Monday, May 30, 2016

Conquering and Refining the Mac & Cheese

Conquering and Refining

the Mac & Cheese!

Without all the bells & whistles … that’s up to you.
Serve as a rich and decadent side dish, as the ultimate brunch with a poached egg...
Or as a succulent entree with Soft Shell Crabs.

A thousand ways to make Mac & Cheese… This luscious version is rich & creamy, light & fluffy, slightly smoky, and served with anything you dream off.  This is not your grandparent’s Mac & Cheese, and it’s clearly not Velveeta. This is not made with Truffles, though it’s certainly just as gorgeous, elegant, and beautiful enough to stand alone.

Total Time: 45-1 hour Difficulty: Intermediate Flavor: Gorgeous Serving Size: 6 entree / 12 side dish
*This is a great dish to serve as assemble - or can up to 2 days later.
** Preheat oven *400
  • 4 cups Elbow / Macaroni Noodle - cook until Al Dente in Salty water!
  • 6 pieces Smoked Bacon - cooked

  • 2 cups Milk (sub ½ cup for ½ cup cream for super rich, but no more)
  • 2 Egg Yolks - toss whites
  • ½  lb grated Sharp Cheddar (reserve ¼ cup for topping)
  • ¼ lb grated Smoked Gouda
  • ¼ lb grated Parmesan  (reserve handful for topping)
  • 1 oz Brandy or Spiced Rum
  • ¼ cup Chives or Scallions (green parts only) chopped
  • 2 tsp Butter -Room Temperature.   & more to grease casserole dish
  • 2 tsp Flour
  • 1 tsp Mustard
  • 2 cloves Garlic - minced
  • 1 tsp White Pepper (or smoked Paprika)
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp Salt - or to taste, plus more for boiling noodles.
  • ½ Cup bread crumbs from crackers
Start with Mise…
Shred your cheese, measure everything out, because it should go fairly fast once you start your Bechamel.
Cook bacon, drain excess grease, chop to bite size pieces.
Boil noodles in Salty water until fairly Al Dente - run under cold water after straining to stop cooking process.
1 - Make the Roux - Blonde.
  1. In Sauce Pan mash the Butter & Flour until light paste. Turn heat on over Med- Low to warm.
2 - Add milk and turn up the heat to high, whisking until smooth, never stopping to let the bottom burn. Once starts to foam - lower heat to Medium High while whisking vigorously until thick as a sauce. Drop heat to Low immediately. 20160527_182529-ANIMATION.gif
Keep going until thick. 2.gif
3 - Add salt, Nutmeg, White Pepper, Mustard, Garlic.
4- Add the cheese in increments - Whisk until melted. (don’t forget save some for topping.) ** If you’re sauce is getting too hot, pull off heat as not to burn!
5 - Turn off heat once Cheese is melted in.  Stir in Brandy, Bacon, & Chives.
6 - Fold in Yolks, stir gently to mix.  This will turn it very luscious and will coat noodles gorgeously!
7 - Pour and stir Sauce into cold noodles. Taste for salt now.
7 - Butter up Casserole Pan.  
8 - Pour in Mac & Cheese and level top. It’s better for the mac to be spread out in a shallow casserole pan rather than a deep dish because it may turn mushy, plus the toppings are a great spread out.

9 - Top with crushed cracker crumbs, then sprinkle evenly around the remainder of cheese.
10 - Cover in Foil.
** If you’re cooking now in full - Cook 10 minutes - remove foil, cook another 10 minutes… or until it looks like this...
*It is best to let sit for 10-15 minutes before breaking into or serving to let the cheese sauce thicken back up!

Again this is a stunning dish for summer or any weather really… the Soft Shell Crabs of summer with the spice of Old Bay really complement each other. Of course as a side dish, or after a hangover - it’s the most perfect of brunches to bring you back to that happy place!
You can get as adventurous as you’d like, add whatever you want, serve with ever you would like… but this way, is simply perfection.

#MemorialDayWeekend #MacNCheese #EggSlut #SummerEats #SoftShellCrab #Brunch #Cheese #ElivatedComfortFood #ComfortFood #KidEats #EasyCooking #CuisinArt

Friday, May 27, 2016

Chocolate Truffles!

#TimeCrunch #Dessert # Chocolate!


Quick Easy Delicious!
Easiest impressive dessert you’ve ever made… You can wrap them in pretty much anything… and everyone is beyond impressed that you spend so much time *hehe you didn’t really* and effort!
Easy as 1, 2, 3 … you can bang it out yourself or get the kids in the kitchen! The only thing this requires is a bit of time, and it’ll be your ‘go-to’ from here on, because you’re not spending the time or effort - your refrigerator is.  

Time: active 30 min split & 2 (plus) hours chilling time.   Difficulty: EASY
Ingredients Ganache:
  • 3 cups chopped Dark Chocolate
  • ½  cup Heavy Cream
*- Pick your toppings - I chose shaved Coconut & Crushed Cashews.

1 - Simmer the cream. In a metal bowl pour cream over Chocolate and whisk until melted.
  • let cool enough to put in refrigerator for few hours - until firm.
2- once firm, using a melon baller or even large spoon, carve out chocolate and shape into balls with hand. Then take immediately to the toppings, coat completely, and place on wax paper lined tray. (anything non-sticky.)
3- put in refrigerator for several hours until firm to bite. Serve how you’d like… I recommend the baby cupcake holders so people’s fingers aren't sticky. Also try to keep them cool until you serve!
VOILA… Elegant French Dessert!  You’re a Chocolatier!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Polpette alla Bolognese (Meatballs)

Polpette alla Bolognese!

