Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 1

caprese salad

I started the diet last night. I had a Caprese salad with 1 slice of mozzarella cheese, 1 slice of prosciutto, 1 tomato and a few basil leaves (lightly dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar).  It's amazing when  you really look at the nutritional facts on packages how many calories are in food and what the portion sizes are.

For example:

Prosciutto has 70 calories per serving (2 slices)
Mozzarella Cheese has 80 calories per serving (2 slices)
Olive oil has 125 calories per tablespoon
One Tomato has 22 calories

My dinner last night was:

35 calories (prosciutto) + 40 calories (mozzarella) + 22 calories (tomato) + 30 calories (oil & vinegar) = 127 calories

I created this excel spreadsheet.  I am the queen of excel spreadsheets.  I create spreadsheets for everything.  This way I can keep track of everything I eat along with the caloric content. 

I got up at 4:30 this morning and did my first session with Jillian Michaels.  I was so excited that I couldn't stay asleep last night.  I kept getting up every hour on the hour.  I tend to do that when I get excited about something.  Anyway,  it was not as hard as I thought it would be.  I was doing strength conditioning at the gym twice a week so I think I have some muscle under all that fat.  Tomorrow I will try with heavier weights and the harder variations of the moves.  She does talk a lot though.  At one point I told her to shut her mouth cause I didn't want to hear her running her mouth off  while I was sweating my tukas off!

Last Hoorah!

crab ravioli in cream sauce

I took out some beef and sausage from the freezer on Tuesday night with the intention of making beef and sausage ravioli.  What I ended up making that night was crab ravioli and crab pot stickers.  I put half of the ricotta in the crab mixture and the other half in another bowl for the beef and sausage ravioli.  I started making the crab ravioli and I was not about to stand there in the kitchen for 3 hours making ravioli all night.  I scrapped the beef and sausage ravioli idea.  My first batch turned out to be a hot mess.  I miss calculated how long it would take to boil the ravioli.  I took the ravioli out and set them aside while I was making the white wine cream sauce.  The raviolis stuck together and tore apart.  When the sauce was about finished cooking I put in the second batch of ravioli and they turned out perfect.  Then I realized I cooked enough sauce for just one serving and I didn't want to  make them again, I took the ravioli and pan fried them in some oil and voila! You have crab pot stickers.  I took the pot stickers to work the next day and they were gone in 10 minutes flat.

This may be the last really decadent meal posted for a minute.  I have started my "look good in a wedding dress" diet and Josh has agreed to eat what I eat (for now).  This is the last hoorah!  My posts for the next month or so will consist of what I ate that day that was healthy and low carb and a daily progress report of my diet.  Isn't it funny how I just made a big deal about how I don't have a theme and how I don't cook healthy.  Look where this blog is headed.  Funny how life changes everyday!

Crab mixture of ricotta cheese and crab
Place the mixture in a won ton wrapper.
( I didn't make my own dough, it was a Tuesday for heaven's sake!)
Brush around the edges with water and place another won ton wrapper on top.
Saute some garlic in olive oil and place mushrooms and spinach in pan until tender. 
Put 1/2 cup white wine and 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Salt and pepper.
And there you have Crab Ravioli!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

operation "look good in a wedding dress"

Once upon a time, a long time ago I use to be skinny.  When I was 18 I weighed 98 lbs and wore a size 0-2.  15 years later, I am 33 weigh 143 lbs and wear a size 10-12.  What happened?

What happened is that when I got to college I ate at anytime of night and started drinking alcohol.  What happened is that I was no longer physically active like I was when I was on the dance team.  That is what happened.

I can't even blame having a baby to my weight gain because while I was pregnant with Levi, I only gained 15 lbs and Levi was born at a little over 9 lbs.  How does that happen right?  Josh did most the cooking during my pregnancy so we ate a lot of grilled chicken and steamed broccoli.  Not with the intention of eating healthy but because that was the only thing Josh knew how to make.  He doesn't know how to cook but that man can grill.

My mission for the next 12 months before the wedding is to slim down and look good in a wedding dress.  I am realistic.  I don't expect myself to slim down to the size I was when I was 18 but I would like to be at a healthy 120 and wear a size 6.  Bahahahah! Wouldn't everybody?!

Here is my plan.  A friend of mine has recommended Jillian Michael's "30 Day Shred."  I have purchased it.  It is sitting on my shelf next to the new hand weights that I bought still in its packaging.  I am going to open the package and get up at a crazy early hour in the morning and attempt the 30 Day Shred.  I already work out a few days a week at the gym doing cardio but I'm going to kick it up a notch and go 5 days a week.

