Free Range on Food

Gree-tings, Free Rangers. We're taking a break from Holiday Gear-Up Central (insert angst-y sound effect here) to chat for an hour about recipes, menus, ingredients, Smarter Food, the Nats' doubleheader -- you name it. (Okay, scratch that last bit.)

 

Today, Smoke Signals subject chef Andrew Evans of the BBQ Joint in Easton, Md., is with us, along with SS columnist Jim Shahin. Plus,  staffers "Timchi" Carman, (check out his fun kimchi festival story), Jane Touzalin and Becky Krystal, ace cooking class listings wrangler!

 

Two lucky chat winners will be eligible for either "Weelicious," source of today's Dinner in Minutes, or "The Chew," yes, from the very TV show that features Friend of Food Carla Hall. Check the last announcement of the hour.

Clifton, are you there? We're starting now.

I love kimchi -- but isn't it too high in salt content to be considered healthy? (Maybe that's why it helps people look younger, if it really does -- the salt preserves them.)

I suspect the sodium content varies depending on the kimchi maker, and everyone in Korea, it seems, has his or her own recipe. I spotted this nutritional breakdown for kimchi online, which put the sodium content at 710 mg for a half-cup serving.  That's pretty high, particularly if you're on a restricted salt diet of 1,500 mg per day. You've basically consumed half your allotted amount with one serving.

 

But I wonder if Koreans have a more active lifestyle than Americans, which may explain why the sodium doesn't seem to bother them as much. Interestingly enough, there was a Johns Hopkins study 12 years ago that found that Korean-Americans have higher hypertension rates than Americans or the people back in Korea.

Has anyone spotted concord grapes at any farmers' markets yet (preferably VA)?

I seem to recall seeing Concord grapes being listed a few weeks ago in my weekly farmers market roundup. Not recently, though. This week you'll be able to find Muscadine grapes at the Saturday H Street and Silver Spring FreshFarm markets. Unspecified seedless grapes will be at the Crystal City FreshFarm market next Tuesday.

Posting early. Can you please explain the Post's criteria for including markets in their list of local farmer's markets? I recently returned to DC after being away more then a decade, and want to explore area markets. Last weekend I went to RFK Stadium, and it is really just a produce market...not much locally grown. There were boxes of California strawberries (clearly marked,) lemons and all kinds of things that couldn't be local. Nothing looked great and the prices were only OK. (Lemons are cheaper at my local grocery store.) It may be how the neighborhood wants to shop for produce, but it doesn't belong on a list of farmer's markets. I'd be curious to know how the Washington Post researches their directory of farmer's markets, because the one at RFK stadium is NOT one. And if you can suggest a market with better prices than Dupont Circle's, I'd be very grateful. Thank you.

Thanks for your comments. We don't go out to personally vet every single of the 150 or so markets on our list, although between all of us, we've probably been to a good number of them. Most markets have been around for years, and I communicate with the market managers each year when I update the list. I go to their Web sites to check them out as well. In the case of the RFK market, I did just talk to the manager there. He said that, yes, some vendors sell wholesale produce, but there are local producers as well, which you may have missed for one reason or another. One, for example, is Miller Farms of Clinton.

My experience has been that when you shop at farmers markets farther outside the city/Beltway, the prices get cheaper.

 

Re the local produce: It's up to market managers to decide what standards they want to set for what they sell.

Thank you, Food Section staff, for compiling this resource. I direct this request to the instructors whose classes are listed: Please furnish a sample recipe to give an idea of the simplicity or complexity of your class, if you have not already done so. It would be good advertising, too. Hopefully the folks at the Post could find the time to set up links. Thank you in advance.

Consider the request passed on. The list is enough of a beast for us as it is, so I don't think we'd want to add additional info to the listings. But, yes, if instructors posted recipes on their Web sites, which we already link to, I can see how potential students would find that useful.

looking for one like grandma would make.

Was grandma a smart cookie? If so, she would have made one like this, which comes from his stepmother in Alabama. Smoked paprika updates it, steps in where  perhaps bacon might have trod. Or trodden.

Well, count me as one person who's happy to see McDonalds (and soon lots of other restaurants) to post their calories. I'm on a calorie-based diet and before would have to go digging on websites to figure out what I could eat before actually going to the restaurant. But when I went to my local McDonalds on Friday, they already had the calories listed and I could see that one of their new grilled chicken wraps easily fit into my calorie limit for lunch. Maybe a lot of people won't use this information, at least without other education on what kind of calories they're eating overall and what is healthy, but for those of us who do use it, the calorie postings are wonderful. That's definitely one part of the federal health care act I can stand behind. Too bad I can't say the same for McDonalds' chicken and bacon wrap - I didn't taste a drop of garlic in their allegedly garlic cream sauce. Bummer.

The reader is referring to a blog item I wrote last week. It compiles some of the recent research on calorie counts on menus and how little effect they apparently have.  (Some commenters and readers, via email, disagreed with the notion that a drop in 120 calories per meal is small and won't amount to a weight loss, I should note.)

 

Frankly, I have been surprised by the  research, just based on my own reactions to calorie counts. When places like Starbucks started adding calorie counts to its breakfast sandwiches and morning sweets, I swore them off.  (Of course, it helps to know that a sugar rush is not the best way to start the day anyway.)  But I do understand one part of the research: A good number of people say they want to indulge when they go out to eat. I can relate to that.

What exactly is weelicious? Is it wee little bites of food? food for your wee little one? or does something taste weelicious and what, pray tell does weeliciousness taste like?

Well, it's the name of a blog started in 2010 by Catherine McCord, and she's savvy enough and obviously has enough of an audience that she was able to publish a cookbook of her recipes.  Wee-haw!

Tim, is this something you are likely to make at home (and if so, would you share the recipe)? If not, is there a favored commercially prepared brand?

Yes, make your own! It'll be more fun and satisfying than any store-bought brand. Try this recipe.

Thanks so much for putting together this list! One favor -- It'd be helpful if you could clarify if lessons where the teacher comes to us are priced per class or per student. For example, under Thai, it says "$65 per hour, three-hour minimum. In student's home." Good to know if that $65 covers the household or each student. Thanks again.

Classes are per person unless specified otherwise. Thanks for asking.

What, no new recipes courtesy of the kimchi masters?

Alas, no, mostly because we had to rush to get this item into the section in the first place. (We close our section each Monday for Wednesday publication.)

 

But! We do have this lovely kimchi recipe, adapted from Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee's original.

Your link has no bacon! Boil 2 lbs of red-skinned potatoes. Fry six strips of bacon in a large frying pan. Remove bacon and drain off most of the grease but leave in enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Beat together 1 egg, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1/3 cup water and 1 cup vinegar until blended. Pour mixture all at once into bacon grease pan, add potatoes, and stir vigorously until potatoes are coated with the sauce. Add in chopped cooked bacon and some pepper. Serve warm or cold.

Right. The smoked paprika makes a nice, omnivorous substitute for the bacon. But thanks for providing us with the deets.

How many calories are in a teaspoon of white table sugar? I grew up thinking it was 17 calories, many internet sites say it's 16, but a prominent graphic on the bag of Domino's premium cane granulated sugar I just bought, and the Sugar Association and some other sites, claim sugar has 15 calories per teaspoon. Maybe one or two calories is too little to quibble over?

It probably is. Some places may round and may use slightly different nutritional analysis systems. For the record, the system we use says a teaspoon of granulated sugar is 16 calories.

This is probably a silly question, but it has been nagging at me. Yesterday, I saw a recipe for 'Vegetable Pasta Primavera.' I always thought that, by definition, 'primavera' implied vegetables. Am I missing something?

Not silly. You've earned a tin badge on the Redundant Terminology Squad. Technically, I guess pasta primavera  means  something like "spring style" in Italian. The vegetables might have started off as  springtime ones (peas, asparagus). Or just maybe, the pasta's made WITH vegetables! 

Now that you're deputized, you might look for "adobo sauce" and its ilk. Go forth!

I'm looking for preserved lemons for a recipe. Do you know where I can buy them in area? I would prefer Northern VA or DC. Thanks!

Yep. They're in Middle Eastern stores, of course, but also on the olive bar at Whole Foods Markets.

