Side Dishes

Easy Sexy Garlic Quinoa by Anne

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If you're an avid quinoa lover, you might know how it's almost nutritionally perfect--a vegetarian source of complete protein.  In ancient times the Incas regarded quinoa to be sacred, using it as an offering to the sun god, Inti.  Some Incans even worshipped quinoa itself.  So I sure do feel like an a-hole when I get bored eating it.

This is more of an idea than a recipe, but it blows my mind every time.   My 5 year old kid even loves it, and that's saying something.  When I eat this luscious, full-bodied version of quinoa, there is no boredom, only love.  Make it even better by adding some minced veggies, fried egg, or even leftovers to have some fried-rice-style goodness.

Ingredients (amounts vary depending on your taste. Don't be shy with that garlic) :

  • Quinoa
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Cook up a batch of quinoa (or use leftovers).  
  2. Warm some olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  
  3. Briefly cook several cloves of minced garlic in the pan until the seductive aroma of garlic fills the room (no more than 15 seconds--DO NOT LET IT BROWN).  
  4. Immediately dump in the quinoa.   Pour in a few tablespoons of water or stock to avoid scorching, and stir completely.  Adding a small amount of water is very important and adds a surprising feeling of luxury to the texture.  
  5. Allow water to evaporate and soak in, about 1 minute.  
  6. Sprinkle with Maldon's sea salt (or other flaky salt).  
  7. Enjoy thoroughly.  Thank ancient Andean peoples.

Butternut Squash Risotto by Anne

Squash, Saffron Threads, & Arborio Rice

 

This recipe is a vegetarian modification of The Barefoot Contessa's Butternut Squash Risotto recipe.  If you wish to revel in your omnivorousness, use chicken stock and also add a bit of pancetta or bacon to sauté with the shallots.  I'm sharing this recipe as step 1 to making butternut squash arancini (risotto fritters), but the risotto is delicious as its own dish.  I'll add the fritter-y step tomorrow. 

This dish would taste lovely in a dinner that includes a light spinach salad, braised leeks, grilled shrimp, and/or many kinds of pork dishes.  Also, if you like sage, it would taste delicious in this risotto or in an accompanying dish as well. 

Butternut Squash Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of peeled, seeded, and cubed (3/4 inch) butternut squash
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 6 to 8 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade (chicken stock is also good)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter  
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • ½ tsp marjoram, crushed with your fingers or a mortar and pestle.
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss squash on a cookie sheet with the olive oil and 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Do not let the squash dry out.  Set aside.
  3. Heat the stock on the back burner over low heat.  Keep warm during the risotto cooking process.
  4. Put 1 tsp. salt and the saffron threads into a mortar and pestle or a small bowl with a spoon.  Crush the saffron into the salt until the threads have been finely broken up.
  5.  Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Sauté the shallots just until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the rice, stirring to incorporate the grains with the butter and shallots. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of stock to the rice, plus the saffron and salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, which should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir every few minutes.
  6. Continue to add the stock, 2 cups at a time, continuing to stir periodically. With each addition, cook until the mixture has lost its liquid, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. You may not use all of the stock. Stir in the margoram and remove pot from heat.  Stir in the squash cubes, and with the bottom of a flat glass or cup, mash some of the squash into the risotto a few times.  Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes by Anne

Mashed Potatoes Photo by Quinn Dombrowski (thank you!) Well, here come those holidays.  For many turkey or tofurky consumers, this means mashed potatoes are coming, too.  I have several favorite mashed potato recipes, but there's one in particular that is a splendid, fluffy, make-ahead recipe, which is perfect if you are either joining a Thanksgiving/holiday potluck or are hosting and needing to juggle many dishes in one day. 

I love this recipe because the potatoes are incredibly light, fluffy, and creamy.  You can make it ahead and then bake it right before you are ready to serve it.  After eating and adoring this recipe that my stepmom made several times, I finally had to demand to know the secret behind the gorgeous light texture and the tangy richness.  