*Meatballs in Tomato Meat Sauce*
This is a host’s dream dish! It simply doesn’t get better than this!
These are the meatballs that will fill your table with undeniable love and joy. These are the meatballs that will make your friends envious of you every time they try to host, wishing they were back at your house, and these are the meatballs that have your guest salivating the moment they walk in the room and excited every time they’re invited over -in hopes that you’re making them again. They are pretty exceptional for hosting… anything and everything.  
Excellent for accumulating in the kitchen, turning this into your party event. Where friends, kids, and grandparents will love building together and creating memories! We’re braising them in the tomato sauce, which developes into the most heavenly bolognese, while keeping the meatballs juicy, tender, and bursting with flavor all while keeping an impressive texture.
These are a lot of fun to make and require a bit of time. Like all food - it takes heart. Roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty, pour a glass of wine, and put all your love into them. This is not a dish you rush, there are no shortcuts… but Trust me… You’ll be Cherished!

Time: 1 hour prep - less the more hands involved. 1 ½ hr  - 4hr cooking time. (Shoot for 4!) 20 min Sit time.
Difficulty: Moderate Clean up:  Well you’ve got the time while it’s cooking...

Ingredients: 24 Meatballs -golfball sized

*Expect a few to break- which adds to the amazing Sauce!
  • 1 lb ground Veal
  • 1 lb ground Beef
  • 1 lb ground Pork (I use Hot Italian Sausage - casing removed.)
  • ⅔ Cup  Chicken Stock
  • 2 Whole Eggs
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (not grated the texture will be nicer) Plus More for garnish
  • 2 cups Panko -or - good quality non flavored bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parsley - chopped  - Plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup Dill
  • 2 Shallots - finely chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed Garlic
  • 1 tsp Red Chili Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp White Pepper
  • ½ cup -or more - Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for searing the meat balls. Plus a couple drops for hands while rolling.)
  • 2 Quarts your favorite Tomato Sauce  (mix with 1 cup water )
  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
What Else:
  • Use 2 Cast Iron pans for the best results, or cook in batches changing oil as needed. *Don't crowd the balls!
  • Have your dutch oven with lid ready full of warm sauce.
  • Slotted Spoon & Tongs
  • Non stick surface for the balls after rolled.
  • 2 Mixing Bowls


Start with the sauce - get it nice and warm ready for the meatballs, then set aside not to splash in the skillets, like shown above. It will thicken greatly over time.
In the Small Bowl : ¼ Cup Cheese, 1 ¼ Cup Panko, & Dill
In the larger bowl: Meat, Eggs & Yolks, Parsley, rest of Cheese, rest of Panko, Chili Flakes, Shallots, Chicken Stock, Garlic, and Salt.  
Olive Oil is for the pans, and the Balsamic is for the end.
Fold & mix together by hand to incorporate everything. Gently! You Do NOT want to overwork the meat! This is how your meatballs are going to be light rather than dense & heavy. You’re hands have more control than a tool & you can literally feel when you’re finished.
The meat is going to be slightly wet, but this is why we’re going to roll them in the panko - it’ll give a nice golden crust as well. Use olive oil if needed on your hands, then shape into golf ball sizes - again GENTLY - aggravating the meat as little as possible. Then lightly coat balls in the panko mixture.
Put enough oil to generously coat bottom of pan. Heat at Med - High until oil is hot. Carefully with tongs (try to keep shape,) place balls in pans, start with one pan, go in a circle, then the next pan. Carefully rotate balls to get all sides golden. Watch out for the oil spits!
Using your slotted spoon, gently pull out one at a time, dropping in sauce softly. Don’t worry about excess oil. Careful not to splash!
Once they’re all in your sauce, discard your oils and pans. Turn sauce back on to Med-High until it begins to simmer. Any extra meat you might have break it up to tiny pieces and toss it directly into the sauce! (As is, not rolled in the panko.)
Then cover with a slight opening, letting steam out, keeping at the smallest simmer. Your house will start to smell unbelieveable!
Stir ever so often, making sure to scrape the bottom so that it doesn’t burn. Gently not to break your balls ;)  
The sauce reduced & thickened, some balls broke down, all making your Bolognese brilliant!
Once your Bolognese & Polpette are finished - turn off the heat, add the Balsamic Vinegar.
Let sit without the lid to steam out excess water, thicken, & soak in the vinegar for 20-30 minutes before serving… this step is really important, it really makes a difference.
I hosted a Cocktail Party & Game Night with tons of food, too much food, including gourmet pizza’s from scratch, beautifully stuffed roasted peppers, cheese platters, etc. Everyone ate whenever they chose and served themselves, so I left the meatballs in the pot on the stove to keep hot (with bread to soak up the sauce)... Thinking I had made 3x too many, especially with everything else available - at the end of the night, there wasn’t even a drop of sauce left! There came a point everyone was full, but couldn’t stand to leave leftovers! They all but licked their plates and scraped the pot clean! So keep this in mind when deciding how much you’ll need to make. Make plenty - this is not a dish you will have leftovers, regardless how hungry anyone is.
*If you want to make these in advance, wrap them well with plastic wrap as to not dry them out - keep in refrigerator 2 days… after meat was thawed or purchased.  -OR- keep frozen well wrapped for up to 6 months, though add panko after defrosting, not before.   

#Polpette #Hosting #GameNight #PartyFood #CocktailParty #MemorialDay #Entertaining #MeatBalls #Bolognese #Ragu #Braised #Veal #Pork #Beef #ItalianCuisine #Cuisinart #Homemade #ItalianAmerican #KidFriendly #Soulful #SpaghettiMeatballs #CookingClasses #CaylenasCourses #DIY #Italian #Polpette #CookingWithLove #ElegantComfortFoods #ElevatedComfortFood #Classic #DeliciousHomeCooking #KidEats #KidCooks #FamilyEating #ChicEats #ChefCaylena