Free Range on Food: No-cook recipes to beat the heat.

Jul 19, 2017

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

Greetings, and welcome to today's chat! Hope you're staying cool, if you're somewhere hot like here in D.C.  And hope you're enjoying our stuff this week, especially our raft of no-cook pieces, including Raquel Pelzel's menu for a busy professional who doesn't want to heat up the kitchen (hello, Avocado Crab Rolls!); Bonnie's challenge to chef Ryan Ratino to do the same (resulting in the nifty Strawberry Air Cakes); Visi Tilak's gorgeous collection of salads (yes, Mango, Grape and Celery!); my take on chia pudding without the slime; Bonnie's colorful and crunchy DinMin; and more.

We'll have giveaway books for our favorite chatters: "Citrus" by Catherine Phipps; and "Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood" by Wayne Coates. 

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR6607 . Remember, you'll record and enter it at the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

All right, let's get rolling!

I made a massive salad of corn and bell peppers (using red, orange, and yellow--so pretty!) for lunches last week but ended up unexpectedly eating out a bunch and left with a ton of leftovers. There was no way I could eat it all, so I threw it in a bag in the freezer. What can I use it for? It doesn't have any dressing or seasonings on it. I know that corn freezes well, but the peppers will probably come out mushy, right? Soup?

Yes, soup -- and more specifically, gazpacho! I'm not sure how one-single-mass it is, but I'm assuming that's the situation, so try breaking it up a bit with an ice pick (or reasonable facsimile thereof) and popping a bunch of it into a blender with some ripe tomatoes, then start tasting and seasoning with vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt/pepper, maybe smoked paprika, and see what you think!

My local grocers (all of the major chains) have nectarines and peaches in stock, and they're hard as baseballs. What's the best way to ripen them at home? Leave them out? Paper bags? Buy them canned and just forget about it?

Toss a banana or apple into the same paper bag, they say. Any chance you can get to a farmers market to buy your fruit? Food52 also recommends covering peaches with a breathable cotton dish towel  for a few days, making sure the fruit isn't touching each other. Chatters, what's your best method?

Use as the basis for corn-cheddar-beer chowder once the weather turns a bit cool. Mushiness due to freezing won't matter.

I would like to try an alternative to rice such as bulgur, couscous, millet, etc. I noticed many were used in this week's recipes. Are there any advantages/disadvantages to using one over the other? Do some work better in certain recipes?

Hi! You could definitely substitute any cooked grain for the cauliflower couscous (it's really just raw cauliflower pulsed in the food processor--so totally raw!). Bulgur and couscous are the quickest cooking--they take minutes to plump up. Other grains like millet or barley or farro require longer cooking I guess it depends on the time you'd like to spend in the kitchen.

I love both couscous and bulgur this time of year, for just this reason. In fact, you can cook them with water you've brought to a boil (in a tea kettle, if you'd like), so they're a great don't-heat-up-the-kitchen option. 

Don't cook these grains. Soak them.

RECIPE: Couscous With Beets, Greens and Garlic Yogurt

RECIPE: Bulgur, Vegetable and Watercress Salad

How much does it matter if eggs are packaged in cardboard, Styrofoam or plastic cartons? I took a dozen cartons to recycle at the Dupont Circle farmers market and farmers at two different stands told me they won't use plastic because it won't let the eggs "breathe." One of them wouldn't use Styrofoam either. And here I've been thinking that those plastic cartons that include an extra, inner egg crate-shaped top that fits over the individual shells were the best cartons -- not only because they do the most to protect eggs from breaking, but also because they come from cage-free, free-range, cruelty-free suppliers.

Interesting q. Might be some misinformation in the works.

Eggland's Best uses recycled polystyrene for its cartons, which are best for their long-range packing and storage needs. That material might insulate better, too.

Those cartons are not airtight, so the breathability argument of cardboard seems mute -- also, commercial eggs are washed/rinsed and sometimes subjected to pasteurization, 

whereas farm-fresh eggs may not be, the latter retaining their natural protective coating and making that breathability more of a concern.

