Table of Contents

Gail's Not Quite Gourmet Cooking


This lecture took place on October 1st, 1996 in the OOC Kitchen.


Major_Payne has arrived from the west.

'SOMEONE SAY FOOD?!' Major_Payne says.

Sabella nods her agreement with Major_Payne.

Sabella points at Gail.

Major_Payne salutes the gods in admiration of the amazing world around him.

Sabella says, 'She did.'

Sabella stands up.

Sabella clears her throat.

Sabella says, 'OK, everyone be nice to the speaker, hold emotes and says down.'

Sabella says, 'Remember this is the OOC lounge.'

'And she'll ask for questions when she's ready to take them,' Sabella says.

'Everyone knows Gail, great knight, good cook :),' Sabella says.

Sabella sits down.

Karyn cheers for Gail - huzzah!

Sabella says, 'Well ok, and she keeps the mud running too.'

'I really would appreciate it if you held emotes to a minimum,' Gail says. 'Meaning none.'

'Not-quite gourmet cooking,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Mostly this talk is going to be theory, techniques, and advice, rather than a collection of recipies, mostly because I thought that might be more useful, as well as more suited for a talk format.'

'Besides, I couldn't decide what recipies to include,' Gail says.

Gail grins evilly.

'The first piece of advice I can give is use first class ingredients,' Gail says. 'ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES.'

'This means fresh produce, fresh meat, etc,' Gail says. 'Fresh herbs if you can get them. In cooking, the phrase "you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear" is undisputably true.'

Gail prefers, for example, when possible, to make her own meat/chicken stocks to use as a base, although a good canned stock is usually sufficient.

'On the other hand, cooking is a very flexible art, and there are no hard-and-fast rules,' Gail says. 'Certainly if you don't have, and can't get the ingredients, making an appropriate substitution is a good idea.'

'One trick when making substitutions is to try and use something at least as flavorful as the thing you're substituting for,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Eg, adding a bit of wine, if you're short on broth.'

'Even salt water would be better than just plain water,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Developing a palate.'

'One important skill for a cook to have is the ability to predict what they're cooking will taste like,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'This greatly enhances your ability to "wing it" without a recipie, or to salvage things when you make an unplanned deviation from the recipie. .'

'Also, "season to taste" is a lot easier when you have some idea of what you need to add to make it taste the way you want it to,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'In my somewhat less than humble opinion the most important skill in developing a palate is the ability to mentally combine 2 flavors in your head, to be able to think about how *this* will taste mixed with *that*.'

'There really isn't any way to develop this, except by practice,' Gail says. 'When cooking, taste the ingredients individually before putting them in.'

Gail says, 'Different foods behave differently in the mouth, you "taste" them in different places, and at different times. .'

'When you taste something pay attention to these details, try and notice them,' Gail says.

'Also, tasting (or even just smelling) 2 foodstuffs in close succession will usually give you a good idea of how they'll taste together,' Gail says. '(And is somewhat more useful than mixing them for developing a palate.).'

Gail's got a few different combinations of flavors she likes that she'll share with you:

'Beef and red wine (wine makes an excellent ingredient in sauces and the like),' Gail says.

'Beef and beer,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Beef and cinnamon.'

'Beef and rosemary,' Gail says.

'Beef and allspice,' Gail says.

'Chicken and white wine,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Chicken and thyme.'

'Chicken and sausage,' Gail says.

'Sausage and white whine,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Pork's generally kinda intermediate between chicken and beef.'

Gail incidentally makes no promises you'll like any of these, or that because 2 things go with a 3rd thing, they go with each other.

'Cooking techniques,' Gail says.

'Mostly, I cook glop,' Gail says.

'While glop doesn't sound very gourmet, many gourmet dishes are basically glop,' Gail says. 'Rissotto ala Milanese (one of my favorite dishes), is basically this yellow rice glop, when you get down to it.'

Gail says, 'So most of my dishes have the basic format of some kind of grain base (generally rice, pasta, or cracked wheat) cooked in something interesting (broth), some kind of meat, and stuff added for flavor.'

'Tools you need,' Gail says. 'Well, want. Well, tools I have, and think are nifty.'

Gail says, 'Really, at least one good knife is a must, and several not-too-bad knives really help out a lot.'

