Wednesday, January 28, 2009

martha's macaroni and cheese 101

this is HANDS DOWN the best homemade mac and cheese i've ever had. the fact that it was made by my mom didn't hurt!

8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into ¼ to ½-inch pieces
5½ C milk
½ C all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt, plus more for water
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
4½ C (about 18 oz) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 C (about 8 oz) grated Gruyère cheese or 1¼ C (about 5 oz) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Melt 2 T of butter and pour over bread in a medium bowl; toss. Set bread crumbs aside.

Warm milk in saucepan over medium heat. Melt remaining butter in high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk flour mixture constantly, while adding hot milk a little at a time. Continue cooking and whisking until mixture bubbles and thickens, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, peppers, 3 C cheddar cheese and 1½ C Gruyère cheese (or 1 C Pecorino Romano cheese). Set cheese sauce aside. Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain macaroni under cold running water. Stir macaroni into cheese sauce and pour mixture into buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheeses and bread crumbs over top. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes.

Transfer disk to wire rack for 5 minutes Serves 12.

Note: For lots of crust, bake in a broad, shallow casserole dish. Recipe divides easily in half (use a 1½-quart casserole dish).

***the only change i would make to this recipe would be to add some ground mustard! i can imagine this with really crispy bacon mixed in... yum!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

mom's shrimp scampi pasta

i've been home visiting and mom made this for dinner tonight. as promised, it was delicious. you can't go wrong when garlic, white wine, and shrimp are together!

1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp
5 + garlic cloves, put through a garlic press. IMO, the more garlic, the better
1/2 tsp dried hot red- pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 lb angel hair pasta
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

bring large pot of salted water to a boil.

meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over med. high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about a minute on each side. transfer w/a slotted spoon to a large bowl. add garlic to oil remaining in skillet along with red pepper flakes, wine, salt, and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. add butter to skillet, stirring until melted, and stir in shrimp. remove skillet from heat.

cook pasta in boiling water until just tender, about 3 minutes. reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta in a colander. toss pasta well with shrimp and parsley in large bowl, adding some of reserved cooking water IF NECESSARY to keep moist.

the only changes i would make to this recipe would be:
-more shrimp
-saute the garlic slightly before adding the shrimp, to take the harsh bite off the garlic
-more salt

Monday, January 19, 2009

triple layer mud pie

i usually make this for thanksgiving as the 'chocolate option', along with eggnog pumpkin and bourbon pecan pies. i'm making this for my brother's birthday celebration, because he loves oreos and chocolate pudding. here's a tip if you try it though: leave out the pecans; they get gummy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

tonight's bean and sausage soup

1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. hot italian sausage (out of it's casing)
1 lg. can crushed tomatoes
1 lg. can diced tomatoes
1 can each: kidney, cannellini, red, pinto, great northern (all drained and rinsed)& spicy refried beans
4 cups water
salt & pepper to taste

saute the onion until translucent. add sausage and brown. add garlic, and remaining ingredients in order. bring to a boil and simmer at least 1/2 hour before serving.

i love beans.

LA Times Gingerbread People

(i haven't tried these- just posting for my own reference!)

3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 egg
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking soda.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the molasses until incorporated, then the egg. Mix in the grated and ground ginger, allspice, cinnamon, pepper, cloves and cardamom until combined. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least two hours -- and up to one week.

3. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Take half of the dough and roll out on a floured work surface to slightly less than one-fourth inch. Using cookie cutters in the desired shape, cut out the dough and place the shapes on a cookie tray lined with parchment, about 1 inch apart. Bake about 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies begin to color slightly. Do not over-bake. Cool cookies thoroughly on racks before frosting.

Royal icing and assembly

2 egg whites
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 recipe gingerbread cookies
Decorations, as desired

1. Place the egg whites and lemon juice in the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer) and mix until combined. Gradually add in the sugar, mixing until well combined. Pipe onto cookies with a piping bag (remember to cover the unused portion of the icing with plastic wrap to prevent drying out). Garnish the cookies as desired with decorations, then dry at room temperature until the icing is hardened. Store in airtight containers for up to 3 weeks at room temperature.

Each of 42 servings: 118 calories; 1 gram protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 14 mg. cholesterol; 126 mg. sodium.