Re: Take One Fire, Add Meat


Stew, just not in the summer.

Or a roast chicken with lots of vegetables put into the roasting pan.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 12:32 PM
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This is tragic. The consequences of seduction cooking have been omitted.

You end up like me, cooking for three kids. Forget that spontaneity and quality and wine stuff: you're reduced to trying to make a meal that will simultaneously make happy the teenaged boy who wants nothing but mounds of red meat, the girl who thinks she's a vegetarian but chicken is OK as long as there aren't any of those icky 'spices' on it, and the kid who gags if two different kinds of food accidentally touch one another on the plate. I used to think I was a decent cook (and my wife thought so, too), but twenty years of catering to the lowest common denominator has demolished my skills.

Posted by: PZ Myers | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 12:49 PM
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Only a hoity-toity liberal elitist would call that minimal preparation. Ramen Pride with hot dog chunks, baby. That's the ticket.

nutritious [...] not depressing.

Oh. Never mind.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 12:53 PM
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That's *way* too many ingredients. The key here is to find dishes that look impressive, but are in fact childishly simple and require minimal forethought. Ideally the ratio of effort to perceived sophistication should asymptotically approach zero. On this note: never neglect the power of a good cheese plate. You do literally nothing, it tastes great, and you seem like a worldly person of substance and continental refinement. If one must cook, however, here are two recipes for incompetents who are entertaining:

Steamed Artichoke w/Lemon Butter

Advantage: Looks cool, relatively rare and thus connotes sophistication, is tasty.

Downsides: Need relatively good artichokes.

Can you screw it up? Only with great effort

Ingredients: Artichoke, lemon, butter, garlic

Implements: scissors, big steaming pot, saucepan

How to:

1. Remove bottom-most leaves of artichokes, and clip off tips of remaining leaves with scissors

2. Wash artichokes

3. Steam artichokes (fill big steamer with water, but artichokes one steam tray above)

4. While artichokes are steaming. Prepare lemon butter.

5. slice/crush garlic. Put in pan with butter to be melted. Melt butter with garlic. Add lemon juice

6. Artichokes are done when you can pull off an outer (or mid-outer leaf), and scrape the sweet, sweet flesh off the bottom with your teeth.

7. Serve with lemon butter in fancy ramekins (you pull off the leaves, dip in lemon butter, then eat postage stamp style. Don't eat the fibrous thistles near the heart. Rather, scoop out with spoon, and then eat the heart with a knife and fork.

Sesame-Soy Pan-Grilled Salmon

Advantages: You have make fish, voila, you

Downsides: Quality of fish is key: this means money. Bite the bullet and go to Whole Foods.

Can you screw it up? Alas, yes. But after doing it twice, you should be golden.

Ingredients: Salmon, soy sauce, sesame seeds, olive oil (wasabe optional)

Implements: knife, large non-stick frying pan, large baking dish

How to:

1. Buy a largish salmon filet.

2. Wash the salmon, shave off any white fat deposits. Keep the skin on.

3. Put a cap of olive oil in large non-stick frying pan, and set in to heat on high

4. Coat salmon with soy sauce (also good, soy/wasabi mixture). Don't go crazy on the amount of soy.

5. Fill largish pie/baknig dish with a thin, uniform layer of sesame seeds

6. Place salmon skin side up (flesh side down) into the pie dish, leave it for about 3 minutes. The pan should now be hot, and the flesh side of the filet should be covered with a thin, even crust of sesame seeds

7. Put salmon, skin side down onto frying pan, turn heat to medium.

8. Now you're in a stage which requires actual judgment. Or as quasi-cooks call it "a world of hurt." You must avoid a) undercooking the salmon (leaving raw bits in the middle) b) overcooking the salmon. Advice, leave the salmon skin side down for about 5 minutes, then flip to skin side up and cover (maybe on a touch lower heat) for 7 minutes. Ideally, this should leave you with a golden, crispy sesame crust, and a moist, thoroughly cooked filet beneath. Usually this will take less time than you think. And of course, undercooking is much more reversible (low heat, covered) than overcooking.

9. Serve, perhaps with a side of sautéed swiss chard.

10. Score like Gretzsky

Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 3:38 PM
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Good stuff, baa.

The lentils aren't a seduction plate; that's just to keep a guy fed. But I like to make stuff, and the more complicated, the more interesting, though I might change my tune when it actually matters.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 3:48 PM
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Fish is very, very easy. Baking, pan frying: both simple, both good. Go for the flavorful fish (Salmon, trout, artic char, tilapia) first, and you'll hardly have to worry about sauces. 15 minutes and you've got dinner that makes you feel like a genuine adult person.

Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 5:02 PM
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Alas, I won't cook fish at home: can't stand the smell (don't tell me about mild...). And if I'm going to have meat, it'll be steak. Still, I'm sure it's good advice!

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 5:07 PM
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Oh, and PZ, let's not blame the tool: the price of seduction simpliciter has always been high--at least if a guy learns to cook, he can survive alone.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 5:13 PM
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geez, i love cooking, and those are nice recipies, but if these are simple plates for you guys, it must take you 3 days to make something fancy.

here are some of my staples:

1. scrounge for vegetables in fridge. Onions, garlic, (it's a vegetable if you eat the cloves whole!) peppers, mushrooms, and squashes are normal for me. If you want a bit nicer, blanch some green beens and then add them, too.

2. Toss everything in a hot cast-iron pan with some lube (butter, your favorite oil, though I'd only use extra virgin olive if you like your veges mostly raw)

3. add spices to your taste. I like cavendar's greek, not bad for a bought mix. Adding a squirt of lemon would also work well.

Goes with:

1. Sausage. Use same pan. Or cook in oven while you prepare the veges. If you're going to Whole Foods, they make some excellent sausages. Wrap it in aluminum foil with a little beer and salt for a quick braise.

2. Rice. I like it sushi-style.

3. Noodles.

4. Macaroni and Cheese.

Another method of quick cooking is grilling, actually. It takes all of 2 minutes to fire up the grill, and everything tastes good off the least to me. Same vegetables as a above work, plus corn, chilis, and any chicken, steak, or fish filets. (and you won't have to worry about that "fish smell" in your house.) Following ben's advice, increase the sophistication of your grilled steak by adding some melted Roquefort. (not sure i spelled that correctly) Or enhance your salmon with some thai peanut marinade. (no real need to marinade...this stuff's delicious. just rub it on)

The outdoor grilled food can look quite attractive if arranged right. As an appetizer throw a little french bread on the grill to toast it, and dip it in a mix of olive oil, balsamic, and basil.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 5:41 PM
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Risotto can also be an easy one-pot (ok, two, but one of the pots just holds hot broth) meal, and it's delicious. It can also be tarted up fairly easily, is widely perceived to be more difficult to make than it is, and, even if you don't add very much butter and cheese at the end (though why wouldn't you?) it can have a fatty mouthfeel.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 5:55 PM
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"Lube," Michael?

You know Ben W., I love to make risotto, but I don't get the easy part. Done properly, risotto is more work than anything else I make: prep work aside, it's about 40 minutes of constant stirring.

"Mouthfeel," Ben? Working for the fast food industry now?

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 5:58 PM
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Also, why would you want to put anything with a strong flavor on salmon, unless it was ass salmon? Just ask Ray: good salmon hardly needs anything added to it. (OTOH, I've evolved a ridiculously byzantine method of preparing it, so who am I to talk?)

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 5:58 PM
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Lies! Soy is a delicate flavor, and gives the fish a pleasing tint!

Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 6:19 PM
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i know ben...salmon is probably my favorite fish. But, damnit, i love thai peanut. I admit to being a bit of a sauce freak. Of course, if you really love your salmon, raw's the way to go...

Thought of some more good grill items. (I really think the grill is an often overlooked method for preparing a quick meal) Bananas (put a couple of slits in the peel, blacken on all sides...really good if you haven't tried it) and Pineapples. I'm sure other fruits would work well, too. Maybe some melons...

Sausages are great too, I need hardly mention but I realize I forgot to above. Always remember to lube your sausage. I prefer neutral oils for this, the natural flavor is fine and doesn't need enhanced by flavorful lubes.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 6:50 PM
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If soy is a delicate flavor, then I wasn't addressing you, baa. Peanut sauce I think would be overpowering.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 6:50 PM
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I'm just suggesting what a person might do if they want to learn how to cook.

If you just want to seduce without the tiresome cooking apprenticeship, the cheese plate is your friend. Also, invest in figs. Fresh figs. Figs are the new strawberry.

Posted by: Lindsay Beyerstein | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 7:44 PM
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Sure, but how much fun is that?

I'm all for cheese plates (there's even been some cheese blogging around these parts), but in our increasingly diverse society, one does well to ask about lactose intolerance before inflicting cheese.

I hope you're right about figs. Love 'em. And they are in fact just next to strawberries at my local grocery, but some people really don't like figs. (Some people don't like strawberries either, but those people probably like Bill Laimbeer.)

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 8:34 PM
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Yeah, and you should play albums by Comus.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 8:36 PM
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I wonder how would Ogged's recipe would taste with wine? If the recipe is used at times to seduce, one would think that a touch of wine might help since it could induce courage in the seducer to seduce.

Posted by: Veiled | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 9:57 PM
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Good lord, it's just a big pile of brown lentils...not to be used for seduction. I don't think it even rates beer.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 7-04 10:00 PM
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Excellent seduction dish: roasted chicken. (1) It tastes good and makes the apartment smell appealingly homey. (2) It takes some effort but is robust to skilllessness. Thus it impresses but doesn't make you look too metro. (3) Recipes are all over the web. They're more or less equivalent.

True, it doesn't work for vegetarians, and many of the women I'm into are veggie.

Posted by: Bob | Link to this comment | 09- 8-04 3:11 PM
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impresses but doesn't make you look too metro

Christ amighty, there's an outer bound too?

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09- 8-04 3:13 PM
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(By the way, I chose lentils because I grabbed a table of the nutritional value of hundreds of ingredients from somewhere on the web, threw it into a database, and queried for foods that had some high percentage of their calories from protein, were low in fat, etc. Lentils and a couple of soy products carried the day.)

Such a nerd.

I still maintain that risotto is easy.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 04-12-05 10:59 AM
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