Archive for February, 2011

12
Feb
11

Truffled Fondue Macaroni and Cheese

I am a macaroni and cheese addict, and always have been. I have trouble not eating an entire casserole dish of baked macaroni-and-cheesy goodness. So the solution to my problem is to make it as rich as possible, and to bake it in ramekins, which are one of my all-time favourite kitchen accessories.

This, for me, is the perfect it’s-too cold-for-anything-but-sitting-in-front-of-a-fireplace dinner. Ideally, it would be served with a salad – it went pretty well with the farewell, summer salad I posted a few days ago. However, last time I made this macaroni and cheese, it was only about the pasta. And the Scotch. In spite of my efforts to eat healthy lately, I just had to make an exception. This dish uses a lot of pots and bowls, but comes together easily. It’s inspired by cheese fondue, born of having Emmenthal, Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, kirsch, and white truffle oil lying around.

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Truffled Fondue Béchamel

2 cups grated white Cheddar cheese (I like 2-year-old Cheddar best)

1 cup grated Emmenthal

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

4 Tbsp butter

4 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

generous pinch of salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

splash of kirsch

1 1/2 tsp white truffle oil (if you don’t have this, you could rub the bottom of your saucepan with a cut clove of garlic before making the roux, and increase the kirsch)

 

Breadcrumbs

1 cup panko

2 – 3 tsp butter

 

3 c elbow macaroni or other pasta with grooves to hold the cheesy goodness

 

It’s best to have the ingredients for the béchamel ready to go from the beginning.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease 4 to 6 1-cup ramekins.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 – 3 tsp of butter. When just about to brown, add the panko. Stir occasionally, until golden brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. While the pasta cooks, make the béchamel. In a small, deep pot, melt the butter over low heat. Slowly sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly to fully incorporate. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Very slowly pour in the milk, again, stirring constantly. When the milk is fully incorporated, add the kirsch and nutmeg. Stir until the sauce thickens. Let the sauce barely simmer, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in the grated cheeses until almost completely melted. Add the white truffle oil and stir to combine.

Drain the pasta and toss with the béchamel. Spoon into the greased ramekins, filling to the top (or over-filling them, if you’re so inclined). Sprinkle the toasted panko on top. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes.

This recipe makes about 6 servings. I discovered that Laphroaig goes really well with this macaroni and cheese – it’s yummy, smoky, cozy goodness.

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01
Feb
11

Farewell, Summer Salad

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This was a bright, fresh salad. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I made it! As we’re in the dead of winter, it felt a little sunshine-y to post something with brighter colour and flavour, even though it makes me wistful for when tastier food is in season. This salad used up the last of the cherry tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes from my garden as well as some home-grown arugula (seriously, the easiest thing to grow. I sprinkled the seeds on the ground and we had salad greens all summer long!). I’ve given specifics here, but everything’s interchangeable – the nuts and dried fruit could easily be substituted with other varieties. It was paired with my first attempt at truffled macaroni and cheese – the second attempt, much more successful, was last night’s.

 

Farewell, Summer Salad with Cherry-Hazelnut Vinaigrette

1 head frisée

1 head raddicchio

arugula

spinach

a handful or two of yellow pear tomatoes

a handful or two of cherry tomatoes

a handful of mixed dried berries (blueberries, cherries and cranberries)

a handful of seasoned, toasted pecans (here, spiced with cumin, rosemary and balsamic)

leaves from a few sprigs of fresh tarragon

 

For the vinaigrette:

about a teaspoon of chopped shallot

about 2 tablespoons of cherry vinegar (I have a hunch that white vinegar mixed with cherry juice would do in a pinch)

freshly ground black pepper

about 3 to 4 tablespoons of hazelnut oil

 

Chop or tear the frisée, raddicchio, arugula and spinach into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, dried berries, toasted pecans and tarragon. Toss to distribute everything evenly.

In a small mason jar, mix the vinaigrette. Whisk together the shallot, cherry vinegar, and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the hazelnut oil in a steady stream until combined. Put the lid on the jar and set aside until it’s time to eat.

When ready to serve, divide salad evenly between plates. Shake the jar to recombine the dressing, if needed, and drizzle lightly over the salad.