Free Range on Food

The Food Section
of the Washington Post
Wednesday, June 11, 2008; 1:00 PM

A chat with the Food section staff is a chance for you to ask questions, offer suggestions and share information with other cooks and food lovers. It is a forum for discussion of food trends, ingredients, menus, gadgets and anything else food-related.

Each chat, we will focus on topics from the day's Food section. You can also read the transcripts of past chats. Do you have a question about a particular recipe or a food-related anecdote to share? The Food section staff goes Free Range on Food every Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET. Read about the staff of the Food section.

A transcript follows.

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Joe: Welcome to today's chat, all. Hope you're enjoying this break in the heat wave and have some fun meals on the agenda now that you don't have to freak out about heating up the kitchen.
What's on your mind, in your fridge, freezer and pantry these days? Did Andreas's take on marinades persuade you to get your grill on this week? Did Jason's Spirits column make you thirst for a "winetail" (sorry, Jason, I couldn't help but use the term)?
We sit ready and waiting for your questions. And I have a slightly different take on the giveaways today: Rather than books, I have two food items that would be perfect for a Father's Day gift. First, there's the special Avery Island Reserve bottle of Tabasco, all silvery-packaged and cool; and there's also two little shakers of a new product called JD's Bacon Salt, whose tagline is "Everything should taste like bacon."
Let's do this thing.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Re: the marinade article in today's Post... You're not using the same marinade bath in which to dip the meat as you cook it, are you? Aren't you concerned about bacteria from the raw meat that was first in the marinade? Experts always say to dump the marinade after taking the raw meat out. Do you make extra?

Joe: Fear not -- the meat goes back onto the fire after being re-dipped in the marinade, so there's no uncooked marinade being ingested...

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Washington, D.C.: As an apartment dweller, I always find it frustrating in the summer when the recipes are all about the grill. Have you considered including comments about how to adapt for inside-only cooks?

Joe: As someone who continues to mourn his lack of outdoor space in DC after years of grilling/barbecuing pleasure in Boston, I feel your pain, and we'll consider adding ideas from time to time to help you. Unfortunately, though, we won't always be able to test each grilling recipe using indoor and outdoor methods.
I can say that for the most part, my favorite indoor "grilling" technique is to use my enameled cast-iron grill pan, which I can get very hot for great searing. You can certainly use it for many of the direct-heat grilling recipes we offer, although you'll of course be missing that smoke element from charcoal. You might also look at stovetop smokers like this one, which does help get a little smokiness into meat. For true low-and-slow barbecue, your best bet is probably a combination of such a stovetop smoker for a little injection of smoke, then some time in the oven at 250 degrees. (And the purists would scoff, but don't forget the power of a little smidge of liquid smoke from time to time.)
And here's a book suggestion for you: it's full of ideas.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Food Gurus,

I have two bottles of barbeque sauce at home and I have no idea what to do with them. Can I use it to marinate fish (I don't eat meat)? Thanks.

Jane Black: I'm not the BBQ guru but a lot of the bottled stuff can be a bit heavy for fish. If you do use it, pick a substantial fish with some oil in it like salmon. You can also brush in on vegetables before grilling or broiling.

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Arlington, Va.: Our patch of lemon thyme gets bigger each year, but we really don't use it. My husband says its main purpose is to freshen the air when the lawn mower brushes it! But I'd sure prefer to be cooking with it.

If YOU had lemon thyme begging to be harvested, what would you be doing with it? Non-meat ideas preferred, but all ideas welcome.

Jane Black: I think you can use lemon thyme as a substitute for thyme in most dishes. Use it on fish or with rosemary on pork. Here's a lovely summer recipe from our archive: Pan-Roasted King Salmon With Edamame Succotash and Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc

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Washington, D.C.: Don't really have a question but I wanted to send you a photo taken by the Washington Post in the late 1970's of my father cooking whole lambs at the Greek Festival at St. Constantine and Helen on 16th Street NW. It's a b/w image of him standing over 5 or 6 whole lambs and marinating them with a mop as they cook. I would attach it to this but don't know how, interested in seeing it, do you have an email and contact name? Thought it would be good since there is an article about Marinating, well this one is a photo of the master marinator at work.

Gus

Joe: Hi, Gus -- Send it to us at food@washpost.com. We look forward to seeing it!

