What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, October 17, 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 the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly known as 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 .


Kim O'Donnel: Good rainy afternoon! It's quite soggy here in Washington. I'm recovering from last night's dinner party , here at casa KOD, an evening of Indian food and merriment. Check link above for details and recipe how-to. With the holidays very close at hand, I'm slowly gearing up with new recipes, ways of doing things, plus some old faves. Here's where you come in: Waht do you want to learn how to do or what new thing is on your mind for this year's Thanksgiving feast? Send ideas this way; all are game. And now, let's attend to the front burner...


Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim. I was wondering if you could help me out. I am a vegetarian looking to get more iron in my diet. Do you have any suggestions?

Kim O'Donnel: Hey there: Soybeans are you number one source of plant-based iron. Next runnersup are molasses, lentils, spinach, quinoa and tofu. Basically, the darker the leafy green, the higher the iron, so chard and kale would be good ones to try, too. Snacks such as raisins and sunflower seeds and almonds also have their fair iron share. This comes from Vegetarian Resource Group Web site, which has lots of good info for meatless folks.


Washington, D.C.: When I was studying in Spain, my host mother once made a delicious stew-like concoction of chorizo and lentils. I've decide to try and recreate the magic, but can't find a recipe I like. I was thinking of sauteeing garlic and onions, adding plain tomato sauce, salt and pepper, the lentils and the chorizo so it was a slightly saucy combination.

Any tips for making this better and not disappointing myself? Are there some spices that I should use in particular? Maybe add some wine? I'd love your thoughts.

Kim O'Donnel: Hi ya, work on the lentils separately. Start with an onion and garlic, as you mention, then add some ground coriander and/or cumin, allowing it to get a little pasty. Add the lentils, and go easy on the tomato puree. Not too much. I might add a small amount of tomato paste here as well. Add just enough liquid to barely cover, and if you've got some fresh thyme, add it. Bring up to a boil, then cover and let simmer. Add chorizo towards the end. If it's fresh (uncured), cook it separately, then add to the mix. Red wine would def. be nice, yes.


Washington, (soggy) D.C.: Hi Kim and chatters,

For Thanksgiving, I am considering trying to brine a turkey, but have no clear idea of how long or how much brine to make?

Do you have a good rule-of-thumb, and does it change cooking times?

Thank you!

Kim O'Donnel: Hi soggy, I have a video that takes you through the steps of brining. Take a look and see what you think. Cooking time is not really affected, but it's one of the easiest ways to yield a delicious bird.


Pittsburgh, Pa.: How about some vegetarian main courses for Thanksgiving? Is soy-based imitation turkey any good?

Kim O'Donnel: I always do a vegetarian Thanksgiving chat in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Stay tuned for the schedule!


Thanksgiving ideas: -Regional Thanksgiving culinary traditions/trends

-How do you know when your turkey is ready to come out of the oven? (Related: How do you properly insert a digital thermometer? Should you even use a thermometer?)

Kim O'Donnel: Great, thanks for all these. I'll have to dig up a link for you from last year's holiday blog on inserting the thermometer. Cheers.


Charlotte desperate for bread: Hi Kim,

I read your Monday night dinner blog and you mentioning naan got me thinking about flat bread which led me to thinking about Cosi's bread. Of course there are no naan here in Charlotte. Have you seen a recipe of that type or can you think of a way to recreate that delicious bread?

Kim O'Donnel: Was talking with my friends last night about making my own naan and they all rolled their eyes. Pradeep said I would need a tandoor oven in the backyard! That aside, they all mentioned paratha as a possibility for home cooks, and soon I may have details on that. In the meantime, take a look at the Arab flatbread I made recently. It's got a lot more character than a commercial pita, but not as pillowy as a naan. I will make them again.


Washington, D.C.: I tried making cream puffs the other day. They weren't that hard to make but I wasn't that crazy about the taste of the baked puffs -- it was very eggy -- gave me vague memories of popovers from when I was a kid. Is that just how pate choux tastes -- very eggy? Thanks.

Kim O'Donnel: Pate a choux DOES taste eggy. Although I wonder if you cooked the dough long enough -- did you wait until it started coming away from the sides of the pot?


Washington, D.C.: We're trying to eat more vegetables in my house, but one of us (me) tends to, um, strongly dislike most of them. I love using your blog and chats for inspiration! This week I'm thinking a pureed broccoli soup, but instead of the "cream of" route, I'll thicken it up with potatoes and, and flavor up with some chicken stock, garlic, onion, maybe shallots. Sound good? Any additions you can think of? (Also, I'm thinking a grilled sandwich would be a lovely accompaniment-suggestions on what to stuff between the bread?)

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, puree of brocc would be thickened with potatoes nicely, but you may want a food to filter some of the floret bits. Cauliflower would be really nice in a puree as well. I love the way potato puree works with leeks and parsely, too. Grilled sandwich of halloumi cheese is lovely!


