My first posted recipe

Today is “Pi Day,” celebrating both the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter (why do we celebrate that?) and the birthday of Albert Einstein. Several readers have called this to my attention, and mentioned the more important form of “pi”—the one that you eat.  One said she had a wonderful recipe for sweet-potato pudding.

Now I don’t make pies, but I’m a creditable cook for a guy, and am especially good with Szechuan food, which I’ve been cooking since graduate school. However, there are times—most days, actually—when I just don’t have the gumption to cook something complicated or time-consuming.  When that happens, I sometimes make what I will call the “Ceiling Cat Special,” an easy dish that can be prepared in about 10 minutes, is filling and nutritious, and tastes good, especially with an off-dry white wine or a fine glass of ale. It’s a takeoff on a dish I’ve repeatedly eaten in Central America: black beans and rice. Many of you may find the following repugnant, but here it is (if there aren’t too many denigrating comments, some day I’ll put up my recipe for the world’s best hot and sour soup):

Ceiling Cat Special (invented by his earthly minion)

1 12-oz can cooked black beans (preferably Goya or another Hispanic variety)About 1.25 cups cooked rice
1 medium-sized onion
plain yogurt
libation of your choice

Mix black beans and rice, and heat up in a saucepan. Dice onions and sautée (I use a wok) until they’re done to your specification.  I like them partly caramelized, as you see below. When rice and beans are hot, put in a bowl, top with generous dollops of plain yogurt, and garnish with the sautéed onion. Eat (I mix everything together first, but you can keep them layered), downing the food with the libation.

Here’s what it looks like.  The beer is a hoppy red ale, but a good German Riesling (especially a nice Spätlese) will complement it even better.

Ceiling Cat special

Now of course this isn’t anything special, but I’m using this post to invite you to post your favorite recipes (comfort food or otherwise) in the comments, as several readers intimated they might do. I suspect that there will be some good ones.

Oh, and this proves that I don’t usually eat the kind of food I post about.


  1. gbjames
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    My favorite recipes are invariably prepared by someone else.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Me too. I hate cooking anything and suck at it.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        So glad to have other cooking-phobes come out of the woodwork!

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          (Especially female ones, for reasons I’m sure I needn’t elaborate.)

          • Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            So you goddess-of-the-hunt types know how to bring home the bacon but not what to do with it once you’re home?


            • Diane G.
              Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

              I like that framing!

              • Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

                It is kinda curious that the Biblical societies had women being so subjugated while the Pagans had women as goddesses of not just the hunt but of war and wisdom. Somehow it’s not surprising that those who abandon Biblical (at least) religions also abandon Biblical gender roles….


              • Diane G.
                Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

                “It is kinda curious that the Biblical societies had women being so subjugated while the Pagans had women as goddesses…”

                Amazing when you think of it. Amazing that any society ever gets beyond testosterone and body-size advantage. Coulda be the old pedestal phenomenon, though.

                IIRC, some Native American heritages are fairly matriarchal.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 15, 2014 at 6:39 am | Permalink

                I find it more interesting that there were monarchs in patriarchal societies. I have a theory that in England it was because royalty was semi godish because of the divine right of kings. Otherwise, I can’t figure it out.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 15, 2014 at 6:38 am | Permalink

              No, we bring home the bacon and then persuade others to fancy it up for consumption.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink


    • gbjames
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      The winter and my gender made me forget. I lied in my first comment. I am not bad at plank-grilling fish out in the back yard.

      So here’s my recipe:

      1) Buy some Sockeye Salmon, or some other good fish.

      2) Soak a plank for a few hours.

      3) Store-bought “spicy” fish seasoning may be used if you like. Use some olive oil on the plank to prevent sticking, which may not happen anyway since the plank is wet. Put the fish on the plank.

      4) Grill the fish.

      5) Eat it with other items prepared by someone else.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        Uh, didn’t you leave out some chicken wire, or something?

        • jesse
          Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

          There is an old, old joke about preparing carp on a plank. You bake for 12 hours at low temp, then discard the fish and eat the plank.

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

            Ha ha, amazingly I just tonight read a version of that joke on another website!

            It involved a merganser and an old shoe (boil both together, then discard, well, you know the rest. :D). Apparently because mergs not only eat a lot of fish but end up smelling and tasting like them as well.

            (Context was sad, though…)

            • jesse
              Posted March 15, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

              I once did a museum skin prep of a merg. It was the most difficult one I ever did. Dense, fine breast feathers, no feather tract separations so hard to cut into without making a mess. The breast feathers were like solid fur.

      • Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        a recipe of a spicy fish seasoning used by a supermarket here in the northeast. 4 parts brown sugar, 1 part McCormick Montreal steak seasoning.

  2. Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink


    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      In Europe, I guess we have to wait to celebrate π day on 31 April … 


      • Marella
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Australia too.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        That would be 10 pi day (31.4).

        • Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          That would be greedy!


        • Posted March 14, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          I don’t celebrate pi day.

          I think it makes more sense to celebrate June twenty-eighth.

          (It is also pi month: March, two-thousand fourteen.)

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

            Yes, the pi day of pi days. I’m surprised more hasn’t been made of that.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 15, 2014 at 6:23 am | Permalink

              You did note Pi day especially at 9:26:53 I’m sure!

          • Posted March 15, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

            It’s perfectly fine to have your pi and eat it, tau!


  3. Diane G.
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Three ingredient recipes–my favorite kind! (Oops, 4, can’t forget the libation.)

    Also–ditto to gb.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Well, 4 ingredients; for some reason I wasn’t counting the yogurt–probably because it doesn’t have to be cooked at all. 😉

  4. merilee
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget the hot and sour soup soon!!

  5. Grania Spingies
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Looks yummy. I would add a tiny bit of chili for extra warmth.

    If I have time and energy to make comfort food, I make Chicken Korma.

    4 Chicken breasts (cubed)
    Small carton plain yoghurt
    Crushed garlic
    Grated ginger

    Mix & marinade in fridge overnight.

    In pan with olive oil, cook:
    1 chopped onion til browning (makes it sweet)
    Then add:
    chopped garlic (about 6-8)
    1/2 Tbs cumin
    1/2 Tbs coriander
    1 tsp tumeric
    Chopped green chili pepper (about 1 per person)
    salt to taste
    Small piece of ginger, chopped
    Let this dryish paste sweat for a few minutes.

    Add a can of coconut milk and cook for about 10 minutes.
    Add chicken cubes and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

    Extra: you can add lime juice, salt, honey or extra chilis to taste.
    Serve with basmati rice or naan bread.

    If I don’t have time and energy for cooking, my comfort food goes like this:
    Buy tarka dhal from shop. Eat.

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Sounds truly lovely.

    • darrelle
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      I’ll have to try that one. Thanks!

  6. Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    black beans are my favorite. I put a can of the refried version in my chili and it instantly tastes like it’s been cooking for hours.

    one more request for the hot and sour soup recipe!

