Free Range on Food

Nov 09, 2011

Today's topics: Maggie Austin's wedding cakes, food allergies, Sweetgreen's commitment to local sourcing, and more.

Past Free Range on Food chats

Greetings, all, and welcome to Free Range! We've got a lot of ground to cover today, what with a little holiday coming up and all. We've got special guest Jacqueline Church in the chat today -- she's the author of today's great piece on food allergies, so if you have any questions along those lines, we've got you covered.

Jim "Smoke Signals" Shahin is in the house, as are us staffers. So fire when ready.

We will have giveaway books for the winners: "The Food Allergy Cookbook" by Carmel Nelson and Amra Ibrisimovic; and "365 Ways to Cook" edited by Eleanor Maxfield, source of today's Dinner in Minutes recipe.

Let's do this thing!

I was so happy to see the article on food allergies. I have celiac disease and empathize completely. I have noticed that more places are becoming knowledgable about the gluten-free life style (which totally doesn't help with weight loss contrary to comment the article) and was wondering if you have noticed this to be true of all food allergies.

I think more places are becoming aware, but I think it's also true there's still a ton of misinformation on both sides. Restaurants who don't really understand food sensitvities and allergies and diners who also have misconceptions. For example, chefs in that poll I cited thought you could fry something to make it safe, or pick nuts off a salad. These are both wrong and potentially life-threatening.

from your Sept 28th food section- made them over the weekend and they were fabulous; we plan to add this to our Thanksgiving menu; I ate a few with pork bbq and it was oh so good; I made two changes to the recipe - I used dried cherries instead b/c I had them in the house and I used muffin tins to bake them so they held a round shape; thanks Food Section!

Nice -- and good call on the holiday application. As we've mentioned before, can't go wrong with a Lisa Yockelson recipe.

Which one is more practical, if I only have space for one? And what reasonably-priced brands are worth the storage space in a small townhouse? I already have an immersion blender, and a full size food processor, if that matters. I would use it primarily for making gnocchi. I have visions of making and canning tomato sauce and applesauce, but realistically I could peel the fruit ahead of time and puree it with the blender or food processor if I ever got around to (small-scale) canning. And I do make gnocchi more often than I make applesauce. Mashing the potatoes with a fork is just not doing it for me anymore, and the texture is wrong if I put the potatoes in the food processor.

If you're planning to use it mostly mashing potatoes, I'd go with the ricer. I love my ricer. It produces the most delicate, ethereal texture for mashed potatoes. (Assuming, of course, you don't over-fold them while mixing in cream, milk, butter, garlic, whatever.)

But if you need something that's more verstaile, I'd go with a food mill.  Here's a decent discussion on the pros and cons of ricers vs. food mills.

Two years ago when we hosted our families for Thanksgiving, the oven shelf holding the turkey collapsed. It seemed like a combination of the oven being on all day plus the weight of the turkey. We have used the shelf without incident since. But now we're getting ready to host Thanksgiving again, and I'm nervous the same thing is going to happen. Is there anything we can do to stabilize the shelf somehow? Or do we just need a smaller turkey?

Questions for you: You mean oven rack? How big was your turkey? What do you mean by "collapsed" -- is it possible it wasn't firmly on its wall supports to begin with?

I've been trying my hand at gnocchi. I know they're supposed to be light and fluffy, like pillows. I was wondering if it would work to use half all-purpose flour and half 00 flour, or perhaps all 00 flour. Any thoughts?

I don't think you need to switch flour. It's mostly a question of having a light hand, and choosing the right potatoes, and not adding too much flour. I've been scarred by gnocchi disasters in my past, and I'm planning on getting together with Domenica Marchetti for a lesson soon, so stay tuned. Anyway, Domenica, in her beautiful new book "The Glorious Pasta of Italy," uses a combination of low-starch and medium-starch potatoes (Red Bliss and Yukon gold, respectively), for gnocchi that are light and fluffy but won't disintegrate in the pot or in your mouth. She also uses 1 egg for 2 pounds of potatoes, and starts with less flour than the recipe calls for and working her way up. (Oh, and now that a previous chatter brought up a ricer, yes indeed. That's a must.)

Are there particular cuisines that are safer for allergy-sufferers? I imagine Middle Eastern with all their nuts is not a safe bet, but maybe Asian?

Great question. This depends on what the allergy is. For example, since my dairy allergy, I pretty much avoid French. If it's seafood allergy I would avoid a lot of Asian cuisines. Nuts are also very tricky and can be hidden in places you wouldn't expect. Partly, you have to be vigilant, and you have to have the conversation with the restaurant, preferably ahead of time.

Here is one source to check for hidden food allergens. You must do your homework! (e.g. hot dogs can have casein or whey)

Is there a reason there's no longer a link to the blogs on the WaPo's front page? I remember people were pretty unhappy when there wasn't right after the change in design - so what gives now? I know I'm still pretty unhappy to not have easy access to All You Eat. I love your blog - please tell WaPo not to bury it!

Believe it or not, it's actually easier than ever to get to All We Can Eat from the Post's home page. Just hover over the word Lifestyle in the top bar, and you'll see Top Blogs listed, with just four -- including ours. It's basically one click!

Last year we took advantage of BGR's offer to fry turkeys for free on Thanksgiving morning. It was a lifesaver for a group of Thanksgiving orphans. Any word if they'll br doing it again this year? If not, any other places around town that will fry up our turkey (even if not for free)?

BGR is doing it again this year. Nice idea, right? Here's the info from the release we got:

BGR The Burger Joint is giving its loyal diners plenty to be thankful for this month! The restaurant is reviving its legendary Turkey Frying festivities at the Bethesda location for the fourth Thanksgiving Day in a row ...

Anyone can get in on the turkey frying action! On Thursday, November 24th from 11 am to 1:30 pm, The Burger Joint’s founder Mark Bucher will get into the giving spirit by deep-frying patrons’ birds for FREE at their 4827 Fairmont Ave location in Bethesda, MD. That’s right, all you have to do is bring your thawed out turkey – an eight to ten pound bird is best – to the restaurant and Mark will make you a glorious main course of meat that’s tender and moist on the inside with a dark and crispy crust. BGR will do all the culinary preparation for customers, sparing them from the tedious, hour-long process of frying the bird themselves. But make sure to get their early, as this cookout is first-come, first-serve.

Any recommendations for a dessert to bring to a gluten-free, sugar-free Thanksgiving dinner? The home I'm going to skipped dessert altogether last year, and I'd love to bring something that shows they can still have a "sweet" ending to the meal, but I don't actually have any ideas!

If you don't mind a little alcohol in your finishing course, you can prepare this delicious baked dessert. You just need to substitute whiskey for the sugar and lime (or lemon juice).

