I cannot tell you how many times my kids have asked(begged) for macaroni and cheese that comes in a box. Levi, without fail, will ask each and every time if we can buy “Sponge Bob Mac n’ Cheese”. The way he stares at it, you would think it was a very expensive, small jar of caviar. He knows the answer, but he is 5 (after all) and what would a day be like without the 400 questions, many of which are repetitive?!
My older boys always preface the question with, “I am pretty sure I know what your answer is going to be, but could we – just once- get this kind of macaroni and cheese”? I don’t always have the luxury of strolling through the grocery store, alone. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful concept?! So upon entering the store, with the kids in tow, I take 3 deep breaths, repeat my private mantra, and prepare myself for the begging. The begging for “lunchables”, “nacho flavored corn chips”, “packaged cookies” and the coveted macaroni and cheese. They see their friends eating it, so why can’t they?
Why you ask? Well, for one – If I cannot pronounce the name of the ingredients listed on the package( and I am college educated), I am not going to eat it. Two – with a pantry and a refrigerator filled with whole ingredients why on earth would I bring that into our home? Three – when you have a mom that loves to cook and prepare food as much as I do, one day you will appreciate the fruits of my labor.
Summer camp makes my kids famished. I guess 7 hours at the beach would increase any-one’s appetite, even mine! So when they arrive home I am prepared. On the days that it is my days to pick up carpool, this recipe is a great way to satisfy their hunger pains. I usually boil and drain the pasta before I leave, then let it sit at room temperature. While the kids are “cleaning themselves up”, I prepare the cheese sauce. Most cheese combos work. Yet, our favorite is one cup of white cheddar, 1/3 cup Gruyere, and the balance with fresh, shaved Parmesan. You can come up with our own combo and be sure to come back and tell us about it!
Stove Top Macaroni + Cheese
2-3 cups dried pasta (if using elbow noodles or shells – if you choose penne or a larger noodle – add more to the pot)
1 Tbsp. unsalted, organic butter
1 Tbsp. organic white, wheat flour
1/2 cup organic, heavy cream
3/4 cup whole, organic milk
1 1/2 cup grated cheese (I usually use whatever is in the drawer. favorites: Gruyere, white cheddar, Parmesan)
fresh ground pepper
very small pinch of nutmeg
• in a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook pasta until al dente, 7-8 minutes. drain and set aside(if you do in advance, run warm water over room temp noodles before tossing with cheese sauce).
• in the same pot that you made your noodles, add the butter. when melted add the flour and whisk to combine. cook for about 30 seconds to get rid of the raw flour taste. add the milk and the cream, whisking the whole time.
• whisk until slightly thickened, but don’t boil. add the cheese, whisk until cheese melts. add a pinch or two of salt, a pinch of pepper and a very, very small pinch of grated nutmeg.
• stir in noodles. serve and eat at once!
The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com