  7. Jim Thomerson
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    In New Orleans we lived next door to the lady who provided the recipes for the little handouts on the trolleys. She told us how to make red beans, rice, and ham. The trick is to use equal weights of all three. On thinking about it, I thought as times get harder, one would cut back on the ham. When time get even harder, leave out the ham and cut back on the red beans. When you get to the point of affording only rice, you are really hard up.

  8. Sameer
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    (why do we celebrate that?)

    We celebrate it because – in the immortal words of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory – “What’s life without whimsy?”

  9. Michael Day
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    In the spirit of keeping it simple, here is a lunch salad that I’ve been making lately:

    In a large salad bowl, add:

    1 tablespoon (TBS) extra virgin olive oil
    1 TBS honey
    1 TBS red wine vinegar (or balsamic)
    1/2 TBS dijon mustard
    2 TBS (or a bit more) crumbled bleu cheese
    salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

    (double or triple all of this for a larger salad)

    Wisk all of this together and add:

    Salad greens of your choice. My recent favorite is mixed baby romaine. I add a lot: two or three large handfuls.

    Meat of your choice: my favorite is leftover roasted chicken; a mixture of dark and white meat

    Up to a 1/4 cup or so pecans or walnuts

    Up to a 1/4 cup or so dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.

    Toss thoroughly with the dressing and enjoy. A home-brewed hoppy ale would also make this more enjoyable.

  10. Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Another request for hot and sour soup. My girlfriend and I have been trying to make hot and sour soup for years, and we just can’t get it quite right.

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      the website has a good recipe. Very close to the restaurant kind, though I leave out the thickener because I don’t like it so gloopy.

  11. Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Ceiling Cat’s earthly minion has done well. 🙂

  12. Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I sometimes make what I will call the “Ceiling Cat Special,” …

    I was expecting the recipe to begin: “First skin your cat …”.

    • Marella
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Surely that would be “First catch your rat”?

  13. Stephen P
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    A Scottish colleague once passed on to me a traditional New Year recipe:

    – 1 medium-sized onion
    – 1 bottle of whisky

    Method: throw the onion away and drink the whisky.

    • Rod
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      On a similar note…. 2 oz or 50 mls good brandy, 1 generous tablespoon of maple syrup. Stir and sip.
      Perfect for a winter evening.

      • gbjames
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        We’re sick of winter evenings. Tell us about some good summer drinks!

        • NewEnglandBob
          Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          The drink I will have in less than an hour at a Sushi place in South Florida. Maybe a Mai Tai.

        • Marella
          Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          During a long hot summer, which is still not gone (I’m over the hot nights), I’ve been drinking sauvignon blanc over ice. I’m not a wine purist, I like it over ice, I drink it over ice.

          • Larry Gay
            Posted March 15, 2014 at 2:45 am | Permalink

            Did you know that Australian wine is now in a lot of American stores? Yellow Tail (IIRC) is in my little general store deep in the Maine woods.

            • Marella
              Posted March 16, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

              I had heard, but apparently the high Australian dollar has put prices up though, so they’re not selling as much as previously.

        • Chris
          Posted March 15, 2014 at 4:48 am | Permalink

          A *good* gin & tonic…

          • Filippo
            Posted March 15, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

            “A *good* gin & tonic…”

            Is there a more palate-cleansing libation?

        • Posted March 15, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

          equal parts granular sugar and water (for example, 1/2 cup each of sugar & water) – heat on stovetop until sugar dissolved. Pour into glass or ceramic container and refrigerate ==> now you have “simple syrup”.

          Remove bottle of whiskey from freezer, squeeze a whole fresh lemon, measure the juice volume…

          Add the same volume of whiskey, and 1/2 that volume of simple syrup. Shake with ice. Pour into chilled glass.

          Dig around for jar of Maraschino cherries.

          Throw jar of Maraschino cherries into the shitcan, because they are disgusting.

          Enjoy your whiskey sour. (to cut the sour further, use egg white in the shaker – presuming salmonella risk is low where you are, and that you take precautions)

  14. Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Ahh, what I’ve been waiting for…the kickoff post for “Dr. Ceiling Cat’s Cookbook” complete with noms from website contributors!

    We eat a lot of dry beans, especially pintos and red lentils, and lots of yogurt and onions. But no rice or alcohol.

    Reader Darrelle requested my Buttermilk Pie recipe awhile ago, so here it is:

    9″ Pie Shell:
    1 1/4 cups white or whole wheat flour
    1/4 cup wheat germ
    1/4 cup butter
    1/4 cup lard
    several tablespoons cold water (add ice cubes if necessary)

    Mix the flour and wheat germ. Work the lard and butter into the flour with your hands or a fork until the mixture is coarsely grainy and uniform. Add the water a bit at a time and stir until the dough holds together. Roll it out on a flat, floured surface until thin but still easy to handle and press into the pie plate. Crimp edges with your fingers or flatten the dough onto the rim with a fork. Prick the dough all over with a fork so it doesn’t puff when cooking, and bake at 400 for 8 minutes.

    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    3 tablespoons flour
    3 eggs
    1 cup homemade buttermilk: Put a tablespoon of white or cider vinegar in a measuring cup and top it up with milk. Whole milk gives the best results. Do NOT use commercial buttermilk, which has added stabilizers that will spoil the texture of the pie.

    Cream butter and sugar with a fork until smooth. Stir in eggs. Add the flour. Stir in the buttermilk until smooth. Pour into the baked pie shell. Bake at 400 for ten minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for about 30 minutes (cooking time will depend on your oven, so check often). The top should be golden and the center should still tremble slightly when shaken. Cool to nearly room temperature before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

    Lemon variation:
    Use the juice of two fresh lemons instead of the vinegar. You may have up to 1/3 cup of juice but that’s OK – cooking will just take a bit longer. This version is very good when chilled.

    • darrelle
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Fantastic! Thank you so much Ironwing.

  15. Larry Gay
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Jerry and I apparently favor the same cusine. You can substitute pollenta (pollenta doesn’t take as long to cook) for rice if you want, and there of lots of other toppings. Green salsa for example, or sour cream instead of yogurt for those who need to gain weight.

  16. Posted March 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Dinner tonight for me just happens to be rice and beans as well, but a different variation.

    At least an hour before you’ll start cooking, simmer some beans and a bay leaf in twice as much water for just a couple minutes, remove from heat, and let stand to soak. You can do this on the stove, but my microwave has a “simmer” feature; all I have to do is tell it to simmer something for however long I want, and it’ll start the timer once the sensor detects boiling. It’s an awesome feature!

    You can also soak the beans without cooking if you let them go overnight.

    Then I’ll saut&eactue;e some bacon and mirepoix (2:1:1 chopped onions:carrots:celery — takes all of a minute to do the chopping) with salt and pepper until it’s all tender and maybe starting to caramelize. I might do this over low heat if I’ve got other things that need my attention and let it go for a while longer, or over medium heat if I don’t mind stirring it more often.

    Once the onions are soft, I’ll add some chopped garlic; before then, and the garlic tends to scorch. That’s also the time I’ll add whatever other herbs and spices catch my fancy…likely candidates are rosemary, thyme, cumin, mustard, ginger, ground dried chiles, cinnamon, or whatever else catches my eye on the spice shelf.

