Coffee? Tea? Really?

Mrs. Coffee

I almost never drink hot coffee unless I have a cold. I start each day with a medium regular iced from D&D, replenishing the sugar reservoir twice over the course of the morning before the noon switchover to Diet Coke. For some reason, about 50% of the population thinks coffee after dinner is great idea, but a good host tries to accommodate all tastes, regardless of merit. So, if you don’t make coffee frequently enough to have perfected your home brew, I suggest you try this on a cold afternoon before permanently adding it to your dessert repertoire.

1 Mr. Coffee (4-cup or 8-cup), with appropriate filters
Café Pilon or Café Goya coffee (espresso ground)
1 can evaporated milk
sugar

Make the coffee, using 2 1/2 flat tbsp for 4 cups, or 5 flat tbsp for 8 (do not round!). Sweeten each cup with 2 1/2 tsp sugar and lighten with evaporated milk. If anyone requests black (and you know their general medical history), ignore them and say you forgot. Jack Kerouac’s dead, gentlemen, let’s move on.

A Do-What-I-Say Christmas: getting comfortable with geese

What a Lot of Effort Goose and Gravy

As Mr. Smith frequently reminds us, one should never try out a new recipe on guests. Even if it comes from a trusted source, you simply cannot be completely confident until you’ve successfully executed it at least once, and that confidence makes the difference between fair and spectacular. You don’t need to hold a dress rehearsal for the entire Christmas feast, but you should make each item on the menu over the course of the next month, noting any differences in cooking time (especially if you have an electric stove).

1 small, frozen goose
1/2 recipe pork stuffing
1 large can chicken stock
3 tbsp flour
salt and pepper

For your test goose, get a small, frozen bird, and let it defrost overnight in the fridge, taking it out early the next morning to finish the melt at room temperature. Once thawed, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the neck and organ bag from the goose, and toss. Remove any fat “pods” from the cavities (they pull right off), and discard. Pull back the skin from the neck cavity and locate the wishbone. Cut around it until you can remove it easily, and get rid of it. Cut the tips off the wings.

Wash the goose with cold water, inside and out, and pat it dry with paper towels. Prick the skin all over with a sharp knife, but don’t pierce the meat. Stick the goose into the boiling water, neck down, and cook for 1 minute. Flip it over and cook for another minute (half the bird will be sticking out of the pot the whole time). Remove it from the water, drain, and pat it dry with paper towels, inside and out. Put it on a cookie sheet and refrigerate it uncovered overnight, letting the skin dry out. Start Phase I of the pork stuffing, but halve the recipe for now.

Set your oven to 325. Finish making the pork stuffing, and pack up the goose. Set it on a wire rack over a roasting pan, insert a meat thermometer into one of the breasts (don’t let it touch the bone), and roast until the internal temperature reaches 170, basting with the drippings every 30 minutes. Depending on size, it will take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. Let the goose stand outside of the oven for at least 15 minutes, about the time it will take you to make the gravy if you focus. Any extra stuffing should be put in the oven for the last half hour on the goose clock, then combined with the bird-in stuffing before serving.

Pour the drippings from the pan into a large glass measuring cup and let the liquid stand for two minutes. Use a bulb baster to separate the fat on top from the drippings on the bottom. Add enough water or chicken stock to the drippings to make 2 C of liquid. Heat 3 tbsp of the fat in the pan over a burner set to medium-high, and whisk in 3 tbsp flour. Let the roux cook for 1 minute, then slowly pour in the stock while whisking vigorously. Once the gravy is smooth and even, season with salt and pepper and transfer to a boat.

If you’ve done exactly as directed, you should be ready to sit down to a delicious preview of the main event. Otherwise, make it again, and try to do what I say this time.

A Do-What-I-Say Christmas: Introduction

Now that all of your silver has been washed, polished and packed up after another successful Thanksgiving meal, it’s time to plan your Christmas feast. This year I’ll be roasting a goose; my perfect turkey record is beginning to make me smug, so I’m looking for a brand new challenge. The preliminary list of sides includes pork stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, Waldorf salad, twice-baked mini potatoes with truffle oil, and green beans with garlic butter and almonds, all of which will be preceded by a hot hors d’oeuvre of Swiss chard and gruyère mini-quiches. The pie will be apple, but instead of the lone Gala or Braeburn, I’ll throw in a single, finely chopped pear, balanced with a little extra salt and spice.

