Free Range on Food (July 6): No-cook meals

Jul 06, 2011

Today's topics: Sandwiches, smoothies, cold soups and other meals you can make without turning on the oven. Plus, cooking for one, the Fancy Food Show, wine, spirits and more.

Past Free Range on Food chats

Welcome to Free Range, the chat that brings you a respite from the heat of the kitchen: Tony Rosenfeld's great sandwiches, my own smoothies and cold soups for one (or more), boozy punches, and more. We also had Tim's interesting take on the Fancy Food Show and how it affects a few local businesses, small and big.

For today's chat, we welcome guest chatter Tony Rosenfeld, whose latest book is "Sear, Sauce and Serve."

We'll have giveaway books for our favorite chatters today: "The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches" by Susan Russo; "The Punch Bowl" by Dan Searing; and "Snog Healthy Treats Cookbook."

Let's get this going!

I make a post-workout smoothie every morning that includes some variation on banana, soy milk, ground flax. Thanks Joe for opening my eyes to more savory/other meal smoothie ideas.

You're welcome! You should try that Green Gazpacho smoothie, definitely... (Or just start adding some spinach or kale or watercress to the one you like.)

I see recipes that call for either dark brown or light brown sugar. I always keep light brown sugar in my pantry but seldom keep dark brown. Does it really make a difference? Am I cutting flavor when I substitute light brown for the dark? I really enjoy this chat. Keep up the good work. Okie Mike

Basically, yep, it's about the flavor. The molasses taste in dark brown sugar is more pronounced -- altho in my very unscientific pantry tests, the dark brown also seems to have more moisture.

We like chatting with youse guys, too.

and now we have a ton of baby bok choy, 2.5 lbs of asparagus, 6 red bell peppers, and a bunch of creminis. Oh, and a couple pounds of mozzarella. For two people. Any ideas? I don't want it to go bad, but it's overwhelming!

As food surplus problems go, these all seem relatively workable. Here are a couple of ideas:

- Sesame Stir-Fry: Stir-fry the bok choy (halve it first), creminis (thinly sliced), and red peppers (thinly sliced) with some tofu or chicken, toss with some soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.  


- Vegetable Panini: Following up on the sandwich article today, you could grill the the peppers and asparagus and then sandwich with the mozzarella and some fresh basil on ciabatta; throw in a couple of pieces of prosciutto if you like or a shmear of basil pesto.


- Warm Pasta Salad: You could saute up any and all of those vegetables with some smashed garlic cloves and then toss with pasta (try penne or bow ties), balsamic vinegar, and good olive oil; add in any fresh herbs you might have kicking around the fridge.

I asked everyone for a cookbook to get with a gift card, noting that I liked making desserts. Bonnie (who liked that I called dessert my "area of interest" in my question) suggested purchasing "Ready for Dessert" by David Lebovitz. I ended up doing just that and made my first recipe from it for the 4th and it was awesome. Thanks for the great recommendation, Bonnie!

Excellent. Which one did you make?

Yesterday I bought a case of amazingly fresh and tasty mangoes, even though I needed only two. Now thanks to you I know what to do with the rest: Bonnie's Mango Gazpacho today and Joe's Cool & Spicy Mango Yogurt Soup after we try his Green Gazpacho tomorrow. I am not a sandwich person, but I will be making a turkey sandwich with home pickled (thank you NOT store bought) red onions and mashed and chopped cherries. Sounds so good, especially with sourdough bread. I have never been able to make as good Banh Mi as I can buy at the Vietnamese shop on RT 50 in Arlington, but I'll give Tony Rosenfeld's recipe a try, I've always had great success with his "Fine Cooking" recipes. The punch recipes hit the jackpot too, there is a party on our calendar later this summer. You have a very happy reader here, although I must admit that your first page photo (clever and artistic, don't want to offend or criticize the photographer in any way) gave me a pause this morning: so much space on page 1 to promote a "don't cook" message, is this FOOD's new mission statement?... I wondered. I had similar reaction to Tim Carmen's article that also dominated page 1, so much space for an article not about cooking, but about a food show most readers won't be able to attend and products they won't be able to buy. Why? Don't chefs and artisans have enough trade publications?

Glad you like the look of the recipes! Obviously, you answered your own question about the no-cook message, didn't you? Of course, we have features about restaurants and food trends and food politics, too, in addition to the cooking, so there's lots of food to go around, in many different ways... Happy cooking!

