Free Range on Food: Rum, sauces, eating with the Zac Brown Band and more

Jun 06, 2012

Jason Wilson shows us how to hold a rum tasting, and David Hagedorn teaches us about making sauces.
Past Free Range on Food chats

Good afternoon! Kinda loving the cooler turn in weather, aren't you? I think it's  just right for trying one of the sauces in David Hagedorn's The Process column this week, in which he teaches us all a new trick with turkey wings. What's on your mind,  chatters? Jason Wilson is attempting to answer some advance questions for us via e-mail but regrettably, he won't be on hand to take your queries on rum tastings. But Jim Shahin's here for bbq advice; I can discuss Zac Brown Band food; plus, you can challenge the collective wisdom of  Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick and staffers Jane Touzalin and Becky Krystal. Tim Carman's on assignment.


Chat giveaways: Two SAVOR tickets to this weekend's event! And "Hot & Cheesy," source of today's Dinner in Minutes recipe (weather appropriate) AND the Zac Brown "Southern Ground" cookbook. We'll announce winners at the end of the hour. Here we go!

The few herbs that I planted in containers have thrived this spring. The thyme and chives are flowering right now. There was a recent Dave Hagedorn article/recipe that used chive buds; can the flowers be used the same way? The flowers on the thyme are as small and delicate as the leaves. Can I use them with the leaves when I strip the stem? Do they have a different flavor than the leaves? This is the first year that I have been successful with the herb boxes - Parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme and chives are at my fingertips. Now I just need to learn how to use them!

Yes, absolutely use the flowers from chives and thyme. They are beautiful and delicious. They have a bit of a peppery aspect to them—who  objects to that?

Really nice article. Thanks. I got into rums via the tiki drinks door. Now, I like rums by themselves, usually over some crushed ice. Part of me wants to know what you think about having rum this way and part of me doesn't care, because I like it this way. My favorite is a rum you can buy in Jersey but not locally, 12 year old Cubaney from the Dominican. I like it better than rums I've had north of $100/bottle. Ever heard of it?

From Jason:

I like rum sometimes with ice (though cubes not crushed) but as you say, however you like it is the best way. I agree that more expensive -- and longer aged rums -- are not always better. I've never had Cubaney 12 year old, but now might seek it out.

I don't know why, but lately I've been craving a tuna fish sandwich and the soggy, flavorless one from my office cafeteria didn't sate it. Any suggestions for how to make the perfect tuna sandwich? I'm thinking of mixing the tuna with mayo, minced sweet onion and sweet pickles and spicing it with a little salt and paprika.

Here's a recipe for a tuna, whote bean and roasted red pepper salad gives that old tuna a little kick using two of my favorite pick me ups: lemons and roasted red peppers.

Bonnie, were you able to determine Zac's favorite brand? We'd love to send a bottle to him from Olio2go!

Nope. Guess you'd have to contact Chef Rusty for that.

Somehow it came back and is growing gang busters. Last summer, I added it to salads. But what else can I do with it? My regular basil came back but is lackluster. Thanks!!!

I'd throw a bunch of the leaves in a simmering simple syrup -- would be great for summer cocktails and homemade lemonade. I think the lemon basil would work nicely with fish. Of course there's pesto. Seems like it's big in Indonesian dishes too.  Chatters, what do you do with it?

So this question is about rum cocktails rather than rum tasting per se, but hoping you may still be able to offer some advice! We're trying to come up with a "signature cocktail" for our wedding this fall. Rum (dark or light) is probably our favorite liquor. It will be an outdoorsy, casual vibe. If it were summer we'd probably go with mojitos, but we'd like to find something a bit more seasonal. Any ideas? Something that can be mixed up in a pitcher ahead of time would likely be easiest for the bartenders. Thanks!

Jason says:

Here are a few rum punches you might try.

• The pink-hued Jamaican Punch that ran this week would look and taste lovely.

• This Honey Spiced Punch is a mix of cachaca, rum, and falernum.

• More involved is the Boston Club Punch, which with its addition of sparkling wine makes this refreshing on a hot day.

I would love some recipes to use up all the blueberries that I bought. Could you start with blueberry muffins for the kids, and then add a few to inspire?

Thanks for the terrific sauce-making article! I've been making chicken stock forever, but tried beef stock for the first time last weekend. I used Anthony Bourdain's recipe, but instead of hunting down veal bones, I used 2/3 beef soup bones and 1/3 beef marrow bones from the grocery store. His method is basically you dust the bones with flour and mix them with some tomato paste before roasting, and you also roast the vegetables separately before making the stock. I simmered the stock overnight, then strained once with a strainer and a second time through a coffee filter basket. I'm pretty happy with the results for a first-timer, but wondered if you'd ever tried his method and what you thought. I'm looking forward to trying yours with turkey necks and wings (though I'm wary of using bouillon cubes--seems like a ton of salt, especially before reducing). Also, Bourdain emphasized again and again, "DO NOT BOIL YOUR STOCK." Do you know why? What will happen?

I promise letting the stock boil will not result in catastrophe! What will happen is that the stock will cloud up like murky water and, if you let it boil too long, the stock will reduce and you may end up having to add water. All in all, best to monitor closely then adjust the heat so you have a slow simmer.

I've really gotten into mezcal lately and would like to experiment with it more in cocktails. I'm thinking of mixing it with marischino liqueur, grapefruit juice and lime, although I'm wondering if that will pucker up too much. Any suggestions?

Jason advises:

I like smoky mezcal mainly as an accent - too much is overwhelming. As a base spirit it mixes very well with sherry, as in the Smoked Palomino [link in archive.] what you describe could work well too, especially the grapefruit. But use an easy hand on the maraschino.

