October 6, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese

Well friends, you should know that this is a post two years in the making. Um, not because anything you're gonna see here today is that amazing or earth shattering, it's just because sometimes it just takes me that long to get around to stuff.

I was talking about mac n' cheese to my mom-in-law the other day, telling her about this amazing mac 'n cheese I had recently in Seattle. It was super creamy and the noodles were really soft. I've decided that I like my noodles to be pretty soft when I eat mac 'n cheese ~ basically with a comfort food of this magnitude, I want there to be NO RESISTANCE, you know?

With mac n' cheese, I feel like al dente needs to be thrown out the window.

And then she was telling me about this amazing mac n' cheese she ate in Boston a few years back. It seems like everyone has a mac 'n cheese story to tell, if prompted. And you know how I'm all big on my Pantry Meals? Mac 'n cheese is the ultimate pantry meal.

And you know what else I think about mac 'n cheese? Guess what, today I am telling you everything I want to say about mac n' cheese. So anyways, I see a LOT of mac 'n cheese recipes online. There must be MILLIONS. And seriously, I never tire of it. If I see a new mac 'n cheese recipe, yep, I click on it, I pin it, I bookmark it, I rip it out of whatever book or magazine I happen to be defacing or stealing that day......THERE CAN NEVER BE TOO MANY MAC 'N CHEESE RECIPES.

I'm not even going to say 'amiright???' because I already know I'm 100% correct about this.

This cookbook up above, 'Beard on Pasta', by James Beard, is a total treasure. I've had a copy for over 20 years and I think so highly of it, I bought another copy so my mom and I wouldn't have to keep fighting over it.  Do you guys know James Beard? He was a national icon to the world of American cooking. He's the male equivalent to Julia Child. My mother has been making his Chocolate Cream Pie for a whole lotta years and it's one of the best things you will ever eat in your life.

A couple things about this recipe - you do have to make a roux ( a butter-flour mixture that acts a thickener to sauces) and basically you are making a bechamel, which is a creamy white sauce to which various flavors are added. (like cheese). It's not that hard to do, and yep, it's worth it.



4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
dash of freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or more to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
1/2 pound macaroni elbows or double elbows
3/4 pound grated Cheddar cheese (i like to use extra sharp)


Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, and stir it with a wooden spoon or spatula for around 3 minutes, until the roux is frothy and the taste of raw flour is gone. Meanwhile, heat the milk in another pan. Add the warm milk gradually to the roux, stirring hard all the while. Turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce is just at the boiling point. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes. Now add the pepper and Tabasco. Don't be afraid of the Tabasco: it will help to bring out the taste of the cheese. Stir in the heavy cream or creme fraiche and simmer a little longer, until the flavors are blended.

Cook and drain the macaroni.

Mix three quarters of the grated cheese into the simmering sauce. As soon as it melts, combine it with the drained macaroni, and pour it into a baking pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, and bake it for 20 to 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

4-6 servings.

NOTE: you could, if you like, just thrown in ALL the cheese and omit the oven part, if you just like your mac a creamy pile of mac-ness. I prefer chewy bits from the oven, so I always put mine in the oven, but not too much, because I don't like it to dry out.

If you have a favorite mac, I'd love to know! This is my go-to recipe that I've been making for years and years and years and years. Since I was a teen. Which was a million years ago. I'm going to go cry now....and maybe cheer myself up by making this recipe for dinner.


  1. Great recipe for my little Sofia :)

    Cathy Vargas
    Vintage Girls

    1. Thank so much for taking the time to comment, Miss Cathy! I honestly think there are few things in this world as wonderful as nicely done mac 'n cheese......:)

  2. My son and daughter both love Mac n' Cheese. I can't eat it because I don't usually eat cheese (and don't cook it either) but I am glad they don't have that problem! Your photos are beautiful! I will ask my husband if he wants to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you!!!!! I don't do very much dairy (makes me break out), so this is a Very Big Treat for me. I don't have it too often!

  3. This sounds exactly like my mom's mac and cheese. I'll bet she started with the same James Beard recipe. Love it.

    allison from baking: a love story

  4. Adding to my mac and cheese pinboard. You know I love my mac & cheese.

    1. Oooooweeeee I know!!!! And I'm waiting for your mac 'n cheese roundup, b/c I know you have a whopping collection!!!!

  5. i do not like macaroni and cheese. nope. i do not like cheese. but i DO love those pictures and you. also i can't believe i don't have that cookbook.

    1. I LOVE cheese! But cheese HATES me. Dairy = huge breakouts for me. Le bummer. The cookbook is amazing, you would love! It's sitting by me right now. I'll tell you some of the Very Cool Recipes that are in it. Spinach-Mushroom Casserole. Fettucine with Pesto and Potatoes. Noodles with Cabbage (not as gross as it sounds). Orzo Souffle. Stuffed Ziti. Herbed Noodle Salad. Salmon Dill Salad with Pasta Shells. Chillied Short Ribs over Corn Macaroni. Broiled Duck with Rice Noodles. This book is one I'd grab for if I had to flee from zombies or Ebola......:)

  6. This is pretty much how I make mine, but instead of Tabasco I use a little dried mustard. And skip the cream. I also like the macaroni overcooked, and my kids often request that I skip putting it the oven--they don't like the chewy bits. Me, I like it any which way. :)