I remember that clever article ran last year on making ice cream in a bag, which the kids loved and resulted in way too much ice cream eating. I found the recipe from the article, but I'm looking for the actual article. I'm stumped on how to find it. Can you help? (Enjoy these chats very much).

Such nice chatters today! Makes up for the Washington swamp's that article, written by Gastronomer Andreas Viestad.

the email address is missing in the article. thanks!

Sorry about that -- a technical/coding problem, I'm afraid, but it's fixed now.

Send the recipes to

I love the idea of cold soups in the summer. Do you have some recommendations for soups other than gazpacho that we could make with seasonal ingredients that are available right now?

Hello, I bought some frozen whole ginger root from a Thai grocery store. How do I use the root after I have thawed it out. I have used ground turmeric in my rice, stews, soups, beans, etc. Can I just gut up the root and put it into my food as it cooks?

I'm confused -- your subject line is turmeric, but you say whole ginger root? I think you mean whole turmeric root? Clarify, and we'll get on it!

I was wondering if I could use the tuna oil from the can to make a garlic aoli to pour over my salad with my tuna fish. Quick and easy pre made salad and you become a star. Normally I pour the oil off but I thought can I make it like a mayo.

Yes you can. Speaking of repurposing, did you catch today's Chat Leftovers on our All We Can Eat blog? It's about things to do with leftover olive brine.

Tried to make sour cherry jam and totally messed it up- not enough liquid, perhaps? Can you share a good recipe? Just fridge jam, not canning (maybe when the baby is older, I'll learn...) Thanks!

We are kindred spirits -- I've got two-thirds of my sour cherries pitted, with jam on the agenda. (It's a three-night pitting process, because I'm doing it by hand -- I never seem to remember to buy a pitter until it's too late and I've got cherries a-waitin'.)

What happened to yours? When you say not enough liquid, what/how much did you add?

I'm planning to wing it, with the techniques of Christine Ferber and Stefano Frigerio ringing in my ears from previous go-rounds. From Stefano, I'm adding sugar to taste. From Christine, I'm tossing the fruit with the sugar, adding no other liquid, and letting the mixture sit at room temperature, covered by a round of parchment paper directly on the cherries and then the bowl covered in plastic wrap. The sugar is pulling the juice out of the fruit, but then the cherries will replump. I don't plan to add any other liquid, unless when I cook it it seems too sweet, in which case I'll add some lemon juice -- or maybe just some lemon zest.

I also am throwing a few vanilla pods, split, in there.

Then I'll slowly cook it until it (hopefully) gels. The worst that can happen, I think (short of burning it) is that it'll be too runny, in which case I'll have a lovely cherry sauce.

If you don't want to wing it like I'm going to, here's a recipe from Nancy Baggett that we have, using sweet cherries. I think if you like your jam tart, you could stick with these proportions and see how it tastes, or you could add more sugar.


We are overwhelmed with spring onions by our CSA. I cut 'em up for my salads, put 'em in omelets, but I don't need THAT many onions. What's a good thing to do with these potent little bulbs? Can they be frozen for later use?

You can chop and freeze, but the texture will be affected (as in, no crunch). They would still be quite nice stirred into a frittata or quiche mixture. I might try blanching them in boiling water for a few minutes to keep the color bright, then pureeing some for sauce/pesto use.  This spring onion soup from chef Yotam Ottolenghi looks lovely altho I haven't tried it. And pickling's always a good option....use this recipe we've got for ramps.

Chatters, what do you like to do?

Thanks for your advice. I home can, and make a lot of jam to give away at the holidays. I made apricot jam this weekend, had one jar left from last year and note the jam from last year has turned a darker color (it still tastes wonderful) while the fresher jam is a bright color. I store my jams on open shelves...could the light exposure cause them to darken? Or does apricot jam just darken over time? It's not a particularly sunny spot. The only alternative storage is boxes, and then I have to dig for them. Advice appreciated.

The darkening is likely a result of air, not light.  Home canning folks suggest putting your cut fruit in acid before preserving. You can soak the fruit for a lemon mixture (3/4 cup lemon juice to 1 gallon water) for a short period before draining and canning.

Is it safe to freeze and then drink milk? I'm taking my kids on long road trip and would like their milk to stay "fresh" and cold. Thinking that freezing it in their sippy cups and have it thawed by lunch time.

Boy, your q takes me back to the long car trips we took from Fla. to Canada every summer. My dad was a we're- not-stopping-for-hardly-anything kinda driver, and mom was a pack-enough-food-for-a-battalion kinda front-seat passenger. She'd freeze milk in small glass containers, which served a dual-cool purpose at least through most of Georgia.  Be sure to shake it well to get rid of any ice-chippy texture.

