Recent Washington Post guest chatters were cookbook author and food writer Tony Rosenfeld and food writer and blogger Visi R. Tilak. Here are edited excerpts from a recent online chat:
Q: We built a raised-bed garden this year and planted a jalapeno bush, not realizing it would become the most abundant producer (with the exception of the tomatoes) in the garden. We have TONS of jalapenos! What to do? We have used them in guacamole, tomato sauce, a variety of Mexican dishes, etc. We still have extras.
A: As far as I'm concerned, that is a very good problem to have. I vote for pickling the jalapenos. Though you could certainly follow the proper steps in pickling (sterilized Mason jars, etc.), I like to quick-pickle jalapenos: Slice them thinly, cover with a splash of water and white vinegar, then try to use them up in chilis, stews and braises in the next couple of weeks. They'll hold in the refrigerator perfectly fine over that time. -- Tony Rosenfeld
Q:I bought basil at the farmers market for a big batch of pesto. It had already started wilting a little, but I figured it would be fine overnight. Apparently not. By the time I got to it, the leaves were almost black and tasted horribly bitter. Unfortunately, I had already put cheese, garlic and walnuts in the food processor, so I just spun those together and figured I'd deal with it tonight. I'd prefer not to buy a whole lot of basil, and while I could make spinach or kale pesto, is there anything else I can do with this concoction? I haven't added oil yet, so it is pretty dry.
A:If you don't want to turn it into another kind of pesto, I think it'd be lovely on its own as a pasta topping, perhaps with some bread crumbs and perhaps some lemon zest (and that aforementioned oil.) Maybe a little crushed red pepper for a kick. -- Joe Yonan
Q:I want to make my own tomato soup and would love to use the tomatoes that are in season now. I'm stumped as to storage, though: Make the soup now and freeze it? Make it now and can it? Or buy the tomatoes now and freeze/can those? Or something else entirely?
A: Personally, I would prefer to make tomato puree and freeze smaller amounts of it in single-use freezer bags. I find that those work best for me. I use them as and when I need them, for soups or sauces or chutneys. -- Visi R. Tilak
Q: I have about 2 1/2 pounds of delicious beets to use up. I love beets but have eaten a lot of salads lately with beets, goat cheese and pecans. And it's not really soup weather. What to do with the beets? Pickled beets are one of the few ways I do not like beets. Roasted, boiled, in salads, in beet caviar, mashed, borscht -- I like all those.
A: A few suggestions from the Washington Post's Recipe Finder, www.washingtonpost.com/recipes: How about Beet Rhubarb Jam? Beet-Walnut Pate is another one you might like. And if any of your beets are on the small side, check out our Baby Beet Tarte Tatin. -- Becky Krystal
Q: I'm moving at the end of the month to a brand-new townhouse. My husband and I opted for a gas range as opposed to electric. Do I need to alter anything about how I currently cook to compensate for the change? I know that gas heats and cools much faster and better, but that's about all I know about the difference. I figured that you see all the chefs on TV and in kitchens use gas for a reason. A: I think you'll find the transition pretty seamless. Gas is more responsive, so you'll notice that when you turn heat up and down, it happens more quickly. With electric stoves, some cooks get in the habit of taking pots off burners when they turn them off, because it takes so long for the element to cool off. You won't have to do that with gas. -- J.Y.