Tag Archives: Mac-and-cheese

One-a-day Great Superbowl Recipes (Day 1)

28 Jan
Photo by Hans Gissinger

Photo by Hans Gissinger

Three-Cheese Pimiento Mac with Parmesan Crumbs

I created this recipe for Bon Appétit magazine and it became the cover photo. It’s a comforting, American-styled baked pasta loosely based on a southern favorite – pimiento cheese – whose red bell pepper-cheddar-y taste profile is totally satisfying. The secret ingredient is sweet-and-spicy peppadew peppers. The components can be prepped ahead of time, assembled, and baked 20 minutes before serving. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd and perfect for a Superbowl gathering.

1 large red bell pepper, 7 ounces
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
12 peppadew peppers, drained
1 tablespoon peppadew brine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder
5 ounces extra-sharp yellow cheddar, in small pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
4 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella
8 ounces gemelli or medium shells
½ cup panko
3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil

Cut the pepper in half and remove seeds. Cut pepper into 1 inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water and 1-1/2 cloves garlic. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cover. Cook 15 minutes until peppers are very soft. Transfer contents (with water) to a food processor. Add the peppadews, brine, 2 tablespoons butter, chile powder and remaining ½ garlic clove. Process until smooth. Add cheddar and ¼ cup parmesan and process until very smooth.

Boil the pasta in salted water until tender, about 11 minutes. Drain under cold water and pat very dry. Toss pasta with the red pepper sauce. Stir in the mozzarella. Add salt to taste. Pack into a large soufflé dish.

Stir together the remaining ¼ cup parmesan and panko. Add the remaining tablespoon butter and, with your fingers, thoroughly moisten the crumbs. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle on pasta and bake 20 minutes until golden. Scatter basil on top. Serves 4

Singapore Food Critic Loves My Mac-n-Cheese

31 Jul

MAC-AND-CHEESE with Cauliflower and Creamy Red Pepper Sauce, one of over 80 recipes from “Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs” (recipe below).

It’s amazing how recipes circulate around the world. Back in the early ’80s it took about two years for “blackened redfish” to migrate from New Orleans, where it was invented by Paul Prudhomme, to Chicago. But that’s because the primitive media of culinary exchange were cooking magazines and Wednesday’s newspaper food sections.

By the time the blackening fad arrived in Australia, redfish had been over-harvested to near-extinction, recovering only after trendinista chefs moved onto something else. These days, of course, food news and recipes shoot around the globe in no time flat via the Internet — which is why we’re suddenly inundated with gilded “gourmet” hamburgers and bizarre pizzas everywhere in the United States.

I’m reminded of this by an email that just arrived from Singapore, where one of my own recipes recently appeared. Two years ago, Michael Whiteman, my husband The Restaurant Consultant, worked with Richard Helfer, the former far-thinking president of Raffles Hotels, to help create a fast-casual rotisserie chicken restaurant prototype that was slated to colonize numerous corners of Singapore and then beyond.

On one of his trips he brought as a gift a cookbook, which I’d written with my daughter, called Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs. Every recipe is healthful and colorful, with major emphasis on swapping fresh vegetable purees for otherwise fattening cream and butter. For example, zucchini gets whirled into a gorgeous jade-green sauce for pasta primavera; cauliflower gets star billing in a delicious side dish called “Looks Like Mashed Potatoes;” and creamed spinach is enlightened with a puree of (yes!) cottage cheese.

Helfer named his chicken chain Charly T’s, after a fictional gastronome who roamed the globe in search of recipes that would sate his infinite lust for chicken. Knowing that go-withs and flavorful sauces are at least as important as a well-lacquered bird, Helfer paid lots of attention to side dishes, one of which he happened upon in the aforementioned cookbook.

