New Wave Tea Sandwiches

There’s nothing more British than the tea sandwich, which may take a number of different forms. But generally, these little sandwiches are finger food that is easy to handle and can be eaten in two bites or less.

Something like these would be perfect fare for watching the Olympics on television, and the following creative sandwiches that were adapted from recipes in “The Meat Free Monday Cookbook” (Kyle Books, $29.95) might be just the ticket for people who don’t want to go overboard.

Carrot and Hummus Crunch
2 coarsely grated large carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 chopped garlic cloves
½ chopped red chili
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Sourdough bread slices
Greek yogurt
Cilantro, chopped
Fry carrots in a pan with olive oil, garlic cloves, chili and caraway seeds over moderate heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool. Spread sourdough bread slices with hummus, top with grated carrots, dollops of Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro.

Green Club Sandwich
3 slices whole-grain bread
3 tablespoons hummus
½ avocado, sliced
Arugula leaves
Alfalfa sprouts
Cracked pepper
Toast bread. Spread 3 tablespoons hummus over one slice, top the sliced avocado, some arugula leaves, alfalfa sprouts and cracked pepper. Prepare another slice of toast the same way and place on top. Place the final slice of toast on top.

Cheese and Onion Sandwich
¼ cup soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons cream cheese
Olive oil
½ red onion, sliced
¼ teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Mix  goat cheese with cream cheese. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add sliced red onion. Let sweat. When it starts to wilt, add sugar, salt, freshly ground black pepper and balsamic vinegar. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Spread the goat cheese mixture over a slice of whole-wheat bread, top with red onion and a handful of arugula leaves, and a second slice of bread.

Scotch Eggs

The London Olympics are finally here. And with it, there will be a lot of people tuning in their televisions to check out the action. And with all of this TV watching, there will be a lot of eating taking place.

And can you think of a better way to celebrate the big doings in merry old England than eating some British food?

How about Scotch Eggs, an entree that’s usually associated picnics in Great Britain? According to a friend of mine, artist Adam Kemp, who hails from the Isles, Scotch Eggs are to the English like potato salad is to Americans.

Miniature versions of Scotch eggs are also widely available in British supermarkets and are sold under the name “savoury eggs,” “picnic eggs,” “party eggs,” “snack eggs” or similar. These contain chopped egg or a quail’s egg, rather than a whole chicken egg, and sometimes contain mayo or chopped bacon.

In the United States, many “British-style” pubs and eateries serve fresh-made Scotch eggs. These are usually served hot, with dipping sauces such as ranch dressing, hot sauce or hot mustard sauce. And if you’re at the Minnesota State Fair, true to fair tradition, Scotch Eggs are served on a stick.

Here’s a recipe for Scotch Eggs. It’s from Gordon Ramsay, who  may be best known in the U.S. as the screaming savior of failing restaurants on “Kitchen Nightmares” and fierce judge on “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef.” He is also a cookbook author, and it’s in “Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food” (Harper Collins, 2009) that you can find the recipe for this killer British delicacy.

Scotch Eggs
8 medium eggs, room temperature
1½ pounds good quality sausage meat
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt, pepper
Flour, for dredging
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Fine white breadcrumbs
Oil, for deep-frying
Cook the eggs in boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain, cool and peel.
Mix the sausage meat, herbs, mustard, lemon, salt and pepper, then divide into 8 balls. Flatten each ball into a disc large enough to encase an egg. Place the egg in the center and wrap in sausage.
One at a time, roll the egg in the flour, dip in beaten egg, then roll in breadcrumbs.
Heat oil, about 3 inches deep, in a pan until hot enough that a breadcrumb sizzles when dropped in. Deep-fry the eggs for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once or twice to ensure even browning. Drain on paper towels.
Yield: Makes 8.

Grilled Pesto Chicken

People have been stuffing food with other foods for a long time. A Roman cookbook from more than 2,000 years ago suggests that.

And whether you’ve thought about it or not, stuffed food recipes give people a two-for-one. Consider the following examples:

— Green peppers with a meat filling.
— Cabbage stuffed with meat and rice.
— Baked tomatoes that are infused with vegetables such as onions, spinach, carrots and nuts.
— Manicotti pasta with a luscious, creamy cheese inside.
— And the modern-day rage turducken, duck stuffed in a turkey.

Here’s another fowl idea: grilled chicken stuffed with basil pesto, a recipe that has been adapted from Cook’s Country magazine, the sister publication of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. It uses different versions of a pesto — without cheese for the marinade, with cheese for the stuffing and with more olive oil for the serving sauce.

It’s a three-step process but takes little time, according to Detroit Free Press food writer Susan Selasky.

