Tag Archives: lunch

Mmmm! My famous Macaroni and Cheese!

23 Nov

Hello All!

Well, after months of my 32-year-old oven being offline for four months, I finally got it fixed! The problem was an ignition that gave out.  My Tappan 1979 36″ gas range is back online, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything* on this planet. Unless of course someone ( Wolf, Viking or Garland) would like to sponsor this blog and send me a new oven!

*You all know I had to try;  Tappan, you can send me another oven as well!

Now that I’m back in business, this is just in time for my famous Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe. I won an ad-hoc contest between my old boss and I at one of the Super Bowl parties we used to host, and my family loves it. It is a variation of my beloved mother’s recipe  that she made for years and is decadent and rich.The technique is simple but exacting; you must follow to the letter the directions to this recipe. Once you master the technique, play around with it to see the endless possibilities with adding vegetables and meats.

Enjoy!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1 Lb box elbow macaroni
3 cups milk ( use at least 2% milk)
3 Tbl. butter
3 Tbl. flour
1/2 cup grated parmesan ( not fresh grated; San Georgio or Kraft)
16 oz. shredded mild cheddar cheese
8 oz. monterey jack block cheese block, cubed
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese block, cubed
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
dash of cayenne (optional)
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar (optional)

Cook macaroni in boiling water for 6 minutes, then drain and run cold water over macaroni to stop cooking. Set aside.

Heat milk in a saucepot until warm. Do not scorch. In a heavy bottomed pot ( 4 qt.) melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and mix with wire whisk until all lumps of flour are gone, about 3 or 4 minutes.

**do not allow butter/flour mixture to brown. You will have to start over if it does** If mixture gets too hot, lower heat.

Add milk all at once to roux and stir until well blended. Continue to stir until edges of milk start to bubble. Lower heat to lowest setting.

**The next steps are important. If this sauce burns or breaks (separates), you will have to start over. Follow to the letter.

Add one handful of shredded mild cheddar cheese to milk mixture. Whisk in with wire whisk until completely melted. Add another handful of cheese and repeat. Do this until all of the mild cheese is in the sauce. Repeat with the Parmesan cheese. Add white pepper, cayenne pepper and taste. Add a little salt if needed, but no more than 1/2 teaspoon.

Put cooked macaroni and cubed cheese in a large bowl. Toss with cheese sauce until all pasta is coated. Butter a 10 x 12 dish and add macaroni mixture. Top with shredded sharp cheese, cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven until bubbly ( about 45 minutes). Uncover and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until brown.

Let rest for at least 20 minutes, then serve.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Vegan Sweet Potato Bisque

12 Nov

The  cooler weather is settling in on the eastern seaboard. The leaves are turning vivid colors of yellow, orange and red and the nights are getting crisp. My brain is still fried from our super-hot summer, but I am finally open to the change of seasons. After all, it is mid-fall and it is the perfect season for my silky-smooth vegan Sweet Potato Bisque.

Bisque you say, Culinary Chick? I thought that bisque was traditionally made from seafood!

You are correct!  Traditionally a bisque is made from seafood, utilizing the trimmings  from shellfish.  The French didn’t waste anything, and came up with a technique which extracted every ounce of flavor by  sauteing the trimmings and mirepoix , simmering them in stock, adding various flavorings,  passing them through a fine sieve and finally adding a bit of cream to add a rich and silky finish to the soup. I utilized the same techniques here to achieve the desired texture: I wanted the soup to glide over the tongue and not be encumbered by bits of vegetables. It’s a bit of work, but well worth the effort!

