Italian Mac N Cheese

Italian Mac N Cheese

This is a family favorite. The flavor if wonderful. The picture shows how you can have fun with this recipe; it includes Sweet Italian Sausage and Broccoli Flowerets.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs Butter
  • ¼ C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 C Milk (2% or whole)
  • 1 lbs Mini Penne Pasta, uncooked
  • 4 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz. Provolone Cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz. Romano, Asiago, or Fontina Cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 C Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tbs Dried Italian Seasoning   

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente.  Scoop the pasta from the pot once it is cooked. Work on the next step while your pasta is cooking; so you can add the pasta to the sauce once it is cooked to al dente.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt butter, add flour and Italian seasoning and whisk for about 2 minutes to cook out the ‘flour-y’ taste. Add milk and continue to whisk occasionally, allowing the mixture to thicken. Add cheeses and whisk until fully combined. If the sauce is too thick, add pasta water one tablespoon at a time until it is the right consistency. Remember that this type of sauce will thicken as it sits.

Recipe Notes:

The first key to cooking good pasta is to NEVER dump the pasta to drain through a strainer; scoop it out and set the pasta water aside in case it is needed. I use a basket scoop made for a Wok to scoop out my large pastas. Secondly, never rinse your pasta; your sauce will not stick to rinsed pasta and you will ruin the flavor.

You may use pre-shredded cheese from your local store. You can buy them individually or as an Italian Blend. You will have the best results using freshly grated cheeses. Make sure that you use at least 4 oz. of Mozzarella.

You can add meat to this. Our favorites are sliced and cooked Italian Sausage or Linguiça Sausage. Any left-overs will work – everything from chicken to pork to steak. Get inventive with what you have on hand.

Don’t hesitate to use frozen vegetables; such as peas, peas & carrots or broccoli. You can also add in fresh greens; such as Baby Spinach, torn Kale Leaves or Dandelion Greens. Again be resourceful, use what you have on hand or some other vegetable that is a family favorite

This nice thing about recipes like this is that you can combine meats and vegetables together to make a full meal in one dish. Enjoy your kitchen adventure

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Artisan Rye Bread

Aritsan Rye Bread.jpg

For this particular recipe you may want to invest in a cooking stone and peel.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ Tbs yeast
  • 2 C warm water
  • 1½ tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbs Caraway Seeds
  • 1 ½ C Rye Flour
  • 3+ C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ C Cornmeal, for dusting the Peel     

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, water, salt, caraway, and rye flour. Add in all-purpose flour 1 cup at a time, adding more if necessary to form a dough ball that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Dough should be soft, not stiff, but should hold together on its own without being overly sticky.

 

  1. Transfer to a lightly greased large bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

 

  1. Shape it into a loaf by stretching the dough from the top center of the dough ball over the edges, and then underneath. It should look and feel like you are holding the loaf with two hands and are pulling the dough inside out with your thumbs. Give several of those pulls with your thumbs until you have a nice looking little loaf.

 

  1. Dust a pizza peel or wooden cutting board with cornmeal. Put the loaf on the prepared board and let it rise for another 40 minutes.

 

  1. Preheat a pizza/baking stone in the oven to 450 degrees. Place a shallow pan on the rack below the baking stone.

 

  1. Bake the loaf directly on the stone. When you put the loaf in, pour a tall glass of water into the shallow pan below. It’ll pop and sizzle and steam, so watch your hands. Close the oven door. Reduce the oven temperature to 400˚ (375˚ for convection oven) and bake for 30 minutes.

Papa Scott’s Cooking Tips Bleached vs Unbleached Flour

A while back, I switched to using unbleached flour for all my baking needs. I started hearing about the health benefits for doing this. I also decided to start using it because I like sourdough bread. Wild Yeast* is the key ingredient in sourdough bread and it can be used as a substitute for what I call quick yeast you buy in foil packets in the store. The use of unbleached flour and wild yeast is also a way to help steer away from developing gluten intolerance.

If you thought all flour was the same, think again. Many people know that white flour isn’t good for our health. However, bleached flour is even worse. At some point in history, milled flour was always unbleached. This old school flour comes out in a pale yellow color and it is aged for about 12 weeks. This aging process allows for the proteins and gluten develop, which makes it better for baking. Also, during this process, the flour bleaches and becomes whiter naturally.

