Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The Real Deal

Mac and Cheese. All right. I'm a father of a three and five year old and this is their favorite recipe of mine. It is fast, cheap, somewhat easy and kids dig it. The base is a Bechamel and then you add grated cheese of your choice (Mornay Sauce is the french classical term). If you are not comfortable making a roux (a thickening technique where you cook equal parts fat and flour) this recipe will remove your fears of this simple technique. It is important to remember that when making a sauce or soup with a roux, you have to incorporate the liquid to the roux at opposite temperatures. If the roux is hot, your liquid should be cold and vice versa.

This is the kids favorite version but it is a base. Mac and cheese can be altered to whatever flavours you have leftover or whatever the kids enjoy.

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

700 g Elbow Macaroni, dried
50 g Butter
50 g Flour
500 ml Milk
400 g Cheddar or other cheese of choice, grated
10 g Dijon Mustard
Pinch of Nutmeg
Sugar, Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 Celsius.

In a tall stock pot, boil salted water. Add pasta and cook to directions. Once cooked, place pasta in 8 x 11 dish. Add drop of olive oil and distribute evenly throughout the pasta.

In a soup pot under medium heat, melt butter. Add nutmeg. When butter is frothy, add flour. With a wooden spoon, cook flour and stir until it clumps up. About 1 minute. Slowly pour in milk while whisking simulteanously. Keep whisking until milk comes to a slight boil. Reduce heat. Add 300 g of the grated cheese slowly while whisking to incorporate. Finish with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Pour sauce on top of pasta and stir evenly. Cover casserole with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is golden on top.

Serves 6.

The topping can be anything really. My kids like seasoned granola (yup, the instant kind with herbs and salt) or simple breadcrumbs with a bit of garlic in it.

I sometimes put in whatever I have in the fridge. Last night I had extra bacon so I cooked the bacon in the butter then added my flour then followed the recipe.

Monday, 26 February 2007

A Personal Favourite

Soup is easy. For a restaurant, it's usually leftovers thrown together with a few added ingredients or can be a puree and nobody will know the difference. I take pride in some of my soups because I once had a job where that is what I did for close to a year. This is a specialty of mine that is always a hit and is extremely easy to make.

I like to make a vegetable stock and use that as a base. If you've never made a vegetable stock, you are in luck. I have provided a base for which you can use for anything and have in stock (no pun intended).

Tequila-Lime Broth

1 Red Onion, finely diced (brunoise)
Pinch of Paprika
Juice of 4 Limes
250 ml Tequila (any kind)
1.5 l Vegetable Stock
15 ml Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Red and Green Pepper, jullienne for garnish

In a soup pot, drizzle olive oil under medium high heat. Saute onion until slightly brown. Add paprika until fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze with tequila and let reduce by half. Add stock, lime juice and honey. Bring to a boil then turn off heat. Strain soup. Season with salt and pepper. While serving place jullienne peppers in the bottom of the bowls.

Serves 8.

Variation: You can omit lime juice and use lemongrass stalks.

Vegetable Stock

1 large Onion, roughly cut
1 large Carrot, roughly cut
3 stalks of Celery,, roughly cut
3 Bay Leaves
Any leftover vegetable trimmimgs
10 g whole peppercorns
3 l water

In a large, tall pot throw all veg, bay leaves, peppercorns and water in a pot and bring to a boil. As soon as water boils, remove from heat and let cool slightly for approximately 10 minutes. Strain. Cool rapidly in ice bath.

Vegetable stock is a cheap and easy alternative to chicken stock. Though it lacks as much flavour, it still be used in a pinch for things like rice, risotto, chilis, stews etc. Vegetable stock will go sour in about 5-6 days. It can be frozen but since it requires little effort and cost, it is equally convenient to simply make a new one.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Tried, Tested and True

Before I forget, this was the recipe I put on the other blog. Just in case it gets missed I've put it here so it get lost. Try this one when you are not on a diet.

Nutella Brownies

4 large eggs
800 g Nutella (or other hazelnut spread)
100 mL of melted butter
5 mL of vanilla extract
125 mL of flour
5 mL of baking powder
Pinch of salt
200 mL of semi-sweet chocolate chips
300 mL of chopped pecans

Beat eggs. Add butter, vanilla and nutella and mix well.

In a separate bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt. Blend with chocolate mix. Add chips and nuts and fold.

Pour into a buttered 13 x 9 inch pan (3.5 L) and bake in 180 degrees Celsius (350 F) for 30 – 40 minutes.

Let cool overnight. Preferably in a dish.

I Know It's Still Winter But . . . .

I'll start the blog with a simple classic: Hanggurbers! I imagine everyone has a staple burger they stick to but this one is pretty good. Feel free to add or remove some details but don't leave out the lemon zest and lemon infused mushrooms. That is what this one a pure classic. Have this with some cilantro lemon vodka (see below) and you are good to go.

Stevo's Hamburger Zings

lb. Ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp of instant granola or breadcrumbs
2 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
Half a tsp. Pepper
2 lemons: rind of grated lemons, fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp of salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of sliced Cremini mushrooms (or white jumbo)
4 slices of provolone cheese

Grease grill and preheat barbecue to medium high.

In medium bowl, mix ground beef with eggs, lemon rind, granola, pepper, 1 tbsp of salt and Worcestershire Sauce, just until combined.

Shape into 4 burgers. Grill burgers until thoroughly cooked. 6-7 minutes on each side.

While burgers cook on grill, prepare mushroom topping: Preheat stovetop to medium heat. In skillet, add olive oil and remainder of salt. Cook about one minute until fragrant, do not brown. Add lemon juice and sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until tender. Drain mushrooms and place in small bowl.

Once beef patties are cooked, place buns on grill for 30 seconds or until lightly toasted. Place cooked mushrooms on top of beef patty with a slice of provolone cheese. Add desired toppings.

Makes 4.

Cilantro Vodka Lemonade

1 Bunch of Cilantro
400 ml sugar
4 Large Lemons, Juiced
2 L Ice Water
150ml Room Temparature Water
150 ml Vodka

In a saucepan, combine sugar, 100ml water and cilantro. Bring to a boil and remove from heat to let cool. Strain syrup into a carafe and add ice water, vodka nd lemon juice. Stir and serve.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Now We're Cooking

I have a following. I have been asked by two lovely ladies to have a separate blog strictly for recipes. So this is it. Unfortunately, I've forgotten most of them but I'm not that old and so there is no excuse. Besides what if something tragic were to happen and then all my creatiions would be lost.

Difficulty level will vary and I will try and be as simple in my instructions as possible.

Starting Febraury 22, I will have my first post.