Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: http://offthecuffhome.blogspot.com and http://offthecuffcooking.blogspot.com -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

MACARONI AND CHEEEEEEEEESE!!!!!


I am seriously a cheese-addict. I eat cheese almost daily in some form or another, and tonight seemed dow
nright autumnal for July (it was about 65 and overcast, and breezy) so I opted for a 'comfort food' meal of grilled pork chops, mac & cheese, and some steamed summer squash.

This mac & cheese is loosel
y adapted from one that I got from my husband's mother, although I use real sharp cheddar instead of Velveeta, and I usually just put in a pinch of nutmeg instead of pepper.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 stick of butter

2-3 tbsp flour (I actually used whole wheat today with fairly good success)
1- 1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheese (sharp ched
dar makes the most 'classic mac & cheese' flavor)
pinch of nutmeg

8-10 oz of uncooked pasta of your choice (I had bowties, so that's what I used)

DIRECTIONS:

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta while you prepare a 'roux' to make the cheese sauce.
(Roux is a flour & butter based sauce which helps emulsify cheese better than just stirring cheese into hot milk -- which, for the record, I've tried once, and got a giant ball of stringy cheese, floating in a pot of milk.)

Melt butter in another small sauce pan over medium heat, and stir in flour one tablespoon at a time, to keep it a smooth texture.

Stir in milk, very slowly, just an ounce or so at first. If you pour the milk in too fast, it will cool off the butter & flour mixture and make it lumpy.

Gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, keeping heat at medium, and taking care not to boil the sauce.


Next add a handful of grated cheddar cheese at a time, stirring it to melt it into the hot milk & butter roux.


Pour cheese sauce over coo
ked & drained pasta and either serve as is, or bake in the oven for ten minutes at 350 to "congeal it all" into its sticky, cheesy goodness.



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