A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘cookbooks’

Sex After Sixty

In Drink, Fashion, Food, Media, Recipes on July 23, 2010 at 11:38 am

Without doubt, what I love best about this blog are the people it has lead me to, total strangers who have become virtual friends. And at the top of that list is a woman I greatly admire, Mary L. Tabor. And so today, it is my great honor to talk with the writer about her seductive new memoir, (Re) Making Love: A Sex After Sixty Story. First, buy the book by clicking HERE. Then, settle in for a delicious conversation with Mary, complete with her recipe for finding lasting love…

FOODINISTA: Your first book, a collection of short stories, is The Woman Who Never Cooked. Who is that woman? How does she differ from you?

MARY: I am hidden inside the fiction and oddly or maybe not so odd, I included three memoir pieces that I don’t identify as such. That’s the first tip-off. In the fiction, I used food and adultery as metaphor for the grief I bore through my mother’s, my father’s and my sister’s illnesses and deaths. I wasn’t sure who I was. I didn’t know when I wrote “The Woman Who Never Cooked,” the title story, that I would become that woman. The story relies on cooking, despite its title, and scrolls through recipes from some of my favorites: The Silver Palate Cookbook, Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking, The Ramognolis’ Table, Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts, Chez Panisse Desserts, Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, Gourmet’s Best Desserts, Silver Palate Desserts.

I stopped cooking after D. in my memoir left me. Was I prescient? I don’t think so. I do think that cooking and love and family are inextricably entwined.

I’m cooking again. I know that’s a good sign.

FOODINISTA: What is the great seduction dish of all time?

MARY: It begins with a joke and ends with a kiss. I read this recently somewhere: “Vacationing in Vermont, someone picked up the local paper to check out the forecast. It read: Today: Sunny, 76. Tonight: Not so sunny, 55.” I laughed and thought of eating lobster at a lobster shack somewhere in Maine. That’s near Vermont, right? Geography is not my long suit. For me, boiled lobster is the ultimate seduction dish. And I’ll never forget watching Darryl Hannah eat one shell and all in a Rom-Com I love: Splash. But I hear she’s a vegetarian so that was a very complicated lobster.

Complicated is good where love is concerned.

If I were going to seduce a man, I would make Pierre Franey’s (the 60-Minute Gourmet whose passing left a hole in my favorite rag The New York Times that Mark Bittman has done a great job of filling) chocolate mousse and his Strawberries Romanoff (strawberries steeped in Grand Marnier, orange peel and topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream).

Dessert first. Then make love and think about food later when you’re starving.

FOODINISTA: Your new memoir (Re)Making Love is about finding love after sixty, but there are rather beautiful truths for women of any age. I particularly loved the chapter about your hair. What can a haircut say about a woman? Does long hair at 24 mean the same thing at 64? Incidentally, after a bad breakup in my 20s, I cut off all my hair and moved to Paris. The short hair played well over there. It did not have the same effect when I moved back to San Francisco.

MARY: I remember when Mia Farrow cut her hair but wasn’t that after she hooked up with Frank Sinatra? I remember Jean Seberg, really cute haircut, in Breathless, but, golly, she did also play Joan of Arc.

I do think the French, despite all the bashing we Americans sometimes get from them, have an esthetic that focuses on beauty and sensuality in a way that we Americans can learn but don’t grow up with: The reason your short hair in Paris was a hit.

I first cut my hair after my second child was born: Went into the bathroom and cut my ponytail off with a scissors. Something was going on with that crazy move—and I don’t think it had to do with my kids—first husband maybe?

I then let it grow and cut it again when a corporate job and raising two kids on my own was my stated reason, but I had also met the man I later married: my second marriage.

In 2002 when I let my hair grow again—what I refer to as the trial of the hair: Have you ever grown out curly hair?—the result gave me a new sense of my sensuality. Long and white, this hair will not see the scissors again.

So, if there’s a difference, it’s not age, it’s Paris.

FOODINISTA: Is La Perla the best revenge?

MARY: Feeling beautiful inside is the best revenge. A good bra on the way there helps like this one from La Perla:

I don’t have this bra but, if I did, I’d dance around the kitchen in it and pretend I was Lady Gaga.

