Free Range on Food: Farmers in residence, Chicago barbecue and more

Oct 10, 2012

This week we feature some great fall-appropriate dishes, as well as a taste of Chicago barbecue.
Past Free Range on Food chats

Greetings, Nats fans! Just want you to know that if I had a  ticket to today's playoff game on this glorious, perfect baseball weather day, I'd STILL want to be right here, chatting with you about farmers in residence and salmon and sours and the lovely owners of Mozzeria and those very tasty rib tips a la Chicago, courtesy of Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin. (That, my dear Free Range friends, is almost true.)

Tim Carman, Jane Touzalin, Becky Krystal and Spirits columnist Jason Wilson are onboard today. Dare I say it? It's not too soon to yak about Thanksgiving.

Prizes for two helpful and/or curious chatters: "The Southern Italian Farmer's Table," by Matthew Scialabba and Melissa Pellegrino, and "Best Ribs Ever" by Steven Raichlen; we'll announce winners at the end of the hour.  Andiamo!


I have a vegetarian friend who frequently comes for Thanksgiving dinner. Rather than just suggest she load up on more of the vegetable sides, I like to prepare her something special to have instead of roasted turkey with gravy. For years I've made marinated broiled tempeh with mushroom gravy, which she likes, but I'm curious if you'd have any ideas for something else I could make instead. Thanks.

How about a mushroom lasagna?

Mushroom Lasagna Bolognese

I tried to pre-heat my cast iron skillet last night and after a while, it started casting sparks and a LOT of smoke. My best guess is that the sparks were old crud I'd never gotten off it. It's about 30 years old and I'm the only owner. I heated it on an electric stove turned up to 8 out of ten, so med-hi. I know I probably pre-heated it for too long -- from 5 to 10 minutes -- but I don't know what to do now. Take it to some sort of repair shop? Hope all the crud burned off? Scour with steel wool? Thanks.

I contacted the great Bob Wolke, a chemist and former Food 101 columnist for The Post, and he was slightly stumped by your problem.


Says Bob:  "The smoke can certainly be from what he calls crud. I don't see anything that causes sparks. Sparks have to go from one conductor to another...Sparks are flows of electrons through the air."

He continues: "My wild guess would be that the sparks were caused by a defect of the burner, and the sparks went to the nearest metal, which was the frying pan. I wouldn't rush to attribute it to the frying pan."


Bob says you should look at your electric range first before, ahem, casting aspersions at your cast-iron pan. (That pun was for Mr. Wolke, a master punner.)

So Peapod, in its infinite wisdom, sent me 6 BUNCHES of bananas instead of 6 individual bananas. I've got banana bread with chocolate chips on tap, as well as oatmeal banana chocolate chip cookies. That will use up about 5 - 27 to go! Ideas? Can they be frozen and used later, when we're not so tired of them? Thanks!

You definitely can freeze bananas, though they won't retain their fresh texture. Here's a blog post we had on the topic. We have lots of banana-centric recipes in our database, but these pudding-related ones will make a dent in your supply.

Banana Pudding Napoleon

For the person last week who was frustrated by not being able to get a Restaurant Depot membership, you do not have to have a food related business. All they require is a TIN (tax id number). So, if you know anyone with any kind of business that would let you use their TIN to register at R.D. you can get in. And, the membership is FREE. My husband has a financial consulting firm and we signed up with his TIN.

Not to cast doubt on your story, but according to the Restaurant Depot's Web site, here's what is required for a free membership:

"Restaurant Depot is wholesale only. To qualify for a free membership account, on your first visit you need to show a valid reseller's permit (business license) or tax-exempt certificate (for a non-profit organization) and show proof that you are authorized to purchase for said business organization."

Is it problematic for you if we want to pin this on Pinterest (honestly care here, love you guys too much to not want your viewpoint)? Pictures on the same page as the recipe really ease that process.

They're being input as we speak. When Becky's away, backup procedures suffer!

Re Pinterest: We officially don't go there because of licensing/copyright photography issues.

FYI, our server is REALLY SLOW today. So it may take some time for those photos to appear.

