Saturday, September 30, 2006

So Eat Dessert First . . .

So, based on that cheery little post above this one, here are two desserts you can enjoy prior to the general demise of humanity, and one very nice light supper dish as well:

Colonial Chocolate Cake:

1. Mix together 1 1/4 c. flour, 2 c. sugar, 3/4 c. cocoa, 2 t. baking soda, 1 t. baking powder, 1 t. salt.

2. Add into dry ingredients 2 eggs, 1 c. strong black coffee or espresso, 1 c. buttermilk OR 1 c. milk + 1 T vinegar, 1/2 c. vegetable oil, 1 t. vanilla.

3. Beat mix 2 minutes at medium speed with electric mixer; divide between 2 greased & floured cake pans; bake at 350 40 min., remove from oven and cool.

4. Mix 1 21 oz. can cherry pie filling, 2 T. Kirsch, and 2 T. sugar; chill in freezer or refrigerator til very thick.

5. Whip 1 1/2 c. whipping cream and 1/4 c. powdered sugar til very thick - you may want to use extra cream.

6. Place one layer of cake on cake plate, frost sides with cream, making a small wall on the sides; add 1 c. filling and spread; place second layer on top; frost sides with more cream, again making a wall; put rest of filling on top.

7. Chill at least one hour before serving.

NB - you may want to use an extra cup of cream with an extra 3 T. sugar - I find that the amount of cream doesn't go far enough, especially if you want to use a pastry tube to decorate it.

Carrot Cake:

1. In a large bowl beat with electric mixer 4 eggs for 5 minutes til thick and lemon color; beat in 1 1/2 c. vegetable oil, then 2 c. sugar.

2. In another bowl mix 2 c. flour, 2 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, 2 t. cinnamon; fold into mix, and then add 1 c. finely chopped pecans and 3 c. grated carrot.

3. Fold into 2 9" floured and greased cake pans and bake at 350 for 35 min. til cake pulls away from sides of pan.

4. Cool on racks and make frosting of: 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 stick butter; beat this together then add 2 c. powdered sugar, 2 t. vanilla. Frost the cake and serve.

It looks nice to decorate it with whole pecans on top.

Seafood Quiche:

Mix together 4 eggs, 3/4 c. milk, 3/4 c. half and half, a big dash of salt, 2 seven oz. cans of crab, drained, 1 1/2 c. shredded swiss cheese, and 1/2 c. finely chopped onions that you've gently sauted for 5 minutes in 2 T. butter.

Meanwhile, bake for 5 min. at 400 a 9" oven ready pie shell.

Remove and add mix to shell - place on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mmmmm, YUM!!!!!

This is a photo a student sent me who was one of the members of the group I led to Florence last winter, and well golly-gosh-darn all that prosciutto looked so delicious I just had to post it. Despite the political screeds I am, after all, Homo EDAXXXXX!!!!!


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Lamb

1. Split and roast 2 orange or yellow peppers for about 25-30 min. at 350.

2. Meantime, chop 1 large can of tomatoes (or use 2 lbs. fresh skinned ones), and put in the bottom of a large (8/9 x 13) roasting dish.

3. Saute in 3 T olive oil 2 yellow onions til golden. Mix in half the onion with the tomatoes.

4. Throw in 1-1.5 lb. lamb with the onion and fry up.

5. Meantime, boil up 3/4-1 c. orzo.

6. When the lamb is cooked add salt, pepper, and 1-2 t. dried dill.

7. Drain and add in the orzo.

8. Take the peppers out of the oven, place on top of the tomato/onion mixture, and then add in the lamb/orzo mix, stuffing it in the peppers gently with a spoon, adding extra on top.

9. Cover with foil and roast 25 min.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Love the Smell of

Corruption in the Morning . . . .

"I've watched your career with fascination Sejanus. It's been a revelation to me how a small mind allied to limitless ambition can destroy a nation full of clever men. I've seen how frail is the structure of civilization before the onslaught of a gust of really bad breath. But you're not the disease, no, we must look elsewhere for that; you're merely the stench, the putrefaction that comes after death . . . You're a lesson in history Sejanus, that above all else, mankind still needs . . . its sense . . . of smellllllll!!!!!!"

