Free Range on Food: Superfoods, smoked chicken stock and more

Mar 05, 2014

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

Greetings, all, and welcome to today's chat! We've got chef Massimo Fabbri from Ristorante Tosca with us today to help answer any questions about the Superfoods Chefs' Challenge that he participated in this week -- or, of course, anything else. Try to stump him!

We'll also have Jim "Smoke Signals" Shahin with us to talk about his smoked broth or anything else grill-worthy (it won't be long now, believe it or not, before you are cooking outside, despite the current weather), as well as Carrie "Spirits" Allan and the rest of us regulars.

What's on your mind? Shoot it our way, and we'll do our best to answer. And we'll have a cookbook to give the chatter with our favorite question or comment of the hour, so make it good!

Let's do this.

I made a recipe for barley with green garlic & kale pesto, thinking I'd work my way through it all week. So, I mixed all the pesto with all the cooked barley and put it in a container. Now, the texture is reminiscent of mortar. Should I have kept the two components separate and only combined whatever I was prepared to eat right then (i.e., on a per serving basis)? Or is this an example of something that you have to eat immediately and won't survive as leftovers?

Did you bring it to room temperature? Or warm it gently in the microwave? Sounds like it's just cold/congealed, and that it would improve upon warming.

My suggestion: You should have kept the ingredients separated.Barley tends to get a little sticky after it's cooked.

Last week there was a questions and answer about labeling terms and regulations that were not quite right. The USDA regulates the terms "organic" and requires inspections and certifications of all producers and handlers up to but not including retail stores. The USDA also regulates the term "natural" when used on meat products. "Natural"" met products are allowed fewer synthetic chemicals than organic products. There is no regulation of the term "natural" for plant and dairy products. Those fall under the jurisdiction of FDA.

Thanks for clarifying the interplay between these two agencies. I did quote directly from the FDA site, which said it has no official definition for "natural." The FDA also doesn't define or enforce the term "organic," but yes, the USDA does cover "organic" and "natural."

I know this is a bit off topic, but I want to make sauerkraut from scratch. Do you have any good recipes?

It's very basic -- check this out!

You've told us before but there's no search mechanism for back Free Range chats, is there? So - Where can one buy ingredients to prepare Indian food? My new neighbors in NW DC asked me and all I could think of was, "Silver Spring." We're closer to Friendship Heights but they're willing to drive. Thanks much!

You've put your thumb on one of the holes in DC ethnic market needs. But there are options, especially since they can drive.


1. I shop at Indian markets in Rockville (Patel Bros) and Arlington (A-1, or whatever it's called now). But there's a Jasmine Bazaar in Takoma Park. My colleague and frequent Indian dinner cook Becky Krystal likes Ginger and Spice  in Alexandria.


2. Via Google, I found what seems to be a sweet deal for D.C. residents who don't drive or venture into the 'burbs. You can call Ashburn Spices in Ashburn (deep N.Va.; 703-723-7374), a store that carries frozen and packaged Indian products. Order what you want and they'll deliver to any location of Dupont Threading (yep, eyebrows). Orders placed in the morning can be delivered by the end of the day. 


3. Grocery stores are carrying more and more Indian foodstuffs these days. Chances are good that you can find spices, dal, jarred sauces, naan, tamarind and galangal, so they start there. 

Joe-- I love kimchi and love the kimchi grilled cheese in your Eat Your Vegetables Cookbook (I eat that sandwich at least once a week). Otherwise I eat kimchi stew or kimchi with noodles and a friend egg. I'm looking for other suggestions along the mixed-up lines of the grilled cheese sandwich. Thanks, Jennifer

Grilled Kimcheese! That's a good one. Glad you're into it as much as I am.

Have you tried the Mac and Kimcheese With Mushrooms? That's along the same mixed-up lines, indeed. And in the cookbook, you hopefully have tried the Kimchi Deviled Eggs!

(BTW, I know it's a typo, but I do love the idea of a friend egg. All eggs are my friends, fried or not!)


Just wanted to thank-you for the fig suggestion last week (replacing fresh figs with the dried/rehydrated soaked in wine) for the Ottolenghi lamb chops with walnut and goat cheese salad. The figs worked out and that recipe was wonderful. Thanks!

You're welcome! Glad it worked out.

