Cooking With Metachat!

Monday, September 26, 2005

kellydamnit's spaghetti sauce

This is my family's sauce, everyone modifies it a bit for their own needs, my version is a bit spicier than my mom and grandmother's. Like all Italians, I am unfamiliar with measuring cups. This is so insanely easy, and no one ever believes me. Once you get it all together it's just stirring occasionally while you do something else for several hours.

In the biggest pan you can find:

Dump in some olive oil, enough to coat the bottom.
toss in a couple pork neck bones (yes, really) and brown.
When they're browned add some garlic (threeish cloves) and about half an onion, both in teeny tiny pieces, sautee.

Once those are done dump in about six of the big cans of tomato puree. NOT SAUCE, puree. If you're psycho like me you can also use home canned tomatoes and just put them through the blender or food processor first, and strain out the seeds and skins.

Now the spices. Leave them out, you may want to adjust as you cook. I use dried.

A couple bay leaves
A healthy amount of oregano (couple tablespoons at least)
basil (tablespoon? half tablespoon? up to you!)
parsley (very little... a couple shakes)
crushed red pepper (holy god don't be stingy... I go for two, three tablespoons to start, and add more later)
chili powder (maybe a tablespoon)
(the last two were my addition)

I also tend to add garlic powder as it cooks, depending on how strong the garlic I started out with was.

Simmer it for a loooong time. Two, three hours. Stir frequently. Keep it covered with the lid at an angle for steam to escape. Keep the heat super low so it doesn't burn.
Adjust seasonings as you go. I always end up dumping in more oregano and pepper.

After that point you can add your (cooked!) meats... sausage, meatballs, whatever.

Simmer another hour or so over the lowest heat you can manage without turning the stove off completely.

Serve over your favorite pasta with cheese. I like ziti, but that's just me. Watch out for the bay leaves and pork bones!

DeepFriedTwinkies's Red Eye Gravy

Red eye gravy: Take all the drippings from your skillet (drippings are the little bits of whatever mammal you were cooking for breakfast) and heat it up till it's too hot for words, then add about 1/3 or so cup of coffee. If it's from yesterday, so much the better. Stir it all together till you make gravy. Add a flour/coffee paste if you overdid it on the coffee and it's runny. Serve over fried biscuits.

Fried biscuits: Heat up oil (about 3 cups) in a heavy, deep pan. Take a can of biscuits, the kind that come in the cardboard tubes, and fry them until brown. Usually 3-4 minutes to a side. Drain.

You may also serve Lipitor as an accompaniment.

My Okie grandma used to make this when I'd go down to the farm. Bliss.

Taz's Eggplant (Aubergine) Gratin

Eggplant Gratin (via Richard Olney)

1 1/2 pounds eggplant (preferably, small, elongated variety), sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices (or, if large, sliced crosswise)

Olive oil for frying

Stewed tomatoes:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt, small pinch cayenne

Cheese Custard:

4 ounces ricotta or other fresh white cheese
1 egg
Salt, pepper
About 1/2-cup freshly grated Parmesan
About 1/2-cup heavy cream

Handful fresh basil leaves and flowers
About 1/2-cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the eggplant slices in hot olive oil until golden brown on both sides and tender at all point. Drain on paper toweling (for this quantity, the slices will probably have to be fried in three batches, additional oil being added to the pan for each).

Cook the onion in olive oil for some 15 minutes until soft and yellowed, but not colored. Add the garlic and the tomatoes, season, turn the flame high, tossing several times, until well heated, then simmer gently - for 16 minutes or so - until the tomatoes' liquid is almost completely reduced. Taste for salt.

Mash the white-cheese with a fork, mixing in the egg - first stirring, then beating. Season and stir in enough Parmesan to bring the mixture to the consistency of a thick paste, then stir in cream until a heavy but easily poured creamy consistency is achieved. Taste for salt.

Line the bottom of a gratin dish or shallow baking dish with half of the eggplant slices, grind over a bit of pepper, tear the basil leaves into tiny pieces, sprinkling the surface evenly with leaves and flowers, sprinkle lightly with cheese, and spoon the tomato mixture evenly over the surface. Gently press the remaining eggplant slices into place and spoon the cheese-custard mixture regularly over the entire surface. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan and put into a fairly hot oven (425 to 450 degrees), turning it down after some 10 minutes to about 375 degrees, counting approximately 25 minutes or until the surface has swelled, no depression remaining in the center, and it is uniformly colored a rich golden brown.

