kitchen clatter

3 Comments
ahhh, we didn't eat that much!

ahhh, we didn’t eat that much!

With the of loud swoosh of the refrigerator door opening,  Amore and Dolce are immediately on the alert to kitchen activity.  The clink of condiment jars rattling against each other as the door swings open, informs them of a possible treat or nibble of something good.  The crinkling of plastic is blatant advertising of cheese or maybe carrots.  The un-snapping of a plastic lid translates to yogurt or sour cream.  From the living room, the girls can decipher if the clanking noise is Malcolm reaching in to grab his Ice Tea pitcher or if the crackling sound is some cheddar cheese being placed on the kitchen counter for slicing or grating.

They can verify the difference between the opening of the frig door and the freezer, between the lifting of the treat jar lid and the spare change cover, between the squeak of the cupboard and the drawer.  Their ears can define a broccoli chop vs. an onion cut, a carrot slice vs. celery stick.  The sound of the knife against the chopping block as it cuts through the veggie announces how quickly the girls will start sniffing around the kitchen.  They love broccoli and carrots, can’t have onions, and are so-so with celery.

Amore immediately runs in to investigate.   Nose to the floor, sniffing out the latest crumb, Amore is determined to gobble it up before Dolce has a chance to.  Dolce, on the other hand,  waits on the couch, head tilted, eyebrows cocked, her little mind working to interpret the sound coming from the kitchen.  Dolce is more discerning.  She wants to know the clatter is worth the effort of movement.  An apple wedge, a cheese cube or a carrot stick will haul her off the couch and into the kitchen in three seconds.  Or, if she hears Amore chomping, she can be there in two.  The jangle of the silverware drawer doesn’t even merit a head lift from her soft pillow.

I would have to say cheese is their absolute favorite.  Even Bleu Cheese.

MAC N’ CHEESE N’ CHEESE

  • 3 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 12 bacon slices, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh, coarse breadcrumbs (may use Ritz cracker crumbs as a substitute)
  • 1 cup finely grated Asiago Cheese
  • 1/2 chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 cup  Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 cups grated Fontina Cheese
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. coarse-grain mustard

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter a 13x9x2 inch casserole dish.  Cook macaroni pasta in boiling water per package directions, until just tender but still firm to bite.  Drain, rinse and drain again.

Cook chopped bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp.  Transfer bacon and 1/4 cup bacon drippings to large bowl.  Add breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, and 1/4 cup parsley with bacon and toss until blended.

Add minced garlic and jalapeno to remaining pan drippings in skillet and saute over medium heat until fragrant.  Add flour and whisk 3 minutes.  Gradually add in whole milk, then add egg yolks, cayenne, dry mustard, salt and pepper.  Cook until mixture thickens, whisking constantly.  Add 2 cups of the Fontina Cheese, Cheddar cheese, remaining Asiago cheese and stir until cheeses melt.  Remove from heat.  Mix in macaroni, coarse-grain mustard, remaining parsley and the last of the Fontina Cheese.  Transfer macaroni mixture to prepared dish.

Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over macaroni .  Bake just until topping is golden about 15-20 minutes.

(Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake)

If a little is good, then, a lot is better.  Trust me.  Always add a little more butter and a lot more cheese!

Sage advice from Mom…

Leave a comment

My mother always told me… “never order spaghetti when out on a date.”

She claimed it was too hard to eat, too difficult not to slurp, and some of the sauce will always land on your “shelf”.  She might as well of sent me to purgatory!  Perhaps that’s why my dates were few and far between.  I knew I had found my soul mate when Malcolm (my hero!) served me pasta in bed!

I love pasta!

Pasta and butter.

Pasta and butter and cheese.

Pasta and butter and cheese and bacon.

Pasta and butter and cheese and bacon and shrimp.

Add some garlic,  a splash of olive oil, a little white wine, throw in some fresh sourdough bread and I am in heaven.  I don’t even need a plate, I will enjoy my meal straight from the pasta pot.  It’s best when I don’t have to share it with Malcolm.  Forget the soup when I’m sick, I’d rather slurp noodles.  Rain or shine, hot or cold, pasta is my nirvana.

I will say, as I’ve matured, so has my pasta pickiness.  I don’t eat just any pasta.  Nor, do I eat at just any Italian restaurant.  I do have some standards when it comes to pasta.  The noodles need to be cooked just right, the sauce needs to light and teaming with flavor.  The restaurant can’t be a chain, franchise or serve processed pre-packaged portions.

When cooking pasta, proper attention to your pasta pot needs to be given – a built-in strainer is convenient.  Correct utensils are needed.  Pasta bowls  should be purchased, along with over sized spoons.  Timing is everything.  Under done noodles or overcooked pasta doesn’t cut it.  Invest in a pasta timer!  An apron is appropriate attire when standing over the watched pot.  Pavarotti should be softly playing on Pandora in the background.

And most important, ALL DOGS SHOULD BE BANNED FROM THE KITCHEN.  DOG HAIR IS NOT ALLOWED OR TOLERATED ANYWHERE NEAR THE PASTA POT!

 

Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 pound Macaroni noodles (elbow, shells or ziti)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1-2 minced jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup non-fat milk
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 12 tbsp. coarse grain mustard
  • 3 cups extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • sourdough bread crumbs (seasoned to taste), finely chopped

Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package.  Drain off the water and put noodles back in the pot, set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add jalapeno peppers and saute for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add flour and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring continuously.  Whisk in  the milk and continue stirring until the mixture starts to boil.  Add the Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan Cheese and mustard.  Stir until smooth.

Pour cheese sauce over the macaroni, add bacon crumbles and toss.  Place in a casserole dish and garnish with the bread crumbs.  Heat in the oven until hot in the center and bread crumbs are toasted, about 15-20 minutes.