Saturday, November 11, 2017

Lasagna Blanca









Lasagna Blanca with Garlicky, Creamy, Cheesy Herbal Sauce


I was going to make large pasta shells stuffed with a ricotta, cheesy, garlicky sausage filling but changed my mind to lasagna. I will tell you why shortly.  Lasagna, in a large pan or small one, like the 8" by 8" I used, is a wonderful, hearty and easy lunch treat, easily sliced and packaged.  I have been a little under the weather lately due to sinus pressure and so was not in the mood to prep onions and things that required a lot of prep, though I did use lasagna noodles one boils, rather than the ready to use noodles.  I also wanted to share my bechamel sauce scheme to make life easier to layer the dish, as well, a little unorthodox, but easy and just as flavorful.  

Shall we get started on this splendid pantry meal?  

Being that this is a pantry meal recipe, please do not think you have to follow it exactly.  I was not feeling up to chopping onion and basil leaves and the like, so I used many dried, powdered spices and dried onion bits.  If I had been feeling just fine, I would be more than thrilled to use all fresh aromatics and herbs.  So in trying to repair my dignity, I did use fresh oregano and thyme. 

Ingredients List
1 pound Italian Turkey Sausage
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
3-4 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup chardonnay
7 sprigs fresh thyme
7 sprigs fresh oregano
1 level tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon and 1/2 tbspn Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tabs butter
salt and pepper, 1/4 teaspoon each
1 rounded tablespoon dried onion bit or, 1 medium onion, chopped
1.5 tablespoons minced garlic, fresh or jarred

Bring a large pot with 4 quarts of well-salted water to a roiling boil and boil 10-12 lasagna noodles. 


Line one 8" x 8" pan with foil and rub with extra virgin olive oil, or spry with non-stick spray. Add three or four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and seasonings except half a tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Crumble thoroughly and cook thoroughly.  Remove the turkey sausage with a spider and try to keep the renderings in the high-sided skillet.  


Remove the turkey sausage and reserve the renderings. 


Add the butter to the skillet over medium-high heat and melt.  Add the buttermilk, garlic, wine and flour and the remaining seasonings.  I added a few more fresh leaves of thyme and oregano, too.  This step is in place of making the roux in a traditional manner. Use a whisk to make sure the flour does not clump.  I am not a fan of heavy cream or half and half, so I prefer to use buttermilk.  Also an ancient family secret. You use whatever you prefer, which is great! I love making recipes my own, and I love when people make my recipes their own, changing it up to meet their palettes. 

Now, reduce the heat when the mixture beings to boil and thicken to medium heat.  It will continue to bubble, but on a lesser scale. 




The roux will start to thicken as you stir, and the aroma will be incredible!

Now, add a quarter of the cheeses to the mixture (like you would for mac and cheese) and incorporate thoroughly.  



Add some of the garlicky, cheesy mixture to the bottom of the foil-lined pan and place overlapping layers of noodles across the pan, three or four. Add cheese atop the noodles.  Add more of the roux atop that.  Repeat until you have used up the twelve noodles.  I left them longer than the pan and folded them inward to keep the cheese in rather than cutting them off.  I knew that it would be a really full pan.  I knew the baking process would also diminish some of the height.  You do what feels bests for you!

Now, top the lasagna blanca with parmesan and more Italian seasoning and fresh herbs if you have any remaining.  Bake at 375-degrees f for thirty minutes. The top will get golden brown and smell insanely delicious whilst it bakes!



Let cool about twenty minutes, at least, to allow the cheeses to "set" or harden a little so it does not ooze all over.  But what a delicious ooze!

Serve with whatever sides you wish!  See my personal Caprese served in ramekins for a salad idea in my next blog post!  

Thank You, as always, for your time and consideration, friends!  I am grateful that you stopped by!

~Martin
In-House Cook








Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bacon Cheddar Burger with North African Spices, Oven Fries and Harissa Mayo Spread









Mediterranean Spiced Bacon Cheeseburgers with Harissa Mayo Spread and Oven Fries

There is nothing more fun than getting together with friends and family (or, friends who are like family) and pitch in together to whip up some good old hamburgers and fries.  But, you Know me, I like to spice it up!  So Thursday night, I created a spice blend based on North African spices and spices I love for the burgers. Because I was a guest and some of the others are not fond of "spicy"*, as in hot* I toned the heat way down*. 

Here is my spice blend:
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon fennurgreek leaves
1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Chappli spice mix
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon All Spice

I grind all of the spices together in a spice grinder after gently toasting in a small skillet. A little heat draws out the oils in leaves and seeds and wakes up the flavors in pre-ground seeds, roots and chiles. 

The above spice mix makes a solid half cup, possibly just a little more.  I added 1.5 rounded tablespoons of the spice mix directly the meat, sprinkling it all over the meat before mixing. 

Speaking of that, here are my additional ingredients for the meal, altogether:

1 pound lean ground beef or sirloin
1 pound ground chuck, 85% lean
1 pound thick sliced bacon, about 12 slices
1 bag, or, two pounds new potatoes, washed and sliced into fry wedges
3 large dill pickles, sliced into boards
1 rounded tablespoon Harissa red chile sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
1 small clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons oil (vegetable or grape seed)
salt and pepper
sliced cheese (I used a smoky yellow cheddar)





I made the burgers and Anne (Annie) made the new potato oven fries. She sliced the new potatoes and tossed them if vegetable oil, salt and pepper.    Teamwork is best and fun!

I added three tablespoons of mayo to one tablespoon of Harissa and the minced garlic, a little salt and pepper.  This was the spread for the burgers!


I added the spice mix and three tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce, mixed the ground beef, and formed four large burgers.  I poked a hole in the center of each burger so it would grill evenly.  


We even grilled the bacon!  A burger without bacon is second rate, so sayeth I!!!

Afterward, we grilled the burgers, slathered on the spread and put our burgers together with sliced garden fresh roma tomatoes from Anne's mom's garden and boards of dill pickles.  Such a hearty, aromatic and flavorful meal! 



It may be autumn, but it is not too late to get out there and grill up a fantastic meal!

As always, my friends and gentle readers, Thank You for your time and consideration!

~Martin
In-House Cook

















Tuesday, October 10, 2017





Turkey Verde Chili

The last two weeks prior to the end of my teaching quarter, I do not eat very well due to grading, test scoring, data input and writing report cards. So now, to cleanse all of the fast food badness (which I love) I am on a mission to make healthy food these next two weeks of autumn break.  My first dish is Turkey Verde Chili, a healthy meal for lunch or dinner, even breakfast, served with an egg on top!  Serve it without any meat and it is still protein and fiber packed for the vegans in your life!

Let's get to it shall we?

The best thing I did when prepping this chili recipe was to make my own salsa verde.  I added two white quartered onions, nine garlic cloves, four serrano chiles to one pan and four large Anaheim green chiles, 7-9 halved tomatillos and a couple of lime halves to a second pan, all tossed in vegetable oil, salt and pepper. 




After I roasted the veg and aromatics at 400-degrees for 18 minutes, turning the onion and chiles at 9 minutes in, I removed the veg from the pan onto a plate to cool.  I put the Anaheim green chiles in a paper bag to steam, removed their charred skins and placed half of the roasted ingredients into my food processor, processed it with two tablespoons of lime juice, removed the batch and repeated.  The salsa turned out thick, which I was perfectly fine with. 


I was fortunate that, after adding two more tablespoons of lime juice and two tablespoons of Mirin, the flavor balance was incredible, smokey, savory, sweet with a bite of heat on the back of the tongue at the end of tasting. Delightful through and through!

Let's get to the rest of the rest!

Further Ingredients:
2 cans rinsed dark kidney beans
1 can rinsed black beans
1 can rinsed kernel corn
1-2 cups chicken broth, low sodium
2 pounds ground turkey
4 tablespoons lime juice (see the salsa)
2 tablespoons mirin (see the salsa)
4 springs fresh thyme, leaves pulled 
2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves pulled
3 tablespoons vegetable or grape seed oil



Spice Mix:
2 tablespoons smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon pasilla chile powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper each

Add the three tablespoons of oil (I use vegetable oil or grape seed oil due to its lack of flavor, so as to feature the other ingredients' flavors) to a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When the oil begins to ripple, add the two pounds of turkey. Add the salt and pepper, crumble and brown.  

Just before the turkey is completely browned, add half of the spice mix.  Stir in thoroughly.  Add half of the chicken stock, bring to a boil and add the beans and corn. Add the rest of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  

Add the salsa verde and stir in thoroughly, along with the rest of the spice mix and fresh herbs.  If the chili is too thick, add a little water until its consistency is just a little loose.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for thirty or more minutes.  