Grilled Pesto Chicken
2 cups fresh basil leaves
½ cup flat-leaf parsley
½ cup olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 large, about 1¼ pounds, (or 4 small) skin-on, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
In a food processor, place the basil, parsley, ¼ cup oil, garlic, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as needed.
Remove ¼ cup pesto from processor and reserve for marinating chicken. Add Parmesan to pesto in processor and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Remove 2 heaping tablespoons of pesto for stuffing chicken.
Add the remaining ¼ cup oil to pesto in processor and pulse until combined. Set aside for saucing cooked chicken; you should have about 1/3 cup pesto.
Starting on thick side of breast, cut a horizontal pocket in each breast about 2½ inches wide, stopping ½-inch from edge so halves remain attached.
Season chicken, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of Parmesan pesto in pocket of each breast.
Fold the nonskin side of the breast in toward the pocket so the skin side folds over some. Using kitchen twine, tie the breast at intervals.
Place stuffed breasts in bowl and add pesto reserved for marinating. Rub pesto all over chicken, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat or prepare the grill for indirect heat. (For charcoal, place ash-covered coals on one side of the grill and replace grate. For a gas grill, light all burners to high and then turn all but one to medium-low.)
Oil the grill grate. Place chicken, skin side up, on grill away from the heat. Cover and cook about 10 minutes. Flip chicken skin- side down. If using charcoal, slide chicken to hot part of grill. Cover and cook until well-browned, about 10 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken to brown on all sides, and cook until it reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove twine from chicken, and cut into ¼-inch thick slices. Serve with remaining pesto sauce on the side.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 433 calories, 43 percent of calories from fat, 20 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 2 grams carbohydrates, 58 grams protein, 332 milligrams sodium, 153 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.

Classic Comfort — Bread Pudding

A lot of people consider bread pudding a classic comfort food, especially those who live in the South or have their roots on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line. Actually, it’s considered “extreme” comfort food by some Southerners.

But I’ve known a few Yanks who swear by bread pudding. Two of my former Grand Forks exercising cohorts used to travel regularly to a cafe in Mayville, N.D., for bread pudding and couldn’t stop raving about it.

I’ve eaten bread pudding a couple of times and found it to my liking. I was especially fond of the raisins in the tasty dessert.

Here’s a bread pudding recipe, sans the raisins, which caught my eye today. It’s from Los Angeles Time food writer Noelle Carter’s SOS column. Noelle adapted the recipe from Nopa in San Francisco, which uses a mixture of pain de mie and white levain breads in the dessert. But the most interesting ingredient is fresh goat cheese. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Goat Cheese Bread Pudding
3½ cups milk
3½ cups heavy cream
1 cup creme fraiche
8 cups crustless bread cubes, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 eggs
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
½ cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
1 8-ounce log fresh goat cheese, crumbled
In a large bowl, mix together the milk, heavy cream and creme fraiche.
In an 11-by-15-inch baking dish, place the bread, mounding it slightly in the center of the dish. Pour over the milk mixture, gently pushing the bread down into the liquid so it is evenly soaked. Wrap the dish in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, black pepper and ¼ cup each Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses. Pour the egg mixture over the soaked bread. Dot the top with the crumbled goat cheese.
Using your hands, gently but thoroughly mix together all of the ingredients, making sure there are no pockets of unincorporated egg or cream. Don’t worry if the bread breaks down. When everything is thoroughly mixed, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and Gruyere over the top.
Cover the top of the dish with a sheet of greased foil, then place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven, carefully pouring in enough hot water to come up the sides of the baking dish by half.
Bake the bread pudding until set when jiggled (the middle will be moist but not runny), 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. Gently remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes more. Cool the bread pudding completely and chill before slicing, then rewarm the slices before serving.
Yield: Serves 16.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 382 calories, 12 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 31 grams fat (19 grams saturated), 189 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams sugar, 494 milligrams sodium.

Chicken Sausage Kebabs with Pineapple and Peppers

It’s no secret that sausage is one of the most popular foods around. There is evidence that it was a favorite of the Greeks and the Roman more than 20 centuries ago. I don’t find that hard to understand.

I might be a bit prejudiced, but the sausage that we have most often at home is my favorite. Of course, it’s sausage that I make it with a couple of friends each year, combining either venison or elk with pork and a few select seasonings.

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of good commercially made sausages on the market. And I can’t forget to mention the local meat markets that put out their own such varieties as L&M Meats in Grand Forks and B&E Meats in Crookston, two of my favorites.

One store-bought type of sausage that has gained popularity in recent years is that made with chicken. It is a nice alternative to pork-based sausages. The National Chicken Council says sausage is the fastest-growing chicken product. And it’s showing no sign of slowing, according to a story I read recently.

I’ve had chicken sausage a couple of times and have found it quite tasty. Here are a couple of chicken sausage recipes that have I haven’t tried but that have piqued my interest.

Chicken Sausage Kebabs with Pineapple and Peppers
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
4 fully cooked favorite chicken sausages (any variety), each cut into 6 pieces
24 mini bell peppers
24 pieces (about 1½ inch chunks) fresh pineapple
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat or prepare the grill for medium-high heat. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, honey and mayonnaise; set aside. Thread 3 sausage pieces alternatively with 3 peppers and 3 pineapple pieces onto each of 8 skewers. Place on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill skewers until vegetables are lightly charred and crisp-tender and sausage is heated through, turning occasionally and brushing with mustard mixture during last 1 or 2 minutes, about 8 minutes total.
Arrange skewers on platter. Brush with any remaining mustard mixture or serve the mustard mixture on the side.
Yield: 8 kebabs.
Approximate nutritional analysis per kebab: 156 calories, 41 percent of calories from fat, 8 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 17 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams protein, 538 milligrams sodium, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Chicken Sausage Pesto Pizza
2 to 3 links favorite fully-cooked chicken sausage
1 13.8-ounce package pizza crust, such as Pillsbury regular, thin or whole wheat
2 tablespoons pesto
5 mini red, orange or yellow peppers, sliced
½ cup sliced red onion
1 cup (or more as desired) Italian-blend cheese, divided
¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the chicken sausage into ¼-inch slices on the diagonal. Set aside.
Press the pizza dough into a round pizza pan or shape on a baking sheet.
Brush the pesto over the pizza crust. Arrange peppers and onions on crust. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the cheese. Arrange chicken sausage slices and grape tomato halves on top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.
Bake about 13 minutes or until crust is browned both on the bottom and edge and the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven, let sit 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Yield: Serves 4 (2 slices each).
Approximate nutritional analysis per slice: 235 calories, 38 percent of calories from fat, 10 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 24 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 662 milligrams sodium, 42 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

Cookies and ice cream: Can you think of a better combination? If you are a kid, the answer is no. And you probably wouldn’t get much disagreement from grown-ups, either.

So, what’s the best way to combine the two? How about ice cream cookie sandwiches?

Here are several cookie recipes that would work for this as well as a few tips that will help make the job of combining cookies with ice cream easier.

— Thin, flat cookies work best for ice cream sandwiches.
—  Freeze the cookies after they’ve cooled.
— Thaw the ice cream just slightly.
— Place cookie on plate. Scoop ice cream onto bottom of one cookie. Place bottom of second cookie on top of ice cream, and with the palm of your hand, press down gently on the top cookie.
— Place ice cream sandwiches in freezer until firm.

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup plus 1tablespoon unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup plus 1½ tablespoons light brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon old-fashioned oatmeal
Cream butter with both sugars until pale and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in egg and then add the vanilla extract and peanut butter.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix in oats. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Turn off mixer and stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough. Roll cookies into golf ball-sized balls. Chill dough.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake cookies, spacing 3 inches apart, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Yield: About 30 cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ sticks butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together until well mixed. Add whole egg and egg yolk and vanilla. Mix until light in color, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips to butter and sugar mixture. Mix until incorporated.
Form dough into golf ball-sized balls. Chill dough. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Don’t overbake.
Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies.

Oatmeal Cookies
4 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups raisins
1½ cups butter
1½ cups brown sugar
1½ cups white sugar
3¾ cups flour
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups oatmeal (not quick cook oats)
Mix eggs, egg yolk and vanilla. Put raisins in mixture and let soak for at least one hour.
Cream together butter and both sugars until nice and creamy and mixture turns a soft yellowish color. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon and baking soda and whisk to blend. Add flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture and blend. Add oatmeal and mix. Add raisin-egg mixture and blend. Dough should be stiff. If not, add a little flour. Roll dough into golf ball-sized balls. Chill dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Yield: Several dozen cookies.

