The Washington Post

Free Range on Food: Grilling for Memorial Day and more

High Tea
May 25, 2016

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

Greetings, everyone, and welcome to today's chat. The sun has come out JUST IN TIME for our annual grilling issue, which means it's time for you to clean your grill, learn how to set up charcoal in lots of different ways, use it to grill oysters and mussels, make a bunch of interesting other new recipes, shake and stir up some cocktails using iced tea, drink wine out of a can, and try a tropical IPA or two.

To help us answer questions, we'll have cocktail maven Carrie Allan, pitmaster Jim Shahin and wine guru Jon Bonne in the room, so make good use of their presence!

We will give away a RAFT (OK, four) cookbooks to our favorite chatters today, so make your questions great so you can win!

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR5282 . Record and enter it into the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

Let's go!

Just wanted to say thank you for the amazing bagel recipe. Since I made my first batch last week, I've made seven more batches, sent bagels to my husband's office to share, handed them out to the garbage and recycling guys, my toddler's swim coach, and the lifeguard on duty at the pool. Thanks to you, I've converted everyone I know into a make-your-own-bagel fan! You guys are the best!

You rock.

As I listen to the National Spelling Bee now underway, I am struck by how many of the challenge words come from the food world -- approximately one in every 8.5 words in the first round this morning. In reverse order, participant #102 had to spell the not-obscure "farina," and spellers earlier in the round faced "saccharide," "edacious," "succade," "coulibiac," “tilleul," "trichinosis," "boniato," "vermicelli," "sommelier," "colcannon," "chanoyu." That's not counting words like "calabrese" that refer to regions. And in the first minutes of the second round, which is how far it's gotten when I'm sending this in, there's already been turbinado, radicchio, torroidal, escarole, and demitasse -- and I may have missed some while typing this.

I think that underscores the beautiful thing about cooking in America: We draw from many cultures for our recipes. The language, of course, often comes along for the ride.

 

Think about how many everyday words are rooted in other cooking traditions: saute (French), pasta (Italian, duh), barbecue (Taino Indians in the Caribbean, via the Spanish) and countless others.

I see this in the store and am unsure of what it is or what to do with it. Instead of asking Dr. Google, I'm asking y'all. Any thoughts or uses?

Use it like you would vanilla extract, one for one sub. Some people swear by it, saying it's an even better flavor. You can also use it instead of vanilla beans. One tablespoon of the paste per bean. I have a jar, and I've used it. I wish I could remember what I used it for (too much baking), but I do remember liking the result!

Use it whenever you want a good distribution of vanilla bean bits -- and when they will be visible in the recipe, like in a sauce (creme anglaise) or light cookie dough. It's really good for rugelach fillings (schmear additive), too.

This recipe sparked my interest as something unusual and interesting. But how does it taste? Is it noticeably savory, or more like a salty-sweet combination? 5 oz of Parmigiano seems like quite a bit, though perhaps it gets mellowed out by the other cake ingredients. Trying to decide if the family would like it.

I LOVE this cake -- apologies for the fussy title but all those elements make it good! It tastes like a not too sweet pound cake, and when it's at room temp, you get just a hint of the tang/salt from the Parm. I'm not even sure anyone would recognize the extra ingredient.

 

But when it's warm, oh my heavens. The texture of the cake changes a bit, gets softer as the cheese melts, I guess. Mellow's the word I'd use. It's a great combo with the fruit, the whipped mascarpone (which you'd apply once the cake's reheated, if you do that), and the balsamic vinegar. And the basil sugar -- that is a keeper for any grilled fruit you do this summer. Terrific.

 

RECIPE Warm Parmesan Pound Cake With Whipped Mascarpone, Raspberries and Basil Sugar

I recently bought a nice Weber charcoal grill to replace my cheap, old, rusty grill. I was shocked when the article on grilling said a fire can last six hours; mine lasts less than an hour. How much charcoal should I be using - how many inches deep should it be? I'm usually cooking three batches of food consecutively: burgers, sausages, and veggies.

It's not really about inches. It's about arrangement. For a long fire, try the Ring of Smolder - two or three lumps of charcoal set on the bottom as a base, then a layer, in a ring around the perimeter of the grill, of coals on top of them. If you check out the story, you'll find detailed directions. It will last a good 6 hours.

ARTICLE: Here's how to cook seriously good barbecue on a simple charcoal grill

Hi there I have about 4 1/2 lbs of fresh Anaheim peppers that I don't have a use for. What can I do with them? I do not can nor do I really want to stuff them. (so much work) Any ideas esp. ones that would allow me to freeze the product would be great. THX

Lucky you! You can freeze them raw or roasted, but I tend to roast and peel peppers before freezing. 

If you're short on time, you could broil them whole on a foil-lined baking sheet, turning often, for about 15 minutes (the skin will blacken). Then once they're cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, cut out the stem and seeds, and freeze them in freezer zip-top bags (either whole or peeled or chopped, depending on how you think you'll be using them later). You could also freeze them on baking trays before transferring to zip-top bags, to help them avoid sticking together into a frozen mass that's difficult to deal with later.

If you have a little more time, I prefer to roast peppers at a lower temperature and for a longer time -- I do 375 to 400 degrees, turning the peppers every 15 minutes or so until they're nicely blackened and a little shriveled (this takes up to an hour, depending on the thickness of the peppers). To make peeling extra easy, wrap the still-hot peppers loosely in the foil from your baking sheet; the steam will help loosen the skin from the pepper flesh.

And here's a few recipes to help you go through those peppers!

Mango-Grilled Red Onion Chutney

RECIPE: Mango-Grilled Red Onion Chutney

RECIPE: Salsa Cruda

Green Chili Stew

RECIPE: Green Chili Stew

Beatrice & Woodsley Pimento Cheesecake

RECIPE: Beatrice & Woodsley Pimento Cheesecake

 

i was reading Free Range from May 18th and the 1st reader mentioned not having a stand-up mixer to make bagels. I am actually selling mine (kitchen aid 4 1/2 quart only used twice) because sadly i don't use it. i know this column isn't for this but if you want to contact that reader to see if s/he is interested you can forward my information. thanks and i love the column.

Haha, I feel like a matchmaker. If anyone is interested in buying a mixer, send me an e-mail and I'll put you in touch.

I misspelled toroidal. Ding!

