Free Range on Food

Jun 08, 2011

Free Range on Food is a forum for discussion of all things culinary.

Past Free Range on Food chats

Greetings, all, and welcome to Free Range, the chat that brings you lessons from the grocery store cooking coaches (a la Bonnie's story today), a glimpse into Nate Anda's new hot dog cart (Tim's story), and tips on cooking for one (my attempt to get my celery on).

What's on your mind, in your fridge, freezer and pantry, and what are you going to do with it? We're here to help.

Ask away, ad we'll do our best to give you some direction. And we'll have giveaway books to our favorite chatters: A signed copy of my "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One," and for something COMPLETELY at the other end of the spectrum, there's "Just Married & Cooking" by Brooke Parkhurst and James Briscione.

Let's do this!

German Gourmet on Columbia Pike in Arlington has terrific freshly made brats and wursts! They carry many different types of weiss wurst. They also carry the small, thin Nurnberg sausages and a really long one that is rolled in a circle like a pinwheel and held together with a skewer (the name escapes me). They also carry unusual brats and wursts in their freezer section. I have recently seen pheasant, rabbit and wild boar. These are all great on the grill!

Yes, Jamie Stachowski creates some fresh-made sausages too, including brats and andouille and his version of the D.C. signature snack, the half-smoke. He sells at farmers markets around the area.

The thing about Nathan Anda's links, though, is that they're all, technically, hot dogs. They're emulsified franks, and they're worth the extra money you'll pay for them.

And don't forget Simply Sausage!

Thank you so much for the celery soup recipe! I will definitely try it. I wanted to tell you that I have a feed-keeper that is great for celery storage. It is a tupperware product that I have had for a decade. The bottom of the container is zig zagged so that I can throw in a handful of ice that sits in the bottom. After I wash the celery, I place it in the container and it sits above the ice. Even the leaves stay fresh for over two weeks. I just love having fresh celery for salad anytime!

You're welcome -- but don't hesitate to try the others, too. I love the mahimahi with braised celery I adapted from Lidia Bastianich, but I have to say, of the three my favorite is the shaved celery with sardines on blue cheese toast, which rocks. (You could leave off the sardines if you want something lighter/veggie, or for a fantastic dinner-party app.)

On the storage idea, that rings a bell! It's also true that if you wrap it in foil, it stays fresh longer, and you can recrisp it by cutting and standing the cut end in some water.

Grow cutting celery. The stalks are thinner than the celery you get in the store, but you can cut a couple off the plant as needed to use in many recipes. The plant is much like parsley. Just needs full sun and a regular amount of water.

Yep! Always helps to grow your own. I should get some into my little community garden plot while I still can! (I'm a big proponent of growing herbs even in little pots on your windowsill, cause so much easier than dealing with those clamshell packs...)

My wife and I love Eastern Market and have found it is a nice weekend excursion to get out of the house with our newborn son. Are there other Farmer's Markets that are good for walking around for produce, food, crafts, art, etc.? Many of the others seem to be smaller quick stops, which are great for produce but not so much for an afternoon outing. Thanks for any recommendations.

I think you can find some decent produce at the Eastern Market stands, but you have to ask a lot of questions. A number of the vendors are not farmers, but just reselling produce from wholesalers. It's sometimes not much different than you'll find in grocery stores.

The Dupont FreshFarm Market is the granddaddy of all farmers markets, and it's very family friendly. There are often performers, and there's always chocolate milk and gelato for the young ones. And the produce and breads? The best in town.

Maybe Dave has ideas if you folks don't. Serving an outdoor dinner for about 30. Mains are barbecued brisket with a horseradish sauce on the side and pulled barbecued chicken with "regular" barbecue sauce. Want to keep wine cost down. Thinking D'arenberg Stump Jump Grenache-Shiraz blend and cold rose (likely Ch. Grande Cassagne or Santa Digna if I can find the latter). Thoughts? And what about a white for sipping and with food? Would be easiest if I could find a place in NW DC that would have all 3. Many thanks.

