Archive: April 2009

First Taste of 'Julie & Julia'

We’ve watched plenty of movies based on books (there are just too many to count). TV shows, too. (“Roots” and “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” come to mind.) And now we’re reading books based on blogs (Stuff White People Like, I Can Has Cheezburger, Gluten-Free Girl, to name a few). But with the imminent release of “Julie & Julia,” it may very well be the first movie based on a book and a blog. Yesterday, Columbia Pictures released the official trailer of the film, starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell, the desk jockey who, back in 2002, embarked on a year-long adventure of cooking her way through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” the classic tome by Child, Louisette Berthole and Simone Beck. She chronicled her adventures in her blog called Julie/Julia Project, which morphed into “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524...

By Kim ODonnel | April 30, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (15)

No More Excuses for Harboring 'Meat Cake'

I wonder what the late comedian George Carlin would think of Still Tasty, a new Web site focused on the shelf life of food. It was in the late 1970s when Carlin coined the expression “meat cake” for those unidentifiable objects left to rot in the fridge. The famous bit can be viewed, below (beginning at :57, 'til 2:17): Fridge neglect is something we’re all guilty of to varying degrees, and it inevitably leaves us in this strange state of panic and guilt, as perfectly good food decays and morphs into science projects and our money literally goes down the garbage disposal. We angst over past-due expiration dates on yogurt containers and we wonder just how long that carry-out container of Asian noodles will last. (Kim O'Donnel) Before February, when Still Tasty launched, there was nary one Web destination for all those nagging food storage/safety conundrums. Home cooks were forced...

By Kim ODonnel | April 29, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Stop, Share and Taste the Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, and it goes out with a bang this Thursday (the 30th), with the second annual Poem In Your Pocket Day. Translation: Put some lines in your pocket, and share with friends and random strangers during the course of your day. You never know what might happen when you break into verse. To get the poetry party started, I’ll go first and dish up something from the mixed-up files of KOD: Hindsight Mow the lawn Mow the lawn On and on It goes Go to work Wear a clean shirt That’s how the story goes Meet your wife Whom you think you know Then one day the soup is scorched and there’s nothing To eat but the salt of your tears. The recipe lost, The chef out of sight. Hindsight gives you a pain in the ass because no one told you. Smoky mind, And children...

By Kim ODonnel | April 28, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

Meatless Monday: Chinese Restaurant-Style Green Beans

You know these green beans. They may have changed your tune about eating vegetables. (They did for me.) (Kim O'Donnel) Little did I know 25-or-so years ago while dining at a Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia called Tang’s that green beans could be tender and green (not Army brown) and that they could be draped in a sauce other than cream of mushroom soup, a sauce that not only filled the room with a heady perfume but that actually allowed the beans to be beans. Who knew that vegetables could be so delicious and that I’d prefer those beans to my plate of General Tso’s chicken? Without a doubt, it was an amazing revelation, but one that I always associated with a Chinese restaurant, not my own kitchen. For more than a decade, I let the green beans come to me rather than go to the green beans. Frankly, I...

By Kim ODonnel | April 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

In Cali Desert, Looking for a Hot Date...Shake

Just one of the other-worldly views of Desert Hot Springs, Calif. (Kim O'Donnel) I’ll keep this brief, as Mister MA and I are on a brief hiatus from the rat race, chillaxing in the dry heat of Desert Hot Springs, Calif. About 110 miles east of Los Angeles (and maybe 10 miles east of Palm Springs), Desert Hot Springs is a sleepy little community at the foot of the awe-inspiring San Jacinto Mountains. (The Little San Bernandino Mountains, which ain’t so little, are pretty spectacular, too.) But honestly, we came here for what lies beneath the earth -- the ancient hot mineral springs that wash away all your troubles. To that end, we are shacked up at a groovy little spot called Miracle Manor, an eight-room “spa motel” that has one of the best mineral pools ever. Pruney fingers be damned, this pool is the panacea I’ve been waiting...

By Kim ODonnel | April 24, 2009; 8:20 AM ET | Comments (7)

Getting Granular on Whole Grains

I was in D.C. for a few days this week attending "Make (at least!) Half Your Grains Whole," a conference hosted by Boston-based think tank Oldways and its sister program, the Whole Grains Council. The very name of the conference is derived from recommendations made in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a joint effort of the Departments of Health & Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA). As part of a balanced diet, the federal government recommends three or more servings of whole grains a day for ages nine and older. Sounds easy enough, right? But as I listened to the many speakers (representing science, industry, media and nutrition, to name just a few) present their findings about public consumption and perception of whole grains, I found myself saying out loud: Now wait a second; how many of us not in this room actually know what a whole grain is...

