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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Can you think of anything better than a Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese? I’ll bet your answer is no, I agree.

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (2)

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (1)

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Mac & Cheese (4)

Mac & Cheese (6)

Mac & Cheese (7)

Mac & Cheese (5)

Mascarpone Cheese

Mac & Cheese (2)

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Mac & Cheese (8)

Mac & Cheese (3)

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese (3)

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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White Cheddar Mac & Cheese (1)

Homestyle Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (2)

 

 

 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 9 x 13 baking dish, 2 (6-quart) saucepots, whisk

Ingredients:
1 box or pound of Cavatappi (or elbow macaroni)
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter plus 6 tablespoons
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12-ounces (4 cups) Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
8 ounces (2 cups) white cheddar, freshly grated
4 ounces Mascarpone, room temperature
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded for garnish on top
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon sweet Paprika (substitute smoked paprika)
1/2 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (reserve 1/4 cup for breadcrumbs)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook according to the instructions of the box, 6 to 8 minutes, drain really well.

At the same time, heat the milk and heavy cream in a small saucepan, but do not boil. Melt 8 tablespoons (1-stick) in a large (6-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes while whisking, until it’s light blond in color. Whisk in the hot milk and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and grated nutmeg, continue whisking until sauce thickens and becomes smooth.

Off the heat, switch to a wooden spoon, add the Mascarpone first, stir to combine. Next, add the grated Gruyére, white Cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, again stir to combine. Add the cooked macaroni, 1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, mix to combine. Pour into a 9 x 13 buttered baking dish.

Topping:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Add the Panko breadcrumbs, Paprika, remaining Italian flat-leaf parsley, toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top of the casserole. *Dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and macaroni is browned on top. Optional, sprinkle finely shredded Parmesan cheese and Italian flat-leaf parsley over the top while hot.

Serve hot.

*Dot: To scatter bits of butter over food.

Meatloaf With Sundried Tomatoes

 

 

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Pastitsio

 

Pastitsio (2)

Lately, I’ve been testing a couple of Greek Pastitsio recipes. Pastitsio, Greek-style lasagna is so delicious. Instead of just making one pan, It’s just as easy to make two. You can bet they’ll both get eaten.

Zitoni Lunghi a long tube-shaped pasta used specifically for Pastitsio. I used Bucatini in this dish because it is readily available at local grocery stores. I’d recently visited an International market, about 30 minutes from my home, and found the traditional pasta for this dish (pictures below).

I’m also going to make a few changes to this dish. As you know ground lamb is traditional for this dish. For my Pastitsio, I’ll be making a Bolognese-style sauce filled with vegetables, ground veal, lean ground sirloin, sweet Italian sausage, and a variety of Mediterranean spices. This is going to be a really hearty meat sauce.

Making Pastitsio is a labor of love and usually made on special occasions. There are three components to this dish, first the pasta, the meat sauce, and finally the Bechamel.

Let’s get started.

Pastitsio

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Oregano

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Thyme

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Pastitsio

Pastitsio (2)

 

 

 

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Yields: 18 servings
Equipment: 6-quart saucepot, 6-quart braising pot with a lid (Dutch oven) 3-quart saucepot, 2-9 x 11 deep-sided ceramic baking dishes, 10-cup food processor, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, 2 large mixing bowls, large slotted spoon, whisk, tongs

Ingredients For Meat Sauce:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, processed
1 red bell pepper, processed
1 yellow bell pepper, processed
1 Fresno chili, seeded and processed
1 Poblano pepper, seeded and processed
1 medium-size carrot, peeled diced and processed
5 cloves of garlic, processed
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound of ground sirloin (90% lean)
2 pounds of ground veal
1 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon
1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes with their juice
1 stick of butter, unsalted (reserve some for greasing the baking dish)

Ingredients For Bechamel Sauce:
2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
3 cups of Pecorino cheese, freshly grated (1 1/2 cups for the Bechamel, 1 cup to toss with the pasta, 1/2 a cup for the topping)
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
1 cup of Greek yogurt, room temperature
2 tablespoons of  Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, extra for garnish
2 pounds of Zitoni Lunghi (300 Ziti), substitute ziti

Directions:
Start with grating the cheese. Dice up the Pecorino cheese and add it to a food processor. Pulse until cheese is processed, as seen in the pictures above. Transfer the grated cheese to a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Set aside.

Next, is to prep all the vegetables.
First, remove all the seeds from all the peppers including the Fresno chili, then roughly chop. Set aside. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion, set aside. Peel and chop the carrot into 1 1/2-inch dice, set aside. Clean then quarter the mushrooms.

Start by processing the mushrooms, then the onions and garlic together, next, the diced carrots, and finally all the peppers. Transfer the processed vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a 6-quart braising pot (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the sweet Italian sausage. Break up the sausage with the back of a wooden spoon. Next, add the ground sirloin and ground veal. Stirring occasionally, allowing all the meat to brown until there is no longer any pink, around 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon to drain any excess fat, transfer the cooked meat to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Discard any fat left in the pot.

Using the same pot over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. To the oil add the dried oregano, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, allowing the spices to *bloom and become fragrant about 1 minute. Next, add the processed vegetables Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Tun the heat up to medium-high, add the wine. Allow the wine to come up to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the wine reduces by half, 5 minutes.

Adjust the heat to medium, add the browned meat back into the pot, stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes with their juice. Stirring occasionally, simmer for another 45 minutes. Halfway through taste for seasoning. This is the perfect time to add a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper if needed. Once the sauce is done finish by adding fresh oregano and thyme leaves, stir to combine. Turn the heat off and cover to keep warm.

