Free Range on Food: Greek Easter, Preparing Lamb, Passover Dishes, Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Beef and More

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The Food Section
of the Washington Post
Wednesday, April 8, 2009; 1:00 PM

Free Range on Food is a forum for discussion of all things culinary. You can share your thoughts on the latest Washington Post Food section, get suggestions from fellow cooks and food lovers, or swap old-fashioned recipes the new-fashioned way. This week, Food Section staffers are preparing lamb and exploring the traditions of Greek Easter dinner. They were online Wednesday, April 8 at 1 p.m. ET.

Archive of past discussions

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Joe Yonan: Welcome, Rangers and Rangettes, it's time to get your chat on. We're here as always to take your questions and turn them into answers. Hopefully answers you can use. As you may have noticed, we were all about Easter, Greek or otherwise, in the section today, so if you have questions along those lines, Mr. Real Entertaining, David Hagedorn, is on deck to assist.

But surely that's not the only thing on your mind, in your pantry, on your back burner, right? Right?

For our favorite posts today, we have two giveaway books: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough's new "Cooking Know-How" and Carol Gelles "100 Best Vegetarian Recipes."

Let's do this thing.

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lamb for a small group: The leg of lamb recipe you printed calls for 4 pounds to serve 6 to 8 people. Is it possible to get a smaller cut? Before I go to the butcher, I want to know whether I'll be asking for a small leg cut or if we need to use some other lamb cut. It will be just the two of us. We're open to a single meal's worth of leftovers, but not several meal's worth. (No wonder the Passover commanded that smaller groups that couldn't eat a whole lamb be invited to join with a bigger group!) Thanks.

David Hagedorn: You could buy a sirloin-end of the leg which would weigh between two and three pounds.

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Washington, D.C.: I really like the recipe for the Greek honey-spice cookies featured in the Food section and I'm wondering whether it would be possible to make them without the Cognac. I'd like to make them for someone who doesn't consume any alcohol. Should I just omit it, or is there an alcohol-free substitution that's appropriate? Thanks!

Bonnie Benwick: I think you could use a good apple juice.

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Rockville, Md.: Your article on smelts in today's Post brought back a lot of memories. My mother was an immigrant from Eastern Europe, and she prepared smelts exactly as you described, except no lemon juice. (And I luvvved them!) One question: in my home we spoke Yiddish and the Yiddish name for smelts was "stinkas." (not exactly sure of the spelling) I've often wondered if the "stink" in "stinkas" was in any way related to the "smell" in "smelts."

Bonnie Benwick: Not sure! Article author Bonny Wolf tried to research the etymology and got as far as the German "schmelt." Any linguists among us today?

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My mouth is watering!: Loved the story on Greek Easter -- made my mouth water. Do you have a recipe for that Greek cheese pie she mentioned?

Bonnie Benwick: Jennifer Poulakidas gave us one but we didn't test it. Here you go:

Tiropita (Cheese Pie)

24 servings

Phyllo dough is usually sold frozen. For this recipe, it should defrost overnight in the refrigerator or for 4 to 5 hours at room temperature.

From Jennifer Poulakidas.

1 pound feta cheese, finely crumbled

1 pint small-curd cottage cheese and/or ricotta cheese (use either or a combination)

12 large eggs

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

About 1/3 cup sauteed leeks (optional; from 1 small leek, cleaned, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds and cooked until soft with a little olive oil)

8 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 pound phyllo dough (thawed and ready for use -- note, phyllo is often sold frozen and must be thawed for 4-5 hours on countertop or overnight in refrigerator)

Combine the feta and cottage and/or ricotta cheeses in a large bowl; mix well.

Use a whisk to beat the eggs for 2 to 3 minutes in a separate bowl, then add the cheese mixture and stir to incorporate. Add the Parmesan, white pepper and sauteed leeks, if using;

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a little of the melted butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

One by one, layer half the phyllo sheets on the bottom of the baking dish, gently brushing each sheet with some of the melted butter before adding the next phyllo sheet.

Pour the cheese-egg mixture over the phyllo, making sure it is spread evenly. Layer the remaining phyllo sheets on top, again brushing each sheet with melted butter before adding the next.

Brush the top of the pie with any remaining melted butter. Use a sharp knife to carefully score it into about 24 square pieces; do not cut into the filling or it will ooze out.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving; cut along the scored lines.

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Fairfax, Va.: I prefer my lamb well done. Do you have a recipe for butterflied leg of lamb? Thanks!

David Hagedorn: Here's a link to one I did a few years ago here:

The Spanish paprika makes it sing. Even well-done, it may still hum a little.

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Indianapolis: I have a bone-in shank half ham, sweet potatoes, carrots, salad and rolls on the menu for Easter so far. Anything different or unusual I could do with the ham this time? I have roasted plain, with a brown sugar glaze and a mustard glaze and would like to expand my horizons beyond these basics.

Bonnie Benwick: Sounds like a ginger-mango glaze would go well with the rest of your menu. You'll find that recipe here. And here are suggestions from our archives:

When it comes to glazing fully cooked hams, Alexandria caterer Orva Schultis thinks "pineapples are grossly overdone." As for the "whole clove business, that's been done for dog years."

Schultis prefers to glaze hams with brown sugar mixed with some combination of mustard, liquor and fruit. Because she thinks that most fully cooked hams are "chockablock" with water, Schultis likes to heat a ham first to reduce its moisture. She applies the glaze during the final 15 minutes of cooking; most recipes recommend this to prevent burning.

To make each of the following glazes, mix sugar, fruit and mustard (if used) and thin to a thick paste with the liquor or wine (orange juice may be substituted).

CRANBERRY GLAZE: 16-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, Madeira or sherry to moisten.

APRICOT GLAZE: 1 cup apricot jam, 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, bourbon to moisten.

ORANGE GLAZE: 1 cup orange marmalade, 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, rum to moisten.

HOISINBERRY GLAZE: 1 cup hoisin sauce, 16-ounce can whole-berry cranberry sauce, 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root, 1/2 cup light brown sugar.

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Greek lamb: That was cruel, making me read about all that Greek food at breakfast when all I had time for was a granola bar and drive-thru coffee. I know you didn't include it, but do you have any Greek lamb recipes or guidelines I could follow to make it at home (for less than 150 people, of course!)?

