I've tried five new recipes this month, sticking with my goal of jazzing up our meal repertoire.
First, on a cold Saturday evening, I made a Macaroni & Cheese with Prosciutto from Epicurious with heavy whipping cream, gruyere cheese and prosciutto. It was a major crowd-pleaser with my crew, and it is easy-peasy to put together. I even got all of the ingredients at Walmart.
When you live in a small town, you don't bemoan Walmart.
Here is a pic of the pasta before it went into the oven:
I modified the recipe a tiny bit, adding more cheese and using half-n-half rather than whole milk.
Here it is:
8 oz. elbow macaroni (2 cups)
2 cups grated gruyere cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup half-n-half
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
dash of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
3 oz. prosciutto (roughly chopped)
Boil the pasta first, until al dente. Drain and mix with the rest of the ingredients (cream, half-n-half, nutmeg, salt, 1 cup gruyere & parmesan), reserving 1 cup of gruyere cheese. Put the mixture into an 11x7 buttered dish (or any close-enough size) and top with remaining gruyere cheese. Slap that in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and, if necessary, finish with a few minutes under the broiler to brown it just right. Wait 5-10 minutes before serving, to allow the sauce to 'set.'
A few notes:
1. It won't be as creamy as, say, Martha Stewart's mac & cheese recipe. But if you let it sit a bit before digging in, it holds up.
2. Some reviews on Epicurious mention topping it with panko crumbs for a crust. If you have that kind of attention to detail, by all means.....go for it.
3. I think adding thyme would be lovely. Just saying.
Verdict: 5 stars
I made these brownies with high hopes. I have loved some of the recipes I've made off the GOOP site. I know, people love to hate GP, but the recipes have all been solid.
I spent over $20 on ingredients for these brownies. Almond butter ain't cheap.
The recipe was easy enough, and I followed it to-a-t, but it was a major fail. The cayenne pepper was weird. I had the hint of it in my throat the rest of the night. Nobody (there were 5 of us) liked these brownies at all. The only way they were marginally acceptable was with dollops of vanilla ice cream, and then one could sort of close her eyes and pretend it was a pleasing experience.
We threw the rest of the pan in the trash, and not one person finished his own serving. Now I have a bag of coconut sugar I don't care to use again.
Oh well. The other recipes I've tried at GOOP have been solid. That Almond Flour Lemon Yogurt Cake is one of my top 10 most-made recipes, so one fail is fine with me.
Verdict: 1 star (because zero seems mean)
Todd Coleman's Potato Gratin (Food 52)
I typically make an older Martha Stewart recipe for au gratin potatoes, which somehow feels labor intensive. I decided to try this one, as it seemed easier.
Readers: it's easy, quick and excellent.
It was a huge hit with my kids, even my son, who prefers mashed potatoes. I like that it's just half-n-half, rather than a mixture of dairy. And the cheese is simple and not too much. Just a cup of gruyere.
I think we have a gruyere thing going on at this house.
I made these with a Honey Baked Ham, green beans, rolls and wine. It was simple and good, even if my fingers swelled up like Vienna sausages by bedtime.
Verdict: 5 stars
David Eyre's Pancake (Food 52)
This is what I've always known as a 'Dutch Baby.' I've made them in the past, but this month I used a new recipe, as I couldn't remember what I'd used before. This recipe is simple, basic and could be tweaked any number of ways. My entire family loved it. It's light enough so that nobody has to haul himself up from the table (regular pancakes are sometimes dead weight). I added maple syrup and skipped the powdered sugar except for the lightest sprinkling after it came out of the oven. I also drizzled with fresh orange juice rather than lemon.
Mine doesn't look nearly as fabulous as the one made above, likely because I didn't use a cast iron skillet. I used an All-Clad pan, and the sides don't come up as high. Oh well. It tasted just fine.
Verdict: 5 stars (simple & easy)
World Peace Cookies (Food 52)
I actually have one of Dorie Greenspan's book entitled Baking: From My Home to Yours, and it's amazing. My kids love to search through the book, slip index cards as markers and beg me to make recipes with them out of it. We've made several. These cookies are in that book, but they're also at Food 52 as one of the site's Genius Recipes. I've made a handful of these Genius Recipes, and 90% are no-fail, wonderful gems.
Anyway, I made these cookies for the dinner party at which I walked into a glass screen door.
The cookies were much more of a hit than I was (no pun intended).
Here is what the dough looks like in the bowl and then after the cookies have been cut. I had no trouble with any of it, and my slices didn't crumble at all when I cut them.
Verdict: 4 stars (they're very good but more like a shortbread instead of a chewy, chocolatey cookie - so some might be disappointed. They pair well with coffee and are light after a big meal.)
I am loving trying all of these new recipes. I still struggle every single day to figure out what we're eating for dinner. I don't know where this lack of inspiration comes from, perhaps 15 years of cooking dinner nightly for a spouse and/or family. I've got to jazz it up. We can't eat another rotisserie chicken with a starch and veggie.
We just cannot.
Happy Sunday and Merry Christmas-Eve for all who are celebrating today. My son is beside himself with excitement; my daughter is unfortunately in bed with the stomach flu. Here's to hoping she feels better in time for the sticky buns.