Free Range on Food: Cooking for a crowd, social justice through food, the Presidential Cookie Poll and more.

Aug 24, 2016

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 our chat! Hope you're enjoying your summer -- and enjoying our coverage this week, including Maura's fascinating piece on Tunde Wey and what we called his "discomfort food" dinners; her recent look for daily Style at the poll formerly known as the first lady cookie contest; Cathy Barrow's development of a pot-luck recipe aimed to please people with all manner of dietary preferences; Bonnie's review of a beautiful (of course) new Donna Hay cookbook; and more.

Cathy "Bring It" Barrow and Carrie "Spirits" Allan will join us today, as will our VIP guest, Tunde Wey himself. Ms. Benwick, btw, is on a much-deserved vacation, so we will struggle on without her.

What's on your mind? Let us know! We'll have books to give away: Donna Hay's "Life in Balance"; and Kristin Donnelly's "Modern Potluck." So make your comments/questions good, and you could win a book!

For you PostPoints members, here's today's code: FR7656 . Remember, you'll 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.

Oh, and don't forget that this is one of those special Wednesdays when the food chatting doesn't have to stop at 1 p.m. Right after our chat, the great Dorie Greenspan will take questions for another hour at this link. (You can ask now, and/or return live to see the answers.)

Let's do this!

I've become a little infatuated with those short cooking videos that far-too-many sites are posting on Facebook, and yesterday I saw one for what looked like sugar cookies filled with Nutella. As it happens, I'm one of the two or three people on the planet who DO NOT LIKE NUTELLA -- I love chocolate, it's hazelnuts that I can't stand. Anyway ... is there a comparable chocolate-only spread that I could substitute? Or even make myself and then substitute? Thanks.

One word: ganache. Lots of great recipes out there -- it's super easy, and it's exactly what you're after: a chocolate-only spread.

I made a rose vermouth this weekend using an April 2016 Food & Wine recipe. It turned out pretty well and I'm looking forward to using it in cocktail recipes. I now have gentian and wormwood and since the recipe uses so little (and I have a ton leftover) I'm wondering how I can alter the recipe and get something with more of an autumnal flavor - maybe using something other than strawberries, a different wine as the base, switching up the herbs? I have Parson's Bitters book and will eventually move in that direction, but the vermouth was a nice and easy intro. Thanks for any advice!

Wow, this is really cool! I would look at playing around with the wine base, definitely -- maybe even incorporating a sherry as part of it, since I think some of those nutty flavors would be really seasonal. And then maybe trying out some baking spices -- cinnamon, vanilla, clove, star anise? You might even get some apple in there; I can imagine apple making a beautiful backnote. Let me know if you end up with a homemade Carpano Antica so I can come over to your place and steal it. Also, this is me playing Public Safety Police -- this is probably obvious, but there ARE some things you can infuse that can be a little dangerous in high quantities, so know your ingredients. Camper English did a seminar at Tales of the Cocktail this year that made me inclined to view homemade bitters and infusions with a slightly leery eye. Not that it's going to stop me making them, but it was a good reminder that there are reasons this stuff is regulated! 

The rot can also be caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. Using a fertilizer like Tomato Tone or adding garden gypsum to the soil can help stop the rot. Also, tomatoes do not like their roots disturbed when the tomatoes are setting. If a squirrel or raccoon or wind disturbed the plant's roots when fruiting, it can also cause the problem.


Having a six-bottle rosé wine tasting (amongst four friends - you see where this will end up) and I need some ideas on food pairings. Provencial/southern France and Mediterranean flavors seem like the obvious choice but to me it seems that when I'm down there, rosé is more of a drinking wine rather than pairing wine. Any suggestions?

Dave McIntrye, resident wine columnist, says: 

Sounds like fun! Yes, rosé can be an ideal summer social drink (a "cocktail wine," as it were), but it also fits with appetizers/antipasti. So think grazing food.

You are definitely on the right track with Provencal and other Mediterranean dishes. Rosé has an affinity for garlicky foods, so think of crudités with aioli (Provencal garlicky mayonnaise) or hummus. Salumi and other charcuterie would also be nice, as would lighter (not too stinky) cheeses and olives. Any tapas involving fruit (such as watermelon). Looking further east for inspiration, try chicken kabobs with tzatziki or some vegetable mezze.