Dave sez:

I endorse your thoughts on all counts. The rose would also work for pre-dinner sipping, but there are plenty of nice whites available under $10. Look for sauvignon blanc from Touraine in the Loire Valley, or Rueda from Spain. Whites from Gascony (Cotes de Gascogne) are also cheap and fun.


For red alternatives, there's a nice Saumur that I did not include in my writeup from Wine Traditions, called Domaine du Pas St Martin "La Pierre Frite" that retails for about $10-$12. That should be available at Cork Market. Other good stores in NW to check for a wide variety - Ace Beverage, MacArthur, Paul's, Rodman's, Calvert-Woodley, Circle and Chevy Chase.

Looks excellent, Joe! surprised it looks so dark in the picture, though. Is that due to the veggie stock? I'm definitely going to try this recipe & maybe add a bunch of fresh Italian parsley towards the end of the cooking time.

The soup is delicious, really -- and olive-colored. Are you looking at it in the print edition, and is it darker than that? God bless newsprint photo reproduction. I think you absolutely could add some parsley, sure.

Even though I am signed up for it, among others that I am receiving, it is not coming in. I wrote to Post Points and they tell me I am receiving it. Any ideas who I might contact to straighten this out? Thank you.

Did you check to see if maybe it's going into your spam folder? It's the Post Points people who handle the list, and if they say you're on it, you're on it! But you're welcome to email our editorial aide, Tim Smith, at, and he will forward it to the proper authorities...

Make part of the meal ahead of time, and part made fresh. LIke baking 4 chicken breasts on Sunday night and I can reheat/repurpose them 3 more time. Tonight I'm taking a cooked breast out of the fridge and will zap it lightly and toss with stir-fried scallop squash from the farmers market. Do what I can ahead of time, the stuff that stores well, and do fresh the stuff that should be fresh. I also take my lunch to work from leftovers.

Yep, you've got the right idea. I tend to make big pots of beans and lots of grains when I have time -- oh, and condiments, of course -- and then use those to add flavor to quick weeknight things. And I roast big pans of vegetables then use in various things/ways.

How does its nutritional value stack up against the real thing?

Stacks up just the same. Grains guru Lorna Sass likes to use it, and I do too.

The tomato pie sounds really interesting--like a cool intersection of pie, pizza and lasagna. As I was reading the recipe though I had to pause when I got to the part about...mayonnaise. Really? That struck me as a very strange thing to spread on top. Why the mayo instead of something like shredded mozzarella and parmesan?

Two snaps up, this tomato pie, although I'd probably bake the crust first with a thin slather of mustard on bottom surface to keep sogginess to a minimum. The mayo creates a bit of a souffled effect, and it's surprisingly light.

First, I love the Cooking for One series and celery. I've never used the celery leaves before and was hoping you could give me some ideas on what to do with them. Also I purchased some clemetines and a few of them were picked premature and can't be eaten plain, is there anything that might salvage them or that they can be used in?

I use them right along with the rest of the stalk. Or, depending on what you're doing, you can save some and use as garnish. That'd be nice with the soup, wouldn't it?

So those clementines are too sour, is that what you mean? If that's the case, I'd probably cook them in a light sugar syrup, then eat them with yogurt or pound cake or the like.

I am having some coworkers over for cocktails before we head to our company party, and was looking for suggestions on what to serve. They love martinis and I recently introduced them to Hendricks, so I was thinking a Hendricks-based drink would be a great idea. Perhaps a flavored simple syrup? I like pairing cucumber with Hendricks, but am at a loss for other flavors that would really make the gin shine. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!

For Hendrick's specific cocktails, my favorite is a Negroni variation called the Unusual Negroni (shown below: Hendrick's, Lillet Blanc, and Aperol). If they like martinis, though, they probably want a drier gin cocktail. Perhaps you can get Cocchi Americano and make them a Vesper? I also think the Acacia, with gin, Bendictine and kirsch, appeals to martini drinkers.

I'm planning to grill Chorizo and serve it in hot dog buns at a picnic. I've read that I should use the soft, Mexican variety because the Spanish Chorizo is already cooked (smoked). I also read that I should remove the casing before grilling. Is there anything else I should do to the Chorizo? Is there some type of condiment I should use with it? Thanks.

You are correct about the Mexican vs. Spanish chorizo. The key, I've learned, is not to overgrill your sausages. I'd keep them on the grill no longer than 10-15 minutes. Otherwise, they develop hard little bits within the casing. (Incidentally, I'd keep those casings on!)

Chimichirri is a good condiment for a spicy chorizo. So is, surprisingly, a good crumbly goat cheese. Roasted onions and peppers always work too. Good luck!

One of my favorite cooks, Pati Jinich, also has lots of good ideas on how to prepare chorizo.

loved the article on of my favorite drinks! brings back amazing memories of stopping at an old castle in spain somewhere on the drive between valencia and madrid, and sitting at a long communal table. the waitress came by and plonked down two bottles of sidra, and a whole roasted chicken. that's all they served at that place. best meal i have ever had!!!!!!

Wow, that sounds amazing! Cider has been a favorite drink of mine, too, but the Spanish, particularly in Asturias, take it to whole new level. Sidra pairs so well with so many different types of food.

Good morning. Posting early since I live in Northern California and its hard to break away from work at 9am for the live chat. I picked up a bunch of watercress at the farmer's market but have no idea what to do with it. Searches keep turning up soup and as a sandwich filler but I am hoping for something a little different. Would it work well in a frittata? Thanks in advance and sorry about your heat. I'll actually be in DC for three days for a conference beginning on Sunday so I am hoping it cools down a bit.

You can treat it like spinach, really: it wilts nicely in soups, eggy things, stir-fries. Use it to make a pesto or a salsa.

My favorite option for using up lots of celery is a winter salad. I think the recipe was in Food & Wine? You cut the celery in thin diagonal slices, dress with walnut oil and sherry vinegar, and add dates, walnuts, and shavings of Pecorino cheese. You can mix with arugula if an all-celery salad doesn't appeal, but it's very nicely balanced as is. Crunchy and fresh.

Yum. Not too different from my take with the toast, where I start by making a salad with thinly sliced celery and a garlicky lemon vinaigrette. I also neglected to mention that for my sister's wedding a decade ago, I made a celery-olive salad that was pretty fab. Just thinly sliced celery, olive oil, vinegar, and oil-cured olives.

my husband HATES celery.....i mean, he absolutely LOATHES it. he won't eat anything that has it in it....even in chicken soup or egg salad. that being said, i love it and wish i could get him to eat it. do any of the recipes actually TASTE like celery? i'm thinking the soup may have a strong celery flavor, but does it mellow out in something like the braised celery and mahi mahi? maybe i can pass them off as leeks?

Hmm. They all do taste of celery! Actually, if anything, interestingly, the soup probably tastes the mildest, because, well, it's watered down, and that apple and blue cheese are powerfully flavored on their own. Plus, since it's pureed you could indeed possibly pass it off as leeks. With the braised celery, I find the taste wonderfully earthy, but since the pieces are big (and they're good that way), he'd have to be blind to not know what it is...

What is "weekly food tip"? (Recipes, discounts, or --?)

Sometimes it's a kitchen technique, sometimes it's a recipe, sometimes it's a head's-up about a new cookbook.  Sign up for PostPoints and you'll receive the tip via email free each Wednesdays. Most often they are composed by yours truly.

I follow some twitter feed from the food section and noticed the link to the article about cider. Super interested because cider has become one of my go to drinks since going gluten-free and needing a break from white wine, I went to the Post website to find the article. Where was it? I couldn't find it. So I found it from the twitter link. But then I decided to explore the food section more and then realized that there were whole sections of food section I was missing, because I didn't realize I didn't need to click through on the tiny blue dots to scroll through the various stories apart from the three highlighted stories above. Perhaps you need to make these other smaller stories more visible. On to the cider question, are these ciders bottled like wine? or do they come in a six-pack like Woodchuck cider. And they are really low in calories because it seems like Woodchuck is pretty high in calories? What makes the difference? Lastly, any internet resources for these types of ciders? I'm not in DC and have never seen any other types of ciders here other than Woodchuck. But then again maybe I wouldn't if I need to be looking in the wine section.

