Free Range on Food

Jul 02, 2014

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

Greetings, all, and welcome to Free Range!

We hope you are enjoying this week's Food coverage, including Bonnie's behind-the-scenes look at the filming of a new cooking competition show on the Travel Channel, "American Grilled"; Tim's look at NYC chef Daniel Boulud's recent dinner for DC chefs in anticipation of the opening of his DBGB outpost in CityCenter; and Holley Simmons' profile of the couple behind the new fruit ketchup company 'Chups. Plus more, of course!

What's on your cooking and eating itinerary today and in upcoming days, and what can we help with? Besides us staffers, we'll get help answering your questions from Jim "Smoke Signals" Shahin, Carrie "Spirits" Allan -- and special guest, Bayou Bakery's David Guas, host/star of that new "American Grilled."

As always, we'll have cookbook giveaways to incentivize you. Our favorite two chatters will win one, so make your queries good!

Let's do this.

I just purchased a smoker this past week and was planning to throw on some ribs this weekend using the 3-2-1 method. Is there a good type of rib to use for this type of barbequing? I assume that beef ribs may get too tough so it'd be better to go with pork? Do you have a link to any good rubs to apply?

Pork all the way. For a dry rub, definitely try to find something with coffee. I actually demoed this Coffee Rub recipe for a Rib Eye on The Today Show this morning. 

So, my brother & SIL are hosting a potluck family cookout on the Fourth. I've just gotten a MESS of summer squash (several varieties) from our CSA and would like to base my contribution on that. The venue is about a 90-minute drive, and I'm not sure that their grill is big enough for both many burgers and many squashes. Can you or the chatters recommend something that is relatively simple, yet interesting, and will travel well? A limited amount of prep/finishing at the other end is fine, but fussy doesn't fit the mood. Either hot or cold is OK. Thanks!

You could grill them ahead for this Zooks and Cilantro Sauce (below); keep the sauce separate, in a zip-top bag with an ice pack. And Same make-ahead drill with this Grilled Summer Squash Salad With Feta. This Shaved Summer Squash Salad would be awfully easy with only a garnish of cheese once you transfer to a platter. 

I'm on a kick lately for pickled veggies - blame it on the preg cravings since I used to hate anything pickled. What are the best type of sandwiches to put pickled veggies on (or any main course actually) - I have pickled red onions, carrots and cucumbers.

Banh mi is one way to go.

Roast Beef Banh Mi With Carrot, Daikon and Sriracha Aioli (swap your own pickled veggies in)

Roast Beef Banh Mi With Carrot, Daikon and Sriracha Aioli

I also put TONS of pickled anything on grilled cheese. I like them in omelets or scrambled eggs, as in Banh Mi Scrambled Eggs.

Banh Mi Scrambled Eggs

In a pita with hummus is good and in burritos or tacos too.

For the poster from last week: my favorite summer salad is orzo, watermelon, and feta, tossed with olive oil and black pepper. Simple and delicious.

Sure! Love all those things in various combinations!

Does cooking non-pastuerized foods (honey, soft cheeses, etc.) make them safe to eat for pregnant women?

This U.S. National Library of Medicine page indicates pregnant women should not eat raw honey, only "heat-treated honey." It recommendations only pasteurized milk and cheeses, too.


It doesn't specifically mention whether you can cook raw honey and cheese and be safe. For me, the bigger issue is, why would you want to ruin either by cooking it? You might as well buy the heat-treated products.


Chatters, other thoughts?

Hi, I am known by my family and friends as the BBQ Queen and I just seen David Guas on the today show talking about his new show American Grilled. I see he lives in Virginia and I too live in Virginia (Arlington). I know it is probably too late for this season, so I would like to be considered for the next production/episode. Can I get some guidance on who to contact.?Thank you.

Hey BBQ Queen! Thank you for your interest. The 13 episodes have already been filmed and I'm not the one that decides on participating contestants. So what's best is to keep a look out for casting calls from Travel Channel if there happens to be a second season (fingers crossed!). 