- Asinius Gallus to Aelius Sejanus, "I, Claudius", BBC, 1976


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Marinated Pork Loin

1. Mix together 2 T. dijon mustard, 2 T. olive oil, 1 t. crushed rosemary, and 2 cloves crushed garlic.

2. Spread on a pork loin of about 2-2.5 lbs.

3. Add some salt and pepper and roast 50 minutes at 350-375 (depending on whether or not your oven runs hot or cold). Check the temperature with a meat thermometer and roast a bit longer if need be (the temperature should register 150 degrees and no more, since the meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven).

4. Let the meat stand 10 minutes.

5. You can now serve it hot, or marinate it and serve it cold (which I prefer).

6. The marinade: mix 3 T. each olive oil, lemon juice, and water with 1/4 c. dijon and 2 T. capers.

7. Pour onto pork which you should slice as thinly as possible and arrange attractively onto a platter and refrigerate about 2-3 hrs.

8. I like to serve it with hot rolls and butter (makes a great sandwich). You can make it a day in advance - just be aware that it is better at room temperature than chilled too much.

Your guests will ask for the recipe and your neighbors break down your doors - especially if you serve it with a fine wine - white or red will do, but I prefer white. For years this has been our staple "do-ahead" dish so that my girlfriend and I can enjoy an elegant dinner when we get home late from the opera or theater.

Ah, fine living!

Mangia bene!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Genius in the Design . . .

by Jake Morrisey is an excellent and highly readable historical yarn that discusses the parallel careers of Bernini and Borromini, two of the greatest architects (and in the case of Bernini, a sculptor second only to Michelangelo) to ever put pen to draftman's table.

Anyone planning a trip to Rome needs to read this fascinating story.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A [Bleepin'] Men

Click this link for the transcript and press launch if you want to hear it.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Una "Posta" Periculosa . . .

E allora, troppo periculosa per me tradurre nel inglese, quindi usero un misto (un pasticccio) di lingue.

Sto pensando sul questo anniversario del nove undici di un pezzo di ironia. L'ironia di videre sul film del regista Moore (si chiama nove undici) i pezzi di rifuiti per l'aria durante la destruzione delle torri gemelle durante l'attaco di quello giorno.

Ricordo della festa quasi essatamente dieci anni prima a New York, dopo la cosidetta guerra con i iraquesi per la cosidetta liberazione di Kuwait. Anche poi, per la festa c'erano pezzi di nastri per l'aria per i nostri soldati. Quello giorno e stato per molte persone un giorno per festeggiare, senza pensiero sul "autostrade della morte" da Kuwait City al Iraq.

In fatti, nella mente colletiva degli Stati Uniti, l'autostrade della morte non esista. I gratocieli destrutti a Beirut non esistono. I palazzi destrutti nella Gaza non esistono.

Abbiamo visto un gioco del dio orribile, crudele. I nastri nel millenovecentonovantuno. I nastri nel duemiliauno.

Erodoto senza dubbio oggi sorride. Quanto tempo possiamo sotto quello sorrisso vivere?

Con cuore pessante questo nove undici,


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ah yes, the racoon . . . glad you asked!

HE found a recipe online which appears to have worked reasonably well if last night is any indication. It called for boiling a yellow onion, 1 jalepeno, and 1 T. cayene in 2 liters of water for 20 minutes, straining it, and then spraying it on your fruit. That appears to have done the trick, but I also added an extra hot habnero pepper which is supposed to pack a punch. It easily washes off the fruit too - except that you need to reapply it after rain.

Estote bene, bonum laborem facite, et dicite "Salve!" mihi!


Dinner and Dessert! Two New Recipes for Your Eating Pleasure!

Beef Stewed in Red Wine with Onions

1. Cut up into 1 inch chunks a 2.5-3 lbs chuck roast (trim the fat).

2. Put in a large sealable plastic kitchen bag (support in a bowl if necessary).

3. Mix into the bag 1 bottle dry red wine, 2 medium onions halved and sliced lengthwise, 1 t. fresh chopped thyme, 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs of fresh parsley, 1 carrot thinly sliced, and a heavy pinch (1/2 t.) of salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Gently mix by hand.

