Friday, November 27, 2009

Comparison of Dell Zino HD vs Apple MacMini as a Media Center Computer

Here's a chart to explain why I finally decided on a Dell Zino over a MacMini. I know it's a bit hard to read from the main page but if you click on the chart a larger, clearer version will appear.

Since this is to primarily surf the web and manage media on my home networks I didn't add productivity software.

After all was said and done I just came to the conclusion that $350+ in additional costs wasn't justified for the proposed use of the computer

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My New Dream Win7 Machine!

After months of waiting, nursing my old, dying WinXP machine, I can finally order my new Win7 PC.
Here are the specs for the new machine, let me know what you think and anything I should add or remove. BTW, I went with Win7 Ultimate so that I could get the XP virtual machine compatibility mode. Take a look and see if you have any suggestions for things to add, change and/or remove.


Studio XPS 9000 Studio XPS 9000

Operating System Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate, 64bit, English

Studio XPS 9000 Intel® Core™ i7-950 Processor(8MB L3 Cache, 3.06GHz)

Memory 9GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz - 6 DIMMs

Keyboard Logitech Illuminated Keyboard

Monitor Dell 23 inch SP2309W Widescreen Flat Panel with Webcam

Video Card nVidia GeForce GTS 240 1024MB

Hard Drives 1.5TB Data Security RAID 1(2x1.5TB SATA 7200 RPM HDDs)

Media reader 17-in-1 Media Card Reader

Rear ports IEEE 1394a

RJ45 10/100/1000 Network port

Line-in connector

Front L/R line-out connector

Back L/R surround connector

Side L/R surround connector

Center/subwoofer connector

Microphone connector

USB 2.0 (4)


S/PDIF connector

HDMI ports

Front ports USB 2.0 (4)

15-in-1 Card Reader

Headphone port

Microphone / Line-in port

Mouse Logitech Performance Mouse MX - Dell only

Modem No Modem Option

Adobe Software Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 9.0 Multi-Language

Optical Drives Dual Drives: Blu-ray Disc (BD) Burner (Writes to DVD/CD/BD) and DVD+/-RW

Sound Card Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio

Speaker Dell AX510PA 10W Attached Speaker for Dell Flat Panel Monitors

Network Dell 1505 WLAN PCIe card with11n mini-Card & external antenna

Office Productivity

Software (Pre-Installed) Microsoft® Office Small Business 2007

Security Software Norton Internet Security™ 2009 Edition 15-months

Entertainment and Editing

Software Adobe® Acrobat® STANDARD 9.0

Entertainment and Editing

Software Adobe® Photoshop® Elements + Adobe® Premiere® Elements

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Microsoft/Danger Server Support Team

We've all talked about this guy...At Last....A Picture of Him.
Mujibar was trying to get a job in India .

The Personnel Manager said,
'Mujibar,you have passed all the tests, except one.

Unless you pass it
, you cannot qualify for this job.'

Mujibar said, 'I am ready.'

The manager said,

'Make a sentence using the words
Yellow, Pink, and Green .'

Mujibar thought for a few minutes and said,

'Mister manager, I am ready.'

The manager said, 'Go ahead.'

Mujibar said,

'The telephone goes
green, green, and I pink it up, and say, Yellow, this is Mujibar.'

Mujibar now works at a call center.

No doubt you have spoken about him.

I know I have.

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Shellfish Paella Risotto

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound hot or sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1.5 pound clams
  • 4 8-ounce bottles clam juice
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add sausage meat. Cook until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up with fork, about 5 minutes. Add clams and mussels. Increase heat to medium-high, cover and cook until shells open, about 5 minutes. Transfer clams and mussels to medium bowl, discarding any that do not open. Cover shellfish and keep warm.

Meanwhile, combine clam juice and saffron threads in small saucepan; bring mixture to simmer. Reduce heat to low; keep warm.

Add rice to same saucepan that clams and mussels were cooked in and stir 2 minutes over medium heat. Add dry white wine and cook until wine is evaporated, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Add warm clam juice mixture and simmer until rice is just tender and liquid is creamy, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.

Mix shrimp, peas and chopped tomatoes into risotto and cook until shrimp are just cooked through, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper. Top risotto with clams and mussels and serve immediately.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On my way back

Heading out to the airport to go back to NY Two days home and then back on the road to Arizona

Out of town

No recent posts since I'm traveling all over right now (see my speaking schedule in the Google Calendar side bar on the home page) and today I'm in LA getting ready to drop my daughter off at college.
Dr. Sister insisted on a new recipe so here we go:
Mother's Frosted Animals Cookies
You really don't want to know
Go to grocery store
Navigate to the cookie aisle
Pick out pink and white striped bag
Pay for the cookie
Open bag while in car and munch
Drive to gym and work out on treadmill 30 minutes for every cookie eaten.

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Chicken Parmesan Heros

For best results start these early in the day so that the crust has time to set up properly before cooking. Also if you're in a rush later on just use a good quality jarred marinara sauce instead of making your own.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in purée, puréed in a blender until smooth
  • 2 teaspoons <
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
  • 6 skinless boneless, skinless chicken thighs(2 lb total)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 ½s (from firm white sandwich bread), lightly toasted
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3 ounces)
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 (12-inch-long) loaves halved lengthwise I use Panera's rolls
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced, this is much easier to do if you freeze the cheese first

Make tomato sauce:
Heat olive oil in a 4— to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomato purée, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

Prepare chicken:
Gently pound chicken to ⅓-inch thickness between 2 sheets of plastic wrap using a flat meat pounder or a rolling pin. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir together flour, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl, then stir together bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano in another shallow bowl.

Dredge chicken slices in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg, letting excess drip off, and dredge in bread crumbs until evenly coated. Transfer chicken to sheets of wax paper, arranging slices in 1 layer.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then Fry chicken 3 pieces at a time, turning over once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.

Arrange bottom halves of bread loaves on a large baking sheet and tops on another large baking sheet, all with cut sides up. Spread ¼ cup tomato sauce on each top and bottom. Divide chicken between bottom halves. Top each (open-faced) sandwich with ¼ cup tomato sauce and one fourth of mozzarella.

