Matzo Brei

Matzah BreiMatzo Brei is a long standing Passover tradition in my house, and we tend to be purists, using only the basic recipe below and topped with a little ketchup (’cause despite what you may think, ketchup pretty much goes with everything). My co-worker’s husband goes sweet, adding pancake syrup to his freshly cooked dish, while my boyfriend goes savoury, adding sauteed veggies and cheese to the dish while it cooks. To each his own I guess! No matter how you make it, I hope you like it! This recipe will serve 2-4 people.

Ingredients:

4 Matzos
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter/margarine

Optional Ingredients:
For a savoury dish try adding any or all of the following: sliced mushrooms, sliced peppers, sliced onions, cheese
For a sweet dish try adding any or all of the following: canned fruit, applesauce, sour cream or syrup.

Directions:

Crumble matzos into a large sieve placed over a bowl to catch crumbs, then hold sieve under running cold water until matzos are moist and softened but not completely disintegrated, about 15 seconds. Transfer to bowl with crumbs, then add eggs and salt and mix gently with a fork.

Heat butter in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add matzo mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until eggs are scrambled and matzo has begun to crisp, about 3 minutes.

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Mother Sauces – Day 2

Mother SaucesSo here is day 2 of “The Attack of the Mother Sauces”, and other than our final day (Hollandaise), I’d say this would be my favourite sauce! Today’s sauce is Béchamel (bay-shah-mell) is made with milk and white roux. That’s right people, I’m talking about the basis for every yummy, gooey, cheesy sauce out there!

The history behind the sauce is actually pretty interesting (in my opinion): The Béchamel sauce was used for centuries in Tuscan and Emilian cuisine and was imported in France by the cuisiners of Marie de’ Medici second wife of King Henry IV of France. Then the sauce became a main ingredient of the French Court’s cuisine and was easily renamed from its original Italian name of “Balsamella” to “Béchamel“after the Marquis de Béchamel. Béchamel was a financier who held the honorary post of chief steward to Louis XIV. The sauce under its familiar name first appeared in Le Cuisinier François, published in 1651 by François Pierre La Varenne (1615–1678), chef de cuisine to Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d’Uxelles. The foundation of French cuisine, the Cuisinier François ran through some thirty editions in seventy-five years.

The sauce originally was a veal velouté with a large amount of cream added, however it evolved to what we know today of a mixture of a roux of flour and fat, cooked slightly, as to not darken, and then hot milk is whisked in along with an onion studded with a clove, salt, white pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to finish it off. What is amazing about this simple sauce, is what it turns into! Check out today’s recipes for the basic béchamel, along with these variations:

• Mornay = béchamel + Gruyère + Parmesan + butter
• Cheese = béchamel + cheddar + Worcestershire sauce + dry mustard
• Soubise = onions + butter + béchamel

Tomorrow we visit the dark side with a tour of Espagnole Sauce and it’s derivatives!

Best Mac and Cheese – Ever

Baked Mac N Cheese

This recipe comes from my Mom. It is AMAZING! In fact, she often gives it as a bridal shower gift given with a casserole dish. Yes, you can use that idea for your next shower… it’s a good one, and she gets royalties 😉

Ingredients:

½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
½ cup all purpose flour
2-3 boxes of mac & cheese (we like using wacky mac, but whatever is your favourite)
1 – 1 ½ lbs. or more of different cheeses, shredded
5 cups of milk
Salt & pepper
Bread crumbs (optional)
Pam, butter flavoured

Directions:

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. When butter bubbles, whisk in flour. Mixture should be think and pasty. Slowly whisk in milk about a cup at a time. You have to use a whisk or it will get lumpy. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

When the mixture is as thick as melted ice cream, start adding cheese. Use the cheese packets included with the mac & cheese, and any other sharp flavoured cheese, such as cheddar, kashkeval, or goat cheese. A blend works best. Taste and add cheese until it is delicious! Season with salt and pepper to taste. As the mixture cooks, it may become too thick – just add some more milk. Stir often, and/or turn down the heat so that it does not burn.

In the meantime, boil pasta from the boxes according to the directions. Drain well. Mix the cheese sauce and pasta together – it should be very saucy.
Pour the mixture into a baking dish sprayed with Pam. At this point, you can sprinkle the top of the pasta with breadcrumbs. Spray the top of the pasta with butter flavoured Pam and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the top is all browned and bubbly.