    While that’s going, I’ll put rice with a bit more water than rice in a bowl, likely with a pinch of salt and a pat of butter and maybe some safflower petals.

    When the bacon / mirepoix mixture is cooked, I’ll add a splash of sherry, a splash of vinegar, an half a teaspoon of honey or maple, a tablespoon or two of chicken broth (from the soup I made for dinner Tuesday), and the drained beans. The sherry goes in first, which deglazes the pan and lets the alcohol cook off by the time you’re done adding everything. Once it’s all mixed together, it goes in another bowl (likely on top of the reserved bay leaf).

    The two bowls get covered and stacked on top of each other in the pressure cooker, with a rack on the bottom of the cooker and water covering the rack. The cooker goes on the stove at high heat, reduced to low once the rocker starts rocking. Fifteen minutes later it comes off the heat; when the safety release drops, dinner is ready.

    Oh — and while the cooker is doing its thing to the rice and beans, I’ll likely cook up some asparagus.

    I realize that reading all that it might seem like an awful lot of work just for rice and beans, but it’s really not…about half an hour between getting the ingredients out of the ‘fridge to sitting down to eat, with plenty of time amidst all that to catch up on email or news headlines or the like. Not that much different from ordering a pizza, really, except I’m not aware of a pizza that can be ordered that’s worth eating….



    • gluonspring
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      I appreciate the detail. You had me at “bay leaf”, though.

  17. rose
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Probably will make Irish Soda bread for St. pat’s day.Can’t find my mothers recipe so will look on Youtube,bet i’ll find a good recipe there.

    • lisa parker
      Posted March 15, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      If you find a good one, you might post it here. I had a great recipe for soda bread and one for potato pancakes on a decorative towel, but it when missing after a couple of moves.

  18. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Moist BBQ Chicken on grill

    Using dry rub and low heat – 300 degrees for almost 2 hours of indirect heat. Chicken wrapped in foil. Heat on one side of grill, chicken on other side. Keep grill closed.

    Chicken breasts with bone.

    Dry rub:
    Black Pepper
    Onion powder
    Garlic powder or granulated
    Pinch of Salt
    2 pinches of Sugar or sweetener
    Optional -Oregano
    Optional – Thyme
    Optional – brush chicken lightly with fresh squeezed lemon juice before dry rub

  19. Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    So long as we’re on the subject of π day and recipes, it seems only natural to make reference to Vi Hart:

    Original π day video

    Playlist of all π videos



  20. aldoleopold
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    ENGLISH TOFFEE – 5 minutes prep, 10 minutes to make.

    1 c. sugar
    ½ lb real butter
    3 Tbsp water
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 c. chopped pecans (if you like pecans)
    3 plain Hershey Bars

    — before cooking – have your chocolate bars unwrapped, vanilla readily available, and pan buttered. If you want pecans, have them scattered on the bottom of the buttered pan.

    Cook (on stove top) sugar, butter, and water in a heavy pan about 10 min on high (until starts to turn brown—that’s caramel color – not darker than caramel!). Stir constantly. It will foam and start rising – but you shouldn’t need to worry about it going over the pan sides. Add vanilla and stir it very quickly into the toffee. Then immediately pour in buttered 8 x 10 or 7 x 11 pan. Place chocolate bars on top of the mixture immediately. In about a minute, they’ll be soft. Spread chocolate with wooden spoon once softened. Break into pieces after cool (place on a garage floor or out on your deck/balcony if it’s cool out). I often set it out in the snow to cool, but not if you have squirrels, etc around.

  21. Hempenstein
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Morning Grits

    Crack an egg into 1.5-2cups water plus
    One beef bouillon cube
    Bring to boil, adding
    Chunks of Kielbasa (Scott Peterson’s – it’s from Chicago)
    Okra (currently using cut pieces, from Mexico)
    Capsacin of choice

    Once all this is all boiling happily, add enough dried grits for the water – about half a cup. I use Quaker Quick Grits*.

    Cook on low heat, ~5min. Eat, saving the hard egg yolk for a friend’s parrot.

    *Tried the organic stuff from the food co-op and wasn’t impressed.

  22. Charles Sullivan
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Sounds simple and delicious. I might be inclined to add some oregano, cumin, and a chopped jalapeño.

  23. Hempenstein
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Morning Rolled Oats

    1.5 cups water plus
    One chicken bouillon cube

    Bring to boil, adding
    Dill (fresh or dried)
    Chives (fresh or dried)
    Optional: celery seed

    Add sufficient oats (I use organic steel-cut only because it seems to have a better texture than regular), about 3/4cup. Cook ~5min


    Optional: replace dill and chives with poultry seasoning and celery seed

  24. Jiten
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to make that! Sounds yummy! But I’m going to add some salt and perhaps some cumin, chilli, and turmeric.

    Someone once asked a famous chef, whose name I’ve forgotten, what is the one ingredient that improves the taste of any dish. And he replied : salt.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      A little bit of salt works wonders but too many restaurants and most packaged foods use way too much (some soups at 900-1100 mg sodium).

      We need a small amount, between about 180 mg and 500 mg per day

      I saw some dried herring at the fish counter the other day that had 2184 mg of sodium for each serving, about what I eat in a week.

      Being a heart patient, I have reduced my salt intake drastically and was surprised that some foods actually had their own, pleasant taste.

      e.g. use tomato paste and/or fresh tomatoes and add your own water and spices, instead of jarred tomato sauces.

      • Jiten
        Posted March 15, 2014 at 2:19 am | Permalink

        I thought the kidneys got rid of excess salt.

  25. Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    That one might still work in icy Chicago. Usually has taste typical for Christmas, due to dark chocolate and cinnamon combination but it works any time, really. It’s a simple to do stirred German Red Wine cake. The little bit of alcohol will vaporize, it’s suitable for everyone.

    Red Wine Cake

    TSP = tea spoon, that small one;
    TBS = soup spoon, the big one.
    You need:

    —250g flour
    —4 Eggs
    —1 small pack vanilla sugar (about 1 TBS flat, or 8g)
    —½ small pack baking powder (about 4g)
    —200g sugar
    —250g butter (and some for greasing, alternatively margarine suitable for baking)
    —1 TBS cinnamon
    —100g chocolate flakes, preferably dark chocolate (you can do them with a cheese grater yourself)
    —2 TBS cocoa powder (the one for baking purposes, not the sugarized one you use for making instant chokolate milk)
    —1/8L redwine (125ml), originally a Dornfelder or Pinot noir, but you can try out any you like. Your choice will carry over a bit. Dry wines makes the cake more dry, etc.
    —Optional: (dark) chocolate, or powdered sugar for coating.
    —Optional: Breadcrumb powder for the greased pan.

    Here’s How You Do It

    Well, you only have to mix everything together, except for the chocolate flakes, they come last. The best way to do this:

    0) Warm the oven to about 160°C or 320°F, by the time you’re done stirring, it should be hot.
    1) Mix flour, butter and eggs together first.
    2) Then you mix all the remaining powders together separately, then add them to the dough.
    3) Add the red wine to the mix. Make sure everything is a nice stirred dough.
    4) Gently add the chocolate flakes at last
    5) use kitchenpaper, put butter on it, and grease the cake pan with it. Loaf pan works well, but you can try others, too. You can optionally use breadcrumbs powder and toss it in the pan, so that the powder sticks to the greased walls, but empty out surplus powder that doesn’t stick. Someone said, you can use chocolate powder, too, but I haven’t tried it.
    6) Obviously, put the dough into the prepared pan and the whole thing goes into the 160°C/320° hot oven for about an hour. Put it somewhere into the middle, or lower middle. But make sure you begin checking at around the 50 min mark if it’s done.
    7) Use a chopstick, a skewer or something similar where you can poke into the dough from above. If some dough sticks to it, it still has to stay in the oven. Repeat that procedure until nothing, or almost nothing sticks, and it’s perfect (depends of course, how much sticks, but check every 5-10mins if you want to be sure).
    8) If your oven burns too much from above, and it’s still not done inside, but looks too dark above, you can just put a tinfoil on top. However, it’s a very dark cake anyway, don’t panic.

    As would seem natural, you could drink a glass of red wine with it.

  26. keith jameson
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    10 grammes of fresh Tashkent Mint leaves, 50 grms of salted anchovies, 4 cloves of garlic crushed together in a pestle and mortar or a blender, enough virgin olive oil to make the ingredients into a gloopy paste; spread the mixture over two pieces of lean lamb cutlets, cover them with cling film and leave them to marinade for as as long as you’ve got, transfer them to a roasting tray and roast for 20/25 min, at 180c, Serve with fresh, steamed new potatoes, crushed, with butter to taste…

  27. darrelle
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Here is a quick one everyone in the house likes. Basically my take on an Alfredo. I have no idea how authentic, or not, it is but it is easy, fast, yummy, and cheesey!

    1) Cook pasta to taste. Fresh is great, but dried out of a box will work just fine.

    2) Pancetta, small cubed, render till just a bit crispy.

    3) Garlic, fresh chopped, sauted in pancetta fat and good EVOO, the kind you typically use for finishing.

    4) Heavy Cream, poured right into the garlic, EVOO, and pancetta fat. Oh, and add the pancetta back in. Bring just up to a simmer.

    5) Add cooked pasta. Turn heat up to medium / medium high and gently but constantly turn pasta while cooking for two – three minutes until the liquid begins to coat the pasta nicely.

    6) Add a generous amount of shredded cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Asiago, or similar, or any combination thereof that floats your boat. Remove from heat and combine thoroughly.

    Fresh quality ingrediants are really the key on this one, as is often the case. Another key is judging the thickness of the sauce before adding the cheese. When the cheese is added it will tighten things up even more, so you want the sauce to be a bit loose still, to where it just begins to coat the pasta.

    A bright crisp wine, not too sweet though, goes great with this to cut the richness, like a Pinot Grigio.

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      That sounds quite good; I’ll have to give it a try.

      But the archetypal Alfredo is actually trivial to make — and, with fresh pasta, you can make it quicker than you can cook dried noodles.

      While the noodles are cooking, shred a very generous amount of Reggiano — you want at least an heaping handful per serving. When the noodles are al dente, drain them and return them to the pan with a tablespoon of butter and toss them off of the heat until the butter has melted into the noodles. Add a generous amount of fresh cream and a good sprinkling of nutmeg and return to medium high heat, stirring until the noodles have absorbed the cream. Again remove from the heat, add the cheese and stir / toss just until the cheese is melted; slightly lumpy is okay, because it’ll turn stringy almost immediately after it’s done melting. Serve immediately, garnished with an additional sprinkle of Reggiano on top.

      And for those who don’t know how easy it is to make fresh pasta: weigh an egg, and measure out 1.85 times as much semolina flour as the egg weighs. On a (clean!) countertop, dump the flour and make a well in the center to hold the egg. Crack the egg into the well and whisk the egg with a for, gradually incorporating the flour into the egg. A minute or so later when the fork isn’t doing much good, use your hands to incorporate all the flour into the dough. Repeatedly fold the dough in half. Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least fifteen minutes before sending it through your pasta machine according to instructions — generally, several times through the widest setting, folding in thirds each time, then twice each through each smaller setting (without folding) until the desired thickness, and finally through the cutters. As a general rule, the pasta will swell to the next thicker setting; if you want cooked noodles as thick as what the machine makes uncooked at the #4 setting, send them through #5.

      Fresh noodles cook very fast; just a minute, two at the most, after the water returns to a boil is usually about all it takes.

      And one egg makes about two servings. You can keep unused dough in the refrigerator…well, not indefinitely, but as long as you’re likely to go before making noodles again. Just make sure it’s tightly wrapped.



      • darrelle
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Sounds good!

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Even simpler:

      Buy a wedge of Gorgonzola Dolce. Melt it in a pan at the lowest setting your cooktop will do. Stir in cooked penne, and if you want to get fancy, maybe a handful of pine nuts or chopped arugula.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        Well, sure. You could chop up my old riding boots and stir it into that and it would be delicious.

  28. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a recipe for squash enchiladas that I invented myself.


    One large or two small Delicata or other winter squash.

    Soft white cheese such as ricotta. If you can get goat milk ricotta, go for it.

    Smoked ancho chili powder.

    A dozen corn tortillas.

    A jar of green tomatillo salsa, mild, spicy, or smoky as you prefer.

    Shredded white cheddar or jack cheese.

    (Optional) Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish.


    Split the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, put a spoonful of water in each half, cover with foil, and roast at 400 degrees for 60-90 minutes, until a fork slides easily into the flesh. Remove from the oven and let cool. This much can be done a day or two in advance (or you could cheat and buy frozen cooked squash).

    Scoop the cooked squash from the shell and put in a bowl with an equal quantity of soft cheese. Season to taste with chili powder. Mash together until well blended.

    Lay a tortilla on a small plate, spread a spoonful of salsa over it, and pop it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds until soft. When done, put a generous glob of squash filling onto the warm tortilla, roll it up, and place it in a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

    For efficient production, use two plates, and have a second tortilla ready to swap into the microwave when the first is done. Then roll up the first and prep the third while the second one is warming up. Keep alternating plates until done.

    When all tortillas have been filled and rolled, spoon more salsa over the top, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and garnish (if you like) with roasted pumpkin seeds. Put the whole thing back in the microwave for a couple of minutes to warm it all up and melt the cheese.

    You can also roll the enchiladas directly into plastic freezer boxes (put a spoonful of salsa in the bottom of the box first), top them with salsa, cheese, etc., and put them straight into the freezer to be reheated at a later date.

    This is one of the staple frozen meals I like to make for my students during Nutcracker season, when they’re rehearsing all day and performing every night and have no time to cook for themselves.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Delicata squash are great. Especially when made by someone else. Never heard of them being made like you describe, but if you make them, I’ll eat them!