Bake open-faced sandwiches in lower third of oven until cheese melts, about 3 minutes. When cheese begins to melt, put tops of loaves in upper third of oven and bake until edges are golden, 3 to 4 minutes (watch tops closely; they burn easily). Put tops on bottoms to make sandwiches, then slice into serving pieces.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Clams and Chorizo with Tomato and Garlic

This one expands well to serve more people. Just be sure to have lots of crusty bread to soak up the juices


2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 lb sweet or hot Spanish chorizo (spicy cured pork sausage), cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 (14-oz) cans stewed tomatoes
4 lb littleneck clams (2 inches in diameter), scrubbed
1 lb E-Z Peel shrimp with the shells still on - optional


Cook garlic and chorizo in oil in a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer, breaking up any large pieces. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes.
Stir in clams and cook, covered, over moderately high heat, stirring once, until clams open, 9 to 12 minutes. (Discard any that have not opened after 12 minutes.) If you're using the shrimp add when there's about 5 minutes to go. Serve immediately.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Frogmore Stew

Frogmore stew is a popular dish in the south that is very casual and often served poured out onto newspapers so that everyone can sit around the table and help themselves. If you have a large enough pot the recipe is expandable indefinitely so what I've listed below is the proportions for one person. Just expand as necessary.
N.B. Classic Frogmore Stew contains new potatoes so I've put that into the recipe but I don't like boiled potatoes so I normally leave them out.


Crab boil (I use Zatarains) enough to season enough water to cover everything you'll throw into the pot
Corn on the cob - 1.5 ears, broken into pieces
Potatoes - 2 new, cut into quarters
Clams - 4 littleneck or other steamer sized clam
Shrimp - 4 to 5 medium sized, Easy clean but leave the shells on
Sausage - Spicy precooked cut into 2 inch pieces (I use andouille but you can use any hot sausage you'd like, it just need to be precooked)
Crab claws - 2 in the shell, if you like crab and want to add them, just don't use lump crab meat or surimi (faux crabmeat)


Bring seasoned water to a rolling boil, add the potatoes & corn & boil until potatoes are tender & corn is almost done. Add sausage and clams and continue boiling until the clams open, discard any that don't open after 10 minutes. Add the rest of the seafood and boil just until the shrimp and, crab (if using) are done. Drain the stew, the broth really isn't edible. Pour the drained food out onto the table in front of everyone and enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

El computador...

A SPANISH Teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike

English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.
'House' for instance, is feminine: 'la casa..'
'Pencil,' however, is masculine: 'el lapiz.'

A student asked, 'What gender is 'computer'?'

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether computer'
should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men's group decided that 'computer' should definitely be of the feminine gender ('la computadora'), because:

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
  3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and
  4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.


The woman's group, however, concluded that computers should be Masculine ('el computador'), because:

  1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
  2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;
  3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Steve Jobs' Reported Liver Transplantation

N.B. The post is based on publicly available sources. I have not ever personally treated Mr. Jobs and have no access to his private medical records.
Several hours ago the Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Jobs underwent a liver transplantation approximately two months ago. This is somewhat consistent with my earlier posts about his condition, i.e. that the tumor had recurred and spread to his liver. At the time of my earlier posts I had come to understand that Mr. Jobs was not a candidate for transplantation for unspecified reasons. If the report is true, then this situation has obviously changed.
The reason for liver transplantation would be that the carcinoid tumor had spread SOLELY to his liver and that in the opinion of his physicians removal of the entire liver would be more likely to produce a cure, long term survival or improvement of overall medical condition than conventional medical treatment.
Liver transplantation becomes an option when the tumor is of a size or in a position where partial removal of the liver (the tumor containing portion) or treatment which is aimed at removing the tumor nodules only (freezing [cryoablation], heating [radio frequency ablation], hepatic artery embolization, hepatic artery chemotherapy) is failing or is not able to be performed. Contraindications (reasons against) to the transplantation would be that the tumor has spread outside the liver. The reason for this is that the treatment necessary to prevent liver rejection, immunosuppressive treatment, interferes with the body's natural ability to prevent tumor growth and therefore can cause other tumor metastases to grow. Transplantation is an accepted, but uncommon treatment for metastatic carcinod. The reason is that there is no, in the language of medical literature, prospective randomized trials (a study to compare the efficacy of transplantation vs. 'conventional' treatment where your treatment is determined by random choice) to demonstrate that this is an effective treatment. In reality due to the rarity of the condition it is unlikely that such a trial could ever be done.
That being said, if the reports are true and the transplantation is successful Mr. Jobs is highly likely to be able to return to a fully functional life style as long a he continues to comply with his physician's orders as to his treatment.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Sauteed Polenta with Sweet Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

For 1 recipe basic polenta, kept warm or cheat & use precooked polenta in a roll
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal or instant polenta

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus additional if necessary
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage links
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 1 pound), chopped coarse and tough stems discarded
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • a 28- to 32-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Accompaniment: freshly grated Parmesan

On a lightly oiled baking sheet spread warm polenta about 3/4 thick and cool to room temperature. Polenta may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

In a large non-stick skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown sausage. Add water and cook sausage, covered, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook mixture until any remaining water is evaporated. Transfer sausage with tongs to a bowl and reserve fat remaining in skillet. Cool sausage slightly and slice diagonally.

Cut polenta into 1 1/2-inch diamond shapes or squares. In skillet sauté polenta in 2 batches in reserved fat over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, adding additional oil to skillet if necessary, until golden on both sides. Transfer polenta as cooked with a slotted spoon to bowl with sausage and cover.

In skillet heat remaining tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté broccoli rabe with salt to taste, stirring, until just wilted. Add garlic paste and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring, until tomato paste is incorporated and sauce is slightly thickened. Add sausage and polenta and cook until heated through.

Serve polenta sprinkled with Parmesan.