Colorado: Be grateful for rain -- it's snowing at my house. Looks like a good day for beef stew but want to do it a little different. Standard potatoes, carrots, celery, green beans with the beef. I usually use garlic, onion, salt, pepper for seasoning but it doesn't have much vavoom. Any ideas for additional veggies, spices? I have to run out in this mess anyway so a stop at the grocery is not a problem.


Kim O'Donnel: Wah! too early for snow! I like red wine in my beef stew -- or some stout beer. Adds tons of flavor. A can of tomatoes also great. A few sprigs of fresh thyme. I've got a how-to beef stew video -- interested?


Atlanta, Ga.: It's an ugly day in Atlanta, as well. On the bright side, I have chopped onions, garlic, carrots and celery leftover from a knife-skills class, and an acorn squash. I'm thinking about trying something new: a roasted acorn squash soup, sweating the onions and garlic, simmering them with the carrots and celery and chicken stock, and blending with the roasted squash. Sound good? I've got cream and milk on hand, but I'd rather avoid using them.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey there, you might not even need that dairy. Squash tends to puree in our favor, rich and smooth. As for squash, you could peel and boil it instead with other stuff, then puree it all together.


Rainy Pa.: Hi Kim,

What can I do to make a hot lunch dessert for myself with one apple and one plum? Something easy and quick that makes this rainy day brighter.

Kim O'Donnel: Bake the apple. You can stuff it with raisins, nuts and brown sugar, add a wee bit of liquid in the pan, and let it do its magic. Unless of course you want to make a tart dough...?


Alexandria, Va.: I am a 10-year vegetarian who has fallen into a cooking rut -- I rely on the same cookbooks, the same staple ingredients, and have been going out to the same vegetarian friendly restaurants. Can you offer any new cookbooks with simple recipes to help me branch out? Any new resturants with excellent veggies options (other than Jaleo, Zaytinya, Rasika, etc.)?

Kim O'Donnel: Take a look at titles by Peter Berley and Jack Bishop. For fun variety, take a look at "The Ethnic Vegetarian" by Angela Shelf Medearis. Gil Marks has a terrific veggie book with Jewish heritage in mind. This is just a dip in the pool. See what you think.


Arlington, Va.: I have two pork loin chops for dinner tonight. How should I fix them? I want something different that says wow. And no fruit or sugar with it. I can't stand the meat with fruit or sugar combo. Yuck!!

Kim O'Donnel: Garlic, rosemary and olive oil, with a little lemon zest, is always a winning combo with pork. I might also do a soy sauce/sesame oil, strong mustard number, even a little ginger in the mix as well.


Meatball soup: Hi Kim. I love soup and love the idea of a soup recipe each Thursday in your blog (I'm roasting red peppers as I type for your red pepper soup). Any chance of testing and sharing a soup with meatballs? Something with an Italian influence? I tried a recipe last winter with meatballs and pasta -- great concept but the broth was bland and too salty and didn't have any depth. Thanks.

Kim O'Donnel: Always cook the meatballs separately and season them as if they are its own entity. I recently came across a recipe for albondigas in a soup broth -- a mexican meatball soup -- but will have to dig it up. I think if you remember to do broth separately from meatballs, you will go far. I did a tomato soup recently -- I think this could be zipped up with meatballs...


Washington, D.C.: RE: Apple and Plum Lunch Dessert

How about applesauce -- cut the apple and plum into chunks, put in a pot with some water, lemon/lime juice, and cinnamon and boil 15-20 minutes ...

Kim O'Donnel: Yes! Creative mind energy!


Re: hot apple lunch: Grill a sandwich of sliced brie and apple, add some sliced chicken or turkey if you have it. Great as is or dipped in dijon mustard if you want more tang.

Kim O'Donnel: Another zippy ideas. I did something similar with pears last week.


Accokeek Chili: What would be a recipe for the crock pot for chili. It'll be slow cooking for 11 hours. That's my problem with the slow cooker, it's definitely a long cook. Not only chili, do you have a slow cook meal that the kids will love? Thanks for your suggestions.

Kim O'Donnel: Why do you have to cook chili for 11 hours? Not necessary. A few hours will do the job. Really. I love a white-bean chili with ground turkey, something I think the kids would latch onto. I need to dig that recipe out of the box.


Commerce Twp, Mich.: For Arlington, Va: Brine the Loin Porkchips, then bread them with Ritz Cracker Crumbs mixed with a bit of Cayenne Pepper. Pan brown, then finish in the oven.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for chiming in!


Bethesda, Md.: Kim, Do you have any good pumpkin muffin recipes? The ones I have found either are too sweet or don't have enough spice. I'd love a pumpkin pie in a muffin taste.

Kim O'Donnel: Actually, I've been keen to make some pumpkin muffins myself. I like them with raisins. I will keep you posted and probably do a blog on it in coming weeks.


Oklahoma: My husband and I have been enjoying winter squashes roasted with a little butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. What other seasonings could I use? I don't like sugar on the squash as I find them sweet enough.