Hi, Rangers, I've been making something like this since asking you, a few months back, what to do with the skin that's left over when I make gravalax, and taking your suggestion to crisp it! In this case, the skin has been cured along with the salmon and requires no additional salt. Then I've just nuked it for a few seconds -- though frying or baking might be even better. As is, it comes out sooo rich, I can only eat a few bites! And that's coming from someone who can eat 5 or 6 strips of bacon!

Hats off to you! Here's a link to the salmon post, for those of you who haven't checked into All We Can Eat yet today:

My kids love gummy candy. The all-natural varieties that they can have are rather expensive, and I'd like to try making my own. Every recipe I found so far though relies on Jell-O for the flavoring. Recommendations on where to find a reliable recipe with all natural ingredients? I have limited time, otherwise I would just start experimenting.

Yes, here's a recipe that calls for only powdered gelatin and fruit juice. I don't know how well it would compare with the commercial product, but it's worth a try, and I think it'd be a fun exercise for kids to help with.

I bought a small tub of crumbled smoked blue cheese a couple weeks ago and threw it in the freezer for lack of time. I am hoping you have some suggestions on ways to let it shine. For my boyfriend I am grilling a steak then broiling it on top, but I eat only seafood and I can't imagine that working out well. I was thinking maybe Brussels sprouts and walnuts? My mind is drawing a blank.

Yeah, I agree about the smoked blue cheese and fish combo. It sounds wrong. But I'd think the cheese would be great crumbled onto baked potatoes (sort of like a pit potato without the hassle of smoking it). You could also sprinkle it atop deviled eggs for a nice final smoky touch or even use it as a part of a mixture for stuffed chicken breasts.


Chatters, other ideas?

Is there no "First Bite" article in the Food section today? If there is, how does one access it online? All I see on the Food web page is last week's FB. Thanks.

The new review is there -- Tom's take on Rappahannock Oyster Bar at Union Market (I think almost all of Food was there at some point that very weekend).

I was there, but the Rappahannock Oyster Bar counter was so crowded, I ate my calories elsewhere in Union Market, which was easy to do. Nate Anda was serving up amazing pork meatballs on smoked polenta at Gina Chersevani's soda shop, Buffalo & Bergen.

Is there any place in the DC area to get green tomatoes this time of year? I just came across a green tomato pimento cheese tart recipe and desperately want to try it.

Chatters? I saw many at the Palisades Farmers Market two weekends ago. If your fave farmers market has a Web site/contact info for its market manager, it'd be worth it to put in a call.

(Sorry if this is a repeat, my computer did something before I hit submit) I just bought a bottle of fish sauce that has "flakes" floating in it--looks like paint chips. Is this just the salt solidifying? Is it safe to use? The mfg date is Nov 2011, so it's not old. I've kept opened fish sauce for eons and have never seen this before. Thanks.

Could be something that's supposed to be in there, like crushed red pepper flakes. Is it a different brand than you normally buy? Can you open, strain, and look at those suckers close up? (I like Red Boat brand; no floaties in there, fyi.)

Hi Rangers! We've got a few people coming over on Sunday for brunch; we're already planning on having fresh fruit (pineapple, bananas, etc.) and baked french toast with apples, but we'd love something savory and more or less toddler-friendly (and something that can ideally be prepped the night before). Any ideas? (There are no food restrictions that we know of.) Beverage-wise, we're hitting some wineries that afternoon, so we want brunch to be a dry affair - other than OJ and coffee, are there any fun, relatively easy drinks you'd recommend? Thanks!!

Keep some of those apples around for this Baked Apple, Smoked Turkey and Cheddar Strata. You can even assemble it the day before. For drinks, you could do some hot chocolate.

Deluxe Hot Chocolate

Or mulled cider.

Mulled Spices for Winter Cider

Any recipes for at-home Bananas Foster? We were talking about it earlier in Tom's chat. Thanks.

We have a lighter take on it, New England-Style Bananas Foster.

There's also Bananas Foster Sandwich

Bananas Foster Sandwich

and Bananas Foster Charlotte.

Bananas Foster Charlotte

Food on fire! A fan.

