THE WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post Food staff and writer at The Takeout and former chef Allison Robicelli recently answered questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat.
Q: I know the whole point of sourdough is NO kneading and a slow fermentation. But I stumbled across a sourdough pizza dough recipe that calls for five to 10 minutes of kneading (no instant or dry yeast added) before the bulk rise. What exactly would be the reason for this?
A: Basically, you want to activate the gluten structure, which will help with dough shaping. No-knead doesn’t mean zero knead, but just that it’s not knead-intensive, if that makes sense.- Olga Massov
Q: Do I need to do anything special when freezing nuts and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)? Like make sure there’s no air inside the container? Or can I just throw them in the freezer in the container they came in?
A: If you’re leaving them in their packaging and they’re sealed tightly, you should be fine to throw it straight into the freezer. Otherwise, it’s best to put into a freezer bag with the air sucked out of it, not only to prevent off-odours, but also to make more room in the freezer for ice cream. – Allison Robicelli
Q: I’m having a terrible problem getting my potatoes and onions to last more than two weeks. I shop every other week and find that, toward the end of that period, my potatoes have grown eyes, and my onions go bad. Even sweet potatoes start to sprout. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so heat isn’t an issue. I’ve been storing them in a cool corner of my kitchen counter because I really don’t have any other place to put them. Keeping them in the cool garage was a bust, too. I’m getting ready to store them in the refrigerator despite advice to the contrary. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Are you storing them in baskets with lots of air circulation? That helps. The best way to make sure onions get such circulation is to do the pantyhose trick – stuff onions in each leg, tie between them, and tie. Or use hanging baskets. The ideal storage temperature is 45-55 degrees, but who has that? The problem with the fridge is that the cold and the humidity will turn them mushy. For potatoes, store them in a paper bag, preferably in the pantry, and keep them away from those onions! – Joe Yonan
Q: I’ll confess to using up my supply of Goya beans before starting a boycott but, man, I’m going to miss those canned black beans. They taste so much better than any other canned brands – is it my imagination? Is it just the salt? I can and do cook my own beans from scratch but have been known to open up a can of Goya, drain, and eat by the spoonful. Sad to forgo this much-loved food item.
A: Someone asked me on Twitter for other brand recommendations, and I pointed out that Bush’s Best won canned-black-bean taste tests by America’s Test Kitchen and The Kitchn and came in second in Good Housekeeping’s. Ortega won the latter’s test. – Joe Yonan