Ask Kim: The (Cook) Doctor is In

You seem to like it when I have office hours, so what the heck, let’s go crazy and do it again as you gear up for the weekend. Is there a cook-top project on your agenda?

(Family photo)

I’ve got a notion to “bake” a chocolate cake, campfire-style, as part of my latest obsession with cooking over indirect heat on the grill. (Last weekend, it was beer-can chicken,which was a hoot, and if you’re interested in details, tell me so in the comments area. It’s been written about to death over the years, but I’m game if you are.) I also have a new obsession with sunflower sprouts, which are bringing me such gustatory joy I am considering growing my own in the front yard. (any tips?)

My mother is en route from Philadelphia for her first visit to Seattle in several years, and I plan to feed her particularly well this Sunday (her birthday), but I don’t suppose she’d like that campfire cake…

Anyway, enough about me, and back to you. Tell me a good yarn or stump me with a kitchen doozy. The office will be open til about 3p.m. PT., starting after my first cup of coffee.

By Kim ODonnel |  June 5, 2009; 7:00 AM ET Ask Kim
Previous: The Savory Side of Rhubarb | Next: Eating Down the Fridge Honor Roll: Summer '09


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GARLIC SCAPES!!! Yay! Other than pesto or or stirfry, what else can I do with this fantastic vegetable? I bought three pounds of the stuff and have neighbors keeping an eye out for them so I don't miss out on a minute of the season. Do they freeze well?

Posted by: Jess65 | June 5, 2009 7:55 AM

Hi Kim: Last week at the Farmer's Market I purchased garlic scapes (of which I had heard) and Japanese turnips (of which I had not). The turnips looked like a bunch of white radishes. I sliced both thinly, and along with the asparagus I also found, sauteed them and made them into a frittata. It was terrific. Later that evening I made a salad with exquisite red leaf and butterhead lettuce, also from the FM, and added sliced scapes and turnips.

My question: What else can I do with these wonderful, sweet little turnips? I'm really thrilled with this new find!

Posted by: jhershelredpuppy1 | June 5, 2009 7:56 AM

I'm trying to prepare for the EDF challenge. I'm really looking for a pastry recipe that uses whole wheat flour - the one I used (off the Whole Foods webpage) crumbled instantly upon baking. Any recommendations for a pastry recipe that uses whole wheat flour (it doesn't have to be ALL whole wheat flour) that will hold up to making little meat pies? And maybe one for a fruit pie too? Thanks

Posted by: blankdc | June 5, 2009 8:08 AM

Don't know specifically about pastry recipes, but King Arthur Flour has lot of recipes that use whole wheat flour, and I've always been pleased with the results when I have used their recipes.

Posted by: groover0227 | June 5, 2009 8:50 AM

Good morning from NM -

My go-to whole-wheat pastry recipe, which I use for piecrust, tarts and turnovers:

1 1/4 cu. ww flour, 1 stick butter, 4 oz. cream cheese (I use full-fat; never tried it with reduced fat), 1 tsp salt, enough ice water to make everything stick together. Blend everything but the water with a pastry blender or doughhook until crumbly. Add water until dough forms a ball. Mold into a flat round, wrap in plastic wrap, chill 1/2-1 hour, roll out. I have never had a miss with this.

Posted by: lsgc | June 5, 2009 9:11 AM

Yeay, office hours! Love it. Couple things - at the farmers market, I couldn't resist all the beautiful different squashes, so I went a little crazy, but now I need some suggestions cause I'm sick of all the obvious and usual things. Suggestions? Also, I picked up the garlic scapes at the market too and threw them into potato salad last night - delightful!

Lately, I have become enamoured with molasses. I've used it in everything from fruit smoothies to steak sauces. I would love suggestions for other recepies.

Posted by: Lizka | June 5, 2009 10:03 AM

For making meat pies using whole wheat flour, why not try a yeasted dough for the pastry? Deborah Madison has a good one but I'm at work so I can't look it up for you. I think the recipe just calls for all-purpose but I generally use 1/3 whole wheat when I make it. I roll it really thin and it doesn't seem to bready for little turnovers.

Posted by: esleigh | June 5, 2009 10:26 AM

Hi, Kim. Any great tips for a killer potato salad? I typically like more vinaigrette or mustard-based sauces for potato salad, and I wondered if you've got any favorites. Thanks!

Posted by: leya_speasmaker | June 5, 2009 10:45 AM

hi, kim! i just sent your notes from the oregon coast to lil bro who is moving out there as i type.

i have a cookware question. we bought the all-clad copper core and it takes forever to heat up and forever to cook (we put it on medium because we were warned not to use it on high). and by forever, i'm talking about it took 40 minutes to get chicken pot pie stewing/simmering/and not even reducing in the big sauce pan. what am i doing wrong?

also, wanted your suggestion on a good cookbook for a new mom who doesn't have much time to cook and who doesn't know much about cooking anyhow. someone had recommended the mark bittman book that uses 6 ingredients or less. your thoughts?

lastly, i'm craving cupcakes. do you have a good buttercream recipe? i've tried boiled icing, which i actually like (i think it's known as 7 minute icing too, it's basically egg whites with softball water/sugar), but i can never get the icing to stay solid - it always separates out to liquid on the bottom and icing on top.

lots of questions, but i couldn't resist office hours!

happy friday,

Posted by: suemember | June 5, 2009 11:04 AM

I'm going to try baking some homemade oreos and oatmeal creme pies this weekend. Also, I think we're heading to the fish market to get some fish for the grill.