Definitely all you need with this is good bread and a crisp green salad. Everyone I've made it for has swooned.

(PS: I never bother to peel and seed the tomatoes, and the only time I happen to find basil with flowers is when I'm growing it myself.)

Taz's Gumbo

The major secret to incredible gumbo is the roux. This is what separates the weak-ass stuff from the wonderful elixir that makes you want to slap your mama. Otherwise great chefs have said that they just can't manage to reproduce the flavor of real Louisiana (et al) gumbo... The roux is why.

To make a great roux, you must be brave, patient, and persistent. I used to spend as long as 45 minutes making the roux... though now I do it in about 15 or 20 minutes. The only difference is your heat setting. Here's how I make it: I put 1/2 cup of olive oil (you don't need to use olive oil, but I do) in the bottom of a large flat frying pan (or enough oil to cover the bottom, but not less than a 1/2 cup), and turn the heat up to medium high. Then I put one cup of flour into a sifter and as soon as the oil is hot, I begin sifting in the flour, blending and stirring with a wooden spoon. Keep sifting and blending 'til you've got all the flour in the pan... then keep stirring and scraping and stirring and scraping and stirring. You want to keep it going until it gets to be a very, very dark brown color, like this.

Your entire goal here is to get it as dark as possible without burning it. So you can use a lower heat and cook it longer, with less risk of burning, or you can use a higher heat, as I do, and never leave it for a second. Stir, stir, stir.

And this, boys and girls, is the only great secret of gumbo - the rest you can play with and change if you like. You can make shrimp or crawfish gumbo, or vegetarian gumbo with lots of greens, or pretty much anything.

Today, I'm making chicken and sausage gumbo.

The first thing I do is cut the vegetables. Today I used two large red peppers, two large green bell peppers, two large onions, a small bunch of parsley, and three toes of garlic, all chopped, and two cupped handfuls of chopped celery, with leaves (our celery is different here from regular U.S. celery - but I think I used to use two or three stalks). Put all the cut up veggies together in bowl or on your chopping board.

Now the chicken: I use four chicken leg-thigh parts, which I shake up in a bag with flour, salt, pepper, powdered garlic and hot paprika to thoroughly coat the chicken parts.

While I'm making the roux, I fry the chicken in the same big soup pot that I'm going to make the gumbo in. The frying doesn't need to be perfect, because the chicken is going to cook for a long time in the soup. Basically, you just want to get them nice and browned. When they are done, put them on a plate with paper towel underneath, and throw out any remaining oil from the pot.

(Or you can do this step ahead of time, and use the remaining oil when making your roux.)

As soon as the roux reaches that magic dark mahogany color, I dump all the chopped vegetables into the roux frying pan, and quickly stir and toss with the wooden spoon until the veggies are all coated and have basically gathered up all the roux onto themselves. The aroma that explodes at this point will give you some clue about the treat that lies ahead.

Now dump the vegetables-and-roux and the fried chicken parts into the soup pot, and cover with water. I use about three quarts of water. Then slice up about a pound of smoked sausage and add that to the pot. (If you can find some Cajun Tasso, throw a little of that in, as well!) Season as you please. I use one or two tablespoons of hot sauce, three tablespoons of worcestershire, a little cayenne (or any hot, powdered) pepper, salt, black pepper, white pepper, and two or three bay leaves.

Simmer it for two or three hours (edited to say: "actually, boil for a while at first, then simmer". The chicken definitely must be falling from the bone), then remove the bones and serve over cooked rice. I sprinkle filé powder over mine in the individual bowls before serving - but if you've included okra among your vegetables, don't use filé.

It will end up looking something like this.

It's magnificent the first day, but the second day is when you go to heaven.

If you make this, and you don't love me foreverafterwards, then you're just not right, Jack. Get yourself back to the morgue.


