Saturday, September 19, 2009

Favorite Macaroni and Cheese

I originally found this recipe in The Barefoot Contessa cookbook, but I have altered it for our tastes. (Note: the original makes a large 9x13 dish, while mine makes a nice 8x8 or similar size.)

1/2 pound large elbow macaroni, or pasta of your choice
2 cups milk
3Tbsp. butter
scant 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups extra sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/4 tsp. pepper
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
2-3 small tomatoes (I use Roma)
1 cups fresh bread crumbs
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the milk in the microwave for about 2 minutes; set aside. On stovetop, melt butter in a large pot and add flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. While whisking, stir in hot mild and cook for a minute or two longer, until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat and add cheeses, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Fold pasta into mixture and pour into 8x8 baking dish.

Slice tomatoes and arrange on top. Combine fresh bread crumbs with a little drizzled olive oil; sprinkle crumbs on top of macaroni. Bake 20 minutes covered with tin foil. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Simply Recipes' Tomato Pie

Elise at Simply Recipes is one of my favorite food bloggers. When I saw her picture and recipe for Tomato Pie I knew I had to try it. The reviews last night seemed really good and my mom couldn't keep quiet this afternoon as she finished off the last piece. (It's on her menu this week.) I think the extra step of caramelizing the onions was certainly worth it as well as the splurge on Gruyere cheese--I love that stuff.

1 9-inch pie shell,
1 yellow or red onion, caramalized
3-4 tomatoes, chopped and juice squeezed out, approximately 3 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced basil 2 cups grated cheese (combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack, or Gruyere or Mozarella) (splurge on the Gruyere)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Frank's Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pie shell in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or longer until lightly golden.
2 Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes, using either paper towels, a clean dish towel, or a potato ricer.

3 Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with caramalized onion. Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions. Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes.

4 In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, Tabasco, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. The mixture should be the consistency of a gooey snow ball. Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes.

5 Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes.

Serves 6.

Tuscan Tomato Soup

This recipe is from Chef's Table Restaurant. The soup is best made with fresh garden tomatoes; second choice would be canned diced tomatoes (which is how I make it all winter long). I have also used a combination of both.

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions, small dice
5 cups diced, seeded tomatoes, drained
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup basil pesto (Costco has a large bottle)
salt & pepper

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and cook over moderately low heat until completely translucent.

Add tomatoes and allow to warm to a simmer. Add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add whipping cream and pesto.

Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender and blend until desired consistency.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

**To easily peel tomatoes: heat a pot of water to boiling, turn heat down a bit, and drop the tomatoes into the pot. Remove them after about 1 minute, and place them immediately into a bowl of ice water.

**I usually use the pesto from Costco. You can also make your own by placing in a food processor the following ingredients: fresh basil leaves, pinenuts, parmesan cheese, and a little olive oil.