As I pass through this world I see many, many cookbooks prominently displayed at stores and I hear of lots of cooking shows on TV (which I don't watch). But in my immediate personal experience I have yet to see much of a real interest in cooking. What I do see are many carts at the stores loaded with prepared foods, snack foods and soft drinks. I see endless lines at the fast food restaurants. And I hear the mantra "I just don't have time to cook."

And so I will start this section with a personal observation I think is true in life: Much of life involves discipline and many tasks are held (rightly or wrongly in the pop unconscious of our society) as onerous. If I were to be challenged as to what examples I have of this I would reply: exercise, learning and food.

I will leave the topic of learning (as opposed to education) open. But I would suggest that a little consideration of the state of America would lead one to the view that although we spend more on education per capita than most every other country in the world our hearts really aren't into it.

And re exercise and food I would suggest that our plague of obesity speaks for itself.

I have a rather long history (45 years) of steady exercise and competitive sports. And a history of cooking for myself that dates from 1971. But you know something REALLY amazing? I have an even LONGER history of EATING.

And no matter where you are at in life right now YOU have a history of eating that started the day you were born (For now we'll ignore the fact that your mother "cooked" for you from your moment of conception until birth and perhaps even past that.) and will continue pretty much until the day you die. And still given this basic fact of human existence you hear "I don't have time?"

Well, you do have time. You have time to, if not in a complex fashion, satisfy your need for nourishment with something BETTER than junk, something that is fresh and relatively healthy. Trust me! It's true! So let's move on shall we? You have to eat so you might as well start controlling your own destiny in a healthy fashion by developing a life skill that is basic to human existence. And with that . . .

This collection of recipes started as an attempt to collect family favorites to pass on to the kids. The thought originated with a neighbor, Dianne Harris, who put all her recipes into a paper format for her kids. We envied her effort and vowed someday to duplicate it. As it was we were too lazy until technology caught up with our sloth and indifference and made it easy to pass our recipes on, not just to our kids, but to EVERYONE in the UNIVERSE. Well, OK, maybe just pass them on to a lot of people.

Concerning what you will find here: My thoughts on recipes have evolved from “following what’s written down” to “checking out what ‘kind’ of stuff goes in and doing what you want.” So I tend to use "shortcuts". My thoughts are that the success of a shortcut is judged in the eating: The success of the technique used depends on the end result. If the customer/your family/etc. enjoys it, and part of it IS NOT fresh off the shelf but arrived in on the plate by way of a can (or is a substitute material that isn’t in the recipe but you’ve decided can fill the gap), the shortcut worked worked. I do use recipes. I just have my own thoughts on how “it should have been done” and how I’m gonna do it whether I have everything listed or not. Thus, if you choose to proceed, and/or use any of the reciepes contained herein, you may find that the level of detail is much less than typical of a regular cookbook

I enjoy cooking. And I enjoy cooking because I enjoy eating. Or should I say, eating well. And well doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be simple. But (per my opinion) it IS NOT McDuck burgers (Mickey D’s?), fast food (generally), and over prepared/priced/salted convenience dinners advertised to “taste like home made” and, unfortunately, it is all too often not even the food to be found at pricey restaurants! (Ok! Sorry for the tirade. Everyone, to some extent, is a food snob about SOMETHING. So bear with me here. I’ll toss in this and that about cooking but maybe YOU need to make your own decisions. If what I write here helps that’s great. If it doesn’t then go find a good shopping or NASCAR site to peruse. And, if you only find exact amounts of ingredients here for the recipes on rare occasions (see warning above),it’s because I, in general, don’t measure. Maybe you shouldn’t either if you are really searching for that “great taste.” Make it taste like you want! Of course, if you’re the only one who likes it . . .)

I started cooking because of my mother and grandmothers’ cooking influence (Although I found out, many years into the process, that my dad is also a good cook!) and because, after college, I was exposed both to people who’d eat dirt rather than cook and people who’d cook rather than eat dirt. I decided to fall into the latter category, e.g. with my good buddy Jack Pilarski. (Of course when we were working together two required ingredients were music and beer.)

Thus I started out with recipes passed on to me by my mother, by friends, and eventually moved on to a variety of cookbooks before branching out into attempts to recreate dishes I'd had at various restaurants.

What I came up against, through my own lack of planning, was the following. Let’s say you feel like you want to start cooking. Getting around the time for dinner? Maybe you’re a little hungry? OK! You look at what ingredients you have available and you look at what recipes you have. If you haven’t planned well the two lists don’t match. What looks good on paper is not what is physically available in component parts in your kitchen!

And so I found myself having to improvise! Quickly I decided to forget measuring! To forget exact ingredients! To use IMAGINATION, CREATIVITY AND RECKLESS ABANDON! And that’s part of the spark or mindset I hope I will be able to provide in the info below (and all future additions): Good cooking information built on NOT having exactly what the recipe calls for but having the will and the cleverness to make do (and make do WELL) in completing the task, i.e. cooking and then eating well. (In almost all cases, even with what’s below, you’re going to have to figure out the fix for some problem or the other that's unique to your situation and unrelated to the info I’ve provided. I have hopes that it will not prove too difficult even in light of my general lack of specific amounts. But I also hope the use of your own creative powers and some rudimentary knowledge of tastes that you have now will carry you through. However, if I tell you to add both ground beef and salt and you use a cup of salt and a teaspoon of ground beef . . . I'm sorry. I really can't help you. Go away.)

Now having said all that I’m gonna share a few little secrets that really help me. They are called experience, stock, lists and (Gasp!) preparation/planning. Oh, yeah, and clean up as you go!

First, experience counts. The more you cook the better you should get! And you should get better with TASTE experience whether you cooked it or someone else did. With “food eating experience” including trying stuff that you really didn’t think should be eaten by human beings you will build an internal ibrary of tastes, smells and textures that will improve your own skills (as long as you also develop a little “definition,” i.e. how said tastes etc were actually created).

Second, make your own stock. Wait! Wait! Let me say that again: MAKE YOUR OWN STOCK!!! No, I don't give a rat's ass if you think you don't have time or know how. JUST HAUL YOUR SORRY ASS INTO THAT KITCHEN AND START MAKING STOCK! RIGHT! NOW!

OK. I'll stop ranting here. JUST MAKE YOUR OWN STOCK!

If you go to the soup section below you will find, under the Dashi, Oxtail/Rice, Stock/Broth/Demi-Glace and Chicken Soup entries just about all you need for making your own stock. Now I DO use canned chicken stock. (I have found canned beef to be too salty.) And I have been known to use bouillon cubes on a rare occasion. But they are just NOT IN THE SAME BALL PARK AS YOUR OWN STOCK!!!! (Ballpark? Harrumph! They're not even on the same planet!)

It is not hard. Some books I'd recommend as being especially useful are Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook, Paul Prudomme's books, The Frugal Gourmet, The Joy of Cooking and Anna Thomas's Vegetarian Epicure. (In general I think the latter is a holy-go-pious exercise in the attitude of "I am SO superior to the rest of you American food LOSERS!" But, damn, the woman knows her stock!)

Basically, making stock (except for dashi) is taking all the fatty/gristle/meat, loose vegetable ends such as carrot and celery ends, water you've cooked veggies in, e.g. potato water, potato peels, etc and either a) roasting/sautéing them a bit with olive oil (and maybe mix in a little tomato paste and flour) to get some browning and then simmering this mess for a long time (Experiment! The flavor and color changes with the level of browning you do in this step and whether you use flour/tomato paste. Find what you like! I STRONGLY suggest you NOT BURN ANYTHING in the browning process so as to avoid any bitter flavors.) or b) just short cut and forget the browning, tossing them in a pot with herbs (see recipes in soups below) and maybe some wine and then simmering patiently for a long time. Again be aware that the color and flavor of the stock changes with what you put in it. So collect all these scrap bits and pieces and toss them in the freezer until you get a sufficient quantity and then just have at it! And if you want different flavors/color, i.e. light versus dark, browned versus not browned, separate the types of cooking/bones/veggies etc. When you have collected enough scraps get the process(es) started in the morning and LET IT (THEM) GO! You can even use chicken/beef/pork etc bones that people have chewed on! Hey, you're gonna cook it (SLOWLY!) for a long time anyway. Take that picked over fowl carcass and toss it in the pot with all those other loose ends! You will find that the actual consistency of the stock will change as you add extra bones and gristle: the gelatin from the bones etc will give you a stock that "sets" on cooling. But no matter what combination you use, simple potato peels or roasted gellatin rich bones, everything nicely separated by type or eveything tossed together the result is well worth the effort. It is hard to really grasp this concept until you taste the result. SO GET UP AND JUST DO IT!

Note: my son, who has worked in a French restaurant, has called me to task for suggesting using water that potatoes have been cooked in. Evidentially in his job experience using any water for stock base containing starch is a "no, no". As potato water has worked for me I suggest you try using/not using starch containing water and see what you like. You may also want to save water you've cooked other vegetables (than potatoes) in and use that as a base for stock or an addition to the roasted ngredients I described above. It's a great way to add flavor to your cooking and NOT WASTE ANYTHING!

Lists: make lists and schedules when you are multi-tasking, i.e. making more than one dish in a situation where time and presentation count. An example is entertaining people you don't want to irritate, e.g. future in-laws or employers. If you PLAN what to do when, life gets easier and the results better. So just read through the recipes and make up a simple time table. And stick to it!

And now: preparation! If you have paid attention you will note that, after my first bombastic pronouncements about "creativity" and "reckless abandon" I have, at this stage in our narrative, reversed myself. Sort of. I still find joy in attacking a dinner cold. But I have also learned that planning helps. Now for me there are stages in planning.

First there is a long term laying out of menus for the week or longer. That entails advanced purchase of material corresponding to your master plan.

Secondly (for me), said planning and purchases can provide creative opportunities. For example, depending on your location and what sources of food items you have there may be seasonal variation in what you can by. You might even call these variations "seasonal opportunities." These "ops", that leap out at you as you shop per the plan, may be as simple as sales on meat, vegetables, etc. So when you see them just "Carp that Diem" and capitalize on the "opportunity!" Toss the planned menu for a chance to work with something that offers you possibilities! You can always fall back on the master list after your brief detour.

Thirdly, at a more basic and tactical level planning and preparation involve the concept of "mise en place." First time I saw term reference in the CIA cookbook I wondered where I could buy "mise en place"? Silly me! It really means "put in place." Or "what you need where and when you need it." If you are not in the "cooking with wild reckles abandon just for the hell of it while swilling rot gut" mode then this, coupled with the timetable lists above, is REALLY for you. It is critically for you if you are trying to carry off a formal type dinner for family, friends, etc. It is a simple concept but it means you have planned such that everything you need is in your kitchen, everything you need is part of a timetable (HINT: START THE TIMETABLE/PREPARATION EARLY!) for what needs to be done when/to/with and you are actually FOLLOWING said timetable/plan. And this means EVERYTHING from the main ingredients, to the spices, to the pots/pans/knives etc. It's all where you can get it WHEN you need it. You won't be running off to the store for a last minute purchase; you won't be racking your brain for a "fix" for something not being at hand. No! You will be carrying out your mission, soldier! "SIR, YES, SIR!"

I would also note here that Bourdain, the CIA book in the references and The Joy of Cooking can also provide you with a whole bunch of really useful planning/multi-tasking hints that will make the job a lot easier. So, while your stock is simmering just look over some of these hint loaded tomes and start educating your self. Hey! Now you got the great tasting stock basis for one dynamite dish after another!

Last suggestion: clean up as you go! Run a sink full of hot soapy water and, in any down times, CLEAN UP! Trust me! Afterwards when you note the ease of the final clean up due to your on-going diligence you will thank me.

OK. Lemme stop there. Sample some of these 300 (more or less) recipes here and, hopefully, you will enjoy them. Now: Go for it! Bon appetite!

Last updated 01/22/17

Topic:
Link and Description:
Soups
  • Edward' Oyster Stew
  • Southwestern Chicken Soup
  • Chicken in garlic sauce soup
  • Sopa de Ajo Castellana (Castilian Garlic Soup)
  • Aigo Boulido(Garlic and Sage Soup)
  • Brazilia Fish Stew
  • Chili like my Mother Used to Make/Tex Mex
  • Bouillabaisse a la Provence
  • Lobster Bisque
  • Chicken Chili
  • Chicken Kohlrabi Soup
  • Cold Cherry Soup
  • Homemade Hand Pulled Noodle Soup
  • Smokey Chili
  • Venison Chili
  • Garlic Cream Fish Soup
  • Another Chicken Posole
  • Cheese Onion Soup
  • Beef Barley Soup
  • Udon Noodle Soup
  • Mushroom Bisque
  • Truck Stop Chili
  • Carrot Soup
  • Salads and Dressings:
  • Couscous Salad with Yogurt Dressing
  • Orange Olive Salad
  • Fire and Ice Salad
  • Blue Cheese and Aspargus Salad
  • Roquefort Pear Salad
  • Tomato salad, Alsace
  • Harriett's Cucumber Salad
  • Faux Fresh Bean and Potato Salad
  • Vegetable/Vegetarian Stufff:
  • Szechwan Eggplant and Tofu
  • Lemon Caper Rice
  • Gratin d'Endives Ardennaise (Gratin of Belgian Endive)
  • Braised/Browned Endive
  • Crisp Smashed Potatoes
  • Black Beans
  • Mushroom Strudel
  • Beans Bengal
  • Corn Scallop
  • Sukiyaki
  • Tofu in Peanut Sauce
  • Baked Tofu
  • Cabbage Steaks/Charred Cabbage
  • Veggie Heaven
  • Kale Chips
  • Sweet and Sour Vegetables
  • Fried Eggplant with Tahini
  • Cauliflower Au Gratin
  • Sauces:
    Main Dish Stuff:
  • Lemon Chicken
  • Lamb or Other Kabobs (including vegetable)
  • Chicken Everest
  • Garam Masala
  • 5 Spice Powder
  • 5 Spice Chicken or Fish
  • Greg's Barbeque Sauce
  • Chicago Style Pizza
  • Schweinefilet (Pork Filet)
  • Coq au Vin (Chicken in Wine)/Coq a la Biere (Chicken in Beer)
  • Ass Breaking Coq au Vin
  • Boeuf en Croute (Beef in Crust)
  • Chourroute Garnie
  • Hoppin' John
  • Cheese Beans
  • Schnitzel
  • Meatloaf
  • Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef in Burgundy, variant's and 3 Red Stew)
  • Buddy's Hamburger Helper
  • Japanese Wrestling Chicken
  • More Main Dish Stuff:
  • Hamburger
  • Chicago Hot Dogs
  • Crepes
  • Pesto
  • Pork Roast w/ Sage/Pork Escabeche
  • Paella
  • Pasta with Brussel Sprouts and Bacon
  • Chicken Mole
  • Garlic Steak
  • Ham Two Ways
  • Sausage and Potatoes
  • Tomato, Feta and Shrimp Bake
  • Tonkatsu
  • Sri Lankan Beef Curry
  • Szechwan Green Beans and Pork
  • No Noodle Cooking Lasagne
  • Thai Beef Rolls
  • Mongolian Hot Pot
  • Parmasan Sage Rooasted Turkey
  • Indian Style Pork Roast with Chutney
  • Slow Cooker Daube
  • Confit/Cassoulet (French Baked Beans)
  • Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff
  • Beef Bowl (Gyudon)
  • Lamb Kebabs Xinjiang Style
  • Chicken Paprika
  • Tamale Pie (2 ways)
  • Chicken and Egg on Rice (Oyako Donburi)
  • Chicken and Chinese Cabbage (Tori Jibu-ni)
  • Roast Chicken
  • Eggplant with Cilantro
  • Brunswick Stew
  • Baked "Pot Roast"
  • Seafood Tacos and Guacamole
  • Pot Stickers
  • Tofu Stir Fry
  • Noodle Sukiyaki
  • Jacques Pepin Souffle
  • Saltimbocca
  • Spanish Daube
  • Chinese Salt Roast Chicken
  • Long Life Noodles
  • Carmelized Noodles with Mushrooms
  • Grilled Whole Chicken/BBQ Chicken with Butter Sauce
  • Salisbury Steak
  • Fish Deal
  • Glazed Tofu
  • And Still More Main Dish Stuff:
  • Chicken: Whole 'Fried" or Grilled
  • Braised Short Ribs
  • Carmelized Noodles
  • Fish with Capers
  • Sri Lankan Curry
  • Memphis and Chicago BBQ
  • Garlic and Anchovy Pasta
  • Goat Cheese Pizza
  • Pho
  • Harriet's Shrimp Curry
  • Harriet's Lamb Curry
  • Carne Adobada
  • Guacamole
  • Pesto II
  • Pesto Chicken
  • Butter Chicken
  • Kalbi
  • Bo Ssam
  • Tomato Pie
  • Smokestack Chicken with Butter Sauce
  • Evil Jungle Prince
  • Smothered Chicken
  • Puebla Style Chicken Mole
  • French Style Hamburger
  • Chicken Piccata
  • Slow Cooker Daube
  • Spaghetti Squash with Garlic Sauce
  • Spicy Sausage Bake
  • Roast Duck/Chicken with Plums
  • Onion Pie
  • Sausage and Pasta
  • Morel Rubbed Chicken
  • Chili Powder
  • Chili Gravy/Enchiladas
  • Tortilla Soup
  • Vegetarian Kabobs
  • Pork Cutlet
  • Tea Smoked Duck
  • Salt Crusted Fish
  • Pulao
  • Sole Bonne Femme
  • Paneer Tikka
  • Sweet Stuff:
    Miscellaneous Stuff:

    Recipes:

    Soups:

    REAL French Toast (OK, this isn’t soup, but it sure goes good with soup!)

    Good bread and real butter is the trick here. Just slice the bread in desired thick nesses and brown until toasty on both sides in butter. I’ve done both melt butter and fry or butter bread and fry. Melting works better and is more even. But play with this and see what you like. Serve hot right off the pan with soup.(This is a Julia Child idea.)

    Posole (my posole recipe)

    Take boneless pork loin/chops and brown, dust with chili powder and brown in olive oil

    When done cut into bite-sized chunks. This is done as in nice crisp on the outside but STILL juicy on the inside. Don’t cremate it! Set aside. (A note here on browning: it is easier to brown fresh meat than meat that has been frozen. Freezing tends to release more water from the meat cells making the actual browning a longer process, i.e. you either have to have a LOT of hot oil or be patient while the water cooks off. Experiment and see what you find as the best way to deal with both fresh and frozen dead animal flesh.)

    Take one large can of drained, rinsed hominy. Add chopped onion, thyme, bay leaves, whole hot peppers, oregano, black pepper, salt if desired,cumin, and enough chicken broth/water to just cover. Bring to boil and simmer for an hour. (More or less. Less is OK if you’re short on time. 30 minutes can handle it. ESPECIALLY if you made your own chicken broth! Hint: crappy broth, of ANY kind, will sink you every time! It’s OK if it’s canned or even cubed. But make sure it’s GOOD canned/cubed. Try different types. They are not all equivalent. See what you like. I like Swanson. Your own WILL be better if you just take the time to collect bones and roast, simmer etc. See various rantings and ravings above re making stock.)

    Just before serving add pork and heat thoroughly (this keeps pork juicy and avoids “dryness” that can come from too much simmering) and then crush and add in two or more cloves of garlic and a handful of chopped cilantro.

    White Chile/Chicken Posole

    This recipe first took form in my son Jeffrey's imagination. After a shopping trip in which we picked up some tomatillos Jeffrey suggested "Wouldn't it be cool to make a white bean chile using chicken and tomatillos?"

    Well, yes, it would. And so here it is in two forms, either bean or hominey, with real quantities added because I took a lot of flack on this one for NOT having measured amounts.

    Start with either white beans or hominey. Pour one 28 ounce drained can of either (or both I suppose) into a pot and cover with two cans (3.5 cups) light broth. By this I mean a light colored broth. For the first time I used canned chicken with some water. (Okay, I was bad. I just didn't have any light broth so I used canmned broth. Hint: Keep canned broth as a back up EVEN if you make your own. I am always using broth/stock and try as I might I often run out of my homemade version. Shop around and find a canned version you like and then keep some around just in case.) Start this mix simmering. While it's simmering peel an orange and place the peel in a cup of water and start that simmering.

    While all this simmering is proceeding take one boneless, skinless chicken breast, roll it in chile powder to completely cover it, and brown it on all sides in olive oil. The idea here is to brown it and then, chopping it up into bite size pieces, add it to the hot broth/stock and let the cooking finish. So when you're done browning the chicken set it aside until it's cool enough to handle. Note: the chicken will be pretty raw in the center unless you have REALLY nuked the exterior. When cool chop the chicken up and add to the simmering beans/hominey/stock.

    While the chicken is cooling make a pureed tomatillo salsa from one medium sized chopped onion, six fresh tomatillos chopped, one (or more to taste) tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice, one or two cloves of chopped garlic, a half cup of chopped cilantro and as many chopped fresh green hot chiles as suits your taste.

    Separate from the salsa chop up four fresh tomatillos and another half cup of fresh cilantro. Put these and the salsa on hold for final assembly.

    When the chicken is just done (and if the stock is hot and the pieces not too big done that will be in about 10 to 15 minutes) combine it with the salsa and chopped tomatillas and heat the mix up to a proper serving temperature. Just before serving add the stock you made from simmering the orange peel and also add the chopped cilantro. (Don't add the orange peel!) Note the orange peel addition could also be achieved by a bit of added juice. If you use lemon juice I suggest you go easy. If you use lime you can probably be heavy handed. In either case just do it the way you want it to taste.

    Please note that a little further on is a recipe that is similar for a white chicken chile. I suggest you try all varients listed here and then modify to suit your tastes.

    Ranchero Sauce

    Sauté chopped onions and dried peppers in olive oil until softened. Add to a blender along with chopped tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and enough water to mix well. Puree and return to sauté pan. Cook until thickened. Serve with Posole.

    POSOLE (Jose’s posole: I guess this is more accurate. He’s from Mexico. Well, he says he is.)

    Ingredientes:

      lb de carne de cerdo o espinazo de cerdo

    1 lb of pork or pork back

     2 latas de maiz para posole de 14oz cada uno

    2 cans of corn (I thought you called it hemophilia or something like that) of 14 oz each.

    10 chiles guajillos secos desvanados

    10 guajillo chiles, dried, with out veins

    1 jitomate

    1 tomato

    2 dientes de ajo

    2 teeth of garlic

    1/4 de cebolla

    1/4 of an onion (from a normal size onion, do not use the tiny little ones ya hear?)

    sal al gusto

    salt to taste

    Preparación:

    Preparation:

    Se cocina la carne o el espinazo de cerdo.

    Boil the pork meat or the pork back (this is tricky if the pig is running around, you may have to chase it a while)

    Ya cocinada la carne se le agrega el maiz para posole.

    Once cooked (NOT fried or what ever you said), you add the corn (hominid or humanoid) to the posole.

    Se sofríe el chile, el jitomate, el ajo y la cebolla y se muele.

    (NOW listen, sorry, read) Fry the chiles; tomato, garlic and the onion y blend it.

    Se unen todos los ingredientes y se cocinan por 10 a 15 minutos, para que tomen los sabores.

    Join all the ingredients and cook them for about 1o to 15 minutes, so to acquire flavor.

    Se sirve con limón, orégano y lechuga.

    Serve with lime (lemon), oregano and lettuce.

    If you follow the translation slowly you can see that you already know many words in Spanish, because both languages have roots in Latin.

    Enjoy.

    Avocado Soup (based on a dish from the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, CA)

    Get a ripe avocado and cut the top and bottom off. Now this is tricky and depends on the ripeness. You want to remove the seed and keep the good stuff intact.

    Once the seed is removed set the avocado on a nice plate and “squish” it down to seal the bottom on the plate and make a little soup “bowl”. Use the cut off flesh from the top and bottom to make, with tomato juice, tomatoes, celery, onions, garlic etc., “soup” to fill the avocado. You can use gazpacho or even come up with a “bloody mary” filling. Improvise based on your taste! System D here!

    Decorate the plate with salad stuff (colorful) or whatever you think looks cool and wow people with how exotic the dish is.

    Bouillabaisse (My hybrid of a lot of recipes I’ve tried. Is this accurate? Don’t worry, I’m told the French argue ALL the time over what constitutes REAL Bouillabaisse. Kinda like the American South over what barbeque is. So this can be “considered” a real “French” (System D) recipe!)

    Start boiling cut up potatoes. They should be of a size to pour the final stew over. When they are about ½ done let them sit in the hot water to finish cooking and move on to next item.

    Take one package of “fruits de mer” or any mix of fish/shrimp/clams/oysters/ fresh or frozen etc. (Don’t be afraid to improvise.) Pour half of the potato liquid over the fish and add one can of chicken broth or equivalent of your own chicken or vegetable broth. (This is the stew base. See note above about broth types. Better if you use your own homemade broth. But a GOOD canned broth will work. Don’t use crap. Good stuff! Understand?)

    When the fish is about done (it won’t take long at all, don’t over cook) pour off half the fish water and the rest of the potato water into a large cooking pan. (This will be your stew pot. Both the potatoes and the fish should be just barely done.)

    In a separate pan start sautéing a chopped in olive oil. Be generous with oil (and use GOOD oil) as it will be part of flavor.

    To this combined fish/potato liquid add some saffron, some sage, and some thyme to taste. Add lots of black pepper. Simmer to disperse the flavors. (About 10 minutes.) Add a generous chunk of real butter and the fish. Add onion and oil. Turn up the heat and add your main fish. I’d use any good sized chunks (larger than bite size by about X4.) of fish except catfish. (I like catfish but I don’t think this is a good flavor match.) You can also use lobster, large shrimp etc. But they should be large enough to “fish” out before serving.

    Boil until big chunks are just done. (Remember: don’t over cook!) Remove big chunks and put on a platter with hot potatoes.

    Turn heat off stew pot and add two crushed garlic cloves; some chopped parsley, and 2-3 chopped green onions. Squeeze in a whole lime (or use some lemon or orange juice) and add a couple ounces of grated Swiss cheese. Stir once or twice and serve immediately.

    Ladle the stew over the big fish chunks and potatoes. Have some cut up bread for dipping and a fresh salad. You can also add French hot sauce made by mixing mayonnaise with cayenne pepper to taste.

    Cod Bouillabaisse

    This is a Provence France version of Bouillabaisse from Jean He who spent a year there. It's a little less complicated than the above but very good!

    Start with some cut up potatoes. Size the number of potatoes on the number of people you're feeding. Boil in minimal water until slightly done. (They'll cook more later.) Also cook some eggs (hard-boiled). Allow one egg per person.

    In your mortar and pestle (or other destructive device) smash up garlic (original calls for 6 cloves, that's a little much for me), some fresh thyme and parsley (or dry if you don't have fresh), some fennel either fresh or seeds, some saffron (if you have it) and some orange peel. Brown some onions, toss in about 0.5 lbs cod per person. Add almost done potatoes and their water and the spices along with a bay leaf or two. Simmer until cod is done and serve with sliced fresh tomatoes on top and slices of toasted bread. If you want extra kick add the crushed garlic separately from the other spices at the very end of the cooking. The mayonnaise idea from recipe above is nice with the bread.

    Chanterelle Corn Soup(from the Mirassou Winery in San Jose, CA. My version of what I ate.)

    6 – 10 Chanterelle Mushrooms (You may use ANY mushroom but remember: the funkier the mushroom the funkier the taste)

    4 ears of corn: cut kernels off the cobs (or frozen. Get on board here! Improvise THINKING about the taste.)

    Thyme

    Salt and Pepper

    Basil

    Butter

    ½ and ½ (or cream); aprox. 1 pint

    Milk as needed

    1 Green onion sliced thin

    Sliced Red pepper (in rings)

    ½ lime

    Avocado (optional)

    Slice 1/3 of mushrooms, keep rest whole. Melt 2 –3 tblsp butter in a pan and toss in about 4/5s of the corn, whole mushrooms, and green onion. Add a small amount of water and sauté until tender. Add basil, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Add to blender and puree with as much ½ and ½ as needed (don’t dilute too much). Sauté sliced mushrooms, red pepper, and rest of corn until just barely cooked (crunchy is the operative word here). Combine puree and whole sauté. Add milk (or more cream) until you reach the consistency you want. (It should be thick.) Heat the mix until warm through out. Squeeze in lime, stir, and serve. Add sliced avocado if desired. Decorate with a sprig of parsley or some other cutesy little chunk of un-edible greenery.

    Dashi (Japanese broth): My version, the real thing and Miso Soup.

    Dashi is a Japanese broth that is used in many dishes. I'm presenting here my version, the real way to do it, and some easy soups to make from either.

    First my version of the soup you get in Japanese restaurants. A word of explanation: why would I have my version if there’s a real way to do it and I know that way? BECAUSE, the first time I tried my hand at making soup ala Japan I DIDN’T HAVE THE INGREDIENTS REQUIRED (see below) AND I WAS TOO STUBBORN TO PICK ANOTHER RECIPE! But I did have what I list below in my version. So I tried a “work around” and it “worked!” (Hint: this is why I call this “System D.”)

    Get some dried fish from a good oriental store. You can pick any size you want. I like the small anchovy size. Also pick up some dried seaweed. I like the flat squares because you can use it for other stuff.

    Fill a pot with water and add squares of seaweed and a handful of the dry fish. Let simmer for 30 minutes or more. Strain.

    Just before serving add chopped green onion, sliced fresh mushrooms, and maybe some fresh cilantro. (Other vegetables are good if they’re fresh.) They should just BARELY cook in the hot broth.

    Now for the real way to make it! Also known as ichiban-dashi (primary stock). (This is for the times you actually have these items on hand.) Find a Japanese food store (or an oriental store carrying Japanese food products) and buy some dried giant kelp (konbu) and some shaved bonito (hanna-katsuo).

    Heat about 2 quarts of water in a pot with one of the big kelp/konbu leaves until it almost reaches boiling. Don't boil or over cook as it will give the stock a seriously funky smell! Turn the heat down/off and let simmer until the kelp gets soft enough for you to stick a finger nail in the thickest part. This should take about 2 minutes. Now take the leaf out and set it aside.

    With the kelp out bring the water to a full, boil, toss in about a quarter cup of cold water and drop in about an ounce of bonito/hanna-katsuo flakes. Bring back to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. DON'T BOIL! Let the flakes soak for about one minute. They should start to fall to the bottom. If there's any foam skim it off and then filter the whole thing. Save the kelp leaf and the filtered flakes as you can toss them in a pot of near boiling hot water and let them simmer and cook down (DON'T BOIL!) until reduced by about half. Then add a fresh ounce of bonito, let simmer for a minute and filter as with primary stock. The flavor will be a little less strong. This is called niban dashi or secondary stock. Try it and see what you like best.

    Now you can make a variety of soup types with any of the three above depending on what you like. An easy version of miso soup is to pick up some miso at the oriental market. It's a soy bean paste that comes in red and white versions. Try both and see what you like. Just mix a quarter cup of the miso of choice with some of the cooled stock (one of the three versions described above.) until it's nice and smooth, i.e. no lumps of miso. Add this to the hot broth along with some cubed tofu and some thin sliced mushrooms and a generous dash of soy sauce. You can also experiment with adding greens, e.g. cilantro or maybe trefoil or watercress. And if you have some, serve the soup with Japanese green sansho pepper to sprinkle on top. (Sansho is actually ground prickly ash seeds and has a fresh citrus smell and taste.)

    If you like egg drop style soup you can make the Japanese version starting from ichiban-dashi in the way you start with miso above. Heat the dashi to almost boiling and add a few dashes of soy sauce and sake (or dry vermouth if you don't have any lying around). Make a paste of some cornstarch and water and add that to the seasoned dashi with stirring. It should thicken only SLIGHTLY, i.e. don't use a lot (unless you want thick soup). Now beat the hell out of two eggs and add them to the hot dashi mix with a constant swirling motion. Let them set slightly and then stir with a whisk. You should end up with a bunch of thread like egg filaments. Now, in a mortar and pestle or other destructive device, smash into goo some fresh ginger and lemon peel slices. (Or you can use ginger juice if you buy it at an oriental store. You can leave out the lemon then. Or just use lemon. Whatever.) When ready to serve the soup add the ginger/lemon goo along with some spinach, watercress or trefoil leaves and stir until leaves are JUST starting to cook. Eat!

    Fish Chowder (This is a Benedictine Monastery Recipe)

    This is REALLY easy. And good.

    Peel and cubed somewhere between 4 and 8 potatoes. (I like the red ones.) Chop up 1 to 2 onions and sauté in butter until just soft. Add the cubed potatoes and just enough water to barely cover. Cook slowly until potatoes are nearly done. Add white fish. (I like cod but tilapia, roughy, catfish etc are good.) Cook slowly until fish just flakes.

    Add heavy cream, half and half or milk per your preference. Add salt and ground pepper (white is nice) to taste. Heat thoroughly and serve with bread.

    Pumpkin Soup

    I have never made this with anything but fresh so if you use canned let me know how it comes out.

    For about 2 lbs of pumpkin you need about 16 oz. of broth. If the pumpkin is fresh cook until soft. (Use GOOD broth. I used homemade turkey and it was great!) Puree in blender, return to pot and add cream (or half and half or milk) to the consistency you want. Add salt and ground white pepper. Heat thoroughly and serve.

    For a spectacular first course, make the soup (this one or the Corn Mushroom is good) and bake a whole cleaned pumpkin in the oven until soft (not collapsing or leaking, this is tricky so don’t over cook the pumpkin otherwise it won’t function as a soup tureen). Remove from the oven, pour the soup in and serve using the pumpkin as your tureen.

    Mushroom Soup from Les Halles (my version)

    Chop a medium onion and sauté in butter until translucent. Add 12 oz. of mushrooms (fresh is good) for about 10 minutes sauté gently. DO NOT BROWN ONIONS! (All right! Brown the damn onions! See if I care! However, it will have a distinctly different taste. Maybe you’ll like it.)

    Add about 4 cups of good chicken broth. (I have used canned. I prefer my own homemade. Of course you can use vegetable broth if you make your own or find a good commercial source. I’ve done both chicken and vegetable broth. But all canned versions are NOT the same. Better taste test. Or better yet use the recipes here to make your OWN!) Add a little parsley. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Let cool. Puree the whole thing. (Watch out: pureeing hot liquid can result in some nasty burns if you’re not careful.) Add more butter and pepper to taste. Pour in some half and half or heavy cream if you have it. Add a couple shots of good sherry. (NEVER USE ANY WINE CALLED “COOKING WINE.” IF YOU WON’T DRINK IT AS IT COMES IN THE BOTTLE DON’T EVER COOK WITH IT!)

    Stir and serve.

    Grandma McCartney’s Oxtail/Mom Wagner’s Rice Soup

    The two recipes are pretty close although the oxtail was written down and the rice version given to me orally. The first part is stock preparation and the last the assembly of the soup.

    Now oxtails are expensive considering what you get. $4/lb. for the ass end of a cow? Give me a break! So I use short ribs I buy at less than $2/lb or beef bones as I collect them or buy for cheap. I like the ribs better because you do get a little more meat and flavor but you have to deal with more grease. (The grease can be saved for flavoring by the way just like duck fat.)

    Brown the ribs/tails/bones in margarine (or butter). Alternatively bake them gently in the oven until browned. Now mix your browned meat with chopped carrots, celery, onions and black pepper corns. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for a couple (or more) hours. Strain the broth and skim the fat. (If you like the tastes eat the vegetables but they get a little soggy.) This method of broth preparation is good even if you have other ends in mind for the liquid than finishing the soup recipe to follow.

    Add some barley. Make sure you have enough liquid for cooking the barley (and the rice to follow)! The barley takes about 50 minutes usually. Add it and some fresh chopped onions, carrots and celery and add some rice. (Amount of rice and barley depend on how much you like them and how much soup you’re making for the amount of liquid you have. (If you were generous in the amount of tails/bones/ribs and browned them well your stock will be very rich and you can always add some water without losing flavor.) Cook until all grains are done and salt to taste. Serve.

    Croutons

    Save your old bread. Chop into cubes. Microwave for a minute or so to dry it out. Careful, don’t burn it! Dump into a covered container with some olive oil, some cracked pepper, garlic, oregano, garlic salt, parmesan, whatever combo you like. Shake to coat. Eat.

    Vichyssoise

    I served this for my family while cooking after my father-in-laws death. I was doing my part in helping out by cooking and cleaning.

    I cooked this particular recipe because we had vegetarians coming.

    Never made it before. Blew them and me away!

    Butter. Use lots! Chop up a lot of the white part of leeks. (Save the green stuff to make your own broth.) Chop up some peeled potatoes. Melt the butter and add potatoes and leeks. Ok, here’s your call. What do you like best? Leeks or potatoes? Adjust the ratio of one to the other depending on what taste you like and who’s eating it, i.e. how many because potatoes fill people up better.

    Pick one and then adjust the ratio of one to the other. Sauté them with the melted butter and then when you think they look good (NO BROWN STUFF UNDERSTAND, BE GENTLE!) add your broth. (Chicken is what the original recipe calls for but vegetable broth is good. Or just water if you want. BUT IF YOU WANT IT TO REALLY BE GOOD USE YOUR HOMEMADE STOCK/BROTH!!!!! You do notice a theme here don’t you?) Boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until soft. Add some salt and pepper (white pepper is nice!) and some nutmeg (a pinch, some people have drug reactions on this stuff). Puree everything. (Careful! It’s hot and can splatter and burn like Napalm Soup!) Return it all to the pot and add a LOT of heavy cream and maybe more butter. TASTE IT!!!!! Adjust seasonings and cream and butter accordingly.

    Chill the whole thing and serve with chopped chives or green onions and some good bread.

