Cooking Questions Answered

I saw a post on Nextdoor, and thought more people might benefit/be interested, so I asked Mark to write something for us.* Mark is going to answer these questions is a follow-up post, but if you have questions, please comment here, or on the Facebook post, or email me.

My name is Mark Gresge and for the past 28 years my wife and I have run l’etoile restaurant and currently l’etoile catering. (Jim’s note: you know the soup on Jarmans? This is them) Over those years we have developed relationships with local farmers and purveyors of almost any imaginable product that could be used in the food service and hospitality business. 

Now we are faced with staying at home and stocking our pantry’s and freezers and refrigerators and cooking at home.

Questions may arise.

  • How long can I freeze proteins; chicken, beef, seafood?
  • What are some good substitutions for ingredients?
  • How do I make stock (bone broth) at home?
  • What do I do with all this stuff?

The questions can go on and on, but if I can help answer them, I want to try and help.

*why put this on the blog? Not everyone has or wants Nextdoor. Same with Facebook. But everyone with an account on those platforms has access to the Internet, so let’s include everybody.

Submitted Questions

I have lots of spring garlic (looks like leek, has not formed cloves) that is scattered in garden- so are weeds to me and need to be harvested.  I have lots more planted in a block, and those will make scaps and heads later in the spring and summer.  I also have bushels of cilantro, also growing like weeds. In a week or so, much will be going to seed.  Does Mark have ideas for using these  two abundant products? I also would share these if we can arrange a safe way to do so.


The season of Lent and adhering to meatless Fridays is especially challenging this year.  We have a houseful of big eaters—think 6’5” and 6’7” boys—among others.  We did eat some seafood the one day I went to the grocery store this week.  I am used to going to the store every couple days since we drink 1-2 gallons of milk daily, but I am stretching out the ingredients in the pantry and leaving the house much less frequently.

So I have a big bag of lentils that I’ve never used.  Is there a way to make them tasty?  We have zero food allergies or even dislikes, but we all like meat with most meals.  Tonight we will have a salad with some canned tuna on it, but really, this is not enough food for my kids.  I still have some pasta but don’t think that really goes well atop the salad!  I do have some frozen unpeeled shrimp in the freezer.  I feel more confident preparing pork or beef, and not seafood, and certainly not just vegetarian dishes as a main dish.  

Holy Week is coming up and I would love some ideas how to cook meatless, but still not add to the misery sometimes felt during this quarantine.  Hard to fathom, but sitting down to the family meal in the evening if oft the highlight of the day!


1 – This is a tough one, because a little goes a long way.

The scapes can be used in almost any dish, meaning chop like using scallions for some color and flavoring in the dish. For a bulk amount I have made pesto, chimichurri, which can be frozen.  For the cilantro, the same pesto and chimichurri.  I would be happy to purchase some of both of these items from the person who posed the question. I can certainly showcase the scapes this week in both soup and entrée selections.

2 –

Regarding the lentils, I would suggest a curry dish that is easy to prepare and serve with the shrimp that was mentioned.   The shrimp should be allowed to thaw overnight in the refrigerator (in a separate pan, so it does not drip on to other items)  It can be peeled and deveined or steamed for a peel and eat.

When cooking 1lb of the shrimp: pot of 8 cups simmering water with 3 tablespoons vinegar, any kind except red wine, add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes until the shrimp turns pink. Strain the shrimp and add to bowl of ice water for 3-5 minutes to stop the cooking process.  The vinegar in the water helps tighten the flesh of the shrimp preventing it from becoming mealy.

I hope this is helpful.  I tried to find some shell on shrimp at the kitchen to make a quick video to show how to peel and deveine but I do not have any.

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