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August 27, 2014

12
P.M.

Free Range on Food: Kebabs, Rose's Luxury, baking and more

Total Responses: 48

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Joe Yonan

Joe Yonan

Joe Yonan is editor of the Food section; joining us today are staff writer Tim Carman, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and Spirits columnist Carrie Allan. Guest: Treats columnist Lisa Yockelson; Rose's Luxury chef Aaron Silverman.

About the topic

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions.
Past Free Range on Food chats
Q.

Joe Yonan :

Greetings, all, and welcome to today's chat! Hope you are enjoying this week's Food coverage, from Tim's stellar profile of a stellar chef, Aaron Silverman of Rose's Luxury, to Jim Shahin's fun take on grilling kebabs, Lisa Yockelson's latest Treats column on no-bake fruit bars and more.

We've got a VIP guest today: Chef Silverman himself! Throw anything you want at him, and we'll see if he's as adept at answering questions as he is at concocting delectable dishes.

As usual, we'll have giveaway books to entice you! So make your questions good!

Let's do this now.

Q.

Rose's

Loved your article on Rose's! It's my favorite restaurant in D.C. I went last night with a friend and at 5:15pm on a Tuesday there was, no exaggeration, already 200 people in line. Looks like I'm never going again!
A.
Tim Carman :

Thank you!

 

You're not alone in that concern. I think between Bon Appetit bestowing best new restaurant in America on Rose's and our profile, the lines will be even longer on Barracks Row. Perhaps they will settle down in the coming months. Or Aaron will open a second restaurant? :)

– August 27, 2014 12:00 PM
A.
Aaron Silverman :

First off, thanks for your support! It happens to be my favorite restaurant in D.C. too! As for the line, we are actually hoping things calm down a little in the near future. It's great to be busy and great for the neighborhood but long lines are not a goal of ours. The last thing we want is for people to have to wait a long time for a table. We are actually currently brainstorming ways to minimize the wait and serve more people more often. It's not easy, but we are working on coming up with some new ideas to do so.

– August 27, 2014 12:00 PM
Q.

fruit bars -- alteration?

These bars look great, and I can see them going into many lunchboxes. One question, though -- I have a couple of coconut-haters in the house. It looks to me as though the recipe could be altered to use almond oil or butter, and slivered/chopped almonds, instead of the coconut oil and flakes. Worth a try? Is there anything I should watch out for? Thanks.
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

Yes, certainly you can use almond oil, though just 1 tablespoon as it's less viscous than coconut oil. Or use 2 tablespoons almond butter. You'll also need to replace the 1/3 cup coconut flakes with the same amount weight of very finely chopped or coarsely ground almonds.

 

 

RECIPE: Fruit Bars

– August 27, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

beets on the grill

Posting early. I really liked Joe's article about beets on the grill but here's my stupid question: How do you keep them from falling through? Do you put them on a pan?
A.
Joe Yonan :

I haven't had any difficulty keeping them from falling through: The baby beets are just cut in half, and they can't quite fit through those grates. With bigger beets that I cut in thick slices, I use tongs and haven't lost a one! But you can absolutely use a grill pan if you want...

 

 

RECIPE: Grilled Baby Beets With Mustard Sauce

– August 27, 2014 12:02 PM
Q.

Walnut oil

I just bought a bottle of walnut oil. The bread I used it in was delicious...but now I have a nearly-full bottle of walnut oil. What else is it good for? I'm thinking it might work in salad dressings, but would love other ideas. Also, can I use it in place of other types of oil?
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

You are on the correct track--re: using the oil in salad dressings. Also consider using the oil as a finishing drizzle on roasted vegetables or lightly steamed vegetables. You can also use a small quantity of the oil swapped out for another liquid oil in doughs and batters, but not more than about 3 tablespoons within the full  amount of oil in the recipe.

– August 27, 2014 12:05 PM
Q.

Last week's chat prize

Hi, I submitted the comment on last week's chat to which you awarded the vegetarian cookbook prize. I sent an email to Becky Krystal and got an autoreply saying she would be back in a few days. I just wanted to make sure my email was received, and if not, I can resend it today. Thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Yes, I got your note. I was just out for a story. Your book is already in the mail.