Why oh why do all the "healthy" smoothie recipes include bananas and apples and I don't like either one. Can I just leave them out and still get a healthy smoothie? Can I leave out all yogurts and milks?

Well, bananas are usually in there, as I write, to give it the silky texture that gives smoothies their name. I prefer smoothies to never have milk, but yogurt also can help give it that thickness, especially if you don't have banana. Having said that, did you see the Green Gazpacho/Smoothie recipe? Has neither apple nor banana. Avocado gives it the rich silkiness. As for apple, I've seen lots of smoothie recipes that don't include it (but, then again, most of those have banana, don't they?).

Why don't you try one with avocado, soy/almond milk (or orange juice if you prefer), a little honey, a handful of almonds, maybe a handful of spinach?

The chocolate crack cookies. SO GOOD.

I love grilled egg plant, summer squash and other vegetables on the grill. They are especially good this time of the year when they are so fresh. On the other hand I am trying to keep down my fat intake. Do you have any suggestions on how to add some new flavor and excitement to these vegetables without adding fat while grilling?

Ok, I'm with you both on the love of the grill and the desire to keep things light. This shouldn't be too hard to discover some new ways with grilled veg. I do like to brush a light film of olive oil on zucchini, eggplant, summer squash, or red peppers before grilling. One tablespoon should be enough for every pound or so of vegetables and this application of oil is important as it ensures that the vegetables brown nicely. Then I like to treat these vegetables (which themselves are pretty meaty) kind of like a steak, with a punch of fresh herbs and a little acidity.  Brush the vegetables with a glaze just as they finish cooking: try some balsamic vinegar, a little honey, and some fresh rosemary. Or after grilling, drizzle with a spicy vinaigrette of canned chipotles (go easy because these are spicy), cider vinegar, and a touch of olive oil. Or toss any of these grilled vegetables with a little red wine vinegar, some chopped fresh thyme, and some crumbled feta.

Interesting techinqe, Joe. Well worth trying. BTW, a little lemon juice will help keep the jam from darkening over time and does help the gel process.

I have bags and bags of hamburger and hot dog rolls sitting around my house. For once, people brought rolls with their meat so now I am wondering what to do with them all! At this point, I fear I will just end up feeding the ducks....Ideas?

Cube, season, drizzle and toast for homemade croutons. Both types of rolls make decent french toast, especially if they're the potato kind. Unbag, let them go stale for serveral days then try a sweet or savory bread pudding --  if they're white-bread rolls, this summer berry pudding looks nice. Or this pear-white chocolate bread one....

I bought some ginger beer on a whim, and now I'm trying to find creative ways of cooking with it. It was great as a substitute for ginger ale in Alton Brown's glazed carrot recipe, but I'm stumped for further ideas. All of the recipes I find are for Dark & Stormys and other cocktails; any ideas of how to cook with it? Thanks!

Beyond Dark & Stormys, there are a number of great cocktails  to make with ginger beer. For instance: the Cloudy Sky (along with sloe gin and lime juice -- shown below), El Diablo (along with tequila and creme de cassis) and the Public Enemy No. 1 (with Irish whiskey, grapefruit juice, and mint).

My sister lives on the West Coast and gets more figs than can be consumed. She's never been willing to ship them to me, as they are heavy, so I came up with fig jam. Her cooking is pretty limited to stir fries and salads. I'm hoping you have an easy peasy recipe or step-by-step instructions that I could pass on to her on how to make fig jam. I'm hoping to make it simple enough to encourage her to make it for me.

If she's at all timid about canning, she can cook the figs with her favorite sweetener and water or juice, or maybe a liqueur. She could cool and freeze the fruit as is, or strain and cool and freeze a sauce to be used lots of ways.

If canning's in order, how about fig-pear preserves? It's not hard to do. Even easier, a grilled figs packet.

I've got loads of canned tuna in my pantry, but almost every recipe I have calls for a tuna casserole that serves a large group. What are some ways to make a tuna dish for one (aside from salads)?

Well, one of my favorite ways is a recipe in "Serve Yourself" that I got from my friend Domenica Marchetti. It's fedelini with tuna ragu. Basically, you make a quick sauce with a can of tomatoes, garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, the tuna (packed in olive oil), a couple anchovies and some capers, and toss it with fedelini or cappellini. Wow. There are a few others in the book, too: a tuna, chickpea and arugula sandwich; and a tuna, egg, and potato salad sandwich. (Oh, wait -- you didn't want the tuna salad, did you?)


