Archive for February, 2006

Cheesy Mac for Hippies

Friday, February 24th, 2006

I have invented health food store Hamburger Helper. You can make it in about 1/2 an hour using only one large pan. My health food store has packages of natural lean hamburger for about $7/lb, and the other ingredients are readily available. I don’t know that this is actually all that much better for you than real Hamburger Helper, but at least there are fewer preservatives and the tomatoes are real. Also, I guarantee it is superior in tastiness.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean organic ground beef
salt and pepper
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
splash of white or red wine
1 can Muir Glen whole peeled tomatoes
the same can full of water
1 tbsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 boxes Annie’s Shells and Cheese
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated parmeggiano-reggiano (optional)

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan with a lid. Add ground beef and brown, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, and add diced onions to pan. Sauté until softened, splashing the pan with wine if the bottom gets to dry or crusty. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the meat back in, and add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hand (poke a hole in them with your thumb first to avoid the dreaded tomato squirt). Add thyme, bay leaves, water and pasta from both boxes of Annie’s and cover. Go away and do something else for 15-20 minutes. When you come back, check the pasta for done-ness. Assuming it’s cooked to your desired al dentation, add the Annie’s cheese packages and stir. If it’s too wet, turn the heat to high and stir like heck for a few minutes. If it’s too dry, add more water and cook a few minutes more. Add butter and stir. Correct seasonings. Enjoy. For even more enjoyment, pour into a 9×12 casserole, top with grated cheese, and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Makes about 8 normal person servings or 4 really hungry person servings.

Gratinée of Cauliflower

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

A side dish for a very fancy dinner party, or a main course with a salad and a bottle of white wine. From the wonderful Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
Florets of 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1/4-inch lengthwise slices
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the prosciutto and sauté 2 minutes more.
3. Add the cauliflower and cook just until it begins to lose its crispness,3 to 4 minutes.
4. Stir in the flour and then the cream. Blend well. Season with the cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. Heat to boiling and immediately remove from heat.
5. Pour the cauliflower into a shallow au gratin dish. Top with the cheese and parsley. Bake until the top is lightly browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish.