Italian Quesadilla -Anti Chef

-sounds pretty wrong huh?, -Italian quesadilla. Well it is not. I made this the other night after years of slow build up. It seems that many different facets of alrightitude needed to align themselves in my thick head before I finally just went for this one. I used a regular old 10" flour tortilla, some leftover meat sauce, ricotta cheese and a little sprinkle of shredded cheddar. Simple.

I mention the build up, so I will give you a little background on that statement. I have worked in both Mexican and Italian establishments. I would never make the mistake of generalizing, as there are many different avenues of culinary wonder to explore in either cultures gastronomy, but I can't help but point out a couple of similarities I have found hard to not notice (and obsess over like a mad person). Both cultures use a lot of tomatoes, and tomato based sauces/condiments. Both cuisines feature a fairly constant grain based staple.(albeit one comprised mainly of corn and the other wheat) And both will often garnish their respectively wonderful offerings with some type of cheese. So I guess it's not that hard at all to figure out why I have always been at the ready when considering a little fantastical gastro-clash. I have even brainstormed the opening of an Italian/Mexican Eatery to feature the mixing and matching of the two countries' best, presented in a whimsical yet tasty way that only my mind could conceive. If not an Italian Quesadilla, then how about a Mexican Calzone? Why not combine the chile relleno with the body of a squid, and do a some "turducken" magic on a tiny little scale. Calamari Rellano? Shrimp, stuffed inside a roasted pepper, stuffed inside of a squid and roasted tender? You have all eaten worse. Look, I make a meat sauce from an old family recipe that is so good that I used to sneak it by the coffee cup full as a kid. Seriously, after dinner, I would ladle it in, top it with grated parma and go eat it with a spoon like chili. I have even dipped tortilla chips into it cold, I know, sounds scary...but it's gooooood. So to heat it up, and dollop it all over a nice buttery-crispy, ricotta-smeared melty and chewy-gooey tortilla...?...well, for me it was far too logical a leap to take. My kid loved it too, what she could get of it, that is. SO--->

easy peasy instructions :

-heat up some leftover meat sauce for adding to the mix when it is ready, about 1/2 cup

-get a non-stick saute pan, or counter top griddle, or something else you like to cook with nice and hot.

-throw in a big splat of butter, serious...you want extra rolling around there, getting brown, call it a tablespoon

-smear some ricotta cheese on the tortilla and place it in the buttery pan, swirl it around to coat with hot butter

-drop the hot meat sauce around on the warming, crisping, bubbling cheesy thing

-sprinkle a little cheddar, or parmesan if you like...and a pinch of salt and pepper

-fold it over carefully when the cheeses are melty and the tortilla is golden brown

- carefully remove from the pan, and if you want to, set it on a paper towel for a second to absorb any excess butter

And that's it. Cut it up, and make sure it's not blazing hot inside if you feed it to your kids. They don't like that so much, the unexpected molten hot cheese-meets-mouth thing.
You can mix and match this up however you would like. I had meat sauce, and I eat it in my sleep. But try this the traditional way if you want. Use leftover chicken breast, arugula, and brie for a nice change. Somebody's growing rocket, right? Use some fried flounder, minus the cheese and dip it in a nice chipotle and pickle remoulade. Put some old pad thai in there, and dip in a sauce made of pan roasted shiitake's, soy sauce and sour cream....believe it or not, even that tastes really, really, good. I worked at a place here on the beach for a good few years. I would mention the name, but the owner is a cheap skate. I do feel that I at least owe it to him to throw him a bone here with a little shout out, but I choose no...for now. Sorry Jim. But if any of you have ever eaten at a "Gour-Mex" restaurant, around milepost 5.5 here in the Kill Devil Hills area that used to win national awards for hot sauces and so forth, you got it. We used to feature a "quesadilla of the day" on the specials menu. And although he wouldn't admit it, Uncle Jojo did the pad thai quesadilla, or maybe it was laab. Either way the mushroom-soy-sour cream thing was involved, and was delicious. He wouldn't admit it because now he hates hyphens. So there you are Jojo. So there ya go, Mr. OBX. And there YOU go, hungry mom's and dad's.  Now get going ! ! !

*kid approved.

