Revisiting The Culinary Canon

Yesterday, I made the kind of hamburgers that, upon tasting them, made a happy wet spot in the front of my trousers. It was as if I had shaved flesh from the thigh of a chubby angel and gently seared it on my Weber grill. That told me, “Okay. Nailed it. You have your hamburger recipe. It’s time to move on.”

Couple weeks back, I said to you crazy kids, “food me.” (That is not meant to sound salacious, in a R-rated movie on FX or AMC where they replaced all instances of the word ‘fuck’ with ‘food,’ as in, ‘Yippie-Kay-Ay, Motherfooder way.) I said, with my family growing by one here in the next few months, it’s going to be important to have a bunch of recipes nailed down to my preferences rather than be some kind of home cook gourmet dilettante prancing around the kitchen with a bottle of liquid nitrogen and a mortician’s rubber apron. Though, to be clear, I look fucking hot in a rubber apron.

I said, “Hey, I need to figure out this family’s culinary canon.” Just as everyone has family recipes — “This is Grammaw’s Barbecue Tree Grub Salsa! With picante horse scrotum!” — I too want to start getting down the so-called ultimate versions of certain recipes for here in Der Wendighaus before the heir to Der Wendighaus shows up and pitches a spanner into the gears.

You folks leapt to the fore.

You threw a major mega-awesome heapful of recipes into the pot.

You can find those magnificent recipes here.

But no, I’m not done.

I still need more. More. MOAR.

(Hey, sorry. I’m needy. Deal with it.)

Here’s the deal, then. I’ve nailed down a bunch of recipes now that I’m pretty comfortable with. I’ve got burgers down. I’m good with mac and cheese, papaya salad, prime rib, chili, sloppy Joes. I can make eggs that’ll jump up off the plate and kick your teeth in. I’ve got a canon forming.

But, as noted, I need more.

I’m looking to nail down recipes for the following (in no particular order):

  • Meatloaf.
  • Fried chicken.
  • Beef stew.
  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Potato salad.
  • Spaghetti sauce.
  • Chicken and dumplings.
  • Chocolate chip cookies.
  • Chicken noodle soup.
  • Brownies.
  • Pierogies.
  • Korma (chicken, lamb, whatever).
  • Thai curry (red, yellow, green, whatever).

I’m not necessarily asking for recipes. Should you have a recipe for one or several of these that you care to share, suh-weet. Feel free to drop into comments, point me to a link, or even write it to me via email. But what I’m also looking for is just… any little tidbits of information you have about these dishes that you feel is critical. An ingredient, maybe — “I thicken my mashed potatoes with an eyedropper full of milk from a witch’s nipple.” A technique, perhaps. “I bake my brownies in a used jockstrap to give them that humid, swampy stink of a football player’s salty nether-quarters. Can you say Umami?”

See, you gotta understand, I’m not trying to make my mother’s recipes. I’m not trying to make your recipes. I’m trying to make my recipes. I grab from here, I steal from there, and I experiment until I get the recipe I want. Then, I laser-engrave it into my brain. With an actual laser. It hurts a lot. I think I damaged my cerebral cortex. Whenever the dishwasher kicks on, I pee myself and do a little dance. Damn lasers.

Oh! If you want that burger recipe, it’s taken mostly from the Weber grill app. It’s pretty easy:

Pound and a half of 80/20 ground beef. Mix in a li’l dollop of ketchup, mustard, Worchestershire sauce, Frank’s hot sauce. Mix in a dash of salt, pepper, oregano, chili powder, thyme. Form into patties. Divot with a spoon. Cook on the grill for four minutes per side, toward the very end, pile on top a little cairn of grated Gouda cheese, let melt with the grill closed. Made the juiciest, most flavorful burger I’ve ever made.

It is the bee’s tits, that burger.


If you add anything into the culinary canon of the Wendighaus cookbook, whether it’s a recipe, an ingredient, a tip, a trick, a marriage proposal, a hate-filled rant, or a doodle of a pair of boobies, I’ll take it and offer a quivering Jell-O mold of gratitude.


  • These are the cookies that changed my childhood. Whether for good or bad, I’m still not sure. The original recipe called for a whole teaspoon of salt and baking soda, but I’m used to the high altitude (low sodium) version that was given to me by a kindly neighbor.

    Also,I tried mixing these with a stand mixer, but it didn’t quite do it right. It takes a lot of arm strength to make these cookies, but they’re worth it.

    Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
    4 cups flour
    2 cups whole oats or quick oats
    2 cups brown sugar
    1 cup white granulated sugar
    3 sticks butter
    2 tsp cinnamon
    1/8 tsp baking soda
    1/8 tsp salt
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 egg
    1 15-oz can pumpkin
    1/2 cup Ghirardelli chocolate chips (milk chocolate is smoothest)

    Blend butter and sugars together until thoroughly mixed. Add vanilla and egg and mix. Set aside. In another bowl, mix flour, oats, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl. Slowly add the dry mixture to the butter/sugar mix, alternating with pumpkin. Add chocolate chips at the end.

    Spoon dough out onto parchment or wax paper on a cookie sheet. Depending on size, you can get 60 small biscuit-like cookies, or 36-48 ‘muffin top’ cookies that are moist and good. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Try not to cram them all into your mouth at once.

  • My tip for choc-chip cookies is to slightly undercook them. Then they have that yummy doughyness in the middle.

    I don’t even know what a pierogy is.

  • Here is a good tip for when you’re making pasta: (also works for making korma and ticca masala)
    Never separate the pasta sauce and the meat you’re eating while you’re making eat. After frying your meat, put the pasta sauce in the pan together with the meat. Then add some table-spoons of water so the sauce won’t get too chunky.

    Add some ingredients; chop up some garlic into tiny pieces (choose yourself how much you like), half a tea spoon of basilicum, some regular black pepper and half a onion (if you like onions that is).

    Now let it all cook in the pan on medium heat for around 20 minutes, this will let the meat absorb some of the sauce and at the same time give the sauce a fuller taste. Enjoy!

  • Dunno what happened with the “never separate the pasta sauce and meat” sentence… Damn iPhone! What I meant was not to keep them apart while you’re cooking, mix them together. Again, this also applies while making korma and ticca masala

  • My mother makes meatloaf like you would not believe. So delicious, and now I impart to you the two great secrets of my families cuisine:
    1) when making meatloaf have bacon on top while it is cooking and rather than breadcrumbs thicken the meat/onion/flavoring/whatever with oatmeal.
    2) Worcestershire sauce is your friend. A bit of this stuff and you have some serious umami going on. Steak seasoning, meatloaf, really any meat that needs just a bit of a kick. Fair warning: a little of the stuff goes a long way.