    The original recipe says it improves with age. We’ve never had it around long enough to test this. The recipe also warns that if you do keep it stored make sure the container is sealed as the soup will pick up other flavors from the frig.

    Broth/Stock/Demi-Glace

    Read the oxtail/Mom Wagner soup above for how to do meat broth. I suggest you save all the bone/gristle type stuff, fat; vegetables ends, e.g. green leek stems, tough asparagus ends, etc, and use them. You can freeze the pieces until you get enough to cook down. The recipe in the oxtail soup is good for meat. With any meat brown it either in a heavy pan with butter or in an oven drizzled with good olive oil and then just take that browned meat and simmer the crap out of it with black pepper, parsley, bay and thyme. Think about adding onions, pepper, carrots, celery etc. (You can also pre-brown the veggies if you do the oven trick.) I always HATED cooking stuff down and leaving it to simmer until it evaporated (what I thought) was all the good stuff. But . . . it works! For meats when you brown it either in the oven or in a pan with butter you can add some flour and tomato paste at the end. You can also caramelize the vegetables you add. And for more flavors add some dark wine towards the end of the cooking down process. (Wine will tend to make the broth a little sweeter.)

    You might note that meats such as beef, especially if you brown them, will give you a dark stock. This is great for dark gravies, sauces and soups but it is a little disquieting for things that are supposed to be clear or light in color. Therefore if you have in mind such a light colored creation use chicken scraps and vegetables for the meat base and skip the browning process, i.e. go staright to the simmering.

    For vegetable broth just save things like carrot peels, tough ends of asparagus or broccoli, the green part of leeks and so forth. Put them all together in a pan with a few whole carrots and some onions and drizzle with olive oil. (You can sprinkle with kosher salt but you should go VERY LIGHT with adding any salt in making stock: as you simmer down the stock the salt will get more and more concentrated and you will end up with something that even the cheapest, vile abominations/boullion cubes will put to shame.) Roast all these things until they starts browning and the liquid starts seeping out. As with meat you can add tomato paste and flour. (I do the oven at 350.) Dump everything in a pot with some peppercorns, thyme, parsley, bay and water and simmer down. (Add wine if you wish.) Strain everything out after a few hours and you’re ready to go. Note that here too you can skip any browning and produce a lighter vegetable stock if you so desire.

    WARNING! Keep that thought about salt concentrating in mind BEFORE you add ANY salt to the stock process!

    Alternatively for either meat or vegetable stock you can start with fresh chopped up vegetables. I tend NOT to do this as I can save up enough scraps to do the job without expending fresh produce. But the choice is yours. If you decide that you want a fish broth it becomes just a question of adding fish/seafood scraps and following the same general procedure. I suggest saving shrimp tails and lobster shells for this and avoiding oily fish scraps like salmon. And if you saute any shells before starting the simmer don't burn them or the stock will be bitter. (In general if you burn anything in making any of these types of stock you are running the risk of producting a bitter mess.)

    I know some folks may take me to task for not slavishly setting out what types of this and that to use in this process. But my philosophy is that stock/broth is an excellent way to not waste a valuable resource, i.e. scraps. Therefore my stocks are pretty much a by product of whatever I'm cooking.

    Now let's talk about demi-glace. What is it? It's a highly reduced and flavored dark stock. Traditionally it would be made from roasted veal bones and sauce espagnole. Sauce espagnole (or spanish sauce) is made from caramelized "aromatics", i.e. onions, carrots, celery and garlic with tomatoes/tomato paste and flour cooked in. From my viewpoint if you've saved all the bits and pieces of stuff like I told you you'll have a "version" of sauce espagnole already in hand. (You can always use fresh aromatics. I just like the concept of not wasting scraps that can be put to good use.) Since I don't do veal I use the meat scraps I mentioned above and follow the roasting of such with flour and tomato paste just like many stocks I make. Well, so when does it become demi-glace?

    After you have a nicely reduced broth that you've strained and set aside, get a bottle of GOOD, DRY red wine. Put a generous handful of chopped shallots in a pan and pour in wine in a volume equal to about one quarter of your available stock. (Oh, use more wine if you're so inclined!) Now simmer the shallot wine mix down by at least half. DO THIS VERY SLOWLY!!!!!! The sauce should start getting a little thicker but should be no thicker than thin syrup. Now mix this with your strained stock and keep cooking down until it's reduced by half again. Strain the whole mess again and store in the freezer. To do this you can pour it into ice cube trays. Or first put it in the frig and since if you made it with lots of bones it will "set up" like jello when cool. When it's set and rubbery shovel it into a zip lock baggie, squeeze the air out, seal the bag and press it flat. Now lay the flat bag in the freezer. It will not freeze solid but should be more like sherbet. When you need some just break off a chunk!

    Demi-glace should be a VERY DARK BROWN and have a rich flavor and wonderful smell. When you want to enhance a stew, soup, stock or gravy toss in a cube/chunk or two. Making this stuff requires effort but I believe it's worth it.

    Some folks believe that stocks like this need a lot of clarification/straining. In general I'm too lazy to do more than remove the big chunks. But if you would like to experiment read more in Bourdain, The Joy of Cooking and the CIA handbook. They have lots of suggestions for clarifying, straining, cleaning, scrubbing, purifying, etc, stock. So if you're so inclined don't let my air of disdain for your wasted efforts deter you.

    I have made demi in Vegan style using only veggies and wine. I used it in a soup and, like its beefier cousin above, it was delicious.

    Onion Soup

    Now that you’ve made some broth of your own (either chicken or vegetable although vegetable is probably better here) make some onion soup. This is the best version of all the ones I’ve tried.

    Chop up a pot load of onions, i.e. enough for how many people you’re serving. (A good place to start is 8 good sized ones. They cook down.) Sweet onions are good but I’ve also used a half and half mix of sweet white onions and red onions. Melt a big chunk of butter/olive oil in a pot and start sautéing the onions. This is a fairly long process so be patient, keep stirring the onions as they cook and don’t burn them. The onions will start cooking down and eventually (if you don’t rush it) start darkening without really browning too much. When they’re all cooked down and the color you want just add that homemade broth and some good white wine. Simmer for awhile (up to an hour) and serve the whole thing with toasted bread and a salad. Or, if you want the usual restaurant version, place servings in oven proof soup bowls, toss a chunk of good bread (toasted is good) in each bowl, sprinkle the bread with grated cheese of your choice, put under broiler and broil until cheese is browned the way you like it.

    The WHOLE trick here is the quality of the broth. If you use bad broth don’t bother to serve it: just dump it on the compost heap and make yourself a peanut butter sandwich.

    Soupe de Poisson

    This is a hearty and easy soup that is adaptable to what you have.

    Chop up some combination of leeks (white part only save the green for your own stock), white onions, a fennel bulb, garlic, and/or green onions and sauté in olive oil until slightly soft. Do not brown! (The original recipe called for leeks, garlic and fennel. If you don’t have fennel, which on occasion has been my situation, you can add ground anise and fennel seeds. Remember: the more fresh fennel, anise and fennel seeds etc you add the more licorice like it will taste!) Add a can of plum tomatoes. I have only used fresh but canned is OK.

    Add some fish. The original recipe calls for fish with bones still in them. I have never done that and have used mixes of scallops, tilapia, cod, dried fish, etc. How much fish should you add? Figure it out yourself!

    Add enough water to cover, some orange rind or orange essence (orange juice should work), some bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, and bay), salt and pepper and some saffron. Drop in a tablespoon of Pernod (or even a whole shot), if you have it, to add more anise flavor. Simmer for up to an hour. (Less is OK but the more Pernod you add the more I suggest you simmer.)

    Now puree everything except for the bay leaf. (If you have fish with bones instead of puree you force the mess through a strainer to get the bones out. Not using bones and pureeing is easier for me.)

    Serve with rouille (see recipe) and toast and some parmesan cheese.

    Chicken Soup/Dumplings/Pot Pie

    These recipes are based on a soup recipe from Bernadine Seabok. I've had the soup version two ways and both were really good so take your pick as to how to make it: the original way or how I fooled around with it. (I'll put my second version in parenthesis so you'll be able to tell them apart.) Regarding the other versions: they are pretty much updated from some of my early cooking efforts learned by watching my mother and grandmother.

    Simmer chicken thighs and/or legs until tender. (You can use any part of the chicken except the innards. Well, OK. You can use them too. But I won't eat it.) Cool and remove meat. Alternative: dust thighs etc with flour and bake in oven for an hour or so, toss in a pot with onions, carrots, celery, pepper corns or ground pepper and salt and water, simmer as with broth above.)

    Ahem! You are now at a decision point. If you were going to make soup one of the two ways that I talked about then follow a) below. But suppose you decide you don't want soup. You want something with dumplings. Then just skip a) and follow b) below. Now HEADS UP! This is the beauty of it all: if you've put some care and love into making your own stock, you can do ANY DAMN THING YOU WANT WITH IT! AND IT WILL TASTE GOOD! Because if you decide "I don't want no soup and no dumplings!" then you can follow c) and have a pot pie! YES! You are IN COMMAND! Because you have a GOOD STOCK! (See various rantings and ravings in intro for more detail.)

    Strain everything out and separate the chicken meat.

    Method a): Soup. Cook some rice, celery, onions, and carrots and THICK noodles separately. (I use Polish egg noodles but any flour loaded thick noodle should work.) (Alternative: cook everything in the broth you've made. If you're OK with the vegetables you used for making the broth fish them out with the chicken meat and add them too.) Put everything together with chicken meat and add a can of cream of chicken soup, some onion soup mix, a package of chicken gravy, and a couple of chicken bouillon cubes. (Alternative: you can leave out the canned soup, onion mix, gravy and bouillon. They add flavor but if you use thick noodles and rice and cook them in the broth they're not needed for thickening. However, if you leave them out adjust the salt level to taste: they have salt and you may want to add more if you don't use them.)

    Simmer everything and then eat!

    Method b): Chicken and Dumplings. To the chickenless stock add some celery, onions, carrots, potatoes, peas, root veggies of any type you prefer (I would avoid beets.) etc. Cook until your vegetables are just done. Now re-add the chicken and make a dumpling dough. You can make your own dough. But I'm lazy and really haven't found anything better than Bisquick. Now bring your pot to a boil and drop in the balls of dough. Reduce heat and cook slowly until dumplings are done. Eat!

    Method c): Pot Pie. Now listen up! Pot pies DO NOT NEED ALL THE LIQUID YOU PROBABLY HAVE! (And there's an alternate version below if you'd like to try it.) What's more they probably need to have a sauce that's a little thicker. OK. Fine! Add your vegetables of choice. I recommend onions, potatoes, carrots and peas. Cook until just done. Now take out some water/strain the vegetables out, separate the stock into two parts and thicken the amount of stock you think you want in your pie with a little flour. I would do that by letting the stock you'll use for the pie cool and then working into it a mix of lump free flour and water. You can do some heating to thicken it. Or just add it to your stock/vegetables and it "should" thicken later. (You did set aside the leftover stock, right? Good! You're getting smarter!)

    Now add the chicken and put all this in a pie crust (see desert section below) or put it in a pan and put a biscuit dough on top. (I use Bisquick.) Now bake at 350 until done.

    If you want to get REALLY fancy don't use dough; use phylo leaves. Pour all the fixins of the pie into a bowl and start layering phylo leaves over the mess. Each time you lay down a leaf either brush it with melted butter or (for a lower calorie version) lightly spray it with cooking spray. Keep layering until you get to a stage where you think the crust is thich enough. Bake as above but do so until the top is nice and brown.

    This is just an example of what you can do with stock you've made. This works for beef stock also, i.e. beef and dumplings/pot pie.

    For an alternate filling you can try this mix.

    Mix together melted butter and olive oil. Saute about 3 cups of cubed potatoes, 2 cups of diced onions, 2 cups of sliced mushrooms, a cup of diced celery, a cup of diced carrots, some thyme and some parsley (fresh if you can). Cook until everything is just starting to soften. Add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour and stir until thickened. Now add some milk and some good stock (You only have good stock hanging around, right? You don't have any of that salted bilge water that people pass off as stock because they're too wasteful and lazy to make the good stuff? If you're planning on using this type of swill then please find another web site to haunt.)

    Simmer for a few minutes while the mix thickens. Thin with more milk/stockj as needed. NOw add a cup of frozen peas and about two cups of chopped chicken breast. Simmer some more to cook the chicken just a little. Season with salt and pepper (although if you used good stock you don't need ANYTHING else). Pour into the appropriate baking dish and top with phylo as I instrucetd you above. Bake until top is golden and eat.

    Bruschetta

    Preheat the oven to 450. Chop up about 6 - 7 ripe tomatoes. (You can use canned diced.) Mix in 2 -3 cloves crushed garlic, 1 tbl olive oil, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 6 - 8 fresh basil leaves (or dry to taste) and salt and pepper to taste.

    Now slice a french baguette lengthwise and place in the heated oven for 5 - 6 minutes until lightly browned. Alternatively you can slice the bread in rounds or ovals (on the diagonal).

    Serve by either placing toast on a platter and adding the mix. Or place toast on a platter and let people add the mix themselves. The latter has the advantage that the bread doesn't get soggy.

    Edward's Oyster Stew

    This is a recipe from my father-in-law. He always loved Oyster stew. (So do I.)

    Add together 1 cup of milk and 2 cups heavy cream. Add some salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper. Bring just to boiling. Add 1.5 pints of oysters with their liquid and bring just to boiling again.

    Serve in heated bowls with a tablespoon of melted butter in each. Top with chopped fresh parsley. (Oyster crackers are nice with this.)

    Southwestern Chicken Soup

    This is a light, easy soup that has a lot of taste for being simple.

    Start with 2 or 3 chicken breasts. I use boneless and skinless but you can improvise with ANY part of the chicken. Poach them gently in some white wine and water with added parsley, thyme, bay and black pepper and salt. Do not over cook! They should be just a little UNDER DONE!

    Now saute for about 5 or so minutes about one and a half cups of chopped onion and three chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil in the pan you want to make the soup in. Add some good chicken or vegetable broth and water to get about six cups total liquid, one quarter cup of white rice (I use Jasmine but use what you have/like.), a can of rinsed and drained great northern beans and some cumin and black pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about fifteen minutes to cook the rice. At this stage you can coast if you have other things to do. If you don't have other things to do and are ready to eat then chop up your chicken and add. Cook until chicken is just done. (You can also add the wine/water/broth you poached the chicken in for extra flavor! Leave any bay leaves out!) Add three chopped tomatoes, a couple of chopped avocados, some fresh (if you have it otherwise use dry) cilantro and the juice a fresh lime. Serve right away.

    Serve this with plain tortilla chips of your choice, a salad and some lime wedges if you like more to add lime taste. For spice you can always add some ground hot pepper.

    Chicken in Garlic Sauce Soup

    Get yourself some chicken. No, it doesn't make a lot of difference what kind! Small pieces are the best 'cause you gotta fry them quickly!

    Sprinkle the chicken with salt and fry until golden brown in hot olive oil. Add 10 (Yes, 10!) cloves of crushed garlic and a whole hot cilli pepper. Cook for 5 more minutes on lowered heat: Don't burn the garlic or pepper!

    Add some GOOD chicken broth (about a cup), a good dose of dry white wine, some crushed saffron threads and a bay leaf. Simmer until chicken is done. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. For an extra kick add some more fresh crushed garlic JUST before serving.

    Sopa de Ajo Castellana (Castilian Garlic Soup)

    Heat olive oil in a deep pan and add 4 crushed cloves of garlic. Saute for a minute and then add some diced ham preferably prosciutto (most anything will work but lunch meat style ham will probably leave you wondering why you bothered making this) and saute another minute. Add some cumin, pepper, saffron and about a quart of GOOD chicken broth. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

    Follow my recipe for croutons but also sprinkle them with paprika (sweet).

    To serve you may either a) poach an egg per person in the simmering soup or b) place a oven proof bowl of the soup (per person) in the oven with an egg in each serving and bake at 350 until egg is cooked. (Poaching the egg is WAY easier!) Then serve with the croutons. As per recipe above you can add more crushed garlic just before serving.

    Remember: this is a peasant dish and is designed to take advantage of the simplest ingredients! Keep that in mind as you make it and act accordingly.

    Aigo Boulido (Garlic and Sage Soup)

    This is a variant on the Castilian version above. It's from the Provence region of France.

    I have tried two versions that differ only in using my own stock or plain water as the base. The stock is richer. But the water is more than acceptable, i.e. both are delicious. However, you must LIKE garlic! A lot!

    Start with a liter of water or stock. You can scale this up according to number being served. Add to this 4 to 5 cloves of crushed garlic, some sage leaves, some thyme sprigs, a bay leaf, salt and pepper and olive oil. As I used fresh sage and thyme I'm not sure what you do if you must use dry. So for your homework FIGURE IT OUT!

    Bring this mess to a boil and reduce to a very low simmer for 10 or more minutes. Fish out the sage leaves, the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs. If you use dry spices just fish out the bay leaf.) Leave the garlic in and puree the whole mess. Heat back up to just below boil and stir in (rapidly) one beaten egg per person being served. When eggs are cooked fill the bowls for serving and top each with a slice of good bread that's been rubbed with garlic, drizzled with a small amount of olive oil and covered with melted Gruyere (or other) cheese.

    Brazilian Fish Stew

    Get a pound or so of good white fish (I used oreo dory but halibut and sea bass work) and cut into edible pieces. Mix about a pound of peeled shrimp with the fish and with some fresh lime juice, some salt, fresh group black pepper, and two cloves of crushed garlic. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

    In a deep pan add some olive oil and then saute some chopped green onions, bay leaf, green pepper and garlic. Add a bout 2 cups chopped tomato and cook together for a couple minutes. Add some chopped fresh cilantro, some good chicken broth and some clam juice. Simmer 10 minutes.

    Puree this vegetable mix and add a cup of coconut milk and some ground red pepper. Bring to a boil and cook briefly. Add the fish etc. and cook until done. Add some fresh chopped cilantro and serve.

    Chili like my Mother Used to Make/Tex Mex

    When I was a kid we never really ate much that was spicy. The closest thing was my mother's chili. Compared to some dishes here it really can't be considered spicy. But I really liked it!

    The bad news is she cooked like me and so never really had anything written down. My wife made this one night from a crockpot recipe and the taste similarity was striking. The only change I would make to really make it like my mother's is to up the canned tomatoes and cut out the tomato sauce. Your call.

    Cook up and drain a pound of ground beef. Saute two onions in the grease and drain. Mix together 2 14-oz undrained cans of chopped tomatoes and 2 15-oz cans of drained and rinsed kidney beans. Add in the ground beef and onions along with chili powder, cumin and oregano to taste. I suggest at least a teaspoon of each but you can probably go heavier on the chili powder. Now cook the whole mess on the stove or in a crock pot. (Allow several hours for the crock pot or an hour or so on the stove.) Just before serving add a paste of about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a quarter cup of water to thicken. Serve with the usual suspects, e.g. cheese, chopped onions, tortilla chips, extra hot stuff, etc.

    Also along the lines of the above is a nice Tex Mex recipe we found.

    Brown bacon in a skillet, remove and add 1 -2 lbs of beef cubes. Brown these and remove and set aside. Add some chopped onion and brown lightly.

    Toast a tablespoon (or more) ground cumin in a small pan and add to the onion mix along with 2 tsp hot paprika, 3 -4 tbl good chili powder, some oregano, thyme black pepper and some minced garlic. Add the beef and bacon back in and saute some mnore to blend flavors. Adjust spices to taste.

    Add some undetermined amount of low salt stock and some chopped tomatoes (canned or otherwise). Simmer until meat is done and season with chipotle chiles (or powder) and salt to taste. Eat.

    Bouillabaisse a la Provence

    Okay, now more about Bouillabaisse. (So I like Bouillabaisse; get over it.) Here are two additional versions originating in the Provence region of France. As I noted much earlier in the text bouillabaisse is not a single recipe. Although it appears that many people are absolutely certain their version is the best. Try these variants and see if you like either as much, more or less than the others. And better yet, create your own version!

    First pick out the kind of fish or seafood you like. It can be any mix you want but the original recipe focused on fish only. For myself I like a mix of "fruits de mer" and fish/shrimp. However, there are many people who do not care for all the tentacles and small body parts in "fruits de mer." Therefore choose you seafood to please those who will eat it. (For those not having heard the term before "fruits de mer" refers to a mixed bag of small shellfish, octopus, squid etc. usually found in the frozen fish section. Not all stores carry it, however, most oriental specialty shops do.)

    Divide the fish into long and short cooking varieties based on flesh firmness: firm goes in the pot first and tender fish goes in last.

    Chop up an onion and some garlic and begin cooking in olive oil. When the onion has softened add some herbs such as thyme, ground fennel, saffron, parsley and bay leaf and salt and black pepper and a can of diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes if you have them). You may also add a pinch of red pepper if you are so moved. Now listen up! The important additions are black pepper, thyme, fennel and saffron! If you want to be fancy substitute a shot of Pernod for the fennel. Now toss in an orange peel or a dash of orange extract. You can also use a shot of Triple Sec. (Using Pernod and Triple Sec are easier and very tasty!)If you are using "fruits de mer" add them now and cover all the debris with water or (preferred) stock you've made for the occasion. Simmer until you judge the tentacles to be nearly soft enough to eat. If you are not using the "extra firm" seafood such as "fruit de mer" just add your firm flesh fish now. Cook until almost done and add the tender flesh fish and cook until everything you added, no matter what it is, is edible.

    Serve with croutons, good bread and rouille.

    For another version, but slightly different and with potatoes, use only fish. Marinate the fish in a mix of olive oil, saffron and bouquet garni (thyme, bay and parsley) for two hours or even over night stirring from time to time. When done dump everything into a pot, cover with cold water (or stock), add a can of diced tomatoes, some salt and pepper to taste and some potatoes cut up as you see fit. Bring the whole thing to a boil and cook vigorously until potatoes are done. Remember that this does best with firm fish that will not fall apart during the cooking of the potatoes.

    Stock for this can be meat based or vegetable based. If you'd like to make a nice fish based stock use roasted vegetables debris and simmer the result with shrimp shells, fish scraps, dried fish etc to enhance the flavor. (See the note on stock etc. above.)

    Lobster Bisque

    This can run you into some bucks. But it can also be a delicious treat or soup for dinner guests.

    First thing is to grit your teeth and fork over the money for lobsters. All you really need is a couple of frozen tails but, yes, it'll cost. But it won't cost as much as if you were doing a couple of 2 lb. sea beasts. If the tails are frozen defrost them and split them into sections. Four to six sections are just fine. Heat some olive oil (I also like to add butter) in a pan and drop the lobster chunks in. Cook over high heat with lots of stirring until the lobster is bright red. (Well, ok, you can cheat a little. But it at least to a fairly even orange.) Stir constantly so you don't burn the lobster meat or shells; it'll impart a bitter taste. Now add 2 large chopped onions, 4 sliced up garlic cloves, a couple of chopped stalks of celery and two sliced leeks using only the white part. (A note about leeks: they're grown in sandy soil so they can have a lot of entrapped grit. Cut off the tough green tops and rinse them of dirt so you can use them later in stock. Now slice the white part into thin wheels and rinse all those little wheels a few times rinses of fresh water stirring them around with your hands to makes sure all that grit gets out. Inspect to make sure!) Stir and cook until the veggies start to wilt. Add a 4 oz. can of tomato paste and work it in to the mix. Take the pan off the heat and add 4 ounces of cognac. If you don't there's a good chance you'll toast yourself. (Use stuff you actually like to drink. That cheap mouthwash tasting crap that you serve your drunken friends will NOT work!) Scrap the bottom of the pan to get any brown good stuff into the mix. Return to the fire and add a liter or so of GOOD chicken, seafood or light beef stock. (You know? The stuff you made!) You can use water but it won't be as good. Add some bouquet garni and simmer for about 10 minutes and take out the lobster.

    OK, decision time. How do you like your lobster bisque? All nice and smooth? Or do you like a few pieces of lobster floating around? Make a choice and remove the lobster meat from the shells. Add the shells to the pot and simmer another 15 minutes.(Only the big parts you can dredge out later! Otherwise you'll be eating lobster shell.) After time's up fish out the shells, allow the mix to cool (Unless you'd like to experience Napalm Bisque.) and puree the vegetables with as much lobster meat as you see fit: all, none or just part.

    Put the puree back in the pot and add 2 cups of (depending on taste and availability) HEAVY cream or half and half with stock as needed. Return to a simmer and heat through. When all is heated toss in the reserved lobster meat (if you saved any) stir in a little lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Decorate with chopped chives or green onions and serve.

    This can be made with shrimp or crab also. A nice touch is to cook and deshell the shrimp. Toss the shells back in the water you cooked the shrimp in and slowly simmer to reduce. Voila! Shrimp stock! Oh, and you can add any saved lobster shells from the last time you splurged. And do you know what I have in mind as an experiment? I want to use dashi as my stock. I will post results when this actually occurs.

    Chicken Chile

    First time I had this it was OK. Second time I had it I asked myself why did I bother to make it again. Third time I said "This is it!" The original recipe comes from Judy Hamilton. And I have made only a couple major modifications.

    Take a pound or two of chicken breasts and cut them into bite sized pieces. Poach until not quite done in a nice white wine.

    Saute two cups of chopped onions and some diced garlic in olive oil. Add at least two heaping teaspoons of cumin, an equal amount of oregano, some salt and pepper to taste and hot pepper as you see fit.

    Now add the chicken pieces and saute to mix the flavors. Add a small can of drained green chilis, one to two cans of drained great northern beans and the chicken/wine liquid. Simmer gently and now add stock, good stock you've made. (I used the stock I got from making Boef a la Ficelle.) Simmer slowly until all is cooked and eat.

    Chicken Kohlrabi Soup

    This soup is Hungarian in parentage. Well, maybe it's Transylvanian. But either way I like it!

    First start with maybe 3 lbs of chicken. This should be chicken pieces. Place in a shallow pan and cover with white wine. Simmer until just done! Don't over cook this! If some pieces are a little "under" don't worry. You can correct that later. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add two cups of diced kohlrabi to the wine and add as much GOOD stock as you see fit to make the body/volume of the soup. Simmer again until the kohlrabi is starting to tenderize.

    While the kohlrabi is cooking break the chicken up into bite sized pieces removing the bones. (Save the bones for stock. You may keep any skin in if you wish but I suggest saving that for stock too.)

    Add the chicken to the kohlrabis and just simmer VERY gently remembering that you don't want any overcooking.

    In a separate pan melt 2 tbl butter and saute some chopped leeks. (You may use sweet onions here.) When the leeks are all limp with cooking add 2 tbl flour and stir to make a light roux. Whick the roux into the chicken/kohlrabi, decorate with fresh parsley and serve.

    Cold Cherry Soup

    THis is a cold fruit soup. You can find its like in Europe. This version is Hungarian. It's easy to make (although the cooling takes some time) and very good!

    Combine 3 cups water, 1 cup sugar and a cinnamon stick in a pan and bring to a boil. Add one or two cans of pitted sour cherries (NOT THE ONES IN SYRUP!) and simmer for 10 minutes. (You can use fresh pitted cherries: simmer for 30 minutes or more.) Remove the cinnamon stick.

    Mix a tablespoon of corn starch in a small amount of water and stir into the pan keeping the mix nearly at boil. When slightly thickened remove from heat and allow to cool. Chill as cold as you can. (A little ice formation won't hurt.)

    Just before serving stir in 3/4 cup of GOOD, dry, red wine and 1/4 cup of heavy cream.

    Homemade Hand Pulled Noodle Soup

    For the dough you will need: 2 cups flour and ¾ cups water with ½ teaspoon of salt

    For the soup base you will need:2/3 lb of pork, cut into thin slices, 4 peeled and cubed red potatoes, 2-3 tomatoes, cubed, OR 1 can of diced tomatoes and optional vegetables such as Napa cabbage or other vegetables that you like in a soup (e.g. sliced carrots or celery)

    For the seasoning you will need: 2 tbsps soy sauce, 1 tsp Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine or Vermouth, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1-2 Green onions, chopped, salt and pepper for seasoning. Optional are chicken broth or favorite soup stock.

    First make the dough: Pour in 1/3 of the salted water into flour and mixed with a pair of chopsticks. Slowly add salted water to any parts of flour that remains “unmixed.” When water used up, knead by hand. When dough is relatively smooth, cover up in a bowl with lid and set aside for 20+ min. After 20+ min (can be longer), dough should have softened and smoothly out even more, knead about a minute longer. Set aside for ~10+ minutes longer. Then oil a wooden cutting board and rollout dough to about 5-6 inches wide (basically 1-2 inches shorter than blade of knife that will be used to cut dough into strips) and ½ inch thick. Lightly oil top of rolled-out dough and cover with cling wrap.Marinate pork strips with soy sauce, cooking wine and cornstarch (cornstarch makes meat more tender) for about 15 minutes. Then cook by sautéing in hot pot with hot oil. Don’t overcook meat. Set aside. Next, sauté all the vegetables with salt (might have to do some ordering…e.g., sauté some longer than others) except for the potatoes. Add the green onions. Once the vegetables are 75% cooked, add 6-8 cups of water and any soup stock or chicken bouillon (adjust liquid amount so that you can add in the noodles and the soup would still be a soup versus solid (but also not too soupy)). Bring the pot with the vegetables to a boil. Then add potatoes and cooked pork strips.

    Make the noodles as follows: Slice a ½ inch wide strip of dough. Press it flat with palm of your fingers. Pull on the two ends of this flat strip. To make/pull it longer, hold the two ends of the noodle “rope” and strike/bounce it against the wooden board. You can stretch it more by folding it over and striking/pulling again. When it can’t be stretched anymore, tear off 1-inch long pieces and toss it into the boiling soup base. Stir occasionally so noodles don’t stick. Repeat until all dough has been pulled into noodles and cooked.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste and it can be served with Chinese vinegar, balsamic vinegar, hot pepper sauce…to each person’s taste.

    Smokey Chile

    Reading up on Chile a while back I heard that one of its original names was "son of a bitch stew." I got the impression that this was not only the result of the strong taste but also from the grade of meat used to make it in its early forms, i.e. poor quality. As I understand early Chile used (often times) dried meat or meat that was a little "gamey."

    This recipe is a rendition of one I came across wherein I used "sale" meat with good results. (Just cook it long enough to kill all the wild life, will you? Just kidding . . . )

    Start with two pork chops (Yes, I did use "clearance" chops.) and brown them in olive oil. When they are done set them aside to cool and add a chopped onion and three cloves chopped garlic to the hot oil and brown these. When brown add half a small can of tomato paste and a bottle of beer. Note that, like wine, the taste of the beer will effect the taste of the final product. I used a standard grade lager. Maybe a dark beer would produce some interesting results but I haven't tried one yet.

    The onion/paste/beer mix will probably start to thicken a bit. While it's thickening add 3 - 4 tablespoons of chili powder, at least a tablespoon of ground cumin, a generous shake of oregano, lots of black pepper, hot red pepper to taste, several bay leaves, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of drained pinto beans, 4 chopped tomatillos, 2 large chopped fresh tomatoes and a smoked ham hock (I got one on sale. A little old but it worked.) or old ham bone. You can also add some sugar for a sweeter taste.

    While the above is simmering chop up your pork chops (Save the bones for stock!) and add the meat to the pot. Simmer until it's done. Serve it with chopped onions, cheese and/or chopped cilantro.

    Venison Chile

    So maybe you don't have any Bambi chopped up and lying around. That's okay; make it with beef.

    Put a pound or so of ground whatever meat you're using in hot oil and brown. When it's browned evenly remove it from the pan and add some chopped onion and the number of chopped Jalapenos (or other hot pepper) you feel like dealing with when it comes to eating time. (Hint: The more hot peppers you add the hotter the final product.) Saute the vegetables until just browning and pour in a bottle of GOOD beer. (Do NOT use light beer! But remember if you use something like Guiness, or however it's spelled, you will get a rather heavy handed taste.) Scrap all the browned crust up into the beer and simmer this mess for until reduced in volume by about half. While this is cooking add hot paprika (or hot red pepper)and cumin to taste. Add a can or less of tomato paste and keep simmering down/stirring.

    When the volume looks handle-able ad some GOOD (Are you listening? I said GOOD beef broth! My first version was made with broth/gravy from baked pot roast. Don't use garbage!) beef broth, about 3 or 4 chopped tomatoes and a can of drained beans. (Pintos are nice but black beans, kideny, etc work too.) Simmer and add salt tyo taste and just before serving crush a clove of garlic in and stir around.

    Garlic Cream Fish Soup

    First you need some fish stock. I have used clam juice but I prefere to set aside fish/lobster/shrimp scraps and make my own with white wine and Herbs de Provence.

    Into your nice stock (which you can fill out in volume with good white wine and/or chicken stock) add about two chopped onions, a couple of chopped garlic cloves and some chopped jalapenos. (Other hot peppers work too.) Simmer these slowly with some saffron until all vegetables are nice and soft.

    In a separate pot make a flour roux using butter. (No, you may not use ANYTHING but butter.)

    Ladle out some of the liquid (only) into a separate pot and add 4 or more crushed cloves of garlic. Simmer this down until reduced somewhat and strain liquid back into original pot. Now, pulverize this mess with blender (immersion or regular) or food processor. Blend in the roux until just slightly thickened. Whisk in some heavy cream. Add your choice of fish, shrip, scallops, etc and simmer until just barely done.Squeeze a little lime in. (An easy technique here is set your seafood aside in the order of cooking, drizzle eveerything with lime juice and add the seafood by "longest cooking first" and so on.

    When all is done sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.

    Another Chicken Posole

    This is based on a "short cut" recipe I ran across. The kind that makes me grind my teeth and want to scream "What is so hard about using FRESH ingredients? What will you do with those extra few seconds of your life that you have 'saved'?"

    Okay enough, here's my version.

    Make a good stock. If you can't make a good stock please go find a book of short cut recipes and never darken my web site again!

    Sigh! Okay, sorry, let's start over.

    Make a good stock. If you can't or won't make a good stock of your own then buy a good canned low salt stock.

    Warm it up in a sauce pan picked for the amnount of soup you want. Add some olive oil, at least a tsp of dried oregano, a tsp of cumin and chilli powder to taste. When it's simmering add a couple of stalks of chopped celery and a can of drained hominy. Now chop up one or more boneless chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. Add those to the stock and simmer. When the chicen is about halfway done add a chopped up onion.

    Chop up one or more ripe avocados and toss with lime juice. Add 6 or more chopped tomatillos and continue to simmer.

    When the chicken is just done add two crushed cloves of garlic and the avocado. Decorate with fresh cilantro and sliced radishes (if you want) and serve with salad, tortillas and cheese.

    If you want to spice it up add hot pepper to taste. You can substitue non-boneless chicken as you want or pork. You can also add fresh tomatoes.

    Cheese Onion Soup

    Slice some onions and some mushrooms. Add these to the stock/chicken and simmer gently. Now add as many Japanese Udon noodles as you like. Simmer some more.

    While all this simmering is going on chop some fresh cilantro and some green onions.Remove the simmered soup from the stove, dish into bowls and top with the cilantro and green onions.

    Mushroom Bisque

    Make some good vegetarian stock. (OK, you can use any light stock.) Saute in butter and /or olive oil some onions, mushrooms, celery and potatoes. When all is sotened add milk and or cream and puree. Season to taste. Add some more mushrooms (chopped) and simmer until done. Adjust seasoning and eat.

    Not much too it right? The WHOLE trick is good stock! If you don't have that . . .

    Truck Stop Chili

    This has become our favorite chili recipe.

    Brown up a quarter pound of bacon. Drain and brown 1 - 3 pounds of beef (your choice of meat cut into cubes) in the fat. When the meat is brown remove and add a pound of chopped onion. While this is lightly browning toast 1.5 tbl cumin in a skillet and when onions are done add bacon, meat, cumin, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp pepper, 3.5 tbl chili powder, halp tsp thyme, 1 tsp oregano and salt to taste.

    Heat through and add 28 oz chopped tomatoes, 1.5 cup of good stock, 2 dired chipotle peppers and 4 cloves crushed garlic.

    Simmer until meat is done and eat.

    Carrot Soup

    Chop up a sweet onion (vidalia) and cut about 2 lbs of carrots into pieces no bigger than half an inch. Saute in butter and olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add at least 2 cups of good chicken stock (4 cups is better). Add 2 cups water if you only have 2 cups stock. Cook about 30 minutes until everything is tender. Puree all this with heavy cream to taste and texture. Season with a little ground ginger and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with good bread and a green salad.

    Salads:

    Potato salad/Salata de cartofi (Romanian)

    14 oz/400 g potatoes, 2 onions, 1 herring, 2 oz/50 g olives, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, salt (if needed. )Wash, boil, peel and let cool the potatoes. Then slice and mix with the boned desalted and thinly sliced herring, with the olives, chopped onions, oil and vinegar.

    I added: pickled herring sliced. Delicious and you don’t have to hunt down salted herring (or fool around with all bones).

    Kim Chee

    There are all kinds of Kim Chee. Basically Kim Chee is an accompaniment to plain rice. Here are some from Barbara’s aunt and our sister in law. (Both Korean.) These are not the “fermented” kind. I have a recipe for that. Maybe I’ll add it some day but these are easier.

    Kim Chee I

    Chinese cabbage chopped. Cover with salt water. Let stand for a few hours. It should wilt a little. Rinse well and add crushed garlic,hot pepper and sugar. Refrigerate for two days.

    Kim Chee II

    Add together chopped romaine lettuce, cucumber, broccoli or any mix of chopped stuff like this with sesame oil, red pepper, soy sauce, sugar, crushed garlic and chopped green onion. Seasonings are adjusted to taste. If you make it like the Koreans it’ll be red tinged (strongly so) and HOT. Refrigerate for a few hours or over night.

