What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, November 11, 2008; 1:00 PM

Calling all foodies! Join us Tuesdays at 1 p.m. ET 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.

You may submit a question before or during the show.

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: Ahoy! We are officially in Thanksgiving countdown mode; two weeks from Thursday kids. Speaking of Thursday, I'm hosting What's Cooking Vegetarian Thanksgiving this Thurs at 1ET, then next Thurs, 11/20, we'll focus on turkey,giblets and the rest. In three weeks, I'll be in DC for a quickie visit but enough time to host a Mighty Appetite-Celebritology meet-greet with my pal and fellow blogerista Liz Kelly. Stop by and see us Dec 4, 6-8 p.m. at M Bar in the M Street Renaissance Hotel. For all the details, check out our Facebook event page. What else? Oh, I'm taking requests for topics you'd like covered during the feeding frenzy that is December. Holler at me and let's roll. Whadja think about the Hellmann's ad, by the way? Did you take the mayo poll? Check today's blog space!


Wheaton, Md.: Hi, Kim! Is the mountain out today? I was lucky enough to go to France a few weeks ago, and ever since I'm craving the Parisian style of macaroons -- not coconut, but the multi-flavored, multi- colored ones they stick on the pyramids in the patisseries. I don't have a food processor -- is there a place to buy the already crushed slivered almonds? If I get good enough to make one of the pyramids, I'll send you a picture.

Have you made it over to West Seattle yet? I really enjoy shopping in the Junction -- and the Sunday morning farmer's market off Alaska has so many unsual (for us in D.C.) things I hadn't seen before. Happy Thanksgiving out there!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Wheaton! Unfortunately, the mountain is not out today; we've got ourselves a bunch of drizzle and fog for the next day or so. Overall, the fall has been glorious, with many mountain viewing opps. I like West Seattle too -- there's a great little shop over there called Click and I recently discovered a gem of a Thai restaurant in Alki.

Re: your almond dilemma: what if you bought yourself a coffee grinder specifically to pulverize nuts and spices?


Kansas Ciy: Hi Kim, I have some persimmons and need a good recipe idea. Most of the recipes I've found are heavy with cinnamon and spices which I think would overwhelm the taste of the persimmons. Any ideas?

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Kansas City! I've had persimmons on my mind too. Been wondering about persimmon bread pudding...do you want dessert or something savory? Ideas anyone?


Food Marketing: The mayo commercial is right up there with the pro-high fructose corn syrup commercials. What's next, the Trans Fat Council plugging the airwaves?

Kim O'Donnel: It is interesting, no? The astounding part for me was depicting mayo as "real" food, as if you were doing your body some good.


U street, D.C.: Hi Kim,

I need your help to think of some good meals that involve squash that don't include soups. I love the squash (and soups) but currently have 5 quarts of soup frozen in my freezer, as well as have eaten a lot more, and want to do something different. I currently have delicata squash (planning on making the recipe you posted last week), butternut squash, pumpkin, and acorn squash, all from my friendly neighborhood farmers market. A few weeks ago I made a veggie curry with butternut squash that you had linked to from Rasika's chef. I made pumpkin pancakes. I was thinking of making a risotto with one of the squashes, as well. Any other thoughts? (FYI, I'm looking for savory, not sweet preparations. I like me a pumpkin pie and those pancakes were great, but looking for some dinner ideas)

Kim O'Donnel: Hey! Have you thought about trying your hand at squash-filled ravioli?


Arlington Gay: Hey, Kim,

Let's start it off right! Can you link to the brining directions? I did a turkey breast a year ago that was incredible!

Kim O'Donnel: Brined Turkey How-To, and it's also in my book, A Mighty Appetite for the Holidays...

Kim O'Donnel: By the way, stay tuned for a blog post featuring favorite ways to do the bird...


Washington, D.C.: Funny you should mention those Hellman's ads -- I'd been thinking similar things ever since I saw them this summer, but earlier this week, my husband saw them for the first time. He is in no ways a "health nut" but he sat straight up on the couch and said "are they trying to tell me that mayo is healthy?!?" He thought it was the craziest thing he'd ever heard. And I didn't vote, but we're with the majority of people -- don't use mayo a whole lot, but some things (deviled eggs) really need it. Yes, I should be making my own....

Kim O'Donnel: I've heard from lots of folks seeing them for first time in the past week. There must be a new push in the campaign -- you know, mayo makes a great stocking stuffer.