I made bagels this past weekend using a combination of your method and Peter Reinhart's similar one (which adds a sponge stage at the start). They were amazing! I am so happy, b/c here in Eugene, OR, we do not have acceptable bagels for someone who grew up in the northeast. Here are my questions: 1) WaPo recommends boiling very briefly -- about 30 seconds -- and says that longer boiling would make the bagels "lighter." Reinhart wants one minute per side and says you can boil up to two minutes each to make them "chewier." Do you know which it is? And why? I boiled one batch about 35 seconds and the other about a minute in total -- second seemed chewier but I didn't take the experiment far enough (one minute per side). 2) I -would- like them a bit chewier. Is the easiest way to make a stiffer dough, or can I boil longer/less long? Btw, I kneaded by hand and it really wasn't too bad, but I bake bread regularly, so I may be used to it. Thank you, WaPo! I'm very excited about the bagels.

Don't love you it when we confuse you like that? Our understanding, and experience, was that boiling longer puffs up the bagels more, so you get an airier texture. Maybe that for some people means chewier? We tended to like smaller, denser bagels. I think what you're looking for can be accomplished with a shorter boil, and yes, you could totally cut back on the water a bit. The original recipe from Cook's Illustrated is a bit stiffer. It uses 1 1/4 cups water, or about 283 grams.

And good for you for kneading by hand! Wow!

Just kudos to M. Carrie Allan's column today. I always find her writing witty and informative but this one was perfect. I don't drink much these days but I do think I will need to try the Porchard. If only I had a front porch.....

Thank you so much for the kind words! The Porchard is actually a reasonable consolation for the lack of both porch and orchard. You should be fine. I'm really looking forward to when we have some really killer peaches to make that drink again.

ARTICLE: What's better than a tall glass of iced tea? One with some booze stirred in.

RECIPE: The Porchard

I've made this a couple of times and it is a winner. But I have a question about the directions. The recipe begins "Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the rice and cook, stirring, just until it’s glossy." What specifically, am I looking for with the rice? As soon as I stir the rice into the oil it is glossy, so is there something else I should be seeing? Thanks.

Dorie's just wanting you to make sure the rice is all evenly coated with the oil. Sounds like you're good!

 

RECIPE Dorie Greenspan's Cheesy Rice With Asparagus

 

 

Can you put any glassware in the freezer for cocktails or beer, or does it need to be a specific kind? I am worried about putting a glass in the freezer to chill and have it crack or explode.

Don't put your good crystal in there, but anything that's not too thin-walled should be fine -- doesn't take that long to chill down an empty glass. Alternative: Fill them with lots of ice and refrigerate, or simply let them sit on the counter till you reach that frosty look.

I finally bought a charcoal grill, or, as called in today's cover story, a kettle. (I've long owned a gas grill.) It's a used Weber but was available cheap at a yard sale and looked to be in very good shape. It's small, but large enough to accommodate, say, six burgers at a time for my family of six. (I haven't measured the diameter.) I'm the kind of person who, knowing that a whole new world/activity has opened up to me, wants to read up on it first. So I checked out a couple of oversized grilling books from the library - and was promptly overwhelmed. I ended up returning them to the library, mostly unread. Now Memorial Day Weekend approaches. I'd like to try some indirect grilling, but I actually don't own any charcoal yet! Is there a specific brand I should buy as a first-timer? Should I go with easy-light briquettes? Invest in lighter fluid, or is that a no-no? Do I need some wood chips right out of the gate, or should I wait on those until I hone my skills? I have a set of grilling tools that I use with my gas grill. Do I need more specific tools for kettle grilling? Last, how much time should I allow for my first grilling of something as simple as hamburgers, assuming I go with the indirect heating method on a smaller grill? So many questions!

    Do not buy lighter fluid or whatever they call that charcoal all lighter fluid-ed up. Buy a charcoal chimney (available at any hardware store). No yucky lighter fluid smell, and super easy to start a charcoal fire. Charcoal: go with your basic "pillow" (Kingsford blue bag). You could go with lump hardwood charcoal, but we'll save that for another time.

     Tools. Just tongs, gloves and a brittle scouring brush. Oh, and a spatula, if you're doing burgers. Those burgers will take about 2 minutes per side over direct heat and another 3 or so on indirect for medium rare (assuming a 6 ounce burger, made thick). 

        Get the wood chips. Can't hurt. Plunge in!

Would it be possible to adapt the butterscotch cheesecake bars to a regular shaped cheesecake (in a 10" springform pan)? I want to add homemade chocolate sauce and nuts to make it kind of "turtle" style cheesecake.

Ah, yes, those are so good. My only thought is that it might be a little too much batter for the springform, but maybe not. I think if you dump it all in, you'll probably need to cook it longer, since it will be a thicker layer of batter. Give it a shot, let us know how it works!

Salted Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars

RECIPE: Salted Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars

My garden is producing more asparagus than we can use. I've been steaming it, grilling it and putting it frittatas and on pizza and still there's an overage. I don't want to freeze it and I don't have a pressure canner so those are a no-go. I've exhausted nearly all my options. That brings me to ... How do I go about marinating asparagus? How long will it keep?

Preserving expert Cathy Barrow isn't on the chat today, but here's a great recipe from her website for pickled asparagus. That'll handle your harvest, I bet!

Loved the clip - best way though not mentioned, is to do it while wearing contact lenses. No tears, ever. Also question about quantity. Having 10 people to dinner on Saturday. Serving grilled, butterflied leg of lamb. I need more than 1, right?

Thanks! For those of us who don't wear them, though, that isn't so foolproof, I'd say! I'd make myself cry just trying to get the darn things in.

On the lamb question, it's a poundage issue: A good rule of thumb is 1/2 pound per person, although you can certainly err on the side of a little more if you want leftovers. So if that leg is 5 or 6 pounds or more, you should be good.

VIDEO: We tried to cut an onion without crying. Here's what works.

Thank you for the bagel issue! I have a box of gluten at home -- rather than buying a bag of high gluten flour, could I add gluten to bread flour?

Hm. I have no idea! You could probably add a few teaspoons or tablespoons if you wanted. But no need to. Our recipe says bread flour is just fine!

RECIPE: Best-of Bagels

Last week's talk of the caramel rice krispies got me thinking...how tasty would rice krispy treats be with roasted marshmallows?! Instead of melting them on the stovetop or the microwave, how about softening them by sticking them under the broiler or taking a blowtorch to them?! Perhaps dipped in or drizzled with ganache? Just throwing it out there :)

I think this calls for hands-on research...seems like toasting them over an open fire might yield more smoky flavor. Are you gonna run with this and report back?

