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Last evening, Greg and I hosted some colleagues for dinner.  I knew our guest of honor was a huge fan of two comfort food staples: meat loaf and macaroni and cheese (I usually make these whenever he comes to visit).  After a stop at the DuPont Circle Farmer’s Market, I was all set to make something comforting, yet special.  The results were worth it and our guests, I believe, felt very special!

Macaroni and Cheese:

The ingredients for my Mac and Cheese

My first stop at the market was Copper Pot Food Company, to see my friend Maude, who was volunteering.  Stefano Frigerio, the chef-owner gave me all the market intel.  When I explained that I wanted to make macaroni and cheese, he handed me the last two boxes of his cavatelli and said “Go there and get milk, then go there and talk to her and ask which cheese they have today that will melt best.  Then come back.”  I did as he said, and when I came back with the dairy, he told me “Here’s what you do.  Don’t bother with butter and flour.  Heat some milk in the microwave with the shreded cheese for about a minute.  Then pour the mixture into a blender and whip it into a cheese sauce to pour over the pasta.”  I had never done this before – I’m a fan of the beschamel type of mac and cheese, which gives a decidedly-rich and heavy end product.  I wanted Stefano’s pasta to be the standout, highlighted by the cheese sauce, so I took his advice.  The resulting mac and cheese was amazing – light, airy, and not oily!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages cavatelli pasta from Copper Pot Food Company
  • 1 cup organic creamline milk from Clear Spring Creamery
  • 1/2 pound Wallaby cheese from Keswick Creamery
  • 2 oz Claire’s Organic Camembert from Clear Spring Creamery (my own addition!)
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Topping

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 8-10 fresh young garlic chive shoots, chopped
  • 3 tbsp truffle oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta as directed.  Drain, and place equal amounts in 4 ramekins.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, heat milk and cheese for about 1 minute on medium heat to soften.
  3. Blend the mixture on high speed in a blender until smooth.
  4. Pour cheese mixture over the pasta in the ramekins.
  5. Bake at 350 until the cheese starts to bubble.
  6. Top with panko mixture and broil until the top is golden brown.
  7. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Meat Loaf Sandwiches:

This very simple sandwich used local, sustainably raised meat from EcoFriendly Foods, LLC.  I just eye-balled the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large package ground beef from Ecofriendly Foods, LLC
  • 1 small package ground veal from Ecofriendly Foods, LLC
  • 1 onion, minced fine and drained
  • 1 carrot shredded fine and drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 1 pinch celery salt
  • 1 pinch garlic salt
  • 1 slice fresh whole wheat bread, ground into breadcrumbs.
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients loosely (do not overmix or you will have tough meatloaf)
  2. Line a loaf pan with two peices of fresh bread to absorb the drippings during cooking.
  3. Shape the mixture into a loaf, and place in the loaf pan.
  4. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients for the sauce and cook over low heat until combined.
  5. Top the meatloaf with 1/4 of the sauce and bake at 350 until the loaf is cooked through (depending on the size it will take a different amount of time.  Mine took 50 minutes).
  6. Half way through cooking, top with another 1/4 sauce, reserving 1/2 to serve with the sandwiches (be careful not to cross contaminate!)
  7. Cool the meatloaf for several minutes before cutting.
  8. Serve over thick sliced white bread from the farmer’s market that has been buttered on both sides and grilled in a pannini press.

Salad

I picked lettuce and chives from my garden for an extremely local salad.

The meal was fantastic – the table was set with white tulips and a bottle of wine, and we enjoyed good conversation, good food, and good friendship.  The meal was topped off with homemade Philadelphia-style vanilla bean ice cream, another of our guest’s favorites.  He was tickled pink, and it wasn’t that difficult to pull off!

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