Free Range on Food: No-cook recipes

Aug 08, 2012

It's our second annual no-cook issue, where we show you how to craft a great meal without having to use heat.
Past Free Range on Food chats

Good afternoon, Rangers! I guess I should tell you the bad news first: Editor Bonnie Benwick will not be chatting with us today. She's taking some well-deserved vacation time. We'll have to shuffle along without her. (Insert your favorite grumbling noise here.)


But now the good news: Chef and charcuterie master Jamie Stachowski, the subject of today's lead profile, should be joining us, for at least part of the chat. As he told me over the phone this morning -- in typical Stachowski fashion -- the chat is at the worst possible time for working chefs: during the lunch hour. He hopes to give us 30 minutes. So get your questions in now.


Tony Rosenfeld, the wrangler of this year's no-cook issue, will be joining us as well. He'll answer all your questions on how to eat during the August heat without turning on your stove or range.  We'll also have the usual suspects on board to handle your questions: Jane Touzalin, Becky Krystal and yours truly.


So let's get this thing started. And remember the best two questions (as arbitrarily decided by me) will win cookbooks.


Love the no-cook feature today -- I've dreaded having to turn on the oven or the stove for weeks! When the hazy, hot, humid weather starts, I have 2 standby recipes: one for a cantaloupe, proscuitto, basil, and fresh mozzarella salad (somewhat similar to the recipe you have for Melon Salad With Prosciutto-Basil Dressing) and one for a watermelon, feta, and mint salad with a lime dressing. Quick, yummy, refreshing & no-cook!! ....I'd like to come up with a similar type of salad using honeydew, but need guidance as to what herb or cheese or accompaniment would play off of it best. Any suggestions? Thanks.

TONY ROSENFELD: I'm with you. By this point in August, I even start avoiding the grill a bit which is unthinkable at any other time of the year. Both of those salads you describe sound wonderful. My guess is that you could sub honeydew into either to fine results; it's a mild melon that plays well with other ingredients. If you want to blaze a new path, why don't you try thinly slicing the honeydew, tossing with a light squirt of lemon juice and some chopped fresh thyme, and then sprinkle with some crumbled goat cheese and toasted pistachios. Similar concept as the others: tangy cheese, mild herb, and a bit of acid (citrus in this case) to add some bounce to the flavor of the melon.

Jamie - I'm really keen on getting into making fermented sausages but intimidated by trying to control environmental factors like humidity. Do you have any tips for using one's basement to age sausage and minimize spoilage?

JAMIE STACHOWSKI: Yes and no. Yes - I have a tip, but there's still going to be spoilage. Listen - moist is better than dry. Humidity is super hard to control without sophisticated equipment. Without the equipment it can easily get too moist and if the environment has the wrong microbes floating around, you can quickly end up with green and black mold. So, there are two tips: (1) moist is better than dry and (2) use nitrates and nitrites when you start out.

My wife and I are expecting our first at the end of this month. I want to make some dinners and freeze them for a while. How long can I keep dinners frozen before they have to be thrown out. Also, what are good recommendations for food that can be frozen and heated up that won't taste horrendous down the road?

Allow me to again promote our fantastic freezer guide from a couple of years ago, as well as our "Make It, Freeze It, Take It" recipes. The freezing time can vary depending on the dish, but most of our pre-made dishes in that collection will be good for 4-6 weeks. So feel free to get cooking now.

And congrats!

I wish the article had included more information about his incredible food than about him as a person. No description of the sandwiches, or of the various prosciuttos, or even of the pate-stuffed-bacon-wrapped-quail!

I agree with you! I wish I had more space to describe their foods. I'll add a few comments here: I think that Jamie and Josef's cocoa-rubbed coppa is among the best cured meats in the area. Their housemade prosciutto can be overly salty, same goes for the duck prosciutto, but both are such concentrated blasts of meaty/gamey goodness, that you won't care if you need to drink a glass of water afterwards.


I've already gushed about the pastrami sandwich above, but I've also tried Stachowski's chicken kabobs in "mojo" sauce (essentially a nicely spiced citrus marinade), which was lovely when I grilled them up at home. Jamie suggested to me that the skewers might need seasoning, and they did. But I suspect he underseasons the kabobs so that home cooks can salt and pepper to their own particular tastes.

