Archive: Hot Pot

14 Things to Know About Cooking Beans

It's taken a long time, but a few years ago, I finally got to a place where cooking a pot of dried beans didn't make me run for the hills. Much of my education is based on trial and error, with a little help from bean experts such as Rancho Gordo's Steve Sando. During my schooling, I've noticed a dramatic increase in bean interest not only because they're a cheap form of protein but because they're good for you. (Hello, fiber, amino acids and calcium!) Below, the 411 on cookin' beans based on the lessons I've learned and secrets whispered to me along the way. Soaking 1. The general rule of thumb is to soak beans for at least four hours. Scoff all you like, but those beans will take forever and a day to cook otherwise. 2. Types of beans that require no soaking whatsoever: Lentils, split peas and...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 13, 2008; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (157)

20 Ways to Soup It Up -- Without Leaving the House

With the exception of a few places in southern Texas and Florida, the nation is under a severe shiver watch. Soup, anyone? If you're worried about having the time (or the ingredients) to whip up a pot of soup after a long day traipsing through the tundra, don't be. Chances are good that you have soup fixins waiting to be noticed in the fridge and the pantry. Soup is not meant to be complicated or over analyzed; make do with what you have on hand and you'll be delighted by the results, I promise you. Okay, you argue; I've got a pantry full of soup stuff. But how do I get started, and more importantly, how do I get -- and stay-- inspired? It looks like this arctic blast isn't going away anytime soon, and the same soup day after day could get old real fast. I am nodding my...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 22, 2008; 10:51 AM ET | Comments (0)

Snow Day Salve

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogfest with the following weather announcement: the Washington area is getting some snow today. However the storm continues, it's a safe bet that come suppertime, the weather outside will be slightly frightful, if not annoying -- conditions that call for a hot pot of stove-top defrosting magic. Red lentils: a most formidable Snow Day solution. (Kim O'Donnel) Don't worry; I'm not suggesting a two-hour kitchen production on this potentially challenging weeknight. In fact, the recipe below for red lentil soup (aka masoor dal) takes about 45 minutes, start to finish. Not everyone has red lentils on hand in their pantry, I understand. But if you're already making the requisite trip to the grocery store for bread, milk and toilet paper, I urge you to look for red lentils and pick up the accompanying aromatics that make this soup so satisfying. Alternatively, pick up a container...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 17, 2008; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (22)

Playing With Polenta

A few months ago, I received an e-mail from "Mister McG" who expressed much frustration over a pot of polenta. He writes: "I learned last night why they sell pre-cooked polenta in those tubes. I made some from scratch last night and it came out very lumpy. Tasty, but lumpy. As soon as I started adding cornmeal to the boiling water, it clumped up. Do I need to let the water settle down before mixing?" Intellectually, I knew the solution was to add the cornmeal gradually, but I couldn't back up my written reply with first-hand polenta experience. I promised to follow up with a kitchen report, so this blog's for you, Mister Magoo. Polenta, topped with spicy anchovy-garlic tomato puree, with a side of broccoli raab. (Kim O'Donnel) Cornmeal porridge is what we're talking about, and depending where you live, it's got a different name (mealie pap in South...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 7, 2008; 09:29 AM ET | Comments (37)

Curry Come Quickly

This week's sudden downward shift in temperature had much of the country (including Key West where my brother reports the coldest Jan. 3 in the island's history) running for flannel cover. Until last weekend, winter had been fairly kind to the Washington area; in fact, Mister MA and I broke out the grill on Christmas Day. Lemongrass curry: Just what the meteorologist ordered. (Kim O'Donnel) And then, just like a bad dream, those winds come and blow right through my new parka and chill every bone into paralysis. I know I must sound like a big cry baby to all you folks in perma-frosted points such as Iowa and Chicago (hi Nan), but my globally-warmed body is in thermal shock and I just can't get thaw! All week long, I've been wearing a hat indoors and the idea of venturing out into the world makes want to burrow deeper under...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 4, 2008; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (0)

Weeknight Indian Hot Pot

The recent chill in the air has me hankering for a hot meal. A steaming pot of something - soup, stew, curry - it doesn't matter as long I can tuck into a bowl and eat with a spoon. Although I've got a nice reliable stable of hot pot recipes for this time of year, I'm always looking for more ways to fire up the belly. The challenge for many cooks, including myself, is hot-potting during the week; if the dish takes longer than an hour, start to finish, it probably will have to wait until the weekend when there's more time to play at the stove. Indian hot pot in less than an hour. (Kim O'Donnel) As the sun did its last dance yesterday around five, I began leafing through the pages of "Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking," an oldie but goodie (it has just been reprinted...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 30, 2007; 10:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

Five Ways to Forget the Cold

To say it's cold outside is inadequate. Cold is when you open your fridge. Today is more like walking into a meat locker. But even as I complain and walk around the house wearing a hat, the air is even frostier in the Midwest. I just hung up with my friend Nan, who reports that the forecast for Chicago is a high of 3 degrees. (Is that a meat locker or an igloo?) Unfortunately, it's a safe bet that the frigid air will stick around for several days, which means pulling out the secret bag of tricks to help deal with the Siberian conditions. Before he left this morning, Mister Groom asked, "Can you fix the weather, please, and make the cold go away?" (Sorry, but my wand is in the shop.) Short of witchcraft, what can we do to make the cold a little less so? Below, five culinary...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 5, 2007; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (14)

