Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Comforts of Fall

Today was a Macaroni and Cheese kind of day. Not just the blustery weather, with a few snowflakes floating in the wind, and the grey, overcast skies, but the kind of day where you just *CRAVE* comfort food. And a warm hoodie to snuggle in. I paired this rich, creamy Mac 'n Cheese with Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, because they're deliciously in season, and tossed in some mushrooms, because I had them in the fridge. Voila. Dinner.

I started out with a block of Medium Sharp Cheddar, a block of Swiss, and a Block Grater. Yep, I shred my own cheese, because that's how I roll. Like a Rockstar! Start working! (That'll give your water time to start boiling, anyway!)


Once there are piles of freshly shredded cheese on my countertop, and the rest of the ingredients are assembled, I get kickin'. The pasta should be par-boiled and drained, and the Cheese Sauce making shall commence. Melt the butter in the saucepan, whisk it with the flour to make a light roux, and don't forget add spices at this point to allow the heat to help them release their full flavors. Whisk in the warm milk and stir until the sauce has thickened to coat the back of a spoon. At this point, turn the heat to low and incorporate all the cheeses, one handful at a time. When you've got that creamy, rich sauce, you're in heaven. Just stir in the par-boiled pasta, and get that whole deal in a buttered casserole dish (Or individual ramekins.) For the last 10 minutes of baking, I uncover the dish, just to get a lil of that deeeelish "Pasta Crust" going, too. Adding to that crunch for this recipe is the Parmesan-Panko Crust, just barely broiled to a toasty, crispy goodness.

Mac N Cheese
Mac N Cheese Au Gratin

The accompanying Fall Veggies couldn't be simpler.

Remove the outer leaves of the brussels sprouts and halve them. Cut the mushrooms in to similarly-sized pieces. Toss in a bowl with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Kosher Salt. Arrange the sprouts on a cookie sheet cut-side down, with the mushrooms throughout. Roast at 375 for 10-15 minutes (Just until the Sprouts begin to brown... that roasted, charcoal-y flavor is heaven.) That's it!

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms with 4-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese


8 Ounces of Pasta (Shells, Elbow, Rotini, Whatever.)
3 Tablespoons of Butter
2.5 Tablespoons of Flour
Cayenne (Optional)
Grated Nutmeg
3 Cups Warm Milk (No less than 2% for this.)
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar
1.5 Cups Shredded Swiss
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
1/4 Cup Velveeta. yes, Velveeta. Trust Me.

For Pamresan-Panko Crust:
3 Tablespoons Butter
Panko Breadcrumbs
Grated Parmesan.

(Melt Butter and Toast Panko, Sprinkle over the top of the Macaroni and Cheese with Parmesan Cheese, then Broil until Browned.)

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