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Cajun Mac and Cheese Recipe For Cook Something Bold & Pungent Day

 
Recipe For Cajun Mac & Cheese With Andouille Sausage
[1] Cajun mac and cheese with Andouille sausage and Cajun seasoning (photo © DeLallo).

Andouille Sausage Uncooked
[2] Andouille sausage (photo © D’Artagnan).

Panko Japanese Bread Crumbs
[3] Panko breadcrumbs are our favorite for just about any recipe (photo © Kikkoman).

   
November 9th is Cook Something Bold & Pungent Day, so how about a Cajun Mac and Cheese recipe?

It’s made spicy with Andouille sausage and Cajun shrimp

First, a bit of Food 101 on piquant vs. pungent:

  • Moderately sharp flavors fall into the piquant category: radishes, sauerkraut, and strong raw onions, for example.
  • Examples of piquant spices include cardamom, cayenne, cloves, curry, ginger, mustard, and paprika. To sum it up: Pungent/pungency always “refers to a very strong taste.
  • Piquant/piquancy refers to any spices and foods that are “agreeably stimulating to the palate,” in other words to food that is spicy in the general sense of “well-spiced.” Piquant is a lower degree of pungent [source].
  • Pungent refers to foods commonly referred to as spicy or hot.
     
    > Here’s more about the different terms.
     
    Are you ready for some spicy mac and cheese?

    This recipe gets its heat from spicy Andouille sausage, Cajun shrimp, onions, peppers and creamy cheeses, this incredible twist on comfort food is easy enough for a weeknight meal.
     
     
    > The difference between Cajun and Creole cuisines.
     
     
    RECIPE: CAJUN MAC & CHEESE

    Prep time is 10 minutes, and cook time is 50 minutes. Thanks to DeLallo for the recipe.

    DeLallo made the recipe with its “Shellbows” pasta, a shape that combines a shell and an elbow.
     
    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1-pound package of elbows or pasta shape of choice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces Andouille sausage, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 pound large shrimp, cleaned, peeled and deveined, and cut into three pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces DeLallo Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces DeLallo Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  •  
    Preparation
     
    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Butter a 9″ x 13″ oven-safe casserole dish and set aside.

    2. BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cool water (to prevent sticking), and set aside.

    3. HEAT the olive oil in a large ovenproof saucepan, and add the diced sausage, pepper, onion, and seasoning. Cook for 2-3 minutes, and then, add the shrimp. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the shrimp become pink in color. Transfer the contents to a bowl and set aside. Using the same pan on medium heat…

    4. ADD the butter and melt. Whisk in the flour. Slowly whisk in the milk. Once the sauce begins to thicken, add the grated cheeses. Whisk until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and black pepper.

    5. ADD the cooked pasta, sausage, and shrimp mixture to the dish. Gently toss with the cheese sauce to coat.

    6. COMBINE in a small bowl, the breadcrumbs, melted butter, and parsley. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs mixture over the pasta and cover with foil.

    7. PLACE the pan into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take the foil cover off of the pan and bake for another 15 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

     
     

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Premium Bourbon & American Whiskey In Football Decanters

     
    Bourbon or American whiskey lover? Check! Football lover? Score, with both of these premium whiskies. They’re presented in a handblown, limited-edition glass decanter that’s the shape of an official football—right down to the laces in the glass design and the pigskin-replica stopper.

    The exceptionally smooth, premium Bourbon from Canton Distillery, has won three packaging awards:

  • 2022 Gold, Packaging & Design: Denver International Spirits Competition
  • 2022 Double Gold, Packaging Design: John Barleycorn Society
  • 2022 Gold: DISC Packaging and Design Awards
  •  
    The decanter is a real keeper. You can fill it with whatever spirit you like after the initial whiskey is gone.

    Aged and matured in a proprietary re-casking process, the Canton Distillery Brand Bourbon from Cooperstown Distillery has notes of sweet caramel, honey, and brown sugar, much like Kentucky bourbon.

    The American Whiskey is aged in used Bourbon barrels. The mash bill is corn, rye, and barley. The taste profile has hints of vanilla and sweet caramel.

