OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
We're pretty excited to have two chefs on our show. Sohla El-Waylly has a new Web series on the History Channel called "Ancient Recipes With Sohla," and Stella Parks is the author of the bestselling cookbook "BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts." Sohla, Stella, welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER.
SOHLA EL-WAYLLY: Hello.
STELLA PARKS: Hey. Thanks for having us.
EISENBERG: So, Sohla, you host this amazing show, "Ancient Recipes With Sohla."
EISENBERG: So in this, you're recreating the oldest version of a dish that we may all be familiar with. What is the oldest one that you've covered?
EL-WAYLLY: I don't know. They're all so old. And...
EL-WAYLLY: I get really confused when you talk about, like, B.C.E. and A.D. 'cause the numbers go in the opposite direction.
EL-WAYLLY: And I'm like...
EL-WAYLLY: ...Wait. Which one's older - 700 or a thousand...
EL-WAYLLY: ...Or 20? So...
EL-WAYLLY: They're all old.
EISENBERG: Stella, you know, as someone who wrote one of the - well, it's in the name 'cause you wrote a bestselling book called "BraveTart." But you cannot argue that during the course of the last year, home baking became the way that people made themselves feel better about their life, especially...
PARKS: Oh, gosh, yeah.
EISENBERG: ...With the bread baking. And have you been doing more bread baking, as well?
PARKS: No, I'm actually not baking at all. I'm kind of enjoying a little bit of, like, a detox sabbatical time. I'm just kind of, like, reevaluating my relationship with baking right now. So I've taken the complete opposite path because, you know, for me, it's not, like - baking is not, like, a relaxing activity. And, you know, people I think, historically, have always been like, oh, don't just love your job? You get to bake all day. I'm like, my job is a job. I have to, like, do work all day. And, like, I enjoy my work, but it's work. And so when I'm not working, I'm not generally like, my God, I can't wait to preheat the oven.
EISENBERG: OK. Sohla, Stella, are you ready for your first game?
EL-WAYLLY: Yeah, I'm ready.
EISENBERG: So in this game Jonathan and I have each brought a bunch of ingredients from our actual kitchens. I have no idea what Jonathan has brought to the table. He has no idea what I have. But on the count of three, we are just going to reveal an ingredient, and then you can both give us some ideas of how we could incorporate these two ingredients into the same dish. To make it easier, you also have access to the ASK ME ANOTHER pantry.
JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: (Laughter).
EISENBERG: Which is full of all kinds of things.
COULTON: Just has everything. All the things.
EISENBERG: Yeah, just everything. So - all right. Are you ready?
EISENBERG: OK. Here we go. Count of three, Jonathan.
EISENBERG: One, two, three.
COULTON: Wow. OK.
EISENBERG: Oh, we are - we've got - we started easy.
COULTON: This is easy.
EISENBERG: I brought some - a little carton of black beans.
COULTON: That's a carton of black beans?
EISENBERG: It's a carton, yeah.
EL-WAYLLY: I didn't know they came in cartons.
EISENBERG: I think I bought it for the package. I was like, square beans?
COULTON: I have a bag of heirloom forbidden rice which is not allowed.
EL-WAYLLY: I mean, there's so much you can do. It's the base for so many meals.
PARKS: This is the foundation of civilization.
COULTON: It's true. This is not really much of a stumper, is it?
EL-WAYLLY: No. What can't you do with - harder.
COULTON: Let me change my ingredient, I'll make it more interesting.
EL-WAYLLY: You guys are cheating.
COULTON: Pretend that didn't happen. Yeah. Yes, we are.
EISENBERG: Well now we're cheating.
COULTON: We're just trying to make good radio here. OK. Here we go. Ready?
COULTON: Oh, you'll like this.
EISENBERG: What do you have there?
COULTON: I have some dried pineapple rings.
EISENBERG: Oh, excellent.
COULTON: And they're old and they've oxidized a little. They've turned a little dark.
EL-WAYLLY: Well, I feel like you could - it would be really nice to cut up the pineapple and do, like, a refried beans situation with a little bacon and the pineapple. A little sweet, a little salty.
