Archive: Chat Leftovers

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; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

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)

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; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

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; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

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; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

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; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Chat Leftovers: Converted Rice, Boneless Chix Woes

Rice rice baby: I have a burning question. What is converted rice? Did it change religion, or was something done to affect nutrition or cooking time? Should I prepare it differently than I would, say, Jasmine rice? Let’s start with some basics. Brown and white rice begin similarly, with the removal of its outer (and inedible) husk, aka hull. At this stage, the rice is considered “brown,” with its bran and germ intact (as well as fiber and nutrients). When rice goes through the additional steps of having its bran and germ removed, it becomes “white.” Converted rice (as in Uncle Ben’s) is white rice that’s been parboiled (or steamed) and then dried before milling, resulting in a beige-ier shade, a less sticky texture and purportedly more nutrients. It does take a little bit more time to cook than regular white rice, but check that orange Uncle Ben’s box for...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 27, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

Chat Leftovers: Rutabaga Primer, Baby Shower Sweets, Spanish Apps

Richmond, Va.: I would appreciate a little help because my brain has gone on vacation somewhere warmer. I am baking desserts for an elder-care shelter this weekend and need ideas for transportable (probably not iced) 13x9 or bundt/tube cakes. I have done pound cakes of every flavor, carrot, chocolate, and spice cakes and am stumped. The folks look forward to the treats so I would very much appreciate any ideas you may have. Richmond, how can I resist helping someone who wants to help others. Here’s a handful of Casa Appetite favorites: Old-fashioned crumb cake, from Liberty Tavern chef Liam Lacivita. Not a Bundt shape, but easily transportable and those crumbs go great with coffee. For a little fruit (and fiber) with their cake, give this apple coffee cake with a cinnamon-y streusel a try. In my pre-Mister MA days, I lured many a man with this cake. Meow. You...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 14, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

Chat Leftovers: Farm Market Meat Shopping, Afternoon Tea Party

Philly: My daughter wants to bake cookies to send to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you know how to do this? I don't mean how to pack the cookies but where to send them? Philly, it’s my understanding that for security reasons, you must send overseas care packages to a specific individual rather than to a general catch-all address. If no one in your immediate family is currently serving, reach out to neighbors to find out if they’ve got loved ones overseas who might like a sweet treat. For some great insight on baking for the troops, read my recent q&a with AMA reader Louise Skinner, who’s been sending cookies to troops for the past three years. Bethesda Mom: Congrats on 10 great years!! As someone who's followed the chat from the beginning, I can't believe it's been so long! Here’s my question: I'm planning an afternoon tea...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 7, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Chat Leftovers: Runny Fruit Pie, Inauguration Treats

Fruit pie issues - help!: Hi Kim, I found a recipe for a cranberry meringue pie (supposedly a Martha Stewart recipe) that calls for boiling the fruit and setting it with corn starch. First time I made it it was gorgeous. It took hours to set, but was a huge hit. Second time, it didn't set at all and we had lovely "soup"(we poured over vanilla ice cream and ditched the crusts) Third time, it set in the pan and was rubber and inedible. As far as I know, I followed the recipe each time. So what are the hazards of such a recipe? What kinds of things go wrong - so I know what to watch for? I've been asked to make a batch of these for a party this weekend. I'm a bit leery given my record with it, but when it works it is both delicious and...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 3, 2008; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

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; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (12)

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; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

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; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Chat Leftovers: Polenta, Baked Apple Woes, Winning Chili

Connecticut: Hi Kim, I have a question about polenta. Is there a way to keep it from setting up so quickly? I add it slowly while whisking, but as soon as I stop, it tightens up. And as soon as it starts to get thick, it starts bubbling like lava even though I turned the heat down. What gives? Cornmeal getting close to becoming full-fledged polenta. (Kim O'Donnel) Connecticut, my dear, I tried my hand at polenta earlier this year, and here’s what helped me: Drop cornmeal into pot a handful at a time, "like rain," stirring or whisking constantly and making sure water continues to boil. When all of cornmeal is incorporated, about five minutes -- continue stirring but lower heat as cornmeal mass thickens. It will soon become fairly dense and taken on volcanic qualities as it erupts periodically. Lower heat if necessary to keep eruptions at a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 29, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Chat Leftovers: Reader-to-Reader Assists

