What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 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.

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! Happy pre-Val, big smooches to y'all. Speaking of Valentine's, I'm looking for a few more tales to add to the pot for Friday's blog space. I'm looking for your funniest or most romantic Valentine's food-related stories. Send'em my way to: kim.odonnel AT wpni.com
In subject line, type "Romancing the Pants"
Five entries will appear in the blog space on Friday.

Now, let's hear from you. I'm at the ready...


Seattle, WA: Good morning Kim! So I have a pretty uniquely PacNW question. When a relative came last fall, he bought way too much very fresh salmon and stuck a few large fillets in our freezer. I knew I should use it immediately, but life got in the way and it's still in there. Four months ago, these were great pieces of fish. Now, I'm guessing they are more "eh". Can I still use them after I defrost slowly in the fridge? Any suggestions on how? Usually we grill them until barely cooked, but given the weather and frozen-ness, I was pondering something with a stronger flavor. Maybe salmon terriyaki or salmon burgers? Any thoughts are much appreciated - I'd rather not waste!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey neighbor, you most certainly can use after thawing in fridge. They may not sparkle as much as they did when you got them, but they'll be plenty good. I like roasting salmon at 400 degrees, with a spice rub. Last week, I mentioned added a small amount of ground coffee to the rub. You could also do salmon tacos, with some shredded cabbage, a DIY crema, a little avocado, could be a fun way to warm up February.


Dinner Club: I am starting a dinner club with some friends where we each bring a dish around a theme. I am tasked with putting together a menu and sending out recipes. I wanted to do a movie theme since the party will be Oscar's weekend. But I am having trouble coming up with ideas for a menu. Other than beef and pork I am open to all ideas....

Kim O'Donnel: Let's see. The nominees are:
Slumdog Millionaire, which gives you tons of choices since the movie takes place in India. Mumbai is a coastal city, which means you could do a seafood vinadaloo, but if it's buffet, that could be tricker. Perhaps a pot of chicken curry?

The Reader: Yipes. Do we play on wartime dishes? Aphrodisiacs because of the lovers? Help!

Milk: I would play on the word "milk" and do some kind of dessert. Milkshakes, perhaps, panna cotta...

Frost/Nixon: Totally stumped.

Benjamin Button: For this, you need something that makes you feel young, something w/ lots antioxidants like pomegranates, to reverse effects of aging. Maybe coconut rice w/ pom seeds to go with curry?


sauce: Hi Kim, Ingredients for a quick homemade teriyaki sauce? (or at least a stir-fry sauce)? I'm thinking of a beef cashew stir fry tonight. Many thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Sweeten the soy sauce with some sugar (1/2 cup soy, 1-2 tablespoons sugar), plus equal parts rice wine aka mirin or sake. You want to cook it a bit, to reduce; cook at a simmer. You also could jazz it up with some grated ginger, a little bit of pineapple juice, scallions...


frost/nixon: From wikianswers: "President Nixon's favorite breakfast usually consisted of cottage cheese (garnished with either ketchup and/or black pepper), fresh fruit, wheat germ, and coffee."

Kim O'Donnel: Delish.


Salmon ideas: Even if you only really like your salmon fresh and raw/medium-rare, there are some good ideas to use up less fresh salmon. Try a salmon mousse or a salmon spread (various mixes of cream cheese and salmon that go great with breakfast foods like bagels). Older salmon still smokes well and the texture will be less noticeable. Mix with ricotta for salmon ravioli. Also Hubert Keller had a salmon burger recipe on "Secrets of a Chef" that will probably work fine with an older cut of Salmon. Good luck!

Kim O'Donnel: Great idea. Salmon spread is great, and reader could mix with a bit of smoked salmon and lots of shallots and lemon. Would be lovely.


soup question: hi kim! i bought some split peas the other day and was wondering if you had a split pea soup recipe. preferably one without ham or bacon as my mom is a vegetarian and i'm making it for her. plus, i'm making a conscious effort to cut back on the meat these days, so any suggestions would be great!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey, we made impromptu broccoli soup last night, so your timing is excellent. Don't worry about the bacon or ham; it'll turn out just as delicious. Start out with a finely chopped onion, some minced garlic and I think I might add a diced carrot. Sweat this mixture in 1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a soup pot, until soft. Add 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Stir til you've got a little paste. (I like to wait til the end to season with salt) Add split peas, and coat them with your aromatics. Add just enough liquid to barely cover, bring up to a lively simmer, then reduce heat, cover and let peas go to town. You'll need about 40ish minutes. I like to finish this off with a healthy squeeze of a lemon, salt and plenty of pepper.


oscars: Make Pat Nixon's meatloaf recipe.