– August 27, 2014 12:05 PM
Q.

knife sharpening

Is it possible to over-sharpen knives? I bought an electric sharpener and now that I know the difference, my kitchen knives seem dull after a few uses. But I'm afraid I'll destroy them (grind them down to nothing) if I indulge every few days.
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

Usually, I sharpen knives with a steel (not an electric device). If I don't get optimum results, I'd consider taking the knives to La Cuisine--The Cook's Resource in Alexandria, VA to spend the night (!) and allow the professionals to sharpen them.

– August 27, 2014 12:06 PM
A.
Aaron Silverman :

I would also recommend checking out Korin.com

It is a knife store in NYC that does an AMAZING job sharpening knives. And their pricing is pretty good too. You do have to mail your knives to them but they are as professional as it gets.

– August 27, 2014 12:06 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Yes, and the thing to keep in mind is that there's a difference between honing and sharpening. You should only need to sharpen them once or twice a year. But to maintain that edge, you should be running them across a honing steel pretty much every time you use them.

– August 27, 2014 12:06 PM
Q.

Looking for a Book

I am having trouble figuring out what side dishes to make. For example, last night, I made scallops with butternut squash. So what goes with that? I have no idea! I know that my spicy carrots and dill is probably a bad idea, and I suspect that popping an ear of corn in the microwave isn't a good match either (I ended up making more than I expected of the squash so I didn't have anything else.). I don't need a recipe book - the problem is I have no sense of which recipe to pick from all that are available to me. What I need is a book that tells me how to think about such a decision - call it a theory of menu selection. Please help.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Hmm. Interesting question. Most books I see that get into menu planning are aimed at restaurants and institutional food service, not the home cook -- or the ones aimed at the home cook are really more about putting together a week's worth of dinners, that kind of system. But plenty of cookbooks include some of this philosophy, and some of course include their own menus and can give you an idea, through osmosis if nothing else, of the thought processes behind those collections. I'm thinking of Mollie Katzen's recent "The Heart of the Plate," which suggests menus. And in Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" she has a couple of pages in the front matter that explain how to compose a vegetarian menu that get at some of these issues. Among her helpful tips: Choose accompaniments that complement the main dish's taste or texture, and provide contrast and balance.

 

For flavor combinations, look at the great "Flavor Bible" by Dornenburg and Page. And use seasonality and geography/culture to guide you: One reason I'd say that corn doesn't seem to work is that the butternut squash feels more like fall, doesn't it? And if the sauce seems Italian in your treatment, then do an Italian treatment for another dish, and that can connect them.

 

To get a little more specific here, I'd say you should think about a grain: farro, pasta or noodles. And then since the squash is a little heavy and starchy and sweet and soft, look for something that would contrast that: You have mentioned accompaniments that are also starchy (carrots and corn), so instead, go for a crisp green vegetable, like green beans. Make sense?

 

– August 27, 2014 12:06 PM
Q.

Vegetarian at Rose's/vegetarian entree

Hello! I loved your profile about Rose's Luxury, especially the part where Chang thought he couldn't run a restaurant b/c he was too mentally stable. Ha! I also loved my meal at Rose's Luxury, not the least of which because of the wide wonderful variety of vegetarian entrees! Which I was surprised you didn't mention. Even the famed sausage/lychee/habenero dish had a veg option. Leading me to my question...what's your favorite vegetarian option to bring to a dinner party? Can't be pasta, is the thing. Or a salad. Has to be something somewhat more substantial. Extra points if its vegan. :) Thanks for your ideas!
A.
Aaron Silverman :

I want to jump in!

My personal favorite is simply grilling avocados with salt and olive oil. Then dressing them in lime juice, chopped scallions, mint, cilantro and possibly some chilis. It's soooo simple but soooo good. Also, if you can get vietnamese coriander (aka vietnamese mint) it adds a whole new level.

We are actually trying to work on a dish at the restaurant that revolves around that idea.

– August 27, 2014 12:10 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Hmm: I have Vietnamese mint in a container on my porch! Must make this.

I also want to weigh in on the vegetarian thing: This is obviously one of the things I love about Rose's, too. I have to say, I was shocked -- in a good way, of course -- to see a veg version of that sausage dish you mention, because I just thought most chefs wouldn't even consider it with something like that.

