From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Throw it together and call it... DEEELISH!!!

A daily question in the house: "Daddy, what's for dinner?"
The typical response: "I dunno. What do you want?"
The follow-up: "What are you going to make?"

As a general rule, we plan our menu out for the following week while around the dinner table, and each person gets to contribute a menu offering, with the understanding that I will PROBABLY (but not always) be the one to make it.  On tap for tonight is a Salmon with Feta Cheese dish, made with a recipe that I will  probably not follow. Last night, however, I felt no desire to do anything extravagant, although I really wanted to make my Crispy Crysanthemum Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce that I had gotten from Martin Yan's cookbook, but as I had NONE of those ingredients sitting around, I decided to make do with what I had.

And so, I went digging through the refrigerator in search of inspiration.

What I found was:

  • 1.5 pounds of hamburger meat

  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream

  • parmesan cheese

  • cheddar cheese

  • 1 box of Lord-only-knows-what-kind-this-is pasta (turns out it was Ditalini)

What to do... What to do... What to do...

First step? Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Have Eleyna brown the hamburger meat while I started a pot of water to  boil. After the meat was seasoned with Garlic, salt, and pepper, and well browned, it was drained. The pasta was then cooked to "al-dente" then drained.

Then, how to make it taste good... Butter, heavy cream, cheese... okay... Cheesy Alfredo Casserole... sounds good.  I took 2 tablespoons of butter, melted it over medium heat, poured the cream in, let it cook to just below boiling, then mixed in 1 cup of parmesan cheese.  When the parmesan cheese had just started to melt, I combined the meat and noodles, seasoned it lightly with salt and pepper, and stirred in half of the grated cheddar cheese.  I then put it into a 9" round stoneware dish and topped it with the remaining cheddar cheese.  10 minutes in the oven and I had a "gourmet" version of macaroni and cheese.

The best part? The kids LOVED it. Overall cost? About $6.00 and we had PLENTY of leftovers.  Lesson to be learned here? Alfredo Sauce is easy to make.  I have done it numerous times, and, while it is not the most healthy sauce, it is a welcome treat every once in a while.  Best Practice:  Buy the cheese, butter and heavy cream right before you are planning on cooking it, as those ingredients can tend to pick up flavors from strong odors in the refrigerator.  When selecting parmesan cheese, if you do not choose to grate it into the sauce, try to purchase the grated version, instead of using "parm in a can."  If you want a sublte taste, use sweet, unsalted butter.  For a richer flavor, use salted butter, but be ready to use less seasoning.

The greatest thrill I got from making this meal was that it was a new twist on an old favorite, or simply put, a better version of an old standby.  I knew it would taste good, because I made it with ingredients that I am a fan of.  The fact that it passed the most critical of tests (the kids' taste buds) made it all the more satisfying.

Now I know that you will NEVER get a butter or cream recipe from me as this evolves back into Chinese cooking, and my goal is still to take the mystery out of Chinese cooking.  Today's written meanderings are meant to demonstrate to those of you who have not had the pleasure of dining with my, or trying my food, that yes, I can cook too.

Good Eating, Friends...

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1 comment:

  1. You did it again--inspired another great dish for dinner! Sounds so good...