A Singaporean food writer alarmingly named “Little Missy Greedy” recently visited the newly opened second outlet of Charly T’s to write about how to make the restaurant’s celebrated mac-and-cheese — and there it is, straight from Eat Fresh Food: my singular recipe that incorporates, among other ingredients, red peppers, chipotle powder, honey and cauliflower florets. Its gorgeous bright orange sauce is made from cooked red bell peppers and garlic that get pureed together until silky. The seven step-by-step photos all have captions in Chinese, which happens to be Greek to me — but you can make this at home with your kids and be rewarded for being a terrific parent. You’ll love it because it looks like it’s oozing with cheese, but it has much less fat and is more nutritious than regular mac-and-cheese. And now it’s among the trendiest dishes in Singapore. Singapore Sling, anyone?

MAC-AND-CHEESE with Cauliflower and Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

4 oz. very sharp yellow cheddar
2 medium red bell peppers, about 12 oz.
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
8 oz. ziti or penne rigate (or elbow macaroni)
3 cups small cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Procedures

Shred the cheese on the large holes of a box grater and set aside. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Cut peppers into 1-inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with ½ cup water. Cut the garlic in half, lengthwise, and add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the peppers are very soft. Transfer the contents of the saucepan, including the water, to a food processor or blender. Add the butter, honey, chile powder, and salt to taste and process until very smooth. Return to the saucepan. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cauliflower and cook for 12 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and shake dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Heat the sauce and pour it over the pasta. Add the cheese and stir well. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle with chives. Serves 4 to 6

Merci, Bon Appétit

24 Feb

This month’s Bon Appétit magazine, March 2011, has a cover story with lots of appeal.  On the upper left are big letters that spell out everyone’s favorite comfort dish:  MAC & CHEESE.  “Hands down the tastiest version we’ve ever made” — the editors agreed to comment on the cover.  “And other remarkably sumptuous baked pastas,” it goes on to say.  Those are great headlines, I have to admit, especially because that story is mine!  More than five months ago I was asked to write an article featuring baked pasta recipes.  I struggled with it more than most and even complained to my best friend, pasta-maven Arthur Schwartz, that it was difficult to put a new spin on not one, but five such recipes.

The reasons were plentiful: pasta continues to absorb liquid and tends to “grow” in the dish; there can be a “sameness” about the flavors of most baked pastas, and there are far fewer recipes for baked pastas in the Italian repertoire than you would imagine except for lasagna, baked ziti and cannelloni (when was the last time you saw that on a menu?).   It occurred to me that macaroni and cheese might fit the bill, and so I “amp-ed” up the classic by tossing pasta with my version of pimiento cheese!, then stirred three cheeses into its coral creaminess, and added a flourish of parmesan crumbs on top.  Simply baked until the topping gets crisp and the sauce is bubbling, this slyly named Pimiento Mac & Cheese is rather good.  Are you perchance thinking of making it tonight?  (Recipe below).  The four other featured recipes are Moroccan-Spiced Pastitsio with Lamb & Feta — perfumed with ras el hanout and dried mint; Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch; a lusty Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese, flavored with fennel seed, white wine and basil; and Tortellini Gratinati with Mushrooms & Parsnip “Bechamel.” That one may, in fact, be my favorite — flavored with fresh rosemary and grated nutmeg, I’m rather certain no one has ever made a parsnip bechamel before.  The root vegetable, cooked and pureed, takes the place of the butter and flour in the classic sauce, and adds a sweet earthiness of its own.  Hey, maybe the March 2011 issue should be named Buon Appetito!  Enjoy!

Rozanne Gold’s Pimiento Mac & Cheese
The mix of Parmesan, cheddar, bell pepper and sweet-tangy Peppadew peppers coats the pasta perfectly — and the panko topping adds great texture.

1 large red bell pepper, 7 to 8 ounces, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3/4 cup drained Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tablespoon brine reserved
1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chiles
1-1/4 cups packed shredded extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese
1 packed cup shredded whole-milk mozzarella
8 ounces medium shell pasta or gemelli

Bring 1/2 cup water, bell pepper, and 1-1/2 garlic cloves to a boil in a small saucepan.  Cover; reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer until pepper is soft, about 15 minutes. Toast panko in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 minutes.  Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm.  Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat.  Mix in 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Transfer bell pepper mixture to processor.  Add Peppadews and 1 tablespoon brine, 2 tablespoons butter, ground chiles, and 1/2 garlic clove.  Then add cheddar and 1/4 cup parmesan.  Process until sauce is smooth; season with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter an 8-cup baking dish,  Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite.  Drain; return to pot.  Stir sauce and mozzarella into pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon pasta into dish.  Sprinkle with crumb topping.  Bake until topping is crispy and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes and serve.  Serves 6

iMac2

29 Jan

As promised, here is another recipe for macaroni and cheese.  This is an unusual version and healthier than most.  It is also prettier.  This mac-and-cheese is studded with surprise nuggets of cauliflower and its gorgeous bright orange sauce is made from cooked red bell peppers and garlic that get pureed together until silky.  My daughter and her friends like making it because is looks like it’s oozing with cheese, but it has much less fat and is more nutritious than the more familiar stuff.  The secret is to use a very sharp yellow cheddar, artisanal if possible.  For dinner, you might partner it with a garlic-and-smoked paprika-rubbed rib-eye steak and open a bottle of shiraz.  Or if you feel like keeping-it-healthy, simply serve with a salad for a radically wonderful weekend lunch.

Mac-and-Cheese with Cauliflower and Creamy Red Pepper Sauce
5 ounces very sharp yellow cheddar cheese
2 medium red bell peppers, about 12 ounces
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
8 ounces ziti or penne rigate or elbow macaroni
5 cups small cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Shred the cheese on the large holes of a box grater and set aside.  Cut the peppers in half and remove seeds.  Cut into 1-inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water.  Cut the garlic in half, lengthwise and add to saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the peppers are very soft.  Transfer the contents of the saucepan, including the water, to a food processor or blender.  Add the butter, honey, chili powder, and salt to taste and process until very smooth.  Return to the saucepan.   Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cauliflower and cook 12 minutes or until tender.  Drain well and shake until completely dry.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Heat the sauce and pour it over the pasta.  Add the cheese and stir well.  Add salt to taste and sprinkle with chives.  Serves 6

iMac-and-Cheese

28 Jan

From Kids Cook 1-2-3

Most kids grew up eating Kraft macaroni and cheese and I suppose I had my share.  But my real comfort came from the loving hands of my beautiful Hungarian mother, Marion, who made me cabbage and noodles, instead. Just yesterday, I was given, and then duly paid for, a book by my 8-year old neighbor, Diego.  He wrote FOOD: It’s Good Stuff, with a bunch of friends.  It’s chock-a-block with illustrations and recipes galore.  One of my favorites — shark’s fin soup — begins with a whale.  Not everyone has thought of that!  The book is $6.50 ($7.50) if you live in Canada and I’m sure I could get you a copy.  Complete with recipes for ice cream sundaes, “hide-and-seek,” and “the crunch of a salad,” it is witty and fun.  And, it’s a bestselling book!  It says so right on the cover. Yet despite a reference to Steve Jobs and the new iMac with a 3D camera, there is no recipe for mac-and-cheese.  So, here are two complimentary entries (or entrees!) for their next edition.  One of the most radically simple recipes ever created is adapted from my book called Kids Cook 1-2-3.  The second version, comes from Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs (both published by Bloomsbury) — will be available on this site tomorrow.   Dedicated to Diego, today’s recipe is now called iMac-and-Cheese.  I hope he enjoys it.

iMac-and-Cheese
Due to a surfeit of American cheese in my fridge, I invented this version of everyone’s favorite recipe.  You can use familiar elbow macaroni or the less familiar shape called campanelle (“little bells”).  If you want this even cheesier, just melt a few more slices of cheese!  If you’re a daring kind of kid, you can top it with freshly chopped chives.

4 ounces elbow macaroni
4 ounces American cheese, about 7 slices
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, until just tender.  Meanwhile, put 1/4 cup water and the cheese in a medium size saucepan.  Bring just to a boil.  Immediately lower the heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese melts, about 3  minutes.  Add the butter and continue to stir for 1 minute, or until you have a smooth sauce.  Put a colander in the sink and drain the pasta.  Return the pasta to the large saucepan and stir into the cheese mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir gently while reheating the pasta.  Serves 2 or 3

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