As of today, Oct. 23, 2008, only registered washingtonpost.com users will now be able to leave comments here (and on all post.com blogs). We're hoping this will cut down on spammers, denial of service attacks and general mayhem perpetrated by virtual jackbooted thugs. So, make sure you're registered. And remember, your post.com user name will appear with your comments once the switch is flipped. If you're a registered user, logged in and still having trouble: try clearing your browser's cookies and try again. There wasn't just a big pile of leftover questions in this week's What's Cooking queue; there were reader tips galore, random acts of online kindness that keep this chat going strong, now nearly 10 years old. Sweet potatoes and their sweet, tender greens: See link to decidedly un-sweet recipe further down on this page. (Kim O'Donnel) Natural food coloring: You can find them on the web, but...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 23, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Chat Leftovers: Outer Banks Weekend, Parchment Paper

Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: This weekend a group of 13 hard-working attorneys in our late 20s will descend upon the Outer Banks for some R&R. I have volunteered to cook dinner one night for the group and am looking for something relatively easy to throw together (maybe even in one pot) that won't keep me in the kitchen missing the festivities for too long. Any thoughts? No dietary restrictions. Littlenecks 'n' noodles. (Kim O'Donnel) Seafood sounds about right for a weekend at the beach. For a group of 13, you could grill or roast a whole fish (mahi mahi aka dolphinfish, yellowfin tuna and wahoo swim in the surrounding waters) with little effort. Ask a fishmonger to clean and scale (particularly if you don’t have a fish basket) for you, then stuff with herbs. Season very well with salt (about 1 teaspoon per 1. 25-1.5 pounds), plus a lathering of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 16, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Chat Leftovers: Food Processor Bread, Grieving Fare

Arlington Gay Food Fan (aka GAFF): Kim, I finally did it, and it's all your fault. I bought a full-size (10 cup) food processor. Since Saturday, I've made your hummus, a roasted veggie soup (sadly, there can be too much cumin when processed), two pizza crusts, a loaf of Italian bread, and tonight six Italian bread rolls (same recipe, but dough cut into six parts after doubling.) Please give me links to more bread recipes that work well in food processors with a bread blade. I'm especially interested in rye, sour, and Italian recipes. GAFF, I’ll take the heat any day for your kitchen purchases! Congratulations on your new acquisition; it sounds like you are having a blast. You know, I’ve never done bread in a food processor, but your recent adventure has me curious. In her blog, dough diva Rose Levy Beranbaum (and author of pastry classics, including “The...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 9, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

Chat Leftovers: Heart-Healthy Lunch, Veggie Supper Sides

Food Help - out of ideas: I'm on a restricted diet because of high cholesterol and high blood pressure (I'm only 28). I'm at a loss of what to do for lunches during the day. Breakfast and dinners are fine and I don't want to bring leftovers. I've done wraps with chicken, lettuce, tomato and mustard but those get boring. What are some good heart-healthy lunches - it can't include mayo, or cold cuts, or cream based soups. Suggestions? Based on the wording of your question, I’m assuming you want easily assembled items rather than cooking from scratch. This is why you may feel bored, so I urge you to think about a wee bit of cookin’ at home to expand your lunch-able options. From the supermarket shelves, stock up on canned fish that you can season with Dijon mustard, red onions and celery, as a salad or tucked inside...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 1, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Chat Leftovers: Summer-Fall Bridge, Vegan, Soy-Free Supper and Cheap Tricks

Downtown D.C.: The weather is starting to get a bit chilly around here. Any bridge-the-season ideas for summer produce, but fall weather? With the autumnal equinox fast approaching (Sept. 22), there’s indeed a chill in the air after the sun says goodnight. This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to soup, stew and other warming potions, but as you mention, using the best of the summer harvest. Have a look at the details for this roasted red pepper puree, a light-to-medium bodied potage that still has one foot in summer, with all those sun-kissed peppers. I’m also partial to this creamy tomato soup, a perfect companion for grilled cheese or a hunk of crusty bread. (I’ve also added cooked rice just before serving, and I feel like I’m back in kindergarten.) Speaking of rice and companions, there’s no better time to whip up a pot of eggplant...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 17, 2008; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Chat Leftovers: Eye of Round Steak Creation, Meatless Farm Market Supper