I wouldn't rule out Asian cuisines either, although something really spicy/hot would probably pair better with a fuller-bodied, sweeter rosé from Spain or California rather than a lean, crisp Provence pink.

And here are a few recipes to get you started: 

Whipped Hummus

RECIPE: Whipped Hummus

Walnut and Red Pepper Spread

RECIPE: Walnut and Red Pepper Spread

Roasted Eggplant Dip

RECIPE: Roasted Eggplant Dip

Potato-Wrapped Chorizo With Membrillo Aioli

RECIPE: Potato-Wrapped Chorizo With Membrillo Aioli

Ms. Barrow, I loved the article on how to serve a meal that people with a variety of dietary restrictions can share, and I'm looking forward to trying your green chili recipe - its on the grocery list already! You mentioned that you've developed a handful of such recipes, could you share some other ideas? I find myself in the the thick of it these days with a child with dairy, egg, and nut allergies and a good friend with celiac. Trying to feed all of us is quite a challenge! Thank you!

Tacos, enchiladas and burritos all fall into the favorite meal category for those with a variety of dietary restrictions. Keep reading the BRING IT column for more recipes!

ARTICLE: Here's a pot-luck dish that appeals to everyone

RECIPE: Everybody's Chili Verde

I would have rather seen each candidate submit one of their favorite family recipes, maybe something that's been passed down or is served at every holiday. Cookies are delicious, but given the backstory of the "tradition" it seems out dated and too tied to gender expectations.

I agree! But of course, the decision to submit a certain recipe is a political calculation -- as unimportant as the contest is, they still want to win it! That's why you get simple, crowd-pleasing recipes like the Clintons' chocolate chip cookies, and Melania's plain (very, very plain) sugar cookies. I would have loved it if Bill had gone with a vegan cookie, or Melania had dug up some complicated Slovenian recipe -- but the Family Circle readership probably would not have been thrilled to make either of those. 

As for the gender expectations: It was kinda disappointing that, instead of having Bill submit his own recipe, they reused Hillary's and renamed it as the family's (a man taking credit for a woman's work, amiright ladies??) It would have made this contest feel less gendered and less dated (even though it only dates back to 1992!) if Bill were held to the same standards of domesticity as other first spouses.

ARTICLE: The first lady cookie contest is just as weird as the rest of the election

RECIPE: Melanie Trump's Star Cookies

RECIPE: Clinton Family's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've tried several hot (as in spicy) pickle recipes and have yet to find a good one. Are there any that you have used and recommend? I'm looking to recreate the kind of pickles you used to find for a quarter in a big plastic jug near the cash register in old-time stores. Thanks!

Depending how spicy you like 'em, add one, two or three jalapenos, serranos or habaneros to this recipe for LactoFermented pickles. 

Thank you for the article about freezing corn. My CSA has bombarded me with tons of corn! I love it, but after so many ears of simple corn on the cob, Mexican corn, and tomato/corn salads, I'm running low on creativity. Can you recommend any corn-based side salads that don't use Mexican seasonings? Anything with a more Mediterranean influence? Please help!

Thanks for this recipe! I was just at a potluck with my neighbors and found out 2 of them are vegans. There was some vegan-friendly food, but nobody knew about it beforehand so there wasn't a lot. I'll be excited to take this item to the next potluck.

Excellent! Please let us know how you like it.

How could a chatter so casually say "I made a rose vermouth" without giving the rest of us the recipe? Internet to the rescue! But be warned, most of what comes up is in French.

Homemade vermouther, you've been called to account!

I grilled two pork tenderloins on a charcoal grill for the first time, following this recipe but without the fruit glaze. It came out fantastic. We are still eating it, sliced and cold right out of the fridge. When I go to the trouble of firing up the charcoal grill, I like to cook a lot of stuff that makes good leftovers for the next few days.

      I completely agree. It always makes me sad when I've miscalculated and I see a beautiful fire and nothing to put on it.

     These days, I try to think about the days ahead - dinners, lunches - the whole bit. Put some chicken for chicken salad, say. Some veggies for side dishes. Of course, some pork for pulled pork or, as you did, pork tenderloin.  Maybe a couple ribs. 

        Whatever you have around is generally pretty good to go on the grill. 