Bonnie, it turned out great! Thanks so much. It was super easy to make and tasted awesome. I used it with shredded, poached chicken. I am excited to experiment with other versions of this sauce, I'm thinking peach, and maybe something with rosemary. Other than pulled chicken, what are your favorite uses for BBQ sauce?

Yay, chatter from last week! Peach would be awesome, as well as plum (taking a cue from those 'Chups folks). You can swirl that sauce into sour cream/mayo for a dip to go with raw vegetables, or depending on your "trash food" IQ, maybe create a bbq spaghetti? Chatters, what are some out of the box ways  you like to deploy it? 

That's a lovely recipe. I make a similar green gazpacho with cucumbers, and I add a handful of fresh spinach leaves to punch up the green color and nutrients.

Glad you like it! Yes, green gazpacho is a fabulous thing. This one is VERY cucumber-y, as you can tell, and I love it for that reason. But I also make a Green Gazpacho that uses avocado for smoothie-like creaminess. Fun to play with, eh?

Cold Cucumber Cream With Tomato Salsa

Green Gazpacho (or Smoothie)

When do you use a pie bird? I think they are super cute but I'm not sure I need one. Do you use it to vent a pie, instead of making slits in the top crust?

Whenever I see an ad for a pie bird, there are slits cut in the crust as well, which is confusing! Seems to be the thing people used for fruit pies, which can get so molten inside. Maybe follow the Alton Brown rule: Avoid uni-taskers. Or, go the practical route and find something like a cannoli mold that would achieve the same task.  --- Mind you, all this is from someone who has never USED a pie bird. So, pastry chef / grilling host David Guas, have you? 


I'm old school when it comes to pies and am still creating slits in my crusts with a paring knife. 

So this summer I've been making a spinach and feta salad which I love. It's just chopped spinach, onions, fresh dill and crumbled feta. Whoever first thought of combining spinach and feta was a genius in my book.

Can you tell me what part of the wine is the essential part? If I see a recipe that calls for a quarter of a cup of wine in a large pot of something, then I feel pretty safe in just increasing another liquid a bit and not worrying too much. Is there something else I should be doing? If a recipe calls for upwards of two cups, well, that is most of a bottle and I guess I could just increase the recipe and have some left overs, but I'm not sure if I could use another cooking liquid. Could I? I am on rather a tight budget and live alone, so I generally just don't have a bottle of wine open or that I am willing to open for just one meal. And I don't drink enough (or have yet to find something I want to drink enough) to get a box. Thanks....

I'd say the function of the wine is different in every recipe, but mostly it's adding acidity, fruitiness, some complexity, and of course alcohol. There's a lot going on. But decent substitutes include stock, fruit juice and vinegar.

Here's another thought: You should learn what to do with leftover wine, right? You can freeze it in ice cube trays and then keep it in zip-top bags to have around to add directly to sauces. You can use one of those vacuum devices to extract extra air and refrigerate the bottle for an extra several days before it starts to go off. And you can use stuff that's even starting to go south (or even the dregs of multiple bottles of different kinds of wine) to make one of my favorite things: Mulled Wine Syrup. Trust me: You'll love it.

Hola! So I met this great girl last week, and am going to have her over for dinner this weekend. I am at a bit of a loss because she is a vegetarian - but I have wanted to go vegetarian as well so I am looking at this as a great opportunity. I want to do Indian, but I have never really shopped for Indian spices (don't want premade - I'm a do-it-yourselfer) and I don't know if I have the skills to pull it off. Can you give me some tips and maybe a starting point for a dinner plan? That would be great! Thanks a ton!

Don't be nervous! Not to get too Carolyn Hax on you, but any nice girl would be impressed you made the effort, regardless of the results. But good results are not impossible, or even difficult!

