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November 7, 2007

I’m Dreaming of a White Ziti
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:28 PM *

What’s for dinner tonight: a non-tomato-sauce pasta thingie.


1 pound box of dried ziti
1 pound spicy pork sausage filling
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze out as much moisture as you can, using paper towels)
1 16-ounce jar Alfredo sauce
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Cook and drain the ziti according to the directions on the box. Set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until evenly brown.
Drain, and mix in the spinach and the Alfredo sauce. Season with pepper.
Continue cooking until the spinach and the sauce are heated through.
In a bowl, mix the Cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and egg. (Be sure to use a large enough bowl to hold everything including the meat, the sauce, and the ziti.)
Add the cheese mixture to the spinach-sauce mixture. Mix.
Add the cooked ziti. Stir to combine.
Put it all into one 13x9 pan or two smaller square pans, and top with mozzarella cheese.
Cover, and bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

This freezes well. Reheat covered at 375° for one hour, or until bubbly.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on I'm Dreaming of a White Ziti:
#1 ::: MisterOregon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 07:55 PM:

I will be attempting to reproduce this experiment in gastronomic pleasure at my own lab across the continent. We should compare our conclusions in the morning.

i.e. that looks so good I'm gonna make it for dinner myself.

#2 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 07:55 PM:

That sounds fabulous to me (except for the spinach), but I'd never get my partner to eat it. He hates most cheeses, and considers cheddar in any kind of Italian dish to be the ultimate abomination.

#3 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 07:58 PM:

om nom nom.

I'm a cheese freak who has to go easy on the tomatoes. I'm going to try this recipe this month with italian seasoned turkey sausage, for my pork-intolerant roommate.

#4 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:03 PM:

HM's specialty is spinach sautéed with garlic and olive oil, so I feel compelled to mention that you could sauté the spinach with garlic and olive oil first.

Is this a written-in-stone thing, or would you be willing to consider a grated provolone topping in place of mozzarella?

#5 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:22 PM:

About how many people should that amount of pasta feed, roughly? This sounds* delicious enough that I'd like to brave the kitchen and try making it, but the spouse is out of town for a week. If I'm going to be eating it for the next four days, maybe I should hold off and try it another time.

* I wrote that as "looks", squinted at it, tried "sounds", and neither seems right. How am I supposed to describe "I imagine this would taste good" when the descirption is in text, sans images?

#6 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:25 PM:

julia, like you I'm just guessing, but I don't think the words "written-in-stone" and the words "non-tomato-sauce pasta thingie" really go together.

#7 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:33 PM:

Fade, a pound is 450 grams. That's enough pasta for two adults and three children in our house. 250 would feed the three children. 300 would feed the two adults.

Family dinner makes 250+300=450, or perhaps it's all the garlic bread.

Or all the beer.

#8 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:37 PM:

Noted for future relevance: one of the google ads on the sidebar is "10 Diet Rules that Work".

This looks tasty and impossibly rich: I suspect if I were to make it, I'd swap out the prefab Alfredo sauce for a homemade white sauce with garlic, sauteed onions, and white wine. I'd also add mushrooms, because spinach, cheese, shrums are teh yum.

But then I live alone, and if I'm going to eat the same dish for a week, it can't be mac-and-cheese...

#9 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 08:44 PM:


I see your basic recipe and raise you mushrooms sautéed with the spinach & garlic!

Fade, aren't all text descriptions sort of an exercise in synaesthesia?

#10 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:01 PM:

Fade, try "seems." It's my fallback when I find myself in the quandary you describe.

#11 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:06 PM:

This feeds four to six, including teenagers, depending on what else you're having. It really does freeze-and-reheat well.

The same daughter who doesn't like tomatoes doesn't like mushrooms either, hence few mushroom-containing-casseroles at our house.

#12 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Well...I like the ziti part, the mozzarella part, the sausage filling part, and the pepper. I'll have to find some substitutions for the rest. I will try to stick to the "non-tomato-sauce pasta thingie" rule.

I'll try to get inventive tomorrow. And if it's wonderful, I'll post.

Wish me luck.

#13 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:13 PM:

If I were making this for a special occasion, and not just to feed the starving masses, I might try making a scratch sauce. But Alfredo-in-a-jar has become sufficiently non-heinous that it works all right as an ingredient mixed in with a bunch of other stuff, though I certainly wouldn't use it all by its lonesome.

#14 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:18 PM:

"Seems", er, seems like a good match. ("That seems good." Hmm. It seems a bit wishy-washy, but it's also less cognitively dissonant than "sounds" or "looks.") I still have trouble with how to refer to what people...put into text, I guess?... in chat rooms, because "What did they say?" sounds wrong (looks wrong? argh!) when referring to what's been typed. But "typed" not only sounds awkward when referring to text communication, it doesn't cover all possible text input methods anyway...

On second thought, maybe I should stick to discussing pasta.

#15 ::: Nathan ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:30 PM:


I think "sounds" was the right choice to begin with. We all know what you meant. How many people argue with you when you mention you're going to "see" a band.

#16 ::: The New York City Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:41 PM:

Why the alfredo sauce? Why the pork sausage filling?

Honestly, I have no problem with flavor, but commercial alfredo sauce and commercial forcement is so laden with extra fat - just - why?

Because - from a Béchamel to a Mornay (which is alfredo) is the addition of gruyere and parmesan, in equal quantities. If you're going through the effort of boiling the pasta, you can make up a roux with liaison, add milk and parmesan and gruyère, correct with nutmeg, salt and pepper, and cook out the grittiness, all in the time it takes to boil the ziti.

If the meaty bits from the sausage are what you're after, why not take lean pork and grind it up in a food processor? Pure uncured breakfast sausage is a generally a 5-4-3 forcemeat, with the 4 being the fat. I can't advise supermarket mince, in this day and age of Cargill, Wampler Foods, and Topps. I bought a meat grinder attachment for the mixer. for the more serious forcemeats.

I can understand the ricotta (ricotta doesn't melt, retaining texture)but you can dial back the fat by using lowfat ricotta (even my Nutritionist Mrs. agrees nofat ricotta is vile) and adding instead olive oil.

And frozen spinach - why? What about chard? Or collards? Or mustard greens? Or rapini? When you set up the boiling water bath for the ziti, you can blanch a pound of rapini (three-four minutes, no more) shock in cold water, and chop. Inestimably better, and retains its vegetal freshness and salutary bitterness much more than frozen, in counterpoint to the fattiness of the meat and dairy.