Molasses Cookies
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 cup sugar, divided use
1 cup unsulphured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint vanilla ice cream
In a bowl, stir together flour, ginger, cinnamon, white pepper, salt and soda. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and ½ cup of sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add molasses and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
Turn mixer off. Add in dry ingredients. Turn mixer to low and mix until just combined.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Using a teaspoon, scoop out a small ball of dough. Roll dough into a ball between the palms of your hands, then roll in the remaining ½ cup sugar. Place on cookie sheet and flatten with a glass bottom dipped in butter to ¼-inch thickness. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Sandwich ice cream between 2 cookies and eat.
Yield: 2½ to 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Chocolate Nut Cookie
1 pound semisweet chocolate chips, chopped
4 tablespoons butter (½ stick)
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups toasted walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt half of the chopped chocolate with the butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool. Mix in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining chopped chocolate and nuts. Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Lightly butter two baking sheets. Take 2 tablespoon measures per cookie and roll round between thumb and forefinger while flattening with the other thumb and forefinger. Place on cookie sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Bake until cookies just start to crack, 12 to 13 minutes.
Cool cookies. Place in freezer and serve cold or, for a more indulgent treat, sandwich vanilla ice cream between 2 cookies.
Yield: 2 dozen cookies.
Note: These cookies don’t spread much during baking, so shape them with your hands and then flatten with the bottom of a glass.

The Howie Burger

Show me a person who doesn’t like a burger cooked on the grill, and I’ll show you a vegetarian. Let’s face, anyone who eats meat would find it hard to turn down a nicely formed patty on a fresh bun that came from the backyard barbecue.

But what constitutes a good burger?

The Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen put that question to its readers recently for the second year in a row in its Battle of the Burgers contest. When all was said and done, food editors and staff sampled 20 recipes from more than 140 that were submitted from all over the country and were chosen by an online nationwide vote.

“It was tough, but after days of testing, exhaustive judging (and maybe a little post-burger napping), we came up with five favorites,” said Noelle Carter of the Times food staff.

Here is one them, The Howie Burger, which was submitted by Paul Lindsay of Pasadena, Calif. Lindsay said, “My Uncle Howie … had a great love of Dijon mustard and onions. So I took it a step further.”

The Howie Burger
4 8-ounce ground beef patties
8 slices Gruyere cheese
2 cups Howie red onions, or to taste (recipe follows)
Scant ¾ cup Dijonnaise, or to taste (recipe follows)
4 hamburger buns or English muffins
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 pound red onions
1 quart red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cut the red onions into one-eighth-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, making sure everything is dissolved
In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, combine the onions and vinegar mixture. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half and the onions are softened, light pink to purple in color and slightly translucent, about 30 minutes. Pour the mixture into a shallow glass baking dish and cool before using.
Yield: 2 cups.
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup Dijon mustard
2 cups mayonnaise
In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, heavy cream and ground black pepper. Mix in the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
Yield: 2 2/3 cups.
Note: This is more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The Dijonnaise will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Heat a grill over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the burgers to desired doneness, about 2 to 4 minutes on each side for medium.
Just before pulling the burgers off the grill, top each patty with one-half cup Howie onions. Place 2 slices Gruyere over the onions and continue cooking until the cheese is fully melted. Remove and set aside in a warm place.
Toast the buns on the grill, and slather the top half of each with a scant 3 tablespoons Dijonnaise. Place about 1 cup shredded lettuce on the bottom of each toasted bun, place the burger on top and then cover with the top of the bun. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 1,103 calories, 66 grams protein, 55 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 64 grams fat (22 grams saturated), 224 milligrams cholesterol, 26 grams sugar, 1,501 milligrams sodium.

Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Mint and Soy

There’s hardly a more popular way to prepare food in the summer than on the grill. And one of the most popular foods is chicken, whether it’s boneless breasts or bone-in thighs and legs.

Amateur chefs agonize as to whether to choose chicken with bones or those without. Both have their advantages.

Boneless chicken cooks quicker and is the healthier option. But it also is more bland. Grilling bone-in chicken takes a little longer (the bone absorbs heat and this slows the cooking process of the meat closest to the bone) but it does retain a bit more moisture. However, it can be tricky because if one isn’t careful, the end result can be chicken that is undercooked on the inside while overcooked on the outside.

Also, advocates for grilling bone-in chicken say there’s really no need for spices or sauces if you don’t want them. The slow cooking on the grill gives bone-in chicken a flavor that parboiling can’t touch.

One of who says bone-in chicken on the grill is the best way you’ll ever have it, includes chef Hugh Acheson, cookbook author and Bravo “Top Chef” judge. The following recipe, adapted from his “A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen” (Clarkson Potter, $35), will demonstrate exactly that.

Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Mint and Soy
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons each: Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup each, minced: fresh mint, fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3½ to 4 pounds chicken thighs and legs (about 6 medium pieces)
Prepare charcoal or gas grill that will give you medium to medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes cooking time. If you use charcoal, be sure coals are very gray and cooked down to help prevent flare-ups during cooking.
Mix oil, soy sauce, mustard, lemon juice, zest, pepper flakes, mint and parsley in a small bowl. Very lightly salt chicken thighs and legs. Place chicken, skin side down, on grill. Cook, about 8 minutes. Turn pieces skin side up; continue grilling. Divide herb sauce in half, placing portions in separate bowls. Baste tops of chicken with half the herb sauce; reserve remainder for serving. (Don’t cross contaminate the bowls of sauce.) Continue grilling until internal temperature registers 165 degrees. Transfer cooked birds to a serving platter; drizzle with reserved herb sauce.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 490 calories, 37 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 209 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 1,293 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Lawry’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese

There are just some foods that you associate with comfortable, casual dining. Casseroles are one type that comes to mind. Another is pizza, which can satisfy the heartiest of appetites.

I’d like to add macaroni and cheese to that list. It is classic comfort food, and perfect for a summertime get-together.

The following baked mac ‘n’ cheese recipe was adapted from one at Lawry’s Carvery in Los Angeles, which was covered by Times food writer Noelle Carter.

And yes, it is the same Lawry’s that originated the seasoned salt.

Lawry’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 large bay leaf
4¾ cups milk
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon butter, diced
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
4¾ cups plus 1½ cups grated Cheddar cheese, divided
1¼ cups heavy cream
2 pounds penne pasta
1½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Place the peppercorns, thyme and bay leaf in a small piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter, and tie together to make a sachet. In a large saucepan, place the milk and sachet and bring to a simmer over low heat, careful not to boil. Remove from heat.
While the milk is heating, in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat, careful not to brown. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour to form a roux. Stir the roux occasionally for 5 minutes, watching that it does not stick to the base of the pot.
Slowly whisk in one-fourth of the milk to form a paste. Slowly whisk in the rest of the milk and the sachet, and season with the 2 teaspoons salt and cayenne pepper. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in 4¾ cups cheese and cream until the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is smooth. This makes a scant 2 quarts cheese sauce. Remove and discard the sachet, and set aside.
While the cheese sauce is cooking, make the pasta. In the large pot of salted boiling water, cook the penne to very al dente, about 7 minutes (the pasta will continue cooking as it bakes). Drain the pasta and cool under running water.
Place the pasta in a large bowl, and toss with the cheese sauce. Pour the pasta and cheese sauce into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle over the remaining 1½ cups Cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Bake until the cheese topping is melted and lightly colored, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
Yield: Serves 16.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 657 calories, 25 grams protein, 52 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 39 grams fat (24 grams saturated), 117 milligrams cholesterol, 6 grams sugar; 514 milligrams sodium.

Pulled Pork Tostadas with Slaw and Chipotle Cream

It’s hard to escape the allure of pulled pork these days. Anyone who has been to quick-service restaurants such as Subway, Quizno’s or Burger King may have noticed the places have  barbecued pulled pork sandwiches on their menus. And according to Google Insights, pulled pork recipe searches have more than doubled in the past four years.

But when the weather is hot like it has been for the past couple of weeks, no one likes to fire up the oven to cook a pork shoulder or loin roast.

Home cooks, seeking flavorful meals that require minimal effort and time in the kitchen do have another option, though. They need to look no further than the slow cooker, which allows them a surprisingly easy preparation that they can simply walk away from with confidence that a delicious meal will be as good as ready when they return.

And once their pork is cooked and shredded to perfection, the number of dishes that can be made is almost never-ending.

Here is a Latin-inspired entree, Pulled Pork Tostadas with Slaw and Chipotle Cream, a bold combination of chili-rubbed pulled pork, bright cabbage slaw and chipotle-spiced sour cream.

Pulled Pork Tostadas with Slaw and Chipotle Cream
1 pound cooked pulled pork , warm or room temperature
3 or 4 limes
2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral-flavored oil
8 cups shredded cabbage or 1 10-ounce bag coleslaw mix
¾ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sour cream
½ chipotle chili from a can of chipotle chilis in adobe sauce, seeded and finely minced
6 8-inch tostadas, (flat, crisped corn tortillas)
2 tomatoes, diced
3 radishes, cut into wedges
Halve and squeeze 1 or 2 of the limes to yield 2 tablespoons of juice. In a large bowl, combine the lime juice and oil. Add the cabbage, onion, and cilantro, tossing to combine. Add salt to taste. Cut the remaining 2 limes into 6 wedges each. Set the slaw and lime wedges aside.
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and chipotle pepper. Season with salt and set aside.
Arrange the tortillas on plates. Top with the pork, slaw, sour cream mixture and tomatoes. Arrange the lime and radish wedges alongside and serve.
Yield: Serves 6.