Men in the kitchen

Over the years that I’ve worked for the Daily Globe and written about food and cooking, I’ve received very little input from the males of the species.

Oh, once in a while I’ll run into some guy who comments on a recipe or asks when I’m going to have him over for supper to try out one of the recipes, but there have been very few recipe submissions or cooking tips from anyone of the male gender. And I would guess that if I were to page back through all the “Mixing & Musing” columns that DotMom wrote over the years, 99.5 percent of all the recipes she printed came from women, too.

But the kitchen is no longer primarily a woman’s domain. At our house, for instance, Hubby Bryan and I split the kitchen duties, and there are often weeks when he does the bulk of the cooking. I know such is the case in many households.

So I’m glad to have recently received both cooking tips and recipes from some local gentleman.

The first such instance occurred before Christmas, when Verlin Ostrem popped into the office. Now retired, Verlin formerly worked on appliances at the local Rickbeil’s store and had some advice about baking —particularly the importance of properly preheating the oven. He credits the late Walt Fisher, a salesman with Monarch Stove Co., with teaching him the importance of that preparation.

“When you are preheating the oven, you should put it 50 degrees higher than you are going to bake,” explained Verlin. “When you open the door to put your goodies in, you will lose 50 degrees right away. … So, put your food in the oven, shut the oven door and then turn your temperature control to your specified temp. This allows your food to get heated up evenly before your bake unit comes on. Therefore, your food will not burn or get too dark on the bottom. You should preheat no matter if you are baking cookies, cake, hot dishes, meatloaf, baked chicken, turkey or whatever.”

That professional baking advice would also apply to this pie recipe provided by Herman Hinders, who told me about it when we crossed paths in the grocery store one day. Herman followed through by leaving the recipe on my desk last week. He swears that even though there are none of the expensive nuts in his version, it tastes just like pecan pie.

Imitation Pecan Pie

Beat 2 eggs with ¾ cup sugar. Add ¾ cup dark corn syrup, ¾ cup angelflake coconut, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and ½ cup milk. Mix well.

Fold in ¾ cup uncooked oatmeal and pour into a 9-inch unbaked pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

On a recent visit to our house, Tom Ahlberg —a great kitchen experimenter — was extolling the deliciousness of this ragout —a French stew —that he had tried for the first time. So, of course, I had to secure the recipe, which he was able to forward to me via his smartphone. Take note that this is a two-day preparation, not something that will be thrown together quickly for tonight’s supper.

Cranberry Beef Ragout

Cut 4 pounds beef top round into 1-inch cubes. In a large Dutch oven, brown half the meat in 1/8 cup vegetable oil until well browned; remove meat and repeat with remaining meat and another 1/8 cup oil. Pour off any excess oil.

Return all meat to pan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1½ cups dry red wine, one 14½- ounce can beef broth, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 4 cups thinly sliced onions. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until meat is tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cool; cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Combine one 12-ounce package fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped, ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar and ½ cup flour; refrigerate, covered.

To serve: Reheat ragout to boiling, stirring often. Stir in cranberry mixture. Simmer until ragout is thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook two 16-ounce packages bow-tie shaped pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and toss with ¼ cup margarine or butter and 1 tablespoon poppy seeds. Serve with ragout, topped with snipped fresh parsley. Makes 12 servings.

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