(Not a paid endorsement, that's just the commercial brand I tend to use most.)



The clear plastic ones with that flap over for extra security do help eliminate breakage and are recyclable as well. Also, not airtight.


Paperboard/cardboard cartons used these days are not necessarily additive-free or easily compostable, but they are less expensive. I can see how they'd be the choice for local farmers who sell at farmers markets, etc.

I bought a half-dozen Kirby cucumbers to use in a recipe I'd seen, I thought in the Post, and now I can't find it. Do you have any recipe suggestions? Thanks in advance.

Toss those Kirbys in a brine! Here's my Deli Pickle recipe. In three days, you'll be eating half sours.

Or make a cucumber salad! I love a simple one--thin slice the cukes and then sprinkle with a little rice vinegar, a pinch or two of salt and a few shakes of toasted sesame oil. So delicious and refreshing.

Regarding the article about Danny Meyer's award, I'm no famous person like the NYT editor who felt neglected when Mr. Meyer spent all energies to entertain Julia Child, so when that has happened to me, I was torn about how to let the restaurant know. I have seen many restaurateurs and Tom Sietsema also say to alert management or staff at the time, however, when all staff seems occupied with the visiting dignitary, that approach doesn't seem comfortable or possible. The chef/owner is obviously not aware at the time, and no one wants to make a scene. So, is an email after the fact the best approach? Directly to the chef/owner? Thoughts?

I would still speak up at the time. Ask to speak to the manager, and be clear about how you are being neglected, with specific examples. If the manager is too busy to speak to you at the time, then that's fodder for your after-the-fact email. A perfect example, even.

Danny Meyer wins the Julia Child Award

My favorite no-cook side is tabbouleh. Okay, so *technically* you need to boil water to soak the bulgur. But that's minor and if you use an electric kettle, it produces very little heat in the kitchen. It's vegetarian, but there's no reason you can't slide in some cooked chicken or soy for some protein to make it a one-dish meal. I won't tell. I just made some this morning!

Just so! The point is not to heat up your environment. 

Greetings from cool, rainy Iceland. Unlike the folks in the Mid-Atlantic, I've been making soups this week. Anyway, I have a question for Carrie (and anyone else who cares to weigh in). I've been experimenting with infusing simple syrups with herbs including mint, rosemary, etc. There is a lot of sweet woodruff (galium odoratum) growing in my area and I would like to use it. One recipe calls for infusing a honey solution and mixing with lemon juice. Any other ideas?

Classically, sweet woodruff is used to make May Wine, but it's the very early leaves that are used (and the small white flowers.) I'm not sure where your sweet woodruff is along the annual growing cycle, but you can read more about making May Wine here

I have some egg whites which have been in the fridge for about ten days. I found an ice cream recipe which calls for stiffly beaten egg whites to be folded into the base. Am I courting disaster? I really want to try this but I have had food poisoning before and the memory looms large. sez: 2 to 4 days in the fridge for raw egg whites. I'd pitch them. Next time, try the freezer (with a small pinch of either sugar or salt, depending on how you want to use them).

I recently made some pickled asparagus. I ran a bit short on brine so added some additional vinegar. I think it reduced the heat and my lids did not "pop". The recipe suggests minimum of 6-8 weeks before they are ready. Is it OK that my lids didn't seal? Will they be safe to eat? Please?

Oh no! Sadly I'd err on the side of safety with this one--if the lids didn't pop, that means they weren't properly sealed and any sort of food-borne bacteria could have potentially infiltrated your batch. I'd go to the Ball Canning website for more info. They're the true experts and can guide you well.

If your lids didn't seal, it's more likely the rim of the jar wasn't meticulously clean before placing the jars in the boiling water bath. Or there was siphoning. In either case, if you had, within 24 hours, replaced the lids and re-processed the jars, you would have shelf stable pickles. 

I'm assuming we're past the 24 hour period. Have the pickles been refrigerated? You can keep them in the refrigerator for about a month.