  • Buffalo Meatloaf (yes I am that manly)

    – 1 lb ground buffalo
    – 1 cup bread/cracker crumbs
    – 2 medium eggs
    – 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
    – 1/3 cup chopped yellow/white onion
    – Salt
    – Pepper
    – Worcestershire sauce
    – Soy sauce
    – Ketchup
    – Wee bit of oil

    1. Throw the onions in a frying pan with a little bit of oil and cook until nice and sweet, maybe a little brown at the edges. Preheat oven to 350.

    2. In a huge mixing bowl, and using your hands, mix the bison with the eggs. Add breadcrumbs slowly and combine until the mixture is sticky, like bread dough.

    3. Add (cooled!) onions and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. In this case, probably about 1/2 tsp pepper and 1 tsp salt, but you can always leave out the salt until after baking.

    4. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tsp Worcestershire. Mix around. At this point you can sprinkle in some of your favourite beef dry rub, if you want.

    5. Put in high-sided baking pan, and shape like a loaf. Top with ketchup.

    6. Bake until juices run clear and ketchup is a lovely red-brown and really sticky.


    Sour Yoghurt and Rosemary Mash

    – Instant mashed potato flakes OR 4 or 5 Idaho or Russet potatoes
    – Milk
    – Butter
    – Salt
    – Fresh rosemary
    – Nutmeg
    – Sour yoghurt, skyr or Greek (I like Siggi’s skyr, personally)

    1. If using non-instant potatoes, boil your potatoes until a fork inserted into them is in danger of breaking them in half. Drain & skin.

    2. In a saucepan, combine either 1 cup of milk and 2 tbsp butter if you’re using real potatoes or the amount on the back of the box if you’re using instant.

    3. Stir in about 150g of yoghurt — that’s 2 or 3 heaped big spoonfuls. Heat this mixture on a low flame until butter is melted and everything is mixed in.

    4. Add 2 or 3 pinches of salt, a pinch of pepper, and the leaves stripped from a twig of rosemary. Grate a pinch of nutmeg in.

    5. Add potato flakes, or real potatoes. Stir and mash until smooth. Cook gently until dry enough to suit your tastes.


  • Oh! And I forgot. My grandma Ida’s crazy super simple and amazing German potato salad recipe:

    – Boiled, skinned potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
    – Crumbled, very crispy bacon strips
    – Mayonnaise to bind it all together.

    Instructions: MIX AND EAT.

    This is seriously the only way to make potato salad.

    • Dang, we’re off to a good start.

      @Alice: Rocking potato salad, simple and BACON. Also: huzzah, buffalo. Have you ever considered using the buffalo to replace the beef in a standard meatloaf mix? That might be interesting. Does the buffalo ever get dry? I assume not given the prep, but just checking.

      @Sparky: Done the bacon-atop-meatloaf thing, and it never really turned out like I wanted. Is there a good way to get it affixed, yet crispy? Most recipes just have you wrap the meatloaf, but the result was for me never really all that appealing. Heresy, I know.

      @Thomas: Agreed. Sauce + Meat = impart deeper richer flavors.

      And pumpkin choc-chip cookies. Color me intrigued.

      — c.

  • Crap. Most of the stuff on your request list is stuff I make by eyeballing, and they never come out the same way twice.

    Get on ze Twitter and request the Guinness Beef Stew recipe from Katrina Niidas Holm. Rich and I loved it. Livvie not so much, so I’ve gone back to my usual method of, well, chucking an approximation of the same old stuff in at the same amounts.

    For potato salad though- boil the potatoes in their jackets. Use Russet instead of white or Yukon Gold. After the skins split remove them from water and let them rest in a bowl to cool while the steam releases moisture from them. Use as little mayo as possible just to stick it all together. Make sure you use a splash or two of your favorite vinegar. Other than that- experiment.

    (I hate wet mayo-based salads)

    • Meatloaf is definitely one of the ones I want to get right because, a) it’s a classic family fish and b) it’s a dish that’s so easy to get wrong. Dried out flavorless meatloaf, blech. Or, too wet and swampy.

      — c.

  • Meatloaf moisture tip – give it a bacon blanket.

    I don’t cook by actual recipes, and tend to tweak things to my mood, so I can’t give you a good recipe for the loaf itself (except that adding some spicy mustard gives it a nice something). But defintiely line your loaf pan with plastic wrap, make a bacon lattice, form your loaf, then remove the loaf to a pan that gives it plenty of room to breathe and back. Bacon grease will keep things nice and moist.

    Also, my Mom has the BEST brownie recipe. Seriously, they taste like fudge and you can customize the topping/flavors to your tastes. I’ll see if I can’t procure it for you.

  • Bah! I don’t read the comments. To keep things moist and get things suitably crispy, you can’t be afraid of broiling. Cook you loaf, then slip it under the broiler for just a few minutes. If you use a thick, fatty enough bacon your loaf should suck in the delicious grease.

  • Okay, you didn’t ask for this one, but it’s easy AND good.

    Pesto Sauce

    (this is triple the original recipe—for two pounds of pasta)

    1 ½ cup olive oil (less can be used)
    ½ cup of water (depending on texture desired)
    6 cups of fresh basil
    3 tablespoons of lemon juice
    3 cups fresh parsley (does not need to be fresh, but it’s better if it is)
    6 cloves garlic (less can be used, depending on taste)
    1 ½ cup parmesan cheese (not the kind that comes in a shaker—spring for the good stuff, specifically the pecorino romano you can get at Sam’s)

    Throw all of the ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth. Stop, periodically, in order to stir. Pour sauce over cooked pasta, mixing well.

    4 sq. unsweetened chocolate
    1 cup soft butter (or magarine — I use margarine)
    2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
    3 eggs, lightly beaten
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or vanilla flavoring syrup)
    1 cup sifted flour

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Grease and flour 9 by 9 baking pan
    3. In a double broiler (or two small pots, one of top of the other, with water in the bottom one), melt chocolate on medium heat
    4. Stir in butter, a little at a time
    5. Remove from heat and add sugar, eggs and vanilla
    6. Gradually add flour, while stirring well
    7. Bake for 30 mins, testing the center with a toothpick. Once the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done.
    Lastly, you asked for spaghetti sauce — what kind? Meat sauce? Alfredo? Vodka sauce? The meat sauce is done by sight, but I can probably guesstimate a recipe for you — that’d be through email, though. Family secrets and all that. :-)

  • A couple of odds & ends

    1) I’ve got a couple of good crock pot recipes if you’re interested. This could come in handy with the little one on the way when a little prep and not a lot of time can yield an easy meal.