If you find the above menu as brilliant as I do, I’ll be posting the steps you’ll want to take over the course of the next month, under the heading “a do-what-I-say Christmas.” A month is the perfect amount of time to design and execute a holiday dinner, whether you’re planning for your entire extended family or just you and your special friend. Go ahead and infer whatever you want from “special.”

In fact, the first task is already at hand; it’s time to order the goose, as you’ll of course want to use fresh, not frozen. I always pre-order meat in person, and I dress for the occasion, just as I would for air travel, a dentist appointment, or a bank heist: a-line skirt, sweater set, pearls, tights. When it comes to securing the best from your butcher, it’s all about teeth and tits.

A 12-pound goose feeds four to six average diners, and that’s the biggest you want to go. You may be tempted to overestimate the amount of meat on your bird once she arrives – don’t. She’s just big-boned. Size corresponds to age with geese, and they don’t wear their years well, so if you plan to host more than six, make a turkey or figure out how to cook two geese in one oven. If you have a double-oven, congratulations. You’ve made it.

For anyone who’s in, check back at least weekly to stay abreast of new assignments (or follow on the Twitter @maryspena, thanks to Mr. P) and rest assured that if you do what I say, your Christmas dinner will raise your culinary acclaim to a whole nubba lebba.

Here’s what you should have done.

The Wood Sisters’ Pork Stuffing

This Thanksgiving I stuffed my vegetarian, pasture-frolicking, creep-free turkey with one of my most delicious family traditions. Standard fowl treatment for my great-grandmother, grandmother, aunts and mother, this classic French-Canadian stuffing tastes best when made by the lovely and benevolent Mrs. Smith, or as my father and I refer to her, the Saint. Her genuine faith in humanity, a career dedicated to improving the lives of others, her healthy lifestyle and a distaste for inappropriate men’s jokes can occasionally make us look rather bad in comparison. As you can surmise, we do not poke fun at my slightly terrifying mother.

This is a versatile recipe that can, with one alteration, fill a phenomenal pork pie. My mother used to work with a few gentlemen from the enigmatic French Canada, who fondly recalled stories of their time as altar boys in a Franco-American parish; “at midnight mass on Christmas the locals, having celebrated all night with brandy, cognac, and cigars, and fortified with a couple of pork pies, would present themselves at the communion rail, gaze heavenward, extend their tongues, and bowl the altar boys over with their breath. And there isn’t even any garlic in the recipe.” It’s truly a happy Thanksgiving when you head to bed not only with a delightfully distended belly, but also the assurance that your food coma won’t be delayed by any misguided amorous propositions.

2 lbs ground pork
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 sleeves saltine crackers, finely crumbled
2 tbsp shortening
2 tsp Bells Seasoning

Heat the shortening over medium-high in a large saucepan. Once it’s hot, add the onions and sauté until they’re soft, but don’t let them brown. Then crumble in the pork , mix it in with the onions, and cook it until there’s NO PINK to be found. Recovery from undercooked ground pork is a miserable and unattractive process. After browning (graying, actually), add enough water to the pot to cover the pork completely, reduce the heat to low, and simmer it for an hour. Then cover the pot and stick it in the fridge overnight.

Good morning! Time to pick off any visible fat deposits from the top of your cold meat mass. Proceed to sprinkle in the Bells, and mix in; you’ll notice that the hunk crumbles easily when jabbed. Stir in the cracker crumbs, and use your hands to mash everything together. Pack up your washed and dried bird, and bake any extra in a heat-proof dish for a half hour. You can either serve two separate stuffings (bird-in and bird-out), or you can combine them to give the whole thing a subtle crunch. Who doesn’t want that?

Note: You may omit the crackers from the recipe to make filling for pork pies, in which case you would double the recipe for standard pie crust to allow for a top crust.

Do only white people do taco night?

