Ask Ruth Reichl

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If you’ve got a food-related question that’s burning a hole in your recipe book, now's your chance to ask Gourmet magazine editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl any question you’d like on the subject of food. Whether you want to know how to make the perfect pie crust or her favorite recipe for rhubarb or even why she carries a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano in her pocketbook, Ruth would love to answer your questions -- so give us a call at 646-778-3729!


Ruth Reichl

Comments [55]


To Ro #45: You're wrong, and if you'd spent 2 seconds with your browser you'd have realized that:

... would have lead you to this:

Jul. 23 2008 01:41 PM
Liz from Georgia

Back in Oregon, lots of us used uncooked beet greens in salads; the key is to use them when they are young and tender. A wonderful addition to a green salad!

Jul. 23 2008 05:27 AM
Andrea from Astoria, NY

In the Gourmet cookbook, you refer to the pasta with breadcrumbs and capers as an excellent quick, delicious quick recipe. (And I've made it many, many times since reading that with excellent results!) What other standby recipes do you refer to when you get home late from work, needing a great dinner on the table in a short time?

Jul. 22 2008 08:52 PM
karen from New Jersey

RE: Beet leaves. It's Beet Greens and they are delicious! I grew up in VT and beet greens were a delicacy. Wash well. Three rinses. Dry and place in boiling water until stalks are tender, about 3 - 5 minutes. Drain. Add a couple tablespoons butter and one or two tablespoons cider vinegar, salt & pepper. Yum!

Jul. 22 2008 05:13 PM
Andy from Westchester

To the caller with the question on baking with other kinds of flour and sugar; you should check out the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. My wife has made many great recepies for my son, who is sensative to gluten, by using almond or garbonzo bean flour. Even I've been known to to sample some of her tasty muffins and breads.

Jul. 22 2008 03:33 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

I agree with Joe #28. Give me some cheap organic vegetables and cheap ethically raised beef and I’ll be happy to eat it. Otherwise you’re living in fantasy land if you want everyone to buy overpriced food. The average family with dwindling wages just cant realistically afford it.

It’s the law of the land, expensive goods don’t get cheaper, no matter how many people buy it. Instead of pushing overpriced products on the public with guilt, try using your resources to make organic farming as efficient as commercial farming. Then talk to me about where the male chics go…..

Jul. 22 2008 03:07 PM
Ro from SoHo

# 7 Rory Bernstein

Perhaps because cooks 'taste' - not eat, while cooking. Too much tasting i.e eating leads to palate fatigue.

Jul. 22 2008 02:22 PM
ann hall every from Forest Hills, NY

Answers to some questions asked:

1. To Daniel Frank about marinated meat throwing off too much liquid....try initially cooking the pork on a high pre-heated outdoor or stovetop grill- on both sides, then lower heat to finish cooking.

2. To the caller who asked about beet leaves? Just cook them as you would any green leafy vegetable - example: sauteed in Extra Virgin Olive oil, salt, pepper, thinly sliced garlic. If leave need further cooking, cover the pan to create some steam for a few minutes and then lift off the lid. If beet leaves are very large, cut up into pieces before cooking.

3. To CH about berries lasting a long time: I believe that some strawberry producers are using irradiation which would explain the longevity of some berries. I buy only berries in season from the farmers' markets and in the winter if I need berries, I buy frozen berries to make sorbet or a berry coulis (sauce).

4. Where to buy Haloumi cheese in NYC? I would think that the specialty stores such as Citerella, Garden of Eden, Fairway, etc. would sell Haloumi by the pound.

Jul. 22 2008 02:14 PM
Olivia Koppell from Bronx, NY

Recipe for beet greens - a caller wanted to know and Ruth had no answer. I make them all the time!!! Saute an onion in olive oil (one smashed clove garlic optional) until translucent. While that is going on wash leaves and stems. Separate stems and chop into small pieces - add to onions. When stems starts to soften add grossly cut greens, stir around, cover, lower flame and cook until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Great cold too. It is soooooo delicious - and good for you. Olivia

Jul. 22 2008 02:14 PM
J. Sciarra from Ridgefield CT

Beets, Swiss Chard, and an Italian green called Bietola are all in the same family.

They should be blanched, excess liquid squeezed out (I do this with spinach as soon as it gets in from the garden or market. I learned this in Florence where many grocers will sell balls of freshly blanched spinach ready for the stove) and then, as pointed out, used where other greens might, sauteed with garlic and olive oil, drizzle with lemon on the plate, use in pasta fillings etc.

Try growing Bietola. It is a beet that doesn't grow a tuberous root and is sometimes marketed as "perpetual" spinach because you can cut some and it grows back. It also does fine in the Summer heat which causes spinach to bolt. I highly recommend growing this vegetable as abackbone green for Summer. Very easy to grow.

Jul. 22 2008 02:07 PM
Ro from SoHo

#29 m

Have you considered that perhaps the male chicks become the chicken you buy and eat, the hens being busy laying the eggs?