    Kim Chee III

    Chopped cucumber mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, vinegar, garlic, green onions and hot red pepper. Refrigerate and let flavors blend.

    Kim Chee IV

    Chopped head of Chinese cabbage. Mix with a big handful of salt and a little cold water. Allow to stand and wilt. Flip every once in awhile. Rinse and drain. Mix together chopped ginger, garlic, a bunch of green onions, a lot of red pepper and two big spoonfuls each of sesame oil and sugar.

    Mom Wagner’s cucumber salad.

    Peel and slice cucumbers. Mix together equal parts of sugar, water, and vinegar. Toss with cucumbers and some salt and pepper and allow to stand in frig for a few hours.

    Grandma Bo’s Cole Slaw.

    Shredded cabbage (and maybe carrots and onions if you feel adventuresome). Mix together equal parts sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise (I tend to use less sugar than vinegar and mayonnaise). Toss together and add salt and pepper. You can have some fun with this by changing proportions, using lime juice (or lemon) adding red pepper, garlic, different ground pepper types, e.g. white etc.

    Russian Garlic Salad

    This is really very mild. (Sounds powerful but isn’t.) It’s a Frugal Gourmet recipe and it tastes like new potatoes.

    Peel as many garlic cloves as you can stand to. (Keep them whole. It’s work.) Drop in boiling water for three minutes and then drain. Mix with equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Refrigerate for three days and serve.

    Baked Garlic/ Garlic Comfit (sort of)

    Get a whole head (or more than one) of garlic. Rub outside with olive oil and bake at 350 until soft. To use/eat just squeeze the soft garlic out of the skin into or on whatever you are working with. It’s nice on crackers. (You will get garlic breath from this one even though the flavor is very mild.)

    Salade Nicoise

    This is almost a meal in itself. There’s nothing hard except for all the details. And it helps if you take a lot of care in the assembly and presentation so you really wow the audience.

    Just barely cook a bunch of green beans. The beans should still be crunchy. So that means they may be in boiling water for as little as 2 or 3 minutes. Even less is OK. (No! I’m not going to say how many! Read the recipe and see how many YOU want to put in!) Quarter some peeled potatoes and cook until done. Chill all these until they are nice and crispy cold.

    Hard-boil some eggs by putting them in a pan in cold water, heating until boiling; turning off the heat and leaving them sit in the hot water for 22 minutes. After that time cool in cold water right away, peel and quarter. Chill!

    Cut into salad sized pieces some cherry (or other) tomatoes (A word of warning here: better tomatoes make a better salad. If you add cardboard red dyed things this will detract from the “wow” factor when people actually start eating it.) and green and/or red and/or yellow sweet peppers. Chill these too.

    Take a big salad bowl and rub the inside with a cut clove of garlic. Fill with (your choice) chilled Bibb or Boston lettuce or mixed greens. (I like the mixed greens.)

    Now arrange all that chilled stuff mentioned above in a decorative manner on the greens along with some pitted Nicoise (or some nice black Greek or Kalamata olives) and some GOOD anchovy fillets. Top with either good quality canned tuna in olive oil or (my favorite but very expensive) pan seared tuna steak.

    To pan sear the tuna heat a cast iron fry pan, pat the tuna dry, rub with olive oil, flop it into the pan and cook for no more than 90 seconds on a side for a ¾ inch thick steak. The tuna can be a little rare if it’s good stuff. Thin slice and lay artfully on the salad mound.

    Now, you can drizzle some olive oil on this whole mess and/or just serve with vinaigrette made with olive oil, red wine or balsamic vinegar and that chunk of garlic you have left on the side. (It’s probably safer to serve the vinaigrette on the side so people can pick what they like to have on the salad.) Just dump all the ingredients in a blender and emulsify. About 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil works well.

    3,4,5 Bean Salad

    Most everybody's got one of these recipes. This is the one we've liked best.

    Smash (mix? emulsify? blend?) together a clove of garlic, some salt, about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, a little vinegar (you can experiment here with different types), some hot sauce or ground hot pepper to taste, some Worcestershire sauce, juice of one whole lime, and a little dry mustard. (If you like mustard use Dijon instead but remember mustard can take over.)

    Mix with cans of any or all of the following bean types: green, yellow, kidney, lima, garbanzo, pinto, black, black eyed peas. Chill and serve.

    Now a varient: Use any mix of beans you want. Fresh is okay but you have to cook. Canned works just fine. Trust me.

    To the drained, mixed beans (I am assuming you are using canned.) add a cup of fresh corn cut off the cob or a cup of defrosted frozen. Chop up as much red onion as you want. Toss it in! Now crush into the mix as much garlic as you like. And you can add other veggies such a green/red/yellow sweet pepper, tomatoes, etc. Mix all this with a dressing made of one third cupolive oil, 3 tbl. of vinegar (wine vinegar works but you can experiment), a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, paprika (hot or regular to taste), ground cumin to taste, black pepper to taste, oh and if you must, salt. Mix all together with some minced cumin, cool and eat.

    And if you didn't think you could still be vexed by yet another bean salad recipe . . .

    Black beans, (canned) drained, a cup of frozen corn defrosted, clerey sliced thin, green pepper chopped, hot pepper chopped (pick your poison!), chopped red onion and cilantro. Mix with a dressing of olive oil, lime juice, crushed garlic, cumin and black pepper. Serve (after cooling) over lettuce.

    5 Cup Salad

    Easy to make. Always been popular. Recipe is from Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah, GA.

    Mix together 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of shredded coconut, 1 cup of miniature marshmallows, 1 can of drained mandarin oranges, 1 can of crushed pineapple, drained.

    Wilted Greens

    This was a summer time special when we had leaf lettuce out of the garden. If you don't have/like leaf lettuce you can use stuff like sorrel, mustard greens, dandelion greens, chive flowers etc.

    Fry up some chopped bacon. I usually add a little extra olive oil. Add some chopped onions. Fry until just soft. Add generous amounts of pepper and some salt. (You can also add garlic, hot pepper, chopped chives, etc.)

    Add vinegar to taste and enough water to give some "body". Now boil it. When it's boiling and hot pour over your greens and toss the whole mess together.

    If you want to be fancy when you serve it add some edible (Check and MAKE SURE they're edible!) flowers such as pansy’s. ( Make sure nobody's sprayed the flowers: don't use store bought!)

    Layered Salad

    Chop up and clean a head of lettuce. Chop up as much as you like of cucumbers, green peppers, celery and mild onions.

    Get a bunch of peas, fry up a pound of bacon (or less) and then start layering everything above interspersing vegetables layers with bacon, parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise. Top with tomato (wedges or chopped), chill and serve.

    Salsa Type Salads

    Most people think of salsa as that canned red stuff. But there's really a lot you can do with a spiced combination of vegetables etc.

    Here are some we've fooled around with and liked:

    Potato Salsa: chop up four boiled and peeled potatoes. Chop up 3 hot peppers of choice. Dice some garlic cloves and brown the peppers and garlic in olive oil along with a dozen or so almonds. Add some balsamic vinegar to the pan, heat to boiling and pour over potatoes. Serve hot.

    Carrot Onion Salsa: Shred three carrots. Slice one small onion very thin in rings. Crush a clove of garlic with a cube of fresh ginger. Add the juice of one lemon (or lime) and some chopped fresh cilantro. Toss carrots and onions with this stuff and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve.

    Mango Line Salsa (a Boy Scout Recipe from Jim Rice): Peel, pit and chop into bite size pieces, two mangoes. Dice one small red onion. Dice a half red bell pepper. Chop one hot pepper (of your choice. Mix all this with the juice of two limes, chopped parsley (fresh) and chopped cilantro (fresh). Salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve.

    Roasted Corn, Black Bean and Mango Salad

    1 tablespoon oil

    2 garlic cloves minced

    2 cups corn, fresh is nice, frozen is OK

    2 cups diced peeled ripe mango

    1 cup chopped red onion

    1 cup chopped red bell pepper

    1/3 cup fresh lime juice

    3 tblsp fresh chopped cilantro

    salt

    0.5 tsp cumin

    1 or more chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

    2, 15 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed

    Cook garlic in oil about 30 seconds. Stir in corn. Cook and stir until it browns. (Hint: the flavor changes the more you cook. See what you like. It gets sweet and nut like the more you brown it.) Put mango and everything else with corn in a big bowl and mix around. Chill.

    Serve on greens of your choice.

    Green Bean Potato Salad

    Potatoes (New, old, whatever. Recipe says new but it’s your choice.)

    2 cups green beans

    2/3 cups mayonnaise

    2 tblsp. Dijon mustard

    fresh lime juice

    black pepper

    salt

    minced clove of garlic

    0.5 cup chopped onion

    fresh or dried basil

    Cook potatoes and beans. Potatoes need to be done. Beans should be crunchy. (It’s a salad, duh!) Chop potatoes into eating size. Cool everything.

    Combine all the rest of the stuff in a big bowl. Toss in cooled potatoes and beans. Chill. Eat.

    Rice Salad

    This is an Italian dish typically eaten for Christmas. It has a "partner" called Capon Magro." (See entry in vegetable stuff.)

    Make a vinaigrette dressing. You may use one of the ones below or try 0.5 cup olive oil, 0.25 cup of vinegar, a minced shallot, some ground white pepper (and maybe some black) a little tarragon and then emulsify the whole thing in a blender. Cook up 1.5 cups of long grain rice and then let cool. Steam some fresh or frozen peas until done and let them cool. Now either a) just barely cook some fresh asparagus tips and let cool (I said FRESH!) or b) use cleaned, raw fresh asparagus cut to bite sizes.

    Chop up a variety of red, green, orange and yellow sweet peppers. Chop some fresh parsley.

    Now mix the peas, rice, peppers and parsley with the rice. Mound the whole mess attractively on a serving platter and decorate with the asparagus and some cheery tomatoes and olives (black or green or both) of your choice.

    You may either sprinkle with vinaigrette or allow people to add their own as they see fit when serving. (I suggest let people add what they want.)

    Simple Vinaigrette

    In my opinion most vinegar/oil stuff you buy isn't worth eating. The packaged Good Seasons stuff is my choice if I'm not making the dressing myself. However, here are three dressing you can make that are pretty good.

    In a blender (again) combine 0.25 cup vinegar (I suggest you experiment with vinegars, e.g. balsamic, rice, wine, etc.), 0.5 cup olive oil, 1 Tbs lemon juice, 0.25 tsp dry or Dijon mustard and salt and black pepper. Whir up and serve.

    Slightly More Complex Vinaigrette

    In a blender combine the simple vinaigrette above with 1 Tbs parsley, 1 Tbs chives or green onions, 1 tsp capers and a clove of garlic. Whir up and serve.

    Maybe Just a Little More Complex Vinaigrette

    In a blender combine 0.5 cup olive oil, 0.25 cup vinegar, 2-3 cloves of garlic, 2 Tbs Dijon mustard and salt and black pepper to taste. Whir up and serve.

    Celery Seed Dressing

    This is a little sweet so you may want to back off on the sugar per your taste.

    In a blender (or manually if you don't mind the exercise combine 0.5 cup sugar, 1 tsp dry mustard, salt to taste, 1-2 tsp celery seed, 1 Tbs grated Onion, 1 cup olive oil and ).5 cup vinegar. Whir and serve.

    Grapefruit/Smoked Salmon Salad with Mustard Cider Vinaigrette

    Ingredients: 1 package of your favorite lettuce, 1 red or yellow pepper, chopped, 1/2 can of sweet corn, 1 grapefruit, peeled and de-skinned (peel inside skin by hand), 4-6 oz smoked salmon. Optional: Avocado, Belgian endives

    Vinaigrette: 2 tbsps Dijon mustard, 2 tbsps Apple cider vinegar, 6-8 tbsps Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

    Method: Mix all salad ingredients together then mix all vinaigrette ingredients together. Eat and enjoy!

    Couscous Salad with Yogurt Dressing

    Chop up an onion and a stalk of celery. Saute them in some olive oil until they are softened. Add a cup of uncooked couscous. We prefer the Israelie couscous because it's larger in size/texture. But that's up to you. Cook for a minute or so until the couscous starts to brown. Add one and a half cups water and bring to a boil while stirring. Remove it from the heat and cover it for 30 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Stir and let cool.

    Make a dressing by combining a few dashes of lemon juice, a half cup yogurt, a little olive oil, and some crushed ginger, crushed garlic, cumin, ground corrinader and some pepper. You can toss in a few capers or green pickled peppercorns if you like. Or maybe even a little red pepper to taste.

    Mix the couscous with some fresh vegetables, e.g. chopped green/red/yellow/orange pepper, chopped green onion, fresh cilantro, some dried cranberries, nuts and finally a can of drained chickpeas. Mix well and serve with dressing.

    Orange Olive Salad

    This is "unusual" but pretty easy to make and very good.

    Peel an orange and place the peel in 1 cup water. Simmer slowly for about 30 minutes and then allow to cool.

    Take said peeled orange (and at least one to three more like it) and slice in wheels. I used naval oranges to avoid seeds but any type should work. Toss the orange wheels with green olives to tatse and dust with chopped fresh cilantro. Refrigerate until serving time.

    Make a dressing of two parts olive oil, one part lemon juice and one part that orange peel water you cooked up. Shake in salt and pepper to taste.

    To serve just splash with the shaken up dressing and serve.

    Fire and Ice Salad

    Start with fresh tomatoes, green peppers, red (or white) onion and cucumbers. Slice these all thin and layer them, e.g. onion, tomato, pepper, cucumber, in a bowl. To get more "fire" use hot peppers or some mix of sweet and hot peppers. Make a vinegarette of 3/4 cup of vinegar (I like rice vinegar but you can experiment), 1.5 tsp celery salt, 1.5 tsp dry mustrad, 2 tsp sugar (or more to taste), hot red pepper to taste, black pepper and 0.25 cup water. Pour vinegarette over layered stuff and chill.

    Blue Cheese and Aspargus Salad

    You may use either lightly cooked aspargus or raw aspargus. Either way the aspargus should be cold and slightly crunchy.

    Arrange the aspargus on a platter with a can of drained mandarian orange slices and about a cup of crumbled blue cheese. Drizzle a vinagerette over it made from a couple of tablespoons of the mandarian orange juice and olice oil.

    Roquefort Pear Salad

    Put a quarter cup of sugar in a frying pan and add a half cup pecan halves. Heat while stirring constantly until sugar has melted and carmelized onto the pecans. Set them aside to cool and when cool either keep as is or break them into smaller pieces as you see fit.

    Make a dressing out of a third cup olive oil, 3 tblspoons of red wine vinegar, 1.5 tsp oif sugar, 1.5 tsp prepared mustard (Dijon is nice), a crushed garlic clove and salt and pepper to taste.

    In your serving bowl of choice layer down lettuce (iceberg is fine but you can be creative), 3 peeled, cored and chopped pears, 5 oz of Roquefort cheese crumbled, a peeled and sliced avocado and some thinly sliced green onions. Pour the dressing over this mess and sprinkle pecans on top. Serve.

    Tomato Salad Alsace

    Prehaps like many folk I am a mutt. But the majority of my ancestors were from Germany/France. Especially the Alsace regin. (German or French depending on who won the last war.) So try this on for size.

    Dice up some fresh tomatoes. Okay I am showing my leanings here: Use fresh especially if you grown the. Mix with some boiled potatoes that are drained, cooled and quartered. Put in some red onion (chopped) and greens. I recommend cilantro. But be creative. The original recipe called for chervil. (Huh? That's a kind of rank in the French army, right?)

    Spread this mix on a plate and decorate with sliced hard boiled eggs. Oh, yeah and olives for garnish. (Green are my preference.)

    For a dressing (on the side is my preference)mix 1 tsp Dijon, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup vinegar (pick what you like) and some black, ground pepper.

    Harriett's Cucumber Salad

    My mother-in-law Harriet McCartney gave us this one.

    Peel and slice (thinly) 2 to 4 cucmbers (depending on how much you want to make). Layer these together in a bowl with thinly sliced onion. (I like red onion for this.) You can, at this stage top the pile with sliced avocado or not as you see fit.

    Now boil up a mix of 0.5 cup sugar, 0.5 cup water and 1 cup white vinegar. (Other vinegars are nice to try also.) When the mix boils remove from heat and season with some salt and pepper. Pour this hot mix over the cucumbers and allow to cool. Serve.

    Faux Fresh Bean and Potato Salad

    So this started out as potato and fresh bean and ended up as pasts and canned beans because there were no potatoes and we'd eaten the fresh beans. And so we ended up with this.

    Cook up a pound of rotini pasta. Drain and toss with a little olive oil. Drain a can of garbonzo beans and a can of black beans. Toss with pasta. Add some capers to taste and some sliced or chopped red onion.

    Make a vinegerette of 0.5 cup olive oil, 5 tbl red wine vinegar and a crushed clove of garlic whirled up in a blender and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Seve the chilled pasta bean mix either tossed with the dressing or with the dressing on the side.

    Vegetable Stuff

    Mushrooms a la Jeffrey

    This is a true System D (i.e. made up on the fly) recipe my son came up with: Look at what you have, imagine, cook it, and see what happens.

    Slice whole fresh mushrooms. (Portabellas didn’t work on a second go around: they reduce too fast!)Slice a couple cloves of garlic and maybe some shallots if you want. Melt butter in a pan and sauté the garlic adding mushrooms after a bit. DO NOT BROWN THE GARLIC! (Completely different flavor. Well, OK, brown it. See if you like the taste. Some people say it makes it bitter. But try this way first.) Add some kosher salt to taste.

    When the water has cooked out of the mushrooms such that they’ve shrunk but not TOO much add some dry sherry (NEVER USE COOKING WINE!). Flame the sherry off by tilting pan to side over heat.

    Serve immediately.

    Potatoes Greggana

    This is my version of potatoes Anna.

    Microwave some potatoes until almost soft. Cool and slice into half-inch thick rounds.

    In a heavy iron fry pan sauté some garlic in olive oil and butter. Coat the potato rounds with the oil/butter/garlic stuff and arrange them in the pan neatly. (Use as much oil and butter as your stomach is up for. But do try and coat the potatoes at least thinly.)

    Sprinkle the top with cheese of choice (I like Parmesan) and bake until slightly browned. If you’re in a hurry use the broiler.

    Sauce Patat

    This is a nice Cajun (Arcadian, that’s sorta French) that takes awhile but is worth it.

    Cook some bacon to get grease and add chopped celery, onions and green pepper. Sauté these for awhile and then add thin sliced potatoes to the pot sautéing a little more. Now add to taste salt, black pepper, parsley and hot pepper. Add some water and start cooking away (not boiling). Keep adding water, stirring to prevent sticking and cooking until potatoes are cooked through and have become a “potato sauce” with lumps of potato still present. The thinner the potato slices the faster the cooking but you can end up with a “no texture” sauce if you go far enough. (After most of the slices are done and you’re getting some “sauce” it’s OK to do a little discrete chopping of the thicker slices to speed the cooking.) Try and balance size with texture but keep in mind this is a slow recipe that requires attention.

    Provence Potato Stew

    Here's a (more) french version of Sauce Patat from Provence area of France. It is quicker, easier and makes delicious left overs. (Of course, it doesn't have the "kick" of the Sauce Patat.)

    Fry together in butter with a little olive oil black olives, some crushed cloves of garlic and some bay leaf.

    Add peeled and diced potatoes and fry briefly. Add water and simmer until done. (As an alternative add some butter and cream at end of cooking process, stir well and serve.)

    Braised Lettuce

    Pick your lettuce: I generally use iceberg. (What do you like? Jeez, what is your malfunction? If you read this far that chunk of lard between your ears should be doing some serious imagining!)It’s going to cook way down so maybe you want to be generous in the amount.

    Clean it and chop into reasonable (for your taste) size.

    Start frying some bacon and when well along so you have some grease add chopped onions, carrots and sauté until tender. Add parsley, thyme and bay leaf to taste. Add some butter and some (cup or so) dry vermouth. Mix in the lettuce and add some stock (beef is what is generally called for) or water to just submerge all the stuff.

    Simmer slowly for as much as you want. (I prefer to just wilt it and go no further.) Once lettuce is cooked you can eat as is or you can let the flavors blend with more cooking.

    When you serve you can just drain off most of the liquid or if you want make a slightly thickened sauce of the juice (using a roux or cornstarch) to serve along side.

    Munie/Wagner Green Beans

    This was a summer favorite when I was a kid with beans fresh from the garden.

    Add bacon, onions, and salt and pepper to a pot. You can fry the bacon and onions a little if you like for a slightly different taste. Add beans and water to cover. For a little more taste add some dry white wine.

    Either a) cook the hell out of it or b) cook until slightly tender. It's your call.

    Greens in Wine

    Greens, any greens. I like mustard but turnip and beet do fine too. I DON'T eat collards. Or Kale. (Well, maybe Collards.)

    Chop them up as you wish. Sauté some onion with bacon and add salt and pepper to taste. Now add the greens and toss around to coat. Add some water and some good white wine. Be generous!

    Cook slowly for as long as you like. The old southern method says "cook to mush." But anywhere in between is fine too. Depends on how you like 'em.

    Zucchini Crusted Pizza

    Grate up (coarsely) about 3.5 cups of zucchini. Salt it and allow to sit for 15 or more minutes. Squeeze out AS MUCH liquid as you can. Mix in 3 eggs, 1/3 cup flour, 0.5 cup each of grated mozzarella and parmesan and some basil.

    Spread this mix on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 350 until firm.

    Now, just slather the top with all your usual pizza stuff: squid, pomegranates, bananas, anchovies, whatever.

    Bake again until top stuff is done. If you prefer a more conservative set of toppings you can use the spaghetti sauce recipes below (in sauces and eggplant parmigiana).

    Eggplant Parmigiana

    First time I had this I thought, "Eh? So what?" However, the secret is good frying of the eggplant. In hot summer months when we don't want to fry or use the oven we do this on the grill. (See below for an alternate way using less oil.) Just take that great cast iron pan of yours, add the proper amount oil (I use olive oil), heat over the coals until the oil is real hot and then fry the sliced, peeled eggplant after it's been dipped in flour, dipped in an egg beaten into some milk and then pressed into Panko, the Japanese style breadcrumbs. (Available at any oriental market, more or less, and most supermarkets with oriental sections.) You can use regular breadcrumbs. But the Panko is, in my opinion (Which hasn't been proved wrong yet!), far superior.

    Remember, you can fry this stuff inside. Outside is just something we do to cut down on airborne grease. Anyway, make sure it's nicely done (to your taste then place the slices in a baking dish (or the same cast iron pan with the oil out). Place slices of fresh tomato all over the eggplant and then top tomatoes with coarsely grated Swiss or mozzarella cheese and a tomato sauce made by mixing tomato paste with good red wine. Use enough wine to make it the consistency you like for spreading. AND IF YOU PAID ANY ATTENTION TO THE RANTLING ABOUT STOCK YOU CAN ALSO ADD SOME GOOD STOCK TO ENHANCE THE FLAVOR! Also mix into the wine/paste/stock mix some crushed/powdered garlic, oregano, basil, parsley and salt and pepper. A note on the wine: Not all wine works for this. Sweet vermouth has always worked best for us. Shirazz didn’t. You may have to experiment.

    Sprinkle the whole mess generously with Parmesan cheese and put the pan back over the coals (or in the oven) and heat until cheese is melted. Serve with pasta of choice.

    If you decided you don't really want to go to all the trouble of frying an alternate method is to "oven fry" the eggplant. Follow the same steps with flour/egg and milk/breading and then lay the eggplant out in that cast iron pan of yours that you've sprayed with Pam or other cooking spray. Now spray the top of the eggplant slices and bake at 450 F for 20 minutes. Flip the eggplant slices and cook for another 20 minutes. Then proceed as above with sauce, cheese and so forth.

    Macaroni and Cheese

    Yeah, you know how to make this, right? Well try this recipe.

    Make a Béchamel sauce by cooking a half diced onion in 3 tblsp of butter until translucent and then adding 3 tblsp of flour. (Adjust these amounts as you see fit 'cause I do.) Gently whish in some milk (about 3 cups)and add some peppercorns, a bay leaf, thyme and a little nutmeg. Heat gently until thickened (about 15 minutes). Strain or at least take out the bay leaf.

    Boil some pasta (about 1 lb of mostaccioli or spirals are good). Combine any mix (your choice) of grated Fontina, parmesan and mozzarella. Put 1/3 of the pasta in a buttered baking dish, top with 1/3 cheese mix and 1 cup sauce. Add some black pepper. Repeat until you run outta stuff to add. Bake until done.

    You can change the consistency by varying the cheese type and the amount of sauce.

    Bread Casserole

    This was from my grandmother and my mother. It was always a favorite of mine when I was pressed for time and ingredients.

    Tear up some bread of any type. (I probably wouldn't recommend sour dough or any sweet bread.) Put in a buttered baking dish and toss in small chunks of cheese. (Cheddar is good although this works with just about anything.) Add milk until about 1/2 full and top with pats of butter. Bake until everything's melted and maybe a little brown.

    Lentil Walnut Burgers

    Most veggie burgers are AWFUL. We like these. Warning: this requires a fair amount of effort.

    Inspect 1.5 cups of dry lentils for rocks, dirt, etc. Remove same. (Just do it!) Soak and then cook until soft. Dice up 0.25 lb of mushrooms, 1 small green pepper, 1 stalk of celery, a carrot, 2 cloves of garlic, and a cup of walnuts. Sauté all the above in butter except lentils with black pepper, some chili powder and some dry mustard. To save time, you can food process the whole mess. It all cooks later anyway. (Make sure you add spices if you do this!) Combine everything (sautéed or not) with lentils, 0.25 cup of dry oatmeal, some tomato paste, some Worcestershire sauce and 2 eggs. If it seems a little gooey add some flour. Mix or food process. (I prefer to food process.)

    Form into patties and chill. Fry in butter. You can fry and grill with or without cheese.

    Serve on good buns.

    Corn Pizza

    This has been a favorite and is also easy.

    Take two poblano chilies and place under broiler. Broil until blackened on all sides. Remove and put in a plastic bag. Seal and let stand about 10 minutes. Then remove skin and slice. (As a lower effort alternative use chipotles in adobo sauce and or canned green chilies.)

    Cook 2 cups of fresh (4 ears) corn kernels (or use frozen) with 1/2 cup of chopped green onions and a clove or so of chopped garlic in butter/oil/whatever until corn is browning. Add 1/2 cup of milk and cook down until milk is almost evaporated. Put in a bowl and allow to cool a little, beat in 2 eggs and a cup of cheese (your choice). Add poblanos and salt and pepper to taste.

    Spread this mess on either a pizza crust you've made or a frozen or other commercial crust. (We've used Boboli brand.) Bake until set. (Be careful! This tends to run so have something under to catch any liquid!)

    Serve topped with sour cream and fresh cilantro.

    Roasted Vegetables

    For this you need some sweet potatoes, some turnips, some parsnips and some carrots. You can also use rutabagas and fresh pumpkin. Take all vegetables and peel (savings peels for stock EXCEPT for rutabagas which, around here, tend to be "waxed" and not stock material) and chop coarsely. Toss vegetables in a large bowl with 0.25 cup of honey, some chopped shallots, a little salt and some olive oil until coated. Adjust amounts of oil, salt and honey to amount of vegetables.

    Spray a cookie sheet (Or sheets as need be depending on how many vegetables you chopped.) with cooking oil spray and spread vegetables on it. Roast at 450 for 35 minutes or until vegetables are starting to brown. Stir every 15 minutes to prevent sticking.

    You can also roast green beans this way by using just the olive oil, shallots and salt. (Although honey might be interesting. Let me know.) The beans require less time/heat so you may want to either lower the temp or just keep an eye on them.

    Corn Maque Chow

    This is a Cajun dish that I'm fond of. It's pronounced "Corn Mock Shoe". You can do a lot of "adjusting" here so don't be afraid to experiment.

    In a large frying pan heat some butter and olive oil and then combine in several cups of fresh or frozen corn kernels along with 1 cup finely chopped onion, a generous amount of sugar and salt and pepper. (Try a mix of black, hot red, normal red, green and white pepper for fun.)

    Cook this whole mess with lots of stirring until it starts to caramelize on you and get crusty. Stir in some stock (That you made YOURSELF of course!) and scrape the pan to get all the good stuff up. Add some more butter. Cook for about 5 minutes Add a cup of evaporated milk (although I've used sweetened, condensed while cutting back on the amount of milk and the sugar). Cook and stir and then add two beaten eggs. Stir until eggs are cooked and most liquid is gone. (Try not to burn it, OK?) Serve.

    Oven Fried Okra

    This is a dish we first had in North Carolina as an appetizer. It made such an impression that we grow our own okra just to make it.

    Take the required number of okra pods for the number being served. Dust them evenly in flour, dip them in a mix of egg beaten into milk and then dredge them in corn meal. They should be evenly covered. Spray an oven pan or cookie sheet with Pam or other cooking oil spray and lay the okra evenly on the sheet. Now spray the okra evenly with the cooking spray. Bake at 450 F for 40 minutes turning the okra once midway through. You can also use the traditional deep frying process. As I noted in the Eggplant Parmegian recipe you can do your frying on the grill if you don't like the heat and oil indoors.

    Capon Magro

    This is another Italian dish that partners with the rice salad mentioned above. The name means "fast day capon" i.e. it was served on days when meat was not allowed to be eaten (if you were a Catholic).

    Cut up a head of cauliflower, some carrots, a few waxy potatoes, some green beans and some celery. Cook each until barely done. (You have to cook them separately.) Mix with some rinsed canned artichoke hearts, some capers and some pickled beets. (You can also use fresh beets. Just cook them separate from everything else so as to not color everything red.)

    Arrange the vegetables on a platter with some hard boiled eggs, mushrooms (fresh or pickled), a few capers and either some salsify (hard to get) or some kohlrabi sliced up.

    Now, the question is how non-vegetarian/vegan do you want to be? If it doesn't make much difference to you decorate the mound of vegetables with cooked shrimp, oysters, steamed fresh fish, lobster, etc. Otherwise just go with what you have or serve the animal products on the side.

    Make a dressing from a small, chopped bulb of fennel, a handfull of chopped parsley, a couple of cooked egg yolks (or a whole hard boiled egg), a couple of anchovy fillets, a garlic clove, a few green olives, salt and pepper, and the necessary olive oil and vinegar.

    Now serve by either pouring the dressing over the mound of stuff you've made or by serving said mound with the dressing on the side. (I suggest the latter as the dressing has quite a tang.)

    Roast Potatoes with Herbs

    Get as many potatoes as you need for people eating. Peel if you wish and cut into eights. Now chop up a few cloves of garlic and saute them until golden in olive oil. Fish out the garlic and coat the potato parts in the oil. It helps here if you've done all this in a cast iron pan. That way when you've removed the garlic just dump the taters in the pan and stir and the whole thing is ready to stick in the oven.

    Roast taters at 475 until browned. Remove and sprinkle with reserved golden garlic and your choice of herbs, e.g. thyme, sage, savory, etc per your tastes. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt and eat.

    Russian Vegetable Pie

    I have no clue if this is really Russian. It's not made with vodka and doesn't have cavier or beets or potatoes in it so maybe it's not. But it's good and it makes a great vegetarian main dish.

    This dish can be scaled for any size (more or less) but I tend to work in a 7.5 by 11 pan. Keep that in mind as you read the amounts listed.

    Hard boil some eggs. About 4 is good for this. Also while your eggs are cooking get 8 ounces of cream cheese and let soften. (You may want to start this BEFORE the eggs start.)

    Buy some philo leaves in the frozen food section. (Note you can use a regular pie crust. I like the philo.) It should be in with all the puff pastery stuff. Start lining the bottom of your pan with philo leaves. Have at hand some type of oil/grease/butter. If you don't care about calories or your arteries use melted butter. If you worry about that use a little cooking spray applied to the leaves in moderation. If you're ambivalent use a mix of melted butter and olive oil applied with a brush to the leaves. The idea is to provide some oil to moisten the leaves as they cook. Be inventive here. After you have about 4 layers of leaves lining bottom and folded up along the sides (and they will probably drape over the sides) squish the cream cheese out over the bottom of the leaves/pan. Now slice your eggs and spread the slices over the cream cheese and philo covered bottom.

    For a filling saute 2 -3 cups of shreaded cabbage, 1 -2 thinly sliced carrots and a small chopped onion in butter (or oil). When the vegetables are soft add a couple tablespoons of flour and make a roux. Thicken the roux by adding milk and cooking gently until thick. about a half pound of sliced mushrooms (fresh or canned). For spices you can use Herbs de Provence and some salt and pepper or some dill, a little basil, some dry white wine and some crushed caraway seeds. (Be inventive: Flavor as you want!) At this stage you can turn off the heat and direct your attention to the building of the pie. (Note you can leave out the roux part and it will still be good. But my preference is the white sauce.)

    Dump all these cooked veggies into the pan on top of the eggs. Over the veggies smear a 50/50 mix of plain yogurt and sour cream. (Do not use the gellatin style yogurt!) It will take at least a cup of this mix to give nice coverage but if you add a little more or less it'll work out.

    Fold the edges of philo that are hanging over the sides over the top. They probably won't cover everything so drape so more philo, spreading your oil as needed between the leaves over the top. When you have it all assembled bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Then up the temp to 400 for about 15 minutes to brown the top. Remove from the oven and let it all sit for 10 minutes before carving.

    Asparagus Pie

    This is built on the same lines as the Russian Pie above. Make Bechamel sauce: saute chopped onions and some herbs de provence and a pinch of nutmeg in 3 tablespoons butter until onions are soft. Add 3 tablespoons of flour and cook gently. Add milk slowly and cook as it thickens.

    Assemble the philo as above with layered leaves and oil at the bottom of the pan. Over the philo leaves place a lyer of asparagus. The aspargus should just barely be cooked (try steaming). Pour the bechamel sauce over the asparagus and sprinkle with grated cheese. I suggest a mild white but you can go with your instincts on this one. Fold the philo over and add more layers of philo/oil/butter as needed to seal the pie. Cook at 350 until browned.

    Szechwan Eggplat and Tofu

    Get a block of firm or extar firm tofu and cut it into flat slices. Lay the slices on a plate covered with paper towels (or regular towels) and lay more toweling over the slices. Take both hands and press down hard on the tofu squeezing it but taking care not to crumble it. Lean into it, sissy! Put some weight on it!

    When you've squeezed until the towels are wet set the tofu aside and wring out the towels. Now repeat the towel/tofu/squeeze/wring process until the tofu is relatively dry. (Note that "relatively dry" is a relative term. Deal with it!)

    Now cube the dry tofu and marinate it in a mix of soy sauce, vermouth or Chinese cooking wine, dark vinegar (Chinese if possible), some hot pepper, some ketchup (yes, ketchup although tomato paste is acceptable) and some ground szechwan pepper. On the latter you may use black pepper. But the taste will be different. I have been told that Chinese (Mandarin at least) has two terms for hot: hot like red peper and "numbing hot". Szechwan peper is "numbing." If you wish for added flavor you may gently toast the szechwan pepper before using. Don't burn it! Just heat until it smells like burning incense.

    While the marinating is proceeding slice up in cubes an eggplant. Thin slice an onion and some green onions or chives. Slice some mushrooms. You may use your standard issue mushrooms here or you may go fancy, e.g. Chinese "tree ears."

    With your handy morter and pestle make a paste of anise seeds, more szechwan pepper corns, some ginger and some garlic.

    Now start stir frying the onions. After a bit add the eggplant. When the eggplant starts to wilt add in your paste of the garlic, ginger etc. When that looks pretty good sprinkle the whole mess with corn starch and cokk a little more. Now dump the marinated tofu and all its liquid in and cook. The juice should thicken a bit. (This depends on how much starch you add.)

    When it's done serve with rice.

    Lemon Caper Rice

    Get a few slices of bacon and chop them into bits. Brown in a sauce pan. When brown remove the bacon and leave only the amount of fat you feel is appropriate. Add rice to the pan. Think of 1 cup of dry rice to 2 cups water gives you 3 cups of cooked rice. So size the amount of rice appropriately. Bring the rice/water mix to a boil and cook covered until all liquid has been absorbed. Now stir in a tablespoon of capers a tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of vinegar. Toss all toegther and serve.

    Gratin d'Endives Ardennaise (Gratin of Belgian Endive)

    Get some Belgian Endive and slice the heads lengthwise. Place them in a covered baking dish sliced side up. Sprinkle with some sugar, salt, pepper and some chopped pieces of uncooked bacon. Cover the dish and bake at 375 F or until the endive is tender.

    Whip together 1.25 cups of milk and about 0.25 cups flour. Make sure it's nice and smooth and pour it over the endive. Sprinkle generously with the cheese of your choice and bake uncovered uuntil browned and bubbly.

    Braised/Browned Endives

    This is based on a Bocuse recipe. Pretty simple but I like it. OK. You have to like endive.

    Get as many Endives as you have people. Rinse, pat dry and brown on all sides in butter. Serve drizzled with butter.

    You get the idea.

    Crisp Smashed Potatoes

    This is a tasty dish but it's easy to over "oil" it. I have yet to get a perfect balance but let me know how you do.

    Cook some potatoes in the skins. Boiling is best but you can microwave them too. When done let them cool a little (not completely cool), roll them in oil and lay them out on a baking sheet. Now smash them! I don't care how you do it but flatten them out making sure that there's a nice layer of oil on all surfaces. (You might just use a little cooking spray here.) Pop them in a 500 degree oven and roast, flipping every 15 to 20 minutes until they are nice and brown. In this process you may sprinkle them with any spice/herb that you like, e.g. thyme or rosemary.