Better yet, I have to report that on one of my visits to Rose's, I snuck in without Aaron spotting me, and when they noticed I was ordering all veg, they sent out the veg version of that dish because someone else at the table had ordered it. Without even asking me! So great.

– August 27, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

Shipping baked goods

Hi Free Rangers! I'm posting days early so I don't forget--I need to ship some baked goods to a friend, but I'm at a loss as to what will hold up well in the mail. Any suggestions? Any favorite treats you like to send in care packages? Thanks for your help, and as always, thank you for the hard work you put into the Food section every week! You guys have made my life so much tastier. :
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

Weather conditions and type of baked goody would likely determine the answer: bar cookies that are firmly stable (not fragile) usually mail well, as does homemade granola or trail mix. At this time I year, I would avoid any item that is soft, very buttery, or sticky--as heat and humidity would likely ruin it.

– August 27, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

Charity baking?

Are any of you aware of a charity or cause that would appreciate donations of home baked goods? Baking is my passion and I'm constantly working with new recipes, but feel strange bringing in extra baked goods to my office more than once a week. I checked with Ronald McDonald House and they require that any donations come from a commercial kitchen - maybe this will be the case with all charities, but thought I would check with you all!
A.
Tim Carman :

Michael Curtin, CEO of D.C. Central Kitchen, says it's impossible for charities such as his to accept food donations from home kitchens. The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, he says, limits donations to those from commercially licensed kitchens.

 

"When we started, we were taking anything," Curtin says about the pre-Act days. "As the volume grows and the issue we need to keep in mind as we're distributing 5,000 meals is we need to be very, very careful" about donations.

 

Curtin says the best plan of attack is to approach your nearby church, which may have some flexibility about accepting your (very generous!) donations. You are a good Samaritan!

– August 27, 2014 12:10 PM
A.
Becky Krystal :

I'd also check with your local school's PTA. Those groups sometimes host sales. And, of course, there's always Share Our Strength's Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry. You can try to find a sale already happening or start your own.

– August 27, 2014 12:10 PM
Q.

clotted cream...

A small tub of this is in my fridge. I'm low carbing, so scones and jam are right out. Any other suggestions?
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

A dollop on berries or roasted fruit would be divine!

– August 27, 2014 12:12 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

And if that's not low-carb enough for you, how about using it as the base of a creamy dressing for low-carb vegetables, or in deviled eggs or egg salad?

– August 27, 2014 12:12 PM
Q.

Best bars to wait for Rose's

Hi! We hope to dine at Rose's Luxury on Friday night, but realize that even with getting there at 4:30 we can probably expect a long wait. Any recommendations for bars nearby to wait in? We're a group of four (two Arlingtonians, and her Midwestern parents visiting for the weekend), and would ideally like someplace with novel drinks/food that my parents wouldn't be able to get in small-town Indiana. Thanks!
A.
Tim Carman :

Aaron will have other suggestions, I'm sure, but one thing to keep in mind is that your entire party must be present in order to be seated. Once the doors open at 5:30, and Rose's Luxury starts to seat diners, your quartet will need to be front and center.

 

With that said, you could always be near the front of the line and choose to be among the first callbacks for the second seating. Which means you could give the host/hostess your name, and then wait for the first wave of diners to finish dinner. That would result in about a two hour wait.

 

This plan of attack gives you more flexibility to explore the better or more iconic bars on Capitol Hill and Barracks Row, like Hank's Oyster Bar (with Gina Chersevani's inventive cocktails) or the Tune Inn (one of D.C.'s oldest and most neighborly bars). Or you could wander over to Ambar, a Serbian-centric restaurant that has both Balkan wines (menu in PDF form) and a line of fruit-distilled spirits known as rakia (menu in PDF form).

– August 27, 2014 12:12 PM
A.
Aaron Silverman :

Fridays and Saturdays are (obviously) our busiest days. Also, we open at 5pm on both of those days. Typical Monday-Thursdays people don't start showing up out front until 4:30pm (about an hour before we open) but on Fridays and Saturdays (when we open at 5pm) people start to show up around 4:00. My personal suggestion is to drop your name with the host/hostess and then head over to Beuchert's Saloon. That is our personal hangout spot. The owners are wonderful people and their cocktails are AWESOME. Most of our staff lives in the neighborhood and we frequent there on our days off. Also, I have heard that "Harold Black" is doing some nice cocktails these days.

