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Best Mac & cheese

The last few months have been a whirlwind. I’ve recently started a big project that I’m really excited to share with you. Earlier this year I signed a book deal with Stewart, Tabori & Chang, to turn Illustrated Bites into a book! I’ve been delaying announcing the news, because for a long time it seemed too good to be true. Last week I turned in my first chapter, so it finally feels real. Now that the ball is rolling, I felt ready to tell y’all about it.  The book is organized by season with four, five course meals that exemplify seasonal cooking. Like the blog, it will have illustrated recipes and how-tos, but it will have added emphasis on how to grow the produce yourself.  The working title is Illustrated Bites, From Garden to Table, to be released spring 2015.

2015 still seems like an unrealistic future date, but it will be here before I know it.  In the meantime, working on the book has totally consumed me. I’ve been trying hard to stay balanced, eat healthy, and get some exercise. To be honest though, all I want to do is eat comfort food and drink wine.  This mac & cheese recipe is comfort incarnate. It’s rich, flavorful, warm, and nostalgic. Also, it’s pretty easy to make. The last time I brought this to a pot-luck everyone went nuts for it.  If you’re looking for a crowd pleaser this Thanksgiving, I promise this one is a winner.

  • 1 lb. macaroni pasta such as cavatappi
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated mild cheddar
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoon Butter
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  1.  Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2.  Boil and salt a large pot of water. Cook your pasta, until it’s super al dente. Your pasta box will have a recommend cooking time for al dente, just subtract a minute or two from that. Drain the pasta, rinse it with cold water, and set it aside.
  3.  In a sauce pot, combine the cream and the milk.  Add the bay leaves and gently warm, but don’t boil.  Set it aside.
  4.  In another sauce pot, melt the butter. When it’s foamy add the flour, and stir continuously until the mixture begins to brown. Remove the bay leaves from the half and half, and stir in about 1/4 of it into the flour and butter. Continue to stir, when the mixture is smooth, add a little more of the liquid.  Continue to slowly add the half and half, until it’s all incorporated.
  5.  Mix the gorgonzola and the cheddar into the sauce.  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Butter a 9x13in pan.  Put in the pasta, and pour the sauce over the pasta. Toss in the parmesan cheese and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.
  7.  Bake for 15-20 minute until it’s bubbling, and the breadcrumbs are brown. Serve hot!

I’ll continue to do new posts here, and give you updates on the book.  You can also follow my progress on Instagram and Twitter. I hope y’all have a great Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

applesauce

Hey Y’all!

Thank you so much for sticking with me these last few months. I know I’ve been a bit of an absentee blogger (and by absentee, I mean I haven’t posted in two months. Whoops!)  BUT I’ve got a big project that I’m working on, and I think you guys will be excited to hear about it! (Hint, it starts with B, and rhymes with look.)  Can’t wait to tell you more!  As always, I appreciate you visiting my blog. Take care everyone, and I’ll be sharing more soon.

How to Fillet A fish

rhubarb pie

I was super excited to be featured on Mint design blog yesterday. I shared this mint inspired recipe with their readers, and I hope you enjoy it was well! Thanks so much to the lovely ladies, Melissa and Ellie!
mint syrupI forgot to include that mint syrup will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. Enjoy!

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Homemade Mayo

Hot Sauce

Hey y’all! If you don’t already, Please follow me on twitter.

avocacos

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Chocolate Brioche

I found this recipe for mini chocolate brioche several weeks ago and I had been waiting for a chance to make it ever since. On first glance the recipe seemed really involved, and since I’ve been busy getting ready for an art show, I didn’t think I had the time to make it.  So, I’ve been biding my time and dreaming of coffee and sweet bread. Last weekend, I needed a little break from all my art-makin’ and I decided it was time to treat myself to a sweet sunday breakfast.

This brioche dough needs to rise 8 to 12 hours, so you start by making the dough and then letting it rise overnight. There are a lot of steps, but since they are broken up, it turns out to take more planning than effort. The end result really is amazing, your efforts will yield a subtly sweet and tender bread with a dark chocolate center, finished off by hints of honey. I’m SO glad I found the time to make it. Seriously, I felt like a baking superstar. This recipe has definitely found a permanent spot in my cooking repertoire.

Baby Chocolate Brioche:

From: Patricia Wells At Home In Provence 

  • 1 TSP active dry yeast
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk (105°F)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 TSP salt
  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces of good quality dark chocolate (I use 83% Cacao) Divided into 12
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 TBS whole milk
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • extra honey for drizzling (optional)

step one, make dough

1. Combine the warm milk, honey, and yeast and let it stand until it’s foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the olive oil, eggs and salt, and stir to blend.

3. Add the flour a little at a time, slowly mixing everything together. When the dough forms a ball, knead in the remaining flour. Knead until the the dough is soft and smooth, but still firm. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour.  This step can be done in a heavy duty electric mixer if you happen to have one (I don’t).

4. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let it rise 8-12 hours.

step two, divide into 12

5. An hour before you want to bake the rolls, remove the dough from the fridge, punch it down and divide it into 12 equal portions.

step three

6. With the palm of your hand flatten each ball of dough into a disk and press in a portion of the chocolate into the center. Then reform the ball around the piece of chocolate, so that the chocolate is completely covered.

step four

7. Place the rolls on a baking sheet, and cover with a clean towel. Let the dough rise another 30-45 minutes.

8. Preheat the oven to 400°F

glaze

9. Make the glaze by beating the egg yolk, then blending in a tablespoon of milk, and a tablespoon of sugar. Brush each roll with the glaze.  (Drizzle the optional honey on the rolls if you want a little extra sweetness… which, come on, you do.)

10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the rolls are a deep golden brown.

Now, prepare yourself for a delicious and luxurious breakfast.

Knife Skills

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