My time spent in Orvieto, Italy, much like the experience of many students studying abroad in college, was all about turning my preconceived notions on their proverbial heads. I never imagined that following up on a random postcard in my mailbox for a summer “arts” program in the heart of Tuscany would lead to a series of revelations in terms of ingredients, cooking and collecting food memories. Up until that point, Pizza Hut wasn’t a four letter word, ice cream and gelato could be considered one in the same, and a bottle of wine per person wasn’t considered a reasonable lunch. But all of that was thrown out the window, and I was utterly spellbound by all of the tastes and sights and experiences surrounding me. I discovered fava beans, pasta cooked in red wine, tomato-less bolognese, fresh porcini mushrooms and young white wines with ne’er an additive or preservative. I ate gelato after every meal, and sometimes as my meal, choosing flavors that tasted riper than fresh fruit. I learned that in Italy, I couldn’t leave the table before finishing the bottle of grappa or limoncello plonked there by the owner, much like a child forced to eat their vegetables before clearing off. I even taught an Italian movie star to do the robot while simultaneously doing an impression of Julia Child. I was officially living the life. Continue reading Pappardelle con Cinghiale
Meatballs have been getting a lot of play lately. From the incessant features on the Meatball Shop in NYC, to the meatball entrepreneur Joey on America’s Next Great Restaurant and his “Saucy Balls,” it’s as if ballmania has struck and there isn’t an end in site. For me, though, meatballs have always played a part in my collective food memory. Although I never got to know my Sicilian side of the family in person, their customs and traditions were passed down to me through my grandmother and mother. Making a sauce, or gravy as it’s truly called, involved frying off scores of homemade meatballs, and I’d stand close by for the chance to snag a taste. Apparently the tradition of searing all of the meatballs but one, and then cooking the last one through to give to someone you love came from my grandmother long before I learned it from my mother. I like to think of my mom as a kid, indulging in the perfectly seasoned and seared meatball as the most loving of gifts in that it was rooted in tradition. No kids of my own, I have been known to carry on the tradition with my husband – he himself grew up in a part-Sicilian household as well, and where my fam was doling out tastes of meatballs, his was doing the same thing with his mother’s expertly cooked chicken cutlets. It’s only fitting that we’re together and I can carry on a legacy of culinary “sharing means caring” traditions.
For those in the know, the secret to a good meatball is a good crust on the outside and a tender, juicy center. Although I’ll still sear off a meatball or two in a pan with olive oil, I’ve since converted to the baked meatball camp. You still get the lovely outer crust and it’s a whole hell of a lot less messy since you don’t have to tend to these over a greasy stove top. Because these babies were a part of my dinner party, the Feast of the Seven Boars, I used a combination of traditional ground beef and the less traditional but gloriously flavorful, wild boar. If you can’t get your hands on any boar, feel free to substitute ground pork or veal. Depending on how much time you have, you can simmer these the normal way on the stove in a lovely bath of San Marzano tomatoes OR you can take your sweet time and allow them to bubble away in a crock pot for a few hours OR you can be impatient and cook them in a pressure cooker for a mere 20 minutes. Any way you cook them, you’ll be treated to a perfectly tender treat meant to be served atop a delicious mess of pasta – maybe some bucatini with a heavy dose of crushed red pepper. Or you could just eat them straight away and skip the pasta. It is tradition, you know.
Spicy Bucatini with Wild Boar Meatballs
3 lbs. of ground wild boar (or pork or veal)
1 lb. of ground beef
1/2 an onion, finely minced
6 cl. of garlic, finely chopped
1 c. of grated locatelli
1/2 c. of chopped parsley
1 c. of bread crumbs
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1 tbs. of crushed oregano
1/2 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
3 large cans of whole san marzano tomatoes
1/2 c. of chicken stock
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
salt to taste
handful of torn basil leaves
1 tbs. of olive oil
1 tbs. of butter
1 lb. of bucatini, perciatelli or similar long pasta
Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl or a standing mixer, blend the meat, onion, garlic, parsley, eggs, crumbs, salt, pepper and oregano until thoroughly mixed. Wet hands and form 1/4 c. of the meat mixture into round balls. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
In a large pot, add the tomatoes and crush gently with a spoon. Add the garlic, chicken stock and salt and stir. Add the meatballs and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes – longer if you can stand it. When the meatballs are just about finished, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Toss with a cup or two of the meatball sauce, olive oil and butter. Toss the basil leaves in the hot pasta to wilt and top with some of the meatballs. Serve with grated cheese and extra crushed red pepper.
