Chat Leftovers: Roasters, "Cloaking," Little Fishies

Roasting pan: I am looking for a good roasting pan, but all the ones I see are very expensive -- over $200. Can you tell me where I can find a good roasting pan that won't bust my budget?

I think I paid about 40 bucks for my 16-inch Calphalon roasting pan a few years ago, and it’s still kicking. Keep an eye on those sales, my dear; in this weak economy, department stores seem to hosting a new sale nearly every week. I recently bought a high-quality enamel-coated cast-iron skillet at Macy’s for nearly 70 percent off.

Don’t underestimate the local thrift shop; I’ve found great cookware bargains over the years, as well as ye olde neighborhood yard sale.

Whatever you do, don’t spend 200 bucks for a roasting pan. I am confident you can spend far less without much effort.

Arlington, Va.: I tried that no-knead bread recipe last weekend and had a horrible time with the "cloaking" concept. Looked on the web for some type of pictures and couldn't locate anything that helped me. Can you offer any more guidance beyond what's in the recipe? Do you hold the dough in one hand and stretch with the other? (And what happens if you don't cloak it -- just put a hunk of dough on the baking stone?) I'm sure this is one of those things that will seem simple once I get the hang of it...At least I hope so. I want to try again this weekend! Thanks so much!

Here’s how Zoe Francois, co-author of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” describes a “gluten cloak”: “What you are trying to do here is to add enough flour to the surface so that it can be handled and the protein strands in the surface can be aligned, creating a resilient “cloak” around the mass of wet, barely kneaded dough. Resist the temptation to get rid of all stickiness by adding too much flour.”

So you’ve got a piece of dough in your (lightly floured) hands, and you’ve sprinkled surface of dough with flour as well (as Francois describes, above). All you really want to do here is gently stretch the surface of the dough in a circular motion (think quarter turns) while tucking dough underneath. You’ll end up with a loosely-shaped ball. You don’t want to incorporate the flour but you do want to slightly shape dough, set it up for resting at room temperature as well as create a gluten structure which is going to help the loaf keep its shape while baking.

Hempstead, N.Y.: Hi Kim -- I've got several tins of sardines and anchovies but never know the difference as to what I use each of them for! Can you help and give me some ideas? Thanks!

All sardines belong to the herring family (Clupediae), which includes anchovies and shad among its brethren. It is said that the name “sardine” is derived from the Italian isla of Sardinia, where they were also known as pilchards.

Both salt-water fish, the sardine is typically about five inches long, significant longer than its distant cousin, the anchovy. It is difficult to find fresh sardines at the seafood counter, and if you do, they’re likely to be flown in from Portugal. They’re wonderful pan fried or grilled and served over greens, by the way. Fresh anchovies are even more difficult to find in the States; you’ve got a better chance of finding them on a restaurant menu than at your local fish market.

Personally, if I were conducting a blind taste test, I would not be able to distinguish between the fishies, fresh or tinned. Both provide enormous amounts of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which is always a good thing, and if you want to start eating down your supply, consider incorporating them into pizza or into pasta. I love pounding a few tinned fish in a mortar and pestle (or with the force of a large knife) with some garlic. It creates a savory base from which you can build; I’ve taken that mash and heated it in a little olive oil, then add some fresh chopped parsley, lemon and bread crumbs, all of which gets folded into short pasta, such as penne or small shells.

The mash also loves a strong mustard, the smeared onto a slab of crusty toast for a weekend breakfast of champions. Throw in a handful of peppery greens like arugula or watercress, with a spritz of lemon, blood orange or grapefruit, and you’ve got a savory salad fit for a queen

Last but not least, dem little fishies are brain food, so if you’re feeling foggy, they’ll fix you right up.

Transcript of the final edition of What's Cooking

What’s Cooking archives.

Got something on your mind? Send me an e-mail and I'll pick three questions from the mail bag on a weekly basis, beginning next week, to be answered in this space.

By Kim ODonnel |  March 24, 2009; 9:00 AM ET Chat Leftovers
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Look for cookware at places like Marshall's, HomeGoods, TJMaxx and those kinds of stores. The selection is pretty random, you have to be willing to sort through a bunch of other stuff and they don't usually have a complete set, but you can find incredible deals on top quality pans.

I don't remember what I paid for it (probably not much) but I have been using the same Circulon roasting pan for close to 20 years now. No it doesn't still look brand new but it works great. Look for something heavy from a reputable manufacturer and it will last a long, long time.

Posted by: margaret6 | March 24, 2009 9:33 AM has bargain prices on Calphalon. And as Kim said, they have a 16" roaster for $39.99.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | March 24, 2009 10:44 AM

Kim - I've been really enjoying the no-knead bread (III) - is there a version that is whole wheat? thanks

Posted by: daconrad | March 24, 2009 10:53 AM

Daconrad, the "Artisan Bread in Five" duo have a recipe for "Light Whole Wheat Bread" but I have't tested it yet. Instead of 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour for the "master recipe" I shared with you, the WW recipe calls for 1 cup whole wheat flour and 5 1/2 cups AP flour. Based on what I'm reading, the method looks the same, but as I mentioned, I haven't tested. Keep me posted.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | March 24, 2009 11:16 AM

margaret6 has a great suggestion, who cares if the packaging is damaged? That's why a lot of things seem to end up in discount stores. We found our roasting pan after thanksgiving or christmas our local grocery store where we found a non stick, turkey-sized, kitchen aid pan for only $20 or $30 (I don't remember, but it was something like 2/3 off the origional price). Happy hunting!

Posted by: violarulz | March 24, 2009 12:31 PM

I use anchovies in my beef stew base. Three or four fillets, along with some salt pork, add a lot of richness to the broth, a trick I learned from Cook's Illustrated.

I also use anchovies in fresh green sauce. I chop parsley, onion, capers, lemon zest and anchovies until I've got a thick paste, then thin with lemon juice and olive oil to get the consistency I want. I use this with shrimp as a change from cocktail sauce, and it's also good on pretty much any white fish or on pasta.

Posted by: esleigh | March 24, 2009 12:34 PM

esleigh, I also love adding mashed 'chovies to tomato sauce...great ideas you've got here!

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | March 24, 2009 12:40 PM

I think you should be willing to splurge on some pieces and not feel guilty about it if you can afford to. All-Clad and Le Creuset may be expensive but they should also last a lifetime, so I consider such pieces to be an investment. Plus after plunking down serious cash, you'll hopefully be motivated to make use of whatever you purchase.

That said, I bought a $100 stainless steel calphalon roasting pan (an imitation of the all-clad at half the price) years ago that is now $129! Even though I use it just once or twice a year I'm as pleased as punch with it. I just saw a Kitchen Aid pan on that is similar in design for just $49. Not every piece has to be best in brand, but folks are right about shopping around at places like Home Goods and watching for sales. You can really make out!

Posted by: otabenga | March 24, 2009 1:20 PM


I read with interest the trouble an Arlington reader had with "cloaking" and shaping yeast dough. This is exactly why I enable readers to completely skip this and other tricky, messy steps in my new Kneadlessly Simple bread book. After the second rise, the dough is simply inverted into the baking pot or pan and popped into the oven. Those who would like to hear more about this method or obtain the recipe for my version of a crusty white peasant-style loaf can go to the National Public Radio website ( and search on "no-knead bread." I've heard from many people that my loaf is not only remarkably easy but exceptionally tasty and aromatic.

Posted by: nancybaggett | March 24, 2009 5:51 PM

Re: good cookware - don't forget to look at the outlets too. I bought a second-tier brand (Cousances) enameled cast iron dutch oven from the LeCreuset outlet years ago for about $20 because it was an "unfashionable" brown. Heavy sucker, but boy the stew and chili come out well, and since I store all of my stuff in closed cabinets, who cares about the color?

Posted by: iteursi88 | March 24, 2009 10:42 PM

Interesting ideas regarding anchovies. I almost popped a few into my last batch of marinara sauce (which, technically, would make it puttanesca). Perhaps I'll try a side-by-side comparison sometime.

Incidentally, a tube of anchovy paste is really handy if you're only going to use the equivalent of one or two anchovies at a time.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 25, 2009 9:38 AM

There is a nice two-part video on YouTube about working pizza dough. Watch and you can see how to shape and "cloak" and get other interesting tips, tricks and explanations. Works with bread too.

"Good Eats" Season 3 Episode 9 "Flat is Beautiful"

Posted by: VeronaItaly | March 25, 2009 1:02 PM

Regarding buying good cookware for less, don't forget the shopping networks. From the HSN website I purchased a good set of basic pots and pans: 3 graduated sized skillets,two saucepans with lids, an oversized skillet with lid, a large stockpot (at least 2 gallon size, not sure of the exact), a 7 qt dutch oven, and a bunch of kitchen gadgets and utensils. Everything is a good, heavy, restaurant quality. They were on clearance, and I paid about $110.00 for everything, including shipping.

I've seen comparable pieces in Wegman's for more than I paid for my whole set. Go to the websites for the networks and check their clearance pages. You can look at all the details of the sets, including close up pictures of the pieces. You can also call the network's information line if you need any other information.

Posted by: JennyA1 | March 25, 2009 1:30 PM

Regarding the no-knead bread and the cloaking. Skip the cloaking. After it has risen for about 20 hours, scrape down using rubber or plastic spatula. Let rise for another hour or so. Preheat oven with heavy pan inside. When oven is hot, simply pour the dough into the hot pan which you've sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and return to oven. Remove lid after 30 minutes. Bake for 20 or 25 minutes more depending on size of loaf.

Posted by: davemarks | March 25, 2009 4:03 PM

On the "5 minute a day" no kneed bread recipe. Don't sweat the cloaking. I've been baking from that book on and off since September and when I read that I didn't remember the step you're referring to. I've been remembering it as "add flour so your hands don't stick" and skip it half the time I don't want to try to clean flour off the counter top. Just embrace the concept of - mix it and forget it, and you'll do fine. My favorite out of the book is the olive oil, with a little sugar, it smells more like what I remember my bread in a few hours smelling like. I'll probably be using the light whole wheat more going forward. I've used oat wheat instead as well and my family really liked that. I just tried the completely whole wheat recipe and really like that as well, but it's a little shorter lived in the refrigerator so I don't think it will be my go to.

Posted by: KH20003 | March 27, 2009 9:33 AM

Last night I used my "bigger loaf" no-knead bread to make the most incredible grilled cheese: Two large slices no-knead bread, layer of cheddar, some sauerkraut that I squeezed to remove excess juice, half a kosher hot dog cut into little rounds, some more cheddar. Slow grill with olive oil, not butter, with weighted lid to press down. Wow.

Posted by: davemarks | March 31, 2009 9:26 AM

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