It’s about time for our mac & cheese of the month, isn’t it?
I’m away this weekend, in Toronto and then Hockley, at the very first Food Bloggers of Canada conference, and so in my absence I left some frozen meatballs and a casserole for the boys (which I fully expect to find in the fridge on Sunday), and I’m leaving this mac and cheese for you.
My sister texted it to me, having seen it on Food52… she knows there’s a good chance that if she texts me something, it will show up on the dinner table. (See: Shakshuka.) She always comes up with good finds – I should have her curate DwJ on the side.
The genius of this particular mac & cheese, besides the fact that there’s no cheese sauce to make, is that it’s baked on a rimmed baking sheet (read: all surface area), making it all crunchy top, no soft innards. If you’re all about the cheesy, crispy bits, you’ll want to make this.
In short, it’s perfect for leaving on the stovetop and picking at. Which is pretty much what we did.
Baking Sheet Mac & Cheese
adapted from Food52
4-5 cups grated old cheddar
3/4 lb. macaroni or other small pasta
salt and pepper
3/4 cup half & half
Preheat the oven to 450F and generously butter a large rimmed baking sheet – I buy half bun pans at the restaurant supply store. Combine the grated cheeses and set aside 2 generous cups for topping.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until tender but still slightly firm; it will spend more time in the oven, so you don’t want it mushy.
In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, cheeses, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking sheet and pour the milk over the surface. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top, dot with another tablespoon or two of butter and bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
April 11 2013 | cheese and one dish and pasta | 8 Comments »
Weekends are made for waffles, don’t you think? And brunch is one of my favourite reasons to gather; I like doing it at home even better than going out. You get to stay in your PJs – or upgrade to yoga pants – and woolly socks, and lounge about with whomever you feel like being with first thing in the late morning. I find it almost impossible to not make waffles; the plain kind are fine, but this past weekend I upgraded ours with toasted pecans, and then started playing around with fillings and sauteed bananas and salted caramel. There are so many ways to dress up a waffle. And since you have to cook them one at a time anyway, it makes sense to accessorize them as you go – and giving everyone a little something to do in the kitchen somehow makes a party more fun. After all, they’re going to be in there anyway.
So I mixed up a bowl of the most basic waffle batter, then started playing with it – I stirred in a pile of roughly chopped, toasted pecans, which suspended themselves perfectly without sinking to the bottom. Those were divine on their own, with butter and maple syrup. But hey, it’s Sunday morning – why not add more bling? Raspberries and blueberries get on just fine with pecans.
Generally I toss a handful of fresh berries on top of a freshly cooked waffle; this time I called on my freezer stores and tried scattering frozen berries over the batter before cooking it, hoping they wouldn’t stick but fully expecting them to. They didn’t.
In fact, they wound up inside the waffle. They didn’t look like much – the berries being in the middle and all – but the waffles wound up tasting sort of like blueberry cobbler. Better than blueberry pancakes even, with their crispy exterior, crunchy pecans and warm, juicy middles.
Some days some sort of cocktail is in order. The great thing about bellinis (read: wine smoothies) is that you can make boozy ones for the grown-ups and non for any kids hanging around.
Shake a bag of frozen fruit – peaches, mango, berries, what-have-you – into a food processor and blitz until smooth with a big splash of apple or orange juice. (I started on straight mango, then decided to add raspberries to the mix.) Spoon the slushy puree into glasses and top with bubbly anything – prosecco, moscato, ginger ale – and then add a blop of yogurt and a banana to what’s left and pulse it into smoothies for the kids. Weekend mornings, I tell ya.
And then it got really fun. I caramelized some bananas – you do this by slicing one into a pan and adding equal blops of butter, brown sugar and Rogers’ golden syrup, then bringing it to a simmer until it turns thick and caramel-like. You can’t mess this up – it’s butter and sugar, after all. The syrup keeps it from turning into candy, unless you leave it on the stove and go check Pinterest.
There are plenty of waffle recipes that call for the separating of eggs and whipping of whites – something I rarely have the gumption to do first thing in the morning. This is not one of them. It’s the most basic stir-together waffle batter you’ll find; you can use it as a blank canvas and customize them at will: add chopped toasted pecans, or cooked and crumbled bacon, or a handful of cheese, or a shake of cornmeal, or berries, or whatever you feel like.
Or whatever your friends feel like, as the morning goes.
Simple Waffle Batter
adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil or melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, oil or butter and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until blended. Stir in the pecans, if you’re using them.
Preheat your waffle iron and spray it with nonstick spray or brush it with oil. Ladle in some batter – about 1/2 cup, or however much you usually cook at a time, close the lid and cook according to the manufacturer’s directions, or until golden and crisp. Serve immediately, or keep warm on a rack set on a baking sheet in a 250F oven while you cook the rest.
Makes about 8 big waffles.
For this months’ Gatherings post, Jan did a Hash Brown Quiche with Caramelized Onions and Baby Spinach and all the spring trimmings – another delicious way to do brunch!
March 27 2013 | bread and breakfast and one dish and pasta | 9 Comments »