Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower and Broccoli

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This version of the classic comfort food gets heat from cayenne, white pepper and dry mustard, and sharp flavor from extra sharp cheddar and Parmesan, and a kick from the Chardonnay. I add cauliflower which is good on its own with the cheese sauce, and if you like, broccoli for extra color.
Preheat oven to 375◦

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Serves 10

½ large onion or 1 small onion, chopped
1 large head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
2 Tb butter
Melt butter in heavy frying pan. Chop onion and stir into butter over medium-low heat until soft. While the onions are cooking, slice cauliflower and broccoli and cut into flowerets. Stir into onion mixture and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower in the oven and add to the onions and broccoli. I use a food processor with a grater attachment to grate the cheese.
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 tsp salt
Boil a large pot full of water. Stir in salt and macaroni and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Drain. Pour back into the pot. Stir the cauliflower and broccoli into the macaroni.

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roux:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
a few shakes cayenne to taste
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups milk (I use 1%)
¼ cup dry white wine such as chardonnay
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until it makes a thick, smooth paste. Cook the roux for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in one cup milk until smooth. Whisk in the rest of the milk. Stir in cayenne, mustard, bay leaf, salt and white pepper. Cook this béchamel sauce for 15 minutes, whisking constantly. Turn off heat. Remove bay leaf. Whisk in grated cheese until fully incorporated in sauce. Stir in ¼ cup wine. Adjust salt if desired.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and vegetables and stir until it is well combined. Spray a large casserole with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into casserole.

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Bake at 375◦ for 30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Bright and Crunchy Kale/Broccoli/Carrot Salad

DSC03091I combined 3 popular salads: kale, broccoli and carrot, into one delicious and nutritious salad. Carrot and jicama add natural sweetness and a bit of crunch, Meyer lemon juice and cilantro brighten the flavor; and almonds give an added crunch.

Kale is quite tough and bitter, but a good massage will break down its cell walls. This cell damage frees the enzymes which break apart the bitter chemical compounds. You can even light candles and put on soothing music to relax the kale.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Broccoli Broccoli stems are very tender once you peel off the tough outer layer. Broccoli salads are made from grating these stems.

I made this with only one bunch of kale, which created a balance between the kale and the other vegetables. If you like your salad with more kale, add another bunch.

Serves 4

ingredients1 bunch Dinosaur kale (also known as Tuscan or Lacinato ), or curly kale ,stems discarded

3 large carrots, peeled

3 or 4 broccoli stems, peeled (use crowns for another purpose)

1 small jicama, peeled

2 Tb cilantro leaves, stems discarded

1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

Dressing:

2 Tb garlic-infused olive oil (or 2 Tb olive oil and 1 clove garlic)

¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

¼  tsp salt to taste

2 Tb lemon juice (Meyer lemon is best)

If you don’t have garlic-infused olive oil, pour extra virgin olive oil into a teacup or ramekin with 1 clove garlic and microwave for 1 ½ minutes. Pour into a food processor with blade and run on high until garlic is minced.

Add tahini and salt to garlic olive oil. Run processor on high until dressing is emulsified. It will be  thick.

chop kaleStrip the leaves from kale and discard the stems. Chop leaves, rinse well in salad spinner and spin dry. Put in a medium bowl.

DSC03087Roughly squeeze and massage dressing into kale leaves with your hands for several minutes until kale shrinks to half its volume and becomes darker and silky.

Peel carrots, broccoli stems and jicama, then shred using the grater attachment to the food processor.

Add these vegetables and the lemon juice to the kale. Toss salad until the dressing coats it.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with almonds and cilantro leaves. Throw on some pomegranate seeds if they are in season.