After waking, George wanders out back and snips some lettuce. Then we have a delicious salad for breakfast, lunch or dinner. So when Gavin visited last week I felt completely justified in baking my twice-a-year treat: authentic, crispy, cheese-dense macaroni and cheese.
Vegans will find nothing here to tempt them, and I'm offering no vegan alternative—frankly I just don't believe that nutritional yeast tastes exactly like cheese, and I'm not motivated to experiment with it. I believe that vegans' taste buds adjust to nutritional yeast the way that George and my taste buds adjusted to soy milk. Soy milk tastes different than milk, but after three weeks of no milk, that became fine with us. But milk comes in one flavor, and cheese comes in hundreds, and the point of this recipe is the flavor of cheddar.
In short, this recipe is all about the cheese. If you're gluten-free, you can probably substitute some brown rice macaroni (people like Tinkyada) in the recipe and still be perfectly happy. The reason I use whole-wheat elbow macaroni is because first, no one ever complained, and two, it gives the entree more heft and staying power. You don't want people just downing its oily salty goodness until they get sick—the whole wheat keeps the dish at a lower glycemic level and thus keeps it from functioning like pure crack on our biological urge to gorge on fat, salt, and sugar.
This is one of the easiest high-quality mac n' cheese recipes ever, I guarantee. No white sauce, no herbs, no bread crumbs. Just pasta, butter, milk, and cheese. Probably you could substitute grape-seed oil for the butter and soy milk for the milk, but I haven't tried. The cheese stays.
Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
butter (or sprayed oil) for greasing the 9 x 13 pan
12 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
12 ounces American cheese, cut into tiny pieces
2/3 Cup whole milk
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the 9 x 13 baking dish.
2) Combine the cheddar and American cheeses. Set aside 2 heaping cups for topping.
3) In a large bowl mix the pasta and cheese. Place in the baking dish and evenly pour milk over the surface. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top.
4) Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. If the top is not browned, raise the heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 more minutes until crusty on top.
5) Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
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