Make Mine Mac & Cheese/ Kosher Recipes

There’s something about digging into a bowl of macaroni and cheese that brings out the kid in all of us. With car pools, busy schedules and extracurricular galore we’ve all defaulted to whipping up the boxed variety and calling it dinner more often than we’d probably like to admit. It’s nice to know, however, that if you take that extra 10 or 15 minutes of time the made from scratch variety of macaroni and cheese (or a doctored boxed version) can become a gourmet dish with unlimited potential to please everyone from a finicky whiney hungry four year old to the finicky whiney hungry four year old within us all.

So what makes the difference between a so-so macaroni and cheese recipe and a great one? The cheeses used, the pasta used and the method you use to prepare it.

Elbow macaroni pasta is the traditional pasta used in macaroni and cheese (duh) but you can actually substitute any type of cooked pasta that you like. Some styles will work better than others. Smaller curved shapes, like cork screw, bow tie and shell are great alternatives to elbow macaroni and hold on to the cheese sauce better than  spaghetti or angel hair pasta.  Cheddar is usually the cheese of choice. You can choose from yellow or white cheddar and sharp or mild cheddar. All work great. American cheese is another popular choice. Note, however, American cheese is a processed product (additives, preservatives etc) and is a fairly bland cheese flavor compared to Cheddar. Swiss, Gouda and Havarti cheeses are better choices but they give the cheese sauce a very different flavor. Parmesan can be used but should be used in conjunction with other cheeses. Of course, you can always combine any of the above cheeses to suit your taste.

The white sauce method is considered the classic version of macaroni and cheese. It starts with a white sauce (butter, flour, and milk) with cheese added to the hot sauce. This method is usually baked. The layered method is created when cooked noodles and grated cheeses are layered in a baking dish, then covered with milk and baked. The stovetop method is never baked. It’s prepared on the stove and served immediately.

So what’s the very best macaroni and cheese recipe? The answer is which ever one is in front of you right now. The following recipes are all easy to prepare, run the gamut from mellow to spicy and best of all, can be on the table in 30 to 40 minutes.

 

MACARONI AND CHEESE PIZZA

This is a guilty pleasure meal that my children loved to make when they were first learning how to cook.

 

2 boxes of packaged macaroni and cheese mix
2 eggs
2 cups readymade pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and set it aside. Cook macaroni and cheese as directed on the box. Add the eggs to the mixture and mix to combine. Spread the mixture on the prepared cookie sheet, making sure to spread the mixture so that it’s no more than about an inch thick. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and spread the pizza sauce over the top. Sprinkle the cheeses over the top. Return the “pizza” to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is bubbly and lightly golden. Serves 6.

SPICY MACARONI AND CHEESE

This recipe is based on one I originally saw in Gourmet Magazine. I tweaked it a little and came up with something really spicy and delicious.

 

1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

4 cups milk

1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, well drained

1 pound elbow macaroni

1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack

1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar

1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9X13 pan and set it aside. In a large heavy saucepan combine the butter, leeks, the garlic, chili powder and the cumin and cook, over a low heat, stirring, until the onion becomes soft. When the onions are soft stir in the flour, and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk to the onion mixture, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly and then whisk in the tomatoes. Simmer the mixture for 2 minutes and add the salt and pepper to taste.

 

In boiling salted water cook the macaroni for 6 to 7 minutes, or until it is barely al dente, drain it well. Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture. Stir in the Monterey Jack and the Cheddar cheese. Spoon the mixture in the prepared pan. In another bowl combine the bread crumbs and the Parmesan. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni mixture. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden and bubbling. Serves 6 to 8.

BROCCOLI AND CHEESE WITH MACARONI

16 ounces elbow macaroni
2 cups broccoli florets fresh or frozen
8 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons four
4 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs

 

Grease a 9 x 9 inch glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 375. In a medium saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions, until al dente, or still slightly firm. Drain well. Fill another saucepan 3/4 full with water. Bring water to a boil, add broccoli, reduce heat to medium and cook until al dente; Drain the broccoli and set it aside. In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter. Over a medium heat add the flour, stirring for 1 minute until the mixture is smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring continually until thickened, about 3 minutes, remove the sauce from the heat.  Set aside 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Stir the remaining Cheddar, Gruyere, Parmesan, salt, and cayenne into the sauce until the cheeses melt. Add the cooked macaroni and broccoli to sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle the top with reserved cheddar and bread crumbs. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly. Serves 6 to 8.

 

BAKED MAC AND CHEESE DECADENCE

 

2 cups medium shell pasta
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups shredded/grated cheese (I cup Cheddar, 1 cup Gruyere, 1 cup Parmesan)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish and set it aside. Cook pasta according to package directions until just under al dente. Drain well and set aside.  In a large saucepan melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook 1 minute, whisking and then whisk in the milk, whisking continually until the mixture is smooth. Continue cooking and as soon as it thickens add the nutmeg and stir. Add the cheeses a little bit at a time, stirring continually until the cheese is melted and combined. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture and mix well to combine. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Combine the rosemary and thyme with the breadcrumbs and spread evenly over the top, coating well. Break up the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and sprinkle them over the top of the breadcrumbs.  Bake, uncovered, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling. About 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

 

OOEY GOOEY MAC AND CHEESE

Marshall Shafkowitz, chef at Le Cordon Bleu created this recipe and this is my variation of his version. Be warned this recipe is not for the calorie conscious.

 

1 gallon of milk

1 of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 pound smoked Gouda

12 tablespoons of butter

1 cup flour

2 cups saltine crackers, crushed

salt and pepper

1 pound uncooked Macaroni or corkscrew pasta

 

Fill a large pot 1/2 way with hot water. Add a pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils add the noodles and cook at a slow boil.

 

Pour the milk into another large pot and bring it to a simmer. While the milk is heating melt the butter in a skillet. When the butter is completely melted add the flour all at once and whisk to combine and the mixture pulls away from the side of the skillet. As soon as this happens remove the mixture from the heat and put the mixture to a large bowl.

 

Preheat oven to 350. Take roughly 2 cups of the hot milk and pour it over the flour/ butter mixture and whisk until the mixture is combined. When this mixture is smooth add it to the remaining hot milk and whisk until combined. Let the milk mixture cook, over a low heat, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Drain your pasta and then place it in a casserole dish. Slowly add the cheese to the milk mixture. Stir continually to prevent burning on the bottom of the pan. When all the cheese is mixed in season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta and stir until all the pasta is coated with sauce. Sprinkle the crushed crackers on the top of the casserole and bake for 5 to 10 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.

