I went to my sister’s family’s house for dinner. They had ordered pizza from Lamppost Pizza. My parents just landed and visiting from the Philippines. They wanted pizza.
Mac and Cheese
So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about a new cookbook called The Spice Kitchen by Sara Engram and Katie Luber. In that posting was a recipe for their Mac and Cheese dish. What makes this different from your regular Mac and Cheese?
There were a few key spices that made a difference. The inclusion of Anise seeds, Chile Pepper* (not Chili Powder) and Mustard Powder give it a “kick” that keeps you digging your fork in for more! I have never made a no-cook pasta Mac and Cheese and was skeptical, but it turned out. One thing I didn’t do during the recipe, not realizing that it may have been important, was the blending of the liquids. It wasn’t enough that I mixed the liquids with a hand blender. I think doing this in a blender would have blended the cottage cheese with the milk. I recall, when mixing the cheeses and the liquids together that the cottage cheese was still in curd form. I think a true blending, would have made for a much richer, thicker sauce.
While my Mac and Cheese, tasted great (I loved it) it could have been creamier in my opinion.
* Note: Thanks to Lisa Lohnes for her gift of handmade Chipotle Powder that I have kept in an air-tight spice bottle. The stuff is just as potent today as it was when you gave me the gift.
Ever since we discovered a version of mac and cheese that didn’t require boiling the pasta first, we’ve been devotees of this beloved American comfort food. It’s perfect for kids and crowds and has become a potluck favorite, where vegetarians are grateful for non-meat entrées. If you get a hint of pepperoni, you’re not wrong—anise and basil are the flavors that give that popular sausage its distinctive flavor. As always, feel free to come up with your own spice combinations.
1 cup cottage cheese (not low fat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 teaspoon ground mild chile pepper
1 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
½ pound elbow pasta, uncooked
¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Blend together the cottage cheese, milk, chile pepper, anise seed, mustard, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and pasta. Grease an 8-inch square or round baking dish. Pour the pasta mixture into the dish. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
While the macaroni and cheese is baking, mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and basil in a small bowl. Add the oil and toss to combine. Remove the macaroni and cheese from the oven and carefully stir. Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni and cheese. Return the macaroni and cheese to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until browned. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 6 to 8
• Substitute fennel seed for the anise seed and tarragon for the basil.
• Add a teaspoon of mild chile pepper and omit the breadcrumb topping.
I know I’ll get hell for this, but sometimes you need comfort food and this is comfort food from my childhood. It was not uncommon to have a fried egg, rice and spam for breakfast. I’m not one to define breakfast as to only be eaten in the morning. There have been many a nights growing up that I would have a bowl of cereal for dinner. So spam, eggs and rice…not glamorous by any means, but meant to satisfy.
Combination Burrito and a Diet Coke
Sometimes you can’t always have the time to cook a meal. This new category on my blog that will capture the essence of my dinners in one photograph won’t always be about my home-cooked meals. Sometimes it will be leftovers and sometimes it may even be take-out or delivery. It will be interesting to see how this catergory will look after a few months. I challenge myself to put it out there for everyone to see, how fun or not-so-fun my dinners can be. It was a late night at the office and it’s already after 10pm. So drive thru is what I did tonight. Del Taco’s Combination Burrito with Inferno Sauce with a Diet Coke.
Chicken and Buttermilk & Chive Dumplings with a 2008 Los Vascos Sauvingnon Blanc.
Yep you read that right! A glass of wine with my Chicken and Dumplings!
So tonight I started dinner very late and didn’t get my first bite until about 10:30. I was supposed to get the chicken and chicken stock started when I got home at 6:30, but didn’t until about 7:30. I’ll call this quick stock since I usually let my chicken stock simmer a longer than I did.
The recipe turned out excellent. I did have some problems getting my sauce thickened up. But with another pan and some butter and flour, I fixed it. Seasoning was good on this. I always season as I move through a recipe. I was a bit worried about the dumplings. This dish is made to be eaten right away. The first dumplings out of the pot were light and puffy. My fork cut right through it and the first bite was so good! The other dumplings that sat in the pot after cooking, continued to cook and became more dense. Don’t get me wrong, they still taste wonderful, its just a bit heavy, so small chunks are key! I’m going to bed happy tonite! :)
Here is the basic recipe, adapted from Tyler Florence.
Chicken and Stock:
- 1 (3 to 31/2 pound) whole organic chicken
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 4 to 5 black peppercorns
- 1 head garlic, split through the equator
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen pearl onions
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
- Chopped chives, for garnish
For the stock:
Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until the chicken is tender. Skim the surface of fat and scum as it cooks.
When done remove the chicken to a cutting board. Strain the stock and shred the meat into big pieces – the stock will be used for the sauce and the chicken will be folded into it.
For the dumplings:
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, chives and buttermilk together; pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.
To prepare sauce: In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add frozen peas and pearl onions.
Let sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.
Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring up to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped chives before serving.