When my three hungry boys left home, it took was an adjustment to learn how to cook for two again. It seemed to be a choice between using my old formulas and eating the same food for days, or spending the same amount of time (and kitchen clean up) every day preparing dishes for two. Lately I have taken to buying 20-24 chicken thighs at a time, browning the whole batch, sauteing a lot of diced onions and garlic. I then divide the prepared meat and vegetables between three different pots and proceed to make three different main dishes each of which gives us just one day of left overs. This week it was chicken curry, mexican salsa and orange marmalade chicken, and chicken with red wine, carrots and mushrooms. We enjoy the variety, and I enjoy the not cooking everyday, but It does make for quite a long time in the kitchen. Would it be safe to do the first step - browning all that chicken -- and refrigerate the browned but only partially cooked meat overnight to finish the various preparations the next day?

Maybe chef Andrew can advise otherwise, but I think I'd cook the chicken all the way through, cool and refrigerate it. Then toss it in just to warm up as you finish cooking the end of each of those preparations.

I'vefound that some of the Farmers Market listings (especially those in VA) note that the markets are grower/producer markets only. That way you can be sure the items weren't shipped in from CA or wherever: Here and here.

Thanks for the round up of cooking classes and seminars! I have a question that isn't quite filled by this, tho. I'd really like to get my knife skills up to a high level, but as a vegan of some 12 years standing I'm understandably reluctant to take most of the classes that have you learning with meat. The vegan classes you listed (double thanks!) are more about learning recipes and meal planning than technique. Are there any videos that are particularly good that you'd recommend? Something that, while never replacing an instructor watching your technique, would help get me to a high level?

Anyone have a video to recommend? If you'd like to learn just on veggies, that's the kind of thing you could set up in a personalized course with one of the instructors. That's what's great about a lot of these -- the ability to build a class to suit your needs. Check out the listings for Matt Finarelli and Jason Lawrence.

What I would like to know is what does Andrew Evans mean by this statement. . . . The BBQ Joint serves "ALL NATURAL" meats. . . isn't all meat natural?

Hahaha.  Good point but what it refers to is that I serve meats that are raised without antibiotics or growth harmones.  The animals also have free roaming and are killed humanely with gas.  I use Freebird Chicken, Heritage Acres Pork and Creekstone Farms Brisket.  If you go to my Web site. I have links to all the producers for further reading.

adobo can also be a dry rub.

Ah, I should have written the phrase "chiles en adobo sauce."

Another one for the Redundant Terminology Squad, from my college's dining hall chalkboard menu: Beef with Au Jus Sauce. As in, beef with with sauce sauce.

Ooh, this could be a good contest to snag a cookbook today. Two snaps up.

From the Department of Redundancy Department, lately I've seen "avocado guacamole" and "basil and Parmesan pesto."

Hmm,  not that I don't want to scrimp on badges today, but those terms might be due to the fact that people are making guac and pesto with many other things these days besides the original ingredients. I am not necessarily endorsing this, you understand.

No bacon, a travesty!

Chacun a son gout.

Smoke Signals really put me in the mood to get out and grill, and just in time: I'll be on vacation at my mom's beach house next week where there is a grill at my disposal! As an apartment-dweller, it's an option I sadly lack the other 51 weeks of the year. My plan is to make a few simple things but try to do them really well: grilled salmon, hambugers and fajitas (haven't decided if they will be chicken or steak). Since I don't grill much, do you have any recipes or advice for any of these dishes, particularly the fajitas? Thanks.

Grilling by definition isn't BBQ which is defined as meats that are cooked low and slow and flavored with smoke.  But high heat grilled produces great flavors too.  Try marinating flank steak in crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and plenty of lime juice.  

It's even more redundant than Beef with Sauce Sauce. It's Beef With With Sauce Sauce. :)

My all time favorite: chai tea....basically tea tea

I guess I have to ask an art director around here to print us up some official badges now!

I'm sure the person needs them now and does not want to wait--but please encourage them to make their own preserved lemons for next time! It is so easy and they taste MUCH better. (Recipes abound online)

Why, thank  you for reminding me -- where ARE my  manners? -- that we have a recipe for Quick Preserved Lemons right in our database.