However, we are impatient people, we want everything right now. So in the 1900’s a scientist invented a process which allowed us to bleach the flour within 48 hours, instead of several months. And thus, (the chemical process for) bleached flour was invented.

Below, I have taken some time to research the differences and to gather some important information so you can make your own decision on which flour will be best to use for your family.

Bleached Flour

When bleached flour was introduced, it was widely opposed. Dr. Wiley was one of the people that opposed it. He believed that foods can cause more harm than some drugs. He even took the matter to the Supreme Court, although they ruled in his favor (disallowing bleaching or altering of flour), it was never enforced. FDA was formed and the focus shifted to drugs. Bleached flour lived on.

The problem with bleached flour is that during the bleaching process, a byproduct called alloxan is produced. Alloxan** is used to produce diabetes in lab animals (rat and mice) so they can study diabetes treatments. FDA still allows chemical processes to be used without food that produces alloxan. Also, as with any refined foods, A LOT of nutrients are lost in the process. There are too many lost nutrients to list, but here’s a small portion:

  • Half of the beneficial unsaturated fatty acids
  • Virtually all of the vitamin E
  • Fifty percent of the calcium
  • Seventy percent of the phosphorus
  • Eighty percent of the iron
  • Ninety eight percent of the magnesium
  • Fifty to 80 percent of the B vitamins

 

Some of the bleaching agents used in the bleaching process include Chlorine Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Chlorine, Calcium Peroxide, Azodicarbonamide***, and Benzoyl Peroxide. The nutrients and vitamins that are lost during this bleaching process are then often added and made into what’s called “enriched” flour. However, most of the nutrients are still missing, and very little amounts are actually replaced. These nutrients are often added along with toxic additives. Metallic iron fillings have been found in “enriched” and “fortified” products.

Unbleached Flour

When you look at the label of your flour and it is not labeled as bleached or unbleached, it is bleached. However, due to people starting to pay attention and educating themselves, the demand for good old unbleached flour has increased. If a product is labeled as “unbleached” it has not been chemically bleached. Unbleached flour is making a comeback. Unbleached flour contains more nutrients and is better for your health. However, try to limit your intake of white flour. Wheat contains gluten and can often contain pesticides, etc. USDA found 16 different pesticide residues on wheat.

Fresh flour straight from the mill isn’t actually quite ready to be used in baking and actually improves with a little aging. During the aging time, flour undergoes a chemical process where oxygen in the air reacts with the glutenin proteins (which eventually work to form gluten) to form even longer chains of gluten. This means that doughs made with aged flour will have more elasticity and structure.

Fresh flour is also slightly yellowish to start off with, but then becomes paler as pigments in the flour oxidize during aging. The color change doesn’t affect anything chemically within the flour, but was originally an indicator that the flour had been aged for a certain period.

Around the beginning of the 20th century, it became common to use certain chemicals to speed up the aging process, allowing milling facilities to produce more flour and save on storage space. Potassium bromate was commonly used to speed aging, and then bleaches like benzoil peroxide and chlorine dioxide were used to approximate the whiteness of naturally aged flour.

In more recent history, medical concerns have risen over the consumption of potassium bromate, so it has been mostly replaced with ascorbic acid. Although bleaching hasn’t been raised into question medically, it does seem to affect the structure and flavor of the flour itself.

* Wild Yeast:

Any of various yeasts occurring naturally in the air or on surfaces especially of fruits and grains as distinguished from those selected and artificially cultured. For more information about Wild Yeast visit my blog on Wild Yeast.

** Alloxan, sometimes referred to as alloxan hydrate, refers to the organic compound with the formula OC(N(H)CO)2C(OH)2. It is classified as a derivative of pyrimidine. The anhydrous derivative (OC(N(H)CO)2CO is also known as well as a dimeric derivative. These are some of the earliest known organic compounds. They also exhibit a variety of biological activities.

 

Alloxan is a toxic glucose analogue, which selectively destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas (that is beta cells) when administered to rodents and many other animal species. This causes an insulin-dependent diabetes (called “alloxan diabetes”) in these animals, with characteristics similar to type 1 diabetes in humans. Alloxan is selectively toxic to insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells because it preferentially accumulates in beta cells through uptake via the GLUT2 glucose transporter. Alloxan, in the presence of intracellular thiols, generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) in a cyclic reaction with its reduction product, dialuric acid. The beta cell toxic action of alloxan is initiated by free radicals formed in this redox reaction. Studies suggest that alloxan does not cause diabetes in humans. Others found a significant difference in alloxan plasma levels in children with and without diabetes Type 1.

