I love comfort foods – mac and cheese, beef stew, chicken soup, anything slightly salty and full of butter. I tend to reach for them when I’m having a bad day or just because. I turn to comfort foods in times of celebration or when I’m in need of comfort. This mac and cheese is no different. It’s something I have been perfecting for about two years. Tweaks and modifications have led to a perfect mac and cheese – one with body that isn’t too rich. This particular flavor combination comes from my love of Saus’s cheddar duvel sauce. Though, it’s evolved from there. Something that started with cheddar and beer became more – I added mustard, I experimented with different beers – stout, reds, i.p.a.s, lagers, you name it I probably tried it in this mac and cheese. I made this particular mac shortly before St Patrick’s day so I had a nice Harpoon Celtic Red around, and it was (and is) my favorite.
I make macaroni and cheese pretty regularly – pasta, milk, and cheese are ingredients I always have on hand so it makes a quick meal pretty much any night of the week. I think that’s one of my favorite things about mac and cheese. It will work with most any cheese and will accept any additions. It’s always familiar and different, which I love. But this mac and cheese is a special one; BF and I use it to celebrate – jobs, raises, pretty much anything positive in our lives means I make this mac and cheese. The beer makes it rich and the mustard adds a great sharp flavor. Also – the benefit of being able to drink a beer while you’re cooking is AWESOME.
There’s something so comforting about that beer at the end of the day, and pairing it with cheese and mustard basically makes it a much more filling pretzel. And we all know how I feel about those.
Cheddar-Beer Mac and Cheese
Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, though at this point it’s really all my own. I also crisped a handful of homemade bacon lardons to add to mine, but that’s totally optional.
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (sharper=richer)
- 2-3 Tbs spicy mustard (I use Gulden’s, because it’s what I typically have on hand but your favorite will work just as well)
- 1 cup beer (lighter is better, this isn’t great with stout)
- 1 lb pasta, cooked to a bit less than al dente (I like a curly tube pasta, like cellantani or campanelle because they hold a lot of sauce and their shape)
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2-3 Tbs melted butter
- 1 tsp crushed mustard seed (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350 and oil a large ovenproof bowl.
- In a medium, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat melt the butter and mix in the flour until it becomes a paste. This is a basic roux and can be used for thickening in lots of ways.
- Add the milk to the roux and let it come to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cheese and stir to melt. The sauce will be quite thick.
- Stir the mustard into the cheese sauce. Gently add the beer, if the bottle is fresh it will be quite foamy. The sauce may slightly curdle at this point – don’t worry. Keep stirring and it’ll come back together.
- Add the cheese sauce to the cooked pasta and stir well. Pour the cheesy pasta into the oiled bowl
- Mix the panko crumbs, melted butter, and crushed mustard seed together. Spread the crumbs evenly over the cheesy pasta.
- Bake the mac and cheese for 30-40 mins, until the panko is crispy and lightly browned.
- Remove the mac and cheese from the oven and allow it to cool for 5-10 mins before eating.
- Enjoy with a beer!
As most of you know, I live in a suburb of Boston known as Watertown and I love it. I’ve been living here for about three and a half years and the longer I live here the less I want to leave. From small family businesses to well traveled streets where I feel safe walking home after a midnight showing of The Hunger Games Watertown has welcomed me and I love it.
I love the family of eveything here. From my favorite market, Arax, to my new favorite restaurant, Maximos, Watertown is all about family. Maximo’s is rapidly becoming the place I order from for delivery when I don’t want pizza. They have it all, from garlicky bruschetta to fantastic salads and marvelous burritos they produce delicious food that is unique and inexpensive. Upon first glance the menu seems a bit all over the place but after talking to Betsy and Phil about it I learned that they just wanted to serve what they make for themselves at home.
This was a good turkey burger, though I just am not a turkey burger girl.
Perfectly dressed and cooked steak salad.
My favorite sandwich and the one thing I come back to.
My least favorite dish of the meal, I prefer my tuna still splashing.
I was provided this meal free of charge after winning a contest through The Boston Brunchers but all opinions here are solely my own.
Irish cream, it makes me think of college and ill-formed ideas, a chilled liqueur poured over ice and sipped on a spring evening and, of course St. Patrick’s Day. As long as I’ve been old enough to drink I’ve loved Irish Cream, mostly Bailey’s but occasionally St. Brendan’s or another slightly lower shelf product. Last year, or was it two years ago?, BF started to develop a taste for irish cream as dessert. Pouring himself a small glass over ice in lieu of sweets or baked goods.