I saw a menu that explained its guacamole was made with "mashed abogado" -- but it tasted just like guacamole made with "mashed avocado" -- "Abogado" is Spanish for "lawyer"!

Give that fan a contract badge! Timchi Carman over here says it's guac served by the Tea Party.

Aguacate, just for the record.

Could you all pull any strings with your friend Chef Mike and get the recipe for the salted caramel gelato? It is so amazing.

I've put a request in with Mike Isabella's publicist. We'll report back what she says.

So disappointed cookbooks aren't included at this weekend's National Book Festival! Maybe the problem was deciding what category they'd fit under, since they're poetry *and* contemporary life *and* fantasy *and* family. Regardless, what can we do so next year's Festival includes cookbook readings and signings ... and maybe tastings?

I have lodged a formal complaint -- wonder what good that will do. There was precious little last year, really. I don't get it, do you? I mean, it's not like cookbooks aren't popular or a segment of retail books that's actually growing, right?

Love this column, I have received some fantastic tips and interesting pieces of information. Thanks! However, something rubbed me the wrong way last week when the poster described her experience at a frozen yogurt restaurant that did not offer whole fat options. I believe she said, to the checker, something to the effect of "This is not 1988, do some research on the benefits of whole fat dairy." Regardless of how you feel about food, I think this was rude. Chances are good the people actually working at the restaurant do not have the ability to change the menu, so you just put somebody in an awkward position where they have to apologize for something out of their control. If you want to effectuate change at a restaurant, consider speaking to the owner/manager, using social media to get your preferences known, or just go to other establishments. But being rude to somebody who is just working there does not seem to solve anything. Anybody reading this column is going to love food, but that doesn't give us license to be demanding or rude.

I agree. The world would just be a lot more pleasant place if people were just nice.

Before storing half a cantaloupe, should I scoop out the seeds?

No -- so sayeth the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board. The seeds keep the flesh from drying out. Leave them there, wrap the melon tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate right away.

As we move into fall, my tomato plants are still producing (some for the first time). I'm finally tired of summer salads--how about some simple vegetarian recipes to help me use up my cherry tomatoes and late-appearing heirlooms? Thanks!

That Olive-Oil Poached Cherry Tomato Sauce is a keeper. Make vats and vats of it.

"Queso cheese sauce"

Good one.

Is there a way to stop the smell? My office-mates complain if I eat it in my cubicle!

Eat at a picnic table outside?

A defensively positioned, small office fan?

what does "marinate overnight" really mean? Do I drain off the marinade in the morning, can I leave it marinating until I cook it the evening, do I marinate starting in the morning for evening cooking? I have only ever seen one recipe that says to marinate overnight and then drain. I think the same questions would apply to soaking beans. Thanks.

I think of overnight as 10-12 hours and has worked for me.

I absolutely LOVE the Weelicious Web site! Anyone with kids of any age, or who just loves great recipes should absolutely check it out. Fantastic resource for easy, healthy recipes. And the Cranberry Pecan muffins are to die for...

See? A fan.

My CSA is still going and I'm getting a lot of purple cabbage. Do you think that I could use it to make kimchi?

Kimchi is not restricted to Napa or Chinese cabbage. Koreans use all sorts of vegetables. I read one story that said Koreans make more than 300 different kinds of kimchi.  I would definitely use your purple cabbage!

I'm not sure if the person asking lives in the general area around RFK or not, but if so, there is a new market that just started on Wednesdays at the Watkins School, 13th and E, SE. It runs from 2:30PM until 6:30 or maybe 7. I went last week and was surprised at how reasonable the prices were. It's put on by New Morning Farm from central PA in conjunction with the school and also has produce from a cooperative near their farm. They are also at the Sheridan School in NW on Tuesdays (maybe Saturdays too?) as well as the Sunday Dupont Market.

Thanks for the info! They are indeed at Sheridan on Saturdays as well.

As an instructor at a cooking school, I would hesistate to post the recipe online for a few reasons, 1) Then you can simply make it at home and the school might lose the business, 2) Isn't the idea to LEARN how to cook, so why does it matter how complicated the recipe is if you will be furnished with all the materials and taught how to make the dish(es).

