2.10.2008

Winter of MY Discontent


It has been many years since I read that particular John Steinbeck novel. The title has always come back to me when I'm suffering from "Cabin Fever" of one sort or another. Although the harsh New England winters I grew up in are a distant memory since I've lived in Oregon, somehow the same feelings tend to surface.




Maybe it's the bleak, undependable sunshine that takes it out of me, maybe it's my constantly "chilly" feeling that wears me out?

There's only so much comfort food I can consume during the winter, and I know it is time to stop; I'm down to one pair of jeans I can button!
This recipe is responsible for the inability to wear all of my wardrobe right now!


Any Cheese- MAC & CHEESE
I use whatever left over chunks of cheese are hanging out in the fridge.

This time, I had Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue, French Brie, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Sharp Cheddar. A total of about 1 and 1/2 pounds. Crumble the blue, shred the cheddar and parmigiano, cut the brie into small cubes, use the rind of the brie if you like a tangy flavor.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 13 X 9 casserole.

PASTA
Prepare your favorite short pasta, about 1 1/2 lbs. Cook just shy of al dente, it will finish in the sauce and avoid being mushy. If your pasta says boil for 7 minutes, boil it only for 5. I find Penne pasta works well for this recipe. Drain and set aside.

CHEESE SAUCE


Start with a basic white sauce (bechamel), the best base for mac & cheese.


4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir until the butter and flour are well combined. Pour in milk, stirring constantly as it thickens.

Over very low heat add your prepared cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted. Add more milk if sauce is too thick.

Add to sauce
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tblsp honey
Adjust seasoning to your liking.

Combine cheese sauce and pasta and pour into prepared casserole.
You can top with more cheese and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.......but I LOVE fresh buttered breadcrumbs.

BREADCRUMBS
In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse 4 slices of any kind of bread until fine crumbs.
In a saute pan melt 3 tblsp of butter and pour breadcrumbs in pan. Toss to coat all crumbs with melted butter. Spread evenly over the top of the mac & cheese. Bake as directed.

















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Cincinnati, OH, United States
A dedicated foodie, with a passion for the best food. Favorite food crushes include; Cheese, Wine, Breads, Seafood, anything made with eggs, ...there's actually no point in a list, there isn't much out there I don't have a crush on. Transplanted from the Northeast at age 18, a whole new frontier of food was opened up to me. I have fished for Salmon, hunted for mushrooms, cracked open fresh oysters from the sea and devoured them on the spot. Figs, pears, peaches, so many indigenous jewels! I dedicate this BLOG to the endless variety this region provides. My hope is to live here for a very long time & continue to discover and experience it's unique bounty! Alas, my life has now taken me to Cincinnati, OH where the food culture is like none I have ever experienced.

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