Another gorgeous day here, and we’ve managed to get another day with no rain. No rain in the forecast for the next 5 days or so – I could certainly get used to this!
Dinner tonight used another underutilized cookbook. This time, I cooked from New New Orleans Cooking from Emeril. Originally published in 1993, I made his Kicked-Up Sausage Macaroni and Cheese. An adult version mac and cheese, it’s studded with spicy sausage, pepper and onions. A hit all around, it’s a definite repeater for us, even though it dirtied 4 pots (I hate that!).
I also made Miss Leslie’s Ham Salad, a Rachael Ray recipe that I’ve made before. A simple-to-make salad, it gets a slight tang from yellow mustard and green olives. Our toddler LOVES olives of any sort, so he, of course, devoured this salad.
Ran to Costco doing some errands today, and a trip there is not complete without a gander at what new cookbooks they may have. There might be a new one that I simply can’t live without and, lo and behold, there was! I scored The Cookie Bible, a bargain at $9.99. Filled to the brim with assorted cookie recipes, there is a picture of each one (I love that!). I want Nicholas to grow up with the memory of a cookie jar on the kitchen counter, filled with delicious treats. This book certainly gives me a plethora of options. And speaking of cookies, I have been coveting this cookie jar for about six months now, and finally broke down and bought it. Pretty fitting I’d say. “C is for Cookie, it’s good enough for me…”
Kicked Up Sausage Macaroni and Cheese
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 pound spicy pork sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a large casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onions, bell peppers, and 1 teaspoon of the Essence, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and anise seeds, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Melt the remaining stick of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat until thick, 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well. Add the noodles, cooked sausage and vegetables, and stir well to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of cheese with the breadcrumbs and remaining 2 teaspoons of Essence. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):
2-1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup
Miss Leslie’s Ham Salad
2 tubes, 6 pieces each, large bake-off biscuits (i.e., Pillsbury brand)
1 pound cooked ham from the deli, 1/4-inch thick slices, diced
3 ribs celery, from the heart, finely chopped
1/2 cup salad olives with pimento, drained, chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley – a couple of handfuls of leaves
1/3 cup mayonnaise, just enough to bind salad
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
Salt and black pepper
Prepare bake-off biscuits to package directions, 8 to 10 minutes in the oven. Cool biscuits on wire rack. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl and adjust seasonings, to taste. Split cool biscuits and fill with ham salad.