A lot of spices used in Indian food are not that exotic and can easily be found in most grocery stores -- and are often used in other cuisines. Basics include cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, ginger and turmeric. Often my Indian dishes call for cinnamon or cayenne too. You may already have many of these in your pantry. If you're really a DIY-er, you can certainly grind your own spices in a coffee or spice grinder. Indian groceries have the widest and cheapest selection of spices. I'm a fan of Ginger & Spice in Alexandria.

We have some good basic dishes in our database that you might consider:



Dal Shorba (Red Lentil Soup)

Creamy Vegetable and Cashew Nut Curry

Creamy Vegetable and Cashew Nut Curry

Roasted Eggplant

Last, but not certainly least, is this Easy Chickpea Curry from Madhur Jaffrey that our former colleague Kim O'Donnel featured on her blog. It's amazing. We make it all the time in our house, and I believe it was the first authentic Indian dish I ever cooked. A real winner.

I bought a few cheeses for a cheese plate a couple days ago (it was a lazy dinner night), but now I'm unexpectedly going out of town this weekend and leaving tomorrow morning, so I'm not planning on eating the rest before then. There is a cheddar, which I know I can freeze, as well as a goat and a triple cream brie. Can the goat and the brie be frozen? I'm assuming it would affect the texture, but what if I defrosted them later and used them in something like a mac and cheese, where texture didn't matter?

I think all those cheeses would be fine in your refrigerator for a week or so. But both can be frozen; wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then seal in a zip-top bag. Yep, you're on the right track re the texture/what to do with the defrosted cheese. 

Recently, the New York Times website had an article on grilling hamburgers, in which two Iron Chefs actually said you should cook hamburgers in a cast iron frying pan rather than directly on the grill. You won't get grill marks, but you'll get a juicier burger since it's cooking in its own fat, according to them. What do you think? I may try it both ways this weekend.

Yes, Sam Sifton went long on the hamburger, with lots of good tips on how to prepare the perfect one at home.


The cast-iron pan fry is a good technique. It's essentially the classic griddle burger, which you'll find at Five Guys. But the key is not to flip the beef patty more than once. It needs to sit in its fat, like a confit. The fat forms a crust around the patty and adds a richness to the meat.


It makes for a good burger. Personally, I'll still take mine on the charcoal grill. I like the smoke and char flavors that a grill imparts. What I lose in fat, I make up in char and smoke. It's a trade off I'll accept. Especially since I like my burgers medium-rare, meaning it won't lose all its fat to the hot coals.

I had a really delicious salmon curry last night and Thai X-ing. It was very flavorful, without the curry taste overpowering the salmon taste. Any idea where I can get a recipe like that to make at home?

This one is Vietnamese, and it's delicious. 

Cooking country style pork ribs for July 4th and i was wondering if I can use the same dry rub on them that I do on spare ribs? I will cook them low and slow in the oven and finish off on the grill. Any suggestions or tips for this method?

You can definitely use the same dry rub on country style ribs that you use on spare ribs. The tip I would have for the method, if you mean cooking as opposed to spicing, is to cook them entirely on the grill. They cook faster than spareribs, so you can close the lid and let them go for about 2 hours at 225-250 degrees F. But if you are using the oven, then it seems to me as though you have a plan; just pull them out of the oven shortly before they're finished to give them a turn on the grill, so that you don't dry them out. 

My short answer is yes - you can definitely use the same dry rub. As far as your cooking process, I like that you'd finish them on the grill -- that's a beautiful way to complete the ribs and a brilliant method. With that said, I would be cautious about maintaing moisture in the oven while you're cooking them low and slow. Consistently basting in an oven versus using a smoker can add moisture -- just make sure there is liquid, whether braised in a pan with beer or using stock.  

I recently visited family in KC where we had dinner at a small French restaurant. Sweetbreads were available as an entree, so I jumped on it (and enjoyed it). I'd love to try cooking sweetbreads at home, but have no idea where to find them. Springfield Butcher doesn't list them and I struck out at Super H Mart. Any ideas so that I can cook an offal meal?