I was surprised that David Hagedorn saved for later eating the turkey meat he used to make stock. ("Turkey stock takes two hours instead of four. The wings and necks gave up six cups of meat, which would be frozen and used for two meals.") After cooking for four hours, does that meat have nutritional value? Or is it just a tummy-filler?

The stock cooked in two hours, which is admittedly too long for the white meat, but not for the neck meat, which makes an amazing ragú. The white meat was not objectionable texture-wise and was quite fine for turkey salad and a quick pasta made with some of that rich stock. It would be fine in a casserole all mixed together, like a Tetrazzini or a hot dip for a lot of company.


When I made veal stock, I used the braised chunks of veal (which I had left as large as possible) for a quick blanquette, even though it had cooked for 4 hours. I'm certainly not throwing it out at $9/pound. It was delicious nonetheless.


Incidentally, I took the chunks of meat and stock I used to make today's essences and defrosted them the other night, cooked the meat until it was tender and added the leftover sauces and some shiitake mushrooms to make a stew. I served it over rice I made with smoked chicken stock I had on hand. Let me tell you, that was one terrific dinner. It totally reinforced the argument I made today that it is totally worth the time to go for excellence instead of speed and ease. 

(Second question from same reader): Really nice article. Thanks. I got into rums via the tiki drinks door. Could you please say some things on line about tiki drinks? What you like? Where you favorite places to go out for one? What you like to make at home? And then perhaps discuss the selection of rums for various tiki drinks. Serious tiki drinkers make a big deal about having particular rums in particular drinks, e.g., Pusser's in the Pain Killer.

And more from Jason:

I wrote a feature about tiki drinks a few years back -- you'll find about five cocktails here that I like to make. The layering of different rums is definitely an important aspect of tiki drinks. 

Hey guys, my best friend's birthday is on Sunday, and on Monday, she's moving to Cambodia. Sadly, I won't get to see her before she leaves. I would really like to make her some dessert that A) I can mail to her and B) she could take on the plane with her, something nice to eat for the long traveling time. I know she loves chocolate, but really, she's not very picky about desserts. Actually, she can be pretty adventurous. So, any ideas on something that can be mailed easily (it probably wouldn't be in the mail long, if that matters) and that she can take on a plane with her? I wouldn't mind if it was rather decadent in tastes and/or looks. Thanks!

When making a balsamic reduction, do you need to do anything special (or can you) other than let it hang out on the stove for a bit?

Pretty simple. Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan, preferably one that has sloping sides (so the liquid doesn't evaporate too much as you're trying to thicken it). You can add a bit of sugar, if you like.

I have the greatest respect for Ms. Kamman. Religiously used to watch her cooking shows on television and have read all her books with extreme attention, including THE TOME. Have you cooked her potato dish where a bundt pan is lined with bacon, and mashed potato mixed with dried pear chunks is slowly baked for nearly 8 hours? I should be grateful for your take on that preparation. Would like to substitute a small Romertopf and see what difference that might make, and mix in Yukon Golds with russets. Thank you for the sauce ideas. You will find Peterson also moved to turkey as a substitute for veal in his textbook on Sauces. Chicken parts including feet, [when 50 cents/lb or less] also create a great base, richly browned in the oven with some onions, then again with a scant amount of tomato juice in the same pan, to a rich golden "fond". You can carefully reduce further,  closer to a demi-glace, but not quite, and drain out the fat very easily when still warm.

Thank you.


The summer I studied with Madeleine she was finishing up her update of "The Making of a Cook," which is how my name wound up in the Acknowledgements. 

What I always loved about her TV shows was that she did not talk down to viers and assumed that they were intelligent people who knew something about cooking. I also loved how she would blithely turn over sauteeing items with her asbestos fingers and not even flinch.


I have not cooked the dish you mentioned, so I can't really speak to it.


Madeliene suggests turkey stock as a stand-in for veal stock, but more in a pinch. The next time I make a btach, I will sue the duck carcasses I have in the freezer for sure. i think good cooks just know how to put these things together for a good stock. Chicken feet? Absolutely. Roasting aromatics for caramelization? Yes!


One thing that Kamman always warned about was the over-reduction of stocks. She really objected to the stickiness of sauces and I have to say a lot of chefs who still make sauces like this make that mistake a lot. Your lips should not stick together when you take a bite of steak, right? It's all about knowing when to stop and taking the time to reduce slowly so that you bring out all the flavor before the gelatin gets too sticky. 

So did Zac ever take his stupid hat off?

Ha! Not that I saw. I saw a clip of the recent country music awards show in which ZBB and Brad Paisley were performing together, and Brad was wearing a matching cap. Seemed like some sort of message....

Bought some fresh mozzarella at the grocery store over a week ago. It was packed in water and was also sealed with plastic. The date was 6/17. I opened it last night and it just didn't taste right. Today, I am at the store again and they are still selling cheese with a 6/17 date on it. Did my fridge cause the food to go bad or did I wait too long to eat it?

Maybe it was just a bad batch. I'd bring my concerns to the attention of the dairy section manager so the cheese could be pulled from the shelf and replaced with a newer, fresher batch.

I'm hosting a baby shower this weekend and wonder if you have some recipe ideas in addition to the salad, fruit, noodle dish and desserts I'll already be serving. Thanks in advance...I've procrastinated a bit on this one!

What kinds of dishes are you looking for? We have like 5,000 recipes in our database. Let's try to narrow it down a bit!

Bonnie, that recipe for the black grouper sounds delicious, but I'm wondering how much work is involved in getting the cornbread crumbs to actually stick to the fillets, and whether the flipping job is not so flip. I'm picturing a nicely browned, sweet/salty, crumbled-up mess!

The fish is coated in the marinade and is quite thick and moist itself, so the soft crumbs actually adhere quite easily! Don't stress about the flipping...even if the fillets break up a bit, they'll still taste great.

that I failed again in my chocolate chip cookie quest. I tried your chock-full recipe and the dough was (and is) great. However, in the baking, it just didn't work. So now I blame the oven. Ha. I have hung up my chocolate-chip-cookie-chef hat. I have not, however, stopped making the dough.

Oh no! Did you try a small batch in the toaster oven?

I started a batch of limoncello this week and therefore have 7-8 naked lemons. Any ideas for what I should do with them besides lemonade?

How about another drink? I love honey-lemon iced tea. The honey sweetens the tea flavorfully, the lemon adds zing. Sooooo much better than bottled iced tea.

Just read Mr. Hagedorn's great article on sauce making. Loved taking a break from another ho-hum workday to transport into Old World classics and painstaking, not-to-be-rushed work. Seeing just how much time, money, and effort can go into making a tablespoon of perfected sauce was a small revelation. And that's probably why I gasped when I saw a recipe for a mustardized sauce -- gack!! Mustard is way too overpowering for something as delicate as these sauces, right? But then I saw that the recipe calls for a tablespoon only -- which sounded all right to me, after all. In that moment, I "got it" ...and got a glimpse of what it's like to think like a real cook. Thanks again for a great little escape.

Thanks so much for your kind comments. I wasn't sure how the piece would go over because we live in a food world now where the benchmarks seem to be 5 ingredients and 5 minutes. That can be a useful formula, but I fear we are sacrificing true greatness for convenience.

I am actually not a huge fan of mustardy things, but the blissful alliance between veal and mustard cannot be denied. Just the hint of mustard brings out veal's sweetness. On top of the foundation the essence provides and the texture and balance the cream adds, you wind up with something harmonious and superlative.

I like my tuna salad on toast but not soggy toast. We don't have a toaster at work, so I toast my bread at home, let it cool completely, then pack it separately from the tuna salad. Some assembly required (but can be enjoyed with no sogginess).

Great tip, but not for me. My favorite part of a tuna sandwich is the soggy bread. Guess it takes all kinds....:)

A couple other suggestions: 1) put some apples in it and top with cheddar cheese, 2) get some really good tuna salad from your favorite deli (or WF) and put on crackers or your favorite bread or 3) put some really good grainy mustard on it.

My favorite version comes from my mom - Tuna Yuckies. Despite the name, they're absolutely delicious. Make your favorite tuna salad (ours is tuna, mayo, salt, pepper, dill pickles, maybe some lemon), put it on bread (maybe topping with tomato and/or avocado), and then dip the sandwich into a whisked up egg. Fry on medium-high on both sides until nicely browned (like french toast). Yum!

I have heard nothing about the demise of WETA's cooking channel "create," in return are old BBC re-runs! Since we don't have cable, it was the one way to see cooking shows on evenings and weekends. Have their been any complaints?

Becky and I have been complaining nonstop. We like "All Things Great and Small" as much as the next guy, but sheesh. We'll try to call and follow up.

As a longtime fan of Zac and the guys, it makes me happy not only to see Chef Rusty getting your attention, but also to see people noticing and appreciating that the guys have not changed at all since becoming huge. Glad you had a great experience. A lot of the recipes in the cookbook were apparently featured on Zac's Sailing Southern Ground cruise in 2010, yet another reason why I was sad to miss it, so I'm excited to get ahold of the book and try them out! What was your favorite dish?

As you may know, the book's set up in a kind of scrapbook-y way, with cardboard pages and lots of photos of the band and places that are meaningful to Zac. The recipes are printed on 3 x 5 cards that you can pull out -- that's a nice feature. I tested only 3, but I got to taste the pork tenderloin and that's a winner. Had high hopes but trouble with the beignets recipe, which calls for Abita Purple Haze Beer.  Might have to go back at those!

I'll be moving out of the DC area in August, and as part of the preparation for the move, I'd like to use up the stock of ingredients in my pantry / freezer / fridge. Short of coming here each week and asking about a few, do you have any suggestions for websites that would let me plug in a few ingredients and then see recipes that use them? (Dinner tonight is corn chowder using corn broth and kernels from the freezer!)

How about our web site. We have a handy dandy recipe finder that lets you do just that. To get you started, here's a simple corn and pancetta saute from our collection.

I have been assigned a dessert for a beer dinner a group of friends is doing. The goal is a recipe that both includes beer in the recipe and pairs nicely with a beer (either the same beer or a different beer). I thought about Nigella Lawson's Guiness Cake, but would love some options that are a little lighter for summer than a stout. Any idea? Thanks!

This Honey Spice Beer Cake is awesome.

Honey Spice Beer Cake

I have a lot of frozen raw shrimp that I am looking forward to grilling up this summer. I've done the garlic/lemon seasoning, the cajun seasing and the bbq seasoning, but do you have any other good recipes for shrimp kabobs on the grill? Also, just curious, what are all of your favorite things to throw on the grill in the summer?

 Shrimp are so good great that one of the best things you can do is also one of the simplest: just salt them in their shells, head on, and grill them. Use direct heat. High. Squirt with a little lime, eat. 

     For something more complex, shell and devein some shrimp and marinate them for an hour in the juice of a couple of oranges and a lemon, along with a little salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Add some crushed red pepper flakes or a couple of dashes of hot sauce for more zing. Grill. 