Will he love you when you’re 64? He will, with or without the bra.

FOODINISTA:  In (Re) Making Love there were three kitchens and two husbands. Tell us about your dream kitchen and your dream husband.

MARY: My dream kitchen would have a Wolf range top, two Miele wall ovens, a Subzero fridge and freezer and a stainless steel island with lots of electrical outlets. And the sink would have a window over it.

My dream husband would cook with me in that kitchen and he’d be the man who wrote this description of my memoir: here’s an excerpt of what the man I love actually wrote to help promote the book:

“A series of men appear—all identified as a lower-case first initial—while the upper-case D. weaves out and in, as both he and Mary maneuver through the separation. Along the way are the Internet dates, emails, T.S. Eliot and Nietzsche, romantic comedies and the Grimm Brothers, photographs, recipes, dreams, Obamas, and yes, even the kitchen sink. Her journey moves from her home in Washington, DC to Missouri to Australia and eventually to Paris, a visit that offers a stunning surprise that changes her life.”

Gotta love him, and I do.

FOODINISTA: Please share two recipes for love—one philosophical, one we can cook.

MARY: Philosophical recipe:

Never forget the Laws of Thermodynamics. C.P. Snow provided this shorthand to remember the laws: 1. You cannot win. 2. You cannot break even. 3. You cannot get out of the game.

But if you stay in the game, you can dance even when it seems that the dancers have all gone under the hill.

Now go to the farmers market, buy corn and tomatoes and lots of basil.

Slice the tomatoes, sprinkle with some grated parmesan and asiago cheese, preferably from The Cowgirl Creamery, around the corner from me. Add a chiffonade of basil, salt and pepper. Then make Angel Hair Pasta and Pesto. I refer to this as my McDonald’s meal ’cause to me this is fast food fast and it says summer.

1 or 2 bunches basil (about two cups, leaves only)

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or more; I don’t measure; just look)

4 cloves of garlic

the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford

Put the garlic cloves, the basil and the cheese in your food processor. Give it all a whirl while you pour in olive oil until you see green of summer like grass in a field.

Boil angel hair pasta (the best homemade brand you can find or use DeCecco) ever so briefly. Put the pasta in a beautiful bowl, scrape all the pesto on top, pour a quarter cup or so of the pasta water on top. Toss and serve with corn and tomatoes.

Serve with one of my son’s imported wines: I like S.C. Pannell’s 2007 Sauvignon Blanc or try the best buy ever, my son’s Woop Woop Shiraz.

Don’t forget to tell jokes and kiss while cooking: You will taste both in the pesto. And remember Robert Hass the poet who says in “The Privilege of Being,” “Many are making love. Up above, the angels/ in the unshaken ether and crystal of human longing/ are braiding one another’s hair, which is strawberry blond … .”

Sunny in Seattle

In Food, Out of Town on March 29, 2010 at 1:57 pm

After another gorgeous weekend in Seattle for Taste Washington, I have to wonder if it actually ever rains there. I have visited this fair city at least a dozen times without ever having seen so much as a drop. Is it a conspiracy to keep the rest of us out? As a counterattack on Seattle, I would like to wage my own conspiracy to kidnap Macrina Bakery—the whole damn place—and relocate it to Los Angeles. Then I could get fat on these multigrain raspberry muffins sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, to say nothing of a perfect pastrami sandwich smothered in melted fontina on a crusty Italian loaf. (Sorry, I gobbled it all before remembering to snap a photo.) Now pardon me while I walk over to my local bookstore to purchase a copy of Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook so I can dream of recreating some semblance of these heavenly muffins at home.

7 Books to Give (and Receive)

In Design, Drink, Fashion, Food, Media on December 20, 2009 at 9:59 am

Over at DESIGNwatcher, Lizzie recently blogged about 7 books she wants to give (and receive) this year. Her list is great, and inspired me to create my own.

1. Cheerful Money, by Tad Friend ($24.99)

A wonderful memoir from New Yorker writer Tad Friend, aka Mr. Amanda Hesser, that takes a look at WASP culture—or the decline thereof—in America. It’s a stylishly written, entertaining and insightful blend of family and cultural history.

