Hey good lookin', what's cookin'?

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Mr. Magoo
Hey good lookin', what's cookin'?

Don't mind the thread title; the homely are encouraged to participate too.

Mr. Magoo

Anyone else ever try this cool recipe?

No-knead bread

I've made it a number of times, though not recently, and right now I've got a loaf in the oven -- we'll see how it turns out.

The recipe is true to the name, though.  There's absolutely no kneading required.  Just mix the ingredients until combined, leave it overnight, punch it down once, then bake in a lidded dutch oven or casserole dish at very high heat.  Great, gnarly crust, chewy tender crumb with plenty of texture, and really rustic taste.

Quick warning, though:  escaping steam and such will probably make a bit of a mess of the exterior of your dutch oven.  If you have a fancy "Le Creuset" dutch oven or some similar, be warned that it could get uglied up a bit.  And I'm also told that when this recipe was first published, a lot of Le Creuset owners discovered that the polycarbonate handle on their lid just wasn't up to the high heat, and melted.  Good news for vendors of aftermarket replacements, I guess.

My dutch oven is an inexpensive one from Ikea.  Not glazed on the interior, and the lid handle is just part of the lid itself.

When the bread's done, on to some bacon and lentil soup.

What's on your menu today?

ed'd to add:  OK, here's that bread:




Mmm, that looks very nice. My stove died, and I just have a countertop convection oven, so not much room for a dutch oven...

Mr. Magoo

Do you still have a burner?  If so, try this:

Perfect Naan bread

I recently made it with all-purpose flour and no nigella seeds and it was glorious. 

Didn't think to take photos though. :(



Yes, I have a kind of two-burner stovetop from France that runs on 220 and is heavy enamel on steel, like a stove, not a hotplate. I didn't buy a whole new range because I can't afford to buy a new one, and want to get at least one induction burner. Instead of my stove, I now have a steel kitchen cart (think it is from IKEA) with a work surface and shelves for my pots and pans (which also include an electric wok - useless as a wok, but great for braises).I'll be using the electric "wok" tomorrow to make a sort-of-Moroccan chicken stew.

I do have nigella seeds; lots of Maghrebi food businesses around here that sell them. I love those in bread, but I also love caraway.


My stew consists of organic chicken legs (PA Nature has organic, local and other good food at much better prices than the organic chains) and some very strong concentrated stock, and I have a celeriac, a little white turnip, two Chinese eggplant (the long, skinny ones with pale violet skin), a mild Spanish onion and some other things I forget. I want a small squash and will pick it up at Jean-Talon Market, from a guy who sells mostly eggs. And ginger, which I'll pick up at Marché Oriental (a Sino-Vietnamese small supermarket). I ground some cumin and some caraway in my spice grinder (a coffee grinder: I have two, both picked up at garage sales, one for coffee, one for spices). Have some cardamom as well. Don't want to make anything strong or too spicy; I get sick of particular strong spicing after a few meals. Of course I have garlic; goes without saying. Ideas?


I used to make my own bread from scratch, but with plenty of kneading.  For holidays I'd make cinnamon raisin bread, leave a few slices out to dry, and use it in a stuffing.  Nowadays, for three bucks or so I can get better than anything I used to make at a local bakery.  I am craving homemade split pea soup these days.  I like to do it NL style with diced salt beef instead of the ham that some other pea soup making regions use.


Obviously, where I live has very good bread too, not only the French and Italian kinds but also breads from the Arab world, and I'm not a long walk from sources of Eastern European Jewish breads. Other than Cheskie, there is now Hof Kelsten, as well as they typical light rye, they make an excellent challah and a very heavy dark pure rye pumpernickel. The latter two have to be reserved. http://hofkelsten.com/


I love making foccacia - there are so many varieties and it's incredibly easy to make. I make "sun-dried" tomatoes in my oven and add them to the dough, with parmesan or romano, and top the loaf with olive oil and rosemary. Jalapeno cheddar is another great combination.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I made fried chicken last weekend that was sooooooo good!  Brined overnight in buttermilk, salt, oregano and thyme, drained and then dredged in flour, pepper and paprika and deep fried in my wok, temperature monitored with a candy thermometer.  Garlic mashed spuds on the side, a little green salad.  Heaven.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Pfft. That no-knead recipe is for yokels. For a more sophisticated beauty, try this: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016277-tartines-country-bread


Yes, woks are great for deep-frying. They use much less oil and there is far less risk of them boiling over. If I deep-fry it is usualy just some smelts or some imperial rolls.