  29. Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Kielbasa stew – have veggies, caraway & cumin seed handy. Beer or wine for cooking/drinking while preparing. Apples. Tart green are the best.

    Fry up some onions, olive oil & a polish kielbasa (beef or turkey) until carmelized…

    …whilst chopping up (big chunks) carrots, potatoes, onions into boiling water. Put small head of cabbage, quartered or eighthed… think big chunks & just enough water to soften everything up. Make sure to have beer handy – to drink & also to add enough liquid to suit. Usually carrots take longer to cook, then potatoes, then cabbage, then onions – so that makes a good order to throw thing in. If you use turnips, throw those in last – they cook quickly and can get too mushy if done early.

    Throw in 2:1 caraway:cumin seed to taste. Perhaps some ground pepper. (I never measure anything… just imagine how much you want to eat and do it). Fold in the carmelized kielbasa/onion mixture, and add chopped apples. After the apples are in, maybe ten minutes or so, you have one hearty kielbasa stew.

    Salt to taste (I use zero salt & let individuals add theirs afterwards). Can throw crackers on top as well… Excellent for lunch the next day — good to store leftovers in thick glass jars / ceramic for reheating on the go.

    Think of balancing sweet (apples/onions), sour(apples/wine), bitter(beer/angostura/liquid smoke/bitter herbs or veggies) & savory(herbs / cumin/carraway seeds / celery) and you’ll be amazed at the results. If you are going meatless, go with some nuts, seeds instead and it will be great.

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Wow… got hungry quickly reading all this good stuff. Very little time, and need to get back to work now while everyone else enjoys their Friday night. Cupboard bare… bare minimums in the fridge, but as luck would have it:

      1 frozen piece of lean chicken titty, 1 corn on the cob, 1 floret of broccoli…

      Put chicken in ceramic dish, and waved it on defrost in a smidge of water so as not to kill the chicken, about 2 minutes to start. Put water on in small saucepan to cover the corn, put steamer on top of that, broccoli in steamer.

      Back to chicken, put a pinch of pinchita spice – to cover the top & make it red – back in wave for another 3 minutes (defrost). Another 5 minutes and the veggies were done. Chicken was cooked perfectly, too after the same amount of time.

      Put mayo on the corn w/ a dusting of cayenne pepper. Was filling my face within 15 minutes, and back at work.

  30. Notagod
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    This might get a bit complicated, if ‘ya can ride it out you’ll have somethin ‘t eat.

    Use’n that weigh’n gizmo put 40g of them quick oats in that small bowl. Get aholt a that water jug ‘n splatter about a hundrit ‘n 50 of them g’s in there. Put ‘yerself about 10 pieces of them chopped walnuts in that bowl along with about 10 of them raisins. Put ‘ya a half a shake a cinnamon in there and a small splat a that browned sugar. Get that spoon ‘n slide it through the whole mess a bit. Now, get that bowl under the microwaves for about a minute and about half of another minute until it starts a grow’n a bit. Eat ‘er up.

  31. Marella
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Woohoo, our first recipe! I made macaroni cheese (from scratch, none of that disgusting packaged crap)last night for dinner. Boil up the pasta. Make a white sauce, fling in a few handfuls of grated cheese of mixed type and some Dijon mustard, pepper and nutmeg. Make bread crumbs in the food processor with some Parmesan cheese grated into it, you can add some butter too but I didn’t last night. Mix noodles and cheese sauce, pour into baking dish, sprinkle crumbs on top and grill for a few minutes to brown making to sure to watch it closely if you have a brand new oven which you’ve never grilled anything in before and which is going to burn if you leave it as long as you usually do. :-/ For the first time I fried up some bacon to go into it as well. Even a bit burnt on top it was great.

  32. Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I made up the following mixture to marinate pork before cooking in my smoker.

    4 Tbs ketchup
    2 Tbs brown sugar
    2 Tbs vinegar
    2 Tbs hoisin sauce
    2 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce

    If you’re unfamiliar with the measurements, Tbs is tablespoon (approx. 15 ml) and tsp is teaspoon (approx. 5 ml).

    • Paul S
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      I’ll give it a try, but I don’t care for vinegar, maybe I’ll substitute with liquid smoke.

  33. Filippo
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    ‘Today is “Pi Day,” celebrating both the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter (why do we celebrate that?) . . . .’

    If for no other reason, I’d celebrate it ( a la George Carlin) for the fact that the ratio/quotient of two EXACT rational numerical values is an IRRATIONAL number, causing inflexible, literalist woo-beholden minds a bountiful amount of consternation.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      “the ratio/quotient of two EXACT rational numerical values is an IRRATIONAL number”

      Not quite. A rational number is by definition the quotient of two integers, so the quotient of two rationals must be another rational:

      (a/b)/(c/d) = (ad)/(bc)

      where a, b, c, and d are all integers.

      So it cannot be the case that the radius and the circumference of a given circle are both rational, since their quotient (pi) is irrational.

      • Filippo
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Okay. So, if I’m correctly understanding, is it still correct to say that, for any given circle, either conceptualized or drawn or manifested by a specific physical object, the circle diameter (or radius) and circumference are EXACT, finite lengths/distances, though either the circumference or the diameter is inescapably irrational?

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          Yes, that is correct; however, at least one of the two lengths can’t be expressed *exactly* in decimal form. So, if the diameter is *exactly* 1 unit, the circumference is *exactly* pi units. Which is a well-defined real number, but not expressible as an exact decimal (I presume you know that pi is an irrational number, and that irrational numbers, when expressed as decimals, go on forever, never ending and never repeating).

          • Filippo
            Posted March 15, 2014 at 5:49 am | Permalink

            ” . . . at least one of the two lengths can’t be expressed *exactly* in decimal form . . . if the diameter is *exactly* 1 unit, the circumference is *exactly* pi units.”

            Yes, thanks, appreciate your time. My inner Pythagoras is struggling a bit to cognitively reconcile being able to physically and plainly see in front of me a circle with a diameter and circumference with obviously exact lengths – the “road” comes to an end – yet one or both can’t be symbolically, mathematically “expressed.”

            It subjectively “seems” that one “ought” to be able to exactly measure, determine, and express one or both of those lengths. One can conceptually posit, e.g., a diameter of one, and therefore a circumference of Pi, but cannot draw – no matter how carefully one tries – a circle with a diameter of exactly 1.

            • Posted March 15, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

              What you’re discovering is that algebra and geometry are two almost entirely unrelated fields.

              Algebra is the study of countable entities, which is why rational numbers dominate; you’re primarily dealing with sets of discrete entities, and you can always compare the one set of this-many entities to another set of this-many entities and have a ratio of the two result.

              Geometry is the study of shapes. There’s no fundamental discrete building blocks at work; when you draw a circle using a compass, you’re not laying out apples or sheep or whatever. Even the units are arbitrary — a circle with a radius of 1 inch has a circumference of ~6.28 inches, but that same circle also has a radius of 2.54 cm and a circumference of ~16.0 cm. However, if you add two apples to two apples, you’ll always have four apples; you’ll never get oranges by adding apples.

