What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, May 13, 2008; 12:00 PM

Calling all foodies! Join us Tuesdays at noon for 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.

For daily dispatches from Kim's kitchen, check out her blog, A Mighty Appetite. You may catch up on previous transcripts with the What's Cooking archive page.


Kim O'Donnel: Hey folks, am I glad to see the sun today! Here in the mid-Atlantic, we sure did have our share of water falling from the sky -- although it pales in comparison to what's happened in China and Burma...and now Oklahoma and Arkansas. The list just keeps getting longer, no?

For the local readers who've been interested in the Harris Teeter store opening in Capitol Hill, here's the 411: Tonight is the grand opening, starting at 5:30. Just got confirmation from HT's press office. The store is located at 1350 Potomac Ave SE, at the corner of Pennsylvania Ave SE. For Capitol Hill residents, this is a big deal.

How was Mother's Day, by the way? And what are you cooking this week? Do tell.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim,

I have a whole lot of leftover smoked jalapeno peppers in the fridge. Any suggestions other then black beans and mixing them with sour cream to top tacos with? Boy, are they hot!

Kim O'Donnel: Are you referring to chipotle chilis in adobo sauce? If so, I agree, they're hot mamas. I love using them as part of a marinade for pork or chicken...and into a pot of chili, as you allude to. They could be fun in a dip -- I'm thinking roasted red pepper puree and white beans or chickpeas....or eggplant! other ideas?


Terp Mama: Apologies if this hits twice -- first time I got an error.

I'd like to roast broccoli with garlic tonight (can you remind me of temp/timing?). Challenge: my 10-month-old will try and/or eat just about anything, provided it's small enough, soft enough pieces -- 6.5 teeth can chew some stuff, but... if I roast it "regularly," how soft will it be? Should I maybe steam/boil some first, for her, then roast? I'm getting to the point where I don't really want to make separate meals for her, as she is adventurous so far.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Mamacita, here's a link to my roasted broccoli pick-up sticks. Oven at 400 degrees. You can roast a wee bit longer to make softer -- won't take much more than 15 minutes. I think it's great you're game to try this with your tot. Nice going.


Tangy Beans!: Kim, you are my bean cooking heroine and I wanted to share an old family method with you (made the beans last night). Red beans cooked with plenty of onion, with salt and pepper, dried coriander, dried dill, a dash of paprika. Then shortly before beans are tender and perfect (so, with about 15 mins left to go) stir in some white vinegar (start with a tablespoon, I love anything tangy so I am up to 1/8 cup), a dash of sugar and a tablespoon of minced garlic. Let cook until the beans are down on very low heat, then let sit for a while. Good cold, warm or hot.

I love this over rice with a blander protein side -- anything from a simply sauted chicken breast to a couple of hard boiled eggs. Also, a splash of red wine, pomegranate juice or pomegranate molases is wonderful.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks darlin'. Sounds pretty darn tasty. I've not made a pot of beans in a few weeks, and I've got a hankering. I bet your beans would be good with apple cider vin as well...


Ginger Bars: Hi Kim,

My mixer came with a small recipe book including some orange ginger bars. Can you recommend a good pair for ginger other than orange? I'm not a big of orange in baking. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Cherries! Cranberries! Pears!


Vienna, Va.: Kim,

I wrote in a couple of weeks ago about a French-themed anniversary dinner I was planning. I took your suggestion for the lemon tart which was a huge hit with my husband. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Fantastique! And major kudos to you for being creative and keeping the luv alive, Vienna.


Boston, Mass.: Green beans! Really cheap this week at the grocery store but I'm at a loss for what to do with them besides eat them raw (yum!) or steam them lightly and put them in oil/vinegar/garlic. Any other thoughts?

Kim O'Donnel: oh, here's a goodie: Szechuan-style green beans from Paulette Mitchell's "Vegetarian Appetizers." I've made these a zillion times, and they're always a winner. Great at room temp, for a cocktail snack, or with supper.


Chipotles: Two ways to keep those chipotles. They can stay covered in the fridge in their liquid for about six months. Or you can freeze them on a cookie sheet and transfer them to a freezer container. No need to defrost before using.

Kim O'Donnel: Nice. Didn't think about the freezing, good call.


Breezewood, Pa.: Hi Kim, I'm a former faithful reader who has lapsed because of too much work, but now I'm back with a question. I want to make pie shells out of meringue. I want them tender and just thick enough to support the ingredients. And not too sweet. I thought before I experimented I'd ask the expert: in your opinion, how many egg whites, how much sugar, baking temp and time? Thanks, as always.

