Free Range on Food: Chili, tailgating and more

Oct 24, 2012

Home-cooked chili can be more than ground beef and tomatoes. And we recommend expanding your tailgating repertoire beyond hot dogs and hamburgers.
Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions. Past Free Range on Food chats

Hi folks! Welcome to the Hour of Food Power. We can see Thanksgiving rolling into view, and we're pumped; planning some great things for our two issues (Nov 14 and 18). How's your planning coming along? You'll certainly want to look over our list of where to buy fresh local turkeys, compiled by the able Becky Krystal.  Feel free to ask holiday-food-related q's today, in addition to any you might have with regard to chilis, nutrition labels and tailgating recipes.


A treat: Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick's on hand, as are Jim Shahin (a bit late), Tim "Tailgate" Carman, Jane Touzalin and Becky.  For chat prizes Deb Perelman's "Smitten Kitchen Cookbook" (source of today's Dinner in Minutes) and "In Season" by Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld of New York mag. We'll announce two winners at the end of the hour.


Do you have a favorite brand? Concerning Heinz m., am I the only one who finds it a bit on the sour side?

Hmm, I'd say it's the calcium disodium edta because that certainly sounds Evil, but Hellman's has it too. (I kid. Don't send me a lawyered letter.)


Took a quick poll: Tim's not much of a mayonnaise person, but his wife likes Hellman's Real. Our social producer prefers Smart Balance mayo. Jane Touzalin was surprised to find she liked Veganaise (had to buy it for a recipe test) , but she'll reach for Hellman's or Duke's. Becky doesn't really like the stuff at all . I might pick up a small jar of Miracle Whip (but that's not really mayo, is it?); kinda depends on how much of a presence it will have in a dish.  When I combine mayo and Dijon-style mustard for crustless chicken sandwiches (a fave at my house with potato-leek soup), whatever mayo's around doesn't much matter.


Or if  I have, say, 10 minutes, I'll make some.  Chatters, not to get an entire mayo survey going today, but pls chime in if you feel particularly strongly about a certain brand.

My fiance and I are getting away next weekend and plan on making a great brunch, including a special champagne we've been saving. I really want to make crepes, but in terms of fillings, I don't want to buy a whole lot of food for two people who will each each two (well, three...or four) crepes. What would you recommend for fillings that really pack a punch but don't force us to buy a lot?

How about something like Nutella and bananas? You could also slice up some pears or apples -- maybe cook them with a smidge of butter and sugar first to soften -- and combine with honey and cinnamon. Crepes are also a great way to use up any fun jams you may have at home. Lemon curd would also be scrumptious. Other ideas?

Hi. Thanks for offering this great resource; I hope that you or the chatters can help me. I need to make around 4-dozen servings of a breakfast food to take into work. Restrictions: Shouldn't need to be refrigerated or heated; should be heartier than just a piece of fruit; should be easy to either bake the night before or prep the night before and bake in the morning; ingredients should be moderately affordable. I'd do muffins, but I only have one tin, so that would take forever. Help, please! Thanks!!

Sounds like you're in baked-goods territory. When we tested this Pecan-Chocolate-Espresso Coffee Cake, there was not one. crumb. left.

Also, you could go with the Blueberry Yogurt Coffee Cake (healthful!) or the Blueberry-Cornmeal Cake, which I made this summer on vacation and fell back in love with.  Best of all, you could bake any of these the night before and be done with it. They taste just fine a day later.

Dukes. It has more savory flavor and is not as sweet as Hellmans.

Do you have any experience making roasted stuffed squash? I recently roasted delicata squash stuffied with onions, sage, cheese and a mixture of nuts and I wasn't happy with how it turned out. When I'd cooked it as long as the recipe said to, the squash didn't feel very tender, so I let it go another 20 minutes. By then, the squash seemed fine, but the filling had dried out, so the whole thing seemed really dry. Should I have prebaked the squash before stuffing? Another thing, which probably says more about my inexperience with squash, was that I wasn't sure how to eat it. It seemed unavoidable to eat the squash peel, but I really didn't care for it. Should I have tried to scoop the filling out? The skin was fairly tender, but not enough to be enjoyable.