Once I learned the ingredients, I was surprised.  Perhaps you will see the ingredients and think it doesn't even sound that good.  However, trust me.  This is an incredible bowl of mashed potatoes--a perfect foil for some rich gravy and stuffing.

Baked Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of peeled, boiled and very well-mashed potatoes
  • one 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients together in a medium-large bowl until it is completely creamy.  Spoon into a baking dish, and either put dish into a 350˚ oven immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. 
  2. Bake uncovered for about an hour or until lightly browned and puffy.  If the potatoes are browning too quickly, you can add a cover until the potatoes are finished baking.  You don't want the potatoes to be too dry.

Makes about 8 servings

Not Guilty Pleasure by Anne

beet.chips.and.dip Some treats that I crave are so guilty that I can’t even stand them sometimes.  To want them, I need to be in a dark and reckless mood (or on a road trip).  We’re talking perpetrators like Rice Krispy Treats, Sno Cones, and Chee-tos.   They require alternate spellings of words because they are not legally food.

Then there are those treats that bring me joy from the first luscious bite until long after I eat them.  Instead of using specially formulated chemicals designed to hit my taste buds right, the trick to these delicacies is that they take a little extra  care: an exquisite salad that someone else made for me, a perfectly crafted spicy tuna hand roll, and the lunch I made for myself and Rosalie the other day.

Yes, I fed my kid chips and dip, and not only did I feel good about it, I felt like a benevolent, morally unambiguous mother.  I sliced beets thinly and fried them until crisp.  Then, for dipping, I mixed herbed goat cheese with yogurt.  The sweet, dark, crispy beets with the rich and generously creamy dip tasted good enough to accidentally eat them too fast, and yet feel fabulous afterwards.   The toddler agreed.  She doesn't appear to feel guilty at all.

Beet Chips with Chevre Dip

Ingredients

  • 3 medium beets
  • Frying oil, such as peanut oil or canola oil—enough to fill a medium-small pot a few inches deep
  • Sea salt or other table salt
  • 5 ounces herbed goat cheese (I used Laura Chenel’s Chevre—chabis & herbs flavor.  If you do not have access to goat cheese that is already herbed,  use plain goat cheese and blend in small amounts of thyme, rosemary, savory, and salt)
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • Extremely helpful tool: Deep frying thermometer.  I bought one at a drug store for less than three dollars and it made the work so much easier and saved me many mess-ups.

Directions

  1. Slice the beets very thinly with a sharp knife or (even more fun,) a mandoline.  Lay the beets out on clean towels or paper towels, then cover them with another layer of towel, pressing down to absorb moisture from both sides of the slices.  Note: if you use a towel, plan on possibly having a towel with large, pink polka-dotted stains on it.
  2. Heat oil to 350˚ over medium heat.  If the temperature gets too hot, remove pot from heat until the heat goes down, and turn the heat down slightly (I found that slightly on the lower side of medium got me to 350˚.  Your stovetop’s individual behavior will determine your exact heat setting).
  3. Put a few beet slices into the oil, giving each slice plenty of room to move around.  Hopefully the oil will sizzle softly around each slice and won’t do that unpleasant popping, because the moisture has been pressed from the surface of the beets.  About a minute into the cooking, turn the slices over to ensure even cooking.  Fry until the beets begin to change color from the deep magenta to a slightly lighter color, almost brown.   The whole frying process takes about 2 minutes per batch of chips.
  4. With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove chips from the oil and set on a plate lined with paper towels (or clean towels).  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  5. When you get into a groove with the frying, take a moment to make the dip.   Blend the cheese and yogurt together thoroughly in a small bowl, and keep chilled until ready to use.
  6.  Serve chips on a plate with the bowl of dip. 

Makes a light snack for 3 or 4 people. 