Baked Seasonal Fruit.

You might also try this unusual dessert: A Pear Soup with Honey.

Please don't suggest I bake pies, as I have neither the time nor the inclination. I used to buy the delicious chocolate silk, peanut butter silk, and pumpkin cream pies at Perkins, but the Frederick Perkins has closed. I have none within two hours of my home. I'd like to find really good pies for the holidays. A JUICY fruit pie would be great, too, but they are so rare.

Hey, there's no shame in calling in the pros when you need to. I'm hard at work on our Thanksgiving takeout list and have come across several places offering pies: Co Co SalaA.M. Wine Shoppe, Cafe Saint-Ex, Perry's, Vidalia and Buzz, whose double-crust apple pie by Tiffany MacIsaac we will also be featuring in an upcoming issue.

I also vote for the pies at Baked & Wired in Georgetown. Good stuff. Oh, and the girls at Whisked are making caramel apple pies (among others), too, selling them at 14th/U market until its last day (Nov. 19.)

Can you recommend good stores and brands for labeling for food allergies, please?

Have a chat with your local Whole Foods Health Starts Here advisor, but you must really do your own research. Also, look at the FAAN site for lots of good info on labeling. You need to know the other names that your allergen can be identified as.

Hey Smoke Signals, I really liked your blog about music and barbecue yesterday. You ever been to a place in Austin called Antone's? There was a guy there named Stubb who made great barbecue.

You're taking me back. Yep, been to Antone's, which was one of the nation's best clubs, and loved Stubb and his barbecue, which he served out of the back of Antone's.

Stubb even catered our wedding.

My guess is you've been there, too, or you wouldn't be asking. Here's a toast to Clifford Antone and Christopher B. "Stubb" Stubblefield.

Can those allergic to crabs eat imitation crab? Some say it's only whitefish and others say it has crab juice to flavor it.

I would be very careful and probably avoid. Should only be whitefish like pollock, but if it is coming from Asia you may not get the most accurate translation and seafood/shellfish allergies can be very volatile. Can you sub in homemade with a little Old Bay to give effect or suggestion of crab?

Zest from lemons, limes, and oranges are some of my favorite ingredients for the upcoming holidays, but I am confused about the "naked" fruit that is leftover. I usually just keep my citrus in a bowl on the counter, but do the naked ones need to be refrigerated? Also, do you think they need to be used within any period of time? Thanks!

They do become prone to drying out a little more quickly after you zest them, but really just on the outside, in my experience, even when I've left them at room temp. They probably would do a little better in the fridge, and I'd say they may start to go south within a week or two. But you'll know, cause they'll get fuzzy and/or smell off.

Hi! I really appreciated you taking my question last week (vegan flying to Seattle for dinner with bf's family); I know you get a lot of questions and it was great to get a response. I'm not sure the suggestion for Mashed Potatoes and Turnips fits the bill, tho as 1) can't really pass as a main dish for me and 2) people are borderline religious about their potatoes, especially at Thanksgiving, and I think offering to make that would seem rude. I know this is a real stumper; I've been a vegan for 10 years and am really lost. If you'd be willing to take another crack at it, constraints are --ingredients (or premade?) can go thru TSA security, --ingredients (or premade?) can be carried in carry-on bag, --dish uses one burner so I'm not inconveniencing my hostess by taking over the oven on the busiest cooking day of the year. Thanks again for everything!!

Just getting ready for our allergy chat and saw your vegan/Thanksgiving question. You are so kind to think about not inconveniencing host. What about ordering something from a local vegan restaurant and picking up on the way. Traveling through TSA with food is so hard these days!

Hi free rangers! I will be spending Thanksgiving apart from my SO so I would like to cook a special Thanksgiving/anniversary dinner for us the week after. I assume that side dishes will be easy to scale down, but do turkeys come small enough for two people? Should I consider a duck instead? Thanks!

It sort of depends on your tastes and what you want out of the meal (and the leftovers surely to come). You could buy a small turkey, in the four-pound range, which will still be too much for two people. But it will offer the benefit of both white and dark meat. (Personally, I'd throw an undignified temper tantrum without some dark meat for T-day.)

But if that's just too much, you can simply buy a small turkey breast, which gives a wealth of options on how to prepare it, like this great recipe for Brined Roast Turkey Breast with White Wine Pan Sauce.

Here are many other options for turkey breast.

a Feb. 2009 recipe fro "The Great Burger" includes oyster sauce as an ingredient. What is oyster sauce? Is that the same as cocktail sauce? I've never heard of oyster sauce.

It's a traditional Chinese seasoning, a staple in Cantonese cooking particularly. It's a bottled product that's basically oyster extract, salt and sometimes caramel for that rich color.

Are frustrating and scary. About the worst thing I ever read was a chef hosting on this chat or Tom's who said it's too much bother for chefs to adapt and if you have allergies you should just stay home. More restaurants are paying attention, but some still have work to do! I've found Japanese restaurant are very alert (I believe because shellfish allergy is no uncommon in Japan).

It's a challenge to not become fearful of food once you have been diagnosed and/or had a bad incident. Chefs and most in the hospitality industry want to do the right thing but it is hard. You can recommend to your favorite restaurants the ServSafe Allergen safety training.  And also point out FAAN resources and Ming Tsai's resources. If restaurants get it right they will earn loyalty not only of the person with the allergy but all those s/he dine out with.

Acorn squash stuffed with apples, cheese, tofu or rice. Very festive, easy to prep.

I need to grocery shop a full week before for Thanksgiving, and won't have room in the freezer for the turkey. Could I buy a frozen turkey and put it in the fridge for a full week? I'm guessing it would slowly thaw out.

Defrosting a 15-lb turkey in the fridge shouldn't take more than 3 days. Do you have a big, well-insulated cooler? I'd recommend maybe packing it with ice and some things from your freezer that wouldn't suffer (bags of vegetables, frozen stock, etc), so you can make room for the bird and keep it properly frozen for half the week.

I ripped open a bag of yogurt covered pretzels the other day, and thought these would be great at a get together. Then I wondered if there was actually any yogurt in them and if I could make them myself. I pose these questions to you.

Do you still have the bag? There's only one way to really find out, which is to read the ingredient label. If it's like this one I found online (Yogurt coating: Evaporated cane juice, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, yogurt powder, soy lecithin), then the answer is, well, not really. "Yogurt powder" is the fourth ingredient down, meaning there's not too much of it. This strikes me as a good example of one of those faux health foods out there. You know, they put the word yogurt on it, when, well, it's really candy. As for making it yourself, I see this very simple recipe from Stonyfield Farms, which makes great yogurt, but I haven't tried this one. Chatters, any success with this?

