you have discussed changing the time and temp when moving a recipe from loaf pans to tube pans, and rather than having to keep asking, it would be nice to just do a search "banana bread + tube pans" and find that bit of conversation.

washingtonpost.com: Do you mean in the chat transcript archives? I don't think there is currently, I'm afraid. - Elizabeth

Joe Yonan: But maybe we could talk our compatriots into building one, like for Tom's chat! (Cough-cough)

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Arlington, Va.: In today's Post you have an article highlighting recommended red wines from a blind tasting. The least expensive wine was $17, and the top two were $45 and $54 respectively. Gee thanks, but haven't you noticed there's a recession going on? Can't you at least include one $10 or under value suggestion for us common readers in future reports?Maybe I should cancel my Post subscription, read you on-line for free, and spend the money I save on wine?

Joe Yonan: Such hostility! Calm yourself -- maybe with a glass of wine? -- and rest assured that we'll include good-value wines as often as possible. I'll make sure Dave McIntyre hears your plea loud and clear. As a matter of fact, he sent me his recommendations for next week's column, and the prices are these: $10, $12, $12, $12, $15, $16, $21, $65.

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Rockville, Md.: Thank you for the recipe for the Pork with Green Chile stew. I grew New Mexico chiles this year and this was a perfect use for them. I made minor departures from the recipe: I didn't use carrots or potatoes and I strained the liquid and reduced it to intensify the flavor.

Bonnie Benwick: You're welcome. Reduction of liquids is a great way to create depth of flavor. A chef's technique we can all use...

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Wine, Va.: I'm trying to put together a wine tasting for some friends (5 girls) and wanted to get recomendations as to what to serve. Not all are heavy wine drinkers, so some know a bit more wine more then others. Also if you give guidence to snacks to serve, I will be in debt forever.

Thanks

Joe Yonan: This from Dave McIntyre:

"How about selecting a grape variety as a theme? Say, sauvignon blanc - try one from New Zealand, one from Chile, one from California and one for the Loire Valley of France (such as Sancerre or the cheaper version, Touraine). That way you and your friends can explore how sauvignon blanc expresses itself differently in these regions. These would pair really well with any fresh goat cheeses such as chevre."

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Washington, D.C.: So, last night my family took me to dinner at Palena, and I had Ann Amernick's amazing caramels with my dessert. I really miss her bakery where I could go in and buy them at any time. Do you have any caramel recipes that might turn out something similar?

Joe Yonan: We've asked Ann for this recipe several times, and she's very tight-lipped about it. (I don't blame her, actually -- they're her signature!)

She moved to Baltimore, and she's still making these for special orders -- I bought some from her a couple of months ago and took them to a dinner party. Boy, was I a hit. I believe you can reach her through her website.

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Cupcake Question, Annandale, VA: How well do the Chocolate Ganache cupcakes freeze? When I was a kid, my mother would make cinnamon mocha cupcakes, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer. Then she would pop the frozen cupcakes into bagged lunches. I still do this, but wonder if the chocolate ganache cupcakes would make a good addition.

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: Hi! We bake our cupcakes fresh each day at the shop and always recommend eating them within a day, but we have had many customers tell us that they have frozen our cupcakes and they taste great afterward.

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Fan of Jacques: Loved all his PBS series! Curious - what is Claudine up to these days? I loved watching her learn!!

Joe Yonan: Claudine lives in Denver, where she runs this cooking school.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi - We're hosting a chili cookoff this weekend. Obviously, the main dish is the chilis that everyone is bringing and the add-ins we will provide (grated cheese, sour cream, onions, etc.). We will also have corn bread as well as hot dogs for the kids. Can you please suggest some sides and another main dish that we can add to complete the meal? We're expecting a large crowd. Thanks!!!

Bonnie Benwick: Side dish -- how about a black bean and corn salad might be nice, with crunchy scallions and a splash of sherry or balsamic vinegar.

Not sure why you'd need a main dish if there are several chilis on the table already? But maybe a vegetarian option of some kind would be in order. Sticking with the theme, you could do this winning veggie chili or make polenta with cheese and Swiss chard. Throw on a ladle of chili on the latter, if you'd like.

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Filling a cupcake: I do love fabulously frosted cupcakes, though I like filled ones as well.

How do I go about filling them (with a generous amount of filling)? I tried for Halloween, but must have had the technique wrong.