Jul. 22 2008 02:06 PM
Tisha from Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ

I just happened to make beet greens last night in a sort of traditional collards style: saute onion, then a little bacon (turkey bacon from Trader Joe's for me), then the chopped greens, saute a while, then pour in a little red wine to deglaze. My family actually loved it + of course the greens were "included" in the price of the golden beets I got at the farmer's market this weekend.

Jul. 22 2008 01:59 PM

I have heard that plastic bottles in the freezer are OK, just not room temp

Jul. 22 2008 01:58 PM
Derek from Inwood, NYC

Re: beet leaf recipes -- I've cooked beet leaves pretty much the same as I would kale or chard. A quick boil of just a minute to take off the bitter taste, then immediately plunging it into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Then I can saute or steam them as I would spinach.

Jul. 22 2008 01:56 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

jennifer d has a point--the only brand of rabbit common in manhattan is produced by d'artagnan, and is rather expensive. ottomanelli was not much cheaper.

Jul. 22 2008 01:55 PM
Avivah from Brooklyn

Beet tops can be cooked just like greens or spinach.

Jul. 22 2008 01:54 PM

Jennifer D: For rabbits, you may want to try Chinatown, either Manhattan or Flushing.

Jul. 22 2008 01:54 PM
Sarah from Brooklyn

Re: beet leaves, aka beet greens....just sautee them with oil or butter, like you would any other green. They're delicious & healthy.

Jul. 22 2008 01:54 PM

beet greens are a southern thing - you can just steam them

Jul. 22 2008 01:54 PM
Lauren from NYC

Do you have a recommendation for a brand of really good olive oil (for use in salad dressings/etc)?

Jul. 22 2008 01:53 PM
Nancy from Brooklyn

Why has the quality peaches been so excellent this year? It seemed like all of the peaches I bought last year were dry and mealy. ick!

Jul. 22 2008 01:53 PM
Emilie Hinman from CT

Loved your three books - so glad to hear that you are working on another one! And thanks to you and Gourmet magazine, my daughter, who worked at the magazine in 2000 and 2001, in the library and with the chefs in the test kitchen, is now a Chef de Cuisine at a great restaurant in Northern CA. She sites her experience at Gourmet in her bio on the restaurant's website!

Jul. 22 2008 01:53 PM
Karen from Orangeburg, NY

I hope Ms. Reichl can help. I used to love the cakes and cookies at G&M Pastries on Madison and 77th. They closed some years ago and the bakers went elsewhere and the family reportedly divided up the cookbook. I miss their Wonder Cake and the chocolate folded over pastel cookies. HELP! Do you know where the bakers went? That was a one of a kind Viennese bakery.

Jul. 22 2008 01:53 PM
anonymous from NYC

Dear Ruth,

Would you ever write a book about Coffee??

I LOVE your books! Can't wait for the one about your mother. Thank you Thank you for sharing your passion for food and all your wonderful personal stories. You're the best.

Jul. 22 2008 01:53 PM
anthony clune from Brooklyn

DISAGREE. It -IS- your place, nay your DUTY to tell people how to live. Take a stand.

If you don't advocate the consumption of endangered species, take the next step and advocate more sustainable practices in the Industrial Food Complex.

Perhaps, what you meant to say, is that it is not as profitable.


Jul. 22 2008 01:52 PM

steak rasied like joel salatin does is environmentally great but industrial steak is not good

Jul. 22 2008 01:48 PM

Ms Reichl, you talk about "eating ethically" along side discussing roast chicken and eggs. What do the egg producers where you get your eggs do with the male chicks?

Jul. 22 2008 01:48 PM
joe from astoria

Unfortunately, it is elitist to try and eat local. For example, I work IN UNION SQUARE but can't afford the $4.50 loaf of bread or spend 9.00 for a crumb of good cheese. I want to eat better and local, but its just too darn expensive. ITS NO FUN BEING POOR ANY MORE.

Jul. 22 2008 01:46 PM
caroline from new york city

what is the best proportion of butter to lard in a pie crust? i really like the combination of both lard and butter in my crust, but i can't seem to get to the right proportion.

Jul. 22 2008 01:46 PM

also marketing is something to be aware of

sally fallon says so much about all this in nourishing traditions the things we won't eat

Jul. 22 2008 01:44 PM


Will you write an editorial for the Times countering their article this AM


expensive is because we don't use the whole thing - chicken bones make broth, organ meats are good for people...

Jul. 22 2008 01:43 PM
Jennifer D from Long Island, NY

Dear Ruth,
My husband loves rabbit. I would like to prepare it more often at home. I have had difficulty finding it at times, at a reasonable price. Traditionally, this was a cheap meat.
Any thoughts on where I can find it?

Jul. 22 2008 01:42 PM
kp from NJ

Your guest is right about the flour beetles. They are perfectly harmless to eat. When I get them from time to time I pop the canister in the freezer to kill the beetles and continue to use the flour. The federal government actually has legal limits for numbers of insect parts (and rat hairs) in food you eat like cereal, so you're already eating them...