This is the second time this has happened in two weeks: bought some blueberries and they're all bitter. A bit of a costly expense at $3.99 a carton. So is it possible (or more likely, OK?) to taste them before buying? I don't want to be that a-hole in the market that I give stern eyes to when I see such things going on, but for crying out loud, I'm now out $7 in blueberries that were just sour. Or can I return them? What's the excuse I give other than the truth, which to me doesn't seem like a valid reason to return produce. Again, don't want to be "that guy."


If possible, I'd start with shopping at a market where tasting is encouraged -- a farmers market, for example. In that situation, even if samples aren't out, the vendors should be more than happy to let you try a blueberry or two. They want you to be happy and return to buy more produce later, after all. 

I would hope (emphasis on hope!) that the same logic follows for grocery stores, though: Seek out the produce manager and talk to them about the product. They should (emphasis on should!) want you to like their product and return to purchase more, so they should appreciate your honest feedback. Plus your approach and attitude should show them you're not being "that guy."

I'm not sure about returning produce, though. Anyone else want to chime in on that?

As for using the sour berries, you could freeze them and add them to smoothies -- a little bit at a time -- or turn them into jam or pie (adding a tiny bit more sweetener to offset the sourness). 

This pie is one of my favorites: 

Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry Pie

Thank you for a very fascinating and thought-provoking article! The Food section really is about ... everything, as is food. I do have a few questions -- I know Mr. Wey says the dinners aren't really about the food, but still, why no links to recipes? (The website at doesn't work, so if they're there, they're inaccessible.) Also, I'm surprised to read that at $65 per person, Mr. Wey says he doesn't make money off the dinners. Are his expenses outside of the cost of food, say, travel and hotels? And I'd appreciate hearing more about the mix of people who attend the dinners, as that presumably impacts the discussion. Thank you again!

try it was down for a bit. oops.
i dont have any recipes on there though-- all my recipes are found online. it's traditional nigerian food, nothing secret about it. 
the part about me not "make(ing) money" does seem a bit odd i know- what i mean is i don't make enough money from my dinners to make a living from them. i'm subsidized by my kind wife :) 
the mix is predominantly african american.


ARTICLE: Discomfort food: Using dinners to talk about race, violence and America

Hi Tunde (and food Rangers)-- Food as cultural identity is key to a person's heritage. And thank you, Tunde, for bringing it to the table. Just as (very slowly) racial injustices are coming into the forefront of conversation, so should the appropriation of other cultures' food. What we eat connects us to who we are, and who are family/ancestors were. I think it's OK to "borrow" from others, but give proper credit. Otherwise, it's just like committing plagiarism to claim it's your own, when it isn't.

hear hear.

Did you see our piece on Michael Twitty, who has also focused on the idea of appropriation? Good read.

ARTICLE: His Paula Deen takedown went viral. But this food scholar isn't done yet.

Joe, I didn't realize you were a vegetarian since four years ago. What made you become one?

How could you miss that? I feel like I talk/write about it ALL THE TIME. Including a weekly column! Anyhow, here's my coming-out story (brings back such memories!):

ESSAY: A former omnivore comes out as vegetarian

I love pot luck meals and wonder if it's just the ones I attend, or if anyone else has noticed more and more people contributing food that wasn't home-made? Maybe it's just DC where people are crazy-busy ...

That's the nature of potlucks- there are some people who will always pick up what they are bringing. Don't be that person! 

Doing burgers for upcoming Labor Day. I've seen a lot written about custom meat mixes: sirloin, brisket, etc all in varying proportions. At the end, do you really taste a difference? Or is the classic 80/20 chuck the easiest and best way to go? I think my butcher will make a mix for me (Wagshal's) but is this really just splitting hairs?

       I love this question. So, I started making my own blend awhile back - 1/3 ground 80-20 chuck, 1/3 pound sirloin, 1/3 pound brisket.They came out great! (Do you have a "but" coming?)

        But, for her birthday, my wife wanted a thin, smashed double-meat, double-cheese of the type she recalled from a now-defunct joint called the Diamond Inn in the small town of Taylor in Texas, where she grew up. For that, I know there was no way they were doing all this fancy-schmany stuff, so I just made the burgers from 80-20 chuck. We flipped out. It was more than just a ride back to her childhood. It was the flavor, the straight ahead simplicity of that unbeatable 80-20.

     Sometimes I still fancy it up, because I like the more complex flavor, but often I just go with the ol' 80-20 chuck (whether smash style or thick style). If I absolutely had to choose, though? The 80-20 chuck.