Curried Rice and Lentils With Pickled Mango Garnish -killertomato

Sometimes I notice that one cabinet, the pantry, is nearly empty while the one next to it can't be opened without a bottle of some exotic spice falling out. Almost nothing to eat, yet plenty of saffron! Incidentally, saffron rice with the stewed hen I wrote about in an earlier post did make a decent dish one night. We were peering into the pantry this morning deliberating how best to make use of its contents and B pulled down the container of lentils that's been there forever and instructed me to do something with them. "I hate lentils!" was my parting declaration as he went out the door. It's true, I've never gotten excited about lentils. Not even when they were served with Cotechino sausage at La Pietra Cucina on New Year's, not when Julia Child raves about them on TV. But a while back, I pickled some green mangos and though piquant and juicy, haven't really made it past the odd tasting here and there. This is a recipe for curried rice which can be served with many things-I've still got my eye on you, green tomatoes out in the yard- and certainly with lentils and pickled mangos.

For the rice:
2 c. basmati rice
3 c. water
1/3 c. olive oil
1 heaping Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
2 tsp. Tamari
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Warm the oil and mix in spices. After a minute, add Tamari and lemon juice. Mix into cooked rice.
Lentils are simple to cook. It is best not to add salt. You will cover them with water or broth, boil for a couple of minutes, then reduce heat to low and cover until liquid is absorbed. It can take a longer or shorter amount of time depending on the variety- like rice.
I didn't have Tamari today, only the oyster mushroom soy sauce that's been doing a swell job of standing in many places these days.
I got the curry powder at an Indian grocery. I like this brand. I also picked up a box of achar pickling spice that day because I was curious and followed the recipe on the back for pickling green mangos. It involved salting and spicing them and leaving out in the sun for a few days, then jarring and leaving in the pickle cabinet for another few days (yes, I have a pickle cabinet!) which softens and ripens them to their yellow color and juicy texture. I think the mix had fenugreek, chili pepper, turmeric, mustard and aniseed, as far as I could tell, and probably some other stuff too. I might find a good recipe and mix my own next time. This one is toooo salty. Love salt but hate it when it overpowers. However, these so-salty mangos were perfect for dressing up an otherwise unsalted dish.

The holidays are almost over, so I'm saving all citrus rinds to sugar down and candy. Another post on that soon, so stay tuned!

Lentil recipe to try next: pappadums! Indian snack made with lentil flour.


Tangent in A sharp/last minute ideas for the broke folk! -killertomato

It's Christmas time again and here you are, perhaps living on one compromised salary and deep in debt, or maybe have a small business whose profits, at a week before the holiday, you're still praying will get a little love from the last minute buyers- the ones who can't fathom one more trip to mall because they have so much wrapping to do. Yes I know, it's an overly commercialized holiday, it's been dragged through the mud by capitalism, we should do away with it altogether and just enjoy a nice cup of cocoa by the fire and think about all the real nice things in the world... until better days, of course! Because really, if you had cash flow, you too could be out there overcompensating your shortcomings the rest of the year like everyone else! Just sayin'.

Here's the thing- even though you're broke, you still have to make an effort. People still expect things and people are still gonna give you stuff. You can't be standing there with old, wadded up wrapping paper encasing some sad little candle you got at Goodwill on Christmas Eve when someone hands you a thoughtfully put together gift. Or worse, they give your kids better stuff than you. Remember last year?

"But where's my VTech Video Camera? I was good, I told Santa, where is it??"
"Well I guess our chimney is too small for Santa and he had to just throw what he could down the chute."
"But I thought Santa was MAGIC."
"Well he is, honey, I mean, perhaps some starving kid in Haiti got your presents by mistake. Wouldn't that be a happy accident?"

*Sigh* Are we there yet? So even after you've overextended your credit again buying crap for your kids and you're trying to keep your cool and you know, just make stuff for people, halfway to Christmas one morning you're frying eggs and you don't have butter so you use vegetable oil and on the second egg, it sticks, and one kid is whining for no reason, no really, there is no reason!, the other keeps singing "Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg" over and over because NO ONE knows the rest of the verse and now your kids sound like kids did before you had kids- annoying. Somehow, your husband gets to snore away through it all and you start thinking about how you still haven't made anything for all those people and you just want to KILL the fried eggs, or the vegetable oil, or something!!!