Would love some ideas for using butternut squash, that my kids would like. They don't care for mashed potatoes, so I can't add them or mash them.

Have a look at these butternut squash recipes from our database. For kids, I'm thinking your best bet might be a soup. And Domenica Marchetti had a blog post the other day on buttercup squash muffins -- I'm sure you could use butternut instead. I see those being a big it.

Buttercup Squash Muffins With Grated Apple

might try serving soup in little mini-pumpkins for the kiddos. Even big kids think it's cool..

That butternut squash lasagne is slap-your-head good. Chat Leftovers queen Jane Touzalin and I both make it every time we have to bring food to a group event.

Hi folks: Due to calendar issues and extended family we are combining our annual Octoberfest and Turkey Day on the 19th. I plan on having Fried Turkey, Bratwurst, German Potato Salad, Red Cabbage and Applesauce all home made- any ideas for a dessert that will fit the combo theme- and is there another idea maybe other than german potato salad. many thanks.

For another side, perhaps you might be interested in Gertie's Sauerkraut and Apples. For dessert, how about Chocolate-Pear Lebkuchen?

Chocolate-Pear Lebkuchen

Do you know if the restaurants that do good work with allergic folks separate their prep spaces and cooking spaces to guard against cross-contamination?

That's a great question. Cross-contact is a big issue. Prep spaces, cutting boards, knives should be handled in specific ways in an allergy-safe kitchen. Likewise, if any seafood is fried in the fryer, then nothing else gets fried in it, or there are two fryers. These sorts of things are handled by systemic training. Ming asks his line cooks/staff "would you wash down the counter with a raw piece of chicken?" to help drive home the point.

 

The FAAN website has a bunch of resources for the professional kitchen.

Hi all. I am having guests for dinner on Sunday and need a dish that has a certain amount of WOW factor, but that doesn't need a lot of fussing over. Additionally, one of my guests needs to avoid rich foods (such as beef) and beans. I was thinking of a dish like Waterzooi (a sort of chicken stew). Do you have any other ideas? (For dessert, I'm serving gingerbread with maple whipped cream and pear slices. It's always so easy to figure out the dessert!) Thanks much; love the chats.

I just made -- again! -- Domenica Marchetti's Overnight Marinated Swordfish Stew, and I think that qualifies as something that has a wow factor but needs no fussing. Check it out. I've made it so many times I don't even look at the recipe anymore.

I wasn't seriously sick, but I essentially lost my appetite for a month because of an illness and a reaction to the medication I was given. I'm starting to be hungry again occassionally, but I find myself almost scared to eat as I had some bouts of nausea early on. Any suggestions on getting back into the hang of eating? Anything that will be particularly gentle on a system that just isn't used to digesting much? And, no, I am definitely not pregnant. Been to a doctor and everything.

Rebecca Katz "One Bite at a Time" is a great start.

The allergen article was interesting, but I'd have loved to see more attention paid to DC restaurants. I often bring people with sensitivities (or vegetarians or vegans) to PS7s, which does a great job of noting on the menu some friendly items and also of training the staff about potentially problematic ingredients.

I was glad to have the Jose Andres group Culinary Director included. His group includes Jaleo, Minibar, and many more. If you know more that are doing well with this issue, please let me know and I'll post a list on my blog when I update this post.

I've got a holiday bake sale for charity coming up. Items will sell for $2 a piece. Any ideas? I'm trying to select food that will travel well, is somewhat novel (I'm sure there will be hundreds of brownies and sugar cookies already), and will sell well for charity's sake!

I'm thinking giant chocolate-covered marshmallows would work. You can try this peppermint variation, or use this basic recipe with the choclate dipping instructions from the peppermint recipe. To be especially festive, you can even shape the marshmallows with cookie cutters.

Chocolate-Dipped Peppermint Marshmallows

if you had an allergen-free recipe that would be SO welcomed!

spaetzle! so easy to make from scratch - and you can use a colander if you don't have the little spaetzle maker from williams sonoma. after boiling, sautee in butter, put in a dish with gruyere and broil, top with chives. SO good.

Call this blasphemy, but my friends and I are having an untraditional Thanksgiving this year which includes a cheese course as dessert and including the pumpkin in a main risotto dish. Yes, ironic, but delicious! There's six of us, and we'll already be semi full from other foods and wine, so how much cheese do you think I should get? Are four types enough?

As much as I've grown to love the traditional Thanksgiving dinner -- believe me, as a kid, I hated it -- I still like the idea of breaking from tradition. Thanksgiving, after all, isn't JUST about the food, it's about the spirit of gratitude for what you have (even if it's not much in this current economy).

As for options:  According to this cheese platter primer, you're supposed to serve only odd numbers of cheese -- 3 or 5 or 7 different cheeses. Its reasoning sounds a little Far Eastern Mystic/New Agey for my tastes, but I pass it along as a source of info.

Personally, I think four cheeses are enough. I would make sure to have a variety of cheeses -- not just goat, cow and sheep but also firm, semi-firm, fresh, aged. I might also include some fruit and jams to provide that sweetness that the palate seems to crave at the end of a meal.

Silly question first: I'm trying to use more fresh herbs when recipes call for them - do I remove the leaves from the stems where they're attached or can they be included? I'm particularly curious about thyme here. Additionally, are there any herbs you don't recommend using at all dried? For example, I think dried basil has a weird taste, but maybe that's just me.

Well, the purest flavor is from the leaves in most cases, but if the stem is tender, you can usually chop it all up. With thyme, sometimes the stem is pretty tough, so I hold it in one hand and run by fingers against the "grain" with the other to remove the leaves. With cilantro, I usually just chop off the long stems but don't sweat pulling each leaf off the shorter stems, cause they're tender and it's a pain. As for herbs I don't like to use dried, I agree with you about basil and would add mint to the list.

Where and when should I buy a turkey breast for a small Thanksgiving dinner? Can I wait to buy it a day or so before the big event, or will there be no more bird by then? I'm going to stuff it. Telling me I can wait until Tuesday and buy it at Whole Foods would be awesome, but if that isn't true, I'd rather know now rather than anger my in-laws by resorting to cornish hens instead! Thanks.

Well, you could buy it now and keep it frozen till a day before, or place an order at a butcher shop. Something tells me that you'll be able to track one down a few days ahead -- if not at Whole Foods then someplace else.

A few years back I tested an old salt-crust recipe for turkey breast, and was really impressed with how juicy the meat turned out. I don't think this would work if you had your heart set on stuffing it, but take a look.