The next step is to *scald the milk/cream mixture.
In a 3-quart saucepot over medium heat bring the milk and heavy cream to just below the boiling point.

Making the *roux for the Bechamel sauce.
In a 6-quart pot over medium heat melt 1/2 a stick of butter. Add in the all-purpose flour vigorously whisking until the mixture becomes a paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the scalded milk/cream mixture to the *roux continuously whisking. Bring to a boil. Switch to a wooden spoon, add Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

Add 1 full ladle of the meat sauce, stir to combine. Allow the Bechame sauce to cool completely.

Once the Bechamel has cooled, add the beaten eggs, the room temperature Greek yogurt, and 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Pecorino cheese, whisk to combine. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Ziti (Zitoni) pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta really well.

Well, that’s the last of the components for this dish. Now it’s time to put this bad boy together.

Use half a stick of butter to butter both baking dishes, sides included.

For the first layer, divide and arrange the hot pasta (as seen in the picture above) equally between the two buttered baking dishes. Add 4 tablespoons of softened butter to the pasta. Using a pair of tongs, gently toss allowing the butter to coat all the pasta. Next, add the Pecorino cheese, once again, gently toss to coat. Repeat for the second baking dish.

For the second layer, (equally, divide) ladle the Bolognese sauce over the pasta.

For the final layer, (equally, divide) ladle the Bechamel sauce over the Bolognese.

Sprinkle a good helping of the freshly grated Pecorino cheese over the top of each dish. Transfer the baking dishes to the middle rack, in the oven, and bake for 1 hour until bubbly and the top forms a golden-brown crust.

Sprinkle freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley over the top.

Allow the Pastitsio to rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes to set before cutting.

Freezing Baked Pastitsio:
Let cool completely, wrap in foil, then again in plastic wrap really tightly. Label and date them so you can have Pastitsio any time you like. When you ready, place a pan into the frig to thaw overnight. Next, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Take a new piece of foil and lightly spray, the dull side, with a non-stick cooking spray.  This will prevent the cheese topping from sticking to the foil. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until hot all the way through. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until bubbly and the Bechamel top is lightly golden.

*Bloom is the process of gently frying them in oil and is a quick way to deepen their flavor.
*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces.
*Scalded milk is milk heated to just under the boiling point. This happens when you see small bubbles appear around the inner rim of the pot.

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Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs

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I’m giving this traditional Italian vegetable soup a makeover. I’ve added chicken sausage meatballs to what was an already perfect soup. Now it’s even heartier. This is my Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

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Fennel

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Cookie Dough Scoops

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Chicken Broth

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time 48 to 50 minutes minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 10-cup food processor, 6-quart saucepot, cookie dough scoop, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, Microplane, mesh sieve

Ingredients For Chicken Sausage Meatballs:
1 pound of ground chicken breasts
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup of heavy cream
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

Ingredients For Ribollita:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 diced onion
1/4 pound of pancetta, diced
1 cup of carrots (2 medium-size carrots), diced
3 ribs of celery (1 cup), diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans of Cannellini beans, 1 (15-ounce) can drain and rinsed, 1 (15-ounce) can puréed
1 bay leaf,
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of nutmeg freshly
1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 quarts of unsalted chicken stock
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups of chopped kale
3 cups of chopped Savoy cabbage
5 slices of good sourdough bread, crusts removed
1/2 a cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
*E.V.O.O for drizzling over the top of each bowl

Directions For Chicken Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Line two rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper. Spray each one with non-stick cooking spray.

In al large mixing bowl add all the ingredients from the list above, except the ground chicken, mix to combine. Add the ground chicken last. Using a fork, combine all the ingredients (flavorings) throughout the ground chicken. Do not overmix.

Note: Every few scoops of the meat mixture spray the inside of the scoop with non-stick cooking spray for easy removal. After forming a few meatballs, lightly spritz your hands with warm tap water. This will give your meatballs a smoother texture.

Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop the meat mixture into your hands to form the meatballs. Lightly spray the tops of all the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, use this time to prep all the vegetables from the list above. Once you’ve prepped the veggies the meatballs should be ready to come out of the oven. Set the two trays of meatballs aside.

Start the Ribollita.
Over medium heat, add the olive oil and diced onions. Sauté until soft and translucent but not brown. Add crushed red pepper flakes and diced pancetta, cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Next, add the diced carrots, celery, and bay leaf stir to combine. Add the minced garlic, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook together for 10 minutes until the veggies start to soften. At this point, add the whole canned tomatoes with their juice. Use a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes.

Next, add the chopped cabbage and kale, and freshly grated nutmeg, cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the greens wilt down. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the puréed Cannellini beans, stir to combine. Next, add the whole beans, again stir to combine.

Pour in the unsalted chicken stock. This is the point when you add the cooked meatballs. Still on medium-low heat simmer for another 15 minutes. At this point add in the cubed bread and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. The bread will dissolve and thicken the soup. The Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs is done at this point. Turn the heat off add the fresh basil leaves, stir to combine.

To Serve:
Ladle a good helping of the Ribollita into large porcelain soup or pasta bowl. Add a nice helping of the freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Finally. lightly drizzle your best *E.V.O.O on top. I promise, if you love really good soup or a delicious stew, I would say try making my Ribollita With Chicken Sausage Meatballs.

*E.V.O.O. is the acronym for extra virgin olive oil.

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