Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

* Mac and Cheese

Posted on May 15th, 2009 by Linda. Filed under Californian, Entree, Gruyere, Pasta, Vegetarian.

Nothing beats a classic mac and cheese.  I like to use Gruyere for its nutty flavor, but you can use any good melting cheese like a sharp cheddar or for a milder flavor, to wean your child from Kraft’s box mac ‘n cheese, a Monterey Jack.

Chef’s tip: The key to making a bechamel sauce is making a good roux, followed by tempering the milk into the roux.  Heating the milk and adding it a little at a time will ensure a smooth sauce.

Mac and Cheese:

1 lb macaroni or pasta shape of choice
1 Tablespoon butter

4 cups whole milk (for richer flavor, use half & half or heavy cream)
6 Tablespoons (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
6 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 cups (12 ounces) Gruyere or a sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Some butter to grease a 13X9X2 baking dish or 8  1 large ramekins
1 cup coarse, good quality breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven 350°F
1. Preparing the pasta:  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add 1 Tablespoon kosher salt.  Add macaroni and cook at a rolling boil until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and toss with 1 Tablespoon of butter.
Preparing the sauce:
2. Bring milk/ cream to just about simmer or when steam begins to form.  Set aside.
3. Make a roux:  In a heavy saucepan, melt 6 Tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Do not brown the butter.  Remove from heat, sprinkle in flour and stir with a whisk or a wooden spoon then return to medium heat, while stirring continuously for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Make a bechamel sauce: Add the hot milk to the flour mixture, in small batches and whisk well.  Add salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg.  Return the pan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens and smooth, about 5 minutes.
Assembling the mac and cheese:
5.  Add macaroni to the sauce, add half the shredded cheese mixture and toss well to coat.
6. Butter a oven-proof baking dish or ramekins.  Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish.  Distribute remaining shredded cheese on top, followed by the breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
7. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from oven.
8. Place the dish under the broiler, 4 inches from the heat, for 2 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bubbly.

Serves 8.

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* Fall’s Lasagna

Posted on October 31st, 2008 by Linda. Filed under Butternut Squash, Californian, Cuisine, Entree, Monterey jack, Pasta, Ricotta, Sage.

Autumn’s take on the lasagna.  Layers of butternut squash and ricotta.

Chef’s tip:  If you’d like, make a crunchy gratin by mixing some crushed amaretti with the Monterey Jack cheese.

1 medium butternut squash

4 Tablespoons butter
1 shallot, diced fine
4 Tablespoons AP flour
2 cups milk, warmed
10 pieces sage, chiffonade
1 cup vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons sherry
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground

2 cups ricotta
2 cups Monterey Jack, reserve 1/2 cup
1/2 packet/ 8 oz egg spring roll skins

1/2 cup Parmesan

Preparing the butternut squash mash:
1.  Preheat oven 375F.  Cut squash into 2 lengthwise, remove seeds.  Oil a baking sheet, place squash with cut side down.  Bake until tender about 25 minutes.
2. Remove from oven, let cool, and scrape out flesh.  Mash with a fork if needed.
Preparing the sauce:
3.  Melt butter and saute the diced shallots till soft, about 2 minutes.  Add flour and stir vigorously for 3 minutes.  Slowly add in the warm milk, while whisking and incorporate till a thick sauce forms.  Add sage, stock and sherry and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
Assembling the lasagna:
4. Butter a 8X8 lasagna dish.  Ladle on some sauce, line with a spring roll skin, followed by the squash mash.  Cover with another layer of springroll skin, followed by more sauce, a layer of ricotta and a sprinkle of Monterey Jack.  Repeat till the ingredients are all used.  Finish with a thick layer of reserved Montery Jack and Parmesan on top.
5. Bake in oven 375F for about 40 minutes, until top is golden.

Serves: 6

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* Summer Squash, Feta and Basil Pasta

Posted on October 13th, 2008 by Linda. Filed under Californian, Cuisine, Entree, Feta, Long pepper, Pasta, Vegetarian, Zucchini.

Even though we are in October and technically in the fall, we still find lots of summer squashes in the market.  I like using a combination of the yellow crooked squash with zucchini in this deliciously light pasta.  You can whip up this meal in the same time in takes to boil the pasta.

Chef’s tip: To chiffonade basil, stack the leaves.  Roll tightly into a compact cylinder.  Using a sharp knife, slice thinly horizontally across the roll.  Fluff up the basil.

8 oz dried spaghetti
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow squash, grated coarse
1 medium zucchini, grated coarse
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup basil, chiffonade
1/2 teaspoon long pepper, freshly ground

1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Add pasta and cook till el dente, about 12 minutes or according to package instructions.  Drain pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid.
2.  While pasta is boiling, grate squashes.  Chiffonade basil.
3.  Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, when the oil begins to ripple, add garlic, saute until light golden, about 1 minute.
4. Add the grated squash and zucchini and suate until limp, about 2 minutes.  Layer on salt as you cook.
5. Add back the pasta.  Remove from heat.  Toss to mix.  Add in some of the reserved pasta water if needed to make the pasta strands easier to mix.
6.  Toss in feta, half the basil and the long pepper.  Toss lightly and serve.  Garnish with remaining basil.

Serves: 4

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