Jul. 22 2008 01:38 PM


Jul. 22 2008 01:37 PM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

I heard Martha Stewart go off once (on Car Talk) about heating food in aluminum foil. Does Ruth think this is harmful? Thanks.

Jul. 22 2008 01:35 PM
Al from Brooklyn

For sugar and flour substitues I google diabetic websites, Gluten-free websites, and Vegan websites for tips. Or google "flour substitutes" and "sugar substitutes" seems to be that when you use liquid sugar substitutes you need to reduce the other liquids in the recipe, and the flours may not be cup for cup. Research, research, research...and experiment.

Jul. 22 2008 01:35 PM


What about the traditionalists use of fresh ground flours?

there are also antinutrients in uncooked veggies

Jul. 22 2008 01:35 PM
veronica from manhattan

To the caller regarding swapping sugars/flours when baking... don't be put off by Reichl's comments. There are MANY recipies that are fabulous without traditional baking ingredients. Babycakes Bakery on the LES is an example of cooking without white flours/refined sugar, and they have a cookbook coming out soon. Also, many raw food cookbooks have alt. recipies that taste great. You can always google for alt. recipies for baking... many people who have gluten allergies cannot eat traditional baked goods, like myself!

Jul. 22 2008 01:35 PM
Cynthia from Manhattan

Put a couple bay leaves into all canisters of flour, rice and pasta. The bay kills the weevil larvae which are always present. Even if you keep flour in the freezer.

Jul. 22 2008 01:35 PM

I am moving to Sunset Park, BKLN, from Westchester next month. Do you have any recommendations for great places to eat?

Jul. 22 2008 01:33 PM
Zach from Upper West Side

Not sure why this works, but you can replace oil or shortening with applesauce in many baked goods. My fiance has done this with brownees. Tastes delicious.

Jul. 22 2008 01:33 PM
Gary from Port Washington

I followed your advice and went to Arthur Avenue and the Bronx and was amazed by how wonderful it was. Everyone should go. I ate in Roberto's. What restaurants and shops do you recommend around Arthur Avenue. What is your favorite pizza places in New York? and New Haven?

I want to thank you for Gourmet Magazine's wonderful website and the show you have on PBS Gourmet:Diary of a Foodie; what a terrific and well done show.

Jul. 22 2008 01:33 PM
ann hall every from Forest Hills, NY

There is a brand of "white whole wheat" flour sold by King Arthur Flour Company that is terrific to bake with as an alternative to straight whole wheat flour. Go to my story about it on - click on "food wares" and then "food products" for King Arthur Flour information.

Jul. 22 2008 01:32 PM
Jennifer H from Brooklyn

there are some very nice very healthy vegan baked goods in the Angelica Kitchen cook book

Jul. 22 2008 01:32 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

to the beach house baking caller: baking in humid confines will affect your results signficantly, as well. look for a low-protein whole wheat flour for starters--could help a bit. do some research.

Jul. 22 2008 01:32 PM
Last Supper from NYC

What is the role of food artists (artists experimenting with food as opposed to chefs) on NYC's food culture?

Jul. 22 2008 01:31 PM
John from Toronto, Ontario

if I don't want to stuff zuchini or squash flowers, how can I cook them w/out having them wilt to nothing?

Jul. 22 2008 01:29 PM
Daniel Frank from Brooklyn, NY

Why does the meat that I put in a marinade throw off so much liquid when i cook it, especially pork?

Jul. 22 2008 01:29 PM
Rory Bernstein from Brooklyn, NY

How does Ruth manage to keep from gaining weight while working at a food magazine?

Jul. 22 2008 01:25 PM
Laura from Upper West Side

Where can I get the best Apple Pie in Manhattan? Restaurant or take out.


Jul. 22 2008 01:23 PM
joe from astoria

If Ruth was a struggling artist or writer today -like me- living on basic food staples like good bread and simple fare- what foods would she depend on as affordable, inexpensive and healthy?

Jul. 22 2008 01:14 PM

What's the difference btw a Bistro and Brasserie?

Jul. 22 2008 01:05 PM
antonio from park slope

What is Ruth's favorite outer-borough restaurant..

Jul. 22 2008 01:02 PM
exlege from brooklyn

Where in NYC can I get haloumi cheese by the pound instead of in small, 8 oz packages? I can't seem to find bulk sellers.

Jul. 22 2008 12:47 PM
C.H. from G.Village

I have been wondering lately if "fresh" berries are sprayed or treated with something to lengthen their shelf life. One particular incident really hit me: We had a package of washed blueberries in the refrigerator for over a month, completely forgotten. When I got them out, I was sure the berries would be totally bad, liquid-y, etc... To my great surprise, the berries were still fine. Or, they looked fine. We did not eat them, but how did they manage to stay fine for over a month? I am now a little afraid of eating any fresh berries. Do you know anything about it?

Jul. 22 2008 12:45 PM

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