Joe Yonan: David's recipe for Roast Leg of Lamb with Herb Jus is solidly Mediterranean. You know, it's all Greek to me. (Sorry.)

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Hillcrest, D.C.: I am hosting Easter brunch, and hope to do as much the night before and just re-heat on Sunday morning. I'm planning a ham and goat cheese strata, which I can make ahead, and put in the oven on Sunday morning. What about ham? Can I cook/glaze it on Saturday night, and serve it at room temperature or even reheat it on Sunday morning? Same question for mac-and-cheese -- can I prepare it on Saturday, and put it in the oven on Sunday morning? Thanks!

David Hagedorn: Yes and yes.

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culinary lavender: I have lavender as a perennial in my yard. I've never used sprays on it. Are sprays the critical issue with determining what "culinary lavender" is, or are there specific types that work best in the kitchen?

Are there other suggestions for incorporating lavender into my cooking?

Bonnie Benwick: For safety's sake, it's best to use lavender that has been grown specifically for food use. Barbara Damrosch of the Home section (A Cook's Garden column) recommends English lavender for best flavor.

You could use lavender to infuse sugar or a nice honey, or create an Herbes de Provence-type blend of your own favorite herbs. Or you could make a simple syrup (boiled water and sugar) with a little lavender, then use it for cocktails or add to fruits for dessert.

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Germantown Lamb Question: (posting early) I'd love to try lamb this Easter and David Hagedorn's herb paste looks wonderful. The recipe gives great detail about the bones and trim -- will I need to go to a butcher to get this cut of lamb or will the grocery meat section likely have a leg of lamb with the shank bone? Will I need to remove the femur myself (and if so, how will I know which is which)?

David Hagedorn: Hi, Germantown:

Most grocery stores carry whole legs of lamb with the hip bone removed, semi-boneless sirloin (which ridiculously still has the femur bone still in), BRT (boned, rolled, tied) leg of lamb, and lamb shanks. All that comes from the back part of the animal, except for the shanks sometimes. There is less meat on a foreshank and they cost about $9 or $10 each, which is an outrageous price.

There are 2 bones. Basically, the shank is the calf muscle and the sirloin is the thigh. The sirloin holds the femur. If you compare the leg to a pear, the shank bone is the stem of the pear. The femur is the one that was attached to the hip.

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Arlington, Va.: Following a dinner party I hosted where more attendees brought bread than wine (an unexpected first for me), I am left with three loaves of stale French bread. Though the bread is now too hard to eat on its own, do you have any recommendations for what I can do with these loaves?

David Hagedorn: Slice the loaves into 1/2 inch slices and freeze them in batches in logs of, say, 20 slices. Then, whenever you need great crackers for a party, brush the slices with garlic oil or olive oil, sprinkle them with sea salt and cracked black pepper and bake at 325 until golden brown, probably 10-15 minutes.

You could also cut them diagonally about 3/4-inch thick, freeze them, then toast them in the oven the same way and use them for bruschette.

Joe Yonan: Or grind them up into crumbs and freeze those for the next time you're making meatballs, anything with a crumb crust, etc.

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scalloped potato help: I'd like help understanding how scalloped potatoes cook (or, in this case, don't). I made a scalloped potato and ham casserole last night. Having struggled a bit with a similar recipe a few months ago, I got wise (I thought) and precooked the potatoes slightly -- sliced on the lowest setting of the mandolin, soaked in cold water, then microwaved for 10 minutes. I layered the potatoes and ham, poured on the sauce, and baked at 350 degrees. After 45 minutes, the potatoes were not done. Another 15 minutes, no dice. Bumped the temp to 400 and left them in for half a hour, after which some of the potatoes were done but some still were not. I am utterly befuddled. How is it possible to cook potatoes first in the microwave then in a liquid for THAT LONG and have them still undercooked? The casserole was bubbling, and other things cook fine so I know that oven temp is not the issue. Further, I have read a number of comments on recipe message boards indicating that a lot of people have difficulty getting scalloped potatoes to cook within the prescribed time.

Please help me understand this. (I'm open to new recipes, but that's not what I am asking for. I'm looking for an explanation that helps me understand what is happening.) Thanks.

Bonnie Benwick: Tell us what kind of potatoes you used and whether you baked them covered or uncovered? Were they all coated with the sauce? What was their texture after the microwave session?

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Alexandria, Va.: Hello! Over the winter I bought (and froze) a bunch of pre-cubed stew beef to make stew, but I haven't used it all. Now that the weather's getting warmer (in theory), I don't feel much like cooking stew anymore. Do you all have any suggestions for using up the rest of it?

Joe Yonan: If you're thinking about firing up your grill (I know I am, and I don't even have one of my own anymore, or outdoor space -- *sniff*), grind that stuff up and make burgers. For that matter, you can broil or pan-fry burgers at home, too. If you're feeling particularly frisky, make 'em into sliders for party apps. And don't sweat it if you don't have a meat grinder; you can accomplish this in the food processor, too. It's not as perfect and even, but it's homemade, right? Just work in batches and pulse until you get the texture you want (don't go too fine or it'll be mushy), and recombine the batches with other batches and pulse again if you feel like it's not even enough. And for inspiration (including ideas for condiments and even a bun recipe), check out Tony Rosenfeld's great primer on grilling burgers from a couple years back.

Of course, you can do other things with ground beef: meatloaf, pasta sauce, taco filling, but I've got burgers on the brain, so that's where I'd go.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm in need of superfine sugar for a Passover dessert but can't find it anywhere! I've been to two Whole Foods and a Giant -- any ideas?

Bonnie Benwick: Head to where those stores carry drink mixes and Rose's lime juice; maybe there will be small containers of bar sugar there (also pretty finely ground sugar). If that fails, try grinding in a food processor. Some baking mavens say it doesn't quite measure up, but the holiday is upon us!

Joe Yonan: And I realize this won't be in time for the holiday that is upon us, but for future use, order a few bags from King Arthur flour. Theirs is great.

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Rockville, Md.: Last-minute question as I munch on the last of my chametz for a week -- do you have any suggestions for Kosher-for-Passover recipes for picky eaters, for whom pasta and chicken nuggets are out of the question for a while?

Bonnie Benwick: You are 3 cereal boxes ahead of me. Have you introduced those picky eaters to matzoh brei? Who could resist it. And fyi, there are several shapes of kosher-for-Passover pasta, made with potato starch and/or egg.

