Free Range on Food

Nov 07, 2012

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

God Bless America. Now we can get back to more crucial matters, such as which Thanksgiving dishes are getting your vote this year?  We had hoped to have  Tanya Steel here, e-in-c of and proud co-author of  "The Epicurious Cookbook." But we're having system issues, so we're rescheduling her for next week.  Of course, we can discuss steaks 'n' sauces (are you a purist or pourer?) and the state of barbecue; we can relay answers from Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and Spirits guru Jason Wilson.  Staffers Tim Carman, Jane Touzalin and Becky Krystal are on hand.


Giveaways: "Garlic: The Mighty Bulb," by Natasha Edwards (source of today's Dinner in Minutes) and  "The Sauce Book," by Paul Gayler. We'll announce 2 winners at the end of the session.


Did you see the gallery of new Make It, Freeze It, Take It recipes? You asked for it....

It looks like my husband's family's Thanksgiving is going to be a small one: right now, just four people, maybe five or six. My inlaws are hosting, but I told my MIL I would love to help prepare side dishes (which is quite true). Going from the fact that it's going to be so small and adding to it that they live in another state and we won't get there until a day before, do you guys have suggestions on the best dishes I should try? I would love ones that focus on food native to America.

I know you've had this question at least a dozen times, but I can never remember the answer. What is a healthy substitute for heavy cream in some of my winter soups? Regular milk doesn't have the same richness, but for health reasons, the cream is a no-go. Thanks!

You can try substitutes such as fat-free "Half & Half" or even Half & Half itself.  The Food Substitution Bible also says you can substitute 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 cup 2 percent (or 1 percent) milk with a tablespoon of cornstarch to help with thickening. Finally you can use fat-free evaporated milk.


The book also suggests yogurt, but I would discourage that option. It would likely add an unwanted tang.

What is the better or best boxed wine brands? I'm a slow drinker, 1 glass every few days (my husband doesn't enjoy wine - crazy i know!!) and need something that won't spoil. Or should I just buy mini-bottles? I cook with wine too, but can't cook with THAT much wine, my kids won't eat it.

Wine columnist Dave McIntyre says:


Boxed wines are getting better, though they still aren't very exciting. The Black Box brand is reliably good. A company called Cultivate Wines has two in boxes, including a chardonnay called Wonderlust and 

a cabernet sauvignon called Copa Cabana, both from Chile for about $35 for the 3L. The Maipe malbec from Argentina, which I recommended in today's column, is also available in the 3L box format. And Michael Shaps offers some affordable and tasty Virginia wines in boxes under the Virginia Wineworks label.



We're celebrating Thanksgiving at my sister's house, about 2 hours away by car and planning to drive up Thursday morning. Since we miss our grandmother, who always made a big deal out of the holiday and caused fights over her lemon meringue pie, I've been asked to re-create the memory. But I am scared -- last time I tried, the pie looked beautiful when I made it the day before, but then I read to stick it in the fridge overnight and we ended up with delicious but runny/liquidy lemon meringue pie soup served in bowls with spoons. Can I make the pie the day before and leave it on the counter overnight? Any other tips for this tricky dessert?

Meringue pie's a bit tricky to refrigerate. Unless you have done a meticulous job of covering all the filling with the meringue, weeping can occur (both from your eyes and beneath the meringue itself). Even then, sometimes the meringue can shrink a bit. You could make the pie filling and bake a pie shell, keeping those two elements separate. Assemble the pie and finish the meringue/baking at your sister's house.  Wonder what Tanya thinks?

I'm looking for light, bright, different veggie ideas for Thanksgiving to balance out the beloved carb load. (I can't take away the potatoes and stuffing but I can definitely add more options to the table.) Thanks!

Two ideas that jump out at me from the database:

Balsamic Pearl Onions

Pear and Red Onion Gratin


The problem with adding vegetables to a Thanksgiving table is finding seasonal vegetables that taste good. I'm a big fan of Brussels sprouts (a late bloomer to that vegetable; I used to despise them as a kid).  I think this Brussels Sprouts California Style recipe is exactly the kind of thing you're looking for: a seasonal vegetable prepared in an original and tasty way.


You might also consider these two:


* Broccolini With Buttered Pecans, Orange and Garlic


* Carrots With Ginger and Honey


My WONDERFUL friend just gifted me a lovely bottle of pumpkin spice balsamic vinegar from Ah Love Oil for my birthday. Um...what do I do with this?

Lucky you! Isn't it great? I have a bottle of fig vinegar from there that I love -- so thick and syrupy. I could eat spoonfuls of it by itself, but I won't recommend you do that. I think it would be best treated as a dessert condiment, on yogurt or ice cream, maybe a simple cake. Other suggestions?

Tom Colicchio's steak sauce recipe sounds really good. Your recipe mentions that the demi glace is expensive. Where would I find it in DC? I don't think I've ever seen it in the store.

It WAS really good. And the recipe does make a lot. I  found veal demi-glace at Williams-Sonoma. As I recall, it was about $29 for 9 ounces. You can buy a combination of veal and beef demi-glace at Sur la Table for $4.95 per 1 1/2 ounces, which works out to be a little more expensive. I've also heard, but can't confirm, that you can buy it at Whole Foods and sometimes Trader Joe's. And Dean & DeLuca would be a good bet.

Sorry I missed you, Bonnie and Tim, (I did not know you were to appear there) but I caught Giada. Is she for real? She is in her early forties, she is skinny and looks early twenties. What is her secret? Surely it can't be her recipes, I get fat just reading them. Are there any homecooks out there who use her recipes frequently and don't gain weight???


Sorry we missed you, too! We had a small (but attentive) audience for our Breakfast Pupusas Americanas demo, including surprise attendee, chef Scott Drewno from The Source (who saved my bacon by loaning me a spoon to stir the heated milk!).


As for Giada and her slender frame, I suspect she has a personal trainer on her payroll.

When I interviewed her at Sixth and I, she said she eats many small meals.  Tim and I managed to draw something of a crowd -- perhaps in the way that a fender bender does :). But we had fun. He keeps referring to it as "a learning experience."

Is there a way to prep dressing (stuffing) and freeze it? I have bread on hand now that would be great for our T-day meal, but obviously won't hold until then. Thought perhaps I could saute the onion, celery, mushrooms, etc. and freeze them, dry and freeze the bread, then thaw and combine with the butter/broth later in the month. Yes? No?

You bet. Not sure how your recipe goes, but I might toast the bread cubes/crumbs; saute and cool the vegetables (are there herbs/seasonings?); and toss all of it together for freezing.

Have you ever tried Molly Wizenberg's Brother Timothy's Stuffing? Mmm. Mmm. Good.

Hi! Each year I make small gifts for friends and co-workers. In the past I've done things like flavored vinegars and homemade mustard. I don't have great ideas for this year though. Criteria are small gifts that can be made in quantity, are not too expensive, and don't meed a lot of special equiptment or hard to find ingredients. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Nancy Baggett put together a nice mix of DIY holiday gifts a few years ago. Have a look at that -- even has recipe cards you can provide to the gift receivers.

She also gave us a great recipe for peppermint marshmallows. Pack those beauties up with cocoa blocks for hot chocolate. Yum.

Peppermint Marshmallows

Any ideas for places that I can order and pick up a Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings in Arlington, Alexandria or Vienna? I have already had Balduccis and Whole Foods in the past. They were both good but I was looking to try someplace new. It will just be my husband and me and our work schedules will prevent us from having the time to cook.

We retired our takeout Thanksgiving list for this year, but have a look at last year's roundup. I bet almost all the places there are doing it again. Anyone have a favorite?

Having some family over this weekend including grandparents with a conservative food taste. Any suggestions or menu for a party of 8? Will need at least a meat dish included! Thanks.

Nothing is more mainstream and universally appreciated than meatloaf! (Except maybe mac and cheese.) Even though this one is called Election Night Meatloaf, you don't have to wait another four years to make. It serves 20 to 24, so you can send the family home with meatloaf sandwiches and still have leftovers for yourself.


I saw a recipe on the "Today Show" this morning about bacon wrapped meatloaf... It looked amazing. I can't find the recipe online but how can I get everything like bacon to stay crisp and not get the bottom of the meatlof grease soaked. I imagine that the meatloaf would be swimming in grease. (not a good eat)

Looks like you can access that "Pioneer Woman"  recipe here. She bakes the thing on a broiler pan, which will allow the fat a place to drip. Since I pitched that particular piece of kitchen equipment, I'd place the bacon-wrapped meatloaf on a wire rack that fits inside a rimmed baking sheet (maybe for easy cleanup, line that sheet with aluminum foil first). That ought to do the trick.

Help! I've been asked to bring a greenbean casserole to a thanksgiving dinner for 12 that will have a cuban slant. Can you suggest a good recipe that will blend in well. Thanks!

It's sort of from that same area of the world and not a casserole per se, but maybe this Guatemalan Potato and Fresh Green Bean Salad will work? 

Guatemalan Potato and Fresh Green Bean Salad

Halloween is over. Now what do I do with the pumpkins I've been using as decorations. Could they be edible? Will the sugar pumpkins still be good if they've been outside and I live in a place that still sees warm temperatures every day? And what about the other pumpkins? I know the big field pumpkins are basically only good for jack-o-lanterns, but I think the other ones I have are cheese pumpkins. Are they any good?

Bring them in, keep them whole and at a cool room temperature. You can hollow them out and use them for serving vessels. We'll have a story next week with recipes!

Loved the steak sauce article. My favorite sauce (such as it is) for steak is a compound butter blended with chopped anchovies and parsley. The flavor combo really let's the steak shine while also enhancing it. I so rarely make steak at home though because I can't find a good source. Where is there to get fine meats in the district? I don't have a car so suburban locations are not ideal.

I endorse that candidacy! I'm assuming by "fine meats," you're willing to pay for quality? Try Wagshal's in Spring Valley (on the N2 line) and Stachowski's in Georgetown (D6 bus; Georgetown Circulator) or several meat purveyors in at the Eastern Market.

I enjoyed the Hemingway column and appreciated the accompanying cocktail recipe that included kirsch, a spirit I have in my liquor cabinet solely for making cheese fondue. I've never had it in a drink. What else can you do with it?

Kirsch (or kirschwasser) is a wonderful dry cherry brandy, and I think a lot of people have a bottle laying around from fondues of yore. I like kirsch by itself as a digestif after a meal (more on that in the next column). I've found myself using it in cocktails more and more too. The Acacia Cocktail (gin, Benedictine, and kirsch) is a nice winter alternative to a martini. In the Rose or Rosato, it mingles with rose vermouth (look for Martini brand) and raspberry syrup for a nice light aperitif. And I use it in my favorite version of the Singapore Sling (much drier than you'll usually find).

As with every spirit, use good quality kirsch -- the best comes from Germany or Alsace (or the Alps) though there are good domestic ones from Clear Creek in Oregon and St. George Spirits in California.

Hi. I saw a recipe on Pinterest for orange chicken that I'd like to try but it involved frying (something I really would like to avoid). Can this be baked? I was thinking I could cut up the chicken, saute it a bit, then put it and the sauce in a 9x13 and cook. Would that work? Thanks! (And yes, I know frying would taste better, but I've never ever fried anything and don't really have the time to start learning now. Baking, however, I can handle!)

My first thought would be that something important will be lost in baking the chicken. You'll lose some crispiness, for sure.  And crispiness is part of the joy of orange chicken. I'm not a fan of the gloppy, soggy versions.