    Black Beans

    You can cook your own beans or you can use canned. Either way drain the beans and mash them coarsely. Season with cumin. Chop up some bacon (strong flavored bacon is nice here.) and saute some onions until they are just browning. Dump in the beans and cook until you get a nice consistency. At this stage you can adjust the seasoning, e.g. salt, chili powder, red pepper, more cumin, etc. Now, eat!

    Mushroom Strudel

    Take 1 pound of sliced mushrooms and saute them in buttr. As they cook add somewhere between 4 and 8 oz. of cream cheese. Add some ground caraway seeds, some ground dill seeds, some dry dill, some black pepper and some dry parsley to taste. When the mushrooms are coated with cheese add one half cup each of yogurt and sour cream along with some chopped green onions and maybe a cup or so of bread crumbs. (These can be omitted but the result will be a little runny.)

    Pick out a baking dish that will handle the volume you have and line the bottom with filo leaves. Brush the leaves with a mix of olive oil and melted butter. You pick the proportions. Dump the mushrooms in on top. They should not be cooked down but just warmed and coated with the sauce. Cover the top with more filo and brush with the oil/butter mix. Bake for at least 25 minutes at 375.

    Beans Bengal

    You may use any type of bean here. And you can use dry that you have soaked and cooked. Or you can use canned. I suggest canned garbonzos.

    Drain the beans and mix with a cup or more of good stock, half pound of shreaded cheddar cheese, half a chopped onion, some chopped green and/or red peppers, one half cup of olive oil, one half to three quarter cup of golden raisins and at least a tablespoon of curry powder of your choice. Bake for at least one hour at 350 or above until everything is bubbling.

    Corn Scallop

    Easy! Get the pan you want to bake this in and add a can of creamed corn, 2 cups of frozen whole kernel corn, half a cup of crushed crackers of your choice, half of a red pepper chopped, half of an onion chopped, some sugar to taste, a shredded carrot, a stalk of celery chopped and a few drops of hot sauce to taste. In a separate bowl beat two eggs with a quater cup of cream and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Beat all this together some more and add to your baking dish. Mix well and topped with shredded cheese, some sesame seeds and some paprika. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until browned on top and eggs are set.

    Sukiyaki

    First marinate and then fry your tofu. You really don't have to marinate it. (I use A-1 Steak Sauce for marinade.) And you really don't have to fry it. But because I like it fried just fry it for me. Okay?

    Thanks! I appreciate the courtesy.

    Now chop up some green onions and sautee them. Add some fresh or frozen spinach and some sherry (Chinese Cooking Wine if you have it. It's worth having!) and some soy sauce and sautee gently. You can add a few teaspoons of sugar during this process. You can also add a few fresh or canned mushrooms. Add the tofu (it's best in bite sized chunks) and some fresh crushed garlic and giner if you like. Stir together and serve over rice and/or cooked beans such as pintos or blackeyed peas.

    Tofu in Peanut Sauce

    Per the above Sukiyake recipe slice, darin/squeeze your tofu and marinate in A-1 sauce.This is similar to "Tofu Stir Fry and Variations" so you may reference that recipe if you like for more details. While marinating cook up some rice.

    After marination (if there is such a word) fry the tofu to your desired level of done. (We tend to like crispy.)

    Set tofu aside to drain the grease and stir fry a sliced onion, add canned (Yes, I said canned!) mushrooms, bean sprouts and water chestnuts. (Yes, it's okay if you use fresh. But try not to make a habit of it, okay?) Continue frying until these have reached your chosen stopping point. Add Thai peanut sauce to your taste specifications, squeeze in a clove of garlic and added chopped fresh tomatoes and chopped cilantro. Toss and serve over the rice.

    Baked Tofu

    If you don't want to spend your time squeezing juice out of cakes of tofu and then frying it try baking it.

    Cut the tofu block into half inch cubes and marinate for at least 20 minutes in a mix of soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil and black pepper. (You can also add crushed garlice and red and/or szechuan pepper.) After marinating spray a baking sheet with oil and spread the tofu cubes on it. Bake at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes turning the cubes after 15 minutes and then at 5 minute intervals until its as "done" as you want it. When you get to that stage you may eat it as is or combine with other stuff, e.g. the peanut sauce mentioned above.

    Cabbage Steaks/Charred Cabbage

    We had a good season for cabbage in the garden. And so Barbara found this simple recipe to use our abundance.

    Take the head of cabbage and remove the external part of the stem (OK to leave the internal part). Also remove any damaged external leaves. Slice the head into "steaks" of about 0.5 or so inches in thickness. In a bowl crush several heads of garlic. Add olive oil and ground pepper. (Other stuff is fine. Experiment.) Brush the "steaks" on both sides with the garlic oil mix and season with salt and pepper as you see fit. Place on an oiled broiling pan and cook for 30 minutes at 400. Flip steaks and add more oil/garlic if desired. Cook for another 30 minutes at 400. Done!

    For another alternative take the "steaks" brush with just olive oil and broil until they are charred/blackened to your level of tolerance. Serve with a sauce made of 1/4 cup of sugar, several tablespoons (not too many) of fish sauce, hot pepper and garlic sauce to your taste and some chopped hot pepper.

    Veggie Heaven

    OK. It's not really called veggie heaven. That was Barbara's name for it. And this recipe is really a very bastardized version of another recipe but it turned out really well.

    Get a head of cauliflower and split it into pieces of bite size or slightly larger. Oil with olive oil and broil about 8 minutes on a side checking to see if it's the way you want it.

    When done keep warm. Fry some chopped garlic in olive oil until golden. Pour oil and garlic into a bowl and mix in some toasted almonds, some chopped parsley, a tsp of shaved dark chocolate and some dry vermouth. Adjust proportions but don't be to heavy handed on the chocolate.

    Now get some whole okra and fry until browned the way you want. Dump cauliflower and almond mix in with okra and heat through. Eat.

    Kale Chips

    Kale. You need kale leaves. (Actually mustard greens work too. But I like Kale better for this. I DON't like Kale any other way. So there!)

    Toss Kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt or Montreal Steak Seasoning. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until they are your level of crispy. Eat.

    Sweet and Sour Vegetables

    Make a sweet and sour sauce to start. start with a cup of cider vinegar and add a tablespoon or so of maple syrup. (More is OK.) Chop up an inch long piece of ginger and one or two sticks of lemon grass. Blend the crap out of it and strain to remove debris.

    For your veggies be creative. Radishes, carrots, beets, fennel, cauliflower, stuff like that. (I highly recommend cauliflower.) Cut thenm into relatively small and equal sizes so they cook at the same rate. Toss the cut up veggies with sauce reserving some sauce for putting on later. You can also add a little powdered coriander and mustard. Roast at 350 until just barely tender. Keep an eye on them will you?

    When the veggies are just getting done decorate each plate with some radicio or other weird green, some fresh basil if you have it and some capers.

    Poach two eggs for each person and when veggies are done place a serving of vegetables on each lettuce plate, sprinkle to taste with reserved sauce and add the eggs.

    Fried Eggplant with Tahini

    Peel and slice an eggplant into rounds about an inch thick. Sprinkle rounds with salt and refrigerate for some undertermined number of hours. Or not as you see fit.

    Fry the eggplan until nicely done. You should fry it at a relatively high heat as eggplant loves to suck up oil.

    When eggplant is done serve topped with tahine, some cumin, pistachios, a sprinkle of lemon juice and maybe a little drop or two of molasses. (You have my permission to mix/match any of these additions out side the tahini and pistachios.)

    Cauliflower Au Gratin

    Chop up a head of cauliflower and cook in boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes.

    Make a white sauce and simmer very gently seasoning it with a bay leaf and a little nutmeg. Add 3/4 cup of shredded swiss cheese. Take out bay leaf and add 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard and stir cheese and mustrad in.

    Grease a baking dish of appropriate size and put cauliflower in it. Cover with white sauce and sprinkle another 3/4 cup of swiss on top. Bake at 350 until bubbly and slightly brown. Maybe 20 minutes or a little less.

    Sauces

    Béarnaise Sauce

    This is delicious and seriously decadent. Bad for you too!

    OK: a word of warning, most cookbooks say, “Never try this at home, kids.” Supposedly NO ONE except someone who has trained for years and is French to start with can make this. It WILL turn out badly! People will laugh! Your guests will sneer and point! In the worst cases the ruined sauce, in revenge for your clumsy efforts, will rise out of the pot like a culinary version of the blob, grab the nearest painful kitchen implement and emasculate you all the while laughing and cursing in maniacal French!

    I’ve made several versions of this and never had a problem. I don’t use a double boiler either.

    However, if you are NOT willing to devote ALL YOUR ATTENTION to the process be prepared for anesthesia free surgery at the hands (pseudo pods?) of the ruined sauce.

    Add 2 chopped shallots; 4 oz. red wine vinegar, cracked pepper and a small amount of tarragon to a pot, bring to a boil and reduce about half. DON’T BURN IT! STIR! DON’T BE IN A RUSH! (Re rushing things: if you have a recipe like this that requires time, attention and effort such that you won’t be able to do anything else while making this then maybe it’d be a good idea, especially if you have guests waiting or a timetable, to plan ahead? Hmmm? Be prepared? Think about it.)

    Add a BIG hunk of butter to a pot and melt down. Most recipes say clarify the butter. Go ahead. Clarify it. (Whatever that means.) Good for you; you make me proud. Me? I don’t have the time. (8 oz. of butter is good: how’s your heart these days?)

    Take 4 beaten egg yolks; add to a small pot with a few drops of water and blend in the reduced and cooled vinegar mix. Start heating VERY, VERY GENTLY (so gently you have to keep testing with a finger to see if it’s even getting any warmer) and STIR CONSTANTLY. If there’s the smallest sign that the eggs are curdling (i.e. looking like scrambled eggs) you’ve screwed up and have to IMMEDIATELY take it off the heat and cool. If you can’t get something that looks non-scrambled after you cool with stirring start over. If you can recover it so the sauce looks smooth start GENTLY re-heating. TAKE YOUR TIME! PATIENCE! SLOW, LOW HEAT! STIR ALL THE TIME! THIS IS THE WHOLE SECRET!

    When the eggs are getting a little foamy start adding the butter bit by bit ALWAYS stirring. When all the butter is in continue heating and stirring vigorously until thoroughly warmed and a thick, creamy consistency. (It's an emulsion! Like mayonnaise!) Add salt and pepper and serve.

    Some people say this spoils if it sits. I haven’t been able to tell even when it’s sat overnight but just in case serve right away or keep at constant temperature until serving. (It’s always been just as delicious and artery clogging after a night in the frig.)

    This is good with any kind of fatty steak that doesn’t need anymore fat but tastes so much better when you add the above and REALLY clog your arteries. Good with bread too!

    Rouille

    This is a spread for bread. The real thing calls for raw eggs. Not on my watch.

    Food process/blend garlic, a sweet red pepper, mayonnaise equal to two raw egg yolks, a teaspoon or so of lemon juice and a pinch of saffron. Add about a half-cup of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and use.

    Great for smearing on croutons (see above) and floating result on soup, especially a good fish stew.

    Roux

    Roux is just that flour oil stuff that’s used for thickening sauces and gravy. But a couple of thoughts on it.

    You can make do with just a heated up paste of butter or oil. But for some fun and flavor, not to mention color, a slow cooked roux is hard to beat. However, it requires attention.

    Now you can use any oil but oils with flavor, e.g. butter, duck fat etc, are going to give you more flavor in the sauce.

    I suggest add enough oil so that the melted flour oil mix is fairly liquid. Now cook it slowly with LOTS of stirring and scraping to prevent sticking. The whole thing will darken. If you take it far enough the oil will start to separate and you get a “sheen” on the top. That’s probably about as far as you want to go. But it should be pretty dark by then. It should NOT be burnt and have a burnt taste. Slow cooking will help prevent this.

    Fool around with this one and see what you come up with. You can add various things to the mix and change the flavor. But don’t add too much as the cooking gets a little complicated if, let’s say, you dump several pounds of celery in. Let me know what you come up with.

    Easy Pasta Sauce

    Here are some sauces that you can pull together on short notice. But if you want them to taste good better have some homemade stock or really good canned stuff.

    Chop up an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Brown them gently in a pan with olive oil. After a few minutes add basil, oregano and parsley. Pour in a can of tomato puree or diced tomatoes, a can of tomato paste and mushrooms, canned or fresh, if you have them. Add a cup of stock.

    Add a bay leaf, a slice of lemon peel and some salt and pepper to taste. Add a cup of GOOD red wine. (Sweet Vermouth works here.) Simmer for fifteen minutes to an hour, Remove the bay leaf and lemon peel and dash in some Worcestershire sauce. Serve over pasta or use for lasagna. (See lasagna recipe.)

    As a variant on this saute up some capricolla or proscuitto with onions and garlic. Then proceed as above. In any of these variants adding some parmesan cheese will add extra flavor and thicken the sauce.

    For an alternative and to make a BIG bunch to freeze etc start with 3 cups of chopped onions. Saute in olive oil and after a few minutes when they are starting to soften add 1 tbl. of sugar, 3 minced cloves garlic some salt, basil, oregano, thyme, black pepper some crushed fennel seed (or a little Pernod) and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Cook for awhile and add some good broth and some crushed tomatoes (about 3 28 oz cans can be added to make a BIG batch). Cook slowly until thickened. You may also add parmesan cheese to thicken. And adding some good red wine, fresh tomatoes and mushrooms never hurts either.

    Main Dish Type Stuff

    Salsa

    (From our late Mexican neighbor, Letti: I'd give her peppers and tomatoes and she gave me salsa and recipes. It was a good trade.)

    Juice of one lime

    Chopped tomatoes and/or tomatillos (2 -3 tomatoes and 5 tomatillos)

    Fresh cilantro (2 - 3 sprigs)

    Fresh hot peppers to taste (Chipolatas are nice but have a VERY distinct smoky flavor.)

    Dash of salt, pepper, and cumin

    One garlic clove crushed.

    This can be prepared in a blender and then additional chopped tomatoes,

    Tomatillos, peppers can be added for a chunky texture. Lemon juice can be

    Lemon can be ubstituted for lime. Vinegar can also be used although there is more of acid taste. (Vinegar does well with Chipolatas.). Avocado is also nice to add.

    Extra Hot Salsa

    (From Jose’s cousin’s restaurant in Cancun.)

    1 - 2 habaneras (or Serrano or other very hot pepper)

    Juice of one lime (or equal vinegar)

    One garlic clove.

    Salt, pepper

    Add to blender and puree. (Watch out! When you open the blender you may get a tear-gas like dispersion of the habaneras!) The original recipe from Cancun used only vinegar, peppers, and salt. Caution: eating a lot of this can result in a religious type experience. Depending on your tolerance for hot food it could be either heavenly or diabolic.

    Pineapple Salsa

    Mix together 1 small can of crushed pineapple, 1 chopped, peeled and seeded cucumber, 1 jalapeno chile minced and seeded, the juice of one fresh lime and 2 tablespoons of minced cilantro. Refrigerate until cold.

    Carnitas/Carne Adobada

    2 - 3 lbs of beef or pork cut into small cubes

    Water as needed

    Chipolatas to taste (or other dried peppers or just red pepper)

    Salt to taste

    4 cloves of garlic (roasted if you wish)

    Chopped onion to taste (I usually use 2 - 3)

    4 - 5 cloves

    1 teaspoon of anise seed

    2 teaspoons of cumin

    1 stick of cinnamon (or ground but only a small amount)

    1 tablespoon of oregano (Mexican oregano if you have it)

    There are several options for cooking the meat. The original recipe calls for leaving all the fat on (for flavor). You can trim it off as I think it's probably a little healthier and the taste isn't impacted that much. (Save the fat for broth/stock!) Now you can either brown meat and add onions. Or just toss the meat and onions in a pot (maybe with a little olive oil) and proceed as follows. Both work just about the same. Of course the latter takes less time.

    In a separate pan (I use a ceramic pot) heat spices and garlic over a moderate heat until they begin to brown and give off nice spicy smells. Add roasted spices to meat. Slow cook until tender. (2 to 3 hours on stove or more in crock-pot). Add water as needed to prevent burning and sticking. Serve on tortillas with salsa of your choice. Traditional Mexican cooking would use pork. But I like beef too. If you start this in the morning it can crock-pot all day and be ready to serve.

    Now a slightly different alternative to this is called Carne Adobada. This is a New Mexico style version of the carnitas shown above.

    First you will need about a quarter pound of dried New Mexico chiles. (Other dry chiles can be used but remember each has a unique flavor. Start with New Mexico and then get adventuresome.) You may toast these dry chiles in a cast iron pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer them to a pan of hot water and let them soak. Or just toss the un-toasted chiles in boiling water and then let stand as they cool. When cool (either way you do it) puree the chiles in about 1.5 cups of the soaking liquid. To the puree add 2 tbsp of honey, 2 tbsp of chile powder, 1 tbsp of white viengar, 2 tsp of cumin, 1.5 tsp of ground cloves, hot red pepper to taste and some lime juice. Puree again.

    Take about 3 lbs of your choice of beef and cut into chunks. Brown the chunks in hot oil and then mix the whole mess together. Simmer until meat is done and eat on tortillas.

    And just in case ypou want yet another version here it is!

    Start with 2 - 3 pounds boneless pork cut into bite sized (or slightly larger than bite sized) chunks. Brown it in olive oil or lard. (Lard is more authentic. Whatever that means.) Dump it into crock pot and add a cup of milk or buttermilk, a cut up orange, a large chopped onion, 8 cloves of crushed garlic, the equivalent (in any form you want, whole, sliced, canned, jar) of 6 pickled jalapenos along with a third cup of the pickling juice. And you can add some salt but it's not necessary.

    Crank it up and cook until tender (Maybe 4 hours? How would I know?)

    Eat on tortillas with any salsa you like (there are some recipes somewhere around here). Or make a salsa made with 4 tomatillos sliced/quartered, 2 regular tomatoes sliced/quartered and 3 whole cloves garlic that you have brushed with olive oil and blackened under the broiler. When the blackening is done blend these smooth a whole pickled jalapeno and a tablespoon of pickling juice. (Add more peppers if you like.)

    Texas Chili

    3 ½ 4 LBS OF BONELESS CHUCK BLADE STEAK

    ¼ OIL

    2 CUPS CHOPPED ONIONS

    3 DICED GREEN PEPPERS

    2 28OZ OF TOMATOES

    1 12 OZ CAN TOMATO PASTE

    2 CUPS WATER

    1/3 CUP CHILI POWDER (The heat of the chili depends ENTIRELY on the kind of powder you pick. Some are mild some hot. Try and figure this out ahead of time unless you don’t mind hot. You can always add heat but you can’t take it out.)

    ¼ CUP SUGAR

    4 CLOVES CRUSHED GARLIC

    SALT

    2 TSP OREGANO

    BLACK PEPPER

    SHREDDED MONTEREY JACK CHEESE FOR GARNISH

    Cut steak into ½ inch cubes. Brown meat in oil on all sides. (A note here on browning: it is easier to brown fresh meat than meat that has been frozen. Freezing tends to release more water from the meat cells making the actual browning a longer process, i.e. you either have to have a LOT of hot oil or be patient while the water cooks off. Experiment and see what you find as the best way to deal with both fresh and frozen dead animal flesh.) Set meat aside. Save ½ cup onions for garnish. Add remaining onion, green pepper and garlic to drippings in pot. Cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Return meat to pot and add all ingredients except cheese and reserved onion. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until meat is tender. Serve garnished with cheese and onion.

    A note in passing: last time I made this was for a party with about 50 people attending. I am firmly convinced that this is the best chili recipe I've ever cooked but I was amazed at how many people at the party came up and praised the chili: Best they'd ever tasted! "Well," I said to myself, "what did I do differently? I've made this before and for many of these same people. What's special about this batch?" Can you guess? Hint: what have I been ranting about as a secret to good cooking? STOCK! HELLOO! I USED STOCK INSTEAD OF WATER! And I used the thick gelatin type stock from left over X-mass turkey bones. IT MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE!!! (Are you paying attention here?)

    (created one night when there just wasn’t a lot of time or resources)

    3 Sliced Cloves of Garlic

    Sliced fresh ginger

    2 cubed chicken breasts (de-boned)

    Fresh Cilantro

    Peppercorns

    Lemon slices including peel (pulp may be left out)

    Fry chicken chunks in hot oil. Set aside. Brown garlic, ginger, lemon and peppercorns in olive oil. (Use corn or other oil for frying chicken to avoid burning.) Drain. Toss chicken chunks, garlic mix, and fresh cilantro together in hot pan.

    Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese.

    Lamb Curry (A Sikh recipe)

    Chop and onion and cook in butter/ghee until golden. Add tomato paste, cumin, salt, chilies or red pepper, and turmeric. Cook until the oil separates. Add chopped lamb (or beef or etc) and cook for 15-20 minutes. Serve with rice and chapattis.

    Ki-Vee (OK. That’s how I caught the pronunciation from Barb’s aunt. She’s Korean.)

    Beef short ribs or other chopped beef. (This is used to save the bones so try and get something “boney.”) Mix beef with crushed garlic, sesame oil, sugar, black pepper and soy sauce. Let marinate for hours/over night. Broil.

     

    Baked Eggplant (another Sikh dish)

    Peel eggplant and bake at 350 in foil until soft. Sauté an onion in oil. Scoop out interior of eggplant and mix with onion, chopped tomatoes salt, pepper, turmeric, cayenne, and cumin. Cook at low heat and sprinkle with garam marsala (Literally “hot spice” as I understand. You can get it at Indian food stores or make your own.)

    Tarka (Sikh)

    Clean and rinse lentils. Cook in water with some salt, ginger, turmeric and chopped tomatoes. (It helps to pre-soak the lentils.) Sauté an onion in butter until brown and add to cooked lentils along with pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and cumin. Simmer and eat with rice or chapattis.

    Peppers and Pasta

    This is a version of a TV recipe from a show (BBC) called Floyd on Food. Its origins are southern France/Basque region of Spain. (I also understand that there are sveral Italian versions also.) It’s an easy back up dish when you don’t have time for much else.

    Chop several cloves of garlic. Sauté gently in olive oil to your chosen level of “almost done” or “brown and chewy.” Add oregano and ground black (or mixed pink, white, green and black pepper) along with the number of dried cayenne peppers you see fit. Cook until peppers begin to brown slightly. Serve over pasta of your choice with Parmesan cheese.

    Coddle

    Irish. Real comfort food.

    Peel any number of potatoes for who’s eating along with some chopped onions in appropriate proportions. Fry some sausage. I like the Jimmy Dean type here. But you’re supposed to use real Irish sausage and not fry. Up to you. Add the sausage and some bacon (It’s supposed to be Irish bacon.) to a pot with the potatoes and onions. I like to add a chunk of butter and a good dose of black pepper. (The bacon and sausage provide lots of salt.) Add just enough water to cover and simmer until done. Usually this is about an hour.

    Eat with bread (Irish soda bread is nice). And, amazingly, the Irish recommendation is to sprinkle with A-1 sauce. (It’s pretty good!) Great for a cold winter night.

    Highland Hot Pot

    1 lb. chuck (lean)

    ½ lb. pork link sausages

    flour

    2 c. tomato juice

    2 beef bouillon cubes

    4 lg. potatoes

    1 apple

    1 onion

    salt & pepper (to taste)

    Cut chuck into cubes and sausage in half. Dredge meat in flour. Heat tomato juice and dissolve bouillon cubes in it. (Yes, recipe calls for these. You can use your own stock here!) Peel and slice potatoes. Core, peel and slice apple. Peel and slice onion. Place meat, potatoes, apple and onion in casserole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour hot tomato juice over and cover tightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours. Easy to increase in quantity. A great stew for cold winter nights. From Scotland and probably the Scotch version of Coddle.

    Scherer Shrimp Linguini

    Sauté garlic & onion in 1/4 c butter and 1/4 c olive oil, add shrimp and cook till pink add a can of anchovies, some tomatoes, and parsley, 1 1/2 t cayenne pepper and 1 1/2 t hot sauce, heat. put some of sauce over linguini and serve shrimp, etc over linguini. Drink lots of wine. I also used 1 med onion, 4-5 cloves, about 2-3 c tomatoes

    Boeuf a la Ficelle (Beef on a string)

    Easy. This is expensive because of the cut of meat but so easy. Start and forget until the timer goes off.

    Chop up any combination of leeks, turnips, potatoes, and carrots. Green onions do well if you don’t have leeks and potatoes are fine for turnips. Toss them in a pot along with half a white onion studded with cloves. (A few cloves here, a few there, you decide how many.) Add that fancy French stuff, bouquet garni, i.e. thyme, parsley and bay leaves. (Be a real food snob and ONLY use the term “bouquet garni” around people you cook this for. Depending on their level of mental competence you can come off as either a gourmet cook or a real jerk.) You are supposed to use only fresh sprigs of these herbs all tied up in a cheesecloth bag that can be removed at serving. I’ve always used powdered herbs and haven’t had complaints. (I do plan to try the bag approach some day.) Cover with water and add some salt and pepper to taste. Start mix boiling.

    When the water gets to boiling drop in 2-3 lb chunk of beef tenderloin (at room temperature). Bring water back to a boil and cook for no more than 20 minutes for medium rare. (If that isn’t to your liking boil a little longer. It’s best when it’s red to pink though. Hey! You can always nuke it in the microwave if you get squeamish!) Remove meat and drop heat to a simmer and skim off the scum. Let meat stand for 15 minutes while you artfully arrange the multi colored vegetables on a plate with a hole in the center of the arrangement for the meat. Slice the meat to preference and arrange in the center. Ladle some juice over it all and serve with hot mustard and/or horseradish and them fancy French pickles called cornichons. (I don’t have any of them so I leave that last part out. But that’s another French term you can drop to impress the Illiteratti!)

    Canard a l’orange (Orange Duck)

    I’ve made a lot of variations of this dish. This is not exactly the “real” French version though it did come from a “French’ cookbook. This has always proved to be the easiest and the most popular with guests so this is what I’d vote for.

    In a bowl combine about a third cup of orange marmalade with a tablespoon of soy sauce. (Yes. Soy sauce. Maybe it’s from Eastern France.)

    Roast the duckling at 450 F for 15 minutes to crisp the skin. (Take all the innards out. You can use them for other stuff like gravy and broth.)

    Reduce the heat to 400 and start brushing the skin with the half of the orange mix. Roast until tender.

    There are two sauces that go with this. Or maybe I should say gravys. I'll give you the standard first. But my favorite is the second.

    Method #1: Melt some butter in a pan and add flour. Make a brown roux cooking slowly. (The roux should be semi-liquid.) Add sufficient wine and consommé to make a sauce and add a tablespoon of wine vinegar. (If you have your own stock you’re better off.)Simmer for 10 minutes and add remaining orange mix.

    Method #2: First don't just roast the duck as is. Roast the duck on a bed of mirapoix. Mirapoix, also know in some places as aromatics, is chopped up carrots, onions, celery and whole garlic cloves. Use at least two big handfulls! (See Sage Parmesan Turkey recipe for details.) Take those reserved giblets (Without the liver please. Unless, of course you like liver.) and simmer them for a long time (hours if you want) until they're tender. Separate off whatever meat you want but keep in mind whatever you take off will have to be non-gristle as you'll put all this in a blender later. In a separate pan mix together equal parts of red wine vinegar and sugar. Heat and cook down until it starts to caramelize. Mix in the reserved giblet stock and cook down about halfway. When duck is done pour off all the duck fat and scoop the cooked mirapoix into a blender. Allow to cool. Add COOLED giblet juice and emulsify the mess! In the duck pan add some flour and cook scraping up all those delicious brown bits. Add the emulsified sauce and stir/heat to thicken. Add a shot of orange liquor, e.g. Triple Sec. If the gravy is too thick dilute with that good stock you always have hanging around or use a good white wine.

    Slice up the duck and serve on a platter decorated (or not) with orange slices. Serve with the gravy of choice.

    This marmalade sauce/process also works very well with pork. And if you don't have any orange marmalade you can use (per my experience) peach preserves or plum preserves. If you do not have a big chunk of meat, e.g. you are cooking pork chops, do all your cooking at about 350. For an added treat lay the chops/steaks of pork on a bed of sliced onions. Expect that cooking time will be about 45 minutes.

    Steak au Poivre

    This is a great shortcut recipe here. Why? Because it allows you to whip out a really classy/good tasting dish in no time/effort at all and, if YOU READ THE WARNINGS BELOW, impress the socks off guests!

    OK. I lied. You have to have steak. And pepper. And if you want it to be really classy a couple of other things. But once you have them on hand even if the steak is frozen you can always prepare this in 30 minutes or less.

    And if you serve it with a snotty, fake French accent and something like braised lettuce and maybe Sauce Patat (this require about an hour so this has to be started first) or Potatoes Greggana (my version of potatoes Anna) and a nice green salad with your own vinaigrette you will definitely overwhelm your common American dinner.

    Pick a steak, any steak. No, round steak will not work too well! But anything else, sirloin, T-bone, strip, etc works just fine. My favorite is fillet but that’s a little pricey.

    Now get some black pepper, freshly ground from peppercorns or just out of the shaker. Freshly ground is best. But a mix of fresh ground, green, red, black and white is dynamite.

    Dust a plate with your pepper choice and sprinkle with salt. Kosher salt has nice texture.

    Make sure the steak is defrosted and force it down on the pepper and salt such that each side gets some crust on it. It doesn’t have to be continuous crust; just an even spread of salt and pepper. In a good fry pan (cast iron is nice) heat some butter and maybe olive oil if you’re worried about fat. Fry the steak at high heat for just enough time to get the outside a hair blackened but the inside still red or pink. Don’t be afraid to do a little cutting to test doneness. But under cook rather than over because you can always continue cooking but you can’t reverse the process. After cooking keep the meat warm and finish the sauce.

    To the pan with the pepper and steak juices add some shallots or fine chopped onions or green onions and sauté briefly. Add (if you have it) brandy or cognac (bourbon works) and flame it off. (You don’t have too do any flame but it is impressive to guests even if it doesn’t do anything for the flavor. I suppose if you don’t have anything but gin or vodka at least you can get the flame. But I won’t vouch for the taste if you use gin.)

    A word of warning: If you add a lot of spirits and don’t ignite it right away or the pan is REALLY hot you will get a HUGE FIREBALL! If there are curtains or ANYTHING flammable overhead dial 911 ASAP. (People have been known to seriously TOAST themselves in this process. So even if you don’t have any flammables you may end up calling 911 anyway. Or have to ask someone else to call if you REALLY fry your ass.)

    If you want flame and haven’t practiced tilting and flaming the pan have a match lit BEFORE you add NO MORE THAN ONE OUNCE OF LIQUOR!!!!!!! Don’t wait for the liquor to cook but set it afire right away. (The longer you wait the more the alcohol vaporizes and the bigger the fireball in the vapor cloud ABOVE the pan.)

    To the pan add some capers and/or pickled green peppercorns (if you have them), some heavy cream and, if you like, Dijon mustard. Whisk it all around. It should be somewhat thick. Serve steak with sauce. Béarnaise sauce is good with this for a really heart stopping dinner.

    For a shortcut to this with a very different taste pepper and salt the steak and fry as above. When done pour about a quarter cup of bourbon into the hot pan and "flame" the steak. (Have your match ready so you avoid the fireball effect.) When the flame dies remove the steak from the pan, turn off the heat, add another shot of bourbon to the pan, scrape all the brown good stuff off and stir to make a sauce. Pour this over the steak and serve.

    Of course if you really want a shortcut shortcut just pepper, salt and fry the steak in butter. Remove it from the pan and make a simple Dijon and cream sauce with the dripping. This is nice with fried potatoes.

    Roti de Porc au Lait

    That’s pork roast in milk for those of you who aren’t self-absorbed food snobs.

    Get a pork loin, season with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in butter. Brown as much as you think fit. Take the roast out and add chopped leeks (or green onions or just onions), onions, garlic and carrots. Cook until they are fairly caramelized. Add some flour and stir constantly while heating. Add milk and whisk with heating until you get a moderately thin sauce. Add some thyme, parsley and bay leaf. (That’s “bouquet garni” for you food snobs.)

    Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Add the pork back in and start cooking it covered by rotating it slowly and spooning the milk over it. It should take about an hour for a 3-pound roast. Be careful to stir the sauce a lot because the milk can burn and stick. When done take the pork out and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

    Take all the liquid, vegetables etc and puree them. Slice the pork thin and serve with the sauce. If you have fresh parsley you can sprinkle some chopped stuff around for a little color.

    Che-Me-Go

    This is from the Charlotte Cookbook from Charlotte, NC. The original calls for meat tenderizer for the marinade. I decline to put such stuff in my food. But it’s your call.

    Get a chunk of flank steak and marinate overnight (or for a few hours) in soy sauce, lemon juice and some dry mustard (mixed in). Grill to your level of done. (Over charcoal is nice.)

    See? That wasn’t too hard. (Only the marinating takes time.) You can probably try different cuts of meat. Let me know how they turn out.

    Spaghetti or Pizza Sauce

    This has been a favorite of our family for years.

    Sauté onions, garlic and sweet peppers in olive oil. (You can leave out the peppers but use onion and garlic.) Add and sauté until brown ground beef or turkey. (This is optional if you’re going for a vegetarian recipe.) Add two cans of tomato sauce and one can of tomato paste along with some Worcester sauce (or A-1 sauce), oregano, basil, thyme and cumin. (Cumin is what gives this sauce a unique flavor.) Add at least a cup of bouillon and you can cheat here and use cubes if they’re good tasting. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer up to an hour (or less).

    Linguini with Clams or Whatever in White/Red Sauce

    This is a very easy last minute meal. All you need to keep on hand is olive oil and some canned stuff and you are set.

    Brown chopped garlic in olive oil. Add some flour and brown to your desired level of darkness. Drain the clam juice in and thicken. If it appears too thick cut with dry vermouth. Add the clams and cook gently. If you cook them too much they will get rubbery. If you want red sauce add some tomato paste here and heat it in with the clams.

    Serve over linguini or other pasta with Parmesan cheese.

    You can also make this with crab or shrimp.

    Shrimp Bacon Brochette

    First shrimp. BIG shrimp sans shell are preferred. But BIG shrimp with the shell are okay. After that shrimp of some medium size with out the shell and finally shrimp of medium size with shell are my suggestions. Just forget small shrimp. OK?

    If there's no shell I am assuming the shrimp are cooked. This means to avoid making them tough you will have to take some care in cooking. Be forewarned.

    Put the shimp you have chosen on skewers and eithe thread strips of bacon between them.over them or wrap the shrimp in bacon. Fill up your skewers and then baste them with a pureed sauce made from 1 tbl of tamarind paste, 1 canned adobe chipotle peper (more to taste), 1 - 2 tbl of adobe sauce, 2 tbl brown sugar, 1 tbl lime juice and water to desired texture.

    Grill with anassortment of vegetables, e.g. sweet potato, red/yellow/green peppers, summer squash/zuchini, etc all tossed with olive oil and seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning.

    You can eat with tortillas if you like.

    Lemon Chicken

    This is the first dish my kids learned to cook.

    Pound (or don’t if you don’t care to) the number of chicken breasts you want to serve. Dredge them in flour and brown in butter until done. Remove them from the pan and add lemon juice, chopped lemon peel, parsley, chopped garlic and chicken broth. Simmer this mix with stirring and scraping (I think that’s called “de-glazing” but don’t quote me.) until reduced and thickened somewhat. Pour over the chicken and serve.

    Lamb (or other) Kabobs

    This is a marinade that’s for lamb but we’ve used with beef, chicken, pork and a variety of vegetables such as mushrooms and eggplant with great success.

    Mix together garlic, salt, fresh ginger (hint: buy fresh ginger root and freeze it so you can cut off what you want when), black pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin, curry powder (or leaves if you can get them), oregano, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut oil (if you have it, the sesame oil has the taste in this or just use olive oil), and lemon juice.

    An easy way is to toss all this in a blender and emulsify it.

    Marinate whatever it is you’re going to kabob and then grill. Overnight is OK but just an hour of soaking is fine too.

    Chicken Everest

    This is an easy way to roast a chicken.

    Mix with water garlic, fresh (or dry) ginger, curry powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, garam masala, lemon juice, curry leaves (if you have them), soy sauce, olive oil, fresh cilantro leaves, and green onions. Whir the whole mess up in a blender. Spread it evenly over the chicken and roast until done.

    Garam Masal

    If you don’t have an Indian store around here are some ways to make your own garam masala. Here’s three versions so you can play with the amounts to develop your own version and taste. This is where a good mortar and pestle is VERY useful!

    Coriander seeds, cumin seeds (or ground), black peppercorns, cardamom seeds (or ground), cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg all mixed together.

    Cinnamon, cardamom seeds, cloves and nutmeg or mace

    Cardamom seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg

    Chinese Five-Spice Powder

    This is another mix you can make yourself. I just dump the ingredients in a pepper grinder and dispense as needed. Mix together star anise (or regular anise), fennel, cinnamon, cloves and Szechwan pepper.

    5 Spice Fish or Chicken

    Now that you have your 5-spice powder you can use it for either fish or chicken. Chop up either into bite size pieces and dust with flour and the spice powder. Brown in oil and serve on top of stir-fried vegetables and rice.

    Just a hint on stir frying vegetables. You don’t need a wok. Just heat a frying pan add a LITTLE oil and then dump in the vegetables that have been chopped in bite size pieces. Onions, broccoli, sweet peppers, baby ears of corn, carrots, Bok Choy, sprouts, etc are good. However, Ching Ping Wong (aka C.P. Wong, professor of polymer science at Georgia Tech) specifically told me that the mark of a bad Chinese restaurant is the excess use of celery. So be warned about that vegetable.

