Tonight was comfort food party night! The menu consisted of savory roasted asparagus soup garnished with crumbled feta and a roasted asparagus spear; sliders made with 2oz griddled burgers, melted cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, a slice of dill pickle, mustard, and ketchup on a toasted whole wheat Hawaiian roll; and finally southwestern macaroni and cheese made with a bechamel-based sharp cheddar and havarti cheese sauce, roasted red peppers, fresh jalapeÃ±o, chorizo, and cilantro – served up in dainty little parmigiano reggiano cups. The hors d’oeuvres were all washed down with a nice crown and coke(zero)…very light on the coke.
Macaroni and Cheese BitesA: mmm… there’s something fun about small-ified foods.
T: I agree. You can just grab one for a bite, or you can eat 50 of them for 50 bites.
A: too true. fifty bites might be a bit overboard though. i got full off of just a few of these bites!
T: I did too… I guess the burgers were really more than a bite, though. But much more smallified than a standard burger. Smallified. College worked for me. Not.
A: yeah. we did go to LSU. where we learned things like “smallified”.
T: yeah, things like how to find your keys when you wake up on a stranger’s patio with a black eye and no keys.
A: hehehe oh aaron. what a funny dude. okay! refocus. so, i’m definitely digging on those cute little sliders… le petit hamburger.
Shots of roasted asparagus soupT: they were really tastier than I expected them to be. They had a wonderful sweetness, and yet the sweetness did not overwhelm the savory flavors at all.
A: and the tartness of the pickles. I just have a deep love for burgers. in a perfect world cholesterol wouldn’t exist and i would eat burgers every day. or at least once a week!
T: What did you think about the other hors d’oeuvres?
A: i actually thought they were both really tasty. i pulled all the different dishes from the sidebar poll and made the top three savory comfort foods… in mini versions. it’s really a fantastic idea for an event that Brigitte at Dispensing Happiness made up.
T: it certainly is. So what do you rate these puppies?
A: well, i give the roasted asparagus soup a 4.2/5. It was tasty and i could see myself eating WAY more than a shot full of it (which is a good thing since we’ve a huge ass pot of it). The burgers: i give them a 4.6/5. they were mini, they were greasy, and doggonit i liked them! as far as the mac and cheese was concerned, hey! it’s mac and cheese. what’s not to like. i particularly like the cute little parmesan vessels they came in and the jalapeno accent on top. I give them a 4.44/5.
A happy drinkT: yeah those little parmesan vessels were incredibly cool. I absolutely loved the burgers and the mac n cheese. The soup was good, but not my favorite thing ever. I give the burgers a 4.6/5. They were super-duper. I give the mac n’ cheese a 4.7/5. I need to have many more bites of it since I’ve only had one thus far. I give the soup a 4.
A: i kind of figured that it wouldn’t be the ultimate soup for you…knowing that brothy chicken based soups are your key to comfort soup. I was particularly inspired to make a roasted veggie soup from nicole’s recent post about roasted cauliflower soup. mmm. Overall i’d have to say it was a pretty successful comfort food hors d’oeuvres party. more sliders anyone?!?
T: more mac n’ cheese, pleese.
2 lbs aparagus, trimmed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 lg or 2 sm carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 tbsp chicken or vegetable base
8-10 cups water
creamy feta, crumbled (garnish)
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss asparagus with a liberal amount of olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Place seasoned asparagus on a sheet pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, until the asparagus are tender and starting to caramelize on the bottom. Allow the asparagus to cool until you are able to handle it. Set a few asparagus spears aside to use as ganishes in the soup, then roughly chop the rest of the asparagus.
While the asparagus is cooling, preheat a large pot over medium heat. Add 3 tbsp of olive oil to the pot. Once the pot and oil are hot, add onions, celery, and carrots. Sweat the mirapoix over medium heat until the veggies are tender and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the red pepper flaked, stir. Allow the red pepper flakes to cook in the oil for a few seconds then add the water, chicken base, and roughly chopped asparagus. Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the soup for 20-30 minutes, stirring ocassionally.
After about 30 minutes puree the soup. I recommend using an immersion blender so you don't need to transfer the soup into another container, but a standard blender or food processor will work as well. Just work in batches. Thoroughly puree the soup until there are no chunks of veggies and just one homogeneous mixture. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning as necessary with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. For a smoother consistancy, strain the soup through a chinois or fine mesh sieve. Serve warm with a roasted asparagus spear and a small crumble of creamy feta. Enjoy!
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
1 3/4 cup whole milk
8 oz good quality sharp cheddar, shredded
4 oz havarti, grated
1 tsp cumin
1 lb chorizo, browned and crumbled
1/2 packed cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup of roasted red pepper, diced
2 large jalapenos, 1 diced and 1 thinly sliced(for garnish)
3/4 cup panko
2 cups elbow macaroni
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a large pot of water over high heat . Bring the water to a boil while making the bechamel for the cheese sauce. Once the water comes to a boil, add a very liberal amount of salt.
Make the bechamel. Add two tbsp of unsalted butter to a medium-sized saucepan. Place the sauce pan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has finished melting, add 2 tbsp of flour to the pan to make the roux. Whisk the flour and butter constantly for about 1 minute so that the "raw flour" flavor has a chance to cook away but not long enough for the flour to brown. Slowly add the milk in a stream while whisking constantly to ensure a smooth, lump-free sauce. Once all the milk has been incorporated, allow the sauce to come to a simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer the bechemel for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and add the havarti and sharp cheddar. Stir the sauce until all the cheese has completely melted. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as necessary with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add the chorizo, cilantro, diced jalapeno, and roasted red pepper to the sauce, stir to combine.
Add the elbow macaroni to the salted boiling water. Cook for two minutes less than the recommended cook time on the package. Drain the pasta then add it back to the pot. Pour the cheese sauce into the pot with the pasta. Toss to coat. Scrape the macaroni and cheese into a baking dish, making sure to get every last drop of sauce. Sprinkle panko over the top of the pasta. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes unti the panko has started to turn golden. Serve hot and garnish with fresh jalapeno slice. This mac and cheese makes a great finger food when served in mini-parmesan cups (recipe below)! Enjoy!
freshly grated parmigiana reggiano
large muffin tin (for baking)
mini-muffin tin (for molding)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once the oven has preheated, sprinkle a solid, yet thin layer of grated parmigiano reggiano in 3 round bottoms of a large muffin tin. Although it's time consuming, it's best to work with only three crisps at a time because they will cool quickly and become immalleable. Place the muffin tin in the preheated oven for about three minutes, until the cheese has melted and has just started to turn golden. Remove from the oven and immediately gently extract the pliable rounds from the tin using a butter knife. Using the mini muffin tin as a mold, form cups out of the cheese rounds. Repeat this step as many times as necessary to produce the number of mini parmesan cups you need. The cups work fantastically as a base for all sorts of finger foods and hors d'oeuvres. Enjoy!