– August 27, 2014 12:12 PM
Q.

Creamy, creamy yogurt

I'm a bit behind on the yogurt discussions, but I was super excited to read about Tim's experimentation. I'm hoping you all can help me replicate a favorite version of mine - the super creamy, luxe versions I used to get in British grocery stores, next to the regular skim/low cal options. It has a very thick but light texture, not as dense as Greek styles. It's definitely not a health food, there are tons of calories and I see whipping cream as an ingredient. (I'm obsessed with the rhubarb flavors but they make toffee and other dessert-y flavors in this style too.) I've tried just whole milk versions here, but it doesn't have the same decadence factor. Do you know anything about this style, and would you start with a mix of milk and cream or maybe blend in some whipped cream later? Thanks!
A.
Tim Carman :

I personally haven't tried to make this style of yogurt, but it sounds delicious. If you have time, I would just experiment with the approach you've already suggested. Prepare a traditional yogurt and then fold in some whipped cream and see if the texture approaches what you remember.

 

Chatters, anyone familiar with this style and the technique behind it?

 

RECIPE: Nothing Plain About It Bulgarian Yogurt

– August 27, 2014 12:15 PM
Q.

Vegetable Tart

Hi, I want to make a vegetable tart for my veggie friends as part of my Labor Day picnic. I imagine a light buttery crust and a thin layer of just veggies: eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion and then baked. No cheese maybe a little sprinkling of parm) or I do have some homemade ricotta and some mozz. both optional. But I am just thinking if I prebake the crust a little, then layer thinly sliced veg that the veg is going to produce a lot of liquid and ruin the crust. Should I slice the vegetables and roast them for a while and then layer into the crust? Any ideas? I want it simple, rustic and not heavy on cream, eggs or a lot of cheese. Thanks.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Yep, I think pre-roasting the vegetables is the way to go. Take a look at our Roasted Ratatouille Tart With Goat Cheese and Mint: Even if you don't follow the recipe to the T, you could get some good technique tips from it.

 

 

RECIPE: Roasted Ratatouille Tart With Goat Cheese and Mint

– August 27, 2014 12:15 PM
Q.

Low GI frosting

I could really use your help! I am making a cake for a baby shower where the mom to be has gestational diabetes and is very restricted in terms of carbs. She also prefers natural sugars over artificial which eats up almost all of the carbs allotted to the the cake. I have a great recipe for an almond cake, but I am stumped when it comes to frosting (we only have 3 carbs per service to work with). I was thinking a strained Greek Yogurt with blackberries, but was wondering if you had any better suggestions.
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

What type/style of almond cake is it? Perhaps you don't need an icing/frosting at all. A yogurt topping would likely soften the cake and turn it mushy/gooey (unless swiped over at the VERY LAST MINUTE and served). What about simply scattering some slivered almonds on top of the batter (if it is a stable/dense type) just before baking? That would give it a nice finish.

– August 27, 2014 12:16 PM
Q.

kabobs

I would think you would cut your kabobs the same thickness as you would cut a steak. I personally like close to blue rare so a 2 inch cube seems about right to me and I like 2 inch steaks as well for the same reason.
A.
Jim Shahin :

       Fine reasoning. Thanks for the tip. 

 

 

RECIPE: Grilled Lamb Kebabs in Yogurt

– August 27, 2014 12:17 PM
Q.

funky cantaloupe

I bought a cantaloupe at Giant and left it on the kitchen counter to ripen for a few days. Opened it today and it looks fine and has good consistency but smells fffffffffffffffffffunky. Any idea why? Windowless kitchen. No way I'd but wonder if it's toxic and how to avoid getting another bad one if they look and feel good. (Sadly similar to my dating life!)
A.
Tim Carman :

Sounds like the cantaloupe was already at the overripe stage when you bought it. I suspect it was slowly fermenting on your kitchen counter. 