2 tablespoons butter 1 cup finely chopped onions 2 garlic cloves, minced 3 slices white bead 1 cup milk 2 pounds lean ground beef 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon salt Ground black pepper, to taste 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram 2 tablespoons tomato puree 2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Melt butter in a saute pan, add garlic and saute until just golden -- do not brown. Let cool.

Dice bread and soak it in milk. In a large mixing bowl, mix ground beef by hand with sauteed onions and garlic and bread pieces. Add eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, thyme and marjoram and mix by hand in a circular motion.

Turn this mixture into the prepared baking pan and pat into a loaf shape, leaving at least one inch of space around the edges to allow fat to run off. Brush the top with the tomato puree and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to penetrate and to firm up the loaf.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake meatloaf on lower shelf of oven for 1 hour, or until meat is cooked through. Pour off accumulated fat several times while baking and after meat is fully cooked. Let stand on wire rack for five minutes before slicing. Makes 6 servings.

Kim O'Donnel: You guys are the best!


Removing Inner Pulp: Hi Kim -

How does one remove the inner pulp from an orange, or a tangerine, without disrupting the shape of the fruit itself? I wanted to make "Mandarin" like slices w/o the skin on the fruit but the process was...fruitile.

(ha ha.)


Kim O'Donnel: This technique is called segmenting. You need a sharp paring knife. Cut away peel as close to fruit as possible but without knicking fruit itself. You want to remove pith as well. Hold fruit in one hand, knife in dominant hand. With paring knife, cut between divisions on both side of each "segment" and coax it out. The first one or two pieces is always the trickiest.


Oscar dinner theme: Frost/Nixon -- maybe retro 70s dishes? Like jello with fruit in it? chicken kiev? That type of thing.

Also, while Mumbai is a coastal city, vindaloo is a South Indian dish -- which doesn't mean it wouldn't be appropriate for a Slumdog theme, but just to clarify.

Kim O'Donnel: I like Retro 70s dish -- and thanks for the clarification! We'll have to come up with a proper menu in the coming days.


Movies: Start with popcorn!

For both Frost/Nixon and Milk--maybe a semifreddo (geddit? FROST? I slay me).

Kim O'Donnel: HAAAAAAAAAAA. You're a laff riot. But yes. Keep'em coming!


New Orleans by the Potomac: Hi Kim,

I'm throwing a Mardi Gras party. With your NOLA connections, do you have any suggestions for a good king cake recipe?


Kim O'Donnel: Hey there, emailed with my pal chef Frank Brigtsen and he's suggested making cinnamon rolls, pull-apart style. I am going to test a recipe in time for you to laisser les bon temps...


Movie Ideas...: A thought for the movie buffet would be to do dishes based around where the movies were filmed. Much of Benjamin Button was set in Louisiana...a nice gumbo or ettoufe would be easy for a buffet and true to the movie. Harvey Milk was a politician in San Francisco, so you could go with a nice big salad with a focus on sustainable/organic produce. The reader was set in Germany, so maybe you could make a German chocolate cake for dessert? Sounds like a fun time whatever direction you go in!

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, the ideas are plentiful this year. I'll keep thinking for blog, and keep you posted.


canned salmon....: Any suggestions on using canned salmon? I understand that it is fairly high in nutrients (and we have it on hand... and no salmon is going to meet locovore shopping parameters where we live). I have been unimpressed with the salmon patties I have tried to improvise, so I am open to ideas. No nuts, as I am allergic, but otherwise open on ingredients, perferably common and inexpensive.


Kim O'Donnel: I think canned salmon needs a strong mustard, a little bit of soy and a smidge of sesame oil. To make into patties, I'd add a small amount of cold mashed potatoes, finely chopped shallots, and depending on how they hold together, some kind of binder. That could be a little plain yogurt. Whatever you decide, I highly recommend that you chill patties after they've been shaped, so they set up and behave in the frying pan.


Homemade teriyaki sauce: My Chinese mother used to teach cooking classes and I base my recipes on hers. I normally saute garlic and ginger in as little oil as possible (say about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp oil for 2-3 TBSP of minced ginger and garlic) and then add in soy sauce, a pinch of sugar and then a little bit of Hoisin or Oyster sauce for flavoring. If you are vegetarium, Lee Kum Kee makes a wonderful authentic tasting vegetarian stir-fry sauce that makes an excellent substitute for both Hoisin or Oyster sauce (it is mushroom based). Note, use less sugar than you think because the sauces are all a little sweet. This makes a very rich tasting teriyaki that is really popular.

