The Washington Post – The Washington Post Food section staff recently answered questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat.
Q: I am a vegetarian and for general health reasons, not much red meat is eaten in our house. But once or twice a year I like to make my husband a nice steak dinner. The reverse sear idea is intriguing, and I may try it out (instead of the normal grilling). I am now struggling with some sides that I can eat as well that would complement.
A: If you want the opposite of the reverse sear, sear and then slow-roast. As someone who rarely cooks steak at home, I nailed it no problem. I would go classic on sides. Mashed potatoes, maybe some roasted broccolini, a nice starter soup. – Becky Krystal
Q: I needed to toast a half-cup of walnut pieces for a salad last night, and the bits of skin and tiny nut crumbs burned before the bigger pieces were properly toasted. Should I have just left the burner on a lower flame for longer? Or do I try to sift out the tiny bits?
A: I prefer to toast nuts in the oven around 325 degrees. It allows for more control, more even toasting, and fewer chances of burning them. – Olga Massov
Q: How do you prevent the top crust of an apple pie from doming up and leaving a large space between the top crust and the apples?
A: I would precook the apples first as they shrink when they cook down. You could also try some Granny Smith apples in the pie filling along with a few other types of apples to get different tastes and textures. – OM
Q: I read that you could freeze rice. Would I need to under-cook it a little to keep it from getting mushy when I pull it out, or does it hold up pretty well?
A: Nope, it holds up well. Cook as usual! – BK
Q: I got to yesterday’s farmers’ market in time to score a box of “seconds” peaches. After using them for a cobbler, I hope to freeze what’s left. What’s the best low-or-no-sugar method?
A: The best low-or-no-sugar recipe, in my humble opinion, is to halve and pit them (hope you have freestone!), but don’t bother peeling, and roast them at anywhere from 200 to 450 degrees. (The higher temperature will give you more liquid, and the lower will keep them more whole, and concentrated.) If it’s higher temp, do them cut side down and you should be able to slip off the peels really easily within 15 minutes or so. If it’s the lower temp, do them cut side up, and you won’t have to peel them at all! Then stuff them into your freezer containers of choice. Roasting at any temp concentrates the natural sugars! – Joe Yonan
Q: The farmer’s market had a mushroom vendor that made me think I was up in Kennett Square. We had a heavenly omelet with the big chunk of oyster mushrooms, and I also got dried porcini, which seems to add a meaty taste to soups, and dried chanterelles. What should I do with the chanterelles? Anything specific?
A: When I was growing up in Russia, chanterelles were easiest, cheapest mushrooms to get, and we would sautee them with onions and serve them with pasta and sour cream! I would even do creme fraiche in the States. Delicious! – OM