Friday, September 28, 2007

benny's mac

Watch out for this one - it's a real gut buster. It's mac-n-cheese, all grown up.

Benny's Mac
Serves: 6
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

You'll need:
  • 1 lb. box "Gemelli" pasta
  • 1/2 lb. thick-sliced bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 4 oz. Gruyere cheese
  • 4 oz. Havarti cheese
  • 2 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 C. dry white wine
  • 1 pt. milk
  • 8 oz. chicken broth
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. flour
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 T. dijon mustard
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a skillet, and add chopped bacon. Fry until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Do not discard grease.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta when at a rolling boil, and cook for 12 minutes, or according to package directions.

Add sliced onions to bacon grease, and sautee. When they are beginning to brown, add 1 C. white wine, and reduce completely.

Grate equal amounts of gruyere and havarti, so you have 2 1/2 Cups.

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat, add flour, and whisk well to make a paste. Whisk in 1 C. milk, and 1 C. chicken broth. Add nutmeg, dijon, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in a figure 8 motion, and let thicken for a few minutes. If too thick, add more chicken broth or milk.

Add 2 cups grated cheese, gradually, to roux. When completely incorporated, turn off heat.

Combine drained pasta, browned onions, and cheese sauce, in a large baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top of the pasta and bake until top is bubbly and brown.

Serve with bacon on top. Enjoy with a long movie and the rest of the bottle of wine. Buon appetit!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

butternut squash lasagna

Fall is in the air!

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls
Serves: 6
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

You'll need:
12-16 lasagna noodles
1 pint whole milk
1 T. butter
2 T. flour
3/4 C. loosely packed basil
1 container fresh mozzarella
1 bag shredded mozzarella or provolone
1 - 2 lb. butternut squash
Pecorino cheese, grated
2 T. olive oil
1/2 C. water
Salt & Pepper
Food proceessor or blender

1. The first thing you'll want to do is get started on peeling, seeding, and cubing your squash. You'll want to end up with 1-inch cubes.

2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and add the butternut squash. Coat with olive oil, then pour in 1/2 C. water. Cover, and let simmer until the squash is soft (~20-30 minutes). Stir infrequently.

4. Next, heat a large pot with water to partially cook the lasagna noodles. (Cook each batch of 5 or 6 noodles for about 7 or 8 minutes...until they are pliable, but not quite cooked through). Lay them out on parchment paper to cool until they are ready to be rolled!

5. To make roux: In a saucepan over low heat, heat the butter until it is melted. Add the flour, and whisk until a paste forms. Slowly add the milk, while whisking, to ensure that everything is well-blended. Add 1/8 t. nutmeg to the roux. Grate pecorino into the roux for 30 seconds or so, and whisk well.

6. When the squash is soft, turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, then let cool for 5 minutes. I would recommend using a food processor for this next part, but if you need to use a blender instead then be sure to take the "cap" insert out of the lid and place a paper towel over instead. Hot substances in blenders are tricky, and the last thing you need is a squash explosion!

7. Add the squash to the blender/food processor, and blend until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasonings by adding additional salt and pepper to your liking. *You may also want to add 1 T of brown sugar, depending on your taste!

8. Remove the puree from the blender or food processor, and set aside to cool.

9. Go back to the roux, and taste to make sure everything is blended and seasoned to your liking. Add the roux and the basil leaves to a blender, and blend until smooth.

10. In a baking pan, add 1/2 the roux to the bottom of the pan, making sure it is spread evenly. Put a couple of handfuls of shredded cheese on top of that to make a bed for the pasta rolls.

11. Make the rolls one at a time -- spoon 1-2 T of sqash on one side of a lasagna noodle. Roll it up, from one end to the other. Place seam-side-down in lasagna pan. Repeat for as much squash mixture as you have!

12. When all your rolls are made, sprinkle another handful of shredded cheese over the top, then pour the remaning basil roux over that. Top by placing slices (or little balls) of fresh mozzarella over that.

13. Cover with tin foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove tin foil, and broil for 3-4 minutes until top is brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy for fall!

Thanks, to Sarah, for this recipe!

Friday, September 14, 2007


Runza, every Husker's staple, has not yet spread its wings to the right or left coast. Here's a recipe to tide you over until the next time you land at Eppley...

Makes: 6 Runzas
Prep time: 40 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes
Cool time: 20 minutes

Clearly, this will take some time, but the end product is worth it. You'll need:

  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 C. Water
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 roll Pillsbury prepared pizza dough (in the refrigerated section at the store)
  • 12 Velveeta cheese slices
  • Parchment paper
  • 2 T. Garlic Salt
  • 3 T. Pepper
  • 3 T. Salt
  • 3 T. butter
  • Pastry brush

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a medium skillet, sautee the ground beef until brown (~10 minutes). Drain grease if needed.

3. In a large skillet, mix the shredded cabbage and the finely sliced onions, 1/2 C. water, the 2 T. olive oil, and sautee over medium heat until soft and beginning to brown (~20 minutes).

4. To the ground beef, add 1 T. garlic salt, 1 T. salt, and 2 T. ground black pepper. Mix well.

5. To the cabbage and onions, add 1 T. garlic salt, 1 T. salt, and 2 T. ground black pepper. Mix well, and don't forget to taste to see if the seasoning is right. Add more salt/pepper if necessary.

6. When the cabbage and onions are seasoned, soft, and starting to brown, add the ground beef, and stir to blend thoroughly. Add seasonings to taste. Let cool for 10 minutes.

7. On a floured surface (or on parchment paper, or a sil-pat), roll out the pillsbury dough, making sure it is an even thickness. N.B. Don't make the dough too thin. It should be about the right thickness when you take it out of the package.

8. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into six equal pieces, approximately 4 x 6 inches, unstretched.

Now for the important/tricky part: Runza Assembly...

9. Place a piece of parchment paper on your baking sheet. This is an important step! If you don't use parchment paper, your Runzas may come out soggy or burned on the bottom.

10. On a flat surface, take one of the cut pieces of dough, and lightly roll into a rectangle. (Picture using your rectangle in 1/3's...use the middle 1/3 to place your filling, and each 1/3 on the top and botton will help you close your Runza later).

11. Place one slice of Velveeta in the middle of the rectangle. You may have to fold your piece of cheese in half so it fits.

12. On top of the cheese, place 1 C. cabbage, onion, and beef filling. Take care that your filling does not spill onto the edges, it will be difficult to close your runza if it does.

13. Place another slice of cheese on top of the filling...then close the runza by folding the bottom 1/3 of your dough up and over the filling and cheese, then the other 1/3 of the dough on top of that. Seal the edges by pressing firmly but gently on the remaining open parts.

14. GENTLY lift your Runza onto the parchment paper, turning it over so that the seal is on the bottom. Repeat for remaining dough/filling.

15. After you have assembled all your Runzas, and before you put them into the oven, glaze the top of them with melted butter. The best way to do this is using a pastry brush. You may need to re-glaze them 20 minutes or so into the baking process.

16. Your Runzas are done when the tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let them cool for 20 minutes, then enjoy!

Go Big Red!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

eat it, everyday

On a recent cross country flight, I wandered into the airport's Hudson News store--for what else than however many magazines my $10 could buy. I ended up with a fine selection of cheap tricks: US Weekly for my gossip fix, Everyday with Rachel Ray for my foodie fix, and something else, I forget. In any case, after reading Everyday I was was particularly inspired by her sit-down dinner with Italian cooking legend Mario Batali, who gave her a gem of a recipe to work with. I tried it last night, and it's molto delicioso! Here it is:

Tuscan-style Cauliflower
Serves: 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes

You'll need:
  • 1 32-oz. can crushed tomatoes (Cento brand are my favorite)
  • 1 large head fresh cauliflower
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1/2 C. chopped calamata olives
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 t. dried thyme

1. Cut the cauliflower into 1-1 1/2 inch florets. Rinse, and set aside.

2. Cut the onion in half, then slice it.

3. In a large pot, melt the butter and the olive oil together over low heat. Crush two cloves of garlic into the butter/oil, and stir until golden (blonde).

4. Add the onions, and sautee until translucent and starting to brown, or about 10 minutes.

5. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, some salt and pepper to taste. Heat through, about 2 minutes, then add the cauliflower florets. Stir to coat, the cover.

6. Let sit on M/L heat for about 10 minutes before stirring.

7. Add the 1/2 cup of water, and the chopped calamata olives, and stir to incorporate. Cover again, stirring occasionally, for another 30-40 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender to your liking. Top with grated parmesan, if you must!

This would be a fantastic complement to a nice roasted pork loin dish... and you should eat it, everyday!