    The vegetables don’t cook for very long but you should keep them in motion. (Hint: When the crackling gets lower in tone as you stir them the water is cooking out! Time to stop cooking!) When they are about done (still crunchy) add a paste made of cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar and vermouth or water. Stir this in with heating to form light gravy like coating over the vegetables. Combine with fish and chicken (cooked as above) or just serve as they are with rice.

    Greg’s Barbeque Sauce

    This is another favorite of ours. And it’s even got real measured quantities!

    Three quarter cup of water

    One beef bouillon cube (Yes, a bouillon cube. But you can use real stock also.)

    One half cup of ketchup

    One-third cup Worcestershire sauce

    One quarter cup vegetable oil

    An onion

    Some garlic cloves

    Combine these in a blender and nuke ‘em! Put the mix in a pot and simmer for awhile and then apply to whatever you’re barbequing.

    Chicago Style Pizza

    CRUST

    2pkg.dry yeast dissolved in 2 C tepid water

    1/2 C salad oil

    4T olive oil

    1/2 C corn meal

    5 1/2 C flour

    Mix everything together, adding flour gradually. Knead 10 min. or until dough is smooth and elastic. Put in oiled bowl and allow to rise until double in volume. Punch down and allow to rise again. Punch down and shape into 2-9 by 13 pans [oiled and sprinkled w/ corn meal.

    Next put on sauce made of 4 Cans canned tomatoes, drained + squished, 2 t basil, 4 cloves garlic crushed, 2 t oreganoand some salt

    Add any of the following: cooked sausage, bacon, mushrooms, onions, pepperoni, black olives (Yuck!), green pepper, hamburger, etc.

    Put 1 lb. sliced Mozzarella cheese in layer on pies.Top w/ Parmesan and drizzle w/ olive oil. Bake @ 350 for 50-60 min. Makes two pizzab

    Schweinefilet (Pork Tenderloin Fillets)

    Nominally this is supposed to use tenderloin. But I’ve made it with pork chops and steaks w/ and w/o the bone so take your pick.

    Take your pork of choice, pound it or not as you wish, sprinkle heavily with pepper and salt to taste and fry in butter. Add some onions after you get side one of the pork browned. When all browned add some tomatoes. You can use fresh but I use sun dried because I like the additional sweet flavor they impart. (And the first time I made it that was all I had!)

    Add a little water or wine or broth (or some combination)and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove pork and add sour cream and some dry white wine. Stir with heating to get a sauce and serve over the pork.

    Coq au Vin/Coq a la Biere

    I think it’s important to remember that this dish was developed as a way to use tough old chickens. Most any wine (see below for an alternative) will do. I tend to use dark, dry reds but the wine choice is up to you. A lot of people use Beaujolais. These are my favorites of the versions I’ve made but remember you can ALWAYS modify the dish to fit what you have.

    Cook up some ham fat or bacon (any pork fat will do although I think ham has a better flavor) to render out the grease. Set aside the browned meat and add chicken. You can use any parts you like cause parts is parts. Add some onions with the chicken and brown the chicken on all sides. Towards the end of the browning add mushrooms (either fresh or canned).

    Now add some broth, (Remember what I said about using good broth!) wine and some Dijon mustard (if you have it). Mix everything together and add the browned pork and some parsley. Simmer until the chicken is done. (Don’t over cook as this will dry the chicken out.) Remove chicken etc. from the pan and thicken the liquid with flour and then serve the whole mess together in the pan topped with some fresh chopped parsley if you have it.(Or maybe chives if you’ve got them.)

    Since I first entered the above I learned that there is also a style of chicken in northern France that uses beer instead of wine. (Well, if you have noticed I have a recipe for Chourroute Garni. It's a northern French recipe and is pretty near what is enerally thought of as German in style.)

    So if you'd like to try something different try this.

    Toss your chicken pieces in flour, salt and pepper and brown them in a mix of butter and oil. Don't cook them too much as you want the slow cooking to follow to do the work. In other words: don't dry them out.

    When brown take the pan off the stove, light a match, add a shot of gin to the pan (NOT ON THE STOVE) and light. Let it burn down and then remove the chicken. Put the pan back on the heat and saute in the oil a mix of chopped carrots, celery and onions until tender. Add some mushrooms and some thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Add some juniper berries if you have them (add more gin if you want). Put the chicken back in and pour over it a can of dark beer. Simmer until the chicken is JUST done.

    You may eat at this stage or you can remove the chicken from the pan (keep warm) and make a "gravy" using plain yogurt (NOT THE GELATIN KIND! YUK!) and a little vinegar. Cook carefully so you don't curdle the yogurt. Serve the chicken topped with this sauce.

    Ass Breaking Coq au Vin

    If you decide you like hard work in the kitchen here's a treat for you. I add it here because it is always well received. And it sure makes nice smells in the kitchen! (Damn thing should be well received! Requires enough effort!) So if you don't want the easy version above or feel adventurous try this one.

    Get some chicken. You can use a whole chicken, a cut up chicken, whole breasts, leg portions or some combo of the various parts. Just remember different sizes cook at different rates. And the key to success here is NOT to over cook the chicken.

    Take said chicken, parts or whatever, and put it in a pot or baking dish with a LARGE chopped onion, a chopped carrot or two, a chopped stalk of celery or two, 4 or 5 whole cloves, some whole black pepper corns, some bouquet garni and a few whole garlic cloves if you like. Cover with good dry red wine and allow to sit over night. I have used shiraz, cabernet and merlot. Take your pick. (Actually it is not necessary to use red or dry or any particular wine. But use good wine! And remember, the taste is strongly dependent on the wine you use.)

    Next day pull the chicken out of the marinade and brown it on all sides in a mix of butter and olive oil. Now, recover the chopped vegetables from their alcoholic grave and toss them into the pot where you cooked the chicken. Cook until nicely browned. Now toss in a couple tablespoons of flour and stir to coat the veggies. (Note: you don't have to add the flour here. As it's used for thickening all you need is some step where you make a roux. As there's LOTS more work and cooking ahead wait and there'll be other opportunities for roux making.)

    Pour the marinade into the cooking pot, add the chicken and start simmering. Keep an eye on how the chicken is progressing; you want it ONLY JUST DONE!

    Take some slab bacon (you can cheat and use regular) and brown chunks of it. Set the bacon aside and add some mushrooms. Brown in bacon grease until golden. Set them aside. Note that this is yet another roux making possibility: use the bacon grease.

    HEY! ARE YOU WATCHING THE CHICKEN?

    Use either pearl onions (Too much trouble for me!) or a large thick sliced onion (My choice.) for the next part. Put the onion in a pan with some melted butter. Consider this: You will be adding some red wine later. If you are adding a dry red wine, e.g. what the marinade was, add a little sugar. If you are adding a relatively sweet red, e.g. red vermouth (my favorite) don't add sugar. Don't add wine yet! Instead add just enough water to the pan to cover the onions, stir and start cooking down. When all the water has evaporated keep cooking with lots of stirring until the onions are golden brown.

    ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION? YOU GOT TO WATCH TWO THINGS HERE! IF THE CHICKEN GETS DONE GET IT OUT OF THE PAN AND KEEP IT WARM! DON'T OVER COOK!

    Take onions out of the pan and add a cup of that red wine we discussed earlier. Stir with lots of scraping of the brown stuff on the bottom of the pot and cook it until it starts to thicken slightly. (Note that this step as also a roux moment.) Dump this sauce into the wine/veggie/chicken cooking pot.

    Whenever the chicken is done get it out of the pot. Now strain the liquid in the wine pot to get all the veggies out of the sauce. To the veggie free wine sauce add the mushrooms, the bacon, the onions, the roux (if you've taken advantage of one of the many steps to make some and didn't make it with the veggies) and some butter. Heat it through to melt and mix the butter. Take the warm chicken and put on a plate. Dribble the sauce over and serve with buttered thick noodles and a big green salad. (And maybe some of that good red wine.)

    My choice in this last step is to strain the wine sauce into a big cast iron frying pan and do the final sauce prep there. That way I can heat it and just drop the chicken in so it's half submerged.

    Final note: DON'T OVER COOK THE CHICKEN!!!!!

    Boeuf en Croute (Beef in Crust)

    This requires a lot of effort and can be “just Ok.” However, when you hit it right it is delicious! So you take your chances with this. It is good for entertaining though. Since I first put this in the list I have come up with a shortcut that I'll mention at the end.

    Two hints: DON’T overcook the meat (it should be juicy red/pink inside) and make the crust thin (I am not a pastry person so my crust tends to the “crumbled concrete” variety).

    dough of ¾ lb of butter, 4 cups of flour, a little salt and about 6 tblsp of water. A food processor is nice for doing this. Shape it into a ball and keep chilled.

    Duxelles is what you gotta make next. (I think it means mushrooms but I don’t really know.) Chop up a bunch of mushrooms and cook in butter until mushrooms start giving up their liquid. Add some Madeira wine (I use sweet vermouth) and some shallots or onions and parsley. Cook down until just moist. Now save all that brown mess and go on to the next part.

    Roll out your crust nicely. (I can’t do it. See my comment above about concrete.) Take some of them Duxelles and lay them on the crust and lay a big chunk of beef tenderloin in the center on top of them. (About 3 to 5 lbs is good.) Now take more Duxelles (Note: you need a lot so make sure you cook a lot.) and spread them across the top. Roll the whole thing up nicely and brush the crust with a mix of beaten egg and waterStick a meat thermometer in the center of that mess and toss it in the oven. Bake until the meat is NO MORE THAN MEDIUM RARE. About 400 what’s recommended to make sure the crust looks kinda brown after about 30 minutes. But keep an eye on it! The crust is secondary to the meat and if it doesn’t brown but the meat’s done to perfection (all the juice sealed in with the under done crust) who cares?

    You can serve it with a Madeira sauce made of diced onions, carrots and parsley sautéed with bacon and then simmered with Madeira wine, thyme and bay leaf and thickened using GOOD beef broth and some flour.

    Serve by slicing so everybody gets a chunk of beef and crust that they can put sauce on.

    To do this and not put in so much effort try replacing the crust with philo leaves. You can find these in the frozen food section. Start laying done philo leaves and brush each with butter before putting another one on top. When you have the thickness you want (my opinion is four is about enough) lay your meat on top along with all the fillings and roll the whole thing up and proceed with the baking. As I have only done this with small pieces of tenderloin you will want to keep an eye on both the meat temperature and the browning of the philo leaves. But I liked the result enough to include it here for your edification and entertainment.

    A nice touch on this short cut version is to serve the meat with a balsamic/port/dijon mustard reduction. Just mix equal parts of balsamic vinegar and port wine (Although I suppose any moderately sweet wine would do.) and simmer gently until it thickenes slightly. Mix a little Dijon Mustard in and serve pouring over the sliced meat.

    Chourroute Garnie

    This translates as "Sauerkraut with all the trimmings" (more or less). Now when we had a German pope it seemed an appropriate dish. And as far as I wam concerned it still is even if the pope is a Jesuit.

    Except that this dish is French. (I had it first in Rouen the town where the English executed Joan of Arc.) It just tastes, looks and smells like it should be German.

    This is a dish that is open to MANY possibilities so be creative!

    Get some pork belly with ribs. Salted is OK but I prefer fresh. If you don’t have that be creative (although the browned skin is good stuff from my perspective). Chop it up to the size you want and brown it with all it’s delicious artery clogging fat in butter or oil. Boil some potatoes anyway you want. Get some good sauerkraut (This is going to be a BIG part of the taste so use GOOD STUFF)and rinse with water and drain.

    Now heat some flavored fat (duck or pork) in a pot and add onions and cook until translucent. Add the kraut, garlic, lots of dry white wine (Riesling is best but use good wine as the flavor counts a LOT!), bay leaf, coriander seed and pepper. Salt if you want but the kraut probably has a lot of salt in it (and if you use smoked anything that will too!). Add some juniper berries if you have them (gin works). Add that browned pork belly and some combo of ham, smoked pork loin (too dry for me!), sausages (kielbasa works) and the potatoes.

    Now just simmer until done adding wine as needed.

    Pull out all those meats and pile the kraut in the center of a platter and top with the meat. Serve with grainy, hot mustard,

    Man, chow down on this with a few brews and you can almost hear the panzers pouring across the border!

    As an up grade on this I have tried doing most of the cooking before assembly. If you chop up the sausage and pork belly you can oven brown them and then just mix with the kraut, potatoes, wine and so forth in a pan that, when guests start to arrive you just shove in the oven and let heat through.

    Note: vary the meats using stuff you like and have available including fowl (although smoked duck is probably best) and various sausage/ham/smoked pork type stuff.

    Hoppin' John

    There is a tradition in some parts of the south that you eat this on new year's day for good luck. We picked this up in Savannah, GA. (Some people say just eat black eyed peas on new years period. And, then of course, some people always say "buy low and sell high." Whatever.) FYI: I am NOT a believer in good luck charms. But I do like Hoppin' John.

    I've heard various explanations as to the name. The one that makes the most sense to me is the French name for blackeyed peas: peau au pigeon: pwah-ah-pih-john. Ah Pih John. Get it? Hoppin' John. Oh, just forget it! It makes sense to me.

    Get an old ham bone. (You did save that old ham bone, didn't you? What? You threw it out? What a moron!) Toss it in a pot with a bunch of blackeyed peas you've first sorted through for rocks (Just do it! Unless you like emergency trips to the dentist.), soaked overnight, and rinsed and drained. Add water to cover and start cooking. Figure a good 3 hours here. Add water as needed.

    When beans are ALMOST done, remove bones (leave any ham) and add some bacon sautéed green peppers, onions, and celery along with some black pepper. (You can leave out the sautéing if you want as the bacon etc will cook anyway.) Now add rice. Slow cook until rice and beans are done adding water as needed.

    You can play with this using bacon or other pork instead of ham, cooking beans to a mush or not, etc.

    Serve with hot sauce and greens.

    Cheese Beans

    This uses the same sort, soak, cook method for beans as Hoppin' John. So, OK, do what I told you in the above recipe but use pinto beans! (Oh, and add some basil and black pepper.)

    When the beans are done pour them and a generous amount of cooking liquid (you can add the meat pieces if you want)into a flat baking type dish and spread with your choice of cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, toasted, burnt, however you like it. Eat with rice and a salad for a complete meal.

    Buddy's Hamburger Helper

    This is probably one of the first dishes I ever learned to cook. The recipe came from Buddy (aka Don) Barbeau who was a chem major with me in college.

    Brown up a pound of hamburger with some chopped onions. Drain fat and liquid. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup (I like the low salt) and a pinch of oregano. Stir up and serve over egg noodles.

    Japanese Wrestling Chicken

    This recipe has nothing Japanese in it. The name came from Tim Defriese who was in grad school with me. It refers to the size of the chicken pieces I was using, i.e. Sumo style: very large.

    Basically this is a "shake and bake" oven fried chicken dish with a few twists I added over the years. This too is another very early Greg recipe.

    Put some flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Toss in chicken pieces of choice. Shake it all up until chicken is coated.

    Slice sufficient onions to fill the bottom of the baking dish you're going to use. Lay chicken pieces on top of onions to cover (as much as possible) all surface area. Crowd 'em in there!

    Start baking about 350. Somewhere long the line, maybe 20 - 30 minutes,lay some bacon strips across all the chicken pieces. (Alternatively you can use dabs of butter or margarine but that's somebody else's dish.) Bake until bacon start to look cooked. Now drizzle honey to taste over the whole mess. And bake some more until you think it's done.

    Eat.

    Hamburger

    Yeah. You know how to cook hamburger. Sure, ya do! Try this. (Also a VERY early recipe.)

    Fill bottom of baking dish with sliced onions. Flop a pound of hamburger on top.

    Bake until done. Eat.

    It's a guy meal.

    Chicago Hot Dogs

    Live with it! This is something that you can eat just about anytime. I may have a buncha French, snotty recipes listed above, but we still like this on a semi-regular basis.

    Hot dogs. Good ones. Broil or boil. Up to you. If you boil I suggest in beer. And make little slits in the dog. Simmer slowly so the salt leaches out.

    Buns. DON’T serve me one of those Styrofoam specials . . . I like REAL torpedo like buns for subs and other real sandwiches. You are allowed to toast or not, it’s up to you.

    Now, on the hot dog add any or all of the following: sweet pepper diced, onions diced, mustard (any kind), sweet pickle relish (It’s OK if you use this, you disgust me, but it’s OK.), dill pickle in any form, cucumbers chopped, sliced, whatever, lettuce shredded, diced tomatoes, hot peppers or peperoncini and celery salt. YES! CELERY SALT!

    YOU MAY NOT USE CATSUP UNLESS YOU ARE FROM ANOTHER PLANET! ‘CAUSE YOU SURE AS HELL AIN’T FROM CHICAGO!

    Crepes

    You can do a lot with this. It can be a breakfast dish. Or stuffed with spinach and onions, cheese and topped with a white sauce (See roux above: just don’t cook the roux to darkening and that makes it a white sauce.) and sprinkled with more cheese and baked makes it a main dish.

    Take 3 eggs (or 4 if you like an eggy-er batter) and beat. Add gradually 1.5 cups of flour, a little salt and 1.5 cups of milk. Beat smooth and allow to “rest” for at least 2 hours or better overnight. (Actually just use it when you want. Forget that “rest” stuff.)

    It is BEST if you fry these in a crepe pan with as little oil as possible. If you don’t have a crepe pan use a very smooth bottomed pan and rub with a thin layer of oil. Watch out for sticking! They are just barely browned when done or, if you plan to stuff them with filling and do some baking, just cooked until firm.

    Pesto Sauce

    We have used this for years. Despite the relatively strong taste it's always been popular even with kids.

    Place in a blender 0.5 cups of olive oil and 0.25 cups of melted butter (or margarine). Add two (or less to taste) cloves of garlic and 0.5 cups of pine nuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews or some combo of the bunch. Puree the whole thing. Now add 0.75 cup of Parmesan cheese and either 3 cups of packed fresh basil or 0.5 cup dry. Puree that in. Now add 0.75 cup fresh parsley or about 0.25 to 0.5 cups dry parsley. Puree that in. You may have to add a little more oil to get a smooth mix.

    Serve over pasta of choice mixed with boiled potatoes and green beans. (You can stick with just pasta but the beans and potatoes make a nice touch.)

    Be aware that if you use fresh parsley/basil the color will change with time, i.e. go from a green to an olive drab. The taste doesn't change though. If it bothers you add a little lime juice to the puree and that will slow (not stop) the color change process if you have left overs.

    You can also try making this with fresh cilantro. But the taste is significantly different.

    Schnitzel

    Take the number of meat pieces needed for number of people. You can either use chicken (boneless) or pork. Pound meat (or don't, see if I care) and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine 2 tblsp Dijon mustard with a beaten egg. Mix together breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, chopped chives and minced garlic (or powder). Now dip chicken in flour to coat (shake off excess), dip in egg mix, and then coat with bread crumbs.

    You can either: fry all the way until brown and done or brown in a little oil and bake until done in the oven. Your choice. Serve with lemon and thin sliced cabbage. Oh, and beer.

    Meatloaf

    This is from my mother-in-law Harriett McCartney. It's our favorite.

    1.5 pounds of ground beef or some combo of beef and pork.

    0.25 cup chopped onion

    2 Tbsp of chopped celery

    2 Tbsp of chopped green pepper

    salt and pepper to taste

    0.25 tsp sage

    0.25 tsp dry mustard

    3 slices of bread cubed

    1 cup warm milk

    1 egg beaten

    1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

    Mix bread, milk egg and Worcestershire sauce and beat together well. Add other ingredients and mix well. Put mix into loaf pans, top with catsup and bake at 250 F for 1 hour.

    Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef in Burgundy, variant's and 3 Red Stew)

    First I'll give you my favorite version of this dish. I've added a few extra notes at the bottom if you want to play around a little. A word before you begin: although this dish takes time it can be pulled off in about an hour and a half. Longer gives tenderer meat. (Too long can give meat that’s “dry.” An expensive cheat for this is to use fillet: it starts tender and all you need do is add the extra flavor!) For most reasonably tender meats the essence can be achieved in a shorter time with no dryness. (I’ve tried the much longer cooking version called daube and haven’t been really impressed. And if you're feeling flush make this with tenderloin: Cooking time is minimal, meat won't be dry, it'll be tender, you'll be poor but happy!)

    Get yourself some beef and cut it up into 1 inch cubes. Stew meat is fine as tough meat is tenderized by the wine/cooking process. If you want to be really fancy start marinating the meat in wine and a little vinegar up to a day ahead of time. However, this will really emphasize the wine taste so experiment and see what you like.

    Brown the meat in olive (or oil of choice) oil. Brown only a few pieces at a time. Otherwise you tend to get a kinda grey look and lose some of that nice taste. (If you marinated for a long time you can drain and brown or not. Try it! See what YOU like! As above I will add a note on browning here. It is easier to brown fresh meat than meat that has been frozen. Freezing tends to release more water from the meat cells making the actual browning a longer process, i.e. you either have to have a LOT of hot oil or be patient while the water cooks off. Experiment and see what you find as the best way to deal with both fresh and frozen dead animal flesh.)

    When meat is browned (or not) remove it and add a chopped onion and some sugar and salt and pepper. Caramelize the mess until the onion gets soft. Put the meat back in. Now add a strong, dry, red wine. Burgundy is the dish's name but other strong reds, e.g. Chianti work. You should add enough wine to nearly cover the meat. Also add so GOOD beef stock. You can skip the stock if the wine is good but it adds some more depth to the flavor.

    You may cook this on the stove simmering until the meat is tender. Or you can bake until same end is reached. Towards the end of the cooking add some onions and mushrooms cooked in butter until just soft. (Start the onions first as they take longer to soften. Or you can boil the onions until soft and sauté in the butter with the mushrooms. The original recipe calls for small whole onions. But sliced, diced etc work too.)

    Now if you'd like to be fancy add some thick chunks of bacon to the initial onion browning after the meat is cooked. When everything is the way you like it, and before re-adding meat and pouring in the wine, add some chopped tomato. This will give you a slightly thickened mix that will give a little more body to the end result. You can cheat here: the usual cardboard store tomatoes work just as well in thickening as the best from your garden.

    The end result should be a nice mahogany color. Serve it over mashed potatoes or with a good bread for dipping. (If you don't feel like doing mashed potatoes make it like a stew and add cut up potatoes just before the end so they cook in the sauce.)

    As an easier alternative DON'T cut up the meat. Just dump that slab of beef in hot oil and brown well on all sides. Remove the beef. Now add cut up onions to the pot and brown those. Add some flour to the pot and make a roux. Add a cup of good red wine and scrape up the good brown stuff on the bottom while you stir and bring the wine to a boil to thicken. Reduce the heat to a simmer and return the meat to the pot along with cut up carrots, a few cloves of garlic, some bouquet garni and some of your good stock or demi-glace.

    Now if you want a VERY strong tasting dish add some more wine (the stronger the flavor of the wine the stronger the taste of the sauce at the end) to about double the volume and simmer until all is done. If you'd like a milder version (and I suggest you try this first) add some good stock in about the same volume as the wine in the pot and simmer slowly until the beef and carrots are done. The wine mix I like best is half dry vermouth and half sweet vermouth. I know this isn't true to the name but as I like it I'm really not interested in your opinions on the matter.

    And for another way of doing this called "3 Red Stew": Start with cubed pork, beef or pork and beef, sprinkle generously with black pepper and brown in olive oil. When all is browned remove from the pan and add some flour. Cook with stirring until this has browned and add one cup of stock and two cups of dark red wine. Cook and stir until thickened somewhat. Add meat back in, add some parsley, thyme and bay leaf and simmer slowly uncovered. In a separate pan brown a chopped onion and some chopped garlic. Add a can of diced tomatoes or some chopped fresh and another cup of wine. Cook down slowly uncovered. When meat is almost tender toss a chopped red bell pepper into either pot and cook until the pepper is just starting to wilt. Mix contents of the two pots together and serve.

    If you don't want to use mashed potatoes as noted above I suggest serving this with flat buttered noodles and some green salad.

    Pork Roast with Sage/Pork Escabeche

    Here are two pork roast recipes. The first is another Provence recipe. The second is Mexican. Both are very easy and very good.

    First let's talk Provence. Get a pork loin. The original calls for one with the bone but that's not easily available around here. So I used just plain pork loin.

    Make a paste by pounding together 5 cloves of garlic and about 20 sage leaves. You can use dried sage if you don't have leaves. (Sage is easy to grow and can be harvested all year.) Use about 4 tablespoons of dry.

    Get a covered baking dish that will fit the pork. Grease the bottom with olive oil. Now make a series of slits in the pork with a knife and stuff those slits with the paste. I kept my slits about an inch apart for a 2 pound roast. Smear the rest of the pork with remaining paste, place it in the baking dish, add about half an inch of water, cover and bake at 350 for an hour or until done. The easiest way to tell "done" is put a meat thermometer in the meat and cook until it says done for pork. A little over done won't hurt too much. But don't over do it. Just a little.

    In a heavy frying pan melt a couple tablespoons of butter and make a roux per instructions somewhere else in this document. Remove the pork from the baking dish and pour all that stuff remaining in the dish in with the roux adding water or a little white wine to thin if needed. Stir until thickened. (It shouldn't be TOO thick.)

    Serve pork with gravy and mashed potatoes.

    Now for the Mexican version. You will notice some similatities.

    Mix together four pressed galic clove, juice of one half an orange, a tablespoon of vinegar, i teaspoon of dry oregano, a half teaspoon each of allspice powder, ground cloves, cumin, and ground corriander. Add a generous dose of black and red pepper (or to taste).

    Prepare the pork loin as above with slits. Put it in the greased baking pan (as above) and work the escabeche paste into the slits and then pour the remainder over the roast. Put an oven thermometer into the meat and roast at 350 until the temperature meausures done.

    Serve with Lemon Caper Rice (see recipe).

    Paella

    Paella is a spanish dish of mixed this and that cooked with rice. There are probably as many versions of it as there are people who cook spanish dishes so don't expect that this is THE Paella recipe. Each area of Spain apparently has a general recipe and then when you add in the tastes of the cook etc, well, look for lots of room here for your own style to take over.

    I first had this in Madrid off the Plaza Major in a restaurant called Corrigedor. It was served to the seven of us in a giant cast iron skillet and was covered with all sorts of seafood, sausage etc. We washed it down with "Blood of the Bull" and had a wonderful time.

    Take 1.5 quarts of good chicken broth and mix with one cup of water and some saffron threads. Simmer slowly while you do the rest of the stuff below.

    Saute each in order (briefly and then set aside) some chicken (pick what pieces you want), some chorizo or kielbasa, some ham or prosciutto and some peeled shrimp in olive oil. Now add in some chopped onion and bell pepper and saute until tender. Add some chopped tomatoes, sweet paprika and three crushed garlic cloves and saute another 5 minutes. Add 3 cups of white rice (Jasmine is good) and saute another minute or so until rice gets oil coated.

    Stir in a cup of chopped parsley, 2 large crushed cloves of garlic and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Add the mix of chicken broth and saffron, the chicken, ham and sausage. Add a cup of green peas. (Frozen is good.)

    Now there are two ways of doing this. You can cook with stirring until rice starts to set up or you can let the whole thing slow cook without stirring and keep an eye on it. This latter is what I favor.

    As the rice begins to set up you can add mussels in the shell or just some canned clams or crab. (Not being a big fan of mussels I prefer the canned stuff.) Then nestle the shrimp in the rice and continue cooking until everything is done. Sprinkle with lemon juice being careful not to over do it and serve.

    An alternative version that has been good for us is chicken and sausage browned with onions and garlic. The seasonings were saffron and capers. And the liquid for the rice was stock and white wine. At the end I added peas, chopped red pepper and shrimp.

    Pasta with Brussel Sprouts and Bacon

    This is a (sorta) version of pasta carbonara (this may be spelled wrong) that's light and easy. You can use brussel sprouts but other veggies would probably work.

    Steam your brussel sprouts or other veggies until almost done. While steaming the sprouts start some pasta. I like tube like pasta for this but you pick what is best for you. Brown up some bacon slices until crumbly. Remove the bacon from the pan and add brussel sprouts and lightly brown. Remove the sprouts.

    Now at this point you may want to remove some fat also. But that's up to you. Anyway add some flour and make a roux. With the roux make a sauce using milk or cream and broth (if you prefer). To the sauce add a quarter cup of parmesan and stir until smooth. Now dump together the pasta, sprouts, sauce, the bacon, black pepper, and if you like some toasted nuts (hazelnuts are called for in the original but pistachios work) and about another half cup of cheese. Mix together and serve.

    Chicken Mole

    Brown some chicken pieces of choice in oil or butter. Remove from the pan and set aside. Using the chicken oil/juice saute, until tender, about 0.25 pounds of onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Dump the mix of onion and garlic in a blender along with 1 oz. of unsweetened chocolate, a 14 oz. can of tomato sauce, 2 or more ounces of peanut butter (smooth or chunky, I used chunky), 2 tsp. of sugar, 1 or more tsp. of chili powder (to taste), a quarter tsp of cinnamon, an eighth tsp of ground cloves and 1.5 cups of that delicious stock you made up. (You did make your own stock didn't you? What? You have to use canned? Oh, do you need a good smack!! Scroll back up this page and READ AND DO WHAT I TOLD YOU!) Process until smooth and then put it in a pan to simmer for up to 30 minutes.

    Now if you used a cast iron skillet for all this you're set 'cause you won't have any additional pans to clean. If not get some kind of oven proof dish and put the chicken in it along with the cooked up mole sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and bake until done.

    Garlic Steak

    When the kids were in grade school one of the class exercises was for them to describe how they would make their favorite dish. After they had completed their description the parents were asked to provide the actual recipe. The result was a small cookbook that we still have.

    One of our most popular recipes in that book was provided by a young lady named Heather Smith. It's an easy steak recipe and can be complimented with an au poivre sauce (see above) made from any drippings you collect in the cooking process.

    Take your steak and slice any number of cuts you desire in it on both sides. The cuts should be of the size to hold a slice of garlic. Now slice up the requisite number of garlic cloves to fill those cuts, insert in the steak and allow the result to sit and reach room temp. (This later is not a requirement but it makes cooking easier.)

    Now grill for 5 minutes on a side and eat w/ or w/o any sauce from the drippings!

    Ham Two Ways

    First way is simple. Get a ham of GOOD quality. Cooked is OK as long as you adjust the cooking time accordingly. Score the outside of ham with a knife and pour some apple juice over it. Stick a thermometer in it and cook until almost done or heated (depending on whether it was uncooked or cooked respectively) basting with more apple juice as you see fit. Make a paste of brown sugar and dijon mustard and smear over ham. Cook until paste gets crisped a little, remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

    Next way ONLY works with UNCOOKED ham. You can use either a ham or a ham steak. Place meat in a casserole along with chopped tomatoes, onions, a bay leaf or two, a clove or two, about a cup of YOUR HOMEMADE MEAT STOCK and enough burgundy to almost cover. Bake at 400 until tender, done and browned. Now make a roux (see recipe herein) and use stock/burgundy/vegetable mix (minus bay leaf and clove) to make a dynamite gravy. Serve with mashed potatoes, salad and vegetable of choice.

    Sausage and Potatoes

    OK. Trick here is to get the potatoes done about the time the sausage is. It's always been a challenge for me but here's how I do it: cheat. (I have two "cheat" processes based on experience and experimentation.)

    Microwave (i.e. cheat) unpeeled potatoes (enough to feed number eating) until "slightly done." Now chop them into quarters (or eights) depending on size. Take some good italian sausage and cut it into 2 - 3 inch sections. Put potatoes, sausage, a sliced red onion (OK, use a yellow or white, it's all right) and a sliced green pepper in a suitable sized pan with a little olive oil. Cook until almost done. Add some thyme, black pepper and some parsley (fresh or dry). Cook until potatoes are slightly browned. (This may require some heat.) Eat.

    An alternative process involves peeling (or not) the potatoes, cutting them into bite sized pieces and boiling them until just "slightly done." You may also use hot Italian sausage with this. If you'd like to cut down on fat I suggest cut the sausage in bite sized pieces and bake at 350 for an hour. Now add some olive oil to a pan and saute the onion and green pepper. (In place of the green pepper I have used a mix of celery and roasted and peeled chestnuts. The chestnut texture is a very nice contrast to the other ingredients.) When the onion is soft add the potatoes, the drained sauage and spices (as above). Cook until you have your desired level of doneness and eat.

    Remember to save the water you boiled the potatoes for use in making stock.

    Tomato, Feta and Shrimp Bake

    This is an easy and very tasty dish. And you can make substitutions for most ingredients as needed.

    Cut up a half dozen tomatoes into eights. Or, if you don't have that many, use a mix of canned diced and cut up fresh. Or use all canned diced if you're desperate. Place tomatoes in the bottom of a baking dish and mix with a couple tbls. of olive oil and several crushed cloves of garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper remembering that you need less salt if you use canned anything. (Unless it's "low sodium.")

    Now bake this mess at 450 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in a pound or so of cooked shrimp, some lemon juice and some fresh (or dry) parsley. (It's easiest to have the "tail and shell off" variety. But you can probably live with the "tail on" version. I can.)

    Now sprinkle with a cup or more of crumbled feta cheese and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes until shrimp are heated through. Eat.

    Tonkatsu

    The origins of this dish are German. However, it's Japanese, translating, as near as I know, to "Pork Cutlet." Per what I have read it is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. And in my experience it figured very prominently in the beautiful lunch boxes sold in Tokyo as the Japanese version of "fast" food. (It would be interesting to see what someone in Japan could do in redesigning American fast food in taste, materials and form to give it that same aesthetic beauty that much food in Japan has. I might even eat American fast food if that happened.)

    Anyway, it's an easy "pork chop" dish that has a little something extra.

    First get some pork. We've done steaks, chops and sliced tenderloin. I prefer the chops myself. Coat the meat with flour, then dip in beaten egg and press into Panko, i.e. Japanese breadcrumbs. You can use regular breadcrumbs but that misses the point of this exercise. Panko is NOT the usual breadcrumb you make or buy. It can be found in oriental stores or in most supermarkets that have good oriental sections. It's worth buying and can be used for other things, e.g. eggplant parmesan (see above).

    Now just fry until nicely browned and done. Traditionally this is served over finely sliced cabbage and onions. But that's up to you. I suggest serve with rice and steamed vegetables. You can also use some of the grease you fried the pork in to make gravy.

    Sri Lankan Beef Curry

    Cube some stew meat or steak and mix it with ground coriander, cumin, fennel and turmeric plus some salt and pepper. Let this marinate for an hour or more and then brown the meat in olive oil. When meat is done add to the grease in pan a couple chopped onions, a couple cloves of minced and chopped jalapeno peppers to taste. Cook until onions are soft and add a couple tablespoons of wine vinegar, a cup or more of coconut milk and a slice of lemon peel. Put meat back in and add enough water to cover. Simmer until meat is done and serve over rice.

    I've added vegetables to the mix just for fun, e.g. fresh green beans and mushrooms. But other things such as tomatoes and yellow squash or zucchini might also be fun.

    Szechwan Green Beans and Pork

    Take a pound of pork. Best thing to do is shred it or grind it. Store ground pork has never worked for me but what you use is your choice. Toss the pork with some cornstarch, salt and pepper. (Use white pepper if you have it.)

    Brown the pork in a little oil. (I use olive oil but you can use plain cooking oil or 10W 30. Your choice.)

    Get a pound or so of fresh green beans and toss these with two tbls. of hosin sauce (most stores have it in the oriental section), some crushed red pepper to taste, one tsp. of sugar and a couple tbls. of soy sauce.

    Add this to the pan with the pork and cook to desired doneness. You can add things like mushrooms or fresh chopped tomatoes if you're feeling feisty.

    Now let's say you don't want to spend your time shredding pork. OK. Try this alternative.

    Get a 2 pound chunk of bonesless pork ribs. (I suppose you can use bone in ribs. You'll have to address the cooking time. And I don't think you'll get the same moist, meaty taste either.) Take said chunk of meat and slice into 4 slabs each about 1.5 inches thick. Crust in ground szechwan pepper corns, black pepper and some (not too much) coarse salt. Brown these chunks in olive oil for about 5 minutes on a side. Now place them in an over proof pan and finish them at 375 in the oven for about 30 minutes.

    As your 30 minutes is coming to an end follow the above recipe for cooking the beans. Also add some sliced onions. You may then add fresh or canned sliced mushrooms. Cooking for the required time. And at the end add the fresh tomatoes. Season as per above with Hosin sauce, red pepper, sugar and soy sauce. When pork is done serve it with the beans and rice on the side.

    No-Noodle-Cooking Lasagna

    I always hated cooking noodles for lasagna. And then one day I came across a "no cook" recipe. I tried it and then promptly lost it. But through experimentation I came up with this.

    First: STOCK!!!!! Make it or get good stuff but it will impact the taste.

    Make the easy pasta sauce I have listed in the sauces section. Better double the recipe just to be safe. You can add cooked ground beef or cooked italian sausage if you want some meat. If you like vegetarian leave the meat out and consider using layers of spinach in the process below.

    Get a pound or so of sliced or shredded mozzarella. Get a pint of ricotta or cottage cheese and beat into it one or two eggs, some grated parmesan cheese and some dried parsley. Now you are ready to start assembling the dish.

    A deep pan is better as three layers is nice. But a wide shallow pan of two layers works too. Start with a bottom layer of sauce, add a layer of the dry lasagna noodles, a layer of the ricotta or cottage cheese mix and a heaping mound of mozzarella. For extra taste you can add sliced tomatoes to the sauce layer. But it's optional. Now keep repeating the layering process until you have used up all of the cottage cheese mix. But make sure you parcel it out so you get at least two layers. Cover the top with extra mozzarella and parmesan.

    Now for the "no cook" part: add enough stock into the pan so there's liquid up and around the noodle layers. Slide the whole thing in a 375 oven and bake for an hour or until the noodles are done.

    As an alternative you can use slices of eggplant or zuchinni in place of the noodles. Depending on your tastes you may want to do a little pre-cooking/baking of the eggplant. But thin slices of zuchinni will probably not require any more than the baking of the assembled dish.

    Thai Beef Rolls

    This requires some exotic stuff. But maybe you can be inventive if you don't have everything.

    Put a couple tbls. of sesame oil in a blender along with the juice of one lime, a tbls of chopped fresh ginger (ginger freezes well so you can put a chunk in the freezer to be used at any time), a clove of garlic, a tsp of sugar and a couple dashes of fish sauce. Sesame oil and fish sauce are not always available outside of oriental markets. But both keep well. I suggest refrigerating the fish sauce or it will get even funkier than it normally is! Puree this all into a smooth mixture.

    To serve take a tortilla and smear with the puree. Pile on some deli roast beef, some matchstick cut carrots, some lettuce and fresh mint if you have it. Eat like a taco.

    Mongolian Hot Pot

    This is a nice dish with a hearty feel. It reheats very well.

    Mix together ground fresh ginger, ground fresh garlic, crushed red pepper and a few tablespoons of soy sauce. Although the original didn't call for it I like adding so sesame oil also. (Note: the real flavor of this dish depends on sesame oil. Most stores carry it in their oriental section. NOTHING else will substitute!) In this mess marinate for as long as you like about half a pound of thin sliced flank steak (or other semi-similar beef).

    After marinating stir fry beef until browned. Remove beef and stir fry a mix of bok choy, thin sliced carrots, green onions, and mushrooms. You can experiment with different veggies but I suggest always using bok choy. (Regular cabbage will not do here.) Toss the meat back in along with any amount of marinade you see fit. (You may wish to reserve the meat until the very last but my feeling is you should still add some or all the marinade here.) Add a couple cups of water, a generous dollop of Hoisin sauce and a couple cups of stock. (You did pay attention to all my ranting about stock didn't you?) Now add a quarter pound of uncooked soba noodles. (I strongly suggest using real soba noodles. But if you don't have them use your best judgment.) Cook until noodles are just done. (Add the beef now if you reserved it.) Now add a tablespoon of rice vinegar. (You may cheat and add regular vinegar. If you do add only half or a third tablespoon.) Serve in bowls adding more sesame oil if the spirit moves you.

    Parmesan Sage Roasted Turkey

    This is a popular Thanksgiving recipe.

    Get a turkey. Pick the size you want. But think that it'll be around 15 to 20 minutes a pound to bake.

    Chop up enough stuff to give you 3 cups of onion, 1 cup of celery, and 1 cup of carrots. Toss these in the bottom of your baking dish and spray with cooking spray. Add 10 cloves of garlic. (Peel them first will you?) This here mess is your mirepoix. That's french for chopped up stuff.

    Now get your bird and remove the giblets etc. Toss the liver and put the rest in the mirepoix. Set the turkey on top breast side up and loosen the skin starting from the neck and moving down towards the cavity. You'll have to force your fingers under the skin and work them forward. It should look a little creepy as you see them crawl under the skin like so alien invader. When you have it all loose melt together (Wash your hands first!) about a half stick of butter with a third cup of parmesan cheese. Mix in some pepper, minced garlic and about 5 tablespoons of chopped fresh sage. Work this mess under the turkey skin and then over as much of the outside of the skin as possible.

    Rub a cut up lemon over the skin and squeeze juice over as much of the bird as possible. Toss the squeezed lemons into the cavity.

    Bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Now pour some good broth/stock over the bird, cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake another 30 minutes. Now reduce heat and bake at 350 until done. Use a meat thermometer to test doneness.

    To make gravy you can play with the drippings but I suggest you try this simple process. Mince some shallots and saute them in butter. Add a cup of dry vermouth and cook the liquid down to about half. When bird is done remove from the baking pan and let sit for about 30 minutes covered before carving. Mix all that stuff at the bottom, removing the giblet stuff, with the shallots. Puree the mix and use that as your gravy adding salt to taste.

    Indian Roast Pork with Chutney

    Except for the chutney this is a very easy dinner to make. And even the chutney isn't that hard!

    Get a three or so pound pork loin. Grind up in a mortar or other implement of destruction a tablespoon or so of sugar, a couple teaspoons each of cumin and paprika, some salt to taste, some curry powder, some allspice, some ground ginger, some garlic powder and some red pepper. You can be generous with the amounts. Make sure you've got enough mixed up for the next task, i.e. rubbing this mix evenly all over the roast.

    Now place the roast on a rack in a pan. Make sure both are coated with cooking spray so clean up won't be too hard. Stick a thermometer in the roast and bake at 350 until the thermometer says the meat is done.

    For the chutney heat up some butter or oil in a pan, add a chopped onion, some chopped fresh ginger (or powdered if you don't have fresh) and some diced garlic. Cook for awhile until onion is getting done and add some fruit juice. You may use either apple or orange but add a cup or so of whatever you choose. Toss in a cup or two of raisins. You may use plain or golden raisins or a mix of the two types. Add a little vinegar, an equal amount of sugar, some curry powder and some cumin. Simmer until almost all liquid has disappeared. (Damned if I know where it goes when you cook it!)

    Now make a decision: add a half cup or so of jelly. I suggest you add either marmalade or apple or peach jelly. I DO NOT SUGGEST STRWBERRY OR GRAPE. (But if you want to experiment who am I to say anything?) Stir with heating until the jelly is all dissolved and coated over the debris in the pan. Add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and some salt to taste and mix in.

    Serve the chutney either warm or cold with the pork when it is done.

    Confit/Cassoulet (French Baked Beans)

    This is a recipe that requires preparation. In other words: thought, ahead of time, before you start. Verstehen sie das? So you "can" wing it, (I have.) but it will NOT be the dish it can be. So listen up and read and ponder all below BEFORE beginning. (Oh, and a word of warning: at the end I'll give you some "direction" on how to make this more "authentic." And I'll give you a couple of alternatives to make it a lot easier!)

    First make Canard al'Orange. Don't talk back to me! Do what I tell you! All will be revealed shortly.

    Okay, be argumentative. But the NEXT TIME you make Canard la'orange, dork weed, FOLLOW it up with this recipe.

    Happy now? Good! Let's proceed.

    So here you are with this ravaged duck carcass and all that duck fat in a pan. Let us begin the cassoulet shall we?

    Get a pound of great northern white beans (You can use the traditional tarbais beans but they're pretty rare around where I live.) and inspect them carefully for rocks, dirt, etc. Dump them in a pot and cover to double their depth with water. Let stand. We'll get to them tomorrow. (You may also use canned beans. This will shorten the whole process somewhat and not detract from the flavor too much.)

    Get a small but deep ceramic pot and cram it full of chicken thighs. Cover with the duck fat. It's nice to have the fat of more than one duck so you can make lots of chicken. But you can improvise. (For example, I have done this step in bacon grease, recovered pork and beef fat. Just for fun. It worked out OK. But I prefer duck fat.) A word of warning: I have tried just frying to substitute for this step. It does not work.

    Okay, now stick this duck fat covered mound of chicken in the oven and bake at 350 for at least an hour.

    While that's baking attack the duck carcass with your greedy fingers and plunder poor, dead, Donald of every last scrap of flesh you can. You may save the skin for stock but keep it separate from the real meat. Make sure you pick off all the wing and leg meat. Save all the bones and other remains in the freezer for stock. Or, if you're in the mood roast the body next to the chicken under fat and start some stock going. You'll need it later.

    When the chicken is done remove from oven and allow to cool. If you are using canned beans you have the option of using the chicken immediately after cooling. If you still have beans soaking then take the chicken and stick it, still submerged under the fat, in the frig. Place the pile of duck flesh in there also. If you have stock going from the left over duck bones keep an eye on it. Otherwise you are free to watch TV, go out for a night of savage drinking, catch up on your e-mail, whatever. But be ready tomorrow for more fun filled kitchen action! (Me? I'm going to bed.)

    Next day drain your beans and rinse well. Place them in a pot and cover well with water. Add some salt and pepper, a quartered onion, bouquet garni and some chunks of bacon. You may cheat here and use regular bacon. But don't even think about using regular bacon for the steps to follow! Bring this to a boil and reduce to a simmer to cook the beans.

    Take the solidified duck fat/chicken and warm gently on the stove until you can pull the chicken out. Now pull the skin off the chicken and pull the bone out of the meat. If you have cooked it well this should be a piece of cake. Examine the meat to remove any gristle and save the bones and gristle for stock. Save the skin: you will need it shortly.

    When the beans are done remove from heat and allow to cool. Done for the beans here is JUST done. They should be soft but neither resistant to the tooth nor the texture of oatmeal! Sample a few. It should be a pleasure to eat them.

    Dredge the onion and bacon out of the beans. You will need them.

    In some of the liquid duck fat brown some chunks of sausage. I generally use fresh Polish sausage from the local Polish market. I have used Kielbasa. YOU MAY NOT USE SMOKEY LINKS OR HOT DOGS! Set the browned sausage aside along with the chicken meat and duck meat.

    Now take a chunk of slab bacon. (I also buy this at the Polish market.) Cut the rind off and set aside. Yes, this too shall be used. Dice bacon into some half inch sized cubes. If you are not a fan of salt I suggest you place these cubes in a pan and just cover them with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or so and drain and rinse. After they are drained and dry, brown them in the duck fat. If this is too much trouble and you like salt then just brown up the chunks after cutting and set aside.

    Now, time to actually make this sucker!

    Place all the skins of the chicken (Not the duck skins! They go for stock! Too much orange on them.) and the bacon rind in the bottom of a heavy baking dish. Pour in a layer of beans. Add a layer of sausage, bacon squares, (the browned bacon, not the stuff you used for the beans, keep that for use shortly) duck and chicken. Add another layer of beans etc until you have run out of ingredients.

    Now listen up! There are two methods to finishing the job here. Let's take the traditional method first.

    Brown an onion and some garlic in the duck fat along with the reserved bacon pieces and onion you cooked the beans with. Puree this mess with some stock (the stuff you made the way I told you to make it). Use sufficient stock so when you pour this into the bean pan it will just fill up to the top of the upper layer of beans.

    Now bake this whole mess for an hour at 350 and then an hour at 250. Remove from the oven, set it aside until cool and refrigerate. The NEXT day you get to take it out again and re-heat in the oven until bubbling hot through out. You may now eat it with some good bread, hearty red wine and a giant green salad of some sort.

    If that seems like a lot of work (and it is) let's try my short cut.

    Starting before you have layered the baking dish brown up the onions and garlic and mix into the beans. Now start the layering process. When you have completed add that great stock you made (maybe with the remains of Donald/Daffy Duck) until you have the baking dish full to the top layer.

    Now bake it at 350 for one hour. And if you feel like it at 250 for another hour. Remove from oven and serve with the bread, wine, salad etc mentioned above. If you want to save it and then reheat be advised that the flavors improve with the extra cooling/heating cycles.

    If you have been paying ANY attention whatsoever you will have noticed that this process (except for the extra heating cycles) uses just about everything in terms of scraps you generate in your kitchen. And even the cyclical heating would be a snap for someone who made this on a wood fire and kept it covered between heatings. Let this be a lesson: most high cuisine started out in the minds of people so dirt poor they HAD to use every scrap.

    Okay, now, after preparing this dish and eating it, you are in a mellow mood. Which means you're ready for a lecture in tradition. And what I mean by that is, per my reading of French cooking, this, from a strict tradition standpoint, is WRONG! Now if your efforts were tasty you should care? My opinion is no. If you ate it and liked it good! But I suppose I should give you a little more background. This dish should be duck only. And not just any duck it should be duck confit.

    Duck confit is pretty basic stuff. It's salt preserved duck. Not having a lot of duck hanging around that I'm not just salivating over to make into Canard a l'orange I've never had the pleasure of its acquaintance. But I have met it's cousin chicken confit. Which I made up. So I will give you my recipe for the chicken version and, if some day you are flush with duck parts, you may make the real version.

    Take a variety of chicken (duck if you have it) parts and mix them with a bunch of kosher salt. Figure at least 4 ounces of salt per cut up fowl. Cover every bit of surface with the salt and pack all the pieces together tightly in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Keep in the frig for 1 to 2 days depending on your tolerance for salt. At the end of that time rinse the parts in water and prepare the parts (under fat) in the oven as I described above. You may actually fry the parts in oil this time if you don't want to submerge in duck fat and bake.

    If you want to eat the meat as is then, after its cooked, remove from the cooking media, pan or oven, and in the container you cooked the meat in using about 2 tablespoons of duck fat, saute 5 to 6 cloves of smashed garlic until soft. Add half cup water or some stock or white wine or some combo of these and bring to a boil scraping all the brown bits up from the bottom. Add a quarter cup of chopped parsley (or some generous amount of dry) and cook for a bit. Pour over the duck/chicken and eat with fried potatoes. WARNING: THIS IS A STRONG FLAVORED PEASANT DISH!

    If you don't want to eat as is but want to make the cassoulet then proceed as I described above and recover the meat and save the bones. But remember, the longer the chicken/duck was in the salt the more salt you'll end up eating. And if you didn't pay any attention to the salt from the bacon you're crusin for hypertension!

    Do you see a trend in this? Salt preserved duck? Using all the bits and pieces? That's right, Yuppie Puppy, this is based on a cooking style where salt was the ONLY way of preserving food. And absolutely NOTHING could be wasted!

    Now if you said, "Damn! That's a lot of work!" Well, you're right. It is a lot of work. So now that you've read/tried the above here is a short cut process you may want to try.

    First, make comfit. You may do this using any of the seasoning methods of: 1) The way described aboveor 2) The way described above using a ground up mix of 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of thyme leaves, 1/4 cup of parsley leaves (or dry parsley if you want) and a teaspoon of black peppercorns. Now I just whir this stuff into a fine powder and use 1 tablespoon per leg/thigh but ONLY sprinkle the legs/thighs with as much salt as I want. I do not gind the salt with the spices! (This latter is MY preferred method as the mix of salt and spice, in my opinion, makes the meat way to salty. The original recipe calls for 0.5 cup of kosher salt. Yeah, right!)

    Okay, no matter which of these ways you decide to do for salting proceed as before cooking the meat under oil. If you like add a few cloves of peeled garlic to the oil in the cooking and make some "garlic comfit." This is nice for flavoring dishes with garlic but not being too heavy handed with the garlic.

    Once the meat is separated from the bones (see above) mix it with as many canned (or cooked) white beans as you feel will balance meat to bean. Now chop up some onion, carrots and celery and cook them with some bacon. Drain the fat and add tomato paste to desired color, some stock and bring to a boil.The mix should be a little soupy. Add some brandy and simmer for a while. Then mix with the bean/meat mess and bake one hour covered and one hour un-covered. At the beginning of the "un-covered" bake top the mix with cheese of choice and bread crumbs of panko.

    Now, EVEN easier: season the legs, thighs, whatever with the ground spices and the amont of salt you feel brave enough to safely consume. Let sit in frig for 48 hours. Start this in the morning so that after 48 hours, oh, look, it's morning! Now rinse the chicken and place all that seasoned meat in a crockpot (Jam it in!) along with two or three whole bulbs of garlic. Cover with olive oil and turn it on low. 12 hour (or so later) you've got chicken comfit. Now make the cassoulet layering the baking dish with whatever you feel like layering. I PREFER using items that are low in salt. (Trust me! The chicken will have a good dose depending on how much you added and how well you rinsed. Bake topped with Panko and parmesan cheese.

    Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

    This reciepe is from my mother-in-law, Harriet McCartney. We have used it repeatedly over the years.

    Cut up one and a half pounds of sirloin round rump (or other tasty beef) in strips a quarter inch wide. Dump them in a crock pot set on high. Add in 3.5 tablespoons of flour and and stir until meat is coated. Add a medium sized chopped onion, either a half pound fresh or two 4.5 ounce cans (drained) of mushrooms, 3 tablespoons of ketchup, salt to taste, a half teaspoon of dry mustard and a cup or so of good stock. (Preferrably that you've made yourself. You can add a little demi-galce if you did what I told you and made some up.) You can also add a few ounces of dry sherry or vermouth.

    Cook on high for an hour and lower temp to low. Leave it go for 6 to 8 hours. An hour before serving mix 3 tablespoons of flour into a cup of sour cream. Stir out all the lumps and then drop that mix into the crock pot. Stir welll and let the whole thing cook for another hour.

    Serve over wide egg noodles. (Or over rice if you don't have noodles.)

    Japanese Beef Bowl (Gyudon)

    Want a VERY EASY dish that you can crank out in a hurry and is delicious? Try this Japanese version of fast food.

    Cook up 6 to 8 cups of white rice. Keep it hot while you proceed on the rest of the task at hand.

    Make a sauce. Start with a cupo of water and add a third cup of soy sauce and a third cup of mirin. (Mirin is a sweet Japanese wine that is often sold in the non-liquor section of grocery stores: it's alcohol content is low.) Now take a large chunk of fresh ginger (about two tablespoons worth) and smash it into a thin paste. Stir that into the sauce and allow it to sit for a little.

    Take about a half pound of beef (pick your variety but if you use a tough cut pound the hell out of it with a meat hammer) and slice it into paper thin (or as thin as you are capable of) slices. Slice up an onion. Now stir fry the onion until soft and then throw in the beef slices. Fry until the meat is no longer red. Dish out the rice in bowls, top with the meat and pour the sauce over it.

    Chow down!

    Lamb Kebabs Xinjiang Style

    This recipe is courtesy of Jean He and comes from her home town in the far west of China. It's a favorite "street" food. I find it to be delicious. I assume one can make it indoors. But I haven't seen that done. (I'll probably try it someday.)

    Ingredients:

    Preparation:

    Cooking:

    Roast Chicken

    This involves some work but the result is delicious.

    Get a 4 or some pound raosting chicken and remove the gibblets. (Save these for stock. Except for the liver. Get rid of it.) Starting at the neck loosen skin from the breast and drumsticks. With your fingers work at mix of salt and black pepper under the loose skin and over the outer skin. (Go easy on the salt and pepper. Two teaspoons of a 50/50 mix is more than enough.) Put some oregano, a quartered lemon and some celery pieces inside the cavity. Tuck the wings under the chicken and tie the legs together if you like.

    Get about 2 pounds of small red potatoes cut in wedges and about an equal amount of yellow onions. Boil gently in water until they are just softening. Drain the water (save for stock base) and toss the mess with butter until coated. You can try and just toss the potatoes and onnions in with the chicken but they tend to cook a little less and be too crunchy for my taste.

    Place chicken breats sde up on the rack of a broiler pan and arrange the onions-potatoes around it. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes and reduce heat to 325. Bake for an additional hour and 15 minutes or until onions and potatoes are done and a thermometer inserted in the meat of the chicken thigh says "done!"

    Make a roux with the drained chicken fat and from that make a gravy. You may have more fat than you need so act accordingly.

    Serve with appropriate green vegtables and salad.

    Eggplant with Cilantro

    This is a "stir" fry dish that I have modified. Feel free to modify as you see fit or just go with what is presented here.

    Start with pork: you may use ground, strips or diced pork. I prefer to use diced. Mix the pork with some soy sauce and toss with some corn starch. Fry the pork in oil until it's your level of done. I prefer that it have a little brown crispness to it. But if you like it just non-pink go for it.

    Remove pork from pan and fry the eggplant. How? Well, I followed the original recipes once and was disappointed so I suggest you follow the pancko recipe for eggplant I have under "Eggplant Parmigiana." Otherwise do as you please. Set cooked eggplant and pork aside to keep warm.

    To the pan with appropriate amount of oil that you cooked the pork in add a couple of chopped green onions, the pork, a tablespoon of sugar, some hot chilli paste, some more soy sauce and some good broth. Warm this just to boiling shut off the heat and add at least a half cup of chopped cilantro and some fresh garlic and fresh ginger that you've smashed together into a paste. Stir all around to mix tastes and wilt cilantro just a little bit. If you wish it to be thicker you may add a paste of water or wine or soy sauce and corn starch. However it's best to do your thickening at the stage where you boil the pork briefly, i.e. before adding cilantro, ginger etc.

    Serve by placing hot cooked rice on a plate, putting crisp slices of eggplant on top of that and spooning over the pork mix.

    Brunswick Stew

    There are a variety of ways to make this as it's an old recipe that uses what people had available back in the 1800s in Virginia.

    I start with diced pork, chicken and bacon that I brown up in a little olive (or other) oil. When these are done add some mix of chopped sweet pepper, onion and celery to the pan and cook until soft. Add some flour and cook for a roux then add some tomato paste, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook a little more and add some GOOD broth. (I used the liquid I had prepared some pinto beans in with a little demi glace.) Add a little hot sauce or red pepper and some frozen corn with some frozen lima beans. (You may also used canned beans such as white northern, pinto or garbanzos.)Cook until you're happy with level of doneness and eat.

    Chicken Paprika

    Here's another Hungarian/Transylvanian dish. Whatever you do use REAL sweet Hungarian paprika for this. If you don't you will probably end up with a bitter mess that your dog won't eat.

    Take about 3 lbs of chicken. Any parts will do. Brown the parts on all sides in olive oil. When all the chicken is browned remove it and set it aside. Add a cup or more of chopped onion and a few cloves of chopped garlic. Cook this down until nice and limp and add 2 tbl of sweet Hungarian paprika. Stir and cook until all is coated. Now add a cup (or more) of GOOD stock and scrape up all the good brown stuff at the bottom of the pan. (If you think I'm beating a dead horse here about always using "GOOD STOCK" I am: GOOD STOCK is the only thing that will make this taste like it's REALLY worth eating and not just some pre-prepared abomination from the oil refinery/landfill down the street. Just get off your dead ass and spend a little time making stock. You will be richly rewarded!)

    Add the chicken, in whatever sizes and shapes you like, to the stock/onions. Whisk together 1.5 cups of sour cream with 2 tbl flour and then whisk that into the simmering stock/chicken/onion stuff. Simmer until the chicken is JUST DONE and eat.

    Tamale Pie (2 ways)

    These are two quick and easy Mexican dishes that can be made with or without meat.

    If you plan to make either version with meat start by cooking the meat. The original calls for chicken but pork works and I think ground beef would too. If you want to cut fat for the pork or chicken poach the meat in a mix of wine and water. (Save the liquid for use in stock later!) You can also brown the meat. In either case it doesn't have to be completely done as it will cook more later. Let meat cool and then cut it into bite sized pieces. Set it aside and move on.

    Let's do version #1.

    In a bowl mix together 3 tablespoons of paprika (I use Hungarian Hot), 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 1.5 teaspoons of oregano, 3 teaspoons of powdered garlic and a half teaspoon of cumin. Stir this into a paste and mix with a cup (or so) of good stock (you can use the wine stock you poached the chicken in. Add a few anise seeds and some dry mint and pour into a pot. Bring the mix to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for a few minutes.

    Saute some onions until slightly brown. Add a pound of fresh tomatoes (or a can of diced) and pour in the sauce you made.

    Take a deep baking dish and cover the bottom with fresh or frozen corn kernels. Now add a layer of canned black beans and layer the meat over this. If you don't have meat that's okay as this makes a good vegetarian dish. Now pour the auce/tomato/onion mix over this and cover with a layer of cheddar cheese if you wish.

    In a separate bowl mix together a half cup of masa harina (you may use corn meal but it'll change the texture), a half cup of regular flour and 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder. In another bowl whisk together an egg white, 1.5 tablespoons of oil and a half cup of milk. Add to the dry ingredients and make a dough. Cover the surface of your casserole with this dough and bake at 375 until browned and bubbling.

    For version #2 after you have cooked the meat mix together 4 ounces of grated cheese of your choice. (I probably should point out that if you want this to vaguely taste Mexican you should stick with compatible flavored cheese. But if you want to experiment go ahead!) Now mix together one third cup milk, 1 beaten egg, one teaspoon of cumin, hot red pepper to taste, one can of cream style corn, one small can of chopped green chiles drained and one 8.5 ounce box of corn muffin mix.

    Stir this all together until well mixed and pour into a greased 9 X 13 dish. Bake at 400 until solid and remove from the oven.

    While this is baking (or even before) mix together a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes. Add a tablespoon of ground cumin, hot red pepper to taste (I used Hungarian Hot.), a teaspoon or more of oregano, two or three tablespoons of chile powder, a half tablespoon of powdered garlic and a half teaspoon of cinnamon. If you have any chipotle (dry) peppers throw one in and then simmer this for about 30 minutes.

    When sauce and crust are done put a layer of chicken (meat) over crust, cover with your sauce and then cover with a layer of grated cheese. Bake at 400 until nice and bubbly. Cut in pieces, put a spoonful of sour cream on each and serve.

    Chicken and Egg on Rice (Oyako Donburi)

    This is a Japanese dish that translates as "parent and child." It's easy and tasty. Leftovers are especially good.

    Cook some rice. The Japanese tend to use way more rice than other ingredients. But you're a big boy now! You can figure out how much to make all by yourself!

    Make some dashi (as per recipe in Soup section). To 3 cups dashi add a tablespoon or so of soy sauce. Cut up a few (to size/number of people eating) chunks of chicken in bite size pieces. Heat the dashi/say to a low simmer and add the chicken chunks. When the chicken is almost done beat up an egg per person and pour the beaten egg into the simmering liquid. Don't stir! Let it set as it will.

    Serve by spooning the chicken/egg/dashi over hot rice in a bowl and garnishing with chopped green onion.

    Chicken and Chinese Cabbage (Tori Jibu-ni)

    Parboil several leaves of chinese cabbage (Napa). They should be nice and green so don't over cook. When done pull them out and save the cooking liquid (for stock).

    In a separate pot mix together 2 cups dashi, a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of mirin. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.

    Cut up some raw chicken in bite size pieces. Toss these pieces with flour.

    Take the hot dashi/soy/mirin and pour half of it over the chinese cabbage leaves. Increase the heat and gently simmer the cabbage in this sauce for 5 to 10 minutes. (I prefer 5.)

    Drop the chicken in the remaining dashi/soy/mirin and heat at medium heat. Keep shaking and stirring to keep the chicken from sticking. The sauce will thicken rapidly but keep the pieces moving until they are done.

    Serve by placing a few cabbage leaves on a plate and spooning on some of the chicken sauce/gravy. Add dollop of wasabi horseradish and sprinkle with sansho pepper. Rice is good as a side.

    Seafood Tacos and Guacamole

    I have updated this recipe to provide two approaches. I'll leave the older one in first place and add the new one at the end. You can pretty much pick your type of seafood for this although I suggest shrimp or crab (fake or real) or you can just use the sauce and add some blackbeans and cheese and make this vegetarian.

    Recipe #1: Saute in oil a clove of chopped garlic and a chopped red onion until the onion starts to brown. Add a small can of diced green chillis and a chopped tomato. Stir and heat until tomato is cooked and add seafood. Cook until done.

    Serve on soft tacos and top with your choice of chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, cheese, chopped green onion and cooked black beans. Add pineapple salsa to taste. (See recipe.)

    Recipe #2: First make your sauces and garnish. For the Gucamole mash together the required number of ripe avocados and finely chopped green onions. Add in a little lime juice to keep it green. Now mix together in proportions as you see fit mayonnaise, grated mexican cheese and hot sauce/hot pepper. Shred some cabbage for garnish.

    As any white fish should do pick what you like. I suggest cod if available or tilapia. Coat the cut up (bite size pieces) with flour, coat with beaten egg and the cover with Panko. (Panko being Japanese bread crumbs). Fry until crisp and serve on totillas with sauces and cabbage.

    Baked "Pot Roast"

    I feel a little guilty about putting this in here. The guilt arises from a feeling that more care and love is needed in a dish than is represented here. But Kingsly Amis once noted that an exaggerated sense of how things "just have to be done to be 'real'" is also the mark of an ignorant snob. So here is an easy "fire and forget" dish that doesn't require too much love or care but tastes pretty good!

    Get a chuck roast. I like the 7 bone type but it's up to you. Line the bottom of a baking dish with aluminum foil. Sprinkle half a pckage of onion soup mix on each side of the roast and press into the meat, lay the seasoned meat in the pan on the foil and wrap the foil around it to seal it in. Bake at 350. For a 3 pound roast expect it will take 2 hours. Serve with flat noodles and use the juice from the meat to flavor the noodles.

    Pot Stickers

    To do this recipe you need a food processer. I suggest using one with the "shred" blade on it. The intent is to get small pieces and not some ill-defined mush.

    Start with 2 or 3 green onions and cut very coarsely. Add about a tablespoon of coarse cut fresh ginger and a couple tablespoons of fresh cilantro. Now feed all this through your food processer along with two or three carrots, some dark sesame oil to taste and about a tablespoon of soy sauce. You may also add cabbage if you feel so inclined or other vegetables as you see fit. But we have stuck with the above and been very happy.

    Now to the food processer add a pound of frozen, cooked, peeled and de-tailed shrimp. Once all has been chopped mix this mess together.

    To make the pot stickers dust a cookie sheet with corn starch. Lay out a wonton wrapper on a plate and put a tablespoon or so of the chopped shrimp mix in the center. (Judge how much you want in the wonton by the size of the wonton.) Dip your finger in water and run it all along the edges of the wonton to wet them. Now fold two opposite corners together, fold the remaining opposite corners into them and press to seal. Run your fingers along the open edges to press them together and put your cute little creation on the starch dusted cookie sheet.

    Continue until you run out of filling. You should end up with a bunch of filled wontons that vaguely resemble four cornered hats.

    To cook oil a pan and heat to medium-high. Fill, but don't crowd, with wontons and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Add a half cup of water to the pan, cover and cook/steam for 4 minutes. Uncover the pan and cook until liquid evaporates (about 3 minutes or more).

    Repeat this cooking of thge wontons in batches until all is cooked.

    To serve make a sauce of a quarter cup of water, a quarter cup of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and rice vinegar and sugar and chilli-garlic paste to taste.

    Tofu Stir Fry and Variations

    This is a made up recipe that I came up with to use some Tofu we had stashed in the frig.

    Slice the Tofu into long flat slices. Place in a flat bowl and liberally cover both sides of the slices with A-1 Steak Sauce. (Yes, you read it correctly: A-1.) Allow to marinate for a few hours in the frig.

    Place your wok on the stove (you can also use a frying pan but the description here is wok-centric) and heat until hot. Add a small amount of oil and set the Tofu slices in the oil. Save the marinade. Tilt the wok this way and that to allow the oil to reach all corners. (You may have to fry the Tofu in batches.) Flip the slices and fry the other side when side one is done. How crispy you want the Tofu is your choice.

    Remove Tofu from the pan and place between sheets of paper towel to blot excess oil. Keep slices warm while you finish your frying. Add chopped green onion, chopped green pepper (hot or mild) to the pan and fry until vegetables are beginning to soften. Add a can of diced tomatoes and some mushroons (fresh or canned) and heat through out. Add some crushed garlic and ginger and the reserved marinade and stir together until heated evenly. Place the sliced Tofu on top and serve.

    As an alternative to the above heat some oil in a wok and when hot add slices/chunks/pieces of tofu. A word here to the wise: firmer tofu is easier to handle. I have used silken tofu and ended up with various crispy pieces of fried tofu. The taste is very nice(er) but it's harder to handle and soaks up a little more grease. It's your decision here.

    When your done browning the tofu to your preference remove it and drain/blot to remove any excess grease and keep warm.

    Make a sauce of soy sauce, peanut butter, a little hot pepper or hot sauce of your choice, some crushed ginger and some crushed garlic. You;ll need about 4 ounces so plan accordingly.

    In your wok pan stir fry up somevegetables. I suggest some combination of sliced onion, sliced green (or other color) pepper, bok choy, napa, mushrooms of your choice, peapods or regular peas. (Be creative!) When the vegetables are just beginning to soften add the fried todu and the sauce stir and heat through,. Serve over rice.

    As a short cut you maye use Thai peanut sauce instead of peanut butter and hot sauce. And if you don't want to fry the tofu and live near a Japanese market or a good "general" asian market you can purchase pre-fried tofu in a variety of tastes, e.g. vegetabale, fish, shrimp and so on.

    Noodle Sukiyaki

    This is a "wow" party type dish. It can be expanded in size very easily depending on who shows up. And if you have a hot pot to keep things warm each person can do their assembly/serving at the table. Most of the speacilty items here will need access to a Japanese grocery. But you don't have to slavishly follow the list below.

    Prepare about 2-3 quarts of dashi (see soup section). Mix into it some soy sauce and some Mirin (sweet Japanese wine). Keep it VERY hot.

    Cook some Japanese noodles. Now prepare a variety of the following (or other stuff as you see fit/feel creative): bamboo shoots, sliced burdock root, glutinous rice cakes (called mochi: bake them until they swell and become slightly brown), deep fried (atsuage) or grilled (yakidofu) bean curd (these come in a variety of tastes, e.g. shrimp, vegetable, fish. Be adverturesome!), spinach, thin sliced radish or Japanese radish (daikon), mushrooms, shrimp, fish, eel, etc.

    To serve either through it all together or give each person a bowl of dashi and let them add what they want to it. The dashi should be hot enough that it will "cook" the additions. (If you're worried about things being done then add the stuff that needs cooking to the dashi, cook as needed and then let people add the other "no-cook" stuff at their pleasure.

    Season the mix with any combination of fresh lemon, Japanese seven spice mix (shichimi), grated ginger and chopped green onion.

    Jacques Pepin Souffle

    This souffle is supposedly from Jacques Pepin, who if you don't know, is a famous French chef and author. Whether this is his recipe or not it's easy and good.

    6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus more to butter a 6-cup gratin dish

    6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    2 cups cold whole milk

    1/2 teaspoon salt (Leave this out please. Try salting at the table for a change!)

    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    5 or 6 large eggs

    2.5 cups grated Swiss cheese, preferably Gruyere (about 6 ounces)

    3 tablespoons minced fresh chives opr green onions

    Butter a 6 cup casserole dish. Melt the rest of the butter in a pan and add the flour. Make a roux with this and add the milk. Heat and sir until thick and smooth. Bring it pretty much to a boil, add tye pepper (and salt IF you must) and then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp.(It doesn't have to be that cool but it shouldn't be hot as you'll be adding eggs to it and you DON'T want they to "scramble" because the sauce is too hot.

    Beat the eggs, grated cheese and chives/green onions together and stir into the (cool) whitesauce. Pour this into your casserole dish. You can cook it right away or allow to sit over night.

    Bake at 400 F until puffy and browned (at least 30 to 40 minutes and probably more. Keep an eye on it!)

    Eat while it's still inflated: don't let it bottom out into an egg pancake.

    Saltimbocca

    This Italian dish is supposed to made with veal. I don't do veal so this is an alternative using either chicken or pork.

    First pick your meat. Whether it's chicken or pork make sure it's boneless and skinless and then pound it flat with a meat hammer. Now coat the flattened pieces with flour and sprinkle liberally with powdered sage. On one side of the cutlet press down a thin slice (or slices) of prosciutto or capricola. (You're supposed to use prosciutto but be adverturesome every once in awhile okay?)

    In a pan heat some olive oil and some more powdered sage. Don't burn it, just get it cooking so you can smell it. Now add the cutlets and fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side until done. Set them aside and add some vermouth, parsley and pepper to the pan and cook slowly down until reduced by half. Scrap all of the brown goody off the bottom while cooking. The amount of vermouth you add should be reflective of how much sauce you want at the end. You need a cup of sauce then start with two cups vermouth etc.

    Pour sauce over the cutlets and eat.

    Spanish Daube

    I have tried daube reipes before and haven't cared too much for the results. But this one was really popular with all of us.

    Get a chunk of beef, e.g. a round roast, and brown it on all sides in hot oil. Remove it from the pan and add a large sliced onion to the pan, some sliced green pepper and some chopped garlic. As these are starting to brown add some thyme, some paprika (I used Hungarian)some fennel seeds and a pinch of saffron. Cook until the spices start to smell good and add a cup of either sherry or vermouth along with hot red pepper to taste. (You can ALWAYS add salt or hot pepper later in the game. Just remember you CAN'T take them out!) Cook this mess slowly until it's reduced by half then add two cups of GOOD stock. (I used some demi-glace with some light chicken broth.) Simmer slowly until meat is more or less tender/done. (I suggest an hour depending on thickness of the meat.)

    Remove the meat from the pan and let sit. Add some wine vinegar, some corn starch, some parsley and some green peas to the pan and stir to cook the peas and make a slightly thickened sauce.

    Serve the beef sliced with the sauce.

    Chinese Salt Roast Chicken

    Years ago (25 years more or less) Barbara and I made a version of this that was simply a whole chicken covered in rock salt and roasted. It certainly was tender inside but the skin was instant hypertension! This is a little more complex to make but is far less salt intensive. And the stock/broth/drippings it makes are tremendous for use in stews or other Chinese dishes.

    Place an orange peel in 3 cups of water and start to simmer uncovered while you do the rest below. If the water level drops to less than 2 cups turn off the heat, cover and let the orange "juice" cool.

    Get a whole chicken and allow to come to room temperature more or less. Remove all the innards and loosen the skin around the neck. Work a tablespoon of kosker salt in under the skin as far as you can. (See notes in Parmesan Sage Turkey.) Let the beast stand for 15 minutes or so and then rinse off the skin and pat dry.

    Make a sauce of crushed shallots, crushed ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey. Chop up some green onions and put into the chicken cavity. Toss in the orange peel you've cooked also. Take the crushed mix of shallots etc and rub that under the skin of the chicken. Pour the orange "juice" you made in a roasting and put the chicken in it.

    Bake at 425 for at least an hour or until your meat thermometer reads "done!"

