snow day recipes…

One of the joys about having your own blog is you get to set the content.  You can yack it up  over politics, lifestyle, social commentary…and even post recipes.  I have decided to share a couple of comfort food winter recipes. A breakfast and a dinner one.

Breakfast recipe: German Pancake

Dinner recipe: Mac and Cheese

Full disclosure is I have a bad habit of recipes going along  in my head for years, so I don’t always write things down.   So you may have to tweak….which is why you won’t see my gnocchi recipe online – it’s all in my head and ever-changing.   I do have a few other recipes uniquely my own loaded on Scribd [CLICK HERE] – I will note the Sunday Pasta Sauce recipe won me a ver nice prize from a few years ago….

I will start with the German Pancake.  It seems to be perfect for winter mornings in Chester County.  I had a Pennsylvania German Grandmother  and an Italian Grandmother and Great Aunts and a father whom I definitely inherited a cooking gene from , but the bones of this recipe comes courtesy of Cristofer Malloy at Bon Apetit / Conde Nast – the recipe is from 1984 – where I changed it is I added cinnamon and cardamom and 3 tablespoons of sugar to my batter and I do not flip it. (so the flipping thing is NOT in this recipe)  Here it is tweaked to how I like it:

German Pancake:

4 eggs,

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup flour
cinnamon and cardamom to taste

pinch salt

three tablespoons sugar

Whisk all  together. 

Melt two tablespoons butter in cast iron or oven proof heavy fry pan, (oven at 425 degrees), after butter melts and is slightly brown in pan and the pan is really  hot, pour in batter and bake approx 12 minutes – it will puff up like a hat three to five inches above pan – dust with powdered sugar and cut into wedges and serve like that or with maple syrup or even a warm fruit compote (apples simmered in cinnamon, ginger, simple syrup)- so easy….so delicious.

And now…Mac and Cheese.  This is my base recipe.  I will turn leftovers into things like tuna noodle casserole, or I will add things to my basic recipe – pancetta, diced ham, crumbled bacon, peas, hot dogs, turkey kielbasa, those chicken sausages at Trader Joe’s,  jalapenos…whatever hits me – not all at once, however (ick).  It’s just if I am feeling cheesy and spicy for example, I might stir in jalapenos.  Or if I have left over ham or some bacon open, might cook that up and add it.  Or I might sautee and drain ground beef or turkey and make it that way. You get the picture. It does not take much time to do, so why not try scratch and leave the boxed stuff on the shelf in the grocery store?

Here is the base (and it is approximate because it’s mostly in my head):

Mac and Cheese Base:

1 14.5 oz box of the Barilla enriched elbow whole wheat macaroni (I really like this pasta) cooked according to box directions and drained  and ….

cheese sauce:

carmelize 1/3 to 1/2  DICED sweet onion in 3 to 4 tablespoons of butter. 

After carmelized (brown, cooked down, sweet),

add 1 tablespoon more butter and when melted whisk in 3 tablespoons flour until cooked in and smooth. 

Add a pinch of salt and slowly add 1 1/2 cups of milk (any kind but skim), bring up to heat but not quite a boil

and add a pinch of nutmeg and
whisk in 2 cups of cheese  slowly –  sharp cheddar and second cup of  mixed cheeses like colby jack or even that five cheese shredded Italian works.   I choose not to use all cheddar, because sometimes cheddar just separates.

Whisk around until smooth and add 4 oz of cream cheese.  Yes, cream cheese.  Not whipped cream cheese, incidentally. If you want to dress up the cheese more, you can add  4 oz goat cheese instead of cream cheese.
When all combined and smooth balance out salt and pepper to taste and if sauce is too thick for you, add a little more milk and keep stirring over moderate to low heat until you find a consistency you like.  I caution you to only add more milk in small increments like 1/4 cup at a time.  Watery cheese sauce is disgusting.
Pour over cooked 14.5 oz box of elbows which has been drained but not rinsed and returned to pot.

Mix, let pasta sit with lid on a few minutes and serve hot.

The onion adds another layer and because it is carmelized and diced it disappears into the cheese sauce. You get a great flavor that provides a subtle layer of flavor.

The funny thing is I now see professional chefs jazzing up Mac & Cheese with carmelized onion, but I have been doing it for a long time that way – I just like onion and garlic so if I can work it in, it gets worked in.

Also, I prefer my Mac & Cheese stove top, but some people like to make it and add toasted and seasoned breadcrumbs or croutons and bake it a little – if you do that, I suggest making half as much again cheese sauce because Mac & Cheese in the oven can dry out and you might need more cheese sauce when it comes out of the oven.  Baking it is mostly just heating it through for like 15 minutes at 350 in a buttered baking dish with this recipe once assembled.

Garlic however is not for Mac & Cheese in case you are wondering.

But it does fit with the things I serve with the base Mac & Cheese – things like a mixed green and baby spinach salad in a vinaigrette and baked parmesan crusted chicken with smoked paprika and garlic.  If I serve the Mac & Cheese with ground beef or kielbasa or something in it, then it moves from side to main course.

Happy Sunday all!

honey brook

I have a thing for Main Street oriented towns….this is the natural commodity that developers attempt to capture but can never quite naturally duplicate in developments that reflect the theories of New Urbanism, and so forth.  And why create Developer Disneylands when the real deal is all around us? 

Adaptive reuse I think is a more productive key to the future.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation seems to share my opinion too:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation believes that the strength of America’s historic and older neighborhoods is critical to the future of our communities, and that improving housing is a key element of any community revitalization strategy. Our goal is to prevent unnecessary demolition, and to restore, rehab, and reuse existing structures, while helping to ensure that needed new construction is compatible and complementary with the character of our older and historic resources

 But to reuse an old structure, or series of old structures is not what most developers seem to want to do.

If we’re not careful, Main Street will disappear.  And that will be a loss.  I don’t know about you, but I like communities with individual identities.  Not everything needs to be homogenous and Stepford wife situated.

The one thing that concerns me is that Chester County is still seeing a LOT of development.  Lots and lots of strip malls, but I notice that every time one of those goes up, small crossroads town centers are forgotten more and more.

I would hate to see small Main Street oriented Chester County town centers become ghost towns and a thing of the past.  And as I wander through the county, I notice it’s already happening….

malvern on a saturday

So I remember reading many months back that Malvern has approved some unnecessary development up King? I guess it’s this East King Street thing on their website?

This past Saturday as we sat and sat in traffic on Malvern’s main drag, I looked around at all the cute stores and whatnot already there and wondered given the traffic NOW, why they would want to create more density and congestion in basically a one horse town?

It seems to me they stand a darn good chance of ruining a good thing.   Why make Malvern what it isn’t?  Why not enhance gently if they *must* do something? Why does redevelopment ALWAYS seem to mean super-sizing?

When did the vision of communities stop being about the actual community?

Yes, the horse is out of the barn in this case, and it seems a case of alea iacta est   – or the die has been cast, but I can’t help myself.  I look at Malvern and look at those ugly plans and think to myself “what are these people thinking?”