This is the "BIG" doozy.  I will cut down on my beloved food.  I will still cook and bake whatever my little heart desires, but I will not eat it (sounds impossible I know  but I have done it before).  My cooking will be for Josh and my lovely coworkers and friends.  I will eat "healthy" and low carb.  That is the plan.

Last year my boss started the HCG diet and saw immediate drastic results.  So I jumped on the bandwagon.  I did really well and in 30 days I went from 139 to 122.  Then I got laid off and all the weight went back on including an extra 5 lbs.  While I was on the HCG diet I still cooked and baked whatever I wanted and didn't eat "most" of it.  I know I can do it again.

You know you need to lose a few pounds when you go try on clothes at the mall and you get so disappointed by how a size 10 fits that you buy makeup and shoes instead.  If this outfit here is not going to look good on me then damn it I am at least going to paint my face pretty and have beautiful shoes on my skinny feet.  Have you ever felt like this?.....

Monday, March 26, 2012

little black dress

Mongolian Chicken- Lettuce Wraps Korean Style

Do you have that perfect little black dress appropriate for all occasions? That is how I feel about the Mongolian marinade (recipe here) and Kimchee. They are so versatile.  You can use the marinade for pork, chicken and beef.  Kimchee can also be used in many applications like soup, fried rice, pancakes or just straight up sauteed with nothing else but some sesame oil.  I tend to talk a lot about Kimchee don't I?  I digress.  I marinated some chicken on Sunday thinking they will come in handy when I don't feel like cooking.  Today was that day.  I put the chicken on the grill, sauteed some Kimchee and served it on some red lettuce.  Dinner is served 20 minutes flat. (Josh will argue that it was not 20 minutes, I was doing other stuff too.)  My intention was to cut out the carbs now that I have to fit into a wedding dress and look good in it. 

I ended up eating a whole bowl of rice with the Kimchee.  I am hopeless.  :(

 Chop some Kimchee
 Save the marinade and simmer it up for sauce.
 I can polish off a whole bowl of rice with fried Kimchee.
 Chop up the chicken and cut up some scallions into thin strips.
Easy peasy dinner in 20 minutes.

4 page letter

Josh and I should have crossed paths in our lives at least twice.  We grew up living across a major road, we went to different school districts because that road divided the school districts.  When we grew up and went to college, I lived with a group of girls that went to Loyola.  Josh went to Loyola.  The chance of Josh and I meeting the way we actually met was one in a million.  We met through a friend of a friend who was dating Josh's best friend.  I had to take the train all the way to Palatine with a slight chance I might get to meet Josh that night.  It wasn't a set date.  My friend and I were just heading out for the night and since we were in the neighborhood we thought we would call Josh's best friend to see if he can get Josh to come out.  Let's just say we met that night.  We introduced ourselves and that was pretty much it.  He asked me for my number and we went on our first date a week later. 

3 years and a beautiful child later,  Josh asked me to marry him.  He wrote a 4 page letter chronicling our history together and wrote down every feeling he has ever felt for me.  I know that this letter is the beginning of our long and happy story together.  WE ARE GETTING MARRIED!  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

When you have 4 hours to spare

kouign amann

I recently saw these pastries featured on Food Networks, "Best thing I ever ate, Salty."  They are called Kouign Amann (@ Les Madeleines).  They are butter pastry cakes layered with sugar.  I did some research and found a recipe by David Lebovitz (here).  I've been very eager to try this recipe  and I have announced it at work and on FB.

This recipe calls for about 3 hours of making and resting time and another 45minutes to bake.  The only day I had that kind of time was Sunday.  This is how it went.
 waiting for the yeast to activate.
 I set the timer for 10 minutes and waited patiently.
 Cubed 1 stick of salted butter. 
David said to use to good salted butter so I used Kerry Gold.
 Then you work the dough and let it rest an hour.
 Roll the dough out and put butter and sugar in the middle of the dough and fold it into thirds.
 Let it chill in the fridge for another hour and roll it out. This is where I did things a little different.  I cut them into squares so they can fit in the muffin pan.
 Placed 2 squares into the muffin pan, butter, sprinkle with sugar and bake. 
I baked them for 20 minutes.
This is what they look like when they came out of the oven.

