Archive | November, 2010

Mac & Cheese

29 Nov

This is seriously good mac & cheese.  I’ve tried other fancy mac & cheese recipes- and you know what? I don’t need gruyere & goat cheese in mine.   I love that this recipe features Cheddar, Monterey Jack & breadcrumbs.   You basically just make this super creamy cheese sauce, put the bread crumbs on top, and broil for 3-5 mins.  No real baking time.   I spoke to Jenna, the chef, who confirmed that a rue (flour and butter) plus cheese is the way to do it.  Special thanks to Beezy (aka Chrissy B.) for requesting a mac recipe for her Thanksgiving potluck.

America’s Test Kitchen Recipe
Notes from those folks: Recipe can be halved and baked in an 8×8 broiler safe pan.  Be sure to cook your pasta until tender, just past al dente. Actually better to err on side of overcooked than undercooked here. And any kind of milk- whole, skim, low-fat works.  [I think go hard or go home- so went whole]  Btw, you apparently cannot put pyrex in the broiler.  I used a porcelain baking dish.  If you have nothing broiler safe, a quick bake at 500 degrees should be able to get you that browning.   I was stressing about what size pan to use… and I ended up fitting the whole recipe in maybe a 9×9.

***** NOTE: dear tessa, why do you always forget this? This makes a fuck ton of cheese sauce. Enough for 1.5 pounds macaroni at least. So scale up on the pasta amount or can cut down on the cheese/milk mixture if you’d prefer.

6 slices white sandwich bread (good-quality, about 6 ounces), torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces

Mac & Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cups milk (see note)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

For Bread crumbs:
Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.
For mac:

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.
In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.
Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Homemade Ricotta

22 Nov

Who knew that Gwyneth Paltrow would have a useful website?  But because she is super famous– she gets to do things like, I dunno, make Sunday brunch w. Ina?  This recipe- off the Gwynnie’s blog GOOP, is from Ina’s new cookbook “How easy is that?”  While a new Ina book sounds thrilling, initial reviews of it on amazon are not.  They complain she is just recycling old recipes.  Regardless- this one is a real keeper.  Perfect for dipping, spreading, and cocktail hour. It would also take any pasta dish to another level. I toasted up some bread w. olive oil, rubbed w. garlic- and topped w. ricotta.  I added some chives– but you can also make it super herby, as Ina does.

Makes about 2 cups

4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar

Put a large sieve/mesh colander over a big bowl.  Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line sieve w. it.

Put milk and cream into a stainless steel or enameled pot.  Stir in salt.  Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  [Watch closely- it will suddenly bubble over.] Turn off heat, stir in vinegar.  Allow to sit for 1 minute until it curdles.

Pour mix into cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into bowl at room temperature for 20-25 mins, occasionally discarding the liquid in the bowl.  The longer it sits- the thicker it gets– so how long you leave it- a matter of personal preference.  Transfer ricotta to a bowl- throw out cheese cloth.

Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

Ina’s Herby variation

Mix in 3 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions), 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 ground black pepper.  Serve on bread drizzled w. oil, toasted, rubbed w. garlic, sprinkled w. salt & pepper.

Rachel H.’s Flourless Chocolate Torte

17 Nov

flourless choc2

This is the fucking bomb.  Like seriously, one of the best.  If my memory serves me right, when we were kids- Rachel- the entrepreneur- would sell these for Passover.  So when Jess P. said this was her favorite cake– even though I haven’t had Rachel’s in over a decade probably- I knew just who to ask for the recipe.  The lovely Dolores lent me her springform pan for this- but it was so good- that after this, I went out and bought by own– so I can make this again and again.

