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Archive for December, 2011

There’s a renaissance of creativity erupting in this country. Out of necessity people are making all sorts of wonderful things from found items. In my quest to “Waste Not, Want Not” I’ve been making my ever changing mac n’cheese. I love the alchemy that takes place when I use leftover cheeses from my fridge to make this dish. Homely scraps, wedges and lumps of different cheeses go into a white sauce that’s mixed with penne macaroni and then covered with parmesan cheese. Baked until golden brown,the interior of this dish emerges loaded with toothsome pieces of pasta bathed in a complex sauce of many cheeses. It’s magical how all the flavors deliciously merge and meld into each other.  

At different times I’ve used bits of brie, fontina, gorgonzola, manchego, cheddar, provolone, gruyere, parmesan, and asiago.It always turns out delicious. If I have some leftover bits of ham or prosciutto I’ll add them as well. Sometimes a mound of caramelized onions,handful of spinach or sun dried tomatoes get thrown in.The fun part of this dish is using whatever that’s available and experiencing something new each time. The only things I don’t change are the proportions for the white sauce and cheese. Using the Silver Palate recipe for Macaroni with Quattro Formaggi as a template I’ve been able to create my own take on their recipe by adding dijon mustard and different types of cheeses and ingredients. My latest creation had mostly provolone,some gorgonzola, asiago, and fontina cheese. I also threw in some strips of fried prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes and a handful of spinach leaves. I topped it with a mixture of parmesan and asiago cheese.Try this recipe and then try putting in your own combination of cheeses and ingredients to make your own Magical Mystical Mac N’Cheese. 

Magical Mystical Mac N’Cheese

1 lb. penne marcaroni
5 Tablsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 3/4 cups of assorted cheeeses ( provolone, gorgonzola,fontina, mozzarella, asiago)
1/2 cup fried strips of prosciutto or ham
1/2 cup strips of sun dried tomatoes
handful of spinach leaves
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 cup of parmesan and/or asiago cheeses

Boil penne until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In an oven proof pan or casserole dish make a white sauce by melting butter over medium heat until bubbling. Whisk in flour and continue to whisk for 1-2 minutes. Add milk and whisk over medium heat until it gets to a consistency of cream. Add nutmeg, dijon mustard,black and red pepper flakes. Add chopped up cheeses and continue to whisk until all is melted. Add prosciutto,sun dried tomatoes and spinach.Taste and adjust with salt as needed. Mix in penne and cover with parmesan/asiago cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees 

 

  

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A whole lotta mushrooms !Soup's on !A fully loaded bowl of soup Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a holiday that focuses on counting our blessings. I’m blessed with having abundance in my life. I have a large loving family consisting of a wonderful husband,a son,daughter,
grandson,mother,five siblings with their children and grandchildren. Thanksgiving dinner with my family usually means having 30-35 family members taking up every conceivable seating space in the house. Everyone contributes to this meal and there’s always enough leftovers to take home. It’s a heart-filling sight to experience and I revel in this pleasure.

Riding on this high and wanting to share the abundance of this dinner with my friends, I started a tradition years ago. I asked folks to bring over leftovers from their Thanksgiving dinner to share with each other. Over the years it morphed into a Day After Thanksgiving hike and supper.

Every year we start with a leisurely walk to work off all the yummy food eaten the night before. Since we’re blessed with an abundance of forests, wetlands and seashore to choose from, it’s a different place each year. There’s lots of time to talk, laugh,bird watch and take in nature. Cheese, bread, sandwiches or whatever anyone wants to bring is shared on the trail.

Afterwards we gather at my home for a supper consisting of whatever folks have brought and a turkey mushroom barley soup I’ve made from the leftover turkey carcass,stock, meat scraps and veggies. Someone starts up a fire while others set out the food that’s shown up. When the rich earthy aroma of the soup floods the kitchen I call out,”Soups on”. We gather together and someone makes a toast to the soup and our shared gratitude for the abundance in our lives. Life is good.

Turkey mushroom barley soup

Enriched turkey broth

1 turkey carcass
leftover turkey stock or chicken stock to cover carcass
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion-quartered
2 carrots-cut into chunks
2 stalks of celery- cut into rough chunks
1 medium parsnip- cut into chunks
——————————————–
2 Tablsp. butter
1 medium onion-diced
3 carrots- cut into 1/2 inch rounds
2 stalks celery- cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 parsnips- cut into 1/2 inch rounds
3/4 pound of cremini mushrooms- 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried or fresh thyme
1 cup barley*
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup + leftover turkey meat
Optional: 2-3 Tablsp.sherry
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1. Strip meat from turkey carcass. Cut into 1 inch pieces and
set aside.
2. Put carcass in large stock pot and cover with broth to almost
cover turkey. Add bay leaves with chunked carrots,celery and
parsnip. Wash and break stems off mushrooms and add to pot.
Save the caps for later.
3. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Strain turkey and vegetables and discard. Save the broth for soup.
5. Cut mushroom caps into chunks, dice remaining onion, carrots,
celery stalks and parsnip. Saute vegetables in butter until soft.
Add thyme and black pepper.
6. Add the turkey broth and bring to boil. Simmer for 25 minutes.
7. Turn heat up to a gentle boil and slowly add barley. Stir and
simmer soup for 30-40 minutes until the barley is soft. Add
parsley and turkey meat. Taste and adjust with salt and more
pepper as needed.
8. Add sherry to taste and simmer for 5 minutes.

* You can increase barley to 1 1/2 cups if you want the soup to be
dense with barley.

Yield: Approximately 30-(2 cup)servings

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