Mac & Cheese Please

17 Oct

I have one true love.

No, not him (but close).

It’s pasta. My life is littered with memories of the pasta I ate.

mac & cheese

There was the mac & cheese I ate just before breaking my arm in third grade; the great ziti war of ’88; the egg noodle, cabbage and kielbasa casserole that my grandmother used to make me that I’m still trying to recreate from memory, and the black & white angel hair pasta served with a sauce of olive oil, golden garlic and sage in Germany that changed the way I ate forever.

Living on my own, I would probably eat pasta for dinner every night. Plain with butter or olive oil, or fancy with complex sauces, I’d be just fine. Asian noodles, Eastern European noodles, Mediterranean noodles, American noodles, I’m an equal opportunity pasta eater, I see no sense in discriminating against one type or the other, ever. They’re all equally delicious.

So it’s been a wee bit of a cross to bear to be living with a man who when I suggest pasta for dinner goes, “Eh, I could take it or leave it.” So sometimes I have to do what women have been doing for millenia, take the bull by the horns and force noodles upon him.

mac & cheeseBut here’s the strange part. What’s one of his favorite meals of all time? Boxed mac & cheese with frozen peas. Not that I object, because after a really stressful day, it is a pretty sweet little dinner. But, he claims that the boxed stuff is better than homemade. Now that I cannot accept.

Recently I was home sick and craving my favorite guilty, sick-day comforting meal; elbow pasta with lots of butter and chunky salsa, but realised I had no pasta in the house. I felt awful, but I was simultaneously bored, so while I was at the market, I decided that I was going to make mac & cheese for dinner and surprise the boy.

mac & cheeseIt was a brilliant, simple rendition of a classic (as befitted a sick-day). Both cheesy and crusty, decadent yet comforting. I had initially intended to serve this with the truffle salt, but, the combination of the two cheese created such an intense, all consuming taste and feel of umammi in the mouth, it was completely unnecessary

And did the boy like it? Oh yes, and even more the second day, but more on that later in the week.

Head below the jump for Simple, Sick-Day Mac & Cheese.

Simple Mac & Cheese

prep time: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: an hour or so

  • 1 box Pipette pasta, cooked until just tender
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • about 1/4 lb Dutch Van Djik Goat Cheese, grated*
  • about 1/4 lb Gruyère, grated, about 2 handfuls set aside
  • 1 tsp Pimenton de la Vera, or smoked hot paprika
  • a handful of Bread crumbs or a few Carr’s Rosemary Crackers, crushed
  • Salt & Pepper

Set the oven to 350°. Add the milk, garlic, pimenton and salt & pepper to a baking dish and mix to incorporate. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Add the cheese and stir to incorporate. Place in the oven on a middle rack. Allow to cook about 30 minutes.

Check the pasta, stir to ensure the cheese is evenly distributed, place back in the oven. Allow to cook another 30 minutes or so (depending on the texture you want your pasta to have).

Remove from the oven. Top with the bread crumbs or cracker crumbs and the remaining Gruyère. Place back in the oven but on a higher rack. Allow to bake until the top is bubbling and golden.

Serve as is or topped with stewed tomatoes or with a leafy green salad on the side.

*I have no idea how widely available this cheese is, it just kinda popped up in my local Key Foods. It is one of the most unique goat cheeses I’ve ever had, simultaneously goaty and intensely creamy, yet firm and grate-able . Look for the three dopey goats on the cheese (click the first link in the name above, you’ll get it).


7 Responses to “Mac & Cheese Please”

  1. Julie October 17, 2006 at 12:03 pm #

    All those pictures with oozy cheese are making me hungry.

    It’s a rainy day here which is a perfect day for macaroni and cheese. But you can’t go wrong with macaroni and cheese in almost any circumstance.

  2. Tiny Banquet Committee October 17, 2006 at 1:10 pm #

    Omg, that mac & cheese looks GOOD, and I love that it has Pimenton de la Vera in it – but I think I am going to spend the rest of the afternoon daydreaming of that black-and-white angel hair pasta!

  3. sher October 18, 2006 at 10:43 am #

    OKay!! Now you’ve done it! That’s one of my favorite comfort foods and now I’ll have a major jones for it for days! Argh!!!!!!!!! It looks so goooooood.

  4. s'kat October 24, 2006 at 9:45 am #

    I have never really been a huge fan of pasta until having just tasted it in Italy. Pici is my new favourite!! But crusty mac’n’cheese, yum, you just can’t go wrong.

  5. ann October 24, 2006 at 9:25 pm #

    yay! so many mac & cheese fans!
    sorry i’ve been bad with keeping up with comments… it’s been one of those weeks (er… months!)

  6. Melly53 October 25, 2006 at 12:46 pm #

    I LOVE mac & cheese. I just bought Marlena Speiler’s Macaroni Cheese cookbook. Oh my. I love the food porn on this site. Thanks!

  7. Melly May 22, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    I interviewed Marlena for my blog and website last month. She is so kind. If you want you can check it out. under chit chat with the professionals board.

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