I have a Calphalon hard anodized aluminum pot that I mostly use to boil pasta and occasionally beans or potatoes. This is my second in 4 years, and just like the first one it's turning silver on the inside. The Calphalon website says this can happen rarely when using the pot to cook acidic foods, but it's safe and still covered under the warranty. What say you, is it still safe to use? Why is this happening? I swear I haven't cooked ANYTHING acidic in it since the last time. I'd feel like a fool sending it back just to get yet another pot that fails after two years. Most importantly, what do you use to cook pasta?

Yep, that happened to my big pot, too -- on the bottom. But I don't think it's a big deal. It's not like there are flakes coming off or anything, so I trust them that it's safe. So it hasn't failed. Yes, that's what I use to cook pasta. (I wouldn't have bought an anodized pot for that function, really -- because you don't need such! -- but someone gave it to me.)

BTW The Pie Gourmet in Vienna, VA Ah-mazing. Considering I was never a fan of pies now somewhat converted. All their pies are incredible, key lime...I am partial to custards so every Thanksgiving we order their banana and coconut cream pies without fail.

I'm sorry, but I forgot to say that I live in Olney. Are any of the places you mentioned relatively close to me? I'd prefer not to go to DC, but NVa is okay.

Those places are mostly in D.C. Buzz has locations in Arlington and Alexandria, but hold on, because a fellow chatter has a recommendation...

I assume the pies at the Dutch Market in Germantown are as good as those from the Dutch Market in Laurel. Both are open three days a week but just before Thanksgiving probably a day earlier. Also on Nov.19 the last Saturday before Thanksgiving, for example, the vendors at Rockville's farmers market may have pies.

Olney pie person, here you go!

What about a vegetable? Brussels sprouts or yams would travel well. There are recipes for yams that use the stovetop and microwave, and I sauteed brussels sprouts in olive oil and garlic last week and liked them. Or steamed green beans, which can then be fancied up.

Buy a pre-baked pie shell to fill with homemade (or store-bought) chocolate pudding, then just before serving smother it with freshly-whipped Chantilly Cream (heavy cream + sugar and pure vanilla extract).

I have a suggestion: You should bake your pie from scratch! Kidding, kidding...

You could make pumpkin pudding (no pie crust) and splenda.

Those allergic to shellfish have to be careful about this: I got a chicken dish at PF Changs that had oyster sauce. Luckly I could taste it right away and PFC were VERY nice about it.

The PFChang chain has a bunch of allergy friendly menues and pride themselves on being able to serve allergic guests. That is a VERY bad miss on their part. I'm surprised.

In the online version of "Today's Paper," the links to pages 3 and 7 of the Food section are broken. Anything interesting on those pages? I missed First Bite and Dish, so maybe they are on one of the missing pages....

You'll find everything in this week's section at washingtonpost.com/food, as always! That "print version" thing on the Web site is a dinosaur and needs to go away.

Why do some food allergies abate in childhood, while others become more severe with age?

I cannot really answer it, but I think it's interesting that two allergy docs have told me there's not much research money going into this arena. (Seems ED is gobbling up all the research dollars.)

How about some sort of vegan stew or chili? It could be made appropriate to Thanksgiving by using seasonal produce such as apples and/or sweet potatoes/various gourds. You could even add black beans, which along with the gourds or some whole grains should make it hearty enough for you. I would think that as long as you didn't use canned beans everything could come with you on your carry-on.

The fridge in my new apartment is otherwise lovely but even though the thermometer at the top of the fridge says 37 degrees, anything on the bottom (the vegetable bins and the lower door shelf) will most definitely freeze. Basically these areas are useless for vegetables and meat I want to cook soon; milk and yogurt also freeze here. Right now we keep alcohol and yeast in the lower bins but we're still losing a lot of real estate because we can't store anything in there. Any ideas for how to either [a] maximize the space or [b] circulate the cold air better?

Man, don't you hate that? There's no adjustable dial for the temperature? Have you checked with your own instant-read thermometer to see whether 37 is the truth? If the apartment's a rental perhaps some maintenance person can help -- but I think what I'd do is find suitable material to insulate those bottom bins. I have used those padded sleeves made for wine bottles, for example.

Don't get me started on lower door shelves...what a useless area. But if it's really, really cold, you can store butter, shortening and jams and bottled water there, at least.

I have commented here, and received prizes here. I have solicited advice and offered advice, and sometimes I read the discussion without commenting at all. Many of the discussions (Hax, deMoraes, Reliable Source, Web Hostess) don't offer prizes at all, but that doesn't stop me from engaging by soliciting advice, offering advice, or simply reading along. If you are only reading the food chat in the hopes of winning a prize, you're here for the wrong reasons.

Thanks!

Just curious whether you think the rate of food allergies has recently increased or if there is just more awareness and better diagnosis. I was in elementary school only 20 years ago and no one I knew had a peanut allergy, now it's a major health concern for schools. Thanks for chatting with us today!

I have read a lot on this topic and it is clear that the incidence of food allergies has increased, not just the awareness of them. The reasons are very complex.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes --nice seasonal stew. Also serve pistachies and dates as dessert.

How about squash and black bean burritos?

Good idea.

How about Dangerous DC Pies on H St? I love their pie crust.

I've made a recipe very similar to STonyfield's, maybe with a bit less sugar, but note: DO NOT use lowfat yogurt. You really have to use the real thing.

Good to know. That makes sense -- needs that fat to help it stick, and to dry/harden, doesn't it?

I know you guys have posted on this before, but I am bringing a grieving friend a frozen dish that he can reheat in single servings at a later date when he just doesn't feel up to cooking. I was thinking individual mac and cheese or else mastaccioli. As long as I make sure the sauce covers the noodles, do you think I'm okay? Also - can the frozen glass go right into the preheated oven, or should I tell my friend to let it slowly warm up? Thank you!

The National Pasta Association recommends freezing only baked pastas, like lasagna, ziti and manicotti. I think your two options should fit that recommendation.

As for reheating, you want to bring it to room temperature before putting it into the oven.

I will never make crust to rival my mom's. I have come to grips with that. Do any local bakeries sell crust that I use for my fantastic pie fillings on Thanksgiving?

don't give up on pie dough! Even I could master, so you can too!

I don't know of bakeries selling crust, but maybe our chatters do?

Our Nov. 16 section will include a piece by Tiffany MacIsaac of Neighborhood Restaurant Group with her pie-crust secrets. You also should look at this piece about Rose Levy Beranbaum's pie-crust tips.

We use oranges, lemons and apples inside the cavity of the turkey during the roasting process for moisture and flavor...could use the naked fruit for that.

