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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Comfort Food -- The Best Mac 'N Cheese Recipe

This week in class, we made two types of potatoes--hash browns and Potatoes Lyonnaise, roasted tomatoes, and Eggs Benedict. Chef Fredericks explained the technique behind Hollandaise sauce to avoid having the sauce "snap" or curdle.
3 Important Tips For Making Successful Hollandaise:
1. Use clarified butter--as you can see on the chart from last week's post, clarifying butter raises the smoke point 75-120 degrees--so clarified butter has a wider range of stable temperatures during the cooking process.
2. Add water to the egg yolk at the beginning of the process. If your temperature is getting way too hot, adding water will lower the temperature to 212 degrees (water boils at 212 degrees).
2. Keep the temperature of the ingredients between 90 -145 degrees so the yolks don't harden. They will begin to set around 145 degrees. The optimum temperature is about body temperature: 98 degrees. You don't need to use a double boiler if you can keep the heat of the Hollandaise low--if in doubt, use a double boiler!
3. Use the proper whisk and proper whisking technique--use a balloon whisk with many wires, designed for sauces.
Hollandaise is an emulsion--the blending of two dissimilar ingredients together. No, the emulsion is not between the egg and lemon juice! The emulsion is between butter and air, with the egg yolk being the emulsifier. The lemon juice is a flavoring component which is added after the basic sauce is made.
1 lb. butter
2 egg yolks
juice of 1/2 lemon
splash of Tabasco sauce
Clarify the butter by bringing it to a hard boil. At first, the butter will look opaque, but after a couple minutes of hard boil, the surface between the bubbles will begin to be clear. The butter in the photo is just about ready--you still see some streaks of opaque milk solids on the surface. When the surface is clear, pour the butter into a measuring cup and let the milk solids settle to the bottom. You can pour the clarified butter from the top. You should get a 75% yield from your butter--meaning that the water that evaporates out and the milk solids that settle our represent 25% of the original butter.

Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water and heat until it is just below a boil. In the top of the double boiler that is set on the counter, whisk the egg yolks with about 3 Tbsp. warm water. Begin to drizzle in the butter, whisking continuously. As Chef Fredericks mentions in the video, if too much butter is added and the mixture looks greasy, whisk faster until it is incorporated. If the sauce becomes too thick and starts to clump up, drizzle in warm water and whisk thoroughly--adding in small amounts until the sauce is smooth again. It should be a lemony yellow color. Whisk in the lemon juice and Tabasco. Then, cook over the double boiler, whisking continuously, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but then flow off the spoon. Serve immediately. The warmth and high protein content of Hollandaise provide an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, so do not let it sit out more than an hour and do not reheat it.

If the Hollandaise breaks, put about 3 Tbsp. warm water into a clean bowl and drizzle a bit of the broken sauce into it, whisking furiously. Continue whisking as you slowly add the broken sauce--it will come together but will never have exactly the same smooth, creamy texture and fluffiness as a well made sauce. Makes 1 1/2 cups of sauce.
Chef Charles Fredericks Making Hollandaise:
Year after year, macaroni and cheese is at the top of the list of foods our kids want for Thanksgiving. This recipe is extra rich and cheesy. I asked for this recipe years ago at Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch in Los Angeles, home of great Southern food.
Aunt Kizzy's Macaroni And Cheese Recipe:
2 lb. dry macaroni, cooked according to package directions
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. flour
2 cups of evaporated milk
4 cups + 3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp. black pepper salt to taste Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scald the milk (heat in a saucepan--do not let it boil). In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and whisk the flour into it. Cook over low heat, whisking, for a couple of minutes--do not let the mixture brown. Whisk in the warm milk and cook until smooth. Add 4 cups grated Cheddar cheese and pepper; add salt to taste. Mix with the cooked pasta and put into 8" baking dish. Top with extra grated cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Pair with California Cabernet Sauvignon.

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