Relax, please! Even if you don't have kids and stupid fried eggs, I can help. I'm not one of those extra crafty etsy women; in fact, if I saw Martha Stewart walking up my driveway I'd bolt the door, but I do think making something for cheap is better than buying something cheap, even if you have no talent. It shows you took the time and the thought. Here are three recipes that can help you with that. (There are plenty of others and I could go on and on- for instance, you can't eat mix CDs, but I love being on the receiving end of those.) Then, go to the dollar store and get some Christmas tins, or some pretty cellophane, or even stamp or draw designs on some parchment paper to get them under the tree. It may not be much, but if someone is really comparing, that's their problem!

Nut Brittle
foil, for sheet pan
3 Tbsp. butter, plus some to grease foil
1 1/4 c. almonds or peanuts or whatever you like
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Line baking sheet with foil, grease foil with butter, set aside.
Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in small skillet over medium. Add almonds and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cook sugar and water in small heavy saucepan over medium high, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. You can use a small brush dipped in cold water to brush down crystals from the side of the pan, but it's not a deal breaker. Boil without stirring about 10 minutes or when reaches 310 degrees. Mixture should be golden. Remove from heat. Quickly add baking soda, stir, and pour onto sheet pan. Wait at least 30 minutes to set.

Creole Seasoning
-What doesn't it complement? Popcorn, crab cakes, a gumbo stew...Put it in a little jar with a pretty label, and presto.
2 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. cayenne
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
*Yields about 2/3 cup.

Caramel Popcorn
5 quarts of popcorn
1 c. dry roasted peanuts
1 c. butter
2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pop corn, add peanuts and set aside. It's best if it's still in the pot with some room at the top. Put a large saute pan over medium high heat and add all the rest o the ingredients, excepting baking soda. Stir constantly to melt butter and blend ingredients. As it comes to a boil, either keep stirring or shake the pan back and forth and let it boil for about three minutes as you do so. Quickly add baking soda, stir and mix into popcorn until well blended. Pour onto sheet pan and bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Make sure to save some for your friends and family!

Curried Sweet Potato "Bisque" -Anti Chef

Well, for the first time this season the temperature here in Kitty Hawk has fallen into the 30's, and that means two things for my friends and I, huddling in poorly insulated houses, and hot soup! I want to share one of my favorites from many years ago, curried sweet potato bisque. I put "bisque" in quotations for a reason. If you kids follow this blog, the purists among you will undoubtedly have opportunities to catch me in some questionable culinary territory. However, being that this is a fairly simple recipe, I would just like to give you a tiny bit of clarification on what makes a bisque a bisque. First of all, a "proper bisque" is usually made of crustaceans, and the ones that would be considered the "second class citizens" of the seafood world. In the old days, these imperfect animals not fit for the market were cooked with wine and aromatics to make a broth, and then cream was added for thickening and an extra kick of flavor. For those of you new to the culinary world there is an expression I love to use, FAT CARRIES FLAVOR. But getting back to calrification, one other cool fact I found in my bisque research was the term "bis cuites", or "twice cooked". In proper bisque making the shrimp, lobster or whatever you have would have first been lightly sauteed in the shell, and then simmered with the wine and aromatics. Finally, to get really old school and barbaric, the shells would be ground up, and then added at the end as a thickening agent. I don't like eating ground lobster shells, but once, over in Thailand....well, never mind. The bisque, stick to the bisque. It is considered "passable" to call a thickened soup of roasted pureed vegetables a bisque in some circles, so here I go.
Get your oven cranked up, and your favorite soup pot on standby for this late fall fineness.


2-3 medium LOCAL sweet potatoes, peeled and rough chopped (or enough to just about fill a 9x13 inch casserole for roasting)
one medium sweet onion, chopped
one carrot, peeled and chopped
one celery stalk, rinsed and chopped
one or two bay leaves
a quart or two of stock (whatever you have, i like fowl stocks, but veggie is cool too, hippies)
2-4 T. curry powder *
2-3 T. olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 c. heavy cream
shot or two of brandy (optional, bur highly recommended, if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste


- preheat oven to 400 degrees, i like a nice char on the edges of the veggies, adds to the flavor profile a bit
- combine all of the chopped veggies in a bowl and toss with the curry powder and a little of the olive oil to coat evenly
- transfer everything to the baking dish and roast for 35 - 45 minutes, or until the veggies are softened and just starting to char nicely
- move everything to a soup pot and add your stock and the bay leaves. i like to add the stock just enough to cover everything, you don't want to go too thin, you can always thin this later with more stock once you have pureed everything, but it is harder to make it thicker without altering the natural texture
- simmer the soup on medium heat for about 30 minutes, just to make sure everything is cooked thoroughly
- remove the bay leaves and then carefully transfer this to a large blender, and blend to puree. it is best to let this cool a bit first, hot liquid + blender = ow-ee.
- return the puree to the soup pot and bring back to almost boiling, but do not boil. whisk in the heavy cream, season with a little kosher salt and fresh fresh ground pepper to taste
- lastly, whisk in the brandy. this is always a great addition in my opinion to ANY creamy soup
- serve hot with whatever garnish you would like, such as creme fraiche, or even a little drizzle of black strap molasses will go a long way, but you don't need anything really, this is a good and flavorful bowl all by itself

* cook's notes:

-curry powder, most of you will probably have some of this you bought at the store, but you can make your own if you have a saute pan and a spice (or coffee) grinder. many cooks prefer to make their own as it is really easy. It is usually just a mix of whole roasted cumin and coriander seed which has been ground and mixed with turmeric and sometimes a few other seasonings such as onion or chili powder. There are also many different kinds of curry. Indian, Thai, Jamaican...wet or dry, and you should experiment with the full spectrum of flavors. For this particular recipe, I love one I get from a Caribbean grocer up in Norfolk, which includes fenugreek...and I also keep good Jamaican molasses on hand to drizzle, as these two extremes of flavor compliment one another very well. This "bisque" idea came to me because I ALWAYS have those two Jamaican condiments on hand. Also, in Currituck this time of year, fresh, local sweet potatoes are cheap and easy to grab by the bushel, right along the side of the highway. So grab some, and make a local farmer happy, your friends and family will be glad you did. -and maybe that farmer will be one step closer to purchasing holiday gifts, and paying the bills. We are all in this together people, and isn't that what this is really all about? Happy ________-days : )

(safety note)
- hot soup in blender. BAD BAD BAD, unless you know what you are doing. There is a serious possibility/risk of this exploding from the heat and pressure and agitation, so it is best, if the soup goes into the blender HOT, to slightly vent the top of the blender, and cover the it with a kitchen towel. Make sure the lid is held firmly in place with your hand, and always start at a low speed first. I repeat DO NOT ADD HOT LIQUID TO A BLENDER AND JUST HIT PUREE WITHOUT PROPERLY SECURING THE LID, YOU MIGHT LOSE AN EYE!!!
-now that you are sufficiently warned, scared, hungry and/or mad...go ahead. make yourself a nice veggie bisque. You may even eliminate the cream if you like and keep it vegan, but don't call it a bisque, again....(hippies)


Braised Cauliflower -killertomato

Found some lovely cauliflower at Sevananda, a vegetarian health food store here in Atlanta that has a terrific selection of just about everything. I love it! The cauliflower didn't need much encouragement so I created this simple side dish to a pork loin (I think it would be divine with short ribs, by the way):

Braised Cauliflower in Mushroom Stock with Black Pepper and Coriander

2 lbs cauliflower
1 clove garlic, slivered
2 c. mushroom stock
salt and pepper
1 tsp. coriander
olive oil

In a large frying pan, saute garlic for a minute or two then quickly sear the cauliflower over high heat, either stirring constantly or moving the pan so that the cauliflower jumps around like popcorn. You don't want it to burn, just brown it and give it a nice roasted flavor. Add salt and a generous amount of black pepper, and coriander. Add stock and cover pan, reducing heat to a low simmer and cook until the cauliflower is soft.

Mushroom stock:
1 lb. mushrooms
1 small carrot, sliced
1 small celery root, sliced
half of a small onion, or two shallots
pinch of fresh rosemary or dried thyme
In a large pot, saute carrot, celery and onion for 3-4 minutes over medium, then turn the heat to low and let the vegetables linger for 5 minutes, turning only once or twice. add mushrooms and cover with about 12 cups of water.

Simmer for two hours.

Strain liquid.


the wish sandwich -Anti Chef

-you read it right, the wish sandwich. Everybody has heard that one right? Although there are many versions of the joke, I will paraphrase. "Does anyone know what a wish sandwich is? No. What is a wish sandwich? well, a wish sandwich is when you have two slices of bread and you wish you had some meat..." I think I heard it first on Dr. Demento, or was it the Blues Brothers? I forget. The callous truth is, many kids and parents alike will spend a night or two, or more this winter lacking even the bread to fill with that wish.