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Bethesda, Md.: You've responded to several questions in the last few weeks on asparagus (still local) by suggesting you bake it, but you've left out the secret ingredient -- good parmesan. Sprinkle this on top of drizzled olive oil and fresh-ground pepper (no salt needed because of the cheese) and even kids will devour these stalks!

Jane Black: Sounds delicious!

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scapes!: Hi, I got a batch of garlic scapes at the farmer's market, but now what to do? Everywhere I check online I can find a pesto recipe, but I already made some pesto recently. Epicurious returns no recipes for scapes and most of the Washington Post recipe returns for scapes appear to be desserts. So what can I make that takes advantage of these early summer items? I love garlic so using them as a tamer garlic substitute isn't as appealing. Thanks for any tips!

Joe: You found dessert recipes for garlic scapes? That's a computer hiccup if I ever heard of one!
I chop 'em up finely and add them to stir-fries, even eat them raw on salads. And I found this out there in the wild word of Net recipes. Haven't tested, but looks intriguing:
Spinach and Scape Frittata (adapted from dakotagarlic.com)
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 eggs
1 cup (1/2 lb.) chopped raw spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley or basil
1/2 cup finely chopped garlic scapes
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix all ingredients except oil and scapes. Heat oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove. Add the scapes and saute until tender on medium heat for about five minutes. Pour egg mixture in skillet with garlic scapes and cook over low for three minutes. Place in oven and bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until top is set. Cut into wedges and serve.

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Richmond, Va.: loved the wine mixed-drinks! I love red wine, but when hot weather hits, I seek lighter alternatives. Glad to learn that my creation of white wine (verde), lime, and soda is not so crazy!

Joe: Cheers!

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San Francisco, Calif.: Many of the summertime recipes are cooked on a grill. For example, I'm practically drooling over today's marinated steak recipe - it sounds delicious, but how to cook it indoors? I, and a lot of other readers, live in apartments with no access to outdoor cooking equipment. Is there an alternative way of preparing recipes that would work on a stove or in an oven? If so, it would be nice to include it in the recipes.

Joe: See my previous answer -- with the steak recipe, a grill pan is your way to go.

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Central Va.: Hi. I read Andreas Viestad's article and it did confirm what I already knew. But why oh why does he rub the thyme leaves in his hand? I can see how it would make your hands smell good, but does it release thyme-like matter onto the steak that would otherwise stay in the leaf? Thanks!

Joe: It releases some of the oils and flavor of the herb, like crushing or chopping it would.

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Ex-D.C.-er, now Oregonian: Here's my follow-up to the interesting marinade article: Can you pls reprint the marinade recipe that ran 20 years ago in your food section that I will paraphrase: start with a butterflied leg of lamb, add marinade (per forgotten recipe), put marinating lamb in the trunk of car and drive to the beach, grill lamb after arriving at beach house as a guest to rave reviews of host and fellow guests, and await invitation to return as a guest. I made the marinade -- minus the drive to the beach -- as did many of our friends. It was the staple of outdoor cooking talks all summer. I now have lost the marinade recipe. Thnx--

Jane Black: Here you go:
LAMB MARINATED IN THE CAR
(6 servings)
4-pound butterflied leg of lamb
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
Splash of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons or so chopped fresh rosemary
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Have the butcher butterfly (bone and flatten) the lamb. Place it in a Tupperware-style container and add the rest of the ingredients. (If feeling ambitious, poke slits in the meat with the point of a knife and press slivers of garlic and herbs into them.) Put the container on ice in an ice chest in the back of the car.
Remove lamb from marinade six hours later, or when you arrive. Feed the kids peanut butter on Ritz crackers while you prepare the grill. Cook the meat over hot coals, about 15 to 20 minutes a side, depending on thickness.
Serves four with plenty of leftovers for sandwiches the next day.
Per serving: 530 calories, 75 gm protein, 0 gm carbohydrates, 23 gm fat, 8 gm saturated fat, 237 mg cholesterol, 257 mg sodium

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Washington, D.C.: I'm having a viewing party for the final episode of Top Chef on Saturday (we are DVR-ing it tonight). I'd like to serve a Puerto Rican dish for dinner -- preferably something that's relatively simple and inexpensive to prepare. Do you have any suggestions?