Stachowski's Market and Deli in Georgetown has veal sweetbreads. Butcher and chef Jamie Stachowski says he sells them for $18 per pound. Stachowski's phone number: 202- 506-3125. 


Union Meats inside Eastern Market also sells veal sweetbreads, at $18.99 per pound. Their number: 202-547-2626.


Nate Anda at Red Apron said he can also get sweetbreads if you call ahead to the Union Market store. Phone: 202-524-6807. Cost is $18 per pound.

Hi guys-- We regularly gather with neighbors for a group dinner where everyone brings a course. Generally the folks who have mains cook some hunk of meat or burgers or something and bring it over, and these are always delicious. My dilemma when it's my/our turn for the main is that the big piece of meat style is not how I cook. I'm more of a stir fry/pastas/risottos/vegetable type person. I've done some meat things (like grilled chicken to make into gyros), but even when I do that it ends up being a lot of plates of pieces of meals to bring over. Plus things sit a bit when they go over, so pastas just don't work well. Ideas on how to do a veggie main (I'm leanign towards an assortment of savory galettes my next go-round) or seafood or something a little lighter that's portable but also appealing to a large group of carnivores?

One word: Paella. It travels well, can be served at room temperature, and takes to all manner of inclusions, from vegetables to seafood to sausages.

Ordinarily I agree...but I confess I bought my eggshell-piercer at an open-air market in England more than 30 years ago and I wouldn't be without it. It's a pin on a spring enclosed in a plastic curved thing that keeps you from breaking the shell into pieces. Sounds ridiculously limited but it works perfectly every time for boiled eggs.

Exception accepted! I'm sure there are other things that need to be poked.

I have one, and love it for hard-cooking eggs, yes. As for Bonnie's answer, well, I'm going to leave that one alone!

If you find them and even more interesting are mutton ribs which are more difficult to find. Both are great on the smoker.


I just want to give a shout out to David Guas and Bayou Bakery. I'm a regular customer on the weekends, and the staff always makes me feel at home. I feel like it's my own personal Cheers.

Thank you so much. Always please let me know when you're in and that you gave a shout out on the chat. My team and I always like to put a face to a name with our regulars. 

The Dal Shorba recipe you just posted looks amazing, but I always have the worst time peeling ginger root (the gnarls and twists make it harder). Are there any tricks to making it easier to peel?

Use a teaspoon! (The kind you eat with, not a measuring spoon.) Much easier to navigate around, and seems to pull off just the slightest edge of the skin, leaving you more ginger.

I picked a bunch of black cherries from my backyard, washed them, individually froze them, and then placed in freezer bags. I saved them this way because I have been making jelly with the mulberries I picked and still need to do something with the black raspberries which are washed and sitting in the fridge. any suggestions for the black raspberries and frozen black cherries?

First of all, can you please just send the rest of your black-cherry bounty my way? I'm totally jealous. Where do you live? (Town/state, not full address, though I'm tempted to ask for that, too.)

You know what I just did with a bounty of sour cherries I didn't have time for? I took inspiration from Carrie's great piece on shrubs and combined them (unpitted!) with sugar and vinegar. They sat in the fridge this way until I realized that I might need to help the liquid work its magic, so I uncovered, washed my hands really well and squeezed them all, popping out the pits, then recovered. I think it'll be amazing in a few days. (It tasted pretty killer already!)

I have one, in no small part because it is an adorable singing bluebird who makes me happy perched next to my plant on the kitchen windowsill. That said, I do use it in things like a deep-dish casserole. I find it does help to get the center heated through. On the other hand, I've also used a vent pipe made from folded and rolled foil, to similar effect.

Nice! Thanks!

As the resident veg-head and known cook in the office, I regularly get hit up for vegetarian recipes (sometimes to impress girls!). The Aloo Gobi recipe here on the WaPo is great, as is Smitten Kitchen's broccoli pesto pasta. Shakshuka is also a winner in my book, especially with the wealth of tomatoes that summer brings, even if I like it as a fall/winter dish!