Get Your Soup Groove On

Hey! It really might be time for soup. The weather here in Washington actually feels like January, and from the looks of the forecasts, the weekend is promising plenty of winter, with the chance of flakes from the sky. In fact, let's go full throttle and make it a two-soup weekend, one for each day. Don't worry; soup is far from an all-day affair at the stove. Start to finish, you need just one hour to make a pot of soup. Seriously. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule. Bean soups and more elaborate meat-noodle-y numbers take a few hours or more. However, for the quickest route to a bowl of soup, I suggest going the way of the puree. In puree land, there are few rules and lots of room for creativity and improvisation. But a flavorful puree only comes with commitment to a few key ground rules: Use...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 19, 2007; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (18)

Showing Lentils Some Love

Here, in the land of presto-magico food out of a box, there's a good chance you know someone who has never tried a hearty bowl of lentils (and like my mother, refuses a spoonful). This is something I do not understand. Meanwhile in cultures around the globe, the lentil is the culinary humanitarian. It provides. It nourishes. It keeps us regular. It keeps heart attacks at bay. The lentil is lovely, not lowly. (Kim O'Donnel) In fact, one cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein, second in the protein-award line to the soybean. It's loaded with fiber -- 15 grams, more than half of your daily requirement -- and is a folate boon for pregnant women. If you plan to hit me with a "But I don't have time to cook lentils during the week; they require planning," I'm afraid you will lose this argument. Of all...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 5, 2007; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (38)

A Bowlful of Broccoli

And now, for Part Two of the Brassica vegetable love fest! (Yesterday, I shared my newfound love for cauliflower.) Today, broccoli is on the menu, served in a soup bowl. Broccoli soup, without the cheese. (Kim O'Donnel) In addition to broccoli and cauliflower, the Brassica family includes cruciferous siblings such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale. If you want to keep the doc away, get cozy with these antioxidant champions. I'm predicting that just a few years down the road scientists will discover that the Brassica family is the golden key to age prevention. Just a hunch......

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 2, 2006; 10:19 AM ET | Comments (20)

Teaching Tim Meat Sauce

For the past week, I've been away from this blog, turning my energy to my kid brother, Tim, who's fighting for his life in a Miami hospital. The situation is very critical and that's all I'm going to say. The reason I even mention him and what my family has been through is to share the link between cooking and the alleviation of sorrow and emotional distress that we all experience to varying degrees throughout our lifetimes. Right now, while back in town temporarily, cooking is my salve, a healer, a soother, a tranquilizer. On a kitchen stool, I've placed a photo of we two and when time to prepare last night's dinner, I lit a candle by his side. Then I announced out loud that I would be teaching him how to make a proper meat sauce for spaghetti....

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 26, 2006; 09:51 AM ET | Comments (39)

Weeknight Soup Improv

The workday had been long, and still at 6:30 last night, dinner remained a remote concept. As I worked my way through the produce bin of the fridge, I was greeted by a few sweet potatoes purchased over the weekend at the farmer's market. Sweet potatoes put to good use at the last minute. (Kim O'Donnel) What could I pull together with these, I wondered, in about an hour? I needed something that would feel like a meal, rather than just a part of a whole, so roasted sweets were out of the question. A soup, however, might do the trick....

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 12, 2006; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (5)

Rain-Go-Away Curry

Early morning here in Washington, and the word of the day may have to be "galoshes." Rain has been falling for nearly 12 hours, and conditions are soggier than an Oreo cookie marinating in a glass of milk. The idea of staying under the covers, hunkered down until the weather passes, sounds positively idyllic, but who am I kidding on a busy work day? I don't think a pot of tea will do the trick, either. Gloomy conditions call for stronger measures: After a day of dodging puddles, a steaming pot of chicken curry may be the answer. Although I can't take credit for the recipe -- it comes from Indian culinary diva Madhur Jaffrey -- I feel like it's mine, as it's become one of my good-ole-reliables, dishes that I prepare over and again and which never fail me. I practically know the recipe by heart. Unlike many curries...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 6, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (18)

Ramadan Soup for Everyone

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, began this week and continues until Oct. 23. A month of fasting does not mean abstaining from food for the entire time; rather, fasting is observed daily, from sunrise to sunset. In spite of the focus on fasting, food plays a key role in Ramadan, when the fast is broken, at the evening iftar meal. Light fare is the emphasis, as the body needs gradual sustenance rather than a huge feast, after a day without food or drink. Although dates and other dried fruit are often served first to replenish the system, soup is a staple on the iftar table, offering nourishment without glutting the body. To that end, I offer a "how-to" for a soup that pays tribute to late-summer produce. For inspiration, I turned to "The Real Dirt on Vegetables" by Farmer John Peterson, an Illinois farmer and sustainable agriculture advocate who's...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 28, 2006; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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