 

SOUTHWEST MAC AND CHEESE

 

2 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup diced onions

1/2 to 1 cup red, yellow and green bell peppers, finely diced

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups whipping cream

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large can, white albacore tuna, in water, drained

3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound penne or other pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup slice green onions, including green part

In a large saute pan combine the butter onions, chili powder and peppers and saute, over a low heat until vegetables begin to soften and turn golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the milk and cream in the sauce pan and bring the mixture it to a simmer. Add the cheeses and stir well until the cheeses are completely melted. Add the tuna and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Season with salt and pepper.  Continue to simmer another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the drained pasta and mix well. Place the mixture in serving bowl and top with a dollop sour cream. Garnish with the sliced green onions. Serves 6 to 8.

 

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Gourmet Sprouts Make Good Salads Spectacular/ Kosher recipes

When “mung bean sprouts” first made their appearance as a healthy, natural food in the 60’s and 70’s many people dismissed them as a food fad. Thank goodness nobody paid attention to the nay sayers and the sprout survived and thrived. Today dozens of varieties of gourmet sprouts grace the shelves of supermarket and farm stands and each is more delicious, and surprising, nutritious than the last one you tried. All sprouts are low in calories and are virtually fat free. A cup of alfalfa sprouts contains about 10, count them 10 calories and mung bean sprouts about 30 calories.  While the nutrition value varies bean and lentil sprouts both deliver vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B.

A sprout is produced when a seed starts growing into a vegetable. Sprouts can grow from the seeds of vegetables, from grains such as buckwheat, and from beans. They vary in texture and taste. Some are spicy (radish and onion sprouts), some are hardy and are often used in oriental food.  Mung beans are the most popular and hardy others are more delicate (alfalfa, onion, broccoli) and are used in salads and sandwiches to add texture and moistness.

Sprouts are fresh when their roots are moist and white and the sprout itself is crisp. You should store spouts the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator and use them as soon as possible.

The following mung bean recipes are a combination of salads and main courses that should tempt even the most salad phobic child. There are a variety of other vegetable sprouts used in many of the recipes so you’ll have the opportunity to experiment with a variety of different flavors.

EZ BEAN SPROUT SALAD   (pareve)

1 lb. mung bean sprouts

1/2 cup sliced radishes

1/3 cup broccoli sprouts

2 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

 

Blanch mung bean sprouts and place them in a bowl. Add the radishes, broccoli spouts soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Toss gently, taste and then season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

 

SHREDDED CHICKEN WITH BEAN SPROUTS AND PEA PODS (meat)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 2 lbs.

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

4 oz. Chinese pea pods

1 lb. bean sprouts

2 tablespoon chicken broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root

1/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup toasted almonds

cooked rice (optional)

toasted slivered almonds (optional)

 

Cut the breasts into 2 x 1/2 inch pieces. Stack slices; cut into thin strips. Place the chicken in a bowl and add 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the white pepper. Toss, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

 

Remove the strings from pea pods. Place pea pods in boiling water; cook for 30 seconds and immediately remove the pea pods from the water; drain and rinse in cold water; drain. Rinse the bean sprouts in cold water; drain thoroughly. In a bowl combine 2 tablespoons broth, soy sauce, 2 teaspoon cornstarch, and the sugar.

 

Heat wok until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil; tilt wok to coat side. Add bean sprouts and 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir fry 2 minutes. Remove bean sprouts from wok; drain.

 

Heat wok until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil; tilt wok to coat side. Add chicken, garlic, and ginger root; stir fry 2 minutes or until chicken turns white. Add bean sprouts and pea pods; stir fry 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup broth; heat to boiling. Stir in cornstarch mixture; cook and stir until thickened. Serve immediately over rice and garnish with the toasted almonds.  Makes 4 servings

 

SPINACH BEAN SPROUT SALAD (pareve or meat)

 

1 bag of baby spinach, washed and broken into bite size pieces (aprox. 4 cups)

2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts, washed and dried

5 or 6 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup fake bacon bits or 4-6 slices kosher breakfast beef, fried and crumbled of

2 to 3 hard cooked eggs, sliced

1/2 diced red onion

 

DRESSING:

 

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoon ketchup

2 tablespoon brown sugar

 

In a salad bowl combine the spinach, bean sprouts and green onion. Toss gently. In another smaller bowl combine the vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar. Whisk to combine.  Pour the dressing over the vegetable salad and toss. Serve with crumbled breakfast beef bits, red onion and sliced eggs on top. Serves 6. Can be doubled or tripled

HAWAIIAN BEAN SPROUT SALAD (pareve)

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

1 can (12 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained

1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained

1/2 green pepper, cut in strips

3/4 cup diagonal cut celery

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 1/4 teaspoon curry powder

2 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

 

In a large salad bowl combine the bean sprouts, pineapple chunks, oranges green pepper and celery, toss to combine. In another bowl combine the mayonnaise, curry powder and soy sauce. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat.  Serves 4. Can be doubled or tripled

 

THAI CARROT AND SPROUT NOODLE SALAD

This recipe is an interesting take on the traditional pad Thai.This is great at room temperature after the flavors have blended.

12 ounces linguine
4 tablespoons oriental sesame oil

8 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chili sauce or a few dashes of hot sauce
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1 cup finely shredded carrots

 

Cook the pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Transfer pasta to large bowl; add 3 tablespoons sesame oil and toss to coat. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 6 green onions, garlic, and ginger; sauté until onions soften, about 2 minutes. Add honey, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and chili sauce; whisk to blend. Simmer sauce 1 minute. Cool to room temperature. Pour the mixture over the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Add the sprouts and carrots; mix well to combine. Transfer to a bowl or platter; sprinkle with remaining green onions. Serves 3 to 4. This can be doubled or tripled.

 

WARM TERIYAKI BEEF SALAD

This salad is really a great winter dinner.

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons medium-dry cooking wine
3/4 pound steak, cut across grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh gingerroot
1/2 pound mushrooms
3 scallions
1 small cucumber
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
2 tablespoons water
2 cups packed spinach leaves, washed well and spun dry

 

In a measuring cup stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, and cooking wine. In a glass bowl combine the cut up steak with the garlic, gingerroot, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture. Mix to coat and let set while preparing vegetables.  Discard the stems from mushrooms and cut the mushrooms and scallions into thin strips, keeping them separate. Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. With a spoon scrape seeds from cucumber halves, discarding seeds, and cut each half crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

 

In a large non-stick skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat until very hot but not smoking and brown the steak, stirring frequently, until any liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Transfer steak to a clean bowl.

