A couple of months ago, Melissa Clark wrote a fantastic column for the NYTimes Dining section that helps thousands of moms (me included) feel better better about their finicky kids. If a foodie like Clark has trouble getting her daughter to consume anything that isn’t beige, what help do the rest of us have? Her answer: Embrace the beige. And she does so with gusto, sharing three sumptuous recipes, including one for a decadent macaroni and cheese that I just had to try. Even though it has four kinds of cheese, you don’t need cream or milk. This is pasta and cheese at its purist. I love that it mixes marscapone with Brie and good old cream cheese. I admit it’s a combo I wouldn’t have tried myself, but am glad to have given a go. Honestly, my resulting casserole was a touch on the dry side. I think a bit of reserved pasta water would do the trick next time. Here’s my take on White Macaroni & Cheese — pair it with a salad of spring greens and you won’t feel so guilty!
White Macaroni & Cheese
What You Need:
1 pound pasta, I used farfalle
6 ounces Brie, rind removed and cheese cut into chunks
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cubed
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup mascarpone
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (optional)
How To Make:
1. Heat oven to 375. Butter sides and bottom of a large casserole dish.
2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente; reserve some pasta water while draining
3. Transfer hot pasta to a large bowl and toss immediately with Brie and cream cheese until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, mascarpone and parmigiano. Stir egg mixture into pasta. Season with pepper and nutmeg.
4. Add a few splashes of pasta water and make sure it is very wet.
5. Pour pasta into the pan and sprinkle with bread crumbs
6. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
I never thought that garlic soup sounded too exciting. Boiled garlic? How is that satisfying? Give it to me roasted, or sauteed with some olive oil and red pepper flakes. At least, that is what I used to think! The other night, my friend Jenn said she wanted to make Julia Child‘s garlic soup (Aigo Bouido) from one of her classic cookbooks. With two preschoolers and a toddler running around the house, I can safely that say that two cooks are better than one, so I rolled up my sleeves and started peeling garlic cloves. Making the soup is incredibly easy, and the ingredients are things you probably have on hand. The result was far more complex and satisfying than I ever imagined. It hits all your senses — starting with your nose! Imagine a brothy scampy, minus the shrimp. A bowl of this paired with a loaf of crusty bread and a chilled white wine is about as perfect as any meal could get. Here’s our take:
Julia Child’s Garlic Soup
What You Need:
1 head of garlic — each clove separated and peeled. (about 16 cloves)
2 quarts of water
1/4 tsp of sage
1/4 tsp of thyme
1/2 bay leaf
4 parsley sprigs
3 tbl olive oil +
3 egg yolks
an additional 4 tbls olive oil
How You Make
1. Peel the garlic. Julia recommends boiling them for a second and then removing peels. I just flattened with a knife.
2. Add all ingredients up to egg yolks in the water, and boil for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Beat egg yolks in the serving bowl and slowly add in the additional 4 tablespoons, beating with whisk the whole time. It’s like you’re making mayonnaise.
4. Just before serving, add one ladleful of the hot soup to the egg mixture, slowly. Beat some more. Pour the rest of the soup broth into a the bowl, through a strainer. Smush the garlic gloves through strainer to squeeze out extra juice at the end.
5. Serve immediately and don’t worry about how much bread you are eating!
Asian food is a cuisine I have yet to master. Though I dip my toe into Thai, Indian and Korean, Chinese has been off the books so far. This insanely easy beef and scallion stir-fry recipe from Everyday Food a few years back reminds me of the takeaway dinners I used to have delivered to my door in Manhattan — minus the MSG of course. It only takes 25 minutes to make, and the ingredients are common for most pantries. We were pleased enough with the results that I am going to add it my rotation. Now, all I need is a recipe for cashew chicken, and our palettes will be complete! Here’s my take on the recipe, below.
Beef and Scallion Stir-Fry
WHAT YOU NEED:
2 tbls hoisin sauce
2 tbls rice vinegar
1 tbl cornstarch
1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)
1 tbl plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 lb flank steak, cut diagonally across the grain into bite-size thin strips
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, sliced crosswise into 1 1/2 inch long pieces, white and green parts kept separate
Cooked white rice, for serving
HOW TO MAKE
1.In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup water, hoisin sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp dash of red-pepper flakes; set aside.
2. Heat 1 tbl oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook steak until lightly browned, turning once, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add remaining oil to pan along with garlic and whites of scallions. Cook, tossing often, until fragrant, about a minute. Add to pan along with scallion greens.