You can also add silken tofu to smoothies instead of bananas to give it that rich texture. And since tofu takes on whatever flavor you give it, you won't get any weird aftertastes.


About 2 years ago, I ate a delicious cold soup and I've been dying to recreate it. I know it included garlic and pureed almonds, but the rest of the details and flavors escape me. Do you have any idea if there's a name for this soup? Or a recipe? Thank you!!

You had one of my favorites: a white gazpacho. or ajo blanco, a Spanish specialty. Ancient Moorish recipe, actually. We have this recipe. I made a slightly different version recently for a fancy shmancy dinner party that Bonnie and I cooked after got bought at a benefit auction, and it was a hit.

Too late for the question last week but a great salad: Scrub potatoes (new potatoes if available), peel if you like, quarter lengthwise. Steam till tender. Make a vinaigrette out of OJ and white balsamic vinegar in equal parts, a bit of mustard, salt and pepper to taste (see below re salt). Add vinaigrette to warm potatoes, cover and marinate. Cut a handfull of sun-dried tomatoes in strips. If using dried tomatoes, plump them with boiling water first. If using dried, salted tomatoes, adjust salt in the vinaigrette. If using sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drain and consider the seasoning of the oil when making the vinaigrette. Add tomato strips and black olives to potatoes. Can sit a bit, but the tomatoes and olives discolor the potatoes where they touch. Just before serving add arugula (torn into about thirds) and toss. Garnish with chopped chives. Yum!

Thanks for returning with such a tasty response. Good thing I had a bagel this a.m. (RIP, H&H.)

I have a couple of questions about cooking eggplant. I'm growing them in my garden for the first time and don't have a lot of experience with cooking them. First, my mother used to cut and flour them and deep-fat fry them like potatoes. I don't have a deep-fat fryer, so is there a way I can reproduce this without using googobs of oil? Second, do you have any eggplant recipes that are sure winners? Thanks so much; you folks take the cake!

Eggplant  kind of presents a dilemna: like a sponge, eggplant will soak up a lot of oil (particularly if you don't cook it with high heat), but you do need to cook it with some oil or else it will be exceedingly dry and unpalatable. You can pan-fry eggplant slices using your mom's flouring method: use a non-stick pan which will help avoid sticking and also will offer good browning with this minimal amount of oil. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the floured eggplant slices (shake off any excess flour so they don't get all gummy), and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side so the eggplant gets nice and browned. If the eggplant slices are not cooked through at this point, arrange them in an overlapping layer in a baking dish and finish cooking them in the oven. Do make sure to cook the eggplant until completely soft in the center - undercooked eggplant is not a good thing. You can top the baked eggplant with the traditional accompaniments for an eggplant parm, toss the slices with a light herb vinaigrette, or sandwich a couple of  slices around some fresh mozzarella and ripe tomatoes.  

For some more ideas, check out Andreas "Gastronomer" Viestad's piece on just this topic from awhile back.

When a recipe calls for egg whites, is there anything to do with the yolks besides throw them away?

Absolutely. Custard, mayonnaise, aioli, the end of a nice spaghetti carbonara....To be more specific, colleague Jane Touzalin (Chat Leftovers expert) has compiled an incredibly edibly efficient list, with recipe suggestions for  15 yolks down to 2 yolks; here.

Hi. Several of today's recipes call for shallots, which aren't available at my farmers market. Can some combo of onions and garlic be used instead? Or is it worth going to a supermarket to buy a bagful of shallots -- in which case, do they need refrigeration? And how long do they last? Thanks.

According to David Joachim's "The Food Substitutions Bible," the author suggests chopped ramps or wild leeks (the light parts only) as a good substitute for shallots. Or even chopped green onions (the white and light green parts only).

You should be able to get bigger spring onions at the FM, and those would work well, too.

As someone who is in love with shallots, though, I have to say: Plain old onions work pretty well as a sub.

I loved today's section on sandwiches and other cool delights for our warm summer nights. And the chickpea recommendation for sandwiches made me want to pass this easy topping along (and maybe win a cookbook? ; )). Chickpeas, straight from the can, mixed with diced cucumbers, garam masala, yogurt, black pepper and salt. Put your sandwich on an indian bread (naan, roti, parantha), add whatever else you have around--last night we had cold tandoori chicken, batsmati rice and plum tomatoes from the garden along with punjabi pickle- Yum!

Sounds delish. Perhaps my bagel is wearing off now.

What's your favorite way to cook eggplants?

