January 18, 2010: Grownup Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Hello everyone! I apologize for the lateness but I just returned to school to begin my spring semester.  Leaving home was a bit sad but there is nothing like a new semester to start over.

Since my brother’s birthday is tomorrow and I obviously am unable to be there, we held a little get together on Saturday night to celebrate.  Being on a budget and having a get together is difficult to do, however I was able to make something to satisfy all appetites.

Macaroni and Cheese is a very simple crowd pleasing dish.  I was able to make what I like to call a grown up version using a variety of cheeses that did not include just cheddar and have the guests crave a second helping.

I recently acquired a collection of culinary magazines (thanks to my Aunt Lisa).  In Cooking Light magazine (September 2009 issue) there is a whole section on the basics of Mac ‘n’ Cheese.  I chose a rather complex recipe and altered it to my liking (without meat, pure vegetarian goodness).  The recipe is below along with a few pictures.  Enjoy!

Grown up Mac ‘n’ Cheese

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tomatoes diced

2 teaspoons of salt

2 boxes of macaroni pasta

1 red onion finely chopped

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cloves of garlic

2 cups of half and half

2 cups of whole milk

1 1/2 cups of shredded fontina cheese

1 cup of crumbled blue cheese

1/2 cup of cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tablespoons of butter ( 1 tablespoon for sautéing onions, 1 tablespoon melted)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add Olive oil to a frying pan.  Add thyme and let the flavor infuse in the oil.  Then add the tomatoes and sautee for 4 minutes.  If there is excess juice, strain.  Set aside for later.

3. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil.  Add salt and pasta.  Cook until al dente.  Do not overcook.

4. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to a saucepan. Once it melts, add the diced onion and garlic.  Sautee until garlic and onion softens. Add flour and cook for one minute.  Add 1 cup of half and half.  Gradually stir in the other cup of half and half and the two cups of milk.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Cook for one minute; whisk or stir constantly.  Remove from heat; let stand for 4 minutes.  Stir in fontina and half of blue cheese.  Let thicken.  Add tomatoes salt and pepper.

5. Mix cheese sauce with pasta.  Put in a baking dish.  Add remaining cheddar cheese and rest of blue cheese.  Mix melted butter with panko breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top.

6. Cook for 20 minutes.

7. Eat.

The response to the dish was incredible.  There were no leftovers. I was actually surprised since it was my first attempt at baked macaroni and cheese.  If you ever want to try a new type of mac n cheese, you should go for it.

That’s all for now.  I have my first day of class tomorrow.

Peace love and no beef.

GK

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