What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

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Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, July 8, 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.

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Kim O'Donnel: Hey folks! How's July treating you so far? I'm having a ball with the berries and cukes, zukes and shallots, all from the market over the weekend. Got a melon I'm about to crack up for lunch, too. Say, have you seen the details yet about the MA Eat Local Challenge? Sign up with me via e-mail by July 14 and I'll add your name to the ELC Honor Roll. The fun begins July 19, for a full week of eating food that's been grown or raised within 100 miles of where you live.
Earlier this spring, we talked about the new Emeril show on Discovery Channel's Green network -- well, the show launches next Monday, the 14th -- and a bunch of Mighty Appetite readers are going to be featured! Please e-mail me (kim.odonnel AT washingtonpost.com) if you were taped for a segment. I'd like to contact you for about your experiences playing with Emeril on air. And now, let's roll...

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CSA rescue!: Kim, I'm dying of boredom with the cabbage my CSA keeps giving me. I've made standard mayo slaw, Asian slaw with peanutty dressing, Indian-spiced sauteed cabbage, and cabbage rolls stuffed with a mix of brown rice, black beans, and vegetables. All of this was good, but because one cabbage makes so much food, I am bored with each of these things and do not want to make them again. Please help me use up this steady stream of cabbage!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey there: I spotted a fun thing in Gourmet's August issue -- grilled cabbage. Thinking of giving it a whirl myself. Take a look at the chowchow recipe I featured last week -- a fine way to use up cabbage...other thoughts?

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Roseland, N.J.: Canned coconut milk- - even the "Light" variety I find on Trader Joe's shelves -- is almost pure fat. Much like heavy cream is almost pure fat. Which begs the question -- can you whip coconut milk? If not, why not?

Kim O'Donnel: You can use coconut milk in ice "cream" -- which makes me think you might be able to whip it. I've never tried. I'm going to ask my friend Jaden at steamykitchen.com; she's working on a cookbook focusing on Asian ingredients in American kitchens. Anyone ever try whipping coconut milk?

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: After years of wondering and dreaming and hemming and hawing, I bought a Le Creuset 5 quart pot -- I got it in the oval shape because visions of tenderloins going straight from browning on the stove to the oven were dancing in my head.

The pot is arriving on Thursday, and I will be using it that night most likely :D I am thinking of either your cilantro curry or your red lentils for the inaugural run. So now I'm dying to know -- do you make those in your Le Creuset?

Also -- I have made naked chicken and roasted it on a baking sheet -- should I try the Le Creuset next time?

Thanks Kim :D

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Brooklyn -- I'm very excited for you! Yes, I do make both the cilantro curry and red lentils in my green Creuset pot. Oh, you're going to love it. Re: naked chicken in the pot: you might find it cramped. Roast chicken likes room to breathe and do its thing in the oven, it might steam instead of roast.

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Cabbage: We got a huge head of cabbage a few weeks ago. I'm not fond of coleslaw and decided to make soup instead. It's probably too hot to be thinking about soup, but my husband and I agreed that it was worth getting hot and sweaty because it was so good. I think it came from the Meat and Potatoes Vegetarian cookbook. Cabbage, potatoes also from CSA, some beans, can of diced tomatoes and some other good stuff.

Kim O'Donnel: Nice -- sounds like a perfect ELC meal!

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U Street, Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim,

I picked up some beautiful sour cherries at the farmer's market this weekend. I like things a little sour, so I actually enjoy snacking on them -- but I'd like to make a savory dish with them as well. I found a great-sounding lamb chop with sour cherry, balsamic sauce on epicurious.com. However, I can't really afford to buy lamb chops right now -- any suggestions for a meat that would hold up to this sauce (other than pork chops please, I've never met a pork chop I liked). I get it that lamb chops and sour cherries are kind of a classic combination, but was hoping you could suggest a good alternative...steak? Chicken thighs? Turkey? Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Chicken thighs would like a cherry sauce, yes indeed. And so would a piece of wild salmon -- although you're mentioning eating on a budget. I also like duck with cherry sauce -- again it could be a cost issue.

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Bethesda Mom: Hey Kim:

Sorry I can't participate live in the chat, but I hope you can help me. I bought a large number of figs at COSTCO last week, and they were already a little soft. I meant to serve some of them at a brunch but forgot to put them out. Now I have at least a dozen sitting in the fridge, getting even more over-ripe, and I'm at a loss for what to do with them. I'm open to anything except wrapping them in prosciutto as we don't eat pork.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Mom: your favorite blue cheese, olive oil and basil. This little trio will take those figs to phantasmogoric levels. Actually, any kind of creamy cheese with figs and a little honey is nirvana to me.

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Arlington, Va.: I love making a big batch of bean-based (lettuce free) salads Sunday night to eat for lunch throughout the week but by Thursday they start to get a little ragged. Any advice on how I can help keep salads fresher longer or is it hopeless? I usually use a light combo of olive oil and balsalmic vinegar. This weekend I'm thinking I'll add quinoa to the salad.

Kim O'Donnel: I think four days for bean salad is a pretty good for shelf life! Let's see -- folks, do you have any tricks for prolonging stuff in the fridge?

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Freising, Germany: Have you ever seen a recipe that called for the green parts of a leek?

I've always thought it a shame to throw away most of the leek, and so I was pleased and surprised to find a recipe, Uova al Tarassaco (Dandelion Frittata) that called for the green part of two leeks together with 160 Dandelion leaves, 2 garlic cloves, 8 eggs, 4 egg whites, Parmesan, diced almonds, creme, salt and pepper. The Dandelion leaves are wilted together with garlic, and then mixed together with the other ingredients, the almonds scattered on top and put in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

It tasted great, but I'm wondering what to do with the leftover egg yolks.

Kim O'Donnel: I like to use the dark green part of the leek for stock. Often that part can be woody and too tough/fibrous for enjoyable eating, but that is not always the case, particularly if that leek had been harvested right before it arrives in your kitchen. Leftover egg yolks you can use to brush on top of pastry dough or bread as a glaze...or you could make a creme anglaise, either as a dessert sauce or as the foundation for ice cream.

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Clifton, Va.: Brooklyn please tell me why you cooking tenderloins in Dutch oven after browning? Tenderloins be they beef, pork, lamb or veal do not need slow cooking to be tender. You paid extra for the tenderloin and now will ruin it in Dutch oven and it cost you more. Tenderloins should be seared and grilled and served immediately. The tenderloin lacks fat and therefore doesn't not benefit from slow cooking. A beek brisket. Lamb shoulder, a rump roast do but not a tenderloin!

Kim O'Donnel: yes, Clifton, you have a point...

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Help! Veggie guest!: Friend from South Africa coming for dinner tonight doesn't eat meat, fish, or eggs. Given the heat, I'm thinking of broiling portobello mushrooms with some sort of topping -- maybe artichoke hearts sauteed with the mushroom stems, onion, and goat cheese on top? Anyone have other ideas? I already bought the bellos...

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, the 'shrooms would work nicely as a main. Now you need some sides to go with -- what do you think about the idea of quinoa, featured in today's blog sapce? You can zip it up with a quickie vinaigrette and your favorite summery raw veg. I might also do some fresh berries for dessert. If you have time, check out this chocolate Bundt-style cake, which has nary a stitch of dairy or eggs.

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Cabbage: How about egg rolls or in a stir-fry?

Kim O'Donnel: Absolutely. I've come to like cabbage more as I get older. Ooh...you can add it as part of fish tacos! Lots of lime and chilies, por favor.

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Alexandria, Va.: Does spinach have more nutrients raw (as in a spinach salad) or cooked? I was recently told that cooked is more beneficial.

Kim O'Donnel: I don't know the answer off the top of my head. Are you thinking that you'll get better absorption of the iron if you cook it? I can ask around.

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Re: cabbage follow up: Kim, I'm searching for the grilled cabbage recipe on epicurious and gourmet, and coming up with nothing. Care to help direct me?

Kim O'Donnel: Can't search right now, but I'll get on it for you. Heck, I might grill some cabbage myself for dinner and let you know how it goes. It's been on my to-do list anyway.

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Re: bean salads: Don't dress the salad until it's time to eat, or at least to pack it for lunch that morning. Mix the ingredients in a big tupperware, and mix the dressing separately. Add dressing daily. This always works for me! Makes for one more step, but it's pretty quick, usually.

Kim O'Donnel: good point. You folks are smart.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi Kim, Do you or any of the chatters know a farmers market (or other place) where I can find goose berries this weekend? I had them at a friend's on Saturday and am looking for more! Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Hmm, excellent question. I recently received an e-mail from a local farmer that black currants were in season, but I've yet to hear anything about goose berries. Anyone seen them?

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Cabbage: I like using cabbage stir-fried with a little soy sauce instead of rice with Asian dishes. Most recently I did this with cashew chicken -- just placed the cashew chicken on top of a bed of cabbage. And some soy/ginger glazed fish on top of a bed of cabbage. I discovered I liked this one night when I forgot I didn't have any rice, but I had half a cabbage I needed to use.

Kim O'Donnel: Another good idea for cabbage...

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Thank you for new Le Creuset owner: Just wanted to say thanks for responding to my question. I am so excited for it to arrive. I have to say that one of the reasons I finally bit the bullet and bought it is that they seem to get more expensive every year.

Kim O'Donnel: Yes! They do get more expensive every year -- and this pot will last forever -- or longer.