Crêpes Are for Everyone by Anne

crepe.opener.picCrêpes satisfy the part in my heart that is obsessed with paper.   So soft, thin, and light, you could almost send a crêpe as a wedding invitation, layered with vellum and scrolled up with a silk ribbon.  Their forgiving, slightly stretchy quality makes them easy to fill and roll up, too.  They even open back up for do-overs if you aren’t pleased with the shape you folded, unlike wrapping paper, once its creased.  Flipping crêpes also feels amazing.  Each time I lift a delicate round from the pan, I feel grateful and amazed that it neatly responds to my spatula, being stronger than it looks.   The only thing more wonderful than making them—and of course, eating them—is that they are incredibly versatile.  A crêpe can be a snack wrapped in a napkin, a flambéed finale for a dinner party, or a morning cure for too much weekend.   So it might seem odd, now that I think about it, how long it took me to start making them.  Here’s the deal. 

About 10 years ago on a Saturday morning at 7 a.m., the phone rang.  Was it an emergency?  Yes.  Sort of.  It was a crêpe emergency.  Actually, a crêpe party emergency.  The party-thrower, our usually unflappable friend Adam, had a couple of flaps in his voice.  “I need some help.   Can you come over?”   We were on our way. 

The crêpe party was to start in a few hours, and it was going to be a doozy that would later go down in friend history reminisced about for years to come.  Adam had undertaken this crêpe extravaganza singlehandedly, and he took weeks to prepare for it.  He would come home after work and start flipping crêpes, then packing, labeling, and freezing them in airtight containers, ready to be filled with innumerable sweets and savories.  But here it was, the day of the party, and many people would be coming, ready for a feast. It was down to the wire. 

We walked in without knocking, to find Adam at his usual spot, flipping crêpes.  Like I said, Adam is generally cool as a cucumber, but he looked relieved to see us.  He didn’t need help with the crêpes themselves; it was the rest of the house that needed attention. So for several hours we made his home party-ready while he continued to flip and flip, fill and fill. There must have been a dozen different types of fillings. I can’t even remember them all, but I remember once the party started, we had the pleasant problem of not knowing where to begin, because there were so many flavors spread out before us.  

It was a fabulous party, an extravagance fit for the turn of the century, which it was.  I can’t believe this was almost 10 years ago.  The memory of this morning burned so strongly in my mind that I avoided even trying to make crêpes.   What, did I think it would be difficult? Drudgery? I’m not even sure.  Apparently, though, it left a powerful subliminal impression that Making Crêpes Would Make You Lose Your Cool. If Adam was a little ruffled, where would that leave me, a more ruffle-y person?  Did I want to make myself that stressed out on purpose? 

Now I realize.  Now that I’ve bitten the bullet and tried my hand at crêpes, I see that the problem with crêpes is neither drudgery nor difficulty.  The problem is that crêpes could possibly drive you to real obsession.  They are so pleasant and satisfying to make.  Next thing you know, you're trying to come up with more reasons and ways to make them, possibly even resulting in making hundreds and hundreds of them for hordes of friends, like Adam did.  In the course of a week I brought crêpes to a barbeque, a brunch, and a baby shower.  Today I made some crêpe batter, “just because.” Just because what?  Why in the world did I do that?  Well, that’s the cool part.  As soon as they are made, they will be welcome in just about any situation, on any doorstep, and in any hand.  Might as well make ‘em.

 

Basic Crêpes

If this is your first or second time making crêpes, I recommend making a double batch so you’ll have enough to practice.  You can easily freeze the extras you make, or you can distribute them to friends and neighbors. They won’t mind. A first-time double recipe relieves the pressure to make perfect ones every time, and you can learn from any problems that arise.  I’ve made a troubleshooting guide below this recipe for your reference. 

Ingredients 

  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 T plus 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup melted butter

 Directions: Making the Batter

  1. In a medium-large bowl, beat eggs with salt and sugar with a whisk*. 
  2. Add milk and flour alternately, starting with some of the milk (the flour seems to make less lumps this way), and blending well after each addition.  You will need to whisk somewhat briskly to get rid of flour-lumps.  When the batter is well-blended, beat in the melted butter.   
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter chill and rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably several hours.  Even better would be overnight, but don’t store it for more than 24 hours. 
  4. Right before cooking crêpes, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and stir to reincorporate the ingredients into a smooth batter.  Batter should be thin--considerably thinner than pancake batter, for example.