Stew packed away in glaslock containers, cooling out on the back balcony. I'll bring the containers in before I head out for an errand, as I don't want the stew to freeze. Need some ginger and fresh coriander (no coriander-haters around right now).

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I came across the blog post below, about Joan Didion's cookbook. I would dearly love to get my hands on a copy. http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/02/11/joan-didion-cookbook-recipes/?ut...

Tucked into the recipes and menus are subtle clues to Didion’s life and social circle — sometimes amusing (parsley salad for 35 to 40?), sometimes poignant (fewer and fewer guests listed on the menus as the years roll by), always deeply human (cross-outs, inconsistent punctuation).

Recipes, by their very nature, are also strangely reflective of Didion’s stylistic signature as a writer — a directness at once unembellished and undry.


I keep forgetting to look at Brain Pickings, a fascinating site, but then I read too much online anyway...


Everyone raves about my banana bread.

Banana Bread:


1 1/4 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda


1 cup mashed  over ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas or 3 small)


1/4 cup (60 ml) canola or corn oil

2 eggs (or one egg and one egg white)

1/4 cup (120 ml) yogurt  (can use low fat)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (175 grams) granulated sugar (equivalent of 30 teaspoons)

(Preheat oven to 350F)

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside.

In a larger mixing bowl, blend sugar, egg, yogurt, oil and vanilla.

Blend in bananas.

Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for one hour or until a tester inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.


The bananas should be brown and soft, not fresh.  As the banana becomes over-ripe it becomes sweeter and softer. Don't over mash. It's good if it's a bit chunky. Freeze bananas that are going brown instead of throwing them out.

Banana bread recipes are easily altered. 

  • Instead of 2 eggs,  can use one egg plus one egg white
  • Or, use one egg and add a bit more yogurt
  • Or add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Or add nuts
  • Yogurt can be low-fat
Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I put half a teaspoon of ginger in my banana bread - you don't taste the ginger per se, but it really does something nice to the banana. :)

Mr. Magoo

I just made a GF carrot cake and threw in a bit of ginger because of this, and because YOLO.


Clean the FRIDGES soup. Fridges in the plural, as friend has taken off to Cuba for two months (she's retired) and left me some odds and ends, including leftover broccoli, an onion (and some choicer things such as cheeses, but they aren't in the soup). Last night I made a stock with bones and soup (sacrificial) vegetables; very early this morning I cooked the broccoli, added a large soft carrot from the soup that was still flavourful, some frozen green beans that had seen better days - I'd already added some to soup before, so I knew they didn't have any nasty freezer-burn taste once finely chopped, sautéed, stewed in some of the stock and the end of a bag of frozen edamame - not the pods, the seeds inside. I've put the containers away, but I'll add some fresh ginger and either celery or fresh coriander before serving, also to intensify the green.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I like to throw some shredded spinach in soup, too.  Good and good for you!

Curried goat, Tobago-style, is on the menu tonight.  With plantain on the side. The goat will simmer in the crock pot all day and the house will smell wonderful when I get home!


Yes, that really takes some kind of slow cooker. I first learned how to make that dish from someone from tiny Grenada. That tiny nation, once invaded by the US in a show of force, is smaller than the island of Montreal. We were organising a fundraising supper after Hurricane Ivan; I painted a poster, which we sold.