    With Canton, Ohio the birthplace of the NFL, it makes sense that Cooperstown Distillery would pay homage to football with a glass football to hold its Canton Distillery brand.

    Whether for yourself or as a gift, score yours at:

  • Mash And Grape (both whiskies)
  • Royal Batch (both whiskeys)
  • Spirithub (Bourbon only)
  •  
     
    > The different types of whiskey.

    > The history of whiskey.

    > The difference between “whiskey” and “whiskey.”
     

       
     
    Football Whiskey Decanter With Canton Distillery Bourbon
    [1] The football-shape, handblown glass decanter is filled with your choice of Bourbon or American Whiskey (both photos © Canton Distillery | Cooperstown Distillery).

    Football Whiskey Decanter With Canton Distilling American Whiskey
    [2] The same decanter also holds American whiskey.

     

     
     

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    The Different Types Of Sherry For International Sherry Week

     
    Sherry Cocktail With A Twist
    [1] Sherry, a fortified wine, can also be used in cocktails (photo © Davio’s | New York City).

    Sushi With A Fino Sherry
    [2] Fino Sherry is delicious with seafood, cooked or raw (photos #2, #3, #5, #6, #7, #8 © Consejo Regulador de las Denominaciones de Origen “Jerez-Xérès-Sherry”).

    Glasses of Sherry With Korean Food
    [3] Some sherries pair beautifully with Japanese and Korean food.

    PX Pedro Ximenez Sherry With Chocolate
    [4] Sweet Sherries are delicious with chocolate and dessert (photo © Bodega Jose De La Cuesta).

    Flor Yeast Atop A Barrel Of Sherry
    [5] Flor, the yeast layer atop Fino sherries.

    Glass Of Aged Pedro Ximenez Sherry
    [6] While all Sherries are made from white grapes, sweet wines are darker and they can age until they look as dark as the deepest red wine (photo © ).

    Bottle Of Tio Pepe Sherry With Seafood Appetizer
    [7] A Fino Sherry with a seafood appetizer.

    A Sherry Cocktail On The Rocks
    [8] Sherry can also be used for cocktails.

     

    The first full week of November is International Sherry Week. When was the last time you had a glass of sherry? There’s no time like the present: Sherry Week, with tasting events worldwide, offers the opportunity to try different types of Sherry.

    While Sherry has fallen out of fashion in recent decades, it was a palate-pleaser for centuries and you might want to take a look.

    Sherry wine is a fortified wine from the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry region of Spain.

    Fortified means that a distilled spirit is added to the base wine. This both increases its alcohol content and gives the wine a longer shelf life.

    So think of sherry as a highly alcoholic wine. It can range from 15% to 22% ABV.

    Why three names?

    In the Spanish language, the wines are named after Jerez de la Frontera, a city in Andalusia, in southwestern Spain. But the French were also fond of the wine, which they spelled Xérès (phonetically similar to Jerez) and the Brits used the spelling Sherry.

    The label of each bottle of sherry has the name in all three languages, as Jerez-Xérès-Sherry.

    Sherry is often enjoyed as an apéritif or at the end of a meal, like Port, with the cheese course or dessert.

    But in Spain, sherry is an after-work drink with tapas (here’s how to have a tapas cocktail party).

    > How sherry is produced.

    > The solera system of aging, unique to Sherry.
     
     
    TYPES OF SHERRY

    Sherry is made from three white grapes: Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, and Moscatel. Palomino is the most common; Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez are used to make swweet sherries. Here’s more about the grapes.

    Most Sherries are vinified dry except for the sweet Cream Sherries. They range from 17% to 22% ABV (Alcohol By Volume).
    Here are food pairings and recipes for each type of sherry.
    There are two basic types of Sherry: Fino and Oloroso, distinguished by production method. All other styles are variations of these two.

  • Fino Sherry, meaning “refined,” is made by biological aging under the action of a layer of flor yeast growing on the wine surface, known as the veil of flor (photo #5). The yeast converts sugars into ethanol, making the wine alcoholic. As the yeast converts sugar over time, the yeast cells die and float to the top of the barrel. These dead yeast cells are known as “flor” or “flor yeast.” The layer of flor creates a barrier for the Sherry, preventing it from being exposed to oxygen, or oxidation. Fino sherries taste of almonds and green olives. Here’s more about flor.)
  • Oloroso Sherry, meaning “scented” or “pungent,” is made by oxidative aging after fortification with ethanol. This avoids the growth of flor yeast. While oxidation can ruin certain types of wine, it is essential for the Oloroso style of Sherry. Oloroso Sherries are sweeter with flavors of figs, other dried fruit, maple syrup and roasted nuts.
  •  
    Try both styles to see what your palate prefers.