Taco Night Revamped

Several months ago I ate the Old El Paso taco that broke the chihuahua’s back. Something about their taco seasoning has always troubled me, and I’ve finally pinpointed the source of my discomfort; it knows how to hide a body. Treated with a packet of OEP taco powder, the grayest hamburger in Market Basket’s clearance section and Butcher Boy ground angus would be indistinguishable. Equal parts salt, bite, and tang, the orange powdered Mexicanness doesn’t quite know what to shoot for, aside from terrifying meat-borne bacteria, and subsequently annihilates all flavor from your beef. I’m insulted by the implication that I might purchase meat in need of a disinfectant bath along the lines of SNL’s Hamburger Helper Anti-Bacterial, and have terminated my relationship with the brand. But Mr. P loves taco night, so I’ve George Costanza-ed the whole thing, and it looks like we’ll be having “tajitas” on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future.

6 to 8 hard taco shells
1 pkg of 3 skinless, boneless chicken  breasts, sliced into 1/4″ strips
1 green pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
1/2 block white cheddar, grated
some salsa
some sour cream
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried cilantro
salt and pepper

Prepare the taco shells according to package instructions. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large pan over medium-high. Once it’s hot, add the peppers and onions and sauté until they’ve softened but not yet caramelized. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set them on the stove-top to warm. Add the 3rd tbsp of oil to the pan, give it a minute to heat up (we’re still on medium-high), and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is completely done, and cut open a few strips if you’re not sure; you don’t want to do time for a filthy bird. Put the vegetables back in, along with the salt, pepper and cilantro, and combine them with the chicken. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, then serve with the shells and condiments.

Before you slap the sour cream and salsa on the table in their containers, take a step back and ask yourself, “don’t I deserve more?” Three small matching bowls aren’t going to kill you when it’s time to do the dishes, and on the off chance you’re being secretly filmed, you should always set a thoughtful table.

Introducing the Unparalleled Mr. H

Steak Hamilton and Cheesy Potatoes

It’s not surprising that the lovely and talented Mrs. Hamilton is married to an equally engaging and capable gentleman. Mr. Peña and I agree that Mr. Hamilton holds the top slot on our survive-a-zombie-attack-or-other-apocalyptic-scenario team roster. He’s also the easiest man I know to shop for. At the end of each January, he checks in with me to schedule his annual birthday dinner, and I pick up his gift at the meat counter several weeks later with the groceries. Both spouses were averse to mushrooms until the first time I made this for them, but now they’re believers.

I should warn you that you will open a door with this recipe that doesn’t close. For example, I acquired Mr. Peña with this meal, setting the bar a little higher than I would have had I not been in the heat of the culinary moment. Originally titled Teeny Tiny, my mother would make a petite version if one of us had an emotionally trying day and was feeling particularly teeny and/or tiny. I’ve renamed it as an homage to the man who may one day save my family’s brains.

To serve 4:
4 filet mignons, size dependent on budget and preference (I use modest 1″-thick cuts)
4 Russet potatoes
2 12-oz pkgs white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced with stems, 1/8″-thick
1 16-oz package baby carrots
1 C whole milk
1 C/2 sticks butter, to be safe
3/4 C grated white cheddar cheese
1/4 C cooking sherry
1 tbsp herbs de Provence (blend of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender; you can just mix up whichever of those you already have)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper
paprika

Set the oven to 350, grease up the potatoes with olive oil, and stab them repeatedly with a sharp fork. Bake them until it they hardly resist a poking. You’re looking at about an hour and a half.

Start the mushrooms when you’ve got about 15 minutes left on the potato clock. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large pan over medium-high. Once the foaming subsides, add the mushrooms and sauté. After a few minutes of turning and cooking, add another 1 tbsp of butter and melt it in. The mushrooms will soften and release about 1/3 C of liquid. Keep the heat at medium-high until the liquid cooks off, turning the mushrooms frequently to prevent burning. Once the liquid has evaporated, add the sherry and nutmeg, and continue cooking until the alcohol boils off. Transfer the mushrooms to a medium bowl, cover, and set on the stove-top to keep warm.

