What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

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Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, July 11, 2006; 12:00 PM

Calling all foodies! Join us for another edition of What's Cooking , our live online culinary hour with Kim O'Donnel .

A graduate of Peter Kump's New York Cooking School, Kim spends much of her time in front of the stove or with her nose in a cookbook.

Catch up on previous transcripts with the What's Cooking archive page .

The transcript follows .

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Kim O'Donnel: Nice to be back with you after a two-week Fourthy hiatus. But I've kept busy with Savoring Summer , my food blog. It's great fun to share my adventures but even better to get your thoughts on weighty topics, including yesterday's debate over organic garlic from China. Have a look for all the back and forthing. I'm on the road later this month in the Berkshires, then in August off to Seattle. Where are you headed for interesting eats and drinks this summer? Got any epicurean tales to share? I'm all eyeballs.

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Washington, D.C.: Submitting Early -- Kim, hosting a Book Club meeting this week. Need ideas for inexpensive, EASY, QUICK, tasty, and voluminous appetizers and possibly one main course to go with the book. Asian theme (not just oriental). So far I'm thinking hummus/pita, mini egg rolls(ready to bake), lichi nuts, what else...? You gave me some great ideas for my last food themed BC! Thanks, Lucia BC

Kim O'Donnel: Hi ya Book Club Queen, what about some tandoori chicken on the grill for the main...or a shrimp vindaloo? Coconut rice is always nice to go with. Hummus, by the way is more Middle Eastern. If you're looking some dipping action, perhaps a little sate? Or a simple cuke salad, with sesame oil, rice wine, soy sauce and chili flakes? What else, folks?

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Chevy Chase, Md.: I love Asian style salads but cannot get my husband to eat anything with fish sauce in it. Can you suggest a recipe?

Kim O'Donnel: Just posted some notes on a cucumber salad that is completely fish sauce-free. I like to taste dressing as I go along before adding to cuke slices. This one is wonderful with some steamed rice and cashews.

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Alexandria, Va.: Kim,

When we were in Greece last year, they served wonderful yogurt for breakfast every day. It was rich and thick - not thin like the yogurts I find here. Do you know where I can get it here, or is there a trick (like using cheesecloth) to make the stuff here thicker?

Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Total is one brand you can get in this country and has almost a cult following. I believe you can get at Whole Foods, Dean/Deluca and perhaps My Organic Market. And yes, you can make your very own yogurt.

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Fairfax, Va.: Kim: I  finally tried the blueberry buckle and it was wonderful.I tried it again this past weekend, but with blackberries and raspberries mixed instead of the blueberries. Aside from a very mushy center (from the water content of the berries) I liked the variation even better! Yummy!

Kim O'Donnel: Good for you. My pal Liz Kelly, who pens the Celebritology blog on the site, has tweaked recipe to cater to her hub's vegan tastes, using soy milk and a butter sub. Have a look at her

recipe adjustments

.

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washingtonpost.com: Savoring Summer

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Washington, D.C.: Sorry, it's not a food question-- rather a market question.

Has anyone in the gallery seen dried lavendar plants for sale in the DC farmers' markets? Not the little separated dried flowers, but the whole stems, flowers and leaves intact.

Thank you!

Kim O'Donnel: I bought a lavender plant at a nursery a few weeks back, but it's not dried. It's growing like crazy, too. But dried? Hmm. Anyone know?

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Asian voluminous appetizers: Naan and some good soft puree-style Indian would be great. Eggplant, spinach & paneer, anything with lentils - all very filling, and you can dress up the ready-to-eat stuff with some fresh ginger & sour cream (and pretend you coooked it from scratch!)

Kim O'Donnel: Yes please. Come on over and make me some!

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Silver Spring, Md.: Total yogurt is fantastic - I add walnuts and honey to mine. The fat-free version is really great - it's hard to tell it apart from the full fat. Whole Foods carries it, but so does Trader Joe's - and it's slightly less expensive there.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for the TJ sighting. Great news.

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McLean, Va.: Hi Kim, I'm loving the blog! I've been inspired lately to try to make ice cream, but I don't have an ice cream maker. I'm looking something that's sort of a jack-of-all-trades - ice cream, sorbet, gelato, etc. Also, since I'm a novice to this sort of thing, I'd like it to be rather user-friendly. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you so much!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey McLean, glad you are enjoying the blog. The Cuisinart ICE-20 model I have written about and now have in my own kitchen does ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet. This may be just the ticket for you.