    Let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Some people say get rid of the skin. But my experience (And remember I am NOT a salt fan!) is it's just fine.

    Long Life Noodles

    This is supposed to be eaten at Chinese New Year to insure long life. Which translates into "don't break up/shorten the noodles!" Get it? Now I have used wheat noodles in this but I'm still searching for round, thick chewy ones. (Maybe next time I'll use whole wheat pasta.)

    First step in to cut some pork into strips. Shake the pork with some corn starch to coat it and then marinate it in a mix of Chinese cooking wine and Hosin sauce. (Yeah, I know, I said never use "cooking" wine for anything except cleaning paint brushes. But for this dish to get the flavor you have to. So go to the nearest Oriental grocery and grab a bottle. Try drinking some if you want to know why I'm so down on "cooking" wines.)

    While the pork is marinating cook the noodles per directions and when done toss with a little olive oil to keep from sticking. If they stick the taste will be the same as if they didn't but I find it aesthetically displeasing.

    Chop up some Chinese cabbage (Napa) or some Bok Choy (my preference) and stir fry it until just beginning to wilt. Remove from the pan and add a chopped garlic clove. Stir fry for a minute and add the pork. Fry the pork until it's browned. Remove from the pan and toss in the noodles plus some soy sauce, some sugar and some oyster sauce. Stir fry the noodles until they are browned. The intent is to "Carmelize" the noodles. When they are carmeled to your desired level add some chopped green onion, the cabbage/bok choy and the pork. Heat through, mix together and serve.

    Carmelized Noodles with Mushrooms

    Take some pasta noodles of choice and break them into 3 to 4 inch pieces. Cook per package directions and drain. Toss the cooked noodles with olive oil and sesame oil and some sugar and throw them into a hot wok. Stir fry the noodles until they start carmelizing. (You can pick your level of brown but I would suggest stopping before they get crispy and move on to the next steps.)

    Mix into the noodles some chopped green onions, some bamboo shoots (or water chestnuts or both) and some mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms are nice for this but regular canned mushrooms work too. (You may slice the mushrooms if you use fresh whole ones as you see fit.) Add some black beans to the mix (a whole can of drained if you like) and stir until heated throughout.

    Add a half cup of Shaoxing Chinese wine and a tablespoon of Chinese black vinegar. (Don't get carried away with the vinegar, okay?) Add a cup of good stock and, using a garlic press, squeeze in a clove of garlic along with some chopped fresh ginger. Stir it all up until hot and bubbly and serve.

    Grilled Whole Chicken/BBQ Chicken with Butter Sauce

    These are two easy summer dishes that probably could be done in a broiler. As that would be a waste (and have none of the nice charcoal taste) I suggest only do this on a grill.

    Start your coals/grill. For the first version mix together a spicey combination of brown sugar, cumin, salt, black pepper, hot hungarian paprika, thyme and chili powder.

    Take a whole chicken and remove the innards. (Save those for stock. Except for the liver. Unless you like liver which I don't.) Pull the skin away from the meat at various locations on the chicken and work the spice mixture up and under the skin. (It should feel really creepy and probably will look more than a little disgusting: Suck it up, cupcake!)

    When you feel you have done your best to distribute the spices spray the chicken with cooking spray (or rub with olive oil) and plop it down on the grill and toast on either side with direct cooking until it's is nice and browned. Be careful not to char it! (I like to brown top, bottom, both sides, head and ass at about 5 minutes per. That should mean the rest of the cooking should take NO MORE than an hour. More or less.)

    When you have browned all sides you care to remove it from direct heat and let it roast until the interior temperature (use a thermometer!) says it's done.

    The second version is very similar. WHile the coals are getting ready mix together 1 tbl hot hungarian paprika, 0.5 Tbl each garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme and dried oregano. Add about a tsp of black pepper and a tsp of white pepper (if you have it). Add 0.5 tsp of dried sage and some caynne or other dried hot pepper to taste. Now add about 1 tbl of sugar either white or brown. Mix well.

    Rinse your chicken off (after removing innards as per above) and pat dry. Rub with olive oil and then with your dry spice mix. Grill as per above until done. As a final touch melt about 2/3 stick of butter and mix with a tbl or so of Old Bay Seasoning and hot sauce/red pepper powder to taste. Slather the with this sauce and let cook indirect for about 5 more minutes. Remove chicken and let rest. Slather with more sauce and slice or serve the sauce with cut up chicken.

    Serve with grilled veggies, e.g. muchrooms, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, brussels sprots etc to make a simple all grill meal.

    Salisbury Steak

    Okay, this is really hamburger but it's good tasting hamburger.

    Mix together a pound or so of ground beef with an eighth cup of chopped fresh parsley and a minced scallion (or small onion or shallot). Add salt and pepper as you see fit. Form this into patties and dredge then patties in flour. Cook the patties in hot oil until browned. About 3 to 5 minutes on a side should do it. They should just barely be to your level of doneness.

    Remove the meat from the pan and add a chopped onion and some sugar. Cook until the onion begins to carmelize and add 3 ounces of tomato paste and some chopped garlic. Brown this and add some more flour and cook this in to make a roux. Add a cup of good stock, a quarter cup of good red wineand some thyme. Cook to thicken and add the meat patties. Simmer for ten minutes and eat.

    Fish Deal

    This is a recipe from a Nero Wolfe novel by Rex Stout. No, I don't remember which one; it's been a LONG time since I read it. But the idea is quick, easy and tasty. And it's open to nterpretation so you can be creative. (Actually you can always be creative!)

    Get a sturdy section of aluminum foil. Lay a slice of ham down on the bottom. The original recipe calls for ham but I always use bacon. It's up to you. On top of the ham/bacon sprinkle some chopped onions. (I like green onions.) And over that sprinkle some brown sugar. Now lay a slab or slabs of fish on top of this. Again the original called for trout but be creative here, okay?

    Repeat the bacon/ham, brown sugar and onion proces on top of the fish and then sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce to taste. Seal up the foil and bake until done. This can be done in an oven or over coals.

    Glazed Tofu

    Get a pound of firm tofu and slice into slabs about a quarter inch thick. Lay the tofu out between paper towels and let the water diffuse out. The longer you let the water leech out (change the towels or wring them out at intervals) the crisper the tofu will get in the later processes.

    When you have all the water you want out of the tofu fry the slabs in oil until they are to your level of doneness. While the tofu is frying combine 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, a quarter cup of orange juice (fresh squeezed is nice), 2 tablespoons soy sauce, some grated orange rind and a couple teaspoons of sesame oil. Bring this to a boil and then set to simmer until the tofu is done. Put the tofu between some paper towels to remove excess grease and check your sauce: it should be slightly thickened. Keep everything warm while you stir fry up some vegetables. I recommend bean sprouts, shreded carrots and muchrooms but it's up to you. While you are doing the stir fry cook some rice noodles. They cook very fast so this sould not be a problems.

    To serve put some noodles on a plate, top with some vegetables, add a slab of tofu, pour on some sauce and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. (Oh, did I forget to mention the sesame seed toasting? Oops!)

    Chicken: Whole 'Fried' or Grilled

    Here are two ways of cooking a whole chicken. (Also see recipe above.) You can do it on a stove top or on a grill. Either works.

    First decide if you want to spice up your chicken. Salt and pepper with a spray of cooking oil is good. But you can Cajun it, hot pepper it, rub it with cumin and brown sugar, add thyme and a chopped up lemon/onion to the cavity. Really it's up to you. Anyway you do it will probably work although you may want to go simple first time around.

    Before you start take out the giblets and save for stock. (I don't do liver: Too strong!) Now apply you seasonings and let chicken come to room temp. (It will cook evenly then.)

    The trick: Whether you do this on the grill or in a frying pan (a heavy frying pan is best to get even heat) you need to brown it on ALL sides. That's right, brown, NOT char. The only way to do this is slow heat taking about 10 or more minutes on a side and then turning when that side looks nice and brown. So if it's a grill you do it over coals but not a huge steel melting pile. If it's in a pan medium heat. You should hear a gentle sizzle. Not a oil popping fry!

    Rotate the chicken every way you can to get the whole surface. Now when that's accomplished move the bird to indirect heat. On the grill that's all coals to one side and the chicken in a pan on the other. In a pan best thing is put it in the oven. Insert a meat thermometer and cook until done. Allow it to rest at room temp for about 10 minutes and carve.

    Braised Short Ribs

    I put this recipe here because it uses the same technique as the chicken above. Except I wouldn't try it on a grill as you lose too much flavor as it drips off.

    Salt and pepper your ribs and let them warm to room temp. Brown them as above slowly on all sides. Remove from the pan. Drain off most of the grease and add a bunch of chopped aromatices. (That's French for "stuff like carrots, celery and onions.") Sautee the aromatices and plop the ribs back on top. Add some really good stock and slow simmer until ribs are tender. Eat!

    Carmelized Noodles

    Start with some Udon style, already cooked noodles. You want the kind that are fat and soft already. Packages of a wide variety of such critters can be food in any oriental grocery. You can cook your won but I have found they're not as good as what I can buy.

    Now heat some oil in a wok or pan. Use a mix of sesame oil and olive oil. Toss the noodles in and stir adding little pinches of sugar here and there. The idea is to carmelize them to whatever level you like.

    When noodles are done take them out and keep them warm. In the pan stir fry some chopped garlic, black beans, ginger, bamboo shoots and mushrooms.(You can be creative here and stir fry anything you want!)

    When things are just about done pour in some good homemade stock, a good dose of Chinese Rice Wine and some black pepper. Heat until all is hot and serve over noodles sprinkling with rice vinegar if you like.

    Fish with Capers

    Easy! Pick your white fish of choice. Brown on both sides in a pan. Set it aside. Add a couple generous pats of butter and brown it. Add some black pepper, capers, lemon juice and chopped green onion if you like. Stir this mess up and dump it on the fish. Serve!

    Sri Lankan Curry

    In a small pan cook together some ground corrinader, some cumin, some ground fennel and some tumeric. No, I don't know how much. Figure it out!

    When the spices are toasted toss them with some cubed beef (of your choice) and some black pepper. Let 'marinate' for at least an hour.

    when marination is over sautee in a pan some chopped onion, some ginger, some garlic and some chopped jalapenos (to taste). Remove from the pan and add the beef browning it in batches on all sides. Whenit's all done dump everything together in the pan and adda couple cups light coconut milk, a dash of white wine vinegar and some strips of lemon rind. Stir all together and heat throughout (or until it's done the way you want). Serve over rice.

    Memphbis and Chicago BBQ

    I have only done these on a grill with success. Using the oven just doesn't cut it.

    First Memphis style: pick some meat. I used boneless pork shoulder ribs. (They were on sale.) Make a rub of 2 tbl paprika (I used Hungarian hot), 2 tbl brown sugar, 2 tsp chili powder, 1.5 tsp black pepper, 1.5 tsp powdered garlic, 1.5 tsp onion powder, 1.5 tsp red pepper and some thyme.

    I have to confess here that these are the amounts in the recipe I had. In actual practice I didn't measure.

    Rub down the meat with this and then grill to brown on all sides. When all parts are crisp remove the meat from direct heat and slow cook until down. While this slow cooking is going on baste occasionally with a mix of orange (or apple) juice and cider vinegar.

    I assume that for one skilled in the art (that's patent talk) you can cook until the meat falls apart. Go for it! I ate it when the thermometer said done.

    Now Chicago style: time to pick some meat again. For this one I have only used spareribs.

    Make a rub here of 0.25 cup brown sugar, some salt to taste (I use a sprinkle here and there but generally go very light), 1 tbsp of chili powder, some ground black pepper, hot red pepper to taste, 1 tsp dry sage, some onion powder or grated onion and 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning.

    Rub down the meat with this and then grill to brown on all sides. When all parts are crisp remove the meat from direct heat and slow cook until down. While this slow cooking is going on baste occasionally with some of my BBQ sauce (see recipe above somewhere).

    As I noted above I assume that for one skilled in the art you can cook until the meat falls apart. Go for it! But like the other version I ate these when the thermometer said done.

    On another note: If you are not a meat fan this works great for grilled fish, e.g. salmon.

    Garlic Anchovy Pasta

    Easy! Easy! Easy! Start cooking your pasta of choice. In a blender combine a can (or cans) of Anchoives and their oil, cloves of garlic to taste and some fresh chives or green onions. (If you don't have chives or green onions use some white onion slices.) Whir all this up to liquid and serve over the pasta with grated cheese.

    If you want to experiment you can toss in some steamed vegetables with the pasta. Or fool around with what's in the sauce. Be creative!

    Goat Cheese Pizza

    First you need a crust. You can make your own or you can get one from the store. There's a recipe for thick crust under the Chicago Pizza entry here. But for this recipe I prefer a flatter crust. So I went with the Boboli brand at the store. I actually like to have one of these crusts in the freezer for a quick back up, e.g. the corn pizza recipe above.

    Now bake some garlic. Oil a head of garlic and bake until either tender or crunchy. Let cool and start the next phase.

    Saute some chopped shallots and onions in butter and when they are just about done add some mushrooms. Add the chopped garlic in whatever form you have forced it into and season with oregano, black and hot red pepper. Add some tomato paste and wine and/or stock to thin it and simmer while you get on with your life.

    Take your crust o choice and smear it evenly with soft goat cheese. Add some feta on top along with some chopped fresh basil. I suppose you can use dry basil here but it will detract from the taste/texture.Drizzle the tomato sauce over the cheese ladden crust and top with some mozarella and parmesan.

    Bake and eat when done.

    Pho

    Pho, supposedly pronounced "fuh" is a Vietnamese noodle dish. Is this authentic? I have no clue. It's based (loosely) on a recipe I picked up which claims to be authentic. So if you happen to be Vietnamese you may feel free to let me know either way whether it's the real deal.

    First, oil 3 or 4 shallots with olive oil. Do the same with a chunk of fresh ginger. Put these oily treats in the oven under the broiler and broil for 20 minutes or longer turning regularly to get them blackend (slightly) on all sides. Pull them out and let cool.

    While you are broiling, in a small pot (I prefer ceramic) collect some anise (star if you have it), some fennel seeds, some cardomon (pods if you have them) and a stick of cinnamon. (You may use powdered.) Heat slowly until the spices start to smoke (slightly) and darken. Heat and stir so the dark color is even. Remove from heat and let cool.

    Now, you must have some GOOD stock. (I have been thinking about trying dashi here but haven't done it yet) In a skillet (I like cast iron.) put in an inch or so of stock, the toasted spices, some green tops from a few green onions and some round steak cut into rectangular strips of about 1 inch by 2 to 3 inches. Peel your roasted shallots and ginger and add one quartered shallot and a few slices of ginger to the skillet. Bring this mess to a simmer and allow to cook slowly. If you have enough stock you can simmer it uncovered ading more stock as needed. If you are low on stock then cover and let cook.

    When the meat is done, which should be in an hour or more, fish it out of the skillet and strain the broth remaining. Return the broth to the skillet. Slice an onion and add to the skillet along with the beef.

    The next trick here is to slice some very tender beef, e.g. tenderloin, VERY thin. Do the same with the remaining shallots and ginger. Take those green onion bottoms and slice them also. Chop some cilantro and have it ready. Add some Japanese udon noodles to the skillet and let them cook. Now add everything but the cilantro. Let this mess cook until the beef is no longer pink. At this stage you may also add some fresh sliced mushrooms although this is not a critical item. Now add a tablespoon or less of Vietnamese fish sauce and the Cilantro and serve in bowls with some chopped fresh hot peppers in rice vinegar on the side for garnish.

    Note about fish sauce: It is VERY salty. I suggest storing it in the refrig so the salt crystalizes out and/or using it VERY sparingly. If you should find the pho is too salty just fish out all the solids and eat them without the juice.

    If the above seems a little complex then try this. I like both the above and below. But the one to follow here is a lot easier.

    Chicken. Get some chicken. You can use a whole chicken but I've only used parts. Take said parts, in not to big sizes, i.e. if you have a breast split it, and place in a pan of water and /or stock and a little white wine. Now simmer GENTLY! VERY GENTLY! You may add some onion for flavor. Won't hurt.

    When the chicken is just barely done. Remove and allow to cool. Separate skin and bones from meat. So, now you got meat and stock. But if you did have bone in/skin on chicken return the bones/skin to said pot and cook slowly and gently for another hour. And if you had boneless or skinless just proceed on. The stock should take care of itself.

    Stir in a tsp of sugar and add Vietnamese fish sauce to taste. (See note above about de-salting sauce.)If you have noodles that need cooking add them and cook as needed. Don't cook the noodles in the stock if they are the LONG cooking type. We're talking 4 - 5 minute cook noodles. If you do have long cooking noodles cook separate and add to stock when done. Now add the chicken and some very thinly sliced onion.

    Cook until heated throughout and garnish with fresh cilantro, chopped jalapenos mixed with lime juice and fish sauce and chopped green onions.

    Chili Powder

    You can use commercial chili powder; Gebhardt's is a good brand. But you can make your own.

    Get some dry chili pods. Remember the hotter the chili the hotter the powder. I use Guajillo chilis.

    Place chilis in a cast iron skillet no more than one layer thick and heat slowly stirring until they are lightly browned. DON'T BURN THEM! You'll get a bitter tasting mess.

    Cut up the chilis and grid to a powder. For 5 pods of peppers use a tsp of oregano, half tsp each of garlic powder and ground cumin. Mix it all up and you are ready to go.

    Chili Gravy/Enchiladas

    Using either bacon grease or lard make a roux with flour. Add in cumin, your own homemade chili powder (or other), some black pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Slowly add in chicken stock until it's your level of thick.

    To make the enchiladas saute some onions in oil and mix with cooked (or canned) black beans (you may also add meat as desired). In a baking dish lay out tortillas and add the bean/onion mix, some cheese and some chili gravy. Roll up and make another. And when you are done you can sprinkle with cheese and some more chili gravy and bake.

    Re meat you might add shredded chicken simmered as per the Pho recipe above but with some added cumin to the simmering liquid.

    Tortilla Soup

    Yeah, I know. This doesn't belong here. It's soup. Compliant department is down the hall. Tell 'em I sent you.

    First cook you some chicken per the Pho recipe above but with some cumin added to the water. Slow cooking. Until just done. Use a whole chicken, parts, whatever, But the flavor is in the skin and bones.

    When chicken is done take out and let cool. When cool separate skin and bones from meat. Add to the stock (skim any scum) chopped garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, some oregano and a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes. When the vegetables are done add the chicken meat.

    Serve with avocados, cilantro, limes, fresh green chilis and tortilla chips.

    Vegetarian Kabobs

    Every year in this area an event called "Veggie Fest" is held. It has been so popular that its organizers looked for a larger area to have it. They settled on Benedictine University where I teach. So one Saturday morning after working the vineyard one of the voluteers said she was going to Veggie Fest. So my wife and I decided to go along.

    Having never been there when we entered we asked our guide what she would recommend. Vegetarian kabobs was her reply. And they were phenomonal!

    So how do you duplicate them? I did some internet research and came up with this which we have tried. No, it's not as good. But it's pretty close!

    Yeah, I know. This doesn't belong here either. It's vegetarian. Per above: Compliant department is down the hall. Tell 'em I sent you.

    Buy some paneer cheese at an Indian grocery. Cut into cubes. Get a sweet potato/yam and microwave until just tender. Chop it into skewer able chunks. Chop up some peppers be they green, red, orange, yellow or jalapeno. Cut up some onions into kabob size pieces. Now don't stop there. Use your imagination. Some recipes had tofu, textured vegetable protein, etc. etc. Okay to be creative here.

    Make a marinade: start with yogurt. I suggest at least 3 cups cause you will use this as a sauce later. Add a crushed and finely divided cube of genger, say 1/2 inch on a side. (Hint: dice then crush.) Add a couple cloves crushed and divided garlic. (See hint about ginger.) Add red pepper to myour level of tast. Add half tsp. tumeric, one tsp. powdered cumin, 1 tsp powdered corriander (and be creative: add some finely diced cilantro if you like), a half to a whole tsp. of garam marsala (Note to self: like chili powder not all garam marsalas are equal. Use one you like.), black pepper and lemon juice, oh, let's say a tablespoon. Mix 'em all up and dump you kabob ingredinets in. Marinate for at least an hour and over night won't hurt at all.Now note to self again. You can move these quantities up! Double if you want especially if you like spicey. (Go the other direction if you don't.)

    When your marination days are over, baby, (5 to 1: the Doors, parady) put the chunks on skewers but group them by type because they all cook at different rates. Brush them with melted ghee or butter. Broil or grill and eat when done on Indian flatbread or tortillas.

    Top with remaining marinade and a dusting of chat masala.

    Harriet's Shrimp Curry

    Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan and add 0.25 cup minced onions and 1.5 tsp. of curry powder. (You may add more curry powder to taste.) Cook for a little until onion is softened.

    Add 3 tablespoons of flour, a little salt 0.75 tsp of sugar and an 0.125 tsp of ginger. Cook for a bit and make a roux. Add a half and half mix of light broth and milk. Cook until thickened. Add 2 cups of cleaned and cooked shrimp and a dash of lemon juice. Serve over cooked white rice.

    Harriet's Lamb Curry

    Brown about two pounds of cubed lamb in oil. When all done cover the lamb chunks with water and add some salt and pepper, some whole peppercorns, a teaspoon of chopped parsleyand two small sliced onions. Simmer until meat is done. Strain out the meat and save 2 cups of stock for next step.

    Mix a quarter cup of flour with a teaspoon of curry powder (or more to taste) and add 2 tablespoons of clod water. Blend well and stir this paste into hot stock stirring until thickened. Add the reserved meat and serve over cooked rice.

    Carne Adobada

    All right, listen up! I've already given you a recipe for Carnitas. So here's another version you may want to try.

    First make the sauce. You will need at least 5 oz. of dried New Mexico peppers. A Hispanic grocery should have these. Now the original recipe I had called for these to be toasted in a dry pan with heat. But I was too lazy to go to that effort. I feel bad about this and expect I shall do some serious grieving during the long, cold winter nights. But until then let's move on, shall we?

    De-stem and de-seed the dry chiles and toss them into aquart or so of boiling water and then shut off the heat and cover. When cool (or not cool, whatever) add a couple tablespoons of chile powder, a couple tablespoons of honey, a tablespoon of vinegar (experiment here!), some cumin, some ground cloves, some hot pepper and some lime juice. Now puree this mess and set aside. (Oh, if you want to experiment with OTHER types of dry peppers feel free. You may then grieve at your leisure.)

    Fry up some pork. I like frying some boneless chunks (large) to a nice level of brown and then cubing them. But you may cube and brown as you wish. When these are all done and blotted of oil mix the sauce and prok together until the prok is at your level of doneness. Eat on tortillas with (or without) guacamole shown below.

    Guacamole

    This is another version (see seafood tacos above) of a traditional green mole. Chop up a bunch of tomatillos, a generous bunch of cilantro, some garlic, some serrano (or other hot chiles), an avocado or so and a small onion. Add some fresh lime juice (and water if needed) and puree. Eat on anything that seems remotely Mexican.(I suggest not mixing with tequila. Although you might try using tequile instead of water for the puree.)

    Pesto

    Yes, already have a recipe for this. Thank you for being so observant Dr. Einstein.

    You need a lot of fresh basil. Try 4 cups. If you don't have fresh use about 1 cup of dry. Mix with 0.5 cups olive oil, 0.5 cups grated Parmesan, 0.25 cups of pine (or other nuts, e.g. cashews and pistashios are good) and as many cloves of garlic as you can stand. Oh, and if you want add any other hard italian cheese, e.g. pecorino or romano, then go for it. (Blue cheese in moderation is nice.) You may add salt if you wish. Blend until smooth and then do something with it. Like try the next recipe.

    Pesto Chicken

    Go check out the parmesan chicken turkey recipe. Basically you work the pesto under the chicken skin and then cook on the grill always turing to get even cooking. When done eat it.

    Butter Chicken

    Rinse off a roasting chicken of your choice and pat it dry. In a suitable pot melt a stick of butter with a couple tbl of olive oil. Crush into the melt two cloves of garlic. Sprinkle in the amount of dry (or fresh chopped) parsley you see fit. Place the chicken in a nice roasting pan. Pick a pan of suitable size to hold any potatoes or vegetables you might wnat to roast along with the chicken. Now pour the melted butter/oil over the chicken. Don't forget to oil up the insides! Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and place in a 375 oven. About 30 minutes into the flight you may want to add some diced/sliced/chopped potatoes, onions and carrots. Toss the veggies with the butter and roast until all is done. Serve with a green salad to cut the grease.

    Kalbi

    This dish is Korean in origin. Start with one pound or so of short ribs. They should be cut Kalbi style, i.e. bone is still in but the bone is only one half to three quarter inch long. (Boneless works too but make sure the meat is relatively thin for grilling.) As an alternative if you have a Korean grocery near by just go there and ask for Kalbi cut short ribs.

    Rub the ribs with brown sugar and then marinate for an hour or so in the juice of a fresh Kiwi juiced in a blender.

    After that short marinade make a mix of 2 Tablespoons each of brown sugar and soy sauce and one tablespoon each of sesame oil, crushed garlic and rice wine/sake. Sprinkle in some black pepper and allow the meat to marinate at least over night.

    Grill over charcoal until meat is your level of done. (You may wipe off the marinade before grilling if you don't like the crust.)

    Bo Ssam

    This is also a Korean reciepe from Momofuku. Get an 8 to 10 pound Boston pork butt with bone in. Rub it down with a mix of one cup sugar and one half cup salt. Throw away any rub that doesn't stick to the meat. Let the meat stand in the frig over night.

    The next day, seven hours before eating, set the oven to 300 F and put the pork in. Every hour baste the meat with the juice. After six hours remove the pork from the oven and pick the meat of the bones when cool. We ten to keep the chunk of meat intact, i.e. separate from bones rather than shred/pull apart. Sprinkle meat chunk/shred with a tablespoon of brown sugar mixed with a teaspoon of salt. Put the meat in a 500 F oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until sugar has turned into a nice crust.

    To eat use Bibb lectuce wraps or tortillas and roll the meat up with a mix of Kim Chi, lettuce, Napa Cabbage, rice, Ssam sauce or other condiments as you see fit.

    To make the ssam sauce mix together ssamjang (Korean bean paste) or sambol olek with regular crushed chile paste, some sherry or wine vinegar and some olive oil.

    Tomato Pie

    When (or if) you have fresh tomatos this is an easy pizza like recipe that's very good and can be modified to taste.

    Start with a pie crust. You can use a store bought one but I suggest following the recipe under Grandma Bo's Apple Pie below. You can use a shallow pie dish but I like making a deeper dish pie by using a ceramic casserole dish.Line the inside of the dish with the crust. You can make a crust for the top if you want but that's up to you.

    Slice as many fresh tomatoes as you like, sprinkle them with a little salt and layer them in the dish. Sprinkle some chopped green onions and chopped fresh basil over the top. You can add to this process any of the following (or such items as you prefer): garlic, hot peppers, spinach, pepperroni etc. Make a topping of grated cheese (chedder, parmesan, mozerella or other preferences) mixed with mayonnaise. Smear over the top and bake at 350 until browned.

    Smokestack Chicken with Butter Sauce

    Get a whole chicken, rinse and pat dry. Rub the outside with a mix of 2.25 tsp hot paprika, 1.5 tsp garlic powder, 1.5 onion powder, 1.5 tsp thyme, 1.5 tsp oregano, 0.75 tsp black pepper, 0.75 tsp white pepper, 0.5 tsp sage and 0.5 tsp hot red pepper. Now cook this per the instructions for Grilled Whole Chicken.

    When chicken is done remove from grill and baste with butter sauce (see Grilled Whole Chicken).

    Evil Jungle Prince

    Yes, that's the name. No I didn't make it up. It's Hawaiian (sp?).

    First make some Thai Curry paste. (You can buy this but it is more fun to make.)

    Load up a blender/food processor with about 6 red chillies (the hottness of the paste depends on your choice here), a very small onion chopped up, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tbl corriander seed, 2 - 3 tbl cilantro (fresh), salt to taste, 1 tbl lemon juice, 2 -3 cloves garlic, 1 tbl olive oil, 1 tsp tumeric and 2 tsp hot paprika. Grind this to a paste adding a little water if needed. Taste the paste and add fish sauce (vietnamese) to taste.

    Pick the number of chicken pieces needed. (boneless, skinless breasts are easiest to handle). Brown evenly in oil. For every 0.5 lb of chicken add 6 oz of coconut milk. Cook on low heat (don't boil) until done and stir in chopped basil and fish sauce and thai curry paste to taste. Serve over rice and chopped cabbage

    Smothered Chicken

    This reciepe comes from a Depression era book called "Aunt Sammies' Radio Reciepes". The recipes are pretty basic but good.

    First get some chicken pieces. Since parts is parts this is your choice as to what you want. Salt and pepper them and place in the bottom of a suitable baking dish. Now melt 4 tbl butter in a separate pan and make a roux using 4 tbl flour. When your roux is the right color/consistency for your taste start adding milk/cream until you have a not-too-thick gravy. Pour this over the chicken and bake at 375 until done. If you need to de-curdle the gravy at serving time just whisk it with a little milk. Serve with potatoes if you like gravy on your potatoes.

    Puebla Style Chicken Mole

    Heat some oil in a ducth oven and add a cup chopped onion. Cook until tender and then add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground corriander, 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cook a little more and add 2 stemmed and seeded dry ancho peppers that you have broken into pieces. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic and cook slowly until chiles start to soften. Now about 1.5 cups chicken broth, a can of diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup golden raisins, 3 tbl of sliced toasted almonds and three strips of orange rind. (From an area of about half of an orange.) Bring to a boil and add about a pound of boneless and skinless chicken pieces: thighs and breasts. Cook at a simmer for about 1o minutes. Remove chicken and let cool. Add 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate to the pan and when it melts puree with an immersion blender until smooth. When chicken is cool shred it and add to pan. Cook for about 20 more minutes and serve on tortillas.

    French Style Hamburger

    This is a Julia Child reciepe (more or less).

    Start with a pound of hamburger in a bowl and grate (very, very finely) a small onion into it.Add some melted butter/lard (about 1 tbl). Add pepper, thyme and an egg. Now mix everything up!

    Make some hamburger patties and dust them with flour. Fry in butter until done and serve with a sauce made from marrow (if you have it) or meat fat. Brown either (both) and add some chopped shallots and/or scallions to the browning fat. Cook until soft and stir in a small amount of cornstarch to make a roux. Add some red wine and some stock and cook until thickened. Eat!

    Chicken Piccata

    Cut the required number of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in half. Lay them out on a study cutting board and pound flat. An easy way to do this is to get a 5 or so pound dumbbell, wrap one end in a baggie and pound away.

    Season the now flat chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flower. Saute until browned to your liking. (They will cook a little more later.) Set aside and keep warm.

    Deglaze (I think that means break up the grease and stuff) the pan with about a quarter cup of dry white wine. (Dry vermouth works.) Add some chopped garlic and cook. The garlic should be browned and the liquid reduced. Add a half cup of GOOD broth, a couploe tablespoons of lemon juice and some capers and/or green pickled peppercorns. Put the cutlets back in the pan and simmer until done. Take cutlets out (again) and keep warm (again). Add butter to the pan (as you see fit) and some thin sliced lemon. Stir it all around until you have a sauce. Place cutlets on eating plate and pour sauce over them. You can add parsley as you see fit.

    Slow Cooker Daube

    I was never much of a fan of daube. (The name, as I understand it, comes from the traditional pot for cooking.) But then I came across this one. Wow!

    Get a pound (or more) of stew meat and marinate it for some yet to be determined period of time with crushed garlic and olive oil. Brown the pieces in hot olive oil and place in your crock pot/slow cooker. Add a half cup to one cup good red wine to the frying pan and boil scraping to get all the browned pieces loose. Pour into cooker. Add fresh or canned mushrooms, bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley, thyme, a quarted orange, chopped carrots and onions. (Note: you can also pre-fry the onions after the beef is done.) Add sufficient stock to almost cover (GOOD STOCK!) and a dash of pepper. Crank up the heat to high for 90 minutes and then turn to low until ready to eat. Remove bay leaf and orange. You can thicken the juice in the pot with either a roux or a paste of cornstarch. Serve over flat noodles or mashed potatoes.

    Spaghetti Squash with Gralic Sauce

    Get a whole head of garlic . . . ah, what the heck, make it two heads. Slice of the tops to about a quarter of the way down and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil and bake for at least 30 minutes at 350. Take oput and let cool. Crank oven up to 400 and take a split (in half) spaghetti squash with seeds removed (you can fry and eat these) that you have placed cut side down in a half inch of water. Put squash in and bake 30 - 40 minutes or until tender.

    Cook onions in a pan and add diced tomatoes. Squeeze the roasted garic out of its skin and add to pot along with basil, oregano, thyme, parsley and maybe some red pepper. And add mushrooms if you like. Add ground pepper and simmer a bit. Serve over the squash that you have scooped out of its skin.

    Spicy Sausage Bake

    Take a pound or so of hot italian sausage (or maybe other sausage if you like) and cut into one inch sections (or if ground just go with it as is). Brown in olive oil in an oven proof pan. Remove from pan and add a chopped onion. Brown that put sausage back in. Add a can of diced tomatoes. (Ro-Tel is good because it has a little kick.) Add a half cup of buttermilk or cream, 2 - 3 crushed garic and a quarter pound of small pasta (shells, penne, spirals, what ever). Add enough stock to just cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until pasta is al dente.

    Top with grated cheese of choice (try Monterey Jack) and chopped green onion. Bake until cheese is melted. Eat.

    Roast Chicken/Duck with Plums

    Nothing could be easier. Well, okay, some things could be easier. Get a duck/chicken. Original recipe called for a duck. Yeah, whatever. Remove innards (save for stock), rinse and salt/pepper. You can do this on the grill or in oven. I use the grill. In a small, light wieght metal roasting pan put in a bunch of chopped onions, some quarted/pitted plums (you probably can use prunes, either way the sweetness of the sauce will depend on how many you use, for me 4 is about right) some thyme, some powered cinnamonand some powdered cloves. Stir this all up with some olive oil. Add chicken/duck and start roasting. Roast until browned and done basting with the juice and fruit/onions in bottom. When done let rest for 10 minutes and carve serving with more juice from bottom of pan.

    Onion Pie

    This should probably go under vegetarian. Whatever.

    Make a pie crust. I suggest the recipe I have included here under "Sweet Stuff". And as I said: whatever.

    Fry up 4 or so slices of bacon until done. I suggest not too crispy as they will do some more cooking. Remove from pan and saute two diced onions in fat until browned to you level of choice.

    I a bowl combine bacon, onions, 2 eggs, half cup or so sour cream and some chives/shallots/green onions. You can add caraway seed if yyou like but it's not a requirement. Now mix it all up and pour into your crust.. Bake until firm and nicely browned. Eat.

    Sausage and Pasta

    In a pot/pan that is ok in the oven brown up some hot Italian sausage (or mild if you like) with onions until lightly browned. Add some chopped garlic. Add stock, some Ro-Tel canned and diced tomatoes, some heavy cream/ half and half and about 4 ounces of pasta of choice. (Don't use spaghetti.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook slowly adding stock as needed to prevent drying until pasta is done. Shred up some Monterey Jack cheese and mix half into pasta mix. Spread the rest on top and broil until bubbly. Serve garnished with chopped green onions.

    Now, the good part. Fry some bacon. Add some chopped onions to the fat (Oh, yeah, when the bacon is done remove it.)When the onions are done to your desire mix with two beaten eggs (Let them, the onions, cool before adding the eggs.), a 1/2 cup sour cream, some chopped green onions or chives and maybe, if you like, some ground caraway seed. Oh, okay, some balck pepper. Pour it into the crust and bake at 350 until done.

    Morel Rubbed Chicken

    Morels are a special type of mushroom that grows wild around her. You just have to be smart enough to know where to look and smart enough not to poison yourself. Being neither type of smart I stick with the store bought dry ones. The original recipe would have cost (I estimate on price per pound) about $200. Give or take $100.

    This is cheaper. Not cheap. Cheaper.

    Combine one half ounce of dry, ground to powder morels with two tablespoons of truffle oil, some thyme, a small amount of dry mustardand some red pepper (to taste). Rub this all over a whole chicken and sprinkle with salt.

    Cook some potatoes (whole) until done and let cool. In a skillet using a little olive oil fry until browned slices of lemon. (Yeah, lemon. If you want to leave this out it's OK. But it does add a nice taste.) Chop cooled potatoes in halves or quarter and place in the bottom of a baking pan with half of the lemon slices. Toss with a little oil and add some fenugreek if you like. Place chicken on top and roast until chicken internal temperature says done. Now use the broiler to brown up the chicken and the potatoes. (since the chicken is on top brown it first and if potatoes look a little un-browned remove chicken and nuke potatoes directly under the broiler.)Letchicken rest for about 10 minutes and serve with remaining lemon slices.

    Pork Cutlet

    Start at the beginning. Get a or some pork cutlets. Actually any slice of pork works. Now you may use as is or pound into a flat chunk of meat. Marinate it in a mix of lime juice, chopped fresh cilatro, olive oil, crushed garlic, cumin and some brown sugar. You may also add salt and pepper. After marinating at least an hour cook it. Save marinade. You may grill it, broil it or pan fry it. I like making some buerre noir and frying.

    When pork is done set aside and add marinade to pan and cook until slightly thick. Pour over prok. Serve with a salsa made of two cups quatered seedless grapes (of a variety of types/colors if possible), a chopped green onion, a chopped jalapeno, some olive oil and cider vinegar and some honey.

    Sweet Stuff

    Pumpkin Bread (I don’t do sweet stuff. Well, rarely. All sweet things are from Barbara.)

