What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

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Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, November 21, 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.

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Kim O'Donnel: We're down to the nitty gritty, folks. Just 48 hours til Thanksgiving. Hopefully, in the next hour, I can answer any remaining questions before the big day. I woke up this morning thinking, girl, you gotta get busy with this dinner you're fixing on Thursday. So I'm right there with you, running around, trying to get a jump on the preparations. And if you happen to be in the car tomorrow, at 2p.m., or you're in the kitchen already, turn on your radio. I'll be taking questions for a whole hour on Washington Post Radio (1500 AM, 107.7 FM). And now, let the crumbs fall...

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Veggie Thanksgiving: I will have three non-meat eaters on Thursday and wanted to make a nice root vegetable pot pie. I was thinking of just modifying my chicken pot pie recipe, but do you have a good vegetable pot pie recipe you can share? Thanks.

Kim O'Donnel: A root veggie pie is a lovely idea and will make your veggie guests feel welcome at table. If you're not up for making a crust, you can always do a mashed potato topping. Parsnips, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, lots of garlic, herbs, mushrooms too. Will be lovely. For your roux, use a veggie stock instead of chicken broth. Another thing you can do for dough is flavor it with shredded cheddar. Other veggie pot pie ideas?

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Arlington, Va.: What's the advantage of heating my chicken stock before I add it to my stuffing? I'm making it Wed night so couldn't I just use room tempature stock since it has to go in the frig? Does the heat do anything? Thanks

Kim O'Donnel: Hot liquid is more readily absorbed by the bread. It's kind of like making lemonade. Sugar always absorbs more quickly in hot water, even though that means you have to wait for everything to cool. I don't think it necessary to boil your stock, but putting in on fire is not a bad idea and not too much extra work.

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Arlington Va: I need to make mashed potatos for 13. How many pounds of potatos will I need?

Kim O'Donnel: Estimate one medium potato per person, more if you want leftovers. Don't worry about poundage. Look at what 13 potatoes looks like, and imagine your party, then cook accordingly. Have fun!

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Rainy Seattle: Greetings! I am very excited about hosting my first Thanksgiving this year. In fact, we have enough guests that the sides are all taken care of and I'm only in charge of turkey and stuffing and I have a question about each. Turkey: I am using your brine recipe and was wondering if I can still make gravy from the drippings or if it would be too salty (and if so, what to do?) Stuffing: I was hoping to add sausage, but at what point, while cooking up the onions/celery/etc.? Thanks for your help many wishes for a warm and lovely holiday!

Kim O'Donnel: This is a common question -- can I make gravy if I brine my turkey? Well, it all depends on the brine. Some brines are saltier than others. The one I've been using for the past five years has never felt too salty -- it calls for 3/4 cup salt, for a 12-16 pound bird, and I've made gravy from the drippings without a hitch. Take a look at your brine recipe; if it calls for 2 cups of salt, you probably want to make gravy from turkey wings instead. Re: stuffing: cook the sausage separately. Add after the onions, etc have been mixed with your bread cubes.

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Veggie Pot Pie: I've done biscuits on top so that you don't have to mess with a crust.

Kim O'Donnel: Another pot pie thought. Thanks!

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Washington, D.C.: I plan on making your tofu pumpkin pie. If I recall correctly, the recipe calls for 1 lb of tofu. I bought a 14 oz. container. Will the pie be okay two ounces short of tofu?

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, you should be fine. I received an e-mail from a reader who tried the recipe using what I think may have been the boxed silken tofu on the shelves, not the stuff in refrigerated section. I can only recommend the refrigerated stuff for this recipe. Here are the


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