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exponentiation ezine: issue [2.0:culture]

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"Chicken and Forty Cloves"

This is simultaneously the easiest and best dish you could ever cook.
It requires one pan (more or less), it makes one of the lesser
utilized cuts of chicken shine, fills your home with an absolutely
heavenly aroma, and the flavour is incomparable. You will never have
better chicken in your life, unless of course you brine the chicken
first, which carries this dish right over the top.

1 dozen chicken thighs skin removed, or one whole chicken, split into
eight pieces
Salt and pepper
3/4 to 1C extra virgin olive oil, plus three tablespoons
40 peeled cloves of garlic (this amount can be reduced serviceably to
ten if you feel squeamish, but it is traditional to use forty)
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
6 bay leaves

Optional ingredients: halved Yukon Gold potatoes, cored quarters of
apple or pear, whole peeled shallots, chili peppers, olives, grapes

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Season the chicken very liberally with salt and pepper, and toss
with three tablespoons of olive oil. Brown these pieces in a hot
skillet over high heat until caramelized all over.

3. Add the chicken to a casserole dish large enough to accommodate the
chicken in one layer, and scatter the garlic and herbs over top. This
is also where you would add any of the optional ingredients mentioned
above. Add the remaining oil, cover tightly and bake for one and a
half hours.

4. Allow to cool slightly before consuming, as you have basically just
finished slowly deep-frying the chicken; it will be quite hot. You can
stir some of the poached garlic into mashed potatoes, and the
resulting oil can be used in any application requiring that a
flavorful fat be incorporated - salad dressings, sauteeing meats and
vegetables, pastas, etc.  - hieronymous botch



In philosophy, we often deal with abstract notions, which prompts a
desire for something tangible, perhaps even soft and easily
digestible, causing us to desire a simple but delicious recipe such as
the following. It is based on the ancient Italian food "gnocchi," or
potato-flour dumplings, which may have even been served to such
luminaries as Virgil and Marcus Aurelius.


2 lbs potatoes (bonus for sticky ones like Yukon Gold)
1 tsp ocean salt
1/2 stick butter
1 tbsp cracked pepper
1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Boil these potatoes gently; you don't want to roast the damn things
into tastelessness. This usually takes an hour on medium heat, but can
be done in a half hour on high if you rotate them so they do not burn.
When they're boiled, set them aside to cool, then peel them and mash
them into paste.

Slice butter into small saucepan, add pepper, and melt. Pour into the
potato mash and knead thoroughly. Form a small "mountain" of the
resulting greasy substrate, and poke in the top so that it creates a
cup. Beat egg and dump into this cup, then follow up with salt. Knead
this mixture.

Surround this mound with flour on a clean surface, then dump the
required flour into it and knead. It will gradually take on a doughy
texture; massage this into a uniform consistent and then divide it
into four equal parts. With your clean hands, roll these over flour,
adding more if the mixture is sticky (potatoes vary in consistent with
ethnicity, breed, season and shelf life).

Roll each part into a rope about one inch in diameter, and then cut
into one inch pieces. You can imprint these with a fork to give them
the "classic gnocchi look." Boil water and drop these in carefully,
stirring water to avoid their sticking to the bottom of the pot and
resulting carbonization.

When done, serve with shredded parmesan cheese and/or tomato sauce.
Here's a quick tomato sauce recipe.


24 oz crushed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 tbsp olive oil or 1 tsp olive oil and 1 pat butter
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp oregano, dry
1/2 tbsp basil, dry
1 tbsp vinegar

Fresh ingredients work even better than what is listed above, but most
of you have oregano and basil in your spice cabinets (if not, consider
it; the first thing the FBI will check to make sure you're a loyal
American is your spice collection). Put a saucepan on the stove, chuck
in your oils, crushed peeled garlic, and red pepper. Simmer on medium
and add finely chopped onion.

Cover, adding water if the mixture is dry, and uncover only when onion
is visibly carmelized (shiny, translucent). Dump in vinegar and tomato
puree, then stir in spices. Cook for another five minutes on medium
and you've got a quick and dirty sauce. You can add green peppers or
other vegetables for texture and flavor, but they will take longer to

Gnocchians and sauce should serve 4-8 people, depending on size,
ethnicity, season and shelf life. Most philosophers tend to favor this
dish with red wine. - vijay


"Parsnip and Arugula 'Tagliatelle'"

This is a great vegetarian dish to serve to anyone still braindead
enough to disregard all sensible nutritional advice to the contrary
and follow the Atkins diet. Makes a killer side dish to heartier
meat-oriented fare, as well.

1 bunch arugula, cleaned and hard stems removed
3-4 medium size parsnips, outer layer peeled
1 medium sized carrot
1 green zucchini
1 C cooked or canned white beans, drained
1/2 C Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp wine vinegar, the kind does not matter (sherry is particularly
nice though)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp chili flakes

1. Using a mandolin or hand peeler, shave thin lengthwise strips of
the parsnips, carrots and the zucchini until no more decent
"tagliatelle" can be peeled.