Surf and Turf: I am having five couples over for Friday dinner. Am planning on steaming shrimp, chilling it and serving it with two different dipping sauces. Want to use a five-pound eye of the round I have in the freezer, too. How long to thaw in the fridge? Also, any interesting way to cook? I guess I envision it sliced and served on a platter. Don't want a hot or heavy dinner. Am rounding out the meal with a black bean/tomato/corn/avocado salad. Please help me with this roast and I would be so grateful. Dear Surf and Turf: Some background on cow anatomy is in order before we get into dinner prep; the "round" offers the rear view of the cow, as in the rump or the big ol' behind. A boneless cylinder-like shape sandwiched between the heel and the rolled rump, the eye might look like a tenderloin,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 29, 2008; 11:52 PM ET | Comments (30)

Chat Leftovers: Breakfast Tea Party, Snap Bean Nibbling

Breakfast tea: If you were hosting a little breakfast get together, for say 10 women, what would you serve? Keep in mind if people are coming over around 9:30 a.m., you would either want something easy to prepare (so you have time for a shower) or it's something that can be done the night before. Do you have recipes for a stuffed baked French toast and/or a German pancake (filled with berries)? At this time of year, local in-season fruit is a no-brainer, and your guests will love you for having something easy to digest at an early hour. You could cut up cantaloupe the night before, then in the morning toss with an assortment of summer berries. Leave the banana behind (gets brown) and the grapes too. Instead, focus on what you can get from your own neck of the woods. Slice up a few peaches -- or even...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 23, 2008; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (12)

Chat Leftovers: Buckle Topping, Relationship Menu Planning

Morristown, N.J.: Whenever I make a blueberry buckle (like last night) the crumbly topping is less crumbly and more hard and sort of cracks when you press a fork against it. It tastes good, it is just not the right texture. Am I adding too much/too little flour and/or sugar? When I first discovered buckle a few years back, I too had issues with the topping, as did many MA readers. In this case, the topping was too soft (too much fat, not enough flour) and would sink into the buckle batter rather than sit on top and behave crumbly, as a buckle topping should. After several rounds of kitchen tinkering, here's what I've come up with: a buckle topping that yields plenty of crumb with just the right amount of fat to keep it from becoming cement. Buckle Topping, Take 68 1/2 cup granulated sugar or light brown sugar...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 16, 2008; 08:23 AM ET | Comments (6)

Chat Leftovers: Fourth of July Vittles

We're going to the beach Friday! I'm excited, and wanted to make a picnic for lunch. What do you suggest would be a good, but cheap main course. I was thinking of baking chicken wings with a sweet soy glaze of some sort. Any other ideas? You'd get more bird for your buck if you roasted an entire chicken, quarter it and pack it in foil for the cooler. You'll have more variety of nibbles and a cut-up bird should prove to be less messy than a mountain of glazed wings. Here are the details for my naked chicken, a whole skinless bird infused with a curry-style rub. Bring along a baguette and you can make sandwiches. Getting into the Fourth spirit, circa 1970. (Family photo) Speaking of sandwiches, I've got cold meatloaf on the brain. Make the meatloaf the night before, but refrain from slicing it until the next...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 2, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (23)

Chat Leftovers: Homesick for Comfort Food in Taipei

Taipei, Taiwan: Before I relocated here I was a regular reader; however, with a small and vocal new addition to the family, I've fallen off the radar. It's Monday, rainy, gloomy, I'm far away from girl friends and Mom(!!)...basically I'm exhausted and really low and in desperate need of comfort food. In fact I had been trawling the web fruitlessly when I remembered where to get some sane, veg-based comfort food ideas. Today's a goner, but will be very obliged if you can suggest something for the next time I'm in urgent need of comforting...which so far looks like tomorrow! P.S. - I can cook but I don't have an oven here so can't bake; also I don't relish Chinese food. Okay, let's break this down: We've got a down-in-the-dumps vegetarian expat in Taiwan looking for stove-top comfort food, and no Chinese, please. It's hard to tell from the reader's...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 28, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (9)

Chat Leftovers: College Kid Cookbooks, Heart-Smart Apps

Bethesda Mom: Do you or any of the clicksters have a recommendation for a good super basic cookbook for college students -- i.e. people cooking on a budget and without fancy equipment? My son will be in his first apartment next year after two years of dorm living (at your old alma mater, Penn), and I don't want him living exclusively on cheesesteaks and deli from Koch's. I have not done a good job in teaching him up to this point and I want to make August "Cooking Boot Camp" for him and his younger brother. (I plan to have younger brother cook dinner at least one night a week next school year). Hey Mom, the first title that springs to mind is "Now You're Cooking" by Elaine Corn. I much prefer the optimistic tone of Corn's cover copy ("Everything a Beginner Needs to Know to Start Cooking Today") than...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 21, 2008; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (29)

Chat Leftovers: Powdered Vanilla, Ham Surplus and Food Blogs

As promised, I'm following up with a batch of questions left in this week's What's Cooking queue. Your contributions are vital to the mix, so please don't be bashful in the comments area below. Alexandria, Va.: Where in the D.C. area can one buy powdered vanilla? For those who don't know, powdered vanilla is the ground-up version of a dried vanilla bean. It contains no alcohol, but likely would include the addition of some kind of sugar or dextrose base. Alexandria, you need not go out of your neighborhood for your powdery pursuit; head straight for independent cookware oasis La Cuisine. The powder is available via its Web site, so I'm betting if you give them a call, you'll have the stuff pronto. My second choice would be Sur La Table's Pentagon City store, which carries a well-stocked selection of cake and candy supplies. Web sites/blogs: Kim -- what are...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 26, 2008; 08:05 AM ET | Comments (20)

Chat Leftovers: Easter Feasting

This week's What's Cooking prompted several questions about serving suggestions for Easter supper, which takes place this Sunday, March 23. Whether or not you observe Easter, the ideas below should get you in the spring swing of things. As always, your contributions are vital to the mix. And check out today's Food section for Easter mushroom lasagna and holiday hams. Easter egg radishes, Mother Nature's eye candy. (Kim O'Donnel) Easter dinner: I only do three big meals a year, and I like to make it season-specific (unlike MIL, who makes pumpkin pie for the 4th of July) and I like to try something new. But everything on my menu is traditional (except cabrito for the main dish). Any ideas, especially for sides that would be pseudo-traditional (scalloped potatoes) but with a twist to go along with the cabrito? First off, for those who don't know, cabrito is roasted kid (aka...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 19, 2008; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Andouille Redux, Lollipop Molds, Naked Chicken

The What's Cooking queue was still full after this week's gabfest; below, a handful of questions that caught my eye and whetted my whistle. As per usual, I invite you to weigh in and add salt when necessary. What to douille?: I have half a pound of andouille leftover (frozen at the moment) from jambalaya a few weeks ago. I'm thinking of using it in an empanada-style stuffing... cutting it up to blend with some onions, peppers... AND what? What goes well with andouille? What complements it nicely and will hold up to a little baking? Or am I on completely a wrong track here? Open to suggestions to make good use of the andouille and break a bit of a dinner rut. I've had chorizo-stuffed empanadas, sure. But I think ground meat generally performs better as a savory pastry filling (I'm drooling over the idea of Jamaican meat patties...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 27, 2008; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