Did you see the link I posted of Les Madeleines?  The Kougin Amann I saw on the show and on their website are flaky "croissant " like pastries.  But, according to Wikepedia and David Lebovitz, Kougin Amann is a cake.  My Kougin Amann turned out like a cake.  Is anyone else confused?  I think Les Madeleines nixed the sugar in the dough to make a puff pastry then sprinkled sugar and salt on top.

Has anyone ever had these pastries?  I may just have to order them to see how different  these Kougin Amann's are at Les Madeleines compared to mine/David's.  The end result however, is that they are delicious and my coworkers will enjoy them immensely!

Friday, March 23, 2012

serious identity crisis

I am currently in the process of revamping my blog.  It is simple and I am not a simple person.  A friend of mine is designing the logo/header and an unknown stranger volunteered to design the layout for me.  Nice people really do exist.  My friend who is designing my logo asked me what is your theme? Theme? What? I don't have a theme.  I just cook.  I don't cook any specific type of food.  I don't cook healthy food or vegetarian food  or exclusively bake.  I just straight up cook what I feel like cooking.  Then I got to thinking.  What is my identity? What am I trying to convey here in this blog?  I was having a serious identity crisis. 

My blog was accepted to be featured on  I was browsing through the new blogs and all the new blogs that had serious hits were ones that had a clear theme (healthy cooking).  So I thought about it all night and early into the morning.  I revised my "about me" section about 6 times.   I am so many different things. I cannot be categorized into a certain niche.  These are the things that I am:

1. I am Korean through and through.
2. I am also an American living in the Midwest.
3. I am a mother.
4. I use to be an Architect (so I am kind of creative).
5. I love to cook.
6. I am a devoted and loving partner.
7. I love my job.
8. I love my friends and family.
9. I like to bake (dont' love).
10. I attempt to garden.
11. I just got a new camera and I am learning the art of photography.
12. I love attention!  (I wouldn't be posting all my thoughts to the world if I didn't).

So add all the things that I am and there you have it.  That is me and that is what this blog is!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

special spices or a new pair of shoes?

Hello, my is Sarah and I am an addict.  It started out as a hobby.  I use to do it once a week  and now it has evolved into a full blown on a whim anytime type of thing.  I started because I was bored, now its all I can think about and it consumes me every day.  I need help!  These are my additictions.  I have all these ingredients in their varieties in my pantry.

Flour: AP, Baking, Cake, and Almond

Vinegar: Regular, Balsamic, Sherry, Rice, Red Wine, and Apple Cider

Spices: There is not enough space alloted for me to list them all

Cheese: Mozzerella, Parmesan, Cheddar, and Provolone

Hot Sauce: Gochujang, seracha, sambal, and tobascco

Sugar: Regular granulated sugar, brown sugar, powder sugar, corn syrup, stevia, maple syrup, and molasses.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Does your pantry look like this?

I find myself going to the market every time an ingredient is called out in a recipe and I don't have it in my pantry .  Then it starts to consume me.  I need it, I have to have it.  It won't taste the same!!!  Recently I took the plunge and bought Saffron!  I've put Saffron in my shopping cart many times only to put it back last minute.  You know what the bag boy said to me when he was putting the saffron in my bag?

"Hmmm, Saffron that is really expensive."

My response, "I know (with a big hugh sigh)." 

This week I went to the market twice and you don't even want to know how much I dropped.  This hobby is not a cheap hobby. 


Do you have the same problem?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I will never be skinny!

arroz con pollo

I ate whatever I wanted this past weekend and it shows on the scale.
My pants are telling me the same thing.

me:  I am getting fat.

Josh:  I'll pick up Levi from daycare so you can go to the gym.

me: Thanks babe!

Later that day the weather was so nice some coworkers decided to go for a walk after lunch.

coworker: Are you coming for a walk with us?

me: No, I am going to the gym after work.

Later that evening, I get a craving for some Arroz Con Pollo.  So I swung by the market and grabbed some ingredients.  I also bought shrimp thinking, "if I am going low carb, I am at least making it taste good."  I couldn't let the shrimp sit in the car in 80 degree weather so I just came home and started cooking Arroz Con Pollo, Shrimp with Pesto sauce and a Caprese salad.  I was cooking Arroz Con Pollo for Josh's dinner, Shrimp for lunch tomorrow when I realized we had plans to go out for lunch with coworkers and the Caprese salad for my dinner.  For dinner I had 2 bites of the Arroz Con Pollo (quality control), the shrimp and the salad.  UGGGGG!!!! This is why I will never be skinny!