I sure do have experience. Try this stuffed squash recipe from last week's Nourish column. It's a delicious blend of vegetables and ricotta, good for a main dish or side. The recipe calls for acorn-style squash, in which case I'm not a fan of eating the skin. Delicata squash skin, on the other hand, is thin and not tough. Try this super easy side of Parmesan-Crusted Delicata, tastes as good as it sounds.

David's chili story was so great this morning. I loved how he talked about designing ethnic variations on the classic. I really want make his Dark Pot Roast Chili, but I have one reservation, which is how spicy it might be. I like spicy food, but my husband does not, although he is coming around under my tutelage. When I make a batch of chili, say about 4 servings, I usually use about 1/2 tsp of chipotle chili powder, which gives a slight but not overpowering kick. How much spicier would this chili be? I'm assuming a lot, since it has red pepper flakes, ancho chili paste, canned chipotles, and green chilis. I would love to make this, but I don't want to send him running for a the nearest fire hydrant. Thanks.

David's getting ready for the big, sold-out gala tonight (bravo!) but we tasted all three of his fine chilis. The pot roast chili has a kind of sly, deep heat -- nothing that'll make you reach for a gallon of milk.

My husband and I would like to start experimenting with making cheese at home. Do you have any suggestions for a cheesemaking class in the dc/va/md area? Someone had mentioned to me that some dairy farms host them which sounds like a lot of fun, do you know of anything like that in this area? Thank you!

I couldn't get too many dairies on the phone, but I found a few options. L'Academie de Cuisine has cheese-making classes coming up Nov. 3 and 4. If you're willing to go to Pennsylvania, you can do a two-day workshop at Keswick Creamery, which sells at local farmers markets. The Sur La Table in Pentagon City also has some cheese-making classes on tap for November.

The paneer recipe you included in the mac and cheese article earlier this year worked great and was fun to make. My teenaged son was reminiscing about it just last week! I highly recommend this recipe (just the paneer, though, not the mac and cheese).

I love making homemade cheese. It's relatively easy and so so much better than most fresh cheeses available in stores.

Thank you for putting together such a great list of classes in the DC area! I'm really excited about trying one or two out. But I have a question - how do you know whether you are advanced enough to take an advanced class at say L'Academie? I cook confidently without recipes, and usually have pretty good success. My knife skills are reasonable, but not fast nor professional in quality for sure. Most cooking classes I've taken at places like Whole Foods or in private events with chefs have been below my level - so I learn a recipe or two but nothing in terms of technique. I mean, I still enjoy that, especially if we get to eat what we prepare! I'd love to do something more challenging, but I don't want to be in over my head. I have vague senses of how things like classic French sauces are put together, but I would need recipes or training for some of those more specific classic recipes/techniques. The classes are expensive, and I might need to arrange child care, so I want to be pretty sure I'm signing up for the right thing. Can you help a home cook out?

You sound like you're on the right track. I'd say if you have questions about a specific class, give L'Academie a call. I'm sure they'd be happy to help you. Also, keep in mind that these are classes, so you're not supposed to go in knowing everything! Otherwise, what would be the point?

Bonnie, I can't wait till next Wednesday, I'm so excited to see Ina and get the new book. I know before Giada was here you took questions, in case you looking for questions again, I would love to know what Ina thinks about food blogs. If she reads or follows any, but also what she thinks about so many of them posting and/or adapting her recipes. Also, are there new episodes of Barefoot Contessa coming soon? thanks! See you next week!

Should be fun (speaking of sold out!). What blogs she reads was one of the pre-interview things I've already asked her, but unfortunately I don't have my notes with me. Maybe I'll recap in a blogpost the next day... new episodes are due in January, I think. Also, look for my review of her new book in next week's section. Was fun to cook through it.


The REAL important question is: Should we Halloween-style it up onstage? I'm thinking Glenda Goodwitch crown for her, black hat and striped socks for me. :)

OK, I hope Jim Shahin and you guys won't hate me for asking this, but is there a decent way to make BBQ pork ribs without a smoker? One, I don't have a smoker. Two, I don't actually like the flavorings you get from smoke. I know, I'm crazy, what can I say? But my love for pork ribs was reawakened this weekend after lying dormant for several years (I ate wayyyy too much and got sick of them). And now I want to make some ribs this weekend. Is there a good way I can prepare ribs in the oven or slow cooker that will result in nice, melt in your mouth meat? I'd also love a dry rub and/or sauce that emphasizes the tangy and spicy and goes easy on the sugar - I don't have much of a sweet tooth, if I have one at all. Thanks for any help and please don't hate me!

Jim, I'm sure, will chime in to reprimand you properly. But allow me to add my two cents, since I have a long history of smoking St. Louis-cut spare ribs: You are punching the soft, sensitive underside of the barbecue world with your question. In other words, if you don't use fire and smoke, can you rightly call your oven-baked ribs "barbecue"? My answer would be no.


Sure, you could follow David Hagedorn's 2005 recipe for oven-baked "barbecue" baby back ribs, which call for (the horror, the horror!) ketchup, but I don't think you can rightly call that barbecue. Barbecue's history comes from Taino Indians who cooked over open flames. I think fire is a must.

I love paneer and would love to try the chili recipe. Where can I get paneer in Montgomery County?

You can check out Patel Brothers in Rockville. There's also a location in Hyattsville, if that happens to be closer.

Or you could make your own!

Could you please recommend a pressure cooker? I just received a new Indian cookbook that recommends using a pressure cooker to speed cooking. They seem to range from inexpensive to very expensive and I'm not sure what to look for. Thanks!

Good pressure cookers are pricey, but I think it's worth getting at least one. Many moons ago we did a test of different models and the Kuhn-Rikon came out on top. I'm still using mine. It's amazing what you can cook in it in under an hour. I like to brown chicken thighs, add soy sauce, sesame oil, chicken broth, orange juice, orange peel, bok choy, carrots and potatoes and cook 10 minutes under high pressure with natural release for a quick braised Chinese chicken dinner. Read the manufacturer's dirctions first, you need much less liquid than in a traditional braise.

I've got a Fagor that didn't break the bank; works well. Nice purple and yellow accents in the buttons. Stylin'.

I bought a container of ricotta cheese last week to use in a pizza recipe. Now I still have most of that container and I don't like the taste of ricotta. Any recipe ideas where the taste would be subtle? Thanks for the chats!

I don't know how much you have left, but Stephanie's recipe for Baked Roasted Squash, Ricotta and Fusilli sounds like a good option.

Baked Roasted Squash, Ricotta and Fusilli

So do Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.

Years ago, I had a boyfriend whose mom would make a delightful pot roast every Sunday. It was the flaky kind, served kind of like a pile of meat fibers (appetizing description, huh?), rather than a roast that could be sliced. Sadly, the boyfriend and I broke up and the thing I miss the most is that dang roast. I recently approached my mom to ask her to show me how to make a pot roast and Blast! She made one that wasn't flaky at all. It was a delicious roast, but it could be sliced... not what I'm looking for! Can you help a girl out and point me in the direction of a flaky pot roast recipe? Thank you!

Do you mean, pulled into shreds like pulled pork might be?

Hi I'm heading to the farmers market during lunch (and unfortunately this chat) and plan to pick up some eggplant. Can you provide any tips on how to prepare it? I love eggplant parm, but am looking for something healthier. Ratatouille is great too but seems to involve a lot of vegetables and I'm cooking for one so don't need a big batch or a lot of leftover fresh vegetables. If I only use some of the eggplant, how long will the rest last in the fridge? Thanks!

Eggplant doesn't last that long, maybe a few days max, and that's without having cut into it. Have a look at Joe Yonan's Cooking for One eggplant recipes.

Stuffed Eggplant

I just made ice cream, and when I went to pour heavy cream into the cup measure from a container I had kept in the back of the fridge that had an expiration date three days from now, some chunks came out. Neither the cream nor the chunks smelled bad, I tasted the liquid (not the chunks) and it tasted fine, so I poured the cream through a sieve and used it, minus the lumps. I mentioned this phenomenon to my husband, and he thinks I should have chucked the cream and started over. What say you?

I say: Everybody lives. In future, shake the container a little (not a lot) before you pour heavy cream. It's most likely butterfat, right?

Hello, Just went apple-picking and have some decent ones on hand. Office potluck is a week away. I was thinking of making an apple babka or cake for it, but wanted to know if it would be a terrible idea to make ahead and freeze vs. just keeping the apples in the fridge and making next week. If it matters, I'd be using vegan margarine and almond milks and the like, which may affect your assessment of freezing. Thanks!

Apples store well so I don't see any need to use them right away. I'm not an expert on vegan baking so I'd rather not hazard a guess on freezing. Maybe one of our readers, though, is....?

I know this recipe isn't new, but I made the Lentils and Pasta Sicilian Style  over the weekend and am in love with it--first, it's just plain delicious, and second, it didn't require an extensive shopping trip. So, thanks!

Dingdingding. One of my favorite recipes of the past few years. I used to make it once a month.  Other readers have liked it too, and that's one reason why it'll be in The Washington Post Cookbook (spring 2013)!

Hello, where do chatters find the best bulk selection of grains? Even the biggest Whole Foods near me (Foggy Bottom) doesn't carry much in the way of quinoa (red? black?) or couscous, and I'd love to find a better source for barley, millet, etc.

One of the best places to buy bulk products is the GLUT Food Co-op in Mount Rainer, Md. The place has red, white and tri-color quinoa (from $3.48 per pound and up) as well as French couscous, pearl couscous and whole wheat couscous (from $1.93 per pound and up).

I never buy pork chops, because to me they have the texture of shoe leather. But my husband likes them, so I am going to try to improve them. Is there any way to make regular old Harris Teeter pork chops tender and juicy? Brining? If so, in what and how long?

Since the USDA lowered the safe temperature for pork to 145 degrees, we've been loving pork chops. The lower temperature makes a huge difference. One way that's easy is to rub with your favorite bbq spice blend. Saute the chops in a  nonstick pan with just a little oil until they reach a temp of 145 or just under (they'll continue to cook for a few minutes. Remove the chops, add about 3/4 cup chicken broth and reduce by half. Add your favorite bbq sauce, tablespoon by tablespoon until you have a sauce-like consistency you like. Slice the pork and drizzle the sauce over the pork.

A few years back in David Hagedorn's Chef on Call column, he enlisted Friend of Food Nathalie Dupree to demonstrate the care and technique involved in cooking pork chops correctly. (Local Free Rangers might remember the lucky student was none other than Olga Berman, a ka  Mango & Tomato. To wit:  Nathalie's Pork Chops

Nathalie's Pork Chops

I have a half bushel of granny smith apples saved for me at a local orchard in their cold storage. So far this fall, I have made bourbon apple pie, fried apples, apple tartlets and apple tartin. I have been hesitant in using apples in savory recipes. do you have any suggestions for recipes that include apples in savory or main dishes?

I'm a huge fan of savory apple dishes. This recipe for braised pork, apples and potatoes is one I love, a combination of three of my favorite things.

ham biscuits. The biscuits could be made the night before. You could purchase some dry cured ham, sliced very thinly at a grocery stores. You could also leave some of the biscuits without ham and bring along an assortment of jams for those who do not eat meat or pork.

Thanks for the chili recipes - they have inspired me to get creative. I think I will dust off my slow cooker this weekend. I have some spices (garam masala and anardana powder) that I bought from an Indian grocery, I'll throw them in with some meat, onions, garlic, and chili powder and see what happens.

Who knew it'd be 80 today? Yeesh. I'm curious: What else do you use the anardana powder for? I've never tried it. (And for those of you who haven't, either, it appears to be powdered pomegranate seeds.)

Headed to Seattle this weekend. Any must-visit spots? The only caveat is I'm not a fan of most seafood (though sushi is ok).

Lucky you! I was just there a few weeks ago. Spend lots of time wandering Pike Place Market -- while there, get cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery, hazelnuts from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards and chocolate-covered cherries from Chukar Cherries.

Chan has great Korean food. You can get tasty breakfast pastries at Le Panier and Piroshky Piroshky. And don't miss the doughnuts at Top Pot. That's just a start.

Get over to Alki Beach....nice strolling and beach-y eats.

I want to start taking my lunch to work both for the sake of my wallet and do eat a bit healthier. I like peanut butter sandwiches but would like to add variety. Any ideas for what to add? I thought of grated carrots, maybe cooked mashed sweet potato. Has anybody tried peanut butter, lettuce and tomato? Peanut butter and spinach? Any thoughts would be great.

Chatters? I'm a PB&C (celery) eater so I suspect lettuce, especially iceberg, can't taste that different. And peanuts are certainly paired with those ingreds often enough.

What a great idea! Just reading the recipe has me salivating. Forget the pasta and crostini, I want to eat it for lunch!