    Thanks to the Consejo Regulador de las Denominaciones de Origen “Jerez-Xérès-Sherry” flr much of this information.
     
     
    DRY SHERRY WINES

  • Amontillado Sherry. This hybrid style made from palomino grapes begins as a Fino and is then fortified to a higher ABV, which kills the flor and makes it an Oloroso. Amontillado is a unique wine due to its dual aging process: It has the tangy quality of a Fino along with notes of dried fruit, roasted nuts, spice, and tobacco of an Oloroso. Amontillados may have hints of hazelnuts, cedar, and slight tones of honey. The wines are very complex. An amontillado may be dry, can, or have a bit of PX (Pedro Ximénez—see below) added for a touch of sweetness. On a personal note: We first heard of amontillado in grade school, in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Cask Of Amontillado. It’s a quick read to enjoy with a glass of the wine.
  • Fino Sherry is a dry white wine made from palomino grapes (photo #7). As with all varieties of Fino, it’s aged under the veil of flor. Fino is the classic dry Sherry, tangy and yeasty, with almond notes. Serve it as an apéritif with olives and nuts that complement its natural flavors, and add slices of serrano ham and chorizo or other Spanish sausage. Chilled, Fino is a good pairing with seafood, cooked and raw (including ceviche and sushi)—both as a glass of wine, and added to sauces (check out this Crab Newburg).
  • Manzanilla Sherry. Manzanilla, a Fino Sherry, is a dry white wine made from palomino grapes and aged under the veil of flor. A dry, delicate, and crisp Fino Sherry, Manzanilla is unique Fino in that it’s produced only in the seaside town of Sanlucar de Barrameda. The ocean terroir delivers a subtly salty, sea-spray quality and a floral tone said to be reminiscent of chamomile. In fact, manzanilla is the Spanish word for chamomile. Serve it well chilled and finish the bottle within a day or two.
  • Oloroso Sherry is made by oxidative aging, which gives it a dark color ranging from amber to mahogany, depending on length of aging. Oloroso wines are full-bodied, dense, and complex, with an intensely walnutty character and smooth texture. They also may be given a bit of PX (Pedro Ximénez—see below) for balance. The warm, rounded aromas are both complex and powerful. Oloroso is often served at the end of the meal with the cheese course (especially with hard cheeses).
  • Palo Cortado Sherry. This rare Sherry is called the “accidental” sherry. It begins its journey as a Fino under flor and is initially intended to stay a Fino or become an Amontillado. Then, for reasons that are not understood (but are the “happy accident”), it loses its flor before fortification and begins to evolve oxidatively like an Oloroso. Complex and sophisticated, it combines the delicate bouquet of an Amontillado with the body and flavor of an Oloroso. It can range from rich sweetness to crisp dryness.
  •  
     
    SWEET SHERRY WINES

  • Cream Sherry is a semi-sweet wine made by sweetening an Oloroso to 11% or higher residual sugar. It is intended as an after-dinner drink or a dessert wine and can carry flavors of fig, chocolate, dried fruits, and roasted nuts. The Oloroso is blended with PX (Pedro Ximénez), a naturally sweet wine, so cream Sherry is commonly known as Sweet Oloroso. Ranging in color from chestnut brown to dark mahogany, the wine has a dense, syrupy texture.
  • Medium Cream Sherry is is usually sweetened Amontillado. According to the rules of the Denominación de Origen, any sherry with a sugar content of more than 5 grams per liter and up to 115 grams per liter is called “Medium.”
  • Pale Cream Sherry is a sweetened Fino.
  •  
     
    NATURALLY SWEET SHERRY WINES

    These two wines are naturally sweet, as a result of the particular grapes with which they are made. Both are dark in hue.