Got in too late to participate last week and ask about the gazpacho cake, which was a suggested recipe. It included a non-dairy option by using tofu. I'm wondering if there is a vegetarian option? Can another ingredient be substituted for gelatin?

Thanks for checking back: Bonnie, who tested that recipe, is out, but the folks over at The Kitchn have said good things about Vegan Jel.

RECIPE: Gazpacho Cake

I want to make this recipe which calls for 1 1/4 cup basil. I just don't have that much and I'm wondering if I could substitute thai basil. Would that work? Or, I could scavenge some pesto from my mom's freezer and add the mustard and vinegar to it. Opinions? 

Thai basil has a very different flavor. Do you have enough Italian basil to make half the recipe?

Or maybe even do half basil, half parsley! Or the freezer-scrounging, yes.

So glad to see the piece about Tunde Wey today. Mr. Wey, I teach students in an afterschool program outside DC. A large portion of our students are first generation with parents from Nigeria and Cameroon. We like to incorporate the student's tastes into our program and they often request jollof rice, puff puff, foufou, etc. We have invited them to bring in some ideas from home, but it's usually one more thing for busy and hard working parents to add to their plate. I suspect you cook from feel and experience and not from a recipe, but if you would share any you do have and/or can suggest a reliable resource, we would love that. I think they would love to meet you as well, if you ever had time in your DC travels!

try kitchen butterfly, she's runs an amazing blog. also try 9jafoodie. or call up my momma or aunt, they are who i call :)

Husband has a recipe he really wants to make for raspberry-orange ice cream that includes about 2 oz of creme de cassis - stirred in at the end. However, we don;t have creme de cassis AND I'd rather not have alcoholic ice cream for the kiddos. Any ideas?

Make a thick blackberry puree (mash just 12 berries with a little sugar). Cook it for a couple of  minutes to thicken it further and add it to the ice cream. 

To lessen the mess of cutting corn off the cob, place a small bowl upside down in a large bowl. Rest the cob on the small bowl while cutting. Helps a lot in cutting down on the mess from those jumping kernels.

Yep, that's a good trick. You know what I do, though, that's even faster/easier, IMHO? I just cut the cob in half crosswise first. When the kernels don't have as far to fall, all is controlled.

VIDEO: How to shuck and cut corn

While I always cook boneless chicken breast which is easy to clean and cook- I love to use chicken thighs...boneless or otherwise, specially when I am cooking for a crowd. The problem is that it takes me a while to clean all the visible fat. How much can I leave on it? It is also economical to use chicken thighs when one is cooking for a crowd--- so that is an option I would like to choose...if it is not totally 'unhealthy'. Need your advise as always. Thanks.

Chicken thighs are a great option for a crowd - they are reasonably priced, flavorful and won't dry out in long cooked recipes.  The visible fat can be trimmed, if you must, but it is not at all necessary.

Hershey's makes jars of spreads like Nutella - one version is chocolate-only, if you're feeling lazy. Side note, I used to hate Nutella too, as I studied abroad in Italy and kept buying things that looked chocolate-filled, only to get an ugly Nutella surprise, but since I'm cheap, I ate it anyways and it does actually grow on you. Also, try speculoos filling. Le Pain Quotidien makes a divine one and you can sample it in their stores.

You can buy cocoa and almond spread at Trader Joe's and probably other places. Another good choice is the Almond Schmear made by some filling company. Or grind almonds and mix them with sugar and butter. Lots of options.

If it's just hazelnuts, you could substitute (or make) a chocolate nut spread with almonds or cashews instead of hazelnuts. It might be a better match for the recipe than ganache (which I love).

For the chatter from last week who was looking into ideas for hiding vegetables. I make cheddar-potato soup from a mix and add a diced onion and a box of frozen chopped broccoli to jazz it up. After simmering for a while, the broccoli basically vanishes into the soup, except for those little buds on the ends of the florets. But the florets and stems disappear! Here’s my recipe: Take a 10-oz box of frozen chopped broccoli out of the freezer to soften (does not need to defrost completely). Dice an onion and sauté it in butter or vegetable oil until golden in a big soup pot. Then prepare one package of Bear Creek Country Kitchens Cheddar Potato soup mix* per the instructions on the package. Use a whisk--not a spoon--to stir the soup into the water. Whack the box of the broccoli a few times to help break up the frozen clumps, then whisk it into the soup. Simmer on low heat for an hour or two. Stir the soup with the whisk every time you walk by the stove, making sure to run the whisk over the sides and the entire bottom of the pot so the soup doesn’t stick and start to burn. The soup is done when the broccoli has all dissolved except for the buds. This is one of those dishes I think about making as it first really cools down in autumn when it’s nice to have something simmering on the stove and because the soup is quite thick and hearty after all the cooking time. *I am not affiliated with soup manufacturer and I don’t receive anything from them; I’m just a customer who buys this soup mix at the grocery store.

