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!