Sorry you had such a difficult time finding my article...they tried to hide it behind those blue dots!!

As for the ciders, the ones I discuss are mostly bottled like wine, in 750 ml bottles. The ciders I discuss are very different than many American ciders, because they're using traditional cider apples -- many varieties are bitter or bittersweet and not ones that you'd eat out of hand.

As for online sources, K&L Wines has the Spanish cider, as well La Tienda (in Williamsburg, VA) and The Spanish Table. The French ones you can find at any number of online wine/spirits sites.

Okay, probably the silliest question you've ever gotten, but I can't help wondering -- Do most people throw away the sheet of white plastic sealant that seals the mouth of large containers of dairy (yogurt, sour cream, butter/oleo) and some cardboard canisters e.g. raisins? I mean the secondary seal, not the outer plastic lid. Even though it never really seals again, I tend to keep it attached by one corner and to close it back over the mouth of the package before replacing the outer lid. But it finally occurred to me that might be a useless thing to do.

Can't speak for most people, but I toss them. Seems like it has more to do with being a safety/package seal than any kind of freshness issue once you've opened the container. I can't tell you how many times I've jabbed my spoon into the ones on top of yogurt...feels a little like those birds that smack into very clean windows.

I loved the recipe for celery soup and look forward to trying it. However I married a very meat-and-potatoes type of guy who will want something heartier than just soup. Do you have any recommendations for something I can serve as a main with the soup as a side?

How about ... meat and potatoes? ;-)

OK, seriously, I'd think about  a sandwich: chicken salad comes to mind for some reason. (Maybe it's the celery connection!) Is that meaty enough for him? And fries or chips!

The fabulous folks at Virginia Vintage Apples make some nice dry ciders from apples they grow at their cidery (??) just south of Charlottesville. I make a point of trying to time my drives through Charlottesville in time to stop at their tasting room. P.S. Joe - thanks for the celery tips, wish I had this last week (like before my giant bunch of celery went bad).

I've not had these ciders. It looks like they use about 18 different varieties of apples and I'd be very much interested in tasting them.

And glad you like the celery tips. Gotta buy a bunch now, don't you?

The new food plate has a separate dairy category, and I think that's a good idea. But what are the potion sizes. Are the one's on the labels still relevant? Your thoughts...

Some don't agree about the dairy addition to the MyPlate graphic. They think the Obama administration caved to the dairy industry.

The brilliance of MyPlate, or so says Marion Nestle, is that the government is no longer telling you exactly what to eat or in what proportions. Which is only partly correct. The official MyPlate site has a menu planner based on your age, weight and amount of physical activity. It offers menu ideas, which include portion sizes.

Personally, I think MyPlate is well-conceived and well-intentioned. I just don't think Americans are ready yet to give up their Popeyes and McDonald's.

Do you have a good recipe for carrot souffle or another recipe that uses lots of carrots? I have a huge bag of them and they are not going to last. I don't want to toss them in the composter or give them to the hens if I can make good use of them. Thank you!

Shoot, I have a carrot pudding that I make for Passover every year, but recipe's not fully in my head. I recently ran across a recipe that calls for grilling them with a little honey; sounds pretty good, right? Try this carrot-saffron pudding. This Italian-style carrot salad also delightful, and it'll hang around in the fridge for a while.

Hi Joe - love the chats and the entire section. Makes Wednesday my favorite day of the work week. What staple ingredients would you recommend those of us cooking for one always have on hand? I go thru things slowly since I only use a bit at a time (the celery conumdrum!) so what lasts and/or can be used in a lot of preperations?

Well, for the pantry I like to have dried beans, whole grains, pasta always on hand, because they last indefinitely. And sweet potatoes, garlic, onions.