Yield: 8 Servings

2 lb Okra, fresh
2 ea Onions, lg, chopped
2 ea Garlic cloves
4 tb Butter or oil
2 lb Lamb, beef or veal, cubed
1/2 lb Tomatoes, ripe, sliced
1 tb Tomato paste
Salt and pepper
1 ea Lemon (juice only)

Wash fresh okra and cut off stems. Fry the chopped onions and whole garlic cloves in butter or oil until both are golden and the garlic is aromatic. Add the cubed meat and brown all over. Then add the prepared okra and fry gently for a little while longer. Add the tomatoes, continue to cook for a few more minutes, and cover with water in which you have diluted the tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper, and stir well. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat 1 1/2 hours or more, until the meat and vegetables are very tender and the sauce is reduced, adding a little more water if necessary. Remove from heat, and add juice of one lemon. Stir and serve.

Secret Life of Gravy's Fried Egg Spaghetti

2 roasted red bell peppers (either roasted on the burner or bottled) cored and chopped
1 TB rinsed capers
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 C of bread chunks, preferably sourdough
6 TB olive oil
12 oz spaghetti
3 eggs

Heat oven to 350

Put the salted spaghetti water on to boil. Tear up a slice or two of sourdough or other dense chewy bread-- crusts and all (prepared bread crumbs or wonderbread isn't going to work.)

In a small baking dish, stir together the bell pepper, capers, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. When the water comes to a boil, begin cooking the spaghetti. Then top your pepper mixture with the breadcrumbs and drizzle 3 TB of oil on the top. Bake.

After 5 minutes, begin the eggs. Fry them gently in the remaining 3 TB of oil and cook until whites are done but yolks remain runny.

When the spaghetti is done, drain well. Remove the baked bell pepper mix from oven and toss with the noodles. Using two forks add in the eggs, shredding them. As the runny yolks make contact with the hot noodles, they will finish cooking.

If you get your timing right, this recipe is simple, fast and delicious.

omiewise's Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread-easy, it just takes time:

organic flour (1/4 cup)
distilled water

[Total time:1 hr spread over two weeks]
Mix together, let sit covered on counter, add a bit more flour and water every day until you have a nice bubbly mess. It should smell fresh and sour, but not moldy. (If it molds, start over.)

Keep feeding now three times a day for about a week. If you have to go a long time between feedings, mix it stiff.

At the end of that time, feed one more time by weight: start with a quarter cup of starter, add 8oz water and 8oz flour. Set aside for 8-12 hours and it will be ready to bake. Take 12-14oz of the starter and set it aside for use in the bread. Take half the rest and put it in a glass or plastic container, add some flour and some water, and throw it in the back of the fridge. At first you should feed it every week, but then it can go for as long as three months between feedings. It's yours for life. It doesn't matter what proportions you store it in, but for this recipe, always refresh it so that it is half flour and half water by weight before you use it.

[In baker speak, since you're now a baker, this is called a 100% hydration dough, because the water equals the flour by weight. Flour is always 100%, then the weight of the water is taken as a percentage of that and that's your Baker's percentage. Light, shapeless breads have a high hydration (Ciabatta can be as much as 80%.) Dense breads lower hydration (55%). We're gonna make a ~60% hydration bread out of a 100% hydration starter]
posted by omiewise 14 June | 09:05
Mixing the bread (even easier than the starter)

30-45 minutes

12 oz starter
34 oz flour (bread flour just to be safe. There's a lot to say about flour, protein content, additives, etc, but I won't bore you. If you want the best, use King Arthur. Otherwise, any flour that says Better for Bread.)
18 oz water (filtered is best but not necessary)
1.5 Tablespoons salt
1/4 cup wheatgerm (not bran!)(optional)
That's it.
Who knew the staff of life was so basic?

Pour all the water, all the starter and half the flour into a big bowl. Beat with a spoon until there are no lumps. Beat another 100 strokes. Lift spoon, try to get as long a strand between spoon and bowl as possible. If it breaks very short, beat a bit more.

Add the rest of the flour. Mix and knead with your hands a bit until just barely mixed. Let rest for 20-30 minutes. (This is called the autolyse, and helps the bread to hydrate so that you knead less and the bread is better able to take it.) Use the time to clean your spoon, wash your hands, clean the kneading surface, flip the record, give your sweetie a kiss and get some props for all the work you're doing in the kitchen.

At the end of the autolyse turn the bread out onto the counter or whatever and begin to knead. Here's how: Smush the bread into a big thick pancake shape to start. Grab the edge furthest from you and pull it toward you, folding the giant pancake in half. Push the half-moon together and away from you, giving it a quarter turn. Repeat a bunch of times. The bread should get smooth and silky. If it's sticky, dust it with flour.