Add nutmeg. Or mace. Nutmeg improves all cheese dishes. Add fennel seed, lightly toasted, if you're after the distinctive flavors of Italian sausage. Perhaps garlic is asking too much, but you may want to add some chopped onion to the meat . Finally - breadcrumbs on top, in addition to the mozzarella cheese, it will taste good, and brown nicely, and it won't be so crunchy fatty heavy.

#17 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:45 PM:

Aha! To help others sharing my ignorance of culinary terms, I found what Ziti is/are. Looks like medium-width hollow pasta tubes. I've seen many like that in shops, but never remember seeing it called that.

#18 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Spicy pork sausage filling should not be confused with breakfast links.

#19 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:04 PM:

I agree with #16 as far as the ease of bechamel and cheezy derivatives thereof, but I think frozen spinach is the right choice here, as it's going to cook enough that good frozen won't really be a problem (and fresh vegetables will release enough water to be problematic -- things that release liquid are bad mixins for dishes meant to set).

#20 ::: Jackie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:09 PM:

Have you had your cholesterol checked in the recent past?

#21 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:13 PM:

Easy as a bechamel is, for someone with a tiny kitchen already being used for sausage browning/pasta boiling/baking and prep-work, a jarred sauce would be worth substituting. Same with the delicious spinach-garlic saute (drooling just thinking about it).

Sometimes I have the time, energy and space to make tasty "good" stuff, but other times, I just want something tasty and comforting. YMMV.

#22 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:33 PM:

I suspect that frozen broccoli could be substituted for spinach with no great loss to the overall experience.

Sounds much better then my baked catfish dinner I had tonight.

#23 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:45 PM:

A New York City Math Teacher#16: Why? Because this particular recipe is, in its intent, a workaday thing that can be put together without much effort for the purpose of feeding people who would otherwise wander off and make themselves peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

#24 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:46 PM:

What I like about recipes like these is that I can take them as is, adapt them to my needs (for some reason, frozen spinach never hit it big in Canada, so I would substitute fresh spinach), or use them as a starting point for something different.

I have some whole wheat rotini on hand. Tomorrow, while the pasta is cooking, I'll make a white sauce and add plenty of grated cheddar, plus healthy amounts of dill weed and hot paprika. Mix it all together with modest amounts of diced canned tomato (drained), put some breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan on top, and let 'er bake.

Hmmm ... thinking a bit more, what if I mixed in some canned black beans to the pasta mixture before baking ...?

#25 ::: The New York City Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 10:56 PM:

My kitchen is 8x8, and I have three linear feet of countertop. It's not about size, it's about mis-en-place and planning. Range: 1 Oven, 4 burners. I have 2 12 quart stock pots that nest. One is the pasta, the other the blanching water. One burner is the saucepan with the roux, the other is the frypan to render the chopped meat. Preheat oifen zum 350. Wash, trim fresh veggies, toasting flour for roux.

Uncured sausage is uncured sausage. Pork butt, and fatback or belly, and the mincer. The stuff is 1/3 to 1/2 fat by weight - it's how you get the mouth feel. And I've been scared shitless of o157-H7 so much I don't trust my kosher butcher to keep his grinders clean.

Frozen spinach starts behind the curve, and then it gets the hell cooked out of it in the fat. Sure there's more liquid in the fresh vegetable, but there's also more taste!

Finally, a bechamel/Mornay can be cheesier than cheese - it's all about the mouth feel.

#26 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Oh, yum...I'm going to have to try this. Plus the variations everyone else has suggested. Question for Jim, though: if I were to chill the baked dish and divide into single servings prior to freezing, will it thaw/reheat properly in the microwave? Or is re-baking really the best way to go? (Not that I've yet replaced the deceased microwave, but I'm curious...)

#27 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Much Yum!

I'm definitely going to try a version of this, (white sauce - Australian alfredos taste wimpy and unsatisfying ... ) but I think I'll sub in some olives and feta for the sausage. Spinach, olives and feta are one of those indefatigable triumverates, after all, and I try to go meat-free a couple of days a week.

With all these variants, at what point are we no longer eating white ziti? Or is it all dependant on the sauce?

#28 ::: Charity ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:03 AM:

Wow, talk about cognitive dissonance... FWIW, I now know what it must feel like to be a smoker and have people telling me, "Don't you know that causes lung cancer?" as if the commentary on my vice were of any usefulness or interest to me.

FWIW, from the viewpoint of a food_pornista, the non-tomato-sauce pasta thingie sounds nice and porny. If you're worried about your cholesterol, go eat a salad. Dry. I'll be over here with the creamy pasta goodness. =)

(By way of introduction... I read the RSS feed but hardly ever comment because y'all have usually already said it better than I ever could. This thread just struck me as a nifty case of interests colliding.)

Also, a sooper sekret tip that I've used successfully for going on 4 years... omega 3 supplements can work wonders on good and bad cholesterol, even absent dietary restraint.

#29 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:07 AM:

I'm with Deborah, et al. If i want to do a full production number in my (fairly) vast kitchen I can. But if I want to get dinner on the table for three adults, one of whom is fairly picky, I'm going to seek the easiest path.

I can do the fabulous dinners on the weekends where I have time to prepare mis-en-place, etc. I do have a set of basic put-together, sometimes do-it-all (vege, meat and starch in in one--Bisquik is your friend....) for our daily dinners.

(I own a home constructed in 1912. When we bought it, we demolished the interior of the kichen and had Home Depot do the cupboards, counters and etc. so I do have a faboo kitchen. When we bought it, the kitchen was shit space, inefficient, poorly laid out, etc. The renovation was thanks to the fact we sold what we thought was a shitty, small house in popular suburban neighborhood for way more than we owed on it. I'm pretty happy to say i laid my own vinyl tile floor--the original floor was a checkerboard B/W floor and since all our floors aren't true (flat and level) made Margene queasy.

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:23 AM:

My cholesterol is fine, thanks. Ratio of about 5.4 last time I checked. (I also walk three to five miles a day.)

But y'know something? Mammals produce cholesterol in their bodies so even if never a molecule of it touched your lips you could still have high cholesterol. Nor do I suggest you eat eggy/creamy/fatty things all day every day.

Thus: Bring on the toasted Parmesan with oregano!

#31 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:31 AM:

Also, a sooper sekret tip that I've used successfully for going on 4 years... omega 3 supplements can work wonders on good and bad cholesterol, even absent dietary restraint.

So does a glass of red with dinner. Which would be perfect in this case :)

I am working on a theory, currently woefully unsupported, that stressing overmuch over what you eat will kill you just as dead as actually eating it, only you won't have had as much fun in the interim. As long as you aim for variety, surely you can't go far wrong?

#32 ::: sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 05:11 AM:

@28 - I'm an ex-smoker and I knew the feeling washing over me as I read this thread seemed familiar! Until I read your post I didn't quite spot it.

My other half is not a fan of tomatoes and I'm a big pasta addict so I'm always looking for variations. Like some of the others, I'll make a white sauce from scratch but will stick to the recommendations other than that. I'm rather looking forward to trying this! Something different.

#33 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:13 AM:

This sounds like a nice and useful addition to the dinner menu. I may just copy shamelessly.

And speaking for myself, sometimes shortcuts are vile, and sometimes you've biked 20+ miles in fierce wind while hauling a 30lb load. In that case, bring on the shortcuts! I keep the pantry liberally stocked with "instant" food for the days when I'm too tired to think, much less cook creatively.

#34 ::: K.C.Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:14 AM:

I've never read a recipe while I'm not feeling well (coming down with some sort of stomach flu, I think--I wonder if I can finagle this into a 3 1/2 day weekend?). Now I know that the enjoyment of the potentiality of food, if that makes any sense, is perfectly cerebral. I want to try this recipe, even though at the moment I wouldn't be capable of even eating it, much less enjoying it.

I'll add feta to mine, mixed in with the spinach and probably more as a topping. Spinach and feta just go together. (Try them on pizza!) I don't know about the sausage, though. I'm not a huge sausage fan, but I'm not sure what to substitute that would give the dish a good flavor. I wonder if roast chicken cut in chunks would work, with lots of garlic.

#35 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:14 AM:

Syd@#26:I've never tried reheating a single frozen portion in the microwave. (These days, with the household population down by two from its feeding-four-teenagers-every-day height, I usually make two 8x8 pans and freeze one entire in a freezer-to-oven dish, thus giving me an entree in the bank for one of those nights when even grilled cheese sandwiches feel like more work than I'm willing to put in.) I can't see why it wouldn't work, though, and it shouldn't take more than a couple of portions' worth of experimentation to discover how long and at what setting on your particular microwave.

K.C. Shaw@#34: I suspect that chunks of roast chicken with lots of garlic would work just fine.

#36 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:29 AM:

I wonder if that recipe would work well with a tomato based sauce vs the alfredo, ground beef in lieu of the pork, and broccoli for the spinach. I just cook for me and my better half, but have trouble finding good meal recipes both of us like I can make from scratch.

#37 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:34 AM:

Mary @24: black beand and alfredo? Take it from me: not.
If you want a really good black bean dish that can be made really quickly, try this:
Make a sofrito, which is, say, 2 big cloves of garlic and one medium onion sauteed in good olive oil (not extra virgin, it doesn't cook worth spit, but you knew that :-)). Add two cans black beans, drained, plus about 1/2 big can diced tomatoes (it you like spicy, try the ones that come with jalapenos). Cook for a few minutes, add leftover rice, then enough liquid to help it blend. This is the quick version of my mother's congri. The recipe has infinite variety according to taste. For example, for meat eating types, you can start by crisping some bacon and adding it to the sofrito...

#38 ::: Nick (Osiris) ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Or, alternatively, you could make a dinner with some nutrients in it. Each to their own, I guess. *sighs*

#39 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:44 AM:

This is my favorite non-tomato pasta dish:

Spicy Sichuan Noodles

I usually use 1/2 lb. ground pork, though, rather than a whole pound.

#40 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 09:59 AM:

#16, The New York City Math Teacher

Making a white sauce isn't optional for me, because I'm gluten-intolerant. Can you give me any tips on how to end up with the right amount of sauce? I've made a* (wheat flour) roux for thickening a stew before, but amount didn't matter then.

(Anyone here have experience with rice pasta in a baked situation? Could I possibly put it in uncooked and let cook in the oven?)

#27 vian - Olives and feta! *worships you* I hate italian sausage, and that sounds like just the cure! It sounded good before, but now I'm drooling. Um. What kind of olives, do you think?

Gee, I'm going to need to find a contribution to make, and soon. I feel like all I do is ask questions!

*What the heck is plural of "roux" anyway? My gut says it is "roux," because of the similarity to "beaux", but I don't trust it.

#41 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 10:49 AM:

Or, alternatively, you could make a dinner with some nutrients in it. Each to their own, I guess. *sighs*

Nutritious food is not all green. It is not all low fat. What is nutritious for one person may be deadly for another. If this dish doesn't appeal to you, or would be deadly... don't eat it.

(Anyone here have experience with rice pasta in a baked situation? Could I possibly put it in uncooked and let cook in the oven?)

No, but I'm sure that this author does have useful ideas for you. She's celiac, and puts up an awful lot of good sounding recipes.

#42 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Hey, do y'all want to go hang out in the latest open thread and criticize our carb intake? How about we give you our glucose levels? Bone density? Blood pressure? BMI? I'm sure there are other ways you can feel superior.

Maybe it's just the latent Suzy Homemaker in me, but when I get together in a kaffe klatsch I wouldn't dare go "EW! Gross! Cooties" when one of my friends is generous enough to share a recipe with me. Even if it involves lard/headcheese/lima beans/deep fried twinkies.

Jim, et al, thanks for the recipes and variations. I am bookmarking both this thread and Open Thread 94.

#43 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 11:07 AM:

If y'all don't watch out I'll post the recipe for Not Tuna. (That is, when you ask the kids what they want for supper tonight and they say, "Not tuna!")

#44 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 11:26 AM:

Ha, Emily, I'm trying to get over being annoyed with that blogger.

