What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, December 2, 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: Greetings from Arlington, Va.! My plane touched down at Dulles last night, and I'm here catching up with friends and colleagues before I head out for vacation to the beach. And, of course, I'm in town for the blogger meet-n-greet that I'm co-hosting with Celebritology blogger Liz Kelly this Thursday night! DC readers, come out to M Bar at the M Street Renaissance Hotel, 6-8 p.m. There'll be themed cocktails, a raffle for an iPod, various washingtonpost.com swag and Kim's holiday cookbooks for sale. Liz and I promise to wear our party outfits.

Now, moving on to the schedule for next few weeks: I am going away with Mister MA to catch up on some much needed sleep and Vitamin D. There will be no chat next Tuesday the 9th, but I'll be back online on 16th. As for the blog, things will sail along, with a few guest bloggers reporting from their kitchens sprinkled over the course of two weeks. And YES, I'm taking a two-week vacation. Okay, I can't wait to hear all about your Thanksgiving. You know how mine went.


Alexandria, VA: Some recipes call for "pumpkin pie spice." However, rather than buy this pre-formulated combination, what spices could be added individually, and in what proportion?

Kim O'Donnel: Let's see -- you'll need mostly cinnamon, a smaller amount of ginger, and equal parts but the least amount of cloves and nutmeg. You could try 1/2 tsp. cinn, 1/4 tsp. ginger, then 1/8tsp each the other two, and you'd have 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice.


cooking healthy: I've been trying to lose weight and cooking has been a "downfall" for me. I was told by my doc to cut out all sugars, fats, oil (except olive), fried food, pasta, etc.... I asked what was left and he laughed.

What are some of your best foods for cooking healthy but that give really good flavor - I've noticed this time of year I'm always busy after work and it's easier to grab fast food or unhealthy food at home than it is to cook.

In need of good, quick, healthy and tasty recipes if they exist!!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey there, take a look at the Meatless Monday archive in the blog. Some of the recipes include dairy, but many are healthful, using seasonal ingredients, lots of legumes and complex carbs. Soup is a great thing to have on hand -- you can make on weekend for the first half of the week, when you're running around. Tell us what you like in the vegetable and bean world.


Asheville NC: Hi Kim! Loved the blog topic Foodie Gifts today :) I think good quality spices would be a great gift for those who cook. Some spices, such as saffron, are pricy and would be nice to receive! Thanks for the suggestions! :)

Kim O'Donnel: For those who haven't seen today's piece: Food-Loving Gifts.

Spices are a great gift idea, and it's even better if you focus on the things the recipient loves to use.


Washington, DC: Kim,

I hope you have recovered from your Thanksgiving adventures. Ovens seemed to give out frequently then.

You frequently suggest kale mixed with cannellini beans. How do you prepare the kale - braised or roasted in the oven?

Kim O'Donnel: It took me a few days to recover, if you can believe it. I almost feel like Thanksgiving never came this year, if that makes any sense. Oh well.

Re: kale and cannellinis: I like to roast it, but you could easily saute (braising is not necessary if you're pressed for time). For roasting, I like to remove stems and coat the leaves with olive oil (a small amount will do), add some chopped garlic, salt, maybe a smidge of paprika or cayenne. Add the can of drained beans. toss, and coat with all the aromatics. A little lemon and rosemary for the beans is good too. Put the whole thing in a baking dish into a 400 oven and cook for about 12 minutes.


losing weight, improving blood pressure: i was able to reduce my weight by 25 lbs, lower BP to textbook reading by making pretty painless and tasty changes. Replace 200 calorie biscuit with 40 calorie polenta slice. Replace 200 calorie oodles of noodles with sliced zucchini for a snack. Replace mac & cheese with broccoli. I STILL have all my favorites, but in moderation. Start dinner with a bigger salad to fill up.

Kim O'Donnel: These are fantastic tips. thank you so much for sharing! And I couldn't agree more to MODERATION


kids in the kitchen!: hey Kim, I'm planning ahead for our 2-week-long winter break....what kinds of easy cooking things can I do with my little chefs to keep them occupied? I'm thinking easy candies like peppermint bark, making a festive green/red pepper rice pilaf, etc. Any thoughts?? thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: How old are the kids? Lollipops are great fun, but there's hot syrup involved...Gingerbread cut-outs are brilliant for kids, and if they're seven, eight, they'd also have a blast making a gingerbread house with your help! I did it a few years ago with my friend's kids in Chicago. You game?


broccoli: My son is big on eating broccoli (he's 5!!) so could you please post the roasted broccoli recipe again? We are all tired of the usual steamed version. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Here you go: Roasted Broccoli Pick-Up Sticks. And congrats to the little guy for being a good eater.


state of turkey overload: so, the inevitable - what to do with leftover turkey (besides turkey soup and turkey tetrazzini)?