Once it's gotten silky (200 kneads maybe), you want to add the salt. It's kind of a pain to add it now, but it's better for the bread. If you want you can add it at the beginning, but it makes kneading a bit harder and makes the gluten tougher. Whatever you do, do not forget to add the salt.

Make another big pancake, sprinkle with salt, roll it up, sprinking the whole time. Start to knead again until all the salt is incorporated. Sometimes depending on humidity etc, the dough kind of separates into layers around the salt. This will go away as you keep kneading.

Raising and shaping

30 minutes spread over 2(!) days.

Take the freshly kneaded dough and shape it into a ball with a smooth top. Get a big bowl, put some oil in the bottom (about a tablespoon) use the top of the dough to spread the oil over the bowl. Nestle the dough lovingly inside the bowl (there should be plenty of room to spare). Cover with plastic wrap or something to keep it from drying out.

Put in a quiet place. Let rise for 4-8 hours (depending on temp, activity of the yeast, etc). The dough should double to triple in size. The goal is to max it out without letting it fall. The bad news is that natural yeast takes a long time to do this, the good news is that it takes a long time to get past the point you want it to. So, how do you tell when it's ready? Don't poke it! This kind of yeast has to be seduced, not assaulted. So, one of the most sensuous moments in bread baking: take off the plastic wrap and very gently place your whole hand over the top of the bread. Do not apply any pressure. Stand like that for a second. Now, what you've got your hand on is alive. The question is, is it getting tired? Is it starting to feel slack, like it can't hold itself up anymore? If it is, it's done rising; if not, put the cover back on and come back in half and hour.

When it's done rising, lightly flour your counter and gently, gently, turn the bread out onto it. You know that smooth upper surface you were caressing? You want to keep it intact. Take a big knife and cut the dough into several pieces-it can make two 4 pound loaves, or more smaller loaves. Kind of tuck the pieces up so that the upper smooth surface is on top, cover with a towel, and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Come back and shape them: You want to make taught little balls out of them, stretching that nice gluten sheet on top. Use your hands to gather the bottoms of the pieces together, pulled against that top sheet. If you have baskets to raise them in, now is the time, although I imagine that if you do you haven't needed my help. If not, put them, well-separated, on a cookie sheet onto which cornmeal has been spread.

The final proof now begins. It too can take a long time, so it's probably best to put the loaves in the fridge and take them out the next morning, or you may be up all night. Anyway, set them in a quiet place and let proof until they seem like they have no more rising in them.

Preheat the oven to 500 F. When the oven is good and hot, slip in the bread and turn it down to about 450. Cook for 20 min, and then rotate and cook for about 20 more. The bread will get darker than you are used to seeing crappy American bread get, but the flavor is in the crust, so be brave. Remove and cool on wire racks. Let it cool at least 45-60 minutes or it will be gooey inside, just like we are.

There is a lot to say about baking, it's certainly best done on a stone, with some form of moisture, it's best to score the loaf, etc, but since I doubt anyone will read this, much less try it, I won't get into it here. (Feel free to email me.) Baking bread is really easy, and there's almost nothing like eating your own bread.

More info at the pretty decent Sourdough FAQ.

soi-disant's multiple mystery dishes

i like these a lot because they're simple.

i did them the other night for a couple of the kids and it was v. yum.

i'm lazy so things are grouped in about the order you'll need them, and the exact proportions/temperatures/times/secrets are your own.

also, this thread is good.

fresh squid

rice flour
dried chili
spring onions

peanut/olive oil
hot frypan short time

cloudy beer

lamb racks, skin off, fat on

olive oil
lime juice

hot oven short time

big red wine

2 and a bit.
good tomatoes
thin hard cheese

olive oil
lime juice


low grill

vanilla bean ice cream

sugar syrup
bay leaves

sticky/desert wine

4. (for the brave and stupid)
dried muscatels

booze you'll likely regret drinking

AlexReynolds's Tilapia

This will serve two people, multiply quantities to serve as necessary.
Total cooking time is roughly 45 min (35 to bake the fish, about
another 10 to prepare the sauce) with another 15 min of prep work.

• 4 Tilapia fillets, usually about 6 oz apiece from Trader Joes
• 1/4 pint white wine
• 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 4 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro and parsely

• 1 red onion, sliced into one inch strips
• sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorn
• 1/2 oz unsalted butter
• 1 tbsp cornstarch, blended with a little cold water beforehand
• 2 tbsp heavy cream

Heat oven to 350'F. Place the tilapia fillets into a oven dish (I've
used cast iron, works well) and pour wine on top just enough to cover.
Sprinkle garlic atop fillets, add onion and 3/4ths of your chopped
herbs on top (keep the last quarter of your chopped herbs on hand for
the sauce). Season with salt and peppercorn. Cut butter into four equal
portions, one placed atop each fillet.

Cover the dish(es) with aluminum foil. Bake for 30-35 min. Check in
around 30 min, seems to be fine at that point. If you're making pasta
or other sides, begin to boil water around 25 min in so that you're
ready to go when you're making the sauce.

Remove cooked fish to another oven dish. Pour broth into a saucepan and
put the fish back into the oven, set at Warm while you make the sauce
and any accompanying sides (pasta, veg., etc.)

Simmer sauce with cornstarch for two minutes. Add heavy cream and
remaining herbs and stir vigorously to mix but no further. Do not
simmer further or raise stove temperature, or the sauce will thin out.
If you use flour instead of cornstarch, double the amount added.

Serve fish on warm plates, dollop sauce atop fish. Salt n' peppar to individual taste, as this seems to help brighten the sauce a bit.

This recipe seemed to work well in our testing labs with sushi rice or
spiral rice pasta: anything that will soak up sauce. We also added
sauteed vegetables (bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms) for a bit of
color and crunch, and side salad with the garlic rice vinaigrette
(recipe in the vinaigrette thread).


jaksemas's Blueberry French Toast Casserole


* 12 slices white bread, crusts removed
* 2 packages (16 ounces total) cream cheese
* 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
* 12 eggs
* 2 cups milk
* 1/3 cup maple syrup or other syrup

* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon cornstarch
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
* 1 tablespoon butter


Cut bread into 1-in cubes; place half in a greased 13- x 9-i x 2-inch baking dish.

Cut cream cheese into 1-inch cubes; place over bread. Top with blueberries and remaining bread. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Whisk in milk and syrup, blending well. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 25-30 minutes more or until golden brown and the center is set.

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; add water. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in blueberries; reduce heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until berries have burst. Stir in butter until melted. Serve sauce with French toast.
Serves 6 to 8

frecklefaerie's Chicken Fajitas

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1 tbsp Chili powder
1/2 tbsp Cilantro (I use dried, use a full tbsp for fresh)
2 tbsp Minced Garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

3 chicken breasts (1-1.5 lbs), cut into fajita-sized strips
1 medium red onion, cut into slices
1-2 peppers cut into strips (I like to use red/yellow/orange, sometimes green)

Fajita sized tortillas

Preheat the oven to 325F
-Combine the oil, oj, and spices
a. Marinate the chicken in it for a few hours
b. Don't marinate for a few hours (I've done it both ways, both taste good)
-Cook the chicken and marinade over medium heat until in a skillet or wok or whatever pan until the chicken is white on the outside. Stir it a bit to be sure everything is covered in the spices.
-Add onions and peppers and stir some more.
-Cook the whole thing until the veggies are tender or until the chicken is done. (I like to do it until most of the oj has cooked off, which usually means I turn up the heat toward the end.)
-Wrap the tortillas in aluminium foil and put in the oven for 8-10 minutes

Serve by placing chicken, onion, and peppers in the tortillas. Add other fajita fixins as you like (salsa, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc.)

mygothlaundry's All Good Marinade for Everything

lime juice
grated fresh ginger
pressed fresh garlic
hot sauce
olive oil

mygothlaundry's Peanut Butter Noodles (best while camping)

Leftover spaghetti noodles
grated carrots
slivered cucumber
natural peanut butter (1/2 c)
tamari (1/4 c)
garlic (2 cloves) press in garlic press
sesame oil (3 tbsp)
lemon or lime juice (2 lemon/limes)
hot sauce (2 tsp)
sesame seeds (1 tbsp)
grated fresh ginger (or powdered, if camping) (to taste)
Mix the peanut butter with the ingredients after it until darker & somewhat thinner. Toss with the noodles and vegetables. Most delicious. For some strange reason, it doesn't keep well overnight on a picnic table, even if you cover it, so eat it all up.