She does put up good-sounding recipes, and beautiful food. But she made a post a while ago that consisted mainly of gorgeous photos of the lovely food she had eaten recently. Breakfasts they had cooked without having to rush out the door to work (weekend breakfasts, possibly.) Things her chef boyfriend (now husband) had made for them. Restaurant food from gluten-free restaurants. That kind of thing. Gorgeous meals I can't buy and that are far beyond my ability/attention span/the maturity of my palate. Then she said gluten-free didn't mean deprivation, and asked if that looked like deprivation. Well, no. It looks like way better than I've ever eaten in my life, and better than I'm ever likely to eat. This is supposed to make me miss the Panera sandwiches I used to look forward to as work lunches less?

A few weeks later she posted about how her schedule had gotten busy and she was having trouble eating well, and my schadenfreude was so strong that I gave up reading her blog for a while. I need to work on those issues, because I hear her book is really wonderful. I'll go digging in her archive to see if she's mentioned baked pasta.

(Anytime I start feeling too sorry for myself I remind myself of Katrina, who posts at Gluten-Free Goddess. Her list of "can't eats" is staggering.)

Food is hard.

#45 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 11:30 AM:

Whoops, sorry for the bad URL.

Try this.

#46 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 11:41 AM:

Mary @ 24, and Emma's response @ 37: Given the Italianish* nature of the dish, cannellini or small white beans might work better than black beans. I think the texture and flavor would be more complimentary.

*If you don't call it "Italian", you don't have to deal with people complaining that it's not authentic, I figure. Having grown up in the SF Bay Area, I don't care that the omnipresent burrito is not an authentically Mexican dish (it's from LA, as I understand it). It's tasty**, and that's what counts.

**Depending on which taqueria or taco truck you go to, of course.

#47 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:09 PM:

Emma @37: I'm using a white sauce instead of Alfredo, and only enough to act as a neutral binder and delivery-of-cheese vehicle with good mouth-feel (probably a scant cup). I've never had beans and white sauce before, and I know it's risky, but given the presence of tomatoes, cheese and hot paprika, I think it might work. Maybe. For some people. :-) Your alternative sounds great, though, and I'll try that, too.

Lexica@46: I've noticed only the most subtle difference between bean flavours. I'd consider black beans a little more starchy and white beans a little more creamy. So the white beans may work better with white sauce, but not as well with the cheese and hot spice.

Maybe I'll have to go all empirical and split the recipe at the bean phase and see how each one works -- or doesn't work. :-)

#48 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:14 PM:


In the past couple of years, I seem to have developed lactose intolerance. Cheese does not agree with my insides anymore. But my tastes have not yet gotten the memo, and a good cheese-oriented dish like this makes me hungry. (Lactaid helps somewhat, but not entirely.)

It's a risk I'm willing to take.

#49 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:22 PM:

#48, Caroline -

I was just reading Karina's* recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free mac & cheese. Maybe it would be a good jumping-off point for a dairy-free version?

And the results on the rice pasta in a baked dish so far are: precook, but keep it very al dente.

*Spelled it wrong earlier. No T. Argh.

#50 ::: Katherine ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:22 PM:

Alfredo sauce is not white sauce. It's butter, cheese, and cream, melted together. (Source: Marcella Hazan) Heart attack on a plate, but completely gluten free.

Alfredo-like sauce in a jar probably has different ingredients. Read the label. But the real thing is almost as easy to make so I've never bothered.

Yummy looking recipe!

#51 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 12:34 PM:

Katherine, #50 - I'm very amused to learn that, because my Alfredo-like pasta recipe (that apparently is quite close to the real thing) is one my mother calls "Fettucini a la Katherine" after the person who gave it to her.

#52 ::: The New York City High School Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 01:02 PM:

As Escoffier once said, any starch can function in a roux. The best substitute for wheat flour would probably be a rice flour/mung bean flour mixture, which would approximate the ratio of starch to protein in wheat flour. Toss a handful of rice and a handful of beans into a coffee grinder and set to "Turkish". Then use as one would use wheat flour in a roux. One could also use finely ground cornflour (NOT CORN STARCH!).

And alfredo sauce is basically Mornay. The degenerate alfredo is one in which the Bechamel is replaced with creme double, but that has no service stability, and is highly prone to separation. It's a restaurant dish, and a typically over-rich one. Cream-based sauce has a smoother texture than a bechamel, yes, but nobody needs to eat stuff like that.

#53 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 01:14 PM:

Mary @47: that's interesting. They taste completely different to me, but that's probably a function of how I eat them. Cuban white beans are made with ruinously (for your arteries) large amounts of chorizo or ham hocks and potatoes, with a simple sofrito of garlic, onions, and green pepper. I also like them in the classic tomato/basil salad, but for cold days nothing like caldo gallego.

#54 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 01:23 PM:

#52 - the New York City High School Math Teacher

I'm not actually worried about which starch to use, I've got a couple of GF flours. Gluten intolerance is apparently common enough that they sell a small assortment of GF flours in my local megamart. (A good thing, since I don't have a coffee grinder.)

I know the mechanics of making a roux, but I've never made Mornay, and I've never made any roux-based sauce. So the part I don't know is how much. How much butter/flour should I start with to generate enough roux? How much roux is enough? How much cheese will I need? I'm trying to end up with approximately 16 ounces of sauce, I guess, since that is how big the recommended jar of sauce is.

Yanno, they came up with great thing called "Google." Hm.

Alton Brown has a baked mac & cheese recipe that might be the right proportions.

He's using milk, though. Is that close enough, you think?

#55 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Sarah S @39: There's a similar-but-different recipe in the penultimate Joy of Cooking (which, I might add, has a terrible binding that might give abi multiple aneurysms). Their spicy peanut sauce makes a great summer standby recipe, since it doesn't require any actual cooking except for boiling some water for the noodles it goes onto (and skimming off some of the hot water to make tea before the noodles go in) and the entire dish is served coldish.

Leftovers can be briefly microwaved to warm up the noodles just enough to spread the sauce around them. However, the disadvantage of this sauce version is that since it *is* uncooked, the leftovers don't keep more than a week or so. I haven't tried freezing part of the sauce to see what happens to the texture when it comes back out.

#56 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 01:53 PM:


So. What is this "not tuna" recipe?

#57 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:03 PM:

Wow, I feel bad. I didn't mean to start off a round of "your cholesterol must suck!" I'm just in a "trying to eat healthier" kick, and it spilled over a bit.