Yes, that's what I thought when I saw the recipe. You can eat it by the spoonful, as I did. It's crumbly rather than pesto paste-y.

Hi, thanks for taking my question. I am going to try making lasagna for the first time, but since it's just me I want to freeze some portions for future use. I have found directions for freezing an entire casserole, but that doesn't really help me. Can you give me any guidance? Thanks.

I got the hang of this making pre-cooked homemade meals for my son's single and very hungry baseball coach. Buy the the small casserole dishes from Reynolds found in the baking aisle. They're disposable but can be reused. Instead of making a big dish, portioning, then freezing. I make individual portions to begin with. These seem to freeze and defrost very well. You just need to adjust the cooking times when you go to reheat.

I do them in the slow cooker, and then a quick finish in the oven to dry them out just a little. Fall off the bone tender.

I'm sure they're delicious, as most ribs are. Personally, I like my ribs with a slight pull on them.

Hi Rangers, One of my Thanskgiving meal contributions is dessert. We have one attendee who has gluten issues. Normally I make two desserts, one traditional, one gluten free. But for the gluten free, I keep getting stuck on the pumpkin pie in a ramekin (no crust). Any other options? I'd like to make one fairly traditional dessert for everyone to enjoy (our crowd isn't really big enough for the two desserts after the large feast!)... I'm not a big fan of making my own crusts either, which I know would help, but with a toddler and other dishes to make, I have to cut a corner or two, in the interests of time and energy! Thanks!!

How about Pumpkin Caramel PuddingBaked Apples With Ginger and Cranberries would also be a nice seasonal option.

Baked Apples With Ginger and Cranberries

If you end up being game for a pie crust, you could also riff on this Fresh Fruit and Mascarpone Pie With Gluten-Free Crust.

Fresh Fruit and Mascarpone Pie With Gluten-Free Crust

take along an apple or banana and slice it on just before lunchtime!

Apples, sliced thin, with cheese (brie is great, but cheddar or swiss will work too) Then either black pepper or some sort of savory jam, like red pepper.

A little while ago, thinking I knew what I was doing, bought some whole flax seeds, only to learn that they're better ground. I don't have a coffee grinder, as some sites suggest to ground them up, any suggestions? Meat tenderizer?

I've been known to double-bag things that need crushing and then whack 'em with a cast-iron skillet or hammer.... Other suggestions?

Serious Pie (pizza) / Serious Biscuit (if breakfast/brunch are on the agenda). 2 trips to Seattle this summer, 4 trips to this place - seriously!

The articles this week couldn't have been better! I was planning on doing some chili for football sunday and needed some new tailgating snack ideas for saturday. Only one thing left - what's your favorite cornbread recipe in the system? I only have a ridged cast iron, so unfortunately I need one that I can make in a 9x9.

My favorite recipe for cornbread is on the back of the Indian Head Stoneground Yellow Corn Meal package. I do the sweeter variation which makes a moist version. I've baked the bread in pie pans, muffin tins and cake pans-all with great success and much appreciation from my family. I wish you the same reaction!

I kinda liked this Buckwheat Corn Bread, because it had a lot of flavor. And the Bacon and Cheddar Corn Bread, for obvious reasons.

PB, honey (or creamed honey) and sliced granny smith apples. Yum.

I liked Sitka and Spruce quite a bit.

Absolutely. A winner.

Nutella. Bananas. Bacon and iceberg lettuce. Carrots and celery and green onion. Make a peanut sauce for dipping veggies or tossing with veggies and pasta.

The NYT food section has an article today about peanut butter and pickles!

It sure did. On what looked like Wonder bread.

PB, and Lettuce, Garden Tomato, Mayo, and Cheddar Cheese on Wheat. AKA, my Dad's SuperDuper sandwich. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. Also, PB and Apple.

After seeing your Mango Cranberry Chicken in several chats, I'm making and freezing it this weekend for some friends with illnesses. Two questions, if you please: 1, What is the recommended way to reheat the frozen dish? and 2, I accidentally bought freeze-dried mango instead of regular dried --- any chance I can use it anyway?

You can reheat in a saucepan over low heat till warmed through. Does freeze-dried fruit rehydrate the same as regular ol' dried fruit? Signs point to yes.

can I cook spaghetti and freeze it for later? Also, when I order Chinese food I always have left over rice, can I freeze that for later?