mygothlaundry's hangover breakfast

Go to supermarket while still drunk or early in the morning, before you know you're hungover. Buy the following:
one of those bags of grated potatos from the dairy aisle
a vidalia onion
cheddar cheese
feta cheese
and coca cola - you'll need that for the hangover too.
Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet, toss in the potatos and half a grated vidalia. After about 7 minutes, stir/flip them and add the chorizo in chunks.
Fry for a while - about another 7 minutes.
When it starts to look done, push it all to one side and put on some eggs - leave them to fry or scramble, your choice.
Add grated cheddar & crumbled feta & salsa to the potato/chorizo mixture, stir.
Serve on a warmed tortilla with the eggs on top.
Yes, it's extremely greasy. Drink the coke and go back to bed.

warbaby's Corn Souffle

3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour (or better, Pancake mix)
1 Can Whole Kernal Corn (or two cans Mexicorn)
(optional 1/4 cup chopped raw onion, red and green pepper)
Whole Milk (sufficient)
3 or 4 Eggs
1 Can Vienna Sausages

Preheat oven to 350.

Drain corn liquid into measuring cup. Top up with milk to 1 Cup. Heat in microwave to warm (not necessary, but it makes the cream sauce smoother.)

Separate eggs and beat whites until stiff but not dry.

Melt the butter in two quart saucepan and add the Flour / Pancake mix. Keep pan on medium heat. Immediately start adding small amounts of Corn/Milk liquid while stirring continuously. Keep stirring until sauce boils. Add corn (and optional vegetables.) Stir until boiling recommences. Add egg yolks. Keep stirring until sauce has boiled for three minutes. Fold in egg whites. Pour mixture into greased cassarole (or cast iron frying pan). Garnish with sausages. Bake for 50 minutes until top puffs up and browns. Yum. Serves one if it's me.

gaspode's Blackbottoms

Preheat oven to 350F
Use 2 bowls. Makes 4 dozen.
1st bowl: mix and blend
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

2nd bowl: blend together
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Use small paper cups in small tins (the ones that hold 24)
Put in 1 tablespoon brown mix
1 teaspoon white mix
Cook for 20 minutes

*I like to refrigerate them overnight before eating*

grapefruitmoon's Yummy Pasta

Make pasta. I'm sure you know how. Linguini works best for this, but I've had good results with bowties as well. I wouldn't recommend maccaroni or anything teeny weeny like that.

- While pasta is cooking, heat ~ 1/3 cup oliveoil in a pan
- add a pantsload of chopped garlic (I've used anywhere from three cloves to a whole head, depending on what I have available - the more, the better in my opinion)
- If you're adding less than five cloves chopped garlic, I'd recommend 1 tsp. garlic powder to give the oil a little flavor.
- 1/2 tsp. roasted red pepper. (You could use more if you like things really spicy, but this certainly gives it a kick.)
- I sometimes add a little Italian seasoning, sometimes not. I recommend herb experimentation.

When the oil is all nice and hot and reeks of garlic, toss in a chopped tomato or two. Cook until tomato is to your done-ness preference. Add feta cheese (in very small hunks). Melt slightly.

Toss cheesylicious sauce over pasta.

chota's everything but the kitchen sink tuna salad

2c Chunk Tuna or Mashed garbanzo beans (for the vegetarians out there)
3/4c Mayo (Hellman's Regular, not "diet" or Miracle Whip)
3 tsp Spicy Brown Mustard
3 pinches Curry powder
1 tsp Horseradish
1/2c Sweet pickle relish
2 green onions, chopped
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2-3 stalks of Celery, chopped
1-2 Hardboiled egg(s), chopped

1) Dump together
2) Mix thouroughly
3) Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.
4) Toast two slices of multi-grain bread
5) Place a cheese slice on one slice
6) Liberally dollop tuna concoction on the other, and smoosh together.

Smart Dalek's tuna sandwiches

Oil a skillet and preheat; add a 1/2 lb. tuna steak, pan-frying until nearly done. Dice and mix 1/2 Hungarian wax pepper, 1/2 Thai pepper and 1/2 Italian pepper, along with the faintest hint of garlic and 1/8th cup of fresh-cut parsley.