1/2 lb. [2 sticks] unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
8 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup water
1-1/3 cup sugar
5 extra large eggs at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Grease 9″ cakepan or springform pan [springform works best], and place a circle of parchment or waxed paper  on the bottom that has been cut to fit.  If waxed paper is used, grease that too- parchment paper doesn’t need greasing.
2. Chop both chocolates and set aside.
3. Combine the water w. one cup of the sugar in a heavy 2-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook about 4 minutes, or to a temperature of 220 degrees.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and immediately add the chocolate pieces, stirring until they are melted and smooth.  The mixture may “seize,” but that is all right.  It will blend once the butter is added.  Immediately start adding the butter, stirring gently until it is all melted in
5. Place the eggs and the remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Start beating on high speed and continue until they are quite thick and pale yellow, and tripled in volume.  This takes about 15 minutes [watched some madmen to occupy myself through this]
6. Start mixing egg and sugar mixture at slow speed.  Add the chocolate mixture, stirring only until fully incorporated.
8. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan.  Set the pan inside a slightly larger pan, and pour boiling water around it.  Do not let the sides of the pans touch.
9.  Place in the oven and bake 25 minutes.  Insert a cake tester or point of a knife into the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.  If not, continue cooking for up to 10 minutes longer.  Do not cook longer than a total of 35 minutes.
10.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake and unmold onto a cookie sheet.  Invert a serving plate over the cake, and turn it right side up.

Dust w. confectioner sugar.

Note: This cake may be eaten warm or cold, w. whipped cream and fresh fruit, or w. creme anglaise.

The texture of the cake will change if left overnight.  It is still good- but firmer.

Squash, Kale & Lentil Salad

15 Nov

Healthy, delicious and full of flavor.  Black kale [aka Lacinato, Tuscan or dinosaur kale] is so hot right now- according to nymag, that is.  Amount you use totally depends on your mood- if you want a more kale or squash base. But I’m really loving raw kale– will continue as a salad base- in fact, I saw a raw kale caesar on a menu at a restaurant the other day- doesn’t that sound good?  Anyway, if you read other food blogs, then you probably read Smitten Kitchen.  This recipe is originally from Bon Apetit– adapted by Smitten Kitchen– and then again, by me.

3/4 cup black or green lentils [if you can find them, the french Lentils de puy are the best]
2 pound squash- peeled, seeded and cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika [i used regular]
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
4 cups arugula [I used a couple cups of kale- probably half of the bunch]
1 cup soft crumbled goat cheese [I didn’t have so grated some Pecorino]
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus additional to taste [I didn’t have- so used a splash of white wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic vinegar]
Roasted seeds (about 1/2 cup) from your butternut squash [I wish I had done this but was too lazy]

Preheat oven to 400. Line baking sheet w. foil.  Toss squash in 2 tablespoons olive oil, cumin, paprika and salt.  Spread on sheet in single layer. Roast for 20 mins, flipping after 10.  [I kept roasting it an extra 15/20 mins- to get it a little sweeter- next time I think I’d set my oven to 425- like in the butternut squash soup recipe]

Meanwhile, soak the lentils in water for 10 mins.  Then, in a small saucepan, cook lentils in [1 cup] of boiling salted water until tender but firm [interesting note, the salt actually helps it keep its bite].  Smitten Kitchen says this takes 30 minutes- but I took another route.  Boil on med/high heat for 3-5 minutes.  Lower and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Start tasting at after the 10- mine only took that long- you want them pretty firm.

Combine lentils, squash and kale.  Add the last 1 tablespoon of oil and vinegar.  If using goat cheese, add half now- and serve w. the other half on the side.  Season w. salt, pepper and extra vinegar to taste.

Japanese Turnips w. Miso Butter

9 Nov

Not the most flattering picturing- but these are shockingly delicious.  Last weekend I picked up Jess P.’s CSA share.   I saw these- and without a clue what to do w. them- looked up a recipe on Epicurious.  It said that “Japanese turnips are at their most delicious when simply cooked with their greens”- so I took their word for it.  This miso butter is so crazy good- I encourage you to put it on any vegetable on hand- or I think it would work on tofu or fish too.

Gourmet.  Sept 2009

3 tablespoons white miso
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
3 pounds small (1 1/2-to 2-inch) Japanese turnips with greens
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) [I used white wine and a pinch of sugar.  I also read somewhere else online you could substitute apple juice]

Stir together miso and 2 tablespoon butter.

Throw out turnip stems.  Chop turnips and leaves.  Put in heavy 12-inch skillet w. water, wine, remaining tablespoon butter, and 1/8 tsp. salt.  Bring to boil over med-high heat, then cover for 10 mins.

Add greens gradually, turning and coating as volume reduces.  Cover and cook another minute.  Uncover and continue to boil, stir occasionally, until turnips tender and liquid reduced to a glaze- about 5 mins [mine took only a minute or two].  Stir in miso butter and cook one more minute.

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