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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, and I would agree.

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (2)

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Meatloaf Withh Sundried Tomatoes (2)

Yields: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Cook Time: 50 minutes
Equipment: 9 x 13 baking dish

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 Gruyère  cheese, grated (4 cups)
8-ounces white Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
4-ounces Mascarpone, room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon sweet Paprika (substitute smoked paprika)
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes, plus extra for garnish
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish on top (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the 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, 6-8 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 1-2 minutes. Add the pepper, Kosher salt, and grated nutmeg, continue whisking until sauce thickens and becomes smooth.

Off the heat, switch to a wooden spoon, stir in the Mascarpone first, then the Gruyére and white Cheddar. Add the cooked macaroni, and half the parsley, stir well. 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 parsley and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top of the casserole. *Dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and macaroni is browned on top. Optional, sprinkle finely shredded Parmesan cheese and parsley over the top while hot.

Serve hot.

*Dot: To scatter bits of butter over food.

 

Meatloaf With Sundried Tomatoes

 

 

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Puff Pastry Savory And Sweet

 

Puff Pastry

Puff Pastry is a staple in my house. I use Puff Pastry for both sweet and savory recipes. I’ve been making these two for many years.  Ina Garten, from the Food Network, also had an episode where she made these recipes. What was crazy about it was, my recipe for Elephant Ears was close to Ina Garten’s recipe. The Cheese Straws, well they were a bit different. I used Grana Padano cheese with mine, whereas she used two kinds of cheese, Parmesan and Gruyere. When I made this recipe, I added the Gruyere to mine too and they were delicious. Two kinds of cheese are better than one!

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 8 ears per sheet
Equipment: baking sheet pans, parchment paper, and rolling pin

Ingredients: (for one sheet of puff pastry)
1 cup of granulated sugar divided into 2 bowls (1/2 cup per bowl)
1/8 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry

Directions For The Elephant Ears:
Preheat oven to 450-degrees F.

The first thing is to move the puff pastry to the frig the day before so it will thaw out overnight. You want to work with it as cold as possible. Set up two bowls, one with granulated sugar mixed with a pinch of Kosher, and one with sugar and cinnamon combined.

Spread the bowl with the sugar and salt mixture all over a flat surface like my cutting board. A marble surface is fine too. I unfold the pastry and lay in right on top of the sugar mixture. The top of the pastry, pour the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly all over covering the top. So now there’s sugar on the bottom surface of the pastry, and cinnamon sugar on the top surface.

You need to move quickly so the dough remains as cold as possible. Take a rolling pin and roll the pastry out into a rectangle, about 12 inches square. Doing this it allows for the sugar to be pushed into the pastry on both sides. Next, fold the sides of the square towards the center so they meet in the middle. Repeat this process again with those halves to the folds meet in the middle, as shown in the pictures above. Then fold both halves on top of each other making 6 layers.

Next, slice the dough into slightly under 1-inch slices. Place the slices, cut side up onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake the pastry for 5 minutes, or until the bottoms are caramelized and brown, then flip them over with a spatula, and bake for another 4-5 minutes. This will allow for the other side to caramelize. Carefully move each one to a rack to cool.

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Prep Time:15 minutes
Yields: 12 straws per sheet
Equipment: baking sheets, parchment paper, pizza cutter

Ingredients:
2 sheets of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry thawed overnight in the frig
1 large egg for the egg wash (beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
1/2 cup of freshly grated Grana Padano cheese ( divided into two bowls)
1 cup of freshly grated Gruyere cheese ( divided into two bowls)
1 teaspoon of freshly minced basil leaves
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Directions For Cheese Straws:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
First, grate the cheese in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Once all the cheese has been grated, then roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board. You want it to be a rectangle, about roughly 10 by 12 inches.

Divided equally into two bowls add the grated Gruyere, Grana Padano cheese, chopped basil, Kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Brush egg wash over the top surface of one of the pastry sheets.  From one of the prepared cheese bowls, spread the cheese over the top of the brushed pastry.

Using a rolling pin, press the cheese mixture into the pastry. Next, use a pizza cutter to slice crosswise the pastry into 10 strips. Twist each strip and lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each one over and bake for another 2 minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on them, watching that the cheese doesn’t burn.

Cool and serve at room temperature.

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Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata.jpg

Strata just mean a layered casserole. They can be sweet or savory. I guess you could say it’s almost like a type of bread pudding. Anytime I’m looking for a recipe that will feed at least six people my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom And Asparagus Strata is perfect. Not to mention, it’s comfort food in every sense of the word. Let’s start from the beginning…

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I like spinach to keep its beautiful green color, so I immediately remove the pan from the heat. Once the spinach wilts, toss in the chopped thawed asparagus. Remember this dish still has to go into the oven.

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Prep Time: 30 to 40 minutes (time includes the cooking of all the ingredients going into the Strata)
Cook Time: 45 to 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sautépan, 9 x 13 baking dish, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans,  1 medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, Chef’s knife

Ingredients:
unsalted butter for greasing the dish
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon plus teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 sprig of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 package of thawed frozen asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces
1 loaf of Ciabatta bread, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes and toasted
Dozen large eggs, room temperature
2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup of half-and-half, room temperature
4-ounces grated Gruyere cheese (2 tablespoons for the top)
4-ounces grated Fontina cheese (2 tablespoons for the top)
1/2 cup of Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for the top)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300-degrees F.
Butter casserole dish for the Strata. Next cut the Ciabatta cubes up into 2-inch cubes, spread them out on sheet pans and bake for 20 minutes or until dry at 300 degrees. While the bread is in the oven start the filling.

On medium heat, add the olive oil to a large sautépan. Next, add the Fresno chili and garlic, sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Next, add the sliced mushrooms and thyme leaves. Sauté mushrooms for 5 minutes or until browned. Season with Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

To the pan, add the sweet Italian sausage. Using a wooden spoon, break the sausage up with a wooden spoon. Add the rosemary, fennel seeds, dried oregano, dried thyme, Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Sauté until all the sausage is brown and cooked through, around 10 minutes. Next, add the fresh spinach leaves. Toss the leaves through until just wilted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add in the thawed chopped asparagus pieces and toss those through. Set the filling aside.

For the bread, I used a Ciabatta. Slice the Ciabatta then cut into 2-inch cubes. Place the cubes onto two rimmed sheet pans. Spread the cubes out into one even layer. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread cubes become dry and style-like. Let the bread cubes cool for 10 minutes.

Adjust oven temperature to 350-degrees F.

Start the custard by adding to medium-size mixing bowl the eggs, milk, grated cheeses, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, whisk until combined.

In another large mixing bowl add the sausage mixture and cooled bread cubes. Gently toss to combine. Pour the custard over the sausage and bread cubes.

Gently fold the ingredients with the custard. Allow the mixture to sit for around 10 minutes giving the bread cubes a chance to absorb the custard, or at least most of it. In the meantime, butter the baking dish really well. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime butter, a 9 x 13 baking dish really well. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime get a deep casserole dish and lightly butter it all over. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

After the 10 minutes, pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Drizzle (around a 1/4 cup) of olive oil all over the top to ensure the bread browns evenly.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until you can see no more liquid coming up on the sides or up through the center. Once a wooden skewer comes out clean, the dish is done. The Strata should be nice and golden brown on the top.

Allow the Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata to rest for 20 minutes before cutting.

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