4. Return meat to pan; cook, tossing to coat steak with sauce, for another minute. Remove from heat.
5. Serve immediately, over rice and sprinkled with red-pepper flakes, if desired.
Around this time of year, foodie magazines like to publish recipes that contain edible flowers. Resisting the urge to capture such a gorgeous and fleeting ingredient during its peak season is not possible. Look at this bountiful salad in the new MSL! Or this feature over at Food & Wine. But us readers, especially those without a green space, are left longing, relying solely on inventive chefs to toss a dose of colorful viola or geranium petals our way. The truth is edible flowers truly are everywhere, but without turning into a nighttime flower thief that raids the neighborhood beds, most of flowers are there to be seen, not eaten. Enter this adorable kit available from Rhode Island designer Sarah Rainwater at Etsy to solve the problem! It comes
all the goods you need to grow four types of heirloom flower seeds in in your home — calendula, lemon mint, nasturtium and starflower. In addition to including biodegradable folded paper pots for starting the seeds, it also comes with a lovely wooden display that will display your fresh flowers in glass vials — until you’re ready to eat them! What an inventive Mother’s Day present, don’t you think? Edible flower kit, $50 at Etsy.
This is a favorite recipe from our archives. Enjoy!
There are few baked treats I love more than a scone hot from the oven. They’re light, fluffy, flaky, and completely irresistible. Unfortunately, I’m too often faced with the generic, coffeehouse variety: stale, heavy, and hard as a brick. But I don’t blame them – the truth is that even the best scone is only good the same day. Day-old scones can be rescued with a brief stint in a toaster oven, but it’s still not the same…and after that, it’s best to use them for doorstops instead of breakfast.
So, I’ve found a solution: baking my own. Don’t panic — this is easily one of the simplest, never-fail recipes in my file. My go-to recipe is from the queen of all things baked, the Barefoot Contessa. The whole process (including rolling and cutting) takes about 10 minutes, and the dividends are utterly delicious. If you’re hosting an Easter brunch this weekend, I can promise these are a favorite your guests will adore. Best of all, they freeze brilliantly, so you can either make them ahead for a party (as I often do) or bake one to go with your coffee and newspaper every Sunday morning.
Weekend Scones – (barely) adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
What You Need:
4 c. flour
2T baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
3 sticks (3/4 lb.) unsalted butter, diced
1 c. (1/2 pint) heavy cream
3/4 c. dried fruit, mixed with 1T flour – I love raisins, currants or dried cherries, but anything is great. Just chop larger dried fruits into raisin-sized chunks before coating in flour.
1T lemon zest (optional, but delicious).
1 egg blended with 1T water (egg wash) and sanding sugar or raw sugar, to top
How To Make:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 deg. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest (if using) in the bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix lightly to blend. Add diced butter, and turn mixer on low, letting it work until the butter has broken down to about the size of peas, and the mixture starts to look sandy (2-3 mins). Meanwhile, combine eggs and cream in a bowl, whisk to combine. When the flour/butter mixture is ready, add egg/cream mixture all at once – the mixture will come together almost instantly. Add in dried fruit and mix just until incorporated. Do. Not. Overmix.
2. This is a very sticky dough, so be sure your counter is well-floured before dumping the mixture out. Pull the mixture together on the counter, then roll (or really, you can just pat) to about 3/4 to 1 inch thickness (though I sometimes go as thin as 1/2 inch to get more scones from the recipe). Cut using a square cutter (my favorite is a 4-inch fluted square I bought in Paris(!), but any will work) or a round biscuit cutter. If you use a square, cut each square into triangles before baking, so that they’re pretty. Re-roll scraps, but no more than once, to preserve tenderness.
3. For the scones you want to bake immediately, place on a parchment-covered baking sheet, top with egg wash and sanding sugar (you can use table sugar, but I love the crunch from the sanding sugar). For the rest, place onto a cutting board or cookie sheet and put in freezer until hard, then transfer to storage bag until you’re ready to use. Bake at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes (15-18 minutes if you roll thinner, or aren’t baking a full batch at once), until scones are a deep golden brown on top – underdone scones are not good eats.
Serve with your favorite jam, some lemon curd, or a bit of unsweetened heavy cream, whipped just past stiff peaks, but just short of butter.
Depending on the size cutter and the thickness of the scones, you’ll get anywhere from 15 to 25 scones from this recipe. Enjoy!