THE WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post Food staff recently answered questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat.
Q: I have a recipe that calls for Peppadew peppers, but my store doesn’t carry them. They do have cherry peppers in both mild and hot. I thought Peppadew peppers had a low heat level (but not completely heatless), which I wouldn’t classify as either mild or hot. Which should I get, do you think?
A: I’d go for mild cherry peppers. The hot ones can be HOT.
– Joe Yonan
Q: My mom gave me nice London broil from her half a cow. I have no idea how to cook it. It looks like it’s not really a real cut of beef, but I’d like to make something delicious out of it. Any ideas or thoughts? I can’t tell if it’s a “long, low, and slow” or a “hot and quick” kind of cut.
A: I would go with “hot and quick” here, because this cut of meat tends to not have much fat, so if you braise it is more likely to turn tough. Consider broiling it, as is traditional: Season well with salt and pepper, let it sit for an hour at room temperature before cooking, and then broil it for four minutes, flip and broil for four minutes on the other side. An instant-read thermometer should read 125 degrees, inserted into the centre of the thickest part of the meat, when it’s done. Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing, and serve with your favorite sauce. You also can pan-sear it.
– Daniela Galarza
Q: What is the best way to extend cheeses’ non-moldy lifespans once the packaging is opened? A pricey goat-milk cheese and a not-pricey Swiss got different varieties of moldy in separate Tupperware containers in two weeks or less.
A: What you need is cheese paper, which allows cheeses to breathe better in storage.
A: Some cheese freezes well, including goat! You also can freeze shredded cheese, if you want to do that for the Swiss.
– Becky Krystal
Q: So many recipes call for garlic. Is there any substitute? My digestive system doesn’t love it.
A: Shallots can impart a garlicky flavour, as can asafoetida, but unless the recipe is all about the garlic, feel free to omit it.
Some folks say garlic-infused oil is a good workaround, but like Daniela said, you can leave it out if it’s hurting you!
– Kari Sonde
Q: Does bleached and bromated high-gluten flour affect bread’s flavour and texture, or is it best to use unbleached flour?
A: This is a bit technical, so hopefully I’m answering this correctly. What type of bread are we talking about? If you’re making sourdough bread, best to stick with unbleached, or even organic, because it will have more of the natural yeast and bacteria you’ll want to thrive. Honestly, I haven’t seen a lot of recommendations about bleached flour for bread. Some people prefer bleached all-purpose for cakes and cookies, as the bleaching process helps the starches gelatinise during baking. For example, Stella Parks’s preferred all-purpose is Gold Medal, which is bleached. High-gluten flour will have more protein in it, and therefore will help form more gluten, which can be what you want in some breads. I’ve messed around with high-gluten flour, mostly for bagels, but really, I just stick with unbleached bread flour.
Q: Recently, I opened up a new bag of black peppercorns which is sold in a zip-lock type bag and some of them have a white residue on them. Is it possible for peppercorns to mold? I’ve never noticed this “discolouration” before in a bag of only black peppercorns. I am unsure if I should use the bag or toss it. Any advice?
A: Seems like it might be mold, yes – which can happen if the peppercorns were stored badly (and moisture got in).
Q: Which variety of apples last the longest? I am going to an orchard and want to use these apples for Thanksgiving and Christmas if possible.
A: Apples, in general, store very well when in cold storage. One of my personal favourites for long-term storage have been Stayman apples, if you can find them – crisp, tart, great for eating and cooking.
– Olga Massov