If there’s one thing those of us on the East Coast could use right about now, it’s comfort food. And what better than mac and cheese? I used to whip up my mom’s old recipe, but then I discovered a Tyler Florence recipe over at Food Network, and I saw the light. It is the most amazing mac and cheese recipe ever, at least that’s what my family tells me.
Here’s the Food Network version of this classic:
4 cups (1 pound) elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups milk
1/2 medium onion, stuck with 1 clove
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups grated Cheddar, plus 1 cup in big chunks
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until done, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and toss it with 2 tablespoons butter; set aside.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat a large baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set it aside. Put the milk into a saucepan and add the clove studded onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and mustard. Warm over medium low heat until the milk starts to steam, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the flavors infuse while you make the roux.
In a large pot over medium heat add 2 tablespoons butter and the flour. Cook, stirring, for about 2 to 3 minutes; don’t let the roux color. Strain the infused milk onto the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thick.
Remove from the heat and add 1/2 the grated Cheddar and 1/2 the Parmesan; stir until it is melted and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour this over the macaroni, add the chunks of Cheddar, and mix until well blended; put this into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses evenly over the top. Bake until the top is golden and crusty, about 25 to 30 minutes.
As a side dish, I made good use of a just-picked red cabbage from my friend Paula’s CSA farm share last week. I wasn’t sure what to do with it — other than make a slaw — but then another friend suggested I cook it with apples. So I thumbed through my Mark Bittman “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” and found this keeper of a recipe. We will be making this one again.
Check it out:
2 tbsp canola oil
1 head (2 lbs.) red cabbage, cored and shredded
3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup veggie stock, apple cider, white wine, or water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Core and shred the cabbage. Peel, core, and chop the apples into chunks.
In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cabbage and cloves, and cook for about 20 minutes or until soft. Make sure it doesn’t brown.
Add apples and salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for about two minutes.
Add stock or cider, turn heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until cabbage is very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove cloves (if you can find them — we offered a prize to finders at our house). Add lemon juice, adjust seasonings, and serve.
We wrapped up our meal with in-season Mallomars. If you’re not from the Northeast, you may not realize that cookies can have a season, but these do. They can’t survive in heat. So get ’em while they’re hot. Or cool.
A big, juicy marshmallow atop a vanilla cookie, all of it covered with chocolate. Pure deliciousness with a lovely crunch when just picked. Go to your grocery story NOW and see if there are any left.
Not convinced? Read this NY Times story on this beloved cookie.