For heavy cream in cooking I substitute white sauce made with 1 Tbsp canola oil, 1 Tbsp whole wheat (or white) flour and 1 c. milk (or buttermilk!). Fat content 14 g from the oil + a few grams from the milk and the fat from the oil isn't saturated. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, bay leaf, garlic ... Important: Cook over low heat for 30 Min or so. Stir often. The end product is less gluey than milk (or yogurt or buttermilk) thickened with corn starch and won't curdle like yogurt or buttermilk or sometimes sour cream (when these aren't thickened). Believe me, I've tried all these variations. (Inspired by Deborah Madison's "The Savory Way" and "Laurel's Kitchen")

This sounds like a promising substitute, although you're adding more flavors. That may not work in all cases, depending on the recipe.

I've never gotten it myself, but I've heard really good things about Wegmans' Thanksgiving food.

Brainstorming for a large Thanksgiving party that I will be hosting. I would like to serve a hot (alcoholic) beverage. I want to make it in the crockpot so I can just set it out and have people serve themselves and not worry about it staying warm, etc. I've done mulled wine before and it was good but I'd like to try something new. Any good ideas?

Hmmmm. I don't know that the crockpot is such a hot (no pun intended) idea. Most hot cocktails, like a toddy, rely on just-boiled water. You could maybe try a variation of this apple toddy recipe, and adapt it for your purposes?

Can you recommend a fruit-based breakfast side to go with a rich strata or quiche? I would normally just do fresh berries or summer fruit, but want something more seasonal, yet not too heavy.

How about Baked Apples With Ginger and Cranberries? Or my fave: Broiled Citrus. You also could think about serving mini glasses of a nice fruit smoothie.


Mother-in-law is hosting Thanksgiving and wants to stuff her turkey. I've heard that for bacterial reasons, a lot of cooks have moved away from this. Should I say anything? Or should I not worry about it?

You want to challenge your mother-in-law's Thanksgiving prep? I think that would be riskier than eating her stuffing.

I stuff my bird every year and haven't killed anyone. No guarantees, of course, but if she uses her head -- for example, you don't want to stuff a turkey, roast it and then drive it four hours to Grandma's house with the stuffing still in it  --  all should be fine. The stuffing temp needs to come up to 165 degrees, so if you're nervous you can helpfully offer to check the temp of the bird. Make sure the turkey has come to, or close to, room temperature before she stuffs it, which will help the stuffing cook at a safer rate.

Well, here's one cook who has been stuffing it since 1987. I know it's a real matter of concern for people, but I think it depends in part on what kind of stuffing you're using (does it contain eggs?) and how long you're cooking/holding the turkey.  You might, in your best Carolyn Hax-coached manner, ask her for her recipe (and then you can look it up to see the method).

I love Brussels sprouts too, but your Brussels Sprouts California Style link goes to the photo, not the recipe. Please fix!

My bad! Here's the recipe.

Do you have any recommendations for high quality, local beef. I have been trying to eat as locally as I can but have not yet found a good source of local beef like I had when I lived in the midwest.

Several area farms sell at local markets. Some to consider: North Mountain Pastures, Garden Path Farm and Coutry Vittles from Critter Hill Farm. Our columnist David Hagedorn did a piece on Randall Lineback beef.

Jim, Absolutely loved your election day article. It definitely puts things into perspective. Okay, enough gushing, on to the question. We are hosting friends for Thanksgiving this year and no one wants a traditional turkey. Do you have some ideas for grilling/barbequing something new and exciting for Thanksgiving? Most of us are willing to experiment so any ideas are welcome.

    Enough gushing? You can never gush enough. Thanks for the props!

     New stuff for Thanksgiving. Yes.

    One, smoke your turkey. We wrote a story - and did a video - a couple of years ago that shows you how.

    Two, smoke your vegetables. Try, say, Brussels sprouts.  Clean them, trim them, then put them in a vegetable basket on put them directly over the fire for some nice char or on the cool side of an indirect fire for a light smoke flavor. You can either cook them entirely on the grill (though be careful that you don't over-smoke) or finish on the stovetop or in the oven. You can do the same with pretty much any vegetable. Take green beans. Grill briefly. Bathe in an orange or lemon and olive oil vinagrette and garnish with some toasted (or grilled) slivered almonds.

      Hope that gets the idea factory going.


