What's Cooking; Getting figgy, storing herbs, summer bounty tales…

Byline: Kim O'Donnel

Calling all foodies! Join us for another edition of What's Cooking , our live online culinary hour with Kim O'Donnel .

A graduate of Peter Kump's New York Cooking School, Kim spends much of her time in front of the stove or with her nose in a cookbook.

Catch up on previous transcripts with the What's Cooking archive page .

Listen to Kim's most recent cooking segment on WTOP radio.


What's Cooking; Getting figgy, storing herbs, summer bounty tales… Kim O'Donnel: Hello August, goodbye summer. The only solace in the changing of the seasons is that produce is in high gear at the moment. Jewels of the earth are everywhere -- tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, stringbeans, melons, peaches, plums -- it's glorious. As a result, I have been doing a bit of salad nicoise as well as throwing summer veg into a pan and cooking with garlic and onion and adding water, white wine, letting it get a bit stewy, then pouring over rice. Pretty fine eating. How's tricks otherwise? This month's veggie show is this Thursday, Aug. 25 at noon, by the way. Let's hear all about your adventures...

Fig ice cream?: Kim - I'm really surprised and happy that I can still get fresh figs at this time of year (Go Trader Joes!). But I'm getting a little tired of having them for breakfast w/ my yogurt, or putting them in salad. I've been making ice cream every week for my colleagues, and I'm wondering if I could do that with figs -- any thoughts? Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Ah, figs, they are here, too, and I have a good pal right here in Arlington whose tree is brimming with the goodies. Yes, you could make fig ice cream. Off top of my head, I'm not sure if I'd puree them and add to the mix or chop them just like you might with peaches and cherries. I might add thyme, rosemary or basil, too, plus some honey for a kick. By the way, have you thought about a freeform figgy tart?


Greenbelt, Md.: My garden is producing a lot of tomatillos and I make a killer fresh salsa verde with them. Can I freeze the fresh salsa for use this winter?

Kim O'Donnel: Sure you can. Make sure it's really airtight, and use sooner rather than later, as in this coming winter, not that in 2007.


Cornish Hens: I've got two defrosting in my refirgerator right now. What shall I do with them tonight? I'm open to anything.

Kim O'Donnel: These are small enough to grill, methinks. I might lather them up with honey, chiles, lime, soy sauce, garlic and let marinate a bit. You could also remove skin, which I think gets in the way.


Arlington, Va.: Just wanted to share part of my dinner plans. Since I have the day off I making homemade garganelli pasta and using it with pesto, fingerling potatos, and greenbeans. There is nothing better than homemade pasta and homemde pesto ... I am going to miss summer!

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for sharing, Arlington. Tell the class what garganelli is, please. I love the idea of fingerlings and pesto!


Bethlehem, Pa.: Kim,

I'm hoping you can give me some tips or point me toward some resources for baking with whole grains. I've made a recommitment to eat well (lotsa veggies, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains) and I want learn to bake foods that aren't too sweet and have lots of whole grains. I've scoured the cookbook sections of the big bookstores to no avail. I'm dying to find a good granola bar recipe. I'm also looking for some guidelines on how to modify recipes (muffins, quick breads, yeast breads, scones, you name it) to include 100 percent whole grain flour. Thanks for the help; you're the best!

Kim O'Donnel: Bethelehem, I like Beth Hensperger's book on whole-grain breads, which includes scones, muffins, pancakes and quick breads. Check it out. I have a recipe for granola that perhaps you could tweak into granola bars. I don't have it at the ready, as I'm away from all my recipes, but happy to send it to you if you e-mail:


Arlington, Va.: I went to the USDA Farmers Market friday that is held on 12th and Independence Ave. I almost peed my pants when I saw all the heriloom tomotoes for sale. They reminded me sooo much of growing up and having these varities in our garden. I had almost forgotten about most of them because you never saw them anymore. All you see being sold anywhere is the early girls and better boys that are simple round and very red. I then went to Eastern Market on Sunday and again found lots of heriloom tomatoes. Today there is a big article in the post about the "new" interest in heirlooms and their availability agian. I am so happy that these are coming back. Well back to my question. I was so happy to see all the different varities that I bought several of each kind. Now I have lots of heirlooms plus the simple red ones that I have grown in my own garden (they have taken back seat to the others so I have lots and keep giving those ones to the neighbor, I know that is bad, keeping the heirlooms for me and giving those away!) So what am I going to do with all of them before they spoil. I have made pizza with bobli crust, fresh cheeses and sliced tomatoes, chili, on burgers, salsa, etc.(all Fantasic!)Do you have any other interesting ways to use the tomatoes before they spoil? Id love to hear from you and other chatters on how I can use them. I HOPE THEY KEEP THE HEIRLOOMS COMING.

