Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Pretzel Roll....and a sandwich

Oooohhhhhhh man. These things. Oh, these things.
They're rolls. No wait, they're soft pretzels! Nope, actually they're rolls. But also soft pretzels!
Whatever. They're amazing. Seriously amazing.

Jesse found a delicious sounding sandwich idea from our new best friend Mark Bittman, and we slotted it into our standard Monday night "soup and sandwich" dinner slot. I dug up a recipe for a soup I've been drooling over for weeks, and we had our dinner planned. But then, genius struck!

Jesse: We should have soft pretzels for dinner!
Ashby: We're having soup and sandwich. It's Monday. Mondays are soup and sandwich day. MONDAYS ARE ALWAYS SOUP AND SANDWICH DAY! (I can be a little resistant to change. Eh hem.)
Jesse: We could have both
Ashby: Soup and sandwiches and soft pretzels? That's a lot. And don't forget - Mondays are soup and sandwich day!
Jesse: Hmmm.
Ashby: Hmmm.
Both, simultaneously struck by the brilliance of it: PRETZEL ROLLS!

And the pretzel roll entered our lives. And it was good.

And also, this sandwich? This sandwich quite literally made my shed a few tears of joy when I had my first bite. I wish I was joking, because that's a little lame. But alas, I am lame, all in the name of the wonder of this sandwich.

Cabbage and Kielbasa Sandwiches on Pretzel Rolls(!)
Serves 4

For the (pretzel) rolls:
1 1/8 C warm water
3 C flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
coarse salt

Make the dough in your bread machine (or, you know, the tough way, by hand...but why??)
Turn it onto a floured surface and divide into 4 balls

Drop rolls for 10-15 seconds each into a pot of boiling water with 1/2 c baking soda dissolved in it
Place boiled rolls onto a baking sheet and bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes
Brush with water and sprinkle with coarse salt

For the sandwich:

Brown up a pound of keilbasa, sliced in half lengthwise, and set it aside on papertowels
In the same pan, throw a bunch of cabbage leaves and some butter - saute until as cooked as you want them
Make a sandwich with the (pretzel!) roll, lots of grainy mustard and the cabbage and keilbasa.
Die a little.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Butternut Macaroni and Cheese

Winter squash is one of the top 5 reasons I love fall. The other reasons, in no particular order, are:
-the word "October"
-hot apple cider
-red leaf sunsets

This pasta only has to do with winter squash. Although I guess you could incorporate the other items on the list somehow. Wear a sweaterwhile making it, and take a break to drink some hot cider and watch the sunset? And, um, say "october?"

Anyway, it's really good. We had planned on making some butternut squash soup on Tuesday to have with our apple and grilled cheddar sandwiches, but by the time we were both home from work and finished with the daily post-daycare wrestling match that Miles requires, the idea of all that roasting and pureeing and whisking seemed daunting. So I baked the squash and just threw it in the fridge to deal with later, and we had salad with our sandwiches.

Last night, though, all that squash was put to very good use in this awesome, easy macaroni and cheese. It took less than an hour to throw together, including the cooking time (it would have taken a little longer if the squash wasn't pre-baked) and it made enough for all three of us to have dinner last night, lunch today, and a little left over to freeze.

Butternut Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6-8

The amounts written here are really broad suggestions - I didn't have much milk, so I used the rest of the yogurt we had in the fridge, too, but you could use all milk, or all yogurt, or even sour cream or creme fraiche would be nice. Basically, you want to make a cheese sauce however you normally make a cheese sauce (on the thinner side is better here), and then whisk in the pureed squash towards the end.

2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1/2 large butternut squash, baked (or another winter squash - a whole delicata or acorn would be similar)
2 cups milk (we used whole raw milk from Sugar, the cow owned by our CSA farm, but skim would work too)
1 cup yogurt or sour cream
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
garlic salt
1 lb pasta, cooked al dente (we used mini penne, because I have a mini-pasta issue, but anything sturdy works)
bread crumbs
1/2 bunch greens, chopped (we used lacinata kale, but any other sturdy green is fine. I wouldn't use spinach here - it gets too limp)

Preheat oven to 375.

Make a roux with butter, flour and milk. Whisk in yogurt or sour cream until smooth. Heat on medium, then stir in cheese. Cook for a while until starting to thicken, about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, puree the squash in your food processor (or mash well)
Whisk the squash, and garlic salt to taste, into the cheese sauce and cook until it's smooth and thick.

Mix pasta and sauce together in a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

In the sauce pan, sautee up the kale with a little olive oil until just tender. Stir into the pasta

Sprinkle it all with breadcrumbs and bake covered for 20-30 minutes, then uncovered for 5 minutes to crisp up the top a little.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Tuesday Sandwich

Around here, Monday is Soup and Sandwich Night. I'd like to pretend that I'm very nonchalent about our dinners and that I take a free-spirited, laissez-faire attitude towards the whole thing.
 Soup on Wednesday? Sure, why not!
 Fritatta on Saturday? Go ahead, sir!
In reality, though, (a place I studiously avoid), the schedule means something to me. Mondays are soup and sandwich. Tuesdays are pasta. Wednesdays are Mike and Lydia (we eat with them - we don't eat them), Thursdays are "egg dish" and Fridays are pizza. There are no rules about the specific ingredients in any of these meals - here's where seasonality and hankerings come into play - but the structure stays the same. It may be an apple and cheddar fritatta this Thursday and a kale, proscioutte and goat cheese omelette next Thursday, but either way, it's an egg dish. The schedule lends order to my life - on any given day I may not know what my students are going to smell like or what the weather will be or how long it will take me to realize my shoe is in the fridge. But, by golly, I will know what's for dinner.

That being said - yesterday was Tuesday, and we had sandwiches for dinner.
We had sandwiches for dinner because we wanted them, and because I was too tired to freak out about breaking the routine.
And these are, it turns out, the PERFECT routine-breaking sandwiches - very ordinary ingredients (applesauce, cheddar cheese, vinegar) in a very ordinary format (hello, it's a sandwich), somehow rising above their ordinariness and bringing us somewhere wonderful. They were, in a word, transcendent.

Apple and Cheddar Melts

-Applesauce (ours was incredibly pink, because I cooked it with the skins in and then pushed them through my strainer. Yours doesn't have to be pink. But it helps.)
-Tart apple, sliced thin
-Sharp cheddar cheese
-Cider vinegar
-Sea salt

Preheat your broiler. Spread applesauce on one slice of bread. Top with sliced apples, a shake of cider vinegar, a sprinkle of sea salt and some grated cheddar.
Grate some more cheddar onto the other slice of bread.
Lay them on a cookie sheet and broil until bubbly - this doesn't take long, only 3-5 minutes!