Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Best Mac and Cheese

The Best Mac and Cheese (adapted from a Pasta and Co. recipe)

1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 lb mozzarella cheese, grated
4 cups and 3⁄4 cup milk (Divided!)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup flour
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 shakes Cholula (or Tabasco sauce)
1⁄3 teaspoon white pepper
1 lb cavatappi pasta (or rigatoni or penne)
3⁄4 teaspoon chili powder

Combine grated Cheddar and mozzarella and set aside.

Zap 4 cups of milk so it's not fridge cold.

Melt butter in a heavy pan large enough to hold the pasta after it is cooked. When foam from butter recedes, remove from heat, whisk in flour, and mix well. Return to medium-low heat, and, whisking constantly, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to cook, but not brown, the flour.

Gradually whisk in hot milk. Raise heat to medium-high and continue stirring until mixture is smooth and thick (about 5 minutes).

Add Parmesan cheese. Whisk until smooth. Add Tabasco and white pepper and blend.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water about 4 minutes. (It will be underdone, but will finish cooking later.) Drain and fold it into the cheese sauce.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Layer one-half the pasta mixture into a 9x13 pan. It will probably seem like you don't have enough because it barely covers the bottom of the pan. Top with one-half of the Cheddar and mozzarella. Repeat. Sprinkle chili powder evenly over top.

Up to this point can be done a day or two ahead (or even longer if you freeze it, but I'd thaw before baking a frozen batch). When ready to bake, drizzle an additional 3/4 cup milk over the dish. Bake for approximately one hour.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shaksuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

As I'm approaching the one year mark for posting anything on this blog, I've been feeling pressure to come up with a post. The problem is that I've been repeatedly cooking recipes from the blog, but I haven't been coming up with anything new. Then I had a craving for a stewy, spicy, yummy tomato and egg dish I had once at Eltana. But when I went there to have it, I was too early. Even though it has eggs in it, it's really a lunch or dinner dish. So, darnit, I had to come home and make my own version. Suddenly, a blog post was ready. The Eltana version has more vegetables than mine and it comes with a bagel to dunk in it. I think there are a ton of variation possibilities - add zucchini, eggplant, more spicy peppers, olives, artichoke hearts. It's so quick and easy.
P.S. Part of starting to post again is promising myself I won't skip a recipe just because I didn't get a great picture!

Shaksuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce)
serves 2

1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno
2 Anaheim peppers (or bell peppers if you can't find these)
1 1/2 T cumin
1 T smoked paprika (or substitute hot paprika)
pinch of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 14.5oz can of whole tomatoes
1 cup water
4 eggs
feta cheese for sprinkling
bread for dunking

  • Get the jalapenos and peppers ready by cutting off the ends and scraping out the seeds. Chop the  jalapenos tiny and the Anaheims just a little smaller than bite-sized.
  • Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a wide, deepish pan. Saute the onion for a few minutes and then add the garlic. Let them cook until they're just turning brown.
  • Add the jalapenos and peppers and cook for a few minutes to soften them.
  • Add the cumin paprika and toast for a minute or two. If they start to stick too much, just skip to the next step.
  • Dump the liquid from around the tomatoes into the pan to stop the spices from sticking. Then squish up the tomatoes with your hands and add them in. You could probably really easily substitute canned tomatoes, but I haven't tried that yet.
  • Add the cinnamon, bay leaf, and water and simmer for about 15 minutes to get the flavors all together. If you need to splash in a little more water, that's no problem, just do it a bit at a time so it doesn't get too thin.
  • Crack each egg into the pan so they aren't touching. Put a lid on and let them cook for about a minute to set. Then I learned a great trick from my new favorite cookbook - use a soup spoon and baste the whites of the eggs with the sauce. This makes them taste better and set better.
  • The dish is done whenever the eggs are done to your liking. I don't like a really runny yolk so we let ours cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Serve sprinkled with feta cheese and with toasty bread for dunking in the sauce. It would probably be great over pasta too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Broccoli Rice Bake (a.k.a. Leftovers Casserole)

Now it seems like a no-brainer to cover some leftovers in creamy sauce, bake them up with some cheese, and then - voila - a whole new dinner, but I'd never tried it until I saw a recipe similar to this in a Cook's Illustrated special issue about quick meals. I love that magazine for ideas and tips, but even the quick recipes are so fussy I often don't follow the exact instructions. It's not that I doubt their version is more efficient and maybe even better, they're just so bossy. But the interchangeability of this meal is undeniable. You could make it with rice, pasta, or even potatoes for the "base," then add just about any protein (or not), and a wide variety of vegetables. All you'd make is the sauce. I do make it sometimes with no leftovers at all, but it's better to wait until I have some rice and chicken in the fridge so it's less work (the only thing I wouldn't use - veggies that are already on the soft side). And it freezes well. Oh, I forgot to mention it's delicious.

Broccoli Rice Bake (a.k.a Leftovers Casserole)
serves 4 generously

4 cups cooked/1.5 cups uncooked brown rice
2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)
4 cups broccoli
4 T butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup stock
1 cup cream
1 t mustard
1.5 cups cheese (I like a mix of Parm and Cheddar)

  • If you're not using leftovers, cook the rice; steam the broccoli until it's still a little crunchy (so it doesn't turn to mush when baked); then cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and saute in a couple tablespoons of butter or oil until light brown and cooked through. Set these aside.
  • In a large, high-sided frying pan that can go in the oven,* melt the butter and add the onion. Saute until the edges start to brown and then add the garlic. 
  • Saute until the garlic softens (a couple of minutes) and then sprinkle the flour over the onions and garlic. Stir well so the flour has a chance to brown for a minute or two, but not burn (it will stick to the pan, but don't worry).
  • Dump in the cream, stock, and mustard and whisk vigorously.
  • Add the broccoli, chicken, and 2/3 of the cheese and stir well. 
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste. 
  • If you're using leftovers, stir this on the heat for a few minutes so that the ingredients are heated through.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and pop under the broiler until brown and bubbly. 
  • Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
*If you don't have a big enough pan, you can combine everything in a bowl and then transfer it all to a broiler-safe dish in the end.
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