Veggie Chat Leftovers: Teen Carbotarian, Mashed Mates, Provencal Veggie Feast

As promised in yesterday's What's Cooking Vegetarian chat, I've answered a handful of leftover questions worth chewing on for further discussion. Please weigh in as you see fit in the comments area below, and have a safe, delicious weekend! Virginia:A friend of mine's teenaged daughter has become vegetarian. But she doesn't like vegetables (and neither does he really -- just vegetable soup). So far, they eat a lot of cheese sandwiches and cheese pizza when she visits. Any suggestions for a non-cook for his teenaged daughter on weekends? I've suggested omelets and using fake eggs but that's about it. So you've got a noncook and a young, impressionable carbotarian. The cheese marathon has got to stop! This is actually a great opportunity, not a dilemma. Both Dad and daughter could use some kitchen time together in form of a few cooking lessons, using her new diet as a springboard for...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 22, 2008; 11:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Gearing Up for Valentine's Day

It's still a week away, but some What's Cooking lovebirds are already putting together their Valentine's Day menus. Below, a few unanswered questions from yesterday's chat, with next week's lovefest in mind. In the coming days, I promise more ideas for romance from the stove. Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I'm thinking of doing a comforting mac and cheese at home for Valentine's Day next week. Any ideas what to pair with that? I'm assuming a salad, but what about a protein? I know people often put meat in mac and cheese but I also feel like it ends up being too much. Also, any ideas for dessert? With such a heavy entree it's hard coming up with suitable accompanying courses. Just a few weeks ago, I whipped up a batch of mac and cheese for a buffet-style dinner party, and paired it with stewed tomatoes (recipe guidelines below the mac...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 6, 2008; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

Veggie Chat Leftovers: Soy Sauce, Winter Dessert and No-Meat Lent

Yesterday's vegetarian edition of What's Cooking ended too soon, with many unanswered questions idling in the queue. Here are a few to chew on over the weekend. Dessert?: I'm taking dessert to a friend's house this weekend, for after a kind of heavy meal. Any suggestions for a dessert? We aren't vegetarians, but the friend has some cholesterol concerns, so I'd love some ideas for desserts without eggs, cream, dairy... It's too cold for sorbet! Bake a fruit crisp, dear -- and instead of butter in the topping, use heart-healthier Earth Balance spread. I've been using it in cakes, cookies and my Dark 'n' Stormy pear crisp with great success, and no one can tell the difference. Oats and cinnamon are powerful anti-cholesterol warriors, so adding them into your topping ups the healthy ante. Meringue makes for a festive ending to a meal -- and without the yolks becomes a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 25, 2008; 08:44 AM ET | Comments (9)

Chat Leftovers: Peeling Ginger and "Lost" Cuisine

As is often the case, there are too many questions and not enough time to answer all the questions in the What's Cooking queue. Below, a few that grabbed my attention after this week's show. Arlington, Va.: What's the deal with peeling ginger? Is it for aesthetic purposes? I usually take off any loose bits that I can find in under five seconds, but otherwise the skin is left intact. It doesn't have a texture, and as far as I can tell it doesn't have a taste, so why bother? Although it may be flavorless, I don't entirely agree with your argument that ginger skin is without texture issues. Sometimes you get a thin-skinned piece, smooth and easy-going down the hatch; other times, luck fails and your hunky chunk is sealed with an impenetrable armor that requires an engineering degree for successful removal. Those who grew up in places where...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 23, 2008; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Cookbooks for Meatless Reasons

During yesterday's What's Cooking , a reader from New Orleans, La., with a few holiday gift cards burning a hole in her pocket expressed an interest in vegetarian cookbooks. In response, I asked for more information about her cooking habits and interests, and here's what I found in the queue after the live hour: We cook three to four times a week, eating leftovers otherwise. Not vegan -- but looking to reduce meat consumption for environmental and budgetary reasons. We like ethnic food, we dig hippie grains, etc, we are adventurous, and we're looking to expand the number of foods we eat per week. I also found this post from "Midwest," who writes: Can you recommend a Web site or book that offers recipes for relatively simple, hearty (but not high fat or calorie) vegetarian main dishes? Hubby has agreed to try a vegetarian night once every couple weeks, but...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 16, 2008; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (34)

Chat Leftovers: Let the Holiday Projects Begin

You're getting busy in the kitchen, or at least that's what the queue from this week's What's Cooking indicates. Below, a few leftover questions to whet your whistle as you gear up for those holiday baking and entertaining extravaganzas. Just remember, have fun and don't forget to breathe! And if you've got tips to add to the mix, please do so in the comments area below. San Jose, Costa Rica: Greetings from rainy, but warm Costa Rica I'd like to try using whole wheat flour in my holiday baking this year. Do I just substitute it entirely or do a mixture of white and wheat flour and by what ratio? Also, I've read a lot about whole wheat pastry flour. Is that what I should use? Gracias! Hey, Costa Rica. We just had snow yesterday in Washington, so rainy but warm sounds pretty good! Re: your pursuit of more whole...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 6, 2007; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (2)

A Hearty Helping of Thanksgiving Chat Leftovers

As promised in yesterday's What's Cooking Thanksgiving special, I'm serving up a little extra chat luv on the side, as there were just too many leftover questions in the queue begging for attention. And as always, weigh in with Thanksgiving tips and suggestions that have worked for you in the past. Have a delicious, mindful weekend -- and let's get busy! Iowa City, Iowa: I used to get this fantastic raw (I think) cranberry sauce/relish from a deli back in my hometown, but this year I'm not able to go back for Thanksgiving. I've been looking for months for a similar recipe online, but no success. The relish was all sweet -- besides cranberries, it had mandarin oranges, walnuts, maybe other berries. I would love to make something similar for my dinner on Thursday, but don't know where to start. Do you have a recipe or any guidelines to make...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 16, 2007; 09:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Let the Thanksgiving Prep Jitters Begin

Based on the leftover questions from yesterday's What's Cooking, it's fair to say that the annual ritual of planning (and often fretting over) Thanksgiving dinner has begun. Feast day is just two weeks from tomorrow, so fire up those ovens, ladies and gents. It's time to start cooking! Today's batch of questions are turkey-centric; I promise a vegetarian equivalent in the coming days, and tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 5 at 1 ET, I'm hosting my What's Cooking Vegetarian Thanksgiving Special. Tucson, Ariz.: I have a Thanksgiving juggling dilemma. I have a great simple recipe for roasted root veggies (cubed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash etc. tossed with rosemary, thyme, olive oil, s&p) that I want to make for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they need to roast in the oven for about an hour at a much higher temp than the turkey and it takes less than an hour to carve the bird after it...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 7, 2007; 07:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Cast Iron Cleaning, Restaurant Supply Shops

Some real goodies leftover from this week's What's Cooking chat inspired today's post that covers cast iron, pumpkin-centric partying and public-access restaurant supply shops. Here's the lowdown: Charlotte, N.C.: I'm wondering about maintaining my cast iron skillet. My wife scolded me for scrubbing it with dish detergent. I try to spray it with oil after I use it. Any suggestions on the proper way to care for cast iron cookware? Well, you're both right, kinda sorta. There are lots of schools of thought on how to clean cast iron cookware; some argue that even a drop of detergent will ruin the seasoning. Most veteran cast-iron enthusiasts, however, agree that long soaks in water will ruin the sought-after nonstick layer, which means starting over from scratch and re-seasoning the pan. My thoughts on cleaning both my cast-iron skillet and wok is that a small amount of soap (a few drops) applied...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 4, 2007; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (10)

Chat Leftovers: Barley, Date Night Menu and Party Drink Planning

There were too many good questions left hanging in the What's Cooking queue yesterday; below, a few for the road that bear consideration and your feedback, of course: Silver Spring, Md.: What is the difference between pearl barley and whole barley. I bought whole rather than pearl. Will it need more cooking time or more liquid to substitute? Whole barley (aka hulled barley, and on occasion, pot barley) is the more nutritious of the two, with only the outer husk removed, whereas pearl parley is "pearled" - which means steamed, polished and stripped of its bran coating. Thing is, pearl barley cooks much faster; a one-cup portion takes about 35 minutes to cook, about half the time it takes to cook the same amount of hulled barley. In "A New Way to Cook," Sally Schneider recommends that hulled barley, like other chewy whole grains, benefit from being soaked for several...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 26, 2007; 07:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Purple Cabbage, Cheesy Grits and Meatless Meal Planning

There's never enough time to answer all of the questions that arrive in my What's Cooking queue each week; below, a few leftovers worth chewing on. Feel free to add your thoughts and kitchen insight in the comments area below. Alexandria, Va: My husband and I have decided to try and go meatless a little bit more and are attempting to make two dinners a week meat-free. We love beans and lentils, but don't want to make the foray into meat substitutes. This week's line-up includes a chickpea curry and your Syrian-style lentils. I'm thinking that eggplant parmesan and ratatouille are in our future. Other than those, I'm at a bit of a loss. What would you suggest to increase our menu horizons? You're off to a good start, Alexandria, but you're right, it's a good idea to have a stable of menu ideas to keep the meatless lineup diverse...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 12, 2007; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (9)

Veggie Lunchbox and Shrimp 'Veins' With a Side of Hot Fudge

There were too many good questions left undone from this week's What's Cooking jamboree. Below, a few to chew on, with an invitation to weigh in on any or all of the topics -- vegetarian workday lunches, deveining shrimp and the search for a true-blue hot fudge sauce. Have a delicious and safe weekend. Vienna, Va.: Kim, do you have any ideas for a healthy, satisfying vegetarian lunch that I could easily pack in a lunchbox at 6 a.m.? I've tried the old standby of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it doesn't seem to fill me; I've tried packing leftovers, but my supply of leftovers is inconsistent. Vienna, you're a prime candidate for Jamaican patties, veggie style. (Scroll past the meat filling details and you'll see what I'm talking about.) Spend an afternoon on the weekend whipping up a batch, then you can freeze them individually, pack it...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 10, 2007; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (0)

Veal Cheeks, Soy Sauce and Cheap Choppers

There were lots of extra unanswered questions from yesterday's What's Cooking discussion. Below, a sampler, plus a lil' extra sumpin' from a cherry-loving reader... Silver Spring, Md.: Are veal cheeks exactly what they say they are? I always assumed so (though I've never ordered them, nor do I plan to), but others told me recently that they were a different cut of meat. If the word cheeks is a facial reference rather than a posterior, one then yes, you're on the right track. Just like human mammals, cows (baby cows) have two cheeks on each side of the face, a muscle responsible for controlling the action of the mouth. Because it is a muscle, the cheek requires slow cooking on low heat (also known as braising) to coax it into rich, tender meat. Usually, you'll find them on menus during colder menus, when people are hankering for stews. Arlington, Va.:...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 1, 2007; 08:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Extra Helping of Meat-Free Assistance

Yesterday's vegetarian edition of What's Cooking covered a lot of ground, from dairy-free fats to a veggie-omnivore sex appeal debate. In response to one reader's query about meatless cooking classes in the Washington area, I mentioned Mimi Clark, of Fairfax, Va., who's been offering her Veggie Gourmet vegan cooking classes for the past 18 years. In a note that arrived after the chat, Mimi shared a few extra tidbits to add the conversation. Below, some of her thoughts: To the person who has a gluten sensitivity, tofu is not the only sub. There is also TVP, a defatted soy product that comes dehydrated (Bob's Red Mill is one of the manufacturers), and tempeh which you mentioned earlier. Tempeh is more of a whole food than tofu because it is made from whole soybeans, unlike tofu which is made from cracked, coagulated soybeans. In addition, tempeh is a fermented food which...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 29, 2007; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers Make Good Lunch

A bunch of questions from yesterday's What's Cooking chat was left remaining at the bottom of the pot, begging for attention. Below, a few to whet your appetite for leftovers. Silver Spring, Md.: I have two different friends who recently had babies, and I'd like to bring them a dish they can eat now or freeze and have later. It's not really lasagna weather, so I'm a little stumped. I'm looking for something without red meat or (lots of) mushrooms. Upon reading this question, I immediately wondered, "How would the Fonzes respond?" Aka Sarah and Alfonso, the Fonzes are our former neighbors who became parents for the first time in February. True warriors though they are, they were grateful for any crumbs I sent their way during the first few months, when baby Aaron woke up at all hours of the night (We know first hand; the walls are that...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 20, 2007; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (16)

 

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