Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Radicchio Crostini... and Smoky Mac

I am home now... for a brief snippet of time before heading back out on the road. My latest trip was a good time but left me sounding a bit more like Debbie Harry than as myself... too much rock and roll. As such, I have been exhausted yet happy to be home and have the option of cooking, even if I find myself too lazy to oblige. So, I needed to take it a bit easy and had two friends over for a 'let's cook together' gathering. Today's lesson was to be the Smoky Mac and Cheese.

While Erin was learning and navigating the land of Mac and Cheese, we snacked on Radicchio Crostini. My caveat here... I find radicchio to be something that I have to be in the mood for. It is really sharp in its flavour and if I'm not in the right state of mind, I will have nothing to do with this bit of veg. However, when I do get in the mood, it is a nice little snack. The sharpness takes the edge off any hunger pangs, so you can make it through the cooking process rather than reaching for the phone and calling for delivery.

Radicchio Crostini
Olive Oil
Salt + pepper
Fresh mozzarella or bocconcini
Balsamic vinegar

Slice your radicchio (assuming you've given it a rinse at this point... otherwise, get back there and wash it!). Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper then put on a warm griddle, frying pan or barbeque. Saute until softened.

Toast your bread as you would have for the bruschetta... drizzle of oil, rub of garlic, toast. Top each warmed, crispy slice of bread with a slice of mozzarella (thin enough that it warms on the bread) then the warm radicchio. Drizzle a bit of balsamic over each piece.

Thoughts on variations: It may be interesting to saute the radicchio with a bit of apple juice to add a bit of sweetness throughout the cooking process. Instead of mozzarella, you could capitalize on the sharp flavours by adding a slight blue cheese crumble on top of each piece. Maybe.....?

Now to the Mac and Cheese...

We generally followed my first recipe. A few tweaks:
- We used one fresh jalapeno versus the chipotle. To take a bit of the raw edge off, we cooked the jalapeno in a bit of oil and water before adding it at the same stage we would have added the chipotle pepper.
- The sauce seemed a bit thick so we added an extra cup of milk. Just remember that there is that flexibility to thin the sauce slightly if it seems a bit too thick.
- We chopped up six slices of the bacon, rather than the two or three of the first recipe. Who doesn't love more bacon!

The comments:
E: Would have added even more bacon!
D: Would like more of a crust on top... but it was still -two bowls- good!

Erin and her thumbs up Mac and Cheese.

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