Pasta doesn't freeze well. Rice freezes like a champ; seal it in freezer bags and it'll be good for months.

I bought some anchovies last week to make a tomato sandwich, and now I have a few fillets leftover. Can you recommend any unusual uses for them beyond the classic caesar salad?


You've come to the right place!


We have a number of recipes for you, such as:


* Fried Rice Balls (pictured above)


* Eggplant and Tomato Sauce Over Polenta


* Bucatini With Anchovies and Pepppers


* Obelisk Deviled Eggs


These, plus many more recipes from our database.

That recipe looks fantastic. I struggle with how to use vegetables in pasta dishes because I get the sizing wrong-- roasted veggies with spaghetti never seems to work for me because all the veggies end up at the bottom. It tastes fine but the presentation leaves something to be desired. Seeing how the Romanesco cauliflower (or the "fractalflower," as we've dubbed it) is processed looks fabulous. I just need to get smaller with my vegetables.

Romanesco heads generally run smaller than white cauliflower (which I just saw labeled as "jacketed" at Sam's Club this a.m.). Maybe it's a good ingredient for smaller portions.

Do you have a favorite dairy-free breakfast bread or muffin that I could make for a house guest? Most of my favorites use buttermilk or yogurt.

So excited for cauliflower season! Picked two different kinds for my CSA selection last week. Reading today's Dinner in Minutes recipe and I have everything already on-hand. Thanks for the idea. I am also a huge fan of Smitten Kitchen. While I haven't made a lot of her savory dishes, her blog is the go-to source for desserts amongst my group of food-loving friends. A typical discussion: "what should I make for your birthday dessert?" "Anything from Smitten will do." Can't wait for her upcoming event at Politics & Prose.

I'm a fan as well. The book's a nice representation of what she does on the blog: an authentic voice, enticing photography, relatable stories.

I made WAY too much pizza crust last weekend (apparently the recipe my mom gave me was already doubled!), so put several "balls" in the freezer after they had risen/been punched down. What's the best way to thaw it out so I can make it again? Also...if I've already messed that up, any creative ideas for what to do the large amount of leftover fresh mozz I still have in the fridge?

Overnight in the fridge should be fine. Here's an interesting thread on the topic on Food52.

I purchased a tenderloin last week with a sell by date of 10/20. It's been very cold but not frozen since then. But haven't had time to break it down into filets and roasts until today. Please tell me it still be okay. Gosh I hope so.

I'm sure the Post legal department would like me to refrain from telling you to dig right in!


But generally speaking, most sell-by dates give you a few days beyond that date to actually consume the product. Give the tenderloin a good sniff when it comes to room temperature. If it seems okay to your nose, you're likely fine.

Here's a sandwich from the shop my daughter works at...the Elvis. Peanut butter, banana, bacon and's warmed up.

A classic.

Treat them like a sirloin steak. The biggest enemy for a juicy pork chop is too much cooking. They work the best under high heat for a short amount of time on the grill. I am personally fond of adding a western NC style barbeque sauce to one side of the chop once I make the one and only flip of the chop on the grill.

I agree, too much handling will just dry out a pork chop. Here is a recipe for the Big Chop from our archives.

Smitten Kitchen had a recipe in September that looked great.

Maybe you're talking about baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella?

I stick to peanut butter and jelly. But you can experiment with various jellies, jams and preserves. My favorite is an apple jelly my mom makes and my second favorite is a peach conserve. You can also experiment with various types of bread. For veggies, just pack them separately in a baggy. I rotate carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery. I also pack an apple as a fruit. No need to mix the veggies with the PB&J.

I'm guessing you wouldn't like Peanut Butter and Jelly Foie Gras recipe from Food Network!

Think Thai food - peanut butter, cilantro, sriracha and your carrots!


I hope it's not too late to receive a response today but I have a friend who purchased short ribs and asked me how he should prepare them. I looked up a few recipes but they all seemed very complicated. My friend is 90 years old and, although he loves to cook, he doesn't want to spend the whole day in the kitchen. Any ideas I can relay to him?

Here's a simple and delicious recipe for mahogany short ribs that was a hit when we first published it.

I recommend Mahogany Short Ribs, with just 5 ingredients and fairly simple instructions. It's not for those who like immediate gratification, because the ribs have to marinate overnight first. But after that, you just simmer them, pour a sauce over them and eat.

