View Full Version : Something's missing

11-18-2007, 08:34 AM
I've read that there are more cookbooks published every year than any other genre. Yet there's no cookbook section here. I find that most intriguing.


11-18-2007, 09:06 AM
I'm sure that if there were a lot of cookbooks writers here and they requested one it may be provided. It just probably hasn't been something that's been brought up. Also, they may discuss that in the non-fiction section as well, but I'm not there much so I don't know.

11-18-2007, 09:39 AM
Now I'm hungry, too...


11-18-2007, 09:45 AM
What types of topics would you see covered in a cookbooks section?

11-18-2007, 09:57 AM
Beyond the usual various food types, presentation and food stories might be cool. A good example of this would be Caramel Knowledge by Al Sicherman.


11-18-2007, 10:01 AM
me wife and i are about to begin a cookbook project. i don't have any experiences/questions in the genre yet. but i'd love to see some hot cookbook action around here to learn from and answer my questions before i even have them (as ya'll are so good at doing in other areas).

in short, sounds good to me.

11-18-2007, 10:08 AM
I'm working on an Endangered Species Cookbook. So far I've got:

Whooping crane Newburgh
Ragout of Steller's Sea Lion
Refried California Condor
Black-footed ferret on a stick


11-18-2007, 10:10 AM
My wife is working on a cookbook that is based on various foods mentioned in the TV series, 'Momma's Family'. Themed cookbooks might be a good topic, too.

...And Blacbird, don't forget Spotted owl egg drop soup.


11-18-2007, 10:25 AM
ya'll are making me hungry. fried alligator tail just hasn't been as good since they took it off the list.

we're planning on pushing the regional thing. my lady's a vegetarian chef, ran the only vegetarian kitchen in mississippi for a while. mississippi consistently tops the nation in obesity and heart disease, so we're taking the health angle. she's got crazy good recipes for collards, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, biscuits and gravy, pot pies, cole slaw, mash potatoes, squash casserole ... good lord i'm hungry. maybe if i woke her up she'd whip up some biscuits and tomato gravy.

11-18-2007, 10:30 AM
I could be real cruel.

I posted a few recipes of my own on my now long-defunct blog. Here's one of them:


I do love to cook. I usually cook Italian dishes, though I do sometimes cook Tex-Mex and Chinese stuff as well. Tomorrow is the Lord's Day, and our church has a fellowship meal after worship on every first Sunday of the month. So, for the first time, I decided to make Calzones for the meal.

Now I learned Italian cooking from an 80-year-old, 300-pound Sicilian woman who went by the name, 'Mama Pietro'. She was never without a glass of red wine in her hand, and the phrase she spoke most often was, 'Shaddappi!" I worked in her restaurant for a couple of years, starting with sweeping the floors and eventually as a cook in her kitchen. So, I've been slapped in the face by Mama Pietro enough times to have an understanding of Italian cooking.

Now I made the Calzones tonight a bit differently than I usually do, and Toni was unable to stop eating them. "I can't eat another bite," she'd say as she started another mouthful. Mama (Toni's mom, Pat, who lives with us) was just as smitten by this Sicilian ambrosia. Toni suggested that I blog the recipe for these things, so that others may enjoy them.

This is not as easy as it would sound, as I have never cooked Italian food using a recipe. Mama Pietro didn't use them, as she taught me to cook by smell and feel. But, I'll try to relay here just how it is that I made these things. Please note that this is an all-day endeavor. I began cooking at 10 this morning, and just now finished (it's a little after 9pm), and I haven't even started to clean up yet. That will be another hour or two, as I destroyed the kitchen in the process. I always do.

Since these things take a long time to make, whether you make a few or truckloads of the things, I typically make tons of them at once and freeze them for later. We'll live off of the things for the next week or so. So, if you have a day to kill and a desire for some sinfully delicious grub, here's how I make...


1. The sauce

Note: Red sauce is art. An Italian cook is made or unmade by their sauces. Accept no substitutes!

A. Blanch, peel and de-seed about 10 pounds of tomatoes, and make about a gallon of tomato sauce. It's okay if you want to buy tomato sauce canned, but don't you dare buy pre-made red sauce. That junk isn't called 'Raw-Goo' for nothing.
B. Chop 4 large onions and toss them in.
C. Mince 30 or so cloves of garlic. Toss that in, too.
D. Mushrooms. Slice up a pound or so of them, and throw them into the fray.
E. Sliced black olives. About 7 oz. worth. Drain and throw into the pot.
F. A half a cup of so of a good red sherry cooking wine will help.
G. Celery salt. Add, ohh... I'd guess you could call it a tablespoon's worth.
H. Brown sugar. At least one cup. Maybe two. Uh, we'll call it a cup and a half.
I. Honey is nice. Drip in about two tablespoons worth, more or less.
J. Roma tomatoes. Chop about two pounds, and throw them in.
K. Pour in about a cup of extra virgin olive oil.
L. Pickled artichoke hearts need to be added. About two cups, drained, should do the trick.
M. Spices... you'll need oregano (fresh preferably), basil, rubbed sage, red pepper, black pepper, cilantro, thyme and savory. I shake until it looks right. I dunno just how much I put in of these, although I use more oregano and cilantro than I do the others. Don't be afraid to use the peppers. The total product will never be as spicy hot as the sauce is alone.