Serve in a bowl with whatever garnishes you prefer. Oh!  And then ENJOY!


I'd added a little finely grated Jack cheese.  The flavor will be full, warm, a truly delightful autumn chili that is healthy and filling.  

As always, my gentle readers, I appreciate your time and readership/viewership!  I am always grateful for your visits. 

Now, Go Cook for Someone You Love!!!

~Martin
In-House Cook











Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tacos de Bistec





Tacos de Bistec
Ribeye Steak Tacos

Seems as though I must get new material, because I often start my blogs off with: "It is no secret that I....", but I am going to start this one off, just the same. 

It is no secret that ribeye steaks are my ultimate favorite cut of beef, and in the same breath, it is not a secret how much I love tacos. Personally, I feel that tacos should be a food group and what better way to have two things I love best than to combine ribeye steaks with tacos, now I ask you???  I'd love to share how I accomplished this. Ready? Let's get to it, then. 

Ingredients
1 - 3 thick ribeye steaks
4 tablespoons In-House Cook's Mexican Spice blend
1 large white onion, sliced into crescents
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro + two tablespoons
1/2 cup vegetable oil + 3 tablespoons
provolone cheese, 8 - 12 slices
3 tablespoons Chipotle in Adobo sauce
2 tablespoons Mirin
tortillas 
condiments you like with your tacos

In-House Cook's Mexican Spice Blend
3 rounded tablespoons smoked Paprika
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons granulated onion'
2 teaspoons cumin seed, ground
1 rounded tablespoon ground Chile Molido
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1 rounded tablespoon oregano leaves, crushed
salt and pepper, 1/2 a teaspoon each
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds

Add the mixture of spices and herbs to a spice grinder and grind.  Add to a bowl. You will make more than 4 tablespoons; it will be more like 3/4 cup.

Ribeye Steak Marinade
In a food processor or blender, add the wet ingredients followed by 2 tablespoons of the spice blend and half of the garlic. Process and pour a fourth of it onto the bottom of a baking pan. Place the steak or steaks into the pan. Add the onion and rest of the garlic atop the steaks. Pour the remaining marinade blend atop the steaks and sprinkle a bit more spice blend atop the steaks along with the remaining garlic. Set into the refrigerator for an hour or more to marinate (the longer the better) and remove thirty minutes prior to cooking.



I marinated three ribeyes for two hours, turning after one hour.  I had the time, but if you do not, one hour or even thirty minutes would be fine. Remove the steaks to bring to room temperature thirty minutes before you cook, as I mentioned above. 

There is a bit of debate occurring as to whether you need to bring certain cuts of meat, particularly beef, to room temperature before cooking.  Previously, the thought was if you grill or sear the meat cold, the connective tissues would seize up and the meat would be tough. That thought is being debated, but, regardless, having done things both ways, I prefer to bring my beef and some cuts of pork carefully to room temperature (but not poultry) before cooking, as my cooking process oftentimes includes searing before slow-cooking or oven roasting. Meanwhile...

Add three tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to ripple, telling you it is ready for cooking, add the steaks, or, as you can, add them.  Sear them four minutes per side and remove. Once they are all seared, let them rest a few minutes.  They are NOT done, so make sure you let them "rest" at least five minutes.  After the resting time, use a sharp chef's knife to slice the steak or steaks into fairly thin strips. They will be red inside, and that is okay.  We are not done cooking yet!

Once sliced, reheat the oil and rendered fat in the same skillet.  Add a sprinkle of the spice blend and add half of the meat and all of the onion.  Saute three minutes, stirring or flipping often, and add the remainder of the steak strips.  Saute another five minutes.  The meat may still be a little pink or red. Saute until it is "done Your way".  



I am a rare to medium-rare kind of guy. This is perfect for me!

When the meat and onion are done, the onion just getting soft, the meat to your desired preference, remove the skillet from the heat. Please note, the beef may continue to cook a little longer. 

Plate and serve your tacos however you desire, and with whatever condiments you love. I simply garnish with fresh cilantro. Now, it is time to ENJOY!




Tiempo para disfrutar de sus tacos de bistec chuleton! 

As always, my gentle readers and viewers, I appreciate your time and consideration.  I am grateful for every one of you!  Thank You!!!