I'm loving the Superfoods Chefs' Challenge! I'm a huge fan of Chef Massimo Fabbri at TOSCA, so I was thrilled to see that he and his sous chef Riccardo Rinaldi participated. I love their decision to pair salmon with kiwi! Can't wait to try the recipes. So my question is: What is the criteria that the Food Section is using to choose the chefs that are taking part in the challenge? It was interesting to see that Susan Holt of cooking school CulinAerie was chosen since she doesn't run a restaurant. That said, I'm a fan of hers as well, and have taken classes at her school!


Good to hear! I just had to put this salad in my answer because I keep thinking about how very good (and rich) it is -- the colors, textures, flavors. Those Tosca guys know what they're doing. To be clear, I think they kept kiwi and salmon apart. :)


Happy to have chef Massimo in the house today. (Ask him something!)  I had a few chefs lined up to start, but right away pitches from more chefs and their pr folks began pouring in. Susan's an FOF (Friend of Food and practically a downtown neighbor), so that's why I thought of her. She worked in restaurants before she began teaching. We're booked for the next few months -- at least enough to take a sizable swipe at the original list of superfoods. Any chefs you'd like to see in the challenge? 

I don't buy fish a lot - where do I get a good piece of salmon around here and how do I know it's good?

Whole Foods can be a good place to buy seafood, and always look for a fish that has a firm flesh, bright gills and bright eyes. Also make sure it is kept on ice and it's well refrigerated.

Hi there! We are planning on getting the gang together this weekend to enjoy a bit of the warmth and to have a cookout! Our original plan was to do brats and potato salad, but in the wake of the situation in The Ukraine we think it would be best to avoid German food right now. Plus, that gives us the chance to have a menu redo and go vegetarian! So, being a bit new to this, what kind of fare would make a great early-Springish cookout menu? I think we will have about 6 but might have 8-8.5 males in attendance. Thanks for your suggestions!

Thank you for the smoked broth article. It was nice to learn something about your personal life! - and, as an apartment dweller, I appreciate "smoke signals" recipes that don't require outdoor food prep. My question is, why do you say to add the onion and garlic unpeeled? I guess it's quicker, but it's also dirtier unless you scrub them first, and that takes as much time as peeling. Again, thanks!

    Glad you liked the smoked broth. Truth is, I don't have a good answer for you regarding the unpeeled garlic and onion. It is the way I learned. 

    Some peoplel feel it adds bitterness to the stock. I haven't found that to be the case. Some feel it adds more depth and richness. I side with that group, although I haven't done a test of two identially prepared broths, one with unpeeled onion/garlic, the other without.  

    If you want to use only peeled garlic cloves and onion, you'll get no argument from me. 

When you're off, what do you cook? Or do you cook?

It depends what I am in the mood for. I like simple, though, especially when I'm at home. A simple steak, a simple pasta, maybe an arrabbiata sauce with penne or even gnocchi. Fyi, that's my wife's favorite.

What do you think of the explosion of italian restaurants in dc these days?

It's great. I am happy good spots are popping up: keeps us chefs on our toes and always coming up with good ideas. I believe DC is one of the top spots for Italian restaurants in the US today.

I've recently moved back to the area from Columbus, OH. Columbus has good small grocers with dozens of different olive oils and vinegar for sampling and buying. Is there anything like this in DC/Maryland area? The shop in Union Market is the closest I've found but is $$$$ and a bit too precious (I'm missing Columbus' North Market!). I hope you can recommend some good alternatives. Thanks!

I'm not sure what your price threshold is, but Ah Love Oil and Vinegar in Shirlington is a lot of fun. It's hard for me to walk out of there without buying anything. I like that they offer smaller bottles too, in case you don't want to commit to something bigger or more expensive. There's also Olio2Go in Fairfax. And A. Litteri said they bust open some bottles of oil and vinegar on Saturdays for sampling.

In a previous chat you recommended this website. Thank you!! It's great. For someone like me (of a certain age) who still relies on a rather large cookbook collection (versus cooking soley from the web), this has been a wonderful help. It's so much fun to search a recipe and discover it in a book I didn't think to look in. Thanks!

Glad to hear it! I love the site, too.

There's a very delicious packaged bread brand called Mestemacher that specializes in really dense, tasty whole-grain breads. Can you help me understand how it is that their breads stay fresh for a year or more, unrefrigerated, especially considering they say they don't use preservatives? Their explanation that it's rewarmed "in a special oven in order to guarantee the especially long shelf life" doesn't seem sufficient. Especially since

This sounds like magical bread, something out of a Grimm fairy tale, in which witches bake wondrous loaves to entice impressionable young children.