I enjoyed today's column about flavorful IPAs. In the future, perhaps you could include ratings of some of the many beers mentioned in the story, for example, ranking the different pineapple IPAs.

That's a good idea, and I'll definitely consider doing tasting notes in the future when we have a number of beers mentioned.

For pineapple IPAs, I'd say the Sculpin is the benchmark right now, but I really enjoy the Pine'Hop'Le from Evolution, because the fruit and the beer flavors are tightly integrated.

In the tangerine category, it's close for me between the New Belgium Citradelic and the Green Flash Tangerine Soul Style. I would say overall the first is a little more citrusy. The Stone Enjoy By 5.30.16 IPA, which didn't get a lot of room in the story, is a bigger traditional IPA - I think there are at least a dozen hops involved, and the tangerine plays more of a supporting role.

I've heard that if one puts some Vaseline under the eyes it will reduce the effects of tear gas. I always forget to try it before I chop my onions so I really don't know if it works. My typical strategy is to cut into the onion and then walk away and do something else for a few minutes. It helps.

Interesting! I'm going with a little fan and a super-sharp knife. Seems easiest!

We were at a friends house for dinner and I was witnessing him screw up dinner: the salmon needed to come off and he was, at that moment, saying, "It's got a few more minutes." I stood in silence, knowing it probably should have come off 2 minutes before he said that. I could've used a Xanax at this very moment, but all I had was (thankfully) very good wine to get me through. And there we had it: dry, overcooked, saumon a la désert du Sahara for dinner. And everyone knew it. "I don't know what happened but the salmon got overcooked," my friend said with disappointment. "Oh no, it's fine!" we all lied through slugs of wine and water to wash it down. So, as a better-than-average home chef and one that's actually recognized amongst friends as so, should I have said something to the effect of, "Uh, I think the salmon may be ready?" or something like that? It's his house and his stove: I'm not one to butt in. But...but...should I have and if so, how? I'm not sure how sensitive he would be to it but he did seem to be running his kitchen with confidence.

Unless you are asked for your opinion on such a thing, you should keep it to yourself. The most important goal of a dinner party -- even more important than perfectly cooking some salmon, believe it or not -- is to enjoy one another's company, and maintaining a social, positive vibe is part of that. 

So you did the right thing to hold your peace, especially since you didn't know how he would take your advice. 

If you're DYING to teach him something about how to cook salmon, the only appropriate way, IMHO, to get a little satisfaction would be to have your own dinner party, invite him, and cook salmon your way -- hoping that he happens to notice your technique, but not saying a WORD about his.

I agreed with Joe 100 percent.

 

I used to be that annoying friend who offered "helpful" ways to improve a meal. Over the years, I've learned that it just creates resentment. My goal is not to create resentment, but to be a good guest, thankful and cordial.

 

Such hard-earned wisdom, however, doesn't mean I don't still want to butt in. Recently, a friend was frying bacon. He had overcrowded the pan, trying to do too many strips at once. Of course the bacon wasn't crispy. I SOOOO wanted to go over there and say something about the slow, deliberate process of frying good bacon. But I just held my tongue and remembered that I'm a friend first, a busybody cook second (or 95th).

Yeah, I've certainly been tempted too. I remember years ago being at an outdoor dinner party where the cook threw a bunch of chicken pieces, of all sizes, onto a gas grill, closed the lid, set a timer, and asked me to turn them when the timer went off. I said, "Can I watch them and turn them when they're ready?" She said, "This is a Cook's Illustrated recipe, and they need exactly X minutes." I smiled and said, "Sure thing. I'm on it." She went back into the house, and I opened up the grill and started turning the smaller pieces, and used my judgment.

She had no idea. I ended up using the anecdote in an essay in my book about how an over-reliance on timing is futile in cooking, and that you have to use your senses in other ways.

Hello there! It's so great to have Jon gracing the chat today! I admit I grew tired of the California Chardonnay thing years ago but I too am so excited about all of the new wines we are getting these days! I always like to have lots of wine with Indian to help detach me mentally and dull my senses for the remaining part of the evening but I always have a difficult time with pairing. Do you have a good new California recommendation that would work well? Thanks!

great to be here!  and one of my fave sorts of questions. 

what you generally want for Indian cuisine, which of course is one of the most diversely flavored in the world, is more savory aromas, more spice (but not from gewurztraminer, usually), less tannin. sweetness is a bit take or leave, but often works less well than expected, unless it's very subtle -- like a German feinherb riesling. and the pairing is usually more about texture than ingredient - lamb might want a white wine if the dish is deeply herbal in flavor.

in terms of the New CA spectrum, it's a bit tricky only in that the number of aromatic whites is still limited.  but top of my head, i'd say you might look for the REIN Pinot Blanc, a grape that goes *great* with a cross-section of Indian flavors. more easily found are versions of that, Muscat and of course Riesling from Navarro.  also, Dan Petroski's Massican does very good aromatic whites, more in an Italian style, incl his latest releases of the Annia blend.  and for more richness, the wines from Arbe Garbe offer something similar.

for reds, again, < tannin = usually better.  so think lighter, fruitier. Broc's Cabernet Franc and the reds from Lo-Fi would all be great. also, Syrah is one of the world's great pairings with certain curries and pepper-focused dishes. take your pick on producer: Wind Gap, Arnot-Roberts, Ojai, &c.

for more ideas (and at the risk of creating some friendly rivalry with my WaPo hosts) here's a piece from a ways back that i did on pairing wine and Indian flavors.

Jim - i liked your recipe for the fatty brisket but can i use lean instead? I don't like all the fat in my brisket because i don't like the texture. Can i brine the brisket? Thank you.

      So, I have to wonder if this is one of my pals messing with me. Don't like fatty brisket? Really? It is the cut that made Franklin (and Mueller and Kreuz and on and on) famous. I have to believe you just haven't had good fatty brisket. It should be solid, but meltingly tender (but this side of falling apart), and with a rich flavor and penetrating smoke flavor. But let's assume you're not a prankster and have had great brisket and you just don't like the fatty end. It happens. I know someone who likes the Monkees more than the Beatles. 

       Truth to tell, I haven't tried smoking the flat end on my Weber. I've done it a lot on an offset smoker and a bullet smoker, but only as part of the whole packer brisket (which has both the fatty and lean ends). I see no reason why you couldn't smoke the lean end on the kettle. As for brining, sure you can. I did it once, but - and here's the irony, I guess - I didn't care for the texture. 

If not too much trouble, I'd love to have a list or chart of some sort that shows when to add salt to various foods. I was cooking mushrooms for an omelette this morning and couldn't remember whether they're supposed to be salted before or after cooking. Or during. I can't think of other examples just now, but I know I often wonder when to add salt in the kitchen. It'd be helpful to have a list or some small diagram to put on the cabinet next to the stove. Thanks in advance!

While we ponder how to go about creating such a diagram, here are a few things to keep in mind: If it's a dish with a lot of raw components that each get a little cooking time of their own (or you are adding, say, mushrooms and onions and garlic at the same time, add a small pinch of kosher salt with each addition.   (Chefs add A LOT each time.)

 

Keep in mind that salt brightens and heightens flavors -- don't be worried about oversalting, because you'll be tasting as you go. In your omelet, I'd season the egg and season the mushrooms, too.

 

As to WHEN to salt, that depends on whether you want to draw out moisture (as in the case of cabbage) or provide enough time for the salt to be absorbed (as in, meats or raw tomatoes).  That hardly begins to cover the territory, but it's a start!

What? I think not. I've worn contacts for almost 30 years and cutting onions routinely makes me cry.

Yeah, I kinda thought so. It's not like the contact covers up the entire eyeball!

We especially like a little (OK, a lot!) of cracked coriander seeds in ours!

Hello, My brother (who will not listen to me now or when we were younger) INSISTS on using charcoal to light the fire for the grill. I say "NO WAY!!" It stinks, lots of smoke, not to mention, but I will, all those chemicals going into your food. Why eat it? I say a grill fire should be started with wood chips, hardwood charcoal and a pack of seasoned wood chips in foil, soaked in water. Might I add NO. LIGHTER. FLUID. EVER!! I also save all the food scraps in a garbage bowl (potato peels, onion peels, green pepper, etc and place the scraps directly on the hot coals. Talk about a natural seasoning for your food!! Okay, my brother will abide by your decision on the charcoal - I kind of convinced him to at least "read" the title of the blog and he did. So now he is "halfway" sold. Just tell him I am correct. He has to make the baked beans and cole slaw (which he makes very well) if any of you agree with me. I will kindly thank you in advance. Bro and Sis (At odds :)

     Not to get in the middle of a family squabble... Oh, what the hey! Yes, I prefer hardwood lump charcoal. But for a beginner, it can be more challenging to use. I also will often start with wood alone, no charcoal. Again, though, that can be tough, starting out. Just depends on your comfort level. By the way, I love the food scraps idea! You can do the same with fresh herbs.

For yeast-bread baking, I add 1 teaspoon of wheat gluten to each cup of all-purpose flour, as per directions on the gluten box. Works like a charm! (I store the gluten in the fridge, since a boxful goes a long ways, so lasts a long time after opening).

Thanks for this!

Whatever you do, DON'T rub your eyes with your fingers until after you've very thoroughly washed your hands. Ditto for chopping peppers (even mild ones).

With peppers, it's worse, actually, because those compounds don't come off from a simple soap/water washing. If you don't use gloves, you can try rubbing alcohol, vegetable oil, or dish soap (which helps dissolve oils such as the chili pepper oils), washing again with soap/water if need be.

I know a guy who had to go to the ER with a badly infected steel-wool splinter from his grate-cleaning brush, and he said the staff there told him it’s a pretty common injury. Dunno what a good alternative is, though. (Besides being very careful, and I imagine you could still get splinters.)

I had no idea. I use a long-handled grate-cleaning brush and have never had a problem. (Why do I now fear that I have jinxed myself and will spend a Saturday night in the ER with a giant steel-wool splinter in my index finger?)

Yeah, I've been reading about that, too. That's one of the reasons experts suggest the balled-up-foil method. You heat up the grill, hold the ball with tongs, and use it to scrape the grates. Works well.

Bonnie should jump in here, though -- she's had grill-cleaning on the brain lately!

I have a bucket and brush waiting for me on the back deck, even as we chat! The splinter thing can happen -- we heard from a reader about this -- so it's important to hose down the grill (strong sprayer attachment) to dislodge any stray metal bits from a hard-bristled brush). Don't clean without gloves on, too.

 

I have found the balled-up foil method works best when there's less high-test buildup, and when the grates are still quite warm -- more of a immediate post-grilling session move.

There are at least two questions here, taste and long-term safety. On the second one, do you have any concern about whatever substances line the cans, possibly leeching into the liquid and having long-term health effects? It seems like this would be more of a concern with a carbonated liquid, like beer or cola or ginger-ale, but maybe not?

not really.  the use of BPA has certainly reduced in recent years, and my concern wouldn't be any greater than it would for any other canned beverage -- less, in fact, than many because if you look at the relative acidity of, say, Coca-Cola, it approximates German Riesling from a cool vintage, which is to say, screamingly high. most wine isn't that acidic.  The carbonation, to my knowledge, doesn't have a major impact.

tbh, i'd be a lot more concerned about what's being put on the *vineyards*; the evidence is anecdotal of any more than small traces of pesticides or heavy metals being passed through into the finished product, but as concerns go, i'd ponder that before i worried about the cans, which these days are remarkably inert. 

In terms of beer, this is a topic that has come up again and again as more breweries -- most recently Lagunitas -- begin switching from bottles to cans. You either believe the FDA and European Food Safety Authority that the levels of BPA in can linings are low enough to cause problems, or you avoid them altogether. 

I know that Ball, which is one of the biggest providers of cans for craft brewers in this country, is working to find alternatives for the epoxy-based can linings that contain BPA, and has a goal of phasing them out in the future.

Don't forget whiskey. It's from the Irish. I can't spell it without looking it up, but it means "water of life." Slainte

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, whiskey has its roots in Gaelic and Old Irish terms, likely based on Medieval Latin.

I have a small wedge of locally produced manchego in my fridge. It's been around awhile, but hasn't been unwrapped and appears to be in fine condition, but it seems hard, like parmesan. Is this its natural state? How can I use it? Would it be a reasonable parm substitute if I grated it. It wouldn't be the end of the world if I had to toss it!

As long as it's not moldy and doesn't have off flavors from being in the refrigerator for too long, I think it's fine. If it seems harder than when you got it, then moisture loss probably led to its new texture. (But I've purchased manchegos in varying degrees of texture -- it depends how long they're aged.) You could grate it and use as a parm substitute, sure -- it'll give a different flavor, obviously, but should still be tasty. 