In the fridge, eggs, of course, but also lots of pickles, salsas, sauces that last awhile. For produce, the longest-lasting might be the least interesting to you right now, as we head into summer: cabbage. Red peppers are versatile and can hang out for a week or so, in my experience, before starting to fade. Same with carrots.

I take a Sahlen's dog over Anda's anyday. Yes I have tried his. Was not impressed price independent. And its not even close when you take into account the price difference. Its a hot dog. i want mine on a decent roll with kraut and deli mustard. if I am having one out I want that is bad for me. The reason you make sausage is to use all the animal. Using only gourmet cuts defeats the purpose and kills the economics. gawd next food truck will be selling Italian sausage onion and pepper subs on a whole wheat organic roll, made with organic peppers and onions and a sausage that is from feritage pork. All for $19,99. Its about as stupid as making a frozen margaita or strawberry daq with top shelf premium brands and organic limes and strawberries. You really cant taste the difference.

I respectfully disagree. I think most folks could easily tell the difference between a classic, mystery-meat street dog and Nathan Anda's links. Incidentally, Anda's not exactly using gourmet cuts for his links. He uses, for instance, top round and other hindquarter parts for his beef dogs. He just uses naturally raised beef,  which he butchers in-house. These things make a considerable difference on the tongue. It may be fancy and it may not be for everyone, but to say you can't taste the difference is just wrong.

Last week a chatter said that the star shaped pasta in the Greek Shrimp with Feta recipe came out too mushy. I made it with DeCecco Farfalline - 95 pasta and it came out wonderful, and not mushy while still allowing the shrimp to be nestled into the pasta before baking. This was a delicious hit with the whole family, and a recipe that I will make again for sure.

Glad it worked for you! I have a feeling it might have been a slight overcooking issue. I'd put a shrimp recipe in the section every week if I could. All shrimp edition, Editor Joe?

Maybe a back-page graphic!

I love cider too, but have never had Sidra. Can you get it in DC? Do any restaurants serve it?

As I mentioned in my column, you can find Trabanco (both its basic black label and its high-end Poma Aurea) and a Basque cider called Sarasola (the Trabanco is available at Cork Market; both are served at Estadio). You can also find the brand Viuda de Angelon at Estadio and at La Tienda, a Spanish specialty shop in Williamsburg, VA.

Is it possible to make a vegetarian meal on the grill? I'm supposed to have the in-laws over for such, but can't imagine how to go about it.

You're in luck: During last summer's Grilling Issue, Tony Rosenfeld offered a nice primer on grilling vegetables, with several mouth-watering recipes.

Chinese watercress soup is a classic and there are lots of internet recipes

Good to know.

What a great idea. Are there places to get seedlings around here or will I need to start it from seed?

Thankfully, we have a gardener in the chat room, so I'm going to post his/her comment after yours and hopefully he/she will weigh in on sources!

Although I'm an experienced vegetable gardener, I've always found celery difficult to start from seed. However, a market-pack of 3 or 4 seedlings, which transplant easily, will keep a household well-supplied throughout the growing season on a cut-and-come-again basis.

Thanks! Since I'm NOT an experienced gardener, thanks for weighing in with this before I mess things up.

Old-fashioned Waldorf Salad! Does anyone still make that anymore? I loved it as a kid.


Hi gang, I have at least a dozen apricots I'd like to do something fun with. Any (ideally minimally fattening) ideas? No pork apricot glaze please. Thanks!!

Hmm. Your anti-fattening clause makes me think you'd be happy subbing them for figs in this grilled-packet recipe (adjusting saucy amounts as needed). So here's the plan, and hooboy is it a good day for them: Apricot-Elderflower Popsicles.

Joe, what is the texture of the soup? I'm thinking it must be kind of stringy.

Nope. It's pretty smooth. When celery is cooked like this, those strings break down, especially when blended. You could make it even silkier by passing it through a strainer, but I rarely take that step for myself.

That suggestion is perfect. I am itching to try this now!