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Columbia, Md.: Please repost the recipe for the Blueberry Buckle. Many thanks

Kim O'Donnel: Columbia, go here !

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Greenbelt, Md.: Hi Kim- I checked out the Arlington Courthouse farmer market last weekend and had a great time. Much more variety than the usual markets I go to here in Maryland. This next weekend I would like to check out the Dupont Circle farmer market. Do you or the peanuts know if there is parking nearby? Thanks so much!

Kim O'Donnel: Great reminder to check different markets. Had lots of fun at Falls Church market on a recent Saturday morning, and met new vendors, got to see a different market scene. Re: Dupont parking scene: It's all street parking. Sunday morning tends to quiet in the neighborhood and your chances of finding a spot are better than other days.

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Fairfax, Va.: I love to make corn on the cob in the summer, but I often have a couple of ears leftover. I always cut off the corn from the cobs and would love any suggestions you have for those cooked kernels. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Soup. Throw into a fish stock for chowder and you're in business.

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Dayton, Ohio: Hi Kim - two successful reports for ya! Sage pesto turned out great. I used about 2/3 sage and 1/3 parsely, but could have had even more sage in it. I used walnuts, walnut oil & olive oil 50/50, some shredded parmesan. Tossed over penne and it was fabulous.Rhubarb ice cream was also a hit: 2 cups of cream, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of stewed rhubarb (which had some sugar in it already). I took it out of the ICE-20 and into the freezer for 24 hours, and it set up quite hard, but softens in 10 minutes at room temp. Everyone at the office loved it. Cheerio!

Kim O'Donnel: Very nice indeed, Dayton! Yes, because your ice cream had no eggs (which act as an emulsifier), your result was harder than you expected I bet, but you're right to let it sit out a bit. Nice going.

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Lothian, Md.: Kim -- made the blueberry buckle a couple of weeks ago -- do you think you can reduce the sugar successfully? It was terribly sweet.

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, I do. Could be that your berries were sweet and thus required less sugar. By all means, and keep us posted. I tend to reduce sugar amounts in my desserts quite frequently.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim, I made the blueberry buckle -- delicious! I'm going to make it again with tart (pie) cherries that I bought at the farmer's market this weekend. Any tips for all that cherry pitting I have to do first? Another question: My one complaint about the buckle was that it was too sweet and buttery. (I know, I'm weird.) My husband loved it just the way it is. I'm thinking of making it again but only putting the topping on half of it. Do you think that would work?

Kim O'Donnel: If you can't find a cherry pitter, use a paring knife. Do it over the sink with a bowl to catch the pitted fruit. Wear an apron. Pitting cherries is a messy job. You are second one to post about sweetness of buckle. Again, I agree, reducing sugar is not a bad there here.

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Easy Asian salad: For the poster whose husband doesn't like fish sauce, try this--take shredded cabbage, add rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, along with canned (or fresh) crab meat and mix together. Sounds easy (it is) and tastes DELICIOUS, especially on hot days.

Kim O'Donnel: Very nice. You can also do the cabbage without crab, and add some lime and chili flakes here. Thanks!

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Lasagna Help!: Hi Kim! My boyfriend made some excellent homemade tomato sauce and I plan on making a lasagna tonight. However, my lasagna is always so watery - how do I stop this from happening? I plan to use noodles, sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkling of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano across the top. Any suggestions? Thank you!!

Kim O'Donnel: Drain the ricotta really well before adding to your dish. Helps immensely.

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Washington, D.C.: After being inspired by your blog, my new red ICE-20 is arriving today - yeah! Question - I have a bunch of fresh pineapple, and was thinking something pineapple-coconuty would be good for my first venture. Any suggestions? Thanks Kim!

Kim O'Donnel: Wowwee! Very exciting. A pineapple/coconut sorbet would be heavenly. This week's Frozen feature is on sorbet, by the way. Start off by making a batch of simple syrup, equal parts sugar and water that gets cooked on the stove. If you can wait til Thursday blog, I'll have much more to share.

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Alexandria, Va.: I have a question about cooking eggplant: I salt it to draw out the juices, but then how can I get the salt out of the eggplant? Sunday, I cooked it in a tomato sauce, so I just didn't add any more salt, but what if I want to cook it on its own?