Now, go cook for someone you love!  What better way to show your loved ones just how Much you love them, than with Ribeye Steak Tacos, Tacos de Bistec!


~Martin
In-House Cook













Sunday, September 10, 2017

Lessons of a Kung Pao Burger





Lessons of a Kung Pao Burger

It is a thing of intense flavor and beauty between the top and bottom of an Onion Burger bun.  My "Kung Pao" Burger.  One of my most daring burgers to date, it contains spices and herbs, seasoned bacon, cheese and a seasoned egg.  It is also a labor of love which provided me with culinary lessons.  I hope you will continue reading to learn my lessons; what I could and should have done to make it better.  

One of my ultimate favorite Chinese food dishes is Kung Pao Chicken.  I cannot Even begin to tell you how much I love it and yes, whichever Chinese food restaurant I dine at, I order it.  But you know me, I would some day create either a taco or a burger out of Kung Pao spices and sauces!  And yes, I have made Kung Pao Chicken; you are most welcome to search my posts for my recipe! Thank You!

Well, let's get to it, shall we? 

My Chinese Spice Blend
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom 
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, partly ground
1 teaspoon ground mustard
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
1 teaspoon dried, ground bamboo shoots
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon both salt and pepper



Wet Ingredients
2 tablespoons Shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tablespoons Ponzu
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce 
1 tablespoon Chili Sauce
1/2 cup Kung Pao Sauce *

*I used Panda Express Kung Pao Sauce. I love it!  Use whichever brand you wish!!!

I add two pounds of ground beef, one lean sirloin and the other fairly lean ground chuck, to a large bowl. This is my usual burger routine, ergo the present tense verbs. I sprinkle half of the spice mix atop the ground beef and gently fold in, not a thorough mix. Afterward, I add half of the Kung Pao sauce, the other wet ingredients and all but a roundedn tablespoon of the spice mixture to the ground beef and more thoroughly incorporate that into the meat. I try to not over-mix the meat as over-mixing causes the meat to fall apart more readily due warming fats when frying or grilling. 



Flatten out the meat in the bowl and score the meat to include the number of burgers you wish to make. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for a bit while prepping the other parts the burger. 

I fried halved slices of bacon seasoned gently with part of the remaining spice mix. Place the bacon on paper towels to sop up the extra fat. The aroma will be amazing and your kitchen will be a temple of flavor! 


Next, if you choose, fry eggs and lightly season with some of the remaining spice mix. Just a tiny amount. 

Remove the meat, form the patties and bring a large skillet or cast iron skillet to medium-high heat.  Or, fire up your grill!  Fry or grill the burgers how you like them.  I make mine large and thick (4 burgers out of the two pounds. Hey, I don't make teeny burgers!) so mine take longer than most people's. Five minutes-to-seven minutes per side on the grill or seven-to-eight minutes in a skillet per side. This should produce a medium burger, or medium-well, depending on the calibration of your grill or stove top.  

After you have flipped your burger over, it should have a great caramelization on it!!! Time to add cheese if you choose to.  I added two slices of Provolone to each burger and allowed it to melt under a foil tent as the other side cooked. 


I brushed on a little extra virgin olive oil dusted with garlic powder to the tops and bottoms of the onion buns and broiled them.  I LOVE that garlicky flavor! 

I stacked my burger a bit differently, this time.  I simply added two tablespoons mayo mixed with a tablespoon of Kung Pao Sauce and two tablespoons mustard with Chinese Chili Sauce.  I spread the mayo on the bottom bun, the mustard on the top.  I added the seasoned bacon to the bottom bun, the burger, the egg and bun.  I added a little leftover (previously frozen) spicy herb chimichurrri with ginger atop the cheese prior to placing the egg atop the burger. 


 What?  Another view or two?  Of course!!!





Lessons Learned from my Kung Pao Burger. 

What I would do different is:  I would halve and grill scallions with perfect greens and place them on the burger and skip the egg.  I would slice up ginger and bamboo shoots (I love their crunch), and fresh garlic saute them in toasted sesame oil and either dice them and add that to the meat or perhaps fry it in scrambled eggs and place atop the burger.  Have not figured that part out but the fresh ingredients would provide a much-needed depth to an already fragrant and delicious burger.  I hope you try this burger recipe out, learn the lessons I have and enjoy this monster of flavor and heartiness!!!

As always, I am grateful for your time and consideration, my awesome readers.  And in Your Own Way, PLEASE PRAY for those in the path of Hurricane Irma and for those who will continue after she passes, and also for those digging out from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  My prayers and thoughts are with you ALL.      

~Martin
In-House Cook 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Moroccan Spiced Hummus with Oven Baked Flat Bread Chips





Moroccan Spiced Hummus

Love hummus but never have had the nerve to make it yourself?  Let me tell you that it is neither time consuming, nor difficult!  Hummus is healthy and just about anything can be added to it to tickle your tastes.  I have flat bread rounds in my freezer so I have decided to make hummus with a North African spice blend and I am certainly pleased with it.  I have made hummus prior to this a few times, one with roasted red peppers and garlic, one with tomato, garlic and basil, one with Pakistani spices and now this, with Moroccan spices. Let's get to it, shall we?

Ingredients
2 14.5 ounce cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon Moroccan curry spice
1 rounded tablespoon of garam masala*
3 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (or more)
1 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano

Add all of the spices into a small skillet over medium heat to toast.  Once aromatic, add the spices to a spice grinder and process. Set aside. 

Rinse the garbanzo beans, or, hominy, in a strainer and set aside.  Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (evoo) in your food processor with the garlic and one tablespoon of the garam masala*. Garam masala is a luxurious, aromatic mixture of ground spices and herbs and leaves.  You can find it at many grocery stores nowadays, but I prefer to purchase my spices at a local Middle Eastern grocery store where I know the ingredients, oftentimes in one bag, are authentic.  It includes paprika, coriander seed, cumin, fenugreek leaves and more. 



Now, add half of the garbanzo beans to the food processor and another tablespoon of evoo and a teaspoon of the spice blend. 


Process the first batch of the garbanzo beans until a paste forms on the perimeter of the processor bowl. Add another drizzle of evoo, another layer of the spice blend and process, again, until it is a paste clinging to the perimeter of the processor bowl. Repeat if you have another batch of garbanzo beans to process.  



Use a spatula to remove the hummus and place it into a container for future use or a bowl for serving. 



Add another drizzle of evoo atop the hummus and garnish with one of your favorite herbs. I used sage this time as my oregano has perished in the summer heat on my westward facing patio.  Sad me. I also added a gentle pinch of finishing salt. 

I will be serving this tomorrow with flat bread wedges oven baked drizzled with evoo, rosemary and grated garlic.  Stay tuned for the updated blog post!  I am posting this now by request!  


What best goes with Hummus?  Flat Bread Chips, oven baked with evoo, rosemary, garlic and smoked sea salt!  Simply take a package of round flat bread, use a pizza cutter to slice two rounds (three tears) of flat bread (or pocketless pitas!) like a pizza, into wedges.  Drizzle evoo or spray evoo non-stick spray onto foil placed over a baking sheet.  Sprinkle the salt, rosemary and garlic atop the foil.  Now, arranged the chips over the foil. Drizzle evoo atop the flat bread wedges and repeat with the salt, rosemary and garlic atop of the wedges.  Bake for ten minutes at 375-degrees.  When the wedges come out, they are still pliable, but, they will harden when allowed to rest, so do not bake more than ten minutes. 


Prior to baking......



And after baking.  Let cool about five minutes before serving or placing in a container. 

I hope you have enjoyed these simple, flavor-loaded recipes. If you make them both at once, you will be done within an hour, tops!  Now, you have no reason to be afraid to make hummus and, you now know how to make your flavor-packed serving chips!

As always, I am ever humbled and grateful for your visit.  Now, go cook something for someone you love!

~Martin
In-House Cook




Sunday, August 13, 2017

Italian Mac n Cheese in Personal Ramekins





Mini Farfalle Italian Mac n Cheese in Personal Ramekins

While that is a complicated, really big title, this dish is anything but complicated.  However, it has big flavor that will satisfy any palette. I grew up eating Mac and Cheese.  My mother used to make it once a week.  It was a buck-stretching staple during tough times, and, it was fairly easy for my mom to make after her own long day of work. While my mom seldom strayed from her own recipe for mac n cheese, except for adding deep sweet purple beets to the top of it, now and then to add a veg, which I disliked, I have strayed far from it and have added myriad ingredients to my different mac dishes. Search my recipes and you will find that I have written two or three, maybe more, mac n cheese recipes. Whether it was my mom's mac n cheese or my own, my favorite part remains the crispy cheesy top with cheese bubbling all around it as it fragrantly comes out of the oven. 

I have made Mac n Cheese with hot dogs, roasted green chiles, sweet roasted red peppers, chicken, Spanish chorizo and more.  This recipe, however, is by far my favorite.  For this recipe, I have toned down the ingredients list but kept delightful flavors. I decided on an Italian theme, and decided that less is more.  That theory proved correct!

Let's get to it, shall we?

Ingredients:
1 pound mini farfalle ('bow tie") pasta
1.5 cups buttermilk 
3-4 tablespoons flour
1/2 stick of butter
3 + 3 separated tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound mild Italian ground sausage
4 sprigs fresh thyme 
2 sprigs fresh oregano 
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic + 1 grated or finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 palm of salt for the pasta  water
1.5 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
non-stick spray



You can purchase the cheeses already grated at most grocers and you can do without the fresh herbs, but you know me, I love to use fresh herbs whenever possible. Many grocery stores also now sell onions and garlic, among other veg, finely chopped already, if you do not have time nor the inclination to chop and grate them yourself. Excellent for those with time constraints, folks on-the-go and convenience, overall!

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

Add at least four quarts of water to a large pot over high heat to bring to a roiling boil. 

Now, in a large skillet, add three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (evoo) over medium-high heat and crumble and brown the sausage.  Add the onion and garlic, reserving the fourth clove, to the skillet. Add the fresh herbs and all but a teaspoon of dry Italian seasoning. Once done, set aside off the heat. 



By now, the pot of water should be at that roiling boil.  Add about half a palm full of sea salt to the water and stir. Add the pound of mini farfalle, also known as "bow tie" pasta to the pot and stir to prevent sticking. 



Mini bow tie pasta takes 8 minutes to cook until soft. Reserve half a coffee mug of the pasta water and strain the pasta in a colander. 

Place the pot over medium heat and add the other three tablespoons of evoo and the half stick of butter. Add the teaspoon of dry Italian seasoning and garlic to the butter and evoo.  Whisk.  Once the butter begins to foam, add the flour and whisk vigorously to prevent flour clumps. 

Next, add the buttermilk and whisk.  Once incorporated, it will very soon start to boil around the perimeter of the pot. Add the sausage and incorporate well.  Add the mozzarella and, set the whisk aside and use a large wooden spoon to fold in the cheese.  "Folding" means to turn over the mixture rather than stir.  Next, add the Fontina cheese.  Fontina is a soft cheese, perfect for melting. Fold the Fontina in with the mozzarella.  By now the mixture will really begin to thicken.  You may get an arm work-out!  If you need, add a little more milk, a splash at a time, to help loosen it up, and I do mean a splash!  


Watch me whisk......Watch me nae nae!

Now add the Asiago cheese and fold.  At this point, add a good splash of the reserved pasta water. This will slightly loosen the heavy mixture, and slightly is the goal.  It should be thick. 

Finally, add the pasta and the remaining pasta water from the mug and fold in the pasta thoroughly. 

Now, spray four -  six personal ramekins with olive oil non-stick spray.  Add a little water to a roasting pan so that it just covers the surface area of the pan. Add a heaping spoon full of the mac and cheese to a ramekin and top with a little grated parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a little evoo. Repeat until all of the ramekins are filled. Stagger them in the roasting pan and place the pan into the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes.  The water adds a bit more moisture and protects the ramekins from cracking. 







And when time's up, the top of the mac and cheese will be golden brown and crispy and amazingly flavorful.  It is truly amazing.  The flavors of Italia will waft through the kitchen and home when you open the oven and carefully remove the pan. And be careful! Remember, there is hot water in it!!!

Let the ramekins rest about eight minutes out of the roasting pan.  Top with fresh chiffonade basil and enjoy!  




The Mini Farfalle is PERFECT for this dish!!!

When I decided on this dish, I could not help but think about my dear friend, Morgan, who LOVES Mac n Cheese, and for some reason, I have never made it for him.  So Morgan, this one is for you!



As always, THANK YOU, friends, for your viewership and readership, your time and consideration.  I am grateful for all of you!

Now, I hope you are suffering about wanting to get to the pantry or store to make this dish!  Go!  Go cook for someone you love!!!!  

~Martin
In-House Cook