 Here's one more, a go-to recipe from a book I like called "Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked" by Karen Adler and Judith M. Fertig (Harvard Common Press): Take about 2 dozen jumbo shrimp, shell and devein them, and marinate for a half-hour in a couple of cloves of finely chopped garlic, a little minced shallot, a teaspoon and a half of Dijon mustard, and a third of a cup each of dry white wine, fresh lemon juice. fresh hand-torn basil, and a half-cup of olive oil. Pull the shrimp from the marinade. Pour the marinade into a saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes to reduce. Grill the shrimp. Place the shrimp on a platter. Drizzle the cooked marinade over the shrimp. Eat with good, crusty bread. 

Hungry now.

Hi there. I'm making some mole nachos this weekend and don't know where to find some of the ingredients. Can you tell me where I should be able to find pasilla chile peppers, disk Mexican chocolate, and Mexican crema? (I don't even know what those last two are!) I'm thinking Hispanic grocery store or Trader Joes. Am I right? Thanks!

Dried pasilla peppers are carried at some Whole Foods stores, I've noticed. You can find Mexican chocolate and crema at Shoppers and Giant, and probably other large chains. Trader Joe's, I'm not so sure. Chatters?

I like to buy bags of lemons and limes to have on hand. How can I make them last the longest? Do they belong in the fridge or out on the counter?

Fridge, fridge, fridge, though they are beautiful in a glass bowl on the counter....

Don't have a toaster oven. But I chilled dough, I softened butter, I parchment-papered. Everything. Oh well. Good thing I don't really care for CCCs. Bad thing the boys in my house do!

Are you in the D.C. area? We want you  to come down to The Post and bake with us. Send an e-mail to with your particulars. For the sake of good CCCs everywhere!

I love a good mayonnaisey tuna salad, but sometimes what tastes best to me is a mild albacore mixed with a lot of lemon juice, dill, minced onion, and a great olive oil. Off to eat my crappy ham sandwich.... :(

re: Last week's question regarding doing cheesecakes for a long time in a very slow oven. There was a Food Section article about this a lot of years ago (mid 90's ?). I have used this method for numerous recipes over the intervening time and they've always turned out fine. I've gotten compliments on the texture and lack of cracking.

Just tracked down this one from Elinor Klivans, while I was doing research for The Washington Post Cookbook. Speaking of, thanks to all who have taken the time to send in names of recipes they'd like to see in the book.

I'm actually planning to make no-mayo tuna salad tonight: tuna packed in oil, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, banana peppers, arugula, lemon juice and some black pepper. It is delish!

Like the sound of that.

You can always do beer floats. Stout is the best, but I could see a wheat beer going with a sorbet or a ginger flavor. Maybe provide a few options and mix and match? Or, it's definitely strawberry season. Cook a stout down into a reduction and drizzle over strawberry shortcake!

You missed one reason given by Alton Brown not to boil stock. The goal of making stock is to extract collagen from the bone into the stock. Boiling causes the pores of the bone to close and prevents collagen extraction. Veal bones make better stock because there is more collagen and more pores for the collagen to be extracted.

I stand corrected (and improved!).:)

I think I was happier when Free Range didn't post gorgeous droolworthy photographs of recipes. All I want in this world right now is nut-topped Honey Spice Beer Cake. Not fair!

That cake is so good. I'd forgotten about it.

I have been using Fine Cooking's fajita shrimp recipe and it is awesome!

I love sauces on my food, veggies, and potatoes, but my husband doesn't eat meat. Do you have a recipe for a bold, flavorful sauce that leaves out the meat drippings and meat stock? Or can I just adapt any of the recipes you gave today to include vegetable stock instead?

I left the door open for future columns on other kinds of sauces, so there was method to my madness.


The classification of sauce really has a lot to do with how they are thickened. Reducing stock or cream is one way (with or without mounting with butter). Then there are sauces with starchy thickeners like roux and slurries of cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot,  etc. These would include gravies, bechamel and velouté. Then you have acid reductions mounted with butter (beurre blanc) and sauces thickened with eggs (hollandaise, bearnaise, sabayon, custards). Add to that vinaigrettes, thinned purees, tomato sauces and there is quite a bit to cover.


That being said, the recipes from today are meant to be serve with meat. Using vegetable stock is moot, since the vegetables will not create a lot of caramel and then can't endure along cooking process. Vegetables have no gelatin in them, so you don't get the level of complexity, either of flavor or texture, that you seek.

A beurre blanc (acid reduced with shallots and mounted with butter) finished with lots of herbs is always terrific if not a bit rich. Vegetable sauces made with veggie stock, say corn, onions, thyme, garlic, stock, cream, feta cheese cooked down and pureed makes for a lovely summer sauce. 

Julia Child always recommended using the tuna packed in oil, and you could omit the mayo. Add some fresh herbs to the oil too.

I'm growing mustard greens for the first time this year and have a bumper crop, which leads to two questions. First, do you have recipes for mustard greens, besides sauteing with garlic or onions? Second, can you suggest whether (and how) we can freeze some, since I imagine they will start bolting in the near future? Thanks!

You can use mustard greens is any recipe calling for a dark leafy green. Here's one for a Kale and Feta Tart that you sneak the mustad greens into. As for freezing, you could cook, cool, package and freeze the greens but it might more work than it's worth.

My new oven has a convection roast & convection bake option. Do I need to alter the temperature from that given in the recipe when using the convection?

You can adjust the temperature or allow for a shorter cooking time; definitely check your oven's manual.

Maybe this isn't the place to ask but I'd like to spend the day visiting 2-3 wineries out in Virginia. Distance doesn't matter so much as quality of the wine. Any tips?