Hello everyone, Mr. Wey I was so excited when I read about your dinners. I very much would like to attend one of your dinners when they are held in DC. However, I know that these kinds of affairs especially in the Nation's Capital will fill up quickly. How and where do I go to keep in touch so that I know right away when and where the dinner in DC will be held. Thank you

just sign up for our mailing list. thanks much kind madam/ or sir :)

An idea for the corn-intense CSA subscriber: I make a salad where I par-cook green beans, then grill them (in a grill basket) along with sliced zucchini and corn-on-the-cob. I cut the corn off the cob, cut up the squash & beans, and toss it all with lettuce and gorgonzola cheese, and add a vinaigrette. My family--including the little one--can eat a lot of this salad as dinners in the summer

To burn, or not to burn. That is the question. [I say no burn - I like them more roasted than burnt.]

     Really? This is a question? Two answers, but really one. 

    A) Eat it however you like it. 

    B) Burn it. A little char improves everything. 


I'm interested in expanding my knowledge of gins, and wonder which brands you recommend for which cocktails? We tend to stick to Gordon's for Pink Gin or Gin & Tonic, but I'd like to try genevers, and just learn about the differences between, say, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire without buying a fifth of each one.

I would see what you can find in mini bottles, and then I would also recommend (assuming you're local?) that you check out a local bar that has a really excellent gin selection and get to tasting. The Gin Joint under New Heights is the one that springs immediately to mind, but most of the good craft cocktail spots around town will have a good selection. My personal favorite for a lot of classic cocktails and for citrusy-forward drinks is Tanqueray 10, but some interesting ones that show a lot of range include Barr Hill, Monkey 47, the Botanist, London No. 1, Gin Mare, Malfy ... and we haven't even touched on the barreled gins that are out there and add a whole other dimension. I'm hoping to do a round-up of new gins sometime soon, actually -- there are some really terrific ones out right now that really show a broad interpretation of what a gin can be.

Thanks for the resources on Nigerian cooking! Just btw, you all at WaPo Food are doing a great job in keeping the Food section relevant and accessible. Kudos to editors and writers for featuring pieces that address politics and discrimination in the food world, along with rock stars like Cathy Barrow! Now done with my shameless flattery...

We love flattery! Thank you.

Thanks so much. I'm a big fan of flattery, too.

Yes! Stay shameless. We love you, too.

... is not having to share what's on my plate. They totally circumvent the crazy-making tendency of a certain person to eat the food off my plate because she "just wants a bite" or "just a taste" or "I don't want to order a whole dessert" all of which too often turns into that person eating a very annoying amount of what I ordered ... I assume I'm not alone here?

You are so not alone. There was even a New Yorker cartoon making fun of this very thing, I think in the Aug. 16 issue, which I don't have on me or I'd be more specific. (Any chatter want to look it up and share?)

I tend to have the opposite problem: I'd like to try a dessert, but I don't want to eat the whole damn thing because I'm trying to not overdo it, but too often I'm with someone who swears they'll share it, but then once we start, their fork goes tines-down on the plate after one or two bites. Then of course I must devour the rest. 

We have a very large, very productive star fruit tree. Do you have any idea as to what to do with them? Currently my husband dries them and eats them for snacks, but I feel there has to be more. Maybe a jam?

What a treat to have a star fruit tree. There are a number of recipes online for star fruit jam. Most of them combine the star fruit with other fruit (strawberries) or suggest that the star fruit be treated as if it were a pineapple, in terms of flavor possibilities. 

Here's a pineapple papaya salsa recipe. Try substituting the star fruit for the pineapple and let us know how it comes out. 


I'll be making a midweek meal for my niece and her husband now that she's in grad school and has a baby. I'll be making it one night after work, then delivering it for the next night's dinner. I've noticed that reheating mashed potatoes gives an inferior product. Any suggestions to make it more like freshmade? Any websites for casserole recipes that don't start with a can of condensed cream of chicken soup? Most likely she'll be eating after 10PM. Thanks.

Yeah, reheated mashed potatoes, Sure, they can be reheated in a low oven in a covered container, but they're never as good as freshly made. There are other potato options! How about potato salad?

Here's one of my favorite foods to bring to friends in need. It can be made well in advance, delivered frozen or heated up and ready to eat. 

RECIPE: Freezer-Friendly Eggplant Stacks

Cathy, have I mentioned that I'm in need? I'm in need of ... FREEZER-FRIENDLY EGGPLANT STACKS!

Ganache! Well, duh. <smacks forehead>

Don't you mind typing out teaspoons instead of t, tablespoons instead of T, cup instead of c, and so on? I wish your recipes came that way so more would fit in a Pinterest post, which has a limit of 500 characters. ;) With full attribution, of course!

Don't we mind? Um, no, we're pretty used to it. And that is standard across a lot of publications and cookbooks. Thanks for promoting us on Pinterest, but really you should be linking to our stuff directly. Ahem.

It may also be insecurity. My sister is a perfectly adequate cook but always chooses the low-risk options for family potlucks, and I think she's intimidated by all the foodies in the mix ...

I think that's a great time to develop a signature dish. One thing you know how to make really well, that everyone loves. And then make it forever and ever.

I had a surgery via my sinuses earlier in the spring. Although I'm mostly recovered now, I was surprised to find that it has altered my sense of taste and smell quite notably. For example, I was always a coffee drinker, but it tastes terrible to me now, and my homemade chicken soup tasted fine but smelled "off." Any suggestions on how to negotiate these changes?

Wow -- that's a tough one. These things can definitely improve with time, so hang in there. You might experiment with how you brew your coffee (cold brew, of course, is all the rage, and smoother) and what you put in it. And if you haven't already, have you read "Season to Taste," Molly Birnbaum's lovely book on this subject?

err... this is not an answer (i would suggest consulting a medical professional) but more like a parallel experience.

i sometimes lose taste, or rather a metallic taste overcomes my taste buds whenever i get stressed out during a dinner event.

i goes away-- usually with a stiff drink. 

Question for Tim if he is chatting today, what are some of your favorite cheap eat places in northern VA?

Wow, too many to mention, but here are a few:

Del Grano in McLean

Banh Ta Deli in Falls Church

Aladdin in Arlington

Azewa Market in Alexandria

Tacos Costalilla in Alexandria

La Jarochita No. 2 in Arlington

Haute Dog and Fries in Alexandria.

Balkan Grill in Alexandria.

And many many more.

Are there retail sources where I can buy sushi-grade tuna or salmon? Preferably on the Maryland side of the world.

Have you checked out Ivy City Smokehouse? It's a fabulous market with picture perfect fish. District Fishwife in Union Market carries sushi grade fish as does Wagshal's.

Bonnie's Moroccan chicken couscous recipe says to scrub the carrot well, then trim it. Does that mean it is not peeled and trimming just means trimming the ends, or does trimming mean peeling, in which case why scrub?

Trimming means trimming the ends. Don't peel, just scrub!

RECIPE: Moroccan Chicken Couscous

Corn chowder! Soups also freeze well. Picture a wonderful summery corn soup deep in February to keep you going until the next CSA glut.

I need to bring a dish to Diner en blanc this weekend, and I'm at a loss for what to make. Everyone in our group will be bringing one or two, so it doesn't need to be too filling, but I'd like it to be somewhat substantial. We've got cheese, bean salad, dessert, and a few other things covered. No food restrictions, but we' ll be drinking white wine (natch), and it will need to travel well without refrigeration. Thanks!

How about a frittata? They travel well, are adaptable to what you have on hand, are fairly substantial and are great at room (or outdoor) temperature.

Farmers Market Frittata

RECIPE: Farmers Market Frittata

Kale and White Bean Frittata

RECIPE: Kale and White Bean Frittata

RECIPE: Green Tomato Frittata


Or maybe you'd like some very on-theme macaroni salad? Some cream of wheat? A dish of mayonnaise? A few sticks of chewing gum? 