Ding! Either your potatoes are done, or you need to up your hustle. Put the milk in a small saucepan and heat over low. Set a ricer over a large mixing bowl. Holding a potato using a dishcloth or folded paper towel, cut two slits in the top to form a lemon shape. Peel the cut skin off, and carefully spoon the piping hot potato into the ricer bin, getting out as much as you can without tearing the husk. Rice the potato, then repeat with the other three. Set the empty skins on a cookie sheet. Cut half a stick of butter into tbsp chunks and bury them in the potatoes to melt. Stir vigorously while you slowly pour in the milk, beating in as much air as possible. Then add the cheese, season with salt and pepper, and combine (don’t worry if the cheese doesn’t melt completely).

Spoon the potato whip back into the shells, and pile any extra filling on the tops. Sprinkle with paprika to get a little Lawrence Welk-ish nostalgia going, and wedge a pat of butter into each. Put them back in the oven and bake until they’re hot all the way through, about a half hour. Give yourself a 15-minute break (just enough time for a cigarette and a fresh Diet Coke!).

Throw the carrots into a medium saucepan with 1″ of water, 1 tbsp of butter and a pinch of herbs de Provence, and set the heat to low. Put 2 tbsp of butter in your largest (flat) pan and set it over medium-high heat. Let the butter melt and froth, then add the steaks. You need an equal ratio of free space to meat in your pan to do this correctly, so cook them simultaneously in 2 pans if necessary. Fry the steaks over medium-high for 2 minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to medium-low, add the mushrooms to the pan, and give each steak another 4 minutes on each side, turning the mushrooms frequently. You’ll need to adjust the time slightly since it’s difficult to convey flame strength, but you want to end up with rare, not raw.

The carrots are done when they’re al dente, and that should be right about now, along with the potatoes, steak and mushrooms. By your thirtieth time making this meal, you’ll have perfected the timing, so don’t worry about being a basket case for the first one. Drain the carrots and plate everything up, generously topping the steaks with mushrooms.

The dishes are going to be a bitch for this one, but the acclaim and self-satisfaction more than compensate.

I’ll eventually stop outdoing myself.

Inside Out Chicken Cordon Bleu


Chicken breasts are vehicles. The reason they’re so versatile is that they’re the carnivore’s equivalent of tofu. Even at its freshest, plumpest, and pinkest, a skinless boneless chicken breast is as inspiring as a soda cracker. After my most recent biweekly stare-down with a package of three halves, I decided to do a little engineering on the standard cordon bleu. On paper, a collaboration of chicken, ham and cheese looks aces, but I’m routinely disappointed with overly salty, dry, cakey, loaf-shaped gut bombs (I obviously fail to adhere to the fool-me-once policy regarding menu selection). When confronted with a dilemma, I often ask myself, “what would George Costanza do?” So, using the same ingredients, more or less, I made the exact opposite of cordon bleu, and my fantasy materialized. Get ready to use every pan in the cupboard.

For two (one of you always doubles up)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C plain breadcrumbs
1 C whole milk
1/2 C grated Gruyère cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 thin slices of ham (lunch ham) finely chopped
1/3 C vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper

Set your oven to 200. Get out your tenderizer and go to town on the chicken. Try not to tear as you go, but take the opportunity to work out anything you’ve got going on. Pound to 1/2″ thick.  Heat the oil in a large, deep pan over medium-high until hot. Mix the breadcrumbs with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, then spread them out on a large plate. Dip each breast in the beaten egg and coat, then cover in bread crumbs, packing them into any resistant areas. Depending on how much room you have in your pan, fry the chicken in shifts for about 5 minutes on each side, until completely cooked, then transfer them to a paper-towel-covered plate to drain for 1 minute. Move them to a cookie sheet and stick them in the oven.

While the chicken is frying, sauté the ham and a pat of butter in a small pan over medium heat. When the ham starts to brown, transfer it to a bowl and set it somewhere on the stove to keep warm. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat over low. On another burner, heat 2 tbsp butter in a medium pan over medium-low and once the foaming subsides, add the flour and quickly whisk with the butter to form a roux. When the roux turns tan, start pouring in the heated milk slowly, whisking constantly until the sauce is even and lump-free. Take advantage of the chance to say béchamel a few times. Fold in the cheese, allow it to melt, then add the ham and stir gently. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken with a generous amount of sauce on top and spoon it around the plate, á la Top Chef. There’s enough going on here, and the single-unit presentation works so well; let’s not complicate things with a vegetable.

You may as well take it all.

Make-it-this-way Apple Pie

I’ve noticed a growing cooking trend among my fellow liberals of generally barring salt from dishes, often justified with the argument that it overshadows the important undertones of, say, organic brown rice. While you’re at it, why don’t you withhold your children’s vaccinations and boycott smiling. The absence of NaCl in meats and starches is unflattering to the cook, but easily correctable with a sprinkling of table salt. Omission in baked goods and desserts, on the other hand, borders on a criminal waste of food. If I find that you’ve made a low-sodium version of the following apple pie and no one in your home suffers from heart disease, high blood pressure or kidney disease, I will add your name and/or IP address to my blacklist, a vortex of despair far worse than the sting of deletion from my cookie list.

2 pie crusts (double the recipe used here, do not pre-bake crusts)
1 bag (about half a peck) Cortland apples
1 Gala or Braeburn apple
1 C sugar
1/3 C flour
2 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp  cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 egg

Set your oven to 450. Roll out the dough for the pie crusts before preparing the apples to prevent browning; fit one 1/8″-thick sheet of dough into a glass pie plate, and trim the excess, leaving 1″ of extra dough past the rim. Leave the second sheet rolled out on the board until you’re ready to assemble the pie.

Put the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl and combine until the spices are evenly distributed. Peel and core the apples. I can’t convey how much better my life has become since purchasing the Williams-Sonoma apple peeler/corer/slicer a few years ago. Everyone I know will eventually get one as a gift, and subsequently have a lot more pie around the house, all the time. If you’re going old school, slice the cored apples into 1/4″-thick rings, then chop the rings in half. Put the apples into a large mixing bowl as you work, and sprinkle in some of the dry mixture after each one. Once you’ve finished the apples, pour in the remainder of the dry mixture and fold until combined.

Pour the apples into the bottom crust, and try to flatten the top layer to prevent tearing your top crust. Scrape out any sugar mixture stuck to the bowl and slap it on top of the apples. Carefully transfer the top layer onto the pie, gently draping it to accommodate the rough terrain. Use your thumbs, forefingers and middle fingers to pinch around the circumference of the crust, sealing the two layers together. Repeat to make sure it’s sealed up tight, then trim off the excess.

Get creative with air vents on the top crust. I like to cut out leaf shapes and overlap them with their corresponding holes, but you can cut 1″ slits in a symmetric pattern if you’d prefer. Cut up the butter and stick a glob in each air vent. Use a whisk to beat the eggwhite, and brush it all over the top and around the ridge. Cut a long strip of aluminum foil and cover up the rim, then bake the pie at 450 for 45 minutes, removing the foil 15 minutes before it’s done. You’ll want to stick a cookie sheet on the bottom rack to catch any syrup bubble-over. Let the pie cool uncovered until it reaches room temperature, then keep it sealed but don’t refrigerate it, otherwise something horrible happens to the flour mixed in with the apples. Now that you know all my secrets, I’m going to need some collateral.

Keys, anyone?

I-didn’t-know-it-was-this-kind-of-party Icebox Cake

About the only time I wouldn’t rather be baking a big fluffy cake is when I’ve got my hands full with a complicated dinner menu or cocktail party spread. On the other hand, nothing conveys “by dessert I’ll be too drunk to care” like following a home-cooked tour de force with pie-in-a-box. My mother introduced me to Famous Chocolate Wafers and the classic icebox cake, a simple dessert hearkening back to the ’50’s that must be prepared well in advance, hindering any possible procrastination that would result in a frazzled host. Predominantly a summertime dessert, you may also serve it between Thanksgiving and New Year’s without obtaining prior authorization from the Emily Post Institute. The flagrant log presentation, the brazen spectacle of cream, and the artful placement of a single maraschino cherry imply that everything’s going to be all right if you’re white and in plastics. The addition of a little something facilitates the often awkward transition from the dinner table to the cocktail lounge, guests already having feet in various bags.

1 9-oz pkg chocolate wafers
1 pint whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar (my addition)
1 tsp vanilla
1 shot Grand Marnier (also my suggestion, obviously it becomes not so much for the kids)
1 maraschino cherry

Get out your stand mixer and click in the whisk attachment. Beat the cream on high until soft peaks form, then pour in the vanilla and sugar and keep whipping. Once the cream forms stiff peaks, slowly pour in the liquor and keep whipping until it’s firm but not meringue-ish.

Separate out any broken wafers, dip them in the whipped cream and eat them. Lay a wafer right side up on a protected work surface. Use a spatula to dollop 2 tsp of cream onto the wafer, then place another wafer on top of the cream (same orientation, please), and press down gently to squeeze the cream out to the edges. Repeat, forming 4 small stacks of wafers and cream. Assemble the log directly on the serving dish; place the stacks on their sides in a row with all wafers facing the same direction and push them together. Use the remaining whipped cream to frost the whole cake, and make sure you get the corners and tuck in under the bottom curve. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe the excess cream off the dish.

Cherry placement is entirely up to you. I go for dead center, but 2″ from the middle can say a lot about a person. Tent aluminum foil over the log and dish and chill for at least 4 hours. When serving, slice on the diagonal for a striped effect. If you went for the Grand Marnier and are hoping to fortify your guests’ table wine, shoot for a three-slices-per-log portion size.

You don’t even know what economic means.

Impoverished Single Person’s “Chili”

Mr. Smith is Rhode Island’s most efficient driver. He can forecast door-to-door travel time between any two points within the Ocean State to within a minute, averages about two left turns per month, and has logged zero accidents in the thirty-two years I’ve known him. D’s knack for balancing quality with minimum energy and resource expenditure becomes wizardry in the kitchen, and this week he shares a recipe from his undergraduate days at Brown, during which he drove cab, impressed the hell out of girlfriends’ parents, and elevated bachelor cooking to an art. My father anticipates that “purists from Texas and other regions will argue with the name,” but since I don’t touch chili, ever, I wouldn’t know.

A suggestion from Mr. Smith: “this recipe will produce about two quarts of chili, or a dozen servings at maybe $0.80 apiece to go with rice or macaroni (or commando). The single impoverished person will eat two servings within an hour, keep two to four more servings in the fridge for the coming days, and freeze the rest in single-serving Ziploc bags.”

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large green pepper, diced
1 medium/large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb hamburger
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 or 2 15-oz cans plain tomato sauce
2 15-oz cans spiced pinto beans (drained unless seasoned)
some canned, sliced jalapeño peppers
1 tbsp chili powder
salt and pepper

optional:
1 medium yellow pepper, diced in addition to green pepper ($$)
cayenne pepper
1 C sauteed sliced mushrooms ($)

Put the oil in a cast-iron pan over medium-high and heat it until it’s hot. Sauté the pepper for 3 minutes before adding the onion and, once that becomes translucent, add the garlic and continue to cook until it just starts to brown (or, as my father instructs, sweat the garlic). Empty the vegetables into a large bowl and set them aside.

In the same pan, cook the meat over medium-high heat until you’ve eliminated all pink. Pour in the vegetables (and optional mushrooms) and combine with the hamburger. Add the crushed tomatoes, 1 can of tomato sauce, the pinto beans (and the water if it’s been seasoned, otherwise toss it), and 1 tbsp chili powder. Cook and stir until it boils, then reduce the heat to medium. If the chili seems too thick, add the second can of tomato sauce.

Proceed to add fiyah. Use a garlic press to mince 8 or so jalapeño slices and stir them into the chili. Taste and repeat until you’re happy. Mr. Smith confides that he occasionally adds a little cayenne pepper “to complicate the hotness.” Finish it off with salt and pepper, but “never garnish with cheese; that’s weird.” I, on the other hand, will just have the cheese (though after typing up this post, I might actually give it a shot without the beans).

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