Archive: March 2009

20 Ways to Get Your Spinach On

(Kim O'Donnel) After devouring Monday’s spanakorizo, I had what could be described as a full-on leafy green love attack, admiring spinacia oleracea’s ability to be wilted, steamed, braised, fried, and tucked, not to mention its easy-going personality. In fact, it seems that the challenge is what NOT to pair with spinach -- and other than peanut butter and jelly, I’m coming up short. Nutritionally, you can’t do much better; one cup of boiled spinach contains Vitamins A, B, C and K, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, protein, fiber AND Omega-3 fatty acids, all for 41 calories. Go here for the nutrient details. In case you hadn’t noticed, Americans need some help in the veggie servings department. Just 27 percent of us eat three or more servings of vegetables a day, which is a fraction of federal recommendations, as published in Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. I’m just sayin’…...

By Kim ODonnel | March 31, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (18)

Meatless Monday: Spring Into Spinach 'n' Rice

It is precisely at this time of year when we all could use a burst of green -- both on the front lawn and on our dinner plates. At long last, Mother Nature has opened the gates of spring, but we all know from experience that the early weeks of the new season can be downright moody, with one foot breaking ground in the vegetable garden while the other is still in need of woolies. (Kim O'Donnel) Before the farm market debut of asparagus, which most home cooks associate with spring, there’s a parade of greens -- watercress, nettles, Russian baby kale, and maybe the first bit of spinach, depending on where you live. The days are longer, but the nights are still plenty cool, which heartier greens enjoy. Here at the Casa, I’m still on the prowl for supper mains to warm the belly as I incorporate flecks...

By Kim ODonnel | March 30, 2009; 7:28 AM ET | Comments (14)

Coffee: Friend, Foe or Fuel?

(Kim O'Donnel) Normally this happily caffeinated sipper wouldn’t ask, but the topic of brown brew as mental glue has been on my mind of late. It seems various friends and colleagues are trying to kick the coffee habit – for a day, for Lent or until withdrawal sets in. One friend announced on Twitter that he tried “to substitute green tea for coffee this morning. You know, the healthy Chinese way. Then I went to Starbucks.” Another friend and her partner went on a week-long caffeine-free cleanse and writes in an e-mail that she’s “about to eat the leather off my shoes.” And a colleague in San Francisco, who was simply caffe-curious, writes “I give: I'm back on the coffee tomorrow; this is ridiculous. I miss my brain.” On the flipside, my friend Paula, a big-time coffee drinker who used to brew up heady pots of Cafe Bustelo, thick...

By Kim ODonnel | March 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (41)

Fig Bar Deja Vu

A homemade fig bar is hard to find, and a good one -- well, I’ve been searching for more than 20 years. I was fresh out of the bachelor’s degree oven, working at a gourmet shop in Philadelphia while trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up. Fig bars, just out of the oven. (Kim O'Donnel) Owned by a quartet of Persian restaurateurs, Chameleon was on the cutting edge of lunchtime fare in the late 80s, when a turkey club was considered exciting. Here you’d get chicken salad with grapes and fennel, curried egg salad and sandwiches on sesame-studded bread from the Italian Market in South Philly. And for dessert, you could have the treat of all treats -- a homemade fig bar, soft and cakey on the outside, chewy and full of fruit on the inside, and an exotic world apart from the Newtons...

By Kim ODonnel | March 26, 2009; 7:45 AM ET | Comments (8)

Writers Making Lemonade Out of Layoff Lemons

(Photobucket) Is the media dying or is the media a-changing? With my feet rooted in word-smithing soil for nearly 16 years, I’d like to think it’s the latter. If it weren’t for this daggonit economic downturn, maybe the lightning-speed changes in the ways and means of how we report the news and tell a story wouldn’t feel like an earthquake, but alas, the volcanic developments in media are unfolding, um, erupting by the hour. In my edible corner of the world, the work of four food writers whose work I had come to know has been snuffed out by the economic grim reaper in less than a month. It would be understandable if any or all of these writers decided to curl up on the couch glued to the Soap Opera Network, but this plucky bunch -- all women -- refuses to sing the layoff blues. In fact, they’re...