 

*** Azodicarbonamide From the FDA Website: 

  1. What is azodicarbonamide (ADA)?

Azodicarbonamide (ADA) is a chemical substance approved for use as a whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner in bread baking.

  1. On what basis did FDA approve the use of ADA?

FDA approved the use of ADA as a food additive in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner based on a comprehensive review of safety studies, including multi-year feeding studies.

  1. What has FDA done to continue to ensure the safe use of ADA in foods?

FDA has continued to evaluate the safe use of ADA in foods. In 2016, the agency conducted a comprehensive exposure assessment of semicarbazide (SEM) – a breakdown chemical that forms from ADA during bread making. This assessment was based on (1) the amount of SEM from the use of ADA from the analysis of over 250 representative bread and bread products, and (2) data from two different sets of food consumption data: a) the combined 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2-day dietary intake survey; and b) the 2007-2010 NPD Group, Inc. National Eating Trends-Nutrient Intake Database (NPD NET-NID) 10-14 day data using the proprietary Foods Analysis and Residue Evaluation-National Eating Trends (FARE-NET) program.

Based on this information, FDA developed exposure estimates for SEM for the U.S. population aged 2 years or more and children aged 2-5 years. Children aged 2-5 years were chosen because they would be expected to have the highest exposure to SEM per body weight. This exposure assessment was presented at the 251st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, on March 15, 2016. See the Exposure Estimate for Semicarbazide from the Use of Azodicarbonamide in Bread for the U.S. Population poster (PDF: 664KB).

  1. What about studies that show breakdown products of ADA, specifically semicarbazide, to be a carcinogen?

During bread making, ADA completely breaks down to form other chemicals, one of which is SEM. At high levels, SEM has been shown to increase the incident of tumors when fed to female mice, but not to male mice or either gender of rat. These studies were conducted in rodents at levels of SEM that far exceed estimates of human exposure from the consumption of ADA-treated flour or bread products.

  1. Does FDA recommend consumers change their diets?

Based on the science, FDA is not recommending that consumers change their diets because of exposure to ADA/SEM. FDA considers ADA a safe food additive when used for the purposes and at the levels specified in the FDA regulations.

  1. How do I know whether bread products contain ADA?

ADA, like all ingredients intentionally added to food, must be listed on the ingredient label. Consumers are able to identify the addition of ADA by looking for “azodicarbonamide” on the label.

  1. Is ADA necessary to make bread?

No. The use of ADA as a whitening agent and dough conditioner is not necessary to make bread and there are alternative ingredients approved for use available.

  1. Does ADA have other uses?

Yes, ADA is also authorized for use as a blowing agent in sealing caps for food containers such as ketchup bottles. In 2005, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) assessed the risk from the use of ADA as a blowing agent and concluded that it is not of concern for human health given the levels that have been found in foods packaged in glass jars and bottles. However, EFSA had also noted that exposure to SEM should be limited where possible, and the European Union banned this use of ADA.

Papa Scott’s Peppered Gravy Egg Bake

One of our family favorites is Biscuits and Gravy, using sausage gravy. As the patriarch of the family, I like many of my foods blackened; so I am a big fan of peppered gravy. My family not so much. I experimented on several different recipes for peppered gravy and finally came up with one of my own, that even my family will like. My lovely bride, Lynda like egg bakes. I thought it over and came up with a blend of one of her favorites and our family’s favorite with a Papa Scott twist. I didn’t tell Lynda what I was up to. After she had two bites, she told me that I would have to make it more often; because it was yummy and delicious. I think you will enjoy this.

Prep Time:               20minutes

Cook Time:               45minutes

Servings:          6 people

 Ingredients:

  • ½ pkg Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns™
  • 1 lbs Breakfast Sausage
  • 8 Large Eggs, whisked
  • 1 C Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 C Peppered Gravy

        Peppered Gravy

  • 1/3 C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 ½ C Milk
  • ¼ C Butter
  • ¾ Tbs Fresh Black Pepper, coarse ground – add up to 1 ½ Tbs to taste
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt – add ¼ tsp if using unsalted butter            

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Line a greased deep 8 X 8 pan with enough Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns™ to cover bottom with one layer. Cook per package instructions.