'I also can't extoll the virtues of wooden spoons enough, they're light, sturdy, don't scrape non-stick pans, cheap...' Gail says.

'If you can get your hands on one, a food processor is generally a good deal, it really makes you a lot more willing to grate cheese, and chop vegetables,' Gail says.

'As far as pans go, I reccomend a cast iron skillet, and some saucepans,' Gail says. 'At least that's the stuff I use most.'

Gail says, 'Another tool I reccomend, and this one's relatively cheap, is a slicing tool of some sort.'

'Generally these things are plastic tray like things, with an inset blade that you slide food over to slice it,' Gail says.

'Oh, yeah,' Gail says. 'While not essential, a wooden kitchen mallet can be helpful, and it's a lot of fun.'

'Ingredients not to be without,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'I get pretty panicy if I don't have a beef and chicken stock on hand (either in cans, or home-made).'

'I also try and keep around chicken and beef bullion cubes, in case I run out of real stock in mid-cooking,' Gail says. 'Better to water your broth with weak/poor broth than with water.'

Gail says, 'I also try and keep a supply of red and white wine on-hand, but generally don't manage it.'

'Always make sure you have plenty of your favorite spices on hand,' Gail says.

Gail looks up into the sky and ponders.

'Wondra flour!' Gail says. 'While I try not to use processed/artificial type foods, this stuff is great. .'

'For those of you who don't know what it is, it's a crystallized flour for use in sauces and gravies,' Gail says. 'It dissolves well, and is incredibly handy.'

'Also, I keep crushed tomatoes on hand for cooking down to a tomato sauce,' Gail says.

Franz says, 'No canned sauce?'

'Never,' Gail says to Franz.

'Honestly, you'll generally do a lot better maing it yourself,' Gail says.

Gail preferes never to work with an ingredient that was processed by anyone but herself.

'Guess taco bell is out then?' Somar says.

Sin giggles at Somar.

Sin pouts.

Sin lives on Taco Bell and Sub-way.

'Well, honestly, that doesn't really involve me working with the ingredients,' Gail says to Somar.

Somar curtseys before Dekker gracefully.

Gail's a lot less picky about what goes in food other people cook.

Gail's got one full recipie she'll share with you in a bit, but first has a couple of more general suggestions.

'Chickenbreasts, pounded flat, and coated with flour, egg and breadcrumbs,sauted, and served with rice and lemon,' Gail says.

Dekker drools contentedly.

Gail says, '(that's one of the places the mallet is handy).'

Franz licks lips.

'The important thing to do is make sure any guests you have, don't see you beating theitr dinner with a hammer,' Gail says.

Myriad says, 'Not to mention a socially appropriate way to take out aggression.'

Densiva smiles at Myriad.

Franz says, 'Flat mallet or bumpy?'

'Flat,' Gail says. 'You're trying to get the chicken to an even thickness.'

Gail says, 'Not turn it into hash.'

'Real food!' Dekker says. 'Havent had that in years!'

Myriad giggles.

Gail says, 'Left to my own devices, I'd have given a recipie for risotto, but Deanna beat me to it, so you can get the basic recipie from her lecture, ther log of which should be somewhere.'

Gail says, 'Deanna tells me the recipie is on the board.'

Gail says, 'But there's no log.'

Myriad says, 'What board?'

Deanna points at the recipe board.

'In the LT???? Please?' Franz says.

Sin points at the recipe board.

Franz looks at the recipe board. Myriad looks at the recipe board.

Gail says, 'Risotto is a remarkably good start to any meal.'

Gail says, 'You can add almost anything to it, and wind up with a pretty good meal when you're done.'

Gail especially reccomends sausage and/or chicken.

'Cooked in chicken broth and optionally white wine, and seasoned with saffron, it's risotto ala milanese, which is an excellent side dish, or a meal if you're lazy,' Gail says.

'The other staple in my diet is cracked wheat,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'The easiest way to cook it is basically the way yo uwould rice, bring some water (or better yet, beef broth) to a boil, and then add the wheat, and simmer.'

Gail says, '(3 parts liquid to 1 part wheat is best, that way all the liquid is absorbed).'

'Cracked wheat is reasonably flavorful, so it should be mixed with other flavorful ingredients,' Gail says.

