Bookmarks for 17th January 2014

These are my saved Pinboard links for 17th January 2014:

  • How to cook perfect lasagne | Life and style | The Guardian – Ah, the homely lasagne: a dish which, if not exactly lost in translation has, in the grand British tradition, been considerably mangled. I was quite taken aback the first time I encountered the real thing – or a London delicatessen's version of the real thing, which arrived in our mouldy student dwelling courtesy of a parent visiting from the Big Smoke. As a pasta dish which contained neither tuna nor sweetcorn, it was bound to be a marvel, but there were other reasons for falling upon this manna from heaven – or, at least, Highgate.

    Perfect: 68 Essential Recipes for Every Cook's Repertoire
    by Felicity Cloake

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    The most striking thing about the new arrival was its proud and noble bearing – it stood up straight, rather than oozing saucily outwards across the plate like the stuff which came out of the college kitchen. In fact, Giorgio Locatelli describes lasagne in Made in Italy: Food and Stories as a "sturdy, quite dry pasta dish" which would come as news to fans of even the poshest of supermarket versions. "What I see is not lasagne," he scolds, "but a version of shepherd's pie, only made with pasta instead of potato." All credit to us for our inspired fusion cooking – sometimes a gloopy, cheese feast just hits the spot – but I sense that a perfect lasagne will need to be truer to the original spirit of the dish to really cut the mostarda.

    While we're beating ourselves with the authenticity stick, even the name's misleading: strictly, lasagne refers to flat, thin sheets of pasta – the same ones used in what is correctly referred to as lasagne al forno – baked lasagne, which, in the UK at least, tends to mean lasagne alla bolognese, or lasagne with a meaty, tomatoey sauce. It's a bit like referring to steak and ale pie as simply "pie" – you've got a rough idea of what you're going to get, but the all-important specifics are missing. So, for the avoidance of doubt, this article refers to a baked dish of lasagne and bolognese sauce – those in search of the perfect sausage and garlic, or chicken tikka versions must continue their quest elsewhere. Sorry.

  • Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas) recipe on – As with many of the best, home cooked favourites, there are many different ways to prepare pasta e ceci, tweaked to perfection over generations according to regional or family preferences. There are those who like it without (or with very little) tomato, those who like it stained vermillion with tomato – and of those there’s the option of fresh, concentrate, canned whole or pureed tomato. There are those that puree a portion of the chickpeas (whether it’s best a third, half or three-quarters) and those that leave this dish at its most elemental with whole chickpeas – alla romana. Then there’s the argument over whether to cook the pasta with the chickpeas, or separately, adding them once cooked, and finally, whether to use short or long pasta. So rather than a recipe, let’s say this is a suggestion of one way you could prepare this wonderful dish, as all the variations have their merits.

    This is a version that does not involve a soffritto (chopped carrot, celery and onion) but has just garlic, rosemary and a touch of chilli accompanying the chickpeas. Tomato – and quite a bit of it, probably a bit more than is “normal” – is added in the form of chopped canned tomatoes and about a third of the chickpeas were pureed. For me, when you have this pureed, soupy sauce that calls for eating with a spoon, short pasta is the way to go with pasta e ceci.

    If you like and you’re not intending on keeping this a vegetarian dish, you could also add some chopped, crisp pancetta or melt some anchovies together with the garlic. My husband cannot resist putting vongole, clams, with chickpeas. Somehow the earthy, silkiness of chickpeas with briny, sea-salty, chewy clams are a match made in heaven. Try it.

    I think it goes without saying that with any dish as simple as this one, the quality of your ingredients goes a long way – I cannot stress how important this is for the chickpeas and olive oil in this dish, especially.

    "Ditalini" (short, round tubes) are the classic short pasta for this dish, but you could also use "pasta mista" – mixed, broken up pieces of pasta – or "rombi", a lovely, frilly ribbon pasta, cut short into diamond-shapes, which is what I’ve used in the photos (those who prefer long, wide noodles to tubes or other short pasta will like these).

  • ISA Mapsat Ideal and Non-Ideal Altitudes – Innsewerants made a nearly-essential plugin, ISA MapSat. I went through Geomatics Engineering in university, so the kind of stuff that comes out of that program is right up my alley.