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

4 tbl. olive oil

2 cups peeled and diced onion or leeks*

1 ½ cups peeled and diced Fuji, Gala, Jazz , Golden delicious or Honey Crisp apples

1 Tbl. fresh grated ginger

2-2½ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced ( about 3 or 4 medium to large )

2- 2 ½ cups carrot juice ( available in produce isle; I used Bolthouse Farms)

3 ½ cups vegetable broth ( make your own or use Swanson Vegetarian Vegetable Broth)

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. curry powder

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (optional)

In a heavy-bottomed stockpot over meduim heat,  heat up the olive oil. Add the onions and apples and saute, stirring occasionally until onions are transparent and apples begin to soften, about seven to eight minutes. Do not brown; if starting to brown, turn down heat and add a bit of the broth.  Add ginger and saute until fragrant; about two minutes. Place the peeled and diced sweet potatoes in the pot and add the broth and  carrot juice. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low. Add cinnamon,  nutmeg, curry powder, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes uncovered or until potatoes are soft. Turn heat off and let stand for 20 minutes.

In small batches, process the vegetables and broth in either a blender or food processor until smooth. Place pureed soup through a fine-mesh strainer and force through with a ladle or spoon until all the liquid is extracted. Discard the pulp** and repeat until all the soup is strained. Return to pot and add almond milk and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve warm with crusty bread and salad as a lunch or a light dinner. Serves 6 to 8.

* If using leeks, cut off the green stalks and root end, saving the white part. Split the leek in half lengthwise,  dice and float the leeks in cold water. Allow the leeks to soak for 20 minutes, occasionally agitating to water to loosen the grit . Remove the leeks from the water with a slotted spoon and discard the water. Run the leeks  in cold water in a colander  for a minute and drain. Proceed with the recipe.

**I saved the pulp and gave it to my doggie in her meal. She loved it.

Applesauce Bread for your soul

28 Mar

Great with your morning coffee!

During the winter event known as Snowzilla, Snowpocalypse or my personal favorite Kaiser Snowze,  my neighbors did a bang-up job of digging a gimpy girl out ( five times to be exact).  I am eternally grateful for their efforts, so I decided to make them all a little treat. This bread is simple to make and can be frozen for 3 months if double-wrapped carefully.

Makes four 8 x 4 inch loaves

2 1/3 c. applesauce

6 eggs

1 1/3 c. vegetable oil

3 c. water

4 2/3 c. all-purpose flour

1 Tbl. baking soda

2 tsp. salt

1 ¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. fresh chopped ginger

1 ½ c. brown sugar

1 ½ c. white sugar

1 c. raisins, soaked and drained

1 ½ c. grated apple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour four 8 x 4 inch aluminum baking pans.  Mix the flour,  dry spices,  baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl and set aside. In a larger bowl;  mix together eggs, water, apples and sugar. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together until blended, taking care not to over mix. Fold in raisins and pour into loaf pans. Top each loaf with the chopped walnuts and bake in center of oven. After an hour, check each loaf for to see if cooked thoroughly by inserting a toothpick in the center of each loaf. Bread is done when toothpick comes out clean.

Bon Appetit!

Rigatoni with Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic

22 Feb

Last week, I ventured out and went to the store for the first time in weeks and bought some chard with the intention of posting it for the blog. Then this great lady beat me to the punch.  If you haven’t stopped by the blog Dianne’s Dishes, you should.  She puts up recipes for everything from soup to nuts five days a week, and does a great job of doing so.  I ribbed her about it, then I tried her recipe with one half of the chard ( which was quite dee-lish), and sat on the other half and pondered what I would do with the other half. This is what I came up with.

For those who aren’t familiar with chard, it is a leafy vegetable that comes in several varieties. When eaten young, ti can be used raw in salads.  Mature chard can be sauteed, roasted or used in sauces or soups. When cooked, its texture is a bit heartier than spinach, and is slightly more assertive in flavor.

Rigatoni with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Garlic (serves two to four)

1 bunch of fresh chard ( 1 to  1½ lbs)

2 tbl. olive oil

½ c. chopped onions

1 tbl. chopped garlic

1 ½ c. chopped tomatoes

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

8 oz. dried rigatoni or other similar pasta

2 tbl. Parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

red pepper flakes (optional)

Prepare chard by cutting off the last inch or inch and a half off the ends of the stems.

Chop chard into bite-sized pieces and float in a tub of water to wash off any sand and grit.

Drain chard in colander until ready to saute.

Cook rigatoni in boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender and fragrant, being careful not to brown. Add tomatoes and saute for three minutes, then add chard to pan. Toss chard with the tomato mixture and add stock.

Cook chard until wilted and leaves are tender, about seven or eight minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss rigatoni into chard mixture and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Thia makes a  quick and elegant light supper, and healthy to boot!

Potato and Bacon Soup

11 Feb

When it’s like this outside:

You should have this on the inside:

It has been snowing here now for two days; and five days before that, it snowed for two days. We have on the ground here in Baltimore a grand total of 65 inches, give or take a few inches.   So with that said, let’s make some soup.

Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup

3 slices bacon

2 tbl. olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

2 tbl. chopped fresh garlic

3 tbl. all-purpose flour

6 cups chicken stock or broth

4 medium russet potatoes peeled and diced ( 4 cups)

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 cup heavy cream ( optional)

2 tbl. chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat, heat up olive oil and add bacon to pan. In a seperate pot, warm up the chicken stock to simmer.  saute bacon in olive oil and allow bacon to get crispy.

Remove bacon from pan and add onions, celery and garlic and saute until soft, being careful not to brown.

Add flour to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly until flour mixture is tan ( blond) in color. Do not brown.

Add stock , potatoes,bay leaf, thyme to pot and simmer. Skim off any foam that appears on the surface.

While soup is simmering, chop the bacon. When the soup has finished  simmering and potatoes are tender ( 30-45 minutes), take a potato masher and mash the potatoes in soup pot to thicken soup and provide a rustic texture.

Remove thyme sprig and bay leaf,  add bacon, chopped parsley and cream. Stir into soup and serve immediately with a slice of crusty bread.

Enjoy!

National Pie Day!!

24 Jan

Hey Guys and Gals,

Did you know that February 23 is National Pie Day?  Like Spongebob says, everybody likes pie.  Pies have been around for ages and originated as a container to hold fillings from meats, fruit and even live animals.  Today, pie is all encompassing; if you can encase it dough and bake it in a pan, it can be called a pie, or not ( shepard’s pie and tamale pie come to mind with a topping that acts as a crust)  Well, I say we chuck our diets and have a pie orgy.

Let’s see; I’ll start with a slab of Quiche Lorraine for breakfast,  Spinach Pie for lunch, and Chicken pot pie for dinner and was it down with a wedge of apple pie for dinner. Mmmm, heaven!  Now who can say no to Pie? I thought so.

The stuff of dreams!

(Thanks to Parrotnation.wordpress.com for this bodacious picture)

CC

Restaurant Week tips

21 Jan

Baltimore is currently celebrating its version of Restaurant Week from January 22, 2010 to February 7, 2010. Many restaurants are offering specials on menu items or prix-fixe offerings at reduced prices. If you have the time and money, this is the perfect time to try a new place out. Here are a few tips to remember when going out.

1). Make a reservation and arrive early– Most of these places are busy and making a reservation and arriving at least 15 minutes prior will ensure a pleasant dining experience.

2). Try something new– Now is not the time to order chicken. If scallops are available and you’ve never had them, try them. Don’t forget that glass of wine; ask the server for suggestions and he may find you a gem.

3). Try lunch as an alternative to dinner-Lunch is a great time to try something new. Portions are usually smaller and are great for the health conscious.

4). Be kind to your server– These people work hard, often with no benefits or other compensation. Tip them accordingly ( 15% good service, 18% great service, 20% for exceptional service). Remember that the discounted meal you enjoy during Restaurant Week would normally cost at least twice that amount other times.

5). If you like a place, go back– Restaurants are a business, and use this time to promote their businesses. If you enjoy a place, show them by giving them your return business.  Your dollars pay the salaries of cooks, dishwasher, porters and many vendors who supply everything from forks to the olives in your martini. This helps our economy and save jobs.

6). Say Thank You– You have no idea what this  simple gesture does for your server, especially if they are busy.

Many participating restaurants are offering a three-course lunch from $20.10 and three-course dinners from $35.10 ( excluding tax and gratuity).

Mangia Mangia!!