    2) I once saw an edited version of Jackie Brown where they kept saying “Maryland farmer” instead of motherfucker. It pretty much the best thing ever.

    3) Speaking of Maryland. We have a regional spice here called Old Bay (it was my avatar for awhile on Twitter). Great stuff with a wider variety of uses then people think. If it’s not available where you are and you are interested let me know and I can send you a can. Could be a way to add a different flavor to even your standard dishes assuming it’s not where you are.

  • Mashed potatoes are a simpler-is-better kind of thing. Here’s how I do, and apologize, I am not the measuring sort or chef.

    Peel, cut into big chunks, boil Yukon golds until they start crumbling apart when you stick a fork in ‘em. Overdone is better than underdone.

    Drain, put ‘em back in the pot, sprinkle on a liberal amount of sea salt. Bury some butter at the bottom and let it melt a while. (I add about a half a stick of butter for 4-6 largish potatoes, scale accordingly. Using a crapton of butter is a necessary part of great mashed potatoes.) Add just a little milk to wet the tops of the potatoes.

    Begin mashing *by hand.* Never, never use an electic appliance to whip or mash. They will become gluey and it is gross. Lumps are better.

    Add a little more milk to the tops of the potatoes as needed. Keep mashing until they are done. The end.

  • Lauren’s Dad’s Sauce Recipe:

    First thing: Have a big pot. No, really. BIG.

    1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
    2 small (8 oz) cans of tomato paste

    put those in a pot, plus 2 can-fuls of water, start simmering
    Dice the following:
    green pepper
    jalapeno (if you like a little heat)

    Saute the above in olive oil, then add 1/2 of the mixture to the sauce. Set the rest aside.

    Add in your spices:
    1 cube chicken bouillon
    1 cube beef bouillon
    a dash of sugar
    Italian seasoning
    salt & pepper
    a bay leaf or three

    These are all pretty much to taste, no specific measurements. Add more as you go if needed.

    Leave the sauce on low heat while you start preparing the meat (oh, yes, the meat). Stir occassionally because it smells awesome.

    Heat the oven to 325.

    Coat the bottom of a baking pan with olive oil. Layer 1 lb pork chops and sausage. I think I’ve been able to get 4 pork chops and 12 sausages in a pan at once. It’s okay to pack ‘em tightly. Turn every 15 minutes for an hour, then put them in the sauce.

    While your sausages and pork chops are cooking, start your meatballs:
    1 lb ground beef
    1 egg
    bread crumbs
    the other 1/2 of the sauteed vegetables

    Mix them together. Shape into tasty balls of meat.
    When your pork chops and sausages are done, cook the meatballs in that pan, using the pork/sausage drippings in there, too.

    Turn every 15 minutes for an hour. Put them in the sauce.

    Now. This last step is at your own discretion. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don’t. My dad probably always does. I never said this was a low-fat, heart-healthy recipe. Ready?

    Put the pan drippings into the sauce, too.

    (I think this step is what he claims as the secret to his success. I was too scared to do it the first time and my sauce still came out fine. I have done it since, but I don’t always use all of the drippings. Sometimes just a little bit is fine. Taste the sauce, see what you think, add or don’t add as you please.)

    You’re done. Keep a-simmering and stirring as long as you’d like, but that’s it. You now have roughly an atomic fuckton of sauce. Invite people over for dinner or freeze it for future foodage. It’s good right out of the pot, but it’s even better the next day. So if you don’t want to share, and want to have leftovers all to yourselves for the next week, you can’t go wrong, either.

    • OMG YOU GUYS, you are killing me with deliciousness this morning. This is already awesome, and it’s only 9:30AM.

      @Lauren: That whole thing sounds fucking phenomenal. And I am pro-pan drippings.

      @Andrea: Agreed, re: hand-mash. I also like to keep the skins in there for “cowboy” mashed-taters. I’ve always used heavy cream instead of butter, but I’m going to go with your method.

      @Brian: We are big ol’ fans of Old Bay here. Thankfully close enough to MD where it’s still part of the regional cuisine. Also, my favorite current profanity replacement was in Pineapple Express on FX: “Asshole” became “Casserole.” Apropos given today’s post, too. It just sounded hilarious, yet still insulting. “You know, you’re a real casserole.”

      @Ali: I love a good pesto. My secret ingredient, for all who care, is macadamia nuts. Not an “official” pesto, no, but I’m also not a chef, so who gives a shit?

      @Kate: Bacon mesh under broiler. Got it. Nice. Do you use a smoky bacon? Pondering the flavors that might impart.

      — c.

  • Dude, spaghetti sauce is seriously the easiest thing in the world to make. All you need is:

    1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
    small onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    handful of fresh basil
    salt and pepper

    Saute the onions and garlic in a generous heaping of olive oil. While that’s going, chop up the basil. If you’re feeling fancy, throw in some thyme too. Then add that, along with the can of tomatoes, to the pan, season it to taste with salt and pepper, and let it simmer for anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. I sometimes add a splash of red wine to it too, if I already have a bottle open.

    And that’s it. You can have it, start to finish, in half an hour. Simple yet delicious.

  • A few key points:

    1) Fuck margarine. Go butter or go home.

    2) Re: brownies. Specify please – are you looking for cakelike, or fudgetasm? Same with chocolate chip cookies – thin & crispy, or thick & chewy?

    3) Mashed taters, precious – I don’t hold to much in the way of fancy kitchen gadgetry, but I love my ricer in ways unholy & NC-17. It yields mashed potatoes that are both smooth & supple, fluffy & non-gluey. Boil peeled Yukon Golds til they’re tender, drain & put through the ricer into a large bowl with a lavish amount of butter. Use a rubber spatula to fold in HOT half & half, salt & pepper. Add half & half until you get the consistency you want. Fuckin’ A.

    4) Old Bay is the dust of angels. Spicy, tasty Chesapeake Bay angels. Toss it with roasted potatoes & thank me in the morning.

    5) Thai curries: Hie thee to your nearest HMart. I swear by Mae Ploy curry pastes, tamarind paste, canned coconut milk & fresh ginger. Full-fat coconut milk will give you that fantastic thick saucy curry; lite will kill you a bit more slowly & leave your curries thin & watery. Pick your poison.

  • So, Fried Chicken.

    There’s a secret to Fried Chicken.

    It involves buttermilk. The secret is that you soak the chicken in the buttermilk the night beforehand. You do this for two reasons. One: Buttermilk tastes good and gives this nice sort of tangyness to the dish.

    Two: It is crucial to crust adhesion and creation. Which is really what Fried chicken is all about. With no crust, you just have… well, chicken.