  • Moscatel Sherry. Moscatel is one of the three Sherry grapes. It has pronounced fruity notes and lots of aromatics. As with Manzanilla, the Moscatel vineyards are close to the beach in sandy soils. This gives the wine considerable “maritime influence” (sea-spray salty).
  • Pedro Ximénez Sherry, called PX for short, is a classic dessert wine, dark, intense, thick and syrupy with a rich nose and sweet flavors of dried fruits (raisins, figs and dates), honey, grape syrup, jam, and candied fruit (photo #6). The grapes are air dried on mats for a week or two, concentrating the sugars (up to 50% residual sugar). It is paired with dessert—you can pour it over ice cream— or drunk on its own. The story of the eponymous Pedro Ximénez is not entirely clear. Still, one story cites a Spanish soldier, Pedro Ximén, who picked up some vines in Germany and propagated them in Andalusia. Here’s the story.
  •  
     
    OTHER SHERRY WINES

    Sherries that have been aged for an especially long time are known as V.O.S. & V.O.R.S.

    These include Sherries of Certified Age, Sherries With Indication Of Age, and Vintage Sherries. Here’s more about them.
     
     
    NEXT STEPS

    Perhaps a sherry-tasting party?

    At the very least, buy a bottle of sherry vinegar!

    Sherry vinegar has a distinct and delightful flavor. You can use it in just about any vinaigrette. Try it in a Dijon vinaigrette instead of red wine vinegar.
     
     
    > Sherry as an apéritif.

    > A glossary of Sherry terms.

    > Oloroso sherry for dessert and cheese.

    > Dry sherry in a hot apple toddy.

     
     
     
     

     
     

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Woodhouse Artisan Chocolate Advent Calendar

     
    It’s almost time to celebrate Advent with the Woodhouse Artisan Chocolate Advent Calendar.

    One of our favorite chocolatiers makes a deluxe Chocolate Advent Calendar each holiday season. Pre-sale begins today at 1 pm Pacific Time.

    Why pre-sale? Because these are made by hand, and there are only 150 available.

    This is the company’s second in a series of “winter chalet” calendars that hold 24 drawers, each filled with delicious chocolate surprises to help count down the days to Christmas.

    The chalet’s lighted balcony depicts a charming, snowy townscape. A separate tin holds holiday treats to celebrate Christmas day.

    Extra gifts are included with each calendar:

  • A 2022 Woodhouse wooden ornament for your tree.
  • A special Christmas Pin you can wear (great on a winter hat or scarf).
  •  
    Head to WoodhouseChocolate.com to order yours.

    > The history of Advent calendars.
     
     
    CHECK OUT THESE STOCKING STUFFERS

    Woodhouse makes wonderful chocolate bars in dark, milk, and white chocolate.

    Like the bars in photo #2, there are bars with:

  • Candy confetti
  • Chiles and spices, fleur de sel
  • Graham crackers
  • Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios), nuts and dried fruits combined
  • Potato chips, pretzels, toffee
  • And other delights
  •    
     
    Woodhouse 2022 Chocolate Advent Calendar
    [1] The 2022 “chalet” Advent calendar (both photos © Woodhouse Chocolate).

    Woodhouse Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Bars
    [2] Hazelnut chocolate bars are one of the numerous delightful bar flavors.

     

     
     
     

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    FOOD FUN: Color Your Bread With Food Color

     
    Colored Sourdough Country Loaf
    A sourdough loaf tinted blue-gray (photo © Geraud Pfeiffer).
       
    We enjoy food photographer Geraud Pfeiffer’s delicious bread photography.

    Sure, the Internet is filled with photos of croissants, pain au chocolate, loaves of bread, and sandwiches.

    But seeing a whole grid of them on Instagram is deliciousness-plus.

    There are even a few pastries in the mix to appease the sweet tooth.

    See more of his food photography on Pexels.
     
     
    Dragging Out The Bread Machine

    This photo inspired us to drag out our bread machine over the weekend and make a couple of loaves with subtly tinted dough (sure, you can make it hot pink, but less is more).

    The only problem: The bread is so wonderful, we can’t stop eating it!
     
    > The history of bread.

    > The different types of bread.

    > Tips for buying a bread machine.
     

     

     
     

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