CHEF PROFILE: DARIUS WILLIAMS. RECIPES: ULTIMATE BAKED MAC & CHEESE AND TOMATO & SHRIMP RICE
Name: Darius Williams, better known as @DariusCooks
City: New York City
Specialty: All things easy & delicious
Name of Company: DariusCooks.com, LLC
Soul Society 101: Darius Cooks is an amazing website! How did you come up with the idea of it?
Darius: I’ve been food blogging for years. I decided to get serious with it a few years ago and started developing branding initiatives. What you see today is the result of that effort.
Soul Society 101: Nice! So you teach cooking classes! What is that like to teach people your recipes?
Darius: It’s pretty fun, actually. It’s just like any other cooking class - but with a lot more swag. Additionally, people tend to see that the recipes really are simple.
Soul Society 101: Do you want to own your own restaurant one day?
Darius: I do. A series of restaurants, actually. It’s a part of the master plan.
Soul Society 101: Its seems like you are always on the go, whether your are teaching cooking class or having dinner parties. What is your favorite place to go and cook in the USA?
Darius: Well, I just started this whole “on-the-go” journey. Chicago is home. So, there’s something familiar to me every time I touch down at Midway Airport.
Soul Society 101: Nice! What upcoming projects do you have for the upcoming year?
Darius: I have several, but the one I’ll highlight is my cookbook, “Stories from My Grandmother’s Kitchen.” I’m super excited to release this project.
The Ultimate Baked Mac & Cheese
4 cups of cooked pasta 4 tablespoons of butter 2 tablespoons of flour 2 cups of half and half 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of pepper 1 pinch of garlic powder 1 pinch of paprika 2 cups of shredded cheese – your choice (for this, I used what I had left over Gouda, Velveeta, Cheddar, and Fontina) ½ cup of sour cream *shredded cheese for topping
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 2. Melt 2 tablespoon of butter. 3. Then stir in the flour and cook for about 60 seconds while constantly stirring. 4. Add in half and half and continue to stir periodically while on high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, it should start to thicken. 5. Fold in cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and sour cream. 6. Allow the cheese to melt down into a smooth sauce. This should take about 3 minutes on low heat. 7. Mix with the cooked pasta and pour into a baking dish and top with more shredded cheese.
Tomato and Shrimp Rice
4 cups of cooked white rice (leftover rice works great) 1 cup of frozen green peas 3 plum tomatoes, sliced 4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of pepper 1 tablespoon of tomato paste 1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs ½ teaspoon of garlic powder 4 anchovy fillets, minced 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs – I used parley and chives 1 pound of shrimp – cleaned & deveined
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 2. Lay the tomato slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle (1 tablespoon) of good olive oil. Roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes. Then remove them and set aside. 3. In an oven proof skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the anchovies for just a few seconds until they become fragrant. Then season the oil with the tomato paste, salt, pepper, dried Italian herbs, and garlic powder. Allow this seasoning mixture to cook for about 60 seconds. 4. Mix the seasoned oil with the cooked rice. Toss in the peas and stir to combine. Toss in the shrimp and the roasted tomatoes and bake the whole dish in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through and the rice is warm. Remove and garnish with chopped fresh herbs and serve immediately.