    – Soak chicken overnight in buttermilk

    – Drain Chicken

    – Coat chicken with seasoned flour (I like using Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasonings, but I’m from New Orleans and like the roof my mouth burnt off every once in a while).

    – Shake off excess flour and let chicken rest for about twenty minutes

    -Melt vegetable shortening over low heat to come about 1/8 inch up the side of a pan. You really have to eyeball this one, since the oil level will rise once the chicken is in.

    -Once it’s liquid, kick it up until it’s about 325 if you’ve got a thermometer. I don’t know your stove, but that’s medium-high for me. You definitely don’t want smoke. Smoke is bad. Smoke causes fires. Fire baaaad.

    – Put the chicken bits into the pan, skin-side down, quicker cooking bits on the outside, longer cooking bits on the inside. Cook for about 10-12 minutes each side.

    -Drain. This part is crucial. If you do not do this, you will have nasty, soggy chicken. Your patience will be rewarded with crunchy deliciousness Put the chicken on a rack over some newspaper.

    -Consume with biscuits, gravy and, if you must, some kind of vegetable side.

  • A recommendation on the taters: I know lots of people use Yukon gold, but baby red potatoes are phenomenal mashed with their skins on. They have a terrific texture and (though this may scare you off) they’re healthier. Red potatoes have a lower glycemic index–digest more slowly–which is good for high blood sugar folks.

  • I don’t use smoky bacon, but I don’t see why you couldn’t. One of the joys of cooking is playing around with it. If you get it right – hey, delicious! If you get it wrong – hey, pizza night!

  • I don’t cook much, I have house full of “I feel like this, not that” with hubby being #1 of that variety so I’ve really fallen off the cook wagon, however, my mom’s potato salad recipe that I make is something so deliciously perfect I’m constantly asked for it. Deviled eggs, too.

    Potato Salad is easy – since you’re not looking for recipes, the trick is green olive juice and dill pickle juice mixed in. Other fixin’s are black olives, celery, yellow onion and green olives. Lots of pepper. White potatoes but my mom used Russet – my version is creamier, hers rougher. YMMV.

    Just dill pickle juice for the deviled eggs and a dab of mustard. Onion, pepper, parsley flakes.

    Do not put mustard in your potato salad, ever. Do not over mayonnaise. These are the two things that you always see in potato salads and where people generally slop some on their plate… then don’t eat it. It’s gross. :D But people get thirds of mine!

  • Hell, I’m not a chef, either. But I do like food…so I figure that counts.

    Vodka Sauce

    (for two pounds of pasta)

    3 tablespoons of butter
    2 cups chopped onion
    3 cloves garlic, minced well
    3 (8 oz cans tomato sauce)
    1 cup cornstarch (more can be added to increase thickness; if you ever make it too thick, you can add a little extra milk)
    3 tablespoons water
    2 ¼ cups milk (I use 1%)
    1 ½ cups half and half
    1 cup vodka
    ½ teaspoon black pepper (or more, to taste)
    1 ½ cup parmesan cheese
    3 tablespoons basil
    Note: When trying to be healthy, I use all milk, instead of the half and half, so that would be 3 ¾ cups of milk.

    Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cover and cook three minutes or until tender. Combine cornstarch, milk, and tomato sauce in blender (you may need to do this several times, given the amount of liquid), blending thoroughly. Add tomato sauce to pan mixture; simmer, partially covered, stirring constantly, until thick (you can raise the heat up, as long as you stir carefully). After sauce thickens, add half and half, vodka, basil, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in cheese, letting it melt. Add some to pasta, tossing to coat.

    If you want to add one pound bacon, cook it separately (and beforehand); toss it in when you add the tomato sauce to the pan.

    If you want to add one half to one pound prosciutto, cook it (pulled into strips) with the margarine, onion, and garlic.

  • If, perchance, you do spring for buttermilk as Patrick suggests, use some in the mashed potatoes, along with some chicken stock. Skip the milk or cream. You still need butter, I mean, c’mon, it’s potatoes, you NEED butter. But you won’t need as MUCH butter, ’cause you get the yummy sour flavor and creaminess from the buttermilk, and salty meatiness from the chicken stock. So you can stuff your face with more potatoes, see, onnaccounta there’s less actual butter in them.

    Doesn’t work with homemade buttermilk though, unless you like chunks of sour milk in yer taters.

  • I can vouch for that Buffalo Meatloaf. It is the BOMB.

    Here’s my go to beef stew, with extra emphasis on the beef. :)

    2 TBsp butter
    2-3 TBsp olive oil
    2 lb. lean beef rump or chuck steak, cubed
    4 sweet onions, chopped
    1 garlic clove, crushed
    1 tsp brown sugar
    1 TBsp flour
    2 cups beer (something dark, like a porter or stout works best)
    2 bay leaves
    4 fresh thyme sprigs

    6-8 slices baguette
    Dijon mustard

    Preheat oven: 300F

    Melt butter with 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan (note a cast iron/casserole pot or something that will work both on the stove top and in the oven works best). Brown the meat in batches and remove to a plate to rest.
    Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and cook the onions. Add the garlic and sugar and cook until everything is nice and caramelized (the sugar helps with that). You may need to add a little bit more oil. Remove the onions from the pot.
    Reduce the heat to low and pour the juices that have drained from the browned meat and stir in the flour. Remove from the heat and stir in the beer a bit at a time (it may foam up a lot). Return to heat and simmer to thicken. Season with salt and pepper.
    Layer the meat and onion in the casserole (or some oven safe pot, could be the same one you have been using). Tuck bay leaves and thyme in the layers and season as you go. Pour liquid over meat (if not using same pot), cover, and cook in the oven for 2.5-3 hrs or until meat in tender. The trick with getting the meat nice and tender is the pre-cooking with the long oven cook time.
    Toast the baguette slices on both sides, then spread one side with mustard. When the stew is done, arrange bread on top, mustard side up and broil the whole thing for a minute (really, only a minute, you just want it crispy).

  • The best tomato sauce I know how to make starts in the oven. Take a roasting pan and fill it with halved tomatoes (I like plum tomatoes, but the smaller and sweeter ones make an even better sauce) Toss them in olive oil and salt, poke them so the cut sides face up, then put in some cloves of garlic. I use half a head per sheet pan. Roast this whole mess for a while: you want the tomatoes to cook and brown and start to shrivel, but you don’t want anything to turn leathery.

    Scrape the whole thing into a blender and give it a whirl; skins, seeds, and all. You can add some red wine, vodka, herbs, whatever before blending.

  • I put Old Bay on damn near everything. My recent discovery was to add some Old Bay to grated Parmesan cheese then sprinkle on my pasta.

