Archive: November 2008

Thanksgiving Help Desk

As promised in this week's chat, today's blog space is all about you. Just 24 hours remain until Thanksgiving, which for many cooks is about when the preparations get underway. In the spirit of the stress kitty holiday season, I'm forgoing today's recipe and instead have opened the kitchen doors to field last-minute questions, dilemmas and any other feast-related issues. All day long, I'll be your person, help desk, kitchen shrink, coach, cheerleader -- whatever you want to call me (but don't call me Dollface. Mister MA might get jealous.). Shucks, we can even do a scheduled group primal scream and let it out before the relatives arrive! Submit your question (please let's keep it Thanksgiving themed) in the comments area, which I'll check hourly until the sun goes down here in Seattle (that's about 7:30 ET). I'll start the day with coffee, and who knows, maybe we can raise...

By Kim ODonnel | November 25, 2008; 7:04 PM ET | Comments (83)

Gravy Train

As we get down to the Thanksgiving nitty gritty, many of you have been inquiring about gravy basics. Let's get right to it. Gravy consists of three major components: liquid, fat and flour. Liquid Make sure you like the stock you’re using: If it’s salty, it will make salty gravy; if it tastes like dirt, you’ll need to wash your mouth out with soap, and so on…. I am an advocate of making my own stock, but then there’s this thing called life that gets in the way. Should you decide on store-bought chicken stock, try to avoid brands that contain MSG or excessive sodium. Feel like making stock? Here’s what you do: Get a couple of turkey wings and/or a turkey neck (I’ve also used thighs). Salt and pepper the parts, and roast them on a rack sitting inside a roasting pan at 400 degrees. You can add a...

By Kim ODonnel | November 25, 2008; 2:00 PM ET | Comments (3)

Thanksgiving's Red Sauce

Today is T minus 2. Do yourself a favor and make the cranberries TONIGHT. You’ll thank me on Thursday when you’re elbow deep in mashed and stuffing, realizing that you’ve completely spaced on the red sauce and there's nary a burner to get them simmering. Let's nip this cran in the bud and check it off the to-do list; better still, cranberry sauce is a cinch to make, requiring minimal after-work mental energy and just one saucepan. Early harvest cranberries from Washington state. (Kim O'Donnel) I made a batch yesterday morning while still in my pajamas and drinking my first cup of coffee; within 35 minutes, my sauce was done and the house smelled heavenly! Now, get going and make that sauce. And if you're so inclined, here's your chance to give thanks and share your tried-and-true cran recipes. Weigh in with your berry good ideas in the comments...

By Kim ODonnel | November 25, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

Meatless Monday: Veggie Pot Pie

Still in search of a meatless Thanksgiving entrée? Today’s ditty is for you. Cheddar-crusted veggie pot pie. (Kim O'Donnel) You cannot get more homespun than a pot pie, nor can you can much cozier. And talk about a one-pot autumnal feast! Practically everything we love about the Thanksgiving meal (except for the turkey) is in there -- the spuds, carrots, onions, herbs and garlic (plus any other root veggie favorites), the pool of rich gravy, all of which gets capped off with a savory biscuit! I crafted my veggie pot pie, pictured above, on a school night because that’s the kind of geek I am, but honestly, this dish is better suited for a special occasion or weekend project. Although not difficult, a pot pie is time consuming, requiring about 90 minutes of active prep time and 45 minutes of baking time. On the other hand, compared to roasting...

By Kim ODonnel | November 24, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

The Great Sugar Pumpkin

My colleague, Michele Hatty, likes to play in her kitchen when she isn't running things as Editor of Live Discussions at washingtonpost.com. She recently shared her newfound love for the sugar pumpkin (aka pie pumpkin). Below, her kitchen report -- and perhaps inspiration for last-minute Thanksgiving menus. Stuffed pumpkin just out of the oven. (Michele Hatty) Friends joined my husband and me for dinner on a recent Saturday night, and their visit seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something I'd read on food writer Dorie Greenspan's blog: a stuffed pumpkin. The concept is pretty simple: Take a 2-3 pound sugar pumpkin, cut a lid out the way you might with a jack-o-lantern and scoop out the seeds and strings. But then instead of carving a face in the little guy, stuff it with a mixture of bread, cheese and chopped garlic. Pour some heavy cream laced with nutmeg over...