I'm seeing lots of unfamiliar names in the bylines of your top stories in recent weeks. Has there been staff turnover or has there been an increase in freelance work?

No turnover! No turnover! I've just broken out into a sweat just thinking about that. Just enterprising freelancers and a staff that's busy working on lots of things coming up this fall.

And don't forget: All of us contribute to the All We Can Eat blog on a daily basis. You can always find interesting things and tasty tidbits there.

Hey you got two teams from the area in this thing...give some love to the Orioles too!! YAY to BOTH Nats and Os. (I live with the worst team in their division the Twins). Cheering later today!!!!!

Yes, yes. Go O's! But I'm in deep with the Nats this year. As I mentioned to a Twitter pal a few days ago, I can handle offal but I don't seem to have the stomach for post-season baseball. Twitching.

There are also lots of pate de fruit recipes online, like this one from Tartelette blog.  It only requires pectin and sugar. Also, how about trying quince? It will be in season soon, and membrillo is like pate de fruit. You don't even need pectin to make it. I see a lot of natural fruit roll-up recipes online also.

I saw lots and lots of tomatoes at the Crystal City farmers market yesterday. Wanted to buy but at @ $4 a pound was afraid it is too late for them and they would be mealy. Beautiful heirlooms though. You could look at the list of vendors there and try to find them at another market.

Love our chatter intel. thanks!

For the poster who had too many bananas: Frozen bananas work well for banana bread/banana-nut bread/etc. The fresh texture isn't as important for things like that, and actually using frozen bananas sometimes makes them easier to mash (once they've thawed a little). Just make sure you peel them before freezing them (or you'll end up with popsicles for fingers)!

Need a recommendation for a nice dark, aged rum for sipping. No spice rums and if you could available at a VA ABC store

Here are a few aged rums for sipping that I love: El Dorado 12 yr old from Guyana ($30); Appleton Estate 12 yr old ($35); Flor de Caña 18 year old ($40).

Can quinoa be frozen for later use and for how long?

Yes you can. Here are some tips on how to properly freeze the stuff.

Check out the latest issue of F&W. They had several vegan recipes. I thought nice but being a carnivore just skipped to next recipe.

That reminds me: I'm reading Sam Sifton's new book, "Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well," and he makes no apologies for being a traditionalist about the holiday.


Writes Sam: "But be forewarned. 'Thanksgiving' is not a book for everyone. It is not for those in search of the new Thanksgiving craze, the latest recipe for turkey in a bag, the next big trend in holiday entertaining. There will be no recipes here for ham or lamb, or roast beef or swordfish. Thanksgiving is a holiday that anchors itself in tradition. Which means: You will make a turkey. Turkey is why you are here."

I am looking for recomendations for a good brand of gluten free pasta. I am interested in both long spaghetti and smaller shapes such as elbows or rotini. Other suggestions for gluten free recipes for a crowd (about 12 people) also welcomed.

So our recipe database lists 522 gluten-free main courses. You might want to narrow down your search!

Let's throw the pasta question out to the crowd. Any gluten-free favorites out there?

Bio-Naturae brand has the best taste and texture, says GF Friend of Food Carol Blymire. And she says it's available at Safeway and Giant (and WFM, thinks I), so no special running around.

How long does cooked or cured salmon last in the refrigerator? Specifically, did I need to throw out about a quarter-pound of unsliced gravad lax that had sat in my refrigerator for about two weeks, inside a sealed plastic container? It looked, smelled and felt okay (not slimy) but I couldn't believe it would still be safe to eat after so much time. Also, would it be safe for longer if I used some vodka or other booze to cure it, as well as sugar and salt? Please also say how long steamed or baked salmon can safely be refrigerated. Thanks so much for answering!

Assuming you don't mean vacuum-sealed, the smoked salmon/gravad lax is good for a few weeks in the fridge as long as it's in an airtight container. It can be frozen as well  (a few months), so keep that in mind for the next time. Fresh, wild-caught salmon that has been cooked/steamed etc can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days, as long as it passes the smell test. Honestly, I don't know about the efficacy of after-action curing.

