Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The Restorative Effect of Mac N' Cheese or I Eat To Numb The Pain
Cheese and Noodles Can Save Lives
My boyfriend, Robert, doesn't like dessert. I'm going to type that again lest you think your eyes have gone berserk. Here we go. Deep breath now: My boyfriend, Robert, doesn't like dessert. Truthfully, it's the biggest problem in our relationship. I finish eating dinner and I think, "Hm? What sort of chocolate cake, minty ice cream, or baked good can I stuff into my mouth," all the while ignoring the fact that I feel like Star Jones before bypass surgery but after she divorced her (allegedly) gay husband. Robert on the other hand thinks to himself, "Yum. That was delicious. I'm good for the next month." It's a problem that's most probably connected to my need to fill the deep gaping hole that is my spirit. But I don't want to think about that. Got anything chocolatey I can eat?
Sidenote: I realize it's been like ninety-two years since I last updated this blog but...well...um...it's been hot in New York this summer. Ya! That's it! I'll take Lame Excuses For Not Updating My HILARIOUS Blog for a thousand!
Back to the story: So Robert has this new job and I'm...you guessed it...mostly kind of being an actor/performer/swim lesson instructor/manny...all the while wishing that I could just be a dad and bake for my cute little Chinese adoptee. Anyway, he's got this new job and everyone gets super-stressed out there. I've tried to assuage their tightly-wound nervous systems with baked goods, and while each sweet confection has brought momentary calm to the Contemporary Menswear offices at Saks Fifth Avenue, I always felt like they wanted more. Dessert just wasn't cutting it. And let's be honest, a person can bake all sorts of things, sweet and savory. I've known for a while that I needed to bring out the big guns. Yes sir. You guessed it. I had to take out the Barefoot Contessa cookbook and open the page to the most mouthwatering, guilt-inducing, deliciousness since the Hostess Apple Fruit Pie. It was time to make The Barefoot Contessa's Macaroni and Cheese. With this recipe - and all of its caloric saturation - I'm bound to help Robert and his office mates survive the upcoming fashion week and maybe even a couple weeks after that. If anything, I'll motivate them to hit the gym because after they eat this mac and cheese, they're going to need to put in a few hours/days on the treadmill. Or they could just go the Lindsay Lohan way - cocaine, Starbucks coffee frapuccino, and a touch of self-hatred. I don't know. It seems to keep her pretty skinny. In any case, I hope they enjoy it and I hope you'll enjoy making it, eating it, and then feeling super guilty because you ate it.
Here comes my version of Ina Garten's Mac And Cheese.
Adapted from Foodnetwork.com
• Kosher salt
• Vegetable oil
• 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
• 1 quart milk - That's 4 cups, in case you didn't know.
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 12 ounces Emmental Cheese, grated (4 cups)
• 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
• 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.