 

In the skillet heat the remaining tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until liquid they give off is evaporated. Add the scallions and bean sprouts and cook 1 minute. Remove the skillet from heat and add the cooked steak, remaining soy sauce mixture, and water. Mix to combine.

 

In a large bowl toss together spinach, cucumber. Add the warm steak mixture and toss just to combine. Divide salad between 2 plates. Serves 2. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 

LINGUINI WITH SPROUTS, CUCUMBERS AND PEANUT SAUCE

 

The combination of cooked and raw vegetables is refreshing and satisfying enough to please everyone. Serve the pasta immediately after tossing it with the peanut mixture; the sauce gets thick if it sits too long.

 

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/3 cup peanut butter

2/3 cup chicken broth or pareve vegetable stock

1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 pound linguine

1/2 pound snow peas, cut diagonally into thin slices

1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts (about 1/4 pound)

2 scallions including green tops, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin

onion sprouts

1/2 cup chopped peanuts
In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, soy sauce, peanut butter, chicken broth, lime juice, red-pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Puree until smooth and set aside.

 

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until almost done, about 9 minutes. Stir in the snow peas and bean sprouts and cook until the vegetables and pasta are just done, about 3 minutes more. Drain the noodles and pea post and place the noodles in a large serving bowl. Add the peanut sauce, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the scallions, cucumber, mung bean sprouts and 1/3 cup of the peanuts. Toss to combine. Serve with the remaining peanuts and onion sprouts sprinkled over the top.

 

NOTE: The seeds from a mature cucumber can be somewhat bitter and watery. Scoop them out of the halved cucumber with a spoon or melon baller and discard them. Better yet, buy the English (hothouse) cucumber. They are almost completely seedless. Serves 4

All In for Asparagus At Any Price/Some Recipes Not Kosher

So I walk into the produce section of my favorite green grocer and what do I spy? Why asparagus at .99 a pound. Are they kidding me? .99 a pound? Sign me up and shut the door, I’m all in for this special. As if in a daze my cart magically makes its way over to the stand and I find myself loading bundle after bundle of that sweet stalk of green goodness into my cart.

By the time I get out of my chlorophyll induced stupor I’m in my kitchen, the proud owner of 10 pounds of the stuff and no real plan on how to use it up before it starts to wilt. My plan, take a deep breath, do a little recipe research and cook up a storm.

Asparagus is one of Mother Nature’s finest gifts and is a sure sign that spring has sprung. It’s a part of the lily family and is sort of a first cousin to onions, leeks and garlic. Loaded with vitamins A, B and C it’s also a great source for folic acid,  It’s at its best from May through June so now is the best time to stock up and chow down. It is a very versatile vegetable that can be prepared by steaming, roasting, grilling or even stir frying it. The spears should be firm and green with tightly closed firm tips. Choose thin or thick stalks is just a matter of personal preference, I don’t really taste a difference between the two. Pass up asparagus with thick woody looking stalks.  I don’t peel the stalks but I do cut off about 1/2 inch of the ends before cooking.

If you’d like a little variety in your life look for white or purple asparagus. They’re the same as the green variety they’ve just been grown differently; the white is grown like some mushrooms, without light so it doesn’t produce chlorophyll. You will find that the white asparagus is a tad bit sweeter but so is the price point. The purple is pretty but it does loose most of its purple color when cooked.

I’ve started cooking and don’t plan on stopping until the last stalk is devoured and invite you to do the same with these terrific recipes

GRILLED ASPARAGUS CRAB TART

 

1lb. asparagus, cut into 1/3’s and grilled slightly

1/4 cup butter or margarine

4 to 5 portabella mushrooms chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoon parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded Munster or pepper jack cheese

1/2 lb crabmeat shredded or chopped

8 ounces vegetable cream cheese

4 eggs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a skillet melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the heat and add the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.  Mix to combine and then press mushroom mixture evenly in bottom and up side of greased pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mushroom crust. Place the asparagus and crabmeat on top of the cheese. In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, eggs and 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Beat to combine and so that there are no lumps. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus and crabmeat. Sprinkle the top with the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes then serve. Serves 8.

 

PUFFED ASPARAGUS AND BACON BITES

 

1 lb fresh asparagus ends cut off, steamed till just crisp tender

1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted

1 cup shredded pepper jack or Swiss cheese

1/4 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

 

Preheat oven to 400. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Open puff pastry dough and cut each sheet into 1/3’s. Then cut each strip into 1/3’s. Roll each section out slightly so they form rectangles. On each section, lengthwise, place a few stalks of cooked asparagus on one edge, sprinkle some cheese, bacon and green onions on top of the asparagus and then roll them up. Place the rolls, seam side down on the cookie sheet. Brush the top of each roll with the melted butter and sprinkle the top with a few sesame seeds. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until roll ups are golden browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Cut each roll in half and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

ASPARAGUS POPOVERS

 

1 lb asparagus

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch sugar

3 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded

 

Preheat oven to 425. In a medium saucepan, add 2 inched of salted water; bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut the spears crosswise into thirds. In a medium cast-iron skillet, add the butter. Place the skillet in the oven to melt the butter. In a medium bowl, microwave the milk on high for 30 seconds. Whisk in the eggs, then the flour, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the asparagus pieces to the hot cast-iron skillet and pour the batter on top. Sprinkle with half of the cheese and bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese. Recipe makes 24 pieces

 

From the May 2008 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray

ASPARAGUS TID BITS

 

1 lb asparagus cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb smoked white fish, broken into bite size pieces

12 oz gruyere cheese, sliced

1 loaf French bread, sliced in to 1/2-inch slices

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

kosher salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

 

Preheat oven to 350. Saute the asparagus in the olive oil until it’s just soft and set it aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the slices of French bread with olive oil. Place the oiled pieces, oil side up on the parchment paper, season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes until golden. Place a small piece of white fish on top of the toasted French bread, then put two to three pieces of asparagus, and top with one small slice of gruyere, Grind a little pepper on top, return to the oven for 2 minutes or just until the cheese melts. Serve immediately. Makes 12 to 14 pieces.