But according to Alan Hakimi, owner of Lyon Bakery, German breads can indeed have a long shelf life. He didn't immediately dismiss the notion of a bread that's fresh after a year, although he coulnd't immediately recall one.


The keys to long shelf life, Alan says, are two: Soaking the grains for hours before making the dough, and fermenting the dough for long periods, thereby creating the acidic conditions that prolong shelf life.


"Long fermentation," he says, "is a natural preservative."


Soaking grains, Alan says, keeps the bread moist for longer periods. It doesn't dry out as fast.


"They have this other bread that even has higher hydration. It's almost like a soup, almost like a mush, and they cook it in a big pan," says Alan, who spent months in German studying breadmaking.


That bread, he adds, can last for weeks.

In the process of buying a house (Yeah!!!) Unfortunately it has a glass topped stove (Boo) Until I can replace the stove what can I do? Do I need all new cookware? I have read so many horror stores of scratched and broken glass.. Can I use cast iron skillet? Can I use a pressure cooker? Can I use a wok? Thanks.

If it's a regular electric-element glass-topped stove, you can use regular cookware. I don't know exactly what you have, but generally speaking, the electric glass-topped stoves use strong tempered glass. You can scratch it if you're dragging rough cast iron across it all the time, I suppose, but there's also manufacturer-recommended cleaners such as Citra-Bryte that work really well.

I had the same situation as you, moving into a new place that had no gas coming in and had a new GE electric stove -- and I negotiated for them to replace it with electric induction. Loving it. (And for induction, you do need to make sure your cookware works -- needs to be a magnetic metal, in short.)

Good afternoon! Let me just say Joe's Panino di Pizza With Cauliflower and Romesco sandwich was an absolute hit at our Oscar's Party! (almost as big of a hit as "Jack" showing up in Vera Wang!). Along with the delish sandwiches we also enjoyed some kale salad and some other appetizers. But, "Brian" brought a stunning squash soup - and of course he wouldn't share the recipe. I have tried a couple I have found online but neither of them had that salty and tangy bite I crave. Do you have a go-to squash soup recipe you can point me to so I can try it tonight! Thanks a million!

So glad to hear you liked this sandwich -- it was a blast for me to work on! (Did you catch my video about it?)

On the squash soup: Did you roast the squash first? That results in my favorite intensity of flavor. Here's one to try.

The reader who asked about kimchi dishes made me wonder where's a good place to buy kimchi around here... I moved to the area a few months ago and don't know where to look.

My favorite local kimchi (besides my own, natch) is that made by No. 1 Sons. Here's where you can find their stuff in local stores and in farmers markets.

I defer to Joe in all things kimchi, but I have to say, the variety at H Mart is mind-boggling.

That doesn't sound like deference to me! ;-) Absolutely, the H Mart stuff is great, too...

When I was trying to figure out how to get my homemade tortillas thinner, I remembered a trick I learned years ago making Chinese pancakes, and I thought I'd share. Put two of the dough balls together with wax paper between (or just oil the facing sides if you're feeling bold) and roll them out together. If you're just using oil you might have to tease/tear the edges apart, but they will separate. You can end up rolling them thinner than if you roll them one at a time. Just thought I'd share.

Thanks for the tip.


Out of curiosity: Are your tortillas fairly fragile or do they hold ingredients well?

Did Massimo attend culinary school and does he think it's worth it these days?

Yes I did attend culinary school in Montecatini Terme Tuscany, but the price was very cheap; it's a state school, after all. I think it's worth it. A good school teaches you basics, and sometimes in restaurant there is just not time for that.

A couple of weeks ago, I brought up Dave McIntyre's column on California wines and a new book he'd written about on the subject. You posted my comment first, but the Food chat that week went haywire before discussion got too far under way. I posted again a week later, but you took the question late and asked that I post again the next week. I forgot! So here's that long ago question: Should those of us tired of usual California wines look for diamonds in the rough from that state, or choose more earthy, less oaked wines. Say, wines from Italy? Also, so much has happened since I wrote in: A huge snowfall soon after Dave's column on the affects of weather on local wine. Did the past couple of weeks kill or enhance the region's current growth? And then today, a column on sherry! Believe me, I feel your pain about trying to make converts to sherry. I've brought that Pedro Ximenex $25 sherry from Total Wine to a couple of gatherings, and I can't get anyone in my group to share my joy over the creamy, dessert-like treasure. It's a great alternate to Port. I've tried some $12 and $15 bottles of Sherry and have liked most of them, although I gotta be honest: The manzanilla is going to take some getting used to. Still, lots of great stuff available at the Total Wine, which makes me think I really should seek out additional options at the Vienna Wine Shop or other local vintner that can help me expand my taste for sherry.