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Passover Seder: We've been asked to bring a vegetarian dish to a Passover Seder tomorrow. I was looking in the chat last week and saw your recommendation to make a Sephardic Minas. Two questions: my husband loves to cook and will probably feel like he's cheating by using matzo. Would it work to substitute homemade pasta, in long, wide strips (a la lasagna strips) for the matzo? Second question: the recipe I found calls for spinach and potatoes as the veggie filling. Would any spring vegetable mush combination work? I'm thinking maybe zucchini and onion. Oh, and a third question, too, I guess: should we bake it at home beforehand, cover in foil, and bring to the party for a quick reheat in their oven? Thanks for your advice!

Bonnie Benwick: I'm assuming the homemade pasta you'd make would be with matzo meal? Maybe that's not worth the trouble....or at least see the related post about kosher-for-Passover pastas at the grocers'.

I made a good vegetable kugel-y side dish for the Seder I'm attending tonight. To serve 8, shred or grate 3 or 4 carrots, 3 or 4 medium potatoes, 1 or 2 onions, 3 or 4 zucchini. Combine with 6 eggs and 1/2 cup matzo meal, plus fresh herbs, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Pour about 5 tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom of the baking dish, toss in the mixture then drizzle with 4 or so more tablespoons on top. Bake for about 40 minutes at 375.

Yes, it'd be best to bake at home and reheat at your host's. I bet his/her oven's been humming.

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B'More Cat and Asparagus Lover: Hello Free Rangers!

I am hosting Easter this year and the main course will be salmon, prepared simply (broiled or roasted, served on a bed of baby spinach). We're eating around 1, so I think it is more Linner than Brunch. What else should I serve? Was thinking asparagus, but my normal Easter preparation is roasted, wrapped into bundles with prosciutto. Would that be too much with the salmon? Do I need salad too? The menu is a bit jumbled, since we will have a picky teenage boy with us, so will also have sweet and savory muffins. Cheesecake with fresh fruit for dessert.

Bonnie Benwick: A celeriac puree would be lovely. Or some simply roasted fingerling potatoes. Or a couscous and mushroom pilaf. You can find those recipes in our Recipe Finder. Type in your keywords of choice and have fun. And I think salad's always nice to have.

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Falls Church, Va.: I read these chats every week and I am hoping you or some chatters can help me! I am looking for a really good frosting for sugar cookies. I want to make some fun Easter cookies with my boys and am using a sugar cookie recipe that was posted in this chat some time ago (great cookies, can't remember who they were from but they called for 6 cups flour). What I am looking for is something more than just the powdered sugar mixed with some milk, or juice type thing; more like a buttercream I guess. I tried my usual buttercream for cake frosting on the cookies and it was just not quite right..

Here's hoping you can help! Thanks so much!

David Hagedorn: Cream cheese frosting to the rescue!

Joe Yonan: And here's one we ran as part of a pumpkin spice cake recipe.

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Falls Church, Va.: I'm sure this is an easy question, but what is the best way to re-heat mashed potatoes, so you can make them on Saturday and serve them on Sunday?

David Hagedorn: In the microwave, covered, stirring every couple of minutes and adding more liquid if necessary. Then, hold them for service in a double-boiler.

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Vienna, Va.: What type of wine would you recommend for a lamb-centered Easter dinner?

Joe Yonan: Dave McIntyre says, "Cabernet Sauvignon comes to mind, or any of the nice 2005 Bordeaux I recommended back in February. Basically what you want is a nice big red, so there are plenty of options. I once had a friend in the wine trade who swore to me that Merlot simply doesn't work with lamb. He was wrong. If you want to go local, look for a Virginia Cabernet Franc (Barboursville, Michael Shaps, Pollak and Pearmund are good examples) or the delicious Crumbling Rock Bordeaux-styled blend from Black Ankle Vineyards in Maryland."

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wheat vs. white bread: I made a buttermilk soda bread last weekend, but I used wheat instead of white flour. It cooked much faster than the recipe said and I thought it was a little dry. Is this because I subbed wheat for the white flour?

Jane Black: Baking guru Nancy Baggett's best guess is that it was dry because wheat flour absorbs more liquid than white flour -- though she points out that soda breads tend to be dry in general. To avoid that, add more buttermilk for a wetter dough. You could also cook it for less time but you run the risk it's not cooked in the center.

Nancy also says it's possible that the flour may have dried out (especially if you keep it in the fridge).

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Dupont Circle: Two wine questions!

1) I was tasked with making haroset for a Seder tonight, and the recipe I found called for 1/4 cup of kosher for Passover red wine. After cooking, I tried a glass for myself and eh. Not so delicious. Anything else I can do with the rest of this bottle?

2) Also, speaking of Argentinean wine, I was just there and actually found myself digging the Torrontes more than the Malbec. But I got back to D.C. and can't seem to find much of it around here. OK, I've only really checked Trader Joe's (which had none) and Whole Foods (which had one). But any favorites -- and info on where to buy them?

Joe Yonan: Bonnie says you should've used sweet kosher wine for the haroset, if you didn't. As for what to do with it, try this mulled red wine syrup I've been obsessing over.

As for question #2, Dave McIntyre says, "I LOVE Torrontes! Santa Julia Organica is my fave - about $8. Rodman's should have it. I'll try to think of some others for you."

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zucchini: I have three zucchinis in the crisper and I would love to make them for dinner tonight, giving them an Italian flare. Not sure how to do that.

Bonnie Benwick: Well, one thing you could do is cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out the flesh, combine it with dried bread crumbs, fresh herbs, some Parmigiano-Reggiano and some olive oil, salt and pepper. Pile the filling back in and back till golden brown on top.

Or you could roast those lengthwise halves cut sides up until golden brown, then cut into half moons and create a salad of zucchini, mint, some torn bread or croutons and drizzle of olive oil-lemon juice. Va bene.

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Vegetarian Easter?: I'm hosting Easter and will have what's is traditional in my family -- ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, salad, eggs, and a fruit tart. This year, my brother is bringing his vegetarian girlfriend. I don't want her to feel she's only eating sides, but can't think of a good complement to the ham. Portabella mushrooms just seem odd, but would they do? If so, do you have a good marinade?