I once was standing in a cafeteria line and the guy in front of me ordered "peanut butter and bacon on raisin toast." He saw my surprised look and said, "It's good!". I haven't ever tried it myself, but it sounds interesting.

Peanut butter and bacon sandwiches were a staple in my family when I was growing up. The two flavors are terrific together. Of course, it's not a sandwich for dieters.

Haven't tried it with raisin bread, but it sounds like an interesting new flavor frontier to explore!

Speak for yourself, raisin lover.

Really enjoyed the chili recipes today, especially the indian themed one. If we dont' have a car to get out to an indian store, what can we replace the kashmiri paste with?

Call your local grocery store with the best international aisle....I think kashmiri paste is a condiment you can find  there.

Wow, just looked this up and it looks like something I'd see while scuba-diving. I'd love to try it but I've never seen it in a market -- Where besides Sam's Club is it sold and is it usually much more expensive than regular cauliflower? Thank you.

I tend to pick them up at farmers markets but we've seen them at Whole Foods. Not much more expensive, no.  Hmmm...did you mention Sam's Club because I said I was there today? I don't know whether that store carries them. Would be pleasantly surprised if it did!

i have had peanut butter with a raspberry jalapeno jam. It had quite the kick. I also like pb with bacon bits, or pb and honey. or pb and banana.

What a universe of creamy and crunchy has been unleashed today!

The tenderloin should be fine. Many beef cuts are dry or wet aged for weaks. That tenderloin was likely in the store in a matter of days after the cow was slaughtered. Sell by dates are simply gimicks that food companies use because consumers want some kind of date.

Easy for you to say!

I'm running the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday; would you be able to provide some suggestions for a fun, flavorful, carb-rich dinner to cook on Saturday night? Thanks!

As a former cross country runner, I'm somewhat familiar with your plight. (I say "somewhat" because I was never brave/foolish enough to run a marathon.)


Runner's World magazine suggests that whole wheat pastas are better for you than the refined wheat versions, with their easy sources of glycogen. With that in mind, why not try Bonnie's delicious-sounding Whole Wheat Pasta With Cabbage, Mushrooms, Guanciale and Caraway?


You'll be ready to break Paul Ryan's time! :)

Hi! I've gotten more serious about my cooking over the last few years since graduating college, but I feel kind of stagnant. I usually get my recipes from newspapers and food blogs and they've been great, but all over the place and I don't think I have a solid, intuitive grounding for any one type of cuisine. Can you recommend a (not too expensive) class in the DC area or cookbook that will allow me to get a more comprehensive understanding of flavor profiles and how ingredients can tie together (American or Italian cuisine preferred)?

Have a look at our cooking class list. That should be a good start.

OK, I accept that what I make might not actually be BBQ if I don't use a smoker. But can I still get tasty (if not BBQ) ribs by baking them? Or using some other cooking methods?

   You can sprinkle the ribs with your favorite spice rub, wrap them in a foil packet, set them on a rack on a backing pan, and cook at 200 degrees for four hours. Unwrap the ribs and cook for another hour. Ain't bbq, but perty good. 

What, no recipe? The ingredient list is a nice start but ... how much brown sugar, for instance? I don't happen to have either of the two cookbooks mentioned so can't look up the specifics. And I would like to try to prepare this. Thanks!

We'll check with author Ed Schneider; the charm of his Cooking Off the Cuff column is a breezy, non-measured-recipe style. Send a note to about this?

Interesting chat last week and article about raising pigs. Shame the author and the Food section staff dont have any real first hand experience raising cattle or sheep. Raising a few pigs doesnt count. First cattle or sheep are not cute little Disney characters! They will go through you to get to where they want to go or to get to food. They will injure or kill you and they dont care. They will do the same to any herdings dogs used to manage and move the flock or herd. Treating sheep or cattle inhumanely is stupid economically. Inhumane treatment means stress on the stock. Stress on the stock means less weight on the stock.Less weight means less money when you go to sell. It doesnt make sense even on so called large factory farms to abuse stock. Its stupid because abusing animals jeopardizes your economic survival and we are tlaking pennies per lb here. Now much of this propaganda about animal abuse comes from PETA and HSUS who want us all to go vegan and not have cats and dogs as pets. Before you indict ranchers and farmers come on out and work stock with us and our dogs. You find that cute steer or ewe is not a cute movie character and will if necessary kill you to get to its food. Have a great meat eating day.