Thanks for your input.

I've had some terrible sauces att bbq restaurants. How are your sauces different?

Well I imagine they are simply buying mass produced BBQ sauces in gallon jugs and serving them.  At The BBQ Joint we make our sauces from scratch in house. The recipes were developed over a long period of time for my competition BBQ team.  I took second place in sauce at the Safeway Battle in DC competing against some really good teams.  Come on down and taste the difference.  I bottle small quantities that we sell in the restaruant too if you want to take some home.

COOK! In Ashburn has a knife skills class that's really good, usually the recipes are vegetarian or the meat can be left out. You could call before signing up to make sure.

Very good to know. We had them in our list, so the chatter can find details there.

Are you worried by the Consumer Reports study quoted in yesterday's Post that recommends limiting intake of rice products because of arsenic? I feel like every time I give up one food (wheat) to be healthier, the substitute turns out to be as bad, or worse. Any chance you can supply us with a link to the Consumer Reports study? Yesterday's Post piece doesn't have one. Thank you.

Depressing, isn't it? Particularly for those of us who love rice in all its amazing forms: risotto, pilaf, biryani, congee, etc.

 

Here's the Consumer Reports investigation.

We're going to research further...someone's already asked about rice made in a rice cooker, where the ratio of water to rice is set.

I use cider vinegar. Also, I love vinegar so I use a lot of it, but you can easily reduce it to half a cup.

I'm trying to increase my intake of nuts and lower my intake of butter and I was wondering about substituting nut butters for butter in baked goods. I haven't found any solid rules about whether this could work, or would be too moist or dense. Any ideas?

I think a vegan baking book could advise, but I can't put my hands on one just now.  FYI, nut butter has saturated fat in it as well. There would be texture issues, though, right? Chatters?

Yes, you can use the dry ingredients in adobo as a dry rub, but that's not what "adobo" means."

"Soup du jour of the day" and "French dip au jus" always get me. As does "9AM in the morning" and the like.

You're going for some kind of badge record, aren't you?

reminds me of my favorite cafeteria offering from when I was a federal employee: Chicken Arroz con Pollo With Rice.

This just in: The next season of 'Top Chef" will include not one, but two working Washington chefs: Bart Vandaele from Belga Cafe on Capitol Hill and Daniel O'Brien from Seasonal Pantry off Logan Circle.  Another cheftestant Jeffrey Jew is a D.C. native who has worked at Marvin and Blackbyrd.

 

Here's the full list of this season's contestants. The program is set in Seattle this season.

Jane did a great job on the school gardens piece. Every elementary school should have one! I've recently worked at a couple of farmers markets and have been very pleased to see parents bringing children with them to taste and choose fruits and vegetables. Getting the kids involved in food will get them to make better choices.

Yes she did. We'll pass that along.

Ahh, now I'm just a wee bit jealous.

Are these new? I love 'em and don't remember seeing them before this year. Is it true their local season ends in a week or two?

Not so new. According to honeycrisp.org, hybrid trees began producing them in 1995. Not sure about the local season, but apples do quite well in longterm cold storage.

yes, I've seen it

That sounds like it was translated from some other language. That's a whole other set of badges.

Not going to do well as a butter replacement in baked goods. Depending on why the reader wants to replace butter, coconut butter or grass-fed butter like Kerrygold would do better. But there are tons of baked goods recipes with nutbutters in them, mostly in the paleo realm. They just don't use it as a butter replacement.

During the fall I spend a lot of time at home watching football. I like to use that captive time at home to work on ambitious cooking projects. Are there any resources or books that you know of that would allow me to use this time to work on my basic cooking "building block" techniques? Such as a series of recipes to help me perfect braising, sauteeing, roasting, etc.? I am a fairly confident cook but would love to have a better foundation in the basics. Thanks!

does it matter what color the mustard seeds are? And in general, do the different colors have different flavors or degree of heat?

Kavita Chambery, who teaches the recipe in her class, says she has a preference for black mustard seeds. The yellow ones are stronger and more pungent; the black ones are milder.