To make basic polenta:
In a heavy saucepan bring water and salt to a boil and gradually whisk in cornmeal in a thin stream. Cook polenta over moderately low heat (it should be barely boiling), stirring constantly, until very thick and pulls away from side of pan, about 40 minutes for cornmeal and about 15 minutes for instant polenta. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm. Stir polenta just before using. Polenta will keep warm, covered, about 20 minutes. Makes about 3 cups.

Note: In the traditional method of cooking polenta, forty minutes of constant stirring is required to achieve a lumpless texture and fragrant flavor. However, Italian-food expert Marcella Hazan has developed a method that involves very little stirring during this time. We believe it produces a very good polenta, one nearly as flavorful and smooth as the traditional procedure. To make satisfactory polenta in a real hurry, an imported instant polenta (precooked cornmeal) is available. This cooks in a mere fifteen minutes.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My latest jewelry finish

Many of you don't know but as a hobby I make chain maille jewelry out of sterling server.
This bracelet was made during the time I listened to Leo Laporte's Tech Guy broadcasts.

The design is called Celtic Strap and is made with two sizes of silver rings. None of the rings are welded but all are closed simply using 2 pairs of pliers in a technique called "butt maille" since the ends are just butted together.

This picture is actually a thumbnail, if you click on it it will open up full sized into a larger window.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Report from the TWit Army Mess Hall - Roasted Red Pepper Cole Slaw

Make this up at least 2 hours ahead of time to allow the flavors in the dressing to blend.


  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole red pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 whole red pepper, roasted and peeled (doing it yourself is better since the meat of the pepper will stay firmer than jarred roasted peppers)
  • 6 dill gherkins, thinly sliced (not the sweet ones) don't drain, save some of the juice
  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs. red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the vegetables together in a refrigerator safe bowl making sure to add the juice from the sliced gherkins to the bowl. Whisk together the last 3 ingredients, add more vinegar if you like a thinner dressing, and add to the vegetables. You probably won't need to add salt since the gherkins will make the dish salty enough.

Let let for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Server slightly chilled

Serves 6 as a side dish, also good as topping for hamburgers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Thai Chicken and Shrimp Noodle Salad

This is a great cold salad for warm summer evenings and can be made ahead and just assembled at the last minute


  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce* (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 2 tablespoons Asian sweet chili sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 9 ounces (250 grams) bean thread noodles**
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 12 cooked peeled deveined medium shrimp
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts (about 3 1/2 ounces), rinsed
  • 1/2 English hothouse cucumber, very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 red jalapeño chile with seeds, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted peanuts
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
*Available in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets and at Asian markets.
**Clear dried noodles (also known as cellophane or transparent noodles); available in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets and at Asian markets.


Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. DO AHEAD Dressing can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Place noodles in another large bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand until softened, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool; drain well. Insert scissors into noodles; cut several times. Transfer to bowl with dressing.

Add tomatoes and all remaining ingredients, except peanuts and lime wedges, to noodles; toss to coat.

Divide among 6 plates. Sprinkle with peanuts; garnish with lime wedges.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Moroccan Chicken with Green Olives and Lemons


  • 2 Meyer lemons or regular lemons if you can't find the Meyers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 4 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed or 4 pounds of bone-in skin off chicken pieces such as breasts and thighs
  • 1/2 cup green olives

Cut 1 lemon into 8 wedges. Squeeze enough juice from second lemon to measure 2 tablespoons; set wedges and juice aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper; sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add next 5 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Add lemon wedges. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter. Add olives and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to skillet. Increase heat to high; boil uncovered to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over chicken.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Barrel Chain Necklace

This is my latest piece of chainmaille jewelry I make.
The pattern is called Barrel Chain and is made with 16 gauge silver & copper rings.

A nice chain for necklaces but it does have a slight tendency to spiral.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dontations to the Great Neck South Robotic team for the FIRST Robotics Competition

If anyone is interested in making a donation to support the Great Neck South Robotics Team (AKA Rebellion) in their trip to the FIRST finals in Atlanta (the second time they're going in two years!). Anyone interested in learning more about the competition can go to

Please send the donation to the follow address:

Mr. John Motchkavitz (He's the head of the technology dept. and mentor of the team)
C/O Great Neck South High School
341 Lakeville Road
Great Neck, New York 11020

Please mark the contribution as for the support of the team.

All contributions will be posted on the robotics team website ( and corporate sponsors have the opportunity to have their logo placed directly on the robot where it can be seen. N.B. the finals will be webcast by NASA TV so any posted logos have the opportunity to be seen nation wide.

I am supporting this effort since my daughter is a member of this team and is, in fact, the safety captain. In the regionals she won the Safety Captain award and we are very proud of her and the rest of her team's accomplishments. The team is trying hard to raise the rest of the funds required for the trip but, unfortunately, the 3 weeks time period between finding out that they were going to the nationals and the date they need to leave does not give much time for the usually cookie sale/car wash fund raising.

Thank you in advance for your reading of this post.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Violet Show's computer's capacity, or more correctly incapacity

My Goodness, this is a GENUINE Win98 machine with a REAL Pentium Pro processor and a total RAM of 198 MB.

Isn't it nice to know that it's been optimized for performance.

Finally, the genuine "Plug and Pray" BIOS without any USB support.

HELP!! My iPod touch has more capacity than this

And now to the best part, It's BSOD'd twice already and on rebooting I get a bad partition error in one of the SEVEN partitions of this 15 Gig hard drive. AWK!!!! Someone pass me the sledge hammer please.

My state of the art computer center

I'm about to start the entries for the Long Island AVS yearly show. Note the Win98 machine with the "tiny" tower. If you hear an implosion around Rockville Centre it may be this old dinosaur giving up the ghost.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Classic Chicken Soup

Here's another recipe from my Passover Dinner (Seder) coming up next Thursday night.