So in January while reading the Eat Boutique website I came across a recipe for homemade Baileys by Maggie and immediately started plotting – as far as I could tell I had all the ingredients on hand and it seemed like a perfect afternoon pick-me-up. So I made it. It was a resounding success and a perfect Friday afternoon snack.
So, now it St. Patrick’s Day and all I want to do is share this recipe with you. It’s 4 in the afternoon, but I’m in Boston and drinking early on St.Pat’s is totally respectable, right? This has rapidly become my go to in lieu of Bailey’s, and it means I always have an excuse for good irish whiskey to be kicking around. And I have zero problems with that!
- 4 eggs (I use pasteurized or very fresh eggs)
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
- 2 tsp instant espresso
- 1 tsp boiling water
- 1 tsp Irish Whiskey
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 cup Irish Whiskey (I like to use a good whiskey, like Jameson or Bushmills)
- 1 cup heavy cream (1/2 and 1/2 works too, it’s just not as rich)
- Combine the boiling water, the instant espresso, and the 1 tsp whiskey together in a small bowl and set them aside to cool (I like to make this in batches of 1/4 cup of each ingredient and use it like extract in everything).
- In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment combine the eggs, extracts, sweetened condensed milk, and cream or half and half.
- Whip on medium until everything is frothy and fully incorporated.
- With the mixer on low (on my KitchenAid I use the 2 setting) gently stream in the whiskey and continue to mix everything until fully blended.
- Enjoy over ice, preferably with a friend, preferably today.
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that every summer and fall I drop down the Boston Local Food Festival rabbit hole. You can barely pin me down for an evening and BF thinks I’m merely a ghost for about a month leading up to BLFF. So naturally, when the organizers contacted me about a summer event to promote the festival and find more awesome brewers I was thrilled and immediately said yes.
So, in June the Boston Local Food Festival team with Sustainable Business Networks of Boston is presenting the Hyper Local Brew Fest! This will be an evening of fun I assure you! Our line up is looking more and more robust every day and as we speak we already have wineries, meaderies, and breweries signed up and excited to show us their wares.
So when is this fabulous event?, you ask. It’s June 16th at the Somerville Armory where it will be set up in a very similar fashion to our Brew Fest last year. There will be two sessions of tastings with tickets priced at $30 each. There will be music, there will be delicious nomables, just like at the festival $5/serving. In general it’s going to be a magical experience. You should come. You can get tickets here. And, if you use the code HYPERLOCAL today only (March 16, 2012) you get 10% off your ticket!
Not everything I make is a resounding success. I frequently try recipes and end up throwing them out or pretending they never happened while trying to come up with something better. This state of mind leaves me one of two ways, I am either sobbing and trying to figure out why I failed or I feel like a totally mediocre cook who can’t do anything right. Though, sometimes I am trying a new recipe and it just falls flat, like in the case of this bread. It looks tasty right – the cheese is golden and crispy on top and the whole thing is a lovely golden brown? It’s not. It’s dense and chewy and sits in your belly like a bowling ball, just making you feel full but not satisfied in terms of flavor or texture.
I’ve had semolina flour sitting on my shelf for quite a while now, initially it was there as a pasta making addition but more and more I’ve been coming across semolina breads. These breads, when I buy them, are fluffy and airy – like a baguette or ciabatta but with a little more texture to the crumb and I am a fan. So one day last week I decided to try it out, make my own semolina bread. So I looked in all of my cookbooks, I looked on the internet – I looked everywhere and found one recipe for semolina bread. It was a recipe on the King Arthur Flour website and it only called for semolina flour, so I was wary of it but went for it.
The dough was a cinch and mixed up in just a few minutes, it rose well, and then rose well after shaping – but in terms of flavor it was flat and disappointing. Will I try semolina bread again?, of course, I’m nothing if not persistent. Will I use this recipe again, no. It needs work – too much semolina flour created a dense bread that weighed heavily and didn’t do either my baking skills or the bread any justice. I’ll definitely be trying semolina flour again, and maybe then I’ll find a recipe worthy of sharing. In the meantime – here are some pictures of this bread.