Posts filed under pasta

Thomas Jefferson and His Mac and Cheese

Thomas Jefferson (March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809)

If I could just find a man like Thomas Jefferson: a real Renaissance man, with sophisticated taste, a quick wit, and the ability to throw the best dinner parties... swoon.

TJ believed, as I do, that the best discussions are had around the dinner table.  He preferred small groups and was not a fan of formality, serving the guests himself (via dumbwaiter) in order to avoid gossip from his staff. He also preferred round tables citing they were “more democratic” and avoided seating charts, usually done by class. Unlike the Adams’, his menus were extensive and over the top. His tastes in booze followed suit. Most of his favorite recipes were adopted from his time in Europe. He brought back a waffle iron from Holland, imported figs, and loved the anchovy. In order to honor his memory, I thought it would be appropriate to have two recipes this week.


Well, it is official. Thomas Jefferson can officially be blamed for my freshman year weight gain (thank goodness this mystery has been solved). The Monticello recipe of mac and cheese is basic, at best, and does not remotely compare to any of the modern versions we eat en masse.  We should still; however, give TJ huge props for starting our national obsession with this staple. During his Italian travels, he acquired a macaroni making machine (pictured). More akin to a torture device (death by carbs is certainly my preference); it cranked out semolina pasta that was then baked with ample butter and cheese. The cheese isn’t specified but we will stick with an Italian favorite, Parmesan. With the addition of two ingredients, an egg and some goat cheese, it becomes a palatable (not award-winning) homage to the original. 

Boil as much macaroni as will fill your dish, in milk and water, till quite tender; drain it on a sieve. Sprinkle a little salt over it, put a layer in your dish then cheese and butter as in polenta and bake it in the same manner.

-The Virginia Housewife, Mrs. Mary Randolph, 1824.

The Virginia Housewife is often cited as the most influential American cookbook of the 19th century. Her brother, Thomas Randolph Mann Jr was the son-in-law of Thomas Jefferson and the families spent significant time together.

My Notes:

-Preheat the oven to 400 F.

-Slowly simmer about 2 cups of macaroni in the milk (I used 2%). If you boil too vigorously, the milk will separate

-Save 1 cup of milk before straining.  Milk the milk with a beaten egg, lots of grated parmesan, salt and pepper (to taste). Pour this mixture over the macaroni, mix in butter (about ¼ cup, melted) and top with lots of goat cheese (for those who don’t like it- cheddar also works) and another sprinkle of parmesan.

-Put in the oven for a good 15 minutes, till cheese is melted and brown on top.


Jefferson brought James Hemings, slave and brother of his long-term love, Sally Hemings, with him to Paris to learn the staples from the culinary greats. TJ’s love of desserts, especially ice cream, is well-documented but this recipe for snow eggs (translation: meringues in custard) will take your dessert offerings to a Presidential level. It takes a bit of patience, but the result is well worth it. Here is Heming’s original recipe for Snow Eggs (written out by Jefferson’s granddaughter Virginia):

Recipe: Take 10 eggs, separate the yolks from the whites and beat the whites as you do for the savoy cake, till you can turn the vessel bottom upward without their leaving it; when they are well beaten, put in 2 spoonfuls of powdered sugar and a little orange flower water or rose water if you prefer it. Put a pint of milk in a saucepan with 6 oz sugar and orange water or rose water; when your milk boils, take the whites, spoonful by spoonful and do them in the boiling milk; when sufficiently poached, take them out and lay them on a sieve. Take out a part of the milk, according to the thickness you wish to give the custard. Beat up the yolks and stir them in the remainder; as soon as it thickens, take the mixture from the fire; strain it through a sieve; dish up your whites and pour custard over them.

My Notes:

-I highly recommend rose water for the adventurous. Its gorgeous floral quality will make your dessert really stand out.

-When it says “boiling milk”, a slow and steady simmer will do the trick. A hardcore boil will likely split it.

-I prefer thicker custard (up to you) and would recommend only 2/3 of the milk to mix with the yolks. Make sure you remove the mixture asap when it thickens.

Posted on October 5, 2015 and filed under main event, pasta, sides, time travel.

Summer Squash Primavera

GO SQUASHIN!! They exist. 

Needs (for 3-4 appetizers):

  • 1 large handful spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 large summer squash, in slices (can peel if you prefer)
  • 4 slices bacon, chipped
  • 1 small punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups cream or half and half
  • 1 glug white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • red chili flakes, pepper and salt to taste
  • chopped parsley, chopped

How To:

  • Boil large pot of salted water 
  • in a frying pan, fry bacon until crispy and remove. Keep fat in pan
  • add garlic and squash, cook on medium heat. Add some salt and pepper 
  • add cherry tomatoes .. wait till they get squishy. When veggies are done, remove from frying pan and set aside with bacon. 
  • Degalze pan with white wine. Reduce and scrape edges. Add cream and half of Parmesan. 
  • Slowly simmer to reduce. 
  • When it is a bit thicker, add veggies back in. 
  • Cook pasta to al dente as you combine sauce. 
  • Strain pasta and top with veggies. Garnish with the rest of Parmesan and chopped parsley.


Posted on August 4, 2015 and filed under pasta, main event, appetizers, world travel.

Pesto Risotto with Seared Scallops and a Proscuitto Chip

I love risotto. It is easy to whip up for one (or many) and can be made with whatever is left in the fridge... and my does it look fancy, especially with some scallops on top. The key is to give your risotto constant love and attention. It isn't hard to make, it just requires all hands on deck for a good 40 minutes. Good news is you only need one hand to stir- other can hold a glass of wine. 


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups (or more) hot chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan 
  • 1 jar pesto (see recipe below or can be store bought)
  • 1 piece per person prosciutto
  • 1 bunch micro-greens 
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 3 scallops per person
  • salt and pepper



  • Melt half of butter (2 Tbsp) in a heavy saucepan over med. heat.
  • Add onion and soften (about five min).
  • Add rice; stir and toast for a couple of minutes.
  • Add wine and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed. Stir constantly!
  • Add 1 cup hot broth. Simmer until broth is almost absorbed (KEEP STIRRING!!! You don’t want any to stick to the bottom)
  • Add more broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding.. stirring the whole time!
  • You know it’s done when risotto is tender and mixture is creamy.
  • Take off heat and add the Parmesan and salt & pepper to taste.

for the rest:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.. when ready put prosciutto on a baking tray and put in oven for ten minutes until crunchy like a chip. Put aside
  • snap ends off asparagus.
  • I cooked mine in the hot chicken broth i used for the risotto. Steam for 3-4 mins
  • Take them out and shock them in a bowl of ice water. It keeps them crunchy!
  • Cook scallops last in a hot pa with olive oil. Do 2 mins each side till they have a nice color. Overcooking them will end up with you chewing on a rubber band- quite unpleasant. 
  • Plate and serve!!!!

My Mum's Pesto Recipe (you can use store bought but just in case you have basil to use up...)


  • 4 cups packed fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2 and 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups grated pecorino (romano or parmesan is fine)
  • salt to taste


  • Put garlic, cheese, and nuts into a food processor. Pulse until sand-like texture.
  • Add Basil. pulse again.
  • Pour oil in batches. add a little. pulse (and so on)
  • Add salt to taste
  • Use on your pasta (you can dilute it with a little water that you cook your pasta in) or put in a jar and put in fridge/freezer for later.
Posted on July 31, 2015 and filed under main event, pasta, sauces, world travel.