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Replay: Food editor's live chat

Here is the full text of food editor Kathleen Purvis' one-hour chat with readers on July 22.

 Chat with food editor Kathleen Purvis, noon to 1 p.m.(07/22/2010) 
11:31
Steve Gunn: Moderator: 
Welcome to our live chat. This is Craig Paddock with food editor Kathleen Purvis. Send us your questions now and we'll begin the chat at noon.
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:31 Steve Gunn: Moderator
11:48
[Comment From Kathleen PurvisKathleen Purvis: ] 
Are we ready to rumble?
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:48 Kathleen Purvis
11:48
[Comment From PatriciaPatricia: ] 
Do you have a recipe for chocolate zucchini cake that you would recommend?
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:48 Patricia
11:50
Kathleen Purvis: 
I have one, but I don't have enough room to post a whole recipe here. Tell you what - I'll add one to our recipe database after we're done here today. Zucchini cake is a great way to use up all that garden squash. And I have another one I'll post, too -- an "apple pie" made with zucchini. Seriously. It rocks.
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:50 Kathleen Purvis
11:50
[Comment From RayRay: ] 
What about Zucchini bread?
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:50 Ray
11:52
Kathleen Purvis: 
Wow, you guys have a lot of zucchini. I'm not surprised -- all these rain/heat cycles we've had this summer are perfect for homegrown squash. Ray, I'll add a zuke bread to the recipe database with Patricia's zuke chocolate cake and zucchini apple pie. The recipe database is on our food page. Check later this afternoon, or email me directly at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com if you can't find it.
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:52 Kathleen Purvis
11:52
[Comment From MarkMark: ] 
Which is your favorite farmer's market in the Charlotte area and what sort of unusual stuff can I find there?
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:52 Mark
11:54
Kathleen Purvis: 
Mark, that's like asking me which child is my favorite. Actually, it's harder -- I only have one child, and there are at least a dozen great farmers markets out there. I go to the regional market, 1801 Yorkmont Road, most often because it is closest to me. But I also have a soft spot for the Matthews Community Market, and I'm rooting for the Atherton market to take off. As for unusual stuff, every market has its niche, but I'm loving the Asian vegetables I wrote about yesterday. You can find them in the open-air building at the Charlotte Regional Market on Saturday mornings.
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:54 Kathleen Purvis
11:55
[Comment From Steve in DavidsonSteve in Davidson: ] 
Which kind of salt is best? I see sea salt, regular salt, Himalayan rock salt, kosher salt, flake salt all on sale at stores. Which should I use?Is one healthier?
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:55 Steve in Davidson
11:59
Kathleen Purvis: 
I'm not an expert on which is healthiest. Sodium is sodium, after all. What I like about the different salts are the textures. I keep as many as 7 or 8 kinds of salt and use them for different things. Table salt for cooking water, where the more expensive stuff would be wasted. Kosher salt for times when I don't want a strong iodine taste, like making a brine for poultry. And I love flaky sea salt, particularly the Maldon brand from England, to sprinkle over food as a finishing salt, just to add a little crispy texture.
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:59 Kathleen Purvis
11:59
[Comment From Ryan Ryan : ] 
I am overloaded with yellow squash from my garden. I have had stuffed squash, squash casserole, fried squash, and I have even been adding it to pasta. I am looking for another recipe, something different. Do you have any ideas?
Thursday July 22, 2010 11:59 Ryan
12:01
Kathleen Purvis: 
Sounds like we have a lot of squash and zucchini out there. As I said to Ray, I'm not surprised. It's a great summer for squash. My very favorite squash recipe right now is the one called Squash Crudo. You shave squash or zucchini into thin ribbons and toss it with a little olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice, some crispy sea salt, toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmeggiano Reggiano. You don't even have to cook the squash, and it makes a great leftover with your bag lunch the next day. Viva la raw squash!
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:01 Kathleen Purvis
12:02
[Comment From Kirsty Kirsty : ] 
As a small buisness owner of a NEW frozen desert chain in Ballantyne offering Water Ice and Old Fashioned Soft Serve Custard to its customers, I sigh every time I read the food section only to find that the reviews contain only full service restaurants. Small business employs more than half of the private sector work force nationally and continually gets ignored by the media. In these economic times more and more families pass on the full service restaurants only to dine at home and travel to their locate frozen desert store for a break from reality. Can you share any ideas your staff has for upcoming reviews/stories? Kudos on the final four challenges!
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:02 Kirsty
12:07
Kathleen Purvis: 
Kirsty, this sounds like a question for Helen Schwab, who does most of the Observer's restaurant reviews. (Don't worry -- people get us mixed up a lot.) I know that with so many restaurants in the area needing review, there are more businesses than she can visit. Also, readers tend to ask her more about full-menu restaurants because they'll spend more money when they go to those. Restaurant reviews are consumer news, intended to help consumers get the most for their money. For something like a specialty food shop like yours, it might fit better in a roundup of types of stores or a shorter restaurant-news items.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:07 Kathleen Purvis
12:08
[Comment From geemee geemee : ] 
I've been looking for farro ever since I had it at a local restaurant recently. Have you seen it anywhere?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:08 geemee
12:09
Kathleen Purvis: 
We have two great markets for Italian products, Geemee. I'd try Pasta & Provisions on Providence Road, or Ferrucci's in Cornelius.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:09 Kathleen Purvis
12:09
[Comment From Angela in Charlotte Angela in Charlotte : ] 
I really loved your BBQ road trips! Are you planning on doing that again in the near future?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:09 Angela in Charlotte
12:11
Kathleen Purvis: 
Thanks, Angela. I did that for a special publication from our Travel section. I love any kind of barbecue story, though. I have one coming up this fall that I hope will let me go back to a couple of classic N.C. 'cue palaces. Stay tuned.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:11 Kathleen Purvis
12:11
[Comment From James James : ] 
I ate at Nobles the other night and had the best salad: tomato and "compressed" melon... The melon was so... interesting. Any idea how to "compress" melons?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:11 James
12:13
Kathleen Purvis: 
James, that sounds so interesting. I haven't seen it myself. But I'll bet they're using some kind of molecular gastronomy tool. Thanks to "scientist chefs" like Ferran Adria and Grant Aschatz, there are some fascinating things going on in restaurant kitchens. Maybe somebody from Nobles will write in and share the secret to that one.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:13 Kathleen Purvis
12:13
[Comment From Jon Jon : ] 
How do I know when to use what type of oil? (Olive, sunflower, peanut, seasame, ect.) What about when to use oil vs butter?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:13 Jon
12:16
Kathleen Purvis: 
Great question, Jon. Oils differ in flavor and in smoke point, or how hot you can get them before they burn. Olive oil has a distinctive flavor and a low smoke point, so it's good for light sauteing but not for deep frying. Peanut oil as a very high smoke point, so it's popular for deep-frying, and for Asian stir-fry dishes where you want to get the wok really hot. You want to use butter where its flavor will give you the most payoff. Butter also burns easily. If you want the best of both words -- butter flavor and oil usefulness -- you can combine them. If you add a little oil to butter in a skillet, it will keep the butter from burning so easily..
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:16 Kathleen Purvis
12:16
[Comment From Gail Gail : ] 
If a recipe call for 3 cups of flour sifted, is the measurement before sifting or after?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:16 Gail
12:17
Kathleen Purvis: 
How does the recipe read, Gail? If it's a well-written (and edited) recipe, it should say either "2 cups sifted flour," or "2 cups flour, sifted." For the first, you sift and then measure. For the second, you measure, then sift. Usually, the second one is using sifting to make sure that other light, powdery ingredients -- baking soda, salt, etc. -- will get thoroughly distributed through the flour.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:17 Kathleen Purvis
12:18
[Comment From Dwayne Dwayne : ] 
It's summer and I don't want to crank up the oven and heat the house. Do you have any cool, refreshing menu suggestions?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:18 Dwayne
12:21
Kathleen Purvis: 
Absolutely, Dwayne. The Zucchini Crudo I described earlier is a great one. So many vegetables are really good raw. Next would be salads. And remember to branch out in what you consider a salad. If I have leftover cooked vegetables, I chill them and toss them into a salad the next night. Or when you cook on the grill, make something extra for the next night. Cold grilled chicken tossed with sliced peaches is one of my very favorite summer dishes. I love cold Asian-style noodle dishes, too. Ooooh, and cold soups. I love cold soups. Vichyssoise, cold seafood bisques. Did I mention that I grew up in a house in South Florida without air conditioning? I have endless ways to stay cool!
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:21 Kathleen Purvis
12:21
[Comment From Angela in Charlotte Angela in Charlotte : ] 
What favorite websites, books and chefs (local or national) inspire and keep you interested in exploring and celebrating food?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:21 Angela in Charlotte
12:25
Kathleen Purvis: 
Absolutely, Angela. I'm an information junkie, so I run through a list for 35 or 40 blogs and web sites every morning just to get my engine running. I love seriouseats.com, which is a site that compiles food blog posts from all over. It's great "one stop shopping" to see what's going on. For books, I love good writers, so when I need inspiration, I pull down anything by John Thorne or the late Laurie Colwin. I also love Robert Farrar Capon's "Supper of the Lamb." For chefs, I hate to keep going back to the same person, but I will: Julia Child, first, forever and always. The new Cooking Channel is rerunning her old shows right now, so I've been saving them up on the DVR and watching a couple a night. She was terrible on TV, actually, But that's what I love. It's real cooking by a real person.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:25 Kathleen Purvis
12:25
[Comment From John John : ] 
Is margarine safe to eat straight from the tub? Or is there some sort of special preparation you use? I like to wrap margarine in butter before serving. Is that recommended?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:25 John
12:26
Kathleen Purvis: 
Why would margarine not be safe from the tub? I don't think it needs preparation. It's margarine.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:26 Kathleen Purvis
12:26
[Comment From Brandon Brandon : ] 
When I tried to grill a hamburger on the grill (marinated in bbq sauce and other spices), all of the patties fell apart and made a huge mess. What's the secret to grilling hamburgers to keep them in tact before, during and after grilling, especially when using liquid marinades like BBQ sauce?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:26 Brandon
12:27
Kathleen Purvis: 
Sounds like your probably is too much liquid. Rather than using a liquid marinade or a barbecue sauce, try using dry seasoning, such as a barbecue dry rub. And don't compact the ground beef too much. That just makes a tough burger.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:27 Kathleen Purvis
12:27
[Comment From Marco Marco : ] 
I need a good source for fresh citrus fruits. Am I more likely to get better citrus at a farmer's market than at a grocery store?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:27 Marco
12:28
Kathleen Purvis: 
As an old Florida girl, I can say that summer isn't the best time for citrus, no matter where. Oranges and grapefruit ripen in late winter. However, I have been getting great buys on lemons and limes recently at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. I also buy limes at Costco, and international markets such as Compare or Super G also have good buys.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:28 Kathleen Purvis
12:28
[Comment From Lula Lula : ] 
How did you get your start in food writing?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:28 Lula
12:30
Kathleen Purvis: 
That's a longer story than I have time to write, Lula. I started out as a newspaper copy "boy" a very long time ago. And believe it or not, I because a food writer when no one else in the newsroom wanted the job. Hard to believe today, with all the food bloggers out there, but there was a time when food writing didn't interest people.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:30 Kathleen Purvis
12:30
[Comment From Caity Caity : ] 
Favorite summertime cocktail?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:30 Caity
12:33
Kathleen Purvis: 
Whoo-hoo, Caity. You're speaking my language. My husband's hobby is mixology, and he's really good at it. In regular rotation at our house in summer: Mint juleps, mojitos and Pimm's Cups. I also love a gin and tonic made with lime and mint. And my new discovery is a recipe we ran recently, the Southside. I was planning to blog about it later this week, but I'll whet your whistle: It's gin, lime, mint and simple syrup, shaken and served up. It may be my new summer favorite.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:33 Kathleen Purvis
12:33
[Comment From Michael Overcash Michael Overcash : ] 
I'm preparing a meal for my boyfriend tonight, do you have any romantic seasonal recommendations?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:33 Michael Overcash
12:36
Kathleen Purvis: 
Aw, that's sweet, Michael. I'm always partial to shellfish. Any form of crab salad or a cold lobster dish makes a romantic occasion for me. I would include some kind of peach dessert, because the peaches are fabulous this year.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:36 Kathleen Purvis
12:36
[Comment From Paco Paco : ] 
My mother made oatmeal lace cookies with no flour and lots of brown sugar ...do you have such a recipe ?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:36 Paco
12:37
Kathleen Purvis: 
That's a great cookie, Paco. You might try running a Web search on the name "Florentine cookie."
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:37 Kathleen Purvis
12:37
[Comment From Lauren Lauren : ] 
My family is going camping next week and we love to eat more than just "typical" camp food. Any suggestions for easy-to-prepare recipes (because we'll be outdoors) with few ingredients (packing issues) during the summer? We do have a grill and stovetop to use...
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:37 Lauren
12:39
Kathleen Purvis: 
I'm going to presume you mean car camping, where you'll have space to bring a cooler. Backpacking is a whole 'nother situation. But when I'm car camping, I love to do a flank steak. You can put it in a resealable bag with a marinade, it's easy to cook over a grill, and if you make a couple of them, you'll have leftovers for sandwiches the next day. And one of my favorite breakfasts when my son was a Cub Scout was to take an apple, cut it into wedges and fry it in a little butter, then pour some pancake over it for very easy apple pancakes.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:39 Kathleen Purvis
12:39
[Comment From Maria Maria : ] 
Do you have a good recipe for chicken salad with the grapes and walnuts?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:39 Maria
12:40
Kathleen Purvis: 
Sounds like you
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:40 Kathleen Purvis
12:41
Kathleen Purvis: 
Sorry, misfire. It sounds like you have the recipe, Maria. With that combination, though, I would consider adding a little tarragon. Instead of straight mayonnaise, you also could give it some tang by mixing mayo and sour cream.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:41 Kathleen Purvis
12:41
[Comment From Michele Michele : ] 
What can you use saffron for and where do you find it?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:41 Michele
12:44
Kathleen Purvis: 
Saffron is classic with paella, Michele, but it also goes well with many rice dishes. Dissolve a little saffron in the chicken broth when you're making risotto. Of course, saffron is famous as the world's most expensive spice. So beware of bargain saffron, which may just be flower stamens died with turmeric. However, for the best prices on saffron, I go to Indian markets. You usually can get the best deal there.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:44 Kathleen Purvis
12:44
[Comment From Angela in Charlotte Angela in Charlotte : ] 
The economy has really been hard on some restaurants. Are you missing any local eateries that have shuttered their doors recently? Are we missing out on any great restaurants that "could've been" great--but are no longer in business?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:44 Angela in Charlotte
12:46
Kathleen Purvis: 
You've got that right, Angela. It's never been easy to make a profit from a restaurant, and now it's even tougher. I do miss Ratcliffe on the Green very much. When Mark Hibbs was chef, he really was trying hard to make it an all-local menu. Now it's closed completely, and since it's just a few blocks from my office, I have to walk by all the time and remember how nice the place was.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:46 Kathleen Purvis
12:47
[Comment From Didi Didi : ] 
I am starting my own business cooking homemade meals and delivering them to people's homes. Any suggestions on how to make the most out of my money in regards to shopping for food? Also, what is the best way to market my business? There is a lot of competition out there.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:47 Didi
12:48
Kathleen Purvis: 
Didi, I had the pleasure of speaking to the national conference for the U.S. Personal Chefs Association last year. I was really impressed with what a good job they do on educating their members and offering support on exactly the things you need to know. You should look into joining.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:48 Kathleen Purvis
12:48
[Comment From Julie @Willow Bird Baking Julie @Willow Bird Baking : ] 
Kathleen, I'm teaching a cooking class this coming fall to high school students. Its emphasis is on home meal preparation, and we'll read about food production and sustainability. What do you think are some key points that shouldn't be left out of these high schoolers' food education?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:48 Julie @Willow Bird Baking
12:51
Kathleen Purvis: 
Hey, Julie. I wondered if I'd see you here today. One of the things I notice with young people is that they don't get the idea of "mis en place" -- how to get everything together, then work through a recipe one step at a time. To help with that, I make them get out a sheet pan, put everything on it, and then put things away as they go along so they know they didn't miss an ingredient. They also often feel awkward at handling equipment like knives, vegetables peelers and the like. You forget that someone has to teach you how to hold a bowl and stir properly. So I'd start out by running through the basics: Mis en place, knife handling, proper measuring.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:51 Kathleen Purvis
12:51
[Comment From Stephanie Stephanie : ] 
What kind of appetizers would you serve if your guests are on low carb or low fat diets that would also taste good?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:51 Stephanie
12:52
Kathleen Purvis: 
Low carb isn't over yet? I guess not. One of the popular ones for that is to roast cauliflower, puree it and use it as a dip with crudites. It can be surprisingly tasty.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:52 Kathleen Purvis
12:53
[Comment From Ned Ned : ] 
Summer soup: Gazpacho or Vichyssoise?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:53 Ned
12:54
Kathleen Purvis: 
Are you asking me to vote? I wouldn't be able to decide, I love 'em both. Seriously. I love cold soup. Vichyssoise might get a teeny bit more of a vote from me, just because it's so rich and creamy. But a good gazpacho made with ripe tomatoes and a good dose of acidity is might hard to beat in August.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:54 Kathleen Purvis
12:54
[Comment From Taylor Taylor : ] 
I am always seeing marked down veggies and meats in supermarkets for a steal. Is ok to use use these day of date products? What is the rule of thumb how long these things will last in the refrigerator?
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:54 Taylor
12:56
Kathleen Purvis: 
It depends on how they look, Taylor. Are they bruised or putting off an odor? Then it's not a bargain. But if they look like they're in good condition, they're just very ripe, they may be a great deal. I'd use them within a day or two, though.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:56 Kathleen Purvis
12:56
[Comment From Steph Steph : ] 
Can you recommend a book on the history of food. Less academic and more anecdotal.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:56 Steph
12:58
Kathleen Purvis: 
There are lots of books on individual foods, Steph. If you're interested in the history of the restaurant, William Grimes' book on the history of New York restaurants, "Appetite City," was a great read and it gives you a lot of food history beyond New York.
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:58 Kathleen Purvis
12:58
[Comment From Sharon Sharon : ] 
How do you make hummus? I just discovered it and love it!!
Thursday July 22, 2010 12:58 Sharon
1:01
Kathleen Purvis: 
That's one of the things I love about my job, Sharon. Everything is new to someone all the time. Hummus makes a great portable lunch with dippers like carrot sticks. It's easy to make: Just puree canned, drained chickpeas with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. You can give it a little more body with tahini (sesame paste -- you can buy a huge can at a Middle Eastern market and it keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator).
Thursday July 22, 2010 1:01 Kathleen Purvis
1:02
[Comment From Pat Gubbins Pat Gubbins : ] 
We recently made a huge batch of spaghetti sauce from our homegrown tomatoes. But when we used some of it for dinner one night, the sauce was disappointingly too sweet. Is there a way to salvage the rest of the sauce, which I have frozen in individual servings?
Thursday July 22, 2010 1:02 Pat Gubbins
1:03
Kathleen Purvis: 
Hi, Pat! Yes, you should be able to salvage it. What's often missing in recipes like that is acidity. (They fuss about acidity all the time on "Top Chef," and it's true.) Try thawing a batch and adding a squirt of lemon juice or a little touch of balsamic vinegar when you heat it up.
Thursday July 22, 2010 1:03 Kathleen Purvis
1:03
Steve Gunn: Moderator: 
Sorry, folks. We're going to have to shut down the chat now. Looks like we're going to need to have Kathleen on again to answer the multitude of questions we didn't get to. Thanks to everyone!
Thursday July 22, 2010 1:03 Steve Gunn: Moderator
1:05
Kathleen Purvis: 
Thanks everyone for such great questions! And as promised, here's our cookbook drawing. Kirsty, you've won "The Pioneer Woman Cooks," and Caity gets "Planet Barbecue." If you two will contact me at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com, I'll get them in the mail. Thanks, everybody!
Thursday July 22, 2010 1:05 Kathleen Purvis
1:30
 


 
 
 
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