By Kim ODonnel | March 25, 2009; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Chat Leftovers: Roasters, "Cloaking," Little Fishies

Roasting pan: I am looking for a good roasting pan, but all the ones I see are very expensive -- over $200. Can you tell me where I can find a good roasting pan that won't bust my budget? I think I paid about 40 bucks for my 16-inch Calphalon roasting pan a few years ago, and it’s still kicking. Keep an eye on those sales, my dear; in this weak economy, department stores seem to hosting a new sale nearly every week. I recently bought a high-quality enamel-coated cast-iron skillet at Macy’s for nearly 70 percent off. Don’t underestimate the local thrift shop; I’ve found great cookware bargains over the years, as well as ye olde neighborhood yard sale. Whatever you do, don’t spend 200 bucks for a roasting pan. I am confident you can spend far less without much effort. Arlington, Va.: I tried that no-knead bread recipe...

By Kim ODonnel | March 24, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

Meatless Monday: Addictive Chickpea Crepes

I’m now addicted to chickpea crepes, and it’s all Monica Bhide’s fault. What began as an innocent, unassuming kitchen adventure seems to have morphed into a gastronomic disorder -- a full-on addiction that may require an intervention. Besan crepes ready for stuffing and chutney dipping. (Kim O'Donnel) Honest, all I was doing was paging through the galley proofs of “Modern Spice,” Bhide’s latest work, which hits bookstore shelves on April 21. From her collection of 125 recipes, I was particularly drawn to the aforementioned crepes, as I’m a big fan of gluten-free chickpea flour (you may already know about my love for veggie pakoras) and am always looking for a new way to play with it. Early last week, I made a batch for me and Mister MA to try for supper, and we stuffed them with Monica’s mashed potatoes, which are jazzy, tongue popping and so not-your-mother’s-mashed (yowza!)....

By Kim ODonnel | March 23, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

White House Says Yes to Edible Garden

(Video from Daniel Boiron's Eat the View campaign.) On this first day of spring, I can’t think of a more appropriate tribute than the groundbreaking on the South Lawn of the White House -- for an edible garden. As described in further detail by Food section reporter Jane Black, Michelle Obama has given thumbs up to edible pastures at 1600 Pennsylvania, an 1,100-square-foot garden that will encompass 55 varieties of vegetables, berries and two bee hives for honey. Word of the news started to emerge on Wednesday, when it was first reported on Obama Foodorama after blogger Eddie Gehman Kohan got her hands on a freshly published copy of O Magazine, which features an interview with the First Lady, who mentions that “We’re also working on a wonderful new garden project.” The developments were then confirmed by The Note (ABC News), the beginning of a cascade of media coverage that...

By Kim ODonnel | March 20, 2009; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (12)

Chicken Soup With Rice Flashback

Does anyone remember this cartoon special, "Really Rosie," from the 1970s? A production of children's lit master Maurice Sendak, "Really Rosie" (with vocals by Carole King) is based on Sendak's endearing collection of poems, “Chicken Soup With Rice.” Here’s the entry for March from the book: In March the wind Blows down my door And spills my soup Upon the floor. It laps it up And roars for more Blowing once Blowing twice Blowing chicken soup with rice. That’s what came to mind when I made this cozy, chicken-and-rice combo from Janie Hibler’s “Dungeness Crabs and Blackberry Cobblers” (recipe details below) a few weeks ago. In her tribute to the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest, Hibler includes several Vietnamese recipes to represent the influx (and the cuisine) of Asian immigrants to the region in the early 1990s. Although not quite soup of the Sendak variety, Kimmai’s Vietnamese Ginger Chicken...

By Kim ODonnel | March 19, 2009; 7:50 AM ET | Comments (17)

Chat Leftovers: Walk Down What's Cooking Lane

Nostalgiaville: Dear Kim, How about a few remembrances of things past? Your favorite online moment here ... When the questions started coming from all over the country and the world instead of just local ... If you could only take one recipe with you ... Etc. Well, for starters, it's hard to forget when a reader in the early days of the chat asked (in 1999, I recall) if I ever cooked with my blouse off, and I responded with “not when I’m frying bacon,” a remark which caused quite a stir with a former editor at the newspaper. That was fun. I am still tickled by the online monikers readers have given themselves such as Pesto Girl, Nancy Drew Girl, ShoeGuy, Divine Ms. K, Fancy Toast, Centre of Nowhere and Gay Arlington Food Fan (aka GAFF). If I’ve forgotten someone, please chime in. In April, 2001, we talked about...

