Category: panko

Recipe redux: three cheese stovetop mac!

Easy three cheese stovetop mac!

It’s warm, it’s sticky, and you don’t want to cook. It’s that time of year when you just don’t feel like it. You’re not in the mood to turn on the stove- nor are you prepared to grill anything & it’s far too hot to have the oven on. We’ve  spent all freakin’ winter cooking! ENOUGH! Or maybe it’s late; no time to defrost anything or go to the store. But you’ve still got mouths to feed (or you’re starving yourself!) & they won’t take no for an answer.

Well I have the solution: three cheese stovetop macaroni.

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Mmm. Bacon.

Last week, I spent an entire day doing gardening. I planted some of my herbs, dug out my flower beds, and did all some of the maintenance needed after a really harsh winter. Anyway, I was really tired when it came to dinner time. I had a hankering for macaroni & cheese, but I wanted something different. I had some hickory smoked bacon so I decided to make a bacon macaroni & cheese. Bacon gets a bad rap; people bitch because it’s fatty, salty, etc. But really there is nothing like a good crisp slice of real bacon. Plus, bacon may save your life. No shit, click that link.

Pig butcher diagram courtesy of osovo.com

Bacon is a cured meat prepared from a pig. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon (also known as green bacon). Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, boiled, or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon must be cooked before eating. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.

Bacon is prepared from several different cuts of meat. It is usually made from side and back cuts of pork, except in the United States, where it is almost always prepared from pork belly (typically referred to as “streaky”, “fatty”, or “American style” outside of the US and Canada). The side cut has more meat and less fat than the belly. Bacon may be prepared from either of two distinct back cuts: fatback, which is almost pure fat, and pork loin, which is very lean. Bacon-cured pork loin is known as back bacon.

Bacon may be eaten smoked, boiled, fried, baked, or grilled, or used as a minor ingredient to flavor dishes. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game birds. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning “buttock”, “ham” or “side of bacon”, and cognate with the Old French bacon.[1]

In continental Europe, this part of the pig is usually not smoked like bacon is in the United States; it is used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient, valued both as a source of fat and for its flavor. In Italy, this is called pancetta and is usually cooked in small cubes or served uncooked and thinly sliced as part of an antipasto.

That diagram get you hungry? Haha. For those of you who do not like bacon, or prefer turkey bacon, or are vegetarian, I don’t know what to tell you. Sure, I guess you can substitute turkey bacon or fake bacon in this if it makes you happy/feel better. But I myself don’t abide by that, so I can’t help you.

Basically, as far as this recipe goes, I threw it together in no time and I thought I’d share my “recipe” with you. One of you might be looking for something new & different yet filling to make after a long day of hard work, too. That’s the awesome thing about macaroni & cheese; you don’t need a recipe! Once you get the hang of making a roux & a basic cheese sauce, you can totally wing it; make one without a recipe at all or personalize an already great macaroni & cheese recipe.

Well, I posted it for those reasons but also because I think Brianne would’ve killed me if I didn’t. And you do not want to mess with a pregnant woman. Ever.

ONION-Y BACON MACARONI & CHEESE

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used mini-rigatoni, but elbows, pipette, gemelli, cavatappi or ziti work too… whatever you like!)
  • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus an extra ½ cup set aside
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ lb. hickory smoked bacon, cooked until crisp and then crumbled when cool (either by frying or baking in the oven)
  • 1 cup Italian flavored panko breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a small saucepan and melt. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until just toasted. Set aside.
  2. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly puffy and bubbly on the edges. Add the cayenne, the garlic powder, the onion powder and salt/pepper and whisk. Add milk, and cook, again whisking constantly until slightly thickened. Turn off heat, and remove pan from hot burner.
  3. Add the cheese to the milk mixture slowly, by the ½ cup, stirring constantly to make sure it’s evenly distributed and melts evenly. When melted (or mostly melted), add the crumbled bacon and stir until evenly mixed.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions for al dente in a large pot of salted, boiling water with a drizzle of vegetable oil. Drain, but do not rinse. Return the pasta to the large pot and mix the cheese/bacon sauce in with it, making sure to cover all the pasta.
  5. Add the pasta & sauce to a casserole dish that has been sprayed with PAM. Sprinkle the ½ cup of reserved cheddar on top, and then the breadcrumbs on top of that and bake until bubbly, about 30-35 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Serve & enjoy!

