Category — Pasta, Potato, Rice, & Grain Recipes
What is TotMac, you ask? Why it’s homemade Mac N Cheese topped with Tater Tots, of course. Behold: TotMac!
I cannot tell a lie: I did not come up with this concept. There’s a great little neighborhood restaurant here in SF called Q and they are known for topping their Mac with Tots. HOWEVER. While I have enjoyed Q’s Mac on several occasions, I have always felt that the Mac execution could be improved upon. Ergo, I Totted my own Mac, with diabolically delicious results.
October 15, 2009 1 Comment
I didn’t originally make this dish with the intention of post the recipe, since it was just something I threw together. In the end, it turned out pretty fabulously so I decided to share it. In fact, Ross said it was “one of my favorite things you’ve ever made, ever” and then stuffed his face with seconds. In fact, before bed he said “I want to eat more pasta.” In fact, when he woke up in the morning, he went straight to the fridge and finished it off. So I can’t promise that YOU will love it, but some people certainly do.
October 3, 2009 No Comments
I throw together a risotto dish quite often, but admittedly it’s a one of those things that can be hit or miss for me. Sometimes it rocks your world, and sometimes it’s merely OK. Last night I think I stumbled on the secret to great risotto: aged black garlic in the mix. When combined with that magical triumvirate of cheese, cream, and oil, you just can’t lose.
July 20, 2009 9 Comments
The other night, I made Mac and Cheese with no recipe and had an epiphany- you don’t need a recipe to make Mac and Cheese. (I know, that’s not a particularly brilliant flash based on the context.) While there are lots of great recipes out there (I particularly favor this one) this is a dish that is perfectly suited to experimentation and variation. As long as you have the basic proportions and method down, you can go wild with this!
To make a 9×13 pan of tasty M&C, the proportions you need are essentially 1 pound of pasta, 2-3 cups of roux, 2-4 cups of cheese, and 1-2 cups of topping. Once you have this basic setup, you can play around with flavor combinations to your heart’s content.
About the elements:
- THE PASTA: Whatever shape you like should do fine. I have never tried with a long noodle like spaghetti or fettucine but if you’re feeling adventurous I’m sure it won’t kill you.
- THE ROUX: The base of the gooey cheesy part is a white sauce or roux. To make a roux you need 1 Tablespoon butter to 1 Tablespoon flour to 1 cup milk. For 2-3 cups double or triple those amounts. Melt the butter and add flour, whisking. Cook until pasty. Add milk, salt, and pepper, and continue whisking as you bring to a boil. Cook until thick.
- THE CHEESE: You can use one type of cheese or a mixture. If you’re using a mild cheese like a medium cheddar, you might want to punch it up with a parmigiano or a brie. On the other hand, if Gorgonzola’s your game, you may want to cut the pungency with a more demure Jack.
- THE TOPPING: The basis of the topping is generally bread crumbs mixed with a bit of melted butter. I like to add grated parmigiano and often, a pork product (crispy bacon pieces or prosciutto spring to mind.) Toasted nuts would be interesting, especially depending on your cheese choice (blue cheese mac with pecan topping, anyone?) You can make a couple pieces of toast in the toaster and put them in the food processor to get 1-2 cups of crumbs. Mix with a few tablespoons of melted butter, salt, pepper, and other accoutrements as desired. Or, you could skip the topping altogether and go for a strictly creamy casserole.
- THE EXTRAS: If you’re inspired to mix in a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, some chopped steamed broccoli, a swirl of pesto, a fistful of browned sausage, or anything else tasty you can imagine, then don’t let me stop you! You should also feel free to jazz up your roux by starting it with sautéed shallots, a couple chopped chipotles, some fresh herbs, or… the possibilities are endless.
Heat oven to 350.
- Cook the pasta to al dente and drain.
- Make the roux and stir the cheese in it.
- Combine the cheesy roux and the cooked pasta well and pour into a buttered 9×13 glass pan.
- Distribute topping over Mac and Cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese bubbles up.
- Serve immediately.
June 10, 2009 2 Comments
I get tired of plain ol’ mashed potatoes, so I’m always looking for ways to change it up. I like to combine cauliflower and potatoes in this mash for the added nutrition benefits and the great flavor combination. After mashing the two together, I gratinee them in the broiler with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano for a taste and texture treat.
Potato Cauliflower Gratin
serves 8 as a side dish.
- 3 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
- trimmed florets from 1 head cauliflower
- 1/2 cup butter, cut in chunks
- 4 oz. cream cheese, cut in chunks
- about 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup grated parmigiano
- salt and pepper
- Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook 15 minutes.
- Add cauliflower and cook an additional 5-10 minutes, until potatoes and cauliflower are soft and cooked through.
