Wednesday, May 6, 2009

bake yourself happy

Friends, times are hard. Promising signs abound, and I'm so very hopeful, but for now there seems to be an awful lot of sh*tty to contend with. So I'm going to make a suggestion: cheese and macaroni.

When I was young, one of my favorite foods was my mema's cheese and macaroni - cheddar, elbow macaroni, and saltines, all saturated with milk and egg and baked until bubbling. Her cheese to noodle ratio is audacious, and, if you know me, that probably explains a lot. I still love hers, but it loses something when I make it myself, so I make my own flossy version.

Now what I'm about to share is practically a four-pound strata of holy f*ck, so watch yourself. It's also one of the most comforting foods I can imagine, so this goes out to all of you whose mellow has been harshed. If you can handle this much cheese, the only thing you have to fear is high cholesterol and a bigger waistline.

I'm more of an eyeball-it-and-do-what-feels-right sort of cook, so nothing is too specific.

Ingredients - Buy the good stuff. Organic and local when possible.
Big bag wide egg noodles
1 lb Gruyere, grated
1/2 lb Fontina, grated
1 quart half and half
Salt and Pepper

Boil noodles until almost done. Rinse in cold water, drain, and spread into an unbuttered casserole dish. In a sauce pan, melt, say, half a stick of butter over medium-high heat. When it's good and melty, add a few tablespoons of flour. Cook for a bit, stirring constantly, until it smells toasty. Whisk in half and half. All of it. Add a few grates of fresh nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium and heat until hot, but do not boil. Add cheese. All of it. Stir constantly until melted. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour cheese sauce over noodles until they're comfortable but not overwhelmed. Sprinkle breadcrumbs or panko over the top. Dot with butter. Cook at 375 until bubbling and browned. Eat. Feel better.

Fabulous for taking to barbeques, ailing friends, thin enemies, etc. The cheese sauce will also keep for a few days in the fridge and is fabulous on broccoli. Trust me.


Martini said...

My favorite! I love your mac and cheese...but then you already knew that. I've banned myself from making it, and then proceeding to eat the whole casserole by myself over 2 days.

megan said...

Oh, lord, you use half and half? That's amazing. This is very similar to the version we make, but I'm trying yours tonight. I'm all for eating my feelings.

keri said...

Oh, 'tini. You are a paragon of abstemiousness.

Megan - I hope it was good and helpful. Sometimes I cultivate a funk for the sole purpose of justifying Belgian beer and rosemary garlic fries.

megan said...

So I made this on Wednesday. Matthew prides himself on his mac and cheese, but c'mon - he's from New England and you're a Southerner. No contest. He walked in and saw that I was using half and half instead of milk and was so impressed.

I think I gained several pounds from that dish alone, but good job, Keri. Best mac and cheese ever.

keri said...

I'm so glad! If that didn't go well, I was going to send you a recipe for pecan pie that requires Karo Syrup, but I'll save that for later.