3 Cheese Mac n Cheese

When it is cold and dumping snow outside, nobody really wants to risk the 5 minute drive to the grocery store – especially me! I mean the chance of my poor car sliding on the tiny hill out of my driveway is already too great…

So for dinner last night, I scrambled together the lonely contents of my fridge and cupboards. Surprisingly the end result was quite delicious and a huge hit with M!

Shell or elbow pasta (half a box or more)

Goat cheese, half a log

1 8 oz Havarti cheese, grated on the thick side of the grater

Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup

2 tbsp butter

salt and black pepper to taste

1 cup (or more) steamed broccoli or other veggie leftovers

-cook pasta in salted water until just al dente

-drain pasta and add black pepper to taste (I like to grind it fresh over the pasta while it drains in the colander)

-stir in butter until pasta is coated throughout

-sprinkle one third of grated Havarti in and stir until melted, repeat with the next third and then the last third

-sprinkle half the Parmesan in and stir until melted

-stir in broccoli and any other veggies

-divide amongst bowls and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan

3 Cheese Mac n Cheese

3 Cheese Mac n Cheese

Havarti creaminess courtesy of Arla Dofino and my free sample from Bzzagent

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Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

There’s nothing like hot soup on a gloomy day. Though it isn’t quite winter in the mountains yet,  it is certainly feeling close as soon as the sun disappears every evening, sniff sniff.

Despite the sunny weather we have been enjoying, sometimes a girl just needs some soup – in this case, the recipe has been hanging out on my bookmarks for far too long and I needed to make it and be done.

I used and slightly altered the recipe from my favorite South African-born spices (and more) company, Nomu. Here is the original for comparison, note to self to try the grilled cheese French toasts one day.

Roasted Tomato Soup (serves 2 with lunch leftovers or 4 without)

3 lb ripe tomatoes (I used Roma)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

3 carrots, chopped fine

1 celery stalk, chopped fine

4 cups of vegetable stock (chicken or beef works fine as well if you aren’t fussy)

salt to taste

small handful of sugar

basil, chopped to serve

 

Grilled Cheeses

4-8 sourdough slices (depending on bread size)

4-8 thick slices of smoked Gouda cheese (or any of your choice)

black pepper

sea salt

olive oil spray

 

-preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

-halve the tomatoes and remove the core (only if very juicy, I left mine in)

-place tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt

-roast for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes have softened and look slightly caramelized

-heat olive oil in a pot and saute the onion, carrots and celery until softened but not browned

-add roasted tomatoes and prepared stock and bring to a boil

-reduce heat, season with salt and sugar, simmer for 20 minutes

-while the soup simmers, assemble the cheese sandwiches, garnishing the cheese with black pepper and spraying either side with olive oil

-broil in the oven on a tin foil lined cookie sheet until cheese melts and bread browns (2-3 minutes)

-use a handheld immersion blender to liquefy soup to taste, I like to leave some chunks in mine (beware the bottom of the pot here, I shed a few tears when I saw the scratches my blending left on mine)

-garnish soup with basil and black pepper, serve with grilled cheese sliced into halves

Roasted Tomato Soup with Crispy Grilled Cheeses

Roasted Tomato Soup with Crispy Grilled Cheeses

 

 

Peach Cobbler

And here would be the reason I neeeeeded to make almond paste in my previous post. I decreased the quantity of the recipe from the original in Bon Appetit, mainly because I bought too few peaches for the full 3 lb called for.

I love cobbler and crumble type desserts in the summertime because the delicious fruits of the season do all the hard work for you. Served with whipped cream or ice cream, these dishes have all the extravagance and presentation of a fancy pie without the hours slaving over crust and assembly. Though I do still love a good pie when I have the time and energy!

Peach Cobbler

Filling:

1.5 lb peaches (can substitute with any other ripe stone fruit eg. plums, nectarines)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp flour

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp fruit brandy eg. cherry (optional – I did not have this on hand but really want to try it next time)

Topping:

1/4 cup flour

3/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1.75 oz almond paste (I have a digital scale, this was probably about 1.5 tbsp but don’t quote me on that)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1.5 eggs (like I said, I halved the original recipe, I ended up using 1 egg plus the yolk leftover from the almond paste and it worked great)

1/4 cup almonds, chopped as fine as you like with a Magic Bullet/food processor

 

-slice the stone fruits into wedges, roughly 6-8 wedges per fruit

-toss all the filling ingredients together and place mixture in a square baking dish

-preheat oven to 350 degrees F

-whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl

-in an electric mixer, beat the butter, almond paste and sugar until it is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes

-add eggs, beating to blend

-mix in the dry ingredients

-drop dollops of this batter over the fruit filling and sprinkle with almond topping

-bake until the topping is golden brown and fruit juices are thick and bubbling (if your dish is very full, you may want to place the dish on a cookie sheet to prevent the filling from bubbling over and burning in your oven), about 50-60 minutes

-let cobbler sit at least 20 minutes before serving with whipped cream or ice cream

 

Peak of summer decadence - bubbling fruit cobbler

Peak of summer decadence – bubbling fruit cobbler

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade almond paste

Usually when I see a recipe that calls for almond paste, I scrap it and move onto the next idea. This is prompted by the first time I wanted to bake with almond paste, made the mistake of getting all my ingredients before arriving at the baking aisle to find a whopper price of $8 for a tiny can – on special!

This time I decided to google alternatives for the paste since I really wanted to make the peach cobbler from Bon Appetit.

Imagine my surprise to see that almond paste is easy enough to make at home. There are a lot of recipes online, I slightly adapted this one from Bob’s Red Mill.

Almond Paste

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup granulated or caster sugar

1 egg white

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/8 tsp salt

-Use a Magic Bullet or small food processor/coffee grinder to make the sugar finer. Original recipe called for powdered sugar which I seldom buy and this worked perfectly – plus some bloggers have mentioned that powdered sugar makes the paste too, well, pasty.

-Place sugar and rest of ingredients in bowl of your mixer and mix on medium speed with the beater attachment until it clumps together into a paste

-wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate – it should keep for 10 days though some recipes say 3 weeks. And some claim you can freeze it which I will possibly try if I don’t use it in the next week.

Almond paste block - less than 10 minutes to make!

Almond paste block – less than 10 minutes to make!

Lemon zest French toast with berries

If I had my way, every day’s breakfast would be an extended affair – waffles, pancakes, french toast, grilled cheeses…Though I am not a fan of eggs (I wish I was, as omelettes chockful of toppings really do look rather good), French toast is one of my favorite dishes to make when time allows. Of course that is totally illogical, loving French toast but turning my nose up at the texture of omelettes – but there you go.

This small twist on the regular technique is adapted from a recipe by South African cook Alida Ryder and her blog Simply-delicious-food.com. (original recipe here: http://bit.ly/1k8FJG2). I made this for myself (clearly I was starving), but the recipe can easily be doubled or more.

2 large eggs

2 tbsp milk

zest of half a lemon

2-4 slices of bread (sizes vary, I used some leftover brioche with smaller slices, so I used 4 slices)

to serve – maple syrup, sliced berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries to taste)

 

-in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest and milk

-soak the bread slices in the mixture

-heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and coat thinly with butter or oil

-fry the bread for 1-2 minutes each side until golden brown and just crisping

-serve the French toast with a drizzle (generous, of course) of syrup and sliced berries

Bon appetit!

French toast with lemon zest and berries - a breakfast treat

French toast with lemon zest and berries – a breakfast treat