Kim O'Donnel: Very nice! Thank you so much for sharing Mom's recipe.


Arlington: Hey Kim,

Just wanted to mention the the January issue of Natural Solutions has a great article on becoming vegetarian and how to do it right. They also list eight "must have" foods and have a couple of recipes to get you started. Note: I am not affiliated to the magazine, writer, etc. I just happened to read the article and thought it was good enough to share.

Kim O'Donnel: Great, I will check it out. Thank you!


Washington, D.C.: Hi Kim. I have a question about cooking quinoa. I've noticed that you and others like toasting it before adding the liquid and cooking it. However, after rinsing the quinoa, it's wet (duh) and just seems to steam rather than toast. It's so fine that it just sticks to a towel if I try to dry it. I'm sure I'm missing something obvious here, but I don't know what it is.

Kim O'Donnel: You raise a good point. Have you rinsed in a sieve? This seems to help keep it all together. I've patted it dry with a paper towel and then lay it out on a baking tray to dry a bit. You could also place whole tray in oven to do the toasting.


Split pea soup: Add liquid smoke and a touch of soy sauce (for the salt) to vegetarian split pea soup, and you'll be amazed at the flavor. I've served this to a devoted carnivore/omnivore, and she couldn't get enough of this soup!

Kim O'Donnel: You can also use smoked salt (instead of salt) or smoked paprika as one of the spices. Thanks for reminder about smoke!


Baltimore, MD: Hi Kim, I want to make a red velvet cake this weekend. What is the history on it? And, please share a good recipe, if you have one.


Kim O'Donnel: Red Velvet details. Don't worry that I poured batter into cupcake tins; the amounts here are exactly what you need for a two-layer shindig.


slumdog millionaire menu: hi kim!

since slumdog is set in mumbai, the food to eat would be the most popular mumbai street food called pav bhaji. it's like a veggie sloppy joe. so yummy, fun to assemble, and perfect for a buffet!

1) one head cauliflower cut to tiny pieces or grated with a box grater 2) 3 or 4 medium carrots 3) few handfuls of frozen peas 4) 3 cloves garlic 5) 1 large onion 5) 2 large tomatoes 6) small piece ginger 7) garam masala (or a mix of cumin and coriander powders) 8) cayenne pepper 9) salt 10) small hamburger buns

chop up all the vegetables really small. steam the cauliflower and carrots in a double boiler or microwave, or put in pressure cooker until all veggies are very soft. in the meantime, sautee the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger in a pot with the garam masala or spice powders and cayenne pepper. fry until golden brown, very soft and fragrant. add the vegetables and cook until thick. add the peas and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes disappear into the mixture. mash the whole mixture with a potato masher until slightly chunky. add salt to taste spread the hamburger buns with a little butter and pan fry until golden brown. put the veggie mixture (bhaji) between the buns (pav) and garnish with raw onion, slices of cucmber and tomato, or even potato chips. fast, healthy, delicious, and totally MUMBAI food :)

Kim O'Donnel: okay, this is SO going into Meatless feature next week. I love it! Please e-mail me at kim.odonnel AT wpni.com with complete recipe if you have one that you like. Cheers.


Washington, DC: Deviled Salmon Cakes:

Salmon, Deviled Salmon Cakes when adding the diced vegetables to the flaked salmon, fold the ingredients together gently so that the salmon doesn't break up

2 cans (7-1/2 ounces each) salmon, drained cup finely diced onion (APPROX HALF ONION) cup finely diced celery (APROX TWO STALKS) 1 small jalapeno pepper finely chopped cup corn kernels, canned or frozen (thaw if frozen) salt and freshly ground pepper to taste cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1 teaspoon drained pickle relish 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice teaspoon paprika 2 dashes of tabasco sauce 1T horseradish (optional) 1 egg 1-1/2 cups whole grain crushed cracker crumbs 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons olive oil

Carefully flake the salmon into a bowl, discarding any small bones, cartilage and skin (I flake it all together). Add the onion, celery, jalapeno pepper, corn, salt and pepper. Fold together with a rubber spatula. set aside.

In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, lemon juice, paprika, horseradish and tabasco sauce.

Fold these ingredients into the salmon mixture.

Lightly beat the egg. Using the rubber spatula fold into the salmon mixture along with cup of the cracker crumbs. Place the remaining cup of cracker crumbs on a dinner plate.