Thanks! I'm guessing this Cauliflower, Potatoes and Peas Indian-Style is what you're referring to. Aloo gobi is a staple in our house too. We picked up a great, easy recipe in a cooking class with local culinary instructor Edward Hamann.

Hi, Just bought Ottolenghi's cookbook and looking to find some ingredients to try out some of the recipes. Any idea where I could find ingredients such as Zaatar, Sumac, Rose Water in DC. Do not have a car so needs to be metro accessible, and prefer supporting a local business not supermarket chains. Thanks!

Scroll to the end of this sidebar to Vered Guttman's recent Ethnic Market Scout that looked at Middle Eastern markets. Lots of options there!

Indian food is not difficult! Go for it. You can do a lot with the spices recommended. I would make a dal in advance (except for the final tarka which takes just a few minutes) and then choose one other dish. I like Mamta Gupta at - easy, tasty home-style cooking. Her green beans and potatoes is delish and easy but I've enjoyed every dish of hers I've tried.

Black raspberries make amazing margaritas!!

I'm not a wine drinker either. Sutter Home sells mini bottles of wine (a four-pack of six ounce bottles) which I buy to cook with (or to give to any guests who insist on wine over martinis).

I have had a jar of this in my pantry for a long time and can't figure out what to do with it. Are any of you familiar with this product? I'm thinking I could make a BBQ sauce with it, but I haven't even opened it yet so I'm not sure how to flavor it.

I assume what you have is mazamorra morada, a kind of jelly/pudding that Peruvians will have for dessert. It's from the same purple corn used for the Peruvian drink, chicha morada.


I'm not sure how it would work in a barbecue sauce without seeing its ingredient list. But you might play with it. Substitute it for the fruit in fruit-based sauces such as this one.

Someone asked for a recommendation for where to buy pavlova in the area today on Tom Sietsema's chat, because they didn't think they could make it at home. I've never made it, but how hard *is* it to make at home, and is it a worthy kitchen adventure?

Not hard! Make a giant meringue and throw whatever you want on top. Seems like a worthy kitchen adventure to me, but I'd probably say that about most any dessert. Meringue is not as intimidating as some people think, and it feels so good when you make a beautiful one.

You could check out Berry Pavlova With Passion Fruit Sauce.

Berry Pavlova With Passion Fruit Sauce

Or even Crunchy Almond Butter Meringue With Berries and Cream.

Crunchy Almond Butter Meringue With Berries and Cream

This product looked so interesting and I was ready to make a run to get it then stopped short. Too much controversy lately about agave syrup which they use. Sad about that.

You mean like this, from Dr. Oz (no stranger to controversy himself)? It is interesting. In a way, it's an argument against jumping on the bandwagon of any food too quickly, isn't it?

I was completely addicted to this squash recipe last summer when my CSA went squash-crazy. It's from Chocolate & Zucchini; I used 2 anchovies per recipe only.

There's one on Edsall Road, across from the Giant and Shell station, that you can access by riding out to the Van Dorn station and walking (Google maps says it's a mile and a quarter) or taking a brief bus ride on the DASH bus. Maybe not ideal, but they're really well priced and have good stock.

We almost always take squash "carpaccio" to potlucks. THINLY slice your squash, preferably with a mandoline. We do ours in rounds and arrange them artfully in overlapping circles, kind of like a pommes anna, with a rosebud slice in the midle. Drizzle with good olive oil and lemon juice and add salt (and pepper if you don't mind the black color), parmesan curls, and handfuls of mint. It can sit out for a while and still taste fabulous, although it will start to limp from the salt. I would probably arrange the slices ahead of time and then apply the rest once you're there. It has a great "wow" factor and is ridiculously simple.

Is there any way to make black rice fluffy instead if gooey? Thanks.