BTW, have you seen our recipe for Quick Gravlax?

Hi Jason, I have family coming to visit in November. The last time they came to town, we did the Columbia Room before dinner, and they loved it! This time we have a 7 pm reservation at Mintwood Place, but I was still hoping there might be a good place in the AM area to grab a well-made drink beforehand! Any suggestions?

Jack Rose Dining Saloon isn't too far away. Great drinks are to be found there.

Do you have a favorite way to bring refrigerated eggs to room temperature other than letting them sit out for an hour? (Non microwave)

Yep, let them sit in a bowl of tepid water.

To the reader last week who asked about decanters: make sure you're not leaving anything in a lead-crystal decanter for any length of time -- the lead will eventually leach into the beverage.

The baked squash recipe in today's edition looks great -- once fall comes in, I'm always on the lookout for non-boring vegetarian approaches to this vegetable. I think there's a typo -- the recipe calls for 3 squashes "each 1 1/4 to 1 1/5 pounds". I'm envisioning a number pad with the "5" right above the "2" -- this should be 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds, yes?

Yep, thanks for seeing that. Does look great, doesn't it? Stephanie's on her game. The recipe is correct in the print edition...sometimes we don't make fixes across all platforms simultaneously like we should. The online version has been corrected but it will take a few hours (?!) for the update to show. Have faith.

I've made pinwheel rye rolls stuffed with caramelized onion and bacon bits for brunch guests. Google "bacon rye rolls" to find the recipe. Decadent, savory, and unforgettable.


For the person with the abundance of bananas, if you freeze a bunch of them, you can use them to make Cooks Illustrated Banana Bread at a later date. The recipe calls for you to microwave the bananas to remove the juices, so it's perfect for frozen bananas. It's my go-to recipe. There is a Cooks Illustrated Banana Bread recipe that uses 6 bananas that I absolutely love. The best part is you can use bananas from the freezer because you have to microwave them to remove the juices anyways.

I like the brown rice pasta at Trader Joe's, have only tried the spaghetti but I think they have other shapes, too.

I'd like to make some spiced nuts, and I saw you had quite a number in your database so I don't know where to start! Which one is your FAVORITE? Can be for any type of nut but must be vegan, so I think anything with egg white is out, unless you know a good substitute. I'm thinking I can use Earth Balance in place for butter for any that recipes calling for that. Thanks!

Hands down, it's the Cumin-Cayenne Cashews, Pine Nuts and Pistachios -- and here's hoping you're not an anti-cumin person. And it already seems vegan friendly. Oh, wait...these Honeyed Pecans With Sesame Seeds are to die for.


You might want to try this Hot Mix, tho. It's addictive and crunchy and a tad different.

My vote is for the honeyed pecans. I give them as host/hostess gifts and people go -- nuts -- for them.

They are deep-fried.

I liked the recipe for braised chicken that appeared today, but why can it only be refrigerated for 3 days? As a single person, I like to make large batches of food and then stash them in the fridge usually for a week or the freezer for up to a month.

Short answer: We err on the side of caution. I've eaten plenty of chili/stew-y/braised things that have lived in my fridge for 5 days. But I cannot officially recommend that. Just curious, what specifically are you stashing in your fridge for 7 days?

I've been gluten free for 3+ years now, so have tried multiple different brands of pasta. The two brands that I keep stocked in my pantry at home are Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta (has regular spaghetti noodles, elbows, and rotini noodles) and Schar Gluten Free pasta (has regular spaghetti noddles and multiple smaller shapes). I've tried multiple other brands, and these are the two that aren't overly pricey but still have a good taste/texture. The Ancient Harvest is a little heartier (probably since it's quinoa), which makes it better for hearty bolognese or meat sauces. I've found it at Whole Foods, Giant, Harris Teeter, etc. The Schar is a lighter pasta (it's a combination of rice flour and other flours) - I've used it with meat-sauce, but find it's better with a lighter sauce, or with my homemade mac-and-cheese. I get it from Whole Foods, but haven't really looked for it anywhere else.

I see them every weekend at the farmers market outside the church at Massachusetts and 39th.