Jane Black: What about a frittata? Eggs (for Easter) filled with potatoes, greens, portabellas, whatever you have or she likes. Another idea is a vegetarian quiche, which sounds like it goes with what you're serving and everyone might enjoy.

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Arlington, Va.: Thanks for the great Easter article.

I'd like to offer an additional (alternative?) suggestion similar to the eggplant pie noted in today's Easter recipes: a traditional Italian Easter pie. It's found mostly in Northern Italy in Lombardy and other regions. The main vegetable in it is Swiss chard (or spinach), which can be found in season at the local farmer's markets. I get the greens, onions, and ricotta at the Courthouse market.

I don't have a recipe to transcribe as I'm at work, but it's basically this:

- Make a brisee dough (alternatively many recipes use a dough similar to filo) which will be used for the bottom and a top crust.

- Dice and saute a small yellow onion with the diced Swiss chard stems until soft.

- Add the Swiss chard (roughly chopped) with some water, and saute until soft and has lost it's shape. Optionally add some chopped parsley.

- Make a filling composed of a container of ricotta, the sauteed greens, some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano if desired, a couple of handfuls of pine nuts (I've only ever known my mom to do this, but it's good), salt, pepper.

- In a round cake pan (Springform might work -- you'll need to take the pie out), stretch half the dough to form a bottom crust with side. Cut off any excess, but save enough to fold over the filling.

- Add the filling to the dough, make several indentations large enough to hold an egg, and then crack open and add some raw eggs to these indentations. The number depends on the size of your pan, but it's usually around 6. Add some more Parmigiano-Reggiano and add the top crust.

- Bake until hot and the top is browned (I dunno, 45 minutes at 350?).

Can be served warm or at room temperature. The eggs look really nice when sliced through. This recipe is adaptable to other greens or herbs (lots and lots of chives?) instead of the Swiss chard and can be made without the whole eggs. I've also sometimes diced up some mozzarella and added it to the filling. Some cooks use nutmeg to flavor the filling.

Jane Black: This sounds heavenly. Thanks for sharing it.

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Washington, D.C.: Love, love, love the section today. I look forward to reading it every Wednesday and today's collection of articles and recipes blew me away.

In hoping that the spring weather returns, I would like to prepare some artichokes, but am hopeless about how to deal with these intimidating looking veggies. How do I clean/cook them. And any suggestions for your favorite artichoke recipes?

Thanks!

David Hagedorn: Here's a link for how to clean them, which was provided when Michel Richard prepared artichokes for a Chef on Call class.

He used them in this delicious vegetable bouillabaisse.

Or, once they are cleaned, simply saute them with thyme, a bit of olive oil, some lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, then add some water or dry white wine (1/4 to 1/2 cup), cover the pan and cook over medium low heat until a knife goes through them easily, about 15 minutes.

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11 adults 3 kids under 2 for Easter dinner: Okay, so I am serving salad, ham, carrots, rolls, chocolate bunny for dessert. What else should I make?

Joe Yonan: Eggplant pie!

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Falls Church, Va.: After long doubting the claimed benefits and resisting the higher costs of organic meats, I was persuaded by a wellness program to try some. I bought some butterflied leg of lamb from the Organic Butcher in McLean and was astounded by the difference in taste. Even my husband, who normally is not a fan of lamb, pronounced it delicious. I went back and bought some ground sirloin, which made the best burgers I've ever tasted. We simply use smaller portions to compensate for the somewhat higher cost. I encourage others to try it.

Jane Black: Thanks for sharing that with us. Any one else taste a difference?

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Joe Yonan: More from Dave McIntyre, who insists that I cut and paste for him rather than coming onto the chat himself.

"For 'Arlington,' who inquired last week about a $10 Viognier, I tasted one over the weekend that is well worth checking out. Domaine Sallies, from southern France, is imported by Dionysus and should be fairly widely available in some of the finer shops throughout the area, at about $9. It is not as rich and complex as the top Virginia wines I wrote about last week, but it is juicy and vibrant, with good ripeness and acidity. It's a fine bargain white and will do well for patio sipping as the weather gets warmer."

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Passover + Easter: We're asked to bring a dessert to Easter dinner on Sunday and here are some of the caveats that I'm hoping you can help with:

1. While it's Easter, it's also Passover in my book.

2. My in-laws are diabetic.

3. We'll be driving up north Saturday so it needs to be portable, but also can stand not being refrigerated for a few hours.

4. Something made ahead would be great.

5. Some of us are trying to watch what we eat.

I think that's all! One year we made a huge, delicious fruit salad only to have no one eat it. I'd like to have something with fruit, personally, and my husband's suggestion is just to buy a cake and us not eat it -- now what fun is that?! I thought of attempting caramel matzo...

Bonnie Benwick: Wow. Let's see what chatters come up with. I'd suggest rethinking that refrigeration caveat. Buy or bring a cooler, then make your own fruity granitas or sorbets and bring them. And maybe a flourless chocolate torte for your husband.

Or we were just talking about this recipe the other day:

Grilled Pineapple Roast. It is really, really good. Serve with a pureed raspberry sauce or homemade macaroons.

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Clifton, Va.: Superfine sugar -- Wegman's in Fairfax usually has it.

Stew beef makes great chili or stroganoff. Maybe goulash.

I prefer stew beef for chili. No reason to turn it into burgers.

Joe Yonan: Thanks, Clifton, but there is a very compelling reason to turn it into burgers rather than make chili. That would be the chatter's quote: "I don't feel much like cooking stew anymore."

Chili is a stew.

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Vegetarian Brun, CH: I am looking for ideas for a make ahead brunch for a group of mostly vegetarians some of whom do not eat eggs for allergy reasons.

David Hagedorn: Look, Ma, no eggs:

My mushroom lasagne.

Or today's eggplant pie would be great.

Plug, plug, plug....

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Atlanta, Ga.: I'm hosting a rather traditional Easter dinner with a ham, asparagus, southern-style mac and cheese, etc. But I'm torn as to what kind of wine I should serve. I usually drink red wine, but that seems out of place with such springtime food. Any suggestions?

