My kind of hotdish
“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
-Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country
Hats off to Rox for posting this quote on her blog a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes, I feel so uncreative, I don’t even know where to start. I’m surrounded by creative people every day and I marvel at their ability to generate ideas, create beautiful works of art, or make useful objects. Hell, even pick out interesting outfits. How can I be more creative? What is my art?
Duh. Cooking. And this blog. How I have forgotten thee. I have been busy cooking since the new year began, especially thanks to my new immersion blender that Jake gave me. Now I can fearlessly blend soups right in the pot! And a big batch of soup makes for excellent lunches. I made the Balthazar mushroom soup from SK, which would have been impossible without the new appliance. A word to the wise, blending hot liquids in a blender is dangerous and quite the hassle. An immersion blender pretty much replaces a regular blender. It’s less to clean and can be used right in pots and dishes. None of that “puree-in-batches” crap. I’ll never eat chunky soup again.
Today, feeling a little more willing to work, I wanted to take on a bigger project than just saute, heat, and blend. I awoke with a bit of a headache and felt like escaping from everyday responsibilities, like laundry. After stealing a box of elbow macaroni from Jake’s house, I decided baked mac and cheese would be perfect. And ooooh was I right.
Pretty much every celebrity chef has their own recipe for M&C, but I went to the Holy Grail of Martha since I’m new at this. Plus her recipe calls for things you’re more likely to have at home. I cut a few corners, like using medium cheddar, parmesan, and wheat bread, but overall the dish was great. Next time, I’ll plan ahead and use a more pungent cheese and maybe bread crumbs instead of cubes.
Warning: this makes A LOT. I halved the recipe, fed myself, Jake, and Roxie, and have enough for three generous lunches.
Martha’s Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 12. You’ve been warned.
6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.
4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.
ENJOY! You have just created a masterpiece.
Now go for a walk or run a few flights of stairs. Which reminds me, I should get to that laundry.
This entry was posted on Sunday, January 18th, 2009 at 4:52 pm and is filed under Food & Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.