 

ASPARAGUS STRATA

You can vary the amount of cheese according to your taste

 

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

2 carrots shredded

1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups milk or 1/2 and 1/2

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (for sauce)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper

6 large par boiled lasagna noodles

1 to 1 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 to 1 cup grated Romano cheese

1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 425. Place the asparagus and shredded carrots on a cookie sheet with sides and toss them with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes until they just begin to soften. Cool slightly and set them aside. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and whisk briskly and constantly until it’s combined. Cook for about 2 minutes whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is thickened. Reduce the heat and add the nutmeg, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and garlic. Stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from the heat. In a 9 X 13 pan, spread a few tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom. Top with 3 noodles then top with 1/3 of the roasted asparagus and carrot mixture. Sprinkle a little parmesan Romano and mozzarella cheese over the top of the asparagus. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese. Top with a layer of 3 lasagna noodles. Repeat the layers asparagus, cheese, sauce. Top the sauce on the top of the strata with the remaining cheeses. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the sides are bubbly. Let the cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

 

Submitted by Corrine Rasterty, Finley NJ

 

ASPARAGUS AND ONIONS HOT POT

 

1 lb of fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces

1 large onion, chopped into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons of butter, divided

2 tablespoons of flour

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon of salt

pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, shredded.

1 cup of panko bread crumbs

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. In a skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter and saute the asparagus, garlic and onion until just slightly wilted. Put the mixture into the greased pan. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the flour and stir until smooth. Add the milk and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Add the cream cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the asparagus and onion mixture. Mix to combine. Sprinkle the top with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

 

MAPLE GLAZED ASPARAGUS

 

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Paprika

2 tablespoons maple syrup

 

Preheat oven to 450. Line the cookie sheet with foil. Place the asparagus spears on a rimmed cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and maple syrup over the top. Toss to make sure all the spears are coated. Lightly sprinkle the asparagus with the paprika, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 8 to 10 minutes then turn it over and cook for another 2 minutes. Serve

ASPARAGUS   AND PASTA SALAD

 

6 to 8   slices Canadian bacon or hickory smoked  bacon, cut into bite size pieces   2 tablespoons olive oil   1  onion, finely chopped

1 red   pepper chopped

1/2 lb   mushrooms, sliced   1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on a long diagonal into   1/2-inch-thick slices   1 lb. bow tie pasta, cooked according to the package directions, save 1 cup   of the water used in cooking   1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Parmesan   for serving

 

Cook the   bacon in a fry pan until it’s crispy and brown. Drain on paper towels and   pour off half of the remaining fat. Saute the onion, mushrooms and red pepper   in the skillet for about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue cooking   for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta and   1/2 cup of the water to the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine, scraping the   bottom to remove the cooked on bits of vegetable. Cook for 1 minute and add   the remaining water and 1/2 cup parmesan. Mix to combine and cook for an   additional 2 minutes. Place the pasta mixture in a serving bowl, add the   cooked bacon and toss to combine. Serve with additional parmesan. Serves 6 to   8

Modified from an old Gourmet Magazine recipe

Oddles of Noodles /some non kosher recipes

When my son discovered that the money train AKA his parents credit card had left when he entered grad school he quickly discovered the joys of pasta, or more specifically, ramen noodles. Left to his own devices (and given his limited time to spend in the kitchen) this staple in his pantry would have been the entree of choice. I convinced him, though a little culinary magic, a few simple recipes and a $50 gift card to Kroger have to try a few different types of noodles to kick up his menu variety.

Created in China (not Italy as most people believe) noodles were an integral part of the Chinese diet from as early as 200 B.C There are several kinds of noodles in Chinese cuisine, mien noodles (egg), rice noodles, wheat noodles and bean noodles. In northernChina, wheat noodle are eaten more regularly than rice or rice noodles. Rice noodles are considered a southern Chinese staple. I told my son that while there were nice inexpensive “Americanized” alternatives to the Asian noodles (lets not forgetJapanhere) that the originals were actually tastier and more interesting.

The first noodle I introduced him to was the Soba noodle. A Soba noodle is made with wheat flour and buckwheat. It’s high in fiber and has a nutty full bodied flavor. The higher the buckwheat content the more expensive the noodle. Soba noodles are typically served in soups or with a plain with a dipping sauce. Less expensive alternative: whole wheat spaghetti or linguini.

He already knew about Ramen but for the uninformed, Ramen are thin and skinny curly dried egg noodles that are typically sold in an instant soup form. There is usually a packet of flavored instant soup powder in the package. My son has eaten it for years and has added veggies and left over chicken or turkey. There isn’t really a less expensive alternative as they are cheap cheap cheap but regular spaghetti noodles are pretty close.
Rice noodles are round or flat, thin and slightly translucent white noodles made from rice flour and water. They kinda have zero flavor of their own (just a great squishy texture) and they pair with just about any strong meat of fish flavor. You can substitute vermicelli, linguine, or fettuccine but it’s not really a close match.

Bean thread, cellophane or mung bean noodles are very thin noodles that are semi-transparent noodles made from the starch of mung beans. Bean threads become very slippery when cooked. Their subtle flavor is the perfect complement to any meat or fish dish. I would suggest rice noodles or vermicelli as a substitute but they are sort of a one of a kind noodle.

For most the tried and true method of cooking noodles is to boil the and then add them to the other ingredients, pour sauce over them or add ingredients to the pot they were cooked in. I really don’t have much to add to that for my column other than don’t over cook them and read the instructions on the package.

If possible try and buy fresh noodles as opposed to the dried variety. Fresh noodles should be soft but not limp, sticky, or brittle. Fresh will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer. Dried noodles can be kept until just about the next ice age in a cool, dry, dark place.

One final “noodle note” those ‘chow mein’ found in most Chinese restaurants are an American invention so if you’re looking for “authentic” pass the up and get yourself the real stuff.

SLEEPING DRAGON NOODLE SALAD

 

1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 carrots julienned

1/4 cup chopped celery

4 radishes julienned

2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage

4 packages ramen egg noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons black or toasted sesame seeds

 

In a large salad bowl combine the sesame oil, hot sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Add shredded cabbage and toss to coat. Add the green onions, carrot, celery and radishes. Toss to combine and top with sesame seeds before serving. Serves 8.

 

SHRIMP NOODLE STIR FRY

 

2 teaspoon cornstarch

2 egg whites

1/3 to 1/2 lb shelled shrimp (raw) cut in half

3/4 lb noodles (any kind will work but I like soba noodle with this)

salt

3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 to 4 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 tablespoon white wine

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

 

In a bowl mix the cornstarch and ginger with the egg white and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Heat the 3 tablespoons sesame oil in a skillet. Add the green onion, and shrimp and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, wine and sugar and mix to combine. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the noodles and mix to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes and just before you’re finished add 1 teaspoon sesame oil, cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly and serve. Serves then add the sesame seed oil just before serving. Serves 2 to 4

 

Modified from a recipe submitted by Carlie Smyth Chicago IL

HOT AND SPICEY PORTABELLA AND EDAMAME WITH NOODLES
For sauce
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons Wasabi paste (this is hot, you can use less)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
10 ounces portabella mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
8 cups shredded Napa cabbage
6 green onions, thinly sliced
8 to 9 ounces soba
1 cup frozen shelled edamame

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

 

In a bowl combine the water, soy sauce, Wasabi and brown sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set the sauce aside.  Heat the oil in skillet then add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the portabellas and saute, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat and add cabbage and 2/3’s of the green onions (save a tablespoon for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer 2 minutes.