Joe Yonan: Dave McIntyre sez:

"The ham suggests a Riesling or Pinot Gris from Alsace. Look for Trimbach, Weinbach, Pierre Sparr, Josmeyer -- there are a number of quality producers. If you do want to stick with red, Pinot Noir, either from Burgundy, Oregon, or cooler parts of California such as Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast or Santa Barbara County, might do the trick. Italian Barbera is another option. The asparagus is the wild card, and the whites will probably do a bit better with that, depending on how it is prepared. (Asparagus is one of those foods that supposedly kills wine, but I believe that is because we tend to kill the asparagus by overcooking it. But asparagus by itself does pair best with acidic white wines.)"

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Homemade graham crackers: In Tom's chat today, he mentioned that there is a delicious recipe for homemade graham crackers by Marion Cunningham. I did a quick Internet search and couldn't find the recipe. Can you help? I'd really love to make these. Thanks!

Bonnie Benwick: We ran this from Marion in 1984:

GRAHAM CRACKERS

Makes 12 2 1/2-inch squares

These taste like the commercial graham cracker but are so much more flavorful and fresh.

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick or 1/4 cup) butter, softened

1 egg, well beaten

6 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons water

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups graham flour plus extra for dusting

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine the butter, egg and sugar in a bowl, and beat until smooth and creamy. Stir in the honey and blend. Dissolve the baking soda in the water and add to the butter mixture. Add the salt, graham flour and all-purpose flour to the mixture, and blend thoroughly. The dough should hold together and be manageable. If it is too "tacky," add a little more graham flour.

Liberally dust a surface with graham flour and roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. For convenience in handling, cut the rolled dough into three or four sections that will fit on your cookie sheet. With a knife score the dough, without cutting through, into 2 1/2-inch squares. Prick each square a few times with the tines of a fork. Using a spatula, place the sections of scored cracker dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake on the first side for 8 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn the crackers over and bake for another 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on racks.

To make cinnamon graham crackers, substitute 4 tablespoons sugar for the honey, and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

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Clifton, Va.: Someone last week was asking about what cut of beef to use for steak sandwiches. I prefer using an eye of round slicing the beef thin and grilling with the onions, peppers and mushrooms. You can buy a large eye of round roast cut it in half and use half for Sunday dinner and the other half for sandwiches. A little time in the freezer makes the roast easier to cut.

Bonnie Benwick: Slicing it very thin is the key. Thanks for following up!

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try this mulled red wine syrup I've been obsessing over: Ah Joe, I thought you were going to say you'd been mulling over it.

Joe Yonan: No, I mulled it over for just a quick second when I first saw it, but then my own mulling stopped so that the wine's mulling could begin.

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glaze ideas: For everyone of the glazes you listed, you could easily use balsamic vinegar and white cooking wine in place of the alcohol and lessen the brown sugar. Makes it non-alcoholic and healthier, also balances out the sweetness

Bonnie Benwick: I'll take your word for it that balsamic vinegar and ham are a good match.

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Burke, Va.: Totally off topic from this week -- but I read about food challenges in NY food blogs all the time but haven't seen anything in the DC area -- is there anything like that?

Joe Yonan: Do you mean these eat-a-huge-portion-and-get-it-for-free things? Such as the 72-ounce steak meal at Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo? I remember as a kid going to the original Pizzeria Uno when I visited my dad in Chicago (the uno Uno, we called it), and they'd give you their biggest stuffed-crust pizza for free if you could eat the whole thing. My brother did it at least once, or at least that's the legend.

I don't know of such a thing around these parts, but I wouldn't put it past smart restaurant PR folks to have come up with something just to get attention. Chatters -- have you seen such?

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Philadelphia, Pa.: For people who really want to make lamb for Easter but are terrified of carving, I just did the seven-hour lamb from All About Braising and it was fantastic, and also just falls right off the bone. Doesn't work if you're eating at noon (it really does take 7 hours) but it is delicious and great for a crowd.

Jane Black: That is one of my favorite cookbooks. Every single recipe is terrific.

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Spring cleaning time: I'm in the process of reorganizing my kitchen and getting rid of unnecessary items. Do you know what agencies are willing to take cooking tools or even small appliances for donation? For cooking tools, such as spatulas, that are too damaged to be donated, is there any way to recycle the materials? I hate to fill up more of the landfills than I need to. Thanks!

Joe Yonan: Many agencies take small appliances and housewares. Goodwill is the first that comes to mind. As for your other question, I think this is more difficult; as far as I know, municipal recycling programs, at least around here, are not set up to take things that aren't on their (relatively limited) list. But maybe chatters know of other resources?

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Washington, D.C.: For my Easter lunch, I am going to make your Goat Cheese, Pear and Leek Tart from an Oct. '08 Food section. On the plate along with a slice of tart, I would like to serve a small salad -- just some wonderful (hopefully butter) lettuce and a light dressing. For the dressing I am thinking of something like you would get on a salad in a Parisian cafe, but am stumped as how to make it. Some fresh tarragon? What kind of oil? Olive would seem too heavy. And vinegar? Champagne vinegar? Or just lemon juice? Thanks for the chats and the wonderful Food section. Love them both.

Jane Black: My favorite French salad is butter lettuce with cucumber slices and radishes. I make a very simple dressing with light olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and/or red wine vinegar and chopped tarragon. Champagne vinegar sounds nice too but I wonder if the Dijon would overwhelm it and you wouldn't get the benefits of its subtlety.

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Charleston, S.C.: I have NEVER heard a leg of lamb compared to a pear -- but it is absolutely brilliant as a comparison. Down here in the South we mix hot (red) pepper jelly with a little water and some bread crumbs or panko and glaze our hams the last 10 minutes or so, carefully watching to be sure it doesn't burn too much. We also cook our ham in Coca-cola.

Jane Black: I made a ham once in a glaze of Dr. Pepper, yellow mustard, brown sugar, cider vinegar and dried prunes. (Recipe courtesy of Bruce Aidells.) It was out of sight.

David Hagedorn: Now you've got me thinkin' of ham on angel biscuits spread with pepper jelly and grainy mustard. And the Co-Cola ham is delectable. Nathalie Dupree made a ham years ago stuffed with grits and greens that conjures great memories. Now I regret having made manicotti for dinner tonight...

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Washington, D.C.: Hello Rangers, I read on a healthy food/cooking web site to never cook with olive oil accompanied by a video showing olive oil heated in a pan (not at a high temperature) with the oil turning black. The narrator said these were now toxins. I have always cooked with olive oil and love the flavor. Can I continue and am I cooking out any nutrition in the oil?

