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Give Your Macaroni and Cheese a Makeover


MacaroniDan Lewis of the Plaza Club developed this version of macaroni and cheese while working at Ironstone Vineyards. You can make it in individual dishes or in a family-style casserole dish. This variation combines three cheeses and a few herbs in a way that makes “this every day dish really stand out,” he says in the “Discover Ironstone Vineyards” cookbook. “Any type of pasta can be used, so here is your opportunity to use that guitar-shaped pasta that seemed like a good idea when you bought it three years ago!”

Ironstone Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups whipping cream, divided use
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup finely diced pancetta or applewood-smoked bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 cup crumbled blue cheese or roquefort
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
8 ounces pasta, cooked
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon minced parsley
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
8 oregano sprigs

Whisk 1/4 cup of the cream with the cornstarch and set aside. Sauté the pancetta in the butter over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, shallot and oregano and cook for 1 minute. Add the blue cheese, goat cheese and the remaining whipping cream and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and stir for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta and chives.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pasta in 8 individual baking dishes. Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, Romano cheese, salt and pepper, and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned. (This can also be made family-style by putting it in one large casserole dish and baking for 30 to 40 minutes.) Top each serving with an oregano sprig and serve immediately.

Wine suggestion: Light and fruit or semisweet white wine

Makes 8 servings.

From “Discover Ironstone Vineyards” by Dan Lewis

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Save Some Time: Get Desserts Ready Ahead of Time


PumpkinPie

What happened to the whipped cream?

Deciding what to serve for Thanksgiving dessert can be fraught with as many emotional landmines as preparing the menu for the rest of the meal.

Some people only want pumpkin pie or pecan pie. Others want anything but.

But most everyone agrees on one thing: Dessert is as important as the turkey and all the trimmings.

I always enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie with whipped cream on top (OK, I can enjoy almost anything with whipped cream on top, but that’s another story). I also enjoy trying something new, yet with respect to tradition. So, this year, I’m going to try an Apple-Brandy Tart from Plaza Club chef Dan Lewis’ cookbook, “Discover Ironstone Vineyards.” And I’ll hope that one of the other guests brings along the pumpkin pie.

Cheesecake1

Diana Barrios Treviño's Family Favorite Cheesecake

Many of the desserts you’ll find make great use of the season’s bounty: apples, pumpkin, pecans. But the format can be different, such as Pumpkin-Spice Layer Cake.

Or the dish can something you love year-round, such as cheesecake, which has become a tradition in Diana Barrios Treviño’s family.

Whatever you try, remember that dessert, though it comes at the end of the meal, can usually be made the day before. So, save yourself some time and make your favorite pie or a whole array of desserts the day before. You’ll be glad to have one less thing to worry about.

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Apple-Brandy Tart Adds Rustic Touch to End of Meal


ApplesServed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top, this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, says Dan Lewis of San Antonio’s Plaza Club. Make the apples early in the day, but don’t bake the tart until after the big meal.

Apple-Brandy Tart

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
7 apples, peeled, cored and halved
2 tablespoons apple brandy or brandy
Pinch of salt
Cinnamon
1 puff pastry sheet

Place the butter and sugar in a 9-inch oven-proof sauté pan and arrange the apple halves in the pan. Sauté the apples over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the sugar is caramelized and the apples are brown. Add the apple brandy, salt and cinnamon to taste and turn the apples in the pan until the brandy is incorporated. Remove from heat and set aside. Arrange one apple in the center of the pan, core-side up, and place the others in circles around it.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut a 9-inch circle from the puff pastry. Cut the trimmed dough into 1/2-inch-wide strips and piece together a rim around the edge of the pastry. Place the pastry circle, rim side down, on top of the arranged apples and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pan from oven and turn over onto a serving place. Cool slightly and cut into 8 pieces. Serve warm.

Beverage suggestion: Brandy

Makes 8 servings.

Adapted from “Discover Ironstone Vineyards” by Dan Lewis

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