Boston, Mass.: Grinding almonds for macaroons, two thoughts. You'll have more functional options if you purchase a mini food processor instead of a coffee grinder. However, many french macaroons are made with almond paste and not ground almonds...so a means of grinding almonds may not be needed. Research your recipes.

Kim O'Donnel: More ideas on how to grind up those almonds...thanks, Boston!


Persimmon: for something really simple persimmons are great in porridge!

Kim O'Donnel: Okay, tell me more...roasted?


Hazlenuts: I have been trying to recreate a dish I've had at the local tapas restaurant that includes green beans, gorgonzola, and toasted hazlenuts. Cracking the nuts and peeling off the shells is easy, but how in the heck do you get the "paper" skin off? I've tried toasting them, wrap tightly in paper towels, put in a plastic bag and let sit until ready to peel but that just doesn't work well for more than a couple of the nuts. There must be a better way?

Kim O'Donnel: Hazle, you've done everything right -- except use a little elbow grease. After toasting them, rub those nuts using a towel and the papers should start flying off...


For squash overload: Have you thought of doing some sort of African style stew with the pumpkin. There're great -- and plenty of recipe ideas on the internet.

Kim O'Donnel: Fab idea...altho reader did say no soup. Does stew count?


U street, D.C.: Sigh, yes, I have those in my fridge as well. Forgot to mention them. They're very good though, butternut squash with ricotta, parm, and sage. Any other thoughts?

Kim O'Donnel: I got it -- empanandas, turnovers, hand held pies, with squashy filling. You could mix with black beans too. Actually working on a such a recipe.


Columbia Heights, D.C.:: Last week you suggested that a chatter make mini-grilled cheese sandwiches for a party. That sounded like a great idea, but what type of bread/cheese would you recommend? And how would you keep them warm for a party? Would you have to make them during the party and pass immediately?

Kim O'Donnel: It'd be hard to keep them warm, Columbia Heights, unless you kept them in a low oven. You could do a variety of cheese -- gorgonzola, havarti, cheddar, smoked mozzarella...I'm partial to rye and pumpernickel...you can cut them into triangles...think strong mustard and red onion, roasted red peppers, olives for garnish...


Terp in the kitchen: Kim, a quick question on kale...I bought a bunch at the market Saturday, and most recipes I see call for a quick blanch, then sautee with some sort of onion or garlic (and bacon, but we're not doing red meat right now). Any other recommendations?

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Terp, Have you tried roasting? 400 degrees, olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, even a little mountain of canned white beans, with rosemary and paprika...

P.S. I have a really fun idea for kale coming up in next week's Meatless Monday feature...


Arlington Gay: My partner just requested Campell's Chicken Noodle soup for dinner! Is this grounds for divorce?

Kim O'Donnel: Sigh. Sometimes you do have to cave to make the peace. Mister MA is a really good sport, but sometimes he needs his fix of pizza from a lil' joint down the road. And I have learned not to protest.


Persimmons in porridge: Roasted sounds great -- but I haven't done that. A little background story about how I learned this. About a year ago I was on a Buddhist retreat with Thich Naht Hanh followers. There was an open day and one family brought a box of persimmons as an offering! We gorged ourselves! A couple of the sisters just cut them up into their porridge in the morning and it was wonderful. I put small cut-up pieces in just before I finish cooking it -- the flavor carries throughout the porridge and the persimmon is moist and firm.

Kim O'Donnel: I love this story. Tell us more about the flavor....did your lips pucker at all?


Silver Spring, Md.: Speaking of squash and empanadas...the Veganomicon cookbook has a great recipe for black bean and squash empanadas. They were great fresh out of the oven, but the leftovers were also really handy for work lunches.

Kim O'Donnel: Excellent...great to know.


Squash ideas: I often make a "bruschetta" bar for parties. I make homemade crostini from French bread (slice, brush with olive oil and dried spices like oregano and basil then toast both sides) and then make several toppings including butternut squash with curry or ginger, eggplant with garlic (basically baba ganoush), roasted tomato and red pepper.

For each topping, I roast the veggies with olive oil and then puree in the food processor. put on a plate with three ramekins of toppings and spoons...goes like crazy.

I also think that stuffed acorn squash halves work great. Roast the squash halves with olive oil, then fill with a wild rice and nut stuffing (or any other stuffing that you like). It makes a great side for whatever the protein of the day is.

Kim O'Donnel: Brilliant idea! You got me thinkin'...


Oakland, Calif.: For that squash, make a risotto! Or a lasagna.