– August 27, 2014 12:18 PM
Q.

sealer

My garden has been over abundant. I freeze rather than can. Do you have any recommendations for a vacuum sealer to put up my vegetables?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Ah, I believe one of the recent issues of Cook's Country (or Illustrated, I forget) had a vacuum sealer round-up. I don't have the issue at my fingertips, but e-mail me and I'll find it at home to share with you. Or do the chatters have a recommendation?

– August 27, 2014 12:18 PM
Q.

Fruit Bars

Yay, no-bake treats! Yay, no-cook anything and everything! More such recipes, please! :)
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

The no-bake bars are delight--it's always a fun challenge to arrive at somethings so delicious in that style. Now, it's one of my go-to favorites!

– August 27, 2014 12:21 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

We are so into this that we do a no-cook issue every year! Did you miss it this year? If so, here's a gallery that includes all the 2014 recipes and some of our favorites from previous years, too.

– August 27, 2014 12:21 PM
Q.

Looking for a Book

Thanks for the tips! Plenty of fall reading to do, when I am not busy cooking. :)
Q.

thanks, re: lentil sloppy Joes

Quick note of thanks to the person 2 weeks ago who suggested the recipe from Food 52 for lentil sloppy Joes. We had our family fest this weekend, and the lentil Joes were a hit even among some of the omnivores! (And, somehow, we escaped the death penalty. Lax justice system, I guess.). I'm having the last wee bit for lunch today. The Rangers are the best! (Joe, I am curious about seitan, etc., so I may well try your recipe also. I just thought that a meat analogue, as you called it, would freak out the vegetarians in the group, who are somewhat unadventurous carbitarians, in reality.)

A.
Joe Yonan :

Funny!

– August 27, 2014 12:23 PM
Q.

For the person who asked about popcorn poppers

I like West Bend's Stir Crazy popper. No shaking necessary, and very few (if any) unpopped kernels.
Q.

Souffles

I know you reviewed David Lebovitz's book My Paris Kitchen (which I love!) and was wondering about his Cheese, Bacon and Arugula Souffle. It calls for making 8 individual souffles, but could I make it as one big one? This one is twice baked so I wasn't sure if it would work, but if it does, how long would I cook it and what other alterations to the recipe would have to be made? Thanks!

A.
Joe Yonan :

We went straight to David for the answer. Here's what he says, via email from Paris:

It could be made as one big one but I can't say the baking time without trying it myself. Usually large soufflés take at least 30 minutes, but best to keep an eye on it. When you shake the side, it should still jiggle, but feel reasonably set when you press the center with your hand. Some people like softer soufflés. I don't know about unmolding it and reheating it, like the ones in the book - but it should be good just as it is...right from the oven!
– August 27, 2014 12:25 PM
Q.

For Vegetable tart with eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion.

Perhaps add a layer of thin-sliced potatoes near the bottom to absorb some of the liquid, as well as for contrast of texture?
Q.

Souffles Again

Wow, straight from the source; now I want to try it even more :-) Thank you!
A.
Joe Yonan :

We're at your service!

– August 27, 2014 12:29 PM
Q.

plate lab request

I would like to submit Kapnos's melitzanosalata for your plate lab column. I had it at brunch on Sunday and it was great!
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks! We've had a lot of dips, and we've also already had 2 Greek dishes, so probably wouldn't do it anytime real soon, but we'll add it to the list. Good to know you like it!

– August 27, 2014 12:30 PM
Q.

charity baking

What a lovely, generous sentiment. May I suggest that you check out local blood drives. I would guess that the blood bank (building) wouldn't accept home-baked goods, but blood drives sponsored by businesses, organizations, places of worship probably would (e.g., our church solicits food for its biennial blood drives). Also, call a few places that do meal programs (e.g., St. Vincent de Paul-- we donated our extra Halloween candy there, because trick or treat was the weekend before Halloween, and SVdP had a kids' party on 10/31). And, I've never known a firehouse or police department to turn down the occasional treat. These are just suggestions based on our region (Midwest, not D.C.), but a few calls should get you running in the right direction.
A.
Tim Carman :

Thank you for your suggestions!

