The Washington Post Food staff, cookbook author Naz Deravian and her collaborator chef Hanif Sadr of Komaaj in San Francisco recently answered questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat.
Q: We’ve just started to grow arugula from seed in our home garden, and after 3 days it’s germinated: I have a feeling this is going to be good! In about a month, we’ll be looking at more arugula than I’ve dealt with before. I can use it in salads, and for garnish in various ways, but it’s not going to stay salad-level fresh for long, so what else? Arugula ... pesto? Wilt it and add to pasta? I can treat it a bit like baby spinach, but it’s very peppery.
A: All of the suggestions you listed are what I would have recommended. If you find it too peppery, you can try to balance it out with sweetness (sugar, honey, agave, etc.) to see if that works.
— Aaron Hutcherson
Q: Jicama wraps were billed as being a substitute for tortillas, but, upon closer inspection, the package says they are like a cross between an apple and a water chestnut. So, other than being round and thin and flexible, that doesn’t seem much like a tortilla. Any recommendations on how to use them?
A: They’re not going to taste anything like a tortilla, no, but honestly jicama is delicious and you could definitely still fill them as you would tacos and enjoy . You could also use them as a wrapper for summer rolls instead of rice paper.
— Kari Sonde
Q: Other than rinsing and drying right after use, do you have any tips on keeping peelers sharp, or are they just one of those things that you need to replace periodically?
A: I am sure there are handy people out there who say they can sharpen peelers, but I’m not one of them. After a while, I do think the best option is to just replace once they start feeling dull and slipping around rather than peeling. Another thing to do is to keep it from banging around against other tools (easier said than done, if you keep them in the miscellany drawer). And hang on to or purchase a plastic sheath for the blade.
— Becky Krystal
Q: Hi! Do you have any suggestions for how I can subtly introduce friends or family members to the taste of kashk? I know some picky eaters who otherwise wouldn’t be so adventurous. Thank you.
A: You can start with smaller amounts and/or mix it with yogurt to use for dips or soups.
— Naz Deravian
A: You can use kashk like a cream in your savory braise or stews.
— Hanif Sadr
A: I don’t know what Naz will think of this, but I put a dollop on my tacos and loved it.
— Ann Maloney
Q: Whenever I cut almost any veg, a good portion of the freshly cut veg sticks to my knife. What am I doing wrong? Or what am I not doing that I should?
A: You’re not doing anything wrong. It’s really just the smooth knife! Some knives have those divots on the side of the blade to try to prevent it, but I’m not a huge fan and not convinced it makes a difference. Just brush off (carefully) what’s stuck and forge on. Here’s a good post on Chocolate & Zucchini explaining the phenomenon.