I've been asked to bring a dessert to my office fall luncheon. I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to baking. Can you recommend something easy, seasonal and delicious?

For how many people? The Pear-Hazelnut Crisp we have in today's section fits the bill perfectly (even without the whipped cream).  Even simpler, you could poach pears.

Simplest: Bake these apples, from Jacques Pepin.


When recipes for cooked dishes call for wine but don't specify the varietal, does it matter much? Today's recipe for Chicken Braised with Fall Vegetables (which sounds really good), for example, calls for "dry red wine." Generally, the dry red wine I'd have on hand is Cabernet Sauvignon, but is that a good choice? For recipes that call for dry white, I usually go with Sauvignon Blanc, but there again, I'm wondering if I could be making a better choice or if it matters. Thanks.

A cab sauv would be fine here. What's more important is that the wine is drinkable.

I agree with Bonnie that the wine needs to be drinkable, so you can finish the bottle while cooking!


But I also tend to think about wine pairings when a recipe is vague about what kind of wine to use. So, for instance, with that chicken recipe, I would tend to go with a bottle, like a pinot noir. It's brighter, fruitier and typically not as tannic as some cabs.

I have a recipe for a chocolate banana snack cake (cooking light) that calls for 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, which I rarely have on hand (the other wet ingredients are 1/2 cup each butter and mashed banana and 2 eggs). What could I substitute for the applesauce? (an egg white? an equivalent amount of mashed banana?) Thanks!

According to the "Food Substitutions Bible," you can use pumpkin puree, plum puree or something like Smucker's "Baking Healthy," which is a fruit-based butter and oil replacement.


None of those seem like great ideas to me, personally, given the other ingredients in the cake. You could also make your own applesauce at home, if you have time. The FS Bible suggests: Just peel, core and dice 4 apples. Place them in a saucepan over medium heat with 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook over low-ish heat until soft, about 15 minutes.

My cousin gave me 3/4 of a large Costco container of feta. I have discovered I like it on my whole wheat pita pizza with sauted vegetables. But I have a half container reminaing. Any ideas?

Sure -- Here are some recipes to help use up your stash.

We loved this Gratin of Roasted Peppers, Basil and Feta, and it's quite a looker, too:

Gratin of Roasted Peppers, Basil and Feta

If you like kale, try this Feta and Kale Tart.

For a meaty option, Mint and Feta Lamb Burgers With Cucumber-Tomato Salad.

And our Feta Salsa recipe uses up 2 whole cups!

Any suggestions on what to send as a healthy treat to an USMA Cadet. They have limited storage (boodle box) for their stashes. Thanks!

How about some pumpkin seed brittle or apple chips? Granola might be nice too.

Jerky/dried salumi type things usually go over well.

Hi Chatters, My fiance and I are creating our wedding registry. I love to cook and have decent basics (a few J. Henckels knives, solid cutting board, cast iron pan, standard baking pans). What are some can't-live-without items that you suggest? Anything in particular you can go cheap on? We want to make sure there are plenty of options for people who only want to spend in the $20-$35 range.

I hope my colleagues will weigh in, but I can't live without, well, a lot of things. Too many things. But, to start anway, I'll say my OXO food scale, 12-inch nonstick skillet and pizza stone. I'd also say my KitchenAid stand mixer, but that'd be a pretty big wedding present. For cheaper items, you can never have too many dish towels, measuring cups and spoons, silicone spatulas and cake pans.

How about a (completely indispensable) Microplane grater, a Japanese or V-slicer (a far cheaper version of a mandoline), Silpat silicone baking mats, and good-quality instant-read and oven thermometers?

In the slightly higher-priced spread, a good scale and a Le Creuset Dutch oven.

A good, sturdy, high-powered blender. A 16-quart stockpot with a strainer. Storage containers. You can never, ever have enough storage containers (to my mind!).

Have you noticed that apple prices seem higher than normal this year? I would love to make some items like applesauce (to can) and some other items but it seems cost prohibitive this year. A peck of haralsons is selling for about $9.

I think CI's recipe for ultimate banana bread specifically calls for frozen bananas.