The key is to use Chinese black rice that's not the glutinous/sticky variety, such as the Lotus Foods' brand "forbidden" rice. I used it in a recipe for Black Rice With Eggs, Tofu and Mushrooms recently -- no sticking, I swear!

These things are fabulous! I got the last ones at the Dupont Farmers Market last Sunday and definitely will go back for more. I'm not sure if I'm missing some culinary opportunity by simply snipping them into salads, tacos and anything that tastes bland and even chewing on them plain. What else should I try?

Roast them quickly at high heat with olive oil and salt. Love them this way. Also: Pickled! Also: in pesto. Also: in/on a frittata, or otherwise paired with eggs. So many ways.

Does it peel better if you push or if you pull?

Pull! You use the same motion as when using a paring knife to peel, say, an apple. You know what I mean? Hold the spoon in your four fingers and use your thumb to guide as you pull the spoon across the ginger.

Um, I've been using a safety pin for this purpose for years and I haven't (knocking wood) shattered an eggshell yet. And I could probably shatter a couple dozen eggshells for the price of a spring-loaded egg piercer (of course I'd probably just decide to have scrambled eggs instead of boiled).

I dunno -- my little device was a few bucks, and given the number of eggs I hard-cook, was totally worth it. But you should only get what works for you, of course!

The question about freezing cheese reminded me that I've been meaning to ask you about storing cheese. I read once to keep it wrapped in paper, rather than plastic, so I started taking it out of the package that it came in and rewrapping it in parchment paper. I haven't found this method to preserve cheese any longer than a Ziploc. Thoughts?

I don't think the method preserves the cheese longer. I think it preserves the natural flavors of the cheese (and prevents off flavors). A former cheesemonger with Cowgirl Creamery (RIP its DC store!) explains it well here.

What's your go to recipe for fresh pasta? There seem to be as many recipes as there are celebrity chefs! I have AP, 00, cake, and bread flour. What works best? Thanks!

How about this Basic Pasta Dough from our friend Domenica Marchetti? It uses all-purpose -- I'd think that in general, cake flour wouldn't have enough protein and bread flour too much for pasta.

Basic Pasta Dough

You can read more about David Hagedorn's adventures in pasta-making with Domenica here.

I have made your vegan passion fruit cupcakes before to great success. Now I need a killer vegan chocolate dessert.... any ideas??

At your service! Say hello to Chocolate Beet Pots de Creme, and to my little secret about it: I've made it many times without the beet, and it's STILL great. To go over the top, drizzle with a little highest-quality olive oil and sprinkle with a little smoked salt.

Since they dream of surpassing Heinz, I think they need to redesign their label so it makes a more striking highway sign.


I'd love to try making this for just one or 2 people with the cucumber and a half I have on hand but not sure it's possible to add so little vinegar. What would it be, one or 2 drops? What do you think? Oh, and one of the cucumbers is a seedless ...

I'd say probably start with 1/4 teaspoon or so, yep.

Nigella Lawson's chocolate pavlova with raspberries. And whipped cream of course. Might have to make one myself now!

Can you keep the pickles cited in banh mi recipes in the fridge for a few days? Im looking for a quick refrigerator pickle recipe that i can use to do carrots, cukes and turnips.

The quick pickled veggies will keep for a few weeks. Here's an easy recipe to try.

I was so happy to see the Serbian style pie recipe in today's Post. I managed to overdo it picking cherries at Larriland, so I definitely have enough cherries to try the recipe.

Great! Yes, doesn't it look great? Glad the timing worked out, because at farmers markets the sour cherries are making a pretty brief appearance -- here now and for another week or so in the DC area, sounds like it from my sources. (Although, chatters, if you know of other sour cherry bounties out there, please speak up and help send our readers to get them!

Tart Serbian-Style Cherry Pie

My experience with crisp meringues is that they shatter and make a mess. Help!

