Creamy Custard Ice Cream Base

Homemade ice cream without the pain of manually churning!   You may use this base for almost all of your favorite ice creams. I use it for chocolate, banana, butter pecan, peach, rocky road, strawberry… I use it for almost … Continue reading

Christmas Eve Lasagna

Christmas Eve Red Lasagna

Every Christmas Eve I prepare lasagna, chicken French, and Cajun eggnog. Sure, I have a display of Christmas cutout cookies and red velvet cupcakes, but it isn’t Christmas Eve until the lasagna is out of the oven.This recipe yields a 2-3 … Continue reading

Better than Grandma’s Pie Crust

Recipe yields enough dough for two flaky buttery pie crusts. I usually double recipe, which yields enough dough for one pie and a 9″ x 13″ pan. This crust is great for pies, cobblers, dumplings, etc. Although I’m posting photos … Continue reading

Potato Latkes (Pancakes)

Potato latkes with fresh sour cream and homemade apple sauce brings back wonderful childhood memories!   Ingredients  2 lbs butter/yellow potatoes, peeled 3/4 cup chopped scallions 3 large eggs, beaten 2 tablespoons all purpose flour OR matzo meal 1.5 teaspoons … Continue reading

Low Country Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits. One of the quintessential low country dishes great for breakfast, brunch, or in my home, the perfect after work snack. Low country cooking is unpretentious, yet flavorful. It is representative of true American flavors! Low country refers … Continue reading

Professional Food Photography

In 2014, while I was completing my dissertation research and writing, I began working at a local restaurant as an “escape” from the drudgery of writing. One day, while working, I met a talented photographer named Brandon Vick and as they … Continue reading

Cranberry Sauce with a Twist

I prepare this cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving. When my sister and her family visit I omit the additional fruits and add chopped jalapeno peppers and culandro/recito. Other times, I boil cranberries with a whole cinnamon stick and cloves for a … Continue reading

Creamy Baked Macaroni

BLOGGER’S NOTE: PHOTOS ARE NOT INCLUDED AT THIS TIME. I WANTED TO ENSURE THAT THE RECIPE WAS POSTED PRIOR TO THANKSGIVING. I WILL UPDATE POST WITH PHOTOS AFTER THANKSGIVING, IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS.

This recipe juxtaposes my two favorite versions of macaroni and cheese: classic U.S. southern style baked macaroni and West Indian macaroni pie. There are several imitations of macaroni pie on the internet and do not do the real thing justice. Both macaroni pie and southern style baked macaroni are staple on holidays and Sunday dinners often served along side a green vegetable such as callaloo, steamed cabbage, or collard greens and of course, stewed or fried fish and fried chicken! I like my baked macaroni a little spicy so I add finely chopped habanero pepper, but feel free to leave it out. What separates my baked macaroni from that bland stuff is all of the flavor, the creaminess, and richness. Note, I did not include the calorie/nutrition information here. Why not? Because it’s calorie free of course!

Seasoned Bechamel Sauce

3 cups evaporated milk (carnation or Pet; you may also use whole, 2% or 1% milk)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons ground/dry mustard

1 teaspoon white pepper

***optional***- 1 habanero pepper seeded and finely chopped OR 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce/hot sauce

Remaining Ingredients 

1 lb “elbow” macaroni or this for traditional style 

1-2 teaspoons kosher salt for boiling pasta

1 teaspoon vegetable or olive oil for boiling pasta

2 eggs whisked (remove the white string with a knife FYI this makes your eggs taste and smell “fresh” or eggy)

2 cups (1 lb) shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup (1/4 lb)   shredded pecorino romano

1 cup (1/4 lb) crumbly cubes (coarse chop using food processor) mozzarella or muenster cheese

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large heavy bottomed pot (such as the IMUSA castiron pot) melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour by the heaping tablespoon full whisking thoroughly and constantly before adding more flour. Be careful not to burn.

Once all flour is incorporated add milk slowly while constantly whisking.

Reduce temperature to medium-low and add garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, white pepper, and optional hot sauce or chopped habanero.

Cook for 5-7 minutes or until rather thick. Reduce stove temperature to low.

Take a cup full of bechamel sauce mixture and add it to bowl that contains 2 whisked eggs. Slowly pour cup of sauce into eggs, whisking constantly, as not to cook/scramble eggs. Pour egg mixture back into remaining bechamel sauce.

Add 1.5 cups of shredded cheddar and pecorino romano into bechamel sauce.

Boil pasta with salt and oil until al dente/cooked but firm (about 8-10 minutes).

Drain pasta reserving about 1/2 cup of water. While still hot, return pasta to pot it was boiled in and add the reserved pasta water. Set pot aside. Be careful not to return pot to hot eye of stove.

Pour cooked pasta into pot with bechamel sauce. Stir. Season with salt (approximately 1 teaspoon).

Pour 1/2 of macaroni mixture into well greased/buttered (you can use a cooking spray to reduce the calories, Ha! Ha!) casserole dish or pan. Sprinkle with crumbly cubes of mozzarella or muenster cheese. Add remaining macaroni mixture. Top with remaining 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden brown.