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Verses from my Kitchen: Baked Macaroni Cheese

September 6, 2011

Baked Macaroni Cheese


I remember back. I do that often. And right now as I sit here listening to the kids on the street play under the last of the shining cool light, I hear something that was once familiar but has disappeared as of late. The call to come in because they have school tomorrow. And, at that very moment, I remember my youthful days and a moment like this.

When I was out for summer all those years ago I always kept my eye on that one date in early September that signified the return date for school. For the first few weeks of holidays I ignored it altogether. But as those days turned into weeks and fell off the calender and by the wayside, I began to pay closer attention. And then, like a shot from the dark, school was back.



The night before that first day I would lie in bed and wonder who my teacher was going to be, if the kids would be nice and what was in store for me in the new year. And I would pray that this year would be the best one yet. And mostly, it was. School wasn't that bad, but it was certainly made better by my lunch box creations and weeknight dinners.

I loved some aspects of school, especially in my younger years, but I mostly loved time spent with friends and some of the home comfort foods that my mom made for me. As the stress of the first week mounted, my mom would always make my favourite meals for me. It was her way of saying everything was going to be alright. And it was.




There was the standard weekday fare, but kraft dinner was probably my favourite. Looking back it might not have been the best thing for me, but, like most other school kids in this country, it was guaranteed to elicit a smile and take the first week jitters away. Mac and cheese from a box doesn't sound great, but inside it holds all the best memories of a young boy.

Nowadays I make mac and cheese differently than the stuff we had in our household growing up. The powdered cheese is replaced with good Canadian cheddar and parmesan cheese. It's topped with a golden brown bread crumb topping that adds texture and a depth of flavour to the pot.


I'll always remember those younger days with a wide grin painted on. I was naive but I was happy. It was just another chance for me to make new friends, win over my teachers and have a family meal with the most important people in my life. And instead of asking about a game down the street, they could ask me about real life. School.

Now we don't have any children of our own (yet) but if we're blessed one day, I'll be calling him/her in a bit early tonight to get ready for tomorrow's first day. I'll tuck them in and tell them that all their dreams are waiting to be answered and, after they get home from school, I'll have a batch of mac and cheese ready for them. Just like I did.
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!


Macaroni Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tbsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 2 cups whole  milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 200 grams elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups aged cheddar, grated (I like white & orange)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt & fresh cracked black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
Prep:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cook your pasta according to directions, but undercook by a minute or two. Once baked, the pasta will be cooked perfectly.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add in the flour, mustard powder and cayenne. Whisk continously for 3-5 minutes and until mixture is smooth. Add in the milk and cream and bring to slow simmer. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. In a mixing bowl, add and mix the cheese varieties together. Add half to the hot milk mixture and combine well.
  5. Drain pasta and add in with cheese/milk mixture, combining until pasta is well coated.
  6. Butter all sides of casserole dish or individual ramekins and add in the pasta mixture. Top with remaining cheese.
  7. Using a saute pan, melt the butter and fold in the bread crumbs until mixed well. Sprinkle on top of the cheese and put on a baking tray and into the oven.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until browned and bubbling.
  9. Remove and let rest five minutes before serving.






37 Comments:

At September 6, 2011 at 11:42 AM , Blogger bellini said...

Macaroni and cheese is my ultimate comfort food and the very first dish I ever learned to make on my own as a kid.

 
At September 6, 2011 at 11:55 AM , Anonymous Bev Weidner said...

Just looking at those perfect bowls made me wear giddy pants!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 12:10 PM , Anonymous Annalise said...

How did you know I was craving homemade macaroni and cheese?! Going to be making this for sure soon. Lovely post!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 12:53 PM , Anonymous Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Beautiful and I only recently discovered the joys of a crunchy topping on mac & cheese.

 
At September 6, 2011 at 1:36 PM , Anonymous Chris @ TheKeenanCookBook said...

Great post, makes me reminisce about my own childhood and gearing up for school. We love crumb topping on mac and cheese, though we go with Panko as of late.

 
At September 6, 2011 at 1:45 PM , Blogger Claire said...

omg yes! This is exactly what I woke up craving this morning. Beautiful pictures!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 4:31 PM , Blogger Nelly Rodriguez said...

Gorgeous and I am craving this! But I will admit, the blue box has it's charm, even after a while and knowing there are "better" things out there! Love your recipe and will be bookmarking it to make later this month for my bf! Thanks for sharing Mike!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 4:33 PM , Anonymous Winnie said...

This looks so yummy...my kids would just love it but I know I would too :) I really like how you took the photos on all those different backdrops...very cool.

 
At September 6, 2011 at 4:57 PM , Blogger the traveling cupcake said...

oh my goodness - your pictures are heavenly! this mac and cheese looks amazing, I can't wait to try it! wishing it wasn't 10 pm so I could make it tonight...

 
At September 6, 2011 at 5:23 PM , Blogger Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Mike, you really evoke that dreaded "returning to school after holidays" feeling brilliantly. For us it was in February (obviously with the change of seasons). Your adult Mac and Cheese looks brilliant...and oh so comforting!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 6:20 PM , Anonymous Jessica said...