Pollo browning nicely
I added some chorizo for some flavor and color
Arroz Con Pollo

6 chicken thighs
1 chorizo sausage
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2-3 bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups rice ( I used Arborio)
3 cups of chicken stock
pinch of saffron
1/2 cup of peas
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

This dish will require you to dirty 2 pots and 1 pan

Pot 1: chicken, vegetables and rice
Pot 2: chicken stock and saffron
Pan 1: 1 pan for chorizo

Pot 1: Oil a large pot and let it get really hot (to the point it looks like its smoking).
Place chicken thighs skin side down and let it cook on each side until golden brown
(6-8 minutes each side).  Remove chicken from pot and set aside.

Still Pot 1: There should be some oil in the pan from the chicken, I did not drain it and sauteed the sofrito (celery, peppers, and onions).  When the vegetables soften add the rice and let it toast for about 2 minutes.

Pan 1: Heat a pan and cook chorizo for a 2-3 minutes.

Pot 2: Heat a seperate sauce pan, place chicken stock and saffron let it come to low boil.

Back to Pot 1: Place the chicken thighs back in the rice and sofrito mixture.  Add chorizo and the chicken stock.  Cover and cook on medium low heat for about 45 minutes.  Add the peas last few minutes of cooking.

Monday, March 19, 2012

hike up our skirts and climb over the gate

I have some very fond memories of Korea.  I went to an all girl’s Christian Jr. High School, 7th through 9th grade.  We had to wear a uniform, no makeup and our hair had to be cut to a certain length.  The cultural adjustments were very difficult.  I spoke the language but not well enough so there were language barriers.  The perception of me was that I was a snob and I thought I was too good for everybody.  It wasn’t my intent at all.  Life in America was what I knew, so it was hard for me to not talk about it.  I had hard core haters but I also had a good group of friends.  Our school was located on top of a small mountain, so the daily commute to school would consist of taking a 10-15 minute bus ride to the foot of the mountain, then a 20 minute climb.  You can go one of two ways.  The long way was a zigzag road up the mountain and the short way was a straight climb up the stairs that was carved into the mountain.  If we were running late, we would run up the stairs as fast as we could and be drenched in sweat by the time we got to the top.  If we were really late, the gate would be closed and we would have to hike up our skirts and climb over the gate.  Sometimes the gate keeper would catch us and scold us about being late to school. 

My mom would pack my lunch every morning with my favorites.  She would leave me a note telling me how much she loved me and to have a nice day.  We were a bunch of growing teenagers so by 2nd period we would be starving.  We couldn't wait until lunchtime so in between classes we would eat our lunch and stink up the whole classroom with the smell of garlic and kimchee, but no one complained.  By the time lunch rolled around we had already eaten our lunch so we would go around the classroom with only a pair of chopsticks and sponge off other people. 

School  was Monday through Saturday, but we had half a day on Saturdays. It was a Saturday ritual, a group of us would ride the bus back to my neighborhood and browse the video store for the newest horror movie.  Then we would all pile back to my house and cook a big pot of ramen noodles and munch on snacks while we watched the horror movie.  Sometimes we would stop at a street vendor car/shack and get our favorite snacks like dukbokgi, sundae and mandoo.  All of us would chip in a dollar or two and the meal would fill all 5 us up to our eyelids. 

Every spring and fall the school would go on a picnic to some touristy destination like a park or the palace.  This would be our only opportunity to shed our uniforms, so we would plan ahead for weeks and go shopping for the perfect outfit.  The tradition is that when you go on a picnic, your mother must pack a kim bop lunch for you.  It’s a cardinal rule!  Our mothers would make kim bop the night before and pack them neatly in a bento box with snacks and a drink.  We would finally reach our destination after a long bus ride and scope out a spot.  We would sit around a blanket and sample each other’s kim bop with a cold seven up.  Something about eating kim bop outdoors made it taste so much better.  Then we would play games, have a dance competition  and check out boys from the schools nearby.  This was my young adulthood growing up in Korea.
This is my friend and I on the balcony of our classroom. 
Can you see the mountains in the background?
My freinds and I.  I am in the front
(The picture was not taken in 81' even though that is what it says on the picture. 
It was taken around 92' or 93')
My frist picnic in Korea (7th grade)
My last picinic in Korea (9th grade)
Don't you jut love my outfit. I thought I was looking really cute at the time.