This was from last week, and Dave wanted to make sure you got his answer: 

From what I've heard, local vineyards were largely spared winter harm. This last cold spell could be a bit tricky though, as more growers will have pruned, meaning there's less leeway to cope with bud damage. But I haven't heard any bad reports - the temperatures have been close to the danger zone for some varieties but not quite cold enough. And the vines don't feel wind chill!

As for the California wines, keep looking. My column next week describes a local small distributor specializing in boutique wineries from CA and the PNW (heavy on Washington and Oregon) and a subscription service that while pricey, succeeds in sniffing out some really fine boutique wines. But yes, by all means explore the delicious variety and bargains offered by Spain, France, Italy and other countries. And keep it up with sherry - you won't want to drink it exclusively, most likely, but it makes a great alternative from time to time and especially with certain foods, like ramen! 

I too moved to the DC area from Columbus. It took a while but eventually we stopped comparing prices to back in Columbus. Just about everything is so much cheaper there that making comparisons just got us upset.

This is true too!

Hi Free Rangers! I have oodles of garlic from last year's garden in cool storage and it needs to be used up before it goes all sprouty. I turned enough into garlic powder to last at least 2 more years. There are bags of it in the freezer. Garlic abundance will hit again this coming August when I harvest. Any suggestions as to what else I can do to use it up while it is still good? I'm always game for garlicky dishes.

I would roast a lot of your oodles and freeze the roasted garlic paste in 1/4 cup increments. 


Dishwise, check out a few unusual suspects:

Garlic-Infused Broccoli Soup With Ditalini

Garlic Wafers

Fresh Shell Beans With Rosemary Gremolata (or any gremolata -- double the garlic here since you're a fan)

Yuca con Mojo

Peppery Gobi Matar

Slow-Cooker Garlicky Shrimp

and Almond and Garlic Gazapacho. There's more where those came from, in our Recipe Finder

Sapore, on the 600 block of PA Ave, SE, pretty much cattycorner from Eastern Market metro, has a fair number of oils and vinegars out for testing. It's their own private label selection, though. I've gotten some great flavored oils and vinegars there.

Good tip, thanks.

What brand of Parmesan and other cheeses do you use, and where do you buy them? Which is your personal favorite to grate onto spaghetti? And do you think it matters what sort of grater is used? Molti grazie!

I use Parmigiano Reggiano but it can be pricey; a good sub can be pecorino Romano. For dry pasta I reccomend De Cecco -- that's by far my favorite.

I didn't see Shallowbrooke Farm on your (very extensive!) list of CSAs in the area. I don't know if there are special conditions to make the list, but I've been very pleased with them after finding them last year. A full share for 20 weeks is about $760, but I get a half-share (with eggs every other week--did I mention they do bread and meat and eggs from their farm, too?) for my partner and I and it is perfect!

Thanks for the tip. No special conditions, I just try to include as many as I know about. I'll contact them.

thanks for your answer. I think it might be induction. What cook ware would I need?

Wow -- you're not sure? Let's see: Before you do anything, you'd better find out the answer to this question. Is there not a manual? Here's a test: What happens when you turn on a burner with no pan on it? If the element gets hot, it's not induction.

As for the cookware, cast iron, enameled cast iron, carbon steel, multi-ply if there's a high enough percentage of steel or another magnetic metal all work. Aluminum and copper don't (unless there's a base of a compatible metal). The best way to check is to look at package labeling or to take a magnet with you when shopping.

Come visit Frederick Md - on North Market there's Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium.

Cool. I've been meaning to do a day trip up that way.

I have one now and have always had gas. (Did I mention it's in a kitchen the size of a small bathroom?) The house I bought 2 years ago is not "wired" for gas, so replacing it isn't an easy switch. I broke that cooktop within two months of moving in--accidentally dropped a wine bottle on it. They aren't cheap to replace. But I have to confess that cooking on it has not been as awful as I thought it would be. You learn to lift your pot or pan off of the element to simulate the rapid response of gas. I definitely think cast iron is a no no. Keep it clean daily/religiously to keep it looking good.

Thanks for the tips!