  • 5 - 6 lbs of bone-in, skin-on meaty chicken parts such as thighs
  • 4 qts of cold water, the quality matters here, bottled may be better than fresh if your water is very hard
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 large onions, one peeled and quartered, one trimmed and quartered but left unpeeled (the peel is part of what colors the soup golden)
  • ½ lb parsnips, skinned and cut into chunks
  • Celery root about the size of a lemon cut into chunks, if you can't find celery root use 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 lb carrots, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 1 parsley root, scraped and cut into chunks
  • 1 parsnip root scraped and cut into chunks
  • 2 large leeks, washed well and white parts cut into pieces, save the green leaves for later
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf

Day 1:
Roast the chicken parts in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, save all the pan juices. Put the chicken, pan juices and water into a large kettle along with ½ tbl. of salt. Bring heat to medium and start simmering the soup. Here's where the work starts. You really need to spend a lot of time now skimming the soup until the broth is complete clear (Important, DO NOT LET THE SOUP BOIL or it will be cloudy forever). Add all the rest of the ingredients except for the leek leaves and continue to skim until there is absolutely no more scum. Now cover with the leek leaves (if you don't have enough use some romaine leaves also). Cover with the pot and let simmer for at least 6 hours but overnight is better. Use a crock pot at this point if you're not comfortable leaving an open flame all night.

Now you can taste the soup and add salt as needed. Remove the chicken and save the meat for other uses such as chicken salad. Remove as much of the vegetables as possible and then strain the soup through cheesecloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth to get as much of the soup out as possible.
Refrigerate the soup overnight and then skim any congealed fat.

Reheat the soup before serving.

N.B. You can make this up to 3 to 4 days before using, just keep it refrigerated until ready to heat and eat

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Roast Chicken with Dried Fruits and Almonds

Here's another recipe which can be used for Passover. Most can be done the day before and the just the actual roasting done on the day it's served. Serves 8, can be easily doubled.


  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 pounds onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound pitted prunes, halved
  • 12 ounces pitted dates, halved
  • 10 ounces dried apricot halves (about 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 (4- to 4 1/2-pound) chickens, rinsed, patted dry
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (or more) water
  • 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted

Heat 6 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until deep golden brown, about 30 minutes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer onions to large bowl; mix in prunes, dates, apricots, sugar, and cinnamon. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread fruit mixture over bottom of large roasting pan. Tuck chicken wing tips under. Rub each chicken with 1/2 tablespoon remaining olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper; place chickens, side by side, atop fruit mixture. Pour 11/2 cups water around chickens. Roast chickens 1 hour. Turn pan around; add more water to fruit mixture by 1/4 cupfuls if beginning to dry. Continue to roast chickens until brown and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 45 minutes.

Transfer chickens to carving board; let stand 10 minutes. Spoon fruit onto platter; top with chickens and any accumulated juices. Sprinkle with almonds and serve.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Cauliflower-Leek Kugel with Almond-Herb Crust

Here's another recipe which can be used for a Passover Seder besides being good you can do most of the prep early in the morning and then just do the final baking at the last minute.


  • 8 cups cauliflower florets (from 2 medium heads of cauliflower)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped leeks (white and pale green parts; from 3 large)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted matzo meal
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup almonds, toasted, chopped

Cook cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain; transfer to large bowl and mash coarsely with potato masher.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté until tender and just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add leek mixture to cauliflower. Mix in matzo meal. Beat eggs, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon dill, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend; stir into cauliflower mixture.

Brush 11x7-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil. Spread cauliflower mixture evenly in prepared dish. Mix almonds, remaining 7 tablespoons parsley, 7 tablespoons dill, and 2 tablespoons oil in medium bowl to blend. Sprinkle evenly over kugel. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake kugel uncovered until set in center and beginning to brown on top, about 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Mustard Seeds

Here's a good Brussels Sprout dish to take advantage of this early season vegi. The parboiling before sauteing help to remove the 'boiled cabbage' taste these can sometimes have. You can also do most of the prep the day before and the final cooking only takes about 20 minutes which makes this a good dish for Easter or Passover meals (N.B. in some Passover traditions, mustard is not allowed so check before you bring this as a dish to a Seder)

  • 4 teaspoons mustard seeds either light or dark, your choice
  • 2 1/2 pounds small Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, use olive oil if you're bringing this to a Seder where meat will be served. That will make the dish Parve (neither Meat nor Dairy)
  • 6 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Stir mustard seeds in small dry skillet over medium-low heat until seeds are lightly toasted and begin to pop, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool.

Cook Brussels sprouts in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Place in bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and cut in half. (Mustard seeds and Brussels sprouts can be made 1 day ahead. Store mustard seeds at room temperature. Wrap Brussels sprouts in paper towels; cover and chill.)

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender and golden, about 4 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and sauté until just tender and heated through, about 8 minutes. Add lemon juice, mustard, and mustard seeds; toss to blend. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Kasha Pilaf

Here's another recipe for the holidays (but only if you're Sephardic since Askanazi won't eat any type of grain over Passover)


* 1 cup Kasha, coarse granulation or whole grain
* 1 egg, beaten
* 2 cups chicken or beef broth or water, I usually match the liquid to what I'm cooking
* 2 tbl of oil
* 2 cups of mixed chopped vegis, I use onions, celery, and peppers but you can use whatever you want as long as they can stand up to sauteing without turning into mush. Mushrooms, green beans etc also work


Heat the oil in a saucepan which you have a close fitting lid for. Mix the kasha with the egg and cook in the oil until the egg is completely dry and the grains have separated, you don' t want to start this with a kasha & egg pancake. If you want to saute the vegis do it in a separate pan with a little oil or you can just add them raw at this point.

Add the liquid salt & pepper to taste. How much salt you'll use depends on how salty the liquid is. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes and check to see if all the liquid is absorbed, if not continue cooking covered until the kasha is moist but there is no free liquid. Remove from the heat, uncover and fluff with a fork before serving. Serve relatively soon, if it sits around uncovered it will dry out. This also doesn't reheat really well but you can use leftovers the next day for a 'fried rice' type of dish in the same way you can use leftover rice.

Serves 4

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - How to make fluffy matzo balls

Matzo balls are considered by many to be an integral part of the passover holiday. Depending on your preferences and family history (how your mother & grandmother made their matzo balls) you may like 'floaters' (light fluffy balls) or 'sinkers' (dense, heavy balls).
My preference has always been floaters & over the years I've tried many, many methods to produce them. Some of the techniques have included adding club soda to the dough or, the most sure fire, using shallow soup plates.