Also, what are some good fillings for chocolate cupcakes?

Many thanks!

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: Hi! The easiest way to core a cupcake is to use an apple corer to remove the center of the cupcake. We usually fill our chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter (our Chocolate PB Swirl) and fudge (our Lava Fudge).

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Washington, DC: I have a favorite cake recipe that my mom used to make every time I come home. I think it would make a great cupcake treat, but I worry about losing the moistness of the cake, especially when you lose the layers. Do you have any tips in making the conversion from favorite cake to favorite cupcake?

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: Hi. We used all of our grandmother's cake recipes as the foundation for our cupcake recipes. The key is not to overbake the cupcakes! You may need to experiment with the right time in the oven so that they are still moist.

Joe Yonan: That means start checking early -- after the cupcakes have risen but before you think they might be done, and take them out when a toothpick inserted in the center still has a few crumbs left on it.

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Frederick, Md.: I've mastered the cake part of red velvet cake, but I still need a good icing recipe. Little help please...

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: We use a vanilla cream cheese icing for our red velvet cupcakes here. You can find the recipe for our icing on Martha Stewart's website: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/vanilla-frosting-georgetown-cupcake?lnc=5a79cf380e1dd010VgnVCM1000005b09a00aRCRD&rsc=recipecontent_food

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Chili Cook Off Sides: I would serve cole slaw to help cool off the chili for people who may need it. And don't forget the Tums!

Joe Yonan: Yes, I was going to suggest the Slaw With Mustard-Garlic Dressing that Jacques made for us (and that I made again for an Election Night party). It was great with the ribs we had last night.

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Washington, DC: Joe, I saw your interview with Jacques Pepin last week. I loved his Julia Child impersonations. That was totally unexpected. I hope you are over your cold.

Joe Yonan: He cracked me up! Indeed, I think I've kicked the cold -- thank goodness for Ricola, or I never would've made it through that interview without dissolving into a coughing fit.

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Sides for chili: How about a cabbage and/or pepper slaw with mustard vinaigrette and caraway seeds?

Joe Yonan: Done.

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it's cabbage for dinner: I would love some new ideas of how to serve cabbage for dinner. We don't eat meat, but dairy is great.

Joe Yonan: We had two great cabbage dishes in the paper today: the aforementioned slaw is meatless, while the Sauteed Cabbage and Kielbasa obviously is not. I'd suggest you look at this Warm Ginger, Apple and Cabbage Slaw, which I've made a lot over the last year.

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Frederick, Md.: For the chili cook off sides, I've always been partial to a grilled cheese sandwich with my chili. You can also do a corn and rice salad or a salad bar type set up with lettuce and tomatoes so people can make a salad and put chili on top.

Joe Yonan: Yes indeedy.

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Alexandria, Va.: Re: Chili Cookoff - how about cooking some spaghetti too so people can have chili-mac if they like? I agree salad of some kind is good to offset the heartiness of chili, but potatoes of just about any kind go well will chili. You can't go wrong with nachos either.

Joe Yonan: Are you from Cincinnati?

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Douglass Park, Va.: Years ago I took lots and lots of cooking classes from both Susan Holt and Susan Watterson at L'Academie de Cuisine. They've opened a number of new doors for me and when I make that perfect veal stew from Patricia Wells' Provence book I always think gratefully of Susan Holt. They were both amazing cooks and teachers. They were organized, original, focused and generous with information and their time. They were extremely nurturing, I would choose them over L'Academie every time.

Joe Yonan: Here's one vote for CulinAerie.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: Hi there, I've got a friend coming over tonight and I'd love to make dinner instead of ordering out. But -- I don't have much food and no time to run to the grocery store. I don't have any frozen veggies or pasta sauce, which are both last-minute essentials. Is there anything easy and simple I can make around bread, milk, eggs and pasta? Some sort of casserole, perhaps?

Bonnie Benwick: The first option would call for red wine vinegar and olive oil from your pantry. Guess you could use dried herbs in a pinch, ba-dum-bum. How about fried eggs in bread crumbs? You could serve pasta on the side.

Or just fry some eggs with their yolks still runny, then place over pasta that's been cooked and then sauteed in a skillet with some olive oil and toasted bread crumbs. Hmm. I like that second option better.

And add note to self -- go shopping soon.