Wow! Those photos are simply stunning! I want to reach through my screen and dig in! YUM!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 6:26 PM , Blogger Sippity Sup said...

I sometimes have stress dreams that have me forgetting that today is the first day of school. So in the dream I run out of the house in a hurry only to realize I can't remember where the school is.... GREG

 
At September 6, 2011 at 6:46 PM , Blogger A Thought For Food said...

There's nothing that would make me happier than a bowl of this comfort food. What a dish, my friend... and the pictures left me drooling!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 6:47 PM , OpenID confessionsofabrighteyedbaker said...

Your photos are so pretty and I so much wish that bowl of macaroni and cheese could jump out of my screen and appear in front of me because it looks to die for!!!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 7:55 PM , Anonymous Lauren @ hey, who cut the cheese? said...

Sounds fabulous! Mac n cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Thank you for sharing!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 8:55 PM , Blogger Amanda said...

I adore you. And that special child that will one day cal yours is sure lucky to have you!!! (Oh, and GREAT recipe!!)

 
At September 6, 2011 at 9:07 PM , Anonymous Amy | She Wears Many Hats said...

Beautiful and tasty! Now I'm craving it too.

 
At September 6, 2011 at 9:11 PM , Blogger Haniela said...

I hope you have a child one day, because you'll make a wonderful father. What a wonderful post, thank you for sharing and your photos are magic.

 
At September 6, 2011 at 9:35 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I never ever ever make mac and cheese, because...get this, my kid hates it. That's right, my three and a half year old son hates mac and cheese of any form. He much prefers plain buttered noodles. I may on the other hand have to make this for the mister and me, because I do love a good cheesy pasta. Thanks Mike!

 
At September 6, 2011 at 10:24 PM , Anonymous marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Mike, now this is some serious mac and cheese.
"I'll tuck them in and tell them that all their dreams are waiting to be answered " Ahhh, the innocence.
Each night my daughter tells me she will dream of "flowers, butterflies and the rainbow connection."
Perhaps this amazing meal as well :) gotta make this comfort food for my sweeties.

 
At September 7, 2011 at 12:25 AM , Blogger Rumana Rawat said...

looks tremendous..

 
At September 7, 2011 at 9:04 AM , Anonymous SMITH BITES said...

that blue box holds best memories of a (much) younger girl too . . . food has such a strong connection to our memories . . . love that we have those to hold on to forever!

 
At September 7, 2011 at 9:14 AM , Blogger Stephan said...

Damn you Mike! I'm behind on my grocery shopping and I'm down to what I call "Apocalypse Food" - things that you keep around because they never go bad (you know, just in case). Today while eating my KD with tuna, I will have to imagine that I'm actually eating this instead. I hope my imagination is strong enough to overpower my actual lunch! Thanks for the wonderful images (photographs and mental).

 
At September 7, 2011 at 10:46 AM , Blogger london bakes said...

I love mac and cheese in any format and this looks particularly splendid. The pictures are really fabulous too.

 
At September 7, 2011 at 7:11 PM , Anonymous Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga said...

your pictures are..beyond...stunning! Amazing! I follow you on IG, too, and wow...so gorgeous.

 
At September 8, 2011 at 9:01 AM , Blogger Sandi G said...

Love the crunchy bread crumb topping...uuumm.

Congratulations on making TOP 9!

 
At September 8, 2011 at 11:05 AM , Anonymous Mercedes said...

Ooohh! This looks so good!

 
At September 8, 2011 at 12:58 PM , Blogger Carolyn said...

Lovely mac n cheese. It got cold quickly here too, hoping for one more warm stretch before fall is fully underway.

 
At September 8, 2011 at 2:05 PM , Anonymous alyce@culinarythymes said...

Yummmm. This sounds delish.

 
At September 8, 2011 at 2:08 PM , Anonymous Elena said...

Gorgeous for my 2 daughters.

 
At September 8, 2011 at 6:03 PM , Anonymous Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen said...

First time to your blog and I love it so much! So much pretty stuff going on. And yes, I do miss those school days, but man, am I glad I don't have any homework.

 
At September 8, 2011 at 8:46 PM , Blogger Eliotseats said...

I love comfort food like this. Also, I highlighted one of your recipes today and gave you a shout out: http://eliotseats.com/?p=5499

 
At September 8, 2011 at 9:58 PM , Anonymous Cucina49 said...

Great photos and beautiful mac-and-cheese.

 
At September 10, 2011 at 10:07 AM , Blogger Peggy said...

Beautiful story - reminds me of my own childhood comfort foods!

 
At September 11, 2011 at 11:58 PM , Blogger jas - the gluten free scallywag said...

mmm.... mac and cheese it's like childhood in a pot!

 
At September 12, 2011 at 9:10 PM , Anonymous Michelle Benoit (Chocolate Central) said...

Great comfort food! Your photographs are so inviting. Congrats on making Top 9 today.

 
At October 14, 2011 at 12:07 PM , Anonymous Leah said...

This looks so lovely! I have been looking for a new recipe to try as I am tired of my Mom's (*shh.. don't tell Mom!**) I can't wait to give this a try. Your photography is inspiring :)

 

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