I was in desperate need of comfort food. It has been raining pretty much nonstop for the past two weeks. I live in a desert, people!
On the other hand, my lawn has never been greener.
While I was on Foodbuzz, Cajun Chef Ryan Twittered about 'throwing' together some mac 'n cheese for his son's baseball game. I responded to his twitter and asked for the recipe. With measurements. This is the baker in me. I have to have measurements. I just can't 'throw' something together to save my life!
Guess what? He responded like, within seconds!
To top it off, he posted the recipe on his blog.......within minutes he sent me the link!
Here it is for your viewing and cooking pleasure:
Cajun Chef Ryan's Mac N' 4 Cheeses
Now I have an excuse to try my pasta extruder machine and make macaroni.
It is a little trickier than making pasta for my other flat roller hand pasta machine.
The dough needs to be like pastry dough before you add water.
Not too wet like cookie dough, and not too dry.
This is even waaaaay better than having a Playdough machine!
It comes out slowly, building pressure and starting to curl...
Then I chop off those babies with a bench knife.
I'm sure any sharp knife will do...
After I made the macaroni, I got started on my sauce.
Chef Ryan's recipe calls for milk. He doesn't know that all I have is skim milk.
You know, the blue stuff that's healthy for you?
Well, I wanted a creamier sauce, so I bought some half and half.
Okay. Fat free half and half.
His recipe looks like it will feed a small army, so I decided to cut it in half.
Here's the blue stuff.
Excuse me. Skim milk.
I used half skim, half half and half.
Are you following me?
For a thickener, Chef Ryan used cornstarch. In his recipe, he mixes it in with cool water and then adds it to his warmed milk.
I used a technique that worked for my Mimi's Cafe Corn Chowder and mixed the cornstarch right in with the cold milk.
I whisked in the cornstarch until it was completely dissolved.
Then I switch whisks. This one doesn't get the 'corners' of my saucepan.
Okay. Let's talk about cheese. I know very little about cheese. Chef Ryan uses Sharp Cheddar, Swiss, American slices, and Parmesan in his recipe. A lot of it. I'm sure it's super cheesy!
I wanted to try a White Cheddar. The local Harmon's store has about a million cheeses, imported from around the world. I sampled a Flag White Cheddar that was sharp with a sweet undertone. When I found out that it was $22 per pound, I was in shock.
Seriously. Get out the paddles!
I walked to the other side of the store and found the economy cheese aisle.
Kraft Sharp White Cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan...all rolled up into one cheese!
I was sold.
6 oz. shredded beautifully into 2 cups. I put my milk on medium and sprinkled it in.
Nutmeg adds just the right amount spice for this recipe.
Warm and subtle.
Just what I need!
Oh, and white pepper.
Just close your eyes and pretend there's a photo.
Here's just a touch of salt.
On a whim, I decided I wanted to add more Parmesan cheese. I didn't want to wait until the end and have it only on the top.
I wanted it all throughout the sauce.
That's the nice thing about this recipe. You can add just about whatever melting type cheese you want in it!
I had this on med-low and it took awhile to thicken.
It wasn't until I turned up the heat to medium that it began to thicken.
Just be patient.
And keep stirring. You don't want this to burn!
I cooked my fresh macaroni for 4 minutes while I was stirring.
Dry macaroni will take a little longer.
If you bake it, you will want to slightly under cook your macaroni as it will cook while in the oven.
I poured the sauce and gently folded the macaroni. I had about 1/4 c. of the sauce left, as I didn't want it to be 'soupy.'
Next time, I'm using ALL the sauce. The noodles soaked up the sauce like little sponges!
I remember my mom making macaroni and cheese when I was young. I don't know if it came in a box or what, but I do remember that it had a bread crumb topping.
I took 2 pieces of my homemade wheat bread and microwaved them for about 2 1/2 minutes. They were hot and dry. Perfect!
I dropped them into a food processor and ground them up fine.
I think I added about 1 Tablespoon of melted butter.
I still wanted the crumbs to be loose, not packed tightly together.
I sprinkled the crumbs on top.
Used every single crumb.
I tell you, it was worth it!
Thank you, Chef Ryan, for helping me make my very own macaroni and cheese!
I'm forever grateful!
White Cheddar Mac N Cheese
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)