When you say "airtight container," does that include those clear plastic things with press-on blue plastic tops by Glad and others that are sold in supermarkets next to the plastic baggies?

Sure, if the air's been mostly pressed out of it.

The poster could buy one of those snack-packs of individual applesauces to keep in the pantry. Each one is about half a cup. I'm pretty sure the Motts brand has unsweetened. That way she wouldn't need to buy a big jar that goes bad.

For the high sum of $1.50 I got a cast iron skillet at a yard sale that was caked with crud. Maybe there was a grease fire and it just got dumped. Maybe the lady never cleaned it at all. Anyway, I ended up using oven cleaner - yes it was that bad. Took the inside way down to bare metal. But I've re-cured it and it's one duck breast away from perfect. If the OP has crud on the outside turn it bottom side up and attack with Easy-Off.

so, I'm not a great cook, and my biggest issue is trying to come up with 5 reasonably healthy, easy, and quick dinners every weekday. I have very few dishes I make, so I do them over and over again. I have two elementary school aged boys who can be picky and I work full time and usually get home around 5:30. I would love it if some of the chatters today in similar circumstances would just list the last 5 dishes they made. I'll start! *Pasta withe red sauce and meatballs (the meatballs are from Trader Joe's) *hamburgers *scrambled eggs with ham and toast *stir fry chicken and broccoli *cheese quesadillas and refried beans

At the beginning of each school year, Stephanie Sedgwick provides 5 weeknights' worth  of meals that are easy and family-friendly. Check it out.

A peck of apples = a lot of applesauce.

The US had a warm March and then killing freezes in april. Supposedly 90% of the Michigan apple crop was lost and 50% of the NY apple crop was lost as well. I paid a much higher price for apples from a local orchard. The farmer told me that other farms in NC and NY had come and purchased large quantities of low quality apples just so they would have something to sell at their farm stands.

Any suggestions for what I could substitute for the mushrooms and still get the same consistency? An allergy at my dinner table prevents me from using them; thanks!

The Baked Ricotta-and-Vegetable-Stuffed Squash is the creation of Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, and she has two suggestions for you. First, you could  increase the amount of bell pepper, zucchini and onion to make up for omitting the mushrooms. Or, you can cut 8 ounces of carrot into small (quarter-inch) dice, saute them until they lose their hardness and add those to the mix. Your choice.

I just bought myself a dutch oven, and now I want to make something spectacular to break it in, do you have any suggestions?


I'd prepare something that calls for a long, lingering braise, which fills your house with tantalizing aromas. It's one of the great rewards of having a dutch oven: the aromas!


Try something like this osso buco recipe or Anthony Bourdain's Boeuf Bourguignon, which I have prepared several times to wonderful results (just remember to buy demiglace, which is buried in the recipe!).

I stash soups, stews and chilis in the fridge for a week. Never had a problem with it before. For stuff going to the freezer, i usually cool it overnight in the fridge, the move it to single serving size to go to the freezer.

A friend turned me onto the cookbook put out by Miette pastry shop. Most of their chocolate cakes call for two 6" cake pans. I only have the standard 8". What can I do?

You might be able to find disposables, but I think you'll want to invest in some 6-inchers. I wanted to bake my way through a lot of that book. Also, I've found that a 3-layer 6-inch cake makes a nice change for birthday cakes.

OP here. The crud is on the surface, not the bottom. Just around the edges but as much as 1/8 to 1/4" deep. Not sure whether oven cleaner is the way to go, but maybe it is and the suggestion is appreciated.

The spiced nut recipes look great, but the honeyed ones would not be OK for vegans. Probably the original poster knows that, but just in case.

Maybe agave nectar would work. That's vegan friendly, right?

OP looks like a peck. The apples are in the large bag...maybe 2-4 lbs. Bushels are huge, pecks are down from that ... maybe its not a peck.

So now that we know rice is no longer the healthiest carb what are some of the things I can substitute for rice, rice milk, rice pasta and I don't like almond and soy and hemp milk.

You can substitute orzo for rice. As for rice milk, you could try oat milk, and for rice pasta, I guess I would revert back to good ol' wheat pasta.