JAMIE STACHOWSKI: I'll describe the quail for our other readers - first we brine semi-boned bob quails with spices and brown sugar for an hour to tighten the soft flesh. Then we stuff them with simply pheasant pate or turkey sausage. And wrap them in either applewood-smoked bacon or our pancetta. We sell them either fresh or sous-vide (in a vacuum bag and cooked in a water bath at low temperature). I find that by doing the sous-vide and directing the customer to just bring it up to heat, my fear of their over-cooking it is lessened. It's an elegant game dish that is not overpowering. We will offer these as long as people want them!

Woah, woah, woah. What is with Raichlen's tip that you should grill meat COLD?!?! This goes against everything I've been taught about cooking! Is this true? If it is, I might need to sit down for a moment. Can one of you guys explain why you should not let meat come to room temperature before grilling it?

You're referring to Jim Shahin's interviews with barbecue guru, Steven Raichlen, for the All You Can Eat blog. I have to admit that I was equally puzzled by the "grill meat cold" rule, so I tried to think through the possible reasons.


The only thing I could figure is that room-temperature meats cook faster and possibly throw off cooking times. I know from personal experience that certain barbecue/smoking rules -- like 1 1/2 hours per pound of brisket -- have been wildly off when I have allowed the meat to reach room temperature. I will follow Raichlen's advice next time and see if the cooking times follow the established guidelines.

Just a note: We're having some technical difficulties today. The answers without a name are either from Jamie Stachowski or Tony Rosenfeld. It'll be easy to tell who's answering, based on the question!

Hello all, First of all, I love your chat so much that I run straight to the kitchen after reading your transcripts!! Many thanks to you all! My question: I will celebrate my first year anniversary in a month and would like to choose a bottle of wine to drink on our anniversary and choose a few others to drink later - next year ? 10 years? I live in France right now so would prefer French wine. Some ideas I had were to find great wines from 2011, wines that are older but perfect to drink now, and Burgundy wines as we recently went there. Also, we will celebrate our anniversary in DC at an Afghan restaurant (where we first met). What wines would you recommend with lamb? Thanks a million!

Wine columnist extraordinaire Dave McIntyre says:






You won't find many 2011s yet, except for whites (and maybe some reds from southern France or the Loire). Some whites, such as a few Sancerres that I recently wrote up, should age well. Alsace wines also age quite well. But don't ignore the excellent 2009 and 2010 vintages; even if the anniversary number doesn't quite match, these are terrific wines. If you're buying them in France you will have better selection and advice than we can give you here!




For your DC anniversary celebration - lamb would go beautifully with a nice Bordeaux or a syrah from the Northern Rhone. A Cote Rotie would be a splurge, a Crozes Hermitage less so. You might also find a good grenache-based southern Rhone (and the latter would be more likely to be available in a 2011 vintage). My suggestion would be to go to a good store like MacArthur Beverages and explain the signficance of the occasion and the likely menu at the restaurant. Then be sure to call the restaurant ahead of time and tell the manager that you would like to bring a special bottle of wine to celebrate with them. It's legal to do that in DC. (The restaurant is allowed to charge "corkage" of up to $25 per bottle, so ask what the fee is or at least don't be surprised by it.) Calling ahead will help to avoid any embarrassing scenes in case the restaurant is not accustomed to diners who BYO. The restaurant should welcome your bottle and be honored that you are celebrating with them, but it is a nice courtesy to let them know ahead of time. If they have a nice wine list, it is also a good gesture to buy something off it - a glass of bubbles to toast the anniversary, perhaps!

The farmers market had skinny white eggplants today and I bought about 2 pounds. I'd love suggestions on how to prepare them. They look like the ones at this link except they're 6 to 12 inches long. 

I'm thinking some kind of Asian preparation would be nice. How about Dry-Fried Eggplant?

Dry-Fried Eggplant

We are staying on the island of Saba for the next two weeks, and we have lemongrass growing in front of our cottage. Unfortunately, I've never cooked with it before. Can you suggest ways to use lemongrass and what it works well with? Thanks so much!


