Wednesday, August 24, 2011

G-Ma's Famous Mac and Cheese - This Time, With Beer

Todd snapped a pic of me on my way to my first class of 2L year!  Good morning, Evidence!  

(Do you see my yoga mat poking out?  I've got my schedule set so I can go 1-2x during the week to break up my day.)

And when I got home, Todd was pulling his grandma's famous mac and cheese out of the oven!  I'm such a lucky girl!  

We've made some slight modifications to the original recipe - we subbed flour for cornstarch and added ham, and beer (!).

Enjoy this everyone, and give your grandma a hug!

G-Ma's Famous Mac and Cheese, with Beer 
Serves 4, probably should serve 8
From Grandma McMullen

1 box of cooked elbow pasta

2 T butter
2 T flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp pepper
2 full cups of milk, may just a splash more
1/2 can of beer (we used Epicenter, which tastes like Kiltlifter)
2 cups (or more!) sharp (extra sharp?) cheddar cheese
Pre-cooked ham cubes (enough)
Italian bread crumbs

In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat.
Blend 2 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter.
Add dry mustard powder, salt and pepper.
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes.
Slowly add the the beer, followed by the milk, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add the cheese.  Stir into cooked macaroni, then mix in ham cubes.  Pour into a casserole dish.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mixed Grain Summer Risotto

Erica and I at The Dish this weekend!

Have you been there?

I definitely recommend it! Seating is really limited, if not inconspicuous inside of the Rum Runner, so make reservations beforehand. Erica had this really interesting looking soft shell crab with a cornmeal crust and I had a bowl of mussels seasoned with saffron and lemon - so delicious! 

I also hear the Dish has a fantastic special on Tuesday nights - a bowl of mussels and a glass of wine (or beer) for $11.50. Yesss. 

But I don't always eat fancy meals out. Sometimes I make my own food. Like tonight:

This is "mixed grain" risotto, but I used all brown rice. I didn't have any parm on hand, which was OK, but next time, I'll use cheese since there's no garlic or shallot for a stronger flavor.

Mixed Grain Summer Risotto
O Magazine 
Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 small yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
½ cup each brown rice, pearl barley and wild rice
¼ cup dry white wine (optional)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus some whole leaves for garnish (optional)
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3/4 of squash and zucchini, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add brown rice, barley, and wild rice; toast, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add wine (if using) and cook 1 minute more. Add broth; bring to a boil. Partially cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice and barley are tender and risotto is thick and slightly soupy, about 45 minutes.

Stir in rest of squash and zucchini; cook, uncovered, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, basil, and tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and basil garnish (if using).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw

Um...yum?  Yes, yes, yes!  Plus, it took us five minutes to make these, and we were eating in 10.  You're welcome.

These tacos definitely remind of food I've had at Blanco.  Maybe it's the feta?  Most important thing learned today?  Feta + black beans = great combo! 

One bag of coleslaw is more than the normal person can load on a taco, so I proceeded to eat the leftover as a salad with hot sauce dressing.  Don't judge.  Do enjoy!

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw
By the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen, Serves 4

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 bag of coleslaw mix

1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 white or yellow corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Bottled chipotle hot sauce or other hot sauce

Place beans and cumin in small bowl; partially mash. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

Pam a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until golden brown, about 2.5 minutes per side. Load tacos up with feta and slaw. Pass hot sauce alongside.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Saag Paneer sans Paneer

Today is a glorious day! We made saag paneer sans paneer for the first time! FYI, paneer is cheesy cubes.

When I was a girl, my family and I used to go out for Indian food every weekend.  My mom and I always ordered the same thing - saag paneer sans paneer, although I always ordered mine a spicier than my mom's ;).  Still, I can't get enough of this unique, spicy, spinach loaded dish.

Since going out to eat can get expensive, my mom once asked the chef how to make their saag paneer.  Like, in detail so she could make it herself instead of going to the restaurant.  Well, the most info they gave her was "you take spinach and blend it."  Period.  So, my mom did just that, and let me tell you, it's not saag paneer.  

After that incident, I never attempted to make saag paneer, but when this legitimate recipe came to me, I jumped on it and gosh, Todd and I absolutely devoured it!  I was impressed how the flavors so amazingly matched the saag I've had at restaurants.

A few notes, this recipe is spicy already (i.e. I didn't add sriracha), so if you're spice adverse  clean out the entire pepper.  Also, the dish comes out a little greener than you might find in restaurants, although it gets darker and more flavorful as you let it rest.  If you want to make it creamier, you might use full fat plain yogurt instead of fat free.

Saag Paneer sans Paneer 
Serves 2 for dinner
Slightly adapted from Gluten Free Girl

12 ounces paneer (Indian cheese, either made from my recipe, or store-bought), cut into 1-inch cubes

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1½ tablespoons extra

2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch thumb ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1 large green Serrano chilli, cut in half with one side rinsed out and second side with seeds

½ teaspoon garam masala or curry powde

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ cup water

1 container of fat-free plain yogurt

In a large bowl, whisk together turmeric, cayenne, salt and oil.  Gently, drop in the cubes of paneer and toss gently, taking care not to break the cubes if you’re using the homemade kind. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.

Thaw spinach in microwave (5 minutes on high), then puree in your food processor until smooth.  Alternatively, you can chop it up very finely with your knife.

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add oil to the pan.  Add the onions, ginger, garlic and green chili.  Now here’s the important part: sauté the mixture until it’s evenly toffee-colored, which should take about 15 minutes. 

Add the garam masala/curry power, coriander and cumin.  If you haven’t already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning.  Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the raw scent of the spices cooks out, and it all smells a bit more melodious.

Add the spinach, and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach.  Add the a little salt and ½ cup water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid on.

Now, turn the heat off.  Add the yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling.  Once the yogurt is well mixed into the spinach, turn the heat back on, cover and cook 5 minutes so everything is warmed through and serve.