Fast Toast Friday: Baked Egg and Cheese

Fast Toast Friday 9

Here’s a quickie breakfast for you.  Preheat your oven to 375°F and take a slice (or four) of your favourite bread.

Fast Toast Friday 1

Use a knife to score a square in the slice, cutting about halfway through — not all the way through.

Fast Toast Friday 2

Use your fingers or the knife to flatten the bread inside the square, making a frame of the outer edge.

Fast Toast Friday 3

Four little toasties.

Fast Toast Friday 4

Scoop your toasties onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and carefully crack an egg into the flattened square of each slice. The frame keeps the egg from spilling everywhere.

Fast Toast Friday 5

Grate up some cheese (this is a mix of havarti and cheddar) and sprinkle it around the frame of the bread.

Fast Toast Friday 6

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the egg is cooked to your liking.  Garnish with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve with the rest of your breakfast.  Yum!

Fast Toast Friday 7

New Potatos au Gratin

New Potatoes Gratin

Au gratin dishes are the ultimate in comfort food to me.  If you were wondering, “gratin” is of French etymology, coming from a combination of the words “gratter” (to scrape or to grate) and “gratiné” (having a crust or skin).  So it’s any baked dish with a nice crust on top, usually made with bread crumbs or melted cheese.  So much cheese.

For Easter dinner I bought some new potatoes in homage to spring.  And then I wanted to cover them with cheese, in homage to the fact that the weather is still miserable here and it might as well be winter yet.  This recipe is in essence the same as the one I made with Jerusalem artichokes last year, but with a few tweaks to reflect the season.

New Potatoes Gratin

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Start with your potatoes, however many will fit in the dish you wish to use.  Use a mandolin to slice them super thin.  I prefer them thin over thick, because they cook faster, and it means I don’t have to let them cook in the pan first before putting on the cheese crust.  I can put the cheese on before I bung it in the oven and I don’t have to worry about it burning.  I like to give them a rinse in cold water, too, to get rid of some of the starch.

New Potatoes Gratin

In a measuring cup, pour about 2/3 cup heavy cream.  Obviously if you’re just making a small dish you can use less.

New Potatoes Gratin

Fill it to about the 1 1/2 cup mark with milk and liberally add ground black pepper.  Give that a stir.

New Potatoes Gratin

Grate a whole heckuva lotta cheese.  I have a mix here of gruyère and aged cheddar.

New Potatoes Gratin

While you’re at it, chop up a bunch of Italian parsley.

New Potatoes Gratin

Generously butter the dish you want to serve your potatoes in.  Line the bottom with a layer of potatoes.

New Potatoes Gratin

Sprinkle on some parsley, then some cheese.

New Potatoes Gratin

Repeat that until you get to the top layer.  Sprinkle on your parsley, then pour your milk mixture all over the whole thing.

New Potatoes Gratin

THEN cover it with the rest of the cheese.

New Potatoes Gratin

Pop that baby in the oven and bake until the top is crusty and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Enjoy!

New Potatoes Gratin

Turkey Casserole with Broccoli and Cheese

Today is an auspicious day: my paternal grandmother turns ONE HUNDRED AND ONE.

I know, right?  She was born in 1909Happy Birthday Grandma!

Because she’s a hundred and one she’s not really up-to-date on the how-tos of internet surfing, but I figured it’s the thought that counts.  I’ll probably bake her a cake too.

Today’s post is about leftovers, which are rather inauspicious, but it’s in the spirit of the sort of thing my dad remembers his mother making for him when he was younger.

Casserole.  I’m not a huge fan of casseroles.  Believe it or not I’m not a huge fan of turkey, either.  I know, it’s shocking.  It’s always a struggle for me to figure out what to do with my leftovers once I’ve finished a major turkey holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter.  Sure, there’s soup, but aside from the Pie’s favourite Hot Turkey Sandwiches (*shudder*), what else are you going to do?  Turkey salad, turkey sandwiches, cold turkey … and turkey casserole.  But this one I actually like.  I pulled it off the internet a few years ago and the ubiquitous casserole dish finds its way into my refrigerator like clockwork when there’s turkey around.  The original recipe calls for asparagus, but I use broccoli because asparagus is out of season.

Get your mise en place ready, because all the steps kind of follow each other really quickly so it’s good to be prepared ahead of time.First, chop up and gently steam about 2 cups broccoli.

Chop up a bunch of green onions (I used three green onions and a shallot) and a red pepper and set all your vegetables aside.

Cook one cup penne or similar pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Grate one cup cheddar cheese.

Have your garlic-in-a-jar at the ready.

Have also ready the following:

6 tablespoons flour.

1 1/2 cups chicken broth.

3 cups cooked diced turkey.

