Food chat: How to cook chickpeas and what to do with their liquid

THE WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post Food staff and food journalist Nik Sharma recently answered questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat.

Q: I’d like to use my instant pot to cook chickpeas from a bag. Do you have any recipes/tips? Do I need to soak them first if they are getting instant-potted?

A: No, you don’t have to soak them first.

Put them in the pot with three inches of water to cover, add one tablespoon salt, half an onion, a few garlic cloves, a bay leaf or two and, if you’ve got it, a strip of kombu (dried seaweed), which helps soften the beans and reduces flatulence. Cook at high pressure for 35 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release. If they’re not quite ready (try several of them to make sure they’re tender), return to pressure for five minutes at a time, manually releasing each time to check them.

When they’re ready, take off the lid, turn to saute, and boil them for 10-15 minutes to reduce/concentrate the broth. – Joe Yonan

Q: I’ve saved the liquid from cooking chickpeas but it’s thinner than canned chickpea liquid. If I just cook it down to a similar consistency, will it be OK to use?

A: One of the reasons I call for canned chickpea liquid in recipes that use aquafaba is that it is the right consistency for whipping up/etc. (Also, I like to add salt and other seasonings to beans when I cook them, and I don’t want that in aquafaba.)

So you might have to undertake a little trial/error here: Yes, cook it down and see how it goes. It might also have a little more pronounced chickpea flavour than canned.

Q: I’ve mastered the burgers, and brats no problems and can grill any meat to a perfect doneness, but I’m getting bored with seasoned chicken and beef on the grill, and I need something with more pizzazz. I’ve done a lot of marinades, however, none of them really seem to penetrate the meat, so it ends up tasting like same ol’ boring chicken breast.

A: Try lamb; it really benefits from grilling. To make the flavour really get into the meat, if you haven’t already tried this and this works better with yogurt and dairy based marinades (like the ones used for tandoori dishes), let the meat marinade overnight in the refrigerator. The thinner the cut of the meat, the less time you need. The fat, dairy proteins and lactic acid in yogurt, kefir and buttermilk tend to be gentler on meat proteins. – Nik Sharma

Q: I have a recipe for yeast-based plum bread that calls for a dark coloured rimmed baking sheet. I don’t have one and have no place to put one if I bought one. Is there a trick to get my silver baking sheets to work? I have silicon mats and a pizza stone.

A: Sure, putting your baking sheet on a pizza stone would definitely help generate more heat underneath. Good thought. The other options would be to bake the bread longer and/or at a slightly higher temperature. Typically when using a dark cake pan, for instance, people suggest reducing the oven temperature by 25 degrees. I suppose here you could try the opposite. – Becky Krystal

Q: I don’t use much milk, and have found that freezing and thawing fresh milk doesn’t really work well. I’ve never used dried milk, and wonder whether I can freeze the packages to keep them longer and not going rancid.

A: I have an unopened bag in my freezer right now; it stays good for at least a year and I haven’t noticed any off odours and or textural effects when I cook with it (I usually use it to make a some type of Indian desserts). If you have a bag that’s open, I recommend splitting it up into smaller bags based on how much you think might need. As long as the moisture is kept out, it will last awhile. – NS