THE WASHINGTON POST – The Washington Post Food staff recently fielded questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat.
Q: I am thinking of taking a charcuterie board for a potluck. The potluck will be for roughly 10 to 15 people? Any idea as to quantity of meats, cheeses, etc?
A: Most of the advice I’ve seen recommends three to four ounces per person, but if everyone is bringing a dish, you won’t need that much for your board. It’ll be overload. I’d knock that down to about one to two ounces per person.
So, select your meats, cheeses, fruit, nuts and spreads and do a little math.
Remember, you can bring a little extra to tuck in a small ice chest, or if the host is okay with it, in the refrigerator, should you need to add more. – Ann Maloney (AM)
Q: I have lots of leftover dinner rolls from Thanksgiving. I live alone and my freezer is full. How can I turn them into something else, like topping on a casserole, before they get moldy or stale?
A: You can make a bread pudding or turn them into croutons or breadcrumbs. – Kari Sonde (KS)
Q: Do you have any suggestions for what to do with leftover tofu – for example, four ounces leftover from a 16-ounce block used for a 12-ounce recipe? I’m looking for something with pantry ingredients as I assume I should use it quickly. (It’s extra firm and had already been pressed before I lopped some off.)
A: Toss it into a small batch spiced marinade (last time I did this, it was some olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cumin, smoked paprika, a tiny bit of oregano, salt and pepper), let it soak for a second, then pan-fry and tuck it into a tortilla. – KS
Q: I have quite a bit of whey sitting in the fridge. I’ve read it is good for soup. I have a turkey carcass in the freezer waiting to be turned into stock. Should I use the whey to make the stock? Or should I use it when I make soup? Any other suggestions on what to do with the whey?
A: Whey is great for baking bread, brining a chicken or add to smoothies, just to name a few. I know people also use it in soups, though I personally prefer it in the above preparations. – Olga Massov (OM)
Q: I am looking for a vegan sub for Worcestershire. I’ve read that coconut aminos (used in equal amounts) is a good sub. Your thoughts? Any other options?
A: That’s a good choice. Annie’s makes a vegan Worcestershire sauce. Depending on what you are making, you also could try soy sauce (on its own or mixed with a little dried mustard), miso paste or a tiny bit of liquid smoke. – AM
Q: I cooked a pot of beans, a simple vegan recipe with black beans and aromatics. When the beans were done there was so much liquid in the pot that I put it on a pretty high simmer. Next time I looked at it, the liquid had all boiled off and the beans were about to stick. Oops! I quickly took it off the heat, but what could I have done to replace some of that cooking liquid so it wouldn’t have been so dry when I served it (over rice)?
A: You could have put a little water or stock/broth in there, let it simmer on low for a few minutes…but only if there wasn’t a WHOLE lot of burned on bits on the base of the pot, because adding a liquid would deglaze that. – KS
Q: One of our family favourite baked goods is a quick bread with oats, cranberries, pecans and orange (peel, juice, and extract). I’m normally a “follow the recipe” kind of baker but am hoping to try something new, switching the flavor profile of this bread to lemon, blueberry, and walnuts. I can sub lemon peel and extract for the orange peel and extract, but wasn’t sure what to do about the liquid – the original recipe calls for 3/4 of orange juice. That seems like a lot of lemon juice, and I wonder if you have other suggestions for something else I should sub (watered down apple juice?) for the orange juice. Or would you do a straight substitution of lemon juice for orange?
A: I wouldn’t do the straight 1:1 sub for lemon juice as it has far less sugar than orange juice and will definitely affect flavour/taste. I think trying apple in place of orange juice, or considering another citrus juice, such as tangerine, grapefruit or such, may be a good option. – OM
Q: Ageing has destroyed my always excellent blood pressure and now I take a pill and have to watch my salt intake very carefully. I love to bake though it’s becoming simpler (no crepe cake!). Which baked goods recipes absolutely demand you don’t reduce or eliminate the salt in them?
A: Bread! It’s often carefully calibrated. Salt in bread dough helps tighten the gluten structure and also helps slow down the yeast activity, for better flavour and preventing it from overproofing or proofing too quickly. Much less critical to success in cakes, cookies, etc. – Becky Krystal
Q: Please give me tips on baking a pecan pie in an aluminum foil pan. I hate to have to use one, but the pie is being raffled off, so I most likely won’t get my pan back. Should I double the pan to make it sturdier, adjust the temperature, or just bake as I always do? I don’t blind bake the crust, normally I bake it at 425 for 10 minutes then reduce the temp to 350 for another 40 minutes or so.
A: For the most part you can just bake it as you normally would. If you’re worried about the bottom of the crust cooking properly, you can try placing a baking sheet in the oven as it preheats and baking the pie on top of that. – Aaron Hutcherson