Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homemade Mac n Cheese

Mac and CheeseI can't remember ever making homemade mac n cheese. I searched the web in search of the best recipe I could find and came across one with lots of good reviews by Martha Stewart. I was all set to make this one and then yesterday I come across another recipe from the blog of LizzyDishes, a new twitter contact. So I ended up making her Walnut Crusted Stilton Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions. I don't even want to think about how many calories this thing is, not that I'm worried about my weight. I pretty much stuck to her recipe but made a few minor modifications. For the cheddar cheese I used 8 oz of sharp and 4 oz of medium Tillamook cheddar. I used Strozzapretti for the macaroni.

Ingredients:Crumbled Stilton
1/2 cup butter
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of sugar
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/3 C plus 1 tablespoon flour
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups of whole milk
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of half and half
12 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 lb of stilton cheese, crumbled
4 cups uncooked large macaroni

Directions:

In a sautee pan, melt 1/2 cup of butter and add yellow onions. Season with salt and pepper and sugar and let cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 45-50 minutes, until onions are golden brown and are almost the texture of jam or preserves. Set aside.
Caramelizing Onions

In a large pot, melt the 4 T. of butter. Add flour and mix with butter until it turns to a paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Very slowly add milk, whisking constantly to avoid getting lumps. When all the milk is added, whisk in the cream and half and half. Add kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes, until liquid is thickened and simmering. Turn the heat off and add the cheese, whisking until cheese is melted.
Cheese Sauce

In a separate pot, heat water for pasta. When water is at a rolling boil, add a handful of kosher salt and the pasta. Cook for 6 minutes, then drain (but do not rinse) - the pasta won't be cooked all the way, but it will finish cooking in the oven. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce. Stir in the caramelized onions.
Mac and Cheese Topping
Topping:
2 thick slices crusty bread, cubed
1 c of walnuts
palm full of Romano cheese
salt and pepper

In the food processor, add the breadcrumbs, walnuts, Romano cheese and salt and pepper. Pulse one or two times until blended, but still chunky.

Pour pasta and cheese sauce into a 9 x 11 pan. Sprinkle the walnut mixture over the top, as much or as little as you wish. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

EDIT: So I was told I forgot to mention in my post if it was any good. I guess I thought the pictures spoke for themselves. It tasted as good as it looked. Delicious! I couldn't eat too much though, it was very filling! I have tons leftover. Will be packing it for lunch at work for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lemon Bars

This Food A-Z project I'm doing really has me making all kinds of things that I probably wouldn't have made otherwise. Today I made lemon bars, a recipe I got from Amani over 2 years ago. I copied it down and it's been sitting on my laptop waiting for me to make it. I've been wanting to make them for a long time but I just never have. L week gave me the push to finally do it. It wasn't hard at all.
Danish Kringle
INGREDIENTS:
2 sticks (8 ounces) butter
2 C flour
1/2 C confectioners' sugar
4 beaten eggs
2 C sugar
4 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
sifted confectioners' sugar

PREPARATION:
Heat oven to 325°.

Blend butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and pat into ungreased 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
Lemon Bars - Bottom Layer Lemon Bars - Layer One

While bottom layer is baking, make filling: blend together eggs, sugar, 4 tablespoons flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
Lemons Lemon Zest

Pour over first layer.
Lemon Bars - Layer Two

Return to oven and bake at 325° for 20 minutes.

Loosen around edges, cut into bars and sift confectioners' sugar over the top while warm.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Danish Kringle

This week for my Food A-Z project I decided to do a Danish Kringle for my "K" food. I've never really made a pastry before so this was new to me. I must have read the directions about 15 times before starting. I used a modified version of a recipe I found on TriniGourmet.com. I made the following changes: used different fillings, chilled dough before rolling it out, increased the final rise time, added a glaze after baking and used toasted almonds. My new butcher block counter top had its work cut out for it today. Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Red Star Yeast.

INGREDIENTS:Danish Kringle

Dough:
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Almond Filling: (Recipe from Tierney Tavern)
1/2 cup Almond paste
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
1 TB flour
(combine ingredients and cust paste into small pieces, it will be chunky)

Cherry Filling:
1.5 cups Cherry Pie Filling

Glaze: (Recipe from Tierney Tavern)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted in saucepan

Directions:
1. Cream butter with 1/4 cup sifted flour
2. Roll between sheets of waxed paper to 10 x 4 inch rectangle. Chill.
Rolled Butter
3. Soften yeast in 1/4 cup of 105-115 degree water.
4. Mix egg, milk, sugar, salt, yeast; stir in flour for soft dough. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours
5. On floured surface, roll dough to 12-inch square; place chilled butter in center;
Butter on Dough
6. overlap sides of dough atop butter.
Folded Dough
7. Turn dough 1/4 way around; roll to 12-inch square
8. Repeat folding and rolling twice more.
9. Wrap in waxed paper.
10. Chill 30 minutes
11. Roll to 24×12 inch rectangle.
12. Cut lengthwise into 2 strips
13. Spread each with Filling of your choice and roll as for jelly roll, starting with long side.
Filling
14. Moisten edges; seal
15. Stretch each to 30-inch length without breaking
16. Place seam sides down on greased baking sheet shaping as shown
17. Flatten to 1/2 inch with rolling pin
18. Brush Kringles with beaten egg.
Shaped
19. Cover and let rise until it doubles, 1-2 hours (I covered with plastic wrap then light cloth)
20. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or till golden
21. Cool on wire rack
Baked
22. drizzle with glaze and sprinkle toasted almonds on top
K is for Kringle

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Homemade Herbal Tea

homemade butterLately I've been drinking a lot of tea. My brother got me some blooming tea last year for Christmas and that stuff is good and fun to brew. I got some more for Christmas this year along with some loose leaf tea, a glass teapot, and a to-go mug that brews tea. So I will be drinking lots more tea this year. Tea can get expensive so why not make your own? There's lots of herbs out there with all kinds of different beneficial properties. I just put together some herbs to make a tea good for your digestive system, specifically for your bladder and kidneys. It consists of juniper berries, cornsilk, echinacea purpurea root, yarrow leaves & flowers, and uva ursi. I got all of the herbs, except the uva ursi from Mountain Rose Herbs. I found the uva ursi at Tenzing Momo at Pike Place Market. herbwisdom.com is a great source for looking up different herbs and their benefits. A lot of herbs have multiple benefits. For example, uva ursi is known to treat UTI's, diarreah, high blood pressure, e-coli, and various infections. Making your own tea with a blend of herbs can be more beneficial than drinking the store bought stuff. Give it a try!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite soup recipes. This is a recipe I found on the Third Floor Fish Cafe's website. I almost didn't make it this year but I ran across a container of pre-cubed butternut squash at Costco and had to get some. Peeling and cubing the squash is probably the most consuming part of the recipe so finding it already done just made it that much easier to make.

homemade butterIngredients:
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
2 yellow onions, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 bunch of thyme
1 qrt chicken stock or water
1 C cream
1 stick butter
salt & pepper to taste

Place the cubed squash in a roasting pan (or a large casserole dish) season with salt and pepper and toss with 1/2 stick of melted butter. Cover the pan with foil and place in a 350 degree oven until the squash is very tender (about one hour), reserve.

Melt the other half of the butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook slowly until they are well browned. This will take a considerable amount of time, up to thirty minutes. When the onions have a good brown color, add the garlic and cook for five more minutes.

While the onions and squash are cooking, place the thyme and chicken stock in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes and remove from the heat. Let the stock steep for twenty minutes, and strain out the thyme.

To finish the soup, place the squash, onion mix, half of the stock, and the cream in a large pot. Using an immersion blender, or a whisk, blend the ingeredients, adding the remaining stock to thin as desired. If the soup is still thick you can add water or more cream to thin it some more. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with curry cream on top.

Curry Cream
1/2 C sour cream
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp curry powder
2 tsp tumeric

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

cubed butternut squash

Blending


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Making Your Own Butter

homemade butterI had a lot of heavy cream leftover that I had bought from Costco for my Butternut Squash Soup. The smallest size they had was a half gallon and I only used one cup of it for the soup. It will be expiring soon so I had to find something to do with it. I tweeted my dilemma and someone recommended butter. Turns out it's the only ingredient you need to make butter. I had no idea it was that easy to make butter. I used the jar shaking method below.

Directions:
1) Add about a cup of cream (salt can be added if you like but I made unsalted butter) to a large jar and shake it, shake it, and shake it some more. After about 10-15 mins of shaking it starts to turn into whipped cream and begin to get VERY hard to shake. You almost want to quit but don't, that means you are almost done. Just a couple more minutes of shaking and the butter will start to separate from the buttermilk making it much easier to shake.

2) Once it separates you can pour out the buttermilk and shake a bit more until no more buttermilk can be separated.

3) Rinse the jar of butter with cold water until the water runs clear to remove any excess buttermilk and you're done. You have butter!