Baked Macaroni and Cheese endures as a timeless favorite, but I haven't met many folks who bother to make it at home. Maybe the cheese sauce frightens them off. In the end, it's easy and comes together quickly.
And it's WAY better than the blue box.
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Each July we rent a beach house and my wife and kids spend the month frolicking in the sand and surf. Given that I'm trying to keep my day job, I'm able to spend weekends with them but during the week I'm home - working during the day and trying to figure out what to do with myself during the evenings.
Because I get home from work so late, there's usually not much time to cook anything exciting, and my dinner usually ends up being a beer and a burger at the local pub (while I watch the Yankees), or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at home.
I did manage to cook twice this July, however. Once it was a ribeye on the grill - and if you don't know yet, let your steak come to room temperature before putting it over the hot coals. The second time was this dish. It was inspired by nothing, really, other than a memory of tarragon and trying to figure out how I could get into my dinner that evening.
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Lasagna really does require a lot of effort, which is probably why I don't make it that often. But The Drummer Boy was coming over with his family for dinner and he wasn't shy about submitting a menu request. Okay, so what if I asked him what he wanted? Couldn't he have made it easy on me and said "cheeseburgers" ?
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My father called it Gravy.
I've always called it tomato sauce, and have fond memories of it simmering away every Sunday afternoon. The tomato sauce from my youth was always made with meat. Not that it was a "meat sauce," per se, but meat was first browned in the pot and then left to finish cooking in the pot. I like to use meatballs and sweet Italian sausage, but my mom will also throw in short ribs (beef or pork) and braciole on occasion.
And so as the weather cools here in the northeast and my grill gets less and less use, you'll often find a pot of sauce bubbling on my stove on a sunday early evening. Feel free to call it Gravy if you like.
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It took me a long time to get my meatballs to come out tasting anywhere close to those my mom made when we were kids - and still does today. It's not that she held back on the recipe, but perhaps I was just trying to find my own way.
I use a mix of pork, veal, and beef while my mom uses all beef. And I've added fresh herbs and replaced the seasoned bread crumbs with plain. I have, however, stuck with the store-brought bread crumbs. I refuse to head down that "old-world" path of soaking Italian bread in milk and then squishing it into the meat mixture. My mother's recipe for meatballs, and HER mother's recipe for meatballs used store brought breadcrumbs. It was good enough for them, and it's good enough for me.
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Have I mentioned that my youngest son is an unbearably picky eater?
I'm pretty sure I have. So I was more than pleasantly surprised when he declared that he LOVED pesto. My wife come home with a tub-full from a local farmer's market and he simply couldn't stop smearing it on bread and gobbling it down.
So I dusted off the food processor and whipped up a batch. I have a feeling I'll be making it fairly often.
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Some days I go to the grocery store without really knowing what I'm going to make for dinner and hope to get some inspiration. This dish grew from one of those aimless supermarket excursions. I was in the mood for the peppery bite that good, fresh, arugula delivers and thought the sweetness from the grape tomatoes would balance it nicely. I threw in the smoked mozzarella because, well, why not?
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Like the orecchiette I made a couple weeks ago, this recipe is inspired by a favorite restaurant dish. But this time, it's my wife's favorite and I figured I'd earn some points by leaning how to make it.
Continue reading "Farfalle with Pancetta Saffron Cream Sauce" »