I stand by the sauteed onions and white wine for a white sauce, though: yummy. Pity about the mushrooms, Mr. Macdonald; I add them to just about everything I can. I'll just take yours, then. *grin*

#58 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:08 PM:


The usual rule is equal amounts of flour and fat (butter, usually). The amount varies according to how much sauce and how thick you want it to be.

to thicken 1 cup of liquid
Thin - 1 Tbsp of each (think soups)
Medium - 2 Tbsp of each
Thick - 3 Tbsp flour and 3 or 4 Tbsp of fat
(The amounts can be doubled for 2 cups of liquid)

#59 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:22 PM:

I don't think arrowroot or corn starch have gluten, do they? You could also whisk mashed potato flakes into chicken stock and simmer for a few minutes.

This recipe sounds like prime comfort food to me, and I think comfort food is one of those things it's pointless to debate about. If I were going to adapt it for my family it would have substitutions (among other things we don't do pork, so it would be turkey sausage, and I burned out pretty badly on alfredo sauce working as a cook in an italian restaurant during college, so I'd probably substitute mushroom soup and add some sherry to make up for the lost fat), but then mine would be a different recipe for a different family and not any better or more right.


#60 ::: MisterOregon ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:25 PM:

True to my word, we made this last night for dinner. My only substitution was home made Alfredo instead of the pre-jarred variety (we didn't have a jar handy or I certainly would have used that).

Three adults and two picky six-year-olds give it thumbs up and requests for "more please." When talking about my children, you have no idea how amazing that is.

So in that spirit, as far as delicious-easy-cooking recipes go, I'll just say "more please."

#61 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:37 PM:

#59, julia - You're right, both arrowroot and corstarch are gluten-free. I wouldn't have known they could sub in a roux, so thanks!

(The whole thing is quite complicated apparently, with different groups using the term "gluten" for different things that may or may not overlap. So there's a thing called "corn gluten" that people who are gluten-intolerant are not sensitive to and don't consider to be actually gluten, and many things the gluten-intolerant are sensitive to that aren't chemically gluten, but they call gluten all the same. Or something like that. I'm still quite new to it.)

#58, P J Evans - Very helpful, thank you!

#62 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Well, they can substitute for a roux, but probably not in one. I don't think either toasts well. The upside is that neither has a noticeable raw-flour taste in gravies, so you really don't have to toast them. Mixing them in a quarter cup or so of cold water before pouring them into simmering stock has always worked for me.

#63 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:54 PM:

Ah, yes, that's an important distinction. Thanks again.

#64 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 02:56 PM:

I always have trouble with pasta dishes - I don't like tomato sauces, and my husband doesn't like creamy sauces.

Cheese sauces such as in macaroni and cheese are okay, alfredo is not, and creamed soup sauces such as in the quick and dirty versions of tuna casserole and stroganoff are right out. Which sucks, because those are my favorites.

So... is this closer to a cheese sauce (because of all the cheese) or an alfredo sauce (because of the alfredo base)?

#65 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Using starches instead of roux runs the risk of getting a substantial texture change unless it's only acting as a secondary binder. The Chinese restaurant version of Alfredo sauce may not be really what you want.

My basic white Italian sauce (used for Primavera) consists of a little roux made up in the pan that everything else (and especially the garlic!) was sauteed in, using butter and/or olive oil. To that I add a can of chicken broth and cream and cook until it be anow; black pepper and shredded parmesan can be added at the end. I tend to use nearly equal amounts of broth and cream, but one could use more roux and less cream. I suspect that one could make up a large batch and freeze it in quanta. (Canning sauces calls for a pressure canner and is rated "expert".)

I don't want to pick on the nutritional part of #16, but I'm counting the clean-up on it and I see a food processor, a cutting board, several knives and two more pots, not counting the toasting of the fennel seeds. One of the reasons I don't make Primavera (or Generic Oriental Dinner, which is a basic stir-fry) is that making all the veggies into cookable pieces is time-consuming and (more importantly) kitchen-dirtying.

I shall prevail upon my wife to redact Chicken Peregrynne, another cans-into-a-casserole wonder.

#66 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 04:24 PM:

It's true, there would be a significant difference in mouth-feel, and I wouldn't go for it myself, unless I were cooking for someone flour would cause pain to.

My experience with cooking for a relative with severe dietary restrictions is that he generally appreciates getting an approximate version of something he can't eat anymore than rigorously correct versions of what little he can eat.

I suspect it's made me less insistent than I used to be about not compromising.

#67 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 04:34 PM:

Here, at least, "cornflour" is usually made from wheat flour, so I guess it's still with gluten, for those who seek to avoid it.

I get sick of tomato sauces, and need to ease off on the creamy sauces (last night I did that thing to the potatoes whereby one slices them thinly and layers them with similarly sliced onions, covers them in cream and bakes them - yummy! but naughty), I used to use pumpkin as a sauce agent a lot. Cooked until soft, added to something tasty like some frizzled bacon bits or speck or some sausage, onions and or garlic, and a glug of sour or fresh cream. People who don't like pumpkin don't like it though.

#68 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 04:43 PM:

A nice alternative to tomato sauce is roasted red pepper sauce. I've been known, in desperation, to use the bottled kind from Italy, and it still works, but you do have to give it a little more oomph (add a little cream) than if you roast your own peppers.

#69 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Emma (68): I'm getting very fond of Trader Joe's eggplant and pepper sauces. They're not marketed as pasta sauces, but they're really tasty, roasted eggplant and pepper and garlic and olive oil, relatively low-cal, and very flavorful. They work equally well in place of mayonaise on a sandwich, or tossed with pasta.

#70 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 05:39 PM:

And where's the Not Tuna? Hmmm?
Around here, a pound of pasta feeds the two children, if they like it. If they do not like it, it feeds the two adults. The standard dinner quantity of pasta here is three pounds. I suspect this particular recipe might last longer, but possibly not.
Incidentally, for any dish except a quick saute, a good-quality frozen spinach is fine. One of my favorite dishes is Italian sausage (ideally, half-hot-half-sweet) sauteed with a lot of garlic, to which you add a few carrots chopped up (though grated is better, I am lazy), celery the same, onion if your family does that sort of thing and whatever herbs you like that go with Italian sausage. To this, once it is cooked brown enough that you are stealing sausage bits out to eat, you add chicken stock (more or less depending on how thick you like your soup), a can or two of chopped tomatoes and, after a bit, a couple handfuls of rice. When the rice is well along you can put some corn in. Frozen is fine for this if it is good frozen like Trader Joe's supersweet or frozen white. A few minutes before serving, toss in some chopped frozen spinach (again, Trader Joe's is a nicely small chop). Right when you serve it you can throw some grated mozzarella or similar in the bowls. It's good, and if you don't have my children as guests you may have extra for breakfast (my favorite).