Last year I went on a mini-wine tour and visited three that had been recommended by oenophile friends. Loved Sunset Hills and Breaux, both in Purcellville. I liked Viramar (in Berryville) okay, but one of the draws there is the beautiful view, and the day I went, the weather was foul. You should like the wine at all of them.

First, I'll say I had a lovely time at North Mountain Vineyard the other week. Beautiful setting and nice wines.

Second, here's what Dave McIntyre suggests:

You have many choices. In Fairfax County , Paradise Springs in Clifton is a nice visit, though it isn't really near other wineries. Middleburg offers two good wineries: Chrysalis and Boxwood, which opens to the public for the first time this weekend. Further north around Leesburg and upper Loudoun County, I can recommend Breaux, Sunset Hills, Hillsborough, and Corcoran, which also has a brewery in case you need a palate cleanser. If you take White's Ferry across the Potomac, Tarara and Fabbioli are nearby. Along the I-66 corridor -- if you have a small group and can call ahead for a weekend appointment, RdV Vineyards in Delaplane is worth the effort and expense. That would also give you a chance to visit Delaplane Cellars and the popular Barrel Oak Winery which are not far from there.  Near Front Royal, Linden, Chester Gap and Glen Manor would make a great trifecta.

Toasted whole wheat bread 3 slices of bacon lettuce (on each side to prevent the tuna from making the bread soggy) tuna salad (tuna, mayonaise, relish)

Do you guys run the Good to Go column anymore? I can never find it on the online food page. (If it is still running, please don't tell me to bookmark the Good to Go page.)

You can always find it on our home page under the "Editor's Choice" header.

You mentioned de-veining the shrimp if they are shelled. If they are not shelled and you cook them directly, do you de-vein after the shrimp are cooked? If it's not necessary, then why both de-veining at all?

I don't devein after grilling shrimp in their shells. The primary reason for deveining, seems to me, is for looks. When shelled, then cooked, they just look prettier. 

Plus, I find it easier to devein them before they're grilled.

Truth is, if there is a taste difference, I can't perceive it. But maybe that's just me. (I've had sensational shrimp, undeveined, in both backyards - including my own - and restaurants alike.) So, devein or don't devein, up to you. 

Off topic but would appreciate your expertise - have been unsuccessful when trying to make biscuits for more than 6 people - they didn't rise well with a double batch. I'm having a lunch for 20+. Do you think that gougeres would hold up better?

Gougeres are best warm right out of the oven, but yes they'll hold up. Just be careful to prick a little hole in each puff so the hot air inside can escape and don't cover them.

The real problem is not eating them before your guests arrive. Gougeres are a particular favorite in my house and they don't last long.

Gougeres  can be frozen and reheated, too. This recipe's easy and good.

Yikes, 88g of sugar per serving? Can the amount of sugar can be decreased somewhat without affecting taste?

Haha, yeah, I remember running that nutritional analysis. As Bonnie suggests, you can experiment with cutting the sugar in the frosting -- or not have the frosting at all. The cake is good enough to stand on its own.

We were planning on doing a brewery tour this weekend. However, in our planning we didn't realize it overlapped w/ Savor and as a result they won't be offering tours. Any suggestions on the best place to enjoy a tap takeover that won't be too crowded where we can talk with brewers or knowledgeable bartenders? Also, since it looks like we won't be be filling our growlers this weekend at the brewery- any suggestions of where we can get our growlers filled w/ a microbrewery brew this weekend?

Our beer contributor Daniel Fromson says:

Finding a relaxing tap takeover event this weekend could be a challenge, but here's one pick where there's usually a more laid-back vibe and enough seating to avoid the Savor crowds: Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan, which has an Odell Brewing event all day Saturday, where Doug Odell will be on hand with several of his beers including some limited releases. Other good events that day, which also start around 1, include the local brewers bash at Meridian Pint and the Short's Brewing event at ChurchKey, but these will probably be packed with people. You might also consider the Stone tap takeover on Sunday at Bier Baron, where a number of rare offerings will be poured. For more details on all the events going on, be sure to check out


Getting your growler filled will be tough: only production breweries such as DC Brau are allowed to fill growlers in the District, and most of those will probably be closed on Saturday and Sunday. Your best bet might be driving out to Virginia or Maryland to Port City Brewing in Alexandria (where I think you can take a tour on Saturday or Sunday), Mad Fox Brewing in Falls Church, or Franklin's in Hyattsville, all of which can pour beer to go.

What about fudge? Or maybe a nut brittle?

Yogurt, esp. Greek yogurt, works nicely in place of mayo for tuna salad. Also for canned salmon salad which may not taste great but works nicely for tuna-dislikers.

For beer dessert, I've made a "beeramisu" variant of tiramisu before. Instead of dipping the cookies in coffee w/ liquor, I dipped them in a Russian Imperial Stout (either Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout or Old Rasputin from Russia River Brewing). It works well. It would be nice to serve that with a Lindemans Framboise or similarly fruity beer.

Very cool.

I'm not the poster, but I'm in the DC area. Can I come down and bake with you? Pretty please?

First, let's help those who are in need! :)

I thought PBS was adding another channel not throwing Create under the bus. I like the Brit tv shows but really some of the shows are 20+ years old!!! I learned how to cook killer ribeye steaks on Create.

Im on a temporary diet and need to reduce my carbs and sugar consumption, but being deprived of dessert is really making me anxious. Can you recommend something? I can have fruits but limited to berries, kiwi & banana in restricted portions. I can't have nuts unfortunately.

Hmm..wonder whether meringues could work for you? Look over this selection. Grilled/roasted bananas can be quite good with a little bit of butter. Maybe with pureed kiwi on the side?