Joe Yonan: It's not that you can't cook with it. The problem is that if you let it get past the smoking point it starts to degrade, and there is some evidence that the free radicals that are then created can raise cancer risk. So that just means use medium heat when you cook with olive oil, let it get to the shimmer but not the smoke point before adding food, and if you want to do higher heat cooking, use oils with higher smoke points. I use peanut oil in my wok, for instance.

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Stew beef: Funny, I had the same question about using stew beef for something other than stew. I was thinking kebabs. If I marinated it first, would it be tender enough?

Jane Black: I don't think so. You'd really need to find a way to tenderize it, I think. Maybe a papaya marinade? (Papaya, especially green papaya, has lots of natural enzymes that break down meat.)

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Graham Flour: Before somebody asks, graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour. You can get bags of it at health food stores, made by the usual health food suspects. But it's great stuff. Or you can fly to England and bring some back.

Bonnie Benwick: Editor Joe, this chatter deserves special book-giveway consideration...

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Washington, D.C.: Hi, can you suggest a main dish that would be pleasing to people who eat fish but not meat? And something that won't cost too much money? Maybe something like a noodle casserole with some fish inside. I was going to make salmon but it looks like we will have as many as 10 people and I'd rather not shell out $50 on fish alone. Thanks!

Jane Black: How about fish tacos? You can make them with tilapia, which isn't the most exciting but is very reasonably priced. We ran a recipe for tilapia tacos with watermelon salsa a few years back. Skip the watermelon salsa at this time of year and serve with sour cream and guacamole.

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Boston, Mass.: What am I doing wrong with my ground beef? When I use it in a recipe (the most recent with black beans, tomatoes, and a bunch of other stuff), it just is kind of blah (the rest of the dish is good). I love a good hamburger, though cooked medium rare and generally fully cook my ground beef. I usually do not season the beef while cooking (though I put it into recipes that have good seasoning). Any suggestions? Or tastier alternatives to ground beef?

Joe Yonan: It is pretty blah, although I've had grass-fed ground beef with more flavor. Seasoning as you go can help, as can a dash of fish sauce. A tastier alternative should be apparent from today's chat: lamb!

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use medium heat when you cook with olive oil, let it get to the shimmer but not the smoke point before adding food, and if you want to do higher heat cooking, use oils with higher smoke points.: I use a mix of olive/canola which seems to give me the best of both worlds.

Joe Yonan: Yes, adding a higher-smoke-point oil to the olive raises its own smoke point. Thanks.

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re beef stew cubes: could the reader marinate them and grill them outdoors as kabobs?

Joe Yonan: Stew meat is tough and best cooked slowly, which is why it's good for stews. Yes, marinades can help, but they won't be as good as kabobs made with more tender cuts.

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Help!: Single guy, invited to a Seder, want to bring a hostess gift, friend suggested a new kosher tequila. Do you guys know anything about this?

Bonnie Benwick: Offer to do the dishes!

Jane Black: Hmmm. Tequila doesn't seem quite right for a Seder. (And a quick Google search revealed that this new kosher tequila isn't available till Cinco de Mayo.)

There are a lot of good kosher wines, however. (See this

story for suggestions. And flowers are kosher any time of year.

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Re: scalloped potatoes: Weird seeing that comment, because on last week's episode of Hell's Kitchen one of the aspiring chefs was sent home because -- her scalloped potatoes were undercooked. She was befuddled too, after having boiled the potatoes in milk for an hour and then baking them. So, if its any consolation -- it even happens to professionals.

Joe Yonan: Or to those who play them on TV.

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Silver Spring: Graham crackers -- there's a terrific recipe for chocolate ones in the King Arthur Whole Wheat Baking book (whatever its actual name is). Incorporates cocoa powder, not a chocolate coating.

Yummy and relatively healthful what with the whole grains.

Joe Yonan: Thanks!

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Chevy Chase, Md.: Here I go again: Before I run out to my local Whole Foods market to buy four or five-lb legs of lamb (David thanks for e-mailing source), I'd like to make a request for a little research. Best leg of lamb I ever cooked was many years ago -- Lynne Russo Kasper on PBS "Cooking with Julia". It was called Renaissance Leg of Lamb and had anchovies and orange peel and garlic and basil, red wine and black olives. Cannot for the life of me find this recipe. Any suggestions? Also, I think others would love it if you could print it.

David Hagedorn: Not sure if that recipe is from The Splendid Table, or The Italian Country Table, but on this link you can watch her make it.

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DC food challenges: That dumpling place on the G'town waterfront used to have a dumpling challenge where if you ate one order of every dumpling on the menu (there are 10 or 12 types, and two to four to an order) you'd get the whole shebang for free. It's been a while so not sure if they still do it. Believe the name is Bangkok Joe's.

Joe Yonan: Gotcha.

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Contests: No, like amateur cook-offs for all different foods. I just read about a bacon in which one contestant made bacon ice cream and another made bacon cookies. I believe Not Eating Out in NY has said something recently about a risotto one.

Joe Yonan: Ah, I see. I know only of the big kahunas: chicken, Pillsbury, burger, etc.

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Richmond, Va.: My traditional Easter dessert is Portuguese egg tarts. I saw a photo in a magazine once, searched for a recipe and now they're a tradition.

Jane Black: I adore those! When I was in Lisbon, they are pretty much all we ate. Got a recipe to share?

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scalloped potatoes: Used russets. Sliced as thinly as possible on the mandolin. Microwaved for 20 minutes in a big bowl of water -- they softened some, but were not fully cooked. Baked covered. The entire casserole was covered in the sauce. In fact, if I do this again, I'll reduce the amount of sauce slightly, as the end result was a bit more liquidy than I liked.

My husband loved the flavor (in fact, when I told him I was going to ask you guys about this, he said, "make sure you say that I liked it."). Now I must confess, and submit myself to foodie shame: I used cream of celery soup that I jazzed with herbs and other stuff. I have tons of good cookbooks, and none tell me what I am doing wrong here. HELP! Thanks!

Bonnie Benwick: My, you are brave. I'm just not sure about the properties of said canned soup (as to whether potatoes would soak it up or not). I know that simple milk/cream or broth works.