#71 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 06:17 PM:

Not Tuna will, I think, get its own post.

#72 ::: The New York City High School Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Typical blond roux is a equal volumes flour to fat, with can thicken up to eight times the combined volume in water-based liquid.

so, 1/4 cup flour to 1/4 cup fat, beiged, gets a pint of milk thickened. Additional cheese gets added after, slowly so it is absorbed by the water-suspension, and not the reverse. You could add a cup of medium fat cheese to that, probably. No more, unless you wanted to reverse the emulsion and let the grease break.

You get go richer or not, as you like. Pure starches do not need preparatory cooking to break open the starch granules. They also do not taste very good, because the maillard browning of the flour adds geschmeck and toastiness.

Maybe I'm being an awful foodie snob? And I'm sure can-casserole can taste good - since I have had 'em. But how long does it take to wash a cutting board, a knife, the working bowl of the food processor and implements, and the prep bowls? I timed it last night, and I had the food processor glistening and turned around, ready for action in three minutes. The cutting board gets scraped into the compost (20 seconds) or scrubbed and sanitized (3 or so minutes). The prep bowls go in the dishwasher and the carbon steel pans get soaked and scrubbed out with salt (30 seconds of scrubbing to remove all food leavings, 10-20 seconds of rinse per pan.) There are a lot of tricks that simplify prep and cleanup, and one of them is to clean as you go so you never get weeded.

Which brings me smack dab against the thing I have a problem with: the cans.

Canned goods we have? Tomato stuff. Coconut milk. Two emergency cans of beans. A can of ceci. Some Heinz vegetarian beans. A can of lentil soup. Three tins of sardines in evoo. A can of condensed milk for making ladoo when I make ladoo. And that's it. No canned veg. No canned fruit, aside from preserves, of which lots are homemade. Some frozen veg, and lots of frozen wild picked fruit. The rest is raw, fresh, unjointed.

Does that make me more virtuous? I dunno. But the very deliberate denial of cans and frozen prepared foods (also we have no microwave), means we eat lots of fresh veg. Just two people, and we go through 15 pounds of fruit and veg every week.

#73 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 06:47 PM:

The New York City High School Math Teacher writes: And that's it. No canned veg. No canned fruit, aside from preserves, of which lots are homemade. Some frozen veg, and lots of frozen wild picked fruit. The rest is raw, fresh, unjointed.

Oh dear, when the pod people invade and disrupt fresh food deliveries, Jim is so going to dance up and down and say Nyah nyah! I've got canned goodies and you don't!

Although if you have fresh raspberries and unjointed organically fed chicken, you can make a surprisingly effective plasic explosive, so the last laugh might be yours! You do have a brass Zippo and an aerosol can of Hydrazine, yes?

#74 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:18 PM:

The New York City High School Math Teacher @ 72

No, it doesn't make you a terrible food snob. It does make you someone who invests a fair amount more time and effort in food than most people do (or can, particularly if they don't live or work in NYC, land of the food shopper).

As long as you can gracefully accept that not everyone shares your interests, your resources, your available time and/or your priorities, I don't see how your way of dealing with food is anything but a value-neutral personal choice of your own.

#75 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:22 PM:

R.M. Koske @ 49 -- That both looks and sounds delicious. I'm not gluten-sensitive, so I'd likely just use regular pasta and bread crumbs, but it sounds fantastic.

On Monday night I made a good dairy-free baked mac and "cheese." Actually it didn't end up tasting much like mac and cheese, which made my boyfriend happy, since he hates mac and cheese. (He's not a cheese or cream sauce person.) It was my night to cook, though, and I wanted to experiment!

The sauce was: 1/2 cup raw cashews pureed with 1 cup water, then further pureed with 1 can Great Northern beans (drained and rinsed) , a bit of dry mustard and a bit of cayenne pepper. (An optional addition was some white miso, which I did not have.) I poured this over boiled whole-wheat rotini and mixed in some thawed frozen spinach, then crock-potted the whole shebang on low for 3 hours, and sprinkled with some toasted bread crumbs.

Nice savory sauce, and has the comforting casserole feel to it.

(The recipe is from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow-Cooker. It's been a hit-and-miss cookbook, but this one was a hit.)

Reminds me that I need to get some miso, though. It's getting cold here, finally, and miso soup is so lovely.

(Does anyone else remember a children's book called Toad Food and Measle Soup? I think of it every time I eat miso soup with tofu cubes in it.)

#76 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:30 PM:

Once I was asked to define righteous. I think I now might be able to point to an example.

I printed out the recipe, I'm going to make a version of it this weekend with some of the moose sausage we made last year.

The "canned goods baaad, fresh foods goooood" rhetoric can stop. Don't go judging someone's pantry until you've cooked a year in their kitchen. I have friends that order their canned goods once a year, because they have to make sure the forwarder gets it to the barge so it'll get to their village. It's the only economical way to get a variety of healthy foods to their home.

However, this thread did cause me to get take-out Chx Alfredo for lunch today. Yum.

#77 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:30 PM:

#72: Maybe I'm being an awful foodie snob?

Yes, if it surprises you that not everyone *coughmyselfcough* has the time, energy, or inclination to do that much prep or wash that many dishes. Perhaps it's because I only have to feed two people (thank gods), but I consider any dish requiring more than a pot, a pan, a spatula, and a wooden spoon to be a production number. I'm only willing to go through production numbers twice a week, when I'm feeling terribly generous.

I don't have a dishwasher and loathe doing dishes by hand. I don't even own a food processor (how would I afford it and where would I put it in my itty bitty crowded flat?). I also don't particularly like cooking, but I'm the one in the house who's any good at it, and I'm not going to make my other half live off of sandwiches and get any skinnier than he already is. Relatively simple, quick recipes for tasty hot food are a boon for me.

Not to mention that depending on when and where you live, frozen or canned veg is oftentimes better than the available fresh. I didn't have much trouble finding pretty much whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it when I lived in the States, but now I live in Finland. During the autumn and winter, the produce suffers terribly. The only really good produce here during the winter are sodding bananas.

I've grown to hate bananas.