N. With all of this stuff in one helluva big pot, cover and bring it VERY slowly to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Use very low heat only. Don't rush this. Once the brew has been simmering for at least one hour, spice it to taste. You may wish to wait to add the spices until it is hot.

O. While the sauce is coming up, take one pound of hot Italian sausage, remove skins and brown light and loose. Once browned, do not drain. Pour whatever is in the skillet into the sauce.

P. Simmer this concoction for at least three hours, but the closer to six you are, the better. Sometimes I make the sauce the night before, and let it simmer overnight. I cannot stress enough to use the lowest heat setting on your range that you have, even to bring it up to a simmer. Trying to get it to a simmer too fast will cause the sauce to coagulate, and ruin the texture.

Q. Once it's cooked up and ready, remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Put it in the fridge if you have room, but I'd not suggest the freezer.

2. The dough

Note: Here's where I get silly. You can use a simple yeast dough, and it'll work. This dough, however, was compared to manna from heaven. Gee, I'm so humble...

A. Put 1 cup of warm water into a small bowl.
B. Add a dash of salt and about one tablespoon of brown sugar.
C. Add two heaping teaspoons of dry, active yeast (that's about what's in a packet, if that's what you've got).
D. Stir lightly to soften the yeast. Once it's all dissolved, cover it with a damp cloth and let it get real foamy (it takes about ten minutes).
E. In a big bowl, put ohh... I'd say three or three and a half cups of flour into it.
F. Once your yeast is ready, make a well or a hole in the flour that's in the big bowl. Into this well, add the following:
G. 1/2 cup brown sugar
H. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I. 1/4 cup crushed pineapple
J. twenty or so fennel seeds
K. about two tablespoons olive oil
L. 1/2 teaspoon crushed mint
M. 1 teaspoon (I think... I've never measured it, or most of this other stuff for that matter) cilantro
O. 1 teaspoon oregano
P. The yeast that is busily making a head of foam.
Q. Mix this stuff into a gooey mass. I always use my hands for this. It's messy and fun!
R. (I almost forgot what came after the letter Q... Gee, I am tired) Put this sticky mass onto a well-floured counter. Kneed, adding more flour, until the dough is stiff.
S. Pour olive oil over the dough, and rub it until coated. Place into a large bowl and cover with a cloth. Let it rise for about an hour, then punch it down. After another hour it should be ready.
T. If you made the amount of sauce that I laid out, you'll need five batches of dough to use up your sauce. I prefer to make the dough this way because I don't use a machine, and that much dough is simply hard to handle. If you want to quintuple the recipe, go for it.

3. Meats, cheese and such.

Note: Vegetarian is an Indian word meaning, 'lousy hunter'. You can substitute spinach for meats if you really have to, but don't say I didn't warn ya.

A. Brown two pounds of hot Italian sausage light and tight (skinned).
B. Coarse grate at least a pound of Mozzarella cheese. Be generous; for I am a cheesy kind of guy.
C. Grate fine a wedge of romano and a wedge of parmesian cheese.
D. If you like pepperoni, slice up a big stick of it. Slice thin.
E. Ham (also called Canadian bacon) is cool if you'd like. Slice it thin as well.

4. Letís put it all together!

Note: You need lots and lots of counter space. If you've got a small kitchen, set up a staging table, You'll need it.

I hope that you made five individual batches of dough. Otherwise, I'll have a hard time with this.

A. Take a batch of dough and cut into eight equal pieces. You can make six or even twelve (tonight I did the twelve thing) but we'll use eight for now 'cause it's easy math.
B. On a floured counter, press and roll dough into a round about 12" in diameter.
C. Put a couple of scoops of sauce into the center (note- this is why you want your sauce room temperature. if it's too hot, it will melt the dough and make assembly almost impossible)
D. Sprinkle some sausage over the sauce.
E. Add some slices of whatever other meat (if any) that you wish to add.
F. Sprinkle a dash of romano and parmesian cheese. Don't go overboard with these two cheeses, or else it will make the calzone taste too sour.
G. Liberally apply mozzarella.
H. Fold dough over the mass in the middle, leaving about a half of an inch to go.
I. Dab the lip of the dough that you just folded over with olive oil. You finger will do fine, no need to brush.
J. Fold the bottom dough over the lip, and press into place with the tines of a fork.
K. Place on a floured pizza stone or floured cookie sheet, if that's what you've got. Use flour, not non-stick spray.
L. Fill up the stone with the little buggers!
M. Fire up the oven to 425 degrees.

5. Cook 'em!

Note: With the sauce simmering and the calzones cooking, you house will smell heavenly. You may find neighbors knocking at your door that you have not yet met. Don't laugh, this has really happened to me.

A. In a small bowl, separate two eggs, and save the yolks. Give the whites to your cat, if you have one.
B. Add two or three tablespoons of water.
C. Mix well.
D. Brush this yolk mixture over the calzones. This will give them a golden brown look.
E. Lightly sprinkle the calzones with mozzarella cheese. I mean, really lightly. It's really just for looks.
F. When the oven is good and pre-heated, bake these little dudes for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. Eat these things!

Note: You will find yourself unable to stop eating, and could suffer spontaneous combustion. Be wary!

The calzones freeze well, and are ready to eat again after a minute or so in the nuker. It's a good thing, cause it's way too much trouble to go through for a one-night dinner.

...And so, there's my 'recipe' for calzones. Just be happy that I didn't give you my recipe for Lasagna.


11-18-2007, 10:52 AM
i mean, damn. that's some sweet zones. i'm gonna put the lady on that one, and, once again, i'll happily get drafted for the project. thanks and give my regards to mama pietro.

hey, i just had a genius idea. there should be a whole forum for this kind of stuff.

11-18-2007, 10:55 AM
my specialty is mexican, er, just beans, tortillas and salsa makes burritos really. i was taught the burrito arts by an icon not so different from mama pietro.

11-18-2007, 11:05 AM
Well, tell the tale! That sounds like a great way to get a cookbook going.


11-18-2007, 11:26 AM
now that you mention it, it would be a good way to get a cookbook going, if only i could write an entire cookbook about how i make burritos. maybe i could just fill it with pictures of rich, gooey salsa and piping piles of beans.

11-18-2007, 11:34 AM
Add some history of the burrito, stories of your burrito experiences, and a dash of incredible edible things you can do with them. Really great cookbooks have more than just recipes in them.


11-18-2007, 11:52 AM
hmmm, that's a thought. it would still be hard to pull off with one menu item. but i could drag it out, you know. first the recipe for the tortillas, which is essentially a recipe for baked flour ... but no. traditionally a lot of folks cook there totties over open flame (grill), and it wouldn't take a lot of hours in the kitchen to figure out a few different styles of totties.

so, start with a few tortilla recipes, some tottie history, personal tottie experiences, and then apply this format to the beans, guacamole, salsa and lastly, in a flurry of climax, the burrito!

fantastic. that's going in the tickler file. in fact, now i have a reason to make a tickler file.

11-19-2007, 10:14 AM
fantastic. that's going in the tickler file. in fact, now i have a reason to make a tickler file.

Might I suggest a French tickler file? It's a lot more fun when working with couples.


11-19-2007, 10:35 AM
cookbooks, theo, cookbooks. i don't know what other projects your working on, but do try to stay on course. i'm sure there's another thread somewhere loaded with inspiration for your *ahem* file.

11-19-2007, 10:40 AM
This would be something I'd be interested in, too. There's lots of "southern cooking" cookbooks on the market, but nothing so regional as "Coalfield Recipes", from the specific region where I live, as an homage to my history and culture.

I don't really know how to go about it; things like ratio of stories to actual recipes, the average number of recipes in a cookbook, etc...

I think it's a great idea!

11-20-2007, 05:17 AM
I'm listening. :)

I'm also inclined to be sympathetic, since I very much love to cook.

11-20-2007, 05:54 AM
Not a cook (at all) here but just wanted to chime in. The best cookbooks that my family has are the ones that teach and pass on more than just recipes. Things that have a neat bit of culture, or history, or little facts about the fruit, vegetable or meat...and besides, when you use that piece of extra information, and people ask you where you learned that, you get to do "viral marketing" and pass on the book name. So if you're doing polenta (palenta in Croatia), you can talk about how traditional Italian polenta is cooked in a copper pot. And you can add about how nearly every culture where corn was easily grown has a version of polenta and list the different names :D Presentation of cookbooks is important too, and expected audience, just like any other form of written word.

12-02-2007, 07:31 AM
Whelp, since I posted that calzone recipe, I couldn't get them out of my brain. So, the sauce is being brought to a simmer at this very moment. There are few smells in this world that can top this!