Personally, I love the smoky flavor of a good baba ghanouj. Mmm, now I desperately want some grilled pita triangles dunked in homemade baba ghanouj!

I visited California last week and had my first taste of grilled shrimp tacos and ceviche. What's not to love? Incredible stuff. Could you help me to recreate these dishes for home use?

We don't have a grilled shrimp tacos recipe in the database, but we do have this delicious barbecued shrimp dish, which I think could easily be used to stuff into a tortilla with avocado slices, sliced radishes, diced onions, cilantro leaves and some lemon juice.

As for ceviche, may I suggest this recipe? It doesn't include shrimp, but it does offer a nice balance of acid and fat.

A hideous oversight on our part!  Was it a ceviche or a salsa? If the latter, start with this black bean-fruit salsa, then go with this Grilled Shrimp With Sonoran Chipotle Marinade.

Your article made me think of tabbouleh for dinner. I have the bulgur wheat and some tomatoes, but I need help with the herbs. I don't have the traditionally used parsley. My garden does have mint, basil, Thai basil, tons of oregeno and a little tarragon. What would be a good herb mix for my tabbouleh?

Mint is totally in order; I think lots of parsley gives tabbouleh its grassy substance. Can you herb-trade with a neighbor?

Hey, Joe. Looking forward to seeing you at the Friendship Heights Village Center on the 21st. What types of food can you make ahead to be able to put together meals for one quickly? I recently found a turkey meatloaf receipe that I can make on the weekend because it doesn't make so much that I feel overwhelmed (and I've always thought meatloaf tastes better the next day or even a few days later). I need to expand my horizons. The problem is that I sometimes don't get home until 8 or 9 or even later. At that point cooking seems hopeless. Why bother if I'm not going to eat until 10:30? That is just too late. Any suggestions of stuff that I can make ahead and eat cold or warm up quickly? I'm afraid my skills are limited.

Hi, CC! Unfortunately, I'm having to resked that appearance, but will hopefully nail down a date soon...

I'm all about the make-some-stuff-ahead idea. You can roast a big pan of root veggies, and then use them to make a Thai-style fish stew; a burrito with salmon and black beans; and a cold barley salad. Here's the link to those four ideas.

I also highly suggest that you think about making a big pot of beans on the weekend and cooking up a big pot of brown rice. Both of those can be frozen in individual containers, and then you can use them in all sorts of ways. The rice, of course, is great for fried rice dishes.

And then when it's a little more like soup weather, I like to make soup bases that you can freeze and then thaw and finesse when you're in a rush.

Really enjoyed Tim's piece on local retailers going to the Fancy Food Show. Sometimes it's hard to see the connections between an industry event and what we as consumers end up eating, and this was a nice way to see behind the scenes. Good luck to the little guys looking for distribution.

Thank you. If you haven't read the story yet, here it is. And here is one of the hopeful sellers, Gianluigi Dellaccio, of the Washington-based Dolci Gelati.

A few months ago I tried a recipe for homemade pasta (a first for me) that was really easy, involving just flour, eggs, salt and water rolled out and cut into 4-inch squares. It was really delicious and I want to try it again (paired with garlic scape pesto), but I'm wondering--can I cut the pasta into strips so it's more like noodles, say 1-inch strips like wide fettucine, or is this a bad idea?

FOF (Friend of Food) Domenica Marchetti says:

Pesto is traditionally paired with trenette, which is something like linguine -- more narrow than fettuccine -- while wide noodles such as fettuccine or pappardelle (3/4 to 1 inch wide) are usually paired with meat sauce such as Bolognese. However, I say go for it; try the garlic scape pesto with the wider noodles. I think people should feel free to get creative with their pasta!

make zabaglione!

Hello! I'm heading to Barcelona, and Tom is not chatting today. Do you or any of your readers have suggestions for restaurants in Barcelona? Thanks!

Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria.

Cal Pep.

Quimet y Quimet.

Comerc 24.

Espai Sucre.

Thanks for the answer. Won't I lose some wonderful apricot flavor if I first soak the fruit in acidulated water? Some of the juice will be lost when I drain them.

There are other processes, too, including commercial products like Fruit Fresh and acid tablets. They may help you without dulling the flavor.

I love greens and my CSA gives me so many every week. I've sauteed them, put them in pasta, baked them into casseroles, made kale chips, made salads, etc. Any ideas for something a little different? I'm getting a lot of spinach, arugula, kale, collards, among others. Thanks!

How bout Grits-Stuffed Collard Rolls?

Or Animalistic Kale Salad?

