The Block Island Times
http://block-island.villagesoup.com/p/895093

Fall is coming — time to slip into something comfortable

By Becky and Mike Ballard | Sep 19, 2012

Children are back in school, the goldenrod is blooming, the days are getting shorter and the clear, sweet touch of fall is evident all around us. With fewer guests on the island, we can sit back a little into new routines. School creates that for some of us; just a change of pace does it for others.

Now is a good time to get back in the kitchen and try out some of those recipes you’ve filed away — or to try some of these. There are still plenty of fresh vegetables and local fish available, but we’re looking ahead to tucking ourselves indoors with something that makes us feel we’re home. Home, where things can be simple, and we can pamper and nourish ourselves and our families.

The accompanying recipes are top choices for most kids, but they’re also for the big kid in all of us. They’re familiar comfort foods, and the best recipes we’ve found for each. Both the Cinnamon Rice Pudding and the Baked Custard are good ways to cheer up someone who’s been sick, or as good, chilled desserts to serve anytime. The layers of tomato sauce in the Macaroni and Cheese make a tasty variation on a favorite dish, and the Stuffed Manicotti (two ways) would fill up even a lumberjack. Try making your own tomato sauce if you have the time, it’s so much better and you can freeze it in portions that fit your family’s needs.

 

Macaroni and Cheese with a Surprise

½ pound macaroni

5 tablespoons butter (divided)

1 ½ cups whole milk, gently warmed

2 eggs

1 ½ cups Savory Tomato Sauce ** or purchased sauce

1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain. Butter a 2 quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Whisk eggs with warmed milk and set aside.

Arrange layers of macaroni, tomato sauce, cheese (reserve a little for topping), dabs of butter, salt and pepper in baking dish. Pour milk/egg mixture over layers. Top with remaining cheese. Bake until mixture has thickened and is bubbling around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serves 8.

 

**Savory Tomato Sauce

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 32-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until onions are translucent (about 10 minutes). Add celery, carrots, and the salt and pepper. Saute until all vegetables are soft (about 10 more minutes).

Add the tomatoes and bay leaves; simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens (about 1 hour). Discard bay leaves. Season with more salt and pepper, if preferred. Let cool, then cover and store in refrigerator.

Best if made 1 day ahead. Can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes 8 cups of sauce.

 

Cinnamon Rice Pudding

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups half-and-half cream or whole milk, scalded

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 ½ cups cooked rice

1/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 1 ½ or 2-quart casserole.

Combine all ingredients in casserole dish; mix thoroughly. Place dish in a pan filled with 1 inch of hot water (so casserole is surrounded with hot water). Bake 45 to 60 minutes until center of pudding is done. Serve warm or chilled, with or without cream.

6 servings.

 

Stuffed Manicotti Two Ways

Pork Sausage-filled Manicotti

2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

¾ pound ground pork

1 small onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, seeded and chopped

2 ½ cups Savory Tomato Sauce** or a purchased brand (20 ounces); either way, mixed with 1/3 cup water (divided)

¼ cup bread crumbs

1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese (divided)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

8-ounce box manicotti

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Crumble in ground pork and cook until lightly browned. Remove ground pork to a platter and reserve. Heat second tablespoon of olive oil, add the onion and green pepper, and cook until soft. Stir in cooked pork, ½ cup of the tomato sauce, bread crumbs, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Let mixture cool to room temperature

Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Fill uncooked manicotti shells with pork mixture and then place them in rows side-by-side over the layer of tomato sauce. Spoon the remaining 1 cup of tomato sauce over the filled manicotti. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil, crimping edges to seal tightly. Bake 40 minutes.

Remove foil. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese over the top, and return to oven, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Makes about six servings.

 

Cheese-filled Manicotti

2 cups Savory Tomato Sauce** or a purchased brand; either way, mixed with ½ cup water (divided)

15 ounces ricotta cheese or small curd cottage cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese (divided)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

1 egg, beaten

8-ounce box manicotti

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

Combine ricotta, Parmesan, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, parsley, oregano and egg. Fill uncooked manicotti shells with mixture then place them in rows side-by-side over the layer of tomato sauce. Spoon remaining 1 cup of tomato sauce over the filled manicotti. Cover baking dish with foil, crimping edges to seal tightly. Bake 40 minutes.

Remove foil. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese over the top, and return to oven, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Makes about six servings.

 

Baked Custard

6 egg yolks

½ cup sugar

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

3 cups whole milk, scalded

1 teaspoon vanilla

Ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except the nutmeg. Pour mixture equally into six custard cups. Sprinkle with a little ground nutmeg.

Place custard cups into a shallow pan. Pour hot water into the pan to the depth of 1 inch around the cups, and set pan in the oven. Bake about 45 minutes. (Test by inserting a knife into the custard near the center. If the knife comes out clean, the custard will be firm when it cools.) Serve custards warm or chilled.

Makes six 4-ounce custards.

 

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