- Drain and return to pot. Add butter and mash. Add cream cheese and continue mashing. Add milk a bit at a time and continue mashing to desired consistency (I like this combo a little lumpy but feel free to go smooth with it.)
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spread mixture out into 9×13 or other ovenproof pan. Sprinkle cheese over top.
- Broil a couple of minutes until cheese is browned.
May 23, 2009 No Comments
Macaroni and Cheese has become a standard of the hipster food scene, and seems to be on almost every trendy menu. Yet surprisingly, I’m not sick of it yet! Maybe that’s because it’s just cheese, noodles, butter, bread crumbs, and often some form of bacon or ham. What’s not to like? Seriously, how could I get sick of that combo?
I will say that in addition to Mac N Cheese being hella good, it is also highly changeable and adaptable. This was what I hope to be the first in a series of many experimental Mac N Cheeses. For this one I added roasted garlic, shallots, and a bunch of cheeses including Affinois. If you’ve never had Affinois, it’s a triple-creme brie-style cheese from France that tastes ridiculously good. I had a tough time deciding if I wanted to use the outside crusty part, and in the end I decided to just use the insides. It added a subtle flavor and increased the creaminess.
And then, for the piece de resistance: crispy prosciutto on top. I crisped prosciutto in a low oven, crumbled it, and mixed it with toasted bread crumbs, butter, and freshly grated parmigiano. Once you’ve crisped prosciutto, you’ll start putting it all OVER the place. It’s especially good on salads. Then again it’s also just good on its own- good luck resisting its charms!
Macaroni and Cheese of Epic Proportions
Serves 6 as a main course, 8-10 as a side dish.
- 1 whole bulb garlic
- 4 oz. prosciutto
- 1 1/2 lbs. pasta (I used fusilli)
- 3/4 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 qt. whole milk
- 1/2 lb. Affinois, inside scraped out
- 1/2 lb. emmenthal or Swiss cheese, grated
- 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 1/3 cup toasted white bread crumbs (I like them a little chunky)
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiano
- olive oil for drizzling
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cut top off garlic. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap tightly in foil. Cook for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, open foil, and set aside to cool. When cool, squeeze out garlic innards and set aside.
- Meanwhile lay prosciutto out in a single layer on a rack over a sheet pan. Cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 20-30 minutes, until crispy. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Cook pasta according to directions, drain and set aside.
- Melt 2 Tblsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallots with thyme sprigs until soft. Add 6 Tblsp butter and melt. Add flour and bring to a boil, whisking, until mixture pulls from sides of pan.
- Add milk and continue to whisk until sauce thickens. Remove thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add Affinois insides, emmenthal, and cheddar, and stir to melt. Taste and re-season if necessary.
- Mix cheese sauce with pasta. Pour into deep 9×13 dish.
- Make topping by crumbling prosciutto in a bowl. Mix with bread crumbs, parmigiano, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Season with pepper. Sprinkle on top of pasta.
- Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10-15 minutes, until topping just starts to brown and cheese is bubbly.
May 2, 2009 2 Comments
I made this recipe off of the always informative Doesn’t TaZte Like Chicken. Although it’s called a tomato cream sauce, it has meat in it so to me it’s more like a creamy tomato bolognese. I put it over gnocchi. Yum!
The sauce comes out incredibly rich and flavorful, as well as very ORANGE. While I absolutely loved the taste and texture and everything else, Ross kept saying “this dinner is so ORANGE. Great, but, like, really ORANGE.” And it is. It kind of looked like the color of liquid Doritos. Not that that’s a bad thing. I love Doritos, and this sauce. (Objects in pictures may look less orange than they appear in real life.)
Find the recipe here and enjoy!
March 30, 2009 No Comments
This recession/depression business is really starting to get me down! In light of that I wanted to share a recipe with you that’s triply good for these dark, dank economic times. Why triply? First of all, people in the South traditionally eat Hoppin’ John on New Year’s to bring prosperity and good fortune. Second, the ingredients are really cheap, so it’s easy on the wallet. Third, it packs a nutritional wallop of protein, folates, carbs, and more, so you won’t have to eat again for awhile.
I was looking for recipes involving black-eyed peas, and Hoppin’ John is the one that most intrigued me. I’ll admit, it’s totally, completely, 100% because of the name. All of the recipes I found involved crazy time-consuming things like soaking the peas overnight and procuring ham hocks and what have you, but I was like “I want my dinner NOW, dammit!” So this is the corner-cutting, lazy-ass version I came up with to maximize deliciousness and minimize time and effort.
As to the name, a bunch of people have different theories about the name that seem highly farfetched, so I’ve decided just to go with it and not wonder too much. Confusingly there’s talk of making the leftovers into pancakes and calling it called Skippin’ Jenny or some such nonsense but I can’t even get into that.
