Archive for Cheese

GF Mac and Cheese – Delicious, Fast and Good!

YUM! And totally GF

YUM! And totally GF


We love our Mac and Cheese!

And there’s no reason Gluten Free Mac’n’Cheese should not be entirely as delicious, comforting and delightful as “the other kind”.

Follow along and you’ll see how two simple recipe modifications gives you a gluten free mac and cheese that is ready to comfort your family on a Sunday night, serve to guests (who you really, really like!) and make – quickly and easily – for yourself, when you just need a Mac’n’Cheese.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a solid side. Easily doubles. Or triples!)

  • 7 oz. Rigatoni Gluten Free Penne Rigate (or other brand, I used Rigatoni and it was excellent)
  • 6 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (I used Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar)
  • 4 oz. Fontina, coarsely grated. I used a Danish fontina – Celebrity Brand – but any Fontina or other soft mild cheese will do wonderfully.
  • 2 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated fine
  • 3 slices your favorite “plain” gluten free bread, chopped, then pulverized into bread crumbs in a blender or food processor.
    • NOTE: If you like, you can then “toast” these bread crumbs in a skillet with about 1/2 tsp. butter, for a richer, moister flavor. This is optional, but a nice thing to do if you have time.
  • 2 oz. – 4 pats – unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C. tapioca starch. This is available at most supermarkets in the “grains” section where they have the individually bagged grains. Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I use, and I like it quite a lot.
  • 1-1/2 C. whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground (or powdered) nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (OPTIONAL. If you are on a low FODMAPS diet, try substituting about 1 tsp. garlic infused oil – here’s a great technique for making infused oils for a low FODMAPS diet: Low FODMAP garlic infused oil – (opens in new tab).


Heat a sauce pot over medium heat until hot and melt the butter. Add the tapioca flour and whisk briskly into the butter for two minutes until it is entirely absorbed and you can smell the flour cooking a bit.

Add the milk and whisk briskly for a few minutes, then keep cooking until you have a smooth, thick mixture. This will take about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the salt, the grated Cheddar, the Fontina, half the chipotle (1/4 tsp), the nutmeg, and the (OPTIONAL) garlic / garlic infused oil.

Butter an 8″ baking dish (or, if you only have 9″ baking dishes, butter one of those, the Mac’n’Cheese just won’t be quite as tall in the dish).


Boil the pasta. IMPORTANT, trick 1! If your package directions read something like “boil for 7 minutes”, boil them, counting the time after the water returns to a boil, for 4 minutes. You should be just barely able to pierce the pasta with a fork.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta thoroughly with the cheese mixture and turn out into the prepared baking dish. Top with the finely grated Parmesan, your GF bread crumbs and the rest (1/4 tsp.) of the chipotle powder.

Pre-heat oven. IMPORTANT, trick 2! You’re going to cook the mac’n’cheese at two temperatures. This is super easy. Just set your oven to 325F. You’ll cook the pasta for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature up to 375 Fahrenheit degrees and cook for another 5 minutes (measure the 5 minutes from when the oven tells you it’s up to temperature). This gives you enough cooking time to properly finish cooking the pasta, along with enough heat – at the end – to give it a slightly crisp, browned top.

The finished pasta dish should be bubbling a little and beautifully browned on the top, as in the picture!

Crust, crunch, flavor, great mouth feel - and totally GF!

Crust, crunch, flavor, great mouth feel – and totally GF!



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Beautiful Marinated Mozzarella Made Easy – and Inexpensive!

Home marinated mozzarella with sliced grape tomatoes

Home marinated mozzarella with sliced grape tomatoes

I confess. We love appetizers. There’s something great about a small plate of things. You eat a little, you drink some wine. You slow down a little and get ready to truly enjoy the main meal. It’s. . .kinda civilized!

One appetizer I love dearly is marinated cheese. You can marinate most any fresh, firm cheese – I like to marinate fresh Mozzarella. And marinated cheese plays beautifully with so many other things you can put on a plate, like charcuterie, fresh sliced veggies (crudites), citrus segments, citrus zest, lots of fresh herbs – marinated Mozzarella is just a compatible kind of appetizer ingredient.

Good quality fresh mozza, however, is pretty pricey. I quiver at the minute, 8-oz packages selling at our local supermarkets for about 5 bucks. You’d need at least 2 of them to make a decent amount for marinating.

That’s one reason I love CostCo! They don’t just stock good quality olive oil by the jumbo, 5 gallon pack, they also offer great quality fresh, pre-sliced mozzarella logs (sold as 2 1-lb. logs per package, each individually wrapped) that can, with minimal work and a little waiting time, be transformed into gorgeous marinated mozzarella.

Full disclosure, I have zero, zip, nada interest in CostCo, except that I shop there.

Using a log of CostCo mozzarella, preparing a couple of pints of marinated cheese takes about 10 minutes and a little patience. Here’s how:

Read the rest of this entry »

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What to do with all those bits of leftover cheese? Why, make Fromage Fort, of course!