Mr. Magoo

and some choicer things such as cheeses, but they aren't in the soup

One of my recent food epiphanies -- something I'd seen mention of here or there but hadn't yet tried -- is adding some of the outer rind from a piece of Parmagiana to stock, particularly if the stock will be used for something like leek and potato soup.  Just a piece about the size of one or two postage stamps is all it takes to really amp up the umami. 

I imagine that any hard rind cheese could similarly work.  And while I quietly giggle at people who don't eat the bloom on their brie (and typically offer to eat it for them) I doubt many people savor the rind on a hard cheese -- it's a bit like trying to eat a guitar pick.

Curried goat, Tobago-style, is on the menu tonight.

I used to joke that once I'd eaten enough goat I would reassemble the saved bones into a goat skeleton, archaeologist-style.

Yes, that really takes some kind of slow cooker.

Or just a dutch oven, low heat and about three hours.


I should have worded that better: I didn't necessarily mean slow-cooker as in crockpot.

I've most certainly done the hard-cheese rind in stock. PA (local Greek supermarket) often sell a bunch of parmesan rind pieces for a dollar. Umami tablets. Oddly, I've never seen those on sale at my even closer Italian supermarket, Milano. Guess they keep them for themselves. Three hours wouldn't have been enough for some of the goat meat I've bought. But it always came out good at the end.

Goat meat is among those most consumed in the world.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

[dramatic whisper] Don't let Old Goat catch you saying things like that [/dramatic whisper]

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Beware, old goat, beware!  Nah, I like old goat and promise not to stew him.  ;)

lagatta - that is the beauty of the crock pot - you can toss the ingredients in and it simmers away all day, making the meat tender as can be.  I love it for pot roasts, too.  Even the toughest cuts come out nice and moist.


My one-dollar crockpot, bought at a community yard sale well over 10 years ago, is definitely the best bargain ever (I know that is courting disaster, but even if it dies tomorrow, it still would be). It is the oldest model that has a soakable inner ceramic layer.

Of course it doesn't work for all kinds of braises, and there are dishes I cook overnight in the crockpot, then transfer to another where the liquid is reduced.

Mr. Magoo

I have the very first model (also, I think, from a yard sale) -- it doesn't even have a removable crock.  Also, my cat knocked the lid off the kitchen table for lulz and broke it, so I have to use a glass bowl as a makeshift lid.

But I'm told the older models have a much lower "low" setting, and I appreciate that about mine.  I often slow cook things like brisket or rillons for 16 hours or more.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I have one with a removable ceramic crock, and was lucky enough to get one with a glass lid.  The last one I had came with a plastic lid and it sucked.  I like being able to pull out the crock and put it in the oven to brown the top of the dumplings when I do stew with dumplings. 


oldgoats are tough and leathery tasting.  Even after a day in a crockpot.  There's a few annoying kids in my family you're welcome to.  Also, if there's any kind of a smart chip in the kitchen near your crockpot I can hack it and delete your account from there.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture


Last night I made pasta with eggplant, yellow bell pepper, tomato, green olives and capers.  Shredded parmesan for the top.  Mmmmmm. 

No goats were harmed in yesterday's dinner!


Some might have had sore udders from mine. Hope not.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I wish I ate so well.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I was gifted the two volume "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child for my birthday. I've already spent hours drooling over the recipes.

So far, I've done a roast duck with sausage and apple stuffing and a leg of lamb with mustard, thyme, rosemary and garlic.  Both were awesome!



Oh yum!


Good score!

I managed to find a copy of Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques (recommendation from Child on the cover) for 25 cents at the library. I believe I used it to do gnocchi one time, but otherwise have been too busy with regular cooking to seriously study it. I had done croissants from scratch one time, but I used another recipe.  It is an amazing textbook - all point form and pictures.

I don't use cookbooks much, but in a practical sense Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food has been my go-to for most stuff I need help with. It really covers everything from Spain to Russia to India.

The meals sound fabulous.


Timebandit Timebandit's picture

My cookbooks are covered in hasty notes about the changes I make.  I often start with a recipe but make modifications the more times I make it. My daughter suggested I make copies or type out the family favourites for a "Leaving Home Cook Book" for herself and her sister. 