Next time, instead of the microwave step, try heating your scallop sauce in a large pot on the stove. Add the sliced potatoes -- I've seen Nigella do this. It infuses the spuds with the flavors you're using and starts the cooking process. Then transfer to a baking dish, cover and you know the rest. Uncover for the last bit in the oven, of course.

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scalloped potatoes: Think I forgot to say, they were covered with foil.

Bonnie Benwick: Good.

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Charleston, S.C. 29401: I always make my mashed potatoes ahead of time. For stovetop, I reheat them covered with a layer of hot milk or cream and dotted with butter over low heat in the pan, stirring after they are "hand hot" and watching carefully.

But since I only do it a few times a year, if my son-in-law is not looking, I reheat them in a plastic bag in the microwave. I know it is a bad idea to eat anything reheated in a plastic bag but I find it so easy I pretend it is safe.

David Hagedorn: That is so funny, I do the same thing with the bags. I especially love those jumbo storage bags. Is the plastic bag reheating really going to do us in? I think we stand a better chance of killing ourselves off by eating a jar of preserves that wasn't canned correctly.

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main dish that would be pleasing to people who eat fish but not meat: swordfish kabobs with peppers and onions spaced between.

Joe Yonan: People are kabobbing a lot today.

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Hmmm...: I bought some self-rising flour to make bear bread with and now that I've accomplished that, I'd like to try something else. What other kinds of recipes call for self-rising flour? Mainly quick breads?

Joe Yonan: Do you mean beer bread, or bear bread? Or maybe beer-bear bread (otherwise known as drunken-bear bread)? Self-rising flour can be used in any recipe that would otherwise call for flour and baking powder, so you sometimes see it called for with Southern biscuits (and White Lily, naturally). I prefer to use regular flour and the baking powder separately, just because you can control the amounts better. But that's just me.

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Pomegranate balsamic vinegar: I saw pomegranate balsamic vinegar in a grocery store in Texas. Has anybody tried it?

Jane Black: What will they think of next?

I haven't tried it. Chatters?

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Washington, D.C.: The eggplant pie sounds delicious! I love when you include such fabulous vegetarian options, especially for holidays so centered around meat. I have a question with the recipe, but it has come up many times before. To cook the eggplant, you give instructions for broiling it. My broiler, though, is one of those drawers underneath the oven, so I can't adjust the distance much. How should I cook the eggplant? Just roast it? Should I stick it under the broiler for a minute or so after doing so to get that hit of direct heat? Get a new oven?

David Hagedorn: I think getting a new oven is the only answer here.

But seriously, folks...Just use your broiler and monitor the slices closely. Those broilers are, in fact, great because you can get the slices so close to the heat source. The other way is to grill the slices, which really makes for a lovely, smokier pie.

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Baking with honey: I'd love to try those graham crackers, but I am allergic to honey. Can I sub with brown sugar, corn syrup, or molasses?

Bonnie Benwick: Agave nectar might be the closest in flavor and consistency.

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What am I doing wrong with my ground beef? When I use it in a recipe (the most recent with black beans, tomatoes, and a bunch of other stuff), it just is kind of blah: just saw this on Cooks Illustrated PBS show: cook it too high and it gets rubbery. Cook it low to keep good texture. Also, I had to admit that since I buy the lowest fat ground beef, it will not taste as good as what we used to eat with more fat.

Jane Black: Yup. Thanks.

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Uptown: Hi there. A couple weeks ago another chatter had asked for a recipe for pumpkin muffins -- like the ones at Firehook. Was that ever posted? Thanks!!

Bonnie Benwick: They won't share, those Firehook folks. But we plan to do some reconnaissance work. Keep checking back.

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Ballston, Va.: Coke or Dr Pepper make an excellent glaze for ham. As does a mixture of bourbon and Coke. Do not use Jack it's a waste of a good sipping whiskey.

Bonnie Benwick: And root beer.

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Do you know what agencies are willing to take cooking tools or even small appliances for donation?: Can your local abused women's shelter. They are always helping women start new households after they leave their husbands and 'graduate' from shelter.

Joe Yonan: Excellent idea. Many thanks.

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Richmond, Va.: Portuguese Egg Tarts

Makes 6 Tarts

1 package frozen puff pastry shells (6 shells come in a typical package)

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 T. cornstarch

1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean

1/2 c. white sugar

3 egg yolks

1. Bake puff pastry shells at indicated temperature (about 400 degrees F), but only for 10 minutes. While baking, prepare the custard. In a saucepan, combine the milk, cornstarch, vanilla and sugar. Stirring constantly, bring up to a medium heat until thickened. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk 1/2 of milk mixture into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg yolk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly.

2. After 10 minutes, take puff pastry shells out of the oven and cut off the tops of the middle part of the shell. Fill with custard to the brim of each shell. Return to oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Joe Yonan: Thanks.

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zucchini with an Italian flair: For something really different, I've seen recipes online (check Smitten Kitchen) for a zucchini carpaccio salad, where you just slice the raw zucchini really thin and serve it with parm and, I think, olive oil and lemon juice. It's wacky but delicious.

Bonnie Benwick: Oooh. yes.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: I have a big old tri-tip in my freezer that I have been putting off eating since there are only two of us and I don't much like how tri-tip reheats. I now have a potluck coming up where I can feed it to a crowd, thank goodness. I'll probably do mini-cheesesteaks, and serve slices on small hollowed rolls with Cheez Whiz, caramelized onions, and truffle oil. Should I marinate the tri-tip? How far in advance do I need to start thawing? It's several pounds, and probably five inches thick at the center.

Jane Black: Defrost it overnight in the refrigerator. That should do the trick. The key to a good cheesesteak (as discussed earlier) is slicing the meat ultrathin. That will take care of any chewiness better than a marinade. My only question to you is: Cheez Whiz and truffle oil? I'd stick to one or the other.

Joe Yonan: I think I have an idea which one of those I'd leave out. (If you must use it, just squeeze it directly into your mouth, while out of sight of the other guests, of course. That's what I do.)

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Easter Dessert from the Passover: I'm from a blended household and introduced a Pavlova for dessert with fresh berries and whipped cream after a trip Down Under. You can substitute Splenda for the sweetener. Also we've expanded the Pavlova and incorporated macadamia nuts to give it a little more flair. Just my two cents.

Bonnie Benwick: And your two cents are good ones. But the pavlovas need to be well wrapped so they stay fresh.

