Archive: February 2009

White Bread, Three Ways: Part I

If you’ve ever made bread from scratch, you know the feeling of accomplishment as you pull golden loaves from the oven and the house fills with steamy sweetness. It is incredibly gratifying, particularly if the loaf is functional versus fanciful, i.e. a sandwich loaf that can be used first thing in the morning and at lunch versus a free-form work of art that you pull apart and dip into olive oil. It feels like such an accomplishment, what with all the rising, kneading and praying that the bread goddesses will watch over your loaves that if you find a recipe that works, you stick to it FOR LIFE. Why fix it if it ain’t broke, right? Until recently, this was the tune to my modus operandi, and honestly, that only applied when I actually got off my duff to make bread. Within a few weeks, I received review copies for...

By Kim ODonnel | February 27, 2009; 7:45 AM ET | Comments (9)

Eating Down the Fridge Honor Roll

This list will be updated daily until March 9, 2009. If you'd like to be included, send me an e-mail with your city and state. In the subject line, please type "EDF." Lenore Ancypa Shelby Township, Mich. Andrew Anderson South Africa Dede Apfelbaum Arlington, Va. Ilene Arnsdorf Phoenx, Ariz. Mandira Banerjee Ann Arbor, Mich. (Food blog: Ahaar) Amanda Baxter Gaithersburg, Md. Mara Beck-Rinnemaki S. Milwaukee, Wis. Carol Belles Triangle, Va. Amanda Bensen Washington, D.C. (Food blog at Smithsonian: Food and Think) Vani Bhartipudi Seattle, Wash. Jill Blevins Portland, Ore. Amy Branum Arlington, Va. Marsha Buchanan Badlands, S.D. Jennifer Carpenter & Hedley Lagrand Hoboken, N.J. Constance Carter Washington, D.C. Kim Carlson Portland, Ore. (Editorial director, Culinate) Nell Codner Laurel, Md. Aoife Connors Washington, D.C. Jennifer Corcoran Falls Church, Va. Dennis Coyle & David Mallory Arlington, Va. Paula Crossfield New York, N.Y. (managing editor, CivilEats) Mike Davitt Burke, Va. Emily DeArdo...

By Kim ODonnel | February 26, 2009; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (6)

Eating Down the Fridge: Save the Date!

What: A week-long kitchen challenge of abstaining from food shopping, and using up what’s in the fridge, freezer and kitchen cabinets. Inspired by eGullet’s Steven Shaw and AMA reader enthusiasm. When: The week of March 9 Where: Right here, in the AMA kitchen, and in kitchens across the country How: I’ll be actively participating, sharing the ups and downs of my experiences (and lessons learned) in the blog space, complete with recipes and improvisational meals based on what’s in the larder. You are invited to join me and sign up (and have your name included on the EDF Honor Roll) and share your experiences throughout the week. In addition, as done with the Eat Local Challenge last summer, I am seeking a few guest bloggers from different parts of the country. RSVP: By Friday, March 6; e-mail me with the subject line: “Eating Down the Fridge” and in your...

By Kim ODonnel | February 26, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (13)

Chat Leftovers: Tamarind, Baking Stones, First Set of Pots/Pans

Bethesda, Md.: Can you recommend a substitute for tamarind concentrate? I found a yummy sounding recipe for a soba noodle salad with papaya and shrimp that calls for one-third cup. Where would I find tamarind concentrate and is it worth the effort? I don't want to make an investment in something I won't use again. For those who are just getting acquainted, tamarind is the podded fruit of a tree native to Asia. The long barky-like pods (pictured, right) contain seeds and a pulp with a sweet-and-sour flavor. It’s dried into concentrate, either as a brick (usually frozen) or as seedless pulp, from a jar. Either way, the pulp needs to be diluted in water, as the flavor is intensely sour. (Julia Ewan/The Washington Post) Tamarind figures into Asian, East Indian, Middle Eastern and Latino cuisines, which means it’s readily available at any number of ethnic grocery stores in the...

