Vodka tonic in disguise. I can still look classy while getting a buzz. A real tea party!A more appropriate caption: “Grandma’s had a long day.”
I’m writing down this recipe specifically for my friend Katheryn, a fellow foodie and always inspirational woman who I had the pleasure of working with in college in the dark computer labs of the University of Minnesota’s Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, despite cooking and baking weekly, so I’m excited for this one! I had A LOT of cheese in my fridge and wanted to start a dairy cutting diet so I made this for my colleagues who I think enjoyed it!
Apologies for the iPhone photo… the lighting in my kitchen could use some magic!
Ok now to the good stuff… here’s how to make it:
1 box of pasta, your choice, I chose orecchiette
3 tbsp of butter
3 tbsp of flour
3 cups of warm milk (don’t boil it! heat it up until you see wisps of steam then take it off the heat!)
1/2 tsp of salt
15 ounces of shredded cheese (Gruyere, cheddar, your choice. I used Kerrygold Blarney Castle and a little Parmesan)
1 large clove of garlic or 2 small cloves (if you like the garlic flavor go ahead and add one more!)
1 Jalapeno (for a real spicy punch go for two)
1 Large ball of Mozzarella
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
Handful of fresh basil
Read instructions carefully so nothing surprises you in the end and so you can prep, chop, grate, etc. whatever ingredients you need to in advance!
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Lightly grease an 8x8 pan (or whatever you have/want to use, I’m a firm believer in working with what you have)
- Boil water, salt it, follow the al dente instructions
- Chop shallots, garlic and jalapeno(s). For the jalapenos I only removed about 50% of the seeds to keep some of the spice. Mince garlic and shallots, chop the jalapenos finely (but not as small as the minced pieces). In a small nonstick pan over medium heat saute garlic, shallots, and jalapeno in olive oil until the garlic and shallots turn a golden color. Set aside.
- For the mornay sauce: if your milk is cold, warm it up over medium heat, do not let it boil, once it starts to let off wisps of steam remove from heat at the same time (or shortly after if you fear doing more than 2 things at once) melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium/low heat, once completely melted add the flout and stir with a wooden spatula for about 2 minutes or until the roux turns beige and gives a nutty aroma. Add the warm milk and increase the heat to medium stirring constantly until the sauce thickens enough to coat the wooden spatula evenly such as a cream. Remove from heat and add the cheese a handful at a time until completely melted.
- By this time your pasta should be done and draining.
- Mix the sauteed stuff to the warm mornay once completely incorporated mix the sauce with the pasta in a big pot, the sauce should have a little string to it, not runny but also not too thick with cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the pasta into your greased pan. Top with julienned basil and slices of fresh mozzarella and coat with a light dusting of bread crumbs.
- Put it in the oven until mozzarella starts to melt and bubble. You’re not trying to cook it anymore just melt the cheese on top. About 10 minutes but our ovens are all different so really trust you eyes on this one.
- Give it a minute to cool then serve! Enjoy!
Late night learning of various cheeses! I finally found the courage to write IN my cook books and make notes!
My mother always said “you need to learn how to cook traditional food. When I’m not around you’re going to miss it!” And boy was she right! I should’ve taken notes! I miss her cooking and while the recipes in this book are the very same foods I grew up eating, they’re not the same as how my mom makes it. And she doesn’t write (not particularly well in Hmong or English), she also gives the worst verbal directions, bless her heart. I am desperately missing her comfort food.