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Multiple ingredient, but simple dishes


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A recent popular thread (http://www.egullet.com/cgi-bin/topic.cgi?forum=3&topic=161) has seemed to focus on single-ingredient basic foods (Eggs, Milk, Butter), while some other threads have discussed dishes only slightly more complicated (Making home fries, Scrambling Eggs).

Since the single-ingredient thing has been so well covered, I'd like to focus more on those simple prepared dishes.  Perhaps even simpler than the two mentioned above, since those can actually be quite complicated.

What are those REALLY basic dishes which please you most?  For the sake of giving some direction, my definition of "basic" (arbitrarily for the purposes of this thread only) is that the item has MORE THAN ONE ingredient but no more than five, takes no elaborate equipment to prepare, and no more than ten minutes.  The ingredients themselves can be staples that are composites of other foods, but if so have to be commercially available in that form.

My two contributions to start off the list are chocolate milk and Peanut butter & Jelly sandwiches.

BTW:  if you want a very unusual experience visit a restaurant on Sullivan St in Greenwich Village, NYC called "Peanut Butter & Co."  While some will feel mortally offended to pay five or six dollars for a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich, its certainly a very very good Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich.

(Edited by jhlurie at 8:33 pm on Dec. 30, 2001)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Well, just on those two subjects (chocolate milk and PB & J) there is a lot to say. We probably need a separate thread for each. :)

Hot chocolate is another big one for me. Here's something I wrote awhile back that nobody ever read:

Hot chocolate should ooze. Those envelopes of grayish powder sold in supermarkets, emblazoned with their claims of fewer and fewer calories, are simply incapable of producing real hot chocolate. They provide, at best, chocolate-flavored water. They are the Snackwells, the Diet Coke, the Alpine Lace of hot chocolate. Impostors.

The French understand hot chocolate. Step into the legendary Angelina's on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris and you'll be presented with a cup of molten, creamy chocolate with the viscosity of hot wax. Take a sip and feel the warmth travel into your belly and radiate outward to your fingers, toes and ears, pushing winter away.

It begins with good chocolate. Real, solid, bittersweet chocolate; no powders or syrups. Valrhona, from France, is best, but Baker's (available in any supermarket) will do. Crumble four ounces into pea-sized bits, so it will melt evenly. Heat one cup of whole milk, one-quarter cup of heavy cream, and one-quarter cup of sugar in a small saucepan just until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir continuously until it is melted into a gooey cupful of liquid pleasure.

Water, needless to say, is not an ingredient.

To be sure, this will always be a rare indulgence. But one espresso-sized cup of real hot chocolate will do more to satisfy than a carton of those envelopes.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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As you said, a lot can be said about even just these first two items.  PB&J, for example, can include hundreds of variations based on only three (or occasionally four) ingredients.  Especially if you "fudge" a bit on the peanut butter half and include things like Almond Butter.  Peanut Butter & Company, for example, has a simple sandwich which is basically a combo of Marshmallow spread and a Chocolate-Hazelnut Butter.

Quote: from Fat Guy on 8:31 pm on Dec. 30, 2001

Heat one cup of whole milk, one-quarter cup of heavy cream, and one-quarter cup of sugar in a small saucepan just until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir continuously until it is melted into a gooey cupful of liquid pleasure.

Water, needless to say, is not an ingredient.

And I've never understood why if we insist on using milk for chocolate milk, why the same isn't true for hot chocolate.  At worst I've ocassionally used a 50% milk/water mix.  But most people are perfectly content to use water with a tiny bit of milk added on top.

(Edited by jhlurie at 9:01 pm on Dec. 30, 2001)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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All right, re: peanut butter. Toast black bread so it is seared on the outside but still soft. Butter (Normandy is always my preference) with cold butter so it is a bit uneven. To the edges of the toast, of course. Generous sweep of peanut butter (smooth). A few slices of a cheddar at least three years old. Add radish spouts, onion sprouts, or minced red or Spanish onion. Close sandwich. Press.

Jelly?

I don't think so.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I hate to say this, but Angelina's hot chocolate made me sick.  Well, so sick I almost couldn't finish my second bowl of soup at La Régalade that night.  It was the chocolate equivalent of drinking melted butter.  They should serve it in a shot glass;  unfortunately, you get a big mug.

There was an Amanda Hesser hot chocolate article in the Times a while back that included a recipe that I found to be a good middle ground between Angelina and Swiss Miss:

HOT CHOCOLATE

Time: 10 minutes

 

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Scharffen Berger cocoa

4 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon Demerara sugar

2 1/2 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate (70 to 75 percent cacao), broken into 1-inch squares or smaller

Large pinch kosher salt

5 cups whole milk.

1. In a small bowl, whisk cream with 1 teaspoon cocoa and 1/2 teaspoon sugar until it forms firm peaks. Set aside.

2. Using a fine grater, grate one 1-inch square of chocolate. Set aside.

3. In medium saucepan, combine 2.1 ounces chocolate, remaining cocoa and sugar, and salt and milk. (Reserve any leftover chocolate for another use.) Place mixture over medium heat; whisk gently. Once chocolate melts and cocoa dissolves into milk, raise heat to medium high; whisk more vigorously to form froth on surface. When mixture bubbles around edges and seems ready to boil, remove from heat. Do not let it boil. Ladle into 4 small cups with some froth on each. Spoon dollop of cocoa whipped cream on top, and sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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OK, how about mashed potato?

I love it and hate it. The variety of textures and flavours that chefs seem able to produce, quite independent of the underlying potato, is phenomenal.

I love the creamy yet chunky texture, but I hate the watery ultra-smooth.

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Speaking of mashed potato:  saute choped onion in oil or duck fat, till deliciously caramelized.  Drain boiled potatoes (reserve some water) and mash with the onions and fat.  If the potatoes are too stiff, soften a bit with a spoonful or two potato cooking water.  Salt and pepper of course.

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Jinmyo, have you ever tried Peanut Butter & Jelly with something OTHER than the standard Grape Jelly?  I agree on toasting the bread (and the bread should be from a thickly sliced LARGE loaf).  I grew up using Strawberry Preserves, not Grape Jelly, and in more recent years I've also used Orange Marmalade.  

Personally I'm not a fan of the "smooth" style peanut butter, but I can understand how it might be useful for the sandwich you described.

And the sandwich you described DOES sound good.  I'll be trying it.  I'm assuming that the sharp taste of the onion combines pretty well with the cheddar, and the peanut butter is acting like glue. :)

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re: Mashed Potatoes -- I'm not sure they qualify as a simple food.  True the number of ingredients is low, but it can take an hour or more to prepare...  and "creamy yet chunky" (with bits of potato skin too) gets my vote too, Macrosan!  

Frankly, something like a baked Potato comes much closer to qualifying, since even though it may take more than 10 minutes to cook, there is so little prep time involved.  Then again, mashed potatoes are better!!!

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I wasn't joking when I said separate threads would make sense here. I suggest the next person to post about peanut butter, or baked potatoes, or whatever, should start a new thread and then post a link on this one.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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