Panera Macaroni and Cheese

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Confession time, I don’t like oven-baked macaroni and cheese…I’ll pause a moment for the shock and awe to die down. You OK now? Good. With that said, I looooove me some stove-top mac and one of the best (that doesn’t come in a blue or yellow box) is Panera’s. I found a recipe from Food, Folks and Fun that’s supposedly Panera’s official recipe and it’s super simple, super quick and super yummy – the trifecta.

Ingredients
  • 1 16-ounce Package package of rigati pasta (I used large shells because I couldn’t find rigati…or small shells, orecchiette would be nice)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cup milk
  • 6 Slices white American cheese (or like 12, whaaaatever)
  • 8 oz extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar (grated)
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce (I used Siracha)
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
  5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated). Serve immediately.

 

 

Spinach and Three Cheese Ravioli

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About a month ago now, I decided I wanted to make some ravioli from scratch – yes a month ago. I’ll admit it, I made the ravioli, took pictures on an ACTUAL camera and then forgot to post the result, mea culpa. I got the dough recipe from serious eats the filling recipe (spinach and cheeeeeese) from Tyler Florence and the method from serious eats. I didn’t have any rolling attachment for the kitchen aide so I used a hand cranked pasta maker (with the assistance of my father because MAN are those things hard to crank and hold down when they’re not anchored down) and used a ravioli press and pastry cutter. Make sure the dough is covered as much as possible so it’s not exposed to the air. I did this by rolling the dough onto, and covering it with a damp cloth. These came out nice but there was some water seepage because I didn’t seal them well enough. There was a lot of filling left over…I honestly can’t remember if I doubled the filling recipe or not though. If you do end up with extra filling, put it to good use, it’s yummers!

Egg Dough

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 whole large eggs (about 4 ounces)
  • 4 yolks from 4 large eggs (about 2.5 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for salting water

Directions

  1. To Make the Dough: On a large, clean work surface, pour flour in a mound. Make a well in the center about 4 inches wide. Pour whole eggs, egg yolks, and salt into well and, using a fork, beat thoroughly. When combined, gradually incorporate flour into the eggs until a wet, sticky dough has formed.

  2. Using a bench knife, scrape excess dough from fork and fingers. Begin to fold additional flour into the dough with the bench knife, turning the dough roughly 45 degrees each time, until dough feels firm and dry, and can form a craggy-looking ball, 2 to 5 minutes.

  3. Press the heel of your hand into the ball of dough, pushing forward and down. Rotate the ball 45 degrees and repeat. Continue until dough develops a smooth, elastic texture similar to a firm ball of Play-Doh. If dough feels too wet, add flour in 1 teaspoon increments. If dough feels too dry, add water slowly using a spray bottle. (I lazed-out and added extra water by running my hand under the faucet and dripping water into the dough)

  4. Wrap ball of dough tightly in plastic wrap and rest on countertop for 30 minutes.

  5. To Roll the Pasta: Meanwhile, place a sheet of parchment paper on a tray or cutting board and dust lightly with flour. Unwrap rested dough and cut into quarters. Set one quarter on work surface and re-wrap remaining dough. With a rolling pin, flatten the quarter of dough into an oblong shape about 1/2 inch thick.

  6. Set pasta maker to widest setting and pass dough 3 times through the machine at this setting.

  7. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Fold both ends in so that they meet at the center of the dough, and then fold the dough in half where the end points meet, trying not to incorporate too much air into the folds. Using rolling pin, flatten dough to 1/2-inch thick. Pass through the rollers 3 additional times.

  8. Narrow the setting by 1 notch and repeat Step 7. Repeat once more (the dough should now have passed through the third widest setting). Continue passing the dough through the rollers, reducing the thickness by 1 setting each time until it reaches the desired thickness. It should now be very delicate and elastic to the touch, and slightly translucent.

  9. Place rolled dough onto a work surface or baking sheet lightly dusted with flour or lined with parchment paper, folding the dough over as necessary so that it fits; sprinkle with flour or line with parchment between folds to prevent sticking. (honestly to roll the dough, I just took 1/4th and passed it though the pasta maker and onto a damp towel until I got it as thick and wide as I needed)

  10. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel to prevent drying, then repeat Steps 5 through 9 with remaining dough quarters.

Filling
Ingredients

1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 (8-ounce) balls fresh buffalo mozzarella, water drained and shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 cups fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
1 large egg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, stirring to incorporate.

Method

Place the metal base of the ravioli maker in front of you and lay your first sheet of dough on top.

Then, take the plastic mold and gently press down to form depressions in the dough. You want to work relatively quickly, so that your dough doesn’t have an opportunity to dry out and become brittle. If you press too hard and the dough tears, simply ball it back up and roll it through the machine again. (You do want them as deep as possible though)

Once you have even depressions in the dough, place approximately one tablespoon of filling in each depression. Try to avoid getting filling outside the depression, since the flat perimeter is what our second sheet of dough will adhere to. You can gently wipe away excess with your your finger or a small towel if need be. (Seriously, don’t overfill…I’m a notorious over-filler)

Gently rap the mold on the table to help remove any air bubbles.

Next, lay the other half of your sheet of dough over the surface of the mold, pressing with the flat of your hand to push out any extra air. Then take a rolling pin and run it over the surface of the dough until the ridges beneath become visible. At this point, you can flip the mold over and gently peel it away. (I did this with a drinking glass)

If the dough is sufficiently perforated to pull apart, go ahead and do so. It’s possible, though, that you’ll need to use a ravioli cutter to slice them into individual pieces. (I did, I used a pasta cutter, I’m fairly certain they’re the same thing)

Cover your ravioli with a towel to keep them from drying out and repeat with your remaining pieces of dough.

Now, all that remains is tossing your ravioli into a pot of water at a low boil, and cooking for approximately three minutes, or until slicing into one reveals no starchy line in the center. (I just waited until they floated)

I served this just with a little bit of melted butter. As I mentioned before, be careful about sealing them properly!

 

Cheeseburger with Fried Egg

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What’s better than a nice juicy burger? A nice juicy burger with cheese and egg! …and mayo and ketchup…just sayin’.

Came home from work yesterday and threw these together using this recipe from Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes. It’s supposed to replicate the spice blend found in Fuddrucker’s hamburgers. It’s been a while so I don’t remember what Fudd’s hamburgers taste like, but I remember liking them. This seasoning was nice, but I think it needs some playing around with. Two people at the table are not a fan of spicy foods and this was absolutely no problem for them.

Ingredients and Instructions:

Mix together:

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 tsp  salt
  • 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder (I ran out of onion powder so I reconstituted -and then drained- some freeze-dried diced onion)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Sprinkle on burgers before cooking. (I just poured some into the beef/pork mix I made and then cooked them)

Note: apparently adding salt before forming the patties dissolves the muscle proteins and results in a less tender burger. See other notes from the Burger Lab here.

I mixed (or rather my Mom mixed) one lb of pork with one lb of beef and then added the spice mix. We cooked them for about 3 mins each side and then added cheddar cheese, covered the pans and let them cook for another 2 mins. I like my burgers medium rare so these were a little too done for me; tasted good though. I used the pan I cooked the burgers in to make the fried eggs. I was in a bit of a hurry so I just fried them up quick. For a good way to make a great sunny side up egg, check out the Pioneer Woman (love ya, Ree!). Served these on sesame buns…I vote for toasting them, but no one else wanted toasted – heathens!

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