Other than Tosca, what are your favorite Italian restaurants in DC?

Posto on 14th Street.. that's a little biased :) I own it after all...

I like Bibiana, Fiola and Casa Luca.

Don't be daunted--the recipe in The Joy of Pickling is so simple! If you don't want to track down Korean pepper, use Aleppo, it's a great substitute.

I've got a great recipe in both my books, too -- it's absolutely simple, yes. And great.

I know kale is healthy but I can't manage to make it taste good at home. Thoughts?

Funny you should ask. During Monday's snow day, I got a chance to cook (a rarity these days, given my $20 Diner gig.) Among the things I made was a kale salad.


I first roasted cauliflower at 450 degrees with about two tablespoons of olive oil, some sea salt and about an inch's worth of finely slivered ginger. When that was done after about 35 minutes, I pulled the cauliflower from the oven and let it cool.


In the meantime, I chiffonaded the kale, "massaged" the strips to soften them and them arranged them on a plate. The topped the kale with the roasted cauliflower and ginger, dressed it with Green Goddess and cracked fresh ground pepper on it.


When I served it to M. Carrie Allan, my lovely wife and Spirits columnist, she said, "Now there are two kale salads in the world that I will eat."

Kale is best with -- really, it needs -- a very pungent dressing, IMO. Here's another one: Animalistic Kale Salad.

How can I make okra gumbo without the seafood? I was wondering if roasted corn might give back some of the rich flavor that the seafood offers. Can it still be gumbo without the meat and seafood?

As long as  there's file (ground sassafras) in there, you build a flavorful roux and include the holy trio (celery, green pepper, onion), you've got a good shot at making something worthy. Good thought on fire-roasting some vegetable parts. You might want the chew of some meat-substitute sausage in there, though. 

I am on a new eating plan that has me eating lots of egg white veggie scrambles in the morning. At this point I think I've tossed almost two dozen yolks in the trash. I don't like the egg substitutes (they always taste like chicken broth to me), but I hate wasting half of the egg (especially the half most people think is the good part!). I likely won't eat them, but are there things I can make for people with all those yolks?

Ice cream. Lemon curd. And here's a blog post with recipes arranged by number of egg yolks.

Question for Mr. Fabbri, There has been a lot of discussion recently about the appropriateness of bringing children to fancy restaurants, especially as DC is becoming increasingly populated by families. Do you have any thoughts on small children dining at your restaurants? D you have a policy on it? Horror stories? Big fan of both posto and Tosca.

This is a hot topic. I just had a discussion with the chefs table here at Tosca about it. I believe you should take your children wherever you want. But the moment you start to bother other diners, you should remove yourself from the dining room until the kid calms down.

Cook's Illustrated did a take on chicken with 40 cloves of garlic . The article sounded like it was a traditional recipe concept from somewhere. Used like three bulbs of garlic in a go. I've been meaning to try it ever since, just haven't gotten around to it.

Yep, that's a classic way to go. Figured the poster could find that one on his/her own! 

For a selection, try Mediterranean Bakery on S. PIckett in Alexandria. FYI, there are also about 6 halal/Ethiopian/Somali groceries in that same area (Pickett, Duke, and Van Dorn) that have some Indian supplies.

Good to know.

So I completely support your updated menu, but I feel like the OP should know that Germany has no role in the current Ukraine/Russia political situation. I don't want German food to be cast aside for no reason...

Yeah, I sorta let that one go in service of the larger menu question. But thanks!

They hold well, unless I overcook them and make them too brittle. They tend (even thinner) to be a bit stiffer than the ones you can buy, but they roll fine. (I just use the recipe in Joy of Cooking).

Thanks for the response. I'm sort of jonesing for fresh masa tortillas right now.

I go to Patel Brothers on University, or to the other one on University. No, I don't remember its name, but it is a halal market, next to a sari shop, in the plaza on University JUST east of New Hampshire Ave. Also, there is an Indian market in Silver Spring, across from the Safeway, next to the Thai market, around the corner from the Ethiopian market.

Good to know, thanks. This is why we heart our chatters. 

You can buy Mestemacher bread at Whole Foods, Rodmans and maybe even Safeway, Giant and such.

Thanks for the tip.


Have you ever purchased it? How long as it lasted?

I'm trying to think of something special to cook for myself for my birthday. Last year I did a steak and lobster tail - so something along that line. Special but not something I'll send up with a ton of leftovers. If you were cooking dinner for your birthday, what would you make?

T-bone steak with a side of roasted fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

The key is to make something that you love to make AND love to eat, right? Only you can answer that, but for me, paella comes to mind. Like maybe this Squash and Artichoke Paella? Or pizza!

Joe beat me to the punch -- pizza, for sure.



Oh, alright. For a main course,  loin of venison with a celery root puree. 

Cookies. Make as many of your favorite cookies as you want. That way, your birthday stretches out for days.


And you can share your birthday treats, too.

I have read articles saying that there is a cattle shortage and beef prices will be going up. Yet, I found Certified Angus Beef porterhouses for sale at $6.99 a pound at Giant. That is cheaper than I recall seeing in over a decade. Were those articles hype? Any suggestions on how I should fix these mouth watering steaks?

I suspect the market hasn't yet started to reflect the prices of the current cattle shortage, caused in part by drought. But I bet it will soon.


In the meantime, I would just get out of the porterhouse's way and let its natural juiciness shine. I would set up a grill (the weather will be great this weekend for grilling) with a hot fire. Bring your steaks to room temperature, season them right before grilling (if the salt sits longer than five minutes or so, it will start to extract juices), and then grill the steaks to your preferred temperature, preferably with a little char on the exterior.


Maybe put a little hotel butter on top, and you're good to go.

Perhaps they were looking to mooove the product due to impending sell-by dates? (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Made this up Sunday: sautee an onion, diced, and 6 crushed garlic cloves for a while, then add two small bunches chopped kale, 1 lb halved baby potatoes, and one container halved cherry tomatoes. Add a tiny bit of water, salt, pepper, cover and let cook on low low for about 3-4 hours until it practically melts. Then season as you wish (I used an herb blend with thyme and oregano in it). Delicious on its own, on pasta, with eggs, as a side dish.

What's the secret to really good home pizza?

Getting the oven hot enough is one. I like to use the broiler and a stone, or a Baking Steel.

Olio on King Street in Alexandria has a lot to taste.

Agreed -- I have been there a few times myself.

Is there a simple recipe for me to try to replicate Tom Yom soup at home?

Boy, am I with you. I love tom yum too, but I've never taken the plunge to try making it myself. Have a look at this Thai Hot and Spicy Broth -- I think that would be a good base. There are tons of recipes online. Anyone have a favorite?

The reason for unpeeled brown or yellow onions in chicken broth is to add golden-brown color. Onion skin is an old traditional source of brown dye. Chicken broth can be pale and watery looking, and some commercial broths add turmeric or annatto to make it look richer. There is no real reason for leaving white onion or garlic unpeeled, other than convenience, IMO.

    And there you go. Thanks! 

My go to technique for couscous is to pour double quantity of boiled water over couscous and cover with plastic wrap for an hour then fluff with fork. Would this work for quinoa?

I don't believe so, but I haven't tried this. Quinoa takes longer to cook than couscous. (BTW, I don't think you need to wait an hour for that couscous to cook, really, do you?)

Need some ideas for my daughter's small scout troop. They cook dinner (with supervision) when we meet. Last time I had them do spaghetti. Boring! Other easy ideas that don't take too much time? Have to have time to do badge work, too.

I'd maybe have some fillings, toppings and condiments ready so the girls can build their own tacos or quesadillas.

Packet/ en papillotte cooking can be fun, in parchment paper. Everyone can customize; have prepped chicken, fish, vegetables on hand, along with olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs, spices.  (Note: I am refraining from inserting a Treasure of the Sierra Madre "badges" reference here. You are welcome.)

Using the definition of food-related very very loosely, do you know of a charity that will take very slightly used kitchen appliances (specifically, a gas stove and refrigerator, neither 2 years old)? We would prefer to give them to someone in need of such items rather than Goodwill, etc. Thanks in advance.

I would check with D.C. Central Kitchen, which has a wonderful culinary training program for all sorts of at-risk populations. Here's the Web site and contact.

make pickled garlic--ajo en escabeche. It'll keep forever in your refrigerator. Makes a great cocktail snack.

As long as it's sealed, I don't see why it can't last a while (as long as a year, but it never lasts around my place). Once it's opened, you have to keep it out of air. The sunflower seed type (a favorite from childhood) will dry out if exposed to air.

Hi Jim, My love for smoked foods, drinks, and post-campfire hair and clothing smell knows no bounds. I have used smoked broth successfully in a wild rice and smoked turkey soup, and also in a risotto. Homemade smoked birds work fine, but I find that depending on the brand of store-bought smoked bird, however, the stock can come out incredibly salty, like saltier-than-Campbell's salty. (Read: Salty!)