    Here are two of my favorite recipes for the crock pot. The kids love helping with crockpot dinners. They are easy and they feel a real sense of accomplishment.

    Pulled Pork

    * 5 to 6 pounds of boneless country-style pork ribs
    * 1/4 cup dry rub (see recipe below
    * 1/2 cup bottled smoke (I prefer Hickory)
    * Barbecue sauce of your choice

    1. Coat the ribs evenly with the dry rub and put in the crockpot. You can cut them up into chunks but you don’t have to (I normally don’t).

    2. Add the liquid smoke

    3. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 10 to 12 hours.

    4. Meat will be pull-apart tender and should reach an internal temperature of 190 F.

    5. Transfer meat to a platter. Pull apart into strands. Add sauce of choice in quantity of choice

    6. Serve.

    Dry rub

    Makes about 2/3 cup

    * 1/4 cup paprika
    * 2 tablespoons kosher salt
    * 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
    * 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    * 1 tablespoon dry mustard

    Mix it all together and keep what you don’t use in a sealed container for next time.

    The second meal has no name. In my house we just call it Cheesy Chicken Dinner and I have no recollection of where I got it from so it’s possible I invented it (though I hesitate to make that proclamation). Insanely easy and insanely delicious and a standby in our house.

    *2 cans of Cream of Mushroom soup
    *2 cans of Cream of Chicken soup
    *2 cans of Cheddar Cheese soup
    *6 to 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or however many you’re pot will hold).

    1) Mix together the 6 cans of soup in the crock pot

    2) Add meat

    3) Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

    Serve and enjoy.

    That is just the base dish that you do whatever you want with. You can spice it however you want. You can also throw veggies in there. We serve it on rice.

  • Here’s my Turkish Coffee Brownie recipe, but please consume responsibly. Cut them small, do not eat four at once, do not under any circumstances attempt to eat a whole pan by yourself. My coworkers refer to them affectionately as meth-brownies.

    In a sauce pan heat a cup of butter a cup of sugar and a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder until butter is melted. Add to the mixture a teaspoon of vanilla. Add a heaping tablespoon full of Turkish coffee (it’s a very powdery grind) to six ounces of hot water. Stir and pour into brownie mixture. Stir till combined.

    Add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a cup of flour, sift in and stir, then add 4 eggs, one at a time stirring in each one till combined.

    Butter a 9×9 pan, pour the batter in and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

    These are not for your little poddling. These are for you and those late night writing deadlines.

  • Three tips on fried chicken:
    1. brine the chicken overnight – this lends the meat tenderness and incomparable flavor
    2. Use a buttermilk wash – dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then in the spice/flour mix, and then in the buttermilk a second time. This helps create a separate coating on the outside of the chicken – very important.
    3. Check out Thomas Keller’s recipe in his “Ad Hoc at Home” cookbook.
    You can also check out this baked (but still lusciously unhealthy) recipe on my food blog:

    As for chocolate chip cookies, I have a great recipe to share. The key secrets here are make very large cookies and chilling the dough before baking (to keep them large and mounded rather than flat and runny).

    Chocolate Chip Cookies:
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup brown sugar – not packed too hard. Just spoon it in the cup(s) and press down lightly when full, sweeping off any extra that runs over.
    • 2 eggs
    • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups AP flour – Spoon and Sweep method. (feel the dough, it should be moist, kind of like cold cookie dough in a tube.. but not super sticky, so you can portion the cookies with your hands)
    • 1 Tbs cornstarch
    • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 3/4-1 teaspoon baking powder ( I don’t fill the tsp fully, hence the 3/4 tsp)
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 2 cups good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
    • 1 cup walnuts (Toast the nuts for more flavor – you could also use macadamia nuts

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    1. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.. and beat until well incorporated.
    2. Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cornstarch and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chunks and nuts.
    3. Transfer dough to clean work surface and gently mix dough by hand to ensure even distribution of ingredients. Divide into 12 equal portions, **about 4 oz each..
    4. Place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    5. bake in the preheated oven 16-23 minutes depending on how gooey and raw’ish you like the middles, until very lightly browned, taking care not to overbake. Let cool on rack and store what you don’t immediately eat, in an airtight container. To freshen them after a few days (if they last that long), give them a quick nuke in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.

    Happy cooking!

  • I don’t make my lasagne in the oven. I make it in a skillet.

    Pound of meat. Brown that bitch with some chopped onion (1-2 medium), chopped green pepper (1 small or 1/2 large), garlic. Zucchini and red pepper, if so inclined. Salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. Do not drain.

    Toss in a can of diced tomatoes, juice and all. Can of tomato paste. Two cups of tomato sauce (varying mixes; I like Ragu’s Mushroom & Green Pepper, Meat, or Six Cheese for flavor). Toss in 1-1 1/2 cups of broken-up lasagna noodles (roughly 12 -18 noodles). Add tap water. Or bottled water, if you go for that sort of thing. About half a cup to 3/4 cup. Mix noodles, sauce and water fairly well.

    Bring mix to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Mix one egg with 1 cup of ricotta or cottage cheese and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan. Dollop the cheese mix over the noodle/sauce mix. Cover again and let sit about 5-10 minutes.

    Serve in bowls, with fast-made garlic bread (butter slices of bread, sprinkle with garlic powder, bake on a cookie sheet in oven for about 5-10 minutes, until crusts are, well, crusty.)

    All the goodness of lasagna in not even half the time.

  • I don’t really have a standard recipe for baked goods, usually wing it but for variations on recipes –

    Butterscotch Brownies –
    Mix as normal, drop in 2 cups worth of butterscotch chips 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through baking. These never last more than a day.

    Oreo Brownies –
    Add in 1/2 to 1 cup of crumbled oreos to the mix. Bake as usual. Cool. Frost with cream cheese frosting, crumble remainder of oreo package on top.

    Andes Brownies –
    Bake as normal, maybe mix in 1/2 cup of mint chocolate hot chocolate powder or a teaspoon of mint extract. Bake as usual. Layer 1-2 packages of Andes on top as the brownies are cooling, using a spatula to swirl the melted chocolate around.

    Inverse Chocolate Chip Cookies –
    Add a package of hot chocolate mix (Irish Creme is really good for this) to the batter and use white chocolate chips. Also good with flavored chips, like cherry.

    Almond Chocolate Chips –
    Add about 1 tsp of almond extract to the mix. Good with cherry flavored chocolate chips.

  • @fuzzyslug
    OMG you tried my recipe??? YAY :D :D

    Buffalo meat is pretty lean, but it makes up for it by being really really tasty. If you’re worried about it drying out in the oven, you can do what I do when I make buffalo burgers and mash a little bit of room temp butter in there. BUT the ketchup blanket should keep the moisture locked in anyway, so I wouldn’t worry.