– August 27, 2014 12:30 PM
Q.

shrimp creole

Speaking of tomatoes, is there a way to make an easy shrimp creole or simple seafood and okra gumbo? I like mine meatless. Can it be made as a weeknight meal (aka quickly)?
A.
Joe Yonan :

Check out this creole idea from Matt/Ted Lee, who are great resources for simple, flavorful food. They call for 6 ounces of sausage meat, but leave it out and then consider upping the smoked paprika to taste.

– August 27, 2014 12:31 PM
Q.

Charity baking?

The food co-op can't allow volunteers now due to labor and insurance regulations here. Church bake sale outlawed and only outlaws eat apple pie baked by old ladies.
A.
Tim Carman :

Sarcasm noted.

 

But there are good reasons to protect charities (and the hungry people they feed) from potentially risky food donations.

– August 27, 2014 12:31 PM
Q.

Frosting OP: Almond cake recipe

This is the one I am using: Gluten-Free French Almond Cake. I am still trying to figure out what sugar option I will use. I would love to go frostingless if you thought that it would work.

A.
Lisa Yockelson :

Not having prepared the cake, by the image and list of ingredients, it looks like it could survive a sprinkling of slivered almonds prior to baking. My suggestion would be to contact the Skinny GF Chef herself to obtain suggestions, for it's her recipe. Without frosting, the cake seems just fine, though, once again, I have not made or tasted it. Perhaps you could plate each serving and dollop with plain yogurt, followed by a garnish of berries. That would probably settle the presentation problem and skirt the frosting/icing issue.

– August 27, 2014 12:33 PM
Q.

Mexican "Salsa Bruja" - prep procedure?

Hi, I bought a bottle of "Salsa Bruja" in Cancun and have sadly run out. I managed to identify all the herbs that were in it (bay leaves, garlic, dill, coriander seeds, red peppers). Should I just add everything to a big container of white vinegar and let it sit for a while, or should I cook it first? Store in fridge? Unfortunately all the recipes I can find are in Spanish.
A.
Tim Carman :

This is perhaps not a very helpful answer, but do you know any Spanish speakers that could help you translate recipes? It might be faster than the experimentation route.

 

Chatters, any ideas on salsa bruja recipes?

– August 27, 2014 12:34 PM
Q.

storing ginger root

I know you've tackled this question before, but I just cannot get it right. I've tried keeping ginger suspended in a glass of water (a la avocado pit), never grew roots. I've tried wrapping in a damp paper towel and keeping in the fridge, but that doesn't work long term. Recently I've been freezing it, but when defrosted it's spongy and hard to mince. I live alone and just don't use ginger root often enough to keep it fresh. Should I give up???
A.
Tim Carman :

Try this approach: Take your ginger, with the peel still on and any moisture wiped off the root, and store it in a resealable plastic bag. Just make sure to press all the air out of the bag before you seal it. It should keep for weeks.

– August 27, 2014 12:40 PM
A.
Becky Krystal :

Here's the thing about freezing ginger: Don't defrost it. I cut mine into small-ish chunks that I know will be pretty much used in one dish. Usually I just grate it on the microplane zester. But you can also mince it when it's still almost completely frozen. Otherwise, yeah, it's a soggy mess.

– August 27, 2014 12:40 PM
Q.

Shipping baked goods

May I suggest using popped corn for packaging material? Years ago, a coworker's mom used to send us bundt cakes and bar cookies in the mail. She filled all the spaces with popcorn and M&Ms, making the entire package edible. It was great!
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

Neither would be my first choice, due to the possibility of  bugs and such working their way into the box, then infecting everything. Random food items, unwrapped, attract all sort of things, making it all inedible.

– August 27, 2014 12:40 PM
Q.

what to do with small white eggplant?

My biggest gardening success this summer is the small white "gretel" eggplants that I grew from seeds. I have lots and lots of them growing now and have been slicing them in rounds and roasting them. While that's tasty, it doesn't take advantage of their interesting color and petite size. Can you suggest other ways to prepare them?
A.
Joe Yonan :

I cooked a very special dinner for a couple celebrating an anniversary recently, and one of the dishes included a roasted-baby-vegetable ratatouille. I took fairy-tale eggplant, pearl onions, baby zucchini and baby padron peppers,  roasted each separately with olive oil and salt until just tender, and nestled them on the plate in a puree of za'atar-spiced slow-roasted tomatoes. Was pretty killer.