There is no chance of any sort of bacteria growing on the pickles - the brine will keep them healthy - but the additional vinegar may have changed the flavor. Refrigerate and try them in 2 weeks. See if you like them. And then eat them up in 2 weeks!

I'm a freelancer rn and nave been applying for full time jobs so this is really relevant for me! wondering what Raquel Pelzel thinks about using some frozen riced cauliflower, frozen grains, and other short cuts.

I've never used frozen riced cauliflower! I imagine it would just need to be defrosted--or toss with the other salad ingredients and let the cauli defrost at room temp with everything else...frozen par-cooked or fully cooked grains can be such a great tool, too!

My farmer's market has a mushroom vendor. I don't cook much with mushrooms. Could you recommend some recipes and some varieties to look for?

Oh, you're in for some fun! I love mushrooms so much I wrote an ode to them.

What varieties does the vendor carry? I am a regular customer of North Cove Mushrooms, which sells at the Dupont FreshFarm Market on Sundays. Oysters, shiitakes, lion's mane/puffballs, pioppino. I like them all, for various things. Oysters are a really good starting point if you haven't used those before -- and you can start by just roasting them! With a good glug of olive oil and a hefty dose of salt, at relatively high heat -- 450 or so. Then you can use them in salads, pasta dishes, grain bowls, soups.

Here are some recipe possibilities: Oysters could substitute anywhere you see button/crimini, btw.

The fun guy in me can't imagine a world without mushrooms

RECIPE: Mushroom Flatbreads

RECIPE: Chicken-Fried Cauliflower With Miso-Mushroom Gravy (for those shiitakes)

RECIPE: Mushroom Toast (calls for beech, but would be great with pioppino, or sliced shiitake caps)

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Herbed Mushroom Quiche (could use any!)

Wow, yeah. I mean, if it takes all the staff to be occupied with the visiting dignitary, the restaurant should just close for the event!

I am making two versions of cherry bounce - vodka and bourbon. The sugar has barely dissolved. I've stirred each jar a couple of times but it doesn't seem to help. Do I need to keep stirring the mixture over the next 40 days? Also, can I let the fruit "stew" for longer than 40 days. The jar for the vodka-cherry mixture looks like a lava lamp with the cherries floating in the booze.

Yum! Cherry bounce! The sugar will gather on the bottom of the jar - don't worry. You'll stir it again when you strain it. From time to time over the next 40 days, swirl the jar around. Try not to leave the fruit in the booze longer than 40 days -- it can get really bouncy - like jelly. I like the lava lamp image!

RECIPE: Cherry Bounce

Am I the only one who sprinkles chili powder on their toast? (Chipotle chili)

Almost assuredly not. Spices w/heat (in hot climates) are common elements in many cultures' cooking.  Does it help wake you up in the am?

      A fellow toasted (so to speak) chilehead! I like a little hot pimenton on my toast, but I mix it with some cinnamon sugar. 

I've been sprinkling it on melon. Now I'll grab a little extra for the toast.

I'm looking for ideas for pies that don't require the oven. And even further, maybe no crust either!

There's a world of icebox pies out there, and some of the very best ones are in our Recipe Finder. How bout Banana-Peanut  Butter S'mores Icebox Pie? Or the very fun and retro Cream Cheese Cool Whip Pie? Or Jenna's Devil's Food Chocolate Oasis Pie?

I fall in love with a superfoods salad from my grocery store. Alas I looked closely at the ingredients and it contains sulfates. I am trying to cut them out of my diet so I will probably need to make my own kale salad. Any easy recipes. I do have kale and blueberries hanging out in my garden.

There are so many great kale salad recipes in the world! No need to buy ready-made. What I like to do is massage kale with some olive oil (like 2 tablespoons for 1 bunch) and a few pinches of salt until the kale starts to wilt. Then add your acid (lemon juice, sherry vinegar, rice vinegar are all great) and any other salad add-ins you like. Sometimes I'll even buy cooked fixings from the salad bar and use them to make a great salad bowl for dinner! Then you don't have to turn on your oven to roast beets or squash, roast carrots, etc.