*When making the batter you can also use an electric mixer, but use it judiciously.  If you beat at too high a speed for too long, your batter will have too many bubbles and might come out “lacy” when it cooks—which will cause a problem if you fill the crêpe later.  If, when beating, you wind up making quite a few bubbles in order to get rid of flour lumps, just make sure you give the batter more time to rest in the fridge.

Directions: Cooking Crêpes

These directions are for crêpe pans over a stove. If you have a crêpe maker, follow the instruction manual for your model.   

A note before you begin: Because the pouring/swirling process is so quick, I like to use a ¼ measuring cup with a handle for ease of pouring in the proper amount.  I don’t quite fill it, and I only pour/use the amount needed to evenly coat the bottom, but then there’s a tiny bit left in the cup if I need to finish off a small gap where the pan didn’t get covered in time while swirling.

  1. Prepare your station.  Next to the stovetop, place a plate or platter lined with a piece of wax paper —for the finished crêpes.   Position the batter bowl on the other side of the pan, and put a small plate next to the bowl for the pouring cup to rest on when not in use (this helps cut down on drips and cup-sized circles all over your counter and stove).  Crêpe making is a quick process, so it’s nice to have everything set up how you want it before you start.
  2.  Pre-heat pan over medium-high.  No butter is necessary if the pan is non-stick.  If you use butter, you won’t need to use very much.   Too much will make the crêpe greasy, and it also might interfere with the proper cooking of the crêpe (see Troubleshooting Guide below).
  3. Once pan is hot, lift up the back edge at an angle.  Pour about 3 T of batter all at once onto the back/highest end of the pan, letting the batter flow down and around one side.*  Immediately tilt pan in different directions to thinly coat the entire bottom of the pan in a smooth circle.  The batter should be so thin that the crêpe already starts cooking all the way through as you finish swirling.  Set pan back down on burner.  
  4. When the top seems nearly completely cooked—in only one or two minutes—and the bottom is golden brown (you can peek by lifting up an edge with the spatula), slide the spatula under the crêpe and move it around underneath the crêpe to make sure that it is not sticking.  Flip and cook for one or two seconds longer. 
  5. Slide crêpe out onto the plate.

*Most recipes say to pour batter in the middle of the pan in an outward spiral pattern, then start swirling.  I also found that the method described above works well for me.  It seems to give me a better idea of how little batter I can get away with.

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Note: This is not a traditional crêpe pan.  It's possible, though not always as easy, to use a regular skillet, such as this one.

Storing Crêpes

Right after making your stack of crêpes, cover the plate with a larger bowl or a large pan lid to retain moisture until you are ready to wrap with or serve them.  They can also be stored in a large ziplock bag in the refrigerator for about 4 days.  They will last even longer in the freezer; just make sure you separate each crêpe with wax paper.

In the next post, I will share some ideas and techniques for filling and folding crêpes.

Crêpe Troubleshooting Guide 

Crêpe batter can be very forgiving if you know some basic tricks and principles about the batter.   I’ve seen some troubleshooting guides out on the Internet and in books, and I’ve also made crêpes “wrong” on purpose (I swear!) and can confirm that the following troubleshooting tips all seem to be true; the fixes worked for me.

problem.crepe

Problem

Possible Cause

Solution

Crêpe is lacy Too many bubbles in the batter Let batter rest longer
  Batter is too thin Add 1 or 2 T of flour
Edges of crêpe crack easily because they are dry and thin Batter is too thin Add 1 or 2 T of flour
  Heat is too high Bring heat down slightly and wait a moment before starting next crêpe
Crêpe does not swirl properly Not enough batter added to pan Finish this crêpe and add more batter next time
  Batter is too thick Add 1 or 2 T milk, testing to see if problem is solved
Batter sticks to pan Heat is too low Wash and dry pan thoroughly; re-season with a bit of butter and bring heat up a bit, making sure pan is fully heated before adding batter
Batter does not stick to pan when swirling, or begins to bubble or curdle Too much butter in the pan Finish this crêpe and wipe out pan with paper towel before starting next crêpe

Mac & Cheese Theory by Anne

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Ahhh…nothing says “summer” like piping-hot mac & cheese.  Ice cream? Sno-cones? Overrated! 