    Chuck, ilu hardcore, so I’m gonna give you my beef stew recipe. It’s like fairies dancing on your tongue. It’s an all-day process, be warned, but the good thing is it tastes even better after being frozen and reheated, so buy a lot of tupperware and clear out the fridge. :D

    Beef Stew with Lavender

    Part 1:
    – 1 lb stew meat, fresh (bison or beef)
    – flour
    – salt
    – pepper
    – extra virgin olive oil
    – big ol’ pot

    Wash the meat and pat dry. In a bowl, salt and pepper the flour until well seasoned. Toss the meat in the flour until well coated. Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil. Heat on medium. Brown the meat on med-high until outside is caramelized (try not to cook inside of meat).

    Part 2:

    – diced baby carrots
    – diced white onion
    – diced celery
    – tiny whole potatoes, skin on
    – knob butter
    – garlic juice or minced clove of garlic
    – good white wine you didn’t drink in time
    – steak or stew dried herb mix, or bouquet garni

    When meat is browned, add vegetables. Cook for a minute or two, then add butter and garlic. Cook until everything gets too sticky and becomes impossible to stir. Don’t let it burn: de-glaze pot with three or four big glugs of white wine. Add herb mix or bouquet garni. Cook until onions are translucent.

    Part 3:

    – 2-4 cm cubes portabella mushroom, to taste (I put in about 5 or 6 cups)
    – 4 small or 2 lg. tomatoes, roughly chopped
    – about 4 cups leftover pot roast drippings and vegetables, skimmed of all fat, or 4 cups really good (no artificial crap) vegetable soup in beef broth

    Add tomatoes and mushrooms. Stir until everything softens a bit. Then add drippings and a lot of water, to cover. Cook with the lid on until the meat is cooked and soft but not falling apart.

    Part 4:

    – big handful spinach
    – fresh fern-leaf lavender (leaves, not flowers), OR a small amount of dried lavender and some fresh edible ferns

    Take the lid off the stew. Cook down until thick but not completely done, and taste for seasoning. Add salt or pepper if necessary. Add spinach. When spinach is wilted, add lavender, torn into bits. Cook down until sticky, potatoes are soft, and meat is falling apart.

    I’m not going to give you my mushroom soup, though. It’s my biggest secret. It’s weapons-grade soup. Soup that has knit families and saved babies from death.


    Roast Chicken w/gravy

    – Whole chicken

    – Butter

    – Fresh herbs or seasonings: rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, lemon, peppercorns, lavender etc.

    – Salt

    – Stuffing (optional)

    – Flour (for gravy)

    – Milk (for gravy)

    -Stock (for gravy)

    Allow three sticks of butter (or two Lurpak-sized packages if you’re in the UK) to soften, or zap them in the microwave at a low wattage until they’re soft but not melty. Preheat an oven to 350F.

    Chop herbs roughly. I like to use fresh rosemary and whole peppercorns. Thyme and lemon or orange juice is also yummy. Mix with softened butter and salt.

    Wash your hands thoroughly – under the nails, up to the elbows. Separate the skin from the meat of the chicken. Rub butter under and over the chicken’s skin. Rub butter over the inside of the neck and body cavities. If you want to stuff the chicken, then there’s no need for butter in the cavities.

    Make sure to baste often. Cook at 350F until a meat thermometer says the chicken is in the safe range. The skin will be crispy and brown and the meat will be extremely moist.


    Pour drippings into a clear jug and leave them in the fridge to separate. Discard all but a few teaspoons of fat, which you should set aside. Put a high-sided frying pan on a medium heat and melt the fat in it. Make sure the fat is quite hot, and then add two or three teaspoons of flour to it. Cook until the flour looks dry and grainy but hasn’t burnt yet and there are many hard little bubbles in it.

    Shock the flour with some cold stock. It will be very thick and glutenous. Mix drippings into pan. Drippings tend to be gelatinous until melted. Mix in stock to get a smooth gravy consistency.

  • Potato salad.
    I know others have expressed an anti-mustard sentiment, but if you feel the urge to rebel:

    – cooked sliced potatoes
    – about 6 hardboiled eggs, sliced
    – Miracle Whip, enough to make it nice and gooey. Don’t skimp. (if you have to use mayo instead, add lemon juice, pickle juice, extra mustard, whatever. Mayo needs help.)
    – sliced radishes (the secret ingredient)
    – chopped fresh chives or green onion
    – salt & pepper
    – 1 – 2 tbsp white sugar (trust me on this)
    – Yeah, prepared mustard – a couple of nice big squirts. (Of mustard! Mustard! NOT the chef’s special sauce. Though that might happen involuntarily. It’s that good.)

  • I can’t make edible meatloaf to save my life. Doesn’t matter which recipe I use, the meatloaf gods have it in for me. It’s the ONLY thing I can’t make.

    Helpful tips? I can give a couple.

    When stirring boiling potatoes or pasta, use a wooden spoon. Metal spoons inflict breakage on those foods.

    THE secret to awesome spaghetti sauce, the thing that will give it that flavour you love but have never been able to identify, is to finely grate some carrots and saute them with the onion and garlic. Really. Try it and tell me I’m wrong.

    And yeah, riced potatoes are SO good. But then you have to wash the ricer. That’s not a tip, it’s just a fact.

  • @Diane: GOD I KNOW, mayo is SO BORING. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like in tuna salad (imo), but I love using the Ojai Cook Lemonaise line on burgers and stuff. Check it out! I don’t work for them, I swear. My dad used it on his steak burgers with heirloom tomatoes and A1 steak sauce and holy shiiiiit is all I can say.

  • Ridiculously easy pasta sauce:

    Plenty of garlic (mmmm….garlic)
    Fresh basil (6-8 leaves)
    Whole peeled tomatoes (large can) (we use Muir Glen Organic Whole Peeled with Basil)
    Olive oil

    When I make this, I use four cloves of roasted garlic and two cloves of regular garlic. Do your best to cut the roasted garlic into halves or quarters. The fresh should be diced. Chop the basil.

    Pour enough olive oil into the bottom of a saucepan to coat it lightly (this is the one vital pan in our kitchen — we call it our everyday pan because we literally use it every day:

    Heat olive oil until hot but not smoking (this is something you should know about olive oil – it has a low smoke point and burns easily). Drop in garlic and saute quickly until just beginning to brown. Pour in canned tomatoes. Crush with a fork or crushing implement. Stir in basil. Cook for about 6 minutes and you’re done. This sauce can be made in the time it takes for your spaghetti to cook. You can also add anything else you like to it.

  • Totally unhealthy fried potatoes and onions. Boil baking potatoes for 20 minutes. Let cool on paper towel.

    When cool, dice into 1-1.5″ cubes. Also dice up an onion.

    Fry potatoes and onion in canola oil (or some other light, flavorless oil) in a shallow pan (like the “everyday pan” in comment above). Salt and pepper to taste. The pre-boiling allows the potatoes to have a light, fluffy interior when the outside gets nice and crispy.

  • Okay so I usually dont do measurements, everything is to taste so you’ll have to be intuitive on some stuff.

    1 pound of meat (can be mail with sirloin, chuck, turkey, whatever creams your twinkie)
    1 cup italian flavored panko breadcrumbs (can now be found next to regular breadcrumbs)
    chopped sundried tomatoes, as few or many as you like (i do like to use the jarred sundried tomato brucetta mix found in the condiment asile, its easier and adds more flavor)
    2 eggs, beaten
    2 tablespoons milk
    1/2 cup grated cheese (i like parmesano reggiano)
    salt and pepper
    1 pack of thin sliced pancetta (found in the fancier deli section)

    preheat oven to 375

    Stir together eggs, milk, breadcrums, salt and pepper, tomatoes and cheese. Once combined add the meat. Work until combined, be careful to only mix until blended, if you knead it too much it’ll be tough to eat.

    Mold into a loaf, then take pancetta (or baccon if you like) and layer over the loaf. Place in oven and cook for about 45 mins. I find leaving it uncovered as it bakes makes the pancetta crispy, if you dont want crispy wrap the loaf in parchment paper while it bakes.



    Let everyone tell you whatever they want. Trust me when I tell you no matter what recipe you use, you must, MUST, use San Marzano tomatoes. I don’t know why it makes such a difference but they do. Go ahead and make a recipe with another brand of tomatoes then make it again with San Marzano tomatoes and tell me which is better.

    Okay so,
    1 24 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
    2 shallots, chopped (i like shallots over onions because they’re milder)
    Minced garlic – I like a lot, like 4-6 gloves but that’s up to you
    Olive Oil
    Basil chopped

    Saute the shallots and garlic in the olive oil until translucent and fragrant, put the shallots in first then the garlic. Then add tomatoes, crushing once in the pan, salt and pepper to taste. Add basil. Let it simmer as long as you like. The longer it simmers the better.


    I have made my fair share of pestos and this is the best. Also is amazing for dipping garlic bread it. Oh okay, I’ll give you the best and simplest garlic bread recipe to, if you insist.

    Cup of basil leaves
    Handful of walnuts (toast them if you have time)
    Garlic cloves – again, to your taste
    Salt and pepper
    Olive oil
    Parmesan cheese

    Place everything except oil in a food processor, pulse to combine, then pour oil in while processor is going until everything emulsifies. Taste for seasoning.

    Garlic bread

    Turn on oven broiler. Slice bread (I like to use sandwich rolls or baugettes). Place under boiler, watch until its golden, be careful.

    Take 1 garlic clove, cut off tip and peal. Rub cut side of garlic all over toasted bread. You’ll see it melting into bread. Once done, spread butter onto bread. Wrap bread in foil, place in oven until read to eat.


    I wont go into detail on mashed potatoes. But heres a suggestion, when you find a recipe you like, for a change add a tablespoon of whole grain mustard and mix well. You’d be surprised how good it is and it acts like an acid that cuts through a rich heavy meal. Pretty cool.

  • Hi Chuck. There are three secrets to perfect mashed potatoes.

    1) Do all peeling and cutting BEFORE you wash the potatoes, and do wash the potatoes.
    2) Drain potatoes and then put them back on high heat, stirring constantly, to evaporate the water the potatoes may have absorbed. This makes room for the yummy cream, half and half, or milk you’re about to stir in.
    3) Heat your milk just shy of scalding, and mix it in first. The hot milk (cream or whatever) will sort of dissolve the potatoes and make them smooth and creamy. Then add butter, salt and pepper to taste.

    Follow these three tips, and you’ll have people begging to dine with you. If you want the whole start to finish, here it is.

    3 lbs red potatoes, or however many you want
    2 c whole milk or half and half
    1 stick butter (1/2 c)
    salt & pepper

    Cut and THEN wash your potatoes in to 1 – 2 inch chunks.
    Boil potatoes about 35 minutes or until you poke them with a fork and they split apart.
    Drain potatoes in colander and put them back in pan.
    Put pan on high heat, stirring constantly, for a minute or so until they get dry. Lots of steam will come out of them.
    Heat milk to just shy of scalding.
    Pour milk in potatoes and mix with electric mixer on high until they are creamy and smooth.
    Add butter, salt, and pepper.

    Perfect mashed potatoes.

    Thanks for a great post!

  • Mashed potatoes:

    I do mashed potatoes two ways, depending on whether they are white or red.
    For white potatoes, I the key is adding about half a tablespoon of mayo per potato along with the milk. It gives it a rich, tangy bite. You can try less and add. Don’t over-do it. (You’ll end up chaffed.)
    For red potatoes, I add real butter, grated cheddar, bacon, and green onion before I mash. They end up like mashed loaded potatoes. ::drool::
    Yes, this is all fattening as hell, but it’s deee-licious.

    EZ brownies:

    I usually butter a 9in-by-9in (or 8in-by-8in) non-stick metal pan. Note: Glass pans don’t work so well. Preheat oven to 375º. In one bowl, melt 5 tablespoons of butter. Once metled, mix in 1/4cup cocoa powder. Set aside. In another bowl, beat 2 egss with 1 cup of sugar until it lightens in color and become fluffy-looking, like pudding (about 4 minutes or so). Add the cocoa+butter mixture and gently stir it in. Add 2/3 cup flour to that and gently stir in. I usually throw in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract because vanilla extract makes everything taste better. Turn batter into pan, even it out, and cook for about 19 or 20 minutes but no longer. Let it rest (it will deflate). You’ll have awesome cake-y\fudge-y brownie.

    Hope this helps and happy cooking!!

  • Chocolate chip cookies without a recipe:

    Note: Everything below has the goal of making very good, satisfying, eat-them-warm-and-leave-feeling-like-you-had-a-cookie-cookies. I make absolutely no representation that the cookies will come out the exact same every time despite variations, or that they will be the cookies of your dreams or of your childhood.


    Flour + about as much sugar as flour + about as much chocolate chips as sugar + then half as much fat as flour, one egg per cup of flour, vanilla, salt, and baking powder if you feel like it.

    Bake at: 375 for 8-12 minutes.


    Add two tablespoons of milk and bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes.