Kim O'Donnel: I like to shred turkey and do an ad hoc stir fry, with ginger, shallots, garlic, chiles and bok choy, a little soy and toss over rice.


Papri,KA: Hi Kim,

I've recently discovered sweet paprika, I love the smell but I haven't figured out the best type of dish to show off its flavor. I've tried sub-ing for hot paprika, but didn't really like the results. Any ideas?

Kim O'Donnel: Good question. I've never really done a taste test of hot versus sweet paprika. Anyone have papri-thoughts?


Mashed Potato Leftovers: Hi Kim. Happy post Thanksgiving! We're coming up with all kinds of recipes to make from our Thanksgiving leftovers. I'm tired of potato pancakes! Is it possible to make a creamy potato soup out of leftover mashed potatoes? I've seen it done for sweet potatoes, so I assume I can do the same for regular mashed. I thought I'd add chicken broth to a desired consistency, but wasn't sure about any seasonings you might recommend. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Sure, what's the harm in trying? I'd probably do lots of garlic, thyme and leek, parsley for garnish, lots of black pepper.


Kids in the Kitchen: My 6 year old son makes brownies by himself probably once every two weeks. I only help him scrape the bowl and put them in the oven. We also get a group of kids together to decorate gingerbread houses (all boys, this year ranging from 5-8). We save the Halloween candy, pre-assemble the houses, and make lots of royal icing in advance. With the boys, we've found that the smaller the house to decorate, the better. Most of them lose interest after about an hour.

Kim O'Donnel: awesome first-hand report!


Sick Husband: Hi Kim! My husband is has a sinus infection so I would like to make him some soup for dinner tonight. Any ideas? I have a pretty well stock fridge and freezer, so I'm up for anything.

Kim O'Donnel: I know chicken soup speaks to lots of folks when they're feeling ill. Me, I love a bowl of Asian-style noodles with lots chiles, garlic, ginger and veg. You can add as little or as much broth as you like. You up for it?


Bethesda Mom: Hi Kim!

So sorry to hear about your Thanksgiving Day non-functioning oven! This holiday, I finally got the roasted Brussels sprouts right--not raw, not burnt, but carmelized and yummy!

For people sick of leftover turkey, my son really enjoyed a turkey quesadilla last night--whole wheat tortilla, with some Trader Joe's smoky salsa, diced turkey, and shredded cheddar (of course, he chased it with leftover stuffing and mashed potatoes, but that's not required).

Hope to see you on Thursday!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Mom, it's the little things that really do count-- so a big high five to you for getting it right on the Brussels! Good for you. A turkey quesadilla is a great idea for leftover bird. A shepherd's pie. What else...


Pumpkin pie spice: I've been experimenting with cardamom and coriander lately. Cardamom is more floral and nutty, I think. Coriander is nothing like the plant it sprouts, which is cilantro. Even cilantro haters would like a bit of coriander, which is lemony.

Use both sparingly--about a 1/8 of a teaspoon, if that. You have to crush the cardamom pod and extract the little black seeds. The seeds are what you crush.

Both lend an exotic flair to pumpkin dishes of all sorts.

Kim O'Donnel: I am a huge fan of cardamom -- and agree that a little goes a long way. Thanks for your input! And coriander for pumpkin spice -- intriguing idea, like it.


paprika ... as a hungarian: My dad was Hungarian so paprika is - uh - in the blood. Hot paprika is really quite hot - nearly as hot a cayenne. Hungarian recipes are a great way to explore sweet and hot paprika. Porkolt, paprikas etc. If you want it to taste really authentic you should use lard as your fat. it's great to make nokedli (or hungarian spatzle) to go with it. You don't need a gadget, just use a teaspoon. I think this recipe is very good: http://peargieleighsfoodjournal.blogspot.com/2008/07/chic ken-paprikash.html

Kim O'Donnel: I love it-- paprika advice from a Hungarian!


Clifton, VA: Try Spanish cookbooks for the use of sweet paprika and Hungarian cookbooks for hot paprika recipes.