Gail's favorite was 1 part cracked wheat cooked in beef broth, 1 part hamburger, and 1 part chili peppers. (of varying heat)

Gail says, 'You have to like spicy food to eat that one though.'

Shalindra faints at the smell of that.

Shalindra says, 'I'd pass out just from smelling it, my poor nose hairs.'

'Most people don't think the chili is a vegetable,' Gail says.

Franz thinks about using cubed lamb.

Sabella nods her agreement with Franz.

'Of course, the one food combination I left out was one of my favorites,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Prosciutto with anything.'

'Prosciutto, for those of you who don't know what it is, is a dried italian ham...' Gail says.

'It's kinda pricey, but I think it's worth it,' Gail says.

Gail will admit however, to a tendency to buy the ends to save money.

Franz says, 'What is the problem with ends?'

'Nothing, but it's generally sold sliced, and the deli style slicing machines they have where I buy it don't handle the end as well, so they sell it whole to slice yourself...' Gail says.

'Well, I thought a cooking lecture without *any* recipes would be bad, so I dug up this recipe,' Gail says.

Pasta ala Carbonara

'In a large skillet, heat olive oil till haze forms. ,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Add pancetta orbacon, and saute, stirring constantly, until lightly golden and slightly crispy.'

Gail says, 'Add prosciutto and continue to saute until softened, about 1 minute.'

Gail says, 'With a slotted spoon, transfer mixture to paper towel to drain.'

Gail says, 'Pour off all but 2 Tbsp of pan drippings, add scallions and saute, stirring constantly, over medium heat until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes.'

'As scallions are cooking, scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen any fragments,' Gail says.

'Return pancetta and prosciutto to pan, mix well, and set aside,' Gail says.

'In a small bowl, using a wire whisk, beat egg yolks and heavy cream,' Gail says.

The Swedish Chef sings 'Uuun de schucky dooo, da dum, bork bork bork.'

Shalindra giggles.

'Add cheese and pepper, whisk till smooth,' Gail says.

Gail says, 'Cook pasta, drain, transfer to a bowl with the butter in it, and toss quickly.'

Gail says, 'Add 1/2 the contents of the pan (meats/scallions) toss.'

Gail says, 'Add cream/egg/cheese, toss.'

Gail says, 'Add remainder of meat mixture, garnish and serve.'

Gail says, 'It's a really easy recipe, but very good.'

Gail says, 'The only trick is getting the prociutto.'

Gail says, '(you can substitute lean bacon for the pancetta, which is a lot harder to get :).'

Sabella smiles at Gail.

'The only warning is that while it may sound like a kinda light meal, and on your plate it looks like a light dish, the egg makes it surprisingly heavy,' Gail says.

'Also, don't dawdle when tossing it all together,' Gail says. 'It relies on the heat of the just-cooked pasta to cook the egg.'

Gail doesn't really have anything else prepared/planned, but is incredibly opinionated on food, and will offer an opinion on absolutely anything about it you care to hear one on.



Franz wishes Gail was closer to Fort Worth.

Shalindra giggles.

Sabella giggles at Franz.

Gail nods her agreement with Sabella.

Myriad says, 'What about desserts?'

Shalindra says, 'Wish I could cook.'

Shalindra sniffles quietly.

Shalindra bursts into tears.

Shalindra is sorry she missed most of the lecture. :*(

Sabella wishes she could afford someone else to cook FOR her :).

Shalindra giggles at Sabella.

Ptah wishes he had more food here period. :P HUNGRY.

Sabella raises her hand for after deserts.

'Me too!' Shalindra says to Ptah.

Shalindra bursts into tears.

'Desserts?' Gail says. 'I usually just serve icecream, although my preference tends to be for light and fluffy mousse like things.'

Franz stands up.

Franz bows before Gail.

Gail's kinda fond of heavy meals, so heavy desserts are kinda impossible to finish.

'Any more questions?' Gail says.

Sabella nods solemnly.

Sabella says, 'Is there any difference...between buying dried pasta and that stuff in fancy packages that isn't?'

Gail says, 'Yeah, the stuff in fancy packages is a bit better.'

Dekker can cook, if he has access to real food and a kitchen.

'Generally,' Gail says.

'Just a bit?' Sabella says.

'In my experience, yeah, it's not vastly better, and is vastly more expensive,' Gail says.

Sabella nods her agreement with Gail.

'Twice as much, that's why I'm asking you not buying it :),' Sabella says.

Gail will buy it if she's having a really good month money-wise, or if she's going overboard trying to make the perfect meal.

'Cracked wheat is tarbulli, yes?' Sabella says. 'Or something like that? what's couscous?'

'Is the perfect meal possible?' Dekker says. ':P.'

'Lasagnia, if I ever get spaghetti sauce,' Shalindra says to Dekker. '[CRAVES].'

Shalindra grumbles.

Gail says, 'Cracked wheat is also called bulgar, Tabouli (sp?) is a middle eastern salad of parsley and bulgar.'

Gail says, 'Couscous is a prepared wheat dish, made from flour, basically a relative of pastas.'

'Ah ok... OH... ok :),' Sabella says.

'More questions?' Gail says. 'Things you disagree with? personal attacks?'

Ptah says to Gail, 'You're just not controversial enough.'

Shalindra says, 'I'm kinda lost. :).'

Shalindra cooks very very simply.

'Vegetarians should be shot, cooked up in a tomato sauce, and eaten,' Gail says to Ptah. 'Is that controversial enough?'

Shalindra throws her head back and cackles with insane glee!

Densiva says to Ptah, 'She did fine were just all lagged :p.'

Ptah chuckles politely.

Leila grumbles.

Myriad giggles.

Sandra goes EEK! at Gail in distress - isn't Gail an awful person for teasing?

'It all sounds good, just cant fix any of it with just a microwave :(,' Dekker says.

'Vegetarians aren't all that bad,' Shalindra says.

Gail nods her agreement with Dekker.

Dekker cheers for Gail - huzzah!

Shalindra sticks her tongue out at Gail. =P

'You can come cook at our house anytime,' Ptah says to Dekker. 'Clean the kitchen too.'

'They can be pretty good with a tomato sauce,' Gail says to Shalindra.

Ptah grins evilly.

Shalindra's eyes glaze over and she starts chanting 'lasagnia, lasagnia' in a rather Garfield fashion.

Shalindra chuckles politely.

Deanna flops about helplessly.

Dekker drools contentedly.

Shalindra nods her agreement with Dekker.

Ptah says to Shalindra, '"l-a-s-a-g-n-a"'

Dekker says, 'This is mean to talk about when you live in a dorm.'

Dekker sighs loudly.

'P-i-c-k-y,' Shalindra says to Ptah.

Gail says to Dekker, 'Move out of the dorm.'

Dekker says, 'Mark that, a dorm with a national reputation as being horrible :(.'

Dekker chuckles politely at Shalindra's feeble witticism.

'Lasagne,' Shalindra says. ':P.'

Dekker curses his lag to no end!

Densiva says to Gail, 'It was a good lecture...thank-you.'

Sabella cheers for Gail - huzzah!

Densiva says to Gail, 'Btw I'm a vegetarian :P.'

Densiva bonks Gail on the head!

Sabella comforts Shalindra.

Dekker shudders.

Shalindra purrs contentedly in Sabella's lap.

Gail wonders if there's anything to eat in the refrigerator.

The Swedish Chef says, 'First you take da lettuce, den you take da boom boom.'
The Swedish Chef waves an old looking pistol, throws the lettuce in the air and shoots it!

Lettuce falls all around the kitchen, some landing in the bowl.

The Swedish Chef says, 'Den you take da lettuce, den you take da boom boom.'
The Swedish Chef waves an old looking pistol, throws the lettuce in the air and shoots it!

Lettuce falls all around the kitchen, some landing in the bowl.

The Swedish Chef says, 'Den you take da lettuce, den you take da boom boom.'
The Swedish Chef waves an old looking pistol, throws the lettuce in the air and shoots it!

Lettuce falls all around the kitchen, some landing in the bowl.

The Swedish Chef says, 'Den you take da coconut, den you take da boom boom.'
The Swedish Chef waves an old looking pistol, throws the coconut in the air and shoots!

The Swedish Chef looks up.

The Swedish Chef looks down.

The coconut slams into the back of the Swedish Chef's head and he falls unconscious in to the salad bowl.