All of the techniques seem to rely on one common ingredient, make sure that there is air incorporated into the matzo ball dough. This makes sense and explains how the club soda works. Personally, I think that club soda or seltzer adds too much salt to the dough so I don't use that. That said here's how I make my 'floaters'.

I just use a standard Passover style matzo ball mix (regular matzo ball mix may have leaven in it so you can't use it for Passover). I prepare the mix according to package directions but there here's where I vary.

1) I ALWAYS make the dough the day before & let it rest in the refrigerator overnight, this allows for the maximum hydration of the matzo meal & make the dough very cold which is important for the next step

2) I use a cookie scoop, medium size to scoop out dough balls & once scooped handle them the minimum amount possible. This keeps the dough cold & prevents squeezing out any air bubbles present in the dough. Don't make the balls any bigger than a small walnut, if they are much bigger the outer part of the dumpling with get soggy before the inner part is completely cooked.

3) Cook the matzo balls in boiling hot soup or extra broth. Keep the soup boiling & don't add so many dough balls that it will cool off. This, IMHO is the most important step, the high heat of the soup serves to heat the air bubbles trapped in the dough expand and makes the matzo balls fluffy.

4) Get the dumplings out of the soup when cooked and put aside in a covered bowl until ready to reheat for dinner. If you leave them soaking in the soup, like a sponge they will get sodden with soup an sink.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Korean BBQ

This is what Korean BBQ looks like before we put it on the table to wrap up in lettuce leaves.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hysterical Happy Dance Continues

Bragging rights here. Our daughter has now been accepted into 4 colleges! Right now she's in:
  • UC San Diego - Revelle College
  • USC
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic
  • University of Colorado - Boulder Campus
We're still waiting on UCLA, Berkeley, and a few others but this has been great news!

Latest update:
As of 6 pm EDT today, UC Santa Barbara is also a YES!!!!!

W00t! She's now a Sun Goddess being chased by a buffalo ridden by a Trojan, hitting a hockey puck (Renssalaer's mascot is Mr. Puck Man) at a Gaucho!

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Sauted Scallops with Cherry Tomatoes, Green Onions, and Parsley


  • 1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops, side muscles removed, I use frozen but be sure that they are completely thawed
  • Fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt, not regular table salt you need the large grains for this dish to work
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 large green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
  • 1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild Spanish paprika (pimentn dulce)* or Hungarian sweet paprika


Rinse and drain scallops; pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops; sauté until browned outside and just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to plate; cover. Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet; add white parts of green onions and sauté until almost tender, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and green parts of onions and sauté until tomatoes begin to burst and release juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons parsley, lemon juice, and paprika. Return scallops and any accumulated juices to skillet and stir just until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer scallop mixture to platter. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley.

This is good to serve with rice or a pasta like orzo to soak up the juices.

Serves 4

Friday, March 13, 2009

Recipe from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Baked ziti with three cheeses

This is a variation on lasagna which uses ziti noodles instead.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 12 ounces freshly cooked ziti or other tubular pasta
  • Optional - 1 lb of Italian sausage casings removed & crumbled


Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. If you're using the sausage, add it at this point and cook until done. Add onion, garlic and fennel seeds (omit the fennel if you've added sausage) and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, water, oregano and sage. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Romano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 9x13-inch glass baking dish. In medium bowl combine ricotta cheese and egg. Reserve 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese for topping. Add remaining mozzarella to ricotta cheese mixture and blend. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread 1/4 of tomato sauce over bottom of prepared dish. Layer 1/3 of pasta over. Drop half of ricotta cheese mixture over by spoonfuls. Spread 1/4 of sauce over. Repeat layering with another 1/3 of pasta, remaining cheese mixture, 1/4 of sauce and remaining pasta. Spread remaining sauce over and sprinkle with reserved mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Cover casserole and bake until heated through, about 40 minutes.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Recipes from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Spicy Chicken Paella

Here's a good way to use up leftover chicken or turkey. If you don't have enough leftovers you can 'nuke' some dark meat poultry (it has more flavor than white meat) to make up the difference. It's not a 'real' paella in the sense that it's made up in a classic paella pan over an on a stove top but it's still very good


  • 12 ounces spicy smoked sausage (such as linguiça, andouille, or hot links), cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup garlic-flavored olive oil, you can 'fake' this by adding a chopped garlic clove to the pan when you heat the oil (that's what I do sometimes)
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 4 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 4 large plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups cooked leftover turkey, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup frozen peas


Preheat oven to 350°F. Brown sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat olive oil in 6 1/2-quart pot over medium-high heat. This is a big pot and will look to large at the start but you need the space for the rice to expand and to create a 'dutch oven' effect. Add onions and cook until golden, stirring often, about 12 minutes. Add bell pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in rice and saffron, then next 5 ingredients. IMPORTANT, do not stir the dish after this point. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 15 minutes. Add sausage, turkey, and peas to rice mixture. Bake paella 10 minutes and serve.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recipes from the TWiT Army Mess Hall - Garlicky Black-Pepper Shrimp and Black-Eyed Peas

For black-eyed peas:
  • 4 bacon slices
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 2 (15-ounces) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

For shrimp:
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine


Black-eyed peas:
Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until browned but not crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate, then tear into small pieces.

Cook scallions, carrot, celery, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, red-pepper flakes, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in fat in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are pale golden, about 10 minutes. Add black-eyed peas and broth and simmer 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Make shrimp:
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Season shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook shrimp with garlic, stirring occasionally, until just opaque (shrimp will not be fully cooked), about 3 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil, then briskly simmer 2 minutes. Add bacon and black-eyed-pea mixture and simmer until just heated through (mixture will be juicy). Discard bay leaves.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Chicken Pie, Moroccan Style

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup chopped golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Phyllo Crust:
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons powdered (confectioner's) sugar, you can't substitute regular sugar for this
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 sheets (about 17x12 inches) fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed you can find this in most well stocked groceries
  • 1/2 cup (about) unsalted butter, melted (for brushing)


For filling:
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Mix in cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and saffron; stir 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to simmer. Sprinkle chicken with salt; add to broth mixture. Gently simmer chicken uncovered until cooked through, reducing heat if necessary to prevent boiling, about 20 minutes. Stir in raisins. Set skillet aside until chicken is cool enough to handle.