              Also, the “diameter” of a square is 2^(1/2), an equally irrational number. The chord of a regular pentagon is Φ, also irrational. Aside from things Pythagorean triangles, geometric figures with rational proportions are the exception, not the rule. Indeed, the mystery isn’t so much that geometry is mostly made of irrational numbers, but rather that you should find rational numbers in geometry at all….



        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted March 14, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          Well, there’s no such thing as an exact physical measurement or a perfect circle in nature, so these arguments apply only to circles in the abstract.

  34. wanderobo
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Beef Shank Stew in Crock Pot

    4 medium beef shanks
    2 tsp olive oil
    1/2 medium onion, 3 cloves garlic
    1/4 medium carrot, 1/4 cup green pepper
    1/4 celery stick
    3 sprigs parsley, 1/4 medium shallot
    1/4 cup leeks, 3 green onions
    7oz canned diced tomatoes and liquid
    1 large chicken bouillon cube
    1 small beef bouillon cube
    1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
    Pinch red pepper flakes
    1/4 tsp cumin
    1/4+ tsp paprika
    1 Tbsp soy sauce
    1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
    1/2 cup water
    3 oz red wine
    1 capful Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce
    2 tblsp flour

    Throw veges (except tomatoes) in a blender and mince. (If you don’t have all the veges use what you have but try to have the first five.)
    Put veges at bottom of crock pot with bouillon
    Throw tomatoes, peppers, spices & soy and Wor. sauces into the pot
    Brown shanks in olive oil and lay on top, reserve oil in skillet.
    Cook on high two hours
    Make a roux: reheat reserved oil on medium, stir in flour & continually stir til brown
    Deglaze roux with wine, add water & boil, add browning sauce & simmer gravy 5 min
    Add gravy to pot & stir in gently
    Continue cooking on high till meat falls off the bones, two more hours or so
    30 min before serving, microwave till soft 1 cup frozen mixed veges or sliced mushrooms & add to pot
    Serve over brown rice (make sure not to lose marrow in gravy when serving unless you’re a marrow freak and want to hide it all for yourself; nobody else will miss it if you don’t tell them)

  35. darrelle
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Here is a dessert I invented one evening for the kids and some of their friends. It was just one of those, “hmmm what do we have sitting around” kind of recipes. It was a big hit.

    about 8 oz ricotta cheese
    about 8 oz heavy whipping cream

    rinsed fresh berries, maybe 1 to 1-1/2 quarts or so, strawberries, blueberries, cherries(don’t forget to pit them!), whatever you like

    amber agave nectar
    the best cinnamon you can get, ground
    semi sweet chocolate chopped into chunks

    Mix the ricotta vigorously with a whisk, adding some of the agave nectar and cinnamon to taste, until smooth and creamy. Beat the heavy cream to firm peaks, again adding agave nectar and cinnamon to taste. Add the whipped cream to the ricotta and fold until just combined. Fold in the berry mixture and chopped chocolate. You don’t want too much chocolate, just enough for an accent. Enough for maybe one little chunk per mouthful. Eat right away, or chill for later. Not sure how long it keeps in the frig because it has never lasted that long.

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      My Cheesehead husband will love this. We eat a lot of dairy and usually have Mexican blackberries in the fridge.

    • stephen
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      That is actually very close to several Italian desserts such as Zuccotto and (real) Cassata…

  36. Kevin
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Smitten Kitchen is well worth a look:

    But one of my favorites is chili rellenos:

    Buy big green chiles at grocery (Anaheim tend to stay together better than Hatch)

    Put on tray into oven – roast (this will smoke up the kitchen a little so better with windows open)

    Flip chiles when skin is brown/black on one side. Then when other side is done, put chiles into grocery bag you bought them in. The moisture will work to make the skins come right off.

    Peel chilis. De-vein and take out seeds. Caution, hands to eyes or other privates is no recommended. Slit down the center with finger so you can stuff in onions/carrots/cheese.

    Saute a mixture of finely chopped onions and carrots with oil. Turn off skillet, mix as many cheeses as you like that you think will fit into chiles.

    Make one bowl (one – four eggs, depending on number of chiles) and one plate with flour.

    Place filled chiles onto flour plate, roll around, then put in egg and sometimes you can put back into flour, then place in frying pan with lots of oil.

    Simmer on both sides till brown, and place in oven dish. You can soak the rellenos in enchilada sauce and smother with shredded cheeses or put sour cream or gaucamole or your favorite salsa. They are divine.

    Then open several bottles of wine and clean the kitchen for the next hour.

  37. Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    my favorite comfort food? Halushki, fried cabbage and egg noodles. Fry shredded or sliced cabbage in butter until tender. Boil egg noodles until to your liking. Mix together. Salt to your taste. Consume mass quantities.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted March 15, 2014 at 2:58 am | Permalink

      That’s what I like. A recipe in one short paragraph. Sounds great.

  38. John Taylor
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    March 14th is also a holiday that hasn’t quite got off the ground yet.

    Unfortunately my wife isn’t buying it. No steak or anything else for me. 😦

  39. Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I ripped this great sweet potato pudding off of the website below. Srsly, it’s the best sweet potato pi ever! You have to use tropical sweet potato/yams. Better than the ones made with the mushy orange stuff available in North America. If you somehow ruin it, just douse with more rum. 😛

  40. Paul S
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I love to cook, but my wife likes me to make these two simple dishes. I can’t explain why, I just do as I’m asked.

    Mustard chicken
    Boneless skinless chicken breasts
    Small red potatoes
    Olive oil
    Grey puopun mustard
    Bread crumbs
    Pam ( if you like that kind of thing)
    Preheat oven to 350
    Make lite paste with mustard an olive oil
    Flatten chick breasts
    Coat chicken in mustard sauce and cover with bread crumbs
    Sprinkle with paprika
    Pam pan( if you like)
    Put chicken in pan
    Slice potatoes into eights (at least)
    Stir into remaining mustard sauce
    Pam another pan (if you like)
    Pile potatoe into pan
    Bake potatoes for 15 minutes before chicken
    Naked chicken for 35 to 45 minutes depending on how flat they are

    Italian sausage (mild to hot)
    White onion
    Yellow onion
    2 red peppers
    2 green peppers
    Small red potatoes
    Olive oil
    Preheat over to 350. I prefer to not use convection for this dish so the sausage gets a nice brown color.
    Wipe pan with 1 tsp olive oil
    Add a few drops of water
    Cut potatoes into eights and put into pan
    Slice onions and lay rings over potatoes
    Slice peppers, take 3/4 of one red and one green pepper and dice into tiny tiny pieces.
    Place the rest of the slices ontop of onions
    Put sausages on top of peppers
    Mix the red and green pepper pieces with olive oil and make chunky paste
    Top sausages with paste
    Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes
    Uncover and bake for 30 minutes

    • Paul S
      Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Oh my, proofread too late. Clearly alcohol affects motor skills.

  41. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Here’s one of my two “greatest hits”. It reads a little funny, because I typed it out for a bachelor college student friend of mine. As he is muslim, that accounts for the soy sausages; when I’m not making it for him, I use either Italian sausages or pepperoni.