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Arlington, Va.: I have a question about the chocolate bundt cake you suggested to the veggie guest chatter. I have whole wheat flour that I have been trying to use up. The recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour. Is pastry flour different then what I have or can I use the whole wheat flour that I have on hand?

Kim O'Donnel: You can use whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour. Either one is fine. Whole wheat flour will be too coarse and yield a dense result ,which is not a good thing for cakes.

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RE: do you have any tricks for prolonging stuff in the fridge? : I do make ahead salads a lot on Sundays, too. I've found that if I keep some of the ingredients separated in the fridge, they last longer. Drained beans and corn might be mixed up together in one container. Chopped up peppers and onions in another. And if I'm using cucumbers I cut the seeds out of the middle, chop them and put them on top of a paper towel in their own container. Some stuff rots more quickly than others, and other stuff has so much moisture (like the cukes) they tend to make anything else they're stored with soggy. For tomatoes, I just use grape tomatoes and wash a handful each night. I throw my lunch together from these containers the night before and don't put salad dressing on until I'm about to eat it. (I take a small container of dressing and leave it at work for the week, or a few small containers for a little variety). I might also grate some cheese and keep it in a baggie. And I'll toss any leftover dinner meat or veggies in, depending on what it was.

It's at least easier than chopping stuff each night for the next day.

Kim O'Donnel: Some advice from a pro, it seems...

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GAFF: Posting late but had to share. I made a version of your meatloaf last night and for the first time in 44 years, I LOVE MEATLOAF! The lack of breadcrumbs made all the difference. I now have a new dinner to add to my repertoire and my partner has an old favorite available again. Thank you!

Kim O'Donnel: Woohoo! So glad you had fun in the kitchen last night GAFF. Keep up the spirit.

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Washington, D.C. Gooseberry Sighting: I saw gooseberries at the Mount Pleasant Farmer's Market last Saturday!

Kim O'Donnel: Ah, bueno! Love it. thanks so much.

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South Dakota: Use that cabbage for lumpia filling. Add all your favorite asian spices, sauces, etc., carrot, mushroom, water chestnuts, add some ground or shredded meat (of your choice), cook and wrap and fry. I usually wrap a few hundred at a time, they freeze really well, or if I'm not in the mood to wrap that many, freeze the filling for another day.

Kim O'Donnel: Very nice idea. Wha tdo you use for your lumpi wrappers? Do you have a tried-and-true recipe to share, S.D.?

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Tuna!: Hi Kim!

I have some beautiful tuna steaks I'm making for dinner tonight with a wasabi-green onion sauce, and have some cucumbers and pickled ginger I want to make into a side dish. Any ideas? I was going to do some wilted greens, too, but any other suggestions?

Kim O'Donnel: I thinking rice will be just what you need to round out this lovely combination of flavors. Nothing fancy, I know, but it will be a bridge for the sauce and play nicely with the fish. You can do half coconut milk/half water if that's of interest, for a richer result.

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Another Le Creuset question: Hi Kim,

The last chatters question about her new Le Creuset brought up a question -- what about an old Le Creuset where the enamel is getting worn on the bottom? My mom gave me hers -- it's got to be at least 30 years old and hasn't been used in years. I noticed it was sort of worn on the bottom, so I'm not sure if it's okay to use. To be honest, I'm not sure it's actually Le Creuset, it might be another brand. Any advice?

Kim O'Donnel: Hmm. Can you see the cast iron through the enamel or is the enamel coating just brown and needs a little baking soda action? Talk to me.

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Myrtle Beach, S.C.: How was your Fourth of July holiday? Did you have to cook? lol Enjoy your live chat, as I am sharing it with others. Thanks.

Kim O'Donnel: Fourth of July was intentionally quiet, thanks, but fun nonetheless. Got together with another couple and we made pizza, both on the grill and in the oven. What about you, Myrtle?

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CSA Cabbage abundance: Have you ever tried making your own sauerkraut? I know salt is not politically correct, but my mom made homemade sauerkraut when I was a kid. I think it's milder and sweeter than the commercial stuff. You have to finely shred the cabbage, then pack it with salt and allow it to ferment (which can get icky), but then once it's rinsed and drained it's great.

Kim O'Donnel: I haven't. I can't get past the smell, frankly. I remember when my mom used to make it -- the whole house reeked -- and I've never recovered.

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Alexandria, Va.: I'd like to take a fairly intense week-long cooking class. The Culinary Institute of America has a five-day "Boot Camp" at its Hyde Park campus, which looks good. Are there others as good, and, of those, any that may be closer to D.C.?

Kim O'Donnel: Have you looked into what's on offer at L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda or Gaithersburg? I've also heard that a new rec cooking school is opening in DC. I hope to have more on that soon.

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Kim O'Donnel: Time to run! Thanks for stopping by. In the meantime, I'll see you over in the blog space: A Mighty Appetite. All best.

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