We got a bunch of green garlic at the farmer's market this week and I need some ideas for what to do with it.

Posted by: mmauk | June 5, 2009 11:07 AM

I'm also excited about finding 'spring turnips' at the farmer's market. So far I've just sliced them on salad, but the frittata sounds great! At Kim's suggestion, I also braised the greens with white wine and shallots and they turned out good as well.

Posted by: quokka27 | June 5, 2009 11:07 AM

Kim, I've got to make potato salad for a picnic party next weekend. I think you gave me an olive oil/new potato salad recipe several years ago, and I can't find - can you help? Also, I need some other sides for the picnic, and some apps, preferably ones that don't take a lot of refrigeration.
Thanks! Ooh, I almost forgot - is the mountain out today?

Posted by: nativenewjerseyan | June 5, 2009 11:33 AM

Good morning! I'm all about the mayo-free potato salad, leya_speasmaker. From a few years ago, a link to a piece that includes guidelines to making your mayo-free tater salad the damn skippiest. Have a go!

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 11:39 AM

Hi Kim-

Thanks for hosting this banter! I have tons of fresh oregano. Any ideas on oregano-heavy sauces or dips or sides? A little goes such a long way and I just can't keep up with my herb garden's production.

Posted by: IdahoGal07 | June 5, 2009 11:47 AM

Nativenewjerseyan, I just posted a link that'll take you to that very potato salad template. Have a looksee. But picnic treats -- let's see. What about a cold couscous salad ,with chickpeas, red onion, herbs, lotsa lemon, scallions, bell pepper. Quinoa would work here too, or you could play with wheat berries. Will you have coolers on hand? I'm thinking some in-season berries would be great, keep cool until ready to serve. Also just thinking about how nice/cool it would be to have watermelon with cukes, a little feta.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 11:48 AM

I got carried away with the early signs of summer & bought more sweet (bing) cherries than I can eat. I don't want them to go to waste, so am thinking of freezing the ones I won't get to. Should I pit them before freezing? Anything else I should know? Any suggestions on how to use them once I've frozen them?


Posted by: lindy47 | June 5, 2009 11:53 AM

IdahoGal07, I've got tons of oregano in the front yard myself! I really like it stuffed into whole fish, mixed with tomatoes and cukes, also in a panzanella. The other thing you could do is dry it and keep in in a container for use this winter when you'll be crying the fresh oregano blues.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 11:57 AM

Lindy47, great question. Surely if you pit them, the cherries are torn a bit, but I think you'll save yourself a lot of work by pitting them before freezing. Geez, you can make cherry cobbler in October! Make winter cheery with cherry sauce for waffles. Cherry chutney as a side for poultry.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 12:10 PM

Mmauk, I want a full report on these homemade oreos and oatmeal creme pies! Great thing about green garlic is that it's mild enough to use raw, in salads. I've got a bunch in my fridge right now, and been thinking about putting into my mother's scrambled eggs this weekend (looking forward to seeing her after 6 months!), into mashed avocado, mixed when you saute up some green veg, and shucks, use to season that fish. It'll be great. I reckon you could try grilling the green garlic, too. OH! Great in rice.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 12:15 PM

Not to be greedy, but I have a couple of questiones:

1) I'm interested in growing some of my own herbs but have a few problem. I live in an apartment, so no backyard. I do have a balcony, though. I also am a renowned red thumb, as in I kill plants. But I've heard herbs aren't too hard to take care of. Are there some common herbs that I could grow in pots on my balcony? What kind of care do they need? The ones I use the most are basil, rosemary and thyme. Actually, is there any way I could grow them inside year round? I live in the wintry cold of Chicago, so it definitely limits outside growing times.

2) After a year in high school working at a restaurant buffet that served beets from a can, I've always considered them disgusting. But I feel I should give them another chance - what do they taste like fresh? What's the best way to cook one? And please say a fresh beet won't have all that nasty juice.

Posted by: shauch | June 5, 2009 12:28 PM

Sue! Let's do this --
1) this just doesn't sound right about the copper pans. copper is actually supposed to heat quickly -- and evenly! I would crank up the heat a bit more and see if that doesn't make a difference.
2) cookbook for new mom -- this is tough. Does she want to learn? Would a book learning how to make baby food/food for family be an incentive? I feel like I need to know more. It goes without saying she's up to her eyeballs with the bambino. So will she really have time to read a cookbook? Would a few kitchen lessons be more valuable at first? Let's keep mulling this one over.
3)Buttercream icing: Gosh, it's been ages since I made some. I usually make a cream cheese frosting that I like for cupcakes and certain kinds of cakes b/c it's so easy and reliable, but let me consult some of my fave baking books for thoughts, and I'll let the others weigh in.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 12:37 PM

I'm going to chime in on beets because they are a favorite at my house. I recommend trying beets the following four ways, and if you still don't like them after trying these dishes, I think it's safe to say you never will.

