Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: Spring Break comfort food

Where is Spring?

We’re a week into March for heavens sake — so where is the Spring and the budding flowers. When is the grass going to turn green? It’s hard to believe some people still deny climate change. March is a month with more wacky “special” days, than days to celebrate them in.

Besides St. Patricks Day, World Day of Prayer, and the Ides of March, we have National Pig Day, Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, National Frozen Food Day, Crown Roast of Pork Day, Popcorn Lover’s Day, National Potato Chip Day, Corn Beef and Cabbage Day, National Spinach Day, Waffle and Pecan Day and on and on. And these are only some of the food days.

With that in mind I’m offering a couple of recipes that will fit right in for Spring Break and the kids. The first is a perfect brunch recipe for the kids and the second a comfort food to help with the wait…(not the waist).

Raspberry Nutella Stuffed French Toast

1⁄2 cup milk

2 eggs

1⁄8 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

4 slices bread (day-old Challah, Brioche, or other type of sweet, fluffy bread)

2 tablespoons butter

1⁄4 cup Nutella

1⁄4 cup raspberry jam or 1⁄4 cup raspberry preserves

1⁄2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla

  • Whisk together first four ingredients. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Soak bread in milk and egg mixture for 30 seconds on each side. Place bread into the pan and let cook until bottom is golden and crisp. Turn over, and repeat with other side. Repeat with all of the bread. Whip the cream in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and mix until incorporated. Place two tablespoons of Nutella and two tablespoons of jam on two of the bread slices. Top with remaining slices and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Serve warm.

Skillet Mac and Cheese with Crispy Breadcrumbs

12 ounces uncooked large elbow macaroni

1/4 cup salted butter

3/4 cup chopped (yellow onion (from 1 onion)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (2 to 3 garlic cloves)

2 cups whole milk

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

6 ounces processed cheese (such as Velveeta), cubed (about 1-1/2 cups)

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided

3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 large egg

1-1/2 cups panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

  • Prepare pasta according to package directions; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add onion, and cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown, four to five minutes. Add flour and garlic to skillet; cook, stirring, until fragrant, one to two minutes. Add milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheddar and processed cheese, whisking until melted.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in cooked pasta, mayonnaise, salt, and 1/2 cup of the parsley. Stir together ricotta and egg in a small bowl. Gently stir ricotta mixture into pasta mixture, leaving large swirls. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together Panko, melted butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley until blended. Top pasta with Panko mixture, and bake until top is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s cooking columnist


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