Or use it in this!

Cauliflower Risotto

RECIPE: Cauliflower Risotto

Is she still doing chats? I haven't seen her for a while.

She's no longer doing chats on WaPo, but she is still writing a wellness column for Local Living. Have you checked out her new public TV series "Real Good Food"? Saturdays 4 on WHUT in the DC area.

Could you perhaps gently ask if the cook could take your serving out sooner, because you like yours a bit less well-done than most people do?

I still wouldn't go there ... unless asked.

I don't peel them before freezing. When defrosting, the peel slips right off (I do like a little bit of the blackened peel in whatever I'm using them for).

I use a charcoal grill and always seem to burn through my coals faster than I need them for. Whether it's briquettes, lump, or even wood chunks. When restarting, as I don't have a lot of space, I'll just add more to the existing coals but feel this gives the food some off tastes as the fire gets started. Any tips on how to relight my chimney with new coals *not* on the grill itself?

     You can start coals in a chimney and add them, already ashen, to your existing fire. You may need to remove the cooking grate, though, so as to avoid a lot of ash flying up. 

Today's Food Section made me happy, hungry and chomping at the bit to get into the kitchen. You guys and gals are really smokin' this week! I'm not an alcohol drinker usually, but something kept me going through M. Carrie Allen's Spirits piece. That something was the rerward I got in the third paragraph from the end: that sentence beginning "I remember spots..." made the morning for me. I'm still grinning: thanks!

So glad to hear it!

You can look up the owners manual for all Weber makes and models on their website if it didn't come with your used one. They include a good overview of how to use it with helpful hints and some recipes.

I wear contact lenses. All the time. They don't do a bit of good in reducing tears when I'm chopping onions.

OP on contact - I wear regular soft lenses and only cry when cutting onions if I have my glasses on rather than them. On the other hand, if any of you came to a meal at my house and offered a better way to cook, or avoid disaster I would welcome your expertise and generosity in sharing it.

I'd like to grill some chicken this weekend but I'm concerned about the pieces (probably legs) being cooked all the way through and yet not burned on the outside. Should I parboil them first before throwing them on the grill? Or do you recommend another method? I just want simple grilled chicken with some barbecue sauce slapped on at the end before serving. Thanks for the advice!

      No need to parboil. Just place the chicken parts over a direct fire for about 3 minutes, flip to the other side for another 3, then place on the cool side of an indirect fire until done, which, depending on the heat, will likely be between 30-4o minutes. Might even go an hour. Use an instant read meat thermometer. It should read 165.

As a lover of all things smoked, I would really like learn the art of grilling and for me, I think charcoal is the way to go. That said, what size would be best for a "starter" grill? I don't have a family to feed but I do like to entertain. Any recommendations (yes, the Green Egg would be lovely but something under $500 would be great)?

      For about $350, you can get the 22" Weber Performer, which comes with a table/cart attached and a nifty charcoal holder that pulls out. I think it is a terrific starter grill. And if you follow the directions in today's WaPo, you can both grill and smoke on it. An alternative is the Weber Smoky Mountain bullet smoker (about $300), but that is better for smoking only, not grilling.  

I second the recommendation of the Performer. I've got it, and love it.

I live in an apartment complex that doesn't allow grilling, and I'm not a big enough fan of the outdoors (or good enough at grilling) to buy a grill, find a place, tote the grill, etc. I would, however, be interested in a stove-top grill. Are they really any good? Do you have one (or two, or three) that you'd recommend?

You're talking about a grill pan, not a smoking box, yes? I love two I've got from Le Creuset: an oblong one that I'm not sure they still make (with a handle), and a simple round one. Lodge also makes ridged cast-iron pans that work beautifully.

But I could have saved the evening! He spent so much time on it, building the evening, etc. And it was ruined. Thankfully dessert worked better than well.

You THINK you would have saved the evening, but trust me, if he reacted badly, you would've ruined it.

Did you have fun in any other way? Sounds like maybe you bonded with the other guests about the dryness of the salmon?

The asparagus person who doesn't can reminds me that you can pickle veggies and eat over a month or so and they'll be fine. You can use canning/pickling recipes, just be sure to refrigerate and use within a few weeks.

turbinado radicchio toroidal escarole demitasse tempeh blancmange viticetum wakame papaya fruits are covered with a “ceraceous" skin. crudites leguminous aciniform rennet sorrel (although the definition given was the horse, not the herb).

Anaheims are very close relatives of New Mexico Green Chilis, so roast them on the grill or under your broiler until they blister, peel the skins off, and make a nice big batch of New Mexico green chili stew! There are lots of them out there, but one of my favorites uses 4 lbs of them: http://chile.netrelief.com/recipes/garrys_green_chili_recipe.shtml

Yum.

I wear contacts while cooking sometimes, and it definitely helps with onions in my experience. Most of the time, however, I'm in glasses and have to go to the bathroom, take them off, and towel down my entire runny face to recover from onion-chopping! Doesn't it make your nose run too???

I'd love to try your raved-about bagel recipe, but only have an old-fashioned blender and a hand-held electric mixer, the kind with two removable whisks. And my arms, for kneading. Do you think I can make the recipe work?

I would not go with the blender or hand-mixer. I don't think either is strong enough for the dough. But one of our chatters said they did do it by hand. Perhaps they can pop back in with some tips! (If you have a bread machine, we've heard that works too.)

I may try this in my homemade ice cream. I used vanilla extract once and the ice cream had a medicinal flavor. I used a vanilla bean the next time, but found it hard to scrape the insides out.

Yes, the paste would be perfect for ice cream.

I made a stir fry the other night and crushed a few Thai birds eye chilies into it. Made the mistake of touching my face and eyes. DON'T DO THIS. Luckily, my husband was nearby as I was trying to get the eye wash into the little cup. It's how we learn!

Oh, no! My husband did this once, too, with jalapenos he was chopping for cornbread. Unfortunately, I wasn't home to help. 

I'm planning on a food hack video soon on how to cut chili peppers! Will play around with the washing techniques, too.