I wanted the onion & garlic taste to be really subtle. For a bigger onion flavor, caramelize some finely chopped onions in the bacon fat after you remove the bacon, then add that to the cheese sauce with the bacon. If you like a lot of garlic too, then add some minced garlic to the bacon fat as well. Once they’re cooked, remember to drain them and not add all that fat to the dish! Oh, also… I didn’t pre-toast my panko, which I suggest you do (I wrote it in the recipe) because it would make the topping crunchier & darker. Eh. Coulda, shoulda , woulda! Live & learn. I didn’t complain, neither did anyone else- there wasn’t even enough left in the pan to save for leftovers.

And I leave you with this.

Yes.


The second round: chive risotto cakes.

Yeah so I made these quite a while ago, over a year, and it was kind of a disaster. Not that they weren’t tasty; they were. But they fell apart, weren’t crispy enough and were basically flat, sad little soft disks of cheese, rice & panko. They’re an Ina Garten recipe and I’ve never, ever, EVER had any issues with her recipes. However this one was my fault. I fucked it up. Embarrassingly so. And that, my friends, is why I’m doing a second round. I must conquer the chive risotto cake.

the first time, I used the wrong yogurt, which definitely contributed to the mess. Greek yogurt in these is a MUST- it’s so thick it really keeps everything together. DO NOT USE YOGURT THAT ISN’T GREEK BUT CLAIMS TO BE ” EXTRA THICK.” It’s not. Use Greek. Not Icelandic, not American, not French, not Mexican, not Yoplait… GREEK. Also, I did not leave them to chill in the fridge long enough. On top of the “wrong-yogurt” debacle, I also couldn’t control my impatient self and of course, didn’t wait “at least two hours.” I know, I’m groaning too. I’m a fool. But I’m going to redeem myself with this post today. Because these came out so perfect, Ina herself would gasp in delight.

See? Gasp-worthy.

CHIVE RISOTTO CAKES

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cups grated Italian fontina cheese (5 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Good olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring a large (4-quart) pot of water to a boil over medium-low heat and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons of salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  4. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 ¼-inch) ice-cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾-inch thick. Place 4 to 6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned.
  5. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Arrange on a serving platter and serve hot.

As far as the fontina, you can use any pale-colored cheese you like. I used white cheddar both times because I love it. But if you love fontina, then use it. I used chives from my own garden this time, and I can’t tell you that made much of a difference in flavor, although I added more because last time I skimped, so it did have a better chive flavor. And it was certainly convenient to just run outside my back door with a pair of scissors and snip off a bunch, unlike last time when I had to go to the store to buy some. I won’t tell you that the olive oil isn’t important, it is, if you use a shitty one the flavor isn’t going to be as nice. Sometimes cheap olive oil has a weird flavor to it. Stick with a good brand name for frying these. Also, I like to use the Italian flavored panko, but that’s up to you.

Mine stayed in the fridge for about 5 ½ hours this time before I fried them. The difference was amazing. They molded perfectly, stuck together, didn’t fall apart even in the frying pan. They came out exactly right; crispy, crunchy outside and a creamy inside. Yum. That parsley garnish is also from my garden. My parsley is crazy-go-nuts, seriously. It’s like a shrub.

So let’s go over the “DON’TS” of this recipe one more time:

  1. DON’T use any yogurt other than plain Greek yogurt.
  2. DON’T be impatient: let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  3. DON’T use breadcrumbs other than panko.
  4. DON’T use regular rice!!!!! THIS IS A BIG NO-NO. Arborio only!

Like I said last time, these are a great light dinner item and an even better lunch item. Served with a fresh salad? Perfect. Despite the cheese and the yogurt and the eggs, they’re very light tasting. Not overly greasy or heavy, but full of flavor.

“Nah, I don’t eat buffalo.”