COULTON: Yeah. I like that.
EL-WAYLLY: Put it on a tostada with a fried egg. I don't know, I'm into that.
COULTON: Yeah, that sounds delicious.
EISENBERG: That sounds really good.
PARKS: I'm thinking of like an upside - a pineapple upside down, like, bean fritter.
PARKS: As just kind of, like, a little - a wacky, like, appetizer type of situation.
EISENBERG: So - OK, so would you put the - how does that work? Do you - would you put the beans within the pineapple?
PARKS: So you'd make your normal, like - I don't know if you've ever made - like, a black bean fritter kind of situation. But, like, when you go to, like, griddle it up, fry it up, like, you know, just like stud some of the pineapple pieces into it.
PARKS: I mean, it has to be cake. We're making it into cake.
COULTON: It has to be some kind of a cake, for sure. Yeah.
EISENBERG: All right. OK. More challenging. OK, ready?
COULTON: All right. Ready?
EISENBERG: Yeah. Here we go. I bring to you semolina flour.
COULTON: Oh, this is...
COULTON: ...This is a smoky scape relish.
EISENBERG: Oh, I love a scape.
EL-WAYLLY: You guys are on, like - you're connected on some level. This is perfect together.
EISENBERG: Oh yeah?
EL-WAYLLY: We're going to make a very simple fresh tagliatelle and just toss it in the scape relish. You're done. Dinner.
COULTON: Oh, man. You're telling me make pasta out of flour? That's insane. You can't do that. Well, I have a question though, what is a scape?
EL-WAYLLY: OK. Stella, you're going to have to help me, but isn't it like the thing that shoots out of the garlic?
PARKS: Yeah, the garlic launch pod. It's, like, a stem that comes up in the middle of the garlic. And it has, like, a little baby looking garlic on the very end of it. It looks like a Dr. Seuss character.
EL-WAYLLY: How are you going to turn this into cake?
PARKS: Like, I would do - like, you know, make a scone. Like, swirl some of that scape relish into there, make a scone.
COULTON: I like that.
EL-WAYLLY: Oh, that's good.
PARKS: With the flour.
EL-WAYLLY: Yeah. I'm into that. You're going to turn everything into cake.
PARKS: It's all cake. This is my personal limitation.
EISENBERG: All right. Shall we do one more, Jonathan?
COULTON: Yes, let's do one more.
EISENBERG: OK, here - one more ingredient mash up. I bring you onion soup - or what - it's actually onion recipe soup and dip mix.
COULTON: Oh, that's - that makes a good onion dip, my friend. I have some pickled beets.
EL-WAYLLY: This one's hard.
PARKS: I'm going to make a cake.
EL-WAYLLY: Yes, you are.
COULTON: Let's hear about this onion beet cake.
PARKS: So I feel like the onion soup mix would be - like, it's great, we're just going to use that as a flavoring. And the beets - we're just going to puree them in there. We're going to embrace that this is just going to be a savory as hell cake.
COULTON: It's going to be a gorey, bright red color. It's going to taste like onion soup.
PARKS: It's going to be horrific.
EL-WAYLLY: What if we do one of the pandemic fads and make focaccia?
COULTON: I like that.
PARKS: Oh, yeah.
EL-WAYLLY: Beet focaccia and sprinkle the onion packet on top.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.
COULTON: Into it.
PARKS: Yeah, that works.
EISENBERG: That's totally good too. I like it.
COULTON: You can have a little bit of my smoky scape relish on top if you want.
EL-WAYLLY: Bring it all together.
PARKS: Honestly. It's - now it's a party.
EISENBERG: See. You both proved that there is no ingredient in your pantry that is not worth something fantastic and fabulous just with a little bit of creativity or just making them into a cake - just thinking everything is cake (laughter).
PARKS: Just - yeah, it's got to be cake.
COULTON: That solves almost every problem actually, yeah.
PARKS: It's a philosophy.
EISENBERG: More with chefs Sohla El-Waylly and Stella Parks after the break. Plus, from "Veep," Timothy Simons will play a game about libraries. Will he Dewey decimate the competition? And a little later, cellist Yo-Yo Ma. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.