By Kim ODonnel | February 25, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Eating Down the Fridge

eGullet co-founder and executive eater Steven Shaw is in the midst of a kitchen challenge worth chewing on; for an entire week, he’s taking a break from food shopping, using what he’s got stored in the freezer, fridge and pantry. A few months ago, I talked about this very idea with my editor, Nancy, who describes it as “eating down the fridge.” Her father -- raised during the Great Depression -- refused to toss any somewhat edible food item and would regularly go through their freezer and eat all "mystery" leftovers. Shaw, who lives in a New York apartment with his wife and son, is chronicling the ups and down of his experiment every day and is encouraging readers to join him for the frugal ride. Inspired by Shaw’s gumption, I took a cursory spin of the Casa Appetite larder, and here’s just a sampler from the ice box: a...

By Kim ODonnel | February 24, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

Meatless Monday: Green Gumbo

Almost as soon as the last piece of King cake is inhaled and the Mardi Gras beads are hung up to rest, so begins Lent, the Christian season of abstinence and reflection. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know all about gumbo, a stew in both the gastronomical and historical sense; its role is beautifully summed up in “The Trout Point Lodge Cookbook”: “Gumbo evolved not only from the city’s history of trade and commerce but also from the interaction between aristocratic and slave cultures. Black cooks, unable to find ingredients they had used in Africa, substituted others closer to hand in a process that produced new culinary sensibilities in a new world. When you taste gumbo, it is like tasting history.” (Kim O'Donnel) Now, gumbo being a stew meant it became whatever the cook (or the family) had on hand --- one day, it might be...

By Kim ODonnel | February 23, 2009; 7:25 AM ET | Comments (13)

Oscars Night Nibbles

Sunday night’s the big night in Hollywood -- and in living rooms across America. I say, if we’re gonna be glued to the tube all night, we may as well be eating in style. Readers got the conversation started in last week’s chat, sharing their thoughts on how to tie Oscars-viewing snacks to their favorite nominated films. With just 48 hours left ‘til the festivities, let’s chew on more ideas and get this Oscars party started. I have one confession; I’ve only seen one of the five films up for Best Picture -- "Slumdog Millionaire," which also happens to be a shoo-in for best in culinary inspiration! I can hardly resist an excuse to make Indian food, so you can imagine what I’m fixing Sunday night.. But let’s hear from you and what you’re dreaming up. And the nominees are…. "Slumdog Millionaire" The scene: Mumbai, along the western coast of...

By Kim ODonnel | February 20, 2009; 7:40 AM ET | Comments (2)

King Cake Fit for a Queen

(Kim O'Donnel) Mardi Gras, the last night of revelry before the Christian season of Lent, is just a few days away, and to celebrate the final days of the pre-Lenten carnival, I’ve baked y’all a King cake. A tradition dating to medieval Europe, King’s cake (aka Gateau de roi) is served on January 6 -- Twelfth Night, also known as Epiphany. In Christianity, Twelfth Night commemorates the visit of the three Kings to the baby Jesus 12 days after his birth. This day also marks the beginning of Carnival season. Traditionally, King cake is ring-shaped and ornately decorated, often filled with nuts and/or dried fruit, heavily iced and just too darn sweet. Typically, a trinket is inserted inside the cake, usually a bean, a gold coin or a baby figurine, which is said to represent the baby Jesus. It’s said that good luck comes to the trinket finder --...

By Kim ODonnel | February 19, 2009; 7:45 AM ET | Comments (9)

PB-Salmonella Sandwich Update #3

* The latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): As of Feb. 17, there are 642 confirmed cases of Salmonella infection from contaminated peanut butter, with nine related deaths. * Last week, Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) President Stewart Parnell, who was subpoenaed to appear at a congressional hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, refused to answer questions, pleading his Fifth Amendment rights. Sketch columnist Dana Milbank shares his perspective on Mister (Tainted) Peanut. * There are now 2,368 products on the U.S. and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall list. Says the agency: “The large number of products and brands recalled already, and the large quantities of some products recalled, makes this one of the largest food recalls ever in the United States.” * Readers are asking: Is jarred peanut butter from other major manufacturers safe to eat? Says food safety attorney Bill Marler,...

