Bread is one of those things, I can just never get enough of. (Or cheese). I am usually a yeast bread kind of girl - I love the process, the feel, the smell. I find it very therapeutic. But I can also get behind quick breads. And the instant gratification they bring. Hey, anytime a recipe helps me clean out those little cheese-end chunks that seem to pile up in "that drawer" in my refrigerator before they turn green like a shamrock, I am a happy camper. (I don't even want to talk about those times when I forget to take inventory for a few weeks... or longer - but I am doing better with that now, thanks for asking...)
Any hoo....This week's recipe had me mentally comparing and contrasting (yes, my mother was an English teacher) yeast breads vs. quick breads and the virtues & drawbacks of each. I will spare y'all the thesis, but it did get me to thinking that teenage girls are a lot like quick bread. (I just happen to have two of those - teenage girls that is, not quick breads)
It seems thrown together - after all, it is "quick" bread. Minimal handling required. You pop it in the oven and poof, it expands - quickly rising and releasing it's energy. And then its done. Kind of like a mood swing or an exploding emotional outbreak rooted in causes not yet known.
Not there. There. Done. Next.
At the end of the day, if handled right (like the teenager), you will end up with a final product that is enjoyable (and a few dirty dishes to clean up - this holds true for both the teenager & the bread).
Back to FFwD... Since it was just The Karate Kid & I, we opted to round out our Cheese & Chive Bread with Seafood Mac-n-Cheese. No vegetables. Just cheese & carbs. Soooo bad. But oh so right.
Here is a link to Lobster Mac-n-Cheese from FoodNetwork.com. I changed up the proportions on some of the items & edited some of the ingredients to match my personal taste.
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com, recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Salt for boiling pasta
1 pound of orecchiette - or other small shaped pasta
3-4 cups milk (whole milk works best)
9 Tbs unsalted butter (6 Tbs + 3 Tbs)
1/2 cup unbleached AP flour
6 cups of good quality cheese, grated (I used 3-4 different cheeses - use what you like, just make sure its the good stuff - no Velveeta please...)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Salt to taste (I did not add additional salt - I thought the cheese contained more than enough for my liking)
1 1/2 lbs cooked seafood
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used leftover bread heels from the freezer that I ran through the food processor - whatever you have on hand is fine)
Preheat oven - 375F. Prepare pasta according to package directions - leave slightly al dente. Drain well. Reserve.
Note: the key to the sauce is SLOWLY working in the ingredients. This helps keep everything smooth... No one wants to bite into a lump of raw flour. Trust me...
Warm milk in a medium sized sauce pan, be sure not to let it boil. While the milk is warming, melt 6 Tbs of butter in a large pot. Once melted, reduce heat to low and slowly add the flour - whisking until fully incorporated. Once incorporated, cook for 2-3 minutes - constantly stirring. Slowly add warmed milk - keep whisking! Cook for a few more minutes - mixture should thicken. Once it thickens - remove from heat & stir in cheese until melted. Stir in pepper & nutmeg. Add cooked pasta & seafood - stir to combine.
Melt 3 Tbs butter and mix with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over top of mixture.
Transfer to buttered casserole. Bake for ~30-40 minutes until bubbly & breadcrumbs are browned. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie - come check out the cheesy goodness everyone else has been up to!