While I (and most others) sympathize with those afflicted with food allergies, try being vegetarian, never mind vegan. Many people dismiss those with specific diets as "picky" as Jacqueline noted. Therefore, apparently it's ok for others to sneak a "forbidden" ingredient into our food since we aren't allergic. Funny story: Wendy Rieger (my all-time girl crush) was the opening speaker at VegFest in September. She shared a story where the order-taker at Domino's Pizza thought she was odd when she ordered a veggie pizza with no cheese (Wendy is vegan). He kept trying to confirm she wanted a cheese-free pizza. Finally, Wendy said she has a dairy allergy. Finally the guy accepted the order.

Years ago I was vegetarian in Germany. Every time I asked for something "nicht fleisch" (without meat) the dish would come out with a smaller piece of meat. Then I'd send it back, and it would be even smaller. Then it would come out with the meat removed. ;-(

I've been looking for a peppermint marshmallow recipe (believe it or not)! Should have known to look here first. Just wondering: what's the difference between oil of peppermint and peppermint extract?

Here's the explainer from that recipe:

Don’t try to boost the mint intensity by adding peppermint extract; the flavor will be harsh and unpleasant. However, if you have oil of peppermint (sometimes available in stores with cake- and candymaking supplies) and want a more pronounced menthol character, add a few drops of the oil; don’t add more, as it’s quite potent.

The oil is more powerful than the extract. They'll also behave differently in certain situations since the extract is alcohol based. But for this recipe specifically, I didn't use anything other than the candies and the peppermint flavor was quite strong. I really don't think you need anything else.

THANK YOU for that article!! I have an allergy to Sulfates (which FAAN recognizes only as a sensitivity and really don't address it) and I have anaphylaxsis (sp?) reactions to most foods that I love and it is a trick to eat out. Thank you Ms. Church for the article. My wish is that a ingredients list would be a standard on menus as it is mostly found on packaged foods. My epi-pen is my friend and I travel with it. However, the only part of the article that I found a bit misleading is that people do not outgrow allergies...you desensitize or build a resistance to the offending item, but you don't just wake up one day and not have them. A person with food allergies/sensitivities must be life long vigilant.

I think that some childhood allergies are outgrown, but I'm not a doctor and you're correct it's on us to be vigilant. Once you have been diagnosed, the Epi pen is your friend. Wish they fit in an evening bag!

Great idea! I'll try it in my next cup of tea.

Is it okay to rely on a disposable pop-up thermometer to know when the turkey is ready? And how often should the thermometer be checked? I'm looking for an alternative to trusting the minutes-per-pound instructions or pulling out the whole oven shelf to insert a meat thermometer and see what it says. Past Thanksgivings have suffered from soggy skin and dry meat. It's a huge, multi-dish and multi-generational gathering with lots of vegetarians included and a very, very hectic kitchen scene, and it'll be up to me to try to keep an eye on the organic, free-range bird, which by the way usually starts out looking more like a goose in size. There's usually some stuffing inserted, if that makes a difference. Many thanks for your suggestions.

I wouldn't. I yank those suckers out of any bird I roast. The mechanism in them is set at a temperature that's most likely too high (185) for either white or dark meat to be done properly.  It's best to buy some type of instant-read or meat thermometer; you'll use it over and over, I'm sure. Whether or not the bird is stuffed, you should insert the thermometer into a thick part of the thigh meat, away from the bone. Put your roasting pan in with the long side facing you and you shouldn't have to resort to moving or pulling out the oven rack.

You've stumped me on the soggy skin, however....do you place your bird on a rack that fits inside the pan?

I have a bunch of Greek yogurt that I need to use up within a week. Do you have any recommendations? Savory preferable, but I'm open to sweet, too if that will use up most of it! I'm tired of eating it for breakfast and using it in smoothies. If it matters it's fat free. Thanks!

Curries and soups - think of it like creme fraiche!

I love the stuff. Here are two savory ideas:

Shrimp, Avocado and Grapefruit Remoulade: 1/3 cup down.

Parmesan Yogurt Dip With Carrots: 2 cups.

 

And one dessert:

Greek Apricot Yogurt Parfait: 2 cups.

(Don't worry, by the way, that it calls for full fat. Just go for it with the fat-free!)

Afternoon all. Hey Jim, ever seen this before? I did two racks of babyback ribs last weekend, grilled them off heat for a little over two hours, just used charcoal. One of the meatier ends was pink spotted thru with a duller grey color, to me an indication of being cooked thru. I sampled bits of it, it didn't taste strange or bloody. Nontheless I left that piece on the grill on the now low direct heat side til the pink was gone. It was tough of course. I didn't wake up with a pulsing headache next morning as has happened before. What do you think, undercooked? It seems like every fourth or fifth rack I grill gives me this problem.

Lots of variables here. Two hours for a low indirect heat on ribs can be a mighty short time. That said, depending on the temp, it could be okay, too.

Oftentimes, though, ribs cook for three hours or more.

The pink can sometimes be a smoke ring, but, yes, it could also be a sign of the meat not being cooked through enough. The fact that the pink was at one end rather than a thin layer toward the exterior makes me think it may have been under-cooked.

There is a zillion ways to cook ribs. If you like your method of relatively quick, charcoal-only, I would suggest that you start with a brief direct grilling on both sides just to sizzle 'em up and give them the slightest of char. Then move to the indirect side for a couple of hours. About 10 or so minutes before pulling them off, bring them back for aabout five or so minutes over the coals.

The rack should sag at either end when held in the middle with tongs.

Butternut Squash Risotto is amazing, and I've had good luck with it with kids. Recipe: 2 C arborio 1lb squash puree 6 C stock/broth medium onion chopped/minced 1/4 butter 1/2 parmesean Sautee onion. Cook squash with 1 c broth approx 10 minutes, add rice then cook as risotto. When rice done, add butter and cheese.

I believe it is because our air quality has decreased. We're breathing more poisons and particles into our lungs and spreading them throughout our bodies. It has to be affecting our sensitivities and health.

I haven't seen that in the research and actually we have in many ways been living in too clean environs. Many researchers believe that moving away from farm animals and widespread use of vaccines have hurt our immune systems' ability to learn what is a danger and what is not. One has to be careful about making causal connections from observations.

One box of vegetarian broth, one bag of arborio rice, one teeny bottle of olive oil, one package of mushrooms: mushroom risotto for dinner? Serious Eats did a great feature recently explaining that you don't really need the broth heated on a separate burner to make a good risotto.

I'm not sure which Serious Eats post you read -- and I'm not saying you didn't read such a thing -- but to make good risotto, you need hot broth. You're cooking the rice, after all, with it. You want to release the starch in the rice so that it makes the dish "creamy."

Here's a different post from Serious Eats on risotto.

