bundle up

march

March! In like a lion, indeed. There’s been work stuff and health stuff and life stuff going on, and travel planned (San Francisco! Baltimore!) in relation to SHRUBS – it’s been a bit of a whirlwind in the Hess-Dietsch household of late.

crispy_thai_pork1

I’ve made this Crispy Thai Pork With Cucumber Salad twice now in recent weeks, and it is incredibly delicious. It is also incredibly easy, which I desperately need these days. Just crisp up some pork and a handful of garlic in a skillet, douse it with fish sauce and soy sauce and chilies and stock, a spritz of lime and a little brown sugar, and let it all cook down to sweet-spicy-sticky goodness.

crispy_thai_pork2

If you don’t eat pork, I suspect this would be equally delicious with ground chicken or turkey or even my new love, tempeh. And if you, like me, are absolutely over this cold, snowy weather, the fresh, bright flavors in this dish should be just what you need to pull you out of your winter funk.

The recipe is here, at Bon Appétit.

stovetopmac

outside the box

stovetopmac

One of the best decisions I’ve made recently is to use some unexpected vacation time to ease our transition from my maternity leave into our new routine. I was able to arrange for my first four weeks back on the job to be short weeks, scheduling a month of Thursdays off to spend at home with the kids. It has helped to break up the week for me as I get back in the swing of things at the office, and it allows Mike a bit more freedom to get the things done for his book and other writing projects that he needs to, as well.

Last week, Julian –out of the blue – asked me for mac and cheese, and since it was Thursday, and I was home, I figured why not? But with naptime approaching, I didn’t want to keep him waiting an hour or more for my regular skillet mac and cheese. Instead, I used that tried-and-true recipe as a jumping-off point, stripping down and changing up the proportions of my cheese sauce, and using a smaller (and quicker-cooking) pasta shape to produce a simple, super-creamy stove-top version for him.

julianmac

Three servings later, I was pretty sure I had a winner on my hands, and when Julian asked for it again yesterday, I figured I’d better write my recipe down for posterity. I hope Julian and his baby sister always push me to think outside the box, in the kitchen and elsewhere.

Simple Stove-top Mac & Cheese

1/2 lb. small pasta (we like Garofalo’s Lumachine, but any little tube or shell is fine)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. grated extra-sharp cheddar
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1-2 dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook it until tender. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour until combined. Whisk in the milk and cream until smooth. Add the cheeses a little at a time, stirring until they are well incorporated, and let cook over medium heat until the sauce is thickened and a bit reduced. Whisk in the Dijon, Worcestershire, and Tabasco (if using), then season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the cheese mixture and stir gently until the pasta is thoroughly enveloped, and the cheese sauce gets into all of its little nooks and crannies. Serve immediately.