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Three Cheese Macaroni

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One of my favorite traditions is our yearly friends Thanksgiving- Fauxgiving. We invite a ton of friends over and I cook everything that I’m planning on posting for the whole of the holiday season. It’s a day that allows me to test and make and photograph a ton of recipes and feed people that I love.

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This year the mac n’ cheese was the first thing out of the oven, the first thing on the table. It was a big hit, mac n’ cheese is always a crowd pleaser, but it also set the scene for the rest of the dishes. It filled the house with the smell of baking and caramelizing cheese, and it drew people in so before I knew it they were filling their plates, eating, laughing, talking, and coming back for seconds.

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A solid mac n’ cheese deserves a place on every Thanksgiving table. This mac n’ cheese boasts three cheeses- Swiss, parmesan, and fresh mozzarella. Not to mention a rich cream sauce and a dusting of chipotle and cayenne, to keep things interesting.

mac and cheese

Three Cheese Macaroni

1 lb shells

1 large ball fresh mozzarella, approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

2 cups shredded parmesan cheese

3 cups whole milk

2 tbsp flour

1 cup heavy cream

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 stick butter

1 tbsp chipotle

1 tsp cayenne

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp salt

Boil macaroni, drain, and transfer into baking dish. Cube fresh mozzarella and mix into pasta.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat milk, cream, and garlic in a pot, taking care not to boil. When the mixture has scalded (come close to a boil), remove from heat. Set aside. Melt butter over medium heat. When it has melted, whisk in flour and continue whisking to prevent clumps. Stir the milk mixture back in and add the cheese, stirring constantly until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and salt. Pour over the macaroni.

Top macaroni with chipotle, cayenne, and a pinch of sea salt. Finish with a generous layer of grated parmesan.

Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.

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Grilled Turkey, Herbed & Buttered

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Last Thanksgiving we spent a week in the Poconos with Dan’s cousins Nate and Jess. While initially it was weird to not attend a big family dinner, it ended up being one of our favorite Thanksgivings yet. We ate, drank, hiked, relaxed, and cooked a really fantastic dinner. It also pushed me out of my comfort zone (brining and frying a turkey) and forced me to experiment with a method I’d been wanting to try- grilled turkey.

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Nate and Jess had a nice large bird waiting for us when we arrived and I decided to fall back on a few favorite ingredients- butter, garlic, and rosemary. I inserted two heads of garlic directly into the turkey, rubbed it down with a generous amount of salted butter, and topped it off with fresh rosemary. After a few hours on the grill it was perfectly cooked, and completely delicious. Grilling the turkey over indirect heat allows the skin to crisp up and for the bird to cook through without drying out. It also freed the oven up for all the delicious pies and casseroles we had going in and out, which helped keep the meal fun and casual instead of stressful. Which is my ideal kind of Thanksgiving.

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Grilled Turkey

1 turkey (12 pounds)

1 stick salted butter, room temperature

2 heads of garlic

Fresh rosemary

Salt

Pepper

String for trussing

Heat grill to 350F.

Rinse your turkey and remove gizzards and neck. Peel garlic and set one head aside. Cut a series of slits in the bird’s breast, thighs, and wings; stuffing the garlic cloves into the slits as you work.

Rub butter generously over the bird, getting under the skin when possible. Divide the rosemary in half, rubbing half into the skin of the bird and placing the other half in the cavity. Add remaining garlic to the cavity along with the rosemary. Sprinkle bird with salt and pepper and tie the back legs together.

Grill for 12 minutes per pound or for 2 1/2 hours (with a 12lb bird) or until breast meat temperature has reached 175F. Let rest 1 hour before slicing.

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Salt Crusted Snapper

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When Julia was here a few weeks ago we finally got the chance to try something we’ve been wanting to do for a while- salt pack a fish. Cooking fish with a salt crust seals all of the juices and moisture together, the end result being a rich and flavorful dish that comes with the benefit of a pretty stunning presentation.

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We picked up a whole pink snapper on the way home from Carolina Beach (we asked for the fish dressed- cleaned, gutted, and scaled) and stuffed it with lemon, butter, rosemary, and pepper. One pound of sea or kosher salt per pound of fish, 1 egg white per pound, and a drizzle of olive oil on top to add a little flavor, and the fish was in the oven.

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 We served it with braised greens and lemon quinoa and white wine, feasting on steamed crabs as an appetizer and ending the night with Caiphirnhas, full stomachs, and happy hearts.

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The fish was perfect- not too salty, wonderfully moist, full of flavor. And while this is definitely a technique I’d try again, it won’t be something that we do regularly. The amount of salt needed for the recipe makes this a dinner party dish, something we pull out when we want to impress.

salt packed fish 1 Salt Crusted Snapper

1 red or pink snapper, 3-4 pounds

4 pounds kosher or sea salt

4 egg whites

1 lemon

Fresh rosemary

1/2 stick butter

Olive oil

Pepper

At the fish market, ask for your fish dressed- gutted, scaled, and cleaned. Mix together egg whites and salt and preheat your oven to 400. On a large baking sheet make a bed of salt with half the mixture. Stuff your fish with sliced lemons, rosemary, pepper, and butter and place on top of salt bed. Drizzle with olive oil and use the remaining salt mixture to completely cover the fish, pressing the salt around the fish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the fish is golden brown.

 

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