2. Tennis Fashion, by Diane Elisabeth Poirier ($18.95)

Obviously I need this book and am, in fact, irate that I didn’t write it myself! Looking on alibris.com, I can pick up a like-new copy for as little as two bucks, but wouldn’t it be more fun to go to the swanky new Assouline store on Melrose Place in the former Bastide space? And about the cover…a tennis beret! Fascinating food for thought.

3. Imbibe! From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar, by David Wondrich ($23.95)

Here’s a book I refer to often, not just for excellent cocktail recipes and inspiration, but for fascinating cocktilian history. It’s written by a friend and colleague, Dave Wondrich, whose stories you’ve undoubtedly read in Esquire, Bon Appetit and Saveur. A must for any cocktail lover.

4. The GastroKid Cookbook: Feeding a Foodie Family in a Fast-Food World, by Hugh Garvey ($22.95)

If we are friends and you have kids, chances are you got one of these from The Foodinista for Christmas! I love this book, love the message, and love the author. Hugh is a friend, colleague and neighbor—and in addition to being a totally great guy, he can cook. I love his recipe for roasted chickpeas even better than the original Babbo version on which it’s based.

5. Freidlander, by Peter Galassi ($165)

For the photography collector on your list. I desperately wish I’d bought this book when I saw the exhibit back in 2005 at MoMA in New York. I love the vision and wit of Friedlander’s images of everyday life (billboards, storefronts, cars), and perhaps my most prized possession is one of his photographs—a self portrait taken in 1966—that hangs above our fireplace:

6. Momofuku Cookbook, by David Chang and Peter Meehan ($40)

Here’s a must-have cookbook for the food obsessed from my very favorite restaurant in New York, Momofuku Noodle Bar. David Chang’s ramen with Berkshire pork belly and poached egg is reason enough to hop a flight to JFK. My friend Alex gave me a copy of this book for my birthday last month, and we’re planning a cooking date where we take over her kitchen or mine for a day and try to recreate (I’m told the ramen broth takes 10 hours to make). We’ve already sourced the pork belly at Huntington Meats at the Third/Fairfax farmer’s market. Game ON!

7. My Wonderful World of Fashion, by Nina Chakrabarti ($19.95)

It’s been a while since I’ve been interested in coloring books, though something tells me I’d better get my head in the game with Tiny G just learning to wield a crayon. I think this coloring book for fashion addicts just might do the trick! There are gorgeous illustrations to color, pages on which to design your own creations, and brief historical notes for inspiration. Santa, baby?

When Good Things Happen to Great People

In Food, Media on August 20, 2009 at 1:09 pm

gastrokidMy friend and GastroKid cofounder Hugh Garvey is one of those super creative types, with an arcane knowledge of samurai flicks and a serious Veronique Branquinho addiction. He’s also a great dad, fantastic cook and a really good guy. Which is why I couldn’t be more excited that his new GastroKid Cookbook is hanging out in the top 10 of Amazon.com‘s bestselling cookbooks (and in the top 200 bestselling of ALL books), has been featured in Cookie Mag, on ABC’s The View From the Bay, and today on DailyCandy Kids. It’s filled with awesome—and easy and accessible—family recipes for everyday cooking that will please all ages (his kids are 4 and 7), like Foaming Butter Basted New York Strip, Eggs de la Vera, Grilled Baby Octopus, and Shiitake Mushroom and Plum Tomato Pizza. Be sure to check out Hugh’s recipe for Roasted Chickpea Bruschetta. My friend Katie, Hugh and I tried Mario’s version at Babbo in New York several years ago. And guess what? Hugh’s is better. And yes, the kids will eat this up—that is if the adults don’t polish it off first.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

In Food, Recipes on June 30, 2009 at 8:29 am

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Vowing to make use of the prolific Vietnamese cilantro in our herb garden, last night I took a page out of Mai Pham’s book Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table to make this Hue Chicken Salad (ga bop). I was apprehensive about serving it to my husband on several levels, not the least of which had to do with the fact that this dish has zero guilt factor, which all too often correlates to zero pleasure. Not to mention that “we’re having salad for dinner” doesn’t usually elicit an enthusiastic response. Additionally, Vietnamese cilantro is quite pungent, sort of like cilantro on steroids so it’s a love it or leave it flavor. The herb is also enjoyed by Vietnamese Buddhist monks to stave off sexual urges, also like steroids, and assist in their celibate lives. But I digress.

