So what have I been up to?
|Learning how to outsmart farm cats.|
|Making sure the dog and chickens co-exist peacefully (good news, they do!)|
|Giving a rescue dog a place to stay.|
|Throwing one hell of a baby shower...|
|For this angel.|
|And taking care of our own babies at home!|
|And sometimes eating some good homemade food!|
Martha Stewart calls it perfect mac 'n cheese, and Martha's stamp of approval means a lot to me. She hasn't disappointed me often. I decided to give it a whirl, and I may have found my fall-back comfort dish. It's creamy and flavorful and has just enough kick from the cayenne pepper to keep you on your toes. I used 2% milk, though I usually drink skim, to get a nice thick white sauce going, and used good quality cheese (sharp white cheddar and Gruyere) that I grated by hand (this is an important step!) Don't cut corners and try to find pre-shredded cheese. It won't melt properly and you will be disappointed. Promise. Lastly, pour the heated milk sloooooowly into the flour-butter mixture, and whisk, whisk, whisk!
|Sorry for the iPhone photos. I'll bring the camera back, guys- promise!|
Martha Stewart's Perfect Macaroni and Cheese
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.