Fuji Apple Mac N Cheese with Apple & Gouda Cheese Sausage

1 12 2013

I made up this dish as I was making it. I had an opened package of sausages in my fridge that needed to be used as well as some apples. I was inspired by some mac & cheese with apples that I ate in 1988 in Switzerland. Yes, I still was thinking of it 25 years later…. Being the first of December it was feeling firmly mid-autumn on the California Central Coast, and this seemed like a seasonally appropriate dish. The organic Fuji apples were grown at Bellvue’s See Canyon Farms 1-1/2 miles down the road from our house; you can barely get any more local than that!

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This recipe is for 4 servings, and is hearty enough to eat on its own.

From Trader Joe’s:

  • 16 oz. package of organic brown rice penne pasta
  • 1/2 lb. block of English cheddar with caramelized onions

From New Frontiers:

  • 4 sausages with apples & gouda cheese
  • 3 Bellevue’s See Canyon Farms organic Fuji apples, chopped in 1/3″ cubes
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk, depending on how rich you want the sauce to  be. You could even use cream.
  • 4 T. unsalted organic butter

From my pantry:

  • garlic powder (you can use fresh garlic, which could be sauteed with the roux)
  • sea salt
  • ground cinnamon

1. Fill a large non-stick pot with water, add about 2 tsp. salt, and bring to a rolling boil.

2. While you’re waiting for the water to boil preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high.

3. Wash, dry, and chop the apples.

4. Add 2 T. butter to the cast iron skillet, and just as it melts add the apples and stir immediately to coat the apples with the butter.

5. By now the water should be coming to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, and set a timer for 7 minutes (for perfect al dente texture). Stir the pasta immediately a few times, and then stir it before you drain it. This is so it doesn’t stick to the pot or clump together.

6. Stir the apples frequently so they don’t burn, and that they start to lightly caramelize evenly. Don’t let them get past medium caramel. Remove the apples and put them in a bowl. Actually, I did this, because our daughter is a vegetarian, so I needed to keep the apples and sausage separate. If no one minds the apples and sausage mixing, add the sausage to the apples just when they barely start browning, and finish browning them together in the cast iron skillet.

7. In a large glass measuring cup measure 2 cups milk and microwave for 3 minutes.

8. Right when the 7 minute timer for the pasta rings drain the pasta in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water to arrest the cooking.

9. In the same non-stick pot used to cook the pasta place on medium high heat and add 2 T. butter and 2 T. flour to form a roux. Stir while cooking for a few minutes just until the roux turns very pale straw/brown.

10. Add the hot milk 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well between additions and smashing any clumps with the back of the spoon to form a smooth sauce. Before adding each addition 1/2 cup of milk let the sauce heat up again when it just starts to bubble (this happens quickly).

11. Add cinnamon, garlic powder, and salt to taste. I used about 2 tsps. cinnamon, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp. salt.

12. Once all the milk is incorporated to the roux let it simmer for a few minutes, then add the grated cheese and stir continuously.

13. Once all the cheese is melted, and the sauce is smooth add the caramelized apples and pasta and stir well.

14. Serve in pasta bowls, and top with the browned sausage (if it isn’t already mixed into the pasta with the apples).

15. Add freshly ground pepper if desired.

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Patina Restaurant & The Walt Disney Concert Hall

26 10 2011

Walt Disney Concert Hall-2Walt Disney Concert HallPatina Restaurant-23Patina RestaurantPatina Restaurant-12Patina Restaurant-13
Patina Restaurant-3Patina Restaurant-2Patina Restaurant-18Patina Restaurant-4Patina Restaurant-19Patina Restaurant-5
Patina Restaurant-8Patina Restaurant-6Patina Restaurant-7Patina Restaurant-9Patina Restaurant-10Patina Restaurant-11
Patina Restaurant-14Patina Restaurant-15Patina Restaurant-16Patina Restaurant-17Patina Restaurant-24Patina Restaurant-25

We were staying in downtown Los Angeles because my husband was attending the Urban Land Institute Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. As is usual on my husband’s business trips, I accompanied him. My job is to make his business fun by planning social engagements, activities and interesting culinary adventures as a break between his many business obligations.

