Saturday, February 2, 2008

Did you ever create a concoction when you were a kid? Did you hit the jackpot? What is your favorite invented concoction, or favorite story of a kid's experimental disaster?

I remember making cellery flour cupcakes as a young lass! You can only imagine how delicious they were...

Well, here is my current story of a big kid reverting to child like creativity in the kitchen, revising the record! Saturday night, the kids are away, the husband is out playing music, there isn't a sweet thing to eat. Hmmm adlib a microwave mini cheese cake? Oh, no eggs... let's try anyway.

So I mixed maybe 3 heaping Tablespoonsof lite cream cheese (neufatel). Mixed with plenty of brown sugar. Heated a short stint in the microwave. Tasted a little like warm cream cheese and brown sugar. I wasn't finished yet. What next... added a handful of Guitard chocolate chips. Microwaved for some maybe 10 seconds and stirred well. that's more like it but I wanted it more cake or cookie like. So I mixed what was maybe 2Tablespoons of flour (or so) with 1 Tablespoon of soft butter, then added it to the concoction. Thought it looked a bit thick so I added a splash of milk. Maybe 1/8th of a cup. Microwaved for maybe 20 seconds?

Voila - eggless molten chocolate cheesecake brownie pudding delish! It was actually very tastey, but after all the taste tests, I could only eat a few bites. I think it was more about inventng than eating. I was sad that no one was here to feed it too! So it sits on my kitchen counter!
Ad lib in the kitchen again! I have a friend whose family always made a meal out of popcorn on Sunday night. I believe they had some kind of Sunday afternoon supper that was more substantial. Anyway, I flirt from time to time with that tradition. Tonight I made popcorn again and an idea struck me like a lightening bug.... I saw on the menu of a nearby gourmet sandwhich shop an option for their fries... Truffle salt. Since that is one of my favorite flavor blasters, I was game to try popcorn seasoned with some drips of pure melted butter and shaken about with truffle salt. If you like the flavor truffle - this is great! It is so like an American to take something so SERIOUS as truffle salt and put it on a snack thing like pop-corn. Herbert is the chef at a farm B&B in Southern France where we stayed. He gave me the low down on truffle usage. Never toss it in a stew or anything complex. the flavor needs to be noticed against the most simple ingredients like a scrambled egg. Popcorn is pretty simple indeed and it was tastey!

Recently I bought some delicious dried Porcini linguine at a favorite Italian Market in Seattle's Pike Place Market. For a simple meal, I tossed the cooked hot pasta with a few tablespoons of rich organic cream and a scattered teaspoon or so of Truffle salt. Not sure if I had a little parsley or anything but it was delicious. I also add it to cream of mushroom soup, omletes, risotto, and any number of other things that I can't think of right now.

How do you use Truffle whatever... salt, oil, the real thing. And if the real thing, how do you afford to buy it?

Blue Pear Mac & Cheese

Here is the recipe for the blue gooo... You don't know what you are missing Emiril!

Chef Improv Original Blue Pear Mac and Cheese

8 ounces of dried Pasta, Penne Rigato (riged)
8 ounces grated sharp white cheddar cheese
4 ounces of soft goat cheese
4 ounces of a creamy blue veined cheese such as English Stilton, or gorgonzola, crumbled
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese - generous sprinkling of cheese over top of casserole
2 medium pears, D’anjou or Comice preferable½ c finely chopped walnuts
flour 4 T
butter 4 T
whole milk – 2 cups
Course Salt
White pepper
Cayenne pepper

1. Chop or process walnuts until the pieces are about pea sized.
2. Peel, core and thinly slice two pears, cutting in half again the opposite way. Cover pear in the 2 cups of milk to prevent them from turning brown.
3. Cook pasta in Salted boiling water until el dente, 2 minutes less than package instructions. Drain Pasta and set aside.
4. While Pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a 2 qt. sauce pan. On med heat, add flour to make a paste and cook for 1 minute while whisking. Drain the milk from the pears and add in 3 parts, whisking and stirring after each part for 2 minutes. Add grated cheddar and stir. When the cheese is melted, add the goat cheese into the creamy sauce. Add a few gratings or pinches of nutmeg. Add a couple dashes of cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the Pasta into the cheese sauce and add to the casserole dish.
Spread the pears over the surface of the casserole and poke them in to the cheese mixture a little bit.
Dot with crumbles of blue cheese.
Sprinkle with the walnuts.
Scatter a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top.

Bake at 375 for 20minutes or until bubbling and browning nicely on top. Broil on high tempeture for 1 minute if Parmesan isn't golden brown.

(I made this with whole wheat pasta rigato the first time. The whole wheat flavor was delicious but all in all too much like eating bricks! So, back to the good goo... Mac and Cheese is suppose to be gooey!) Let me know if you try this recipe. Or your ideas...