What do I do with all these fresh peas?

Boil them briefly; make a mash with garlic and chives and creme fraiche. Or hang onto them for another week, when we'll have delightful summer soup recipes.

The best beef stock I've ever made came from Bocheron (sp?), was worth every bit of the the effort. I also made excellent beef stock in the oven, however, I doubled the recipe (because I could, yeah!) did not turn the exhaust on, and took a very very long bath. When I came out of the bathroom the house was filled with what at first seemed to be fog. Everything in the rooms closest to the kitchen including floors, was wet. But the end result - amazing stock!.

What a great story. There's nothing like that, right? And I firmly believe that the pride translates to the plate. As does the lack of it.

I've been drying my orgegano (clothesline in the basement) for a couple of years now. Just decided to do a few other things this year. I had to cut back the winter savory, so that's hanging. I also cut back the bay plants and rosemary, but since I will still use fresh trimmings in the winter I decided not to dry any - should I have? I don't think the taste would be better. I may attempt to try some thyme and tarragon if the plants do well (I struggle with those two), and am thinking about drying chives, though not sure how to package them (cut into rings after drying? wouldn't they crush?). Anyhow, your post was very timely as I just started hanging my herbs this past Sunday. :)

Thanks for reading Chat Leftovers! Because bay and rosemary are evergreens (bay not as reliably in these parts) I don't know if it'd make much sense to dry them, since you probably have access to the fresh stuff 24/7. About chives: I freeze mine. I find that they retain flavor much better. I cut some and leave some whole; doesn't seem to make much difference taste-wise.

Hi. An older friend is losing his memory and also his interest in eating. He is under a doctor's care but that doesn't help with his lack of appetite. Do you know of ways to get someone eating again? New recipes, new ingredients, something? Thanks so much!

I lived through this with my stepfather. What he really still  appreciated and enjoyed were the foods of his childhood. For him, chicken paprikash (cooked long and slow so it was very tender) and baked apples were still appealing. Your friend might have a few dishes he'd love to see again. Even if he can't name them you might be able to guess based on his heritage,

Everyone, after spending way too much time studying for it in recent months, my significant other is almost done taking the LSAT. In order to celebrate his return to the living, I'd like to prepare a special meal. But it's summer, he loves beer, and it seems as though I could come up with some great ideas for grilling. However, it seems that all I see are beer brats and pouring some beer into BBQ sauce. Any more remarkable ideas? I know they're out there, but they're not jumping out at me. Thanks!

     Try beer-can chicken. My colleague David Hagedorn has a great recipe in the Post archives. 

      Also, you can baste pork ribs with beer.

You can also just grill whatever you like - ribs, steak, pork loin, fish - and drink the beer. 

What about yours, Jim? Pecan-Smoked Beer Can Chicken.

I really liked David's article on sauces and loved that he shared his new invention that turns sauce-making into something more realistic. However. I have always been totally befuddled by true sauces. When do I use them, other than on steaks? You mentioned making a soup with some leftovers - how? I guess sauces and demi-glaces and such have always befuddled and scared me, so I just stayed away from them. I don't even try making the cheap and quick faux sauces!

Those meat essences in the freezer are pure gold to a cook. You use them to make sauce  when the meat you've prepared doesn't produce sufficient juice on it's own, like a grilled or pan-fried steak or a roast. (A braised piece of meat provides its own base for sauce.)

You  make a fast sauce by deglazing the pan from a roast (This makes a fast wine reduction), adding some essence, herbs and butter, then straining it and adding herbs to finish. This is how you have enough sauce to feed a lot of people. There is just a world of difference between that sauce and a gravy or a sauce boat full of thinned pan juices. It's what separates the men from the boys, so to speak.


Try it and you will see. The day will come when you remember you have that in the freezer and use it to make sauce or stew. You will find the result revelatory. You can't help but notice the difference.


To make a soup, you just cook some vegetables in the stock, then add  the cooked meat you from the essences (if you did that) and/or the stock. It's a great way to sue the stock that winds up in the bottom of the bowl to which you transferred the stock solids.

A follow up to last week's sugar snap pea article: During their short season, I put them in just about any salad. I'm eating tuna noodle salad with sugar snap peas (blanched, shocked, and cut into a few pieces), shell peas, spring garlic, new carrots, etc. To string them, snap the stem top in one direction then the other and both sides string at once most of the time.

Adds such a good crunch. String tip, correct!

I'm looking for light fare and easy prep is a plus. It's a jack and jill shower so there will be men, two pregnant women, and a few kids will be attending so crowd-pleasing is also a plus. Thanks!

Is it ok to reuse plastic soda bottles ? i lovelovelove my sodastream for making seltzer water. But to make sure that i always have cold seltzer water, i keep a 2 liter bottle of plain water in the refrigerator. I have probably refilled it 30 or more times.

I do that, too. As long as you're occasionally washing them (by hand) they should be okay -- especially if they are labeled BPA-free.

I recently came across and old recipe for homemade bagels and tried it out - they tasted great, but stuck to the baking sheets so much half the bottom was ripped off. They were boiled in water with 1 tbsp sugar and then baked. Can you think of a step that I'm missing to make sure they don't stick after boiling?

Yes, bake on parchment paper or use this old trick: spinkle a heavy layer of cornmeal on your baking sheet. It will keep the bagels from sticking. Some of the cornmeal will stick to the bagels adding to their authenticity.

Hey, Jim - read somewhere recently about using a little butter, brown sugar on pineapple, then either roasting or something over the grill - ever heard of it and is it good???

