Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mac and Cheese

I’m reading a really awesome book right now. So good, in fact, that I am going to wait until I finish it to write my blog. If you want to get a head start: Reading Lolita in Tehran = extreme awesomeness. Go to your library, order it online, whatever. Just read it, and I promise to get you the full book report next Thursday!

So in the meantime, I have a fantastic recipe for you.

It’s not sweet, because believe it or not, I do eat normal food on the rare occasion.

And it’s perfect for a cold winter day. Curl up on your couch, turn on some Winter Olympics (Did anyone see the Women's Downhill last night??? Women's Super Combined is on tonight!) and have a nice deep bowl of Mac and Cheese – grown-up style!

This recipe is from my favorite Food Network Star – Ina Garten. It's in her Family Style Cookbook, which is the first cookbook I ever owned. She’s fabulous, and this recipe is fabulous as well.

Mac and Cheese

- serves 6 to 8 -


Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (made from 5 slices white bread, crusts removed)


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drizzle oil into the boiling water, add the macaroni, and cook according to package instructions, 6-8 minutes. Drain well.

2. Meantime, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but do not allow it to boil. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour all at once. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Whisk in the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off heat, stir in the Gruyère, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart (9 x 13-inch) baking dish.

3. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, toss with the fresh bread crumbs to coat evenly, and sprinkle all over the top of the casserole. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.

Mmmmmm mac and cheese. Yum!

And you could really add anything to this recipe. Meat, veggies, whatever! 

My Variations:

-       Skim (not whole milk)

-       Half breadcrumbs, half crushed White Cheddar CheeseIts for the crust

-       I added one bundle of asparagus to the béchamel sauce as I mixed it into the pasta. 


  1. This looks delicious, Mollie! I am also a huge Barefoot Contessa fan!

  2. Wow -when you said " style" I was sure that it would include beer somehow. Oh well - still looks good. :-)

  3. Hi Mollie! I LOVE the looks of this mac and cheese: tomatoes on top looks simply delicious. Thanks. Ok, sounds like I better put Reading Lolita in Tehran on my list at the BPL. And I never heard of Baking Cakes in Kigali, but thanks! have a great rest of the day.

  4. Loved Reading Lolita in Tehran - I read it while hiking on the AT a couple of years ago. I had (surprisingly) never read James or Nabokov, but did so immediately after I got off the trail!

    re: an earlier post: I also live in DC, and I feel your sidewalk rage. Keenly.

  5. Olympics + dinner has been my routine lately. I don't know what I'm going to do when it's over!

  6. Wow! That looks so delicious and Ina is my all time favorite chef on the Food Network. That book is on my list, but I want to read Lolita first beforehand.
    Look forward to your review and I love your blog!!!

  7. LOVED IT!!!! Big hit here, Jordan and I devoured it. And I gave you some blog love as a result ;-)