And I know you've made kale chips, but have you made THESE kale chips? Amazing.

Then, of course, there are smoothies. You could use one of your greens instead of the watercress and sorrel in this Green Gazpacho (or Smoothie).

Do you have any no-cook recipes that would entice kids to eat dinner?

Hmm, today's sandwiches or Seattle Egg Salad don't cut it? How about time-tripping back to the 90s and doing wraps, letting them spread on their own combo of concoctions that you display in separate bowls? Tuck and roll, kids.

I often add tuna to mac and cheese for a quick meal. I keep some of the boxed mac and cheese with the cheese sauce in a squeeze pack (instead of the florescent powder kind). I also will make fresh mac and cheese and add tuna and all of these can be made for one. To make a simple fresh mac and cheese, cook pasta al dente. Make a roux (butter and flour) then add shredded cheddar and milk. Season to taste. I like to add a little cumin, nutmeg, onion powder, garlic powder or mustard powder. Add pasta and tuna. I've also taken canned tuna, mixed in an egg and crushed whole wheat crackers, seasoned to taste, made cakes and then pan fried in a little olive oil. Can be served on a bun or not (I like with a little horseradishy tartar sauce).


Sandwiches are such an easy solution to lunch, but I find that I usually make the same sort of thing -- cold cuts and/or cheese with lettuce, etc. And for me, it is not enough food to last through the afternoon. Do you have any ideas for making things more interesting and filling? Or lunching on something other than sandwiches? Thanks.

I'm a sandwich guy, so I'll stick to that part of the question. My suggestion is to try to make/accumulate one or two interesting sandwich toppings each week. You don't necessarily have to use them for a sandwich, but they'll be nice to have on hand for working into whatever you're cooking. Grilled red onions or pepepers are the perfect example. They will make that ham sandwich or tuna melt a heck of a lot more exciting. The next time you light up the grill, grill off some extra red peppers or onions and then just try to use them in the next 5 days or so. Or try to make an interesting sandwich condiment. Basil pesto is great in sandwiches. Mayos flavored with heat (like the sriracha mayo in today's section), some fresh herbs, or citrus all add that little something special. And greens are also great in sandwiches, particularly with your cold cut and cheese formula. Toss some baby arugula or spinach with some olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper, let wilt for a couple of minutes, and then stack with the cold cuts.

I'm not surprised the cabbage and mashed potatoes were the same dreary color, I even added a handful of peas for a little more obvious color. However, neither kids nor husband would touch it. They stuck their noses far up in the air and asked for omelets instead. It's hard to find vegetarian dishes involving cabbage, particularly when it's too hot for soup.

Really? There are so many vegetarian slaws! Check out this list; they're not all cabbage, but some great ones in there.

Make a pizza and top it with tuna and onions - might sound weird but I tried it on a vacation to Italy and have been making it that way ever since.


I use them in my tuna, chicken and potato salads. My 12 year old loves to sliver up the onion and eat it with apple slices.

Here's mine, riffed off a Barbara Tropp recipe called Odd Flavor Eggplant: Halve and roast the eggplant. Let it cool a bit and scrape the flesh out of the rind. Leave the rind if you like it for some reason. In a wok, heat some oil verrry hot. Add chopped garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir fry for a bit. Then add some black soy, some regular soy, some chinese rice wine vinegar, a few TBs of palm sugar or brown sugar or even molasses. Stir around a bit, add some red pepper flakes or actual hot peppers. Add a bit of five spice powder if your family doesn't hate it. Dump the eggplant in and stir around till the amazing sauce penetrates. Can be a vegetable or even a pasta sauce.

Another favorite dish with eggplants, is stuffed eggplants. I half eggplants, then scoop out the insides (leaving about 1/2" of flesh inside the skin). Chop/dice the flesh with tomatoes, mushrooms, and veggies of choice (I love spinach, so that goes in), garlic, onions, etc. Saute the mixture lightly in olive oil. For an Asian flavor, I like to add a little Hoison and/or sesame oil, otherwise, lemon and fresh herbs work well (or your flavorings of choice), maybe some grated parmesan. Brush the inside of the eggplant shells with olive oil. Stuff the filling back in. It should mound up on the shells (there is a lot more than you took out). Cover with some bread crumbs (I use crushed whole wheat crackers) or a little shredded cheese. Roast in a high oven until the eggplant shells soften and you get a little browning on top.

Would it be possible to make a peach agua fresca? Is it just fruit and crushed ice?

Here's a recipe from our colleagues at the LA Times for a peach-lavendar aqua fresca.