    This is a one-pot dish. Just keep adding ingredients, in the order listed. Stir each time you add something. Change the amounts of anything you want more or less of. It’s a good idea to chop up some of the stuff before starting, as it is rather labor-intensive.

    1 onion
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 small red (or orange) pepper
    2 soy sausages (Italian style)
    one 26-ounce jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce (any brand; I buy it at the 99 cent store).
    1/2 of a 6-ounce can of tomato paste.
    6-12 button mushrooms (depends on size)
    4-6 tomatoes (depends on size). The ones from the farmers’ market are better than the ones from the supermarket.
    1 can pitted black olives
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 tablespoon store bought BBQ sauce
    1 tablepoon brown sugar or molasses
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon garlic (fresh minced or from a jar)
    1 tablespoon dried italian seasoning mix or “spaghetti sauce mix” (if someone gave you a set of spice jars, use oregano, thyme, and rosemary)
    1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes (I usually open a packet that I got from some pizza place).
    fresh basil leaves (dried won’t do here; in fact, dried basil is pointless)

    Chop the onion and saute it (medium-high heat) in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Chop and add the red pepper. Chop the soy sausages (bite-sized pieces) and add those. Add the spaghetti sauce and tomato paste. Chop and add the mushrooms (after you trim off the bottom of the stems), then the tomatoes (cut out the stem part), then the olives (quartered). Add the seven seasonings, plus salt if you want it (I cook without salt for my wife), and fresh ground black pepper (if desired).

    Simmer uncovered until the sauce is very thick (maybe another 20 minutes or so). 5 minutes before you decide to stop cooking, add the basil leaves.

    Serve over pasta with parmesan (fresh or dried), capers (if desired), and garlic bread and salad on the side.

  42. stephen
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Well I am late again,but cannot let this pass, because food and restaurants were my career 🙂 Jerry’s recipe is probably used all over the world- I’ve eaten that sort of thing in Latin America and Greece. In the Lebanon they use lentils instead of beans and call it “Mujadara”. Some of the above recipes are nice and simple (even too simple in a couple of cases) but many are too “busy”. I can hear my Italian friends shouting “troppa roba,troppi sapori!” Try leaving some stuff out, folks… Anyway,here’s how to make (almost) authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara. All ingredients may be substituted by alternatives with corresponding diminution of authenticity, but it is the principle which counts. For two servings-I mean Italian working-man servings- you need: 300-400g spaghetti (no.5 preferred); 60-80g pancetta,diced about 5mm or smaller (if you can obtain “guanciale” then you’ll be completely authentic, so long as you have the Pecorino too);50g grated Pecorino or other hard cheese such as Parmesan or other “Grana”; 2 eggs; fresh,coarsely ground (or crushed) black pepper to taste(we’re talking pinches..); extra-virgin olive oil. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin… Put a big saucepan of salted water to boil-I mean 5 litres or a gallon here,minimum- and while it is coming to the boil,put a large and heavy frying-pan over a moderately high heat with a slug of olive oil in it. Once it shows signs of getting hot (spitting or sizzling) throw in the pancetta or whatever you are using (NB: if you are using bacon or ham as a substitute then you will need the pan temperature to be correspondingly higher or lower in order to avoid boiling or burning). It is time to put your spaghetti into the (surely by now) boiling water , it will take approximately 10 minutes to cook to the proper degree-ignore all directions on the packet-only you can be the judge. So you have plenty of time…. While all this is happening you will have broken the eggs into a large bowl (preferably made of metal) and whisked them with whatever you consider to be the correct quantity of pepper and the grated cheese.Of course, you have been watching the pancetta (or your alternative) all this time, and taken it off the heat as soon as it was nicely sizzled. When the spaghetti is close to being ready, heat the pancetta in the original pan with more olive oil, drain the spaghetti-but not too thoroughly- and put it into the frying-pan with the pancetta and oil. Once it is very hot, transfer into the bowl with the egg/cheese/pepper mixture and stir. You will obtain a delicious dish of spaghetti in a gratifyingly creamy sauce.

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted March 15, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Sounds delicious.

  43. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted March 15, 2014 at 3:42 am | Permalink

    A really simple and colourful dish.

    Green tagliatelle (cooks in 5 minutes) topped with a heated up small can of sweetcorn and likewise of red kidney beans, and spoon some plain greek yoghurt on top. Takes about 5 minutes to cook the whole ensemble and it looks good, green, yellow, red and white. It’s filling and it don’t taste too bad either.

  44. Chris
    Posted March 15, 2014 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    Last night I brewed the following:

    – 1 onion
    – 1.2lb pork belly strips

    Preheat fan oven to 180c. Slice the onion thinly, lay on dish, place pork on top. Drizzle balsamic vinegar, plus pepper, salt and paprika on the pork. Cook for 30 mins.

    In a bowl I mixed:

    1lb can chopped tomatoes
    Similar size can of blackeye beans (or beans of choice, drained)
    2 large potatoes, 1/2 inch cubes
    Good amount of Worcestershire sauce
    Bit of dark soy sauce
    Pepper, salt, parsley, oregano, sage, thyme to taste
    A few oz of water

    Add this to the dish with the pork cover in foil, turn oven down to 150c or so, cook for another 2 hours, or until potato is cooked.

    It worked out pretty well, very BBQ-y. Serves 1.

  45. Posted March 15, 2014 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    This is a family heirloom recipe.

    Christmas Fruit Cake (aka Black Cake, Wedding Cake, Rum Cake)

    1 cup butter 1 cup sugar
    5 eggs 1 cup flour
    4 cups soaked fruits 1-2 tablespoon browning or more
    (port wine, rum) 2 tablespoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking powder
    4 tablespoon mincemeat* 2 tablespoon rum

    Preheat oven 350 F
    Sift flour together with cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt

    Cream butter and sugar together at medium speed for about 5 mins
    until fluffy.

    Add the eggs one at a time and beat mixture for another 2-3 mins.

    Add fruits and mincemeat and continue beating for 2 mins.

    Add vanilla, browning, rum. Add all the flour mixture.

    Bake 350 F for about 1 hour or 1 1/4 hour.

    Let cool and serve with a butter/sugar/rum sauce on the side. (Cream butter and sugar with rum. Arbitrary portions, to taste). 🙂

    *Mincemeat is dried fruit rinds. It’s early for Xmas, but you can start soaking your mincemeat from now; use glassware not plastic. The longer the better. It should be ready in time for Thanksgiving and even Easter Bunny holiday.
    For the wedding cake, a great touch is to apply a marzipan/butter/rum frosting/icing and decorate with confectionery silver balls.

    • Posted March 15, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Oh, a variation:

      For a yellow Amaretto cake, use fewer eggs for a lighter cake, leave out the browning and use Amaretto instead of rum. Amazing!

      • Posted March 15, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        Since Amaretto is expensive, you can use a more economical almond liquer. Drizzle extra over the cake before serving too.

