Tag Archives: dinner

Mac & Cheese

Standard

And a shameless copy/paste from David since Seri requested it:

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup shredded sharp or extra sharp chedder (white chedder works *great*)
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/4 cup of milk or cream (do not use skim milk)
1 lb elbow macaroni
salt

Put the water onto boil for the pasta. As you make the sauce, toss in the pasta as necessary. Most of the time, it takes ~8 minute to cook 1 lb of of macaroni in a rolling boil.

In a saucpan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring in the flour one the butter begins to bubble. Lower the heat and add the milk, gradually raising the heat and being careful not to scald or curdle the liquid stir constantly until the butter and flour are completely disolved. Once the milk is heated, add the cheese a bit at a time, using a whisk to blend it into the milk. Continue to add cheese until the mixture takes on a sauce-like consistency. Add the Cayenne and salt to taste. It may be necessary to adjust the quantities of cheese, milk or Cayenne to get the taste that you desire.

Drain the pasta when soft and mix in the cheese sauce until evenly distributed and you see the strings of cheese forming. serves 3-4.

Notes:

-The Cayenne pepper is essential to creating the classic “Macaroni and Cheese” taste. I only realized this when I tried to use black pepper instead… didn’t work. Only used ground Cayenne, don’t try to use Tabasco (the vinegar in the sauce will curdle the milk and make some unseemly lumps in your sauce). You can put on the Tabasco after it’s done.

-It’s essential to play with this recipe to get your Mac & Cheese how you like it. More cheese makes the sauce thicker. More Milk makes it creamier. More pepper adds fire and actually makes it taste cheesier. We like the sauce thick and spicy, but I’m sure you will figure out what’s right for you.

-Once you try this you will never go back to the blue box again if you have the chance.

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Shepherd’s Pie

Standard

First of all, this isn’t cowboy pie.  Shepherds herd sheep, not cows.  Lamb is therefore the proper meat to go in this.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
1 lb ground lamb  (or get regular lamb and get chopping)
3 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
2 lbs of red skinned potatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 medium can of petit-diced or crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter
¼ cup of milk
½ cup parmesan
Salt & Pepper

Peel and chop potato and boil until cooked and soft.  You’re aiming for mashed potato consistency.

While potato is boiling, heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat and cook the garlic and onions until the onions become transparent. Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the carrots and continue to cook until the onions begin to caramelize.  Add the lamb and brown it.

Once the lamb begins to render it’s fat, add the flour and stir, then add the frozen veggies and bay leaves, again stirring until evenly distributed. Add the stock, tomato, salt and pepper.

Bring the pot up to a boil then reduce and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, at least 15 minutes (sauce should thicken and reduce).

Drain the potatoes and mash them with 3 tbsp of the butter, the milk and parmesan.

In a large flat casserole (I used a 12×12) pour the meat and veggie mixture and remove the bay leaves (very important!) then top with your mashed potatoes, spreading evenly leaving only a small gap around the sides. Melt the remaining tbsp of butter and pour on top of the potatoes.

Place the uncovered casserole in the middle of your oven under the broiler, for five minutes or until the top of the potatoes has turned a golden brown. Remove and serve.

Background

When David’s sister was in Australia studying at the Culinary Institute, one of the big, up-and-coming cookbook authors was Donna Hay, and we received her cookbook Off the Shelf for Christmas.  Our take on the recipe has evolved over time.  This is another one that makes pretty frequent appearances during the winter.

Fettucini Alfredo

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Okay, this recipe is easy.  Eeeeeasy.  Easy enough I feel silly writing it up as a recipe.  (But on the other hand, it’s a favorite that we tend to have fairly often.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  Also, when we do pasta, we tend to do pasta.  You’ll want to reduce the amount of cream/cheese/noodles if this is intended to be a side dish.)

1 tbsp butter

1 large clove garlic (clove, not head :)) minced

1 pint heavy cream (whipping cream is also fine — not whipped, however.  Cream should be in a pre-whipped state.)

1 package grated/shredded parmesan.  (the green canister won’t work here.  we use the store-brand pre-shredded bags that say 2 1/2 cups on the front)

Fettucini.  We use the refrigerator section “fresh pasta” Butoni or whatever it’s called.  Two packages = main course meal for 3 with leftovers.  The boxed dried stuff is also perfectly fine, measure how much you want and cook according to the package directions.

Salt, Pepper, Parsley, Italian Seasoning, Nutmeg

In a large pot, set water to boiling.

In a medium/large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic.  Cook until you start smelling roasted garlic, then add a small pinch of salt, a shake of black pepper, parsley, and itialian seasoning.

Once the butter is melted and you smell the herbs and garlic, add the cream and begin to stir.  You want the cream well combined with the butter mixture, but you don’t need to try and make whipped cream.

When the cream is almost to a simmer, begin adding cheese.  I usually add a handful of parmesan at a time (in my hand, somewhere between 1/2 and 1 cup.)  When the cheese is added switch to a wisk and stir constantly.  As the cheese melts in, add more cheese until it feels like you can’t add anymore.  The sauce should have gone to a smooth beigy alfredo color, and feel a lot thicker.

Sauce can sit over low heat until you’re ready for it, as long as you make a note to stir it pretty frequently to prevent scalding/burning.

Once the water is boiling for the pasta, toss in a handful of salt.  (No, I’m not exaggerating by much.  Our pasta pot is usually 2/3 filled with water, and probably 1/4 cup of salt is added.)  Add the salt after the water has started boiling so it doesn’t crystalize to the bottom of your pot.  Then add the pasta and cook as much as the pasta requires.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot.  Then sprinkle one shake of nutmeg into the sauce before giving it one final stir and adding it to the pasta.  Mix and nom.

Apple-Stuffed Porkchops

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We cook for 3, so this recipe reflects that.

3 Porkchops (thick cut, bone status doesn’t matter)

1 Granny Smith Apple (Yes, it must be Granny Smith (okay, not really, but a firm, tart baking apple is definitely required)

BBQ sauce (we use Jack Daniel’s Original No. 7 Recipe)

Preheat oven to 375.

Peel and chop the apple.  You’re looking for smaller pieces than are usually found in pie.  Usually I quarter the apple, then divide each quarter in 3-4 long strips, then chop those.  Set aside.

Slice a pocket in each chop.  Aim for a 1-2 inch opening on one side, and try to slice as much of the middle open as possible.

Stuff the apple into the chops until you can’t stuff anymore.  The more apple, the better.  (Usually, the stuffed part is twice as thick as the unstuffed when we’re done.)

Place chops in foil-lined pan and glop on some BBQ sauce.  You want the top and sides of each chop well-covered.

Bake uncovered for ~30-45 minutes (depending on your oven) until done.  Pork should be cooked through but not tough.

Background

This is a Marianne-original.  It’s easy, and I’m pretty quick with the apple peeler (I better be with the apple pies I make after every trip to the orchard during picking season.)  The recipe this was inspired from was a much more generic stuffed porkchop recipe using Stovetop Stuffing.  I don’t particularly like Stovetop (too salty for me), and I know how awesome apples and pork taste together (mmm…) so I figured why not just skip to the end and stuff the chops with apple.

It was an awesome idea.

We serve this with mashed potatoes, but pork also tastes great with sweet potato.  Or, you know, anything that suits your fancy.

Lamb Stew

Standard

1 lb lamb, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 medium onion, diced

1 large clove garlic, minced

3 medium-sized carrot, chopped

3 medium-sized potato, chopped

1 16-oz can beef broth

1 16-oz can crushed (or petit diced) tomato

1 tbsp dried rosemary

red wine

salt and pepper to taste

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and onion, and cook (stirring frequently) until onion is transluscent.  Add lamb, and cook until brown.

Once lamb is just browned, add the potato, carrot, tomato, and beef stock.  Then add red wine until just covered.  Add rosemary, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 90-120 minutes, stirring occasionally.  At the end, uncover and increase the heat back to medium high and cook until liquid is reduced.

Background

This recipe is all David’s.  It would work equally well with beef, but we choose to use lamb as I can’t eat beef.  In a lot of ways, this recipe works for the same reason our New Year’s lambchops work so well; the combination of garlic, rosemary, red wine and tomato just works so well together.  Add to it that this is a long-cooking recipe, giving everyone a couple hours to marinate in the smells of it, it always disappears quickly when served.

That being said, I have a love-hate relationship with the preparation of it.  I love the final product, and I have no problem with chopping vegetables, but the prepping of the lamb itself is absolute misery.  I’m not entirely certain what it is, but most of the cuts of lamb I see available are just a huge pain in the ass to deal with.  David doesn’t seem to have problems with it, however, so ymmv.

Roast Chicken

Standard

1 stick butter, softened

1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

1 whole chicken

2 lemons

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine Sage with butter, stuff under the skin of the chicken.  (Yes, stuff.  You could do this delicately, but it’s soft butter and raw chicken.  Pretty icky-feeling, so finish as quickly as possible.)

Add salt and pepper to oil, pour over chicken, massaging firmly.  (Get it everywhere.  This is how you’re getting seasoning and that crispy skin.)

Slice lemons in quarters, stuff in cavity. (Again, yes with the stuff.  I really dislike handling raw meat in general, so it’s a rather rushed process.)

Bake at 425 (untrussed and breast DOWN) until juices run clear (Internal temp should read 160F.  Sources say anywhere from 7-10 min per pound…  5 pounds in our oven takes 1hr 25 min.)

We usually serve this with roasted root vegetables.  Usually a couple carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.  Oil, baking sheet, salt, pepper, whatever herbs or spices suit your fancy, and in the oven for the last ~45 min.  We’ve done it with other veggies, but Judy hates onions with a passion, and those are the favorites.

Background

This recipe is almost entirely mine, influenced by having seen Alton Brown and Ina Garten roast poultry in the past on Food Network.  When I first moved to Virginia, David and I were much more culinarily adventurous than we are at current.  A whole chicken was a challenge to be met!  (Soon after, we realized for the most part, boneless, skinless breasts are much more useful and so this is a rare-use recipe.)  After frantic searching to see how hot, how long, how high, we settled on this.

On the whole, it’s pretty damned good.  Except for the fact that our meat thermometer doesn’t work and our oven bleeds heat like a sumbitch.  But hey, cooking’s supposed to be an adventure, right?  Right?