Month: October 2019

Mom’s mac and cheese

Mom’s mac and cheese

My mother never made macaroni and cheese from a box for us, even though that blue box was created back in 1937, before I was born. She always made it from macaroni, milk, cheese and a little flour to thicken it. She also usually included wieners in the mix  and backed it in the over until it was brown and bubbly. So we’ve been making it mac and cheese based on her model ever since.

Mom probably include a bit of onion in her cheese sauce, and we always have. And sometime in the last couple of decades, we started added a little chopped green (and red) peppers to pick the flavor a little. But it still is a quick meal, taking just over half an our from start to finish.

I think she always used elbow macaroni, because all the other cool shapes weren’t yet available. We’ve settled on shell macaroni, but you can use any shape you like. Our latest revision of this recipe uses heavy cream instead of making a bechamel sauce. If you go this route, be sure to NOT use light cream, which will curdle when you bake it.

  • 1 lb macaroni, any shape you like
  • 1 lb wieners
  • 1 sweet green pepper or a mixture of any colors you like, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • Olive oil
  • ½ lb cheddar cheese (or any mixture of cheeses you like), cubed
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 Tb Worcestershire sauce
  • Breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 375˚
  2. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni until tender. Avoid stopping at al dente as the pasta will soak up the cheese sauce while baking.

3. While the pasta cooks sauté the onions and peppers in the olive oil until tender,
4. Add the cream and Worcestershire sauce.
5. Stir in the cubed cheese and stir and heat until melted.

6. Slit the wieners lengthwise so they will heat through and lay in a casserole dish.
7. Add the just-cooked macaroni, but don’t over fill the dish.

8. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
9. Bake 20-25 minutes until the cheese sauce is bubbling and hot.

baked

Serve at once.

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Egg Foo Yung: an easy dinner

Egg Foo Yung: an easy dinner

This simple recipe can be considered a “Chinese omelet,” with meat and vegetables. It takes very little time to prepare and served with rice makes quite a satisfying meal. This recipe is derived from one by Joyce Chen.

ingredients

  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • ½ cup celery, cut in thins strips
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup cooked pork or chicken
  • 1 Tb sherry
  • Olive oil

Gravy

  • 1 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tb soy sauce
  • 2-3 Tb flour mixed into 1/3 cup of water

If you are using pork, cook it briefly so it is still tender. We found that if you use a boneless pork chop, you can cook it most effectively by placing the chop on the trivet of an Instant Pot with 1 cup of water. Cook for 1 minute and do a slow release for about 5 minutes. This should give you pork at about 138˚ F. You can then cook the rice in the pot while you are making the Egg Foo Yung.

  1. To make the gravy, heat the chicken stock in a saucepan and add the soy sauce. Mix the flour and water together in a small cup and slowly add to the stock with stirring until the gravy is thickened. Discard any lumps.
  2. Cut the pork or chicken into strips and then into small pieces for the “omelet.”
  3. Cut up the mushrooms and mince the onion.
  4. Cut the celery by shaving strips off the stalk so they are similar in size to the bean sprouts.
  5. Put the bean sprouts, celery, mushrooms, onion, sherry and pork in a mixing bowl and add the 7 eggs.

6. Mix the eggs gently with the meat and vegetables using a rubber spatula so as not to break up the pieces.

7. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan and scoop out about ½ cup for each patty. Fry on both sides until browned lightly.

Serve with rice and gravy.

 

 

 

Rustic Bread: Great bread with almost no work!

Rustic Bread: Great bread with almost no work!

I am grateful to Bob Scrofani for pointing out this simple bread recipe published on YouTube as Rustic Bread by “Flavors of Spain in the Southwest.” This is an experience report on how I did it and how you can, too.

The recipe is embedded in the video and in the comments, and it assumes you have a kitchen scale. There are hundreds of reasons to have one around, but I give the U.S. measure equivalents as well. The recipe uses all-purpose flour, and I use King Arthur for this. The cup/weight equivalent may vary for other flours.

This recipe takes very little work, but a bit of time, include 4 episodes of folding, 20 minutes apart. and a slow 12 hour rise.

  • 1000 g all purpose flour (7 ¾ cups)
  • 20 g salt (1 Tb plus ¼ tsp)
  • 1/8 tsp yeast (they suggest 1 g, but yeast particles vary a lot between vendors)
  • 780 ml water (26 oz) at 80˚
  • A plastic storage container (with lid) that holds at least 12 cups.

You will also need either a 4 qt cast iron Dutch oven or an equivalent casserole dish. We used a 2.5 quart Corningware casserole dish, and it was plenty big enough. Our storage container held 21 cups, and the dough never rose more than halfway inside the container.

  1. Weigh out the flour in the storage container, and add the salt, yeast and water. Mix with your gloved hand. You can try a wooden spoon, but it doesn’t pick up the flour along the bottom as well. Mix until all the dough is cohesive. Cover for 20 minutes.

2. After 20 minutes, you can begin folding the dough over itself inside the container until it is together in the middle. Try to stretch it each time you pick up a corner. You can do this best with a moistened hand. Cover for another 20 minutes.

stretch

3. Repeat folding after 20 minutes

4. Repeat folding the 4th time after another 20 minutes.

5. Cover and allow to proof/rise for 12 hours. If you can’t bake it at that time, refrigerate the dough, covered until you can.

6. When you are ready to begin baking, put the casserole or Dutch oven into a 475˚ F oven to heat.

7. Turn out the dough on flour board and divide it into two. Fold and stretch each one into a ball, and put each ball in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let it rise for an hour.

8.  Remove one dough ball and flour it. Take out the baking dish and cover. Lay one dough ball into the disk, cover it and put immediately into the oven.

9. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

in casserole10. Remove the bread to a cooling rack. Make sure it is done by tapping on the bottom. You should hear a hollow sound. Be sure to let the dough cool at least 30 minutes.

11. Reheat the baking dish and cover in the oven and bake the second loaf the same way.

Even after all this baking and cooling, it is possible that the bread may be slightly damp.   I suggest you slice it half an hour ahead of dinner to make sure the slices dry out.

sliced

If you have left-over bread, you can make it into very good toast. In fact, you can slice the whole loaf, freezing the slices and take out a few for toast any time you want.

toast