    Heard of it. Done it. It's great. Fruit on the grill is fun and easy - and a good way to use dying embers, as you typically don't want a hot fire. 

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and a quarter-cup of brown sugar in a saucepan. 

     When you finish cooking your main mean, slice pineapple in 1/2-inch thick slabs. Grill over direct heat on each side for about 5 minutes is the fire is low, 2 to 3 minutes if it is pretty hot. Remove from the grill, then spoon the butter-brown sugar mixture over the pineapple. 

     You can add a couple of shakes of rum or vanilla to the butter/brown sugar as it cooks, if you like. 

     The other thing you can do is nothing. Grilled pineapple is fabulous by itself. Or, chop it and use as a topping for ice cream. 

Jeni's does an outstanding stout ice cream... maybe you could find the recipe and make that?

I endorse any Jeni's recipe. But also, here's ours for Guinness Ice Cream.

And I can't believe I forgot to mention the recipe that came out of this year's Beer Madness (which I made twice and people practically inhaled), Chocolate Coconut Porter Cake.

Chocolate Coconut Porter Cake

You mean sides that slope in, I assume? I have been in a lot of kitchens and I don't think I've ever seen such a thing. Is it a specialty item?

A saute pan will work -- just dont use a skillet or saucepan with a broad bottom and you'll be fine.

As a former Viewer Services Coordinator (aka Disgrunted Viewer Call Answerer) at WETA, I'm positive that there have been "any complaints." Just take it easy on whoever you get ahold of, as that person is probably knee-deep in emails and letters that he or she can do very little about!

After a few lean years, the plum tree in front of our house is making up for last time. We picked two gallons of plums (about 1") this morning and didn't even empty out the lowest hanging branches. Any thoughts on what to make besides lots of plum jam? Thanks!

I'm so jealous -- love plums. We have a recipe for a Black Plum Tarte Tatin and I'm sure you can use your smaller plums in place of the large ones. (You might have to make a trip to the supermarket and weigh 12 black plums to get a rough equivalent of how many to use.) Also try Edith Eis's Plum Cake, Plum Dumplings , Plum and Cinnamon Crumble, Plum Cinnamon Sauce -- and the list goes on. I suppose what I should have said instead is: Go to our Recipe Finder database and do an advanced search for plums, and you'll be rewarded. (You want to do the advanced search and select fruit, or you'll also get results for plum tomatoes.)


For the chatter looking for wineries--I highly recommend Zephaniah Farms in Leesburg. I've been to Tarara a number of times, but was really disappointed the last time I went. Breaux is also good, but can get crowded at peak times and in nice weather. I generally pick one and then go to a couple more that are close to it. Most have the Virginia Wine Trail maps, so it's easy to do.

For some reason I am no longer to view the slide shows, i.e. the current 20-30 meals in 30 minutes or less. All I get is a black screen. My computer guru is unable to figure this out. Can you tell me what program is necessary to view these photos? Thanks

I'll forward this to our online producer. Can you tell us what browser you're using? I heard from one other person with this problem yesterday, so I have to wonder.

It seems that the reason so many Americans feed their kids pizza almost daily interspersed with other carry out food is because the so called "quick and easy recipes" executed by an inexperienced cook rarely taste good. They never become anybody's "madeleines." That is a fact! So, the non-cooks give up and dial their iPhones for pizza. People in America need to learn to cook well and, David, you are an inspiration. Please don't stop. I am delighted to see your articles two weeks in a row. I am a fairly good, albeit, old cook, but I learn so much from you. Today I also learned from the poster who asked about Kamman's potato recipe in a bundt pan. I have the book, but never noticed it. It will be my next project.

Thank you so much. I am gratified and relieved to know that there are true cooks still out there. 

And I plan to track down that potato recipe, too. Though I might wait until the fall.

I've just made roasted pork butt, Puerto Rican style and I'm not sure what to do with all the liquid. It's jam packed with flavor. Can I freeze?

Yes, freeze it! Liquid gold!

Absolutely freeze that precious liquid. You can add it to soups, stocks and stews to boost flavor. Or save it for a rainy day, reheat and dip chunks of bread into it. Yum.

I thought that if meat was cooked in a liquid, that the resulting liquid was broth and not stock. When I make chicken broth, I reuse the chicken in chicken pot pie along with the far that rises to the top and some of the broth.

Broth is meant to be eaten on its own; stock isn't. You use stock to make something else, that's why I referred to mine as stock. If you were to eat it before reducing it a lot, it would be very bland as it has little added salt. Although, truth be told, this Mock Veal Stock is totally flavorful, I didn't want to confuse people by referring to both stocks and broths.


I wouldn't use the turkey meat for pot pie because they get baked for 30-45 minutes at least and that turkey has already taken a beating. Quick pasta or soups are better in this case.

Would chocolate pudding be considered a sauce if it has cornstarch in it to thicken it up?

Um, have you ever put just made chocolate pudding over ice cream? You should. I would call it a sauce (or a beverage), until it sets. Then it's a pudding.

Add chopped cornichons, capers, scallions, celery, lemon zest, a little horseradish and chopped parsley. Optional chopped kalamata olives. A squeeze of lemon juice to acidify the mayo a bit more. Good tuna. Good mayo.

Good thing this chat happens around lunchtime. You're making me hungry.

I saw online in multiple places a recommendation for cooking an ear of corn in the microwave with the husk still on and then just popping it out (and supposedly the silk doesn't stick). Have you ever tried this? It sounds suspicious to me for some reason!

Yeah, someone sent us a YouTube link last week for a video on that. I have not tried it, although I'm intrigued. Maybe I'll experiment tonight with the corn in my fridge! Will report back.