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Above is the Vietnamese cilantro—or rau ram as it’s known in SE Asia—which has taken over our herb bed. I love how fragrant and pretty the leaves are. I let Tiny G play with a sprig in the garden while I was picking herbs to bring inside. Much to my surprise, my husband TOTALLY flipped over dinner and has requested that it go into regular rotation. It’s so flavorful, with a bit of heat from the chilies and exotic intensity from the rau ram.

But I may have told a teeny white lie about serving a guilt-free dinner. Mai Pham’s excellent and healthy recipe follows with a slightly less angelic suggestion from yours truly. The recipe virtuously has you boil half a chicken in salted water. She suggests serving ga bop on a bed of butter lettuce leaves. I ended up reserving two cups of the water from the chicken to make basmati rice, which adds to the sin factor with a hint of chicken fat, but gives just the right note of depth to the rice.

HUE CHICKEN SALAD (GA BOP)

(Adapted from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, by Mai Pham)

Sea Salt

1 organic chicken leg and breast, scored for faster cooking
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 small yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, rinsed (about ½ cup)
2 Thai bird chilies or 1 serrano chili, chopped or to taste
1 cup loosely packed rau ram (Vietnamese Cilantro) leaves or mint leaves
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup basmati rice
Fill a pot with 2 quarts water and bring to vigorous boil. Add 1 tablespoon sea salt and chicken and bring water back to  boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from  heat and let the chicken sit in the pot, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Reserve two cups of boiling liquid for rice.

While chicken cools, bring two cups broth to boil. Add 1 cup basmati rice, return to boil, and then reduce heat to simmer. Keep covered and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.

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In a medium bowl, combine lime juice, onions, chilies, rau ram and oil and toss gently.

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Remove and discard the skin and bones from the chicken. Hand shred the meat into ¼-inch thick strips and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar and gently massage into the chicken. Gently fold into onion and rau ram mixture. Serve over rice.

Summer Beach Reading: Foodie Edition

In Food, Media on June 16, 2009 at 6:53 am

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Here’s my grandmother on the beach in Cape Cop with a good book and a sack lunch, circa 1946. My grandfather would have just returned home from Paris, where he was stationed during the war. To this day, she is every bit as stylish and always has a good book within arm’s reach. Which got me thinking about summer beach reads. I’ll post soon on some favorite “literary” fashion contenders, but in the meantime my friend Sorina has put together an excellent reading list of chef bios and cookbooks, just in time for the start of summer. I’ll be packing my beach bag posthaste. Thanks, Sorina!

SORINA’S TOP FIVE FOODIE BEACH READS

Lollygagging on the sand with a good book, as the surf beats against the shore and an assortment of children and pets scurry around happily engaged is my dream summer scenario. And from where I’m standing, reading chef biographies is just about the most fun you can have without chugging absinthe. Here’s a quick roundup of some essential chef bios and lovely cookbooks that you can stash in your beach tote along with sunscreen:

My Life in France (2006), by Julia Child
This sentimental, beautifully written memoir charts Child’s journey from bored hausfrau in 1940s Paris to French cooking authority and media maven in the States. It stands as the standard by which all cooking memoirs shall be measured against. Child’s “Yes, you can!” message subtly seeps out from every page. It would be corny, unless it weren’t so utterly inspiring. Child was 36 when she signed up for lessons at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and found her vocation in life. Her knack for the adorable anecdote—such as her recounting a first meal in France as an uncouth American lass (with memorable descriptions of oysters slurped off the shell and sweet farmer’s butter smeared on freshly baked baguettes), or the hilarious story of her Parisian cat getting erotically charged and giving her love bites while she attempted a French accent over the telephone—is magical. This book struck me as a lovely, fully humanistic poem about life, love, and cooking. I finished reading it and realized I had fallen for its author. Hard.

Heat (2006) by Bill Buford
Fiction editor of the
New Yorker decides one fair day to ditch his plum job and enlist as a lowly plongeur in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s Babbo NYC restaurant. The resulting diary of his experiences became a series of riveting New Yorker articles, which eventually coalesced into this book. We descend along with Buford into a Hadean realm of spattering grease, un-PC macho behavior and brain-shattering tedium that involves slicing root vegetables and abuse that makes Nazi interment-camp berating look like dancing the minuet. (PS: You get some top dish along the way: Apparently, Batali can put away a dozen wine bottles in one sitting.) Buford’s blend of objective reportage and emotional testimony makes this the ideal go-to tome for anyone who really wants to know what working in the kitchen of a haute-cuisine American restaurant is really like. Halfway through the book, Buford zips off to a tiny provincial town in Italy to learn first-hand the art of butchery at the elbow of Florentine master butcher Dario Cecchini. The ensuing chapters are perfectly informative—but also hilarious, moving, and profound. The critic inside my brain says this effort is couple of books or more awkwardly joined in one package. The person who adores writing and food relishes Buford’s chronicle of a Dante-worthy journey. A grown man who dares to pursue his passion against all reason is a sexy, beautiful thing.

Julie and Julia (2005) by Julie Powell
I stumbled onto this cookery diary with the best of intentions to worship it. Premise: Powell, who holds down a job as a drone at some nondescript Manhattan enterprise, lives in Brooklyn and attempts to cook her way through Julia Child’s 524 recipes included in
Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She blogs about it, and voila—snatches book contract and Hollywood passport. (Meryl Streep is going to play Child in a forthcoming big-studio adaptation of the book, opening in August.) Powell has an engaging voice but her perpetual self-berating, aw-shucks attitude grated my nerves after the first 20 pages. She’s a crap cook, her kitchen is pitifully ill-equiped, and one day she discovers maggots under her cutting board. Et caetera. Still, somehow, the meals she produces from Child’s recipes all have magical qualities much enjoyed by her guests. PLEASE, lady! Still: I admire Powell’s skill for turning this cute personal improvement project into a profitable franchise. Ideas—as a wise man once said—are worth millions.

The Devil in the Kitchen (2007) by Marco Pierre White
If you can demonstrate to me that there’s a more entertaining haute cuisine chef than Marco Pierre White, I volunteer to scrub your dirty dishes clean for the next 12 months. This working-class Brit with the loutish temperament of Dennis Hopper tripping on uppers nabbed 3 Michelin stars in his 20s and became the youngest chef to be awarded the honor. His memoir is a hideously fun chart of that journey. White worked, lived, and played hard. Contempo cookery stars such as Gordon Ramsay and Mario Batali apprenticed under him and took his abuse—only to rise later as respected chefs on their own. White’s haute-French cuisine joints—starting with legendary Harveys in London—have been landmark joints of sophistication, wit and excellence. It’s all the more remarkable since White never set foot in France until his 30s. This laugh-out-loud volume devotes an entire chapter to White’s infamous practice of customer cock-slapping—with a full retelling of the iconic episode of him receiving an order for French fries and charging the unfortunate customer $500 for it. White, who, back in his ’20s, looked as fatalistically glamorous as Arthur Rimbaud, charms even at his most churlish. This is a brutally honest, rude, and delicious read.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: My Adventures in Life and Food (2009) by Moira Hodgson
My first reaction to this memoir was that it’s strictly for devout readers of the
New York Observer, where Hodgson is now a resto critic. By that I mean it struck me as terminally snobby and borderline obnoxious. Hodgson’s personal history of privilege—she sailed on the Normandie ocean liner back in the ’30s! In first class! Just like Marlene Dietrich, natch!—turned me off big-time, initially. Hodgson can’t seem to help herself name-drop—a function of her being a diplomatic brat, I guess. Still, she has some lovely-written passages in here about her discovery that her daddy was a spy—oopsie daisy!—and her love of cooking suckling pig… I half-heartedly endorse it because Hodgson IS a pretty wonderful writer. But invest in it at your own peril.—Sorina Diaconescu

Boy (and Vodka Tonic) Meets Grill…

In Food on June 5, 2009 at 8:39 am

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For the past year I have been saving my pennies for a rainy day, which was pretty much the scene here in LA on Tuesday morning after my husband had left for work as two brawny guys unloaded a Weber Summit S-450 with Rotisserie Grill in the rain. Our dear friend Jamie Purviance, who has written several awesome grilling cookbooks (check out his latest: Way to Grill, an indispensable grilling compendium), recommended this model, and I secretly ordered it for my husband to splash out for his very first Father’s Day. In addition to four burners, a rotisserie, smoke box and BTUs galore, the grill is just plain pretty. [Note to Father-in-Law: if you’re reading, observe the Tervis Tumbler above!] 

