Today’ s overcast and a great day for some comfort food! I, like most Americans, enjoy a good meal of feel good comfort food on cloudy, overcast days- Today is a fine example! Mac and cheese was one of my first inspirations, a go-to comfort food, for me and my family. There are so many different variations that can make your cooking preparation and imagination go wild with interesting, healthy or exotic vegetable and spice combinations.
As I awoke this morning, I glanced into the ice box, pantry and noticed a brightly orange and blue decorated box of mac and cheese. The brightly colored box caught my eye as did two t-bone steaks, I also made it a point to take stock of the fresh and frozen herbs and vegetables, available for a quick and easy weekend dinner. Sometimes I buy packaged products and make a different variation to appease the taste of everyone in my home, and modifying according to their taste and mine.
First, the t-bone steaks, I defrosted in the refrigerator the evening before, so after morning coffee, I am ready to marinade and return to the ice box.
Drizzle olive oil on both sides and season with salt and fresh ground pepper from a pepper grinder; sprinkle with paprika, fresh grated garlic, three cloves for both steaks, fennel springs, if unavailable, fresh parsley, cleaned and chopped, fresh minced ginger, or ground ginger and paprika- let sit and marinade until ready to reach your heat source.
Macaroni and Mozzarella cheese: In a stock pot add vegetable bouillon, replacing water for stock water, boiling and seasoning, as needed. *I always use low-sodium stock, or add sea salt, perform a taste test of the water to achieve desired taste. I add chopped, fresh green, yellow or red bell peppers, sometimes all 3 of these if available, and boil for 3 to 5 minutes prior- before adding pasta to the water, after boiling all to completion, 2 minutes before the pasta is Al dente, add fresh-frozen peas, checking again for salt and finally checking for all ingredients to be cooked to satisfaction.
Drain, do not rinse, separating your pasta, and adding a tablespoon of vinegar immediately to hot pasta, season with fresh springs of parsley leaves, a few chopped and pitted black olives of your choice, *I prefer three to four black Mediterranean olives black, purple, yellow or green olives, if available. Next I blend my pasta with a little bit of saffron threads, for even more color, blend with vegetables;adding salt if needed.
To cut down on salt, I may boil the olives in a small sauce pan filled with water,on the side to reduce the salt, though usually you only need to do that while adding cured olives to stews that are pressure cooked. Lastly, season with a teaspoon of oregano and half a teaspoon of smoky cumin. Garnish the recipe with small chunks of Mozzarella cheese, or sharp cheddar cheese for added creamy flavor, add olive oil, maybe a few teaspoons, stir and let set in the refrigerator to marinade..
A small side salad of peeled, chopped Red Ugly tomatoes, my favorite, or Roma tomatoes, half a chopped red onion, chopped parsley, chopped green peppers, three to four chopped Spanish olives, one to two teaspoons of equal parts extra-virgin olive oil and red, wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a few pieces of red or green bell pepper slices for color and parsley sprigs.
*Finish with apples ready to be sliced after dinner; served with a side of local honey to aid with allergy relief!
Dinner is prepared, when dinner time arrives is to let t-bones rest to room temperature for a few minutes before grilling the steaks and while grilling; make the fresh small side salad and chop apple slices. Bon appetit!