Not that 12 pickles would ever last a month in my house, why do you say they would only keep in the fridge that amount of time?

After a month, those fermented pickles can get a little limp. But I'm with you -- who has 12 pickles for more than a month?

Almost every recipe today had that one ingredient that either I cannot tolerate digestion-wise (green peppers, cukes) or my husband detests (fennel, celery) I can skip the offending ingredient, but does anyone know of a good source for a "if the recipe calls for cucumber try substituting xxx" list?

[insert editor making a sad face here]

The Food Substitutions Bible by David Joachim (in paperback) is a reference that's never far from my kitchen desk.

Occasionally that happens to even the most experienced canners. What we do is put the offending jar into the fridge and eat it first. Under refrigeration it should have a reasonably long life (a few weeks).

Rule of thumb (and the National Center for Home Food Preservation) says that jars that don't seal will keep for one month under refrigeration. Note that this is the time for boiling water bath preparations (pickles and jams, primarily) and not those foods preserved with a pressure canner. 

I'm really intrigued by this whole Fast Gourmet/Panino feud. I understand that it's darn near impossible to copyright or "own" a recipe, but what about a restaurant menu and concept? Panino seems to have copied Fast Gourmet in its entirety, down to the menu prices. Is there any legal issue when one restaurant folds if another swoops in and basically replicates the previous establishment? Or is it just tacky? (I'm not sure where I fall on this, except that I can't wait to go get myself a chivito.)

Our source said it's not a legal issue. (Although if the former restaurant had trademarked anything, that could be another story.) Keep in mind, too, that Fast Gourmet had closed for tax troubles.

Popular sandwich shop accuses its replacement of stealing recipes

OP here. I should have written "recycled polystyrene" instead of Styrofoam as I was referring to Egglands Best cartons. Come to think of it, no-one uses Styrofoam anymore for food, do they, at least in DC?

Prob not. But there are even different #'s of the polystyrene -- some recyclable, some not so much. 

I'm a big fan of chia seeds, having grown up in a Middle Eastern family where a syrupy drink with chia seeds was often offered to guests on hot days. I'm liking the chia puddings as an afternoon snack-and often add them to my morning smoothies- but what are some other ways I can use these delightful seeds?

Oh there are so many ways! I love adding chia seeds to muffin batter, homemade granola, and homemade power bars. They are so nutritious and healthy. I've also use chia combined with a few tablespoons of almond milk as an egg substitute when working on vegan recipes. You let the seeds sit in the liquid for a bit (like 20 min I think) and it creates a kind of sticky, gluey mass which adds richness and textures to egg-free batters. For using in granola and power bar recipes, or muffin batter, just sprinkle them in!

And, duh, you should make one or both of my puddings! They're fantastic. Because of berry season, of course, I've been making and eating tons of the Berry Cloud Chia Pudding.

Chia pudding has texture issues. Here's how to make it super smooth.

RECIPE: Berry Cloud Chia Pudding

I bought a rue plant last year which seems pretty happy at my house. I thought I was getting an edible herb but everything I read says that it causes stomach upset and tastes bad. Have you ever eaten it or cooked with it? Is it best left as an ornamental?

I'm not familiar with it, but I sure love reading some of the lore. (Ward off plagues!) According to this, anyway, the toxicity is when it's taken in big enough doses. And that today, it is indeed primarily an ornamental. Chatters, any intel?

I like making spring rolls with rice paper in the summer, it involves minimal cooking. But the rolls are never as tight as those at restaurants, so it gets messy. Any tips on how to properly make them?

Agreed! You want to start with a dampened rice paper wrap that is just at the tacky/a little bit absorbed stage rather than very wet, so wait a minute or two after you've soaked it. Then:


1. Don't overfill.

2. Center the filling in the bottom third, bringing up bottom edge up and tucking that in. 

3. Burrito-style, roll, then tuck in 1 end, roll then tuck in the other end. Roll to seal.


When you're back to cooking again, try using rice paper to make this Jacques Pepin pan-cooked fish. It's pretty and quite effective. 

I love chia. One of my favorite ways is to mix it with a tall glass of chocolate milk and a spoonful of peanut butter before I go out for a run and then enjoy it as a post-run recovery drink. I, for one, actually love the texture. It reminds me of bubble tea. I've only had chia in drinks and I'm curious about sprinkling it on salads, as the bag suggests. It doesn't have a pronounced flavor, so I assume it adds a crunchy texture. But if it has exposure to dressings, won't the slimy texture be off-putting?

They have to be immersed for the gelling to start to happen, so just sprinkling them on salads where there's some moisture won't do the trick. So go for it!

As for the texture, I agree that I don't mind it in a drink, but the puddings I had before I started trying to improve on them bothered me more...

Do you get any benefit from the Omega 3s in chia if the seeds are whole? I have heard that you get no benefit from what is there in flax seed if it isn't ground up. Actually, I'm not sure how much of anything you get from whole flax seeds (no, not telling you why I have my doubts) other than a feeling of virtue.

That's one of the ways in which fans say chia has flax beat -- you don't have to grind it to get the benefit. Plus, unlike flax, chia seeds keep just fine at room temperature. No refrigeration/freezing needed.

As a dairy positive, non gluten-free, non-vegan, I am dimly aware that chia seeds have value beyond sprouting on ceramic tchotchkes. So I don't have to do my own internet research, could you explain briefly what they are used for, and what value they might have in my kitchen?

They're used to add a boost of nutrition and texture -- either the crunch when raw or the viscous quality when they are immersed in a liquid. If you eat dairy, you could certainly use them to thicken a pudding that's based on milk and/or cream, and they'd do this without any application of heat, which is nice this time of year, of course. Besides essential omega-3 fatty acids, they are a great source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, calcium and more.

Love this stuff! So I bought a small jar of Asian sesame paste, not tahini, to try to replicate the restaurant taste. Do you suggest I use the same amount of water as for peanut butter or tahini? The label on the jar isn't in English except for ingredients so any instructions on it aren't available to me.


I do too -- I first made it while I was on vacation, and now it's a summertime staple for me. Apparently Asian sesame paste may yield diff results because the sesame seeds are toasted before they are ground; tahini's typically made with raw seeds, I think. Best to start with maybe half the amount of tahini called for, and taste/add as you go. 

The mushroom vendor at the Bethesda farmers' market had chanterelle mushrooms and Alice Waters has a great dish featuring them and corn in her veg cookbook. Just cut and saute the mushrooms in a little unsalted butter until just brown, add a bit of chopped garlic and minced parsley (and salt and pepper), scrape in some corn, add just enough water to cook the corn through, stir in a nut of butter at the end and voila! Really a great dish. When I make it, I keep the corn to mushroom ratio at no more than 2:1 and preferably lower although the price of mushrooms is a bit daunting.

Yes, love the chanterelles!

What's your favorite summer dinner party menu? Looking for some inspiration for this weekend, but I don't have a BBQ, so nothing grilled, please. Thanks!

Thank you Bonnie, the Joachim book is exactly what I need. I appreciate that you answer questions from basic skills to a very high level or cooking. You guys are the best!

We're always learning, just like you! 


As in, yesterday while I was multitasking in the Food Lab, I had a palm-size piece of pie dough left over and thought, hmm, what might happen if I just popped this in the microwave? One distracted minute later, I opened the door to James Bond-evasive-level smoke pouring out and a blackened hunk of matter. It took 2 hours for the room to clear completely. #funwithfood

When I use lemon peel or lemon zest (or lime or orange), I sometimes think about the cleanliness of the place where I bought them. I generally wash my apples with soap and water, but what do I do with citrus fruit? A quick rinse under the faucet? I figure that hot water would take away some of the oils that the peel/zest contains.

I don't know how much of the peel's natural oils can be rinsed away, but it seems like there must be some remaining, as we always rinse off citrus peel before we use it, and it still has enough oils for our purposes. We use cold water, not hot.