Make authentic Azorean watercress soup (Sopa de Agriao)! Thoroughly wash, then chop a bunch of watercress (cut the stems especially fine), then set aside for later. Chop half an onion and a garlic clove or two, then saute them in a non-corrosive soup-pot in a bit of oil till translucent. Add 4 cups of water or stock and bring to a boil. While water is boiling, slice 4 medium potatoes into really thin (1/8") rounds, then add them and the chopped watercress stems to the boiling liquid. When the spuds are nearly done (doesn't take long, test with a fork), toss in the chopped watercress leaves, and cook a few minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in individual bowls over day-old crusty bread (French or Portuguese or Italian) torn in chunks. Serves 2 for main course, or 4 for first course. Yummmm!!!!

Where's this recipe from? And thank  you for sharing.

Does fish sauce go bad if not refrigerated? How long can it last?

It will survive a nuclear attack, I think. Fish sauce and roaches.

and don't forget Lothar ,the German Sausage Maker, who is at the Purceville farmer's market!! he's amazing!

Duly noted. Thanks!

Gajrela is an Indian carrot-based dessert that's a terrific way to use excess carrots. The ingredients are carrots, milk, sugar, raisins, and almonds. I like to use a bit of cardamon and saffron as well.

So, what gives? For some reason last week (during the Hax chat), I started seeing complaints that the chats are no longer auto-loading new responses. We now have keep hitting "refresh" to see the new responses. It's like going back to the old chat format, but with the inconveniences of the new format. The auto-refresh was one of the best parts of this new chat format.

Hmm. Passing this along to our tech people. I just tried it, and it does look like the auto-refresh isn't doing so well. Bummer indeed. It could just be that the site is slow today, but I'll pass this along and let you know. I agree that the need to refresh was the worst thing about the old system, so I hope this is just a temporary glitch.

At the risk of wading into Hax territory here, if your spouse truly loathes a food, isn't it more respectful not to try to trick him into eating it? If my husband tried to trick me into eating something I find gag-inducing (cilantro, e.g.), first of all, I'd notice the flavor no matter how much he tried to disguise it. And then I'd be furious and him.

I wondered if somebody would say this -- and they did! Fair point...

I love salsa, but find I don't use it before it goes bad. I don't like having chips in the house (because I'll eat an entire bag too quickly), so any yummy suggestions for using it? Thanks.

Serious Eats, one of my favorite blogs/Web sites, offered 30 different ideas on what to do with leftover salsa. Some of them were simultaneously fascinating and horrifying, like the idea of mixing commercial salsa with bechamel and tossing it with pasta. But still, there are some good ideas here.

When the person said Virginia Vintage Apples make nice dry ciders, do they mean dry as in "alcohol free" or do they mean dry in the wine sense, as in not sweet?

They mean dry as in not sweet. Too many American ciders use only sweeter varieties of apples, unlike their European counterparts. That's not always the case, though. Farnum Hill in New Hampshire, for instance, makes lovely dry cider with traditional cider apples.

I now can expand my repoitoire for celery beyond ants on log and as an input to tuna salad. Maybe dinner tonight can consist of celery-oriented stuff, served with Virginia cider. If you guys could come up with a recipe for popsicles (which I know I'll need by the time I get home), I could make it an entirely WaPo-inspired supper!

We got your popsicles!

I'm grilling "Kebabs With Black Olive and Lemon Relish" ,which I found in the Post's Recipe Finder, for eight guests this weekend. I'm struggling to think of a good vegetable side dish. The recipe suggests ratatouille, but I really don't want to spend that much time cooking a side dish after guests have arrived. Can you think of a vegetable side dish that requires little time to cook or can be mostly prepared ahead of time and pairs well with the kababs. I'd like to avoid using the grill, since the kababs will taking most of the room on the grill. Thanks.

Don't know why, but something with fresh zucchini popped in my head. So how about this healthful salad? Or this one, which has orzo and herbs and manouri cheese as well. Oh my.

For me anyway, I use chrome...

None of them? None of the stories we've linked to from the answers? Hmm. That would seem to be you, not us, cause they're working for me, but maybe there's a Chrome glitch. Wow. Well, I'll pass that along, too.

The commenter asked about portion sizes and label information. Thoughts: If you are gaining too much weight, reduce your portion sizes, if you are losing too much weight, increase your portion sizes. The labels do not include variations for people trying to gain or lose weight. So you have to do the work for them and make your own decision based on your unique needs.

It does seem easy when you say it like that. Of course, as I'm sure you know, it's more complicated than that. Genetics, high caloric foods, environment, stress...all these things and many other factors can influence weight gain.

original poster here. he doesn't truly hate it, he thinks he does! he has an aversion for some strange reason....and in all honesty, i don't think he even remembers eating it other than raw off of a veggie tray somewhere. i am a strong believer in getting people to get over their preconceived notions about food, and try it in a different way. if he still doesn't like it...fine. but if he eats it and enjoys it (without knowing beforehand what it is and forming opinions), then we will both know that this particular issue is more in his mind than in his tastebuds :):)

Gotcha. I think it's worth a try.

Having the same problem with Firefox. Very sad, as I want to click and click and click!

Got it. Reporting.

I find I can't click on your links today (they are blue but not clickable) ... using Firefox 3.0.5 if your tech people are interested. Anyway, so I don't know if this suggestion for salsa is on the 30-ideas list or not, but one thing I've done that's delicious is put a couple of chicken breasts in the slow cooker, cover them with salsa and a little lime juice, and cook on high for 2-3 hours. They turn out surprisingly delicious! I sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top and let it melt before I serve it, too.

Can you (and anybody else who had link or other tech problems with the chat today) send an email with more description to The tech folks are telling me that's the best way for them to diagnose.

It's that time of year when zucchini and yellow squash are cheap and everywhere at the farmer's market. We usually incorporate them into our menu as a side, either sauted, grilled, or roasted but I'm looking for possible main course suggestions. Preferable something on the lower calorie side and without honey or nuts because a 10 month old will also be eating this.

i loved the article today on nathan anda's hot dogs. i love the idea of creative meats/toppings/breads for the ubiquitous hot dogs at summer bbqs. in fact, the food network magazine had some great suggestions! my question is, do you know of any vegetarian options for hot dogs that don't involved a highly processed tofu dog? i was thinking grilled paneer topped with mango/jalapeno/onion/cilantro salsa...but any other suggestions?

Thank you. That's a tough question, and I don't have a good answer. I like the sound of your grilled paneer, although I have to admit, it doesn't sound much like a hot dog substitute, but more of a good summer cheese dish.

Any else got some ideas for vegetarian hot dogs?

For the chatter who asked about FMs with a variety of items, s/he should try the Riverdale Park FM, which is, duh, in Riverdale Park, MD. They are open 3-7pm on Thursdays. It is a fairly small one, but has a big variety. Pickles, baked goods, locally grown veggies and fruits, veggie plants, meats, sausages, fresh cut flowers, ice cream, fresh mini-donuts (watch them being made!), pottery, jewelry. Last Thursday they had a musician playing guitar tunes.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Make a big batch of carrot-ginger soup and freeze in individual portions. Great quick reheatable lunch, and if you don't get around to eating it until the weather gets colder, no big deal -- it'll keep.

A friend in Provence makes something similar, but instead of pie crust she rolls out puff pastry for the bottom instead. Turns out almost like a pizza!

The coolest thing about MyPlate graphic I think is that it subliminally suggests that dairy should be milk or yogurt (round serving dishes) instead of melted cheese. There is no ton of melted cheese on the plate.

This is my favorite soup all year round. Recipe comes from Ruth Lively of Fine Cooking. To save time I don't slice carrots in circle, but half them from top to bottom, I like this soup so much I use 3/4 baking sheet to roast carrots. You can adjust ginger to your taste. this soup is good hot or cold. Enjoy!

Yum, that sounds delicious, although it doesn't really solve your problem. Sure you don't have any leftover celery afterwards, but you've used the whole bunch. How will you make the other yummy dishes? I love celery, even just plain, so I'll be trying this. How do you think fresh thyme would work in there? The home depot special I planted a few years ago now covers several square feet of garden area!