Lemon grass is a wonderfully aromatic ingredient, floral and slightly sour, which is used a lot in Asian (specifically Thai) cooking. Try one of these recipes:


* Cambodian Sweet-and-Sour Soup


* Coconut Shrimp Ravioli With Green Curry Sauce


* Grilled Thai Chicken With Lemon Grass


Or just search through our Recipe Finder for more lemon grass dishes.

Thanks for the article about Stachowski's. I noticed it from the G2 bus last week and went back on Saturday to try it out. It's a wonderful addition to DC. The four-meat grinder was more than enough for two people. The bread was pretty much the world's best sandwich bread (crispy without being toasted, and somehow managed to not be bready at all), and it was amazing at how you could taste each individual meat; they didn't blur into each other. I took home some Thai chicken sauces and had a rocking version of a green curry that night. I'll definitely go back, though perhaps after the rush calms down due to this article!

Thank you! I'm sure Jamie can give you some more information on where he sources his bread. But I will second your sandwich recommendation. The pastrami at Stachowski's is among the best I've ever tasted: The smoke level is prominent without overwhelming the brisket. The spice level is right, and the texture is not quite melt-in-your-mouth, but close enough without sacrificing the needed chew of the meat.

JAMIE STACHOWSKI: Thank you very much! We use the oak to smoke pastrami and fruit wood to smoke sausages and the turkey. We use Baguette Republic for the striattas on the grinder and Lyon Bakery for the others.

I have to bring a dish to a pot luck soon, but one person doesn't eat fish, one doesn't eat meat, AND mac n' cheese as well as a salad has already been spoken for. Any suggestions?

The dreaded pot luck scenario. Never easy to navigate, always the potential to cause friction among friends or family. If meat and fish are out, that should still leave chicken, right? If that's the case, why don't you try to make some sort of grilled chicken salad? Grill off some breast meat and summer vegetables (like tomatoes and corn). Dice chicken and vegetables and pair with some good olive oil, red wine vinegar and a fresh herb (like basil or mint). Or if you really are going to have to go completely vegetarian for the non-meat-eater, why don't you make a bean salad, which should give the meal some heft. Try black beans or garbanzos, toss them with some grilled vegetables, some crumbled cheese (queso fresco or ricotta salata might be nice) and your favorite vinaigrette.

I've started making home-made vs. bottled. How long will a vinaigrette made of lemon juice and olive oil last in the fridge? Thanks. You guys rock!

Generally speaking, your vinaigrette will last only a few days in the fridge. But here's the thing about homemade vinaigrettes (which are SO much tastier than the store-bought stuff with all the preservatives): They are easy to prepare. Just make enough for a day or two, then make another batch.

I'm the chatter that asked for advice on macaroni and cheese with corn last week. I wanted to thank Jane Touzalin for her excellent advice. The dish turned out great, and I really appreciated her suggestions. The corn-flavored milk was a particularly good idea. I infused the milk with corn flavor by cutting the kernels off one ear of corn, slicing the cob in half, and steeping that in 2 cups of whole milk in a covered saucepan for about 15 minutes (narrowly averting a boil over incident). The strained milk had a wonderful corn aroma. I discarded the cobs and added the kernels along with kernels of two more ears of corn to the finished dish, along with a sauteed sweet onion, 1/2 a red pepper and 1/2 a green pepper. Really liked the pepper flavor too. For the cheese, I used 8 oz. fontina and 4 oz. sharp cheddar.

So glad it worked! Your corny mac & cheese sounds great. That recipe for Classic Macaroni and Cheese can be tweaked in a zillion ways, it's so versatile. Check out our fabulous Mac-and-cheese-o-matic, with scores of possible combos you can try.

I know we've broached this topic before, but I can't seem to find it. My fiance would like to be able to cook something other than eggs and waffles, and I certainly would appreciate it too. What are some good, basic, not too expensive, cookbooks that he could get? I know you suggested one before that was more math-oriented. Also, do you have any suggestions for easy things for him to cook on a weeknight? I am a pescitarian and he eats anything and everything. Main issue is that his knife skills aren't very good and we can't afford a class right now.