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, lasagna! Here's a goodie, with walnuts and sage. Cheers.


Deviled eggs -- no mayo: Mix egg yolks with Dijon mustard and plain yogurt. You have to like mustard, but they turn out tasty and the proper consistency. You can scale the yogurt verses mustard based on how much kick you want. I occasionally spike the mix with wasabi paste.

Kim O'Donnel: Now that's what I'm talkin' about...now all I have to do is get over the texture of hard-boiled eggers...


For meatless Monday: When I lived in England, Tabasco was trying to show the English how to cook with their sauce. They put a recipe for Hotpot in the Sunday Times magazine...and I've been making it ever since. It's vegan, if you don't use butter. I've translated the recipe into U.S. ingredients. I emailed Tabasco that they should use this ad campaign here, but so far (now a year and waiting), nothing. They called it a Hotpot because it's a version of the Lancashire Hotpot without the meat.

Kim O'Donnel: Nice. Can you send me more details so I can start poking around?


Boulder, Colo.: I've never had a persimmon and feel like I need to try one...what's the best way to eat it and what would you compare them to, flavor-wise?

Kim O'Donnel: Maybe this should be this week's homework assignment? Let's all go out across America and taste a persimmon. There are two different kinds: Fuyu, which you can eat on the spot like an apple, and Hachiya, which need to be ripe to enjoy.


Mayo comment: I haven't seen the commercial -- I don't eat mayo often, but when I do it has to be Duke's -- out of Richmond, Va. None of the other brands taste like mayo to me. (Although Trader Joe's is good.)Is the commercial really offensive?

washingtonpost.com: Hellman's Ad (A Mighty Appetite)

Kim O'Donnel: Offensive? No.

Jarring? That's more like it.


For meatless Monday again: It's a mixture: I now make it in a slow cooker, but a Dutch oven is as good. It contains: summer squash, canellini beans, red kidney beans, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, carrots, celery, Tabasco, olive oil. There is no garlic. The hotpot part is French bread made into garlic bread and layered on top and put under the broiler to brown. (I've always omitted the last step).

Kim O'Donnel: Thank you. Are you using a significant amount of Tabasco? Did you find the garlic bread part too rich?


Mini grilled cheeses: I think you could set them up ahead of time. Take your sliced bread slices and quarter them. Quarter cheese slices so they are about the same side as bread. Take a cookie sheet, line with foil. Butter bread quarters and put face down on the foil. Put layer of cheese, put another layer of bread quarters, buttered side up, cover with another sheet of foil. Refrigerate. When you need to serve, put in the an oven about 400 degrees with another cookie sheet on top and a weight (say a cast iron skillet?) and baked until done. Sort of or home made panini press and you get a whole sheet of them out at the same time pretty easily.

Kim O'Donnel: Good tips, dear. Agree on the weight -- this is how I make grilled cheese all the time...


Reine de Saba: Hey Kim... I'm traveling by plane to N.C. (from D.C.) for Thanksgiving this year and, for a change, won't be doing much cooking because of the timing. But I'd still like to make something in advance to bring. One thought is biscotti... Any other recommendations for an easily portable contribution?

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Reine -- spiced nuts for cocktail hour would also be easy to travel with. Or a cheesey crackery thing...or chocolate bark?!


Boulder, Colo.: re deviled eggs. I've been toying with the idea of using sour cream and roasted green chilies instead of mayo and relish. In theory it sounds good (to me)..I'll have to try it this weekend to test my concept.

Kim O'Donnel: Roasted green chiles -- now that's a devilled egg I might bite into! Plain yogurt could also work..


Chantilly, Va.: For the person wanting good squash recipes, last night I made butternut squash risotto with pesto (I modified a Vegetarian Times recipe to fit what I had at home)

It went something like this 1 medium butternut squash, roasted and mashed 4 cups veggie stock 1 medium onion, diced 1/4 cup pesto 1 1/2 cups arborio rice

Heat the veggie stock and squash in a stock pot. In a deep frying pan, saute onion and 1 Tbs. pesto. Add rice and saute until rice is clear. Add the stock/squash mixture 1 cup at a time, stirring continuously until all the stock/squash has been added. Remove from heat, add 1 Tbs. pest and stir. Serve topped with spoonfuls of pesto.

Kim O'Donnel: Well done, Chantilly. What kind of pesto did you use?


Freising, Germany: I recall, once, many, many moons ago, that someone posted a recipe on your chat for a savory, vegetarian tart or pie using various nuts as ingredients. Did you by chance store that recipe or is the poster still around after all these years to repost? Since I work outdoors, as the weather starts getting unfriendly, I'd appreciate any vitamin-rich recipes to get me through until spring next year.

Kim O'Donnel: Hmm...I wonder if you're referring to fetayer, the Mideast hand-held spinach pies with feta and pine nuts. Ring a bell, Freising?


Washington, D.C.: Hi, Kim, Hope you can get to this question -- I need to cut out the salt so am wondering if that means no more brining, or is there some sort of salt substitute I can use? Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Brining does require more salt than you might typically use to salt a turkey, true. Would love to know what size bird you're planning on, so we can help you out. Please send those details.


For Meatless Monday: I'll try to cut and paste the recipe into the comment box. I don't put the garlic bread on top because we don't like garlic bread. 1 onion, chopped1 tsp Tabasco 2 sticks celery, sliced2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil 2 Tablespoons olive oilsalt and pepper 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into strips1 lb can cannellini beans, drained 2 carrots, sliced1 lb can of red kidney beans, drained 2 zucchini halved and sliced2 lb can crushed tomatoes

1.Drain and rinse the beans. 2.Fry the onion and celery in olive oil for 5 minutes. 3.Add the red pepper, carrots, and zucchini and fry for 3 minutes. 4.Stir in the beans, tomatoes, Tabasco, basil and salt and pepper. 5.Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. (everything will be crunchy). Otherwise, cook for about 30 minutes or until carrots are desired degree of doneness.

Alternately: at step 3, combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour, then on low until carrots are desired degree of doneness. Check for seasoning and add additional Tabasco, salt and pepper if needed.

Kim O'Donnel: So funny...only 1 teaspoon Tabasco? Thanks for all the details...you know what would be good here -- a chipotle chile!


Central Coast, Calif.: This year cucumbers took over my garden. After eating all we could and giving away as many as my coworkers would take, I started pickling. I made sweet pickles and bread and butter pickles. I also made pickles from mature (yellow) cukes based on a Joy of Cooking recipe. I peeled and seeded the cukes and pickled large (3x2x2-ish inch) chunks Well, I now have four quarts of these pickles, spiced similarly to bread and butters. They've got a nice firm texture and a pleasant taste. The recipe said to serve them very cold with meat. Does that instruction suggest any menu ideas to you?

Kim O'Donnel: Hmmm...First off, big high five to you for pickling. That's quite an accomplishment. I'm feeling a ham roast coming on with those pickles...either fresh or smoked....apple sauce, scalloped potatoes...


Persimmons : This is quite the coincidence, I just tried one for the very first time this morning. A friend has three trees. I really think people should tried them, they are very sweet and juicy.

How about making a pie?

Kim O'Donnel: I love coincidences. A friend has three trees? Where? Can I come?


Atlanta, Ga.: I must have missed reading about zucchini squash bread. Try versions with your squash, freeze, cut into 1 inch slices and make your own delicious grilled cheese (but not with the Campbell's Chicken noodle soup)

Kim O'Donnel: Wait -- grilled cheese on squash bread? Or grilled squash and cheese sammies?


Deviled eggs: How about one of those Mexican queso blanco?

Kim O'Donnel: Another zippy idea for those devils...


Accokeek, Md.: Hi Kim, hope you're doing well. I heard that if you cook apple cider long enough it turns into a syrup. Has anyone tried this. I don't remember where I heard it. But if you know, tell me how long it takes. I was thinking it might be wonderful on some acorn squash. Early Thanksgiving!

Kim O'Donnel: Yes indeed, apple cider turns into syrup. I believe it takes about an hour over low heat. And yes, it'd be wonderful on squash!


Hampton Roads, Va.: Submitting early because I have tons to do today . . .

I am a member of a dinner group in my community. Basically, we get together at each other's houses and eat and socialize. I've just started to discover my cooking streak and I wanted to bring something fun for this first dinner. I'm in charge of bringing a side, and the main course is pork tenderloin. Can't be a salad. Help?

Kim O'Donnel: We're out of time, but I feel like this needs answering. What if you did a pear-ginger chutney to dress up the pork loin? Something along lines of pork chops and applesauce but a little zippier...you can cook pears in a saucepan and mash them...send me an e-mail, I'll give you a hand.


Kim O'Donnel: Shucks, we're already out of time. Stay tuned this week for Thanksgiving Clinic, which we'll feature once a week for the next few. Take care! Stop by Thursday at 1, if you can, for the meatless Tgiving fest. All best.


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