A good friend of mine, and a bit of a moral compass for me asked me when I first told him about this blog idea, "has anyone given thought to a feature on why American's, among all the other cultures of people in the world actually HAVE a problem with too many leftovers? Has anyone wondered why out of all the people on the face of the planet WE seem to have so much food to throw away?" The thought hit me right out of left field, and I simply responded with something like "hey, that's a great topic for discussion...and I'm sure there will be a message board, or somewhere you can write in and pose that question for others to write in on...". So, on behalf a man that has treated me like a little brother, I offer this.

I like to consider myself quite the comedian sometimes. I take pot shots at celebrity chefs, and write things on here that are sometimes foolish, self centered and cold. I have learned that behavior growing up in this nation, full of cynicism. But that is not all that this nation of ours is comprised of. Our nation is full of loving, caring, compassionate people, who if given the chance, will generally jump to the aid of a fellow citizen, or neighbor in need. This is in my opinion among the qualities that once made America a leader among nations of men. These days it seems however, that it is becoming increasingly hard for our friends and neighbors to make ends meet. There is an expression that I coined around some of my smart alack friends..."the bottom is the new top". What I mean mean by this is simple. In our current economic climate, the ones who have been broke for the last ten, twenty, thirty years or so, haven't really felt all that much change in the quality of life. However, if you are one of those in this country that is used to earning six figures or so, or have had money tied up in the stock market, or other financial institutions then you may be experiencing a world of hurt. Much like the working poor have since my mother's day, and of her mother's ilk before her. I recently listened carefully to a Mr. Bernanke, who is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve comment that this nation is now comprised of two different societies. He stated that for the college graduate unemployment is around 5%, whereas for high school graduates the unemployment rate is around 10%. It is no secret that there is the greatest disparity between the wealthy and poor of our nation in it's history. I could go on about many of the socioeconomic factors contributing to this fact,but it would only be one opinion without much fact to support it, and heck, this is really a platform for sharing recipes for, as i like to call it..."the creative re-use of food". So I digress.

I would just like to come forward and say that even with all the neat ideas that my friends and I throw up here with the pretty pictures, and the smooth vernacular, I waste too damned much of everything. I try to be a good citizen and help the folks around that have less than me, but I can find ways to do more. I feel that I am not alone in this stew of dereliction. I have stood behind men in cashiers' lines at the local market, and witnessed the berating of clerks over the simple asking of that patron to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar to benefit starving, or cancerous kids somewhere. And say what you will about the waste, and skimming done by some charities, rather, use that as an excuse to not spend seven dollars as opposed to $6.43 if you choose to, but really? Does that little bit of change that may just as well be lost in the seat of your car moments later really make that much of a difference in your life? If so, write me. I have 57 cents for you. And I will post your name and address on this blog so that others may donate as well. There is a time for being tight because it all adds up, but also a time to loosen up, because of how it really all adds up. Think.

Just last week, my wife and I were going to the grocery store to but some things we needed, and some of that I am sure would eventually get wasted. There were folks out on the curb from the local food pantry asking passers by to please remember the less fortunate in the community, and were handing out little scraps of paper with a list of food items which they hoped to collect. I won't go into the stress that trip to the grocer was putting on our budget, with rent due and an ailing pet, but I asked my wife to help me remember to find at least one small donation, a can of beans, for the seasonal bags being stuffed for the needy. My mother taught me that even if you only have 50 cents in your pocket, why not throw it in the Charity Kettle. In other words, she said, what more good could it do for you to hang on to? Well this past week, as my wife was heading to the same grocery store, I received a text message from a friend. It read simply "go to the nearest Harris Teeter and find a manager and tell them your name." I forwarded the instructions to my wife, and she was surprised to be handed $250.00 worth of gift cards. When she texted me back, shocked, moved...I returned her text "just thank God your husband hasn't always been such an asshole." And as I recalled the story later to my mother, and with my wife present, my voice cracked, as I humbly, and tearfully recalled the can of beans for the food drive, and the 57 cents for the cancer kids...and said "that's why....that is why we give, because there are always those with less than we have, no matter how little we may think we have."

I gotta wrap this recipe up I think. There is really only one ingredient that matters here. Compassion. You don't even have to know or love someone to help them out, to open your heart, or your wallet, or your calendar...and show someone less fortunate a little compassion. You may even choose to do so anonymously. This time of year, all over the country there are programs like Empty Bowls, and local food pantries which desperately need a little bit of your time, your money, and/or your compassion to help them make someone's tummy, or somebody's kid's tummy a little less grumbly on these cold winter nights. So please, think of how much you have thrown away this year. Not just old food, but time, money and resources on frivolity and self gratifying luxury. And throw that 50 cents in the Kettle, or buy that can of beans, if that is the least of what your life can afford.

