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.
The other day, I was hit by a huge and undeniable craving for meatloaf. It’s one of those dishes that are so simple, but somehow has slipped out of my normal recipe trick box in favor of more trendy and convenient things (like braised-anything). So last week, I dressed up a meatloaf for Easter night dinner. Pulling out a recipe I have used in the past, Martha Stewart’s Turkey Meatloaf with Fontina and Mushrooms, I served this up with some lemony string beans and creamy garlic mashed potatoes. The cheese, leeks and mushrooms makes this little baby supremely moist and tasty. No ketchup required!
Here’s my take on Turkey Meatloaf with Fontina.
What You Need:
2 tbls olive oil
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded fontina cheese (Gouda works too)
1 cup day-old bread, cubed
1 large egg
3 or 4 finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (I used a mix of dark and white meat)
How To Make:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 oil over medium-high. Cook mushrooms, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
2. Add another tablespoon of oil to pan and reheat. Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes; Add to bowl with mushrooms and let cool. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add fontina, bread, egg, and sage to bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in turkey, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. You might want to roll up your sleeves and use your hand for this! On a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, form turkey mixture into a 10-inch loaf. Bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Say what you will about Gwyneth Paltrow, (personally I have a girl crush on her) but Goop is lovely site. Lately I’ve been drawn to its recipes, especially when they fall into the one-pan only category. This recipe for a Greek dish called Kapama (or braised chicken) is the first one I’ve tackled from Goop. Basically you put a cut up chicken in a pan with some canned tomatoes, broth, onion, garlic and a whole cinnamon stick and let simmer for a couple of hours on the stove. Your whole house will smell divine, and the dish is amazing. I served it with fettuccine tossed with garlic and it was a nice accompaniment. It reminded me of chicken catetori, but with a comforting spice twist. I opted to take most of the skin off the chicken before searing. Next time it might be nice to leave it on and really give it a good sear in the pan so it stays a bit crunchy. Here’s my take on Goop’s kapama.
WHAT YOU NEED
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can of Italian tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cinnamon
salt, pepper, olive oil
freshly grated Romano cheese, for serving
HOW TO MAKE
1. Wash and dry chicken. Season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of ground cinnamon on each side. (Note: I cut most of the skin off, but that is up to you).
2. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, deep pan. When sizzling hot, add chicken and sear chicken pieces for a couple of minutes on each side, until browned. Remove chicken pieces from pan and set aside.
3. Lower heat to medium-high and add onions. Cook for a couple of minutes, while stirring, until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute until translucent.
4. Add cinnamon stick, tomatoes, broth and season with salt and pepper. Stir and bring to simmer. (Note: I smushed the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon.)
5. Add chicken pieces back into the pot. Simmer for about 2 hours, until chicken is falling off the bone.
6. Garnish with grated cheese and serve over pasta and/or with crusty bread.