September 8th, 2010

{recipe} Two Fab Family-Friendly Recipes From Ted Allen

So, this might sound funny—or maybe it’s just funny to me—but I was invited by Cascade to a bloggers breakfast with Ted Allen. You know, the food guy from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

People: QUEER EYE!

Love. That. Show!

And, of course, being the food geek (and, ahem, hag) that I am, Ted was my favorite.

Even though Queer Eye is off the air, I’ve remained a Ted fan. He’s still on TV, as host of the highly entertaining Chopped on the Food Network. He writes about food. In fact, I received a free copy of his cookbook The Food You Want to Eat and am loving it. And he lives in my ‘hood, the coolest part of Brooklyn, the coolest borough in the coolest city in the world. (Thank you very much.)

I had to meet him.

Plus—I know this sounds like bullshit, but I SWEAR it isn’t!!—I recently had a dishwasher repair guy tell me that the big problem I thought I had with my machine was actually just an issue of major cloggage. The first thing he asked was, “Do you use [fill in major eco brand] soap?”

“Um, yea,” I replied, a little embarrassed at being profiled.

He went on to explain why he believes that my choice of dish soap caused the clog—and not so clean dishes—and why it would happen again.

SO, of all random things, I was actually interested in trying Cascade Complete All-in-1 Action Pacs, the product that Cascade and Ted Allen have teamed up to promote.

Ted Allen + free product that I wanted to try + breakfast = willing blogger. There you have it. I’ve laid myself raw.

As it turns out, Ted is chatty, funny, super knowledgeable about food and a passionate home cook. Love, love, love and love. He teamed up with Cascade because, as someone who cooks at home all the time, he relies on his dishwasher. A lot. Sound familiar?

And look how cute he is! (I know that he’s blurry, but this was the better picture of me. Yup. Shameless.)

Together, Cascade and Ted have put together a fun promotion called The Food Merger Hall of Fame where folks weigh in on the hardest to clean food duos. There’s also a vote still going on (but ending soon, so visit ASAP!) between mac and cheese, fried chicken and gravy and spaghetti and meatballs.

In honor of my vote for mac and cheese, I’m sharing Ted Allen’s recipe. I also want to tell you about Ted’s brilliant idea for a quick, healthy family meal: Chicken, Gruyere, Green Apple & Walnut Quesadilla. Both the Hungry Boy and Baby loved it. I did, too. Not only is it a spectacular flavor combination (and a great feed-yourself food!), but it’s also nutritionally well balanced. You’d think he had kids or something!

Just shred left over chicken (or freshly broil, grill or poach some) and layer with shredded gruyere, thin slices of green apple and finely chopped walnuts. Heat in a pan with some butter and dinner is done. Or lunch (this can totally work in a lunchbox!). Ted even mentioned substituting smoked chicken, which would be great if you can find it easily.

One more thing before I get to the mac and cheese. Since I bothered to share my dishwasher cloggage issue with you, you might as well know that we’ve officially switched to the Cascade Complete All-in-1 Action Pacs. They honestly work better than what I was using and are ridonculously convenient (no squeezey bottle or messy powder). That means I’m paying for more, out of pocket.

Ted Allen’s Mac and Cheese
serves 4
(can be shared with kids 10+ mos)

1 lb dried macaroni elbows, ziti, or penne
Kosher salt
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 c milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 bay leaf
2 tsp prepared Colman’s mustard
8 oz cheddar cheese, finely grated
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water (a teaspoon of salt per quart), then drain and set aside. Your goal is to boil the pasta until it’s just barely cooked through, or al dente.

2. Put the pot back over low heat, add the butter and melt.

3. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute, until the mixture bubbles. Raise the heat to medium.

4. Gradually add the milk, stirring all the time.

5. Then add the nutmeg and bay leaf and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, particularly at the edges of the pot to keep the flour from burning. When the sauce simmers it will thicken.

6. Turn the heat down to low and cook at a bare simmer for 5 to 10 minutes; this cooks away the floury taste.

7. Remove the pan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the mustard.

8. Now add the pasta and the cheeses. Put the pan over very low heat and stir to melt the cheese.

9. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spoon out into a serving bowl, or onto serving plates, and serve immediately.

Ted’s Notes: This recipe is great with cheddar cheese alone—it’s a basic recipe that guarantees you won’t alienate any finicky kids or fraternity brothers, should they be on your guest list. But stirring in a couple of tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese gives this everyman’s dish a real refinement that will wow your gourmet guests too. If you want to really push it over the top, pour the mixture into a baking dish, sprinkle some more parmesan on top, and bake at 400° for a few minutes until it browns.

3 Responses

  1. Thank you so much, I enjoy reading about other vegansas it gives me the strength to continue. I have about a thousand vegetarian feeds in my google reader, but I’m sure another can’t hurt!! I did manage to find a good lentil recipe here, but I’ll be sure to try yours too. Thanks!

  2. Jared Carela says:

    Man, my grandmother was Italian and she made the most amazing meatballs I ever tasted, like you wouldnt believe. Sadly, she didnt leave a single recipe for me so I’ve been trying to work it out on my own… slowly working my through the meatball recipes here, I still cant figure out what her secret ingredient was though!!!

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