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Matts (1087)

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I work for MessageLabs [] in Toronto, ON, Canada. I write spam filters, MTA software, high performance network software, string matching algorithms, and other cool stuff mostly in Perl and C.

Journal of Matts (1087)

Saturday September 11, 2004
04:15 PM

Delicious Spag Bol.

[ #20837 ]

Cooked a really great spaghetti bolognese tonight. I've always enjoyed doing spag bol, but this was a particularly good one, so here's the recipe:

(Serves 4-6)

1 lb minced beef
1 large red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped.
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated.
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped.
1 onion, finely chopped.
1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro in north america, apparently)
A few fresh tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes, but pick whatever is fresh and firm)
Tomatoe puree or a jar of ragu/dolmio/etc.
1 tin red kidney beans.
2 tablespoons coriander seeds.
1 teaspoon fennel seeds.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds.
1 teaspoon dried mint.
Sea salt.
Ground Pepper.
Olive oil.

In a pestle and mortar grind together the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and about 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Try and make sure there aren't any large pieces of coriander seeds left as they stick in your throat!

Chop the fresh coriander about half way up to separate into stalk and leaves. Chop both parts up roughly but keep separate.

Heat a large pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the minced beef. Stir until all the beef has turned brown. Add the onions and stir for two minutes. Add the chilli and stir for 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add in the ground up coriander/cumin/fennel mix.

Add the tomatoes and puree/sauce. Add the dried mint, and add seasoning to taste. Stir.

Add the kidney beans but don't stir them in just yet. Add the coriander stalks. Cover with a lid, and shake the pan gently.

Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring the kidney beans in after 20 minutes.

A couple of minutes before serving, add most of the rest of the fresh coriander, keeping some aside for garnish.

Serve on a bed of fresh spaghetti. Store bought fresh pasta is fine, but toss it in a little olive oil before serving.


[Meta: Are there other geeks who like to cook? I am pretty much alone in this at $workplace, but find that cooking is a bit like programming so I'm curious to find like-minded geeks]

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  • I always add finely grated carrots.

    Also, there are many geek-types that like the cooking (and I'm one fairly near you) (it's only chemistry and thermodynamics, after all). There are, of course, those that prefer the takeaway, but those are evil and bad and wrong.

  • I love cooking, although since we bought a house with an electric stove I've gotten a little frustrated. How do people cook with this stuff? We're getting a gas stove as soon as funding becomes available...
    • Cooking with electric is a lot like cooking with an Aga. It's all about planning. I agree though, gas is a million times better.
  • It's like the difference between bacon and a pork chop -- same organism, different bits [].

    You are what you think.
    • Right. We call both bits coriander here. I also found that coriander in Canadian supermarkets is very LARGE and thus not quite as flavourful as european coriander.
      • We call the leaves coriander sometimes in the US as well, especially when talking about the green sauce at Indian restaurants. And I believe widespread use of the word "cilantro" in English even in the US is a recent phenomenon.
  • Hey, that looks super. If my schedule permits, I'm going to make a (modified non-red-meat) version tonight and let you know how it turns out.

    I'm sure there are other foodie geeks around use.perl; I know of at least one other. A mental survey of my local perl mongers group turns up a few more.

    I've got half a mind to toss up a wiki for perl foodies... OK, a whole mind. Not restricted to perl coders. I'm curious if anything comes of this... [] - go wild. :-)


    -DA []

  • I know quite a few programmers who cook. My bolognese attempts have not come out well yet, but I have a few house specialties. Is there an established markup for recipes out there? I know Leon Brocard was using one on his site.
  • I have always loved cooking. Apparently I had a great-uncle (or even further back) who was a restaurant chef, and I have an uncle who is also a cooking enthusiast.

    In my high school and early college days my father and brother and I spent most of every Saturday watching cooking programs on our local PBS station. We never tried out more than 5% of what we saw, but it was always enjoyable. (Except for the fact that we don't much like seafood, and several of the shows drifted from preferring seafood to exc

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
  • Once you throw in the beans it's no longer spaghetti sauce it's chili con carne

  • To me, programming and cooking are similar: I mostly don't like talking or thinking about them, just doing them. :-)
  • I run a mailing list called which is mostly people talking about cooking, although it's not restricted to geeks, london or at all - it's got to the stage where there are people subscribed who I have no idea who they are. Which is good :)

    It's quite low traffic, although occasionally bursty.

    Details and archives at []