A little danger in the kitchen can pay off royally – high flames, sharp knives and occasionally some tricky ingredients serve as the makings for many a glorious supper. Stinging nettles are not nearly as dangerous as they sound assuming that you can play by the rules. Handled raw, they will mess you up with vicious barbs in your skin. But once you give them a luxurious bath in some boiling hot water, they lose all their bite. Why mess with them at all? Because these lovely greens have an earthy, nuttiness that kicks the ass of spinach any day.
The nettles take a lovely home as the filling for meat tortelli – wild boar is simmered until perfectly tender and blended with mortadella, pancetta and cheese. Wrapped in homemade pasta and dressed with a light sauce of cream and peas, underneath the delicate flavors lies an air of mystery and danger. As your guests tuck into these toothsome parcels, feel free to keep the secret of your forays into adventure with the exotic ingredients contained in this recipe. I mean, you are pretty much the next 007 of the kitchen. Or at least that’s what I hear.
This recipe makes a large amount of pasta, so feel free to freeze any leftovers for later. Spread the tortelli on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina and pop into the freezer, making sure that none of the pasta is touching. If you’re sick of cream sauce for your second go round with these guys, you can use a marinara or vodka sauce to mix things up. Or, even better, cook in a pot of chicken stock for an exemplary tortellini en brodo (tortellini soup). For leftover filling, make crepes or buy egg roll wrappers and make canneloni. Roll a few tablespoons of filling into the wrappers, top with bechamel or marinara and bake in the oven until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Tortelli with Wild Boar and Stinging Nettles
1 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. butter
1 lb. ground wild boar
2 c. of chicken stock
3 oz. of pancetta
6 oz. of mortadella
2 c. of grated locatelli
1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
1 tsp. of ground sage
1/8 tsp. of ground rosemary
1 shallot, finely diced
8 oz. of stinging nettles, blanched and chopped
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
salt to taste
1 c. of cake flour
2 c. of all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp. of olive oil
2 tbs. of butter
2 tbs. of flour
2 c. of heavy cream
1 c. of milk
1 c. of locatelli, grated
1/8 tsp. white pepper
salt to taste
1 c. of green peas
stand mixer with dough blade
pasta attachment for stand mixer
3 in. ring mold
Begin by making the meat filling. Melt the butter and olive oil in a dutch oven. Add the ground boar and onions and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the chicken stock and simmer on medium-low until all liquid has evaporated, about an hour. Alternatively, you can cook this mixture in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes to save time. Allow to cool a bit and set aside.
In a food processor, add the mortadella, pancetta, nettles, rosemary and shallots and chop finely. Add the wild boar and blitz until a smooth puree. Remove mixture to a large bowl and add the eggs, cheese, nutmeg, sage and white pepper. Taste for salt (should be on the saltier side) and reseason. Set aside.
Now to make the dough – and feel free to use your favorite pasta recipe (or pre-made pasta sheets to save time). In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour and the salt. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs and olive oil. Fit the mixer with the dough blade and allow to mix until a slightly sticky but well-mixed dough forms. Dust the countertop with flour and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.
Before I start making tortelli, I like to set up a couple of elements to make the job easier:
- a small bowl of water for sealing the edges of the pasta
- a few cookie sheets lined with wax paper and dusted with flour (semolina works well)
- a little mound of flour to dip the bottoms of each tortelli in after they are rolled (which prevents them from sticking to the wax paper)
Once your prep space is set up, start with the pasta dough. Take out the dough and cut into four segments. Grab a hunk of dough and dust with flour, leaving the other three segments wrapped in plastic so as not to allow them to get hard. Run the dough through a pasta maker, starting with the widest setting and working your way down to the second to thinnest setting (on my pasta machine, that’s #7). Flour the counter and lay out the sheet of dough. Cut out circles using a ring mold.
To make the tortelli, take a pasta round and fill with a few teaspoons of the filling. Brush the edge with a little bit of water and fold into a half moon, pushing out any excess air as you seal the edges. Take the two points of the half moon and fold them in on each other, squeezing them together to seal. Dip the bottom of the tortelli in the flour and then place on the cookie sheet. Repeat until you run out of dough.
Put a large pot of water on to boil. While it’s warming up, make your sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Mix in the flour and stir to form a paste. Slowly stir in the milk and cream in dribs and drabs, constantly whisking to form a smooth sauce. Crank the heat up and keep on whisking until the sauce thickens. Stir in the locatelli, white pepper and salt and turn heat down to low to keep warm while the pasta cooks.
Once the water comes to a boil, drop in the tortelli. Once they’ve cooked for 3 minutes, toss the peas into the water. Allow to cook for a mere 30 seconds, and then drain. Toss the pasta with the sauce, making sure to be careful not to break any of the tortelli, and serve immediately.
Just as ancient tales are easily bungled by funky translations (like Charles Perrault’s original story Cinderella, with confusion over a slipper of glass [verre], squirrel fur [vair] or even iron [fer]…a hot mess that Cinderella was), so too do recipes often have translation mix ups. Although Italian Wedding Soup, a popular dish in this country, hints at origins surrounding Tuscan weddings, the actual name of the soup is minestra mariata or “married soup” – a reference to the melange of greens, broth, meat and cheese. An apropos name, given that all of the flavors in this soup blend together into something akin to a warm hug. I’m all about that marriage, if I do say so myself.
Traditional versions of the soup involve a slow simmering stock that can include soup bones (prosciutto to be super authentic) and a variety of greens and broccoli. I love this soup with pastina, or little pasta pearls that puff up in the broth, but this version, as inspired by the cracked-out craziness of the Canadian show “Bitchin’ Kitchen” uses cheese tortellini. If you don’t have tortellini, you can swap it out for ditalini (short pasta tubes) or any mini pasta you’d like. You call the shots – this is your wedding and I don’t want you getting all bridezilla on me.
Italian Wedding Soup
1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef
1 lb. of pork
1 small hoagie roll
1/2 c. of parsley leaves
1/4 c. of parmesan
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
1 clove of garlic, very finely minced
pinch of oregano
8 c. of chicken stock
cheese tortellini or ditalini
In a food processor, grind up the hoagie roll, parsley leaves and garlic. Toss into a standing mixer or mixing bowl and blend with the beef, pork, egg, parmasean, salt, pepper and oregano. Roll into very small meatballs, about 1/2 of a tablespoon of filling at a time. Set aside.
In a pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the meatballs and let simmer away in the soup for at least 20 minutes. Grab another pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and chuck in the cheese tortellini or ditalini pasta, cooking according to the package directions. Drain.
To assemble the bowl of soup, add a handful of baby spinach and 1/2 c. of pasta to a large soup bowl. Ladel over the broth and meatballs, top with some cracked pepper and parmasean cheese.
This one, my darlings, is a labor of love. With a toothsome, slow-simmering bolognese in the style of Marcella Hazan (which some might even call blasphemy for even mentioning her name in conjunction with a sauce that is not her exact recipe – to which I proffer that there are as many bolognese recipes as there are mammas in Bologna making their personal “secret” recipes) and a creamy bechamel in lieu of layer of ricotta and mozzarella, this true take on lasagne bolognese is something special.
Don’t be deferred by the time it takes to make this (at least 5 hours) and the list of ingredients – you’ll have lasagna for 6-8 comfortably, plus extra bolognese to dress around two pounds of pasta, so expect to not have to cook for some time afterwards while relishing in the glorious Italian leftovers. The only time saver in the bunch comes in the form of the no-boil lasagna sheets – these babies, though instant, are lovely in their thin, delicate texture. Much better than dealing with blubbery, curly edged classic lasagna noodles and far more refined in taste. Though this is work, it’s very rewarding, and those that get to sample a bit will make you realize that maybe all that time was well worth it. Continue reading Lasagna Bolognese
Holidays are about traditions – both making them and breaking them. Given my wide splay of ethnic background, it tends to be the case that I manage to do both of these things each and every year with a slightly different celebration that meets one of our many traditions. I feel like this is the way it is with most of us – over time we build up a collection of various customs that are an amalgamation of all of our traditions put together.
This year, we decided to give a shout out to Sicily (both my husband and I are of Sicilian decent) with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. A custom with origins in Southern Italy, a series of fish dishes (and no meat) are prepared for Christmas Eve. The number of dishes varies – some say it’s seven for the seven sacraments, or 10 for the commandments. It’s at the point now where people come up with a number of dishes between 7 and 15 and assign a biblical association for that number. At the heart of the celebration is a gathering of family and friends for a delicious meal and (hopefully) fine company.
One of the must-haves for the Feast of the Seven Fishes is baccalà or salt cod. In another cultural twist, our Feast of the Seven Fishes contained two preparations of baccalà in the traditional Brazilian manner (called bacalhau), fried into small balls and baked with garlic, onions, potatoes and hard boiled eggs. There’s something about the blended traditions that truly makes it a holiday for me.
If you’d like to get on a little fish action yourself and create a new family tradition of your own, here is the road map for our Feast of the Seven Fishes. Have fun with it, add as many or as few fish as you’d like, and chow down Sicilian style.
Cold Seafood Salad
One of my husbands early memories was of his father making a special seafood salad at Christmastime. He did a little research and found a close version online, that we adapted to make it like the one he knew as a child. I’m lazy and I don’t like to spend my entire life cleaning seafood, so we purchased the squid pre-cleaned and the octopus pre-cleaned and cooked at Whole Foods (the octopus was in the Seafood Salad area of the store). The rest of the goodies are poached in a flavorful liquid of herbs and vegetables and then tossed with a light vinaigrette and crisp veggies. Despite the sheer number of ingredients, this is one of the most beautiful things you can put on your table.
Bolihnos de Bacalhau
These croquettes of salt cod are crispy and light on the outside, and tender and moist on the inside. Soaking the cod for a goodly while gets rid of the fishiness and elevates the taste of this festive, bite-sized treat.
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Growing up so close to the Chesapeake Bay, blue crab is more of a right than a privilege for me, and what seafood feast would be complete without it. These dainty suckers leverage lump crab for sweetness and claw meat for cost efficiency. The seasoning is traditional, eastern shore, crab cake style, as yet another shout out to the land of my ancestors.
Recipe for Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Fettucine al Langostra
Who doesn’t love lobster? Strangely, my sister doesn’t. But this incredibly simple and delicious preparation of fettucine with tender lobster meat was gobbled down by her and won her praises. If that’s not a Christmas miracle, then I don’t know what is. Use good egg fettucine for the pasta and fresh basil to brighten things up. To save time during the feast (since you are cooking most everything at once), I used a jar of Rao’s Arrabiata sauce, which is delicious, but way too expensive at $9 a jar. I found a bottle of White Linen Gourmet Marinara at Costco for $4 that actually tasted BETTER than the Rao’s – no joke. If you go that route, just make sure to add a heavy dose of crushed red pepper for kick.
Linguine alle Vongole
Linguine with white clam sauce, for me, is comfort food at its best – it doesn’t take a hell of a long time to prepare, it’s got a healthy dose of garlic and red pepper for kick, and at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to tuck into a mound of tender pasta. I use my Poorman’s Linguine with Clam Sauce for this one, but add fresh clams to the mix. Simply heat some olive oil and garlic in a saute pan and when hot, pour in a cup of white wine. Add a pound of small clams (I use manila clams) and pop a lid on the pan. Let steam in the wine garlic mix for a short 5 minutes and then scoop out the open clams and put them on top of the pasta. Discard any clams that haven’t opened after cooking.
Recipe for Linguine alle Vongole
Bacalhau Gomes de Sá
Though this dish is Portuguese in origin (Porto to be exact), it’s a favorite among Brazilians as well. The dish was supposedly created by a wealthy cod distributor’s son, who after being disowned, was forced to work in a restaurant. His legacy was this dish, a delicious combination of cod, tender potatoes, sautéed garlic and onions, and topped with hard boiled eggs, olives and parsley. This recipe reminds me of whenever my great grandmother would come into town with heaps of bacalhau ready for the cooking. Upon her arrival, it was a sure thing that Gomes de Sá was going to be prepared shortly thereafter.