Another thought: I wonder how they might work coated in a caramel crust instead of the cherry toms in the Caramelle di Pomodoro. You'd roast them first, of course.

– August 27, 2014 12:43 PM
Q.

Speidies

Speaking of kabobs, have you heard of or tried spiedies? They're popular in and around Bnghamton, NY probaably by way of Rome. Pieces of meat are marinated in an Italianate marinade then grilled on a stick. When done, they're placed on a slice of that soft white packaged 'Italian' bread for easy eating. Pork is one of the favorites. The pieces are small enough to eat as a sandwich - closer to the 1 1/2" than the 2".
A.
Jim Shahin :

     Oh, man, I love spiedies! I've eaten 'em in Binghamton and made them, too. Lovely flavor. And, yes, the soft white sandwich bread is essential.

– August 27, 2014 12:44 PM
Q.

Kebabs without the stick...?

This may seem silly, but is there any food item that could be used in place of the stick? I like kebabs, but wanted something a bit more (little) child friendly.
A.
Becky Krystal :

You mean like a rosemary skewer? Probably depends on the recipe, but a sturdy stalk could work.

– August 27, 2014 12:45 PM
Q.

For Chef Silverman

Any plans for creating a family style vegetarian item?
A.
Aaron Silverman :

Actually, yes. We have been struggling to come up with a dish that is kind of "a meal within itself". That is the idea behind our Family Style dishes. A main component with sides essentially. We have talked about a rice dish...something along the lines of Paella and we have also talked about a tofu dish. Nothing is currently close to reaching the menu quite yet but we are definitely doing some serious brainstorming regarding vegetarian Family Style dishes. 

– August 27, 2014 12:45 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

So glad to hear this! I love the idea of a paella, Aaron -- I make it for dinner parties all the time, because it has that centerpiece, all-in-one quality. And can flex it so easily for the seasons... Another thought: smoke that tofu, if you haven't yet. I'm addicted to the smoked tofu at Neopol in Union Market; have you tried it?

– August 27, 2014 12:45 PM
A.
Aaron Silverman :

Smoked Tofu sounds awesome. Our ovens actually smoke so we could totally do that! Obviously we would make our own tofu. That's the most exciting part. Plus it would cook in the same oven the briskets cook in so it would probably pick up some smokey brisket flavor, hahaha nothing wrong with that :)

– August 27, 2014 12:45 PM
Q.

salsa bruja -- or any other recipe-- in English

To limit your search results to English (or any other language) in Google. (1) Open google.com in your browser. In the lower right corner of the screen, select Settings > Advanced Search. (2) Enter your search terms (e.g., salsa bruja recipe) in the first section (3) In the second section ("narrow your resutls"), select English (or your preferred language). I found quite a few salsa bruja recipes in English, although I can't recommend any to your chatter since I don't know what s/he wants.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks so much!

– August 27, 2014 12:46 PM
Q.

Thai Basil

I have a nice crop of Thai Basil which I use for Larb Gai and the like. Any suggestions for how to preserve for winter use?
A.
Joe Yonan :

My favorite way to preserve basil is to make it into a paste with olive oil, a suggestion from Susan Belsinger. I think it would be a great thing to do with Thai basil, too. You could try it instead of the mint in Bonnie's Plate Lab recipe for Laab Kai from Thai Basil in Chantilly.

 

 

RECIPE: Basil Paste

 

 

RECIPE: Laab Kai

– August 27, 2014 12:50 PM
Q.

Ginger

Or, shred it into sherry and keep it in the fridge. Lasts well and you get the sherry for recipes too.
Q.

shipping baked goods

My two cents worth: freeze your items and then seal them in foodsaver bags. They stay fresh and won't get jostled around. Do not try to seal them in a vaccum bag without freezing them first. You'll have pancakes. I learned the hard way.
Q.

popcorn for packaging

OK, I left out the part that everything was in a sealed plastic bag inside the box. We never saw a bug.
A.
Joe Yonan :

That makes more sense!

– August 27, 2014 12:51 PM
Q.