That's a consequence I will live with. (And said as much in the kicker to my piece -- now I look forward to buying it!)

For the poster who cooks for one and goes through things slowly, my trick is to have lots of frozen veggie options on hand for emergencies. If I have frozen peas, I can always get a little bit of green on my plate, and they fit just about any flavor profile. I keep the fake meats (Quorn and Boca type stuff) on hand for the same reason. If I haven't planned fully, then at least I have an option besides cereal or takeout.


The Azorean Watercress Soup recipe is a family heirloom. My great-grandparents immigrated to the US from the western-most island of Flores when my grandparents were little, and always made the soup as a special treat. Of course, I suspect that back on the island, where watercress grows wild along stream riffles, they made it because it was a good way to use (free) foraged watercress with minimal quantities of onion, garlic and potatoes from their garden plus (free) water, and to use up stale bread. Ironically, for most Americans watercress is a luxury item!

- is quite excellent! I'm in Charlottesville and they had a tasting at a local beer supplier, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them, considering I'm not much of a cider drinker. Also, Bonnie, thank you so much for the Whole Foods cooking coach article today; our new WF just opened here yesterday and I'm curious to find out if it will have a coach. (We're lucky enough to have a bar in it as it is!)

You're welcome. It does have a cooking coach. I think chef Kiss helped train him.

Well, I'll have to check them out!

Do you all have a link to a sushi tutorial for a first timer? I'd like to make it for my anniversary. Thanks!

If you've never made sushi before, you might want to test out your skills during a less momentous occasion. It takes sushi masters years to hone their craft. It's one of those cuisines that looks simple, but isn't. Read through this thread on ChefTalk for some guidance on the art of sushi making.

This weekend I planned to cook a pork tenderloin. I put it in a pyrex baking dish, which I had sprayed Pam on and then pour some sauce over it. I put it in the oven at 425. About 15 minutes into the cooking time I heard a horrible noise and when I put on the oven light I saw that the Pyrex had totally exploded into many little pieces! Have you ever heard of this happening? Did I do something wrong? I'm pretty sure I've baked tenderloins like that in the past. Any advice for the future to avoid something like that? Cleaning up all those bits of glass was not fun.

Seems that Dr. Google gets lots of returns when you search on "exploding Pyrex." Something to do with a different manufacturing formula? I've taken to cooking my casseroles on a baking sheet -- not to guard against shattering glass, per se, but maybe in future it'd make cleanup easier.

My dad's recently gotten into more unusual liquors / liqueurs and I'm looking for suggestions on something that might make a good gift for Father's day. He tends to use them in cocktails, and recent interests include chartreuse, St. Germain, and pear port / pear liqueur. I was intrigued by the article about Root a few weeks back, but was wondering if you had any other suggestions as well.

Root would be great, especially if he likes rye whiskey or apple brandy, which mixed well with it. Is he interested in Italian amaro? Or perhaps a nice kirschwasser or Creme de Cassis? Make sure the latter is from Burgundy. Feel free to email me for more suggestions since we're out of time...

EXCEPT they are too salty (for taste and health). HEy Nathan's: how 'bout a low sodium dog?

for cheap DRY rose?

Dave Mc did a column recently on this very subject, with a list of recommendations.

I [heart] the Washington Post food section.

Aw, shucks.

Does anyone know where in the area (Annandale) I could find this traditional Korean summer dish of ginseng and rice stuffed chicken?

I understand that you can get it at Gamasot in Springfield, Va.

Well, you've refrigerated us until cold, then stirred in yogurt and seasoned us with salt and pepepr to taste, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, all -- hope you got something out of our a's.

And now for the prize winners. The chatter who asked about staples to have on hand as a single cook will get a signed copy of my "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One." And the woman who is considering disguising celery to see if her husband REALLY doesn't like it will get "Just Married & Cooking." Send your mailing info to Tim Smith at, and we'll get you your books.

Thanks -- and until next week, happy cooking, eating and reading.

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