Tail up goat had a charity dinner on Sunday night -- themed with tomatoes in every dish. Writing in because the caramelle pomodoro recipe that I love and use every summer to my happy surprise was served. Even better, was I went to say hi to the pastry chef who contributed the article. He was one of the guest chefs. The dessert was very special and had a tomato sorbet which I thought I would dislike but it was interesting and delicious. I love this town, where you can read an interesting article in this newspaper and find an easy, unusual recipe, then go out for dinner and see it (perhaps a little more professionally done....), and then get to meet the person who created it. Have you thought about doing an apple issue this year like the way you do a tomato issue? I would love to see what people are planning to do with apples - ginger golds are already coming available.

Fun! That was Alex Levin, no doubt. Love that recipe.

RECIPE: Caramelle di Pomodoro

We aren't planning an entire apple issue this year, but maybe next year!

If you each could have whatever you wanted for one last three-course meal, what would it be?

i think... chicken in stew with jollof rice, and fried plantains. it's a classic nigerian party situation. maybe a side of sweet coleslaw

Oysters, fried chicken/corn on the cob/butter lettuce salad, sour cherry pie.

Porterhouse, foie gras and caviar. KIDDING.

I'm gonna vote for guacamole, chilaquiles and, to stay in the theme, a perfect coconut flan. Perfect margarita, rocks, no salt. But ask me tomorrow and you'd get a different answer, no doubt.

My mother's avgolemono (a Greek lemon/eggwhite soup), murgh makhani with a perfect butter-glazed naan, fudge pie. Started off with a Negroni, of course.

 I would go back to this amazing, ancient restaurant I had the good fortune to visit in Valencia, Spain a few years ago. Casa Montaña. Perfect, traditional Spanish tapas, beautiful wine, and we walked just a few blocks to the beach afterwards. Just thinking about that day makes me happy. 

      Sliced smoked brisket from the fatty side. Sliced smoked brisket from the fatty side. Sliced smoked brisket from the fatty side. 

A Tex-Mex combo platter with cheese enchiladas and chili gravy, refried beans, a crispy beef taco, a guacamole salad and a tostada smeared with processed cheese. I'd knock it back with Modelo Especial. Lots of Modelo Especial.

Oh boy, tough. I'm going to say some fabulous runny cheese to start, followed by a vegetarian Indian curry and my mom's apple cake.

My tomatoes are starting to get small. I’m starting to want to horde corn on the cob. I’m getting whiny about the dwindling supply of nectarines. I try to console myself that there is plenty of growing season left, but while kids whine about going back to school and the cicadas make that screeching sound, I whine that the summer gorging season is winding down. What will my fellow Rangers miss most?? For me, I think it’s nectarines.

I agree about the nectarines. Ever year, in fact, I drive anybody within earshot a little nuts when I first see them at the farmers market, because I sing "We all live for the yellow nectarines," to the tune of "Yellow Submarine," of course. I just froze a bunch of them, but I didn't have room in my freezer to first freeze the slices on sheet pans so they wouldn't stick together once I transferred to zip-top bags, so guess what: I have a big block of solid nectarine slices that requires an ice pick. Sigh.

Nectarines, but also tomatoes. I'm one of those obnoxious people who look down on out of season, non-local tomatoes with a high degree of disdain. 

Char is carcinogenic, so no thanks.

      So, you'd go with: A) Eat it however you like it. 

Do you guys bring in leftovers from your cooking experiments? What are you always nagging co-workers to bring in again?

We have a whole inter-office Slack messaging channel dedicated to leftovers. It's a popular channel: It has more than 400 subscribers within the building!

so, it looks like I'm not done yet! One of Tunde Wey's Nigerian cooking recommendations is Kitchen Butterfly, who, other food52 users might recognize as a longtime, prolific contributor! How did I forget! Now I have her recipes there as well

A friend of mine insists that his be totally crisped, blistered and burnt. Says that's how his dad did them so that's what he knows is a grilled hotdog. I think it's disgusting.

       Another vote for A. 

        See how easy this is?

When you order say "we'll have the x" and ask them to bring two extra plates or just two forks (or whatever you need). As you described it, you probably eat it all because it's "yours" and it's sitting in front of you. If you have it half-way between and both have empty plates it doesn't belong totally to either of you and you won't feel as compelled to finish it.

I'm afraid I will. Sigh.