      My next step, as a matter of fact, is a smoked-broth risotto. Thanks for the cautionary note about store-bought smoked birds. I haven't run into that, but always good to know the possible pitfalls out there.

I just bought some at Costco. It looks interesting, and supposedly it's better to use. Can I use it in baking? I am trying to stay away from regular vegetable or canola oil... I got some very light olive oil to to use - is that better for baking?

You can use avocado oil in baking, sure. Is this one highly refined? The more refined it is, the fewer of the nutrients it keeps, I believe.

Chef, when you get home to italy, what do you run to eat first??

My mom's tortellini in brodo with chicken stock....they are to die for!!!!!!

Grilled kale is one of the best things I have ever eaten -- and I am including meat, pasta, and chocolate in the competition! Rachel Ray has a good basic recipe, with lemon and balsamic:

Yep, grilling kale is fun -- and the result is delicious.

I meant to ask what brand of cheese you buy them. I feel certain you do not use Kraft or the Safeway house brand -- not that there's anything wrong with them ...!

I'm answering for the chef, who's switching browsers. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the brand, that's the one he buys.  You'll see the stamp on it. 

Pearl barley is everywhere but the variety with the outer layer or hull is supposed to be far more healthful. I couldn't even find it at Whole Foods! Any suggestions?

Pearl Barley, won't you please go home! That's what you're singing, right?


Here's a good primer on the types of barley. The thing is, it's the bran that you want for health benefits, not necessarily the hull; it's just difficult to remove the hull (helping it cook more quickly) without taking off some of the bran.

You might look for whole hull-less barley, such as that made by Bob's Red Mill. Order online, or check with Bob's to see where you can find this particular thing at retail.

On Pennsylvania Ave SE, around the corner from Eastern Market, next to the new cheese store, is a very good olive oil store. Sapore, I think?

Righto. I like being able to sample and buy oils from the most recent harvests. 

Is there a tutorial somewhere here (or another you can recommend) for cleaning fish? While I'm sure it's tedious, it seems like a good skill to pick up!

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has an absolutely charming video on how to clean a fish. Check it out.

If you put healthy superfoods on your restaurant menu, do people order them, or do they lean towards decadent food we all feel too guilty to make at home?

It's usually a mix. I believe people in America today are more aware of good food so they tend to lean toward it. But of course you can always have some guilty pleasures when you dine out. :)

I sell a lot of fish at Tosca, though ... a lot. Trust me.

I am vegan and pregnant (with twins!). I am told to eat 80 grams of protein a day and am struggling with finding variety of high protein options. I love tempeh but don't want to eat it every day. Ideas? Some simple recipes? Thanks!!

Have you exhausted your leguminous possibilities? I gave a raft of lentil ideas recently!

Quinoa, tofu and beans... Just try to get a little creative with new way to prepare them. If you need recipes call me at 202 367 1995; that's the kitchen number of Tosca.

Good ingredients. Fresh ingredients. Not too many toppings. Crust recipe without extraneous ingredients (just flour, yeast, water, salt ... maybe olive oil, a pinch of sugar) ,San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce uncooked and robustly seasoned. Just my two cents...

My two cents: I like doughs with an overnight rest. Gives the crust great flavor and makes the dough easier to handle, I find.

I am a huge lover of kimchi and all things Korean (I am Korean, btw). I am sitting here at my desk at work eating kimchi while reading the chat. I worry that its fragrance will bother others. Is kimchi best reserved for at home? Eager to get my hands on some KimKim but guess it's not available in Maryland yet?

If I can participate in the answer, I recently tried Kimchi House in Alexandria, 8537 Richmond Hwy. I'm not a Korean food guru, but it was indeed authentic.

I'd say if nobody has complained, don't sweat it! People need to learn to love the smell, anyhow. I'm not sure just where KimKim is available, I'm sorry to say -- but you can connect with them on Facebook and they should be able to help!

I'd recommend using fire roasted tomatoes. Also, make sure you let your roux get nice and dark so that you have some good flavor. Then you could throw in something with some meaty umami - mushrooms or tempeh or something like that. You also might need to up the spice if you're not adding andouille.