By Kim ODonnel | March 18, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

EDF: Lessons Learned

On the blog watch, the EDF is officially over, but the eating-down party is far from a done deal. EDFers have taken their fridges and pantries by storm, and can’t seem to get enough of the frugal vibrations. Among some of you, there’s talk of continuing the challenge for a second or even a third week, requesting permission to stock up on perishables, such as produce, eggs and dairy. There’s enough of a groundswell that I’m considering a quarterly EDF, next one to be held in June, then in September and so on, so we can experience the challenge during different seasons. Here’s a sampler of what you’ve been saying; From the EDF Facebook Group Page: I can see the back of my freezer. -- Kathy, Cincinnati I find I'm being more thoughtful about what I'm eating and serving. It seems decadent to eat chicken on its own instead...

By Kim ODonnel | March 16, 2009; 8:30 AM ET | Comments (5)

Meatless Monday: BBQ Tempeh

I’ve got another good reason to play with tempeh, those fermented soybean cakes I’ve been telling you about: It makes great BBQ. Not barbecue, as in slowwwwly cooked and tantalizing morsels of smoked meat (for which this omnivore has an occasional hankering), but Q, as in tangy, spicy, tomato-y sauce that dresses up chicken, pulled pork -- and yes, tempeh -- like nobody’s business. BBQ'd tempeh sandwich with carrot-cabbage slaw. (Kim O'Donnel) The revelation is not mine; it’s the fine work of chef Bryant Terry, author of the brand spanking new “Vegan Soul Kitchen.” As a fellow tempeh devotee, I’ve been tinkering with a tempeh sandwich of my own, so naturally I was intrigued when I got wind of his BBQ tempeh sandwich, dolled up with a kicky slaw of cabbage and carrots. The sauce comes together in about five minutes, whizzed up in a blender or food processor...

By Kim ODonnel | March 16, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

EDF: Home Stretch and a Call for Pizza Night

If you’ve been following along since Sunday, you know that today is Day Six (of seven) of Eating Down the Fridge. For the diehard EDFers who haven’t stepped foot into a grocery store this week, today may be the most challenging day of all. Is that crisper compartment down to the last mangy thing that used to be a carrot? Is there nary a starch to pair up with the remaining six cans of black beans? Are the remaining ingredients so seemingly incompatible and so off-putting that you run the risk of alienating the rest of the family? (A writer for the Orlando Weekly titled her column yesterday "Eating Down the Frickin’ Fridge.") I can’t say I’ve had that experience, but I do feel like tonight will an appropriately “eating down” denouement to this week-long eating adventure. Although I’ve got EDF ideas for Saturday (both lunch and dinner), tonight...

By Kim ODonnel | March 13, 2009; 3:01 PM ET | Comments (15)

EDF: The Princess and Her Fridge

On the night that Barack Obama was elected president, Los Angeles-based blogger Eddie Gehman Kohan launched some change of her own -- Obama Foodorama, which she describes as a “daily diary of the Obama foodscape, one byte at a time.” In the few months since, Gehman Kohan's "Ob Fo" has become a must-read for anyone interested in what the First Family is eating for supper or what the Obama administration is dishing up for agricultural and food policy. I'm not sure Kim realized she was going to be running a pop-psych experiment when she planned the Eating Down The Fridge challenge, but it seems like the whole lovely project has involved as much psychic cleaning as fridge cleaning for the enthusiastic cooks who've been hanging around in her virtual kitchen. It's been brilliant good fun to read. Naturally, I wound up doing some soul cleaning of my own, in...

By Kim ODonnel | March 13, 2009; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

EDF, Down Under

AMA reader Nancy Owens is a Boston native currently living in Canberra, Australia, where she writes about her Australian adventures, food and otherwise at Roving Lemon. She ate down her Down Under fridge last week to file the following report. I’ve been the person responsible for filling (and emptying) fridges on three continents. That sounds exotic and adventurous, doesn’t it? The contents of Nancy Owens's fridge in Canberra, Australia. (Nancy Owens) Sometimes it is…. And then there’s the everyday reality: Every one of those fridges seems to have a half-empty bag of carrots perpetually lurking in the bottom of the vegetable drawer. No matter where I’ve lived (first Boston, then Oxford, U.K., and now Canberra), I do the same thing: buy bags of carrots (because they’re cheaper that way than buying individual carrots, and you never know when you might need one), and then take forever to use them...