Is okay not as good as Memphis and NC and why travel when you have some the best Q on the eastern Seaboard available at Absolute Barbeque. Its a lot easier to drive Manassas then fly to Chicago. Pulled pork has just enough smoke and not too much like too many places. i dont need to taste the smoke for 3 days. I have never been a big fan of cornbread until they gave me a couple pieces to try. My mom's cornbread wasnt that great but theirs is killer. Forget Chicago and head down Rt 28 etc. They have live music and if you hit on the right night great fights in the nearby trailer park.

Thanks for the tip about Absolute. I'll skip the fights, though. 

Hi Jim, you have the best job in the country, hands down. I worry about your cholesterol levels though. How do you prepare the rib tips, are they done attached to the rack or chopped off and smoked seperately? How much time do they need on the grill?

The ribs are detached and cooked separately. The cook around 5 hours or so. 

What should I do with it

Make any of these 15 recipes from our Recipe Finder. (Love these meatballs with pistachios.) Once you've opened the bottle, store it in the fridge.

1. Fajitas: Grill marinated strips of beef (1 minute of cooking per side), refried beans (usually from a can), tortillas, salsa (home made and canned), sour cream, and guacamole (made fresh, takes very little time). saute some onions and peppers in olive oil. 2. Spaghetti with meat sauce: Brown 1/2 pound of sausage, drain, add some spaghetti sauce and simmer (10 minutes). Cook spaghetti to al dente (10 minutes including time to heat the water). Add the noodles to the sauce, simmer 1 minute and then serve. Steam frozen vegetables. 3. Beef and broccoli stir fry. In a cast iron wok over high heat, add sesame seed oil and strips of beef (I purchase an eye of round and cut into strips for stir fry and for fajitas, then freeze in individual serving sizes), onions and a little later some garlic. While that is cooking, I microwave frozen broccoli florets. mix some soy sauce, water, corn starch, chinese 5 spice and some pepper. Mix the broccoli and soy sauce mixture into the beef, stir, once sauce thickens, serve.

Seems that Ontario had some weird weather this year. Things got really warm and the trees bloomed in March and started the fruit growing cycle. Then they had a severe cold snap in April which took out a lot of the crop. What happens in southern Ontatio probably also happened in NY and Michigan. Apples are going to be expensive this year.

Immersion blender, kitchen towels, cookbook holder, sillicone hot pads, handheld citrus juicer, set of glass mixing bowls, Pyrex glass measuring cups, cocktail shaker, plastic pastry rolling mat and electric fondue pot.

My go-to's are black bean tacos, pita pizzas, vegetable stew with potatoes, carrots and peas. They love broccoli or green beans that have been boiled in salted water and then sprinkled with olive oil.

Growing up, my parents never braised anything. On weekend when I have time, I have learned to love meats that have been braised in flavorful liquids. However, I have made some poor wine choices. I braised some beef short ribs in the only red wine I had at the time, a sweet red. The meat was incredibly tender, flavorful of the aromatics and herbs. However, the wine obviously left a rather off sweet flavor. What are some good choices of red wine to have on hand for both drinking and reducing for uses such as this?

It all sort of depends on the recipes. But generally speaking you want dry wines for cooking (and drinking, if you ask me). I've never braised with a sweet wine, but my mouth is puckering just thinking about it!

I was making this sauce the other day...but lo and behold didn't have vodka. Was it a good substitution to use tequila (gold)? What else could have been used? I have some sherry.

Vodka has little to no taste, so you probably could have substituted water! But I guess the spirit might be lending a little kick, so with that in mind I offer you these suggestions from the Food Substitutions Bible: For every 2 tablespoons of vodka, you can substitute 1 tablespoon of neutral or grain spirits (increase other liquids in the recipe by 1 tablespoon) or 2 tablespoons of gin, white rum, aquavit or just what you used: tequila. Most of those will lend flavors that vodka won't, but that'll make it interesting, right?