Thank you

Kim O'Donnel: You know what? You don't need to salt that eggplant, particularly when its fresh and sweet from the summer garden. I find salting is a big waste of time. Slicing it thin and cooking it thoroughly are more important than pre-salting.

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Cherry pitting: Try using a bobby pin, or a paper clip that you have partially straightened (use the little "u" shaped part). Works great, though my mom can pit cherries twice as fast as I can with it.

Kim O'Donnel: Wow. Great tip. I will have to try that.

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Boston, Mass.: Well, I had my first experience with tempeh yesterday -- got the recipe from a friend. Sliced thinly and fried with soy sauce, then added previously fried onions and garlic, chili paste, and steamed a mountain of kale on top of it. It was...ok.

Seriously, what is tempeh? It seemed like it might be an acquired taste. Are some brands better than others? We got a kind of home-recipe brand from Wild Harvest in a clear package. What's your favorite way to have it?

PS. Am still working on that lemon grass syrup. Hope to have results by next week.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Boston, tempeh is fermented bean curd. You're right; it's an acquired taste. I'm not crazy about it, but in all honesty, I don't think I've given it enough of a chance. Try putting it on skewers and grilling. Would love to know what you think. I think that lemon grass syrup would be FAB to flavor sorbet, doncha think?

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Washington, D.C.: Dear Mango Queen,

I have a recipe for a cheesecake that calls for some fromage blanc, but haven't seen any in the stores. If I can't find some, is there an acceptable substitute? Is it the French version of marscopone? I haven't tried Cowgirl Creamery yet.

Kim O'Donnel: Hello there, fromage blanc is part of the fresh cheese family. Use a mild chevre (aka fresh goat cheese) if you can't find. Mascarpone is not a sub, as it's a heavier cream cheese....altho it makes a fine cheesecake. Yes, go see the Cowgirls, as they may have lassoed something in...

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi,

For the person interested in lavender--the Mount Vernon farmers market on Tuesday had someone selling dried whole lavender in bunches, flowers, stalks etc.

And for the Dupont market on Sunday, I just went this past Sunday and there was plenty of nearby-on-street parking.

Kim O'Donnel: Excellent tidbits both. Thank you!

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Cooking Lessons: Where can I take cooking lessons? I know how to fix chicken as far as barbecue and fried, but I want to be able to throw down. Collard greens, sweet potato pie, candy yams, and potato salad.

Kim O'Donnel: You and I should talk. E-mail me: kim.odonnel@washingtonpost.com

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Waldorf, Md.: Re: Zuka-mole...another great thing to do with zukes this time of year is shred them and make zucchini crab cakes! These are great for vegetarians. I don't have the recipe with me, but it's basically a mixture of grated zucchini, Old Bay seasoning, bread crumbs, egg, parmagiano, and a dash of hot sauce. You can fry them up or broil them, and they taste amazingly like crab cakes!

Kim O'Donnel: The reader is referring to a fab summer dip (great for cocktails!) using roasted zucchini, onion and garlic. Yes, dear, I love to shred up zukes too. Here's my take on zucchini cakes . Cheers.

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Tempeh: Try slicing the tempeh and baking it in BBQ sauce. I added a bit of beer last time and the tempeh soaked it up nicely.

Kim O'Donnel: Lovely. Keep the tempeh ideas coming!

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Silver Spring, Md.: I found a new (new to me at least)fish that is really good. It is the same color and consistency as salmon but milder. I can't remember what it was called but I put it in some no stick foil with a bit of teriyaki and lemon slices and put it on the rack of the grill while I cooked ribs. It was delish.

Kim O'Donnel: Char, perhaps? Did it come from Iceland?

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Kim,

What else can we do with fresh cherries besides the awesome chocolate brownie recipe you shared? Also, is there a fresh cherry topping I can make for a cheesecake using the cherries? Do you have a recipe to share?

Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Have you ever done a cherry pie, dear? That's the one pie I may have to make before they run away for the season. Absolutely the best. Cherry cobbler also quite heavenly. Cherry sauce for waffles. What else, folks?

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Arlington, Va.: Re: Cherry pitting

I'm new to this fresh cherry cooking business. Does using a bobby pin or even the actual cherry pitting tool leave the cherry whole minus the pit of course?

Thanks.

Kim O'Donnel: I'm new to this bobby pin business. So let's hear from the bobby pin cherry brigade...

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Southeast, Ohio: Hi Kim,

I'd like to make some candied lemon verbena leaves as garnish for a blueberry pound cake. Any suggestions for how to do this?