    So here's the problem. You go to the thread and ask "what's the best altitude to scan Kerbin?" You get back an answer that says "It should be a polar orbit that avoids a synchronous altitude. Try 300-400 km." Well, okay, so you try out a polar orbit at 350 km…. and it turns out that you get a bunch of big holes in your map that never get filled! What happened?

  • Yaki Udon With Shrimp | Serious Eats : Recipes – Though I most often picture udon swimming in huge bowls of broth, the thick Japanese noodles are just as comfortable in sautéed form. Well, actually they're boiled, drained, and then sautéed with a handful of other ingredients. The only major issue to look out for is clumping, which can turn the whole dish into a gluey, bland mess. The only way I've figured out to avoid this trap is to stir like a mad man, though I think it's also important to avoid crowding the pan. Basically, keep things as simple as possible.

    So, how do you create a dynamic dish without adding too much? You cheat. Okay, not exactly, but hang with me. I settled on a fragrant base of scallion, garlic, and ginger, and a very simple sauce of soy sauce and mirin. To that, I added crunchy red pepper and juicy shrimp. This was all well and good, but the dish didn't really take off until I added some last minute additions, which required no cooking at all. A final sprinkling of bonito flakes and sliced nori added instantaneous umami and funk, while staying far away from the pan.

  • Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Mini Muffins | Serious Eats : Recipes – When I sat down to write about these mini muffins, I couldn't decide whether to describe them as hearty or light. I'm aware that these two descriptors are diametrically opposed, so by default the muffins must be one or the other. Hearty or light. Light or hearty? Why can't I choose?

    There isn't any butter in the recipe, which lightens things up considerably

    I think it's because the little one-biters are pretty light in texture as muffins go. There isn't any butter in the recipe, which lightens things up considerably (I find too much butter or oil is one key part in the downfall of heavy, dense muffins). Instead, I use a combination of milk and sour cream, which results in muffins that aren't dense or greasy at all.

    But to keep them from floating away, I added quick cooking oats at about a 1:1 ratio with white flour. The oats add texture and a light nutty flavor. (Texture + nutty flavor signals hearty in my book. See my problem?) Oats also impart some nutritional points, which isn't a bad thing at breakfast. Still, I couldn't help but add some chocolate chips, which make these little guys just sweet and chocolatey enough to be enjoyable. In fact, feels like the perfect holiday-hangover breakfast.

  • Chris Granger – Light Table – Light Table is an open source IDE that lets you modify running programs and embed anything from websites to games. It provides the real time feedback we need to not only answer questions about our code, but to understand how our programs really work.
  • Breakfast Sausage, Mushroom, and Cheddar Rolls | Serious Eats : Recipes – Classic sausage roll meets beef Wellington, these easy to assemble bites will be well-received at any breakfast table. Finely minced mushrooms are cooked in the leftover sausage fat, adding both sausage flavor and earthiness to dish. The rest of the sausage roll keeps with the classic, with just a little bit of sharp Cheddar for creaminess. Paired with a big pot of coffee and lots of tart mustard for dipping, these brunch rolls will be gone before you know it.
  • Frida – Inject JavaScript to explore native apps on Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS.
  • acme-sac – acme stand alone complex: programmer’s editor, shell, and user interface – Google Project Hosting – acme stand alone complex: programmer's editor, shell, and user interface
  • A Simple Homey, Coconut-y Red Lentil Dal – Last year I resolved to feed my children too many eggs. 

    Dear Reader: I did not fail. And not just that: I also fed my children too much cereal. 

    My ability to meet extremely modest New Year’s resolutions is unmatched. Part of the reason you drink so much on New Year’s Eve is that you’re trying to forget everything you didn’t do. (Well, and everything you did.) It’s painful to resolve to do new things in such close proximity to the things you didn’t do. It’d be much better if we built in a month interval. Personally, I make all my meaningful New Year’s Resolutions on Lincoln’s Birthday.

    This year I’d planned to resolve to feed my children too much cereal but — in an unanticipated burst of productivity — I’d already done that. So I hereby resolve to feed my children too much dal.

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