1 cup soft bread crumbs.

1 tbsp melted butter, cooled.

Also you will need 2 cups milk, but I don’t have a photo of that because the chicken broth was in my only remaining measuring cup.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish.

In a large saucepan on medium-low, melt 6 tablespoons butter (that’s slightly less than half a cup).

Add the red pepper and sauté until tender. 

Add 2 teaspoons garlic and the onions and cook for a further minute.

Stir in the flour until well blended.It should look all mushy.

Stir in chicken broth, cooking until thickened.

Stir in milk and cook, stirring, until thickened and hot.

Add in salt and pepper to taste, together with any herbs of your choosing, such as oregano or basil, then add the broccoli and the turkey.  Heat through.

Stir in the cheese and cook until it’s all melted in. 

Stir in the cooked drained pasta.

Pour it all into a baking dish.

Mix your melted butter with your bread crumbs.

Sprinkle that over top.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. 

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

You can keep leftovers covered in the fridge for a couple days, too.

 

 

Fancy Cheese ‘n’ Do

Happy Discovery Day Holiday, Newfoundlanders!

In Newfoundland it’s not called “macaroni and cheese”, nor is it even known by the short form of “mac and cheese.”  No, here it’s called “cheese ‘n’ do”.  The ‘cheese’ is pretty self-explanatory, but the ‘do’ comes from what locals refer to as “scooby-do pasta,” which is not formed in the shape of a cartoon dog’s face, believe it or not.  It’s the long macaroni that curls around itself a few times in a helix, otherwise known as cavatappi (“corkscrew”).  I feel like we also called it scooby-do pasta when I was growing up in Nova Scotia, but I need a sibling or parent to back me up on that one.  Feel free to tell me as well that I’m completely wrong.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any cavatappi for this particular recipe (which is odd, this being Newfoundland), so I went with gemelli instead, which is like the double-helix version of scooby-do.

'Do for two.

Mac and cheese is one of the Pie’s favourite meals, and this is one that he has perfected over the years.  We like to experiment with our cheese sauce, adding spices or even other sauces, and we have in the past added sausages and peppers to the mix.  As with most traditional recipes where each of us has preconceived notions of ingredient proportions, my cheese sauce has more cheese in it than he does, and it is a constant fight to get him to add tomatoes.  While I used to think tomatoes were a horrid addition to this casserole, my mother always insisted and now I have seen the light.  The Pie has not yet come around to the idea.  It’s a constant struggle.  Anyway, this is mostly his recipe, though I was allowed to contribute in order to post it.  Now I know all his secrets.

Tonight we took advantage of our overabundance of Ontario cheese, as well as the fresh basil now growing in the kitchen.

Grate up between two and three cups of cheese for this recipe, and what kind you use is up to you (though mozzarella doesn’t work very well, gotta say).  We used a combination of emmentaler, gruyère, and regular old cheddar.  Make sure you have all your additions ready (like if you’re adding meat, it’s cooked and ready to go) before you start melting the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted you have a limited amount of time before it starts to burn so you want to work quickly.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Melt about two tablespoons butter in a saucepan.  Add in two tablespoons flour, and mix well so there are no lumps.

Pour in two cups milk and make it nice and hot, though don’t let it boil or burn.

While that’s going on, cook up a box (450g) of small noodles (like macaroni) according to package instructions.  Drain and return to the pot you cooked it in. 

Whisk  two to three cups grated cheese into your hot milk.  You can retain some of this for sprinkling on top of the casserole but that’s up to you.  Add lots of salt and pepper to the cheesy mix.  We also added several sliced leaves of fresh basil to the sauce at this point.

When the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is thick (careful not to burn it!), empty your sauce into the pot with the noodles and give it a good stir.  Make sure the cheese coats all the noodles and whatever else you put in there.  We like to add a few things to the noodles, so we put in half a can of diced, drained tomatoes.  We also put in some diced cooked bacon.Be thorough in your stirring.Pour out into a sufficiently large casserole dish (9″ x 13″ works well) and smooth out the top.  The noise made when stirring macaroni in a sauce is truly disgusting.  I love it.

You can sprinkle on any leftover cheese at this stage.  Some people like to top their mac with a butter and bread crumb mixture, but we figure we have enough carbs going on, so we just add more fat.  Mmmm.Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the top is crispy and bubbling throughout.  Remove from the oven and let it cool for ten minutes or so before serving.  If you don’t you will sear the inside of your mouth with molten cheese and everything will get all over the place.  The casserole needs to solidify a bit first.Serve it with some vegetables on the side or whatever you want.  I like to add a few drops of Tabasco to mine for added spiciness.This keeps well for leftovers, if your husband doesn’t eat it all immediately.