4. Marinate 16-24 hours.

5. Drain the beef in a colander (discard the onions, carrot, etc), reserve the liquid in a bowl; sautee the beef in an oven proof casserole pan a little bit at a time in two or three batches (with 2-3 T. vegetable oil), removing each batch on a plate after it’s browned.

6. Throw in 2 cloves of chopped garlic and 2 large chopped shallots, and briefly cook, then add 2 T. flour and thoroughly cook.

7. Add the marinade juices (wine, etc.), and stir well with the flour mix.

8. Add in the beef, put a lid on it, and simmer it.

9. Meanwhile, chop 6 oz. thick sliced bacon and sautee in a separate skillet. Add the bacon to the beef, but reserve the bacon fat.

10. Braise the beef in the oven for an hour and a half.

11. Meanwhile, blanch a 1 lb. bag of frozen pearl onions in boiling water for a minute or two; drain, add to the bacon fat, and cook until golden. Then pour off any excess fat and add ¼ c. water, scraping up any brown bits.

12. After the meat has braised for 1.5 hours, add the onions and ½ t. each salt and pepper.

13. Cook another half hour in the oven.

14. Serve with buttered noodles and parsley on the side.

Pear Tart Tatin

1. Mix together 2 c. flour, 1 t. salt, and cut in 1 c. butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal.

2. Add in 1 egg yolk and 2 T. water. Mix with a fork into a ball and refrigerate about an hour.

3. Now peal 4-6 medium/large pears and core the fruit. Place in a bowl with some lemon juice and set aside.

4. In a 10 inch oven proof skillet, melt ¾ c. sugar over medium low heat. When sugar starts to melt stir until a pale gold and most sugar is melted. Take off heat momentarily.

5. Place pears in pan cut side up, round sides in sugar, with the narrow ends towards the center of the pan. Place remaining pears in center and top fruit with 4 T. chopped butter.

6. Cook 15-20 minutes over medium heat until the sugar is a deep carmel color.

7. While the fruit is simmering, remove dough from fridge to soften it, and then roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a disk of about 11 inches – you may only want to use half the dough for this.

8. When the fruit is finished cooking, place the rolled dough over the pan and tuck down the edges.

9. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes (or until the crust is golden brown) and remove and let sit 10 minutes.

10. Cut around the edges with a knife and invert the pan onto a large plate. This need to be done with great care, skill, and dexterity.

Cut and serve with whipped cream.

The pure flavors of the fruit, carmalized sugar, and butter, make this a stupendous dessert, and the pears can be substituted with all manner of fruit, such as apples or peaches.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tex-Mex Salad

Mix together 1 can of black-eyed peas, drained, 2-3 chopped avacados, 2 chopped and skinned roasted red peppers (or substitute 1 small jar pemientoes), 3 ears of sweet corn with the kernels cut off (boil beforehand), 1 large chopped tomato, 1/2 c. olive oil, a splash of white or red wine vinegar, and 1 t. cumin.

Mmmm - Tex-Mex fur that great south 'o th' border flavur!


Speak well of the dead . . .

or the ghost of Mssr. Irwin will take revenge. Yes, gardening is a humbling activity, and HE has been laid low. It is not a lone gunman on a grassy knoll taking aim at my figs. Apparently it is a clan of raccoons, for I went outside this morning and there they were once again. Half eaten figs dangling from the trees, with empty prosciutto wrappings and wine bottles left behind by the devilish creatures.

Oh well - at least they know how to live.


Coming Next: Why my personalized plate on my MINI reads LIVEBIG.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Body of Il Duce . . .

Mussolini's Body and the Fortunes of Italy, written by Sergio Luzzatto is what I am currently reading. It is an excellent window into the history of WWII in Italy. I especially recommend it to students who have been on or are expecting to take CLAS308 at some point. It will give you an excellent window into the modern history of Italy and into some of the divisions in Italy we see between the north and the south.

Perhaps most interestingly, today Italy, contrary to the U.S., has something resembling a civilization. This makes the book all the more interesting to read, because that civilization is not always so civil (which civilization is, though?) The capacity for barbarism among a people as dynamic, as robust, as generally gentle, kind and congenial as the Italians are, and as fond of fine living as any people around (we - and they - do not refer to La Bella Vita for nothing), is actually quite staggering. Indeed, it is fair to say that it is as frightening as the capacity of a people who produce a Bach, a Mozart, a Beethoven, a Kant, to produce a Hitler, a Goering, a Himmler.