By Kim ODonnel | November 21, 2008; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (9)

Pie Dough 101

Apple pie with rosemary and walnuts. (Kim O'Donnel) You said you wanted a tutorial on pie dough; we listened and now you've got no more excuses! Earlier this week, I created quite the flour storm at Casa Appetite and shot photos every step of my pie-making adventure, just for you. The result: Pie 101: a how-to photo gallery. The dough recipe details are below, as well as how-to for my favorite apple, rosemary and pine nut filling. But for now, I'll let the pictures do the talking, and you can tell me what you think in the comments area below -- or today at 1 ET for What's Cooking Thanksgiving. (P.S. Big thanks to photo editor Troy Witcher for his on-the-fly wizardry.) Apple Pie With Rosemary and Pine Nuts From “A Mighty Appetite for the Holidays” by Kim O’Donnel Flaky Pie Dough Adapted from “The Pie and Pastry Bible”...

By Kim ODonnel | November 20, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Thanksgiving Chat Hotline, Week Two

It was an online hootenanny during this week's What's Cooking, with so many leftover questions about Thanksgiving (now eight days away) that we had to act pronto to avoid any possible kitchen-induced panic attacks. Vienna, Va.: I have a question about defrosting a frozen turkey. Is there a guideline as to how many pounds equals how many hours to defrost? So say, if we have a 12-pound frozen turkey, how long will it take to defrost? Want to give plenty of time for it to defrost. Hey Vienna, estimate 24 hours of thaw time for every five pounds of bird. For your 12-pounder, that means two days and some change. Start thawing – in the fridge – no later than Monday for Thursday supper. I might even take it out of the deep freeze before you leave for work. You might benefit from having a look at Ten Things You...

By Kim ODonnel | November 19, 2008; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (12)

Making Room for Local on the Thanksgiving Menu

(Kim O'Donnel) Remember back in July, when 54 households across America pledged to take the Mighty Appetite Eat Local Challenge (ELC) for a week? The goal: to incorporate into our diets 10 food items grown or raised within 100 miles of where we live. Over the course of the week, guest bloggers from five corners of the country shared their stories, tips, travails and revelations about eating from their respective food sheds. For some readers, the notion of eating locally for an entire week was daunting. My response to those feeling overwhelmed by food miles: Scrap the notion of a week and do just one day instead. And do it soon, as in nine days from now -- on Thanksgiving Day -- the one day of the year when eating locally is as easy as pie. If there ever was a time and day to see what this eating-local...

By Kim ODonnel | November 18, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

Meatless Monday: Crazy for Kale Pesto

For many of us in four-season climates, the word “pesto” transports us to the sultry days of summer, when the air is heavy with the perfume of basil. Sigh. November ain’t exactly basil pesto season, and even though there’s winter squash, sweet potatoes and hearty greens to keep me company on chilly-willy eves, sometimes I get sentimental for some sun-kissed basil lovin’. Like last week. Lacinato (aka dinosaur) kale: Winter's cure for summer pesto blues. (Kim O'Donnel) Pesto and penne is exactly what I had in mind, but the bitter, peppery leaves of arugula, even when mixed with ricotta, wouldn’t do the trick this time ‘round. I needed something smoother, mellower and dressed in a shade of gorgeous emerald green, a reminder of easy, breezy summer nights. The most unlikely of candidates stepped right up to the counter and requested some kitchen face time. Her name: Lacinato Kale. As...

By Kim ODonnel | November 17, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

The Pleasure of Persimmons

Hachiya persimmons in their unripe (lone bright one on the right) and ripe, ready-to-eat state. (Kim O'Donnel) Wanna get into the spirit of Thanksgiving? Get your hands on a persimmon. The subject of much discussion in this week’s What’s Cooking, the persimmon (diospyros) is that orange-tomatoe-y thing you may have seen recently in the produce aisle. It’s in season right now, and it sticks around for just a month or so, so now’s the time. Native to China but cultivated in Japan, Asian persimmons arrived in the U.S. in the mid-1800s. The two most commonly grown varieties are the Fuyu and the Hachiya. The Fuyu is round and squat, kind of like a pumpkin, and it can be eaten out of hand like an apple. Some cooks suggest throwing into salads for a little extra fiber and Vitamin C, of which there is plenty in that little morsel. The...