While Crispy Crowns are cooking, brown the breakfast sausage until thoroughly cooked. Layer browned sausage over cooked potatoes and then cover with the peppered gravy. Bake this for 15 minutes.

Cover the cooked potato/gravy with the whisked eggs. Sprinkle the cheese over the eggs. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the eggs are thoroughly cooked.

Gravy Directions:

In a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium-low heat. Blend in the flour and whisk until creamy and free of lumps.

Slowly, add in the milk, whisking constantly until completely blended. Add in the pepper and salt. Bring the temperature up to medium-high to thicken gravy.

Serve and enjoy!

Salsa Roja

Prep Time:               10 minutes

Cook Time:               15 minutes

Servings:          5 (serving size is ¼ cup) 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lbs Tomatoes
  • ½ Med White Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 2 Serrano Chiles
  • 8 sprigs Cilantro
  • 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • ¼ tsp Cumin   

Directions:

Remove the seeds and veins from the chiles (Leave them in if you want a hotter salsa)

Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, chiles and cilantro

Add the chopped vegetables, garlic and cumin to your blender (Do not add extra water unless needed and then add a couple tablespoons at a time)

Add ½ teaspoon salt

Blend the salsa until it has a coarse texture

Preheat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan

Pour the blended salsa in the hot oil

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low

Simmer for 15 minutes

Adjust the salt if needed

Nutrition Facts

5 Servings

Amount Per Serving

  • Calories     81.6
  • Total Fat     6.0 g
  • Saturated Fat   0.9 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat   1.0 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat   4.1 g
  • Cholesterol     0.0 mg
  • Sodium     243.3 mg
  • Potassium     301.6 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate    7.5 g
  • Dietary Fiber     1.6 g
  • Sugars       1.4 g
  • Protein      1.4 g

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Sourdough Waffles

Prep Time:               8 hours

Cook Time:               10 minutes

Servings:          8 waffles

 

Ingredients:

Overnight Sponge

  • 2 C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

  • 2 Tbs Sugar

  • 2 C Buttermilk

  • 1 C Sourdough Starter, unfed

Waffle Batter

  • 2 lrg Eggs

  • ¼ C Canola Oil

  • ¾ tsp Sea Salt

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda  

Directions:

  1. To make the overnight sponge, stir down your refrigerated starter, and remove 1 cup.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the 1 cup starter, flour, sugar, and buttermilk.

  1. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.

  1. In a small bowl or mixing cup, beat together the eggs, and oil or butter. Add to the overnight sponge.

  1. Add the salt and baking soda, stirring to combine. The batter will bubble.

  1. Pour batter onto your preheated, greased waffle iron, and bake according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Extra-Sourdough Bread

Prep Time:               24 hours          

Cook Time:               25 – 30 minutes

Servings:          10 Slices

 Ingredients:

  • 1 C                  “Fed” Sourdough Starter
  • 1 ½ C              Lukewarm Water, use more if needed to make a smooth dough
  • 5 C                 Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1Tbs              Sugar
  • 2 ¼ tsp          Sea Salt
  • ½ – 5/8 tsp   Sour Salt (citric acid), optional, for extra-sour bread            

Directions:

Combine the starter, water, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat vigorously for 1 minute. Cover, and let rest at room temperature for 4 hours. Refrigerate overnight, for about 12 hours.

Add the remaining ingredients: 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and sour salt, if you’re using it. Knead to form a smooth dough. Allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl until it’s relaxed, smoothed out, and risen. Depending on the vigor of your starter, it may become REALLY puffy; or it may just rise a bit. This can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours.

Understand this: sourdough bread (especially sourdough without added yeast) is as much art as science; everyone’s timetable will be different. So please allow yourself to go with the flow, and not treat this as an exact, to-the-minute process. Gently divide the dough in half. Gently shape the dough into two oval loaves, and place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 2 to 4 hours. The longer you let it rise the more tangy the bread becomes.Don’t worry if the loaves spread more than they rise; they’ll pick up once they hit the oven’s heat.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray the loaves with lukewarm water. Make two fairly deep horizontal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here. Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown. With 5 minutes remaining, brush the top with melted butter. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack.