Thursday, April 07, 2005

Comfort food

The sun has gone back behind the clouds and I'm feeling stretched thin today, so tonight we are having comfort food for dinner. I'm going to make The Splendid Table/Lynne Rosetto Kasper's 21st Century Mac and Cheese and some collards. I'm going to try the collards with tomatoes like I had down in NC. The Mac and Cheese recipe is one of my favorites and doesn't require making a white sauce (not that white sauce is hard to make, I just have never found it terribly fun). The onion and garlic blended in it gives it a punch and makes it feel a bit more grown-up.

Do you have a favorite comfort food recipe? If so, send it my way.

Here's the recipe (with my alterations)

21st Century Mac and Cheese

Serves 4 and doubles easily.

  • 1/2 pound (2 cups ) raw penne pasta, cooked and drained (I like Trader Joe’s whole wheat penne--it adds a nutty flavor and unlike some whole wheat pasta, doesn't turn to mush.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 3/4 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 generous cup (5 ounces) shredded good quality, extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, cut into small, sticky cubes
  • 2/3 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese
  • Generous 1/8 teaspoon each hot red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup Panko or regular bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish with non-stick spray, and add cooked pasta.

2. In a blender combine egg, milk, and garlic, and blend. Add onion, cheeses, peppers, salt, and paprika, and blend 'till all mixed up. Pour over the pasta. Casserole could be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point.

3. To bake, bring casserole close to room temperature. Melt butter in a small dish or pan and toss Panko or bread crumbs with it. Spread over top of casserole. Sprinkle with a little more paprika if you like the stuff. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until thick yet creamy. If top is not golden, slip under broiler for a minute. Remove from oven, let stand about 5 minutes, and serve.

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