Looking for refreshing, cool mocktails with the thermometer pushing triple digits. Any good ideas/recipes?

I love mixing seltzer with a little simple syrup (1 part water to 1 part sugar--either shake in a mason jar until the sugar dissolves--or whisk!--or heat in a saucepan until dissolved--if you are heating, you can add lemon zest/basil leaves/rosemary/lavender/blueberries/celery seed...etc etc) and adding some frozen grapes/blueberries/watermelon....

I'm always looking for tricks for easy, healthy breakfasts that I can make and eat quickly. For the pudding, how long do they need to be in liquid? I tried overnight oats, but I kept forgetting to make it the night before. Also, if I don't eat them, how long would they last in the fridge? Could I make 5 on Sunday and eat them all week?

Here's the thing about chia: It sets up pretty quickly. Within 20 to 30 minutes, it gels if it's fully submerged (and you whisk it from time to time). I say with these that they need to be refrigerated for a couple of hours -- because you want them to be cold AND set.

These were no visiting dignitaries but a table of about 10 J.R. Ewing-family types years before the TV show at the now-defunct Majestic Steakhouse in downtown Dallas. To attract people downtown on a weeknight (I'm thinking it was Thursday) restaurants and stores held special deals and incentives. I was raised by a single mom on a limited budget so taking advantage of those incentives was a special treat for us. From the moment we were seated our young waitress barely paid us any attention while she fawned all over the loud, large group next to us whose table was so filled with plates and glasses it was obvious they had a lot of money to spend. My mom explained to me the waitress was working for a big tip and didn't think we were worth any effort. We were so curious about their tip that we watched closely when the "Ewings" got up to leave. Nothing was left on the table. The waitress was in the kitchen and as soon as she saw the empty table ran to it looking for her tip. When it wasn't there she ran to the cashier to see if it had been left on a card. Obviously it wasn't because she ran back to the table and accused the bus boy, who had just shown up, of taking her tip. It was clear by his started reaction that he hadn't. She continued to scour the table and when it became obvious she had been stiffed almost burst into tears. It was then she noticed my mom and me watching came over looking sheepish and filled our water glasses. It was the first time since quickly tossing our dinner plates on the table nearly an hour before that she paid us any attention. When she left, my mom said to me "I'm going to teach her lesson." She dug into her coin purse and counted out the largest tip she could afford, larger than she ordinarily would have given under the best of services, and placed it in the waitress's hand as we left. That brought the waitress even closer to tears and she could barely make out a thank you. This was in 1965 when I was 9-years-old and I've often wondered if that waitress from then on treated all customers better, regardless of what she thought their ability to tip would be.

What a story! Yes, it would be great to hear if that lesson was indeed received as intended, wouldn't it?

I just put them into the cabinet with our dishes, right on top of a plate or platter. It is dark in there, which helps them ripen. No bag to waste or wash, no clutter on the counter, and no chance I forget to check them or use them because I see them every time I pull out the plates or bowls.

You know what? This is a game-changer. Especially with two kittens who are getting into everything I leave on the counter, I'm going to try it!

Lemon-lime seltzer with a dollop of cranberry concentrate or tart cherry concentrate (both concentrates available at my local health food stores) -- very refreshing and not sweet.

reporting on ways to eat and beat the heat! Not all of us have access to a grill. Appreciate the ideas. I usually just default to stove top, but even skipping that has its appeal when the heat index gets this high.

    I write the Smoke Signals barbecue column and even I agree with you! Although summer is associated with grilling, my favorite season is fall, followed closely by spring. 

    That said, the other day we had folks over for dinner and I wanted to gently reheat some foods I prepared earlier. Rather than turn on the oven and warm up the kitchen, I stoked up the grill, put the food on it (along with a few new items that I like to have around the house, such as smoked jalapeno, smoked onion and grilled tomato, for adding to dishes through the week) and we had a pretty no-fuss,no-muss dinner party. No quite no-cook, but maybe the next-best thing. 

My friend Google reports that "rue was widely considered in Renaissance Europe both as a contraceptive and an abortifacient." And as Ophelia said in "Hamlet," "There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it 'herb of grace' o' Sundays.—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference..."

Ice cream-filled pies! Soften the ice cream, spoon and smear into the pie shell (you can buy pre-baked), top with a second "deck" of a different flavor of ice cream, freeze.

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!

Yeah, you've really got to wash your citrus peels. Once I actually thought about how they're usually handled and where they've been, I can't believe it had never occurred to me how gross they can get. And I always cringe when I get a lemon wedge dropped in my iced tea at a restaurant because I've been a bartender and know that they're usually not washed. But then, some germs out of our control are best not to think about. Like TV remotes in hotel rooms.

The chili powder wakes up the flavor of the toast. Lots of food seems low in flavor until I add chili. Or salt. Or garlic.

Great for a green gazpacho - I make one with cucumbers, green grapes, and a few handfuls of spinach, and another with cukes, tomatillos, cilantro, and a jalapeno. Gazpacho is my favorite no-cook recipe.

I stopped purchasing stone fruits from the grocery store. No trick I found ever go them to be soft for eating raw. The only recourse was to use those hard peaches in cooked recipes such as a peach cobbler or to flavor sangria.

I'm going on a large family vacation in a couple weeks, roughly 20 people from the same family. I'm trying to think of things that I can make in advance and bring to help fill the gaps. On the list so far is chocolate chip cookies, granola, muffins, nuts, and a quinoa salad and a chopped veggie salad. Any other recommendations? I don't want to spend the week in the kitchen, but I also don't want to completely rely on prepared foods and eating out.

(I'd freeze the cookie dough in logs and bake fresh there)

Dough for grilled pizzas

Corn tortillas for quesadillas, etc.

A couple of salsas (homemade; such good options)

DIY chili or spaghetti sauce

Freezer bags with chicken/marinade (frozen together; defrost overnight in the fridge)

Chop and freeze onions and peppers

Can any of Raquel's recipes be made the day before and stored for the following day? Also, if the food can be made a day ahead, how many days can it be stored in case I don't get to serve it?

Absolutely! The cauliflower couscous can totally be made ahead--it will last for about 2 days before it starts to get soggy. The lentils with hot smoked salmon will also keep well. The tomato-cannellini bean-snap pea salad will get juicier as it sits--my recommendation on that one is to mix everything but the tomatoes and cheese in, and add those ingredients just before serving.

I'm going to make adult slushies to sip by the pool this weekend. You guys get to pick what I make!

Have you ever made, or even had, a REAL pina colada? Life-changing. I swear.

RECIPE: Pina Colada

Oh, yum!! You could even skip the bread and the mashing and just scoop a crab-chives-citrus mix into an avocado half sprinkled with some salt and citrus. That's what I did right out of college when I wanted to make something impressive. But after reading your recipe, I want the roll, too, and I want it all right now.

Hello! A nice young couple just moved in on my block, and I was thinking of taking them a welcoming cake or pie. Thankfully, they put up a Vegan flag yesterday before I embarrassed myself! I do have a nice bottle of champagne (extra dry, of course) and was wondering if you have a good vegan cake or pie recipe that would be appropriate for a new neighbor? Or maybe I could put together some sort of fruit tart since it is so hot right now? Thank you for your help!

How bout vegan chocolate truffles? So easy, and customizable/flexible.

RECIPE: Vegan Chocolate Truffles

Well, you've whisked us until smooth, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's, and many thanks to Raquel, Jim and Cathy for helping with the a's.

Now for the giveaway books: The chatter who asked about chia and omega-3s will get "Chia." And the one who asked about washing off citrus oils will get, obvi, "Citrus." Send your mailing info to, and she'll get you your book!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Raquel Pelzel
Raquel Pelzel is the editorial director at cookbook publisher Clarkson Potter. Her book, “Sheet Pan Suppers: Meatless,” will be released in October.
Cathy Barrow
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