    The order of putting things together is: butter sugar vanilla egg flour chocolate chips.

    Things about cookies:

    Butter tastes fucking good. Use butter for fat if you have it. However, if you don’t have butter, and you need cookies, you can use margarine, shortening, vegetable oil — I’ve done olive oil, but I smashed some peanut butter into the cookie recipe because I worried that the olive oil would taste vegetably.

    Cookies taste best made with batter that’s been refrigerated or frozen.

    The traditional “toll house” chocolate chip cookie recipe has about 33% more flour than sugar, and the sugar is usually half white and half brown. I like all brown sugar in my cookies. The cookies are moister and the flavor is richer. I don’t think that the proportion of white to brown sugar really matters, as to whether

    If you for some reason have been separating eggs, and you have yolks or whites leftover, and want to use them up, making chocolate chip cookies with two egg yolks instead of an egg or two egg whites instead of an egg won’t harm them much.

    I find that the cookies are amazingly awesome if you add a half cup each of oatmeal and peanut butter to the batter, or any leftover trail mix you have around, or coconut, or chopped up leftover candy. Rolos. Rolos will change your life. And ruin your pans.

    Making corn bread without a recipe:

    About as much corn flour as white flour. Say, a cup each.
    One or two eggs, depending on what you’re feeling. I usually do one.
    About a third to half as much butter or oil as corn flour. I use half a stick. Sometimes less.
    Milk, or milk and cream, or yogurt. Usually ends up being less than a cup or so.
    Honey or sugar or brown sugar or maple syrup. Not very damn much at all.
    Baking powder. Maybe a tablespoon.
    Maybe vinegar, for a trick.

    Another disclaimer: Again, not claiming that this will make cornbread that comes out the same every time. It will, however, make cornbread to eat with your chili that tastes fairly good and comes out as cornbread.

    If you’re using butter:

    Put an ice cube in your liquid (milk, cream, milk and yogurt. You may have guessed that I usually bake based on what’s in the kitchen, without premeditation or shame.)

    Melt your butter if it’s butter.

    (If you’re not using butter, but oil, then just do the vinegar in your milk, as directed below, and add the oil and clotted gross milk separately to the dry ingredients)

    Pour the melted butter into the ice milk, and stir. Put in vinegar, about two tablespoons, if you feel like it. It will get all kinds of gross and clumpy. Beat your eggs and add to the wet ingredients.

    Mix together the dry ingredients. Including the sugar. (You may like more sugar than I do. I don’t like very sweet cornbread, and I am very judgmental about that. Sometimes I buy cornbread that I know will be sweet, to feel superior because non-sweet cornbread is better.) Then combine with your gross mess of clotted milk. Quickly. As few strokes as possible.

    If you did the vinegar thing, something cool will happen and the batter will get foamy and weird. This is because the acid has activated the baking powder. The reason that I do this is because sometimes it seems like cornbread can be heavy as lead. The lift from the vinegar reaction seems to make it all lighter, more crumbly and tender.

    If it seems that the batter is too thick — more of a dough than a batter, add some more milk or water, but don’t interfere with it all so much.

    Taste the batter. The vinegar-soured-milk and baking powder may make it taste a little sour to you before it’s baked, but if it seems to taste good, it will taste good after it’s cooked.

    Bake in a greased pan somewhere around 390, until you can gently poke the top and it doesn’t jiggle or dent, or the cornbread pulls from the side of the pan, or it gets all kinds of golden brown on top.

    You did not ask for cornbread.

    Beef stew:

    Buy – a cheap ass piece of meat, (I’ve done flank steaks, london broil, and shin, as well as cut up bottom and top round) or stew meat in chunks. Root vegetables that you like. Onions. My husband demands carrots be included, and most decent people use celery, too. I am not decent people. Mushrooms are great.

    My husband likes to put whole rosemary spears in the stew, or tarragon, or sage, or whatever herbs are around. Sometimes we put garlic in with the onions, sometimes not.

    Also buy, or make sure that you have: a beer, or some wine, or beef broth, or a can of dr. pepper.

    Pat it dry if you remember, salt and pepper and spice. Smoked paprika is fucking awesome.

    Dice up the root vegetables and put them aside. Dice up the onions, too.

    Take a big dutch oven, put it on the stove, and brown the meat. Add some oil if it seems to you the meat isn’t very fatty. Take the meat out, and put it on a plate. Put the onions in, and brown them. Put the root vegetables in. put the meat in. Add enough of your beer, or wine, or broth, or dr. pepper, to halfway cover the meat. Let the liquid come to a boil, then take the dutch oven off the stove, and put it in the oven at 275.

    Wait a very, very, very long time. At least four hours.How long it needs to go depends on how tough your meat is. I usually let it go around seven hours. You know that it’s done when your fork enters a chunk of meat with almost no resistance.

    If you use mushrooms, put them in about a half hour before you want to eat. If the broth is thick enough for your taste when the meat is done, then you’re done. If the broth is not thick enough, you can: remove the chunks and put them in a separate dish in a warm oven to stay warm, and reduce the liquid; put the whole dutch oven back on the stove and reduce the liquid without separating the chunks; or you can ladle spoonfuls of the liquid into a small saucepan and reduce. The advantage to this one is that if you become frustrated with the liquid — because it is too thin, perhaps, you can add a cornstarch slurry to force it to thicken.

    There’s a liability to this recipe. If you store the stew, instead of serving it hot, you may see fat separate from the broth/gravy. This upsets some people. I don’t know why. It’s easy to skim the fat if you want it to go away, and most civilized human beings do heat stew before eating, so the fat would melt and be reincorporated when you reheat the stew.

  • I only have two recipe tweaks that I think are essential:

    mashed potatoes – add SOUR CREAM instead of milk (this is my sister’s addition, but I love it)

    French Toast – add Creme de Grand Marnier (this is mine, all mine!)

    you’re welcome :) Happy Cooking!

  • Here’s one more recipe tweak. Balsamic vinegar in spaghetti sauce. It’s magic. Really. Take any tomato based spaghetti sauce (preferably beefy) and throw in just enough to darken the color (or to taste).

  • For fried chicken, brine the shit out of that sucker before you dry, dredge, and shallow-fry. Always shallow-fry in cast iron, and use shortening. Trust me on this one.

    Mashed potatoes? Always use as much butter as you can.

    Beef stew should always include some Guinness and possibly even a hit of cocoa powder. It deepens the flavour and makes it beefier. Adding a hit of balsamic vinegar is awesome, too.

    Chicken soup should get a shot of white wine vinegar or lime juice just before serving. The acid makes a huge difference – as it does with a LOT of cooking.

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