Sunday Supper: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Seems like mac’ and cheese weather (more or less). Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

One of the most popular recipes in the original How to Cook Everything, which I attribute to too many people growing up with what the Canadians call “Kraft dinner.” The real thing is rich, filling, delicious, and dead easy. You can change the type of cheese you use: Try blue cheese, goat cheese, smoked Gouda, or even mascarpone. Or mix in some crisp-cooked chunks of thick-cut bacon or pancetta, about 1/2cup.

Salt

2 1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)

2 bay leaves

1 pound elbow, shell, ziti, or other cut pasta

4 tablespoons (1/2stick) butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

11/2cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar or Emmental

1 /2cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

1 /2cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

2. Heat the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand. Cook the pasta in the boiling water to the point where you would still think it needed another minute or two to become tender. Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a large bowl.

3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while. As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk, and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar or Emmental and stir.

4. Pour the sauce over the pasta, toss in the Parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 ×13-inch or like-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. (You can make the dish to this point, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day; return to room temperature before proceeding.) Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve piping hot.

 

Posted in American, Baking

Sunday Supper: Pasta with Pork Ribs

If after a summer of barbecue you’re looking for something else to do with those spare ribs, this pasta will do them justice (and then some).  Adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Andrea’s Pasta with Pork Ribs

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 11/2hours

One of my favorite pasta recipes, a Neapolitan specialty—taught to me by my old friend Andrea—that can make just a few ribs go a long way.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 small dried hot red chiles (optional)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

6 to 8 meaty spareribs, separated

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes with the juice

1 pound ziti, penne, or other cut pasta

Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

1. Put the oil in a deep, broad saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the chiles if you’re using them and the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the ribs and raise the heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until the ribs have browned and given off some of their fat, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands, and add them to the pot.

2. Turn the heat to medium or medium-low—enough to maintain a nice steady bubbling, but nothing violent. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the ribs are very tender, nearly falling off the bone, about 1 hour. Remove the chiles from the sauce if you used them. (You can make the dish ahead to this point; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Gently reheat before proceeding.)

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy. Drain it and sauce it; serve a rib or two to each diner along with the pasta.Pass the grated cheese at the table if you like.

 

Posted in Italian, Recipes

Sunday Supper: Pasta with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Bread Crumbs

A great pasta dish to make during tomato season (now). Adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Pasta with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Bread Crumbs

Makes: About 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes

The trick here is incorporating crisp-cooked bread crumbs at the last minute. You must use fresh bread crumbs, most pieces about the size of a pea.

Salt

1 /4cup extra virgin olive oil (1/2cup if you’re omitting the pancetta)

1 /4cup chopped pancetta or bacon (optional)

1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs

Freshly ground black pepper

2 small to medium eggplant (about 12 ounces), cut into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks

6 small or 3 medium tomatoes (about 12 ounces), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks

1 to 2 teaspoons thinly sliced garlic, to taste

1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta

Chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves for garnish

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the meat if you’re using it, stirring occasionally, until just about crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring almost constantly, until nicely browned, 3 to 5 minutes; sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper as they cook. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the remaining oil.

2. Add the eggplant, stirring occasionally and sprinkling with salt and pepper, until browned and tender, about 15 minutes. When it’s done, begin cooking the pasta in the boiling water until tender but not mushy. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the eggplant; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.

3. When the pasta is done, drain it and toss with the eggplant mixture, the bread crumbs, and the meat if you used it. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with basil, and serve.

 

Posted in Italian, Recipes

Pasta with Grilled Corn and Roasted Garlic

Pasta

by David Latt 

Recently my wife and I spent a week in Sonoma County exploring restaurants, inns, and wineries, and came across a dish of grilled corn with a roasted garlic and butter puree at Jackson’s Bar and Oven in Santa Rosa.  It occurred to me that the combination would be great with pasta; here’s my adaptation:  

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Posted in Italian, Recipes

Ravioli Del Plin

Schneider-ravioli_del_plin-1Schneider-ravioli_del_plin-2Schneider-ravioli_del_plin-4Schneider-ravioli_del_plin-6

by Edward Schneider

Could filled pasta be the best thing in the world? No: there’s music that has it beat, and some would argue that Leonardo’s Ginevra de’Benci is better than pierogi. But come dinnertime, I’ll take cappelletti over Mozart almost any day. 

Jackie and I always yearn for filled pasta, and we sometimes take the time to make it ourselves. A little while ago, during our dill craze, we made some big ol’ tortelloni with this filling: a leek and a bunch of Swiss chard thoroughly cooked in olive oil, squeezed dry and finely chopped; a cup of fluffy, dry ricotta from Tonjes at the Union Square Greenmarket; a great deal of chopped dill; grated long-aged parmesan; one egg yolk; and salt and pepper. There was filling left over, and we froze it in a disposable plastic piping bag so that it would be ready for use. 

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Posted in Italian

Call it Pasta, Potatoes, and Chorizo

Schneider-pasta_spuds_chorizo-4

by Edward Schneider 

I’m not entirely sure what Jackie and I had for dinner on Friday night. I am sure that it was delicious, felt great in the mouth and was fun to eat (with a spoon – the best tool), and I’m pretty certain about what it was not: it wasn’t pasta cooked like a risotto, because I didn’t gradually add liquid and keep stirring; it wasn’t fideuà (the paella-like noodle dish of Catalunya), because I didn’t brown the pasta or use a sofrito or leave the pan uncovered. It was … well, let me tell you how I made it, and you can tell me what it was. 

It came together as I was cooking, and it started with a yen for pasta. In the house was a farmers’ market treasure: small, firm new-season potatoes. There are Ligurian dishes of pasta and potatoes, often with green beans and pesto, and these are delicious, but I didn’t feel like making pesto (even in a food processor, which is really the most sensible way to do it) and, anyway, there were no beans. There were juicy new onions, though, and little Spanish chorizos – the ounce-and-a-half ones that come four to a vacuum-sealed pack – and parsley and a bit of chicken stock. And of course many shapes of pasta from the drawer that Jackie refers to as our pastateca. Oh – and half a cup of pan gravy from a roast chicken. 

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Posted in Italian, Mexican

Pasta in brodo

Bittman-pasta_en_brodo

I’ve written a little over at the Times about my recent illness and comfort food. 

But one thing I didn’t mention was what must be among the most soothing dishes ever: pasta in brodo.

There’s some history here. In case you were wondering, I’m not – at least to my knowledge – Italian. (My family tree looks like a 3-month old shrub, so no one really knows.) Yet when I was young, my mother made me pastina – which is essentially couscous without the cachet – when I was sick. Pastina and butter. God, I can taste it now. Continue reading

Posted in American, Italian