 

While cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until the noodles are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and edamame in a colander and rinse with cool water. Place the noodles and edamame in a large bowl and add the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine. Serve sprinkled with remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

 

BOTH SIDES BROWNED NOODLES

Kind of like a noodle pancake

1 pound fresh or dried egg noodles

2 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (or more if needed)

 

In a large stock pot, add enough water to cover the noodles and bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring to separate. Cook until the noodles almost done, tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place the noodles back into the pot and add the sesame oil and toss to coat. In a frying pan or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high heat. Add the noodles. Spread the noodles out to the edges of the pan, and then let them cook, without stirring, until they are browned on the bottom (6 to 8 minutes). Flip over and brown the other side. You can do this by placing a plate over the top of the pan, flipping the noodles out onto it and then sliding them back into the pan. You may need to add a little more oil to keep them from sticking. Cook on the second side until crispy,4 to 5more minutes. Remove the fried noodle pancake to a serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve with stir fried vegetables or grilled meat. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Submitted byTony Easteron River GroveIL

 

WARM GINGER AND PEANUT NOODLE SALAD

 

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon wasabi

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound uncooked angle hair pasta or linguini

1 1/2 cups shredded carrot

1/3 to 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise

1 cup thin strips red or yellow bell pepper

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts

 

In a large bowl combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, Wasabi and garlic. Whisk to combine and set aside. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. When the noodles are al dente (still a little crunchy) turn off the heat and add the carrot and snow peas. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes then drain, saving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Add the drained pasta and noodles to the salad dressing in the salad bowl. Toss to coat. Add the bell pepper, water chestnuts and onions. Toss to coat. Add the pasta water and toss to coat. Sprinkle the honey roasted peanuts on top and serve warm. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 

SPICY CASHEW NOODLE SALAD

 

8 oz dried linguini, spaghetti, or soba noodles

2 cups broccoli florets cut small

1/4 pound pea pods, sliced in 1/3’s

1 carrot, peeled, julienned

1/2 red onion chopped fine

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 to 3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

3 green onions, sliced

1 large tomato seeded and chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, julienned

1 cup toasted cashews

 

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain again and then set it aside. Steam the broccoli, pea pods, and carrots for about 2 minutes, making sure they are still crisp. Rinse them in cold water and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a frying pan, add onion, ginger and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until just soft. Add the green onions, tomato and red pepper. Mix to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. In a bowl combine the lime juice, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce. Add the sauteed onion mixture to the sauce and mix to combine. Add the noodles and steamed vegetables to the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Great at room temperature or served cold. Before serving sprinkle the pine nuts on the top. Serves 6.

 

SALSA SHRIMP AND NOODLE SOUP

 

1 lb shrimp, peeled and divined

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups water

2 packages shrimp flavored Ramen Noodles (use 1 packet of seasoning)

2 cups salsa

1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 can corn

1 green onion thinly sliced

 

In a medium bowl combine the lemon juice chili powder, cumin, and pepper. Mix to combine and add the shrimp. Toss to coat and let sit for 1/2 hour. In a large sauce pan bring water to boil, stir in 1 ramen flavor packet, break the ramen noodles into pieces and add them to the saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp, salsa, beans, corn, and green onion and then reduce the soup to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink. Serves 4.

 

Submitted by Lenore Hentz Trenton NJ

 

ASPARAGUS AND NOODLE STIR FRY

 

3 oz. pkg. oriental or shrimp flavor ramen noodle soup mix

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 red onion, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 lb. sea scallops cut in half

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

 

Cook and drain ramen noodles as directed on the package and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in wok or large skillet. Add the asparagus, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the scallops and stir-fry until they are white and firm. Add the ramen seasoning packet, soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and hot sauce and stir into scallop mixture. Stir in the cooked noodles. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until everything is hot throughout. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Modified from about.com

So Many Delicious Cheeses and Lots of Recipes Too

How good (or bad) a party is often defined by the food you serve as well as the company you invite. The people I can’t help you with (unless you include me and then all bets are truly off) you might want to consider serving cheeses as part of the appetizers and possibly even the desserts.  Cheese is easy to serve and by getting a wide variety of different flavors and kinds you’ll be able to tempt the palette of just about everyone. You may want to forget your preconceived notions about cheese if they revolve around the cheddar you use for Mac and cheese and the mozzarella you top you pizza with.  You’ll want to open your mind (and wallet) to the possibilities of cheeses from around the world.

Cheese platter 101 begins with the idea that you will want both soft and hard cheeses which will run the gamut from mild and mellow tasting ones to the stronger more pungent flavored cheeses.Cheeses come from milk and the usual suspects that provide that milk are cows, sheep and goats. Cheeses are typically categorized and are usually described as gentle, sharp and strong and can have a rind or not. Younger cheeses tend to be mild, soft, and moist.  As cheeses age, they become more pungent, hard, and crumbly.

Fresh: These cheeses don’t have rinds. Examples are goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, Ricotta, Feta and cream cheese.

Semi-Soft:  A little firmer than fresh you melt well. Look for Gouda, queso asadero, Limburger, Provolone, Havarti and Monterey Jack.

Semi hard : can also be called semi-firm and the top three that I like in this category are Cheddar, Edam Beaufort, Cheshire and Gruyere. The can be grated fairly easily.

Hard cheeses:  cheese like a Parmesan, Sapsago and aged Asiago are very popular and easy to find.

Washed Rind: Cheeses like Tallegio, Limburger and Muenster have been washed or rested salty brine mixture. The brine creates an edible rind and protects the soft or semi-soft interior.

Bloom Rind: These cheeses have a soft sort of pliable rind on the outside.  Brie and Camembert are the two best known and most people ignore the rind and eat the softer inside.

Blue: The strongest flavor and smelling of the cheese. It usually falls into one of two categories, can’t get enough or never touch the stuff. Actual mold spores are used to create the distinctive flavor, taste and smell. Stilton and Maytag Blue, Saga Blue, Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola are usually readily available.


