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.

Apple Tart

8 Nov

Damn you Ina.  Why do make everything look so easy?  On TV, Ina makes this in, like, less than 5 mins of air time.  Not quite as easy or beautiful as it looked on TV- but still totally doable.  And it doesn’t require a tart pan.  You need to refrigerate dough at least an hour- I left mine overnight.  She warns that it might look like it is burning- but it is really just the sugar burning- and dripping off the pan (put tinfoil underneath or something if u don’t want it to get on your oven- or a rimmed baking sheet perhaps).  Anyway, of course I was still panicking that it was burning so took it out 9 mins early- and it was fine- when i tasted it- it really did just take like burnt sugar, which is delicious- not burnt pastry. I also served w. vanilla ice cream- so good.

A Barefoot Contessa Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water

4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam [i didn’t bother to sieve- just don’t take brush on the chunks]
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water [i used rum]

For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges- making a neat rectangle. Put the dough on the prepared pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler [I used one of those apple core-ers, you want to core nicely so slices are pretty]. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices [for some reason, I had trouble w. this so made straight lines].  Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. “Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!” When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados/rum and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Cheddar Biscuits & a California Scramble

5 Nov

Some days you are just off your A-game- and screw up every recipe.  And sometimes those days coincide w. inviting your friends (Charlotte & Phil) over for brunch.   Last time I made these biscuits- they were gorgeous- looked exactly like Ina’s.  This time- not as much- I had apples baking on the upper rack so I put these on the lower and ended up burning the bottom- even my parchment paper burned.  So I’d recommend the middle rack.  The apples, which for some un-caffeinated reason, I thought would be fine cooking about 100 degrees over suggested temperature- became applesauce. Interesting mistake w. the scramble.  So, by logic that at omelette stations you see them throwing in the ham before the eggs, I thought I’d do this w. my sausage- sauteing them in the pan before adding eggs.  But for reasons I don’t understand- maybe someone can explain?- this seemed to shift the properties of the eggs- rendering them an entirely different texture.  So the next time- and for the photo- I had to try it again- frying sausage in a separate pan- and adding in once eggs had started to cook.  Scrambles, it should be mentioned, are my favorite brunch item– I love that they have everywhere in SF– and I don’t understand why more NY places don’t have it.  I don’t want an omelette, I want a scramble- and yes, they taste totally different.

Cheddar Biscuits. A Barefoot Contessa recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 cold extra-large egg
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk
Maldon sea salt, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I used a food processor w. a dough blade). With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly about 6 times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 10 by 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, if using, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.

The California Scramble
Chicken apple sausage
Jack Cheese

In a separate pan, saute sausage.  Maybe throw in a (hot?) pepper. Mix eggs w. a small amount of milk (Do you know that apparently eggs w. less liquid are more creamy?).  Add salt & pepper.  Heat other pan (Another trick- your supposed to cook them over low heat), add butter.  Add eggs. Start to scramble.  After they take shape, add sausage and cheese.  When done, take off heat, and quickly mix in avo.

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