Kim O'Donnel: Oklahoma, roasted squash likes fresh thyme, even rosemary. Garlic, onions, heat of chiles. I love roasted squash drizzled with a hint of sesame oil.


New Recipe: Created a new recipe this weekend. My husband and I have fallen in love with roasted cauliflower. Since crisp weather is upon us I decided to make a roasted cauliflower soup. I roasted a head of cauliflower (cut into pieces). Sauteed some oninon, garlic, curry powder and S and P. Added roasted cauliflower and one carton of unsweetened soy milk. Pureed with stick blender. Added some roasted pepitos on top. Delicious.

Kim O'Donnel: Well, good for you! Don't you love it when you create in the kitchen and come up with something magical? Well done.


Meatball soup: I make one that's beef broth, garlic, oregano, basil, canned tomatoes, meatballs and cheese tortellini. With some garlic bread, it makes a pretty hearty meal.

I make my meatballs in bulk and freeze them. I just thaw and add to the soup.

Kim O'Donnel: Send details when you can! I'm sure original poster would appreciate.


Garlic City, USA: Is it bad that I actually LIKE the jarred minced garlic because it saves so much effort? You gotta admit it takes a lot of time to smash and peel fresh garlic and mince it up real good. I also hate having to bring out the cutting board and knife when that's the only thing I need to use them for. When I'm in a rush and don't want to do dishes (which is always) I just love me some jarred minced garlic.

Kim O'Donnel: As someone who smashed, peeled and minced about 12 cloves of garlic yesterday, I don't agree. Every last bit of fresh garlic I had to chop was worth all the work. Think of the workout! The smell of the jarred stuff is what gets me, kind of like formadelhyde. Plus, I'd rather know where my garlic is coming from.


Richmond, Va.: I always add a can of cream of mushroom soup and onion soup mix to my beef stew, I usually use venison in place of beef in the crock pot for seven hours on low. Canned products are not usually my "cup of tea", but it makes a very creamy and satisfying cool weather meal.

Kim O'Donnel: Another idea for beef and/or venison stew. Thanks Richmond.


Alexandria, Va.: Hi Kim -- Got any new ideas for white beans? I love to saute them in olive oil with sage and a little balsamic vinegar, but it's getting redundant ...

Kim O'Donnel: White beans also love rosemary, chopped real fine, with garlic, cayenne, olive oil and lemon zest. Mix with sauteed kale, chard or spinach. Lovely.


Re: winter squash: Acorn and butternut squash are excellent roasted in the oven topped with butter, salt, peper, fresh sage and parmesan cheese.

Kim O'Donnel: More squashy-ness...


Two variations on beef stew I use are:: Adding paprika for a deep flavor, or addiig a can of green enchilada sauce and a little cumin for a Mexican flair.

Kim O'Donnel: More stew-y ideas!


Italian wedding soup: Chicken broth (low sodium from a can works), tiny meatballs, orzo, egg and wilted spinach. Oooo boy!

Kim O'Donnel: I love meatballs with orzo. Ooh, yes, I agree...


Squash Help: Help...

I've NEVER made squash and I'd like to ... How do I do it. I remember my mom used to put marshmellows in them while they were in the oven but I never paid attention.

Tips, suggestions?


Kim O'Donnel: Scratch those marshmallows, at least this once, and check out all the tasty ideas readers have shared this hour on doing the squash thing. If roasting, don't worry about peeling, but do slice in half, remove seeds and strings. 350 oven is just fine.


I second Peter Berley!: His two cookbooks are great, vegetarian with some vegan recipes. Do-able and delicious bread recipes too. Last year I cooked 180 new recipes and more of them came from his two cookbooks than any other source. Kim, how about an interview for the blog so we can find out what he's up to?

Kim O'Donnel: I can look into that. Good one. Will keep you posted.


"stuffed" pork chops: Sprinkle the chops with a Cajun seasoning and brown them

on both sides. Saute chopped onion, garlic, and green

pepper. Add some more seasoning to that and then corn and

fresh breadcrumbs - not real small, somewhere between a

cube and a crumb. Add a little liquid and (optionally) an egg.

Cover the chops with the stuffing and bake (350) till chops

are done.

Kim O'Donnel: Wow, the ideas are flowing...


Arlington VA: Please tell Commerce Twsp. Michigan thanks for the advice. It sounds great. I am originally from Michigan so it is nice to have some advice from home!! And as always I appreciate your advice as well.

Kim O'Donnel: Wow, the Commerce Twnshp MIchigan love is in the house!


For Garlic City: If you don't want to get your cutting board dirty, you can use a fine microplane grater with some fresh garlic. It works really well.

Kim O'Donnel: Good thought. Thanks for the tiperooo...


Kim O'Donnel: Wow, the time has flown. Many of you have submitted ideas for Tgiving, and I thank you! I'll be printing them out and adding to my list. Grand ideas all around on squash, meatball soup, pork chops, all kinds of good stuff. I gotta run, but I'll type to you next week. In the meantime, come on over to blog land and visit me: A Mighty Appetite . Bye!


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