Things got amped up unexpectedly this week, and I ended up making family dinner – high profile, eek! The decided dish was oven-baked mac & cheese, as per my mom’s request. It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself! I had to live up to my dad’s cooking (he’s the one who usually does dinner) and it was a little bit intimidating, but I got his seal of approval in the end! And so, the process:
The recipe is from a promotional cookbook we picked up from Denninger’s. All the ingredients needed are below:
First step – grating the cheese. The essence of mac & cheese, of course! I used emmentaler and gruyère. Like swiss cheese, but a tad bit more flavor.
One of the things I liked about this recipe was that it had ham in it. Next time, I think I’ll add sweet onion too, and maybe some cauliflower (yum!)
Of course, boiling the “mac”. One of the things I have to say I’m very good at is cooking pasta. Last year, I think I had pasta 5 nights a week – the other two nights were rice, so same principle. Boiling away!
Now, here’s the tricky part. Heating up milk always make me anxious – one whiff of burning milk and you’ll never want to heat it up again. I heated it until it was steaming, as per the recipe, then mixed it in with a butter/flour/mustard mix (below).
Mixing it all together! My mother swears by her Corningware cook set, and graciously let me use it for the night – under her watchful eye! She says I’m like a bull in a china shop, and didn’t take her eye off me whenever the dish was off the counter.
After everything was mixed up, into the oven it went! Our oven is as old as me, and doesn’t heat evenly anymore, so baking things in it requires a little bit more attention than usual. Broiling things on the top rack can sometimes take a quarter of the time expected – or an extra half an hour! I think it turned out just fine, though.
I really liked baking this big dish. It kind of made me feel like I was in a country home, making Sunday lunch for everyone when they came in from playing outside. My family is small, with only three people at the dinner table each night (sometimes four, if my brother is home). Living at home this year definitely makes me appreciate a home-cooked meal, and the work that goes into it. One dish took me almost two hours, from start to finish. But man, if this isn’t comfort food, I don’t know what is.
Touch The Earth,
Emma — The Suburban Aggie