Yuck. I think I may have gotten rid of them, but I"m now wondering what I should keep in the fridge (instead of pantry). Flour? Corn meal? Cereal??

Because of pantry moths (or meal moths) I now keep flours and corn meal in my fridge and freezer. I also repackage some food items, putting them in lidded plastic containers before putting them in the pantry, so if they are infested with moths at least the critters can't get out and start grazing. In my pantry, the moths don't seem to go for cereal but they like rice and dried beans. Refrigerate what you can and seal off the rest, and you should be fine. I haven't seen a moth for a couple of years now. Hope I didn't just jinx it ....

Americas Test Kitchen recently reviewed pressure cookers and made recommendations.

Yes, and here are the magazine's recommendations. You must register to read them however.

I'm not a big baker, but using her recipes, I've become pretty good on cakes and different types of cookies over the 3 years since I discovered her. And I love that she has recently been tackling home made "kids" snacks. I feel so much better about my son gorging himself on cheese crackers when I've made them.

The person looking for pot roast that can be shredded might be thinking of something like the old one from Hints from Heloise. My copy of it is from the Post, actually. From my files (don't know the copyright situation on this). Peking Roast Recipe By : Hints from Heloise, The Washington Post Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time: 0:00 Categories : Amount Measure Ingredient -- Prep -------- -------------------- ------------------ 5 pounds beef roast -- any cut garlic -- slivered (optional) onion -- slivered 1 cup vinegar -- apple cider or white water vegetable oil 2 cups coffee -- strong black 2 cups water salt and pepper With a sharp knife, cut slits in the roast and insert slivers of garlic and onion. Put the meat into a bowl and slowly pour the vinegar over it and then add enough water to cover the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours, basting the meat occasionally. When the meat has marinated long enough and you're ready to cook it, pour the vinegar solution off and pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Place the meat in a heavy pot (an iron Dutch oven is best) and brown in oil until very dark on all sides. Pour the 2 cups brewed coffee over the meat and add the 2 cups of water. Cover and cook over low heat for approximately 6 hours on top of the stove. You may need to add more water, so check it once in a while, making sure it doesn't cook dry. Add only a small amount of water at a time. Do not add salt or pepper until about 20 minutes before serving. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - NOTES : This was first printed ca. 1960, by the original Heloise, in her "Hints from Heloise" column.

My father likes peanut butter and mayo sandwiches Growing up we always had h'orderves of peanut butter toast with bacon and then there is pb and honey.

oops, was in a hurry, meant spaghetti squash, not spaghetti. I have been using it a lot and would love to be able to to use it even the when the season is over. thanks.

Even the freshest ones seem to have brown splotches on some florets. Should I discard that part or is it just funny-looking?

We all cut 'em out. They tend to develop after a week or so in the fridge.

Or, instead of barbecue sauce, use hoisin or duck sauce, or even add some cider or orange juice to the pan juices and reduce.

I made this (from Food  &Wine) for Thanksgiving of 2010 and it was a HUGE hit.

Used to buy Hellman's low-fat, but its texture has changed in a way we don't like. I like Duke's low-fat OK, but can only get huge jar, too much for two of us who use it only occasionally (e.g., to make tartar sauce when we have fish). So I'm looking for good ideas, too.

I ran the Chicago marathon a few weeks ago, and my (very kind!) future brother-in-law made a dinner of roast chicken, roasted root veggies, and a side of pasta - unless you are a regular carb-loader, don't divert too much from your normal diet the night before the race!

I love SM recipes, but there are so many! I'd love to hear other people's favorites. For me, I just made the roasted apple spice cake and it was a huge hit.

Remind me!

I loved seeing the article linked about PB & pickle sandwiches on white bread! I have always loved those but I've never come across anyone that would admit to eating them.

So many q's we ran over our time a bit. You don't mind, do you? Thanks to Stephanie and Jim for helping out, and to you as always, dear chatters, for whom we do it all. '


Cookbook winners: The chatter excited about cauliflower in the CSA basket wins "In Season"; the chatter who began our peanut butter freeforall wins "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook." Send your mailing address info to Next week, we all turn into pumpkins. Till then, 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, Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.
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