The first evening I decided it was a perfect opportunity to use the gift certificate we had obtained by using our American Express Membership Rewards points at the acclaimed fine dining establishment, Patina, located within the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. I was just a little concerned, because a few weeks before I had read on my FB feed that someone had less than a stellar experience at Patina. I already had the gift certificate, however, and so I decided we may as well use it and form our own opinion of the restaurant. As I often do, I made my reservation through OpenTable.com (more points earned!) and called ahead to see if it was okay if we brought our own bottle of wine. We were in luck; normally they charge a corkage fee of $30.00 (the highest I’ve ever encountered), but Tuesday evening there was no corkage fee whatsoever! Things were going in the right direction already.

I won’t go into greater detail here ~ I’ll let the photos tell the story ~ but our dining experience there was top notch. We received courteous, attentive, competent, yet unobtrusive service. Everything we ate was creative, artistically presented, absolutely fresh and delicious. Kudos to executive chef Tony Esnault and general manager Christian Philippo. Mr. Philippo came to our table several times throughout the meal to make sure everything was perfect…and it was!

Los Angeles, California ~ 25 October 2011





Dynamo Donut, San Francisco, California

14 10 2011

Mecca for Donut Lovers2760 24th StreetAlmost there.......Flavors of the DayAnticipationSticky Bun
Maple Glazed Bacon ApplePassionfruit Milk ChocolateCoconutSpiced ChocolateQuince CrumbVanilla Bean
Cormeal Rosemary CherryDaily Requirement

I usually avoid donut shops like the plague (because I love them), but I make an exception for my favorite donut & coffee shop whenever I’m in the City. They make the most interesting varieties and flavor combinations. Enjoy the photos…they’re calorie-free!





April Fools’ Day Wine Country Excursion

2 04 2011

Spent the afternoon with friends doing one of our favorite activities: wine tasting! The winery du jour was Cambria Winery & Vineyards in the Santa Maria valley. We had all been Tweeting the winery for weeks beforehand, so they knew we were coming, and they gave us V.I.P. treatment! We received the most courteous and helpful service in the tasting room from Bill and Patti; they helped guide us in choosing which ones to taste from their extensive selection. I think we all were impressed with the line up of wines which were carefully crafted in small batches. Cambria is definitely a favorite Central Coast winery of mine after this experience!

After wine tasting we wandered out into the vineyard to take photos and enjoy the fresh air and the glow of the late afternoon light. Then we continued with a drive through the countryside on idyllic Foxen Canyon Road……. We finished up our excursion at one of our very favorite Central Coast restaurants, Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos, where the cooking is centered around a huge hearth, and the emphasis is on the freshest local organic ingredients prepared in highly creative ways. From start to finish, their menu is consistently extraordinarily delicious!

 

Cambria Winery & Vineyards 1Cambria Winery & Vineyards 2Cambria Winery & Vineyards 3Foxen Canyon Road 1Foxen Canyon Road 2Foxen Canyon Road 3
Foxen Canyon Road 4Foxen Canyon Road 5Full of Life Flatbread 1Full of Life Flatbread 2Full of Life Flatbread 3Full of Life Flatbread 4

Yesterday afternoon & evening…….





Hello world!

9 06 2010

Welcome to my new blog, Michelle’s World. I’ve just begun putting this blog together as a form of self-expression, and as a way to communicate with others anywhere in the world. People often ask me why I do the things I do (and I do a lot of things as you will find out if you don’t already know!), so I will try to provide the reasons behind my being here. Also, my decision to blog was influenced by the fact that my friends, family, and even strangers often ask me for advice and my recommendations about most of the subjects on which I’ll be blogging about. Why do they ask me for advice? Probably because they know I’m pretty intense about anything that interests me, and they know I often do a thorough job of researching and contemplating before I make my decisions. I think of myself as the “Planner” type ~ I even plan when not to plan!

My blog posts will be about all aspects of my life which include, but will not be limited to, these subjects: aviation, food & wine, travel, architecture, hiking, the virtues of Native Plants both in nature and in the designed landscape, movies, music, life with a 6-pack of Pug dogs, and life in general. Please check back soon for updates. For my daily babble follow me on Twitter.








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