Tag: French Food

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

This is macaroni and cheese for adults, but children also love it.

 

Ingredients for macaroni and cheese
One of the benefits of making this dish from scratch is that there’s no processed ingredients to be worried about. And yet, it’s still simple to make.

 

It’s the French version, called Macaroni au Gratin, from one of my favorite cookbooks, “French Home Cooking,” by Paul Bocuse. But don’t be scared. It’s not one of those complicated, 25-step recipes, some people associate with French cooking. This cookbook is filled with simple recipes that home cooks use: perfect recipes for Rootsliving.

I bought the book in Paris more than 30 years ago in a small bookshop across from the Luxembourg Gardens.

 

A casserole of mac and cheese.
The top will turn a beautiful brown when it’s done cooking.

 

The most time-consuming part of the recipe is boiling water for the pasta. The recipe calls for using “long macaroni.” I used “bucatini,” which also goes by the name, “perciatelli.” It’s long and thin but tubular, like a thin straw. You could also use penne. And I imagine even elbows, the traditional Mac & Cheese pasta of the U.S., would work well.

 

A bowl of macaroni and cheese.
The pasta on top becomes crunchy, while the pasta below remains hot and gooey, after being in the oven for an hour.

 

This is more refined than the American Mac & Cheese dish. Instead of cheddar cheese, Gruyere is used. And a touch of nutmeg in the milk and cream sauce takes this dish to another level.

 

Tricia taking some macaroni and cheese from the stovetop.
Tricia helps herself to some macaroni au gratin in the Rootsliving kitchen.

 

It’s great served with salad and a crusty baguette.

 

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

March 10, 2019
: 6
: 15 min
: 1 hr 10 min
: 1 hr 25 min
: Easy

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, “French Home Cooking,” by Paul Bocuse.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 pound long macaroni (I used dried “bucatini,” but you could also use penne or even elbows.)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 4 1/2 cups milk
  • Salt, pepper
  • Nutmeg (preferably, fresh ground)
  • 3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, of heavy cream
  • 4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
  • 2 ounces butter (preferably unsalted), cut into small pieces
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 350
  • Step 2 Cook macaroni in rapidly boiling salted water for 7 minutes, then drain in a colander (do not cool).
  • Step 3 Rub a large baking dish with the garlic and butter it well.
  • Step 4 Heat the milk in a large saucepan and season generously with salt, pepper, and a just a pinch or two of nutmeg (Note: Nutmeg is strong, especially fresh-ground, and you don’t need much to add flavor).
  • Step 5 Stir in the cream and the macaroni, then pour into the baking dish.
  • Step 6 Sprinkle with grated cheese, dot with butter, and bake for one hour (The macaroni should bake for a long time. It will finish cooking in the milk and become beautifully browned on top).

 

Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella

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Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants: La Zucca Magica, in Nice. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed a few years ago, but I have fond memories. It was an Italian vegetarian restaurant that got much acclaim from guide books and the New York Times.

 

 

Stuffed chard in a bowl
It’s best to serve these individually, surrounded by a little broth and topped with some lemon zest.

 

Don’t let the vegetarian label fool you into thinking the dishes were light there. La Zucca Magica served hearty meals laden with butter, oil, and tomato sauces. I can assure you no one left there hungry.

We didn’t have this dish at the restaurant but I made it when we got home using a recipe that was posted on the New York Times site that has since disappeared. And I was able to save the written recipe (see below).

 

 

Stuffed chard in a baking dish
Choose a baking pan where the chard just about fit and are close together.

 

There are multiple flavors and textures that work well together in this tasty delicacy. The fresh healthy green of the soft swiss chard leaves; the light mellow taste of saffron; the bite of the lemon zest; and the sweetness of the Parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese all make your taste buds dance.

 

A hand-held lemon zester
This recipe calls for lemon zest. This hand-held lemon zester works great, catching the zest as you scrape. It works much better than using a cheese grater. I just got this tool as a gift and will now use nothing else.

 

I served this as the third course in a three course meal I created from recipes I got in Southern France. Although none of the courses contained meat, the three courses were very filling.  I’ve also served it in the Rootsliving dining room on Christmas Eve as a second course, before the main meal of Vegetable Lasagna Masterpiece.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “5 Recipes to Help you Stay Healthy and Lose Weight,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

 

Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella

October 15, 2018
: 6
: 1 hr
: Medium

There are some skills required to making this dish, including making a good risotto.

By:

Ingredients
  • Vegetable broth (6 cups)
  • Arborio rice (1 cup)
  • Saffron (1 large pinch)
  • Lemon (1 small, zested)
  • Butter (2 tablespoons)
  • Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup grated
  • I recommend using the best, Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Swiss chard leaves (6 large)
  • Mozzarella (1/2 pound cut into small cubes)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (enough to drizzle over the leaves)
Directions
  • Step 1 Make risotto by heating up 1 tbsp of butter and adding the rice. Stir and let the rice get warm (about a minute or two) before adding the first ladle full of hot vegetable broth. The secret to making good risotto is to use hot broth and only add about a ladle full at a time, just enough to cover the rice.
  • Step 2 Keep the heat on low to medium. When the first ladle full of hot broth is nearly absorbed (the liquid should still be covering the rice), add another ladle full and stir until all three cups are used. Stir just enough so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Do not leave the pan unattended until you’re done making the risotto. The rice should end up being barely tender.
  • Step 3 Dissolve saffron in juice of one lemon. Add to rice, along with butter, Parmesan, zest of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Allow rice to cool a bit. Rice can be made in advance at this point (up to 1 day), but do not refrigerate it.
  • Step 4 Poach chard leaves in about 2 cups of the remaining broth for about 45 seconds. Take out, drain on a dishcloth, and cut out the hardest part of central stem. Reserve cooking broth.
  • Step 5 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With wet hands, form 6 balls of rice 2 to 3 inches across. Dig a hole in each ball and insert mozzarella. Wrap each ball in a chard leaf.
  • Step 6 Put the stuffed chard in a close-fitting oven pan, with enough reserved broth to come about a half-inch up the sides of the balls. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Step 7 Serve balls topped with a little more broth, more lemon zest, Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

 

Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella

October 15, 2018
: 6
: 1 hr
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Vegetable broth (6 cups)
  • Arborio rice (1 cup)
  • Saffron (1 large pinch)
  • Lemon (1 small, zested)
  • Butter (2 tablespoons)
  • Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup grated
  • I recommend using the best, Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Swiss chard leaves (6 large)
  • Mozzarella (1/2 pound cut into small cubes)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (enough to drizzle over the leaves)
Directions
  • Step 1 Make risotto by heating up 1 tbsp of butter and adding the rice. Stir and then add one up of the vegetable broth. Keep heat on low to medium. When the liquid is absorbed add another cup and stir until all three cups are used. Rice should be barely tender.
  • Step 2 Dissolve saffron in juice of one lemon. Add to rice, along with butter, Parmesan, zest of one lemon and pepper to taste. Allow rice to cool a bit. Rice can be made in advance at this point (up to 1 day), but do not refrigerate it.
  • Step 3 Poach chard leaves in about 2 cups remaining broth for about 45 seconds. Take out, drain on a dishcloth, and cut out the hardest part of central stem. Reserve cooking broth.
  • Step 4 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With wet hands, form 6 balls of rice 2 to 3 inches across. Dig a hole in each ball and insert mozzarella. Wrap each ball in a chard leaf.
  • Step 5 Put balls in a close-fitting oven pan, with enough reserved broth to come about a half-inch up the sides of the balls. Bake 20 minutes.
  • Step 6 Serve balls topped with a little more broth, more lemon zest, Parmesan and olive oil.
The Best French Onion Soup Recipe

The Best French Onion Soup Recipe

French cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, as evidenced by this easy recipe for this classic soup.

I found the recipe in a cookbook I bought in Paris more than 20 years ago.  I got it in a small bookshop across from the Luxembourg Gardens: one of my favorite spots for coffee and a walk.

It’s written by French chef Paul Bocuse and it’s called “French Home Cooking.” It has the best French Onion Soup recipe: one that takes about an hour or less to make.

Don’t worry about making your own beef stock. Just buy your favorite store brand. Although you don’t need individual soup crocks it’s fun to have them and you can probably pick up some cheap at a dollar store or on eBay.

French Onion Soup From A Master Chef

January 30, 2014
: 1 hr
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • Butter (2 ounces)
  • Onions (About two medium, peeled and sliced into circles)
  • Flour (About one ounce)
  • Beef Stock (or bouillon or even water. I’ve never used water but Mr. Bocuse says it works) (About 2 1/2 pints)
  • French Bread (Two slices per serving, toasted)
  • Gruyere Cheese (About 3 1/2 ounces grated)
  • Pepper (To taste)
  • Breadcrumbs (About an ounce)
  • Port (optional) (About 1/4 cup)
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan on top of the stove.
  • Step 2 Add onions, breaking them into rings. Cook until lightly brown or just starting to turn lightly brown.
  • Step 3 Stir in the flour, scraping the bottom of the pan so the flour doesn’t stick.
  • Step 4 When flour starts to turn brown add the beef stock and stir constantly. Cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes. Stir in (optional) port about half-way through.
  • Step 5 In a soup tureen or in separate french onion soup crocks create two or three layers of the following: bread, cheese, pepper and sliver of butter.
  • Step 6 Add soup. Then top it off with breadcrumbs and more cheese.
  • Step 7 Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese and breadcrumbs have browned. Serve immediately.

(Photo courtesy of Kojach via Flickr.)