Form the salmon mixture into eight 3-inch patties. Carefully coat them with the cracker crumbs. Refrigerate loosely covered for one hour.

Melt the butter with the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the salmon cakes four at a time for 3 to 4 minutes per side, pressing down slightly on them with the back of the spatula and adding more butter or oil to the skillet if necessary. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Kim O'Donnel: Thank you!


Re: Canned Salmon: Make some Salmon Quesadillas. Every time I make them, people LOVE them, and they are super easy.

2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 1 (14 3/4 ounce) can salmon, drained,bones and skin removed 1-2 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon softened butter 4 flour tortillas (8 in.) 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese

In skillet, saute garlic in oil until tender. Then stir in basil, pepper, and salmon. Cook over med. heat until heated thru, then spread butter over one side of each tortilla.

Place tortillas butter side down on griddle and sprinkle each one with 1/2 cup cheese. Spread 1/2 cup salmon mix over 1/2 of each tortilla. Fold over and cook on low for a couple of minutes on each side.

Cut into wedges.

Kim O'Donnel: I could also see these being great with goat cheese...


smoked salt: Is it easy to smoke your own salt? Where can I find some in the DC area?

Kim O'Donnel: I've never done this, so I don't know the answer, but I'll find out for you. In the meantime, you can find at spice stores like Penzey's and some supermarkets, including WF.


nuts: Just a tip, spurred by a few of your posts that have included nuts. I bought cashews from the bulk bin at our grocer. Unfortunately, they were FAR too salty-- so much so that just a few made my mouth burn. I decided I had nothing to lose by trying to "fix" them, since they were inedible as is. So, I put them in a fine-mesh strainer and shook it. Amazing amount of salt shook through, but they were still salty. So, I rinsed them, then let them dry a bit on a rack over a cookie sheet, then threw 'em in a heated cast-iron skillet for a few minutes. They toasted slightly, and viola! were edible again. Not elegant, but it worked.

Kim O'Donnel: Thank you. I've been in your shoes before and did exactly the same thing. Good for you to get innovative. Cheers.


Olympia, WA: I am a vegetarian and need to eat a protein rich diet, can you share some tasty recipes that are not the same old lentil soup or salad or tofu?

Thank you! SA

Kim O'Donnel: Olympia, are you keeping current with the Meatless Monday feature? We keep it pretty varied. Have a looksee. This week's goodie is Indonesian-style noodles with a mix of nuts. Tons of protein!


Penzeys!: I finally made it to the Rockville store this past weekend. They do not have smoked salt, but the store is amazing. I was lightheaded from sniffing in so many jars. Wowza!

Kim O'Donnel: Okay, good to know on the salt front. Take a look at this Web site: www.worldspice.com. This folks are in Seattle but ship all over. Their selection of goods is tremendous.


Winter weekend getaway: We were invited to a friend's cabin in WV this weekend. I know they like to cook and I feel a little anxious about cooking in someone else's kitchen anyway but any suggestions on what to bring up to help ease the food burden besides lots of wine, of course. Thanks.

Kim O'Donnel: I would talk to your hosts. Find out how you can pitch in, be it snacks, cheese, desert, bread. I'm sure there's a way you can contribute.


Slower Lower, DE: Help! Kim, I have an awful, awful chest cold that's now migrating to my head... I don't have much of an appetite, but know that I need to eat something to help kick this bug. Any suggestions on something that's super easy (since I'm sick) to make or even pick up on the way home?

Kim O'Donnel: Pick up some prepared chicken stock (preferably low on salt and w/o MSG). Pour into a saucepan and add a hunk of fresh ginger and simmer, allowing ginger to infuse. Meanwhile chop up a garlic clove or two, your favorite fresh chile, seeded and minced, some scallions, cilantro.
Boil some spaghetti or a bundle or two of dried Asian noodles. After draining, season with some soy sauce and sesame oil. Pour noodles into bowl, add as much simmering broth as you need and top with the chopped goodies. You'll be fixed up in no time.


skinless orange segments: Also called supreming. Another way to explain: Cut off the top and bottom so it's flat. Then cut off the peel and pith in long strokes, top to bottom, almost like cutting the outside off a pineapple. You will lose a little fruit. That's okay. Then cut as close as you can to the membrane on the left side of one segment and on the right side of the same segment. You're cutting toward the center of the fruit. Once the two cuts meet the segment drops right out.

Takes a little practice, but I can supreme oranges, lemons, clementines, anything. You can too.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for adding on to this thread, and yes, it does take practice.


Arlington Gay: Howdy, Kim.

I made the noodles from yesterday's blog. They were fantastic! Couple notes: since I used 2 cups instead of 1.5 cups of nuts, plus a pound of chicken, I had to about double the liquids or it would have been excessively dry. I also thought it needed a little heat so threw in a little cayenne, but otherwise followed the recipe. It was a big hit. Now I'm a little bummed 'cause I forgot to bring some for lunch.


Kim O'Donnel: Oh good! Yes, I can imagine you'd need more liquid given the extra nuts and chicken add-on. I too added some heat when I had my leftovers. Nice work, GAFF.


Washington DC: I'm looking to upgrade for the long haul -- what is your favorite cookware? I want something that will last for ages, not too heavy, and versatile. I cook a lot and see it as an investment, so price doesn't matter. You're my go-to expert on these things!!

Kim O'Donnel: For investment and longevity, I say Le Creuset, hands down. Start with a four or five quart lidded casserole, for soups, stews, etc, and see what you think. I've had mine for nearly 10 years and it still works like a charm. I also have smaller baking dishes by LC. But let me know what you're looking for in terms of pieces and we can get you fixed up.


'same old lental soup': Please check out all you can do with pulses/legumes. These are -great- protein and so much more. They are also very cheap when using dry. Indian dals are phenomenal - there are so many of them and they all taste different.

I boiled up a load of 'great northern beans the other day'. I mixed some with kale and rehydrated mushrooms. (garlic etc also). I used the rehydration juice and tossed it all with farfalle.

Just for lunch today I ate the rest of the beans - I'd sauted some garlic and shallots in olive oil. I added the beans, warming though with a touch more olive oil. I added salt and pepper, tossed in some lemon juice (you could use vinegar) and grated in some romano while it was still warm. I ate as a room temp salad as part of lunch.

Really - pulses/legumes are a world unto themselves!

Kim O'Donnel: You're preaching to the choir here. I agree, once you get started experimenting with pulses and legumes, the muse kicks in and the options begin to reveal themselves. Thanks for posting.


broth and noooodles: Kim, I've seen your broth-and-noodle-cure-for-a-cold before and have a question about it: can I just drop rice noodles into the broth and let the broth cook them, rather than heating separate pot of water for the noodles? I've been experimenting with various soup combos lately, as I work from home and they make a nice light lunch that keeps me from being tempted by other foods.

Kim O'Donnel: The one thing you want to make sure you don't do is "boil" the rice noodles. If liquid is hot but not boiling, yes you could prob. save yourself a step.


Washington, D.C.: Quick question before you go, I want to make split pea soup as well. But I have a frozen ham bone and some ham pieces that I would like to use. Do you I need to defrost first? or just throw the bone and pieces in frozen? Thanks!!

Kim O'Donnel: I would thaw first, yes.


cut as close as you can to the membrane on the left side of one segment and on the right side of the same segment: Easier and more effective to cut down one side, then "flip" the other side out. Try and see...

Kim O'Donnel: I would re-do my answer if I had an orange in my hand at this very moment. Sigh...


Fat in New Haven: The Indonesian noodles sound great, but that amount of nuts will have sky-high calorie and fat count. How low can I go with the amount of nuts?

Kim O'Donnel: Just remember -- good fats in nuts. Walnuts have Omega-3s, too! Try reducing nuts to 1 cup, see how that feels...


Smoked Salt: Best smoked sea salt i've ever had i bought at St. helena olive oil company in napa. their website (link to that item) is http://www.sholiveoil.com/store/products/SMOKED-ALDERWOOD-SEASALT.html.

Kim O'Donnel: Was just talking about alderwood smoked salt last night with a girlfriend! Great to know, I will check this out.


Slower Lower again : ): Kim! That recipe sounds AWESOME!!!! I feel better already by just reading it. And, in fact, I have most of the ingredients already at home so I'm gonna get going on that as soon as I can. Although it's not the same, it reminded me of the best cold cure-all -- real, authentic Pho from Pho 75 in Arlington! When I moved away from NoVA 4 years ago, I had withdrawals. There's nothing remotely Vietnamese over here, and I miss it terribly. Any chance of finding a recipe -- the soup itself is simple enough, but it's the meatballs (I always ate the meatball version) I can't replicate.

Kim O'Donnel: I have always wanted to play with a Pho recipe and share it with you guys, so stay tuned. Get better!!


Kim O'Donnel: Yikes, I'm running late, gotta go pick up kid brother at the airport. Promise you some chat leftovers in tomorrow's blog space: A Mighty Appetite. Stay warm and swell! Bye.


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