Tidbits from the cheese drawer

Tidbits from the cheese drawer

I confess to being a bit of a hoarder. I have a large book collection that seems to grow larger all the time, even though I do have a Kindle e-reader. I have pots and pans galore because – pots and pans!

And I am a compulsive and inveterate collector of cheeses.

It’s nearly impossible for me to walk by a well-stocked cheese shop – or the well stocked cheese section of my favorite supermarkets – without buying something. Really – I mean, c’mon!! They’re just waiting for me, glistening and shimmering on the shelves.

And I know I want them.

If you’re French, you may well buy a nice fresh baguette each day, or perhaps every other day. You eat the baguette and all is well. Me, I buy a nice fresh baguette every few days and then eat some of it. Not all, but some.

This leaves a perfectly good baguette in the bread drawer, where it rapidly turns into a baguette-shaped brick.

Lately, I’ve been telling my wife – “Bread crumbs!! There is nothing like fresh ground bread crumbs.” Wordlessly, she points to the multiple containers of breadcrumbs already in the pantry. OK, so I do get a little bit carried away – but I’m in rescue mode!

You can imagine how cool it was to find that – like the bread crumb stratagem – there is a rescue – a delicious rescue – for the many bits and pieces of leftover cheese that are too nice to throw away.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Breakfast Scramble – Seasonal Feasting

Last year,  we spent a few days in Portland and stopped by Navarre for a bite of breakfast. Navarre is a Spanish style cafe with Basque influences. In my admittedly limited experience it’s one of the best restaurants of its kind – or any kind – in Portland.

In the morning, Navarre does omelets, but they aren’t really omelets – they’re called scrambles. A scramble, apparently, is an omelet that is shaken, rather than stirred – an omelet that  does not fold neatly over a tidy packet of whatever-you’re-using-as-filling, but whose fillings are precisely chopped and dropped into the pan with the eggs, then folded about, hither and yon, ultimately forming a lovely, cohesive whole.

After leaving Navarre, I vowed to recreate their techniques for preparing this seemingly simple, yet beautiful and delicious dish. I  think I’m making progress. Here are a few ideas, a recipe and some photos to show you where I’m now at with this dish.

By the way,  scrambles like this make wonderful Breakfast for Dinner meals! Read the rest of this entry »

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There Are Two Kinds of Cooks in the World – Stuffed Scalloped Potatoes Gratin

Stuffed, Scalloped Potatoes with Kale Salad

Stuffed, Scalloped Potatoes with Kale Salad

No. Really. Two kinds. And hang on for a moment, because towards the end of this piece, we’re going to talk about what they are. But first, let’s talk stuffed scalloped potatoes.

They are astonishingly good, you can make them in a wide variety of ways – they’re one of those dishes that can be elegant and mannered or real refrigerator cleaners. And I mean that in the very best of all possible ways. Read the rest of this entry »

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Darwinian Nachos – An Apex Choice for Dinner

Almost My Birthday Dish!

October 21st is the International Day of the Nacho. It’s right after my birthday, which is one reason why I have such an affinity for this brilliant dish.
OK, I have lots of reasons, including sheer deliciousness, ease of preparation and versatility. But it doesn’t hurt that it’s almost my birthday dish.

As served in restaurants across the US, nachos are often a weighty, substantial offering – it’s funny to see them as a 3000 calorie snack item in the Appetizers section of the menu.

As served in many parts of Mexico, those same nachos are typically a delightful and relatively light quick snack or appetizer with a perfect blend of salt, savory and heat and a beautiful mix of ingredients.

A couple of decades ago, we first started making nachos in the more traditional Mexican style, but over time, this dish has evolved. Today, it incorporates veggies, beans, greens – it’s become a complete meal, all done in one pot, er, tray. Read the rest of this entry »

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Comfort Food for a Rough Day – We Always Think of Cheese

Yesterday, we had a bit of a storm here in the Pacific Northwest. It generated nothing like the deadly tidal surges of Hurricane Sandy, I mean nothing, but it was still the largest storm we’ve had in more than 30 years, according to Mr. Salmon, our neighbor and long-term resident of our small beach community just north of Seattle. “Everything that was on one side of my garage was washed to the other side,” he observed, pointing at a garage door broken in by the very high tides generated by a combination of unusually high tide and an unusually strong windstorm.

Our front yard. The Shore Pine made it through the storm!

It was a little wild out there

After spending the day huddling inside from the storm, venturing out only to see if we still had a deck or front yard, we came to our evening meal badly in need of comfort. To us, that means one thing, and one thing only. OK, it might even mean two or three things, but last night we were like hungry lasers, intently focused on Mac and Cheese.

The Great Comfort Foods –  and Why Do They All Involve Cheese?

Everybody enjoys unique and different comfort foods, from Soup to Sandwiches to Potato Pancakes. Read the rest of this entry »

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