Hmmm. When you're serving them? I mean, yes, meringues are pretty fragile, so once you cut or bite into them, they will kind of disintegrate. Are you letting them dry out in the oven enough? Chatters, other thoughts? I'm not quite sure how to troubleshoot.

Can you use honey in the shrubs instead of sugar?

Yes, I definitely advise playing around with sweetener options. I did another one using Fuji apples and maple syrup that turned out really nicely. Obviously using different sweeteners will affect flavors, and I'd start with smaller amounts of sweetener and build up, no matter which sweetener you opt for. 

Either in the oven or on the grill, I almost always wrap them well in two layers of foil. Essentially the ribs steam, they're always nice and juicy, the liquid that comes out can be used in the sauce, and it's easy to give them a quick pass over the grill once their done to add a little extra touch. As a bonus, easy clean up and very low maintenance. Throw them on the (low) heat and forget for a few hours.

      Lots of folks like foil. Me, I use it sparingly because I like the smoke and grill flavor that comes from wood and charcoal smoking/grilling. 

       Because the pores of meat are most open when it begins to cook, I smoke the ribs for awhile first, then (sometimes) wrap the ribs in foil, then unwrap them for the final hour of cooking, partly to give it a little crust and partly to not turn them to mush, which foil can do. But that's because I prefer ribs with a little tug to the meat rather than ribs where the meat falls off the bone. 

Carrie Allan's description of what a cheese danish is (in her article about shrub--great insights by the way) made me chuckle. Thank you for sending me out the door to work with a smile this morning.

Thanks--glad you liked! I'd smile more if I could stop eating them.

This question is for chef David Guas -- I am grilling out this weekend and have two vegetarian friends who are coming. I'm thinking of doing a bunch of veggies on the grill and am looking for suggestions on what would be substantial enough for the meal, and still be full of flavor. Thoughts?

I suggest big meaty veggies like portobellos and Italian eggplant. They grill well and can be cut thick for a solid and substantial meal. You can keep it simple -- season it with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. You can squeeze grilled lemon (kept on the grill, cut side-down, until you get those nice char marks) over the veggies to bright everything up along with a sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley and chives. It works wonders. Lastly, I like to drizzle Chimichurri when it's right off the grill. Best of luck at your grill out this weekend! 

If the eggs are hard-boiled, why not just crack the shell and peel it off?

You prick the shell BEFORE you cook the eggs, and it helps a little air pocket develop that makes peeling after cooking easier.

Random thoughts: 1. The dilled shrimp, mango, and cucumber salad I made last night is PERFECT for today. Really hits the spot and so quick to throw together. 2. As an Arlingtonian, I finally made it to Bayou Bakery for the first time a couple weekends ago, and my oh my, I understand what all the fuss is about. What a great comfy place that serves DELISH eats with a side of superfriendly service. I'll be back. 3. Awwww, to the guy planning to cook for his dinner date. Cook with exuberance and love, and you can't go wrong. Or there's always pizza ;-)

Haha, thanks for your varied thoughts. "We can always order a pizza" is a common mantra in our house. Have  had to enact that backup plan maybe once.

My husband went and bought a dyhydrator and we've done a couple beef jerky recipes but I was wondering if you had any favorites - sweet, spicy, etc. Since jerky is high in protein it's been a good snack for both of us in our weight loss journey so I'd like to keep it up. I don't like the store bought ones but it was great when we tried the first batch at home.


I wrote about Vietnamese-style jerky (which I love) a couple of years ago. We included a few recipes for the snack, including one from chef Charles Phan. Some don't require dehydrators to produce, but would probably benefit from one.

For the past few weekends, I've grilled whole chickens. These are Polyface Farm birds, although I don't know if the way their raised makes a difference for grilling. After grilling one bird whole for several hours and being pleased with the results, I followed a recipe for something called spatchcocked chicken, which required me to trim the bird's backbone. That allows the bird to lay more flat on the grill and to cook quicker. The results were tasty, and I liked the quicker cook time. But I'm wondering what I lose out on when I grill chicken that way. The spatchcocked chicken was moist, although I put oil on the skin for some reason, thereby charring the outer layer. I'm guessing the only thing I might lose from cutting the bird open before grilling it is the possibility that the bird will cook too quickly and dry out. Are there other risks I need to be aware of? Should I stick to longer-time grilling of fully intact chickens?