Kim O'Donnel: Hmm. I've made a meringue shell and filled with berries -- is that what you're thinking? I've got a recipe from Peggy Knickerbocker, will have to dig it up. Let me know.


S. Rockville, Md.: Kale, kale everywhere! And plenty from my CSA. How should I cook it, and with what? Is there a traditional way I should enjoy it? Every time I look at it in the fridge, I harken back to that Cheers episode where Woody hawks a health drink, "You can really taste the kale."

Kim O'Donnel: My producer Rocci just remarked how much he loves Portuguese-style kale soup -- caldo verde -- with potatoes and sausage. I've done vegetarian versions as well. A broth zipping with garlic and chiles is how I like it. As many readers know, I'm a big fan of roasting kale and serving it with white beans. What else should S. Rockville do with kale?


Washington, D.C.: Kim, what can be done to save Thai curry sauce, when too much red curry paste has been added? I added extra can of coconut milk, but I had to throw the whole thing out as it was just too hot. Such a waste of can and veggies.

Kim O'Donnel: I would have probably done the same thing, adding coconut milk. Some might argue adding a quartered potato would help, but I don't think so. How much paste did you add, by chance? I recently made shrimp and added 5 tablespoons of homemade red curry paste -- and it was medium heat. Holler if you can.


CSA radish rescue: Kim, my CSA is lovely! Last week, I received four pounds of strawberries, beautiful lettuce, a nice little cauliflower, and spring onions. I am clearly in heaven. However, my radishes are stressing me out. What can I do with radishes besides eat them on salads? I'm not a fan of crunching on them whole, find them a bit much in salad. Please give me a few suggestions -- they are just hanging out in the fridge, waiting to be loved!

Kim O'Donnel: I like radishes sliced thin, with coarse salt, a smidge of butter and sliced baguette. A little watercress to the sandwich is nice, too. They're also pretty great, also sliced thin, with goat cheese. Radish-y ideas?


Arlington, Va.: What's the best way to photograph food? I have a food blog and have added pictures and would like to add more. I have a digital camera and would like to know how to spruce up these photos. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: I'm still very much a student of photography, but recently upgraded my gear to an Olympus Evolt 510. It's a SLR (single lens reflex), a lot more complicated than my Leica point and shoot, but the results, bit by bit, are sharper. The one bit of advice I can offer to you, hands down -- no flash. Natural light, please, even if you think it doesn't make sense. There are some great food blogs out there with terrific photography; Heidi Swanson's 101cookbooks, La Tartine Gourmande, Smitten Kitten, Delicious Days, for starters.


Arlington, Va.: Hi, Kim! Wanted to share my take on your roasted broccoli. The recipe is also great with carrots and cauliflower. (I buy a 12oz bag of the three at Giant and it's the perfect amount for the two of us.) Roasting a few cut up potatoes for 20 to 30 minutes before adding the veggies makes for a great one-dish side.

To the poster with the small child, I roast my veggies until the edges JUST start to darken. Fairly soft and very flavorful. I make this at least twice a week now. Always a hit.

Kim O'Donnel: Wonderful! Thanks for chiming in, Arlington.


Re: CSA kale: I love kale with white beans. A nice pot of great northern, or to be truly Italian about it, cannellini beans, cooked with some garlic and onion. Saute the kale with some hot pepper flakes and olive oil, and serve them together with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a little chopped fresh rosemary. I made this last night with CSA chard and I can't wait for lunch for my leftovers.

Kim O'Donnel: You got it! That's how I like it, too.


Green beans: A killer warm salad is blanched green beans, shallots and avacado (shallots are key to this flavour, but be creative for othhers). Serve with a lemon vinagrette -- very delish, light and summery.

Kim O'Donnel: Interesting -- tell me more about the avocado, how it works in the salad.


Mighty Appetite link: Kim, why is there no link to your blog on the Food and Dining page? It's so hard to get to. Also, do you have any new videos up? If you need suggestions, I would love to see how a souffle is done (preferably something veggie for dinner).

Kim O'Donnel: Actually, there's a link at the very top of the Dining page, thanks to some whiz-bang designer folks and producer types. I haven't done a video in a few years, alas. However, I do have one for cheese souffle if you're interested:



Upstate, N.Y.: Radishes: I haven't tried this yet, because my CSA doesn't start up until the first week of June, but I've read that roasting radishes brings out the sweetness in them. I hope it does, because it's going to be tough to get my kids to eat them any other way!

Kim O'Donnel: Interesting. I'd like to give this a try.


Kale, D.C.: Kale is wonderful just microwaved for 3 minutes, then tossed with olive oil, some salt and (optionally) some lemon juice or vinegar. Or you can make a salad with raw or lightly cooked kale with garlic, romano, breadcrumbs and so on -- great recipe in the New York Times in October.

Kim O'Donnel: More kale-licious ideas. Thanks much.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: I was completely inspired to make my own hummus again after your post last week. I picked up some tahini, but am curious as to the best way to store it. Whenever I've bought it int he past, it goes rancid, even in the fridge.

Also, during my tahini shopping trip, I got some sumac -- do you have any favorite uses for this beautiful red spice?

Kim O'Donnel: It goes rancid in the fridge? I've never had this problem. Hmm. Anyone else? Sumac is wonderful with spinach and pine nuts - a little dab will do you...I use it whenever making spinach pies.


Re: curry paste: The recipe on the can of curry paste said one can curry paste plus one can coconut milk, with a few spoons of fish sauce.

I thought I would be smart and start with only half a can. I should have started with 2 spoons (or maybe even 1).

Kim O'Donnel: Yep, go easy...and cook the paste in oil to mellow out the flavors,too. Are you adding fish sauce and some sugar to your mix?


Great Green Beans: I'm a huge fan of crunchy veggies, so I never imagined slow cooked green beans could be soooo good....but my favorite recipe for green beans is from Cooking Light: saute some chopped up bacon; remove it from the pan and saute onions in the drippings; then add green beans, bacon, chicken broth and water (1 cup each)and salt and pepper. Simmer for about 35 minutes (!) then finish with a drizzle of cider vinegar just before serving. Yum!

Kim O'Donnel: I hear you, but slow-cooked beans are divine, I agree. Makes me wanna make some.


Courthouse, Va.: Hi Kim -- I will be traveling down south to attend a funeral for a family member of my boyfriend's. I will be staying with the family and would like to cook a couple of meals for them. Can you recommend a couple of good and fairly easy recipes while I am down there and trying to help as much as I can? Thanks so much

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Courthouse, find out from your boyfriend what they like to eat, for starters. Once you get down there, you'll be able to suss things out -- how the family is coping, if they're eating, if they'd like stuff that freezes well, if they're hankering for something sweet...plus chances are neighbors have been sending food over to the house and you may want to find out to avoid duplication. I would say, go with an open mind -- and you've already got an open heart -- so all will fall into place. Your kindness is a gift in itself.


Raleigh, N.C.: I made a big dish of lasagna this past weekend and have a lot of left over meat sauce. Besides the usual bolognese, any other suggestions on what to do with it?

Kim O'Donnel: You could mix it with beans and make some chili. You could fill up some tortillas and a have an ad hoc taco or burrito...


Baked beans: Kim,

With barbecuing season nearly upon us (c'mon warm weather!) and your expertise with all things beans, do you have suggestions for kicking up baked beans as sides to typical grilled foods? We're not wild about the sweetened kinds -- maple brown sugar, etc. -- so we typically buy the "classic recipe" and then tinker. I am interested in your thoughts.

Likewise, ways to tinker with sauerkraut.


Kim O'Donnel: I tend to shy away from the sweet version of baked beans myself. A little bit of the chipotle chiles mentioned earlier would be lovely in some baked beans. I also like to pair my baked beans up with something piquant -- like minced sweet onions, or chopped scallions...and something herby, like parsley. Who's got a fave baked bean idea to share?


Video library: Are the videos in the video library not working, or is it my computer? I go back to your pizza video time and time again to watch your kneading method. I seem to forget every time. I have to repeat to myself, up together , fold together, up together, fold together.

Kim O'Donnel: They are working, but thanks for asking. Maybe it's time to clear your cache?


Green Beans:2 of my favorite veggie ways. Sauteed with a little stock, garlic, salt/pepper, served over rice with chick peas.

In the summer when everything is fresh, a nice salad with red potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, chick peas (can't get enough!), lemon vinaigrette.

Kim O'Donnel: Man, I hear you! I love sauteed green beans with mint, lemon and parsley...and some lemon zest. Yes!


More on kale:: Kim, several weeks ago you featured an amazing chickpea and spinach pie. I have made that many times, combining the kale with spinach. Love it.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey there! I think you're right, the kale would be a great sub in that pie...just make sure you remove the stems that run through the middle...


Asparagus, Pa.: Ciao Kim!

Our farmer's market opened on Saturday and -- as was expected -- was loaded with asparagus. Would you please refresh my memory about roasting it so I can eat it for dinner tonight? The stalks are thick and about 8-10 inches in length, if that will affect timing.

Thank you! Get out there and enjoy that beautiful weather today!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey!

So easy -- 400 degrees -- brush the 'gras with olive oil (or sesame oil)...we just did this over the weekend. You can add a splash of soy sauce or squeeze of lemon or orange...and salt. Cook until desired tenderness.


Fran: Lots of radishes sliced thin make a great addition to red potato salad dressed with olive oil instead of mayo.

Kim O'Donnel: Oh nice! Thanks Fran, always with the plan.


Breezewood again: Yes, Kim, to go into the meringue shell I'm thinking of berry or other juicy uncooked fillings, mostly fruit, but also a sweet pudding or sauce like chocolate or lemon. Hey! Upside down lemon-meringue pie!

Kim O'Donnel: Okay, let me dig that one up today. Maybe in tomorrow's blog space? I don't a pic,I'm afraid, but I have tested the recipe. Stay tuned.


More on green beans: Green beans actually work fine in stir-fries. Just cut into about 1" pieces and toss in with other items. If you add them in late, then they add a nice crunch (instead of water chestnuts)...

My Chinese mother taught me to make braised Szechuan-style string beans, which even my wife (who hates legumes) will eat...

Cut smaller, mix with diced carrots and potatoes and random cooked meat and gravy and put into a pie shell for pot pie. Since I always keep frozen duck fat in the freezer, duck gravy is easy to make and can use leftover chicken, frozen or fresh veggies to make this easy meal.

Green beans to great in soup. If you are lazy, you can add them to canned soup and it makes them seem fresher. Otherwise, chopped veggies sauteed and added to canned broth is an intermediate amount of work.

Green bean casserole (with cream-of-mushroom soup) is always popular...

That's what I can come up with off the top of my head, but there's probably plenty more...

Kim O'Donnel: And you, my dear, are inspiring me to write an ode to the green bean in a blog post near you!!


Using up those radishes (well, kind of): I made an awesome radish top soup last night -- spring onions, radish tops, garlic, salt, pepper and water. Pureed the whole thing -- so easy, and I love feeling like I got the most bang for my buck out of the bunch of radishes.

Kim O'Donnel: Wow! What a grand idea. You go!


Spinach Pie question: Eyeing the recipe right now -- can I just sub whole wheat floor for regular floor or should I look for another dough recipe?

Kim O'Donnel: Try white wheat flour-- it's lighter than whole wheat but more wholesome than regular AP.


East Coast USA: RE: COURTHOUSE. If you are traveling to the "SOUTH" for a funeral... please note, in the South, that Neighbors, relatives and church members bring Food in that will last for days and days. YOUR help around the kitchen, cleanup, and assisting in any house chores would be greatly appreciated in the Family Member's Home. Having bags of ice, is always a necessity. Your presence with your boyfriend..... will be greatly appreciated. Southern hospitality is the Best. Sorry for your loose.

Kim O'Donnel: good advice. Thanks much.


Roasting asparagus: Balsamic vinegar too!

Kim O'Donnel: Excellent idea...egads, I learned this weekend from my mother that her new favorite way of eating 'gras is with French dressing!!


Radishes: Grated radishes can be added to chopped cabbage and carrots for slaw. I use the bottled vidalia onion dressing and get a great slaw that is not dairy based and can sit outside for a while and not have to be thrown out (unlike mayonaise-based dressings). It's much lighter too and very popular.

Kim O'Donnel: Oh grated, good idea. Just be careful with your knuckles...


Washington, D.C.: Hey Kim,

I thought you used to put out new video recipes each season. Maybe what I had seen for Fall, was from a previous year?

Kim O'Donnel: For a bunch of years in a row, I did. But money dried up. Would love to do more, it's been a while.


Baltimore, Md.: Greetings. How much trouble can I get in if I take up canning strawberries? Thanks.

Kim O'Donnel: Hmm...you mean, by the state of your kitchen after an afternoon of canning? Canning is so much fun, I have vowed to do it again -- and I've recently promised teaching a writer friend who's always wanted to know.


Kim O'Donnel: Time to run already. Thanks for stopping by! I just looked at the calendar and I can't believe it, Memorial Day weekend is just days away. Stay tuned in blog space: A Mighty Appetite for tips from a barbecue master in Richmond, Va. Hang onto your hats! All best.


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