By Kim ODonnel | February 18, 2009; 1:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

Chocolate Syrup, the Old-Fashioned Way

(Kim O'Donnel) As part of our recent efforts to offer DIY versions of HFCS-sweetened packaged goods from the supermarket, today’s feature is all about chocolate syrup. That’s right, I’m leaving NesQuik and Ovaltine out of the conversation and instead focusing my energy on the unctuous, brown elixir that transforms vanilla ice cream into a brown cow milkshake and what turns an ordinary glass of milk into dessert. Even though I rarely touch the stuff these days, chocolate syrup is a piece of my childhood that takes me back to diners, ice cream parlors at the Jersey shore and the hospital green vintage milk shake machine on the kitchen counter that my father liked to operate on special occasions. I can see the syrup being poured into those stainless cups as I type. For a sweet walk down memory lane, I highly recommend trying out the recipe below, which is...

By Kim ODonnel | February 18, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

The Ever-Changing Recipe for Marriage

In less than two weeks, Mister MA and I will celebrate two years as two wedded peas in a pod. Although no longer newlyweds, we’re definitely not old hat at this work-in-progress called marriage. Wedding day, March 2, 2007. (Dan Murano) One would think that with the passage of time and accumulation of dirty socks on the floor, you’d know your partner even better than before, but a recent turn of events has given me cause for pause. After nearly four years of sipping French-pressed coffee together, I recently discover – on Facebook of all places – that he’s not so crazy about my caffeinated method and much prefers the brown crayon brew made from an automatic drip. My question: Why put up with my coffee and keep silent? And what else are you going to spring on me, pal? Lesson learned: You know what you know until it no...

By Kim ODonnel | February 17, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (19)

Meatless Monday: Pav Plus Bhaji Equals Party in Mouth

A lively thread in last week’s chat about Oscar-themed parties inspired Suman, a reader in Detroit, Mich., to suggest Pav Bhaji as a culinary tribute to nominated film “Slumdog Millionaire.” The dish, which she described as a veggie Sloppy Joe, is classic Mumbai street food, a highly spiced tomato-based vegetable mash that gets bookended by two halves of a griddled and buttered bun. (Kim O'Donnel) I was so excited by Suman’s suggestion that I set out to find a recipe and to have my very own Pav Bhaji experience. While researching the dish, I received an e-mail from Suman, who reports that “any combo of vegetables can be used and you can play with the recipe as you like” and she recommends mashed potato chips as a garnish (“sounds strange, but is REALLY good!”). Fellow Pav Bhaji enthusiast Vani in Seattle recommends the Everest brand of pav bhaji masala...

By Kim ODonnel | February 16, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Romancing the Pants: Your Stories

(Photo collage by Deb Rock; photo by Kim O'Donnel) I could tell you about David, who bought me the proverbial roses, chocolate and wine, and then three weeks later over a Caesar salad, confessed that he had been cheating on me. Then there’s JP, who proudly served up a stew of chicken in a sauce made entirely of ketchup, or Henri, who invited me to lunch, which turned out to be essentially three courses of mayonnaise. (It was not lost on me that his entire apartment was furnished in white.) But enough about me; I’ve been dying to hear about you and the hilarious (and yes, sweet, or not so sweet) things that happen when two people get together and mix food with romance. You responded to my call for stories, and for that I give you a big Cupid-esque boiing of an arrow. Below, a handful of lovers’...