Mr Omar tentmaker

Kim O'Donnel: And another excellent idea for sweet pap!


Fruit pie issues - help!: Hi Kim, I found a recipe for a cranberry meringue pie (supposedly a Martha Stewart recipe) that calls for boiling the fruit and setting it with corn starch. First time I made it it was gorgeous. It took hours to set, but was a huge hit. Second time, it didn't set at all and we had lovely "soup"(we poured over vanilla ice cream and ditched the crusts) Third time, it set in the pan and was rubber and inedible. As far as I know, I followed the recipe each time.

So what are the hazards of such a recipe? What kinds of things go wrong - so I know what to watch for? I've been asked to make a batch of these for a party this weekend. I'm a bit leery given my record with it, but when it works it is both delicious and gorgeous.

Thanks for your help. Following is the recipe.

Cranberry Meringue Pie - supposedly a Martha Stewart recipe.

If you can't find blood oranges, use regular ones for the zest and juice.

3 1/4 cups fresh cranberries (12 ounces)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped blood orange zest, plus 1/4 cup blood orange juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 large egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 375 .

2. Line shell with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment. Return to oven; bake until bottoms are just turning golden, 5 minutes more. Transfer to wire racks; let cool 5 minutes. Remove from tin; let cool completely.

3. Bring 2 cups cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst, about 5 minutes. Pour through a coarse sieve, then a fine sieve; discard solids. (You should have about 1 3/4 cups; if you have less, add water).

4. Bring strained cranberry juice, 1/4 cup sugar, the zests, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and remaining 1 1/4 cups cranberries to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries are soft but have not burst, about 3 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, stir cornstarch, blood orange juice, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl; whisk into cranberry mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring, until translucent, about 1 minute. Pour into prepared shell. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour (up to overnight).

6. Preheat broiler. Put egg whites and remaining 1/4 cup sugar into the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water; whisk until sugar has dissolved and mixture is hot to the touch. Attach to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to high. Add cream of tartar; beat until medium, glossy peaks form. Divide the meringue evenly among pies.

7. Set pies under broiler until tops are browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Kim O'Donnel: there's A LOT of liquid in this recipe. I need to take a closer look -- hopefully can offer more insight in tomorrow's chat leftovers. Stay tuned.


Sick Husband (2): Thanks Kim! Do you have a recipe for the Asian soup or do you just wing it using chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce/fish sauce, and Asian hot sauce to taste and add chicken, mushrooms, onions, carrots, other vegetables (?), and rice/wheat noodles?

Kim O'Donnel: Take a look at this -- Asian-style noodles -- and add/subtract as you see fit. This is a staple at Casa Appetite -- Mister MA always requests it when he's feeling under the weather.


Wheaton, MD: Kim, I guess I can't ask you if the mountain is out today. Welcome back! Yesterday, I got a very nice surprise, a King Arthur Flour catalog in the mail, I don't remember ordering it - maybe from a link on your blog? Anyway, it has terrific products, recipes and gifts for the baker. I can't wait to get into it and order some things. I love baking at the holidays - really gets me in the spirit, and given the news lately, I'll stay out of the box stores and the malls and bake while I shop on the internet.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Wheaton! No, but I had amazing mountain views from the plane yesterday! I love the King Arthur catalog, should have included in my list of gift ideas today. Yes, do give them a try. Good stuff.


re: pie dough 101: I clicked on the link to the pie dough recipe and the video is no longer in the library. Can it be found somewhere else? Or maybe my computer just isn't pulling it up?

Kim O'Donnel: Here's the link to the photo gallery that i put together just a few weeks ago. Is this what you're referring to?


Kids in the Kitchen: My sons have cooked with me since they were old enough to stand and hold a spoon. However, they were never much help.

Until this year. My 8-year old, with my intense supervision, sliced potatoes, boiled them and mashed them for Thanksgiving dinner. He also peeled the sweet potatoes and apples. I would not start with complex knife skills, however. He can handle a basic chop with one hand on the hilt and the fingers of the other completely on top of the blade to push. He hasn't the strength to push down with one hand yet, so I don't have him chopping anything he has to hold. that's next year and I have a former culinary student who is willing to teach him proper skills.

Kim O'Donnel: Wonderful story, and please tell your 8-year-old to keep up the good work!


Alexandria, VA: Where can I buy an inexpensive piece of marble or ceramic that I can use to roll out pie dough, tortillas, etc. I just bought a new house with a tile countertop that won't work for things that need to be rolled out.

Kim O'Donnel: I bought a marble tile at Home Depot that I use expressly for this purpose -- spent less than 10 bucks for it.


Centre of Nowhere: Ahoy, Kim!

I was sorry to read about your oven-woes on Thanksgiving, and was happy to learn that it all worked out! Here, I was in charge of pies for Thanksgiving, and the family dinner on Saturday was lasagna-based in lieu of the suggested soups. It just happened that way, and thanks to a functioning oven timer, dinner was ready when we walked in the door.

I do have a request for advice: I have received a beautiful frozen Bristol Bay salmon fillet and am at a loss for thaw-time and preparation method. Do I slice it up prior to cooking? It is sure to generate leftovers so... salmon cakes? salmon salad sandwiches? I could wing it, but I'd like to be sure to tap the potential of this gift.


Kim O'Donnel: And I'm glad that post-Thanksgiving dinner worked out for your crew as well. re: the frozen Alaskan salmon fillet: thaw in the fridge -- it will take just a few hours. Do NOT slice price to cooking. Cook as a whole unit. I love to do a little spice rub, then sear the fish, then finish in a hot oven. Sear skin side first, then flip after a few minutes. Salmon cakes,with mashed potatoes, are a great leftover dish. I love salmon and eggs, too.


Paprika: Correction: Spanish paprika is smoked, not sweet. Hungarians have both sweet and hot.

Kim O'Donnel: Yes indeed. Good catch.


Rosemary: I have lots of fresh rosemary from our CSA. Do you have any suggestions on how I can use it up in vegetarian dishes? My husband isn't too fond of the flavor when it overwhelms a dish. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: I love rosemary in white beans, chopped really fine, with garlic and cayenne. I also use it in my apple pies.


re: baking with kids: King Arthur Flour's website has a section on baking with kids.


Kim O'Donnel: Fab. Their Web site is a great resource.


Dairy-free Thanksgiving: Just wanted to report back on the dairy-free (well, lactose-free, really) Thanksgiving I made with my family -- total success. We used Earth Balance, Tofutti cream cheese, and Lactaid in the mashed potatoes, lactaid and Earth Balance in the corn custard, and used Tofutti sour cream as the base for the veggie dip. Even made a non-dairy gravy with roasted garlic & shallots, veggie broth, and nutritional yeast. Even my father, who was very apprehensive (threatened to go out and get a "real Thanksgiving meal"), loved it and seemed to prefer the Tofutti dip to real sour cream!

Kim O'Donnel: Wow. What an accomplishment! Congratulations. Did you have help putting all of this together?


crockpot report: I cook a lot, but last week was my first crockpot recipe. I found it on Recipebazzar -they had a like for vegetarian slow cooker recipes, great for this veggie! It's Tunisian yam (well sweet potato) and red bean stew. It didn't have a lot of red beans - great flavor and texture balance. Spicing excellent. The best part was that just before serving you mix in a small amount of peanut butter. You don't even really taste it, but it brings all the flavors together.

Kim O'Donnel: Would love to know more about this recipe, and I'm sure readers would, too! please send details when you have a moment.


Leftover turkey: Check out this month's Gourmet, they have a ton of recipes for leftover bird (including hash!).

Kim O'Donnel: Good tip, thanks for the reminder!


Philadelphia: Hi Kim:

Sorry to hear about your Thanksgiving woes but glad it all turned out well. I just wanted to thank you for all the encouragement you give us--spurred on by you, I finally conquered my fear of pie crust and spent all day Thursday baking with my teenagers We made an apple pie (using Mark Bittman's recipe) and your vegan pumpkin pie. We then frizzled shallots for broccoli raab, made mashed potatoes on the spur of the moment along with all the usual Thanksgiving food and everything turned out beautifully. My husband was thrilled (he loves pie), my kids ate everything (which isn't always the case) and we owe it all to you! Thanks for everything.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks, Philly! So thrilled to hear your tasty good news. You did good. Keep it up!


Rosemary ideas: Roast potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary

Make a veg potpie and include some finely chopped in the gravy

OR: chop it up very finely and lay out in a thin layer in a ziploc. you can break off chunks as you need it and it tastes way better than dried.

Kim O'Donnel: More good tidbits for using up rosemary...


Kim O'Donnel: Time to run. thanks for stopping by! Hope to meet many DC readers Thursday night at the happy hour at M Bar. Tomorrow, plan on feasting on chat leftovers. All best.


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