Smothered Chicken...easy peasey and good. Original recipe makes 8 servings 1/2 cup butter 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 3 cups chopped yellow onions 1 cup chopped celery 3 cloves garlic, chopped 2 cups chopped carrots 3 cups chicken broth 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper Directions Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dredge in 3/4 cup flour, place in the dutch oven, and brown on all sides. Set chicken aside, and drain dutch oven, reserving about 1 tablespoon butter. Reduce dutch oven's heat to medium-low, and stir in onions, celery, garlic, and carrots. Cook 5 minutes, until tender. Stir in the flour, and cook 5 minutes more. Pour in the chicken broth, season with cayenne pepper, and remaining salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Return chicken to the dutch oven, cover, and continue cooking 30 minutes, until chicken juices run clear and gravy has thickened. Serve over rice or egg noodles.

I feel your pain re: healthy dinners that picky people will eat. Last night, we had pancakes (TJ's buttermilk mix) and fruit smoothies made w/frozen fruit. Cheese tortellini in chicken broth tonight, with a side of carrots (that my two elem-school boys won't eat but at least I'll know offered them). Coming up later this week: grilled cheese or turkey/cheese in the panini maker, side TBA.

Should one remove the salmon from the heat source before it's quite cooked through and let it finish cooking while resting? Or is that only with beef? Thanks.

Works for salmon, too. Its flesh is dense, so it holds on to residual heat.

And this is a nice way of cooking salmon.

It's nice to give them access to the traditional foods. You can put stuffing (if it's made with vegetable stock and no meat) in a portobello mushroom cap or a hollowed out squash and bake it, then serve with a mushroom gravy. Make a bean dish that others can enjoy as a side and the vegetarian can have for protein.

Ancient Harvest pasta is made with quinoa and corn flours, not rice, so that is a great option. I prefer the texture to rice pastas anyway.

Any good ideas for beet greens? I was thinking of cooking and using to fill ravioli, but I won't have the time until next Wed at the earliest. I would normally just use it as a side but I've eaten a fair amount of greens that way lately. I was thinking of a pasta dish... any thoughts? I still have two roasted beets left if that helps. It would need to be vegetarian. Thank you!

We're running out of can blanch, drain, coarsely chop, then saute as you would your other greens. 

Food 52 recently did a story with suggestions.

Of course they did! Smart cooks over there.

Friday nights we often have baked potatoes and omlettes. I'll pierce the potatoes and nook them to cook, then quarter them toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and just broil for a few minutes for some color. Don't walk away when they're under the broiler!

Sound advice!

Nothing like spending a gray, breezy Sunday baking, while a stockpot slowly simmers. Q for Jim: Are there any BBQ meats/side dishes that you really savor for fall instead of summer?

      I like goose and duck in the fall. I also like grilling squash and fall fruits, like apples. You can make an applesauce or an apple salsa - or even a smoked apple pie.

Good, now I know where to send the olive tubs and such that fall out every time I open my cupboard. Tim, what's your address?

Well, okay, my hyperbole didn't serve me well there. Keep your olive tubs or use them to grow indoor herbs!

Is this a real book? Where can I buy it?

It most certainly is! Here's a link.


Can I do anything with fresh cranberries besides cranberry sauce (or muddling in cocktails)?

It's after 1 p.m. but the questions and helpful advice just keeps coming! Sorry we couldn't quite get to them all, but  at least you'll have another shot via Chat Leftovers. Thanks to Jason and Jim and you, dear chatters, for joining in.

Chat winners: The baked squash recipe w/typo chatter earns the "Ribs" cookbook; the chatter who offered a screenful of relatively quick family meal suggestions wins the "Southern Italian" cookbook. Send your mailing address to and she'll get those out to you pronto. Till next week, happy cooking and eating!

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie Benwick is interim editor of the Food section; joining us today are interim recipe editor Jane Touzalin, staff writer Tim Carman, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Spirits columnist Jason Wilson and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is the Food section staff writer. Joining him are interim recipe editor Jane Touzalin, editorial aide Becky Krystal, the Process columnist David Hagedorn, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and Spirits columnist Jason Wilson. Guest: Maziar Farivar, chef and co-owner of Peacock Cafe in Georgetown.
Recent Chats
  • Next: