Below are excerpt from recent online chats with Post food writers:
Q: Fresh pie pumpkins are in, and I was wondering how to smoke one. Once it’s smoked, can I use it for pie or just as a vegetable?
A: Easy. Slice the pumpkin in half lengthwise. You can scoop out the cavity or not, either way. (Smoked pumpkin seeds are delicious, but you can smoke them in the cavity or out.) Set the pumpkin halves on the cool side of an indirect fire (fire on one side, no fire on the other). Add a cup of hardwood chips, such as cherry or pecan. Smoke with the lid on at about 250 degrees for one to two hours, depending on how hot your fire is and how large your pumpkin is. When you can easily slide a knife through the pumpkin flesh, it’s ready. Scoop it out and use for anything you like. For a twist (as if smoking the pumpkin weren’t enough), add a little chipotle to the pie. Trust me.
Q: Some cafes or Middle Eastern places offer crispy pita chips. They seem to be wedges of pita bread coated with herbs and olive oil and then baked till semi-crispy or crispy. Do you have a recipe?
A: These are super easy. I make them all the time for gatherings. Just use good store-brought pita; cut into dippable pieces; toss in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and a little smoked paprika or even ground cumin (citrus, such as lemon or lime zest, is nice, too); then bake them flat on a baking tray at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Q: I was asked to make pigs in a blanket – hot dogs rolled into packaged crescent roll pastry – for someone. I prefer to bake from scratch. Do you have a recipe for a similar type of pastry?
A: I wonder if cream cheese dough wouldn’t be really nice for pigs in a blanket. It’s easy to make and easy to work with, and it puffs nicely. It’s the same kind of dough that you’d use for rugelach.
Q: Can you suggest a couple of recipes that would be good for a bake sale and that could be made (or partially made) and frozen now? The bake sale is a month away.
A: Cookies, cookies and more cookies. They freeze beautifully. While most cookies can be baked and then wrapped airtight and frozen for up to two months, many cookies can be partially made and baked closer to sale time.
On the savory side, think corn bread, savory cheese breads and scones: They can be made ahead, frozen and baked straight from the freezer.