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Friday, October 29, 2010

Mac Attack

This is one of those days ~ one of those gloriously lazy relaxed days, during which you want nothing more than to sit back, put your feet into something fuzzy, yourself under a blanket, and watch movies that make you laugh, cry, wet your pants. You get the drift! You know you want comforting pasta in a rich, decadent cheese sauce, and you will do anything to get that taste. Having to utilize several cheeses before they went wonky, I devised the following recipe, and it hits all the right notes. Here's how you do it. First assemble all the winning cheeses on your work surface. Ok, you can throw them all in a bowl, I just thought this looked better...




From left to right we have Vermont sharp white cheddar, regular sharp cheddar, Parmesan, goat cheese and crumbled Danish blue cheese. Be still, my heart.  Then, you take about a half an onion and a clove of garlic, and mince very finely...saute' until completely soft, you do not want to feel the onion bits in the final dish, but you want the flavor. Here is my onion garlic mixture at the end of their saute' time...




Then, add two tablespoons flour, and two tablespoons butter, cook until the roux has lost it's floury taste, and is slightly browned, like so...



Then, gradually whisk in two cups liquid such as; chicken stock, milk, water or a combination. Bring slowly up to a simmer whisking quite frequently, until thickened. Do not jack your heat up, or walk away, milk has a tendency to go postal, breach the rim of your saucepan, and pretty much ruin your day stove top! Remove from the heat, and stir in all those glorious cheeses, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, some salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and perhaps some paprika for color, like so...





When all the cheeses have melted into your sauce, pour over your cooked pasta, and don't forget to lick the spatula or saucepan, that sauce is amazing!! Here is mine, ready for the breadcrumb topping...


I added a little more cayenne (I'm spicy like that, remember?), some salt & pepper and some paprika..just look at that velvety sauce! I then mix panko Japanese breadcrumbs, chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley, dried tarragon and salt & pepper in a small bowl to go over the casserole, and sprinkle on evenly.




Dot with butter, and place in a 350 degree oven for forty minutes. Here's my precious cargo, ready for the oven...




Bake until the casserole is bubbling, and the crumb topping has turned a nice light golden brown.





Let cool for 10 minutes or so, enough so that the cheeses begin to firm up a little, which holds the casserole together a little better. Here is a view of the luscious final product.....




I have always followed tried-and true macaroni and cheese recipes before, and this was one of my first ventures without the benefit of a recipe. The verdict? The combination of cheeses was unbelievable! Every now and again, I'd hit a little pocket of goat cheese, and the slightly tangy flavor exploded on my tongue, the panko breadcrumb and herb mixture retained it's crunch, and the whole dish was a resounding success!

What cheese dish can you not live without? What makes it so good?

In case, loyal readers, you think I have forgotten about THE QUEST (for healthy work breakfasts and lunches), here is a recent example. 

Let me tell you, that a mutant (HUGE) Fuji apple, and some natural crunchy peanut butter can fill you up, and quickly, too. Strangely enough, I was blessed with a huge amount of energy that day. Hmmmmm, wonder why?

Eat well, and cozy up to some real macaroni and cheese, my friends....see you next post, with the big announcement!

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