 

Well, I’m kidding.  However, if your cheese plate from that backyard gathering left you with some tired leftover slices of cheese, you now have the beginnings of the best mac & cheese ever made. Yes, it’s 90 degrees outside, and you are a piping-hot person.  But I’m talking an easy dinner that will blow your mind with its deliciousness, not to mention a zesty, lunchtime companion to your crisp salad tomorrow.  And virtuously, you didn’t waste that beautiful cheese that people were too full to finish off earlier today.  How much better does it get? How can it be better than the Best?

 

Beecher's "World's Best" Mac & Cheese

The aptly named “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese comes from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, a cheese shop located at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.  Beecher's creates their mac & cheese with their own artisan cheese made from local cows’ milk, along with a few other key ingredients.  I went down to Beecher’s a couple of years ago to sample some of this legendary stuff, having already tasted another World’s Best macaroni & cheese at Sylvia’s, a soul food restaurant in Harlem.  That was some good eatin', and very hard to beat.  Yes, I was a little jaded.  How could it be better than Sylvia’s?  

 

So I bought a tiny cup of the stuff and stood casually near the cashier’s station, planning to browse the cheeses while sampling.  Zounds!  Sylvia who?  My first bite announced itself with rich and zesty-red surprise.   I literally had to go and take a seat so that I could be alone with this new experience.  Beecher’s mac & cheese is distinctive among the others because it makes a unique statement with smoky-hot, multi-layered flavors.  It is possible that I surreptitiously licked the sides of that empty cup.  It is possible that people next to me were doing the same; I don't know about them, because I had already turned around and bought another cup, with plans to bring friends and loved ones to Beecher's immediately.

 

You can have this.  Beechers’ Cheese founder Kurt Beecher Dammeier was generous to share the recipe in his cookbook, Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes From The Pacific Northwest.  I have made this recipe many times and can tell you a few things about it:  Like most mac & cheese recipes, it is very forgiving.  It is very easy.  You won’t even need the recipe, really (although it's posted here, too).  All you need to know are the key factors for making the Best:

 

Fundamentals for "World's Best" Mac & Cheese 

  • Like many mac & cheese recipes, start with a roux-based white sauce, then add good cheese. 
  • Make more sauce than you think you need, using more cheese than you can possibly believe.
  • Use several varieties of cheeses, giving the sauce a complex flavor—the greater the quality, the finer the outcome.  However swanky you get, though, do include some yellow cheddar. 
  • Use a small amount of a spice that brings heat—such as cayenne—to augment cheese flavors.  If you are hoping to recreate the Beecher’s version, though, chipotle chili powder is essential.
  • Include a hint of garlic.
  • Use any tubular or ridge-filled pasta that will hold lots of sauce (read: cheese). Beecher’s uses penne.
  • Combine sauce and pasta, making sure the high sauce-to-pasta ratio leaves it almost soupy.
  • Put it in a casserole dish.  Cover with, yes, more cheese and some spice. 
  • Bake until you have some of the crunchy parts at the edges—for more variety in flavors and textures.

Note: These are factors specifically for creating a Beecher’s style of mac & cheese.  Other excellent recipes have “secret”  ingredients or techniques as well.  Have you tried mustard?  How about a custardy, casserole type with egg?  Sylvia uses egg in hers, along with sugar and an impressive amount of pepper, for a dreamy, more traditional macaroni & cheese

 

Food Safety

If you really are using some leftover cheese from today’s event—like I just did—then you can tear up the slices and add them to the grated cheese mix that will go into the sauce.  An afternoon’s lack of refrigeration won’t make aged cheese go bad (I hear that the industry standard for safety is four hours, and that includes more volatile ingredients such as meat or mayo), but I think that returning cheese to the fridge after sitting out a bit causes it to taste “off.”  This is why using it right away in tonight’s dinner is my favorite solution.  Seeing how I’m not going to recommend you do anything unsafe, I’d officially recommend heeding the four hour rule.  However, it was more like five hours for my cheese, and the whole family is doing great after eating substantial servings.