Hi -- I made the Korean Grilled Chicken out of the Lucky Peach cookbook. I marinated skin-on chicken thighs for almost two full days and then opted to bake them. The marinade slid off the chicken into the bottom of the pan. where it caramelized (and tasted GREAT, btw). The thighs ended up tasting like -- well, like baked chicken thighs. Not much flavor. The marinade from the bottom of the pan was SO good that I want to try again, but need to figure out how to retain the flavor on the chicken. Thoughts: eliminate the water from the marinade (it was probably 1/4-1/3 of the total volume); after taking the chicken out, cook down the remaining marinade to thicken it; switch to skin-off chicken to get the marinade "in there" more strongly; two or all of the above. What are your thoughts? Thanks!

If you want to bake it again, I'd reserve the marinade rather than slathering it on the chicken during the (presumably longer) time in the oven; meanwhile, I'd cook down the marinade on the stove top to a thicker consistency and brush it on the chicken for the last 10 to 15 minutes of oven time.

a dish I had in New York last weekend. It was eggplant cooked until beautifully soft, but still sort of shaped like the top part of an eggplant (so I'm guessing it was some sort of low and slow cooking method?) in a pool of garlic aioli. The aioli wasn't like any kind of mayo I'd ever eaten before. It was thinner and almost pure white and not as....umm...slimy (?) as mayo usually is. A little more like a yoghurt dressing, but clearly called aioli. The owners are Israeli if that is a helpful hint. I could have eaten the whole thing myself, twice. As it was we had to share it 7 ways because even the kids (9 and almost 7) were in love. Thanks so much for any hints. It was a great weekend even without winning any of the Hamilton lotteries I entered. Could have done without the rabid bat in Central Park, but, its New York, yah know?

We're awaiting word from our Israeli food expert, but in the meantime, I'm wondering if the eggplant was steamed. That's more of an Asian technique, but I've used it with big (2-inch) chunks of eggplant, and they hold their shape but get all gorgeously custardy, too. Incredible. As for the dressing, sounds like something using labneh (strained yogurt) to me.

Vered Guttman says it was most likely a tahini sauce, made with tahini (sesame seed paste), water, lemon juice, and maybe a little garlic. Grilling or roasting an eggplant whole will yield that nice, soft interior.

Hard-learned lesson: If the marinated vegetables are going to be stored longer than a day, go easy on the raw garlic!

Those were the recommendations I was looking for. Thank you!

I drink my favorite red wines, merlot and pinot noir, at room temperature. I've tried malbec but didn't like it, but recently was told it should be served chilled. True? What about the others? What are the best temperatures for them?

well, the problem with malbec may not have anything to do with temperature. (sorry, malbec lovers!)

but in general, red wines get drunk a bit too warm. you want just slightly below room temp, maybe around 58-60 degrees, keeping in mind that the wine will warm in the glass (esp if you hold it around the bowl), and hopefully keep getting more open and interesting.

in terms of truly *chilled* wine, like below 50F, it's best for lighter and relatively easygoing wines with a lot of fruit and not that much structure. Beaujolais is the perfect example. but you could also chill a lot of lighter Italian reds, or reds from grapes like Trollinger, or even many Loire reds. ditto the equivalent domestic versions.

and not to get too geeky, but safe to say that most reds made using semicarbonic maceration (that's the way much Beaujolais is made), which extracts from the grapes without crushing them, will be great chilled.

on pinot, it def needs to be served at lower temperatures than it usually is, but a chill will take a lot of the nuance out of a good pinot noir, and in theory that's why you're drinking that variety. (cheap pinot probably won't be hurt by chilling, but also won't be that interesting no matter what temperature it's served at.)

what you want to stay away from, in terms of chilling, are bigger, heavier reds. chilled Cabernet will just taste hard and unpleasant. so will most chilled Syrah. chilled Zin (unless it's a really light style) and Petite Sirah will be downright unpleasant.

I have smoked a 10# pork butt on my kettle grill using the ring or fuse method. I think it took more than 15 hours, mostly untended. It was very good- moist with a nice, crispy bark. The brisket recipe calls for wrapping the meat after 4 hours. Will that result in a soft bark? Is the bark supposed to be soft? If not, should one unwrap it once it's done so the bark can dry out? thank you

       Good questions! First, if you feel confident, you don't really need to wrap. I suggest wrapping to help avoid burning the outside. But I've done it both ways. First, yes, you do want a bark (crunchy exterior). But because the meat is so much closer to the fire than in an offset or bullet smoker, it is going to get that bark. But, if you are concerned, then, definitely, pull the foil off for the last hour or so of cooking. 

     As for unwrapping after it's cooked, you're into the nuances of "holding" - which is to say, how best to keep your brisket warm and retain its juices. Yes, you should unwrap. But after about a half hour or so, wrap it in foil, swaddle it in towels and place in a cooler for another hour or two. It makes the brisket all the more juicy and the half-hour of exposure to the air retains the bark. 

Even worse, my cousin didn't realize he'd left behind one or more steel-wool splinters from his brush on the grate, so the next time he grilled, it got onto the meat, he swallowed it (yes, he gulps his food), and wound up with perforated innards, which became infected and required two major surgeries. After this happened to him, I noticed articles warning of the risk.

Awful. Did this happen on a gas or charcoal grill?

A grilled peach can make a delicious side or dessert. Peel, pit and halve it, then grill each side. So yummy.

Mayocoba beans are also called Frijole Canario (Canary beans) or Peruvian beans. They can be found in Latin American markets and Shoppers in the Latin food section.

I returned to college part-time for a beginning Portuguese course before my first trip to the Azores. Before I departed from home I made sure to learn even more food vocabulary in Portuguese than what we learned in class. It made my trip so much more enjoyable, both in restaurants and when walking around meeting folks outside tending their gardens!

Or make chutney - I'm planning on trying this one with serranos, I love Mamta Gupta's recipes. 

Nice!

He said 'I think it has a few more minutes' so say nothing, the pan is overcrowded, so say nothing. But I think there's nothing wrong, in pointing out if something in the pan looks done or asking do you think the light under that pan should be turned down (it's going to burn the onions) - as if wondering. Then go with the reaction from the cook. I'm a good and experienced cook and sometimes things get overlooked so appreciate the feedback.

I love when I can get a nice herbal, not too sweet cocktail out. Trying to replicate them at home would be fun - a nice change from just opening a bottle of wine. I'm looking at simple syrups like ginger, rosemary, lemon, lavender, etc. Any syrup suggestions or basic "recipes" to play with to help me get started at home? Thanks!

If you're looking for something that adds herbal notes without adding a lot of sugar, you may be better served by trying out some tinctures rather than syrups. The process is pretty similar to making your own bitters, only you leave out traditional bittering agents (cinchona, gentian, wormwood, etc.) and just use the flavor itself. Process for that is fairly simple: high-proof alcohol like Everclear if you can get it or overproof vodka if not, steep your herbs in it and taste it regularly till it reaches the strength you want (which is pretty strong; remember these liquids, like bitters, are doled out in drops). When you're using something high proof, that's usually hours rather than days.

If you're not feeling DIY-ish, then Drink Addition makes some really nice tinctures. I have a couple and they add some really interesting notes to cocktails (a curry G & T with good gin, good tonic, a squeeze of lime and a splash of the curry tincture is weird and delicious.) 

If you do actually want an herbal syrup, then you may find this cheat sheet from Imbibe helpful. 

Last day of preschool is tomorrow. Was thinking of having my toddler help make rhubarb jam (or sauce) from "her" rhubarb plant. Any recipe ideas? I figured something homemade would be fun.

What a sweet idea. 

Here's an older recipe from our archives for Rhubarb-Ginger Jam, which uses crystallized ginger. If you're looking for a shelf-stable option, though, I like the small-batch jams from blogger/cookbook author Marisa McClellan. She has a recipe for strawberry rhubarb jam with rose water that sounds good. 

And if you want something a little different, our own contributor Cathy Barrow has a killer rhubarb mango chutney recipe:

RECIPE: Rhubarb Mango Chutney

In keeping with our Grilling theme, how 'bout Tangy Rhubarb "Barbecue" Sauce?

If you don't have a second grill you could use for firing up another batch of charcoal in your chimney, then buy a large metal mop bucket, arrange a few bricks or pavers in a triangle or rough circle, then load up your chimney, set it on top of that, and light it - the bucket will catch any ashes or hot coals that fall out.

       Great idea! 

Think of it as psychotherapy, for working out a lot of aggressions :-)

Haha, whatever works.

When they come out sometimes WF's and Harris Teeter will carry them, for about two weeks. When's the season to start looking out for them?

I usually get a heads up from Robert at Melissa's Produce about this -- Wegmans is especially good about posting an online schedule for its stores around Washington. Figure the earliest you can find them here is about the third week in August, and sometimes lasting through September.

Along the range of good old fashioned Kingsford briquettes up to hardwood lump, you can also find hardwood briquettes which is a happy medium between the two - Royal Oak is one brand that makes them. I prefer lump, but sometimes if you're cooking a lot of food and don't want to have to monitor the fire, briquettes are less fussy and always reliable. One downside of hardwood lump is that it can burn much hotter, and it can also burn unevenly over time if it's not arranged well, so you sometimes need to pay a little more attention when you use it.

All true. 

Hi, Rangers! I need to cut out sugar for the foreseeable future and would be very grateful if you'd list some recipes for sauces and dressings for meats and salads (and anything else you think of!) that do not use it. Especially to spoon over plain chicken breasts. If possible, I'd like to stay away from other sweeteners like Stevia and honey, too, so I can wean myself from craving sweet. Thank you so much!

There are countless sauces and dressings without added sweeteners. Here are some for chicken:

 

Chive Chicken

Chicken With Riesling and Chanterelles

 

Penne Alla Vodka With Chicken

 

Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Alfredo

 

Some dressing options:

 

Spiced lemon dressing

 

Cherry Tomato and Basil Dressing

 

Carrot Ginger Dressing

Joe’s story about doing the chicken on the grill his way brought back a fond memory for me. Long ago I had a friend who lived in a group house; among her housemates was an aspiring, beginning professional cook. I went to visit one day, and my friend introduced me to the cook who soon left on errands. Just before I arrived he had rolled out a pastry crust and left it on the drain board. Shortly after he left, my friend and I accidentally knocked the crust off the drain board onto the floor. Mr Cook was known for his temper, and my friend was warning me about the showdown we would soon face. I looked at her uncomprehendingly: both of us were reasonable accomplished in the kitchen. When I told her I would just roll out a new one, she seemed to think it couldn’t be done, that some magical cook’s trick would be missing. I got busy and ten minutes later had produced a reasonable facsimile. She was sure that he would know the difference. He didn’t, and with that temper in mind, we waited a long time before we told him. Thus are long-standing friendships formed.

Beautiful.

when i'm cutting onions, I take breaks to stick my head in the freezer! helps minimize the tears. my memorial day weekend project is making the bagels, I can't wait to report back on how good they are!

I cannot fit another thing in my freezer, let alone my head!

That's what I do when I have especially potent onions. Hold my breath as long as I can, then run out of the kitchen, breath, repeat until onions are in the pan.

Hey! Watch it there -- many of us consider Micky Dolenz to be the "voice of the 60's."

Get some thin wood skewers from the grocery store and make kebobs: alternate chunks of onion, bell pepper (I like to use the colorful ones), baby bella mushrooms, and tomatoes. I'm sure there are other veggies that could be skewered and grilled. Also, I keep my bag of onions in the refrigerator, and I never cry when chopping them. When I'm cutting up an onion fresh from the grocery store (room temp, not cold), I cry.

I've got a Hasty-Bake that allows me to raise and lower the fire box and easily create large areas for both direct and indirect cooking. I've noticed, though, that charcoal seems to come off its peak temperature pretty quickly, which leaves me with a conundrum. I like to start with vegetables, giving them a good char and then moving them off direct heat so they finish cooking rather gently. I add meat only near the end of the veggies' cooking time, but at that point I feel like it takes too long for my steaks to get a good sear. I'm hesitant to sear the steaks first, since that would mean I'd be holding them for a long time while the vegetables cook through. Aside from topping off the charcoal right before I add the meat (and then having it continue to burn and smoke for a couple hours) is there anything I can do to goose my charcoal so it's closer to that peak temperature?

      I've only used a Hasty-Bake a couple of times, so I'm not sure exactly what to advise. I will suggest, though, that you should rest your grilled steaks for about 10 minutes. So, during that time, you can grill your veggies. Shouldn't be a problem, since you want a deeper sear on your steak (I assume) than on your vegetables anyway. The steak will take no more than about 10 minutes on the fire. That should leave plenty of hot fire left for you to do what you need to do with the veggies. 

Yes! They cook took the salmon out to test and showed everyone...and it was a tinge on the smidge that the middle may be a tad...just a tad...medium. "Hmmmm...not ready yet. I think about 8 or 10 more minutes," and back in at 7,000 F with the convection it went, uncovered.

Hmm... I suppose you might've had a sec to say, "Oh, that looks beautiful -- I love mine that way!" while the salmon were being shown to everyone... But sounds like things were moving a bit too fast for that?

America's Test Kitchen presented a program on this, IIRC. Check online.

My mother always swore by eating a piece of bread while chopping onions. It's kinda weird to be chewing a piece of bread while chopping but it has worked for me.

I have really appreciated help from guests in the kitchen, especially of my parents' age, who passed along their wisdom, tips, hints. I would love to have any of the WaPo staff helping! On the other hand, I had one guest (a dear friend. Still. Surprisingly.) who is a very good cook, take one look at my layout and then boot me from my own kitchen. That I could have done without.

It's all about the relationships and the manner, isn't it? Sounds like you're open, which is different from the OP's host...

No "e" in "whisky."

That's not quite accurate. American bourbon/rye, Irish variations = whiskey. Scottish single-malts and blends = whisky, no e. Longstanding argument in which both sides are correct. 

I'm pretty sure the offending chemicals in the chiles are not water soluble. So wash with something not water based.

Right -- hence my alcohol, oil and oil-cutting soap suggestions!

Slip one of the plastic bags for fruits and veggies over your right hand like a glove and use that to pick up the chilis you want to buy. Then, with your left hand, pull the bag/glove off your right arm and hand, and over the chilis. That way, if you unthinkingly touch your eyes or face or mouth, you won't get stung.

Hmm, unnecessary in my view, because the outside of the chilies don't have any of the compounds that cause the burn. It's when you cut into them and touch those ribs and seeds and juice that you get stung.

The secret is to use match-light charcoal, but never put the food on the grill. Cook the pancakes and bacon in a frying pan on top of the grill. You'll get plenty of heat. Bring ground coffee, a French press, and a teakettle and everyone will be your BFF.

     You can (and, I would argue, should) do the same thing without match-light. 

Just found your recipe online for Grilled Pineapple Roast which calls for marinating in a sugar syrup and grilling on a charcoal grill. How do you do this on a gas grill without a smoky, sticky mess?

 

RECIPE Grilled Pineapple Roast

That recipe is a keeper. You brush on the sauce and it adheres to the fruit, as I recall, in stages. If you're worried about cleanup, lay down a piece of aluminum foil and poke appropriate slits.

To the person considering vanilla bean paste, I’ve recently come across vanilla bean powder (I’ve seen it at beanilla.com and King Arthur’s site). It’s seems like a great alternative, providing the flavor and pretty specks without the alcohol of extract or the sugar in the paste.

And if you're a guy, don't visit the loo ... like my ex-boyfriend. I think he looked the color of the jalapeno.

Been there.

Just Don't Do It - drink beer instead.

I generally agree with this, but I do think some Rieslings and Gewurtzes are nice with the spice.

suspect Rajat Parr would quite disagree. (as would i, obvi.) both beer and wine can work really well. just be cautious with the gewurz, which can work but can also go wildly off-rails.


Something based on fresh-squeezed lemon juice?

Simple: Lemon Chicken

Pounded Chicken

Slightly more involved: Lemon and Pistachio Chicken

 

 

My kitchen's as clean as it ever is (imperfect) but there is an increasing number of tiny little flying, black bugs over the counter. I've squashed a few but I only saw maybe 3 total then and now there are at least 6. I don't know if these are fruit flies, as there's only one banana sitting out, on the other side of the kitchen, and that's not where they're hanging. All workable suggestions welcome!!

You could try the ol' trick of putting wine or vinegar in a jar, securing plastic wrap over top of the jar and pricking a few holes in the plastic wrap (so flies can get in but have a harder time getting out). I usually do this in the summer when fruit flies abound and no level of cleanliness seems to help. (But just make sure to put the jar in a place where someone you live with won't knock it over and spill the contents of the jar all over your freshly cleaned floors. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.)

Or invest in some sticky fly trap thingamabobs, just be aware that some of them use chemicals to attract flies, so you may not want to also have those chemicals exuding into the air you're breathing.

Why not let the flames touch the meat?

    I actually don't believe that they shouldn't. When I cook chicken, I often let the flames touch the bird to crisp the skin. That said, it is not something you want to make a habit of. 

    To me, it's a control issue. You can too easily burn your food. If you have several things on at the same time, you can easily cook unevenly. Also, it can create an unpleasant greasy flavor. Finally, it can start a grease fire. 

Grill pineapple and shrimp (or leave out the latter if you don't eat seafood) with some wood chips to give it a little smoke, then chop it up and use it as a topping on a home-made pizza - insanely good!

I want to make some burgers to grill. I plan to start with grass fed organic beef. Then what? Since I will probably only eat one burger and plan to freeze the rest. Besides plain I like something like jalapeno or au poivre. Also veggie burgers I can freeze but no tofu or black beans.

Just a few quick thoughts on making your burger. (I assume you have bought ground beef, so we don't need to worrying about grinding and mixing).

 

First, form a loose patty. Don't pat it down into a tight ball, which will lead to a dense, chewy burger. Remember to season the patty liberally with salt and pepper before grilling. This is vital.  

 

Other options: I like to mince up a little onion and mix it into the patty. You could do the same with jalapenos.

 

Good luck!

Those sugar-free recipes and dressings look so good, I'm going to have to have lunch early!

My pleasure!

Well, you've rewrapped us in foil, swaddled us in a towel and placed us in an empty cooler, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for all the great q's, and thanks to Jim, Jon and Carrie for helping with the a's. 

Now, for the giveaway books: Winners are the chatter who first brought up the salmon-dinner-party quandary; the one who first reported on the food words at the spelling bee; the one who asked about "first steps for grilling novice"; and the one who first asked about onions and crying (and lamb).

Here are your choices: "Julia Reed's South" by Julia Reed; "Two if By Sea: Delicious Sustainable Seafood" by Barton Seaver; "Around the Fire" by Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton; and "Diva Q's Barbecue" by Danielle Bennett. 

Claim your book by emailing Kara.Elder@washpost.com. (First to email gets first choice, etc.)

Until next time, happy cooking, eating, grilling and drinking! And reading!

 

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie S. Benwick is Deputy Food Editor and recipe editor at The Post. Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Kara Elder
Kara Elder is the Food section editorial aide.
Fritz Hahn
Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003.
Jon Bonné
Jon Bonné is a senior editor at Punch and the author of “The New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste,” (Ten Speed Press, 2013).
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