Jane Black: Why don't you do a recipe from Top Chef? They have loads on the site but these two from Stephanie, my predicted winner though I have no inside knowledge. The pork and shrimp fritter looks very easy; the tuna tostone looks even better but harder to do on the cheap.
http://recipes.mt.bravotv.com/top_chef/season_4/episode_13_1/pork_and_shrimp_fritter.php

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Marinate too long?: Thanks for the marinade article - always helpful to understand the "how" and the "why!" I did not, however, see an answer to the question of how long is too long to marinade. I put a flank steak in a marinade last night (beer, soy sauce, mustard, garlic, olive oil - nothing too acidic) but it looks like my husband can't make it home for dinner tonight. Can I keep it marinating until Thursday night? Thanks very much!

Joe: You should be fine. According to Andreas's piece, nothing much is going to happen to the interior of the meat, while the exterior might get a little mushy because of the salty soy sauce. After eight days, marinades in scientific tests penetrated less than 1/8 of an inch into the surface of the meat.

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Washington, D.C.: For all of you out there "The Holy Marinade" is as Follows:

Olive Oil (preferably Greek)

Salt

Black Pepper

Fresh Garlic

Oregano

and Lots of Fresh Lemon Juice

-- Kosta

Joe: Amen.

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"Everything should taste like bacon." : I agree! I'm eating bacon right now. The only thing I wouldn't put bacon on is, well I can't think of anything. This weekend I'm going to sprinkle some on my ice cream sundae. Elvis and I would have gotten along well, I think.

Joe: As would you and Queen Paula.

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Reston, Va.: Hello, Rangers! I'm hoping you can help with this food-related question. Mine was one of the unfortunate homes left without power for two days after last week's storms, and I had to replace everything in the refrigerator and freezer. I had leftovers frozen in individual containers in the freezer, which thawed and then refroze when the power came back on. I emptied the containers but the smells seem to be lingering. (Beef stew, chopped onions, etc.) Do you have any suggestions for getting the smells out of the containers? Thanks!

Joe: Are they plastic containers, I assume? I believe in the power of lemon/water/baking soda: the juice of a lemon or two, a cup or so of water, and 1/4 cup baking soda. Dissolve, then use to wipe out the containers, rinse and dry. If that doesn't do it, try the same solution, but make a bigger quantity of it and soak the containers in it for a few hours. Chatters, any other odor-killing tips for our Reston friend?

Jane Touzalin: My condolences....sounds like an ordeal. I've had success with getting smells (and stains) out of plastic containers by setting them in the sunlight for several hours.

Bonnie: A solution of mostly hot water and a little ammonia or vinegar (but not both!) will do the trick. Try 1 gallon very hot water, 1/2 cup of one of the other ingredients.

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Dover, Del.: Does the same "flash marinade" rule on steaks also pertain to chicken? This, btw, is marvelous news. No longer do I have to sadly move on to "plan B" dinner plans because I was too busy in the morning to start the marinade.

Joe: Yep, it does.

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CSA Nut: Hi, we've just started getting deliveries from our CSA this year and are looking forward to lots of yummy veggies and fruits. However, as usual there will be some things that I just don't know what to do with!

I have two young children (3 and 10)and I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for a good resources for kid-friendly recipes for things we're likely to get--lots of various greens, lots of spring onions, some small beets (not usually enough for full beet recipes) etc. (We know what to do with the more basic stuff like fruits, broccoli and asparagus).

Help!

Bonnie: Check out a cookbook by "Moosewood" author Mollie Katzen called "Salad People" that calls for those kinds of fresh ingredients -- plus it's fun to build characters on the plate with them, too!

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Silver Spring: After reading Andreas Viestad's article on marinades, and your recipe for marinated lamb, can I assume I don't really need to marinate the lamb for 6 hours? Or am I missing something that requires this length of marination? Thanks.

Joe: That's right, you don't.

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Garlic Scapes and Bacon: I bet Garlic scapes would be nice grilled, in sort of a wilted, scalliony way. I haven't tried this; I prefer sauteing chopped scapes in the pan before I cook eggs.

Re: bacon salt. This intrigues me as a non-pork eater. The Ham Beens brand of dried bean soup mixes include an "artificial ham flavor" packet in them, and I wish that was available to buy. Other good tricks to sub bacon/ham are smoked salt, liquid salt, bacon bits, miso, and smoked paprika. Or adding smoked cheese to a dish. Come to think of it, I wonder if it is just finely ground extra salty bacon bits?

Lastly, I had a kitchen mistake gone good today. I was melting butter for an oatmeal muffin recipe, and left the butter on until it browned. With extra spices put in the recipe, the results were delicious!

Joe: The Bacon Salt has NO bacon in it. It's veggie, and kosher, and zero-calorie, zero fat. So it's pretty fake! (OK, I'm not doing a very good sales job on it here, am I?)

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Ed, Berkeley, Calif.: How do you get browning on your meat when using a marinade? Do you rely on the sugar in the marinade? Is that browning as flavorful as one where the meat proteins themselves brown?

Bonnie: Ed, from what the tester and the Gastronomer told me, the browning's not quite the same as the crusty exterior you may be used to. But the exterior does brown.
Andreas's technique of essentially dunking the meat in the marinade during cooking is interesting...there's flavor from the marinade on the outside of the meat. As for the sugar or brandy, there's not much (and they are optional ingredients). Give it a try and report back!

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Washington, D.C.: Just a follow up for last week's seeker of a different type of sheet cake - they should look into getting a cake from an Asian bakery. My local favorites are Maria's Bakery (Rockville, Falls Church, Annandale) and Vina's Cafe (on Pickett Road in Fairfax). The cake is usually more of sponge-type cake, with a cream and fruit filling, and cream frosting. Not as sweet as buttercream cakes. They may want to try a slice of the bakery's Swiss roll to get an idea of what the cake will be like.

Bonnie: Thanks for the tip. We're just about caked-out around here, from buyout fetes. I'm thinking the answer is: pie.

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just laughing: bacon salt? the only way to make each of them less healthy!

Joe: I think the candied bacon I adore from "The Gift of Southern Cooking" might be the other way...

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barbeque sauce : The chatter eats fish, so maybe they eat shrimp? I've never had BBQ sauce on fish, but I've always enjoyed it on grilled shrimp. Put a bunch of shrimp on a skewer, slather with some sauce, and grill. Only takes a couple minutes.

Jane Black: Good idea.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Food Captains,

I bought some fava beans at the market this week. I thought I could eat them raw, but that didn't taste too good, plus I found a caterpillar in my very first one, so I kind of want to add some heat. Any suggestions for a simple, delicious, way to prepare them? No meat and nothing that requires a blender please!

Jane Black: I adore fava beans. And they definitely need to be shelled and cooked. A simple salad with cooked beans, mint and a drizzle of olive oil and pecorino is lovely in summer. Or the same flavors go beautifully in a frittata. Here's a recipe from Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook.
Fava bean and mint frittata
Serves 4
3 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
1 1/2 pound unshelled fava beans
1 tsp olive oil for greasing pan
6 extra fresh large eggs
1/3 cup light cream
1 cup coarsely grated hard sheep's milk cheese (manchego, pecorino romano, feta)
12 fresh mint leaves
1/4 tsp salt
freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground pepper
Unless your fava beans are small and young, their waxy skin needs to be removed. To do this, bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Drop in the shelled beans and cook 5 minutes. Drain and drop into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking. Cut a tiny slit in the outer skin of each bean with your thumbnail and pinch the skin to slip it off. The beans can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.
Preheat the oven to 425. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese, cream and mint. Season with salt and a few gratings of nutmeg and a few turns of the pepper mill. Add the beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into the prepared cake pan.
Put in the oven for 25 minutes until golden and puffy. Transfer the pan on a rack to cook for 5 minutes; the top will settle. Remove from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature, with a salad of mixed greens. This will keep for up to a day, tightly wrapped and refrigerated.

Jane Black: Scratch that. You probably can eat them raw but you definitely need to shell them.

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Question about meat and poultry juices after baking: Hi gurus. My husband loves to bake chicken thighs or pork chops doused in lots of low-sodium soy sauce and herbs - sometimes he puts the soy sauce on an hour in advance, other times just before putting in the oven. The end result is quite delicious. After baking, there are lots of juices left so I wonder if there is a way to reuse them? Last week I collected the juices, chilled them and then discarded the fat, like chicken broth. The remaining juice was concentrated. So - is this a safe process? If so, how long can I keep the concentrate? Can I freeze it and throw some in rice later on? Thanks!

Jane Touzalin: I'm not a bacteriologist, but really, you're just talking about liquid leftovers that aren't much different from, say, a stock (I am assuming the juice got boiling hot during the baking process). So if it were me, I'd follow the same rules as for storing stock: I would refrigerate it for only a few days, and if I wanted to keep it longer I'd either freeze or re-boil to kill any germs.

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Washington, D.C. -- Marinades: Please help! The article on marinades intrigued me, yet I am constantly searching for a marinade I can use for myself as I am fairly recently diagnosed as allergic to garlic, among other foods. Garlic just seems to be the flavor that rounds out and enhances... any suggestions for a substitute? (I do use cooked onions, but no raw onions, no shallots, green onions or leeks.) I try to balance rosemary, thyme, mustard and vinegars, but just can't seem to find a flavor to do it all as well as garlic. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Joe: So are you allergic to all raw alliums, I take it? But you can cook them and be OK? So does that mean you could cook garlic first, or not? If so, I'd suggest adding slow-roasted garlic. If you can't, you might try something with a ton of umami, such as fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce -- can you eat both of those? Or, here's another thought: Miso!

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Alexandria, Va.: I love to use the non-fat Greek-style yogurt as a marinade for chicken (adding curry or tandoori spices), and then grill or bake. Since I eat tubs of that yogurt, I want to try to make my own. I know you can drain regular yogurt to get that consistency, but I want to make my own yogurt too. A friend gave me an old Solait yogurt maker - just a quart glass jar that you place inside a thermos thing. But no instructions. Any ideas? Thanks!

Joe: I don't have those instructions at hand -- chatters, anyone? -- but the truth is, you don't need a special maker to make yogurt. Years ago when I wrote a piece about yogurt, I spent an afternoon with Bob and Alice Colombosian, founders of Colombo, and they showed me how they make it themselves (not for sale, but for personal use). They heated up whole milk on the stovetop, stirred in nonfat dry milk for extra body, cooled it down, then added a few tablespoons of plain yogurt as a starter. They poured the mixture into empty yogurt containers -- Colombo, of course -- and let them sit in a barely warm oven for a few hours. "The shorter the set, the finer the taste, the sweeter," Bob told me. "The longer the set, the tarter." It took about three hours.

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D.C.: The chicken masala recipe in today's Post looks amazing--I can't wait to try it! One question: can I sub ground cardamom for cardamom pods, and if so, how much? I already have the ground stuff, and it costs so much that I'd rather not lay out for it if possible. Thanks!

Bonnie: I understand. 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons should do it. Try toasting your ground cardamom in a dry skillet over medium heat, just until it's fragrant, then use in the recipe.

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D.C.: Do Jaccard-type tenderizers (those cartridge devices with 48 blades that pierce the meat) allow better marinade penetration?

Bonnie: Youch. In theory, it's a good bet, since you'd be creating more nooks and crannies for repeated applications of marinade (following The Gastronomer's recipe today for grilled steak). But is that something you feel can't be done with, say, a "Psycho"-like approach with a small sharp knife?

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Philadelphia, Pa.: For the apartment dwellers like me who can't grill, I generally find things do just as well under the broiler. Things may smoke, so you should turn the fan on, but you can get a good char.

I don't like to use my grill pan on the stovetop, as it never seems to work quite right, but if I preheat the grill pan under the broiler and then throw something on it, let it cook a few minutes and then turn it once, it tastes very grilled.

Steak, pork tenderloin, chicken skewers, they all seem to work with this method.

Joe: Great -- thanks!

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Lighter wine for summer: If you don't want to make a wine drink for summer - Lambrusco is an excellent alternative. It is a lesser-known Italian sparkling red from the Emilia-Romagna region. So refreshing, and no mixing!

Joe: I love it -- especially now that we're able to get drier versions (not that horrible overly sweet thing that ruined its reputation here for so long). Great with charcuterie!

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Lititz, Pa.: I want to make a small chocolate birthday cake. Can I just make half of a regular cake recipe? Would I need to make any adjustments other than baking time for pans? Thank you!

Leigh: You got it. The timing will vary according to whether you are halving the recipe and still dividing it between two smaller pans or if you are going to put it all in one layer pan. The smaller the pan, the pan to cake ratio you have so the quicker it will cook. Keep an eye and a nose on it and check about 10 minutes earlier than the recipe instructs.

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Miso!: For the best flavor, get the miso flavored with hon dashi for that added smoky bonito flavor........

Joe: Hai. Arigato.

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scapes: These are the long green stalks with the garlic flower bud at the top, right? I toss these with extra virgin olive oil, S&P and some lemon zest, wrap in foil, and cook the packet on the grill until crisp/tender.

Joe: Good!

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NoLo, D.C.: Okay, now I'm curious. I'd ask why brining is considered so important by so many people, when a marinade just won't penetrate. The obvious answer is that the salt works to get the brine into the flesh. This would suggest that very salty marinades (e.g. one based on a high soy sauce content) would have a similar effect and that longer marinating would have a bigger impact (and over-marinating can become a problem).

Am I missing something?

Joe: I'll quote from Andreas: "Let's put aside pickling, brining and making seviche, techniques that warrant their own columns." Indeed, it's the salt that makes for the penetration in a brine, but the percentage is very high, much higher than in most marinades. But we'll make sure Andreas comes back to this sometime soon.

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Lothian, Md.: Winetails -- I very recently (with the advent of the very hot weather) returned to my favorite -- Sprite and red wine -- tastes quite a bit like sangria and is much lighter for this weather.

Joe: Well, all-righty then. Someday I'll tell you about my Texas friends' favorite drink, the Frescita.

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Lambrusco: I read recently that the most commonly imported Italian wine is still... Riunite.

"Riunite on Ice -- So Nice!"

Joe: So not!

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Charlotte, N.C. : Dumb question? Maybe.

If I roast a whole chicken, can I use the carcass to make a stock? The recipes I've seen call for specific chicken parts, and it's not entirely clear if they want raw or cooked chicken parts.

Do you have a great recipe for stock?

Thank you!!

Bonnie: You're onto something! I prefer using roasted parts/carcasses for stock.
Sounds like you're already doing the right things, but as long as you use that triple-threat combo of carrot, celery and onion, the water and roasted carcass, plus a few whole black peppercorns, should get you to good stock (to make 12 cups of stock, use 5-6 pounds of roasted chicken parts, 16 cups of water, 1 large carrot, 1 large onion, maybe with a clove stuck in it, 1 large celery stalk, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns; bring to a boil then cook on medium-low for a few hours, skimming surface fat as you go. Cool, then refrigerate for 3 days or freeze for 3 months.)

Joe: Remember, though, that it's not going to be as rich as it would be using raw parts.

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: We're being hit by this monstrous heat and humidity wave in New York, and I can't bear the idea of turning on my stove. I was going to make gazpacho for dinner, but there's a Health Department announcement saying that tomatoes are high-risk for salmonella. Any ideas on good dinners that are as refreshing and low-stove use as gazpacho? And since the tomatoes in my grocery store are pretty awful no matter what, can I use canned tomatoes in it?

Jane Black: I like cucumber or watercress soup. Here's a recipe for a cucumber avocado soup that we ran. It has cherry tomatoes as a garnish but they're on the FDA safe list.
As for canned tomatoes, the FDA hasn't listed an alert on canned tomatoes to my knowledge. It's for fresh tomatoes from certain states. New York is on the safe list so maybe buy some from a farmers market, where you know the food is local.

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Clear Brook, Va.: Am making muffalettas this weekend to go with a BBQ. How about choosing an olive salad topping for me? I have looked up a slew of them and can't make up my mind. I lost the original recipe from Central Grocery in New Orleans. Thanks.

Joe: Check out this recipe from the NOLA Times-Picayune. I haven't made, but they're a trustworthy source...

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don't eat raw favas: One of my cookbooks -- maybe How To Cook Everything, or Joy? -- says they're mildly toxic when raw.

I never found them to be worth the trouble of shelling and blanching and shelling again, but maybe the chatter will have better luck.

Jane Black: Huh. I will have to look into this. I googled and found recipes for raw favas, though I've never done it that way; that's why I added that note. What I do know is that there are a lot of people who have an allergy to favas. According to several books, a lot of men from the Mediterranean, Africa and Southeast Asia have a genetic disorder that makes them seriously allergic. Women also can have the allergy but it's apparently less common.

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Wine column: Freixenet? Really? Is this the standard we're aiming for now?

Joe: Freixenet, and Schramsberg, and Banrock Station, and Lucien Albrecht, and Mumm, and Henriot, and Pol Roger, and La Caravelle...

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Ew: Bacon salt? Seriously? My live-in girlfriend is bacon-obsessed--our roommate bought her an all-bacon cookbook, and she proceeded to make bacon-peanut butter-chocolate truffles and bacon cookies, both of which she proudly served to our friends. And even though I'm a vegetarian, the bacon fest hasn't damaged our relationship one bit. Just as long as she keeps her bacon cookies far away from my chocolate chip cookies.

Jane Black: You are a great example of how vegetarians and carnivores can live happily ever after.

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Sterling: Hi! Husband is camping neophyte-wildly enthusiastic about trying cooking/bbq while camping. (He has bravely set forth 3 times now with 5 year only child and me) Have you got some great ideas for him? Transportable ingredients with no frig save a cooler and wood/coal open campfire with grate is the cooker. We have three more 2 and 3 night trips scheduled this summer in the Virginia State Parks. Thanks! He has gourmet tastes and tends to attempt overly complicated projects before he's ready-YOU ARE THE EXPERTS: HE'LL LISTEN TO YOU. Help!

Bonnie: We ran a piece in 2004 about making omelets in a bag; sounds fun, and there are many possibilities for your husband to embellish over the course of 2-3 days:read here

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San Francisco, Calif.: For the poster who is allergic to garlic, a great way to add umami is with Aji Nori Furikake, a seasoned seaweed and sesame seed mix, that you can find in the spices aisle of an Asian grocery.

Jane Black: More helpful info on how to get oomph into your marinade.

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red wine and sprite: If you cut up a bunch of fruit and soak it in the red wine for at least a day before add mint and mix with Sprite, you've got my version of Texas Sangria.

Joe: Cheers, y'all.

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BBQ Salmon: Seriously, one of my favorite ways to eat salmon. Just slather it on and cook it however you normally would. Awesome.

Joe: Word.

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Arlington, Va.: How do those infomercial vacuum pressure marinade machines fit into the marinade article? I always wondered if those things work as promised. Same goes for the the flavor-injector/syringe thingies. THANKS!!!

Bonnie: The FoodSaver kind of vacuum marinator is a fussier way to achieve the same results Andreas is talking about...it was designed to deliver maximum flavored moisture into the meat/whatever in less time.
Chatters, any experience with flavor-injector/syringe thingies?

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hummus: I accidentally added too much lemon juice (1 cup instead of 1/2 cup) to my hummus recipe. Is there anything that will neutralize that lemon flavor?

Joe: More chickpeas, and more tahini.

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Re: Ham Flavor: For the non-pork eater. I have a little tub of something called "Ham Base" that I got at an Amish market just outside of Charlottesville (Okay, I know it's not particularly convenient!).

I can't remember if it has any pork products in it, but it is like that flavoring for bean soup and is very versatile for adding flavor to various items. I'd guess that it is also available elsewhere (BTW, the market is called Yoder's and has some really great stuff if you're in the area).

Joe: Thankyouverymuch.

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Yogurt Maker: Off the top of my head, mine requires heating 42 ounces of milk, boiling for 1-2 minutes, then cooling. Mix some of the milk with a 6 oz container of plain yogurt until smooth, then add to rest of milk. Pour into jars, turn on maker for required hours (8-11 depending on milk type used). There are lots of websites with yogurt making how tos, with or without a maker.

Joe: Thanks!

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Joe: We're out of our marinade, and our internal temperature has registered 135 to 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, so you know what that means: We're done!
Thanks for the great questions, as usual. Now, for the giveaways: The Reston chatter who is trying to get the smells out of the freezer containers will get the bottle of Avery Reserve Tabasco. And the chatter whose girlfriend is bacon obsessed will get the shakers of Bacon Salt. Just sent your mailing information to food@washpost.com, and we'll get you your stuff.
Until next week, happy cooking, eating and reading.

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