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My husband literally had no idea this was in the works. You should have seen his face when he discovered it in the backyard! Last night he gave it a test run with some marbled ribeyes and OH MY GOD. I’ll be posting plenty more on this beast throughout the summer and autumn and winter and spring. Can’t wait to try Jamie’s technique for pork loin on the rotisserie, along with The Foodinista’s technique for making a bottle of rosé disappear…

Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Poblano Chiles

In Food, Recipes on March 22, 2009 at 9:30 am

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This recipe comes from the Jimtown Store in Healdsburg, which is about 45 minutes from where I grew up. We used to stop there on our way to Mendocino for tapenade and chocolate pudding and sea monkeys. When owner Carrie Brown and her late husband John Werner came out with the Jimtown Store Cookbook in 2002, I snapped it up for the pudding recipe alone. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks, and within I discovered my all-time favorite recipe for Macaroni and Cheese with Poblano Chiles. There’s a subtle, but not overpowering, heat from the roasted chiles, which cuts through the richness of all the béchamel and sharp cheese. The parm (both in the breadcrumbs and mixed in with the other cheeses) adds a nutty note. I like to use a large tubular shaped pasta, like oversized conchiglie or even rigatoni to trap all that cheese! But some prefer a penne shape for a toothier texture.

It’s a little labor intensive—roasting chiles, making a bechamel and breadcrumbs, and I highly recommend making the effort. But for last night’s dinner I cheated and got some fresh breadcrumbs from Whole Foods. Bonus in this recipe: a rustic and sublime trick with breadcrumbs, whether homemade or store bought! Toss a cup of breadcrumbs with a cup of grated parm and then sprinkle over the top. Would be great over a cauliflower or broccoli gratin as well. This macaroni and cheese has become a favorite with my family and extended family. I hope you enjoy as much as we do!

Macaroni and Cheese with Poblano Chiles

Adapted from the Jimtown Store Cookbook, Serves 8

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 large fresh poblano (or pasilla) chiles

Sea salt

1 pound dried conchiglie or penne pasta

4 cups hot Béchamel sauce (recipe follows)

8 ounces sharp white Cheddar, grated

8 ounces sharp orange Cheddar, grated

8 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago, grated

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 cup homemade breadcrumbs

Béchamel Sauce

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

4 cups whole milk, heated till steaming

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Lay chiles on their sides on a gas burner and turn flame on high. Roast chiles, turning with tongs, until skins are evenly charred, about 10 minutes. 

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chile

Steam until cool in a closed paper bag, about 15 minutes. Under cold running water, rub off burned peel. Then discard stems, core and devein chiles (scraping away all seeds), and cut into long, thin strips.

To make béchamel, melt 6 tablespoons butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking often, without allowing flour to brown, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in hot milk. Add salt and nutmeg. Return sauce to medium heat and bring to simmer. Continue to cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sauce has thickened to texture of melted ice cream, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to instructions on package (about 8 minutes?), until just tender. Drain pasta and transfer to large bowl (do not rinse), and toss with butter. 

Stir white and orange Cheddar cheeses and all but one cup of the grated parm into the hot béchamel. Add cayenne, paprika, mustard and Tabasco. Heat, stirring, until cheese just melt and sauce is smooth.

spicesmeltedPour the sauce over the pasta in the bowl. Add the chiles and stir. Spoon into the prepared dish. In a small bowl, combine reserved cup of grated parm and the bread crumbs.

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Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over pasta in the dish. Bake until pasta is heated through, sauce is bubbling, and top is browned, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand on a rack for 5 minutes. Serve.

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