Happy Valley Chow

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Filtering by Category: "mac n cheese"

Modernist Cuisine at Home

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
Modernist Cuisine at Home is the subsidiary of, what may be, the greatest cooking tome of all time, Modernist Cuisine. Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet--scientists, inventors, and accomplished cooks in their own right--have created a six-volume, 2,400-page set that reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking. MC digs deep into the historical, scientific, molecular and pretty much every facet of cooking. 

While Modernist Cuisine is a beautiful and inspiring book, it is not for the faint of heart. Most likely the average home cook wouldn't even know where to start with some of the recipes, not to mention not having the equipment needed to pull off the recipes. That's where Modernist Cuisine at Home comes in. Granted you do still need some speciality equipment like an Immersion Circulator and Pressure cooker to really dive deep into this book, but those items are within grasps of most consumers. 

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
After spending a few days perusing the book and trying out some of the recipes. I have to admit, this might be one of my most favorite cookbooks to date. It's just as beautiful and inspiring as the original MC, it introduces modern techniques to traditional recipes, it's fun to cook out of, it's challenging to cook out of and honestly I feel like I'm becoming a better cook from simply reading it. Again, this isn't for the faint of heart and I would recommend that you have a decent understanding of cooking techniques. But, if you are looking for something new and exciting to spice up your cooking world, than this is it!

"Modernist Cuisine at Home offers useful techniques and solutions that expand our abilities  and it provides us with a practiced and thorough understanding of why things happen the way they do. Most importantly, it ignites a curiosity within and compels us to ask ourselves not 'What should we make for dinner?' but rather, 'What can we make for dinner?' Modernist Cuisine at HOme will provide another quantum leap in our understanding and in our relationship with the food we like to cook" ~Thomas Keller

"Modernist Cuisine at Home is destined to change the way we cook-and the way we use recipes. For all of us who cook regularly, this book opens up a whole new world of possibilites. It is full of insights that encourage us to try something new, and that teach us something on every single page." ~Martha Stewart

I went ahead and started on the easier side with this book. Instead of jumping in for the hardest recipes, I figured I'd test the water with the Chicken Wings and Macaroni and Cheese. 

The chicken wings were definitely some of the best I have ever had. I never really thought to brine chicken wings just cause there isn't that much meat, but it is definitely worth taking the time to brine them. Then after cooking them sous vide at 149℉, you have one heck of a juicy and tender chicken wing (Cooking chicken sous vide at 140℉ for at least 30 min. pasteurizes the meat making it completely safe and extremely moist, unlike the traditional 165℉). 

The macaroni and cheese was also very good. But, I think next time I will use cheeses other than Cheddar and Swiss because they really don't need the Sodium Citrate to emulsify them together. The cheese sauce is quite thick, velvety and delicious...it has the consistency of store bought mac n' cheese, but just a lot better flavor because of the better quality cheese. 

A big thank you to the Modernist Cuisine at Home crew for allowing me access to their book and share with all of you their Macaroni and Cheese Recipe. Enjoy!

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
I think the recipe layout is pretty self explanatory, but it is a laid out a little different than your traditional recipe. Each part of the recipe is broken up by the red lines. You have your ingredients, the amount you need of each ingredient and then what to do with each ingredient. Just follow the procedures, add in all the ingredients in each step, then move onto the next line. In my case I substituted 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar and 1 cup of shredded swiss for the white cheddar. I also folded in a whole roasted red pepper. 

In addition to having the opportunity to use this book, I also have been given the opportunity to use a GoPro camera to start making cooking videos! I figured since I just got the camera, I might as well kill two birds with one stone and use it for this review. I am using the GoPro Hero3 White edition, with the Chest Mount Harness. There will be many more videos in the future!

Twisted Mac n' Cheese

Lee and I got on the topic of Hard Rock Cafe the other day and she said she loves the Twisted Mac n' Cheese there. So, after doing some looking around, I came across a few recipes for it and we decided to make it one night. It turned out delicious! The roasted red pepper in there really gives it a nice flavor and I may never eat mac n' cheese again without roasted red pepper. It also made me realize, why buy the kraft mac n' cheese, when you can make the same exact thing, in the same amount of time for less money. The recipe is not labor intensive at all and I think we'll probably never buy another box of craft mac n' cheese again. Enjoy!

  • 4 cups cavatappi pasta
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 8 ounces velveeta
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon grounded cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grounded black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, roasted and diced
  • 4 teaspoons seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 4 teaspoons parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley, minced
  • Sauteed Chicken Breast Recipe
Set the rack in your oven to the highest position, set the oven to broil. Cut the top off the red pepper, seed and then cut the pepper in half. Put the red pepper halves, skin side up, on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Drizzle some olive oil on top of the pepper and season with salt and pepper. Broil on high, until skins are scorched and black. Remove from oven and place in either a brown paper bag or a resealable plastic bag and let cool completely. Once cooled, remove the scorched skin, it should peel right off and then dice. 

Use a large saucepan to cook pasta following directions on packaging. Don't forget to properly salt the water!! 

While the pasta is cooking, combine the milk, velveeta, cheddar cheese, jack cheese, cayenne pepper, and black pepper in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until the cheese is melted and you have a smooth cheese sauce. Once pasta is al dente, drain and return to pan, add in the cheese sauce and red pepper, mix to incorporate.

This step is optional, as you can see I didn't do it in the picture. Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture on-top of the mac n' cheese. Serve the mac n' cheese by it self or with my sauteed chicken breast recipe that you can find in the Chicken Club recipe!

Crock Pot Mac n' Cheese

This post may give you the impression that I'm addicted to mac n' cheese, I'm not really, but I sure do love it. Especially crock pot mac n' cheese, it's so simple! You just throw all the ingredients in the pot and after a few hours you have a creamy, delicious batch. This isn't a really good recipe to let cook all day, only 2 hours, but if you have a timer for your crock pot, then by all means throw it in and make the necessary settings. Hope you enjoy!

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

Boil the macaroni in salt water for six minutes and drain. In crock pot, combine macaroni, butter, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, egg, sour cream, cheddar cheese soup, salt, whole milk, dry mustard and black pepper. Mix well and incorporate through. Cook on low for 2 ½ hours stirring occasionally. 

 Kitchen Tips 

Why add salt to water when boiling pasta?? To some of you this may seem like a silly question. Some may add salt to water, but don't really know why they are doing it. Then some...wait you're suppose to add salt to the water before cooking pasta?? So again, why salt the water before boiling pasta? Because, it is really the only point in the cooking process where you can season the pasta and you should be generously adding salt to the water, it should taste like salt water. Some of the salt is absorbed into the noodles during the cooking process, not doing this will give it a bland taste. But, can't I just season it later?? No, since you aren't cooking the pasta anymore, the salt has no medium (i.e. water) to absorb into the pasta. Instead you will just have a bland piece of pasta with a salty exterior. Really whenever you are cooking, you should be salting each individual element of the cooking process. Doing this will ensure that the whole meal is properly seasoned. Meaning your guests will be less likely to say "pass the salt." 


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