I am hungry, and was wondering what to blog about… so it is just too easy.
Well I like food.
So what today?
Changing things, huh?
Recipes. Ok, I admit I look at them…. but only a fast glance, because I never follow them. I change something.
You know what you like, the person that made the recipe thinks it is great, but maybe there is something in the ingredient list that you are not crazy about. Or something you like better. So why not change it, so you like it better?
Or change it up, just to keep from getting bored with a meal.
Hmmm, ok, an example. Mac & Cheese. Everyone uses cheddar, the recipes all call for it. Sharp cheddar is best, stronger tastes…
So, what happens if you use Havarti instead?
OMG, rule breaker.
Maybe some fresh dill too.
What if you really break rules and put some feta in it as well. Gasps..
oh oh.. what about putting some baby spinach in it too.. just to mess with you.
It isn’t boring anymore is it?
What do you mean you want a recipe… *points up* I don’t follow recipes, I just cook… darn, you are not going to be happy with that.
*sighs* oh alright….
Make a basic white sauce, about three cups.
Oh wait, I have seen how some make a white sauce.. so here goes my “make it faster” idea.
White sauce, which is roux, some call it rue.. is easy to make, very easy, and if you follow these steps it won’t lump, it will turn out every time.
You need flour, milk and butter.
You can sub any type of flour, use cream and or margarine, even oils.
I like to use whole wheat flour, milk and butter for mac and cheese
for each cup of milk, you need one tablespoon of flour and one of butter. very easy to remember isn’t it?
Before you make the roux, lets get the cheese ready.
Grate two cups of Havarti, maybe a bit more, I like more. Break the Feta up into small chunks, about a cup of it, again, more if you like it a lot. I do.
Cook your pasta, elbow Macaroni. For this amount of roux, about hmmm a pound of it, or 454 grams.
Back to the White Sauce
Melt the butter over a low heat. High heat is fine for boiling water, for everything else it is useless..
go away if you are in a hurry… food can cook fast, but we don’t need to burn it.
So, you have three tablespoons of butter melted in your pan, take it off the heat and sprinkle three tablespoons of flour over it and whisk it into a paste, keep it off the heat. Use a whisk, they work much better, and not a huge one, you want to get in the corner of the pot. Use a spoon if you must… stir until a smooth paste.
Now back on the LOW heat, let it bubble, keep stirring it.This cooks the flour and removes the raw flour taste. Dont cook it too much, the more it browns the less it thickens. (bet you didn’t know that.) So don’t brown it at all. Maybe two minutes of cooking, remember low heat. It will thicken more later in the Mac & Cheese.
Now take it off the heat again and slowly add the milk, just a 1/4 cup at first, whisk it well, no lumps, stir until a smooth paste again. Then slowly add a cup of milk or so, mixing all the time, it only takes a moment. then you can pour in the rest, mix it up and put it back on the heat. Add a bit of salt, pepper and nutmeg. you decide how much you like, remember you can’t take it out, so a pinch, sprinkle and dash… If you messed up somehow, pour it through a strainer to remove the lumps. But if you followed along, you should have a nice smooth roux.
There you go, a roux, easy right?
Now add the Havarti and stir it in until it melts, then the feta, keep stirring all the time, the cheese melts fast, the Feta won’t melt, it will just get a bit sticky.
Put your pasta in a casserole dish, pour the cheese sauce over it, stir it gently to mix it up.
Wait, you aren’t done yet.
Chop up a tablespoon or two of fresh dill and stir it in. mmmm, smells good doesn’t it?
Chop up an onion, a good sized one. Even sized pieces, not too big please.
Chop up a couple cloves of garlic as well, nice and fine.
Heat a pan with a bit of oil in it (a dash) and sweat the onion (medium heat). That means cook until it is transparent but doesn’t brown. It only takes a moment or so.
Then add the garlic and cook it a bit more, not too much. Garlic burns easily.
Now toss in some chopped spinach, we like baby spinach best. Fresh! gawds, you want to know how much don’t you… hmmm ponders.. how much do you like it? A cup or two, you decide. Just cook it a bit, maybe a minute, to make the spinach a bit limp.
Now stir all of this into your exciting pasta… carefully, don’t make a mess.. I don’t like a messy kitchen…
Taste it. Does it need salt or pepper? If so add some. It will likely need another dash of salt.
Now you can sprinkle some bread crumbs over it. I like panko bread crumbs, I usually will heat a bit of butter in a pan to melt it, maybe two tablespoons then add a half a cup of bread crumbs and mix them well, then sprinkle it on the top.
I like to bake it, maybe 20 minutes or so at 350, to brown the crumbs and let the cheese bubble up.
It is very nice with a Pinot Noir, Cab Sauv, or Merlot.. *nods lots*
When you get bored with this, add some tuna. A tin or two
or use brie instead of feta….
Put some garlic in the bread crumbs
Take out the spinach.. use asparagus… or smoked salmon… mmmm or both.