My husband and I love to cook, but we're both very busy right now. We don't mind getting into a rut of not-so-awesome foods when life gets hectic, and then just getting back on track later. But now our baby is eating solids, and we are firmly in the she-eats-what-we-eat camp of baby food. So do you have any recommendations for transitioning to making sure we cook healthy meals more frequently, even though we both get home tired? I mean, I know the suck-it-up approach, but that's only so successful. (The good news is, baby likes EVERYTHING. She eats spicy, heavily flavored food like a champ.)

I think advance prep is key. Most of the time my strategy is to make a few dishes over the weekend that we just reheat. It's really made life easier. Or you can have components ready -- so, vegetables and meat chopped for a stir-fry that you can just toss in the pan when you come home. Joe's "Eat Your Vegetables" has a recipe for a marinated, baked tofu that you can make in advance and then throw into a variety of recipes that come together fairly quickly. You can do the same kind of thing with beans.

How do you do it?

It's ridiculously easy, even if the term is ridiculously embarrassing to use. Just remove the stems from the kale, take a small handful of greens in one hand and gently make a fist. Repeat as necessary. The kale will turn darker in color and will feel silkier in your hand. It doesn't take but a few seconds and just a little pressure.

I'd go for a few minutes. You'll get a nice green manicure, too! Relieves your stress in addition to the kale's.

Yes. Please. Don't assume that because no one has spoken up, no one is silently gagging or breathing through their mouth.

Maybe it's a good excuse for those who are gagging to have a nice lunch out in the park that day!

Habitat for Humanity ReStore accepts donations of appliances, as well as furniture and building materials. They have various locations in Maryland.

There's a Restore finder online, to help you locate the one nearest you.

Hi Chef Massimo, Can spaghetti cabonara be made without the bacon or pancetta to make it a meatless dish? What else would give it that rich flavor? My husband who loves pasta is vegetarian, but still eats eggs.

Well the pancetta is kind of the main ingredient, but if you dont want to use it try artichokes instead, or even celery root diced in small cubes could add a nice twist.

A Wider Circle is a local charity that helps families coming out of poverty and homelessness. They may not be able to take a fridge, but keep them in mind for smaller appliances. Here is a link to items they can use:

Thanks for the tip.

I work with several Koreans and of all Korean food, I haven't noticed much smell associated with kimchi and we have someone here who eats tons (like there's a giant jar in the fridge). Just don't throw out your kimchi related garbage at your desk and you should be fine! I have more problems with the soups with fish when it comes to smell.

I guess giving your salad a massage sounds nicer than saying you're giving it a bruising! (I suppose that's really what you're doing, though, right?)

I prefer to think of it as letting the kale know who's the boss. :)


Make potato gnocchi!

Chia seeds, hemp, goji berries (I think), flax seed, nuts ... sprinkled on salads, mixed in with almond milk, are great sources of protein. Amaranth is another high protein grain like quinoa.

My go to is to add chopped up kale in minestrone.

It seems that every bag of onions I have purchased over the last couple of months has been off. . . slimy, bad flavor, just past the peak. They seemed okay when purchased. Is there any way to tell fresh from spoiled (I do make sure they feel firm). Is this just a bad season for onions?

I've gotten a few myself; check with your produce supplier about how they rotate their stock. Firmness, good. I tend to pick the ones that don't have lots of skin.  If they do have papery skins, those should cling fairly firmly. The more looseness along those lines, the more bruises and trouble spots, I've found. Obviously, there should be no green sprouts out the top. Don't store them near potatoes. For long-term storage, you can wrap them individually in foil and refrigerate them. (My mom used to do that. A fridge full of foil-wrapped lumps. Leftover dinner prep was like a scavenger hunt.)

I find olive oil tends to sizzle and spit when I use it to roast. Is this all olive oils on high heat (450) or my pan or the type of olive oil I use?

Never use olive oil at that high temperature ...use canola instead.

Well, you've whisked us to create a thickened sauce, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great questions today, and thanks to chef Massimo and Jim Shahin for helping us answer them.

Now for the giveaway book: The chatter who wrote in asking about more mixed-up kimchi recipes like the Grilled Kimcheese will get a copy of "Cooking With an Asian Accent" by Ying Chang Compestine. Send your mailing info to, and we'll get it to you.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is editor of the Food section; joining us today are deputy editor Bonnie Benwick, staff writer Tim Carman, Spirits columnist Carrie Allan, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and editorial aide Becky Krystal. Guest: Massimo Fabbri, executive chef at Ristorante Tosca in downtown Washington.
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