June 21, 2011

Truffle Macaroni & Cheese

Mac & Cheese, has to be one of my all time favorite comfort foods. I've had a so many versions, as well as at restaurants. I've had full blown debates over which boxed version is best Kraft vs. Velveeta? (Velveeta is still Kraft, so its a win-win for them), as well as tons of variations, lobster mac & cheese, baked, with varied cheeses. But one of my absolute favorites is truffle mac and cheese.

I had tried making a similar recipe a few months ago, but instead of using truffle butter at the beginning, I would add truffle oil towards the end. Trust me, this is the way to go! The truffle butter really infuses its flavors throughout the entire dish, and your home.

6 tbs truffle butter
1/2 cup flour
3 1/4 cup milk
1 sharp white cheddar shredded
1 Gruyere package shredded
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Optional Mushrooms for filling:
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 tbs. butter,
(Saute the mushrooms in melted butter for 5-8 minutes, set aside)

For starters, you want to bring a large pot to boil, and cook your pasta, I love the larger macaroni such as Pipa Rigate use 1- 16 oz package, and cook until slightly under "al dente". You don't want to over cook your pasta, since we are continuing the cooking process in the oven. Drain and set aside.

While your pasta is cooking you can get started on your cheese sauce. For the sauce we start with a basic roux. First we want to start by melting the truffle butter. Once its melted, we add the flour and mix until all flour has dissolved. Then we add the milk while on medium heat, and mix well into the flour mixture, we don't want any clumps of the roux. Keep mixing until the milk starts to thicken, bringing it to a light boil. (This same process is known as making a basic bechamel sauce too!) As soon as it gets to this point, take off the heat and mix in both shredded cheeses. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well, so all cheese has melted fully and creates a creamy texture.

Mix in the pasta and mix well. Pour in either individual oven proof serving dishes, or in a large baking dish. If desired, you can add the mixture of the sauteed mushrooms, and mix into the pasta mixture. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs over the pasta if desired and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the pasta is creamy and bubbly.

June 13, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

It wasn't until Memorial Day weekend last year that I had any idea what a Rhubarb was. I had frequently read various recipes for deserts that showcased the ingredient but just had no idea whatsoever what it was. I had no clue as to its color, taste or texture, until an aunt made a similar crisp while we spent a weekend visiting. For those of you who are as clueless as I was, a rhubarb basically looks like celery, but red! Its natrually very tart, which is why its often paired with strawberries, and a healthy dose of sugar (otherwise, very hard to eat).

Below is my own adaptation of this easy and perfectly suitable desert for any spring or summertime gathering. Let's face it, crumbles are not necesarily the "prettiest" looking desserts, but they are so easy to make, and make as many variations as you please. Once you try this recipe,believe me you'll be craving it year round!

1 1/2" cups rhubarb cut into 1" pieces
3 cups strawberries cut same to same size
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tspn of cinnamon and nutmeg
1 Tspn cornstarch
1 tbsn Triple Sec

First you want to cut the rhubarb and strawberries into equal sizes, preferably bite sized so 1/2" to 1" tops. Set aside. In medium bowl add the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch and Triple Sec (organge based liquor). Mix well and add the fruit mixture. Mix gently until the fruit becomes well coated in the mixture. Place in 9" pie dish or in small rammekins if you prefer to do individual portions.
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tspn cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

I mix the dry ingredients, then add the melted butter and mix all together. Place over fruit filling mixture.
Bake in oven at 350 for approximately 35-45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Serve warm or to room temperature with your favorite vanilla ice cream.