Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's cooking Wednesday

So, it's time for What's cooking Wednesday, and with the cold weather,
I thought some comfort food recipes would be a great idea.
Macaroni and Cheese Bake
For the bread crumb topping:
4 slices of white sandwich bread
4 tablespoons (55 g) melted butter
1/4 cup (35 g) grated Parmesan cheese
The rest of the ingredients needed are:
5 Tbs. (45 g) all-purpose flour
1 lb. (450 g) elbow macaroni
3 12-oz. cans (1 L) evaporated milk
5 oz. (140 g) American cheese
8 oz. (225 g) extra sharp cheddar cheese
3 oz. (85 g) Monterey Jack cheese
1/8 tsp. (0.3 g) ground nutmeg
1 tsp. (3.3 g) ground mustard seed
2 tsp. (12 g) table salt
4 Tbs. (55 g) melted butter
and 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of hot sauce
Preheat oven to 350°.
Bring four quarts of water to a hard boil. Dissolve at least 1 Tbs. (18 g) table salt into the water and add the macaroni. Cook until al dente (when the macaroni no longer shows white in center of the pasta when you bite into it but still has chew). Check the instructions on the package of your macaroni product and use the time listed as a guide. I generally start checking the macaroni a minute or two early to make sure I don't over cook it.
Once it's ready, ladle out 1/2 cup water to be reserved for the cheese sauce later. Immediately drain the macaroni and rinse it thoroughly in cold water to stop the cooking. Use a colander and rinse pasta with cold water (in most cases, pasta used in casseroles benefits from this procedure).
Break the sandwich bread into chunks and pulse in a food processor with 4 Tbs. of melted butter and the Parmesan cheese until bread crumbs are formed.
Set aside in a bowl for topping the casserole later.
Shred the American, Monterey Jack, and cheddar cheeses. I found this was done fastest by using the grating disc on my food processor.
Prepare a roux by heating (over medium heat) 4 Tbs. butter until it foams. Then stir in the flour and cook while stirring until light brown (about 1 minute).
Slowly add evaporated milk while stirring until all the evaporated milk has been added to the pot and no clumps of roux remain. Stir in the hot sauce, nutmeg, mustard, and salt.
Cook the mixture for about 4 more minutes on medium heat.
The mixture should have thickened up.
Move the pot off the heat source and stir in the grated cheeses and 1/2 cup reserve water. Keep stirring until the cheese completely melts into the mixture.
Stir in the cooked macaroni so that the sauce completely coats all the pasta.
Pour the macaroni and cheese into a 9x13-in. baking pan.
Cover the top of the macaroni and cheese with the bread crumb mixture.
Bake for 25 minutes (when the edges begin to bubble). Remove from the oven and let the casserole sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into it to serve.
Cheesy Rice Casserole
4 cups cooked rice
1/8 teaspoon parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon basil
Sharp Cheddar cheese
1 pkg frozen spinach - cooked and chopped
1/8 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 cup milk
4 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 375. Beat eggs well, add milk and seasonings.
Fold in cheese, spinach and rice. Pour into a greased casserole dish.
Bake 35 minutes. Serve Hot.

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