Do you have a recipe for a chocolate mirror? If it includes corn syrup, what does the syrup do? Can I skip it? Thanks, Matilde

I don't have one. Anyone have a favorite? I'm fairly knowledgeable in the pastry department, but frankly this was a new concept to me (at least the name anyway) until I saw it in "The Great British Baking Show" this year. Corn syrup will help add gloss and smoothness. It's pretty handy to have around for such things. I just used some yesterday in making caramelized nuts.

Hello, I live near an ethnic grocery where I can get anything I would need to make pupusas - except the recipe! I would like to make all-cheese, or cheese and veggie pupusas. I mostly need to know what type of cheese to use and the best way to cook them. I am guessing a well oiled cast iron skillet is best. Do you have any recipes for cheese pupusas, or other instructions?

Forming the pupusas is the hardest part of the process. Once you've mastered that, you can stuff it with all sorts of ingredients, mindful that watery fillings will tend to make your shell fall apart.



Here's a recipe I developed a few years ago for a breakfast pupusa. It calls for you to make your own cheese, which you can skip. You can just follow the directions for making the dough and experiment with fillings.


RECIPE: Breakfast Pupusas Americanas


What's the one dish you each make that everyone requests of you if you attend a potluck?

((drops the mic))

Funny, Maura! :)

I can keep going! Cauliflower gratin! Protein shakes! A bowl full of aspirin!

Those Donna Hay banana cookies are gluten-free! Aren't they? Hooray, hooray if they are!

Yep, the sure are. And vegan. And delicious.

Banana Cookies

RECIPE: Banana Cookies

Okay, so I love summer the best too, but tomatoes, corn, eggplant, and peaches are so great because we enjoy them in their brief peak. Though I am sad to see them go, I look forward to the fall roots and brassicas and winter squashes--plus pears and quince! That said, you bet I am putting up peppers and beans and will eek every okra out of late summer.

Totally agree. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, riiiiight?

Just begs for an upside down cake, right?

Okay - it is a hyperbole, but if you're careful about how much char you eat, that's probably not the thing that's going to get you.

Since they're completely inedible (RIGHT?) use them in jello or mix with a pound of vanilla yogurt.

Try mashing the potatoes with some cream cheese and sour cream (both full fat), reducing the butter and milk as necessary; and reheating in a casserole in the oven, not a microwave. They're REALLY good that way (admittedly, the heating in the oven requirement probably defeats the purpose of providing a quick, casual weekday meal).

My mom used to shake a LOT of salt and pepper on restaurant desserts when we had "had enough," but continued to eat because they were in front of us (I'm still in therapy . . . ).

I believe this is a trick our own Tom Sietsema uses to avoid overeating at restaurants. Just the salt. (But something tells me he doesn't do this with desserts he really loves, just the mediocre or worse ones.)

Oh my goodness. The first time I ate a hazelnut I thought I'd found heaven.


Do you count onions as vegetables? I mean, clearly they ARE, but if you're menu planning and say "I want a protein, a vegetable, and a starch," would you put an onion as the vegetable? I'm asking because, when making my lunch today, I had the option of onion jam or roasted red pepper. I used the onion jam because it has to be used up sooner, but couldn't help thinking the red pepper would be the healthier option. Am I giving onions a bum rap? Thanks for all you do!

Onions are definitely in the vegetable category, but more specifically in the allium family (with garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, ramps). 

And you can always try stuffed baked onions the next time you want to count it as a vegetable.

I don't mind a mix of store bought and homemade. we have enough division in our society already, let's go easy on the people who didn't have time/recipe fell flat/don't feel comfortable cooking for others.

No, let's punish them mercilessly for not measuring up to OUR STANDARDS every minute of every day.

Or your thing. Either one.

i make it a habit not to bring anything to potlucks. in the words of kanye, my presence is a present.


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

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

Now for the giveaway books: The chatter who asked about DC people bringing store-bought items to pot lucks will get "Modern Potluck" (to avoid being that person!). The one who asked about which seasonal produce we'll miss the most will get "Life in Balance" by Donna Hay. Send your mailing info to, and she'll get them to you.

Don't forget: You don't have to stop chatting! Just go right on over to Dorie Greenspan's chat to pick up the food talk from here.

Until next time, happy cooking, eating 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.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Cathy Barrow
Cathy Barrow's first cookbook is "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving" (W.W. Norton). She blogs at
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.
Maura Judkis
Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.
Tunde Wey
Chef Tunde Wey hosts a traveling dinner series called Blackness in America. His website is
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