Place 2 cinnamon-rasin English muffins in microwave oven and heat for 7-10 seconds at medium level. Carve tuna steak half; garnish english muffin halves with honey mustard, mayonnaise, mesclun salad and whatever cheese you prefer. Build sandwiches and serve.

jonmc's pork chops

if you're feeling slightly more ambitious. Get some boneless pork chops, trim the fat, and pound 'em a while. Dip in egg, then spicy bread crumbs, fry the chops in oil.
Slice some jalapeno jack cheese and melt on top, squirt on some horseradish sauce, maybe some pickled sweet peepers, serve on a sub roll. Serve with beer.

safetyfork's custom breakfast stack

The only basic thing in the stack attack is the fried potato "pancake" (for two) which is prepared by grating two to three potatoes (I prefer red, but it can be others) and grating a sufficient amount of cheese (I prefer Jack, but it can be custom and should be if you are utilizing mozzarella later -- see below). Not too much cheese, though because you'll have the opportunity to add more with other components. Heat up a cast iron (or otherwise oven proof) skillet on the stove with some olive oil, black pepper, and a few red pepper flakes (optional) in there. Pre-heat the oven (425/450 degree F) now too. When the oil and skillet is sufficiently hot to accept a layer of potato, do just that. Spread about half of your potato gratings on the skillet. Quickly spread the cheese layer on as well, and rapidly top that off with the other half of the potato gratings. Shape and lightly flatten with a heat resistant spatula. Cover that up and let it cook for a bit.

Now you should be prepping other TBD components of the dish.

Once that potato-cake has firmed up you gotta flip it! That's right. You can do this like you flip eggs if it is firm enough but only if you have the kitchen skillz. If you don't have that kind of kitchen kung fu, then cut it in half and flip each part with the spatula (the downside of this approach is the oozing cheese). After it's been flipped cover it again and go back to the other prep work. After a few minutes of browning that side of the potato pancake, you put it in the oven to really crisp it up. (Leave in the oven for a few minutes, check for good browning tone and remove when appropriate). Each person gets a half of the cake. I recommend quartering it up so each person gets two quarters.

OK, so that's the core ingredient. Here's what I've stacked it with in the past. Most all stack items are optional, really. Hence, all that custom talk earlier.

In a bowl:
A) Grits (w/extra cheese, salt, pepper), fried eggs (2), fake sausage, and salsa.
B) salad of lettuce and cut tomato chunks w/some lime, and fried eggs (2) and salsa.

On a plate:
A bed of fake sausage links, tomato slices, mozzarella slices, fried eggs (2), salsa.

Interleave, alternate, or intersperse the other ingredients in the stack with a quarter of the potatocake to make an artful stack of breakfast goodness. Like all good software cook books, the information provided in this recipe is presented on an "as is" basis...has been known to produce food coma. Enjoy!

Specklet's garlic cilantro chicken enchiladas


-Trim the fat off 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs.
-Put in a frying pan with a cup or so of chicken stock.
-Coarsely chop 4 or 5 cloves of garlic and 3 or 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro and add to the chicken.
-Cover and gently bring to a simmer. Don't overcook.
-Discard garlic and cilantro, save leftover stock to cook your rice in.
-Dice chicken.
-Dice 1 large yellow onion.
-Dice 2 anaheim peppers.
-Dice 2 jalepenos.
-Chop 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro.
-Salt to taste.

-Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, put on medium heat.
-Lightly fry 16 small corn tortillas (must be corn), about 20 seconds on each side.
-Replenish olive oil as needed.

-I'm still working on the recipe for this, so until I get one I'm happy with, buy a high-quality jar of it. Buy 2, actually, 16oz or so.

-Put about 3 tablespoons of the filling in each tortilla, roll, and place in a 9x11 baking pan. You should be able to squish all 16 in there.
-Pour sauce over the top, sprinkle with cayenne.
-On top add 1 pound of grated jack cheese. (I use organic raw milk cheese, but it can be prohibitively expensive.)
-Cover with tinfoil and cook at 350 for about 30 minutes.
-Uncover and cook for another 15.

Serve with Mexican rice, black bean soup, a vinegary salad, and sangria.