Tuna (or Swordfish) with Gremolata
Nothing says majesty like fresh fish with a lovely topping of lemon, garlic and herbs. Simplicity is the focus, so the freshest of fish is necessary in this one – get sushi grade (or Grade #1) tuna, or the brightest, firmest fillets of whatever you’d like. While you can spread the fish with the gremolata and then broil them, with the tuna I like to sear them in a pan to control the doneness (I like the steaks rare) and then slather the hot fish with the lemon mixture so that it melts into the fish. Gremolata is traditionally a combination of lemon, parsley and garlic, but here, I add rosemary instead of the parsley as it is hardier and holds up to the many other bold flavors at this feast.
Recipe for Swordfish with Gremolata
Called black kale or dinosaur kale, this leafy green is a fabulous taste sensation for anyone that loves bitter greens. Plus, it matches up with the sweetness of the seafood and sauces with outstanding strength. This recipe comes straight from one of my favorite foodie websites, Chow.com, and utilizes orange juice, garlic and onion to create the most perfectly rounded flavors in this dish. A major keeper, I didn’t even have to tweak this recipe one bit, which absolutely NEVER happens when I’m in the kitchen. If you have any leftovers, you can fold them into a delicious soup, like a Caldo Verde (Portuguese Sausage and Kale Soup) or a Ribollita (Italian Kale and White Bean Soup with Croutons).
Recipe for Cavolo Nero at Chow.com
I got your memo. The one about wanting to have more time for your various hobbies (costume-making for squirrels, jetskiing in ascots and sweet dance moves) all the while still being able to dine like a king. Well, how about artisan tasting ravioli on a trailer park budget and minimal cooking knowledge. I’m talking basic – like let your kids take care of this one. Come to think of it, it’d be even better to use that cheap labor and get back to the garden gnome sculpting with full force. But I digress…
This recipe leverages a few key ingredients to simplify the whole process and keep the taste profile elite. Wonton wrappers take the place of hand-rolled pasta, and canned pumpkin replaces freshly roasted (and time-consuming) roasted butternut squash. Topped with the simplest of sauces of butter, sage and cracked pepper, you’ve got some exemplary eating with absolutely no work. You can even elevate the level of class with a cheap ravioli cutter (a modest $3-5) for crimped edges that make the pasta look as if they were purchased from the Italian grocer.
Once you have this filling down (which should take you all of 5 seconds) consider stirring in caramelized shallots, crisped pancetta or even gorgonzola into the mix. Have fun, experiment and enjoy all the extra time you’ll have for the wining portion of the wining and dining.
Easy Pumpkin Ravioli
15 oz. of whole milk ricotta
1/8 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1 tbs. of olive oil
4 tbs. of puréed pumpkin
1/3 c. of parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tbs. of water
1 stick of butter
1 bunch of sage
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 egg, pepper, olive oil, cheese, pumpkin, nutmeg and salt. Create a work station with a space to assemble the ravioli next to a lightly floured cookie sheet. Take a wonton wrapper and brush the edges with egg beaten with water. Heap a tablespoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper and then top with another wonton wrapper. Gently press the edges together to adhere and then trim the edges with a ravioli cutter to flute the edges. Set aside on the cookie sheet and repeat until all filling is used.
In a skillet, melt the butter until it starts to foam and turns a deep golden. Add the sage leaves and gently cook until crisp. Keep warm as you cook the ravioli.
Cook the ravioli in the boiling water for a quick 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately add to the melted butter to slick them down with the sauce. Continue to cook the ravioli in small batches and add to the sauce. Serve warm.
So, my friends, it seems that the macaroni and cheese adventure continues with this spicy, south of the border version. Clever name aside (come on, you love that I rhymed mac with jack), this is full of piquant flavors and lovely texture that will become a welcomed departure from the usually cheddar pasta conglomeration. If you like things hotter than hot, use a hefty pinch of cayenne pepper when making your cheese sauce. Or dice a little chopped jalapeno into the mix as you saute the veggies. I use mexican-style smoked chorizo for this, but you can also crumble and brown fresh chorizo, or dice a nice andouille sausage as well. The choice is yours, dolls.
The bechamel for the macaroni and cheese is similar to most of the other versions I’ve posted, with the exception of the milk. Here I use canned, evaporated milk of the fat-free variety, which provides lovely creaminess with half the fat. Another variation is that in most of my mac and cheese recipes, I bake the entire thing after saucing. This version is actually perfectly lovely unbaked and topped with a smattering of sliced scallions. It’s excellent weekday eating – heck, you could even replace the chorizo for browned ground beef for truly the best Hamburger Helper you may ever have on this green earth. Given that actual Hamburger Helper is abysmal, this isn’t much of a challenge. Cook on!
Spicy Mac with Chorizo and Jack
1 lb of elbow macaroni
1/2 c. of chopped piquillo peppers (roasted reds are fine)
2 tbs. of onion, finely chopped
1 lb. of smoked chorizo, diced
3 c. of evaporated milk
4 tbs. of butter
4 tbs. of flour
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1 tsp. of mustard
3/4 tsp. of garlic powder
3/4 tsp. of salt
1 c. of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 c. of pepper jack, shredded
Preheat oven to 400°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente and drain.
While pasta is boiling, make your sauce. In a large sized pot, melt your butter on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the piquillo peppers and stir. Whisk the flour into the butter to form a smooth paste. Slowly add the milk in a steady stream, whisking the whole time to prevent lumps. Add the salt, black pepper, mustard and garlic powder. Turn up heat and continue whisking until sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and add the cheese, whisking until melted. Stir in diced chorizo and taste for spice. Add cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste.
Toss macaroni and sauce in a large bowl. Let sit for 4-5 minutes and then serve.
I grew up below the Mason-Dixon line, which often manifests itself in my love of good, Southern cooking and a tendency to say “y’all” when I get angry or excited. As such, on occasion you can find me whipping up dishes that get a low brow reputation, but are truly high in deliciousity. And/or high in calories, but whatever to that. The hardest decision one should have to make when tucking into comfort food is whether the Country Fried Steak should come with scrambled eggs and grits or mashed potatoes and corn.
Down south mac and cheese is all about the simple ingredients – no artisan cheese blends here. Just straight cheddar, jack and velveeta to round things out. The recipe is similar in preparation to my classic (more upscale) baked mac and cheese, with the exception of the velveeta to round out the sauce. The pasta softens right up in the bubbly, creamy goodness and comes out so gorgeous, Aretha Franklin herself would sing bars of joy over a bite or two. And I don’t just say that because we used to share the same last name…
Southern-Style Mac and Cheese
1 lb. of elbow macaroni
4 tbs. of butter
4 tbs. of flour
1 grated shallot, juices and all
4 c. of whole milk
2 tsp. of salt
1/8 tsp. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/8 tsp. of white pepper
2 tsp. of worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. of deli mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
10 oz. of velveeta, cubed
2 c. of sharp cheddar, shredded
2 c. of colby jack, shredded
1/2 c. of plain bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente and drain.
While pasta is boiling, make your sauce. In a large sized pot, melt your butter on medium-low heat. Add the grated shallot and stir. Whisk the flour into the butter to form a smooth paste. Add the cubes of velveeta and allow to melt. Slowly add the milk in a steady stream, whisking the whole time to prevent lumps. Add the salt, paprika, black pepper, white pepper, worchestershire sauce, mustard and cayenne. Turn up heat and continue whisking until sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and add the 2 c. of cheese and whisk until melted.
Dump macaroni into a buttered 13x9x2 inch pan, pour the sauce over the pasta and stir. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the 2 cups of colby jack, panko, paprika, black pepper and garlic powder. Top the macaroni with the cheese mixture. Turn the oven up to 500° and bake for another 5 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden. Let sit for 4-5 minutes and then serve.
Despite all of my champagne wishes and caviar dreams, I am no Warren Buffett when it comes to grocery shopping. Or I should say that I have no Buffett budget, given that the man eats a DQ cheeseburger and a cherry coke every night. Though I am such an ingredient purist time in and time out, occasionally, I make an exception or two. One example would be in this recipe that uses *gasp* canned clams!
Don’t give up on me just yet. I love love love Linguine alle Vongole, or linguine with white clam sauce. I crave it and when I do, I want it ASAP. And yet, I don’t have the time or money to go clamming every time I have a hankering for some goodness. And so I have created this version over the years that is an altered version of my Dad’s recipe. The sentiment is still the same, however – you take a jar of white clam sauce, add an excessive amount of red pepper for heat and extra canned clams for awesomeness, and you serve atop boxed linguine. You can scoff, but it beats the hell out of spending $20 on the clams alone, and all of the ingredients are readily available in your pantry and fridge. No shame in my game. Continue reading Poor Man’s Linguine with Clams