By Kim ODonnel | March 12, 2009; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (5)

EDF: Pantry Par-tay

New York-based writer Paula Crossfield is the managing editor of Civil Eats, a Web site focused on food and sustainability. She is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post's Green Page and is a contributing producer at The Leonard Lopate Show on New York Public Radio. She is currently planning a vegetable garden for her roof in the Lower East Side. Eating Down the Fridge is more about the pantry than the refrigerator at my place. An overwhelming sense of guilt should I allow lettuce to wilt, Emmental cheese to harden or citrus to mold pretty much keeps the fridge in check, save for some leftovers I can’t bear to eat a fourth time. No, this was an opportunity to go after those dried beans, grains, nuts and fruit I’ve been stock piling in the lazy Susan, which my husband keeps threatening not to fix should it break...

By Kim ODonnel | March 12, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

EDF: Hump Day Reflections

It’s Day Four. Are you finding your way to the other end of the freezer or more lost than ever? I can see clearly now, the frost is gone…. Here at the Casa, we’re having a blast lightening up the crisper, whittling down the freezer and making space in the cupboards. Last night’s supper was a few wild salmon fillets from the freezer, seasoned with a coffee rub (1 teaspoon ground cumin
, 1 teaspoon chili powder,
 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 
1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee, about ½ teaspoon
 salt and pepper to taste), roasted broccoli (1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon salt,
 ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika,
 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes), a loaf of bread and leftover rice from my friend Leslie’s fridge. We were eating in style! I saved the stalks of the brocc, thinking I’d either turn them into soup with...

By Kim ODonnel | March 11, 2009; 4:15 PM ET | Comments (24)

EDF: Saving the Best for Last

Guest blogger Nicole Spiridakis lives in San Francisco, where she writes about food, travel and her native state at Cucina Nicolina, her cooking blog. When she's not in her (tiny) kitchen working on a new dish, she contributes to NPR's Kitchen Window, the San Francisco Chronicle's Home and Garden section, and other publications. She ate down her fridge last week to file this report. The trouble with leftovers is that you can get tired of them. Or, at least, I tire of them after awhile. I love making an enormous pot of quinoa-mushroom-spinach stew, and will eat it happily throughout the week for lunch, but by the time long-awaited Friday rolls around I’m looking at my Tupperware container with slight distaste -- even though it’s one of my very favorite meals. I’m sure you know what I mean. Nicole's quinoa stew. (Nicole Spiridakis) And yet, I adore a meal...

By Kim ODonnel | March 11, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Eating Down Fridge: Guest Blogger Julia Watson

Julia Watson is an ex-foreign correspondent turned freelance food writer with her own Web site, eatWashington. She's also written on food for The Washington Post and NPR and has published two novels, "Russian Salad" and "American Pie" -- neither of which are about food. Her article on eating at French night markets will appear in the May issue of Gourmet magazine. A veteran fridge and pantry hoarder, Julia dishes up advice for the uninitiated in her essay, below. She'll join me Thursday at 1 ET for the special EDF chat. It was the Sunday brunch gazpacho that made me realize there’s a skill to serving leftovers that’s not just about the food. It’s about how you’ve stored it. I’d made a batch of Vietnamese iced coffee to serve with the chocolate mousse cake. And saved it in a juice bottle. I’d also made a pale peach-colored gazpacho that I...

By Kim ODonnel | March 10, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (26)

White Bread, Three Ways: Part III

As related last week, I was underwhelmed by the results of my maiden voyage on the no-knead bread train. I’m a confessed “kneady” gal, so maybe I was feeling first-time jitters or just simply finding my doughy way. Whatever the case, I remained unconvinced that NK would become my new MO, unless of course, someone else could show me the crumby light…Which leads me to the final installment in this mini series on good ole white bread. (Kim O'Donnel) So let me cut to the chase: I may have found the holy grail of bread making, folks. Admittedly, I was reading through “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois with great skepticism, but I was truly intrigued by their thesis that a) you could make bread without kneading and b) make a batch of so-called NK dough that you could use at your leisure...

By Kim ODonnel | March 9, 2009; 1:00 PM ET | Comments (13)

Eating Down the Fridge: Let the Fun Begin!

Well, howdy do and welcome to Day One of Eating Down the Fridge! I am so excited to embark on this week-long adventure with you and see just how resourceful we can be with our collective edible surplus from the fridge, freezer and pantry. As of today, we are 112 households strong, representing 30 states and four additional countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark and South Africa); you can see the entire list of participants on the EDF Honor Roll, which continues to be updated today. On the EDF Facebook Group page, 163 members are talking (and cooking) up a storm around the clock, and if you’re a Twitterer, you can find all related tweets by searching with the following hashtag: #eatfridge In addition to reports from Casa Appetite, you’ll hear from a lively bunch of guest bloggers, including Julia Watson, DC-based food writer and the creative force behind Eat Washington;...

By Kim ODonnel | March 9, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (26)

Chat Leftovers: When Life Gets in the Way of Dinner

Arlington, Va.: Help. I am a mom of a 17-month old, and I've been finding it really hard to plan quick, healthy meals for my family. I'm a fairly competent cook, and I love being in the kitchen, but now that my daughter is mobile, it's been hard for me to find time to cook dinner and pay attention to her. (I get home at 6; her dad gets home at 8:30, after she's in bed.) I would love to designate Sunday as a planning/prep day for the week ahead, but I can't seem to figure out how to get organized. I'd love any tips & recipe suggestions. Although I don't have a squirming bambino in my kitchen midst, I certainly can relate (as can so many busy home cooks) to the ongoing conundrum of trying to squeeze in time to make supper. A few months ago, I wrote a...

By Kim ODonnel | March 5, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Wine Cork Recycling and a Bigger Conversation

So I’m wandering through the wine section of a Whole Foods Market in Seattle, and I bump into a collection box for wine corks. “Help Put a Cork in Global Warming,” is the headline on the take-home literature perched on top of the box. The note is from Jim Bernau, founder of Oregon-based Willamette Valley Vineyards, which is leading the charge on “Cork ReHarvest,” a cork recycling and awareness campaign. (Kim O'Donnel) In addition to Whole Foods, where the collection boxes are stationed, Willamette has partnered up with the Rainforest Alliance (which offers a Forest Steward Council certification system for cork stoppers). Willamette Valley is the first winery to receive such certification, in 2005. This project comes on the heels of another pilot program, ReCork America, which launched in northern California last fall. Sponsored by Portuguese cork manufacturer Amororim, ReCORK America has also partnered with Whole Foods, on a regional...

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

White Bread, Three Ways: Part II

Last week’s bread menu featured Betty Crocker’s version of a white sandwich loaf, a straightforward recipe using an old-school (and familiar) methodology of kneading and proofing. On tap this week are two recipes from the School of No-Knead, a decidedly different approach to getting a decent crumb. And within the no-knead world, there are variations on the theme, as we’ll learn in the coming days. I’m a newbie when it comes to no-knead bread, which means at this point, I am unable to authoritatively determine if I baked a good loaf (or not). It sure does taste good, which I suppose says a lot, and it’s got more developed flavor characteristics than my Betty Crocker loaf. It’s got a darker crust and has a denser mouth feel, but where does that leave us with an overall grade or assessment? The jury is still out. I like kneading; in fact, I’m...

By Kim ODonnel | March 3, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Meatless Monday: Roasted Squash Salad

This is the time of year when many of us start to go bonkers. Spring, at least on the books, is just 18 days away, but as I type these words, the eastern half of the country is gearing up for or getting walloped by major snowfall. (Kim O'Donnel) It’s the ultimate tease by Mother Nature; one minute, she gifts us with a popping crocus, the next minute she’s howling winds of blizzard proportions. In the fresh produce department, that means baby greens and asparagus are still weeks – -- and for some in colder climes -- months away. And those harvest-hued root veggies that took us through Thanksgiving, the winter holidays and greeted us into the New Year? The luster has worn off like a cheap suit, my friends. We need something -- anything -- to help bridge winter and the promise of spring, and that is precisely...

By Kim ODonnel | March 2, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

 

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