By Kim ODonnel | April 23, 2009; 9:50 AM ET | Comments (8)

Earth Day Food for Thought: Shrinking Your ‘Cookprint’

Cookbook author Kate Heyhoe would like you to put down that organic avocado and chew on this morsel for a moment: When it comes to being green, what you eat is not enough; how you cook it and what you cook with are equally essential to the green equation. On the first page of her new book, “Cooking Green,” Heyhoe tells us right up that “appliances account for 30 percent of our household energy use, and the biggest guzzlers are in the kitchen.” (She refers to the oven as the “Humvee of the kitchen.”) Author Kate Heyhoe. (Photo courtesy of the author) As we talk about reducing our carbon footprint on this Earth Day -- and going forward -- Heyhoe, who’s based in Austin, Tex., would like us to consider shrinking our “cookprint” as well – the energy it takes to prepare food every day. In the interview notes below,...

By Kim ODonnel | April 22, 2009; 7:28 AM ET | Comments (13)

Wild for Ramps

(Tim Fitzgerald) For many home cooks, spring equals asparagus, but there’s a fragrant little onion -- the ramp -- that emerges from the soil well before those beloved spears. Native to North America, the ramp grows in forests and mountainous regions from Canada to South Carolina. Resembling a scallion but with broad, soft leaves and a tinge of pink on the middle of the shoot, the ramp has developed a cult following, both at homespun festivals and with celebrity chefs. Guest blogger Tim Fitzgerald, a scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, shares his love for the wild onion, both in the field and in the kitchen. After I had my first taste of grilled ramps pizza at Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in New York, I knew I was hooked. The only problem is that these little buggers are expensive -- as much $25 per pound. So what is...

By Kim ODonnel | April 21, 2009; 7:20 AM ET | Comments (1)

Meatless Monday: Another Top-Shelf Bean Burger

If you’re a bean burger enthusiast, you may remember last year when at long last, I found a black bean burger that actually works. Well, I’ve got great news: The black bean burger now has company! (Kim O'Donnel) The credit goes to the dynamic cooking duo that is Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, who have just released yet another book, “Cooking Know-How.” (A more detailed look at the book to come soon in this space.) But these two haven’t just come up with a lip-smacking recipe; they’ve devised a brilliant bean burger template that can apply to several kinds of beans. Assuming you’ve got a 15-ounce can of drained beans, here’s what you do: chop up an onion, some garlic and a small handful of unsalted nuts, and along with the beans, throw into a food processor with some rolled oats, an egg and dried spices and herbs of...

By Kim ODonnel | April 20, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Chocolate Chip Cookies on Crack

So I’m out with my gal pal Deb, Mister MA and young Phil, our visitor from Madison, Wis., and we’re doing the art crawl in Ballard, one of Seattle’s hip-happenin’ neighborhoods. Deb, who’s lived in Seattle a zillion times longer than we have, suggests getting a deep-dish pie at Madame K’s, a bordello-themed pizzeria, complete with gilded mirrors, buxomed servers and a menu that includes treats such as Barbie's Badass BBQ Chick Pie. (Kim O'Donnel) At Madame K’s, there is only one dessert on offer, and that would be the “chocolate chip orgasm,” a deep-dish chocolate chip cookie served in a ramekin with ice cream. Of course, the guys had to see what the happy-ending fuss was all about, and ordered one for the table. I believe Mister MA could have polished it off, ahem, by himself. I’ve heard of taking chocolate chip cookie dough and pressing it into a...

By Kim ODonnel | April 17, 2009; 7:20 AM ET | Comments (11)

A Trio of Grilled Cheese Contests

If you are the marketing guru who came up with National Grilled Cheese Month, please identify yourself because we’d all like to give you props for designating April the cheesiest month of the year. (Kim O'Donnel) For those who agree with me that grilled cheese is a spiritual phenomenon, you’ve got an opportunity to show off your stuff (and spread the gospel) via three competitions around the country. You’ve got only 24 hours to whip your sandwich into shape for the Grilled Cheese Sandwich Contest sponsored by Artisanal Fromagerie, Bistro and Wine Bar in New York. Join the restaurant’s Facebook Fan page, and post your original recipe and contact info. Not on Facebook? No problem; e-mail the gooey details instead. Regardless, all entries must be received by tomorrow, April 17, at 5 ET. The culinary stylings of 12 semi-finalists will posted on Artisanal’s Facebook page and on The Feed Bag...