Julia (as I've started calling the new books) has step by step instructions on croissants that I'll have to try one of these days.  Also palmiers, the little puff pastry cookies. 

I've got a couple of vintage/antique cookbooks that I've picked up at garage sales and second hand stores.  I love them, they're such a time capsule.  I have a 5 Roses Flour book from 1925 with a full array of steamed puddings.  I am envious of your Pepin book!


I know. I wish I got to use it more. Sadly, Escoffier school isn't what winds up on our table most of the time. Hippie style Indian, Vietnamese and Cantonese is more in line with what we usually do. If we didn't have small kids that last would probably be Szechuan.

And those old cookbooks are great, especially when you start getting into the suet and treacle.

On another note, I got inspired by a local friend and made my first batch of cured and smoked bacon last week. I had done corned beef already. It is amazing technology. I threw in some raw salmon too, and in just a few hours it was basically preserved. All of it in a cardboard box smoker.

Good luck with the book. I know it is hard to find the time to pore over and learn that stuff, but it is worth it.


Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Yes, time constraints mean that we're not doing the big French meal too often.  Maybe a Sunday.  I've got a variety of quick and easy meals that get repeated frequently - bacon and tomato pasta with rosemary and sage (20 mins, start to table), chick pea curry (another 20 minute staple), crock pot stuff I can set up in advance. 


The girls are old enough to help with the cooking, too, so they're learning to make the basics as well.  Thing 1 did a killer meat ball soup a little while ago.


Yes, it is very important for kids, especially when they are teenagers, to learn to cook. I've had roommates who would bring back crap from McDo despite living a few minutes from Jean-Talon market and many cheap, good "ethnic" shops.

As for cookbook finds, some years ago I found Claudia Roden's first Book of Middle Eastern Food, published the year it first came out, 1968, for $1. I don't know whether or not it is actually a "first edition". She describes the difficulties finding olive oil or spices - in London!

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Very cool.  I have a few vintage books from the blond guy's auntie's cabin that we used to visit in the summers.  When they sold off the cabin, they let me have a few books and a giant bread bowl (Alberta potteries from the teens/1920s).

Thing 2 had to bake for a science fair project last month - we made over 200 mini cupcakes in blue, pink, yellow and brown.  The experiment was the perception of taste with colour, so there was no flavouring, just colour, then surveys asking what flavour the cakes were, rating sweetness, saltiness, attractiveness etc.  (Amazing results!  People taste what they see!)  Anyway, she did the baking, I just hung out to troubleshoot.  Late at night we discovered she'd underestimated the amount of confectioner's sugar she needed for icing, so it was a good thing I'd stayed up with her.  Taught her how to stretch the icing with berry sugar, which we were lucky to have in the pantry!  It wasn't a perfect texture, but it worked well enough for practical purposes.


lagatta wrote:

As for cookbook finds, some years ago I found Claudia Roden's first Book of Middle Eastern Food, published the year it first came out, 1968, for $1.

If it is anything like this amazing book I will have to look for it.

And I remember trying to find the materials for making sushi (like the basics - nori) and having to to all the way out to the airport in Basel to some tiny, expensive specialty shop. Not as jaw-dropping as complaining about olive oil in London, though.

And @ TB

I remember when I was a kid and got the proportions mixed up on icing. It turned into some kind of slurry which I poured onto the cake, and was horrified when it just disappeared into it. Turned out not too bad though, kind of like a cake version of Jello 1-2-3 for anyone who remembers that.



Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Ha!  I do remember!  Eeek!

I have a note on a fancy icing recipe (a sort of whipped buttercream with a hot corn syrup concoction for the sugar than needed to be slowly blended in) where it says: " This will look like it is totally going wrong and melting.  Don't despair, just keep beating it and it'll be okay."  I'd made the recipe twice and panicked, so had to put in the reminder! 

