Ode to Macaroni and Cheese

In the last elimination challenge before the finals in the first season of Top Chef, a panel of judges including some of the most accomplished and discerning chefs in the country chose Dave’s truffle & cognac cream macaroni & cheese, filet of beef, and collard greens & radicchio as the winning dish. The filet and greens were criticized for being “afterthoughts” to the macaroni & cheese, which itself was the favorite dish of all the judges. Why did macaroni and cheese capture the imagination of experienced chefs and critics of high-end cuisine? Continue reading

Dana & Bob’s Wedding Cheesecake

This was the tiered cheesecake at our wedding reception. I couldn’t find my cheesecake book when it was time to go grocery shopping, and couldn’t find a recipe that looked like what I wanted, so I modified one. I didn’t have time to test it, and it was our guests’ good fortune that it turned out to be the best cheesecake any of us had ever tasted.

I made three batches total – a double batch for the 14″ tier and a single batch divided between the 10″ and 6″ tiers. But they were pretty short – you could probably pour a whole batch into a 10″ (3″ high) pan without it overflowing. Be sure to do the banging on the counter bit – if you don’t get out all the air bubbles the cake will crack.
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Citrus Marinated Steak on Sweet Potato with Spicy Tomato Relish and Sour Cream

I saw this very briefly on a tv cooking show and went off to find the recipe. Of course, it wasn’t available online unless you paid $35 for a 6 month subscription (yeah RIGHT!) so I made it up as I went along.
The seemingly disparate flavours combine amazingly well, and the sour cream seems to pull it all together at the end.

Of course, it could be made non dairy by leaving out the sour cream (and optional butter)and I think it would still work. If you were to do this I would cut down the heat in the relish, as the cream acts to tone this down at the end.

This is not as much work as it seems – while you need to prepare some stuff ahead of time (the marinade, the relish) it’s a perfect recipe if you’re going to home for an afternoon doing other things anyway. Also, the relish will keep in the fridge for at least a week, so you can always make extra and serve with other dishes.

These quantities serve 2. Continue reading

Popover Magic

Takes 5 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes in the oven, no preheating necessary. The batter can be made in advance, so long as it is covered and refrigerated. Then, come morning, voila! Puffy crisps of steamy souffley magic. Yummy with honey, strawberry jam, or a nip of chocolate. I hear tell they go well with a good bite of cheese, too, especially if you mix chives into the batter.

Many thanks to Joe Fiorito's _Comfort Me With Apples_ for the recipe. He credits Marion Cunningham's edition of _The Fanny Farmer Baking Book_ for the revolutionary step of starting the popovers in a cold oven. I would agree that this change makes breakfast-in-bed popovers much more feasible.

[And a woman who will here go unnamed has found that one can measure the flour in the wineglass, dump it into a bowl, then measure the milk, dump it into the bowl, and then microwave a chunk of butter in the wineglass. Dump it in along with two eggs and a dash of salt, and you've just about got the easiest cleanup ever.] Continue reading

Macadamia Lemon Bars

This is the recipe for the BEST. LEMON BARS. EVER. My dad got it from some cookbook years back and we have never looked back! You can get a nylon nut grinder at food specialty stores, or I got mine at a yard sale. It gives a better texture but if you don't have one use a food processor to grind the nuts or chop them finely with a knife. The reason it makes 25, which means they turn out small, is that they are SO rich! But if you really want to you can cut them bigger– just be warned they're calorie-laden! Continue reading