-And Jojo, sorry I couldn't do more than the wish sandwich with your query...but what do you want for nothin' ...a rubber biscuit?

: ) -ac


THIS WEEK'S HOBO! ~ Potato Patties ~ -Lulabelle

When I was little my mother would make mashed potatoes and sometimes we had leftovers hanging around after a couple of days.  At this point it seemed as though there weren't quite enough for everyone to have a decent sized serving.  This was during the years of Reagan-omics ---- we were stretching things as far as they could go!  As I got older and learned more about various religious traditions, cultures, and foods I learned that what my southern mother made from leftover mashed potatoes were known to others as Latkes.  Unlike Latkes, which are most commonly served during the 8 days of Hanukkah (and bring with them cultural and religious significance) potato patties are served during the 3rd day of Leftovers during which we celebrate the stretched wallet and the full tummy.  And maybe, aspects of that aren't altogether different from the Hanukkah story after all?
You've got your leftover mashed potatoes and we know those can vary in consistency which means that the recipe is more flexible--- you'll have to roll with the punches as they say.  Grandaddy was a cook in the Army Air Corps during World War II and he really was instrumental in teaching me and my mother how to cook.  As a result I can make larger meals better than smaller, can make do with whatever I've go around and I'm not afraid to try and make something work!  I think these are good traits for anyone who wants to cook on a budget:  use what you've got, don't be afraid to try something new and make the best of your results.  Let's get to it y'all!

Step 1:      Evaluate the mashed potatoes are they mushy or more firm?  That will effect the amount of milk you'll add (if any).  

Step 2:      Break yourself on egg and mix it into the bowl of mashed potatoes- you can use a whisk or even a mixer but a fork or washed hands do the job just             
                 as well!

Step 3:      Re-evaluate the consistency and it is more like pancake or cake batter you'll want to thicken it up a bit so that it doesn't run when you drop it in the     
                 pan. If you wish to thicken it up you can do any number of things like add a bit of flour or add some leftover black, kidney or pinto beans if you had   
                 them - they've got enough starch to thicken it up a bit.  If you had corn you could add that as well.  I prefer to add something like the corn or beans   
                 because they've got a bit more nutrients than just flour.  Don't be afraid to try different sorts of flour- try cornmeal or oat instead of just flour.

Step 4:       Get out your skillet/ frying pan and spritz it with your oil of choice.  I try to be a health conscious girl (it makes me feel better when I NEED some
                  kind of special treat that is NOT healthy!!) Some people believe in Canola Oil and others support Olive Oil and either of these will do the job.  I    
                  grew up southern but with a mother who was concerned about weight control and healthier eating and my cooking style reflects that.  Take  
                  ownership of your own styles!

Step 5:       Spritz your pan- I'm not deep frying these things!  And heat it up a bit on low.  While that gets going form your little patties (they should be about 
                  as thick as you'd make a cookie) before placing them in the pan to cook.  From this point on you'll handle them like a regular pancake- check them 
                  with a tooth pick or fork to see when they're done.

Potato Patties can be served for dinner that evening and even may be around for the next day depending on how many you made.  Maybe a little soysage biscuit could be put together using the patties instead of the biscuit.  And by all means feel free to adapt this recipe to your family and your leftovers.  I love spinach and think that might be a great thing to throw in as well as onions, maybe even pepper, summer squash... the possibilities are endless!  Take inspiration from Latkes- they have some great traditions of putting applesauce and other sweet as well as savory toppings on the Latkes.  Use something other than left over potato products, too!  Give it a shot!  You never know what you might find!  Maybe some leftover chicken would be tasty... and cheese seems to be popular as well.


Pizza Dough -killertomato

People tend to visibly recoil when you start talking about making pizza dough at home, so I'm going to give you the easiest recipe I know of, because I really want you to make pizza!

When it seems like there's nothing to eat in the house, you can pull together something really fun and filling using some flour, yeast and whatever you've got on hand. You can do anything you want, just as long as you don't ever refer to it as "'za" around me- for some reason that grates on my last nerve like gravel on a sharpening stone.