2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the olive
oil, and begin sautéing the onion for two minutes.

3. Add the carrots and parsnips, and continue to sauté briskly for
another minute. Then add the zucchini, and season this mixture with
the salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Allow 1-2 minutes for this mixture
to reduce in volume and cook through.

4. Add the white beans, arugula leaves and the vinegar, toss
everything together, and cook just long enough for the leaves to wilt.
Serve immediately.

You can go wild and add any fresh herbs you have handy to this; I
wouldn't recommend rosemary unless it's used very sparingly, but
anything else would work. - blaphbee


"Mediterranean Cornucopia"

This is a take-off on the legend of the Horn of Plenty, one I serve in
my restaurant as a side dish to meat-oriented dishes, or else as a
dish of its own with other small accompaniments. It never fails to win
them over.

For the pastry cornucopia:

1-2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry (depending on size) a
six-to-seven inch wide soup bowl four six-to-seven inch wide circles
of thin cardboard (old cereal boxes work great for this)
aluminum foil
aerosol spray fat

For the ratatouille:

extra virgin olive oil
8oz of canned whole tomatoes, roughly crushed by hand
2 medium white onions, diced 
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
A healthy pinch of saffron
3 red and 3 green bell peppers, diced 1/4" pieces
1 large eggplant, diced 1/4"
2 green and 2 yellow zucchini, diced 1/4"

Possible additions to the ratatouille: halved olives, artichoke
hearts, mushrooms, etc.

1. Take the cardboard circles, and grab an exacto knife. Find the
center of each circle, and cut a radius on all four. Fold these
circles around so that you end up with four distinct cone-shapes, each
with a 3-4 inch wide mouth. Seal this with two staples across the
overlapping seam. Take some tin foil and cover the outside of the
cones over tightly, and try to keep the foil as smooth as possible
(this will only benefit you in the long run). Spray these lightly with
the aerosol fat, and set aside on a baking sheet. Set your oven to

2. Roll out the puff pastry to an eighth of an inch thickness, and set
the bowl mouth over it so that you can either end up with four circles
of pastry per sheet, or two circles, depending on the size of the
sheets. Cut around the circumference with a knife. Once done, cut out
one quarter of the pastry circle, and drape these circles lightly over
the foil cones (the top of the cones could puncture the pastry, which
isn't necessarily bad, but be careful all the same), and smooth the
wrinkles in the dough out so that a homogenous exterior surface is
achieved. Spray the outside of the cones with fat, and place in the
middle of the oven for 14-17 minutes - this may take longer or shorter
depending on the unreliability of your oven. You're looking for a
golden brown, puffed appearance. If you wish, spray the scraps of puff
pastry you have left with the fat, lightly sprinkle on some sugar and
bake along with the cornucopias for about the same time, for a snack
while you prepare the rest of the meal. Once they're out, give them
two minutes before you attempt removal from the cones (this can be
tricky, but the necessary technique is to lightly hold the pastry
itself while gently twisting the cardboard slightly. It will
eventually give way. You will appreciate the care you took in
smoothing the foil at this stage, I'm sure). Set these aside until you
plate the meal.

3. The ratatouille: Put a medium soup pot on high heat, and a medium
sauté pan on high heat (Non stick sauté pans work tremendously well
here). Add two tbsp of the olive oil to the pot, and add the onion and
garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté these for five minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and saffron and a touch more salt (not much),
and lower the heat to medium low. Simmer this concoction for twenty
minutes. Once the pot is turned down, take the by now smoking pan and
add 2 tbsp of oil. Add the zucchini BY ITSELF, season with S&P, and
sauté quickly for two minutes, stirring the whole while. Don't let the
heat scare you. After two minutes, these should be just cooked
through. Remove from the pan, and place it back on the heat until it
smokes again. Repeat the process with the peppers, and then again with
the eggplant (however, you will find that the eggplant absorbs all the
oil immediately - just keep adding oil so that it sautés, instead of
dryly burning.).

4. Once all this is done, combine the sautéed vegetables with the
sauce, and remove from the heat. When ready to serve, hold the pastry
in your hand with a towel, just in case any hot liquid splashes, and
spoon in enough filling to come to level with the opening. Place one
on each plate so that the cornucopia rests on it's side, and the
ratatouille spills out onto the plate. Repeat for the rest of the
plates, and spoon the remaining ratatouille on top of what's already
spilling out so that it looks as though it truly is filled to
bursting. Garnish as you wish, with a sprig of rosemary, an edible
flower, anything at all.

Serve with simple roast chicken, grilled lamb, or for that special
vegetarian in your life. - blaphbee
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