I love making pies because they can actually be SUPER easy to make and always delicious. What's better than an apple pie? I'd recommend getting a recipe for a crumb crust where you can use the same dough for both the bottom and the top of the crust. You can even buy pre-sliced fruit if you're super lazy. The longest part of the whole process is sticking it in the oven for about an hour.

Oh, my. Pre-sliced fruit? That they then have to toss w/something to get it to not brown? No, no, a thousand times no!

Barbara Fritchie on Rte. 40 used to be good or Amish Market in Hagerstown (open on Friday, Sat and Sunday)

What function does an egg serve in a pie crust? (Oh, we miss you Andreas...) If it matters, I am referring to the crust recipe in Joe's article in... ahem... a monthly publication (not sure I'm allowed to name it here but you can always chop the question). Just curious as I was previously unfamiliar with the idea of an egg in the actual crust.

You mean Sara Foster's pie in Better Homes and Gardens? You can name it! I didn't develop or test those recipes, but egg in a pie crust gives it a little extra richness and sturdiness.

I use it in any recipe that calls for sour cream

I have three bay laurel shrubs in my front garden. I wonder if the leaves are the same as dried bay leaves that are sold in the spice section of the grocery store. Thanks for any information you can give me.

They are one and the same. Here's a SF Chronicle story on how to maintain your bay laurel shrub, complete with freaky Greek myth story.

Unfortunately, I don't have a cooler either. My only other option was buying the turkey the night before, and I'm guessing that overnight is not long enough to thaw it. Or is it? Also - there are going to be eight people at the dinner. How many pounds/person is reasonable? Thanks for taking the question!

Overnight, right, not enough time -- although there are "speed" ways to defrost; such as

"To speed thawing, keep turkey in the original tightly sealed bag and place in a clean and sanitized sink or foodservice safe pan. Submerge in cold water and change the cold water every 30 minutes. The turkey will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw."

 

 You've got a few weeks, so why not see whether you can borrow a cooler from a pal?

I'd do a 12- to 14-pound bird for 8 people, depending on how many leftovers you like to dole out or freeze.

Jacqueline nice seeing you here. Speaking only from experience, It varies case by case and a physician needs to be consulted. To answer the question 'about what allergies abate?' We went through soy allergies, grew out of it. Then developed egg, poultry allergies, grew out of it. Dust mites are constant but can be controlled somewhat with bedding encasing. Environmental, pollen. Severe ones to tree nuts, first severe reaction was to hazelnuts, which you also got. We also got allegies to sheelfish and kiwi. We found out over the years doctors philosophies about allergen exposures etc change...Some medicines/antihistamines cross over to the bran and some not affect behavior, sleepiness, etc.

Thank you. Definitely want to encourage folks who are dealing with or think they're dealing with allergies to consult an allergist. The research has changed over the years and it's important not to rely on even well-intentioned blogs or experts who are not doctors. An interesting thing you touch on is the correlation between environmental allergies (dust mites, pollen) and food allergies. There are definitely times when a cumulative exposure will cause a reaction to the last ingested thing. All goes to say, you must really get medically sound advice about what you are allergic too, and be vigilant about managing.

I may have submitted this recipe before, but I love using Greek yogurt as the basis for soup. Blend or use a food processor with cucumbers, salt and cumin and any other veggie you feel like (I like to add roasted beets as well)

If nothing seems to spark your appetite after you're well, you may be zinc deficient! When my grandmother was being treated for cancer, this happened to her, and eating chickpeas at first then moving to more zinc-rich-yet-stronger-tasting foods really got her out of the rut.

Last winter I made maple fudge with this recipe: 2 cups Sugar 1 cup Maple syrup 1/2 cup Light cream 2 Tbsp Butter Cook until 238F, cool undisturbed til 110F, beat until it starts to set, them put in pan. The taste was absolutely awesome. But it was too hard. There was no chance to spread it out in the pan, it was completely solid as soon as it hit the pan. And there was no way to cut it into nice pretty squares; it was more like chiseling it into semi-manageable chunks and eating the crumbs with a spoon. Is there a way to modify this to make it softer - change the ingredients or stop cooking at a lower temp or something? I'm generally don't worry about following recipes closely, but I've always heard you'd better really know what you're doing to modify a candy recipe, and I don't. Or, if not, can you suggest another recipe that will taste as good but look better so I can use it for gifts?

Lisa Yockelson says this:

Here's a quick answer: it sounds as if the mixture is slightly over-boiled. Next time, you might consider moving the mixture quickly from saucepan to pan and as soon as it is on the point of setting, cut it into squares.

If someone's allergic to nuts, is it correct to assume they also are allergic to oils derived from those nuts -- peanut oil, almond oil, soy oil?

It is safest to assume that. Nut allergies are particularly volatile and tricky. Some people can use highly refined oils of the nuts they are allergic to, but given that nut allergies are highly associated with anaphylaxis, I personally would not risk it.

Another possibility is to ask your butcher to saw the bird in half lengthwise and freeze half of it. At a regular market, it's best to ask in advance so they better schedule their bandsaw use since it has to be thoroughly cleaned afterwards.

Thanks for the tip, though it still sounds like a lot of turkey, depending on the size of the bird.

For Shahin - I've been thinking of a little something different for Thanksgiving potatoes - have you ever smoked potatoes and either served them whole or can they be mashed??? Thanks!

Let me say first, I love smoked potatoes!

There are several ways to do it, including wrapping them in foil and putting them directly into the fire, which gives them a fabulously charred and smoky flavor. And, they come out with a texture somewhere between dry and moist.

As it happens, I turned in a smoked sweet potato recipe for the Thanksgiving package. It involves boiling chunks of potatoes, then smoking them for 20 minutes, then mashing 'em. This method gives the potatoes a smoky depth, but there is no char flavor, which, when mashed with spicy and sweet ingredients (as they are), is what you want.

Hope you check out the story for particulars.

But that is a choice you made. None of us chose to go into anaphalactic shock when we eat crabmeat. I try to never whine about the outcome of my own deliberate choices.

I understand it's a choice (being vegan or veg, but not allergic) but I also sympathize that diners are not taken seriously when they express a preference. Unfortuately, I live in the world where the fake allergies make it hard for the real ones to be taken seriously. e.g. "my sister read an article that said you could lose weight eating gluten free"

I am so wondering if my brother in law has a food allergy. He does not complain of pain but, for example, if he gets up at 7 am and leave for work at 8 am he will go to the bathroom at least 8-9 times and then when he gets to the metro he has to use their bathroom (takes about an hour to get to work) and he runs into his office to use the bathroom once he gets there. He does eat a lot of wheat products (bread, pasta). Is it possible?

That sounds more like IBS. Please encourage him to see a gastroenterologist.

Hey food folks - In late September, I had dinner at Estadio and had the most delicious roasted corn dish ever. I want to make it for Thanksgiving. Could you all help me out with the recipe? It was corn stripped from the cob, roasted, and topped with delicious stuff. Sadly, I do not know what the delicious stuff was.

I bet it was esquites, the Mexican street-food snack. Here's a take on it from the fabulous Pati Jinich.

No, I know which post they're talking about. It was from a Serious Eats Food Labs blog post. Basically it has you throw in all the liquid at once. The only thing, though, is that you need a large, wide skillet to cook it in. You would have to make sure your host has one.

Yes, here is the Serious Eats post. It's a nice contrarian argument. Worth exploring in your own kitchen, if you want to save time.

Oh boy, we went to the Metro Food Show this weekend and I missed seeing Joe. We got hooked into a food demo for Americraft Pots and my friend ended up spending $1700 for a set of waterless cookware which she promptly cancelled on Monday morning. I am so sad I didn't get up and leave to see Joe.

Sorry to miss you, too! I got roped into some aloe-based lotion thanks to a VERY persistent salesperson, so I know the feeling. Of course, mine wasn't $1700...

I recommend you check out The Happy Healthy Life Blog (I love Kathy!) http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com. She did a whole post on vegan thanksgiving dishes. How about some vegan stuffing? Yum!

Thanks for the suggestions, he is a big eater so I think we can handle a small turkey. I roasted a 5 pound chicken on Sunday and it's pretty much just a carcass now :)

Newsflash: some populations are vegetarian due to religious reasons. Hinduism and Buddhism come to mind.

I fixed an eye of round roast a few nights ago and have about a pound of leftover meat. I usually slice it thin and make french dip-type sandwiches, but wanted to see if you had other ideas for how to use the leftover meat. Thanks very much.

I'd cut it into small dice and work it into a sweet potato hash.

I think risotto is the way to go! I can microwave the broth and handle it that way, and bring bouillon cubes instead of diluted broth. Really really appreciate it! I'm going to rely on my hostess to have oil. Thanks to everyone that chimed in, tho - every suggestion helped me prime my thinking

Good morning, I bought a jar of apple butter but am at a loss for what to use it with besides toast. I tried searching for apple butter in the recipe finder but only got recipes that include apples or butter. Any recommendations?

Stir it into oatmeal, use it as a condiment for sandwiches (apple slices, smoked cheddar/ham or turkey), use it as an applesauce substitute for low-fat cookie or carrot cake recipes, stir it and some Dijon mustard into a cream sauc for sauteed chicken breasts, stir it into a caramel sauce, then drizzle over roasted fruit, add it to a barbecue sauce. How's that?

I'm bummed that we don't have an apple butter recipe in the database. We'll correct that by this time next year. Best way to look is to search under the Condiments category, with the key word "apple."

Where allergic people share their substitutions finds? (for example, I found a fish cake that's as close to a crab cake as I'll ever get).

Do you want to share on  my site? I'll be adding some links and resources to my post here.

I love to travel but now that I have developed several food allergies the main one being allergic to gluten (or some form of a gluten allergy) I find it overwhelming sometimes. Airports have to be the least allergy friendly places in the world. What are some of your tricks for traveling and ensuring that you eat healthy while traveling? and that your entire trip doesn't end in ruin because you've accidentally eaten something your not supported to.

I just had an incident of cross contact causing a reaction when I ate airport food that I thought was safe.  This is tricky.. What I typically advise is to bring your own snacks, which is hard I know, given TSA requirements. Gluten is tough since it's in so many processed foods. The simple default is to go with totally unprocessed - fruit. Grab a banana or an apple. Bring some safe cereal or nuts to munch on. Or a ziploc bag of your favorite GF cookies.

For Joe Yonan - Do you have a cioppino-for-one recipe, or a recipe that can be easily scaled down? Thanks!!

Hmm, I sure don't, but I'll mull... Maybe it's time for a special installment of Project Downscale!

In the colder climates, can you smoke a turkey or cornish hens? If so, would one have to make adjustments for heat/cold? Some suggestions please.

Colder climates - like the Arctic?

Here in DC, the temperatures rarely, if ever, get too cold to barbecue. Indeed, I just had a blog post about that very subject a week or two ago.

But to the larger issue regarding adjustments. Yes, you have to make them. Generally, you want to start your fire a little earlier than you normally would so that the inside of your cooking chamber gets up to the temp you want. Then, you will have to keep your eye on the fire more closely than usual, as you will likely have to add charcoal and/or wood more often to keep the temp steady.

I just grilled/smoked cornish hens this past weekend. The weather was beautiful, so I didn't have to worry about it. But because cornish hens don't require as long a smoke as a turkey, the fire, even in the cold, would not be as big an issue. I butterflied them, grilled them for about 10 minutes on each side, then moved them over to the indirect side, added wood chips, and smoked them for about an hour. If it had been cold outside, I might have smoked them another 15 minutes or so.

But I did them in a Weber kettle rather than a smoker with a firebox, so the temp is less impacted, as it is a smaller surface area. So, the size of what you are cooking with makes a difference, too.

All that said, basically it comes down to needing to start earlier and watch more closely if it's cold outside.

I remember you from last week and was stumped too. What about a polenta w/ veg stirred into it? Carmelized onions, etc? That should be all stovetop, 1 burner?

I want to make a turducken early next week for a pre-thanksgiving party. Any ideas where to get the ingredients? I have already called whole foods, harris tetter, giant and they will not have until the week of thanksgiving. Any local affordable butchers?

Balducci's -- at least the one in Bethesda -- said turducken will be available soon there for order.

Let's Meat on the Avenue in Del Ray said that they can order you one for $6-$6.50 a pound for a 15-pounder that comes with Cajun stuffing. They generally like a week's notice, but it's worth a shot calling them if you're interested.

Anyone else have a turducken source they'd like to share?

You want to MAKE, not buy, your turducken, right? So you need turkey, duck and chicken? Certainly the last two are available at WF (the duck is in the freezer, usually), and that just leaves the turkey. Really, can't get next week, huh? Hmm...

Rye breadrolls; apple compote or sauted apples. Yummy idea!

Any great, healthy (low fat), basic lentil soup recipes? I've seen so many but cannot decide on one.

Look at this one for Dal Shorba (Red Lentil Soup).

If you've tried substituting Stevia for sugar in cookies, pies, cakes, what did you think of the goodies (or not-so-goodies) that resulted?

I've never tried cooking with Stevia because I think it tastes like liquid metal by itself.

Here are results of some sugar substitute baking we did a while back. I think working with stevia takes tweaking...it packs a sweet punch and affects the texture and aeration of some baked goods.

