Learning from Karen: Macaroni and Cheese
Here’s a shout out to an interesting blogger who hails from Nagercoil, and has one of the most interesting blogs I have come across. Karen from Contemplations and Ruminations , a very artistic person who loves to read, and frequently updates the best reviews. She also cooks, and is very nimble with arts and craft, volunteers at local charity organizations and does so much more cool stuff! Oh, and she also has a really cool haircut!! In fact, she is a lot like me, except way cooler than I can ever hope to be!!
So, lately, I have been quite adventurous, and have been taking pointers from Karen’s food posts. I have tried out a couple of her recipes. The first that I tried iiiiis (drumroooolll) Macaroni and Cheese!
What? That is your idea of adventure?!?!? Believe me people, when you live in a place where cheddar cheese and unsalted butter is a rarity, simple and straight-forward Mac & Cheese is akin to jumping from the top of the Empire State Building – months of research, scouring the market for the right equipment, and then, taking the plunge! When it’s done people appreciate you for the sheer awesomeness of the act, but they still can’t believe that you were actually able to do that! Some others will ask, “Okay, but why do you need to do such things? What is the purpose?” To those people, I say, “I do it because I wanted to tell myself I can… HA!!”
So, here’s what I used for Karen’s Mac & Cheese, but I made a few changes for my convenience:
1 cup of elbow macaroni
2 – 3 tbsps butter
1 heaped tbsp flour (maida)
1 & 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup ham or salami chopped. I had chicken frankfurters, so that’s what I used.
salt, pepper and oregano to taste (this is the stuff that I mentioned scouring the market for – oregano. I found it in Lynns! So, Nagercoilans take heart!)
Baking oven (I only have my loyal microwave, so I just nuked it. Note: it does not give the best results. The baking oven is ideal)
Baking dish (or a glass or microwave friendly dish)
1. Cook the macaroni aldente (that is, it should be soft but half-done. Like it requires more cooking. Don’t be like me and be oggling at the white sauce that you made and let the macaroni over cook!) Make sure you add some salt when you cook it. Drain the macaroni and set aside.
2. Heat the butter in a pan on a low flame, and add the heaped tablespoon of flour to it. Keep stirring so that the entire thing does not form one big lump! You don’t want that. Lumps are bad, wherever they are…think about it!
3. While you’re reflecting on the dangers of lumps, don’t forget to add the milk! Add it slowly, constantly stirring the mixture to make sure that everything blends in smoothly. This along with salt and pepper, as Karen says, is the basic white sauce.
4. Remove the pan from the flame, and add 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese to the sauce. It will melt in the heat of the sauce, and you can give it a stir to make sure it makes friends with the sauce.
5. Now add the pepper, salt, and oregano to the sauce.
6. You can also add the meat – in my case, the frankfurters (about 1/2 cup) – and stir everything in well. Note: the meat part is optional. If you are on a diet (ha! what are you doing making mac & cheese?!?!!), or are resisting meat for a while (poor your!), or just do not want to add to the extra calories and guilt (join the club!) then you can leave out the meat… I know, I jabber a lot…
7. Anyway, now, pour the macaroni into your baking dish.
8. Now comes the good part. Pour the sauce onto the macaroni, and give it a light stir so that all the macaroni is completely coated with the sauce.
9. Spread grated cheddar cheese on the top of the macaroni.
10. Plop it into the oven and let it do its thing for about 10 -20 minutes. I nuked it on high for about 8 minutes.
11. There is no ’11th step’. Take the macaroni out and oggle some at the browned crispy top of the dish, and then dig in!! I totally missed out on the crispy browned top because of the microwave. Invest in an oven. I will, one day…sigh!
Mine looked like this:
No crispy top, but who cares?!? It was yummy, YUMMY!!! Debbie loved it! Why, even the resident cheese-hater (hint: I married him) deigned to have a plate! WIN!
Want yummy life-size images that make you drool? The Pioneer Woman’s Macaroni and cheese will give you the fix!