What difference does it make for "ribs" or "baby back ribs" and would there be different spices for them? Does one take longer to cook than another? Thanks

       There are different types of ribs and all sorts of rubs to mix and match. 

      Baby back is the common term for top loin ribs. They tend to be succulent and mild in flavor. 

       Spareribs are more flavorful, but also a little tougher. Nothing a good long smoking can't handle, though. 

You can put any rub on any rib. I prefer a bit of a heavier, spicier rib on my baby backs (a little brown sugar, some ancho powder, a bit of cayenne included) and a simpler rub on my spare ribs, sometimes just salt and coarse black pepper. But that's just me. Use whatever rub you like on whatever ribs you prefer. 

I'm all for eating the meat, but does it retain its nutrients, or did those transfer to the stock?

I don't think the protein  disappears, but I;m not sure of its nutritional value. To be honest, I was more concerned about value than nutritional value where that meat was concerned.

I know there's a lot out there about grilling vegetables. Is there a simple, easy recipe that would work for almost any kind of veggie?

Toss with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and complementary herbs of your choice, arrange on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and roast at 400 degrees until the vegetables are soft and have picked up some caramelization. Time depends on the vegetable.

When I made limoncello, I also made this amazingly delicious and easy lemon curd recipe. I cut the sugar by one-third because I love the tartness of lemons and it came out great. Delicious on muffins, bread, stirred into yogurt, or just eaten straight off the spoon...

Lemon curd is on my list of things I've never made but really need to. Love it.

Sounds sort of crazy, but have you ever m ade a pot of beans and then put them in a throw-away container and smoked them? Wonder if it would be worth a try - don't think I've ever had them.

     Not crazy at all. Smoking beans gives them a deep flavor. You can place them in the smoker for a little smoke after they've already been cooked or you can just cook them on the grill to start with. 

Has crema in the cheese section...Mexican chocolate I don't remember seeing it. A good Hispanic Foods (not the Old El Paso Section) at a grocery chain will have the chocolate.

I've also seen disk chocolate at some wine shops.

Sorry to change the subject . Would any one have a source for squash blossoms? Thanks for your help. I love the food section and learn so much every week.

Your nearest farmers market will have them. Also some Asian supermarkets such as H Mart or Great Wall.

I wonder if there's some way to set up a trade between the chatter with the plums and me with my black raspberries.

You never know! If parties are interested, we can try to match you up. Send me an e-mail --

the best recipe - Julia Child's Baking book

Re appetite stimulant.

I'm a big fan of the sauces that restaurants put on at the very end of the dish, usually with dots or swiped across. I like that they add just a little bit of flavor but don't overpower the dish. Two favorites I've had are wasabi (usually over tuna tartare) or plum (over salmon). I have two questions: 1) do you have any recipes for sauces like this, and 2) can you make them and freeze them? Since you use just a little, it seems a waste to make a whole bottle full of them.

I plan to write a column on those sauces, some of which can be frozen. Depends on what's in them, obviously. My objection to them in restaurants is that you often have too much protein chasing too little sauce and it's exasperating.

I can second the idea of making a ragu out of the turkey necks. I followed David's advice during one of the Thanksgiving chats last year about making stock from the necks and turning the neck meat into a ragu. The result was just amazing with fresh pasta! I realize that was part of one of these chats, but I would love it if you could dig up that post and put it in the recipe database!

Are you kidding? Shhhhh....that's my Thanksgiving column on gravy.

Can you recommend a rum that doesn't have a strong medicinal taste that I could purchase? I dislike that taste and always get slightly queasy from rum (had a bad experience with almost clear rum and cokes back in the day)...I normally drink vodka (Russian Standard or Sminoff's) and tequila (Sauza)?

Jason says:

Any of the rums I've suggested for the tasting in today's article would be more pleasant than medicinal. But if you want something with more of a fresh sugarcane taste rather than molasses, perhaps I'd suggest the Rhum Clement VSOP?

1) mix with some vinegar, some water, some stock (chicken or veg), some onions and garlic and some red pepper flakes. Cook 6 hrs or more in a slow cooker. 2) Stovetop: Do the greens as above without the vinegar but on the stovetop in a big pot - an hour is enough but more is better. About 20 minutes before you want to eat them, dump in a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes. 3) Either of the above but add some smoked turkey at the start, plus a bit of sugar in your favorite form (brown sugar, molasses, whatever).

um, yes please. they are now on the menu for tomorrow night (sorry, pork chops) and i'll be making fresh bread as the perfect vehicle...thank you!

Hey foodies - I ate out my girlfriend in the District this past weekend and the salads had an awesome sweet poppyseed dressing. We tried a couple from the store but they just weren't as good even though they had a similar taste. Can you recommend a good recipe? I assume it will be much better homemade and fresh. Ciao!

Try this one.

Absolutely flew by, that hour. Thanks to David, Stephanie , Jim and Jason -- and to you all for stopping by.


Chat winners: The first "Dessert With Beer" person wins the SAVOR tickets, for getting the ball rolling on a good topic; the first "decent tuna salad" chatter wins the "Hot & Cheesy" cookbook and the chatter who inquired about my favorite recipe in the Zac Brown cookbook wins the Zac Brown cookbook! Send your mailing address to so Becky can send those books out to you; for the SAVOR tickets, you'll be able to pick them up at Will Call with ID.


Till next week, happy cooking (and chocolate chip cookie) baking!

In This Chat
Bonnie Benwick
Bonnie Benwick is interim editor of the Food section; joining us today are interim recipe editor Jane Touzalin, staff writer Tim Carman, Food aide Becky Krystal and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.
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