Anyhow. Thank you for sharing this, Jim; with a few personal tweaks, this looks like it'll be a great mac-and-cheese-ish meal (can't get good mac and cheese here either, grumble, mutter). I think it'll warm myself and the other half up nicely during the already icy nights here.

#78 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:31 PM:

Once I was asked to define righteous. I think I now might be able to point to an example.

I printed out the recipe, I'm going to make a version of it this weekend with some of the moose sausage we made last year.

The "canned goods baaad, fresh foods goooood" rhetoric can stop. Don't go judging someone's pantry until you've cooked a year in their kitchen. I have friends that order their canned goods once a year, because they have to make sure the forwarder gets it to the barge so it'll get to their village. It's the only economical way to get a variety of healthy foods to their homes.

However, this thread did cause me to get take-out Chx Alfredo for lunch today. Yum.

#79 ::: The New York City High School Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:33 PM:

I didn't say what dried foods I had.

4 pounds of urad dal, 4 pounds of moong dal, 8 pounds of split lentils, three pounds of split peas, three pounds of channa dal, six pounds of Caribbean red beans, some random dried beans, twenty-five pounds of high-gluten wheat flour, ten pounds of semolina flour, ten pounds of AP flour, ten pounds of low protein pastry flour, five pounds of whole wheat flour, five pounds of rye flour, ten pounds of sugar, twelve pounds of honey, five pounds of molasses, two pounds brown sugar, five pounds baking chocolate, 4 feet of turkish/syriac apricot rollup, five pounds raisins, two gallons homemade redfruit preserves, two gallons blueberry preserves, fifteen pounds of frozen blueberries, strawberries, and cherries.
Two pounds flaxseed. Ten pounds basmati rice. Five pounds sushi rice. Five pounds arborio. Two pounds of cream of wheat. Five pounds of cream of rice. Double crate of homemade cider.

So, we'll be okay.

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:50 PM:

Will Not Tuna be cooked by Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady?

#81 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Jorma Kaukonen! God, I've been trying to remember his name for days now.

...why I didn't just look it up, I dunno.

#82 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:55 PM:

Perhaps it's because I only have to feed two people (thank gods), but I consider any dish requiring more than a pot, a pan, a spatula, and a wooden spoon to be a production number. I'm only willing to go through production numbers twice a week, when I'm feeling terribly generous.

Heh - damn straight. Unless I'm cooking a roast, when the extra prep time is worth it, and the grateful He-Who-Must-Be-Consulted does the washing up (we wanted "love, honour and consult" in our wedding vows, but the priest who was marrying us wouldn't have it), I'm a one-pot wonder as well. My mum thinks it's my creativity which ensures we hardly ever have meat'n'three veg. It's actually the number of dishes that sort of cooking creates, not to mention the time it takes :).

The meal I cook when I'm on autopilot is risotto with whatever veges we have in the fridge; one pot, 15 minutes, good food. Porcini powder goes with everything.

#83 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 07:57 PM:

Bananas in the United States taste bland and green, even when turning brown; they're all picked far too early.

I shudder to think what bananas in Finland must taste like.

#84 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:21 PM:


#86 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:27 PM:

Glad to help, ethan.

#87 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:30 PM:

Vian @ #82: My special production number meal is tamale pie. That adds, mm, a cutting board, knife, mixing bowl, and a baking dish to the dish pile. On the bright side, the recipe I use makes four very sturdy servings, meaning I get a hot lunch the next day--usually I make do with sandwiches because I can't be arsed to cook for just myself.

Fade @ #83: Not so bad as you'd expect--no worse than most available in the States, and sometimes a tiny bit better. That's why it's the best produce here. Unfortunately.

Well, the potatoes are always good, but those aren't quite so ready to eat and I object to microwaved potatoes for breakfast.

Mary @ #84: ... That's food? (Joking. Mostly...)

#88 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:46 PM:

Renatus @ #87 So, what's a tamale pie? Always happy to expand my culinary horizons ... assuming I can get the ingredients.

Southern American food is something I love to eat when I'm in the States, but which isn't big hereabouts - infrequently seen, and almost never done well.

#89 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 08:55 PM:

vian, think ground beef seasoned with all the spices you'd use for tacos (chili powder, etc.), topped with a cornbread crust. My mother used to make it when I was a little kid. I'm sure renatus will have more details. ;)

#90 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 10:22 PM:

JMD@30: from what I've read (and fragmentary recollections of a long-ago chemistry degree), the only food with any significant cholesterol \in/ it is eggs (and there it seems to be more HDL than otherwise); it probably wouldn't be absorbed from anything containing the uncomplexed form because it has zero solubility in water. (I tested.) Animal fats, however, are the prime feedstock for the production of cholesterol that you note. You probably lead a more vigorous lifestyle than most of us, which may help with the ratio.

LM@80: no, \Not/ Tuna would be Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, and Spencer Dryden.

As for fast-out-of-a-box: I learned from my wife to put lots of caraway seed in Annie's shells&cheese; low fat, decent taste, and improves with age -- but it's really a side dish, not a meal-in-one like this.

#91 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 10:27 PM:

#75, Caroline
Glad it appeals. Your "mac & cheese" sounds pretty good too.

#72, The New York City High School Math Teacher
"Awful foodie snob"? I think I'm with julia on this one. You're not, as long as you realize that for most people what you do isn't the usual at all. Food seems to be your hobby (or one of them, at least.) For you (apparently) the time spent in the kitchen isn't something that keeps you from doing other things you'd rather do. For me, it is.

I want to be more of a foodie than I am. I can see that spending the time to buy and prepare beautiful food is probably extremely good for both body and spirit. But I'd rather be sewing or reading or knitting or watching TV.

#92 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2007, 10:40 PM:

oops - missed this from before.

RM Koske @#40

What kind of olives, do you think?

At the mo, I have some balsamic kalamata olives and some green ones stuffed with feta. Because I'll add feta separately to the dish, I guess it'll be the black ones. The balsamic gives them such a zing!

#93 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 01:05 AM:

CHip@90, you're right. You forgot Papa John Creech, though.

The other day I noticed in my paper's "Today's Birthdays" section that Grace Slick turned 68 on October 30.

#94 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 02:58 AM:

Debra@35--Thank you!