We've made pesto pizza when we didn't have cheese, done a "Mexican" style pizza with leftover grilled chicken, stewed tomatoes with lime and garlic topped with some cheddar and jack, and I know there's a hotdog pizza that's popular in Germany that I haven't tried because my history with 'dogs has been a rocky one. Another time recently, I was too lazy to make tomato sauce and just layered fresh tomatoes with salt and pepper over an olive oil brushed pie, topped with mozzarella and basil. Yum!

The dough:
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water (105 degrees)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. salt
4 c. all purpose flour

Stand Mixer:
In the bottom of mixing bowl, put warm water and sprinkle in yeast, let stand 10 minutes. Add oil and stir with finger. Add flour and salt then knead with dough hook attachment for 2 minutes on low, then 10 minutes on medium, then rest for 5 minutes, then mix 10 minutes more.
Let rise overnight in the refrigerator covered in an oiled bowl.

By hand:
Sprinkle yeast into measuring cup with warm water, let stand for 10 minutes, add oil. Combine salt and half of flour in a large bowl. Add liquid and use wooden spoon to combine.Add remaining flour and stir until cohesive mass forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If you've not kneaded by hand before, you lightly roll the dough towards you and push away with the heel of your palm over and over. Try not to put too much pressure on the dough and it will thank you later. Form into a ball and let rise overnight in covered, oiled bowl.
Now you can roll out the dough into a circle with a rolling pin or practice hand tossing it. I recommend the latter. It's fun when you get it down so just keep practicing with any extra pieces of dough that are left. Eventually, I'd like to get to a place on this blog where I can upload my own video demos, for now I suggest heading over to YouTube with a search for hand tossed pizza dough.

You'll be baking your pizza in the hottest oven you can at home, that's typically about 500 degrees in a conventional oven. We began to suspect that we made enough pizzas this summer to raise our power bill and actually tried grilling them on a pizza stone outside over the charcoal grill with the lid pulled down. It kind of worked...but needs tweaking. More on that later!


Carolina Persimmon Puddin' -Anti Chef

Well, now that Thanksgiving is behind us, and all the food television is moving on to the next holiday season (can we still call it a season?) I figure it would be a good opportunity to post a recipe that has been a favorite of the good folks of the North Carolina Outer Banks for the last couple hundred years. I work as a tour guide most of the year now, in a little place called Carova Beach. It's tucked in between Corolla, NC and the Virginia border...where the Wild Spanish Mustangs still roam free and you can only access your home or vacation paradise by four wheel drive vehicle. Many different species of wild and edible plants and animals live there. Aside from the horses, we also have wild boar (tasty), raccoons,duck potatoes, opossum, white tailed deer, cat tails (yeah, they have an edible shoot like bamboo), and Bob White quail...to mention a few.

This time of the year is one of my favorite times. Not only have all the tourists gone home, leaving the beaches and dunes to us, but the last of the summer fruit hangs heavy on bare branches just waiting to be eaten. The leafless orchards remind me of jack-o-lantern trees once the oblong leaves turn red and finally fall off, leaving behind the ripening pumpkin colored fruit. Every creature in the north beach loves to grub on the persimmons, from the horses to the crabby folks at the Carova Beach Volunteer Fire Department. My Great Aunt lived up there for more than forty years, and among the dishes we looked forward to during the cold weather holidays was Persimmon Puddin(g). My Uncle was a crabber, so we always had crab dip, or crab cakes in early fall, and rockfish (striped bass) in the winter...but the persimmons were always the unlikely, but delicious star of this season's Holiday spread. They grow WILD all over the place, dispersed by all the industrious and hungry quadrupeds, and all you have to do is pick yourself a bunch and get to it. Just make sure that they are ripe, for if not, they will turn your face inside out. It's always fun to watch a young'un figure this fact out for the first time. Harmless and fun. They usually ripen after the first frost, which rarely comes early for us...just right for setting us up for Christmas desserts. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do, once left alone to our Autumnal wanderings, out here in the middle of nowhere. So without further, - yeah....yeah...yeah.... you will need enough ripe persimmons to yield around two cups of pulp once the skins and seeds are removed.