digitally documented and filed for eternity


I have made Eclairs once before and although they tasted good they were not pretty.  I didn't have control over the piping bag and  they ended up being all different shapes and sizes.  I didn't make a custard filling either.  I think I may have just made whipped cream (no I did not use pre made whipped cream, I actually made it).  I was so proud of myself the first time I made whipped cream.  All you do to make whipped cream is beat heavy cream with powder sugar. THAT'S IT! How easy is that right?  Another problem with my first eclairs was, I couldn't figure out how to pipe the filling in. I tried poking a hole with a kabob skewer but the make shift piping bag I made with a sandwich bag just did not work.  I ended up cutting them in half and spooning the filling in.  As you can see in the picture below.  That was 2 years ago and I made eclairs again this weekend.  I don't know why these things just pop in my head out of the blue.  Sometimes I will look at old pictures of what I have made and come up with an idea to try it again and make it better.  I once had a coworker ask me what I do with all the pictures I take of food.  My answer was, "I keep them on file." Since most of them are posted on FB they are digitally documented and filed for eternity!  I look at that folder and notice two things.  First my new fancy camera is spectacular.  The difference is amazing.  I also notice how far I have come.  I think I try the recipes I failed because I know they can be better and I feel confident enough to make them succeed this time.  Every time I cook I learn something or make a note of what I would do differently.  The eclairs that I made this time are definitely better than the last but if I were to make them again I would tweak a few things.  I would really take the time to make them the same size and shape.  Although most of them turned out "pretty" there were a few not so "pretty" ones.  Second, I really need to research how to make chocolate glaze that hardens.  Or is that possible?  The chocolate glaze never really hardened the way I wanted them too.  Any suggestions out there?

These are the eclairs I made two years ago.
whipping egg yolks and sugar for the custard.
vanilla bean steeping in milk for the custard
Choux dough coming together
custard is finished
piped the dough
dough is out the oven

Gale Gand's Eclairs from Food Network
recipe from here



  • 2 cups whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter


Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons water

Chocolate Glaze:


Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the saucepan. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.
Pastry: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Mix at medium speed. With the mixer running, add 3 eggs, 1 egg at a time. Stop mixing after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining 1 egg and mix until incorporated.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe fat lengths of dough (about the size and shape of a jumbo hot dog) onto the lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them. You should have 8 to 10 lengths.
Egg Wash: In a bowl, whisk the egg and water together. Brush the surface of each eclair with the egg wash. Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of points of dough that remain on the surface. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking. Let cool on the baking sheet. Fit a medium-size plain pastry tip over your index finger and use it to make a hole in the end of each eclair (or just use your fingertip). Using a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip, gently pipe the custard into the eclairs, using only just enough to fill the inside (don't stuff them full).
Glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm. The glaze can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewarm in a microwave or over hot water when ready to use.
Dip the tops of the eclairs in the warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze. Serve chilled.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Instant Gratification!

crab stuffed manicotti

Have you ever seen something and the moment you saw it you, you knew you had to have it?  This is how I felt when I saw Giada's crab stuffed manicotti.  We were sitting around the house feeling sorry for ourselves because we were sick and happened to be watching Ms. DeLaurentiis.  I was half paying attention but the more I heard about this dish the straighter I was sitting.  Josh comments, "You can make that anytime for me.". SOLD!  I have been thinking about how I would make this my own.  Giada used basil in the filling and I chose to use garlic sauteed spinach.  Other than that I didn't mess with the recipe at all.  Giada also said you can spoon the mixture in the manicotti but I found piping in the mixture to be much more faster and effective.  I like instant gratification.  I generally ask Josh to rate my dishes.  The first time I ask he will always give me a 12, then I ask again and he will give me his honest opion.  Today I got a 9.5!  I will take it gladly.  It was truly yummy.  My only suggestion would be to serve it with something that would cut through the richness.  I was only able to get through 1.5 manicottis. 

Sauteed some spinach with garlic
mixed in the ricotta, crabmeat, egg, and spinach mixture (forgot the cheese here)
made a bechamel
stuffed the manicotti first by spoon then piped it in
look how pretty it looks!

Giada DeLaurentiis Crab Stuffed Manicotti:
recipe from Giada 

1 box (8 ounces) cannelloni or manicotti pasta (about 12 shells)
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sauteed spinach
1 pound lump crabmeat
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, 3/4 cup Parmesan, egg yolk, basil, crab, salt, and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Fill the cannelloni with the crab mixture and place in a buttered baking dish. Top the filled cannelloni with the Bechamel Sauce and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and the top is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Bechamel Sauce:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy, about 10 minutes (do not allow the sauce to boil). Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool and then cover and refrigerate.)