How about Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything The Basics"? It's $20 on Amazon. It's very visual too, which I think is great for beginners. 

TONY ROSENFELD: Get Joy of Cooking and any one of Jaques Pepin's books. And as far as knife skills - you have to use it every day to improve your skills.

I noticed that one of your no-cook recipes included Asian noodles. I know I'm being nit-picky, but how do you use Asian noodles unless you cook them?

TONY ROSENFELD: Fair question: most noodles - Asian 0r not- need to be cooked before serving. The mung bean cellophane noodles that I call for in today's recipe, though, are rather delicate and soften up after about 15-minute soak in hot water. Give it a try and you'll see. One final caveat: these sorts of noodles are often imported and can have translated cooking instructions that vary greatly (from a soak to 3-minute boil). A soaking in hot water should do the trick to get them tender and also keep your kitchen nice and cool.

And if turning on the stove is not a deal-breaker for you, then you can always go ahead and boil them. We tested the recipe without boiling, and I wouldn't say the noodles were fall-apart tender, but you wouldn't want that, anyway.

I am a fan of blue rare steaks. Cooking from a cold state allows the exterior to obtain a very flavorful grilling while the inside maintains its rareness. I am also a fan steaks that 2 inches or so thick.

At Stachowski Market, we cut steaks as thick as you want. We have a dry-aged shell which is Kansas city strip steak on the bone - 45+ days. It has a very concentrated, lush flavor. We also do short loins, which is the porterhouse on one end and the T-bone on the other. And the most tender rib-eye you'll ever because we remove the flap and remove all the tendon and gristle and then replace the flap and truss it back up. Come and get 'em.

It isn't exactly no-cook since the grains do need cooking, but having cooked grains in the freezer to be defrosted for salads is also a good way to take advantage of whatever looks best in the market.


Sounds like a good idea. And frankly, since we used ingredients like smoked trout and smoked turkey, I think there is some leeway on the "no cook" concept.

After last week's chat I tried to find the recipe for spicy tomato beef stir-fry and couldn't, even with advanced search, which gave me recipes containing neither beef nor stir-fry. And since a video was mentioned I tried to find it through that, but couldn't get the video to run. This has happened to me before. Do you have hints for finding recipes when the key words don't seem to appear? Thanks.

Wow, OK, that took me a while to find too. A reader last week referred to the dish not by it's exact name, which is Spicy Cantonese Tomato Beef.

Spicy Cantonese Tomato Beef

As the recipe database maven over here, I can agree that it can be frustrating to find dishes, especially since the system doesn't really like quotation marks or hyphens. Try narrowing the advanced search using the course and type of cuisine. Sometimes you have to be just really broad. So to find that dish, I looked up top tomato beef since the chatter mentioned it was from our Top Tomato contest slideshow. 

I hope that helps. And I hope at some point we can improve that search functionality!

Growing up in Western NY State, we often got a preserved, rolled, spiced meat at the Kosher butcher shops, we called it pastrami. But now I see what looks more like brisket with spices called pastrami. Have not seen the rolled, sliced version in a long time. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Not sure. It could have been some cured/brined rolled flap meat. As pastrami might refer more to the technique of brining and then cooking the meat in various ways; it's possible that the term could apply to what you are describing. I've seen top round brined and cooked and labeled pastrami in the grocery stores. But the best pastrami comes from either the navel or the brisket, which is what we use at Stachowski's.

Loved the food section today. I've been trying to make no cook meals at least twice a week and was running out of ideas. I was intrigued by the shrimp/squid ceviche mentioned in the review of Hanks Oyster Bar, and think that would make a great no-cook summer dinner. I've never made Ceviche but would give it a try if I had a reliable recipe. Anyone have a recipe that's tried and true for Ceviche?

In fact, we have 12 recipes. You also should read Tim's recent Immigrant's Table on it.

Las Canteras Seviche

Yesterday about 130pm checking out several potential sites. Not sure why we need a restaurant from a man and company who steals his servers tips.

You're referring to Mario Batali whose restaurants were accused of skimming tips from servers. (They settled the suit.) Why Batali would want a place is Tysons is beyond me. He clearly hasn't talked to Bob Kinkead.

Jamie--have you considered making sandwiches on smaller rolls? The Italian sub/grinder was absolutely delicious but much too big to eat all at once. I stored it in the fridge, but several hours later, the bread was a little bit soggy from the vinaigrette.

We currently serve a "short club" which is two slices of bread and a little easier to eat. And we're developing a "K Street meeting sandwich." BUT keeping true to the spirit of the sandwiches of my day, the grinder will likely stay in its current, delicious form.

Did I miss something? :P

You're probably right, but in our present world of hyrbid flexitarianism, I never take anything for granted (hey some of my best friends are "vegetarians' that eat chicken). That said, beans, especially when they're properly prepared, usually can make everyone happy. And that's why I got them in there as a secondary option.

Ummm, as a vegetarian, I can assure you chicken IS meat. A common misconception though!

Chicken is not considered red meat. When the USDA comes out with dietary recommendations, chicken is often excluded from recommended servings of red meat.

Did the subject of the article see the article before it was printed? Did the author of the article describe to the subject how the subject's character traits would be portrayed?

Jamie and I talked a number of times before the article was printed. I told him what my approach would be: That I wanted to describe him, warts and all. Jamie, true to his open-minded spirit, never flinched.


But to clarify: It's the Post's policy not to let subjects review stories in advance.

You can see how accurate the article is for yourself first hand by visiting the shop! And thank you for asking.

I tried the links for 3 of the 5 no cooking recipes and none worked: Hoisin-sesame sauce and Asian noodles, peaches and cream with mascarpone and fresh rosemary, and last, fresh tuna drizzled with an intense lemon vinaigrette. Thanks for fixing them!

Yes, sorry about that. We fixed them this morning. Please have a look again!

All due respect to Tony, I was at first a bit skeptical of the peach recipe. Once had one, though -- wow!

Peaches With Rosemary-Mascarpone Whipped Cream

I bought a variety pack of beer that came with 4 cloyingly sweet Cherry Wheat beers. We're not going to drink them - any cooking or baking ideas?

Why not use them in desserts that call for beer? How about Belgian-Style Crepes or Honey Spice Beer Cake.

Or, how about trying them in this sauerkraut? The acidity of the sauerkraut might be able to beat down the beer's cloying sweetness.

I want to start making my own sausage. Any recommendations for a good cookbook to get me started? Thoughts on where to get supplies like sausage casing?

Come to Stachowski Market. We got what you need in terms of supplies. Maybe I should hold a class. Number one rule: cold meat!

I will NOT turn on my oven when the air conditioning is on, but I'll use the stove for quick-cooking items, such as couscous, stir-fry, etc. I grill large batches of meat on the grill on the weekends, and freeze it in small portions that can be microwaved quickly. Weeknight dinners in ten minutes!

Smart approach.

Trying this one again: I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but I really like the parmesan garlic sauce at a certain really popular national buffalo wing restaurant chain (that may or may not go by the abbreviation BW3). However, I also really like making my own wings - it's cheaper and healthier because I can make them without frying them. Do you guys or anyone else know of a good way I can replicate the parmesan garlic sauce at home? I'm pretty sure its spice comes from red pepper flakes, but other than sauteeing some garlic in olive oil and then mixing that with parmesan to melt the cheese, I'm at a loss for the rest of it.

We don't have one, but check out the Google-sphere. This post purports to have imitated several BW3 sauces. Have a look.

The other night, I made Marcella Hazen's blender pesto and had a mozzarella/tomato/basil salad sprinkled with a little white balsamic vinegar. I had to use the stove top to cook the linguine, but otherwise it was a great summer meal because it did not heat up the kitchen. I also like no-bake cookies in summer (you know the ones--cocoa, oatmeal, and peanut butter) because they don't need the oven.

Speaking of no-bake cookies, here's one from our very own Joe Yonan: No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies.

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies

Is it true we should try to limit nitrate consumption? I was told some years ago to eat bacon only rarely because it has nitrates, but I don't know if that's turned out to be untrue or if maybe nitrates have been made safer. What do you think?

Ah ha! You have struck the nerve! There is plenty of research that says they are dangerous. But some studies say there is as much natural nitrites in our mouths at any given time than in a sandwich. I'm not sure if they are necessary for life. But we have yet to develop preservatives that do as good a job as they do. Furthermore, the USDA sets the recommendations of use. Also, keep in mind, using more does not benefit the meat producer. So a phrase like "all those salts and preservatives" is inaccurate because they use a very specific amount. More does not do more so there is no incentive for producers to pack your meats full of nitrates/nitrites beyond what is necessary for preservation.

Thanks for finding this recipe - I was looking for it in vain, also. However, I'm wondering if this would work as well with chicken?

It might work. Give it a shot, and let us know!

I eat a fair amount of main dish salads, but I feel like I'm in a rut. I primarily open the frig and see what's fresh in there, but almost always need a base of lettuce, tomato, pepper, grated carrot. Then a protein, then some kind of pickled veg (pickled daikon is great), then some "what else do I have" - maybe edamame, green beans, celery, olive - followed by fresh herbs if convenient. I mean, this plan works which is why I use it 3-4 times a week, but I'd like to expand my repertory.

This is awesome -- I get to promote another one of our superb graphics from the archives. Play with the Salad Spinner.

I know I wouldn't be using it anyway, but my Viking oven, that I bought 6 months ago new, is broken. When I turn it on, it won't get hot at all. I know I need to call Viking, but are there any easy fixes that I should try to do myself?

If it is dual gas/electric, it might have some sort of electrical safety reset button that you might look for in the manual.

As a South Floridian with no air conditioning (long story, but it really wasn't a choice), I appreciate the no-cook recipes & can't wait to try many of them. You have no idea how miserable even running a microwave can be down here in the summer. However, every once in a while, I just feel as though I need something cooked (more than the smoked salmon). Have any of you ever tried a halogen oven and, if so, do they work well and not heat up the home? Thanks for any light you can shed on this and again, thanks for the great no-cook recipes!

None of us have tried one. Can any of the chatters weigh in?

Do you find some cheeses are better than others to eat in summer, ie, feta in the summer and cheddar when it's colder?

Personally, I prefer fresh homemade fresh cheeses, with just a little salt and olive oil. So simple. So delicious.

I'm an experienced cook with a rookie problem: I can't seem to master fried eggs. Mine spread way too much, making them difficult to flip and creating little pieces everywhere instead of nice rounds. And I never know what size pan to use--in a small one, two eggs run together and large swaths of the white don't get cooked, but in a large one they spread even more. Once I finally manage to flip them (or at least most of them), the yolk cooks through almost immediately (I like them over-easy). Can you help? My work-at-home lunches will thank you!

So, to me, a properly fried egg is one of the true demonstrations of a cook's skill. No sauces to hide behind or easy cover-up if an egg becomes tough or overcooked. I think I can help, though. Start with the pan: I would encourage you to try using a seasoned cast-iron skillet for frying eggs. A good, seasoned pan like this has nearly the same non-stick properties as tefflon, but it's got a good heavy base which evenly transfers the heat to the eggs, helping them cook quickly and flip easily (the thickness of the cast-iron makes it a lot like the flat-top griddles popular in diners).  One other note about those egg whites spreading out: my experience is that the whites of fresher eggs tend to hold together nicely (and not sag all over the pan). I will go digging through my food science books to see why this might be the case, but I think you'll find, the fresher the eggs, the sturdier they are in the pan.

Hi. I cut into a big onion I'd bought at a farmers' market and about a tablespoon of milk-like white liquid came out. Some of it clung to the knife. What was that and should I have eaten it or the rest of the onion? It was a regular yellow-peel onion. If I get more "milk" from another onion, I could fill an eye-dropper and deliver it to you if you'd like to run tests. Thank you!

Nothing wrong with the onion. The milky fluid is just onion juice.

I'm in the look out of new ingredients to make desserts relatively more "healthified" but it is really expensive to get all those ingredients! Is there a store where I can get coconut flour and almond flour at a good price? Where I can get Swerve? Or good quality equivalent Erythritol? (I know I can get it online but was wondering if there's a place that I can get it in the burbs or DC). Where I can get a Small bag of Xanthan Gum! I've seen bags at Moms and Harris but they are big and $$$ and all recipes that I've seen so far that require XG ask for less than a teaspoon!

Sometimes you can find surprising bargains on hard-to-find items at the larger Asian supermarkets, such as H Mart and Great Wall. It's worth checking them out, and even if you don't find what you're looking for, you'll find plenty of tempting items you didn't know you wanted!

When a recipe calls for caramelizing a topping with a blowtorch (I'm thinking specifically of Cappuccino Tapioca Pudding With Cardamom Brulee), assuming my ramekins can handle it, what is the downside to using the broiler instead? (Besides heating up the kitchen and possibly the pudding more than I'd like.) Thanks for any advice!

Full disclosure: I'm not particularly skilled on the sweet side of the kitchen, but I've used blow-torches enough to know this: their heat is very concentrated and easy to control, which allows you to properly finesse preparations like creme brulee. Broilers tend to be unpredictable and will either burn that sugary top or else take forever. Restaurant salamanders, super powerful and concentrated, are the exception.

I was at Trader Joe's and randomly decided to buy a couple of cans of smoked trout. Now I have no idea what do do with it. Does it need to be cooked? Any ideas? Thanks.

Good timing! Did you see Bonnie's recipe today for Smoked Trout Salad With Beets and Almonds?

Smoked Trout Salad With Beets and Almonds

We also have two sandwich recipes: Smoked Salmon and Trout Panini and Smoked Trout, Green Apple and Gouda Sandwich.

Smoked Salmon and Trout Panini

OK, I have to admit, I don't get the extreme hatred of baking during the summer months. Yes, I understand it releases heat into the house. But I think the stove is worse, as far as what I notice, and the grill is the worst of them all! It's incredibly hot outside already, then throw in the fact you're cooking over a hot open flame. I do cut back on how much I bake in the summer, but what's with this "I never use it at all" attitude?

I've never lived through a Florida summer, so I can't speak for everyone, but I'm with you. I definitely use the oven in the summer, though it's nice to have some no-cook options. The one thing I stopped doing is making pizza that requires me to heat the oven at 500+ degrees for an hour. That just seems a bit much!

The person could a vegetarian (as am I). How about a lovely quiche - I'm partial to asparagus or mushroom. Also, I found a recipe (I think The Daily Mail - shudder) where, after blind baking, you slather a thin layer of cream cheese - pure genius.

I agreed. Eggs are a great call for that sort of pot-luck. I second the idea for a quiche. Or maybe try a Spanish tortilla, which is like a frittata, but generally includes layers of pan-fried potato as well.

Hummus, pita wedges, small antipasto plate with olives, pickles, boiled, other finger food.

Hummus! A lunch favorite for me.

I loved today's article about Jamie Stachowski driving to NYC to find a decent pastrami sandwich or chopped chicken liver -- 'cause my suitcase has always been about half food when I return from NYC to DC, and I remember the day about 20 years ago that I went into a place here called something like "NY Deli" and asked for a bagel "with a schmear" and the guys behind the counter not only had no idea what I was asking for, they thought I was somehow insulting them and got overtly hostile! So, tell me, with Stachowski's Market and Deli in Georgetown -- which I didn't know about! -- and the Lyon Bakery selling retail, can someone like me, who was raised on New York deli and found Krupin's-Morty's a poor substitute, finally stay in DC and still eat like I would on the Lower East Side or in Brooklyn?

I think the only way you can answer that is to visit Stachowski's yourself.

As a vegetarian - a plea not to say you are ... unless you don't eat meat and fish (that's technically a vegetarian - I eat animal byproducts, a vegan won't eat animal byproducts like dairy)! My fish eating friends in the UK call themselves pescatrians. It makes things so complicated when people who are not vegetarians - and say eat chicken - say the are. I end up saying to people who ask - I'm a vegetarian, that-means-no-fish-no-meat otherwise lovely hosts end up horrified when they serve me fish.

I think we can all agree on one thing: it's not easy to cook for folks these days unless you know exactly what they eat or don't eat (or what they are or aren't allergic, too).

For the person who likes old-school no-bakes, I had to bring dessert to a party when my oven was broken. I wanted to go a leeeetle classier than no-bakes and found these special k bars. They were devoured. 

Here's another no-bake cereal cookie from our archives, Cheerios Cereal Bars.

Cheerios Cereal Bars

A friend visiting from France brought us a great collection of pates and rillettes. Do you know the difference between the two? P.S. Pate from France, a good loaf of bread, tomatoes from our very small garden, and a nice glass of wine have made for excellent no-cook dinners the last few nights.

They're very similar. A pate is seasoned ground meat (or fish or veggies) that is cooked in fat or a crust, then usually cooled and served; a rillette is meat that's slow-cooked in fat, and then once cooked, it is pounded into a smooth paste. So it's sort of a pate, but smoother.

i have a local butcher i love....if i tell him i would like beef to prepare for tartare, will he source something different from what he normally has in stock?

Jamie, unfortunately, had to leave the chat. But he recommends very fresh filet mignon. Go with that, if you can.

Hey, until you've cooked for an hour in someone else's non-Central Air kitchen in August, don't judge. You, obviously live very comfortably. Some of us do not.

Fair enough!

In honor of what's turned out to be dinner for almost every day the last week (heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella cheese drizzled in olive oil), could I ask that the Food section do another roundup/rating on olive oils, particularly "cheap" ones under $10? I think the last one you did was 8 years ago. Reviews online have turned me on to treasures like Trader Joe's Spanish olive oil...

Interesting idea. I too just picked up that TJ's Spanish olive oil. I like it so far.

Also, modern flexitarian grey area notwithstanding, it is traditional to call red meat "meat," and to call chicken, etc. "fowl." In the old days meat did not refer to chicken or turkey, that was fowl. Meat was beef, venison, pork.

At which farmers markets does Jamie Stachowski sell?

Jamie sells at several markets around the area. They're all listed on the Stachowski Brand Charcuterie Web site.

Are you doing a canning issue this summer? I'm looking to expand my repertoire (again). Just made the fig+shiraz jammy paste and it's delicious.

A timely question. In next week's Top Tomato issue, we'll have expert Cathy Barrow answering FAQs about canning tomatoes; if we're lucky, she'll join this chat next week and you can ask her any canning questions you want. And Bonnie Benwick and I are reading through the latest canning/preserving cookbooks and will review them for you within a few weeks.

I thought my Miele was broken, too, until I accidently found an on-off switch near the top of the oven. My cleaning person had turned it off when she cleaned. I hope you have as easy a problem.

I am glad to hear that you keep the flap. That particular muscle of the flap on the ribeye is by far my favorite meat to eat. So many butchers remove the flap and send it to grinding.

Put the trout into a food processor with some cream cheese, sour cream or creme fraiche, a little sweet butter, some shallot or scallion, and (optional) horseradish, fresh dill or tarragon, tiny bit of salt and white pepper. Blend it. Smoked trout mousse.

Make this Quinoa and Black Bean Salad. Double the dressing. Your friends will love you. Or vegetarian lasagne-- skip the meat, add broccoli, spinach, eggplant, or something else.

Well, that's a wrap. I want to thank both Tony Rosenfeld and Jamie Stachowski for being with us today. They offered some great insights into no-cook recipes and charcuterie.


Today's cookbook winners are the chatter who originally asked for potluck dishes that don't include either meat or fish and the chatter who wanted to make sausage at home. The former wins a copy of "Salads: Beyond the Bowl" by Mindy Fox, and the latter wins a copy of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Sausage Making." To get your books, please email Becky Krystal at


See you next week!

In This Chat
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is the Food section staff writer. Joining him are interim recipe editor Jane Touzalin, editorial aide Becky Krystal, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin and Spirits columnist Jason Wilson. Guests: food writer Tony Rosenfeld; chef and charcuterie master Jamie Stachowski.
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