As I warned you recently, I am competing in the Project Food Blog Challenge by Foodbuzz, for our first challenge, each competitor was asked to create a post that defines us as a food blogger.
How do I define myself, channeling my inner zen I think the best way to tackle this is to describe why I started blogging, in a nut shell it encapsulates a lot about me and helps describe what matters to me both personally and as a food blogger.
In May 2004 my father began commuting between Austin, TX and Torreon Mexico for work, eventually moving down there and taking my mother with him. Over the next few years it was a sort of withdrawal for me, sure I spent time away from my parents but not like this, these two people who I love whole-heartedly also are two of my closest confidants, to have both of them so far away was tough to say the least.
In 2006 my mother started blogging, it was her way of sharing the ex-pat experience, first with our immediate family and not long after with many other people out in cyber-space. I have never considered myself much of a writer but she began encouraging me, to take photos and document the things around me. At the time I was starting to truly explore cooking and the boundaries of what I knew in terms of cuisine. Quickly I realized that food was what I could write about, what I cooked, what I shared with family and friends and of course, a sprinkling of my favorite team's football successes (with much less finesse than the cooking since I'm pretty amateur at football commentary). Thus began my journey, what I hope you draw from it is that for me, the important things about this blog are a combination of those who are closest to me (family and friends) and how I express myself for them, in cooking and sharing the fruits of my labor.
In honor of that theme, I would like to share a recipe that I recently made for a Friday-night dinner with my family, a spin on the classic, Mac 'n Cheese.
Italian Mac 'n Cheese
2 Large Sprigs Rosemary
2 Large Sprigs Oregano
2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley
1/2 Cup Panko
6 Slices Pancetta
2 Lbs Pasta
1 Cup Halved Grape Tomatoes
1 Bell Pepper, Sliced
1/2 Cup + 4 Tbsp Butter
3 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Flour
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Dried Oregano
2 Tsp White Pepper
2 Tsp Nutmeg
1 Tsp Cayenne
1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
1 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan
1. Crisp the pancetta and saute garlic in a tsp of olive oil in a small skillet, remove pancetta and set aside. Once the pancetta is cool, coarsely chop it.
2. Heat milk over medium high in a sauce pan. While milk is heating, heat butter in a large skillet. When butter begins to bubble, add flour and garlic, whisk until well incorporated.
3. Pour milk into butter, whisk until thick.
4. Remove from heat and season with white pepper, cayenne pepper, pepper flakes, nutmeg and salt. Add 5 1/2 cups cheese (evenly split between the two types) and the chopped, crisp pancetta and mix well.
5. Boil pasta until al dente. Preheat oven to 375.
6. Spray 9x13 casserole pan with vegetable oil. Place drained pasta in pan then pour cheese sauce over the top.
7. Sprinkle pasta mix with panko and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
8. Bake until brown and bubbling, approx. 30 minutes.
I hope that you have a better picture of who I am and what I believe. The most important thing I can do is to bring my loved ones together and enjoy their company, the easiest way to do that is with a good meal, beyond that I just want to share my finds and experiences with others.
These are the people I cook for, and the people who exert the greatest influence over me.
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