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lamb for a small group: Make shanks.

Joe Yonan: Yep!

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Clifton, Va.: My brother and sister and their spouses doubted that the Organic Butcher and their dry aged, prime, organic, humanely raised rib eye bone in steaks was better than 99% of the steak houses in the U.S. Oh, and grass fed. Invited them over for steaks on the Weber kettle. Real charcoal, fresh local produce and Virginia wines. They were amazed. My bro, who has been to the best steak houses in the U.S., said the steak was better than Peter Lugar's and any steak house in NYC and Chicago.

BTW their lamb is equal to prime beef in quality and raised locally. Each breed of lamb has a slightly different taste profile and mouth feel. There are wool sheep and hair sheep. Hair sheep are better tasting.

Jane Black: Let's hear it for the Organic Butcher. Much deserved praise.

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11 adults 3 kids menu: Really eggplant pie? Sounds tasty enough but, come on, what kid will eat eggplant pie and half the adults I know would not either. It is a weird choice. How about suggesting a more traditional side dish?

Joe Yonan: To quote Steve Martin, "Well excuuuuuuuse me!"

Seriously, sounds like you have lots of stuff for everyone including the kids to gnaw on, so I was suggesting something that would maybe be a little bit of a departure to add to the lineup.

How about Carrot Corn Cakes?

Or, instead of your carrots, these Bright Carrot Slices (gingery and kid-friendly)?

Or, in addition to your carrots, Golden Potato and Cheese Bake? Yum.

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ground beef: My experience has been that you have to season it while browning it to get a good flavor. Even if you are then incorporating it into a dish with other flavors, I've found that ground beef is a bit bland without a little something.

Bonnie Benwick: We're making sure to drain as much fat as possible, right?

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That mouth-watering Tiropita recipe: Bonnie,

I have a hectic and important weekend coming up soon. My mother's birthday is the same day of my commencement ceremonies. This Tiropita sounds like the perfect brunch for us, my boyfriend, and his family.

What are your thoughts about preparing or perhaps baking it ahead of time?

And, what would you suggest as additional brunch items?

Bonnie Benwick: I think you could assemble and freeze it ahead of time, or bake, cool, freeze and reheat. I tend to like fishy, savory things at brunch; call me crazy. This Smorgastarta was delightful, from a brunch feature Jane Black did at the start of '09. That, plus a fruit salad of some kind, some nice homemade scones or muffins, a plate of charcuterie. You're covered.

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Graham flour: I was the person who asked for the recipe, and I WAS going to ask about graham flour after you posted the recipe.

So, first, thanks to you for finding the recipe for me, and second, thanks to the psychic ability of the person who told me where to get it.

Jane Black: The magic of the WP chat. Ask (or don't) and you shall receive.

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Greeks in Chantilly: Happy Easter to all of you and thanks so much for the lovely story on "our" Easter in today's section. It perfectly captured all the joy, love and good food of our holiday.

Joe Yonan: You're welcome!

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Philadelphia, Pa.: I have a bunch of leftover shredded pork. By a bunch I mean maybe a pound or two, since the smallest pork shoulder my butcher could give me last week was more than eight pounds, and I fed nine people off it but there's still a ton. It was braised with Guinness, cherries, and sweet potatoes, so I'm not thinking tomato-based pasta sauce or anything for reuse. It's basically shredded and I'll freeze quite a bit, but that's still just delaying the issue -- what all can you do with shredded pork leftovers?

Bonnie Benwick: Use as meat filling in a shepherd's pie, in lasagna, tacos or enchiladas?

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Wine Question!: Would an Argentinean Malbec work with lamb?

Joe Yonan: More from Dave Mc: "Yes, it should, especially a bigger one like the Lonko, Inacayal or Fellino included in today's column."

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Dairy-free ice cream: Love these chats; they are so helpful. I recall a reader a couple of weeks ago thanked you for putting in an item about dairy-free ice cream. I've been looking for it in my supermarket, but can't find it. Do you remember the brand name?

Bonnie Benwick: Purely Decadent brand ice cream.

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For Passover & Easter: One word: Pavlovas. You can make individual shells ahead of time, cool them well, and store for a day or two in an airtight container. Chop up some fresh fruit (strawberries or whatever looks good) with a tiny bit of sugar or honey and maybe some ginger, cinnamon, or orange peel, and let macerate for a bit. I wouldn't leave the fruit unrefrigerated overnight, but it should be fine for a few hours. You can serve with whipped cream if you like, or leave it off for a lighter version.

Just use parchment paper under the Pavlovas while baking, or else they'll drive you crazy trying to pry them off the baking sheet!

David Hagedorn: My pavlova recipe from Valentine's Day.

Plug, plug, plug....

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Philly: I taste the difference between organic and non-organic meats, vegetables, and fruit -- also the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed meat. I'm not going to run around in horror when I eat something that isn't the one I prefer, but I can tell the difference.

I find that organic foods do really well without any sort of additional flavoring, so if someone is trying to decide how to break down their grocery bills, perhaps go non-organic for those foods that are going to be smothered in sauces.

Jane Black: Fascinating. Next week we should discuss what people's "rules" are for this sort of thing. Always interesting.

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Anonymous: Several weeks ago you had an article on a local (well, in the burbs) new, small, butcher. I think two men were involved, and one was a Muslim, but they sold all meats, freshly butchered, local, etc. Could you give me the name of the butcher? Thanks.

Bonnie Benwick: Gourmet Halal Meat Market & Restaurant, 13898 Metrotech Dr., Chantilly; 703-815-7285. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, buffet 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

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freecycle for recycling kitchen tools: You should put them all on your local freecycle.org and ask that people take them all. I also think a shelter would take them as they'd be great for people when the get a new home.

Joe Yonan: Freecycle rocks. Not a charity, but still.

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Joe Yonan: Well, you've cooled us completely, then covered and refrigerated us overnight (still in our springform pan), so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great questions, as always, and thanks to David Hagedorn for his wit and knowledge today. And now for the giveaway books. If I were Oprah, I'd be so happy to announce that the DC chatter who asked about broiling technique in a less-than-ideal oven will get a new oven, but instead, I will give said person "100 Best Vegetarian Recipes." And the chatter who asked about the scalloped potato technique will get "Cooking Know-How." Send your mailing info to food@washpost.com, and we'll get you your books.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

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