Transfer chicken to plate. Shred chicken coarsely or you can just cut it into 1 inch chunks, and return to skillet. If sauce is thin, simmer over medium heat until sauce coats chicken thickly. Stir in cilantro and parsley. Season filling with salt and pepper. Cool filling completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.

For phyllo:
Finely grind almonds, powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, and cinnamon in mini processor.

Stack 10 phyllo sheets on work surface. Invert 9-inch glass pie dish onto stack. Cut around dish through phyllo, making ten 10-inch rounds. Remove dish. Cover rounds with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel.

Brush same pie dish with melted butter. Place 1 phyllo round on work surface; brush with butter and sprinkle with scant 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with another phyllo round, brush with butter and sprinkle with scant 1 tablespoon almonds. Repeat stacking with 3 more phyllo rounds, butter, and almonds. Fit phyllo stack into prepared pie dish. Brush with butter. Spoon filling evenly over. Place 1 phyllo round on work surface. Brush with butter and sprinkle with scant 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with another phyllo round, brush with butter and sprinkle with scant 1 tablespoon almonds. Repeat with 2 phyllo rounds, butter, and almonds. Place stack atop filling; top with remaining phyllo round. Tuck in edges. Drizzle more butter over top. Cut 4 slits through top phyllo stack to allow steam to escape. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet. Bake uncovered until phyllo is golden and filling is heated through, about 40 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Cut into wedges.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Fish & Pesto Packets

Here's a simple, low calorie, low carb, low fat meal that tasty & effortless to repair


  • 1 lb firm fish fillets like cod
  • 1 green or yellow zucchini sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, try not to use the sweet ones
  • 8 asparagus spears
  • 1/2 c. kalamata olives, pitted & halved
  • 4 tbls (about a 1/4 cup). of your favorite pesto, I use a garlic based one


Prepare 4 foil sheets by tearing them into 12" squares. Spray with a non-stick cooking spray & set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cut the fish into 4 even pieces & place in the center of the foil squares. Spread the fish with a tbl of the pesto and the evenly distribute the vegetables & olives on top of the 4 fish pieces. Fold the foil packets to cover everything and roll the top tightly to seal. Don't miss this step or the juices will leak out the packs & the fish will dry out.

Bake in oven for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick the fish fillets are.

Place the packs on everyone's plate & let them open them at the table. Just be careful when you open them, there may be a puff of steam when they are opened.

Serves 4

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Chicken Kiev


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning chicken
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning chicken
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 large whole eggs, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 cups Japanese bread crumbs (panko), plus 1/4 cup for filling
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


Combine butter, parsley, tarragon, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, you'll probably need a hand mixer to make sure this is blended well. Place mixture on plastic wrap or waxed paper and roll into small log; place in freezer. Do not skip this step, this butter must be firm or this will never work. N.B. This seasoned butter is also good for steak & if wrapped air tight will keep for several months so it may be worth your while to make a large amount and freeze it for further use.

Place chicken breasts, 1 at a time, between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Squirt chicken lightly with water and squirt the top of the plastic wrap as well. Pound to no less than 1/8-inch thickness. Don't try and skip this step, you need the thin pieces for this to work. Also, don't use the thin chicken scallops which are available they aren't large enough to work. Season each piece of chicken with salt and pepper.

Lay 1 chicken breast on a new piece of plastic wrap and place 1/4 of the compound butter and 1 tablespoon bread crumbs in the center of each breast. Using the plastic wrap to assist, fold in ends of breast and roll breast into a log, completely enclosing the butter; roll very tightly. Repeat with each breast. Place chicken in refrigerator for 2 hours, or up to overnight.

Place egg and water mixture in 1 pie pan and 2 cups of panko on a piece of foil with the edges turned up to form a shallow pan.

Heat 1/2-inch of vegetable oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat until oil reaches 375 degrees F. That's shimmering but not smoking.

Dip each breast in the egg mixture and then roll in the bread crumbs. Gently place each breast in oil, sealed-side down, and cook until golden brown, approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove to a cooling rack set in sheet pan and allow to drain for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Woz's picture the CU Boulder

Here's a shot of the Woz's plaque in the CU Boulder hall of fame

Monday, February 16, 2009

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Blackout Cake

Cake: (ingredients listed are per layer) so for 2 layers double this, for 3 triple etc.

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 egg, graded "large", beaten to mix
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Frosting: This will cover a 2 layer cake with some to spare
  • 6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 14 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup pulp-free orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed
  • 3 Tbsp. water

For Cake: You'll need at least three layers, or three times the recipe given since 1 layer will be crumbled for covering the frosting of the cake. If you have only two 9 inch layer pans that are 2 inches deep, you may want to make two layers the night before you assemble the cake. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease pans, then line bottoms with cooking parchment paper cut to fit or silicone sheets, grease liner, and dust the entire inside lightly with flour, knocking out any excess. Set aside.

In small, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot, combine buttermilk and butter. Place over low heat, stirring often, until butter is melted. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. When buttermilk mixture is lukewarm, add it to the beaten egg and vanilla; with fork, beat to mix well. All at once, add liquid to sifted dry ingredients. With whisk, stir until dry ingredients are moistened, then beat until well-mixed and smooth (a few small lumps are OK). Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pan. Holding pan with both hands, tilt slightly so that batter runs up sides of pan a bit. From a height of about 3 inches above a flat surface, drop filled pan three times (this helps to distribute air bubbles evenly--don't hold the pan too high above the flat surface!). If you're too scared to do this then you can run a fork through the batter several times but it doesn't work as well.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center emerges with a few moist crumbs still clinging to it. Do not overbake, if you do this cake will be dry as sawdust. Cool in pan 10 to 15 minutes. Gently loosen cake from edges of pan; invert onto cooling rack. Gently peel wax paper from bottom of layer, then re-invert to cool right side up. Cool completely before frosting or storing.