By Kim ODonnel | April 16, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (9)

On Tax Day, Cheap Is on the Menu

Whether you’re early, late or hosting a tea party in protest, you know that today is Tax Day, aka Pay the Man Day. Even when I break even or anticipate a refund, inevitably I feel wrung out, much like that dingy sponge on the sink, exhausted by the process of crunching numbers, foraging for receipts and working myself into an irrational lather about meeting Uncle Sam’s deadline. Maybe you can relate, but the only thing that seems to ease my financial vertigo -- other than pretending to win the lottery -- is to pull out the cheapest tricks in the book and be as spend thrifty as possible for a few weeks, if not longer. Here in this space, I’ve sung the praises of the frugal and versatile egg, and you’ve shared some great ideas for keeping an eye on the ka-ching factor in the kitchen. But the drama of...

By Kim ODonnel | April 15, 2009; 8:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Are You Too Sexy for Your Whisk?

You’ve planned a seduction with pie -- more than once. Your curry makes them hurry home. It’s not uncommon to find your dinner guests uncontrollably swooning between courses or lapping at your apron strings. My, what big tools you have...(Kim O'Donnel) And now, there’s a word for your kind -- gastrosexual. According to UrbanDictionary.com, a “gastrosexual” is a guy “who sees cooking as a hobby and not just a chore,” someone who uses his culinary skills to win friends (and more importantly) lovers. As a proud gastrosexual (actually I like to think of myself more of a temptress, known on a few continents for my morning-after apple coffee cake), I’m a bit flummoxed by the male-centric definition, as was radio cooking show host Lynne Rossetto Kasper, who had the presence of mind to rise above the soup scum and take gastrosexual matters into her own hands. In fact, “The Splendid...

By Kim ODonnel | April 14, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Meatless Monday: Party on With the Black-Eyed Peas

A can of beans is classic utilitarian fare; crack it open, pour into a saucepan, heat and eat. It may lack flavor and pizazz, but dinner, for the most practical of souls, is served. Toast dressed to the nines. (Kim O'Donnel) But when those beans are pureed, life suddenly gets very interesting. The most obvious (and ubiquitous) example is hummus, an irresistible puree of chickpeas that works not only as a party dip but as a sandwich spread and lunch-on-the-run. I'm not crazy about mushy white beans from a can, but when pureed and sassed up with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, cayenne and lemon (and when I have it, a roasted red pepper), that lowly can o' mush morphs into a glam party snack or workweek lunch fare that surely will be coveted by your coworkers. After some experimenting last week, I've got a new can to add to...

By Kim ODonnel | April 13, 2009; 10:32 AM ET | Comments (2)

Super Fly Fries

While poring through cookbooks for cocktail-nosh inspiration, I got sidetracked -- thank goodness. The culprit: a recipe for panisse, also known as chickpea fries. Yes, you read that right; you can make fries from chickpea flour, and once you do, you may never want fries of the potato variety ever again. They’re THAT good. Common in the south of France, panisse are also known as panelle along the Meditterrean coast of Italy. (Kim O'Donnel) A few years ago, I had the pleasure of my first panisse experience at Kinkead's in D.C., overcome by their deliciousness while pondering how one actually makes fries from chickpea flour. With the help of pastry chef Francois Payard’s gem of a little book, “Bite Size,” now I know: You cook the chickpea flour with liquid until it becomes a paste, which is poured into a pan and allow to set up in the fridge. Within...

By Kim ODonnel | April 10, 2009; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (13)

Eco Bites: Greening Casa Appetite

As Earth Day -- April 22 -- approaches, I am taking stock of just how green things are at the Casa and where (and how) we can make things a little bit greener. Would I like to have more energy-efficient kitchen appliances and solar-powered water? You bet. A yard for growing vegetables and a dedicated compost heap to nourish the soil and reduce overall waste? Oh yeah. But for now, those goals remain on the wish list and instead we focus on what we can do rather than on what we cannot. Some change is better than no change at all, no? As much as I love the laundry lists a la "100 Ways to Green Your Life" or the "How Green Are You" quizzes, I find them overwhelming and daunting, at best, and maybe even a little guilt-inducing. If most of us agree that we all need to do...

By Kim ODonnel | April 9, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (15)

Ask Kim: Veggies for Breakfast, Garlic Scapes

Linda, in Baton Rouge, La.: I planted garlic back in October and I now have nice green tops to my garlic. Is that what you are calling garlic scape? Do I cut off all the green and make pesto out of it? Linda, do they look like curly cues? In the mid-Atlantic, garlic scapes typically don’t make an appearance until early June, but given that you’re in much warmer climes, I’d say you’re probably on the mark. Check out my recipe for garlic scape pesto -- you’ll need about eight scapes for one batch. Enjoy; I’m envious of your harvest, as I’ve been craving the pesto since last June! Kim, I saw your comment about Americans needing to eat more veggies, and I agree. This is something I am trying to do for a number of reasons. Any ideas on incorporating veggies into breakfast? Signed, “Agathist” What a great question....

By Kim ODonnel | April 8, 2009; 7:40 AM ET | Comments (13)

Cheap Tricks: The Incredible Egg

(Kim O'Donnel) Looking for cheap protein during hard times? Have an egg for supper. Despite the financial challenges we’re all facing at the supermarket checkout, the cost of a dozen eggs remains a serious bargain. And I’m not just talking about the mass-produced variety in the refrigerated case in Any Town (which are currently about $1.50 per dozen); the local farmstead eggs (which I highly recommend for their unparalleled flavor) from your neighborhood farm market might run five or six bucks, tops – about 50 cents per serving. In fact, even if the price of a dozen eggs skyrocketed to a dozen dollars, the cost per serving would still be ridiculously cheap. (Now that’s a real dollar menu!) Here at the Casa, eggs are a supper staple not just because they’re so cheap, but because they’re so darn versatile both in method and flavoring. When it’s past seven, and...

By Kim ODonnel | April 7, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (21)

Meatless Monday: The Cinchiest Stir Fried Greens Ever

Got five minutes, soy sauce and a coupla garlic cloves? Then you’ve got no more excuses about how hard it is to put a leafy green vegetable on the table. (Kim O'Donnel) For a moment, let’s leave our friend spinach in the crisper and turn our attention to bok choy and its many Chinese cousins, all members of the Brassica family (whose western brethren includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts et al). Unlike tender-leaved spinach, chard and arugula, the choys need a wee bit of cooking time to both soften up and mellow out (they tend to be bitter in their uncooked state). When I say a wee bit of cooking time, I’m not kidding -- five minutes is all you need to fix a plate of gorgeous emerald greens, dressed up with a super-simple yet lusty lacquer of soy sauce and garlic. Choy sum is the ideal green for...

By Kim ODonnel | April 6, 2009; 7:50 AM ET | Comments (3)

Food for Thought From Denver

Greetings from Denver! I am here attending the 31st annual conference of the International Association for Culinary Professionals (IACP), joined by some 700 of my closest friends in the food world (including Food section editor Joe Yonan). We are writers, editors, farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs and artisan producers representing North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia. It is pretty darn cool to be among one’s brethren, people who speak the same language, often with their mouths full. Setting up shop in between conference sessions. (Joe Yonan/The Washington Post) This year's theme is "Pioneering a Sustainable World," an opportunity to discuss where our food comes from and how it's grown, raised or processed and how this conversation applies to the current economic crisis. Yesterday's opening session, "The Soul of Sustainability," featured a panel moderated by radio personality Lynn Rossetto Kasper ("The Splendid Table"), who asked the questions I have been longing...

By Kim ODonnel | April 3, 2009; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (8)

Boiling Recipes Down to a Tweet

In the world of 140 characters or less, the recipe is getting a serious do-over. It’s the raison d’etre for Twitter.com/cookbook, the shrunken down recipe page of the very pro-twitter-lific Maureen Evans, who’s based in Belfast, Ireland. A micro recipe from Maureen Evans's Twitter page. Even for people who edit and write recipes for a living, recipe condensation is an art; here’s my feeble attempt last week, which went well over the Tweet limit: @Jeters Red lentils in a pot w hunk of ginger & cinnamon stick. Cook for about 25 min. @Jeters Cook up pot of rice. cook thinly sliced onions w cumin, coriander, salt. Remove from skillet. Add oil, then saute kale w/ garlic. Chip Brantley and his kitchen crew at Cookthink have issued a challenge to aspiring micro recipe writers: Submit yours here and “We’ll send a book of macro recipes to the person who submits our...

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

Feast at Casa Bizarro

There’s no better day on the calendar than April Fool’s Day, to bring one’s alter ego out of the closet. Allow me to introduce Lennodo Mik, (a name straight out of the Bizarro World telephone book), who’s known around town as the hostess with the mostest Hostess fruit pies. Lennodo Mik taking a break from the kitchen. Lenny (that’s what friends call her) gave me a ring last night; she wanted to invite me and the Mister to a little get-together she’s hosting this weekend; I told her we’ll be out of town, but good ole Lenny insisted that I listen to the menu lineup so that I’d know what we’d be missing. Thanks to a sale on mayonnaise at the store last week, Lenny says she stocked up on a few of those super-size 64-ounce jars, which she’d like to incorporate into all of my party favorites -- mayo-laden...

By Kim ODonnel | April 1, 2009; 9:30 AM ET | Comments (12)

 

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