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

My favourite cookbook is still Cathy Smith's FOOD 101: A Student Guide To Quick & Easy Cooking ISBN 0-07-548512-5

Something about its focus on low cost ingredients. the minimal requirements for kitchen "stuff" (everything in the cookbook can be made employing the list of 22 must have kitchen items - and the most "out there" of the items listed is a colander) the plain language... can't praise this book enough. Of course I did a little exploring to see if it is still available online... not sure it is worth the approximately $50.00 that it is advertised for (used no less) -- I was much happier paying $5.00 for it when it came out.


Mr. Magoo

On another note, I got inspired by a local friend and made my first batch of cured and smoked bacon last week. I had done corned beef already. It is amazing technology. I threw in some raw salmon too, and in just a few hours it was basically preserved. All of it in a cardboard box smoker.

As someone who owns two smokers, neither of them cardboard, tell me more!

Smoker pro-tip:  when red shepherd peppers, or red jalapenos are on sale, smoke up a whack of them and make (smoked) red pepper jam with them.  Any old pepper jam recipe will do -- the smoke does the heavy lifting.

This summer I smoked up a whole bunch of cheap red jalapenos, along with a whole bulb of garlic, and made my first stab at "smoked sriracha" -- just the peppers, garlic, some sugar, vinegar and salt, and a food processor.  :)

Meanwhile, had a mad craving for char siu (Chinese BBQ pork) recently.  Super easy, great on a sammie.

[IMG]http://i62.tinypic.com/2q222xk.jpg[/IMG]  [IMG]http://i60.tinypic.com/169pba9.jpg[/IMG]


That meat looks beautiful.

And the cardboard smoker wasn't my idea, but that of a friend back in Manitoba, who is a chef, and uses one regularly.

Two cardboard boxes stuck together, slot cut in the bottom for feeding chips, and rods punched through partway up to hold a rack. cooker set in such a way that it doesn't burn the whole thing down. If you want to get fancy stick a thermometer in the top.

Since this experiment worked I plan to make a more permanent one out of metal, But this one worked fine.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

How much space does a smoker take up?


Magoo would know. I just did it in the back yard.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Interesting.  Will have to run the idea past the blond guy...

Mr. Magoo

A so-called "bullet" smoker, or water pan smoker, looks like a propane tank, but about half again as big around, and you can get larger ones and smaller ones.  Even a fairly small one can do two chickens, no problem.


Those are fancy Webers, but I got my no-name bullet smoker at Home Hardware for about $90.

My offset firebox smoker is a different story:


That one's not quite as compact. 

Mr. Magoo

Not to try to influence any decisions or anything, but the cheaper bullet smokers like mine have a "barrel" that's in two sections, so you can also use just the bottom section as a regular charcoal (or wood) grill.  I drilled a few holes in my barrel halves and inserted bolts and nuts to give me a greater choice of how high to set my grills (they come with two), so I can (for example) put a grill high, smoke some chicken on it, then drop the grill low to finish the skin or set a glaze.  And being a very basic charcoal grill, I can also add any wood I want to anything I'm grilling, so mesquite burgers, or maple smoke-grilled pork chops or some applewood to finish a grilled steak.

They are messy, though, and if you're smoking something then they're probably the opposite of "fast food". 

As a possible intermediate, take a look at those little cast-iron smoke boxes for propane grills.  A lot of the flavour, little of the mess.  You won't make real smokehouse ribs with them, but they'll make your burgers and chops pretty legendary for about $15 and some wood.  And if you live anywhere near some boonies then you can probably get more wood for a six pack than I can for $40 in the concrete jungle.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

We have a fireplace at the palatial Chez Bandit, so there's a nice woodpile out back.  I'm just thinking of where I'd put a smoker when not in use.  I might try the propane box thingy to see if I like it, since we already have the bbq grill. 


Yes, a pile-up of stuff is always daunting, and not the most attractive thing in a yard. And in my case, on balconies. The co-op still hasn't decided if we will buy a bbq. Not a question of the outlay - they can be very cheap nowadays - but of who will be in charge of seeing that it is cleaned and maintained in working order, and who gets to use it when.