To Dopers who cook out of desperation . . .

I have a revelation to share with everyone. I can make great french fries, the kind that are imperative to have on a hot summer day on the boardwalk, that can only be enjoyed with an ice cold beer. This scares me.

In no way am I trying to put myself out as a good cook. I roast turkeys, chicken, beef and pork roasts in my trusty George Foreman rotisserie oven (love that thing!!) but I can’t follow intricate recipes, such as baking pastries, cakes, etc. I was watching Good Eats on the Food TV network and Alton Brown has enslaved me. I had all of the necessary equipment and supplies, so I embarked on this quest. By the way, a candy thermometer will make your life a lot easier. I cut up two potatoes with a mandoline to make uniform slices, soaked them in cold water for an hour, and spun them dry in my salad spinner. I heated up peanut oil till it was 320 degrees and cooked the fries for the first segment. When all the fries were cooked, I turned up the temperature to 375 degrees for the second cooking. The fries turned a rich golden brown, I salted them, and poured ranch dressing on them (because I’d run out of ketchup). Not to brag too much, but they were so delicious.

What scares me is that the whole process, from start to finish was about one and one half hours. The process was easy, the ingredients were readily available, and the instructions were easy to follow. The point is, I can now easily make french fries whenever I want. I need to lose a whole lot of weight (won’t tell you how much) so I guess I will only be making these goodies on a monthly basis, in small quantities.

My fellow dopes, who are not gourmet chefs, what are your culinary triumphs, the dishes that are the inspiration for epic poems (or just an appreciative belch) that you can share on this thread? Thanks for your replies.

I make a killer veggie lasagna. Rich, spicy sauce, plenty of tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, peppers and mushrooms, just enough but not too much cheese. Mmmmm.

My shrimp creole and gumbo are smack your mama good. Unfortunately, the gumbo calls for sausage, chicken, and bacon grease and my beloved SO is a vegetarian.

However, he can eat My Most Lovely Cake. This is very simple, a home made golden layer cake, not too heavy, frosted with whipped cream (real whipped cream, not that shit from a can) and covered with lots and lots fresh fruit and berries in decorative patterns. It’s especially good with peaches, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. If I’m feeling especially decadent, I’ll douse the cake with kirsch before frosting. It’s really not that difficult, but it looks super-impressive and it tastes divine.

Burundi, perhaps you could substitute tofu and/or mushrooms in your gumbo? I eat meat, but in some dishes, I can’t tell the difference if the texture is the same.

Hey, if you ever reeeeally get the urge to make some of that gumbo and you need help taking care of it, don’t hesitate to give me a call and I’d be happy to give you a hand (bacon grease – where’s the :drool: smilie when you need him – yum).

I echo the sentiments of White Lightning. Burundi, could you at least provide recipes so that I can check to see if my skill level is up to snuff? The veggie lasagna sounds heavenly to me. Thanks much!!!

Oh, thanks, y’all. (blush) I don’t really have recipes that I follow for those two dishes–it’s more a handful of this, a mess of that, yeah, that tastes right sort of affair. But I’ll see if I can come up with something and report back.

Don’t let burundi fool you – she’s a gourmet chef all right. And the cake and lasagne are even better than they sound. Good enough to make me cry over my lack of gumbo :(.

Ahem. Here’s a simple recipe that can impart a religious experience.

Rabbit Punch Cookies
Seattle Communion Wafers
Caffeine Cookies

  1. Take your favorite chocolate chip recipe.
  2. Use good chocolate chips – Ghirardelli double chocolate are my favorite, although you can definitely go fancier.
  3. Use 1/4 cup less flour than the recipe calls for.
  4. When you add the sugar to the butter, also add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dry Turkish-ground coffee. (If you grind coffee at home, just grind it until it’s extremely fine, almost the consistency of cocoa).
  5. Prepare and bake like normal.

Note that these cookies have a strong caffeine kick, and eating too many can be dangerous (like a blow to the kidneys, thus the name). If you wanna get fancy with them, toast and grind some hazelnuts and add them to the mix. Yum!)


Okay, troops, here is the Killer Veggie Lasagna.

Get out a nice big saucepan and out in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Chop an onion and 6 or 7 cloves of garlic (or more, hey go crazy!) and put it in the saucepan. Add a good size pinch each of: oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme. Rosemary is key, so don’t leave it out. Throw in a couple bay leaves if you have them. Saute over medium high heat until the onions are translucent.

Add 1 large can of crushed tomatoes and one large can of plain tomato sauce. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, a few good splashes of your favorite red wine, and salt to taste. Once it starts boiling turn the heat down and let it simmer. If you’re pressed for time, you can use spaghetti sauce from a jar (Five Brothers is good) and doctor it up with pepper flakes and wine.

While the sauce is simmering, chop up the following: 1 medium eggplant, 1 bunch spinach and as many mushrooms as you want. If fresh tomatoes are in season, chop up some of them, too. If you’re feeling fancy, put one or two red peppers under the broiler. DO NOT FORGET TO CHECK ON THEM. Once the skin is all black and scary-looking, take it out. Once it’s cooled, peel the scary skin off and slice the pepper.

Take some uncooked lasagna noodles and spread ricotta cheese on them. In a greased casserole dish, layer the noodles, sauce, and veggies. End with a top layer of sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. If you like it gooey and melty, sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese over top about ten minutes before you take it out. If you like your cheese chewy, add it before the lasagna goes in the oven.

This is a great date meal, but after you eat it, you’ll probably be full and sleepy. So if you’re planning to get play, make your move right after the lasagna goes in the oven. This gives you an hour to bump and grind and afterwards you’ll be plenty ready for some sustenance.

Veggie gumbo is excellent with frozen tofu. Drain yer tofu and pop it into the freezer for a few hours, then thaw it in the 'fridge overnight or in the microwave. It aquires a spongelike crumbly chewy texture that’s very different from normal tofu and considerably more meatlike–though I hate to call tofu meatlike, ever, because if you’re expecting meat, really, you’ll be disappointed. It’s more meatlike than regular tofu, anyway. And it absorbs sauces and flavors well.

Thanks, Burundi, this recipe sounds right up my alley. I think I’ll make it over the weekend–nah, I’m on travel for work next week and won’t have time. I know what, I’ll make the lasagna when I can and report back later.

Be sure and try DanielWithrow’s caffeine cookies, too. They kick ass, especially if you’re a Coffee Achiever.

Actually, right now, I’m in the process of making it: chocolate truffles , aka chocolate heroin. They’re too intense for non-chocoholics, so I’m told. I got the recipe from a magazine a few years ago and tried it out on my best friend, a Swiss chocoholic. Her first question was “When are you going to make these again?”

The ingredients are: semisweet chocolate, heavy cream, butter, a bit of corn syrup for texture, and amaretto. Later tonight, I’ll be shaping these morsels and rolling them in powdered sugar (cocoa powder was judged to be too much of a good thing). Oh yes, some co-workers have very kindly offered to provide Quality Control tomorrow.

I’m very impressed with the results coming in. These all sound like great recipes that are simple, yet scrumptious. How about some more entries? The posters should be idiot savants in the field of cooking–poor at day to day balanced meal planning, but makes one or two dishes that transcend earthly standards.