1. Beets roesti - Grate raw beets, season with a little salt, pepper and fresh rosemary, add a little flour and fry like hash browns. Serve with sour cream or chevre. Mark Bittman has a great recipe and so does Cook's Illustrated.

2. Roast beets (unpeeled, wrapped in foil) at 400 degrees for an hour or so, cool and peel, slice onto a salad. The salad should have greens, beets, chevre and toasted walnuts. Add a balsamic vinaigrette.

3. Grate a small raw beet onto any salad to add small flavor and crunch.

4. If you're still game by this point, make a beet salad with beets roasted as above, sliced and dressed with fresh mint and cilantro and a cumin flavored vinaigrette.

Posted by: esleigh | June 5, 2009 12:40 PM

Jess65, You dirty dog. I'm still waiting for scapes out this way. You can make a glorious risotto with scapes. Throw'em into a frittata. Potato salad LOVES scapes. I'm even thinking grilled cheese...

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 12:42 PM

hi! i've never baked with rhubarb even though I love a good rhubarb pie or crumble. However, my husband isn't huge on rhubarb flavors. What would be a good recipe to try that's good for rhubarb beginners and might convince him to try tasting it again?

Posted by: emily_ak | June 5, 2009 12:47 PM

Good for you, jhershelredpuppy1. I like your spunk. Elizabeth Schneider in "Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini" suggest a slaw, with grated ginger, celery, cilantry and apricots! Rice vinegar. You could also try pickling them!

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 12:52 PM


1) I thought it was strange too. I'll try cranking up the heat - husband is paranoid about burning it. Oh well - we'll see what happens!
2) She has some cookbooks for baby food (Annabel Kramer and Julie Warner, I think - the latter one is the La Petit Appetit author). She would like to learn to cook, but cooking classes are expensive. And you're right - I'd guess time is a big factor. That's why the 6 ingredient book sounded appealing - but is it? I would think learning to cook for the family would be a big bonus.
3) Any thoughts on why the boiled icing separates? Cream cheese frosting is a great idea - I hadn't thought of that for whatever reason.

Thanks for your help!

And to shauch - I am a renowned plant killer. Killed a cactus too. Having said that, I have a wonderful basil plant thriving in a vase on my window sill (a window that doesn't get much light). Maybe basil in water would work for you too?

Posted by: suemember | June 5, 2009 1:10 PM

Emily_ak, rhubarb is an either-or kind of thing. I've never known anyone to be on the fence about old rhube -- you either love it or hate it. That said, maybe give it a try with strawberries?
Details for a fun upside-down cake:

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 1:27 PM

LIzka, molasses is a must in bbq sauce. Have you ever made gingerbread? that's a molasses goodie...ginger snaps? wonder if you could incorporate molasses into ice cream somehow?

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 1:30 PM

Blankdc, here's a link to details for Jamaican-style patties, both meat and veggie. I think you could substitute about half the amount of flour w/ ww flour, but I wouldn't do more than that, otherwise will be dense.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 1:44 PM

Kim, I just bought some pomegranate molasses. what should I do with it?

Posted by: chiquita2 | June 5, 2009 1:45 PM

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | June 5, 2009 2:00 PM

I'm obsessed with cumin. I do a pretty good cumin slaw. I'm looking for other cumin-heavy recipes.

Posted by: atb2 | June 5, 2009 2:20 PM

shauch - I also live in Chicago - we have a south facing balcony which I think is a must for rosemary. Rosemary needs a lot of sun - and while its fine in the summer we had trouble getting it through the winter even with our south facing windows. We had a lot of success with basil - just make sure you water it a lot when it does get hot.

Posted by: mmauk | June 5, 2009 2:21 PM

cumin: add to black beans and eat with tortillas and salsa. it's yummy

Posted by: chiquita2 | June 5, 2009 2:53 PM

Next week we'll be making lunch for a vegetarian who, judging from her own cooking and that of her caterers, only likes very bland food. There's a recipe in epicurious for a quinoa-spinach bake that uses (blech) low-fat cottage cheese. Now I don't like feta, so would ricotta be a suitable substitute?

Posted by: fran426 | June 5, 2009 3:58 PM

BTW, why do all beet salad recipes include cheese, particularly goat cheese? I'll salute the first restaurant I go to that serves a beet salad without cheese!

Posted by: fran426 | June 5, 2009 4:01 PM

fran426 - Goat cheese and beets are one of those trandscendental combinations, like basil and tomatoes or gin and vermouth. Yum. However, if you like beets and can't stand the chevre try the last salad I mentioned above and use lots of mint and cilantro. Not a green salad, but still a beet salad with nary a speck of cheese. Salut!

Posted by: esleigh | June 5, 2009 8:05 PM

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