I do not say it is puzzling though. Given the darkness of which humanity is capable, the puzzle is that the production of such creatures is not a perennial event amongst all societies. Arguably we've done a good job churning them out for the past 60 years or so in varying degrees that range from apethetically complicit to actively vicious (though a society rarely sees or admits the evils that emanate from itself).

If you are interested in this issue - and I think you'd have to be dead from the neck up not to be interested in the concept and subject of Evil in the modern world, then two books I highly HIGHLY recommend are Hannah Arendt's famous work, Eichmann in Jerusalem, and Susan Neimann's book, Evil in Modern Philosophy (you may want to check on the spelling of her name).

Have fun, and enlarge your world!


Latro Captus Est!

The racoon has been captured. Even as I write I await the arrival of animal control for the removal and release of Ricky the Racoon.

I did get a stern warning from PG county animal control however. Apparently it is illegal to trap at night in Maryland for humane reasons.

Does animal control have any other idea, other than trapping at night, how to catch nocturnal creatures?

Oh nooooo - musn't keep dear ol' Rick in the cage overnight - might traumatize the poor thing. Hey, but keeping Muslim prisoners in iced cells, waterboarding, electro-shock and sexual humiliation - that's cool.

Can you spell Bizzaro World?


Sunday, September 03, 2006

The critter . . . .

eating my figs from the tree MUST DIE!


Opposum/Racoon SCUM!

Traps have been set. Pistols have been loaded. Bait has been laid. Guards have been set.

Tomorrow night we have critter for dinner. Critter fattened on my sweet sweet figs. Critter stewed and cooked in a boiling pot!



Skinny people are BORING!!!!!!!

Hey, can't WAIT to be accused of racism, or weightism, or whatever!!!!! But I find it extremely irritating as a fat man (NOTE: I prefer to think of myself as "a person of weight" OR "the portly challenged" OR one of the "people of chub") that just because edgy close up shots of lean super models who look like thy have a diet of caffeine and amphetimines are published all over Vanity Fair that they somehow have it over me.


Let me tell you something about my cellulite, gut and love handles. They have history and are far more interesting than any damn super model.

The fat in my thighs? From pro secco on a balcony in Rome. Tubby tush? Deep fried seafood and ouzo on the beach at Mykonos. Mash potato arms? Apple fritters soaked in grappa I had on a farm in Tuscnay. Two inch spare tire? Tiramasu, affetati di caccia, Frascati, saltimbocca, coda in vino con pomodori, gnudi con pere in crema, fiori di zuccha, zuppa di pesce in Pompeii, plates of lamb in El Djem, dolmathes in Athens, stuffed rabbit in Civitella, and on and on and on.

You get the picture. Fat has history and a story to tell. Be fat. Be interesting.

"Antonius! Let me have about me men that are fat. Sleek headed men and such men as sleep o'er the nights. Yond Cassius hath a lean and hungry look." - The Bard.

'Nuf said.


Saturday, September 02, 2006


(as the grim reaper gesticulates with his boney hand).

If you don't get the reference to the reaper, then I'm sorry for you because it means you've never seen one of the funniest movies of all time!

Anyway, onto the mousse:

1. Mix 1/4 c. water and 1 pack knox gelatin. Let stand a couple of minutes. Add 1/2 c. boiling water, dissolve gelatin.

2. Mix 1/2 c. mayo, 1/2 t. tabasco sauce, 1 T. lemon juice, 1 T. grated onion, 1/4 t. paprika, 1/2 t. salt in a food processor.

3. Mix in the gelatin and water with the mayo mix and blend.

4. Refrigerate until it's the consistency of egg whites.

5. Drain and flake a 14.5 oz can of salmon - bones, skin and all.

6. When the mayo mix is ready put the salmon and mayo mix in a food processor and blend til smooth.

7. Beat 1/2 c. whipping cream. Fold into the salmon mix in a separate bowl.

8. Place the mousse either into a mould or into a bowl, chill and serve.