Guacamole is by definition Aguacate in a mole, or mill. Pesto just means paste, so I reluctantly concede it can be made with other herbs (but I'm really disappointed by the trend of "pesto cream sauce" which is not only a contradiction in terms, but always turns out to be a heavy cream sauce with a little bit of basil in it.

Thanks for linking to the article about McDonald's posting its calorie counts. My brother and sister-in-law have opened several mid-priced restaurants in the Chamonix-Mt. Blanc region of France. While nobody has ever asked for nutritional information, my brother has related to me that some of their regular patrons did request that he and his wife develop some low-calorie versions of their usual menus. According to my brother, without fail, the same pattern happens when he does create a low-calorie version. It's immensely popular for a few weeks, and then everyone, including the patrons who initially requested it, stop ordering it and order off the usual menu. There's a lesson there, I think.

The lesson? Fat is delicious.

Love it! What nicknames do the rest of you have?

You really don't want to know what the staff calls me. We call Becky the Indispensible One.

We'd call her The Boss, but someone else has that nickname.

Which is worse, mashed lawyer or mashed gas molecules (see Avogadro constant)

I'm preparing to host a Presidential debate watch party for a group. I need some suggestions on what to serve that would compliment the occasion. Obama favorite foods? Romney favorite foods? Foods from their home states? Obviously no alcohol. (I don't want to referee any fights. :) Any drink suggestions or decorating suggestions are welcomed too. Thanks!

If you wanted to be cheeky, you could serve some sort of arugula dish for Obama. Something Hawaiian would be good -- maybe this Kalua Turkey? For Romney, I'm struggling with Michigan foods, but you could fudge it and do some Massachusetts-type eats: New England Fish Chowder, Boston Cream pie, etc.

Other thoughts?

Hi: Every morning I walk between Farragut Park and McPherson Park. Farragut is usually ringed with lots of food trucks (anywhere from 6-12) but there are none at McPherson. Does anyone know why? There is parking at both so I don't think that's the problem. Even on Thursdays (when the Farmers Market is nearby) you don't see any trucks except for ones in the market. There are lots of office buildings near McPherson with lots of hungry workers who would love to see other lunch options. Also a comment to the poster last week who criticized those of us who eat at our desks instead of going out to lunch: I would love to eat lunch out every day. But if I take 30-60 minutes for lunch then that's 30-60 minutes I have to make up elsewhere during my workday. I do go out to lunch on occasion and I love when I can but it's not something most of us can or want do on a regular basis. Going out to lunch is a priority/option to some but, like most things, is not for all. Thanks for taking my question.

Che Ruddell-Tabisola, executive director of the DC Food Trucks Association, says that McPherson Square is smaller than Franklin and Farragut squares and offers fewer parking spaces than those other two.

 

With that said, however, Ruddell-Tabisola says that some trucks have worked McPherson in the past and would be happy to do so in the future. Just make a request to your favorite truck on Twitter, he suggests.

THANK YOU to the chatter who wrote in with the "au jus" pet peeve. Menus that claim to be serving something "with au jus" make me twitch. (Visibly. I've gotten comments.) My college dining hall used to serve pierohy with marinara sauce and peppers/onions. I can't tell you how many times I filled out comment cards about that.

Repeated phrases are my biggest pet peeve. Other offenders (not food related): PIN Number and ATM Machine.

Not food-related = no badge.

Thanks, Jane, for all the cooking class recipes you included and also for the green cauliflower photo, I had assumed from the name that the dish was made with a special, and expensive, green cauliflower!

I know what you mean! That's what I thought, too, until I read the recipe. Not that there's anything wrong with that green cauliflower, but I happen to like the white kind just fine.

There is absolutely whole fat plain and flavored yogurt at whole foods in 6 oz containers

Somehow I must be missing it. But I swear I stand in front of the yogurt display and read every little container.....

I made a buckle from the Chew website. It was a little dry but a big dollop of cinnamon whipped cream has a way of making everything taste better. Two questions, do you know why a buckle is called a buckle? Where they name came from. It was cooked in a cast iron skillet. Second, I thought you made whipped cream with powdered sugar, but I recently made it with granulated sugar and it turned out fine. It there a right way to do it?

I think "buckle" refers to the look of the surface, once the batter puffs up around the fruit?