    3 cups sugar

    1cup vegetable oil

    4 eggs lightly beaten

    16 oz canned (or fresh cooked pureed) unsweetened pumpkin

    3 ½ cups flour

    2 tsp salt

    2 tsp baking soda

    1 tsp baking powder

    1 tsp nutmeg

    1 tsp allspice

    1 tsp cinnamon

    ½ tsp cloves

    2/3 cup water

    Preheat oven to 3550 F. Butter 2 9X5 loaf pans. Stir together and oil. Stir in eggs and pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Blend dry ingredients into wet ingredients well. Divide batter into the two loaf pans. Bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool.

    Zucchini bread (see note above on sweet stuff)

    3 cups sifted flour

    1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

    1 tsp baking soda

    1 tsp baking powder

    3 eggs

    2 cups sugar

    1 cup cooking oil

    1 tblsp vanilla

    2 cups raw grated zucchini

    1 tsp flour

    ½ cup chopped walnuts

    Sift first 5 ingredients together. Beat eggs well and gradually add sugar and oil beating well. Add vanilla and dry ingredients and blend well. Add zucchini and stir in. Mix flour with walnuts and stir into batter. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until done. Cool 10 minutes. Remove, cool on a rack and eat.

    Anna Jefford’s Wine Cake

    We got this from a lady in North Carolina. It’s always been a big hit.

    1 Box of Duncan Hines golden butter cake mix

    1 (three and three quarter ounce) box of instant vanilla pudding

    4 eggs

    Half cup each of water, white wine and oil

    One-quarter cup of whole or chopped pecans

    Mix cake mix, pudding, eggs, water, wine, and oil and blend well. Grease and flour a bundt pan and artfully arrange your pecans at the bottom of the pan. Pour in the batter and bake for 45 minutes at 350 or until done.

    Glaze: One quarter cup of butter or margarine, one cup of sugar, One quarter cup each of white wine and water

    Put all the ingredients in a pan and heat to boiling. Boil for 3 minutes. Do this right as the cake is about to come out of the oven. Remove cake from oven and loosen from pan sides. Pour the glaze over the cake and allow to cool. Invert and eat.

    Lavender Crème Broule

    You don’t have to add Lavender (and you can use either fresh or dry) but it adds a nice subtle flavor to the dessert. This recipe is from the Mirassou Winery in San Jose CA courtesy of Joanne Stromberg.

    Makes 12 servings

    4 cups heavy cream

    2 cups regular milk (none of that wimpy 1% stuff0

    1/2 c honey

    1 vanilla bean

    Lavender

    Bring the above ingredients to a boil.

    Whip together:

    10 egg yolks

    2 whole eggs

    1 cup sugar

    1T cornstarch

    Slowly whish the strained cream mixture into egg mixture. Strain into baking dishes.

    Put in a large pan filled with maybe an inch or so of water. Bake at 300 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until set. Chill. Caramelize the top by sprinkling some white sugar on top and melting it with a propane touch (the hardware kind or the fancy ones that are sold at Williams Sonoma). Some people use the broiler for this, but I have not.

    Serve with a nice dessert wine and be sure to enjoy a nice Chablis while preparing !!!!

    Apple Pie ala Barb and Edward with Grandma Bo’s Crust

    To make the pie crust:Put 2 cups flour and a pinch of salt into a big bowl. Add 1 cup Crisco (or a little less) and mix lightly into the flour with a pastry cutter or fork. Add ¼ cup very cold water and start mixing it all up with your hands. Don’t over mix. Take about 2/3 of the mixture and roll it out so that it’s bigger than the 9” pie plate you plan to use. Put it into the pie plate gently. Don’t trim off the excess yet. Roll out the other third of the dough for the top crust and go start the filling.

    For the filling: In a small bowl, mix together ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Get about 6 medium Empire apples (more if you want an abundant looking pie or want to eat some of the leftover mixture) and start peeling them. Slice them into a big bowl, sprinkling some of the sugar mixture over the apples every once in a while. When you’re all done slicing, dump in the rest of the sugar mixture and stir well.

    To assemble the pie:(First preheat the oven to 425.) Put the apple mixture into the prepared pie plate, spreading it all out evenly. Dot with about 2 tablespoons butter, evenly spaced. To make a better seal of the top crust to the bottom, dip your finger in water and run it along the top edge of the bottom pie crust. Gently place the top crust on top, slightly pressing on the edges to seal. Now, hold the pie plate up in the air and run a knife along the edge of the pie plate to cut off all the excess dough. Flute the edges either with your thumb and two fingers or a fork. Take a sharp knife and cut slits in top crust in an artful design. Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on top for a touch of whimsy.

    To bake the pie: Take a long strip of tin foil and cut it in half lengthwise. Cover the edge of the pie lightly with the foil. Bake in the preheated 425 oven for 30 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. The crust should be brown and the juice bubbling through the slits. Take it out of the oven and let cool.

    To eat the pie: While still warm, cut a generous piece of pie and put it, steaming, onto a pretty plate. Add some cold vanilla ice cream and let it melt a little. Be aware of the aroma as you take that first bite. Slowly savor the flavor. Feel proud and satiated. Get someone else to clean up for you.

    Cheesecake

    I got this from Larrie Jankowski. It's my favorite.

    For a crust roll out and smash 18 (or use crushed) graham crackers. Mix with ¼ cup melted butter or margarine. Put it in the pan you want to use and chill.

    Beat together 16 ozs. Of cam cheese, half cup of sugar, 3 eggs, and ¾ tsp. of vanilla until smooth. Pour this on top of the crust. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or more. Cover with a mixture of 1 pint of sour cream, ¼ cup of sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Now bake the combo for 10 minutes or more at 400. Keep on eye on it because it tends not to bake evenly. So you may have to add or subtract time.

    You can add fruit on top if you want to ruin it.

    14 Carrot Cake

    This was the winner of a cooking contest in Charlotte, NC. And it's always been a winner with our family and friends.

    2 cups of flour

    2 tsp of baking powder

    1 and ½ tsp of baking soda

    1 and ½ tsp salt

    2 tsp cinnamon

    2 cups of sugar

    1 and ½ cups vegetable oil

    4 eggs

    2 cups of finely shredded carrots

    one 8 and ½ oz. can (drained) of crushed pineapple.

    ½ cup chopped walnuts

    3 and ½ oz flaked coconut

    Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon. Add sugar, oil and eggs. Beat with a mixer for about 1 minutes (medium mixing). Stir in carrots, pineapple, walnuts and coconut. Turn it into 3 greased and floured 9 inch pans and bake for 40 minutes at 350 or until they test done. Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then remove from pans and cool on a rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

    Cream Cheese Frosting:

    ½ cup butter or margarine

    8 oz soft cream cheese

    1 tsp vanilla

    one pound of confectioners sugar.

    Cream together the butter, cheese and vanilla at medium mixer speed. Gradually add the sugar and beat until nice and creamy. If it’s to thick to spread on cake layers add a little milk.

    Chocolate Layered Dessert

    I'm not much on sweets or the use of fake whipped cream stuff but this is something I like!

    1 c. flour

    1 stick margarine or butter, softened

    1 c. chopped pecans (divided into ¾ c. and ¼ c.)

    1 pkg. 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

    1 c. powdered sugar

    1 - 13 oz. container Cool Whip, thawed

    1 lg. pkg. (6 ¾ oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix

    2 c. milk

    Combine flour, butter and ¾ c. nuts in a bowl; mix to blend. Press mixture into a well-greased 9x6x2 in. pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 min. or until golden brown; cool.

    Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar; add 1 ½ c. Cool Whip and mix until blended. Spread mixture evenly over cooled crust; chill.

    Blend pudding mix and milk as per pie fill, about 1 min. Add 1 ½ c. Cool Whip and mix until blended; pour or spread evenly over cream cheese layer. Chill until set.

    Spread remaining 1 ½ c. Cool Whip over chocolate pudding layer. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Chill until ready to serve.

    Chocolate Mint Bars

    This recipe came from Jill Ogino (wife of my first boss at Bell Labs).

    First layer:

    0.5 cup margarine

    1 cup sugar

    4 eggs

    1 - 16 oz. can of Hershey's chocolate syrup

    1 cup plus 1 TBSp of flour

    1 tsp vanilla

    Mix together and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F in a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides).

    Second (green mint) layer:

    2 cups powdered sugar

    0.5 cup margarine

    2 TBSP milk

    1 tsp flavoring: peppermint extract and green food color or green creme de Menthe (preferred)

    Mix all together and let cake cool. Frost with green mint layer and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    Top layer:

    1 cup chocolate chips

    6 TBSP butter or margarine.

    Melt all together and spread on top of green layer. Refrigerate.

    Cut into squares and serve.

    <>Heather's Soy Cheese Cake

    Now I am an admirer of vegetarians from the standpoint that reduced meat consumption is good for the environment. I was a part time one for a few years and even now cook vegetarian (and sometimes even vegan) on occasion. This, however, is one desert that transcends these cooking schools. It's just good. (OK, not as decadent as Larrie's Cheese Cake but still really good. And if you don't have the fake cheese, eggs, etc then use the real thing 'cause it's still good!)

    2 8 oz. Packages of Tofutti Soy Cream Cheese.

    1 tub of Tofutti Sour Cream

    1 bag of white chocolate chips or 1 cup sugar. (Either works.)

    3 eggs or the equivalent in Non-egg vegan substitute.

    1 tbsp. Vanilla

    Let cream cheese and sour cream warm up and soften. Beat together in a large bowl and add vanilla and eggs/egg substitute. Melt chocolate chips either on stove or in microwave. (And try not to burn them will you this time?) Beat into cream cheese mix. (If using sugar instead of the white chocolate I hope you're smart enough to realize you don't need to melt that before combining with the cream cheese. Since I added this note you may be able to figure out if I think you're samrt enough.) Add other stuff if desired to flavor cheesecake, e.g. mini-chocolate chips, crushed Heath toffee, etc. Pour into a ready made crust. (This amount requires two such crusts or one big springform pan.) Bake at 375 for 45 - 50 minutes.

    Fruit Dessert Pizza

    Mix together 14 oz. of sweetened condensed milk, 0.5 cup of sour cream, 0.25 cup of lemon juice and 1 tsp of vanilla. Chill this mess.

    Mix until fluffy 0.5 cup of softened margarine, 0.25 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup flour, 0.25 cup of oatmeal and 0.25 cup of finely chopped walnuts. This is your dough.

    Press the dough out in a 12" circle making a rim around the edge. Prick dough with a fork (Maybe this is supposed to irritate it or something. I don't know.) and bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brow. Allow to cool and then spread your chilled milk/cream etc mix evenly over it.

    Top this with assorted fresh fruit such as: strawberries, grapes, kiwi, oranges, bananas, mandarin orange slices, raspberries, blueberries etc. as you see fit. Keep cold until serving.

    Peanut Butter Bars

    OK, these are bad for you. But they sure taste good!

    Melt 1.5 sticks of butter with 1.5 cups peanut butter. Stir in 1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs and 2.5 cups of powdered sugar. Press this decadent mess into a 9 X 9 pan. Now melt 12 ounces of chocolate chips with yet ANOTHER stick of butter. When blended pour this over the peanut butter mixture.

    Now refrigerate the whole thing for a couple of hours and then cut into appropriate sized pieces.

    Eat at your leisure to overdose on sugar and fat.

    Pumpkin Pie

    Using the recipe for pie crust in the apple pie recipe above make a pie crust.

    Mix together 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp of cloves and 3/4 cup of sugar. The sugar should be 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar with plain white sugar added until you have 3/4 cup total. Beat two eggs together.

    Now mix together the sugar and spice with 15 oz of pumpkin (fresh is best but a can of pumpkin will do) and beat together with the eggs. Add tablespoon of good bourbon (My mother and grandmother called this adding "maggie." I have no idea why.) Now gradually beat in a 12 oz. can of evaporated milk.

    Pour this mix into the pie crust and bake for 15 minutes at 425 and then for 40 to 50 minutes at 350. You can tell it's done if you can stick a knife blade in the center and when you pull it out it's clean.

    Eat with whipped cream on top.

    Fudge

    ¼ cup of butter or margarine

    1, 5 oz can of evaporated milk

    1 jar (7 ½ oz) of Marshmallow Fluff

    ¾ teaspoon of salt

    ¾ teaspoon of vanilla

    1 large (12 oz) package of semi-sweet chocolate pieces

    Combine first 5 ingredients and stir over low heat until blended. Bring to boil over moderate heat, being careful not to mistake air bubbles for boiling. Then boil slowly for 5 minutes stirring constantly (to soft ball stage).

    Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla until chocolate is melted. Then turn into a buttered 9X9 pan and cool.

    Swedish Almond Tarts (or Mandelformar)

    1 c. butter

    1 c. sugar

    1 egg yolk

    ½ c. blanched almonds, ground

    2 2/3 sifted all-purpose flour

    fruit & whipped cream optional

     

    Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolk. Stir in ground almonds.  Add flour.  Mix thoroughly.  Chill.

    Butter 3 inch fluted pans.  With floured thumbs, coat inside of pans with dough.

    Bake in slow oven (325º) 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

    Allow to cool in pans, then unmold. (15 min. or less)

    Serve plain or fill with any fruit & whipped cream.  

                                                                         

    Yeild : 40 tarts

    Fillings: Either canned cherry pie filling or/

    Blueberry Sauce

    2 c. blueberries

    1/3 c. (+) sugar

    1 T. cornstarch 

    1 t. fresh lemon juice

    Cherry Sauce

    2 c. cherries

    ½ c. sugar

    1 T. cornstarch

    1 T. butter

    Strawberry Sauce

    16 oz. frozen strawberries

    1 t.  sugar

    1 T. cornstarch 

    1 t. fresh lemon juice 

    Raspberry Sauce

    10 oz pkg frozen raspberries

    1 T. sugar

    1 T. cornstarch

    Note: thicken juice, then add berries

    Tiramisu

    Ingredients: 6 egg yolks, 1 or 1 ¼ cup of sugar, 1 ¼ cup of marscapone cheese, 1 ¾ cup of whipping cream, 2 packages ladyfingers, ½ cup expresso coffee, 2 tbsps of rum, cocoa powder for dusting

    Method: Whisk 6 egg yolks with sugar. Bring a double-boiler / bain marie to a boil. Then set egg/sugar mixture on double-boiler and bring heat down to low and whisk constantly for ~8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Mix in mascarpone cheese into egg/sugar mixture. Blend whipping cream until firm peaks. Fold into egg/sugar mixture to make the cream mixture. Mix expresso with 2 tbsps of rum. Line a 3-quart bowl or pan with a layer of expresso/rum-dipped ladyfingers. Then spread a layer of cream mixture. Repeat another layer of ladyfingers and cream mixture until all ingredients are used up (and cream layer on top). Sprinkle with cocoa powdered and refrigerate for 3+ hours.

    Philip Munie's Blackberry Cobbler

    Ever imagine you have a twin? My cousin Philip is so close in looks to me that we are always immediately identifed as brother or perhaps twins. This is his famous desert recipe.

    Mix together 1 cup sugar, 1 cup self rising flou, 1 cup milk, 2 packages frozen blueberries. In a pan that will accomdate this mess put a quarterstick of butter on the bottom. (You can melt and pour.) Add the mix above. And top with another quarter stick butter. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until done. (Keep an eye on it!) Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

    Miscellaneous Stuff

    Granola

    My cousin Judy Zimmerman gave us this recipe years ago and it's always been a favorite.

    7.5 cups whole oats

    1.5 cups of wheat germ

    1.5 cups of powdered milk

    1.5 cups of unsalted nuts

    1.5 (or less) cup of honey

    1 cup of oil

    1.5 tsp of cinnamon

    Mix it all together (it helps to mix the dry stuff first). Bake at 300 F for 45 minutes until brown. Make sure you stir it every 10 or 15 minutes otherwise it will cook unevenly.

    It's great with milk and yogurt!

    Pancakes

    This is from a recipe my mother in law Harriett McCartney gave me.

    2/3 cup flour

    1/3 cup uncooked oats

    1/3 cup cornmeal

    1.5 tsp baking powder

    1 Tblsp oil

    1 egg

    1 cup milk (adjust as needed for texture)

    Mix all dry ingredients. Add egg, oil and milk and beat smooth. Buttermilk , sour cream, or yogurt can be added for part of the milk. You can also add crushed canned pineapple for an interesting texture and taste.

    Cracker Nibbles

    Combine half cup corn oil, half a package of dry buttermilk salad dressing mix, half a teaspoon of garlic salt, half a teaspoon of lemon pepper, half a teaspoon of dill weed in a pan. Cook but do not boil over low heat. Pour over a box (or two) of oyster crackers and shake all together. Serve as a party appetizer.

    This is another Savannah recipe.

    Pretzel Jello

    This recipe is from Janet Cox.

    2 cups crushed pretzels

    0.25 cup sugar

    1.5 sticks melted margarine

    8 oz. softened cream cheese

    1 cup sugar

    1.5 cup cool whip (or whipped cream whipped)

    2, 3oz packages strawberry jello

    2, 10 oz packages frozen strawberries with juice

    2 cups of hot pineapple juice

    Mix pretzels, sugar (0.25 cup) and margarine together. Spread in a 9 X 13 pan and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool.

    Mix cream cheese, sugar (1 cup) and cool whip (whip cream) together. Spread over crust. Dissolve jello in pineapple juice add strawberries and allow to partially jell. Spread over cream cheese mix.

    Frozen Log

    This recipe was a wedding gift from my Aunt Rita and Uncle Dick. (We asked people for their favorite recipes.)

    It has always been a favorite at holiday celebrations.

    1 can (1 lb. 4 oz.) Dole Blue Label Sliced Pineapple

    1 cup miracle whip salad dressing

    0.25 cup honey

    1 cup quartered maraschino cherries

    2/3 cup toasted slivered almonds

    2 cups whip cream whipped (you can use cool whip)

    Drain pineapple reserving 0.25 cup syrup. Combine salad dressing, reserved syrup, cherries, almonds and honey. Fold in whipped cream. Alternate layers of whipped cream mix with pineapple in a 2lb coffee can, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. To unmold you can warm the outside of the can and push out center and/or edge along the side with a knife or spatula. (You have to have the bottom off the can.) Decorate with almonds and mint. You can also use crushed pineapple and just mix everything together with red and green cherries. (This is my preferred method.)

    Al Smith's Old Fashioneds

    This recipe came from a person best described as a real Southern gentleman. He was raised on a famous horse breeding farm in Virginia, lived in Charlotte, NC, was a pillar of community and generally known by all Charlotte Society. He was a good friend of ours while we lived there. (Although why he ever had anything to do with plebeians like us is beyond me!) These were always the popular drink at his (very elegant) parties.

    Mix together one teaspoon of regular sugar and a dash of bitters. Squeeze into glass one half of an orange and one half of a lemon. (Save other halves for later.) Add 2 ounces of Bourbon (or 1.5 ounces each of light and dark rum). Stir, fill with ice and decorate with a cherry and the reserved halves of orange and lemon and a chunk of pineapple.

    Fish House Punch

    This is the kinda stuff you serve if you don't mind guests breaking up your furniture or throwing up on your rug.

    The recipe comes from John Schroeder, a post-doc in my U of I graduate group.

    Combine 1.5 cups of super fine sugar with 1 quart of lemon juice in a punch bowl and stir until dissolved. Add 2 quarts of 100 proof Jamaican rum (Can you see where this is heading?), 2 quarts of cold water, 4 ounces of peach brandy, and a quart of cognac. Stir. Allow punch to "ripen" at room temp for a couple hours. Add a block of ice and some sliced peaches (fresh or w/o syrup). Serve and back off.

    Brouchetta

    Slice some fresh Italian or French bread into either long pieces or rounds. (You may pre-toast before proceeding to next step.) Mix together a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Brush bread with mix.

    On each slice add all or any of the following: avocado slices, sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese.

    Broil until it's where you want it to be.

    Hot Mustard

    Our friend from Georgia, John Pope, gave us this one. This is good with Chourroute Garni.

    0.25 cups plus 5 tablespoons of ground mustard. Any mix of ground mustard types is fine here. Mix with 0.5 cups hot water and 0.25 cup of champagne vinegar (or white vinegar if you're a working class type). Let it sit at room temp for about 3 hours.

    Mix 0.5 cups of vinegar of type used previously with a couple tablespoons cold water, 2 large slices of onion, 2 teaspoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of unsulfurated molasses, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 0.25 teaspoon dill seed, 0.25 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 0.25 teaspoon ground all spice, 0.25 teaspoon ground tarragon, and 0.25 teaspoon whole cloves. In a non-aluminum pan boil all this for about 1 minute and take off the heat and let sit for an hour.

    Put the mustard mix into your blender and strain in the spice liquid. (Leave out all those spice etc chunks.) Whirr it all up. Then simmer the blend slowly for 20 minutes or so until it thickens. (Keep stirring! Don't burn it!)

    Store in frig.

    Dry Martini

    I am a fan of Martinis and therefore have some fairly strong opinions on how they should be made. As near as I can tell from the history of people getting snot slinging, knee walking wasted on these potent concoctions the original started out as one part dry vermouth to two parts gin with a dash of bitters added and (maybe) a drop of absinthe. Through various evolutions the amount of vermouth declined relative to the gin. That's OK with me! The four versions below are slight on vermouth but have a couple of "twists" that may be to your liking. A word of warning: not all gins or vermouths are alike. Pick one that suits your taste. I have found that several cheaper gins and vermouths are, for me, tastier than the very expensive versions.

    Note all these versions are done "straight up." They can be done "on the rocks." In that case the adding, pouring, adding are all done in the final serving glass.

    Version #1: Fill a martini shaker with ice. Pour in a shot or so of vermouth, cover and shake. Now drain off the excess vermouth leaving only the amount of vermouth coating the ice and interior of the shaker. Add the appropriate amount of gin for the appropriate amount of drinks to be made. Shake well! (This set of proportions for vermouth and gin are actually a take off from the movie Colossus.)

    Now I suggest you shake per the directions of Nick Charles (William Powell) in the movie "The Thin Man", i.e. shake to waltz time. (Actually that's not REALLY critical to the preparation.) What IS critical in the shaking is how cold you get the end result. If your gin, glasses etc are at room temp shake until feel your fingers starting to freeze to the shaker. (Assuming it's a metal shaker!) Keeping the gin in the freezer, chilling glasses and shaker before starting etc. are other ways to insure that the final product is ice cold.

    Once you've pried your frozen digits off the shaker decant the liquid into a martini glass. (You can put it in other vessels but for heaven's sake don't be so gauche as to drink it out of the shaker!) I prefer a twist or a drop of lemon juice. Olives are alright if you like them. But they tend to overwhelm the subtle taste of the mix.

    Version #2: This is the made the same way as version #1 except that along with the vermouth you add a few drops of scotch. Yes, you heard me, scotch. A former co-worker, Mary Tunk, taught me this. Although you pour most off the scotch mellows the taste of the gin. You can also experiment adding the scotch with the twist, soaking the twist in scotch, etc.

    Version #3: This is, as above, a variant on version. Follow the version #1 directions except add only half the amount of gin. For the other half add vodka. One can, of course, use only vodka or any ratio of gin to vodka that suits your taste. Experiment! Another word of warning: don't do all your experimenting at one time. Strong drink kills the taste buds: after a few "experiments" you could probably pour in aftershave lotion and wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

    Version #4: My Aunt Mary taught me how to make this. She called it a "Sahara." It's shaken the same way as all the above except it contains no vermouth: it's half vodka and half gin. Here, more than any of the above, the quality of the gin and vodka stand out. So pick your poisons with care!

    Sandy's American Legion Chocolate Martini

    This recipe originated at the Decatur Illinois American Legion. Sandy, the inventor of this drink, is, as I understand, no longer working there. But you must know that while she was running the show food and drink there were excellent.

    Now this is NOT a "dry" martini. It's more of a dessert. Have one to cap off a meal especially if you're a chocolate lover!

    Because this uses no ice it's a good idea to have all your materials chilled. Take a martini glass and coat the inside with chocolate syrup. Add a shot of vodka, a half shot of "Hot Sex" (Yes! There really is such a thing although you can't find it everywhere.), a half shot of Baley's Irish Cream, a half shot of chocolate liquor (Godiva is nice!) and a shot of cream. Stir and add a slice of Snickers bar on a toothpick. Enjoy!

    Artichoke Dip

    Chop up a 16 ounce can of artichokes. Try to get the kind that are canned but not marinated. Now mix these chopped hearts with a cup of real mayonnaise, 0.5 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1 cup of parmesan cheese and garlic powder to taste.

    After the above are all mixed together put the mix in a greased 9 inch pie plate and sprinkle with paprika to make it look all cutsy!

    Now bake at 25 to 30 minutes and serve warm with rye chips, bagel chips or crackers for dipping.

    This may also be prepared ahead of time and microwaved to warm up for serving.

    Hummus

    For an appetizer this is both easy and tasty. Just mix together and whir to a paste in a bleander/food processer. Serve with any crackers or chips you prefer.

    2 cans chickpeas

    1/4 cup water

    1/2 cup olive oil

    juice from 1/2 a lemon

    2 cloves garlic

    1/4 teaspoon cumin

    small handful flat leaf parsley

    1/4 teaspoon onion powder

    salt and pepper

    Jeanette Barruzini’s Antipasto

    This is an old Italian family recipe from my brother in law, Steve Scherer. It's a lot of work (although it can scaled back in size) but it's delicious!

    Fresh Vegetables:

    2 bunch carrots, cook in a little H2O

    2 stalks celery

    1 ½ # gr beans

    4 red peppers

    4 gr peppers

    2 heads cauliflower

    2 bunch gr onions

    1 ½ C olive oil

    1 C white vinegar

    2 lg catsup bottles (20 oz)

    3 12 oz cans tom paste

    4 jars pimientos

    7 cans albacore tuna

    2 17 oz cans peas

    3-4 8 oz cocktail onions

    2 lg bottles gr olives

    2 lg bottles stuffed olives

    4 cans ripe olives

    1 qt dill pickles

    1 qt sweet pickles

    1 qt mixed sweet or small gerkhins

    3 1 lb cans mushrooms

    6-8 cloves garlic

    4-6 cans anchovy fillets

    Chop ingredients into bite size pieces. Add all the liquid except ripe olive juice. Cook until the cauliflower is clear (45-60 min). Add peas, tuna, anchovies. Bring to a full boil. Pack in hot sterile pint jars

    Rillettes

    These are bad for you. I make no excuses. But as an appetizer they are pretty cool.

    First thing to keep in mind is this is a way to make use of CHEAP cuts of fatty pork.

    Get a 2 to 3 pound pork shoulder and cut off all the meat and fat into 2 inch cubes. Save the bones for stock. If you have other "less than lean" pieces of pork like pork belly or un-cured bacon add them. Put all the meat in a pan and cover with water. Add salt and pepper and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for 6 hours. Allow to cool enough to handle and shred with you fingers retaining the fiber character of the meat. Taste the warm meat and adjust the level of salt and pepper. Put the shredded meat in the frig and let it age for 3 to 4 days. Serve cold on toasted bagel chips or garlic rounds by scooping out the leat with a "melon ball" type impliment. Alternatively if you want less fat place the rillettes on a paper towel and microwave. The paper towel will absorb the fat. Serve the rillettes warn in the same manner as above.

    Save the water it was cooked in for stock. Note that the fat will rise to the surface and the gel/liquid underneath can be used for stock as is or cooked down with a good white wine to make a light colored demi type stock.

    If you've been paying attention you can see this is a great way to cook cheap and use lots of food resources that otherwise might be wasted.

    Tartiflette

    This is another indulgence in rich, cheap stuff that's so good to eat but probably so bad for you.

    Peel two or so pounds of potatoes. Boil until just done and allow to cool. (Save the water for stock. I have used mine for cooking Boel a la Ficelle. And then in turn used that stock for making soup. DON'T WASTE!)

    Dice the potatoes small. Saute a large onion, thinly sliced, with a half pound of bacon cut in bite sized pieces. When the onions are looking good and the bacon is almost cooked add the potatoes and cook for your desired level of done.

    Layer the potatoes etc. in a flat pan and cover with crumbled gorgonzola cheese. (Other cheese choices are acceptable per taste.) Bake until cheese melts and serve hot as an appetizer.

    Canning and Preserving

    We have a fondness for home canned hot peppers and various jellies we make using fruit that has come our way. So I have included two simple recipes that have worked for us.

    The trick here is keep everything clean.

    To make jelly combine one quart of juice with 7 cups of sugar and one package of Certo. Bring to a boil and cook for ten minutes. Pour into sterile jelly jars (this much juice and sugar will make around 9 half pints) leaving a good inch of space at the top. Be careful not to splash the mix around the top sides and lip as this will inhibit sealing. Allow the mix to cool a little (not too much) and seal by adding hot, melted parafin. When the parafin has hardened add another quarter inch of parafin to reinforce the seal.

    I pickle peppers in our reliable dutch oven. It only holds 8 half pints but that has proved enough for us.

    First measure out enough hot peppers to fill the jars you want to use. Slice each pepper with a knife to create slits. Soak the slit peppers in 4 qurats of water that one and a half cups of salt have been disolved in. Soak for 24 hours. Then drain and rinse.

    Sterilize the right number of jars by cooking them, completely submerged, in boiling water for a minimum of ten minutes.

    While they are sterilizing combine 10 cups of vinegar, 2 cups water, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish. Bring this to a boil and then keep simmering until needed. Take the sealing lids and keep them in warm but not hot water.

    Pack the jars with peppers, fill to within a half inch of top with hot vinegar, wipe the lip clean, place sealing lid on the jar and twist to work it flat, screw on ring for lid but do not torque. Process jars in boiling water, submerged for at least ten minutes. Remove from water with tongs and allow to sit overnight at room temp. To test the seal remove the screw ring and pick up the jar by the edges of the lid. The lid should hold and support the jar. If the lid pops off put the jar in the frig and keep cold until you eat them.

    Cinnamon Maple Roasted Pecans

    We got this recipe from Susan Schmitz. It's an easy, tasty snack.

    Set oven low--250-300 degrees F. On a large shallow pan or roasting pan, melt about 1 Tbs. butter for each cup of pecans. Mix in about 2 Tbs pure maple syrup per each cup of pecans and some maple flavored extract—to taste. Coat the pecans in this mixture and roast slowly--watch and stir often as they burn easily. Keep them in a single layer. After they turn a bit deeper in color (they deepen in color also as they cool), take them out of the oven and while still quite warm, dust with a mixture of cinnamon, large-grained kosher salt and turbinado sugar (large brown sugar crystals). Spread on a piece of parchment paper to cool. When cool, store in plastic bag or tins. You can play with the flavoring and sugar. You can use confectioner's sugar during the roasting stage and this will make a sweeter, more candied pecan, as the sugar will carmelize on the pecans. You can do vanilla instead of the maple flavoring as well. The maple flavoring adds a nice maple flavor that the use of pure maple syrup alone just doesn’t do.

    Limoncello

    This is an easy recipe for a very mild but tasty Italian Liquor.

    Combine 4 cups of vodka with one half cup of lemon fresh peels (about 5 to 7 lemons). Cover and let stand for at least two weeks before proceeding to the next part.

    When vodka/lemon mix has aged sufficiently mix 3 cups of water with 1.5 cups of sugar and heat with stirring until sugar is disolved. Let this cool and then mix it with the vodka/lemon mixture. Store in clean glass bottles.

    Larry's Iced Tea

    My cousin, Larry Cunningham came up with this. Pretty good stuff!

    Make some ice tea anyway you like. Now flavor to taste with the Limoncello recipe above. Caffeine, sugar, lemon, alcohol. Hey, what more do you want?

    Menus:

    I added this section because I thought it might prove useful for someone planning a dinner, holiday or otherwise. These are menus we've used that have been successful for entertaining. Not all the recipes have been added here yet. But be patient (or e-mail and prod me if you're in a rush).

    French Theme Dinner #1

    Christmas Dinner #1

    Christmas Dinner #2

    Thanksgiving Dinner #1

    Thanksgiving Dinner #2

    French Theme Dinner #2

    French Theme New Years Brunch

    Savannah Theme New Years Brunch



    Things:

    A mortar and pestle: big heavy iron one is what I got from my son. I like it way better than a garlic press. Iron rusts so don’t be a cleaning fanatic about it. Unless you like that delicate rusty taste.

    Dutch oven. Marie Brinkkotter gave us this for our wedding. She’s my third cousin and God bless her.

    Good knives. I like Chicago cutlery. Keep them sharp, i.e. get the equipment and use it.

    A good cutting board. I like wood. I know it’s not supposed to be sanitary. But we have one that was a wedding present and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. (Handmade, by Mike Fury laminated strips.)

    Iron frying pans. Like the mortar and pestle they rust. Season them and keep them in good order. (Season? Rub with oil and bake or cook on the stove until they get black. Jeez! I don’t know! Read the damn book! I did mine camping over charcoal cooking short ribs! Gotta explain everything!)

    Blender. A food processor is nice for the non-liquid stuff. But a blender is what I use most. Our 50's special from Barbara’s grandmother finally died so we use a food processor, a spice grinder and an immersion blender.

    An immersion blender: As nice as the blender is being able to puree in the pot is (for hot liquids) nicer.

    A salad spinner: Anytime you need to rinse leafy stuff this really helps!

    A set of spices. You’ll never get all the ones you can use but have a good selection.

    GOOD olive oil.

    REAL butter.

    Kosher salt for places where the texture will show up.

    Balsamic and wine vinegar.

    Sweet and dry vermouth: good for most cooking situations that call for wine. (Yes. You can buy the wine in the supermarket labeled “Cooking Wine.” Sure hope you like bad tasting wine that’s 30% salt! ONLY cook with wine you LIKE to drink.) And you can use these wines for martinis and manhattans. Now a hint: if you open a bottle of ANY wine and leave it sit at room temp you will find that, in a few weeks, you have a bottle of wine vinegar. YOU MUST REFRIGERATE THE WINE AFTER OPENING! (Some snobs say you shouldn’t keep it for any period of time even if you refrigerate. I do agree the flavor changes somewhat with time. But for cooking applications I say the taste change is minimal.)

    A microwave: great cheat tool and you can use it as an insulated storage box to keep stuff on hold while you scramble to get other things under control for serving.

    Fresh lemons and limes. (OK. You can use lemon juice. But you should use fresh limes.)

    Fresh garlic. And lots of onions including green ones.

    Scallions (green onions, although fresh chives work as well) and shallots. Shallots are what (supposedly) separates the pros from the amateurs. They provide a nice, mild taste. Leeks are nice too!

    Dry fish and dry mushrooms. Pick the kind you like all varieties aren’t the same. These make great stock short cuts for oriental recipes. And the mushrooms can be added almost anywhere. (Canned mushrooms work too. Either way makes a quick substitute for most recipes calling for fresh as long as there’s some cooking involved. I suggest NEVER substitute either for fresh if there isn’t a heat/cooking step involved.)

    The mental tools that allow you to visual a taste and what goes into it so you can make something up that’ll actually taste good. This means you have to spend sometime sampling things and cataloging the tastes in your brain so you can pull up what makes what taste.

    Cookbooks(That worked for us.)

    The Lonely Guy Cookbook (Actually this is an article in Esquire magazine from the 70s. It was my first “cookbook” and has a lot of good advice for being basically a humor essay.)

    More with Less Cookbook (Mennonites): Lots of easy, cheap recipes that have a moral sense, i.e. not over consuming.

    From a Monastery Kitchen (This was our first family cookbook. Easy vegetarian.)

    Anything by Julia Child. ANYTHING!

    German Cookery by Elizabeth Schuler: Ja! Und der Panzers vil be here shortly! (I’m German, Screw you!) This is good eating!

    The Frugal Gourmet: this is a mix but there’s always something that’s good.

    The Coyote Café: Interesting SW cuisine.

    Justin Wilson: simple, maybe a little hokey, but good.

    Mollie Katzen: We have 3 of her books. Our favorite is still the original Moosewood.

    The Joy of Cooking: any questions you have about what to do now.

    The New Professional Chef by the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). I got it for acting as a book reviewer. Otherwise it’s a little pricey. But lots of basic info and good recipes from professional kitchens.

    Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Some recipes are good. Some just OK. But there’s a lot of how to information that can help.

    Paul Prudhomme: His choice of spices gets a little repetitious. But it’s good stuff you can play with. (And he doesn’t worry a lot about the health impact of good eating!)

    Creole Feast (Nathanial Burton and Rudy Lombard): Some real comfort food here. You have to remember: Creole and Cajun are NOT the same.

    The Complete Asian Cookbook (Charmaine Solomon): a culinary tour of the east. Wow!

    The Hot and Spicy Cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens)

    The Complete Book of Irish Country Cooking: More comfort food!

    Thai Vegetarian Cooking: Aromatic blends of good spicy stuff!

    Native American Cooking: A pretty pictures book that can provide lots of ideas even if the recipes aren’t all that hot.

    The French Cookbook (Sunset): One of those “teach yourself French” cookbooks that REALLY works!

    Tapas (Penelope Casal): when you want to try something different. These can be a lot of work but they are great for entertaining.

    Cooking Light Magazine: we’ve used it for years and probably cooked a couple hundred or so recipes from it. Of all those only had one that was nothing special. (I had to add this in to buck the above trend, i.e. except for the vegetarian cookbooks most of my recommendations aren’t what could be called “health conscious.”)

    Another magazine we like is Saveur. It has some very nice ethnic recipes from around the world.>

    Anything by Jaques Pepin. He is less complicated than Julia Child but very, very good.

    But if you WANT complicated try Bouchon by Thomas Keller. There's not much easy and simple in this but, hey, this guy cooked for the French Laundry!

    And then is you want French but want to move back into the less complicated try anything by Bocuse (voted Chef of the Century)