    I love the spatchcock. In fact, I prefer to grilling a chicken whole. Here's why: I can control the way the heat interacts with the chicken better and I can crisp the skin much better. 

     You might lose a little in the way of juiciness, but, in my experience, it is not detectable. There is so much skin that losing juiciness is just not something to worry about. 

      I say, splatchcock away! 

Tim, it's not mazamorra morada, it's jalea de maiz morada - purple corn jelly. It's just corn & sugar. I think I'll open it tonight and play around with it using the ingredients from the BBQ sauce you linked me to. How bad could it be?

I like your attitude. Let us know how it turns out!

I loved the article on 'Chups, and the collection of ketchup recipes. Only one of them specifically discusses hot-water-bath canning. Should I infer that none of the others are acidic enough for this treatment?

Yes, or that they weren't tested with that in mind. But sent the links to Cathy "Mrs. Wheel-" Barrow, who's our Canning Class teacher this season, and she added these thoughts about the viability of those recipes for water-bath canning:

Fresh Tomato Ketchup: This one worries me a bit -- the ratio of tomatoes and onions to vinegar seems sparse for water-bath canning.

Mango Ketchup: Since this one uses store bought chutney, not sure why you would can it, but you could.

Cherry Ketchup: As stated, this one is solid.

Spicy Chipotle Ketchup: Iffy.

Mushroom Ketchup: Absolutely not.

Rhubarb Mango Chutney: Well, yes. Obviously. :-)

I live in a condo and am interested in purchasing an electric grill. I have a cast iron grill pan but want the bigger grill. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    A Bradley smoker is a really good one. Smoke Hollow is cheaper, but also makes a suitable one. 

Any suggestions for a good dessert for 2 that will use up a pint of blueberries? I was thinking of making this: but am worried the berries will roll off the flat puff pastry crust...


How about these Cookie-Topped Blueberry Mini Pies from Stephanie Witt Sedgwick? They serve four, so you could have two pies for later!

Just discovered a great Mediterranean Market from the Ethnic Scout Article that I would recommend if you don't want to go to VA or MD for ingredients. The Mediterranean Way near Dupont North metro has many hard to find Middle Eastern and Mediterranean products.


Forgetting Dr. Oz for the moment since I am and have never been a fan of his. I did not like the taste of agave and was never one to like it.

As someone who used to travel to Kabul with a carry-on bag full of cheese (purchased in Dubai), and who then didn't want to lose a single crumb of it to spoilage, I assure you freezing all cheese is fine, and sticking a round of brie under the broiler (watch carefully!) to turn it into melty goodness for scooping up with crackers is an absolutely acceptable dinner.

Anyone know of a source for sour cherries in Southern MD? Fresh or frozen.

Well, they're coming to farmers markets now. Check out our map for one near you. 

How about some zatar on the veggies and a nice yoghurt garlic and sumac sauce all served with rice?

I just got it. Hahahahaha

Well, you've divided us among chilled bowls, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today, and thanks to David and our other experts for the help answering them!

Now, for the giveaway books: The chatter who asked about making a smaller version of the cucumber cream will get "The Italian Vegetable Cookbook" by Michele Scicolone. And the one who asked David about grilled greens for vegetarians will get his latest book, "DamGoodSweet." Just send your mailing info to, and we'll get you your prize!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is editor of the Food section; joining us today are deputy editor Bonnie S. Benwick, staff writer Tim Carman, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Spirits columnist Carrie Allan and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin. Guest: David Guas, chef at Bayou Bakery and host of the new Travel Channel series "American Grilled."
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