2c. persimmon pulp

3 c. milk

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

2 c. all purpose flour

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 t. vanilla

-dash of cinnamon

(some fools use nuts, chopped, one half cup)

whipped cream


- preheat your oven to 350 degrees

- puree the skinned and seeded pulp in a food processor

- in one large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients

- in another large bowl combine the pulp, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla and beat well

- add the dry ingredients to the wet, combining thoroughly ( this is where some jack asses might add nuts)

- pour mixture into an 9" x 13" baking dish (you don't need to grease it)

- bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until the blade of a thin knife comes out clean

- serve it warm, with the whipped cream.

- tell somebody you made it, they might be impressed.


HEAT Us Cheap -The (vegetable) Butcher

~from Cutiepie:  Hey y'all!  Our first hobo, The (vegetable) Butcher, is one smart mother-shut-your-mouth.  He can do stuff with a half rotten fridge that is better left untold...yet somehow hasn't killed anyone and leaves them wanting more...enjoy the treasure that a lucky few have known about for years...

---I used to cut up cows, now I cut up carrots...you won't find any strict rules with me as I'm a hobo that uses my hands...at least I wash first...(sometimes)...---

As we head into late autumn, Daylight Savings Time plunges us into darkness at an alarmingly early hour.  We stumble out of bed in our cold, dark houses, and after a full day's work we find ourselves sitting in that old familiar blackness once again...before we even get through rush hour. By the time most families are gathered to finish homework, share a meal and get ready for the next day's routine, most of the free heat provided to our homes by the sun has radiated its way back into space.  This is the time of year that mental health professionals make their quotas, thanks to Seasonal Affective Disorder, alcoholism, and whatever other disorders stem from lack of sunlight and overexposure to crappy holiday music.  We can counteract the negative effects of the changing seasons by providing an environment that promotes warmth and togetherness, complemented by healthy, hearty meals.  Before you reach for the thermostat at night, it's time to start using the oven again.
Summer, here in the Deep South, means that I make every excuse to avoid meals that require any baking, roasting, or broiling.  You won't find any stock pots bubbling away on my stove in mid-August, either.  I've even been known to move the toaster oven to the back porch, just to bake a potato or cook a few chicken breasts.  It's just too damned expensive to keep our old house cool during those sweltering months.  In addition to cold salads, I lean heavily on that holy trinity of summer cooking...the grill, the microwave, and the crock pot.
As the leaves turn and the mercury plummets, it is with great pleasure that I dust off the roasting pans and the soup cauldrons.  The rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, and winter squashes that I have been missing are once again restored to my shopping list. The oven is great for all of these winter staples.  It also excels at multi-tasking...while the veggies are roasting to perfection,  leftovers can be reheated in a dish to the side...and while this is going on, some flaky fish filets can be cooking away, snugly sealed in a foil envelope on the rack below.  Grab a loaf of crusty bread from the freezer and throw it in for the last five minutes.  You get the idea...the possibilities are endless.
Our most recent roasting session included artichokes, onions, carrots, garlic cloves, brussels sprouts, and bell pepper halves...all misted lightly with olive oil cooking spray and rubbed down with a bruised clove of garlic.  I "parboiled" the artichoke beforehand by putting it in the microwave for a few minutes in a covered pot with few millimeters of water.  For the oven, 400 degrees seems to be a good temperature setting...not so hot as to char the greener veggies, but just enough to take care of the larger chunks and any of the starchier roots...that, and it's an easy number to remember.
A watchful eye is key...for reduced fat cooking, there's a fine line between golden perfection and having to order Chinese as you fan the smoke out of the kitchen.  If you are incorporating ingredients that require longer cooking times, I would suggest using separate roasting pans.
Things don't have to end with the main course.  Have a cobbler standing by, or a sheet of pre-arranged cookie dough ready to pop in as dinner comes out.  Even a pot of plain old water can be used to make tea or cocoa or to fill a hot water bottle for the bed, or to humidify a dry house.  The oven doesn't care if you're cooking a 20 pound turkey or a Pop Tart, so use your imagination and take advantage of every bit of that extra heat.  This isn't so much a recipe posting as it is a suggestion to use your heat creatively to bring folks together, all the while saving on the utility bill.  Do more than cook.  It harkens back to a time when every home had a fire burning in its hearth...and that fire was the center of family life.  Once the sun went down, that was it...no central heat, no TV, no artificial light.
Just candlelight, quilts, and conversation.
It went beyond physical survival...it was how human beings endured the cold and the darkness with their sanity intact.  Perhaps, by using the warmth of the kitchen as a means to bring us together, we can capture a small bit of that in our own modern homes this winter.

The (vegetable) Butcher