Lazy Man’s Hoppin’ John
This is good with a side of wilted kale or collards, and should be served with Frank’s Red Hot sauce on the side for those who like the extra heat. Serves 4.
- 5 slices smoky bacon, chopped in small pieces
- 1 small onion, chopped finely
- 1 small red pepper, chopped into 1/4 inch squares
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1-15 ounce can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
- salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
- Put bacon in medium-sized saucepan, and cook until crispy over medium het.
- Add onion, pepper, and garlic and cook 3-5 minutes, until vegetables are soft but still vibrant.
- Add rice, black-eyed peas, dry mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring to combine. Taste and add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
- Stir and cook another 10 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning, and serve immediately.
March 11, 2009 No Comments
Ah, that elusive concept known as “healthy lunch.” Despite my best intentions I find that in the middle of the day it’s hard for me to resist the charms of foods like pizza with ranch dressing, giant burritos, or 9 pounds of hummus and falafel with 17 slices of pita. The other day I took a little time to make a healthy, flavorful, simple noodle bowl with whole wheat fettucine and a whole lot of hot sauce. Not only did I feel physically energetic and alive for the rest of the day, but also smugly virtuous. Win-win!
Spicy Thai Noodle Bowl for One
- 4 oz fresh whole wheat fettucine
- ½ tsp vegetable oil
- ¼ cup chopped white, yellow, or red onion
- 1 Tblsp torn cilantro leaves
- ~10 cracked coriander seeds
- 1 pack liquid chicken broth concentrate or 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- juice from 1 small lime
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- sambal oelek or sriracha to taste
- Cook fettucine in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and reserve about 2 Tblsp pasta water.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a small sauté pan. Add onion, cilantro, and coriander seeds and sauté until soft and fragrant, and onion just starts to brown.
- Add broth and coconut milk, plus a large pinch of salt and about 3-4 grinds of pepper, and reduce over medium high heat until thick and creamy.
- Add fettucine and reserved pasta water to pan and cook over medium high heat until sauce coats the noodles, about 3-5 minutes.
- Turn off heat and stir in lime juice and scallions.
- Pour into bowl and top with sambal oelek or sriracha to taste. If you put the amount shown here you will be in for some serious heat!
- This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
February 20, 2009 No Comments
I went to the fancy Ferry Building Farmers’ Market today- usually I go for the lower key, lower priced Alemany Market so it was a welcome change of scenery. I picked up a few slightly unusual things and tasked myself with combining them in a delicious dish. You can think of these as really fancy, really flavorful hash browns. They would be a great side dish for a roast chicken, a prime rib, or steak.
I picked up some pink huckleberry potatoes, which are pink throughout and have a creamy texture. You can use any kind of potatoes for this recipe- red bliss would be a great choice. As well, I splurged and threw down 50 whole cents (!) on a fresh horseradish root, and got a couple stalks of green garlic. If you’ve never tried green garlic, try to get your hands on some. It looks like a small leek, but the taste is like a cross between sweet pungent garlic and a fresh scallions. They complement any form of potato perfectly, and are only available for a short time each Spring. The fresh horseradish is a fun little condiment to grate on steaks, potatoes, or anything that needs a little kick.
pink huckleberry potatoes and a fresh horseradish root
The trick to getting great sautéed potatoes that are cooked through, a little crispy, but not burnt, is to parboil them then sauté them in clarified butter. Butter is made up of oil and milk solids. Clarified butter is just the oil part of the butter without the milk solids. When cooking with butter, the part that burns is the milk part whereas the oil part won’t blacken. Making clarified butter is quite simple and quick, and it’s a great tool to lock away in your culinary repertoire. I add a little bit of plain yogurt at the end, which mostly cooks away. It adds a slight tang and is a nice finishing agent to get the potatoes perfect.
Sauteed Potatoes with Green Garlic and Fresh Horseradish
- 4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch slices
- 4 Tblsp butter
- 2 stalks green garlic, the white parts and a bit of the green parts finely chopped
- fresh horseradish to taste, peeled and finely grated (I used about 1 tsp.)
- 2 Tblsp plain yogurt (nonfat, 2%, whole milk- doesn’t matter)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook 8-10 minutes, until al dente. (The potatoes should be firm but you should be able to cut through them pretty easily.)
- Meanwhile, clarify the butter. Put butter in a large sauté pan over medium low heat. When the butter bubbles, you will notice the white foamy matter rises to the top. When the bubbles settle, turn off the heat and use a spoon to skim off the white foamy bits. Discard white bits. Leave clarified butter in pan.
- When potatoes are done, drain. Turn clarified butter on high heat and add potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Saute for about 10-15 minutes, flipping every 2-3 minutes, until potatoes have crisped on the outiside.
- Turn off heat and add green garlic, horseradish, and yogurt to the pan. Flip a few times to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.
February 10, 2009 No Comments