For Frosting: In large, heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolates and butter. Set over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and hot water; set aside near stovetop. You can also use the top bowl of a double boiler (if you have one) for this step.

In one quart heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, i.e. not aluminum, combine eggs, sugar, and salt. By hand, beat thoroughly to combine well. Add orange juice, then water, beating to mix after each addition. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 170 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from heat.You have to use a candy thermometer for this since your actually making a fondant type of icing & if not cooked to a high enough temperature this will just be a runny mess. Contrawise if you cook it too high you'll end up with scrambled eggs.

Quickly strain about one-quarter of hot egg mixture into melted chocolate mixture and whisk well to combine. Gradually strain remaining hot egg mixture into chocolate mixture, whisking to mix after each addition. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl periodically with rubber spatula to ensure thorough blending. Cool slightly, then chill. Whisk occasionally until frosting begins to thicken, then scrape bowl sides and bottom with rubber spatula and whisk frequently until frosting is of spreading consistency. (Alternatively, place bowl of frosting into larger, shallower pan half full of ice and cold water. Whisk frequently; scrape bottom and sides of bowl often. This method is much quicker, but the frosting must be watched carefully, as it can harden before you know it.) When ready, frosting will have thickened considerably, and it will hold soft peaks (just like a meringue or whipped cream) when the whisk is lifted from it.

Important note: while frosting chills (beforehand, if you're using the quick-chilling ice-and- water method), prepare the cake layers, as they should be ready for assembly when the frosting is. If necessary, trim tops of layers so they are flat. Using a large, sharp, serrated knife, carefully halve each layer horizontally (this will give you six thin layers). Use one thin layer, the top half of one of the original three you baked, to make the crumbs for the outside of the cake. To do this, pull the thin layer into very small pieces with a fork and/or your fingers (because the cake is so dense and moist, the resulting small pieces will look better than they would if you tried to actually crumble the cake). Place these very small pieces into a bowl, and cover airtight. Cover the remaining thin layers so they won't dry out. Get a serving plate ready; you'll need a plate with a flat portion in the center at least 9-1/2 inches in diameter.

When the frosting is ready, place a dab of it in the center of the serving plate. Place what was originally the top half of one of the three layers you baked, cut side up, onto the serving plate, on top of the dab of frosting. Spread about 1/2 cup of the frosting onto the cut surface, spreading it just to the edges. Place the bottom half of this original layer, cut side down, on top of the frosting, and spread it with another 1/2 cup of frosting, just to the edges. Repeat. At this point, you'll have one thin layer of cake left, the bottom half of one of the original three you baked. Place this, cut side down, on top of the cake. Press gently, and straighten the sides if necessary. Frost sides and top with remaining frosting.

With your fingers, pick up some of the cake "crumbs" you made earlier. Flatten your hand so it's just slightly cupped, and pat crumbs onto the side of the cake. Some crumbs will fall onto the serving plate--that's OK, just pick them up and re-apply them. Put the crumbs on randomly, but spread them out as evenly as possible; the entire cake surface won't be covered with them. Save some crumbs to pat onto the top of the cake. Chill cake about 30 minutes. If necessary, use your hands to gently re-shape the sides. Chill until cold before covering tightly. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

To cut, you'll need a large, sharp knife. Cut thin slices, as this is quite rich. Store in refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to three days, or freeze.

At least 12 servings

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Dinner

Went out for dinner tonight, cheese fondue with all the fixings and for dessert, flaming chocolate fondue! It comes with bits of fruit & cake to dip along with 2 marshmallows to toast while the fondue is still flaming.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Spicy Suffed Cabbage

By substituting shredded cabbage for the traditional rice in stuffed cabbage rolls the carb load on these rolls goes down significantly. If you want to lower it further (at some loss of flavor) replace the last cup of tomato sauce with one cup of low sodium chicken or beef broth.
The recipe comes from the Prudhomme Family Cookbook, an Amazon link to the book is at the end of the recipe.


2.5 tsp of salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

3 lbs of cabbage (you'll need to have at least 6 to 8 'perfect' leaves for the rolls), shred the rest until you have at least 2 cups of finely shredded cabbage, you can use more if you want & really like cabbage
4 tbls of sweet butter (you can substitute olive oil but the taste will suffer)
2 c. chopped onions
3/4 to 1 lb of ground beef
1 c. beef or chicken stock
2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce (I HATE it that now the larger cans are 15 oz instead of 16 ozs.)
1 c. chopped green peppers
1/2 c. chopped green onions, the green part
1/4 c. chopped celery
2 tbl chopped parsley, fresh
1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic


Mix seasonings & put aside.
Take those 6 - 8 perfect leaves, trim off the tough stems & steam or parboil until tender enough to roll up (will take about 5 - 10 minutes or so). Drain them & put aside.

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tbls & 1 tsp of butter, add the onions & saute until very well browned, this will take about 10 minutes. Remove the onions, add the beef & cook until done. Remove the beef and mix with the onions. Pour the fat (butter & drippings) from the pan & only put back 2 tbls (this is what the extra butter is for, if the beef is very lean you may need to add some extra butter to get up to 2 tbls). Add the cabbage and cook until it wilts. you'll need to keep stirring or the bottom layer will burn before the top wilts. Add everything except for 1 cup of the tomato sauce (you'll add 1 cup at this time) to the cabbage and cook until almost all the liquid evaporates. The mixture shouldn't have much liquid left in the pot but if you let it go completely dry things will start to burn. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Take the pot from the heat. You can stop now for about 3 hours if you want to do this prep earlier & make the rolls later.