Time for Dessert!

Time for DessertFor even the most disciplined traveller to Italy, it is hard to say no to all the delicious temptations that await you. It seems that every bar-caffè or pasticceria has an endless display of cookies, chocolates or some other enticement. Italian desserts range in flavor from slightly bitter to sweet but usually not overwhelmingly sweet and are often best served with a wine. However you’ll find that most Italians generally avoid sugary pastries in favour of “Dulci per Adulti” or “Sweets for Adults”. When an espresso and some fruit isn’t enough to suffice, Italians reach for something both savoury and sweet. Traditionally, dulci per adulti consists of a pairing of cheese and sweet lipids and most visitors to Italy will experience the tradition as a cheese plate stacked with thin slices of aged pecorino – parmesan’s salty cousin – drizzled with honey. The two flavors are profoundly complimentary. The taste of the mild, nutty cheese and the taste of the honey melt into each other quickly, unifying on the palate into something extraordinarily delicate.

But dulci per adulti isn’t limited to one blockbuster combo. Gorgonzola cheese, spread across a thin slice of bread and drizzled with honey is a memorable after dinner treat that leaves a wonderful taste in the mouth and compliments a full-bodied red wine. A more toothy option comes from dipping chunks of crumbled parmesan into aged balsamic vinegar, drizzling lightly with honey, and consuming (typically, with relish). For those that cheese and honey won’t suffice, there are countless choices such as tiramisu, gelato, cannoli, biscotti… the list goes on and on. So for today, to end Italian week, I’ve given you two dessert recipes; one a little heavier than the other, depending on your mood (and your diet). The tiramisu is great for a crowd, and the biscotti are perfect for a quiet night, or curled up with a cup of espresso. No matter what you choose to finish your meal, it will be a dolce notte!

Sneaky Veggie Lasagna

Lasagna

Ingredients:

12 Lasagna noodles
2 cups Tomato sauce
1 Zucchini, medium
1 Eggplant, medium
1 Red Pepper
5 cloves of Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 cups Ricotta Cheese (or low fat creamed cottage cheese)
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup shredded hard cheese, like Mozzarella
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and lightly grease or spray a cookie sheet. Wash all the vegetables, removing the stems from the larger vegetables. Slice the zucchini in half, lengthwise and place cut side down on cookie sheet. Slice the eggplant in half. Leaving the skin intact take a paring knife and gently slice around the rim of the flesh, then criss-cross the flesh of the eggplant. Place cut side down on the cookie sheet. Slice the pepper in half and remove the core and any seeds. Place cut side down on the cookie sheet. Wrap the garlic cloves in tinfoil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and EVOO, then make into a little baseball shaped package and place on the sheet. Sprinkle all the remaining vegetables with EVOO and salt and pepper. Place in the oven for around 15 minutes, checking to see how the vegetables are doing. The skins may blacken (especially on the peppers) this is NORMAL!! TIP: Keep your over door slightly ajar during this, so that you don’t set off your smoke detectors.

While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water up to a boil on the stove. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add a heaping tablespoon of salt and drop in the pasta noodles. Cook, minus a minute or two, according the pasta’s directions on the package they came in. Drain the noodles into a colander and allow to cool so that you can handle them to layer.

Remove the roasted veggies from the oven. Allow to cool for a few moments while you reduce the oven temperature to 350 (for baking the lasagna) and while you set up your food processor with the metal chopping blade. In your food processor, add the cloves of garlic, the zucchini, the eggplant, minus the skin (which should just slide out since you scored it). For the pepper, try and remove as much of the pepper skin first before adding it to the mix, but you don’t have to be perfect. Give the vegetables a few whirls to break everything down. Next add the ricotta and parmesan cheeses to the mix. Hit the pulse button to mix it up, then add the eggs and a touch of salt and pepper to taste. Give it once last pulse to fully combine.

Lastly, in a 9×13 baking dish layer the lasagna as follows: Tomato sauce, Noodles, Cheese/Vegetable mixture, grated cheese, repeating until the dish is filled and ending with noodles, sauce and grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Let sit for 15 minutes before cutting into, to allow the cheese to set.