Why does nearly all the unsweetened butter I can find list "natural flavors" along with cream as ingredients? Isn't butter flavorful enough without whatever is added?

Two different creameries address the "natural flavorings" question on their Web sites:

From Keller's Creamery.


From Challenge Diary.

This year, will you do two sections devoted to Thanksgiving and run the second one on Sunday instead of Wednesday? Want to make sure I don't miss it. Thanks.

Yes and yes. We're in production now! Very excited about all we have to offer. WED Nov. 14 and SUN Nov 18 are the issue dates. We will NOT publish a Food section on the Wednesday/day before Thanksgiving.

Do you think for an individual serving of apple crisp, that I can use cornstarch in place of wheat flour, to sprinkle on the apples and also in the crumble topping?

I don't think cornstarch would work well as a crumble topping. If a gluten-free crisp is your goal, there are many gluten-free flours you could try, or maybe just use a combination of oatmeal, chopped nuts, butter and brown sugar for the topping. If the apple filling is cooked first, say by simmering it in a saucepan with a little liquid, then you could use cornstarch in place of flour as a thickener.

Alton Brown had an episode on cooking a stuffed turkey. The keys were to partially precook the stuffing so it was already hot and to place it in a cloth bag so that juices and flavors could be introduced to the stuffing from the bird, but that the turkey cavity was not so full that heat from the oven could not get in to cook the bird from the inside as well as from the outside.

Thanks for that. A bag seems like extra fuss and not have much to do with potential cooties. Not stuffing the cavity to SRO capacity is certainly indicated.

I made a mulled drink with half red wine and half apple cider one year and got a lot of compliments.

Why not try adding pulled apart pieces of bread to winter soups? Pureed veggies (ex. potatoes) help thicken soups too.

I bought some yellow lentils recently because I'd never seen them before and they looked gorgeous. I know how to use red lentils, green/brown lentils, and lentils du Puy. But no clue on yellow lentils. Are they interchangeable with other lentils? If not, any thoughts on recipes that call for them, spices that go well with them, etc.?

Here's a nice little primer on lentil varieties from the Kitchn.

Maybe it's just because I cook a ton of Indian food, but that's what think of when I consider yellow lentils.

Here are some of our recipes:

Hara Kebab (Lentil and Spinach Cakes)

Hara Kebab (Lentil and Spinach Cakes)

Lamb Chili

Lamb Chili

Lemon Lentil Soup

Lemon Lentil Soup

Sometimes I'll sub in fat free greek yogurt or low fat sour cream in soups.

Maybe toss the chx pieces in a little cornstarch, spray with cooking spray, cook on oven sheet in hot oven til done, and then toss with the orange sauce?

Another opinion on the baking orange chicken.

La Madeleine also does a nice one. We cheaped out and ordered from Safeway last year. I would not recommend it at all.

Thanks for the report!

Hot apple cider and caramel vodka!

For the large Thanksgiving party, Clinton Kelly has a drink called Hot Muttered Rum in The Chew cookbook that is made in a slow cooker for 4 - 6 hours. Sounds like it is just what the OP is looking for!

I have a 1 lb. pork tenderloin I want to cook in my slow cooker, but all of the recipes start with a 2 lb. tenderloin. How do I adjust the slow cooker time? Also - if you have a good recipe to share, I would love to see it! thanks!!

Are you absolutely tied to preparing the tenderloin in the slow cooker? Because, if not, here's a very good recipe for a 1 1/4 lb tenderloin, which should work with yours.


The recipe, by the way, is from Judith Jones's "The Pleasures of Cooking for One" cookbook.  I can only assume that the recipe will yield some leftovers.

Instead of searching a bit of demi glace that is most probably infused with preservatives, I would play around with David Hagedorn's mock veal stock made with Turkey bones. If you want umami, you get umami with this. You are hearing this from someone who does not like anything faux or mock, unless it comes from David. Le sigh!

Balsamic glazed brussels sprouts are great side dishes. I also love simple sauteed mushrooms with some sherry and sage. They're both reasonably light and fit in nicely with stuffing and potatoes.

Sounds good. I really am a sucker for balsamic anything. You should have seen me chugging back vinegar at Ah Love in Shirlington the other month.

I was interested in making the parsnip soup you posted a few weeks ago- curious as I don't own any heavy cream (and it just sounds like it'll attach to my thighs directly) are there any substitutes? Also, can just parsnips (more or less) be that good (or is that where the cream comes in)? I like parsnips, but just wonder if it'll be light on flavor and I'll need to dump a bunch of garlic in it. Your recipes haven't steered me wrong yet, so excuse my questioning your expertise.

This is supposed to be a subtle, sweet soup, so "a bunch of garlic" wouldn't be my choice for an addition. The cream gives  flavor and body, and I think the soup would suffer  without it, but you could try light cream or half-and-half as a substitute. Remember, this is a dish served at the Inn at Little Washington. It's going to be indulgent.

I love love love garlic. What is the easiest way to prepare garlic on its own for something like an appetizer?

Roast it: Lop off the top third to expose the cloves. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Wrap in foil and roast at 375 for about 45 minutes (wait till the next time you have something in the oven, or you can do this in a toaster oven, just to be energy-efficient). Squeeze out the cloves.  I also like gently frying very thin slices till lightly browned and crisp. Season with a coarse kosher salt.

If I recall correctly, in her book about Best Recipes for Losing Weight, Pam Anderson touts fat-free evaporated milk as a cream substitute. I tried making one of the cream soups in that books and it WAS very good. Let me add here that I am totally envious of all who get to spend to spend the holidays with family this year. Treasure the flabby green bean casserole and count your blessings, I say! :)

Maybe we're not discriminating enough, but I buy NY strip steaks at Wegman's and we usually enjoy them. An advantage is that one boneless steak, about 3/4 lb., is enough for the two of us to share. I can't imagine eating a restaurant-size serving, and we don't care enough about steak to pay big steakhouse prices, so we almost never eat steak out.

I'm sure you're discriminating enough. You're a Free Range chatter, aren't you?

Any tips on prepping and storing hardwood logs from trees felled by Hurricane Sandy? Looking to stock up on oak and maple for BBQ season.

     Seasoning hardwood is often done through various seasons. Remember, we're talking wood here. It is used to the elements. That said, if you can keep it in a dry place for about a year, it will provide nice smoking wood come next fall. If you don't have a place to put it, then put a tarp over it., 

As I was reading it, I had to double check that it was WaPo, not NewYorker in my hands. I am not a fan of barbecue, but enjoyed reading your story. What a nice way to start a day! thank you.

      And what a nice way to have an online chat. Thanks!

There's a recipe for a vegan shepherd's pie in one of the recent Bon Appetit issues that uses lentils and roasted root veggies for the filling. I'm thinking of bringing it to our vegetarian relative's T dinner. My question is which kind of lentils do you like best?

Well, if we're talking about the same recipe, it calls for brown or French green lentils. So I would go with that! They'll hold up the best without going mushy.

I would have attended your demo had I known you were there. I am sure I am not alone. They did not advertise you properly. Since I bought my two day ticket on line they bombarded me with ads urging me to buy $150 tickets for seats closer to the demo stage for Pepins, Giada, Colicchio, etc., but they never mentioned you two. I was very annoyed. Tell organizers I want my money back! :(

That's an understatement. I'd say they didn't advertise us at all. Bonnie and I weren't even listed on the demonstration schedule in the hall. (To be fair, I should note that I agreed late in the process to do the demo.)


Bonnie, however, took matters into her own hands. She wrote in our names on the schedule. I snapped a photo of it here.

Thank you for the recipes. The ingredient lists show me I cannot eat there. Better to find out at home than at the table with the menu at a restaurant with difficult to obtain reservations.

As someone who has never been a real user of steak sauce at home (compound butter at most, but I'm a firm believer that a good steak doesn't need it), I'm always intrigued by offerings at restaurants. The only sauce that has ever really blown me away is the black pepper jam at J&G Steakhouse. It's both delicious and a really unique take on the sauce trend. Is there any chance at all you can find a way to get the recipe from their kitchen? Pretty please? I would LOVE to make it at home.

We'll ask!

Hello. Thanks for taking my question. I have never met a dressing or stuffing that I like. They usually contain onions, celery, too much sage, sometimes oysters, and mushy white bread. I would prefer ingredients like sausage, unusual breads, nuts, dried fruit, and wild rice. Do you have any recipe suggestions for creative dressing/stuffing? Thank you.

This is the one I have made for 25 years! It has lamb sausage and hazelnuts (hear the angels sing; my favorite nut) and you only saute the onion and celery until it's crisp-tender.  It's from Gourmet mag -- I think the original recipe included cutup bits of ham as well -- and my husband demands its appearance no matter what else is on the menu. It never gets mushy; I cook some of it in a casserole and some in the bird. The casserole version gets crisped on top. You could make it with pumpernickel or rye bread. How great would that be!

Dear Jason, It was interesting read the results of an experiment in Cook's Illustrated where they demonstrated that freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, if allowed to sit for a few hours, tasted better than when first squeezed. Cocktails, on the other hand, always use freshly squeezed. Is this an argument to plan ahead and squeeze a lemon when you hope to have a cocktail that evening?

Interesting. I had not seen that. It's good news, though, for bars and party hosts, though, since it seems totally fine to juice the fruit in advance. When I say "fresh squeezed" in recipes, I also mean don't use "sour mix" or a pre-bottled juice.

I undertand from my husband that Costco filet is good. (I'm a vegetarian, but make meat for him). He's been known to say my filet is 'as good as restaurant steak'.

It's not quite the same as cream, but throwing a couple of potatoes in your soup or base stock then pureeing is a good option. Cream of broccoli soup is an occasional treat; broccoli soup pureed with a potato is not only satisfying, but really low-calorie.

Hi Rangers! The poster's comment about meatloaf reminded me of a feature you used to have, giving chefs a small budget to make a great meal at home. I remember a recipe for turkey meatloaf wrapped in turkey bacon that was very good when I tried it. I haven't checked but can I find it in the recipe finder ? Thanks.

You can't find it in Recipe Finder, but it does exist in our archives, and here it is, with the accompanying recipe for gravy:

Turkey Meatloaf
4 servings plus additional for leftovers
This moist loaf has a much milder flavor than traditional meatloaf. It still takes well to gravy or ketchup.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 large eggs
21/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 6 ounces turkey bacon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have ready a 1-quart baking dish or a loaf pan.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook until its "nose develops" -- until you can smell the garlic -- or for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the ground turkey, sauteed garlic and onion, cream, salt and pepper to taste. Using a spoon, stir the mixture until it is combined and clings together nicely. To test for seasoning, cook a little of the mixture in the saute pan until there is no trace of pink within and taste it.

Spoon the meat mixture into the loaf pan, mounding the meat slightly in the center. Layer the strips of turkey bacon on top of the meat, arranging them in a pattern.

Place the baking dish or loaf pan inside a larger roasting pan to catch any juices, and bake for 1 hour. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees and cook until the bacon is browned and the internal temperature registers 160 degrees, about 15 more minutes. The meatloaf will shrink slightly from the sides of the pan and some liquid may accumulate around the edges. Set aside to cool slightly.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Slice the meatloaf in the pan or use two spatulas to remove the meatloaf from the pan before slicing.

Mushroom Gravy
Makes about 1 cup gravy
This quick gravy is thick with diced onion, bacon and mushrooms.

6 medium button mushrooms, stems removed
11/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 strips turkey bacon, finely diced
1 teaspoon flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup water or chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slice the mushroom caps into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and bacon and cook until the onion is translucent and the bacon releases its fat, about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, stir to combine and cook, stirring only once or twice, until the mushrooms soften, brown slightly and give off their juices, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low, sprinkle the flour over the top and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water or broth and stir until incorporated. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, adding additional water if necessary to reach the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Hello. Are there any coking classes/ tasting events in the DC area that are under $50/ person. I am trying to find a class or something that I can buy a gift certificate to as a holiday gift. Most classes (Sur la Table, Culinaerie, etc) are in the $69 to $89/ person range and that is out of my budget. The recipient enjoys most cuisines and wine (no beer or whiskey events please) Thank you.

Have a look at our cooking class list. Some classes through local governments may be less than $50. Righteous Cheese offers classes for $49. Cheesetique classes can also be less than $50.

Can I just put in a plea for 'real food'? Please consider having cream every once in a while and *enjoying* it - savor the texture and flavor. I personally don't find subs work to well, and also must admit a bias against things like 'fat free' half and half - that means it's not what Michael Pollen calls 'real food'.

I'm on your side in this argument. I'd rather have a little real heavy cream than a fat-free Half & Half substitute. But human desires are hard to decipher and even harder to chage. I mostly advise an Live and Let Eat philosophy -- although I do judge those who drink Miller Lite at Birch & Barley.

I've been tasked with bringing wine for Thanksgiving. I'm good with white, but wondering what to do for reds. I assume something relatively light? Any recommendations for a Virginia red that would be good with turkey, preferably one I could purchase at the winery (i.e., the northern VA wineries)? Thanks.

Dave McIntyre:

Virginia has the advantage of producing medium weight wines that tend to be food friendly. Try the Cabernet franc from Paradise Springs or the stylish 2010 Bordeaux blends of Boxwood winery. If you're adventurous, try the Chrysalis Barrel Select Norton.

Last week I hard boiled some eggs in anticipation of losing power. Luckily, we did not but now I wonder how long those hard boiled eggs would be good if not refrigerated. Thank you.

Not very long. The government says to discard "fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products" held at above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours.

are these the same as yellow split peas? can we use yellow split peas in that lentil soup?

They're not the same. You might be able to substitute, although the taste is different and split peas may take longer to cook.

Yes, "just parsnips" can be that good. A friend brought that soup to Thanksgiving a few years ago. There were doubters, but people were fighting to lick out the serving bowl.

I'm planning to make this Ina Garten stuffing. But I'm not going to actually stuff the bird with it because we're also feeding a couple vegetarians (and yes, I'll use veggie stock!), and the recipe doesn't say how long to cook it. Any suggestions for temperature--both cooking temp and internal? thanks!

There's nothing in the recipe that would pose a risk if undercooked -- the main ingredients are cornbread, onions, butter and broth -- so cover your baking dish with foil and bake it at maybe 350 or along with the turkey, until it's good and hot. That's all you need to worry about. If you want a crisp top, remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes or so.

I've frozen leftover stuffing a few times, and I don't recommend it. It loses all texture and gets really mushy.

Considering doing a smoked turkey this year and focusing on a southern theme for side dishes. I've found different opinions: can I brine or can I only dry rub if I'm smoking? Should I not stuff it? Do I want to just bring it to temp like if I was baking it? Thanks!

     Me, I brine. But you can simply dry rub if you don't feel like brining. The thing is, you can do both. I brine, rinse the bird, then season with a dry rub. 

     I don't stuff it. The main reason is that you risk over-smoking the stuffing. The second reason is that it changes the time the turkey cooks, making things more unpredictable. There are enough things to worry on Thanksgiving. Don't add another. 

      There are diferent opinions about whether to bring to temp, but I do. 


Oops -- I did it again. After 1 pm and we're still answering...thanks to Jim and Jason and you, dear chatters, for taking time away from red/blue map diving to talk food.


Chat winners: The person who first asked about yellow lentils gets the "Garlic" cookbook; the person who asked about prepping wood/logs from trees felled in the storm gets "The Sauce Book." Send your mailing info to and she'll get those out to you. Next week, it''s...the first of several holiday chats. 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, Spirits columnist Jason Wilson and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin. Guest: Tanya Steel, editor in chief of and author of "The Epicurious Cookbook."
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