Kim O'Donnel: Well, heirlooms have been making a comeback for past several years, but I think why we're really seeing them shine this year is due to the kind weather conditions for tomaters. Last year, if you remember, was a bad summer for lots of crops, and the tomatoes were kind of crappy. I love making gazpacho with all these grand tomatoes. I also love'em between two pieces of crusty bread with salt and olive oil. Love'em with goat cheese. Love'em with garlic. Love'em with pasta.


Yummy Grilling!;!;!;: Not a question....just wanted to share my deliciously simple dinner last night. I grilled jumbo shrimp on rosemary sprigs. Just brushed with a little olive oil infused with garlic, and sprinkled a bit of red pepper flakes on top. Served with a spinach salad and scallion rice...YUMMY!;!;

Kim O'Donnel: Very nice indeed. Thanks for your tasty tidbit...


Great outdoors: Hi Kim, We are throwing a BBQ this weekend with the usual fare -- burgers, grilled corn, potato salad, chips and fresh salsa. Do you have any suggestions for a fresh vegtable or fruit that we can prepare in advance and that can handle the great outdoors? You always have such a fun and unique spin on everyday foods what would you love to see at an afternoon BBQ?


Kim O'Donnel: What about doing fruit kebabs? You could do peaches and plums and pineapples, and yes, even figs. Otherwise, figs are mighty grand at the moment; you could do a salad with basil, figgies, olive oil, a little gorgonzola...heaven. I might also do a corn salad, with kernels that have been quickly blanched, with tomatoes, scallions, garlic, herbs, lime, curry powder, red onion, bell pepper...


Washington, DC: I'd like to try to roast a duck this weekend. I tried the P Street Whole Foods, but they didn't have any whole ducks... where else in the District could I find a duck? Would Eastern Market have any?

Kim O'Donnel: I think you may have luck at Dean/Deluca, and yes, I might try Eastern market. I might also call up Wagshals...


Washington, D.C.: Kim, I need some inspiration for lunch today. I have the following on hand: a variety of grains and canned beans; fresh herbs; and salad veggies (radishes, tomatoes, cukes, celery, onion, etc.) What would you make?

Kim O'Donnel: Do you have any bulgur wheat? What else in the grain department? Holler.


Herbs: Hi Kim. I'm a newlywed bride trying to be pennywise and a great cook all at once. What to do about fresh herbs? They are pricey and often I end up throwing the majority of the herbs away.

Can a freeze them and keep them longer? Any guidance on how to be frugal and fresh?

Kim O'Donnel: Take it easy, honeybunch. You're right; herbs are pricey. If you really want herbs, grow some in pots. Rosemary is kind to beginners, and it's a wonderful herb to have on hand during colder months. Parsley is one of the few that lasts for a week and is quite versatile. Basil is for kicks; it lasts for a day or two and poof...maybe you could hook up with neighbors, friends who grow herbs and in exchange for some of their goods, you give them a taste of your home cookin...


heirlooms ... : You could freeze some tomato sauce. It freezes quite well and would be such a lovely reminder during the winter.

Kim O'Donnel: Yes you could. And yes it does. Very airtight container...

Wine & Health

Wine, alcohol and health research: an in-depth look

Every month, new, valid research findings on alcohol, health and social issues are being published in peer-reviewed journals.
Buy, sell or hold: wine country real estate trends

Kendall-Jackson To Sell 900 Acres; Mondavi Puts 1,500 Acres And Two Wineries On the Market; Coppola Pays A Record $350,000 Per Acre For Napa Vineyard.
U.S. funds grant for wine/health study

In an unprecedented breakthrough, the U.S. government's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provided the first major multidisciplinary programmatic grant to study the effects of moderate wine consumption on cardiovascular health to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Wine slightly better than beer for cardiac health

A recent article in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis determined that drinkers of wine benefit from its cardioprotective effects, more so than those who drink beer or other spirits, and wine drinkers may also live longer.