  46. lisa parker
    Posted March 15, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    When I was newly divorced and working minimum wage, budgeting was hard and sense any overtime I could get meant a lot less with my three kids, I remembered a recipe for “Stone Soup” based on the children’s story. My kids and I got a large pot and grabbed almost anything we had in the somewhat lean larder; cans of various vegetables, some tomato sauce and/or paste or stewed tomatoes, spam or canned ham or any easy leftovers, some rice and some pasta and let it all cook a few hours in the slow cooker. By the time we got home from work and school, dinner was ready and surprisingly tasty. I have mentioned it to some family and friends with positive feedback. It’s a great meal for the day before you go grocery shopping.

    I also found a recipe perfect for those times when you discover (or remember) that you were supposed to bring a dish for a party or lunch thing. I found a recipe for “Texas Caviar” somewhere; add 1 can each drained cut green beans, whole kernel corn, any or all colors red beans, wax beans, garbanzo beans and black-eyed peas to a large mixing bowl. Add a chopped jalapeño pepper with the seeds removed (you can leave in the seeds or add more if you want it hotter,) and mix thoroughly. Let it sit or chill in ‘fridge for 15-20 minutes and serve with corn or tortilla ‘scoop’ type chips. I imagine you could use different kinds of beans and season with different types of pepper. I have had a lot of request for this recipe and lots of complements on the dish. It’s hard for me to think of an easier recipe other than take-out.

  47. Sophy
    Posted March 15, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Two simple crockpot recipes that get used in our house.

    Sausage stew:
    Potatoes, peeled and quartered, a little more than a third by volume of the crockpot.
    Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks, a third of the amount of the potatoes.
    Fat Spicy Italian sausages chopped into quarters or fifths.
    I can or jar of Pasta sauce, whichever kind you like.
    Put the potatoes in first, then the carrots, then the sausage and cover with the pasta sauce.
    Cook slowly for the rest of the day.

    For special occasions, Crockpot Ham.
    I prepared and cooked ham from the supermarket.
    Half a container of frozen orange juice.
    1/2 cup honey.
    Ground pepper.
    Unwrap the ham…put it in the crockpot. Add the frozen orange juice, honey and some pepper. Cook it slowly for the afternoon. The juice from the ham mixes with the honey and orange juice and makes a delicious sauce to be poured over thin slices of ham.

  48. Barbara
    Posted March 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I like cooked vegetables but I really dislike cooking, so this has become my standard breakfast and sometimes lunch and dinner:

    Chop up vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and bell peppers, enough to fill a large casserole dish. Microwave for about 3 minutes and then store in ‘fridge to use over the next few days.

    Lay out a burrito wrap. Add veggies, perhaps also leftover meat, defrosted frozen sausage, dried tomatoes, and/or more delicate fresh, chopped veggies such as spinach. Add grated cheese. (I like cheddar.) Mix. Roll up wrap. Microwave about a minute.

  49. Posted March 15, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a fixer-upper for Diana and anyone else who’s ailing from cold or flu. It tastes grossish too, but will help to reduce inflammation and break up phlegm, etc.

    Finely grate a 1″ hunk of fresh ginger and mince up a clove of garlic. Squeeze out the juices of an orange, a lemon and a lime. Mix this all together with honey to taste. The original potion calls for a raw egg stirred in too, but I leave that out. Chugalug it down it, holding your nostrils to ameliorate the taste.

    Do this twice a day till you’re well again.

    Or try this Chicken Ginger Port wine soup:
    Chop up a chicken into small pieces (kinda like the size you can grab with chopsticks)or use legs and thighs and wings. It’s up to you.

    Peel and smash up lots of fresh ginger and garlic.
    Quickly stir fry the garlic and ginger in a dry soup pot, i.e. don’t add any oil. Don’t let the garlic scorch.
    Toss in the chicken and sautee, turning often.

    Then add water to a level just above the chicken. Cover and let boil, then stir and let simmer on medium with lid ajar if necessary till chicken is properly cooked.
    Then lower heat to low, add the sweetest port you can find, maybe 1/2 bottle or even a whole bottle, depending on how potent you want it. Add a tad of brown sugar and a dash of seasalt to taste, and simmer for about 10-15 mins. till some of the alcohol is driven off.

    Serve soup on top of steamed Jasmine rice or have the bowl of rice on the side.

    Meat dips:
    1st kind: Mix up in a small bowl your favourite soy sauce (mushroom or lite), thinly sliced green onions, a tad of chili sauce or chili flakes and sesame oil and a tiny bit of sugar if desired.
    Heat 1/2 cup of canola or grapeseed or other neutral oil till it starts to smoke.
    Exercise great caution when pouring the hot oil over the soy sauce concoction.

    2nd kind:
    Slice and smash up a lot of ginger and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. You may finely chop up a bit of the ginger and add too. Add some sugar (white or brown) and vinegar (white or balsamic). Chili if desired. Mix well and enjoy.

    Both sauces can be addictive!

    • Posted March 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Variation to the chicken soup:

      You can skip the wine and add macaroni to the soup till its cooked. Comfort food.
      Other variations — use minced lemongrass and shallots and carrots in the soup, plus Sriracha (chili garlic) sauce.

  50. John J. Fitzgerald
    Posted March 16, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    My contribution for St. Patrick’s Day is colcannon.

    This is easy to make.

    Boil some potatoes and then mash them with some butter and/or sour cream. Cook up some cabbage @a ration of 1 cabbage portion to 3 potato portions. Simmer some chopped onion in butter or olive oil. One onion. Blend the cabbage and onion and potato. Add cream to taste and desired consistency. Top with some fried bacon and some fresh chopped chives. Serve with Corned Beef and Guinness.



    • JBlilie
      Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:07 am | Permalink


  51. Posted March 17, 2014 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    Our simple go to dish is:

    Fried potatoes and onions (salt, pepper, olive oil)

    Serve with:

    cottage cheese
    cooked spinach (frozen is fine)

  52. JBlilie
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Sounds splendid. I’m trying it! 🙂

  53. Posted March 18, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I’ve lost 170lbs in a little over a year and the following dish helped me do it. If you exercise a lot, this dish can be a great source of protein, without the carbon footprint of red meat.

    2-3 boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs
    appx 1/3 cup of diced onion (I prefer red)
    fresh garlic
    coarse sea salt
    black or white pepper
    1/3 cup of organic chicken stock

    Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the chicken then pat dry w/ a towel. Season the chicken with salt, dill, tarragon, garlic and any other seasoning that you enjoy on chicken. In the pan in which you will bake the chicken (I actually use a rather large sauce pan), carmelize the onions w/ salt & ground pepper of your choice. When the onions have carmelized, deglaze the pan with the chicken stock. Place the chicken thighs in the pan and baste them with the pot liquor. Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy.

  54. Thaddeus Aid
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    For a while I really got into making variations of grilled cheese sandwiches. I found that adding bacon and egg to the affair made the whole thing more delicious. Also a joke I heard last night Some people don’t try bacon for religious reasons. I don’t try religion for bacon reasons.

    Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2014 19:12:27 +0000 To:

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