Kim O'Donnel: Aren't you fancy? You'd make a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). You'd dip leaves in syrup for a quick bath, then remove with tongs and allow to dry on a wire rack. I don't know much about storing. Airtight container to me seems best, but maybe there are some confection people lurking this hour.

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Dairy-Free Ice Cream?: Hi, Kim - I hope I am not posting too late! My husband and I have been enjoying our ice cream maker this summer to create wonderful sorbets and ice creams. He is lactose intolerant, however, and I would love a recipe for creamy ice cream using soy milk or another milk substitute. Any ideas?

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, I do. Have a look at these dairy-free frozie ideas . I haven't tried the soy 'cream recipe yet, but have it on my to-do list. See what you think.

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Arlington , Va.: I desperately need some yogic solitude, too! Where are you going, and is the food good??

Kim O'Donnel: Headed to Kripalu, a well-known yoga resort in Berkshires. Food, I'm told, is quite good. I plan to report on it while there.

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pitting tool: You pit at the stem end - which is already the weakest part of the cherry skin. So yes, the cherry is basically intact.

Kim O'Donnel: Aha. We need a cherry picking Web cam. Let me work on that.

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St. Louis, Mo.: In cleaning out the deep freeze, I found a packaged turkey dated 12/2004.

What's the verdict: is it a health hazard that needs to go straight to the trash, or something that might still be edible if it's not too freezer-burned?

Kim O'Donnel: USDA will probably say ixnay to the urkey-tay. That's a LONG time to be in the deep freeze. Check its Web site and look for food safety section.

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Chard in Takoma: Kim,

I got some lovely red chard from the farmer's market recently and tried a new (and very good recipe) that involved boiling the chard for five minutes then tossing with a little garlic, olive oil, currants and at the end splashing with a little red wine vinegar. My question is -- is there some way I can skip the boiling step? I worry that I lose a lot of the nutrients in those dark leafy greens by boiling -- with spinach I usually just wilt -- could I do something similar with the chard? Thanks

Kim O'Donnel: Boiling is not necessary. You can quickly saute or steam if you prefer. Chard is quite tender and does not need a lot of cooking, nor is it bitter, so go ahead with just one step.

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Washington, D.C.: Been trying to get an answer to this for a while - maybe 3rd time is the charm? I am a klutz with phyllo dough, although I like the recipes - baklava, spanokopita, etc. Any tips on separating the sheets? Do you need to separate every sheet? How do you put on the right amount of butter or oil (and which is better) so that it's not heavy with grease?

Kim O'Donnel: I'm a phyllo klutz, too. A brush is key. Damp towels over everything to keep from drying out. And patience! You must have lots of that to keep from tearing up those sheets a la The Lucille Ball show.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Need a quick suggestion. I have fresh green beans in the fridge, plus a bag of corn kernels I cut off the cob from last night's leftovers. I'd love the mix the two into a good side dish but really don't know what else to add. Thoughts?

Kim O'Donnel: Little tomatoes. Chopped red onion or shallot. Herbs, like basil and mint. Olive oil. Salt. Lemon or lime. Red bell pepper into dice. I made corn salad last night and was thinking green beans would have been nice add-on. Keep me posted.

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CORN!: I love corn salad - Corn,Tomatoes, Peppers (red and green), Red onion, Cheese (I use smoked gouda) lemon juice, Red wine vinegar, Olive oil.

It makes me very happy.

Kim O'Donnel: And here's another take on corn salad....thanks !

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Washington, DC: Would the pale Middle Eastern zucchini work for the patties also?

Kim O'Donnel: Sure would. Give it a whirl!

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Washington, D.C.: I actually make a cherry and thyme reduction to serve alongside trout. I cook some cherries with a slight amount of butter, add some riesling, thyme, and pepper, and cook until reduced. It's surprisingly really great with the trout.

Kim O'Donnel: Ooh. Love the sound of that. Many thanks.

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Ex pried Turkey: My cousin cooked an old Turkey for Thanksgiving. (She didn't tell us that she had in the freezer for 2 or three years old). When I got home, my stomach was doing flips. Don't do it.

Kim O'Donnel: You heard it here...

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Kim O'Donnel: Have to dash, I'm afraid. Thanks for all the good will and great tips. Check blog and keep me on my toes. Type to you next week. Don't forget to eat your vegetables!

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