 

Re whipped cream: Confectioner's sugar dissolves better, but superfine granulated sugar can work. And maybe, depending on how long you whip (by hand vs machine), reg granulated sugar has a chance to dissolve as well. You don't notice any texture difference?

Funny thing about "adobo" is that just that word typed into a Google search brings up... you guessed it... "adobo sauce" as the first two entries!

Ding ding ding!

If you are going with home states, consider making two different desserts. Pineapple Upside Down cupcakes and anything with cherries would recognize Hawaii and Michigan, respectively.

Too bad Sarah Palin isn't running, I'd suggest crackers with a brie-to-nowhere.

I overshot on the number of dishes I'd be able to complete for a recent party, and as a result, have a couple of pounds of dates stuffed with cheese. To finish and serve I will need to wrap with bacon, skewer with a toothpick, and bake. At what point in the process would you freeze these? I'm leaning toward just the stuffed-with-cheese stage because they'll take up more freezer room once the toothpicks are in, but am curious to hear what you think. The cheese is raclette, if it matters.

You could freeze with uncooked bacon wrapped around them. Nice choice on the cheese.

Do you know where I can find a fruit flavored/infused olive oil for baking that's not too expensive as I would only use it occasionally.

We're having a difference of opinion about this, and our time grows short. Can you check back next week?

I see online a local farmers market is offering 3 kinds of garlic and I don't know the difference except I think "elephant garlic" is bigger and milder. Can you help? SWAMP FOX, ORGANIC SOFTNECK GARLIC, ORGANIC ELEPHANT GARLIC ORGANIC HELLERS STIFFNECK GARLIC

Elephant garlic, interestingly enough, is not a true garlic, but a leek. Here's a good explainer on garlic types.

I was the poster who shared my story about the frozen yogurt place last week. To the person who was offended, sorry. My remark was made with a bit of a wink. I don't think the worker was offended at all. If I had wanted to make a big fuss, I would have asked for the manager, but it's not that serious of an issue. Oh, and I'm a "he," not a "she."

Did I once see a recipe for super easy pulled pork/carnitas here? I seem to remember it was just pork, salt, and pepper. And maybe water?

Well, this one's super easy, done in a pressure cooker.

We had a laugh at my table when the server brought a small container of something and told us it was the "au jus" to go with the prime rib. Our thoughts were that it was just the 'jus' since 'au' means 'with.'

Boloney (also spelled bologna) ... Pork-barrel pate ... apple pie ... a Mad Hatter Tea-party ... I'm just getting started here ...

I meant to pick up a tub of cottage cheese at the warehouse store and accidentally picked up a similar looking tub of sour cream. Any thoughts on storage or dishes for a party that would use a LOT of sour cream?

Dips, of course. Also, sour cream makes great coffee cake and kugel. You can use it in some cheesecake recipes, and in Stroganoff sauce. Make borscht. Use as part of the toppings selection for fajitas and tacos or in one of those "Mexican" layered salads with guacamole, black beans, etc. Go wild!

I know I'm about a decade late on this, but I've been watching the sopranos and fascinated by the Italian food that I haven't tried. Two things came up: what is the story on baked ziti, is it really better than spaghetti and sauce? Two, when Tony's in Italy in the second season, they're eating some black noodles, what is that?

The pasta was probably squid ink pasta. As for ziti, it's just a matter of personal preference. What appeals to lots of people is that baked ziti is usually nice and cheesy-gooey. Of course, you can dump a lot of cheese on spaghetti, too.

Thanks to Jim and chef Andrew and to you, clever chatters, for joining us today!

Cookbook winners: The first chatter who earned a badge for Redundant Terminology (Semantics) wins "The Chew" cookbook; the chatter who said he or she's a wee bit jealous wins "Weelicious." Send your mailing info to krystalr@washpost.com and the Indispensible One will get them right out to you. Till next week, happy cooking and eating!

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie Benwick is interim editor of the Food section; joining us today are interim recipe editor Jane Touzalin, staff writer Tim Carman, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Spirits columnist Jason Wilson and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin. Guest: Andrew Evans, chef-owner of the BBQ Joint in Easton, Md.
Recent Chats
  • Next: