Tuesday, December 31, 2013

will i be with you

After a year of being busier than ever, and ahead of a year that will blow 2013 out of the water, I am grateful for a quiet moment with Matty to reflect on the the past and celebrate the future. And by reflect, I mean squeal with glee at the shootout that was Duke vs. Texas A&M and fall asleep before midnight.

We were planning on a big NYE dinner, but I had to take one last work trip with an up-in-the-air return date to close out the year, so to avoid disappointing our dinner guests, we moved dinner to New Year's Day, and had a simple, but delicious meal alone once I found out I could be home that night.

Matty got me an electric fryer for Christmas - could there be a clearer sign that he loves me? We christened it with a dozen panko'd oysters. Fried oysters are one of my favorite things - crisp on the outside, impossibly creamy on the inside. Decadent. Really perfect celebration food.

On the side, something to consider for Thanksgiving (yes, already thinking of Thanksgiving - told you were looking to celebrate the future) - Miso-Creamed Kale. I will have to say, my garden's kale was way tastier than this bag of Trader Joe's greens, and I might sub in spinach for the silkiness one expects with creamed greens, but the flavor of the miso cream, and the texture of the shiitakes are just perfect. The shiitakes, prepared this way, could also be a fantastic topping for a green bean casserole.

Happy New Year, everyone! I raise my Seelbach (champagne, bourbon, bitters) to 2014!

Miso-Creamed Kale
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4

4 T. butter, divided
1 T. sliced shallots
1 T. sliced garlic
10 oz. chopped lacinato kale
7 oz. sliced shiitake ushrooms
1 T. soy sauce
1/4 c. dry vermouth
1/2 c. half and half
1 T. yellow miso

1. Place 2 T. of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When melted, add the shallot and garlic. Cook over low heat without letting the garlic and shallots color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the kale and continue to cook for a few more minutes until wilted.

2. Meanwhile, in a small pan set over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 2 T. of butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, cook another minute and turn off the heat.

3. Once the kale is wilted and soft, increase the heat to medium high, add the vermouth and cook until it’s just evaporated, about 1 minute.

4. In a small measuring cup, whisk together the miso and half and half. Add the mixture to the kale, stirring until completely incorporated. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2 more minutes until the sauce reduces slightly and tightens up the around the kale. Place the kale on a warm platter and scatter the mushrooms over the top. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

do the buffalo wing

This mac + cheese was shockingly disappointing. And here we had gotten so excited when we found the Yancey's Fancy Buffalo Wing-flavored cheese at the Price Chopper. The next mac + cheese recipe in the queue came with this stunning photo, appropriately titled "Comfort Food for a Blizzard." Since we were heading straight into the biggest ice storm in nearly 20 years, I only imagined this was kismet.

Sadly, while the mac was sufficiently spicy, there was no real Buffalo quality to it. None of that Frank's Red Hot acidity. So sad. And it looked nothing like the photo - no gooeyness at all. I think it may have been entirely too long in the oven, and completely dried out. Might have been fine as a stovetop recipe, but that'll show me to try "gourmet" flavored cheese instead of just sticking to tried-and-true Velveeta versions.

However, I do like a challenge, so I've already found the next test recipe for a very Upstate Christmas: Frank's own ULTIMATE Buffalo Chicken Mac + Cheese. It sounds like a winner - actual Frank's, Velveeta, and something I've never considered before, condensed cheddar cheese soup. If my trainer wasn't connected to my social networks, I'd consider making that version before I see him again this weekend. It'll have to wait - he'll have enough to do with all the cookies I've packed in.

Buffalo Wing Macaroni + Cheese
slightly adapted from The New York Times
serves 12

3 T. butter
15.2 oz. Yancey's Fancy Buffalo Wing cheese, grated
8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 lb. cooked elbow pasta
2/3 c. milk

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine grated cheeses and set aside two heaping cups for topping.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, cheese and milk. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes. Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until crusty on top and bottom.