By Kim ODonnel | February 13, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

A Cut-Out Cookie Rescue

Tuesday, Noon PT: The skies in Seattle are steely gray, spitting out a mix of rain and snow, and I’m about to head to the airport to pick up my brother, Tim. The phone rings. It’s my Chicagoland friend, Nancy, whose name really should be Lucille (as in Ball). Nancy G's heart-shaped cut outs, the second time 'round. (Nancy Loggins Gonzalez) “KIM!” I know that cry. It means my dear friend of 20 years, who is easily flummoxed in the kitchen, is in need of a recipe. Turns out her son’s fourth grade teacher decided at the last minute to reschedule the class Valentine’s party to Wednesday, which meant, for Nan, the designated cut-out cookie parent, to act pretty darn snappy. I can tell she’s on the verge of hyperventilating, so I quickly rifle through a few baking books for a quick fix. “Okay, here’s one,” I say. “Got a...

By Kim ODonnel | February 12, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Chat Leftovers: Biscuit Troubleshooting; Valentine Ideas on the Cheap

Baltimore, Md.: I'm hoping you can help me out with a biscuit problem: I love them, but they don't love me. I'm adept at making scones, but my biscuits are coming out like them too. They are short but not flaky. What am I doing wrong? The butter is cold, and I cut it quickly by knife, then by hand until it resembles cornmeal. Baltimore, if there’s anybody who knows biscuits, it’s my pal Scott Peacock, celebrity chef of the south and co-author of “The Gift of Southern Cooking.” After reading your question, I consulted Peacock, who’s based in Decatur, Ga., home to his restaurant, Watershed. Here’s what he had to say, via e-mail: “I think the problem is cutting in the fat too much. You need to leave some large pieces that will flatten out and create those flakes the reader is looking for.” Coincidentally, Peacock has just put...

By Kim ODonnel | February 11, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Hearting Your Heart

Love is in the air (or at least it’s supposed to be) this week, with the love-iest day of the year coming up this Saturday. In the spirit of everything red and heart shaped, I’m taking a romantic time out for my own heart -- as in my blood-pumping ticker. I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but the fact is, we need to keep better tabs on the state of our hearts. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer among women, and stroke is number three. The good news: You can do something about it. In addition to regular physical activity and reducing saturated fats (which are found in meat and dairy), we can help our heart and overall health by eating according to the colors of the rainbow. Color-coded eating is not as corny as it sounds. Green foods contain an...

By Kim ODonnel | February 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Meatless Monday: Indonesian-Style Noodles

A few months ago, I told you how I came ‘round to beets, thanks to an impossibly irresistible beet and greens quesadilla dreamed up by Seattle chef Devra Gartenstein. I’ve since pulled another trick out of Gartenstein’s magic bag, a noodle-y thing with an Indonesian twist that is so good and so easy it will likely become a staple at Casa Appetite. Like me, Gartenstein is a meat eater who’s got a yen for taking a break from meat on a regular basis. The must-make recipe in question comes from her book, “The Accidental Vegan” which has just been re-released (available in stores in March) into a handy, bendable 6x8 format. Of the many reasons why I love this recipe, the vegan-yet-satisfying factor is close to the top of the list. You could serve this to your favorite pork-product buddy and get a thumbs up, thanks the savory mix...

By Kim ODonnel | February 8, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

25 Random Things, Kitchen Style

Even if you're not a Facebook user, you've probably heard about the "25 Random Things" thingy that's been spreading like wildfire. Just yesterday, you could read all about it here and here and here. Like a gazillion other Facebookers, I succumbed to the pressure, but as suggested by a trusted consigliere, I limited my list-composing time to 15 minutes. In the midst of my pen-to-paper extemporaneous combustion (yes, I actually hand wrote my list), it occurred to me that this might be a fun exercise for us cooks. To get things started, I've compiled my own "25 Random -- With a Kitchen Twist," below, which I've cut and pasted directly from my Facebook Fan page. You can use it as a model and make it your own "25" to share with your "friends" or weigh in at the bottom of this page or add your comments here. And in case...

By Kim ODonnel | February 6, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Cook’s Library: What’s Baking on the Shelves

It’s a tough life opening the door for the UPS guy who drops off a review copy of a new cookbook on a nearly daily basis. Hey, somebody’s gotta do it. On the floor by my desk is a tower of new titles that I’m snacking on, bit by bit. Today’s sampler is a trio of baking books all worth a looksee. The stand-up easel functionality of Mollie's Katzen's "Desserts." (Kim O'Donnel) Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads by Nancy Baggett Post Food section contributor Nancy Baggett, who’s got a dozen other books under her belt, has dreamed up a collection of 75 recipes for no-knead bread. I must admit, I’ve been slow to warm up to this idea that seems counterintuitive, but Baggett seems to have it all down to a science. She even includes a section on making over your traditional yeast recipes to the Kneadless method. Stay...

By Kim ODonnel | February 5, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

Ketchup, Hold the HFCS

No matter where you stand on the issue, last week’s news about two studies linking high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and mercury probably has you thinking about what lurks behind the refrigerator door and those kitchen cabinets. HFCS figures into the soda we drink, as well as candy, ice cream and various dairy products, baked goods, snacks, cereals, frozen food and all kinds of processed food that comes in a can or a bottle. According to “Not So Sweet,” one of the aforementioned studies published by the Institute of Agricultural and Trade Policy, Americans consumed 9,294 tons of HFCS in 2002, the most recent figures available based on U.S. Census Bureau data. TONS. It makes food sweet all right, but it also acts a preservative, which is probably why that bottle of ketchup in the refrigerator door is still kicking. Homemade HFSC-free ketchup. (Kim O'Donnel) Some diehards might argue that...

By Kim ODonnel | February 4, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (15)

Reader-to-Reader Assists

It’s always a pleasure when I know I’ve helped someone in this space or in the chat, but I must say, I’m particularly tickled when readers lend an online hand and help each other. Last week, the reader-to-reader luv was at such a high it felt like Valentine’s Day had come early. Wowee. Even after last Tuesday’s show, the conversation continued on several topics, including the much-discussed Basmati woes. Below, a handful of follow-up tips from your fellow readers, plus a few recipes submitted in last Thursday’s vegetarian chat. Yay team! Columbia, Md.: A suggestion for the person exasperated by Basmati rice. We have a "trick" where I come from on the East African coast, and that is to add either a few drops of fresh lemon juice or white(or rice)wine vinegar to the liquid. First soak the rice in very cold water for up to 30 mins. Using a...

By Kim ODonnel | February 3, 2009; 8:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

PB-Salmonella Sandwich Update

There have been several developments in the nationwide outbreak of salmonella-contaminated peanut butter. Here's the latest since last week's update in this space. As of Friday, Jan. 30, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the count for salmonella-related illnesses from peanut butter contamination now stands at 529 (an increase of 28 people since Jan. 25). The number of related deaths remains the same, at eight. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is pursuing, in concert with the Department of Justice (DOJ), a criminal investigation of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), the company responsible for the contaminated peanut butter and peanut paste. The investigation comes on the heels of the discovery that PCA knowingly sold and shipped peanut butter and paste to food manufacturers in 2007 and 2008. On Feb. 11, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) will hold a Energy and Commerce Committee...

By Kim ODonnel | February 2, 2009; 1:01 PM ET | Comments (4)

Meatless Monday: Romesco Sauce -- A Real Oldie But Goodie

For a moment, let your mind’s eye wander and hop aboard our magic carpet. Today, we’re headed to the northeastern portion of Spain, where the land of Catalonia meets the Mediterranean Sea. In a word -- wait, in two words -- the cuisine here is complex and enchanting. Romesco sauce with steamed broccoli and baguette slices. (Kim O'Donnel) I’m hardly doing justice to this ancient style of cookery that is as much the result of physical geography as history and development of cultures. Here’s a snippet from the intro to “Catalan Cuisine” by Colman Andrews: Like Catalonia itself, Catalan cuisine looks outward toward Europe and the Mediterranean rather than back into the Iberian interior. It’s a complex and sophisticated system of recipes and techniques, first codified as early as the fourteenth century. It was born out of the cooking of the Romans, who occupied the area for almost 700...

By Kim ODonnel | February 2, 2009; 7:50 AM ET | Comments (7)

 

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