Mailing baked goods

Based on my experience sending cookie bars to Africa, when my son was in the Peace Corps: Put food items in two zip-loc bags, one inside the other. Pack the box with bubble wrap or crumpled newspaper and tape it well. Cookie bars were sturdier than cookies, and they were good to eat after a month in transit.
A.
Lisa Yockelson :

Yes, as I mention, bar cookies fare quite well. And I second the bubble wrap around and about the baked goods.

– August 27, 2014 12:51 PM
Q.

Spiedies followup

I once had venison spiedies at a country wedding in Penn. They were awesome.
A.
Jim Shahin :

       I'll bet!

– August 27, 2014 12:51 PM
Q.

Seasonal/local cooking advice

I joined a CSA this year for the first time, and am loving eating so much local, fresh produce. It has completely changed the way my family and I eat. I've always cooked a variety of cuisines, but using what we're surprised with each week has really challenged me (in a positive way) to expand my repertoire even more. I really want to continue eating this way, using mostly--if not all--local produce, after the CSA ends in the fall. However, one thing I've struggled with is finding a good cookbook or collection of recipes for this. Many of the cookbooks I have call for a wide variety of ingredients--some in season and some that you would have to get at a grocery store due to them not being in season. Can you recommend any good cookbooks for local, seasonal cooking? Or suggest any good places to check out for inspiration?
A.
Tim Carman :

I'm sure others will have suggestions, too, but I'd go with cookbooks such as "Tender" by Nigel Slater or "Ottolenghi" by Yotam Ottolenghi  and Sami Tamimi. I've enjoyed cooking out of both books, which focus on seasonal fruits and veggies.

– August 27, 2014 12:57 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

There are so many! Of course, shameless plug for my own Weeknight Vegetarian column, which is very seasonal, and in real time -- so you should find lots of ideas for seasonal produce there.

I don't have time to give you a comprehensive list now, but  there are several good options on Bonnie's list of her favorites from this summer. And the book that I got this week's WV recipe from, "Summer Food," is very nice, too.

– August 27, 2014 12:57 PM
Q.

Spiedies!

Now I'm REALLY hungry! It's one of the two things I miss most about NE PA. The other is the chicken barbecue. Always chicken halves. Always. Marinated in a special vinaigrette with an egg in it. Usually served with pie. Mmm. Pie.
Q.

Re: Rose's Luxury

I went to your website and was a little confused. One thing was listed with "some other stuff." What????? And there was no dessert menu. I assume you have desserts.
A.
Aaron Silverman :

Hahaha. Yes...we couldn't physically fit all the ingredients on the menu. It kept printing outside the margins and we weren't smart enough to figure out how to fix it so we just wrote "some other stuff" instead. 

 

And yes, we do have desserts. I'm not sure why we originally decided not to post them or the beverage menu online but maybe we should revisit that. 

– August 27, 2014 12:57 PM
Q.

Rose's Line Question

Just curious - does a late-comer have a prayer of getting a table at Rose's? For instance, if we showed up at 9, would we have a chance of getting a table, or are all of the dining slots for that night taken up by then?
A.
Aaron Silverman :

So, this is interesting....we actually tend to have tables randomly free up after 9pm on weekdays and after 10pm on weekends. Basically what happens is that lots of people come early, put their name on the list and then an hour or two into their wait, a bunch of them decide to take their name off the list and eat elsewhere. What happens then is we end up with occasional open tables later in the night. A couple of friends of mine came in two nights ago (when we had a 3 hour wait for a table at 7pm)....they arrived at 9pm and sat down and were eating within 6 minutes of walking in the door. We try to keep room open at the bar upstairs for random "pop-ins" as well. 

– August 27, 2014 1:00 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

Good to know, isn't it? (Although I have a feeling that when this gets out, that situation might change...)

– August 27, 2014 1:00 PM
Q.

Joe Yonan :

Well, you've divided us among wide, shallow bowls and topped us with cheese and pepper, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for all the great q's, and thanks to Aaron, Lisa and Jim for helping us answer them!

Now, for the giveaway book: The chatter who asked about local and seasonal inspiration will get ... the aforementioned "Summer Food" by Paul Lowe & Co. Send your mailing information to Becky.Krystal@washpost.com, and she'll get you your book!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

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