For an attractive appetizer or dessert tray I say you should use 4 to 6 cheeses planning on about 2 to 3 ounces per guest (you will have leftovers). The cheese should be served at room temperature and I unwrap the cheese just before I serve it so that the cheese doesn’t dry out. I tend to arrange them in the order of hardness and always label them with some of their flavors and characteristics  so everyone know kind of what to expect when they pop it in their mouths. I always have a different knife or serving piece for each cheese so that the flavors don’t get confused. I have a variety of breads, crackers and fruits and dried fruits to accompany the cheeses. One other trick I’ve discovered to making cheese tasting an event rather than a chore is to pare the cheeses with wines that are made in the same region they come from.

Sometimes a cheese try just isn’t enough and you’ll feel the need to cook the cheese. The following appetizer recipes will allow you to add just enough other ingredients to keep the cheeses front and center.

PULL APART CHEESE STICKS

1 (11-ounce) can breadstick dough

1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheese mozzarella, provolone or smoked Gouda

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

About 2 cups warmed store-bought marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 375. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Arrange the breadstick dough in single layer lengthwise on the parchment paper but DON’T separate the dough into individual breadsticks.  Sprinkle the cheese, basil and oregano over the top of the dough. Bake 10 to 11 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Remove the breadsticks from the oven. Let the breadsticks cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes. Pull apart the breadsticks and serve them with the heated marinara sauce. Makes 12. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

TOMATO AND ONION TART APPITIZER

This can be served hot or cold

7 sheets phyllo dough, thawed

1/2 stick of butter, melted

2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 cups shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese

6 plum (Roma) tomatoes cut into thick slices

8 10 fresh basil leaves, shredded or 1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray paper with nonstick cooking spray. Lay 1 sheet phyllo dough on paper and brush lightly with a little melted butter. Sprinkle top of buttered phyllo with 1 to 2 tablespoons grated parmesan (don’t overdo it). Repeat the layering 6 more times (phyllo, butter, and cheese), making sure to press down on each sheet so it adheres to the previous layer.

When you’ve finished the layers, place the onions on top of the last layer making sure not to over load it. Sprinkle the provolone on top of the onions and then layer the tomatoes on top making sure you don’t overlap them. Sprinkle the basil (fresh or dried) over the top. Salt and pepper generously. Bake for 30 minutes and then let it cool for about 7 to 10 minutes before you cut and serve it Serves 8 to 10.

Modified and Submitted by Ronnie Smith Chicago, IL

SPINACH AND FETA MINI CALZONES

1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (plain or flavored)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until tender.  Add the spinach and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat.  Stir in the cheese and black pepper.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into a 12-inch square.  Cut into 16 (3-inch) squares.  Brush edges of the squares with water.  Place about 1 tablespoon spinach mixture in the center of each square.  Fold the pastry over the filling to form triangles.  Press the edges to seal.  Place the filled pastries onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Remove the pastries from the baking sheet and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.

Modified from Pepperidgefarm.com

CHEVRE MINI BOULES

1 large head garlic

1 small shallot

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

31/2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

11/2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

2 Tbsp. champagne vinegar

11/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

11/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

Dash ground black pepper

Dash sugar

12 oz. Ile de France® La Búchette Goat cheese

French baguette, sliced

Separate garlic cloves from the head, leaving the skin on, and boil for four minutes. Drain, peel and mince garlic and shallot, and sauté in oil until golden. Keep garlic mixture in pan, and drain and discard. Add vinegar, rosemary, thyme, pepper and sugar to pan and cook for 3 minutes until liquid is evaporated. Crumble the goat cheese in medium bowl, add garlic mixture and stir until combined. Shape into 22 balls.

Place parsley, peppercorns and sesame seeds in 3 separate bowls, and roll balls in mixtures as desired. Serve with crusty French bread slices.

From Iledefrance.com

CREAM CHEESE GRAPE AND PISTACHIO

8 oz cold cream cheese

salt and pepper

16 red or green seedless grapes

3/4 cup crushed pistachios

Take a teaspoon or two of the cream cheese and mold it around each grape. Season lightly with salt and pepper and then roll it in the chopped pistachios. Place the grapes on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours before serving. This is great next to a bowl of mixed nuts. If the grapes are really big you can cut them in half after they’ve chilled. Makes 16. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

CRANBERRY ONION CREAM CHEESE BITES

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups thinly sliced sweet onions

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), coarsely chopped or dried cranberries

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind

16 crackers (whole grain work well)

cream cheese (you can use fat free)

parsley leaves

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onions, and sauté 15 to 18 minutes or until golden and tender. Stir in the vinegar, cranberries, sugar, salt, and orange rind; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Spread the crackers with about 1 teaspoon cream cheese; and then top each with about 1 tablespoon of the cranberry mixture. Garnish with parsley. Makes 16.

Modified from Southernliving.com

Oodles of Noodles

When my son discovered that the money train AKA his parents credit card had left when he entered grad school he quickly discovered the joys of pasta, or more specifically, ramen noodles. Left to his own devices (and given his limited time to spend in the kitchen) this staple in his pantry would have been the entree of choice. I convinced him, though a little culinary magic, a few simple recipes and a $50 gift card to Kroger have to try a few different types of noodles to kick up his menu variety.

Created in China (not Italy as most people believe) noodles were an integral part of the Chinese diet from as early as 200 B.C There are several kinds of noodles in Chinese cuisine, mien noodles (egg), rice noodles, wheat noodles and bean noodles. In northern China,
wheat noodle are eaten more regularly than rice or rice noodles. Rice noodles are considered a southern Chinese staple. I told my son that while there were nice inexpensive “Americanized” alternatives to the Asian noodles (lets not forget Japan here) that the originals were actually tastier and more interesting.

The first noodle I introduced him to was the Soba noodle. A Soba noodle is made with wheat flour and buckwheat. It’s high in fiber and has a nutty full bodied flavor. The higher the buckwheat content the more expensive the noodle. Soba noodles are typically served in soups or with a plain with a dipping sauce. Less expensive alternative: whole wheat spaghetti or linguini.

He already knew about Ramen but for the uninformed, Ramen are thin and skinny curly dried egg noodles that are typically sold in an instant soup form. There is usually a packet of flavored instant soup powder in the package. My son has eaten it for years and has added veggies and left over chicken or turkey. There isn’t really a less expensive alternative as they are cheap cheap cheap but regular spaghetti noodles are pretty close.

Rice noodles are round or flat, thin and slightly translucent white noodles made from rice flour and water. They kinda have zero flavor of their own (just a great squishy texture) and they pair with just about any strong meat of fish flavor. You can substitute vermicelli, linguine, or fettuccine but it’s not really a close match.

Bean thread, cellophane or mung bean noodles are very thin noodles that are semi-transparent noodles made from the starch of mung beans. Bean threads become very slippery when cooked. Their subtle flavor is the perfect complement to any meat or fish dish. I would suggest rice noodles or vermicelli as a substitute but they are sort of a one of a kind noodle.

For most the tried and true method of cooking noodles is to boil the and then add them to the other ingredients, pour sauce over them or add ingredients to the pot they were cooked in. I really don’t have much to add to that for my column other than don’t over cook them and read the instructions on the package.

If possible try and buy fresh noodles as opposed to the dried variety. Fresh noodles should be soft but not limp, sticky, or brittle. Fresh will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer. Dried noodles can be kept until just about the next ice age in a cool, dry, dark place.

One final “noodle note” those ‘chow mein’ found in most Chinese restaurants are an American invention so if you’re looking for “authentic” pass the up and get yourself the real stuff. For those of you that don’t eat shell fish you can always substitute chicken or fish.

SLEEPING DRAGON NOODLE SALAD

1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 carrots julienned

1/4 cup chopped celery

4 radishes julienned

2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage

4 packages ramen egg noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons black or toasted sesame seeds

 

In a large
salad bowl combine the sesame oil, hot sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar,
sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the noodles and toss to
coat. Add shredded cabbage and toss to coat. Add the green onions, carrot,
celery and radishes. Toss to combine and top with sesame seeds before serving.
Serves 8.

 

SHRIMP NOODLE STIR FRY

2 teaspoon cornstarch

2 egg whites

1/3 to 1/2 lb shelled shrimp (raw) cut in half

3/4 lb noodles (any kind will work but I like soba noodle with this)

salt

3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 to 4 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 tablespoon white wine

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

 

In a bowl mix the cornstarch and ginger with the egg white and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Heat the 3 tablespoons sesame oil in a skillet. Add the green onion, and shrimp and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, wine and sugar and mix to combine. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the noodles and mix to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes and just before you’re finished add 1 teaspoon sesame oil, cook
for 30 seconds, stirring constantly and serve. Serves then add the sesame seed oil just before serving. Serves 2 to 4

Modified from a recipe submitted by Carlie Smyth Chicago IL

 

HOT AND SPICEY PORTABELLA AND EDAMAME WITH NOODLES

For sauce

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons Wasabi paste (this is hot, you can use less)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

10 ounces portabella mushrooms, chopped into small pieces

8 cups shredded Napa cabbage

6 green onions, thinly sliced

8 to 9 ounces soba

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

 

In a bowl combine the water, soy sauce, Wasabi and brown sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set the sauce aside.  Heat the
oil in skillet then add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the portabellas and saute, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat and add cabbage and 2/3’s of the green onions (save a tablespoon for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer 2 minutes.

 

While cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until the noodles are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and edamame in a colander and rinse with cool water. Place the noodles and edamame in a large bowl and add the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine. Serve sprinkled with remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

 

BOTH SIDES BROWNED NOODLES

Kind of like a noodle pancake

1 pound fresh or dried egg noodles

2 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (or more if needed)

In a large stock pot, add enough water to cover the noodles and bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring to separate. Cook until the noodles almost done, tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place the noodles back into the pot and add the sesame oil and toss to coat. In a frying pan or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high heat. Add the noodles. Spread the noodles out to the edges of the pan, and then let them cook, without stirring, until they are browned on the bottom (6 to 8 minutes). Flip over and brown the other side. You can do this by placing a plate over the top of the pan, flipping the noodles out onto it and then sliding them back into the pan. You may need to add a little more oil to keep them from sticking. Cook on the second side until crispy, 4 to 5 more minutes. Remove the fried noodle pancake to a serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve with stir fried vegetables or grilled meat. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Submitted byTony Easteron River GroveIL

WARM GINGER AND PEANUT NOODLE SALAD

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon wasabi

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound uncooked angle hair pasta or linguini

1 1/2 cups shredded carrot

1/3 to 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise

1 cup thin strips red or yellow bell pepper

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts

 

In a large
bowl combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil,
Wasabi and garlic. Whisk to combine and set aside. Cook the pasta according to
the directions on the box. When the noodles are al dente (still a little
crunchy) turn off the heat and add the carrot and snow peas. Let the mixture
sit for 2 minutes then drain, saving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Add the drained
pasta and noodles to the salad dressing in the salad bowl. Toss to coat. Add
the bell pepper, water chestnuts and onions. Toss to coat. Add the pasta water
and toss to coat. Sprinkle the honey roasted peanuts on top and serve warm.
Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 

SPICY CASHEW NOODLE SALAD

8 oz dried linguini, spaghetti, or soba noodles

2 cups broccoli florets cut small

1/4 pound pea pods, sliced in 1/3’s

1 carrot, peeled, julienned

1/2 red onion chopped fine

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 to 3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

3 green onions, sliced

1 large tomato seeded and chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, julienned

1 cup toasted cashews

 

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain again and then set it
aside. Steam the broccoli, pea pods, and carrots for about 2 minutes, making
sure they are still crisp. Rinse them in cold water and set them aside. Heat 1
tablespoon of the sesame oil in a frying pan, add onion, ginger and garlic and
saute for 2 to 3 minutes until just soft. Add the green onions, tomato and red
pepper. Mix to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. In a bowl combine the lime
juice, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce. Add the sauteed onion
mixture to the sauce and mix to combine. Add the noodles and steamed vegetables
to the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before
serving. Great at room temperature or served cold. Before serving sprinkle the
pine nuts on the top. Serves 6.

 

SALSA SHRIMP AND NOODLE SOUP

1 lb shrimp, peeled and divined

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups water

2 packages  flavored Ramen Noodles (use 1 packet of seasoning)

2 cups salsa

1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 can corn

1 green onion thinly sliced

 

In a medium bowl combine the lemon juice chili powder, cumin, and pepper. Mix to combine
and add the shrimp. Toss to coat and let sit for 1/2 hour. In a large sauce pan
bring water to boil, stir in 1 ramen flavor packet, break the ramen noodles
into pieces and add them to the saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil cook for 1
minute. Add shrimp, salsa, beans, corn, and green onion and then reduce the
soup to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink.
Serves 4.

 

Submitted by Lenore Hentz Trenton NJ

 

ASPARAGUS AND NOODLE STIR FRY

3 oz. pkg. oriental or shrimp flavor ramen noodle soup mix

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 red onion chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 lb. sea scallops cut in half or talapia cut into pieces

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Cook and drain ramen noodles as directed on the package and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in wok or large skillet. Add the asparagus, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the scallops and stir-fry until they are white and firm. Add the ramen seasoning packet, soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and hot sauce and stir into scallop mixture. Stir in the cooked noodles. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until everything is hot throughout. Serves 4 to 6.

Modified from about.com

 

 

Hazelnuts Are 4 Everyone

Of all the nuts I have hanging around my house (hubby and kids not withstanding) the one that used to be taken out only for special occasions was the hazelnuts (AKA filberts). Then I was introduced to Nuttella ® a wonderful chocolaty hazelnut spread that made my taste buds stand up and say WOW give me more!!! I had, prior to that culinary revelation, only used hazelnuts in a few cookies and an occasional cake or two. Trying a chocolate hazelnut spread on toast for breakfast (don’t judge me) made me realize just how versatile that little nut could be.

A hazelnut has a sweet slightly unusual flavor and unique texture make them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes.  But, wait, there’s more. This nut has some real substantial nutrition to offer.

Hazelnut is a terrific source of vitamin E, protein, and fiber as well as being a great source for antioxidants. The hazelnut is readily available BUT they can be a tad more expensive than a peanut, pecan or almond. That’s why most recipes tend to use them as a side note or accent rather than a main ingredient. The following recipes will let you take them from appetizer to dessert and will open the door to hazelnut heaven.

Note: Nuttella ® is available at most grocery stores right next to the peanut butter.

 

CRUNCHY HAZELNUT BARS

Cookie

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup cocoa

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups packed brown sugar

2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

2 cups shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In a bowl combine the 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the 1/2 cup butter and mix to combine until the mixture is crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. While to base is cooling make the topping

In a bowl, combine the cocoa with the 2 tablespoons flour, baking powder and salt and set it aside. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar. Whisk in the cocoa mixture until blended. Stir in the hazelnuts and coconut. Pour the mixture over the crust and make sure it covers it completely.

Reduce heat to 325. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. Makes 16

Submitted by Ronnie Mixser-Hoffman Chicago IL

SIMPLE TILAPIA WITH LEMON AND HAZELNUT

6 six-eight ounce fillets of tilapia

Butter or olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup hazelnuts, coarsely ground

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon butter

4 teaspoons flour

3/4 cup vegetable broth

3 tablespoons white wine

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 baking dish and place the fillets in the prepared pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Brush the top of each fillet with melted butter and top each fillet with a tablespoon of chopped hazelnuts. Sprinkle the top of each fillet with fresh lemon juice Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Remove the fish to a warm plate and then melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add the flour.  Whisk to blend until smooth but don’t let it brown. Add the stock and wine and stir until smooth. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve. Serves 6

HAZELNUT CRUSTED CHICKEN WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE

Great over salad greens or rice

3/4 cup fresh raspberries (about 3 1/2 ounces)

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup oil

3 to 6 teaspoons water (optional)

Chicken:

1 cup chopped hazelnuts (about 4 1/2 ounces)

3/4 cup panko or plain dried breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

3 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided

1/3 cup honey mustard

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 large butterflied skinless boneless chicken breasts

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons oil

4 cups salad greens

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

raspberry sauce:

In a food processor or blender combine the 3/4 cup raspberries, white wine vinegar, and sugar and process until smooth. With blender running, gradually add the oil. Add water by teaspoonfuls as needed to thin to desired consistency. Season raspberry sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

For chicken:

Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl combine the hazelnuts, breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.  In another bowl combine the honey mustard, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, remaining 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Add the chicken to the mayonnaise mixture and turn to coat. Then dip the chicken pieces, 1 at a time, into crumb-nut mixture, coating both sides and pressing to adhere. Transfer coated chicken pieces to baking sheet.

Divide equal amounts of butter and oil between 2 large nonstick skillets; heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 chicken pieces to each skillet; reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is light brown, about 4 minutes per side. Place chicken on rimmed baking sheet; transfer to oven. Roast chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Serve immediately with fresh raspberries and serve raspberry sauce alongside.

Modified from epicurious.com

  HAZELNUT LAMB BURGERS

Debbie Russell of Colorado Springs won a 1st Prize at the Build a Better Burger Cook-off with this recipe and it truly deserved to win, it’s amazing

2 pounds ground lamb

1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon

1/2 cup minced red onion

1/2 cup fresh Italian bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried basil

1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped blanched hazelnuts

1/4 cup unseasoned dried Italian bread crumbs

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack

6 large sesame seed sandwich buns split

6 tablespoons fresh goat cheese (about 3 ounces)

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 bunch spinach leaves

6 large tomato slices

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the patties, combine the lamb, Cabernet Sauvignon, onion, fresh bread crumbs, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns. On a plate, combine the hazelnuts and dried bread crumbs. Press both sides of each patty into the nut mixture, coating evenly.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly. During the last minute of cooking, top each patty with 1 tablespoon of the cheese.

To assemble the burgers, spread the mustard over the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place several spinach leaves and a tomato slice. Add the bun tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.

Reprinted from Sutter Home Family Vineyards, written by James McNair, Build a Better Burger, published by Ten Speed Press

 STRAWBERRY HAZELNUT COOKIES

1 cup hazelnuts

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup cake flour

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cardamom

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 cookie sheets and set them aside. In a food processor chop the hazelnuts until they are coarsely chopped.  Add the flour and oatmeal and pulse 5 seconds and then place it in a mixing bowl. Add salt cardamom and cinnamon. Mix to combine and then add the maple syrup and oil and mix to combine. Make walnut-size balls and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Press cookies with the middle with your thumb, making a small indentation and fill it with about 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry jam.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool. Makes 3 to 3 1/2 dozen depending on size.

THAI HAZELNUT NOODLES

8 oz angel hair pasta

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup ketchup

1/4 cup fish sauce or soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon red or chili pepper

2 tablespoons oil

2 cups ground chicken or tofu cut into ½-inch cubes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups fresh bean sprouts (you can use canned but they don’t taste as good)

1 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts

1 English cucumber sliced thin

Juice of 1/2 lime

Cook noodles according to the package directions, drain and set aside. In a bowl combine the sugar, water, ketchup, fish sauce, lime juice and cayenne pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Heat oil in wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the chicken or tofu and garlic, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add noodles, stirring constantly to keep from sticking. Add ketchup mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until sauce is absorbed. Remove the noodle mixture to a bowl and then return the frying pan to the heat. Add the eggs and cook, stirring until almost cooked. Add the bean sprouts, 2/3 cup green onions and 1/2 cup hazelnuts, stirring until mixed with eggs. Return the noodles to the pan and cook while stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and place the noodles in a large wide bowl. Sprinkle the top with the remaining green onions and hazelnuts and decorate the cucumber slices. Sprinkle the lime juice on top and serve immediately.

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