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Washington, D.C.: Any ideas on sweet treats I can bake up using mint extract? I bought a bottle for some reason and now it's just sitting on the shelf unopened. Many recipes seem to want mint leaves or mint candies to provide the mint flavor... what can I whip up that will help me use up the extract? Thanks!

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: For the holidays, we are doing a Chocolate Peppermint cupcake. Try mixing in a little mint extract into a chocolate ganache. (Our chocolate ganache recipe is in today's Food section.) You can use it to top cupcakes, cakes, or even ice cream!

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Washington, DC: I love watching Pepin's shows on television because of his obvious comfort in front of the camera. I really like to watch his knife skills. The speed with he can chop up an onion is simply amazing! I'm so jealous you got the chance to see it in person and then eat the fruits of his labor!

Joe Yonan: Yes, he's just a machine. And was a delight to watch, talk to, hang around with ...

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Washington, DC: Hi Rangers, Saturday I was at the Silver Spring Farmers Market and we had a guest chef. She mentioned the fact that chicken raised on grass instead of grains have the healthy omegas (3's) while the grain fed chickens have more of the unhealthy omegas (6's). Is this true? What makes the difference?

Jane Black: Chickens aren't actually "grass fed" like cows. Chickens are omnivores and they will eat anything. I can't speak to exactly what she was talking about but I'll bet she was making a distinction between some sort of organic or standarized feed, rather than the anything-goes chicken feed that goes into industrial chickens. Does that help?

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Washington, DC: Hello Georgetown Cupcake ladies! I bought a dozen cupcakes for the office recently. Everyone thought they were sinfully delish. I never heard it so quiet in the office.

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: That's great!

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re: cupcakes: I have vanilla extract, but not Madagascar bourbon. Would brandy work as a substitute, or would it just be safer to stick to the vanilla?

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: Hi - Madagascar bourbon vanilla is the type we use at Georgetown Cupcake but you can substitute with any high quality vanilla extract. Tahitian vanilla is also very good!

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Douglass Park, Va.: I was hoping someone would bring up the evening with Jacques Pepin at the Smithsonian. Thank you for doing it Joe, it was fabulous, I loved every moment of it, especially his "Julia Child" voice. Next time, and there better be a next time, make the session longer so you have time to ask more questions.

Joe Yonan: I'm so glad you liked it. I had a blast doing it and absolutely would love to talk to him again, anytime, anywhere. I'm also hoping to do more such Q/A's with other luminaries at the Smithsonian, so stay tuned!

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Washington, D.C.: This question is related to food, I promise! Do you all have a book recommendation on the basics of wine tasting? My significant other wants to learn about the differences in wine, how to taste different wines, and how to pair them - and I'd love a recommendation! Thanks.

Jane Black: As a wine writer, I like Andrea Immer. She has two books that are good: Great Wine Made Simple and Andrea Immer's Wine Buying Guide for Everyone.

Jane Black: Make that *for* wine writers, I like Andrea Immer.

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Chinese take away: Has anybody found a good Chinese restaurant in the District? Bonus points if they deliver. I don't get why people laugh when I think Chinese food should be good. Do they just not make authentic Chinese food because it wouldn't suit the American palate?

Joe Yonan: Try Great Wall Szechuan House, especially for the traditional ma-la dishes. I live four blocks away, and I swear they seem to be ringing my buzzer before I hang up the phone.

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Washington, D.C.: Katherine and Sophie, how do you choose/invent your cupcake flavors? It seems like you are contantly coming out with new ones to try! And what is your personal favorite?

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: Hi! We started with a set of our grandmother's recipes that we had been refining for a long time. We are constantly experimenting with new recipes. We have new ones coming out for the holidays soon - Chocolate Peppermint and Gingerbread! Our favorites are Pumpkin Spice (Katherine) and Chocolate Hazelnut (Sophie).

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Planning for Thanksgiving: We usually do our Thanksgiving feast without the turkey, as everyone's favorites are the sides. So I took a poll, and I got 6 suggestions for favorite sides to make for Thanksgiving this year. The problem is each one involved potato in some way. Seriously! (twice stuffed baked potato, mashed taters, bubble and squeak, ratatouille with mash on top). Obviously I can't make a potato-centric meal. So I would love some ideas to keep my customers side-happy.

Jane Black: My advice is to go to our advanced recipe search. There you can select recipes by holiday and get dozens of side dish ideas to inspire you.

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Manassas: Can you give us a link to your interview with Jacques Pepin?

Joe Yonan: The story's here. The Smithsonian interview, unfortunately, wasn't recorded.

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Arlington, Va.: I have a 5 lb pork loin that I'd like to slow cook (crock pot?) and then freeze in individual portions for later eating. Do you have any stick-to-your-ribs recipe suggestions?

Bonnie Benwick: Can't go wrong (and don't need a slow cooker) for either one of these: with plum sauce or an Italian version.

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Boston, MA: Hope I get this to you in time!

I'm hosting a wine tasting party this weekend and because of the election decided to have an all-American theme. I wanted to get a selection of wines, half from blue states and half from red states and then my guests could vote! However, with more of the map turning blue than I could have hoped for I'm wondering if any of the remaining red states make decent wine? I was kind of counting on Va. Does Texas have vineyards?

Glad to have this problem but wondering if I need to re-work my theme

Joe Yonan: Every single state makes wine, but here's what Dave M. says:

"Yes, Texas makes a lot of wine, and some of it is good. However, you will not be able to find any of it around here, as most of it is sold in-state. In fact, looking at the electoral map, it would seem this idea might not be workable. Idaho and Georgia might be the best bets (or North Carolina and Missouri, if indeed they tip into the red column), but again - availability will be a problem. (Though if the chatter lives in Virginia, direct shipping may be possible.) Andrew Stover, the sommelier at Oya, did a presidential wine promo so he may still have some Arizona wine on hand. It lost narrowly to his Illinois selection."

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switching pans: How could I turn the Georgetown cupcake into a cake? I have two 9 inch pans. How would the baking time and temp change please?

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: Hi - It would depend on the specific flavor, but for the chocolate cupcakes, you would keep the temperature the same and bake for much longer, 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Alexandria, Va.: Nope, Pittsburgh area, where chili-cheese fries were more the rage where I grew up, but Hard Times Cafe has shown me the wonder of chili-mac.

Joe Yonan: I see.

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Bonnie Benwick: I miss Jacques, too. We tried to get him to say "butter" (with the accent that churns the t's to d's) as many times as possible.

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cabbage palacsinta: My Hungarian father taught me to make palacsinta - basically a Hungarian crepe.

One of our favourites was cabbage palacsinta. You saute the cabbage through its last hurrah. It really, really wants to be shriveled. Add sauteed cabbage to palacsinta batter and make the crepes!

Serve with apple sauce and sour cream.

Delicious fun for all the family.

Joe Yonan: Nice.

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Arlington, Va.: Cupcake Ladies, I am inspired by your story and was wondering how you balance your love for baking, the demands of running a business, and your personal lives?

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: It's hard work but we love what we do! Running Georgetown Cupcake is a 24-7 operation. We are here all the time...so it's a good thing we get along with each other! It is a challenge to keep balance in our lives but we try our best!

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Kensington, MD : Hi, I want to do some bread baking and can never seem to figure out good warm places for rising in the fall and winter. Any suggestions?

Bonnie Benwick: Maybe top of the fridge? Or turn the oven on to 170; when it hits 120, turn it off. It''ll be ready for proofing.

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Bethesda: Georgetown Cupcake, I saw you on Martha Stewart on Monday! How was the experience?

Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis: It was an amazing experience to bake with Martha! We had a lot of fun!

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Providence: Hi Joe and Bonnie,

I need a delicious but inexpensive recipe for fish that can be made in a skillet and does not involve salmon. Got any ideas?

Bonnie Benwick: The fish poached in cider from last week's Dinner in Minutes was a keeper. Does a combo of rosemary, garlic and citrus grab you? Try this. And there's a good one coming from Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, in 2 weeks.

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Joe Yonan: Well, we've been carefully dipped, then turned right-side up and placed on wax paper to set, so you know what that means: We're done.

Thanks for the great questions today, as always, and thanks very much to our special guests, Sophie and Katherine, for helping us out with all things cupcake today.

Now, for our giveaway books: The chatter who asked about Claudine will get "Jacques Pepin: More Fast Food My Way," and the chatter who asked about the best way to convert Mom's cake recipe into a still-moist cupcake will get, of course, "Cupcakes." Send your mailing information to food@washpost.com, and we'll get you your books.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating (cupcakes?) and reading.

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