I know, all my posts lately have been either cupcakes or macaroni & cheese. That says a lot about me, right? I like fatty, cheesy, carb-loaded foods. But in all honesty, macaroni & cheese is probably the most basic, easiest and common comfort food. I can make it blindfolded (same with cupcakes), which is a good thing since I’ve been busy with other things. Yes, my dear readers, I’ve been lazy and distracted lately… mainly with my hair. No seriously. I have a new haircolor/cut and it’s massively cute. Those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably seen it already but for the rest of you:

Do you like it? How about my apron? And my Jem button and mini whisk? Don’t hate…

I was on a mission to find a cut that suited my not-quite-fully-grown-out hair. It just so happens that I decided to go a lighter blonde, and get rid of my highlights, so when I saw the color I just knew I had to cut bangs, get the back stacked & get myself a Velma Kelly-esque ‘do. It’s very flapperish/1920′s. I’ve had this style before, just in black. I keep going back to it, but this time in an amazing platinum/so-white-it’s-almost-lavender blonde. I guess it’s the whole 20′s thing that does it. It’s my favorite era. Just imagine me wearing rolled down stockings doing the Charleston with a flask tucked in my dress. Or something.

Anyway, sorry, went off on a tangent there.. like I was saying… macaroni & cheese. It’s comfort food. And who couldn’t use lots of comfort food? It also just so happens the newest issue of the Food Network magazine agrees with me; they have 5 or 6 amazing recipes for macaroni & cheese with a twist, one of which I made just a few weeks ago. I’ve been macaroni & cheese obsessed lately.

Anyone who knows me knows I love hot/spicy food and blue cheese. I could eat buffalo wings with blue cheese all day, everyday. I put hot sauce on everything. And blue cheese? I dip chicken fingers in blue cheese, french fries, I love it on burgers, etc. One of my favorite sandwiches at a restaurant me & Jay frequent is the Bourbon Street grill: grilled (almost blackened) spicy Cajun chicken on toasted garlic bread with blue cheese. God. I just love it. Once we ordered this Cajun shrimp as an appetizer at another of our favorite spots and Jay took one bite and was disgusted, he had to gulp down almost an entire pint of beer just to cool his mouth off. I loved it… it was so hot! Jay laughs at me because he says he actually likes to taste his food, whereas I seem to just douse everything in hot sauce. *makes sad face* It’s not true. I like to taste food too! I just love hot stuff… and how the blue cheese cools it down. Some people are just built to tolerate it better, though, I guess. Some sauces that others deem too hot is just fine with me. Plus, hot sauce is good for you. it speeds up your metabolism, helps heal ulcers contrary to popular belief and also helps clear your sinuses and drain phlegm and mucous from your nose, etc. Don’t believe me? Read this.

So in other words, this recipe was like a gift from the foodie gods to little ol’ me. BUFFALO CHICKEN MACARONI & CHEESE… WITH BLUE CHEESE. Yeah, my heart stopped too. I also had hears where my eyes should have been. So as it turns out, last week I  roasted a chicken for Sunday dinner. I had a lot of chicken leftover, and that’s where this recipe comes in. The next day, I used the leftover chicken for the chicken in this recipe, instead of buying a rotisserie chicken just for this. Do as you like in that department, though. I guess you could even cook some chicken breasts up and shred it as well.

See the chunks of buffalo chicken? Unf.

I changed the recipe a bit to suit me once again, so I’m giving my version of it here. If you want the real version (which includes dry mustard powder, onion, celery and other things I cleverly omitted) then buy the Food Network magazine, bitches! But whatever you do, if you’re a fan of buffalo chicken or blue cheese, you HAVE to try it. It was, in the words of Brianne: amazeballs. And I want to thank the second (the first, most assuredly, is Sarah Palin) most famous American idiot (no Green Day pun intended), Jessica Simpson, for the quote that titles this post. Remember when she thought buffalo wings were made of buffalo? *sigh*

BUFFALO CHICKEN MACARONI & CHEESE

Ingredients:

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the dish
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cooked rotisserie chicken (like I said, I used leftover chicken from when I roasted a whole one… )
  • 1  pound pasta (I used shells, but anything will work)
  • 1 bottle Frank’s RedHot hot sauce (original)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups half-n-half
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 pound cheddar cheese (sharp or mild, whatever you like), shredded
  • 1 cup panko
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil; add the pasta and cook according to package directions for ‘al dente.’ Drain. DO NOT RINSE.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and garlic, cook 2 minutes. Then add ½ cup of hot sauce and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and stir with wooden spoon until smooth. Add the half-n-half then add ¼ cup hot sauce and sour cream. Stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar until smooth.
  4. Melt two tablespoons butter and mix it with the panko, parsley and blue cheese. Set aside.
  5. Put the pasta in the dish. Pour the cheese mixture over the macaroni and mix well. Top with the chicken, then the panko/blue cheese mixture. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until panko is slightly browned and cheese is bubbly.

I will 1,000,000% make this again. It was unbelievable and totally delicious. I would add more blue cheese next time, I didn’t feel there was quite enough for my liking, and I’d add some blue cheese dressing to the hot sauce/cheese mixture as well as having the crumbled blue cheese & panko on top. But that’s just personal preference. It was quite hot, with ¾ of a cup hot sauce in it total. If you want to tone it down, I’d suggest just using the hot sauce on the chicken, not in the cheese mixture as well. And if you’re really unsure, do it ¼ cup at a time, and then taste. I happen to have quite the tolerance, so for me it was hot, but amazing. For others, it might be too much, especially older people or small kids. I’d also bake it a bit longer because my panko didn’t brown enough or get crunchy enough.

Stay tuned later on this week for part one of my much requested frosting tutorial!

Three cheese spirals.

Okay so if you read this blog a lot, you’ll know I love macaroni & cheese. I have TONS of recipes for it  (well, this is the fifth one I’ve made; I have a traditional one, one with broccoli, a spicier one with cayenne and one with white cheddar and garlic breadcrumb topping) …but I love trying new ones. So when the new Food Network magazine came this month (you know I was one of the first subscribers to that? Jay got it for me as part of my birthday gift right when it was debuting) and it had a whole piece on macaroni & cheese, you can imagine how excited I was.

I immediately folded down all the pages with recipes I wanted to make, and the first ones I wanted to tackle were the mac-n-cheese ones. The first one in the article was this recipe, three cheese spirals, so I went with that one. What was different about this one was that there was evaporated milk in it, and also there was no baking (or broiling) involved. It was a strictly stove-top recipe. So it was really, really quick to make. It was thick, creamy, and very delicious despite being easy. I made a few changes, so I’m going to give you my version of the recipe here. If you want the original… well, you’re just gonna have to go get the magazine, aren’t you? Which will admittedly be hard to do when this post gets to be over a month old. Oh well. You’ll like my version, people of the future.

On a cold not-quite-spring day, it’s just wonderful to come home and have a bowl (or plate) of this. Actually it would be amazing to serve this in one of those super cute mini-casserole dishes or cocottes. I wish I had some to use, especially at times like this. And technically… this should be called four cheese spirals’, because I added another cheese in. But I don’t really count the parmesan anyway, because you don’t need it. You can even take it out if you want.

So creamy. Just perfection. There is really no excuse to not make homemade macaroni & cheese with a recipe like this. None at all. It’s pulled together so quickly it’s basically like making Velveeta shells & cheese or Kraft, just it tastes about a gazillion times better. Oh, and it’s homemade. Duh.

Now I have another hit mac-n-cheese recipe under my belt. It’s getting to be hard at this point, because when people request it for dinner or holidays now, I have to ask “Which recipe!?”

THREE CHEESE SPIRALS

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound gemelli (or other spiral pasta)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese
  • 1 ¾ cups mix of monterey jack & colby cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley & chives

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour & cayenne pepper and stir with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste fluffs slightly, about 1 minute. Whisk in both milks and add ½ teaspoon salt and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened and creamy, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the cheddar and jack cheeses and all but 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese and whisk until melted; keep warm.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Add the panko, remaining parmesan, chives and parsley and cook until panko is just toasted and slightly browned. Remove from heat.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup cooking water, and return to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce, adding the reserved cooking water (only if needed). Season with salt and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Serve.

Another score for the Food Network magazine. Thumbs up, guys.

Herb & garlic “white” macaroni ‘n’ cheese.

I am a huge macaroni & cheese fan. I just love it. Especially with bread crumbs on top, and I love broccoli in it too. But even though I have quite the macaroni & cheese recipe collection (like this one, and this one, and then there’s this one), I am always looking for new ways to make this old classic. I stumbled upon this recipe at the King Arthur Flour website (my favorite flour, by the way, plug plug, and rapidly becoming my favorite resource for new recipes) and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor and wipe the drool from my mouth. Garlic & herbs? Panko breadcrumbs? White sharp cheddar? Sign me up!


Now let me just say right here that I do not condone people trying to make this dish, or any other dish, “fat free.” I like my food real, with real butter, real milk, and 100% whole milk cheese. If it comes down to eating fat-free macaroni & cheese or a white cheddar rice cake, I’d honestly rather have the rice cake. There are tons of recipes floating around, and it pisses me off. I get the Food Network magazine, and open it, and there’s a recipe for macaroni & cheese with cauliflower in it to lower the calories and still keep it thick, etc, etc. That’s a bunch of crap. Give me CHEESE in my macaroni & cheese, not a vegetable that pretends to be cheese!  If there’s a vegetable in my macaroni & cheese, it better be broccoli and it better not be pureed. I am 120% against fake things: fake friends, fake people. Which is why I hate copycats. They’re like a bad attempt at the original, and it’s usually very transparent, and never works out. That’s probably my #1 pet peeve, actually. And in the same vein, I am 1,000% against fake food. Except for Coke Zero, which my feelings for are similar to how a crack addict feels about crack. But when it comes to food- seriously, use the real shit or don’t make it. The exception to the rule: vegans. You guys get a free pass *wink* But really, sometimes you have to admit, stuff like Smart Balance is the worst thing to ever happen to mankind. It’s like rubber- you can’t even spread it! You will never, ever catch me using that stuff. *shivers* And fat-free cheese is completely vomitous. It doesn’t melt properly and tastes like, well, fat-free cheese. The real thing is always better. Check out this NPR transcript, I have a feeling this guy would agree.

Of course… there are people with health problems. They have high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. My uncle has diabetes, and I know for a fact that while he’s super strict about his diet (and always has been), he’s snuck something here and there that wasn’t an “approved” food, and he’s still here.  And I know tons of people with high cholesterol. And the majority of those people eat foods like this in extreme moderation. Smaller portions, and not as frequently. And it works. You are not supposed to eat macaroni & cheese everyday any more than you’re supposed to eat Hershey’s chocolate. Same concept for weight loss. I lost 50 pounds & got back down to a size 6 (and ultimately a 4) in less than a year by eating LESS (and exercising). Not by restricting myself and being miserable eating nothing but rabbit food & low-fat meals. I enjoy everything I eat 100% or I don’t bother eating it. If you like macaroni & cheese- make it. And eat it. And ENJOY it. Just don’t make it everyday and eat the entire pan. Enjoy your food, food is one of the few real pleasures we have in life. Be real and eat real.

Okay so here we go… back to the goods. I made a few changes to the recipe, but nothing major. For one, I didn’t use a garlic oil, perse, instead I have a large jar of minced garlic in olive oil in my fridge, and I simply measured out some of the oil and used that. I guess that is garlic oil, really, but it’s not the kind the recipe suggests. I also used a bit more than called for, maybe a teaspoon more. I used twice the amount of cheese- that’s 4 cups- and I used Wisconsin sharp cheddar because I didn’t want to be bothered going to buy Cabot. But Cabot is awesome cheese. I omitted the cheese powder completely. Nor did I use the mustard powder. Not a big fan of Mean Mr. Mustard.

GARLIC & HERB “WHITE” MACARONI ‘N’ CHEESE

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pasta (I always use cavatappi/celentani)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¾ cups milk
  • 2 ounces Vermont cheese powder, optional
  • 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard powder, optional
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic oil, optional
  • 2 teaspoons pizza seasoning or rosemary and thyme
  • 2 ½ ounces Japanese panko (coarse bread crumbs)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease four 1 ½ to 2-cup ramekins, or one 2-quart baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (slightly firmer than you would normally eat it). Drain, & set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the flour, milk, and cheese powder. Bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and seasonings. Stir occasionally, until cheese is completely melted.
  5. Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce. Spoon it into the baking dish(es).
  6. Melt the butter and garlic oil together, then stir in the pizza seasoning and panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle a thick layer over the pasta and cheese.
  7. Bake the casserole for 25 to 35 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned. Remove from the oven, and serve hot.


You can use any kind of tubular pasta for this- I always use cavatappi, it’s my favorite. But rigatoni, ziti or shells would be awesome too. I try and stay away from elbows, just because it reminds me of my grammar school hot-lunch macaroni & cheese (which was pretty good actually, but I don’t really want to be reminded of it now when eating my dinner). I think it’s fun to try different kinds of pasta for things, you’d be surprised at how it can change your entire perception of the dish.

If you’ve never used panko before, I highly suggest it. I find them to have a fantastic crunch when used for frying, as opposed to the way regular breadcrumbs seem to just absorb moisture, and on the top of this it retained it’s crunch despite not being completely browned. The garlic & herb in the topping was something I never would’ve thought of, but damn…

How was it?

Ch-ch-ch-chive risotto cakes.

EDIT: BEFORE YOU READ THIS POST… know that this post is my first, and my only failed attempt at making these. If you want to see them done correctly, please go to this updated version. If you want to read about my failure, keep reading!

***********************************************************************

Okay, this is the first time I’m writing up an entry for an awesome recipe that I failed to execute correctly. Through no fault of it’s own, the chive risotto cakes recipe couldn’t live up to it’s full potential because I am an impatient bitch. Patience is a virtue I do not have. Besides, when you’re hungry, 2+ hours seems like forever. So I cut it a bit short, and they weren’t as firm as they should’ve been, and so they didn’t hold the shape while frying. Woops. You see, dear readers, I am not perfect. I may look it, with my cute hair cut/color, my perfect eyebrows, and my beautiful little swirls of frosting a top my gorgeous little cupcakes. But, alas, I am not perfect. Vain and self-important, yes. Perfect, no.

Sometimes, shit just works out for you. Despite your rebelliousness or substitution of ingredients or your rushed and harried manner… despite all that, your food just glows and sparkles and looks like something out of Martha Stewart Living. Example: my “white” cupcakes that I didn’t use cake flour for, nor did I sift the all-purpose flour I did in fact use.  So yeah, sometimes it works out like that. Other times, even if you do everything right, the Shit Gods just smile on you. Or poop on you. Whatever. This was just one of those times. I do blame myself for not allowing them to set properly. But really, Ina, 2+ hours!? Really!? I have no patience for such things! I’m the person who cuts her hair even shorter when it grows out to the awkward stage, because I have no patience to see it through. You think I can wait 2+ hours… or overnight… for chive risotto cakes of mouthwateringlyness!?

That said, they were delicious. Another A+++ recipe from my homegirl Ina Garten. I used white cheddar instead of fontina because that’s just what I had around, and they were so amazing. If they had only been crunchier. *sigh* I will make them again and give them the proper setting time in the fridge, and they will hold their shape better, and the pictures will come out better. But for now here are my sad little chive risotto cakes that couldn’t hold their shapes.

They don’t look too bad here… except for that one on the left that obviously fell apart.
Further evidence of my impatience.

Ina made them for a lunch with some arugula salad on the side, I had mine for dinner with big fat slices of Italian bread. To each his own I say. You can never have too many carbs!

CHIVE RISOTTO CAKES

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cups grated Italian fontina cheese (5 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Good olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring a large (4-quart) pot of water to a boil over medium-low heat and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons of salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  4. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 ¼-inch) ice-cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾-inch thick. Place 4 to 6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned.
  5. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Arrange on a serving platter and serve hot.

I really do recommend them… they were fabu-licious. But just be sure to give them the right amount of time to set. This is an excellent example of why I love doing this blog: you can learn from my mistake! Anyway, I wouldn’t say they were a FAIL… they tasted delicious and didn’t look that bad either. But they definitely weren’t Food Network worthy. All in all, great recipe. Poor execution on my part. Boo.

I would have used a bit more chive in them though, next time. Next time… I will conquer you, risotto cakes. I will CONQUER you.