Now for the fun & messy part, take each cabbage leaf & fill it with about 1/2 c. of the mixture. Fold, roll or somehow cover the filling with the cabbage leaf & place seam side down in a baking pan, the pan has to be tight enough to hold the rolls with no room between them or they will come apart during the final baking,(a 9 x 9 foil pan works well) if you're really worried about having 'perfect' rolls then you can secure them with toothpicks or kitchen twine, just remove them before serving. Pour on the last cup of tomato sauce (here's where you can sub the broth but don't omit some liquid or the rolls will burn). Cover with foil, making sure that foil stays clear of the rolls & bake in a 425 degree oven until extremely tender, about 1.5 hours.


Serves 4 figuring 1.5 rolls per person

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Here comes dessert!

If you can believe it after that sandwich he's plowing through that entire piece of cheesecake.

A Simple Sandwich @ the Carnegie Deli

This is a typical sandwich served at the Carnegie Deli. My 15 year old son ate one & still wants dessert!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Crawfish Etouffee

This is Paul Prudhomme's classic recipe a link to the book on Amazon is at the end of the recipe

Seasoning Mix:
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 c. chopped onions
1/4 c. chopped celery
1/4 c. chopped green peppers
7 tbl vegetable oil
3/4 c. flour, unsifted
3 c. shrimp stock (if unavailable use chicken stock)
2 sticks of sweet butter
2 lbs of crawfish (you can substitute shrimp if you can't get crawfish)
1 c. finely chopped green onions

Mix seasoning together & put aside.
Put vegis in a bowl and set aside

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and cook the flour into a roux, cook until a very dark red brown but don't let it burn.

Removed from heat, stir in vegis & 1 tbl of the seasoning mix. Stir until cool & then set aside.

Bring 2 c. of the stock to a boil. Slowly add the cooled roux and stir until completely dissolved. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat & set aside to cool.

1 a large saucepan melt one stick of butter & saute the seafood & green onions for 1 minute. Add the rest of the butter, stock/roux mixture and the rest of the stock. Stir on medium heat until the rest of the butter is melted, add the rest of the seasoning.

Serve over the rice.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Getting my caloric needs measured

This strange device is an indirect calorimeter made by CosMed Pulmonary Function Equipment which measures oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production. It's used to measure the caloric needs of people to assure that they are getting adequate nutrition while ill and also to help guide people in healthy weight loss. It's not as uncomfortable as it looks but does take some getting used to. According to the machine I need about 2100 kcals/day which isn't too bad.

I don't care what this says I really, really needed those bignets at Cafe du Monde this morning even if they did constitute 150% of my daily caloric needs

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Math Logic

Here is a little something someone sent me that is indisputable mathematical logic. (It also made me Laugh Out Loud.) This comes from 2 math teachers with a combined total of 70 yrs. experience.
This is a strictly mathematical goes like this:

What makes 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%.. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these


is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.

H-A- R-D-W-O-R-K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

K-N-O-W- L-E-D-G-E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, look how far ass kissing will take you.
1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while Hard work and
Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, it's the
Bullshit and Ass Kissing that will put you over the top.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is just a modification of the classic, Ruth Wakefield (original owner of the Toll House where these cookies were supposed to have originated) recipe. Since I make them for bake sales, where some of the people may have nut allergies I've omitted the walnuts and added dried cherries instead.
Ideally the dough should be made the day before and allowed to rest in the refrigerator overnight but if you're in a rush you can skip that step.


2 sticks of sweet, not salted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. brown sugar (your preference of light or dark) packed
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 c. UNSIFTED flour
1 tsp baking soda, dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
2 c. chocolate chips
2 c. dried fruits, I use dried cherries or sometimes I'll mix cherries and craisins (dried cranberries but you can use whatever you want. However if the fruit is sugar coated I'd rinse off the extra sugar.
Optional 2 c. broken walnut pieces instead of the fruit. If you want both you'll need to cut both fruit & nuts back to 1 c. each or you won't have enough dough.

1 hour before baking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, arranging the racks to divide the oven up into thirds. If you only have one cookie sheet use the upper rack.

In a stand mixer cream the butter, (if desperate you can use a hand mixer or spoon but you'd better have very strong arms). Add the salt, vanilla and sugars, again beat well. Beat in the eggs. Now add 1/2 of the flour beating only until incorporated, add the baking soda and water, then the rest of the flour. This will be a relatively stiff dough. Now add the chips and dried fruit, you may need to let the dough warm up a bit to be soft enough to mix in the goodies.

Now refrigerate the dough overnight, skip this step if you're in a rush. When you're ready to bake take the dough out of the refrigerator, wet your hands and roll the dough into balls about the size of large walnuts. Drop them only cookies sheets lined with foil or parchment paper and bake in 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes until they are brown and crispy. This recipe is NOT supposed to make chewy cookies but crisp ones. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for about a minute until they firm and move to a cooling rack until completly cool.


Recipes from the Twit Army Mess Hall - Mussels, Clams and Shrimp with Saffron Risotto and Green Olive Relish

Don't skip on the olive relish you really need the taste from the lemon peel, parsley & olives to complete this dish.

Finished Risotto

Olive Relish
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted brine-cured green olives
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2teaspoons grated lemon peel

  • 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 cup arborio (sometimes labeled risotto) rice or medium-grain white rice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 20 mussels, scrubbed, debearded
  • 12 little neck clams, scrubbed
  • 12 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact, if you peel them your self save the shells
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes, I use roma but you can use any type you like as long as they aren't the 'sweet' type
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions


Olive Relish
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 2 hours for the flavors to blend.


Bring stock and saffron to simmer in medium saucepan, if you kept the shrimp shells add them to the stock & simmer until the shells turn pink (This step adds some extra oomph to the stock). Remove from heat, remove the shells, if used, and cover to keep warm.

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots; saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add rice and garlic; stir 1 minute. Add white wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup saffron stock and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining stock 1/2 cup at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is cooked halfway, about 10 minutes. Do not try and short on this step, if you add all the stock at once it won't absorb properly and you'll have a soupy mess instead of risotto. Add clam juice, mussels, little neck clams, shrimp and chopped tomatoes. Cover and simmer until rice is tender, mussels and clams open, shrimp are cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes (discard any mussels and clams that do not open). Divide seafood and saffron risotto equally among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with sliced green onions. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve, passing Green Olive Relish separately.