Just about everyone has a ‘grown-up’ mac & cheese recipe, by which they mean they flavor it with parmesan or brie, or add cumin or red pepper or even throw in some vegetables (egads, KALE!). And all of these are delicious (except for the brie mac & cheese, because stinky cheese is an abomination). Here’s how I do grown-up mac & cheese: add vermouth. Vermouth adds a depth and delicacy of flavor, and is my go-to for most grain-product-cooked-in-a-pot dishes, such as risotto. Heavier flavored grains products (such as actual grains, instead of pasta) or strongly flavored cheeses could stand up to a more robust or sharp alcohol, such as a white wine, but all I had on hand were cheddar and romano. I also steamed broccoli over the pasta water, so there is a nice punch of green in the pot.
Grown-up Mac & Cheese (inspired by Fuss Free Cooking)
- 1/4 c butter
- 1/4 c flour
- 1 1/2 c milk
- 1/2 c vermouth
- 2 c shredded cheese, combination cheddar and roman
- black pepper
- small head broccoli
- Cook pasta and steam broccoli.
- Heat butter and flour together in large sauce pan. Once smoothly combined, add milk. Stir till combined. Add vermouth. Cook till sauce begins to thicken.
- Add cheese. Stir till combined. Season with black pepper.
- Drain pasta and combine with broccoli. Add to sauce pan and stir till well covered with sauce. Add more cheese if desired.
I’ve been in a food slump lately. Passover is always a hard time, because so much is off the table, and I don’t enjoy baking with matzoh (I also have issues with making food seem like other than it is, ie matzoh meal or flourless cakes that are supposed to make you forget that it’s Passover). And over Passover I also started reforming my mindless eating habits, which is requiring a great deal more willpower than I expected. So to additionally cook or bake something that I won’t simply snack on and maintaining a full work, working out and reading schedule has been overwhelming. We’re also only finally coming out of winter, so produce is still switching over, meanwhile I lost my taste for winter vegetables (arguably my most favorite vegetables) a few months ago. Spring is finally here and I want to enjoy it, not think about food, or at least not actually spend time preparing it, because I’m always thinking about food (latest obsession: reading food books and researching yogurt-making). But for someone who could definitely be described as a more than casual foodie, my ability to eat the same thing for meals on end astounds me. Hopefully my taste for turkey, hummus and avocado (delicious when piled onto spinach and wrapped) won’t go the same way as my still recovering taste for mushrooms.
I’ve been putting off posting the party recipes because I’ve been dreading writing them up. The reality is I don’t actually know what all went into the food, or more specifically, how much of it went in. I rarely use recipes except as beginning shopping lists or to confirm cooking techniques. Once I actually begin cooking, the neat steps and measured ingredients go completely out the window as I make adjustments based on available ingredients, commitment to exactness, and inspiration. I literally cook ‘to taste’ – seasoning as I see fit, and usually including something that makes no sense, until it does. Continue reading
For a previous party, I made spinach dip in wonton cups, which turned out to be a fantastic way to serve individual, non-messy appetizers. The wonton cups provided a neutral but crunchy backdrop to the dip. When brainstorming an appropriate dip for St. George’s day, I decided to use wontons again, but change up the filling. Continue reading
I was inspired by R’s decision to make a rose-flavored cocktail and I had already wanted to make pistachio biscotti because I’m not a huge fan of almonds and I thought the green would look nice with the rest of the food planned for St. George’s Day. Continue reading