My mother uses it in banana bread- 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cups banana

This is for Ms. Church: Could you please provide a reference linking vaccinations to an increase in food allergies? I've never seen that on the website of the Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

That was shared in conversation with an allergist. Certainly, vaccines have done more good than harm and I am NOT suggesting we back away from them. Public health overall is much improved by having the ability to save people from once deadly diseases. The connection is that overall, our immune systems have been impeded in their learning curve. We've truncated that process that used to occur naturally where immune systems could learn what was dangerous and what was not. It's not as simple as it may have seemed from my first answer. Sorry if it was unclear. Does this help?

RE: "I live in the world where the fake allergies make it hard for the real ones to be taken seriously."

Do you mean foods one chooses to avoid, as opposed to those that cause a bad reaction?

I knew that was going to be a problem. There are people who cause chefs to jump through hoops and claim allergies when what they really have is a straight dietary preference. e.g.  they dislike bell peppers so they say they are allergic.

I grew up eating bananas and sour cream,mixed with sugar, for breakfast. Greek yogurt is a fantastic substitute, and I also use Splenda these days. Slice banana in a bowl, add yogurt and Sugar, agave, Splenda or your favorite sweetener for a quick and filling breakfast.

The original Dangerously Delicious Pies is in Baltimore, so that might be closer to Olney.

Great article...I also suffer from many food allergies, and I emphasize with your allergy to a favorite food. I used to CRAVE garlic, I loved it so much. Until I became allergic. This is not one of the 8 common allergens that are the basis for most labeling, which can make it difficult. I always try to contact chefs in advance, but find that my food knowledge is helpful in drilling down (does it contain worcestershire sauce?) I appreciate hearing about restaurants that list ALL ingredients, not just the 8 common allergens. And while I am also allergic to soy, I am very sensitive to many other legumes, which are also not noted in the 8 most common. Do you have any allergies that are not on that list that you find difficult to identify when eating out?

It's hard when the allergy is not one of the top ones. I am allergic to raw (but not cooked) carrots. Here it's quite rare, but in Europe, 18% of the population is allergic to carrots. The protein in it is similar to Birch pollen which is also an allergen of mine. You are right about drilling down, doing homework. Things like Worcesterchire sauce contain many items and can be problematic.

Also, your tip to phone ahead is a good one. I try to look at the menus online and pick out a few things that can likely be good choices, knowing that menus change. At least it spares your guests, and server from an hour-long ingredient discussion!

I put them in a small bowl and cover with a damp paper towel and put in the fridge. But I have tons because I make limoncello and lemon curd. Which reminds me, I have a question about the wax on citrus. Is a hot-hot water rinse and then a rub with a towel good enough to remove the wax? I do see a yellow or green smear on the towel after.

Some chefs recommend using potato gloves, which have the right texture for removing the wax without scraping off the zest too.

Apparently hot water and a pair of these gloves is all you need.

I've used apple butter to spread the dough in making rugelach, then sprinkled/smeared on the chopped raisins and walnuts as usual. It's a great flavor combination.

Hi. I submitted a similar question earlier, but now have more info to add. I'm cooking dinner for my father and his companion (this is the first time I'm meeting her). I'd like to cook something really good, but that doesn't require a lot of maintenance so that I'm not stuck in the kitchen the whole time. Unfortunately, my dad is having a gout flare-up, so is not eating a long list of foods: No meat except for chicken (but no chicken broth) and some varieties of fish No shellfish, salmon, trout, haddock, herring No alcohol No asparagus, cabbage No white flour bakery products No dairy products His friend does not eat pork (she's Jewish). He can eat greens, fruit, nuts, whole wheat products, and legumes, and jokingly suggests that I serve oatmeal for dinner. I might have to; I've never tried to come up with a dinner given so many restrictions; most of my standby dishes won't work in this case. Do you have any suggestions? My one idea was roasted rosemary chicken with roasted vegetables... Thanks much!

Check out Robin Asbell's Big Vegan. New cookbook with beautiful meat-free meals.

Hi, I'm having my first housewarming party this weekend, and I'm looking to get away from the college style of leaving out a couple bottles of cheap alcohol and basic mixers (I'll be whipping up a bunch of small bites as well - I'm trying to establish myself as a competent adult hostess!). Can you recommend a crowd pleasing punch or simple but impressive cocktails that I can serve? I've got quite a few gin-hating frriends so I'd like to stay away from that spirit, and I also have a limited budget so I don't have the money for a lot of fancy or expensive ingredients I'm not really going to use again. Thanks so much for your help!

How about hot spiced cider, all you have to add is some Bourbon to a gallon of fresh cider and it always goes over well.

I have recently acquired a bottle of Fees Old Fashioned bitters (not the whiskey barrel aged variety). It's very interesting. I think the strongest flavor is cinnamon? I use it in Old Fashioneds and I think it tastes great, though I had to adjust down from 2-3 dashes Angostura to 1-2 of Fee Brothers. The bitters really do make the drink sometimes. (usually?!)

You are right on track with Spirits columnist Jason Wilson today. Both bitter-iffic recipes he included today are just great.

 

 

I am going to serve a mole sauce with my bird on the big day. I will make it ahead of time since it is quite laborious, but how far ahead is okay? Could I make the Sunday or Monday before?

According to this recipe for Turkey with Oaxacan Mole, you can prepare and refrigerate the sauce up to five days in advance.

Ris is doing Thanksgiving takeout, including pies!

Thanks. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group (with ace pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac at the helm) is also doing fab pies for the holidays. In fact, she's divulged her favorite recipe for a double-crust apple pie in our Thanksgiving issue next week.

My grandfather, the son of Mennonites, used to eat apple butter with his cottage cheese.

the link you provided says NOT to use butternut squash, but butterCUP... did you have a different thought?

D'oh! Sorry about that. Plenty of other options out there. Check out this one from Jamie Oliver. Our fellow chatters had ideas for you too.

Well, you have fried us for 30 seconds on one side and then 10 to 20 on the other, until we are evenly browned -- but we might look more like disks than orbs. Put us on a rack and sprinkle us with sugar, cause we're done!

Thanks to the great q's today, and to Jackie and Jim for helping us answer them. (Jackie, btw, says she'll be following up on questions raised after her piece on her website, Jacquelinechurch.com.)

Now for the giveaway books: "The Food Allergy Cookbook" will go to the chatter who asked which particular cuisines are safer for allergy suffers than others. And "365 Ways to Cook" will go to the chatter who said that s/he doesn't come on the chat just to win a prize! That's worth a prize, definitely. Send your info to Becky Krystal at krystalb@washpost.com to claim them...

Thanks again, and until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

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