Anniversary gift: my favorite recipes

Jun. 24, 2014 @ 11:01 AM

And here we come full circle, fellow foodies. I began writing this column one year ago this week. My goals: To learn more about cooking and to share my education with you.

I’ve learned three invaluable lessons:

1. Nothing you get premade, premixed or otherwise manufactured comes close to how delicious food is when made from scratch.

2. Making food from scratch can sometimes be more time-consuming, but just as often doesn’t take any longer than following directions on a box.

3. We all need family. We all need food. A kitchen isn’t just a place to blend ingredients together; it’s a place where families become closer.

To celebrate the close of my inaugural year as a food columnist, I’ve gone through the past 52 articles to pull some of my favorite recipes of the past year to share with you this week and next.

Thank you all for a great year. I can’t wait to see what the next 52 columns will bring.


Meatloaf Mac

1 pound meatloaf meat mix

1 pound elbow macaroni, dry

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons cumin

5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/2 large yellow onion, diced

1 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

1 tablespoon salt


First, start your macaroni boiling. I boil the water first, then pour the pasta in while stirring. I allow it to boil for a minute, then turn it down to simmer on a medium-low heat.

Pour the olive oil into a frying pan on medium; heat the oil, then put in the garlic and onion. Cook until onion is soft and translucent, about a minute or two. Put the meatloaf mix in, break up into bite-size bits and add cumin. Stir it all together and brown, leaving just a slight bit of pink in the middle. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan at medium heat. Add the flour a bit at a time, using a whisk to stir constantly (for those of you in the know, you’re making a blond roux for the cheese sauce). This will take 8-12 minutes; keep stirring, as it will burn easily.

Add the milk and stir. Once the mixture is warm, add 1 cup of the shredded cheese, a little at a time until it’s melted and the sauce has a rich, creamy, thick texture.

Drain the macaroni then return to the pot. Add the meatloaf mix, cheese sauce and salt. Stir.

Set your oven to broil (low, if it differentiates). Pour the mixture into a baking dish (my favorite one for this is round and ceramic). Cover with enough shredded cheese to coat the top. Put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is a nice, gooey consistency.


Fancy risotto cakes

2 cups day-old cooked risotto

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons butter


Risotto gets thicker the longer it sits, which is why it’s important to use day-old cooked risotto here. Stir in egg. Mash into an even layer, about an inch to an inch-and-a-half thick, on a flat surface. Using a biscuit cutter or the sippin’ side of a drinking glass, cut cakes out of the layer. Mash the remaining bits together and cut more cakes out; repeat until you’re out of risotto.

Heat butter in frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, place cakes in frying pan. Allow to brown for 3-5 minutes, then flip and allow another 3-5 minutes, until the outside looks nice and crispy brown.


Alan’s Singapore Sauce (for mahi mahi)

1 cup ketchup

½ cup soy sauce

1 ounce fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 cup boiling vegetable stock

1 teaspoon rice vinegar


Put the ketchup, soy sauce, stock and vinegar into a saucepan over medium heat. Grind the ginger and garlic into a semi-fine paste, then add to the mix. Cook, stirring, until the sauce reaches a pourable but sticky consistency.