sick milk whisk ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

16 January 2008

sick milk whisk

I've been lying around alternately bored or in a lot of stomach pain, and sometimes both. Everything I ate yesterday contained milk. Fun fun for everyone.

Here are some things you can do with milk for an acid stomach:

Real hot chocolate

pieces of good chocolate

Put a cup of milk in a saucepan and put it over low heat. Let it warm slowly while you find some adequate chocolate. I used two pieces of a chocolate orange from christmas. Apparently they stamp the "Terry's" on every single slice now. Was it always like that? Anyway.

When you find some chocolate, chop it into bits with a sharp knife. You want the bits to melt as easily as possible, so make them pretty small.

Add the chocolate bits to the milk, increase the heat a little, and start stirring. Stir more or less continually, to avoid any burning. You just want the milk warm enough to steam; fully boiled milk can split, which is just gross. Keep cooking until all the chocolate is melted and you clearly have a pan of cocoa as opposed to milk with gravelly bits.

Pour it all into a mug and drink it. Don't burn yourself; hot milk is HOT.

The only problem with real hot chocolate is the milk skin. You will have to deal with skin, especially if you got your milk extra hot. It's fine. Just eat it.

Milk-oriented food #2: cream sauce. This could go either way since you could be too sick to eat heavy dairy, like cheese and butter. I was not, although I couldn't eat a lot at once.

The best application of cream sauce:

Real mac and cheese

cheese of choice
salt, pepper
other spices such as nutmeg

To make real mac and cheese, you start with a white sauce. So. Get out a decent whiskable stainless steel saucepan, some butter, and some flour. We used whole wheat flour, which was fine. Cut off a couple tablespoons of butter and throw it into the pan. Melt over medium, swirling the pan for optimal speed. When everything has melted and the butter is starting to froth happily, throw in a couple tablespoons of flour. Then bust out the whisk and start whisking. You'll see the flour absorb the butter; make sure it absorbs evenly, with no clumping. Whisky whisky. Or whiskey whiskey for catholics. Ok!

The butter and flour are now something called a roux. This is just a term for "cooked thickener made of butter and flour". There's another uncooked thickener, butter and flour rubbed into a paste, which you use for soups. Anyway. Keep whisking as the business starts to cook together. A good roux needs to cook for at least five minutes or so, or else the whole sauce will just end up tasting like flour. Once about that long has passed, and the roux has started to turn a nice brown, it is time for milk.

Add milk. Keep whisking. You need maybe two cups of milk for two regular servings of cream sauce; add more or less if you feel the need. You can use whatever percent milk you like, although something like skim is going to take quite a bit longer to thicken than something like whole or cream. Yeah, you can use cream too, although I wouldn't for the sick stomach. Besides, milk works fine. I used skim.

This is probably a good time to put your pasta water on, if you haven't already. Cook pasta and drain when appropriate. We used mostaccioli; practically whatever you like is fine, although I wouldn't do something like angel hair with this super-thick sauce.

As you keep whisking the milk on and off, chop or shred some cheese. We were going for pretty classic mac and cheese, so we used a combination of white cheddar and some double cream gouda. That made up for the skim milk pretty well. If you want more of an alfredo sauce, use parmesan or romano. You don't really need too overabundant an amount of cheese, especially if it's good and pungent, so it's possible to make this out of the last of the cheese rinds that are starting to die in your fridge. Or you can buy new blocks of cheese and dump in a full cup. Whichever.

As the sauce cooks, it will start to thicken and look a little shiny. This will probably take something like ten minutes (with skim milk, anyway). You have made a b├ęchamel; good job! When you notice the sauce thickening, start adding handfuls of cheese and whisking them in gradually. Add as much cheese as you want/have. Hey, now it's sauce mornay!

This is also a good time to add any spices you might want. John put in a pinch of nutmeg plus lots of black pepper and a little salt. Nutmeg is the classic addendum for cream sauce, for some reason. It's really an apparent spice, though, so be careful to use as little as possible or the entire end product will taste like nutmeg. If you want more savory sauce, I like adding some paprika and a little mustard powder.

You can keep cooking and whisking the sauce as long as your pasta needs to boil. At this point you'd just be keeping it warm while keeping the bottom from burning or a top skin from forming.

When pasta is done, drain. Now you can either toss it into the sauce or plate it and pour the sauce over. I nearly always dump all my pasta into the sauce, so it can get thoroughly coated in the pot. Also, when you have both sauce and pasta as warm as possible, it's easier for said pasta to absorb said sauce, and it's clearly easier to keep both of those warm while still in the heat-conducting pan.

Put it in a bowl and eat it.

Or! If you want baked pasta, you can stick it in a casserole, top with bread crumbs and little more cheese, and put it in the oven. I, however, want it all saucy.

If you have leftover sauce, you can keep a skin from forming by putting a sheet of plastic wrap directly in contact with the top of the sauce. If you only have sauce on pasta, it's going to coagulate no matter what you do. If this kind of thing bothers you, only make as much as you can eat right away. It's fine with me, which is fortunate since I spent most of yesterday occasionally pulling my cold bowl out of the refrigerator, eating two or three bites, then sticking it back in.

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