You might also wander over to Taqueria Nacional, where Ann Cashion makes some killer aqua frescas. Maybe she'll help you make a peach one?

What's a quick, easy stir fry sauce that I can whip up on a weeknight to avoid having to use the not-so-tasty bottled stuff? I can never seem to get it right. Thanks!

Well, one thing that is really nice to do is build on staple Chinese sauces like hoisin sauce or oyster sauce. I like to mix a couple of tablespoons of either with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil (about 1 Tbs.), some soy sauce (1 to 2 Tbs.) and a little vinegar (rice vinegar or white vinegar is fine - about 1 Tbs.). You can dilute either of these mixtures with water or chicken broth to suit your palate.

Bonnie, what did you mean "RIP H&H"? Did I mss something? (And at the risk of opening a can of worms, where can I get authentic bagels, not just gigantic rounds of bread with a hole in the middle?)

Oy, what have I started?

The Upper West Side store is closed. Maybe something about back taxes? Altho bagel yentas  have complained for years that the quality of bagels from that location had done steadily downhill. I  used to go out of my way to get the parbaked things shipped to Calvert-Woodley and the Italian store. I've moved on to Goldberg's, but can't say I'm in love. My last good bagel was consumed in Montreal last summer. As for recommendations, The Post produced this short list in May, which seems to favor Georgetown Bagelry.

Quiche, stromboli/calzones, definitely the smoothies, Indian curries (saag dal, saag paneer), lasagne (I know it's technically a casserole)...

what about salting and draining them? Is that necessary?

I would say yes. It helps remove some of the bitter flavors trapped in the eggplant's liquid. It also collapses some of the eggplant's air pockets, which is important if you're frying. It won't asborb too much grease that way.

Take refridgerator croissants, unroll and leave as a sheet. spread a little crisco, sprinkle a little salt and then put diced scallions and ham on. Separate the croissants and roll up. Bake as per the instructions on the tube. Excellent fast and easy appetizers. Sprinkle some minced scallions into chicken broth for your soups. Spring onions work well in stir fries and add a little color as well as that oniony flavor.

Get yourself some smoked turkey or ham. Chop and dump into a crockpot. Add some chopped onion, some vinegar, some water or stock. Chop and dump the greens on top. Go away for a few hours. Come back to melting bliss.

I hate slaw. Just a personal view.

Such a broad statement! I'd say you just haven't met the right slaw...

use them like Chinese Chives in a stir-fry noodle dish. Put them into a grain salad with some feta and some other veggies.

I bought a jar of summer Italian truffles. Do you have a stupendous recipe for 1? If not all the truffle is used, how do I store it?

Hmm. I'd be tempted to use them in an omelet or in slow-cooked eggs. Preserved/jarred truffles aren't as pungent/flavorful when you use them raw as fresh truffles are, so they need to be heated up. I love them with eggs.

The good news is, I believe those truffles store pretty well at room temperature. (Even after you cut them, although don't quote me on that...)

Just wanna express my appreciation for the great job you all do with the chats. I've gotten many good ideas reading you week to week. I contributed to a potluck cookout this past Sunday with my kin, a family full of good cooks. I did a grilled ratatouille/rigatoni pasta salad, grilled corn with a spicy mayo/sour cream sauce and grilled portabello caps with caramelized onions and manchego cheese. Wasn't sure how it would go with a bunch of southern carnivores but they snarfed up every bit it, all recipes or ideas inspired by you all. Keep up the good work and thanks so much.

Aw, shucks. Thanks! We try.

As a New Yorker, H&H will always be remembered fondly.

We here in NYC are mourning the loss of the UWS store but last I checked you could still buy bagels directly at the plant in Hell's Kitchen, I think it's on 10th Ave. A little more out of the way, but still the same glorious product.

So I'm in a place for the next several weeks with an electric coil stovetop. Neither of the coils is level. Is there an effective way to fix this -- can the coil bases be bent safely, for instance -- or am I doomed to rotate my pans constantly to redistribute the liquid?

I cannot direct you in coil bending, but I think you can still get those thin, flat diffusers at any big hardware store. At least it will help convey even heat to the bottom of your pan.

I really like doing a peanut sauce with my stir fries (especially good with broccoli!) I combine sesame oil, soy sauce, mince garlic, chili flakes, rice wine vinegar, honey, and peanut butter. Blend well. Delicious!

Make your own. Use hard or strong flour, not much yeast. Shape and retard overnight, boil before baking. Bliss. More diff between homemade and standard storebought for bagels than for most baked goods. Worth the effort.

What? The venerable NYC bagel bakers? Or "merely" a DC outlet?

See earlier answer.

My friend is taking me to the Fancy Food show on Sunday and I wanted to ask what I should look out for, as my time there will be a bit limited.

Suggestion: Change your plans for that day and give yourself as much time as possible at the show. There will be, literally, thousands of items to sample. More than you will ever want to sample. Trying to do this on a constricted schedule will be frustrating to you. There will be so many booths and so many vendors, that you will likely miss many good ones.

You might want to look for the display of sofi award Silver Finalists at the entrance of the show, or at least the display of new products....these are nominated standouts. 

Recipe, please, Tim! I love this stuff, too, and have yet to make it correctly at home.

In general I would ignore the recipes that call for roasting/baking your eggplant. If you can, try a recipe like this one, which calls for smoking your eggplant over coals, then adjust the lemon juice and tahini to your liking.

Scallion pancakes!

Go get a new electric coil element at the hardware store. You will need make and model and they are relatively inexpensive to replace.

ooops, I did mean turmeric root and it looks like a ginger root except for the color. . .

Sorry we couldn't get back to this! Ping us on the early side next week; we're out of time...


The most delicious and satisfying cold meal is the Radish and Pecan Grain Salad on Food 52's blog. You do have to cook the grain and my experience is to stick with farro and not mess with other grains. On that score, is there a good source of good farro? I bought some great stuff on Amazon and the times I have bought it in stores it is not as good. Some cold Italian romano or parmeggiano reggiano is good with this.

Thanks for the suggestion. A great recipe/info source.

Oh, hey, thanks for tackling my olive brine question in detail as Chat Leftovers! The original brine in question is gone, but I'm just about to finish up another container, and I'll experiment with the remains as you suggest. Hmmm, brined pork chops...

You can thank our amazing copy editor, Jane Touzalin, who answered your question this week. If any of you missed it, Jane's answer is here.

My sister gave me a jar of pomegranate molasses along with her fabulous recipe for grilled chicken using it, which was so successful that I've now used up the bottle. Is there anyplace nearby Bethesda where I can get some more? Thanks! and love the recipes today!!

So glad! You can find it at A&H Gourmet Seafood in Bethesda, I'm pretty sure. And at Whole Foods Market on River Road.

My husband has requested that he eat a lamb dish on his upcoming birthday. I do not like lamb, and have never cooked it. Do you have any "go-to" recipes that I should make? I don't even know of any flavor profiles that would go with lamb besides the obvious Mediterranean. Anything that I need to know about before venturing on this mission? Thanks for any help you can provide.

Lots of variety if you go chops. I like them with nuevo mint salsa, but here's a list of others as well.

Back in the 60s, my mother used to make me the best sandwiches - no Wonder Bread for her. It was pretty awesome for a 5th grader to get roast beef sandwiches with sweet butter and horseradish (my favorite). And now, in the summer, what could be better than tomato sandwiches - on lightly toasted bread with butter, not mayo. My secret ingredient to make almost any sandwich better - thai basil, either laid in like lettuce or smushed up in mayo or butter. And I was raised to always cut sandwiches on the diagonal, so I am convinced they taste better than way.

You were a lucky child! I want that roast beef sandwich right now!

Sloppy Joes for dinner?

Ha! Here's an Asian way to go Joe.

You can also make Moscow Mules - vodka, ginger beer, and lime. If you want to go legit, then get a copper mug to drink it out of.

Speaking of a proper Moscow Mule, bartender Owen Thomson at the new America Eats Tavern serves a killer one at Jose Andres's new place. He even serves it in a copper mug.

oh for heaven's sake, that swamp thing is a myth

Swampy heat. Oppressive humidity. Creative license. Go have something to eat.

It's a jar of truffles in oil (I think.) Whole truffles--not preserves.

But they're preserved rather than fresh. That's what I meant. So same storage applies.

Well, you've topped us with a thin coating of mustard, then layered us with turkey, smoked Gouda, spinach leaves, cherries and another piece of bread, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks to all for the great q's -- hope we helped give you some good ideas! And thanks to Tony Rosenfeld and Jason Wilson for helping us answer them.

Now for the book giveaways: The chatter who asked about cooking for one with a can of tuna will get my book, "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One." The one who asked about using up leftover buns will get "The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches." The one who asked about vegetarian slaws will get "Snog." And the one who asked about peach agua frescas will get "The Punch Bowl."

Send your mailing info to editorial aide Tim Smith at, and we'll get you your books.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

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