#95 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 05:20 AM:

Jim, #11, I didn't like mushrooms until I was in my 20s. Of course, it was probably because I didn't know how to cook them properly and that's likely not the problem at your house.

nerdycellist, #21, back when I was first sick but could still cook, I used to make white sauces in the microwave. Easy to make the roux and then just use really small increments of microwaved time as you add the rest.

Paula Helm Murray, #29, I just typed in two of Bisquick's Mmmpossible ... Pies. Want the recipes?

Nick(Osiris), #38, you seem to have the same problem with the definition of "nutritious" that my grocery store does. They put the sign "Nutritional Entrees" above the low-fat stuff. Meat, cheese, and pasta are all nutritious. Nutritious stuff is stuff that feeds you. No more, no less.

New York High School Math Teacher, #72, no, you don't have enough canned stuff in case of emergency.

Ibid, #79, and do you have a solar cooker? How do you plan to cook all that without power?

Fade, #83, I like just-past-green bananas. When they get spots on them, I don't like them.

I used to cook like NYHSMT, but I really enjoyed cooking and I was a good cook. I haven't been able to cook for 16 years now and I just gave up the last of the kitchenware and table linens this spring.

#96 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 08:21 AM:

vian @ #88, tamale pie is as Linkmeister said, but mine has tons more goodies in, and the type of meat (or meat at all) is a flexible matter.

Southern American food is something I love to eat when I'm in the States, but which isn't big hereabouts - infrequently seen, and almost never done well.

Same here. I miss my hometown, which for all it's in Oregon has three wonderful Mexican restaurants, one only two blocks from from my mother's house. Here, I mostly do without. I've seen what restaurants here call Mexican, Tex-mex, et cetera... shudder. Better to limp along with making my own if I must have it.

I took a Joy of Cooking recipe and heavily modified it. Most measurements are highly approximate since I do this by eye.

Preheat your oven to 425 F/220 C.

1/2 lb/200 grams of ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, whatever you want)
2-3 tomatoes, chopped or equivalent amount in chunky tomato sauce of some sort
1 bell pepper (here they call them paprika) chopped up as fine as you like it
1 can beans of choice (I use kidney beans; I'd rather use black beans, but they upset my stomach)
Chopped onion to taste
Shredded or sliced cheese of choice

Brown the meat and spice it however you want--I usually use salt, chili powder, garlic powder, and oregano. Once it's browned, throw in the onion and cook til it's looking cooked (I used prechopped frozen, so I wait until they're looking unfrozen), then throw in the other veg and can of beans and let it simmer.

While you're waiting, cook up 2/3 cup/1.5 dl rice. I use white basmati, which might be a bit weird but I don't find plain white rice palatable anymore, and the other half won't eat brown rice.

Mix up the cornbread topping--this is straight out of the cookbook:

3/4 cup/1.8 dl cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Although I vary this sometimes too--less cornmeal and more flour if I'm running out of the former, say.

Whisk these together with a fork, then mix together in a measuring cup (whoops, that's another two things I have to wash):

1/3 cup/0.8 dl milk
1 egg, beaten into the milk
1 tablespoon olive oil

Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is wet. Set it aside for now.

Grease a nice, roomy baking dish--I use a round ceramic dish that's 9 inches across and 2.5 inches deep.

Now, in everything goes! I used to mix the rice with the meat and veg, but that can get messy, so now I layer it--a layer of rice, a layer of meat and veg, repeat once. Over that goes the cheese--however much you want--and over that goes the cornbread topping. Letting it sit a bit while things get layered makes it easier to handle and doesn't seem to affect how high it rises. Glop it over and don't worry about having a few holes here and there, it generally resolves itself.

Pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes and take it out when the crust looks brown enough. It makes four servings for myself and the other half; YMMV depending on size and appetite of the people you're feeding.

Of course you can vary the filling as long as you don't get too crazy with adding things, lest you run out of room in your baking dish. You can leave out the rice, but it makes for less food unless you increase the amount of meat and/or beans. Use smooth tomato sauce if you want, or if you're really stuck, a bit of tomato paste mixed with water, although I think sauce makes it too tomato-y. Leave out the tomatoes altogether and use a bit of stock or something else to give it a sauce. Leave out the cheese if you don't have any on hand or don't want it.

I think an all-veg version with another sort of bean and canned corn instead of the meat would be delicious, and one could probably do tofu instead of meat, if one does tofu (I do not, being soy intolerant). I suppose it may not technically be tamale pie at that point, but eh. I haven't tried an all-veg variation yet, since the other half is very picky about veg.

#97 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 11:33 AM:

Marilee @ 95

I have scanned versions of a lot of those. My mother had a recipe box that included them, and then added some more cards of her own.

(How to divide a recipe box: First, get a scanner ....)

#98 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2007, 03:32 PM:

PJ Evans #97: (How to divide a recipe box: First, get a scanner ....)

I just wanted to admire that for a while. Brilliant use of technology.

To keep things vaguely on topic, production numbers are anything I want to do, usually once or twice a week (and never on Tuesday which is grocery night). The problematic part is not usually the complexity of the dish, but the fact that I may have three or four dishes going at once for a full-court-press meal; timing can get tricky.

Autopilot dishes include pasta w/tomato and onion sauce, baked chicken quarters w/veg, baked salmon w/veg, and (surprisingly enough) pizza baked from scratch, because I've done it almost every Friday night for the last 20 years.

#99 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 12:57 AM:

LM@93: I was being \classic/ Airplane, contemporary with the first Hot Tuna album. (Hence ignoring Skip Spence and Signe Anderson (Andersson?).) But if you insist on Creech, you should replace Dryden with Joey Covington....

#100 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2007, 02:47 PM:

CHip, You're right, Anderson and Spence were in the earliest iteration. I seem to recall somebody named Craig Chaquico playing guitar contemporaneously with the Creech addition to the band, too, maybe when they became Starship and started to go downhill in my estimation.

iTunes has a compilation called "The Essential Jefferson Airplane" which is the only purchase I've made there. It's excellent, and considering I wore out two copies of the "Worst of Jefferson Airplane" album before my turntable gave out...

#101 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 03:28 PM:

Ok, I just bit into my first mouthful of Jim's recipe, using shell macaroni for the pasta and sliced carrots instead of the sausage. The carrots actually give it a nice sweet taste. Thanks, Jim!

#102 ::: P J Evans sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2013, 02:32 PM:

The name is hiding a Youtube link.

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