Posted by: nekojita | February 4, 2008

Requests!

This may shock some people, but I actually have had some requests for my versions of certain recipes (admittedly all of these requests have been made by people in some way related to me). I have so far been dreadful at getting back to you–I’m sorry! But now that I am procrastinating doing real work (preparing for a job interview, planning out teaching agendas), I figured that I would put my pen to paper (figuratively of course) and set down some of these simple, nearly fool-proof recipes.

Without much further ado, here are Creamed Spinach, Macaroni and Cheese, and Pasta with Cherry Tomato-Tuna Sauce. The last is actually extremely wholesome and good for you; the former two are unabashedly not. Both draw upon the same basic technique of the white sauce or
bechamel
, which combines just about everything that’s bad for you.

Creamed Spinach

  • 16 oz. fresh spinach (2 bags of the pre-washed stuff)
  • 2 TBS. butter, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1/4 cup shallots, peeled and minced
  • 2 TBS. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. gruyère cheese, grated (you may use another Swiss if you like, but it won’t taste as rich)

1. Steam or boil the spinach until it is limp, but not grey or overly slimy. Drain and press out as much water as possible with your hands. Chop fairly finely and then set aside.

2. Melt 2 TBS. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes (until they bits are translucent). Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper and flour and stir until the mixture is foamy and lump-free (about 1-2 minutes depending on you stove).  Whisk in the milk in a steady stream. Stir occasionally until the liquid thickens to the consistency of melted ice cream.  Remove from heat. Now add one half of the grated cheese and stir until it melts and thickens the sauce. Lastly, add the chopped spinach and mix thoroughly.

3. Butter a 2 quart baking dish with the remaining 1 tsp. of butter. Pour in the creamed spinach. Sprinkle the top with the remaining gruyère. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 1/2 hour, until the top is brown and a little bubbly.

Serves 6-8 people.

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1/2 lb. curly pasta such as macaroni, cellentani or fusilli
  • 3 TBS. butter, plus 1 TBS.
  • 2 TBS. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp.  dry mustard (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
  • 6 oz. jack cheese, grated (fontina is also good, but usually more expensive)
  • 1 slice day-old bread

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add about 1 TBS salt and the pasta. Cook about 1 minute less than the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cut the bread into small cubes or food-process it into coarse crumbs. Melt 1 TBS butter in a small skillet. Add the bread bits and sauté until the bread absorbs the butter and becomes a little crisp, but not brown. Set aside.

3.  Next, melt 3 TBS butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in the flour and cook until the mixture is foamy. Add the cayenne and mustard (if using). Whisk in the milk slowly. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to the consistency of runny custard (slightly thicker than melted ice cream).  Remove from the heat and about 3/4 of the cheeses. Now add the cooked pasta and mix to coat it well.

4. Pour the pasta into a buttered 8″x8″ baking pan (the kind you use for brownies). Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the bread crumbs. Bake on the top rack of a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until the crumbs are golden and the sauce is bubbly.

Serves 4

Pasta with Cherry Tomato-Tuna Sauce

  • 1/2 lb. curly pasta such as fusilli, cellentani or radiatori
  • ~2 cups small tomatoes (grape, cherry, sweet 100, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large stem of basil with leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed but left whole (use your judgement depending on the size of the cloves and on how much you like garlic)
  • 2 TBS. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 can of tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt (~ 1 TBS) and pasta. Cook according to the directions on the box. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in half (I know this is tedious but it will help the juices come out). Toss the halves with 1/4 tsp salt and set aside in a bowl. Remove the basil leaves from the stem and set aside. In a large cold skillet, place 1 TBS olive oil, the basil stem and the garlic cloves. Bring the skillet up to medium heat.  Stir the garlic occasionally to ensure that it cooks on all sides. Add the pepper flakes and sauté for ~30 seconds. Add the tomato halves and their juices, quickly stir to coat with the oil, and them cover. Stir occasionally until the tomatoes have given up their juices and collapsed a bit. Remove the cover and flake in the tuna. Break up the tuna a bit with the spoon in order to make a full-bodied sauce. Slice the reserved basil leaves.

3. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat it in the sauce. Drizzle with the remaining 1 TBS olive oil and the reserved basil leaves. Give it one final toss and serve.

Serves 2-3

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Responses

  1. I love your creamed spinach so much! Daniel just recently told me the recipe was on your blog. Thank you! Congrats and good luck on your new job!


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