Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese Wars

Macaroni and Cheese Wars

In my family we all enjoy macaroni and cheese.  Who doesn't?  On occasion I have made the bad mac-n-cheese, too grainy, too loose, too dense.  You are all probably aware of the pitfalls that one can fall into striving for mac-n-cheese heaven.  My grandmother, god rest her soul, made terrible Mac-n-cheese but we thought it was wonderful.  After all it was homemade with love but... she just wasn't a very good cook.   It was baked with chunks of cheese interspersed within it and the casserole must have weighed 10 lbs.  I thought you could only get creamy Mac-n-cheese out of a box and that was 40 years ago.

Well I grew up, started cooking and discovered that the stuff I thought was good wasn't.  From a cookbook  I learned to make it by making a cheese sauce beginning with a b├ęchamel.  This method is risky and a pain in the ass.  I don't know about you but I want my mc to be delicious, reliable, and easy.  I know that we all have our favorites but I want to share two of mine; one baked in a casserole, the other stirred in a pot.  They are different from one another and both are delicious, reliable and easy.

The first one which is Denial's favorite came from the New Your Times.  I can't take credit for either of these recipes.  It is unexpectedly made by mlixing dry noodles into a wet puree of cottage cheese, milk, shredded cheese and spices. I always add more spices. It all gets baked together with yummy results. Here's a link to the recipe:

One nice thing you can do with this recipe is that you can add cauliflower to this mix and bake it in the casserole.  Its also nice to top it with panko during the last 1/2 hour of baking time.

The second one is Gusty's favorite.  Being a kid he likes boxed mac-n-cheese.  This recipe came from Good Eats on The Food Network.  It also seemed improbable, but works beautifully.  Whisk together 2 eggs, 6 oz. Evaporated milk (I must that admit when I made this dish for the first time it was the first time I had purchased evaporated milk since my grandfather was alive), and spices (dry mustard, hot sauce, nutmeg, salt, pepper).

Boil elbow noodles until al dente.  Strain.  Turn off heat and return the noodles to the pot. Pour milk and egg mixture into pot with the noodles and stir.  Here you do need to be careful not to let the eggs in the mix cook too fast or the cheese will be curdley.  Over a low flame incorporate 10oz. of grated cheddar cheese until it is all creamy, melty, good.  Done.

You'll find the recipe here:

Sit down with a giant salad or roasted veggies and enjoy with a nice brew. Sixpoint's The Crisp would go nicely.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Like Cocktails

I like cocktails and while rarely drunk I will have a nightly libation. While I love interesting and complex cocktails my at home repertoire usually consists of the vodka and juice variety. Once in a while though when my budget and energy level allow I will make something more ambitious. The caipirinha incredibly simple with lime sugar and cachaca. The gimlets, vodka and gin, essentially made the same way. The martinis, vodka and gin, garnished with a cornucopia of pickles and brined goodies. Lately my favorite toppings are cornichons and caper berries. Then there's the Carte Blanche. I found this recipe in an advertisement for Hendricks gin and went shopping immediately for all the ingredients. This is not a cocktail for every day and in fact the first time I made them I so enjoyed them that I ventured into a third with not so pretty consequences. Won't do that again. Make one for you and a loved one. You won't be sorry (unless you drink too many).

1 ½ parts Hendricks gin
½ part fresh lime juice
½ part simple syrup
a few dashes of orange bitters (the recipe calls for 2 healthy ones)
3 cucumber wheels (I like 4)
brut sparkling wine (I use prosecco)

In a mixing glass muddle 2 cucumber wheels. Add gin, syrup, lime juice, bitters and ice. Shake well and drain into cocktail glass. Garnish with remaining cucumber wheels.