By Kim ODonnel | November 14, 2008; 8:03 AM ET | Comments (14)

Kitchen 'Rithmetic: Cheap Wine

When it comes to wine, how low can you go? As part of its recent Cheap Living Guide, New York Magazine tipped its hat to cheap wine as a way to enjoy the good life on fewer dollars. Instead of a $1,350 bottle of 1985 Krug Brut, they argue, you can sip on a $13 bottle of New Mexico-produced Gruet sparkling Brut instead and be sitting just as pretty. (My vote also goes to Cristalino Brut Cava, a Spanish sparkler that goes for about 8 or 9 bucks.) The most effective cost-cutting measure, however, would be to give up liquid grapes altogether, but here at Casa Appetite, we believe that a little vino goes a long way in the life-is-good department. And hey, the holidays are just around the corner; we’ll need to stock up on a lil’ cheer to entertain and get through the most stressful wonderful time of...

By Kim ODonnel | November 13, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (13)

Thanksgiving Chat Hotline

This week, and for the next two, this kitchen will be open late to lend an extra hand for Thanksgiving prep and planning. In addition to the regular Tuesday edition of What's Cooking, I'll offer two additional chats devoted to the holiday: tomorrow, Nov. 13 (Veggie Thanksgiving) and Thursday, Nov., 20, for the turkey and giblets crowd. Here in the blog space, I'll devote one day a week to your Thanksgiving-specific questions, to make darn sure that your issues are tackled, dilemmas solved and nerves calmed. The doctor is in. Brining Kosher Turkey: I'm Jewish so all my turkeys are kosher by default. I know brining with a regular solution would make the turkey way too salty, but I'd still like to get some flavors in. What options do I have? Do I need the salt to carry the flavors or is there something else to try? You’re correct; no...

By Kim ODonnel | November 12, 2008; 8:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

The TV Made Me Say It: Jarred Mayo is the "Real" Deal

Have you seen this television ad? I got a real earful while watching the tube one night last week. Here's how the ad begins: What if we all said No? No to fake food. No to over processed food. No to food that’s not fit for our kids. For a hot second, I thought, this could be interesting television, bring it on. And then in a bat of an eyelash, the “no to fake food” became a Yes to real. Yes to Hellmann’s. It was the television-viewing equivalent of slamming down the brakes of your car on a pile of wet leaves. Say what? Let’s put aside the part that I find jarred mayonnaise the most repulsive food known to man, and that if you ever serve it to me intentionally, you will no longer be my friend. But real? When did white congealed goop in a jar become real?...

By Kim ODonnel | November 11, 2008; 9:22 AM ET | Comments (15)

Meatless Monday: Meet the Beet Quesadilla

It’s not you, it’s me. That’s what I’d been telling the beet all these years. She’s a looker alright, but my love for the beet only ran pigment deep. All I needed was one bite to remind me I couldn’t get past the chalky texture, no matter how she’s prepared. Regretfully, I’d swear her off once again, fully aware of her nutritional prowess. (She’s loaded with folate, disease-fighting antioxidants and iron, known for its blood- and liver-purifying abilities.) Beets and chard are among the surprises in Devra Gartenstein's veggie quesadillas. (Kim O'Donnel) And then I moved to Washington state, where the long, fairly temperate growing season favors the underground crops, and I reckon there are more beet lovers per square mile here in Seattle than any other place I’ve been. My crew in Seattle laughs at my foolishness, somehow knowing that eventually I’ll change my tune. I have. And...

By Kim ODonnel | November 10, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Making Groceries

Making Groceries: that's what folks in New Orleans call going to the supermarket. (Which reminds me: In Philly, where I grew up, they call it going to the "food store.") Here’s the latest on supermarket openings in various corners of the country, starting with the nation’s capital: Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market, an independent grocery store in Richmond, Va., with an uber-local, natural and organic focus, is coming to DC. ET’s second home will be at 14th and Irving Streets NW, right by the Columbia Heights Metro station. The 14,000-ish-square-foot store is slated to open by this time next year. ET’s definition of local? A 100-mile radius. Speaking of Richmond, MA reader Alicia Jones, who writes about cooking here and dining here, reports that Virginia’s state capital now has a Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market. After a little poking around, I learned that TJ’s has also expanded to Atlanta, and...

By Kim ODonnel | November 7, 2008; 7:43 AM ET | Comments (4)

Chat Leftovers: Post-Election Eyes on Thanksgiving

With the all-consuming presidential election now behind us, we can now focus our attention on another pressing countdown -- just three weeks until Thanksgiving! In this week's What's Cooking, readers began getting itchy for Thanksgiving ideas and tips. For the next few weeks, we'll ramp up the holiday meal coverage, with a weekly Thanksgiving Clinic feature to help you plan, shop, prep, and most importantly, have fun. Read on. Centre of Nowhere: So, when can we start talking about the immediate days after Thanksgiving? I am throwing a family dinner (16 people) for a non-Thanksgiving event the Saturday immediately after the big feast, and am wondering what to serve everyone who'll be turkey-ed and pumpkin pie-d to death by then. Suggestions for easy, filling, light and fit for a crowd? Centre, you haven’t said whether your crew is adventurous or finicky, but I’m going to throw an idea out there...

By Kim ODonnel | November 6, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Brisket Blues

So I’ve had great luck making brisket Uncle Jeff’s way, braised in wine, beer or stock, with lots of onions to make a succulent gravy. The pot is covered to create a moist environment, and within three, maybe four hours, the meat is tender enough to eat with a spoon. For election night at Casa Appetite, I chose a different brisket route, one with more smoke than liquid, for an American barbecue feel. But here’s the rub (and not the spice rub, which I’ll get to shortly): I’m without a smoker, grill or pit. So Miss Thing over here decides she’s gonna smoke her brisket in the oven. I had it all planned out: I soaked wood chips in water overnight and placed them in the bottom part of a broiler pan, with a few inches of water. The top part, which is vented, is where the brisket, marinated in...

By Kim ODonnel | November 5, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (6)

Where's Food on the Next Presidential Agenda?

Unless there are chads hanging in the balance a la Campaign 2000, we’ll know before going to bed tonight who will be the next president. (Courtesy of Grist.org) Both candidates have talked extensively about the ailing economy, the health care crisis and the war in Iraq, and their respective platforms on these issues may well have informed your decision today at the polls. But when it comes to food, farming and agriculture, do you know where your candidate stands? Probably not. Although too late to press the candidates, food is hardly a moot point for the next administration and is no longer going to sit quietly on the back burner, argue those close to the issue. As one Texas farmer told a reporter for Scripps Howard News Service, “As long as you put food in your mouth, have clothes on your back and you get in an automobile and turn...

By Kim ODonnel | November 4, 2008; 8:55 AM ET | Comments (6)

Election Snacks All-Nighter

Like you, I will be glued to the television tomorrow night waiting for the results of the wild ride that has been the 2008 presidential campaign. The evening promises to be anything but short. In order to keep up our spirits (and energy) until the last vote is counted, we’ll need plenty of sustenance to survive the pundit gabfest on the boob tube. Think of it as part two of your responsibilities as a dedicated voter; after casting your vote, the evening duty is to hurry up and wait -- and stand by your man – with snacks. Bipartisan fruit: (Clockwise from top left) Blackberries, sweet cherries, blueberries and raspberries. (Kim O'Donnel) To that end, I asked several writers from around the country what they’re whipping up for the election all-nighter. Below, a sampler from their respective buffets, with additional Casa Appetite tidbits: Libations Megan Saynisch, who pens the food...

By Kim ODonnel | November 3, 2008; 12:22 PM ET | Comments (8)

Delicata Inamorata

In the winter squash universe, everyone, it seems, has an exotic- sounding name or one of those sweet-nothing terms of endearment. Kabocha. Hubbard and Kuri. Buttercup and Sweet Dumpling. (Don’t you feel amorous just by the mere mention of their names?) Delicata rings with lacinato kale and Israeli couscous. (Kim O'Donnel) I must confess, however, the one variety that stands above the rest and has me howling at the moon like a star-crossed lover is Delicata. With her thin, edible skin, she makes slicing a breeze and dinner prep like a walk in the park. I slice her into squash doughnut holes, and in less than an hour, she’s tender, naturally sweet and ready for feasting. She requires little seasoning (some salt and a little oil to keep from sticking will do), as her true essence --a cross of sweet potato and corn – emerges after some time in...

By Kim ODonnel | November 3, 2008; 7:20 AM ET | Comments (12)

 

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