 

About the Cheese Ratios

In the recipe below, it’s not necessary to obsess too much about measurements and weights with the cheese.  Use mostly semihard cheese, throw in a bit of semisoft cheese, and have the whole amount add up to at least 4 cups grated. You can even add small amounts of true hard, flavorful cheese such as Asiago or Parmigiano Reggiano to add depth, but don’t use too much, because it will affect the texture.  About an ounce of the hardest stuff is great.

 

Chipotle Chili Powder and Adding Heat to Mac & Cheese

Chipotle Chili Powder is part of the Beechers’ Mac & Cheese signature flavor. I recommend you give it a try at least once, even if you, like me, don't usually actively seek out chipotle flavor.  Here it merges seamlessly with the complexity of the multi-cheese sauce, further deepening the flavor.  However, this chili powder is quite spicy, so be attentive to how much heat you are adding to your sauce.  Alternatively you can add a small amount of cayenne to taste.  Cayenne will add heat, depending on the amount, and augment the cheese flavors, but will not taste as distinctive as Beecher’s does with the chipotle.  Even if you wish to have a heat-free dish, I recommend even the tiniest pinch of one of these spices.  Adding a tiny pinch of cayenne is a fantastic secret for augmenting the flavor of many dishes, not just mac & cheese. 

 

Beechers’ Style “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese

Adapted from Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes From The Pacific Northwest.  

 

For Cheese Sauce

¼ cup unsalted butter

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

14 oz semihard cheese, grated, ~3 ½ cups (cheddar, Gruyère, Swiss, Gouda, Provolone, Emmenthaler, Beecher’s Flagship)*

2 oz semisoft cheese, grated, ~ ½ cup (Colby, Fontina, brick, Havarti, Montery Jack, mozzarella)*

½ tsp kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ to ½ tsp chipotle chili powder

For Pasta and Toppings

12 oz tubular pasta (high-quality, pasta would be welcome here)

Kosher salt for pasta water

2 oz cheddar, grated ~ ½ cup

2 oz Gruyere, grated ~ ½ cup

½ tsp chipotle chili powder, or more, if desired (this will be to sprinkle atop your final product.  See above for the chipotle chili powder notes.  If you are not using chipotle and do not wish to add more heat with cayenne, you can also sprinkle the top with sweet paprika, which adds a lovely color and some flavor without added heat.) 

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Set a large pot of water on high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, begin the sauce by making a roux: in a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Continue to stir this roux over medium heat for two to three minutes.   The roux should be “cooked” and free of the flour flavor but still light in color.
  4. Gradually add milk, whisking briskly to maintain a smooth sauce.   
  5. Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.   When sauce thickens slightly, turn heat to very low.
  6. If you have a moment, place the salt, garlic powder, and chili powder together in a mortar and pestle and grind them together to coax additional flavor from the spice and to coat the salt with the spice’s flavor. You could also use a bowl and the back of a spoon for this.
  7. Add cheeses and spice mixture to the sauce, and stir until all the cheese has melted.
  8. Somewhere during this sauce-cooking process, your pasta water has started boiling.  Add a generous palmful of salt to the water and cook the pasta until almost—but not quite—al dente (two minutes before the package directions indicate).  You want barely undercooked pasta so that it can finish in the oven later.  Halt the cooking by draining the pasta and rinsing with cold water.  Return pasta to pot.
  9. Pour sauce over pasta and stir until completely incorporated.  The combination should be fairly saucy, almost soupy.  Dish the mixture into a buttered 9”-13” pan and sprinkle with grated cheeses and chipotle powder.
  10. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until you have beautiful, browned edges.  Those edges will be a welcome and flavorful addition to each serving.  Let the dish sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Serve small portions with something raw and fresh; this dish is rich.

Makes 8 small yet decadent servings.