Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese

smoked-gouda-mac-and-cheese

Winter in the mountains is long and cold and requires copious amounts of comfort food. We are having spring-like weather this week, a lovely treat, but I know better than to think we won’t have another blizzard or two before it really warms up. This time of year though, I do start thinking about favorite winter comfort foods that I have not yet made this season.  This recipe for Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese is one of those. Not to say that the dish wouldn’t make a great side for 4th of July BBQ or a Thanksgiving potluck.

This recipe is inspired by the smoked gouda mac and cheese served at Crave, a now defunct tapas place here in Boone that was once our spot for family celebrations.  My version is based on one that I found in a Special Collector’s Edition of All-Time Best Recipes, published by Cook’s Illustrated.  Their suggestion that you cook the mac and cheese on the stove, then just put it under the broiler to brown the bread crumbs is right on if you want crunchy topping, tender pasta and creamy sauce.
Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound Cavatappi pasta
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Cholula hot sauce
  • 8 ounces Smoked Gouda cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup Panko
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil in a dutch oven over high heat.  Stir in the pasta and tablespoon of salt.  Cook according to package directions (about 8 minutes) until just past al dente so that it is a bit tender.
  2. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  3. Return the dutch oven to medium heat.  Melt the butter, then whisk in the flour.  Cook the flour for about 1 minute, making a blond roux.
  4. Slowly whisk in one cup of milk, stirring constantly until all the lumps are dissolved.
  5. Whisk in the remaining milk, dry mustard, cayenne, and hot sauce.
  6. Turn up the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly and bringing to a gentle boil so it will thicken properly.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and reduces to a heavy cream.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheeses, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and black pepper.
  9. Add the pasta back to the pot, stirring gently to combine.
  10. Return the pot to medium low heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until hot.
  11. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the broiler.
  12.  Spray a 9 X 13 glass or ceramic baking dish (or 10 ramekins) with olive oil cooking spray.
  13. Mix together the Panko and olive oil.
  14. Pour the macaroni and cheese into the pan and sprinkle evenly with the bread crumbs.
  15. Broil until the topping is deep golden brown, 3-5 minutes, rotating the pan if necessary so that the bread crumbs brown evenly.
Yield: 10-12 side servings
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
 
The Smoked Gouda adds big flavor to the mac and cheese while the Monterey Jack adds a creaminess you can’t get from using the Smoked Gouda alone. I used Cavatappi pasta rather than ordinary macaroni because I wanted to make it a little fancier.  I’ve given up trying to make the dish with the Barilla-plus pasta I usually use.  It may have more protein, fiber and Omega-3s, but the texture just doesn’t work for mac and cheese. 

Bon Appétit

Indian-spiced Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomato Chutney

Indian-Spiced Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomato Chutney

When grilling chicken, low and slow is the way to go…

Springtime for me means that it’s time for ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, grilling and dining alfresco.  We’ve had warm, sunny days but chilly nights for weeks now. Nice enough to grill some nights, but too cool to eat on the deck. This past weekend, I took a chance and planted my herb garden.  And last night, we dined al fresco for the first time this season.

This recipe for bone-in grilled chicken uses a yogurt-based marinade to both flavor and tenderize the chicken.  Lots of do-ahead options: put the chicken on to marinate in the morning or at any point during the day, make the chutney earlier in the day or a day ahead, cover and refrigerate, then gently warm it while the chicken grills.

I like to keep the rest of the meal simple — Basmati rice and fresh sliced mango. Or maybe just some good naan with cilantro chutney.

Indian-spiced Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomato Chutney

Ingredients:

For the Indian-spiced Grilled Chicken:

  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon spicy curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts (I always try to find the smallest ones)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For the Fresh Tomato Chutney:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 minced seeded Serrano chile
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic clove
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped seeded tomato
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Prepare the marinade for the chicken. Heat a small heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the coriander, curry, cumin, and black pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the spices release their aroma.
  2. Combine the yogurt with the lemon juice and spices in a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts evenly with the salt and put them in a large zip-lock bag.  Pour in the marinade and squish the contents around until the breasts are thoroughly coated. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. A couple of hours in the fridge would be even better.
  3. Prepare the chutney. Heat the olive oil in a medium heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and the Serrano chile. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the tomato, vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds and salt, then bring to a boil. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the chutney for 10-15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for about another 5 minutes or until the chutney thickens a bit. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Prep a gas grill by preheating on high with the top down for about 15 minutes. Clean the grill thoroughly then carefully spray the grates lightly with cooking spray.
  7. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking it to let the excess drip back into the dish.
  8. Use tongs to place the chicken breasts on the hottest part of the grill, browning them for 4-6 minutes or so on each side. Keep a close watch so they doesn’t get torched.
  9. Move the chicken, skin side down, to the cooler part of grill, with the thicker side facing the hotter part of the grill.  If your grill is super hot, you may want to turn off the side burners and put the chicken there.  Low and slow is the way to go at this point.
  10. Grill for around another 20-25 minutes longer, turning the chicken occasionally until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Pull it off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes, during which time the temp will rise to 165 degrees.
  11. Top the chicken with the tomato chutney and garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Equipment: Gas grill, meat thermometer

Prep time: 65 minutes (including one hour of marinating)

Cook time: 40 minutes

Bon Appétit!

Back to school and meal planning

The kids and I have been back to school for about a week now.  I had this vision that all in life would immediately settle into a new routine as the over-business of my summer magically turned to mist and evaporated.  Sadly, that is not how it is going.  Take Two.

I made a meal plan last week and shopped without considering our schedule — XC practice every night with one weeknight night meet and an overnight on the weekend, a late afternoon department meeting, and plans to check out the new brewpub with a friend midweek.  Both kids had heavy first week homework loads to boot.  Much pizza and subs were consumed while my beautiful end of summer produce rotted in the fridge.

This week looks just as full — more XC practice for Travis, Jack in driver’s training until 7:30 tonight and tomorrow night, Open House at the high school as well as a work commitment tomorrow night as well.  My goal is simple meals (for me anyway) with an abundance of late summer fruits and vegetables to make up last week’s lack.

Monday – mojo grilled chicken wraps with avocado/ lettuce/ tomato, black beans

Tuesday – french dip roast beef sandwiches, tomato salad

Wednesday – salmon with roasted cherry tomatoes, couscous, zuchinni gratin

Thursday – chicken souvlaki with zucchini, tzaziki, pita, greek salad

Friday –  burgers with avocado/ lettuce/ tomato, corn on the cob, baked beans

Here’s to a great week of healthier meals!

Lynn

Summertime & the living is easy

There is so much to love about summer meals — savoring the abundance of fresh seasonal produce, grilling on the deck at the end of the day, dining  al fresco and lingering at the table, sipping crisp whites and rosés. We spent this weekend at the lake so I stopped at Josh’s Farmers Market on my way out of Mooresville yesterday and bought bags of (mostly) local fruits and vegetables — strawberries, tomatoes, peaches, new potatoes, summer squash and zucchini. I’ve planned my meals for the week around those bags!

roseMy new grill is going to get a workout this week.   I’m encouraging the boys to  learn to grill but lately the weather has been so lovely that I’ve done it myself — relaxing on the deck with a glass of wine while I wait for the grill to heat up, then another while I cook.  With the long days this time of year, we eat a little later.  The early evening light is my favorite of the day and I relish being outside to enjoy it.  Its been a little cooler than usual lately so we sometimes need our hoodies to be comfortable eating outside, but I pretty much insist unless it is pouring down rain!

On Friday night, I’m hosting my first dinner party in ages.  I’m taking a chance on a new grilled chicken recipe from this month’s Food and WineFive-herb Grilled Chicken with Green Aioli.  I used to make new recipes for dinner guests all the time, but haven’t in quite a while now.  The rest of the meal includes all long-standing summertime favorites so if the chicken isn’t fabulous, it should still be a great meal.

My plans are to use up all that great produce and grill every night:

Monday – grilled chicken and summer vegetable tostadas, black beans, guacamole

Tuesday – grilled salmon with herbed butter compound, basmati rice, zucchini and tomato gratin

Wednesday- bacon avocado burgers, baked beans, grilled corn on the cob

Thursday – caesar salad with grilled shrimp

Friday – five-herb grilled chicken with green aioli, minty roasted potatoes, marinated tomato salad, white chocolate blueberry bread pudding

Later this week I’ll be posting about some of my favorite rosés — perfect wine for the season!

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