Wait, I can't stop there.

Mexican rice:
-Rinse a cup of short-grained brown rice. Put in a medium saucepan with the chicken broth from above, and add enough water to make 2 cups of liquid.
-Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently until the liquid is gone.
-Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and saute 1 large yellow onion and 1 large red bell pepper, diced small. Salt to taste.
-Add cooked rice and gently fry for a few minutes.

Black bean soup:
-You can use canned beans, or cook dried from scratch (if you want to know how, email me: specklet at hotmail dot com), but you want a good 3.5 - 4 cups of soup.
-Add 1 yellow onion and 1 red bell pepper, chopped.
-Cayenne to taste, salt to taste, and a tablespoon of cumin.
-When everything's cooked nice and soft, add the juice of one orange.

-MUST be made 24 or more hours in advance!
-Pour two bottles of red wine (I like a nice rioja, but any merlot or cab or chianti will do) in a large pot.
-Add the juice of 4 oranges, 4 lemons, and 4 limes.
-Slice 2 oranges, thin, throw in pot.
-Add 1/4 a cup (or more if you like) raw cane sugar.
-Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and five or six bay leaves.
-Here's the magic: 6 or 8 generous shots of Cointreau. (You can use a dark rum if you must, just add more sugar.)
-Stir, cover, and refrigerate.
-Serve over ice with a splash of seltzer.

the Doohickie Salad

Take a half cup to a cup of snap peas (in pods), add a few pieces of chopped onion and pepper to taste, and top it off with about a half of a 3- or 3.5-ounce pack of fake crab meat.
No dressing or anything else is required. If you keep chopped onion and peppers around like I do, you can make this in about a minute. (serves one; multiply for additional servings).

Specklet 's raita with Lebanese variation by madamjujujive

cucumber, yogurt, onion, and cumin. And try sprinkling some cumin in lemonade; sounds weird but is delicious.

This is a Lebanese variation on Specklet's yogurt recipe - very refreshing.

1 quart of plain laban (yogurt)
2 cucumbers sliced whisper thin
1 clove of garlic
2 tsp dried mint
Mix ingredients. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate til ready to serve.

safetyfork's Kicking-Lemon Salad

Take two decent-sized cloves of garlic, put them in your mortar throw some salt over them, mash them up good with the pestle.
Take a lemon, grate/zest about half of it (approx. 1 tablespoon).
Cut it in half and juice it (approx. 1/4 cup o' juice).
Put the zest and the juice in the mortar.
Take about 2 tablespoons of whole-grain mustard (like the grey poupon, or better brand, country style) and put it in the mortar too.
Now add some olive oil (maybe a 1/3 cup or so).

Stir that all up. Now you have yummy salad dressing to put on your mixed greens (I like boston and some romaine maybe with a little bit of arugala too).

Toast up some walnuts on the stove (maybe half to a whole cup).
Throw those guys in the salad and toss it with the dressing.
Top that with some grated parmagian or romano cheese (maybe a little fresh ground pepper, too) and you are good to go.

Want stronger flavor? Add more Garlic, lemon and mustard to the mix.
Need to bulk it up because that's all you are eating? Cut up some Ginger-marinated Seitan or Lemon Tofu in small cubes (my favorite is "lemon pepper tofu" by fresh tofu inc - it's already baked and so good).
It is worth noting that some people like a little less kick to the dressing, in which case, simply reduce the garlic, lemon, and mustard. (I like more zing.)

Additional Variations:
Stepping out of my vegetarian box: You can also cook up chicken and mix it in with the salad described above. No real need for the tofu then.

You can also slice up an avacado and mix it in with the salad for another variation on the flavor factory that is Kicking-Lemon Salad.

iconomy's killer black bean salad

One can black beans drained
a thick slice white or red onion, finely chopped
half cup corn kernels
a thick slice red bell pepper, finely chopped
one clove garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper of your choice to taste
a chopped bit of fresh parsley, cilantro, or maybe fresh mint if you have it
a tbsp olive oil
a tsp balsamic vinegar, or any good vinegar

Toss it and refrigerate until chilled. Really great with toasted pita or tortilla chips, or alone. It's light and refreshing, but has a bit of 'stick-to-it-iveness' that makes you feel like you've eaten something substantial.