One Roux to Rule Them All

Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

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This is my first attempt at my very own mac and cheese. I followed a similar recipe I had found from the Food Network (by the Neely’s) as a basis to get mine started. Rich and luxurious, this mac and cheese will surely fill you up. The mild Gouda gives it a distinctive taste, while the mild Gruyère calms it down. In addition, the intense, four-year aged white cheddar gives it a sharp taste to your buds, and the goat cheese adds a much needed creaminess. I found my cheeses at Wegman’s. With their distinctive and plethora of imported and domestic cheeses, I knew I would surely find some to give my concoction a much needed flare.

Ingredients:

1 lb (one box) whole wheat pasta shells (or pasta of choice)

4 tablespoons (1 half stick) of unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 teaspoon shallots, diced (I used jarred)

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups heavy cream

2 or more cups 4 year-aged Cheddar, white

2 cups organic mild Gouda (origin: Holland)

1/4 or more cup Goat cheese (classic chèvere)

1 cup mild Gruyere

1/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc White Wine (Sutter Home, California)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (more or less to taste)

Ground red cayenne pepper, to taste

Paprika, to taste

Thyme leaves, to taste

French bread, toasted (to make into bread crumbs for topping)

Parsley (for topping)

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Directions:

1. Cook choice of pasta according to box directions. I like to cook it while I make the sauce, so the pasta does not sit for a while without being tossed. Cook until al dente.

2. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 13×9 (aluminum) pan with unsalted butter.

3. Meanwhile, on low heat, make a roux.

How to make a roux:

  • Melt butter in a medium to large saucepan.
  • The butter should bubble and become frothy. Add garlic and shallots. Be sure not to brown the butter too much – a light brown color is alright.
  • By the tablespoon, whisk in the flour. [Equal amounts of butter to flour is a safe ratio to use]. Be consistent in whisking, so the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan. A thick paste should form.

Tip: You can also use a wooden spoon if you do not want to whisk the roux

For extra assistance: http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/culinaryfundamentals/ss/roux.htm

4. Once the roux has finished forming, add the heavy cream. Allow the mixture to boil, on low to medium-low heat.

5. After it boils, add the Sauvignon Blanc white wine. Allow it to cook off for a minute or two. Whisk/stir frequently.

6. Add spices: black pepper, red cayenne pepper, paprika and thyme. In this instance, the cheeses act as a substitute for salt. However, if you feel the need, add a dash of salt.

7. Add the variety of cheeses (shredded): cheddar, gouda, gruyère and goat cheese. Whisk/stir frequently. The sauce should thicken up by this point. Add any extra spices. I added a bit more ground black pepper, because the nuttiness and intensity of the cheeses can overpower any previously added seasonings.

8. Toss the pasta into the sauce pan and make sure it is completely covered with the gooey, cheesy deliciousness.

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9. Pour the cheese-covered pasta into the greased pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and finely chopped parsley. You can also top it with bread crumbs after it goes into the oven. (To make the bread crumbs, all I did was cut a few slices of French bread into 1 inch cubes and allowed them to toast in the oven).

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10. Into the oven it goes, on 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, to bake through, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the top of the casserole to brown up a bit before serving. Sprinkle with extra parsley and/or bread crumbs if desired.

11. Enjoy!

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Bunny. Eats. Design. has invited me to share one of my recipes in the May 2013 Our Growing Edge monthly blogging event (hosted by Sonya)! This event is aimed at helping inspire and connect food bloggers across the World Wide Web. I am truly honored! Thank you!

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l Ain’t Afraid of No Fetticcune Alfredo

“Fetticcune Alfredo is macaroni and cheese for adults” – Mitch Hedberg

One night, my mom and I were intensely hungry and looking through our menu drawer – a drawer dedicated to mostly duplicates of the same restaurant menus – in hopes of finding something local to eat. I had been craving Fetticcune Alfredo, but was always so hesitant to make my own sauce. Well, everything in my area seems to be the same (pizza, pizza and oh yeah, more pizza) and consistently mediocre, so on a whim, I decided to make my own Asiago and Parmesan Alfredo sauce with what we had stocked in our kitchen at the current moment. Being that I am “still in my eating phase of my own to do of ‘eat, eat, love'”, I have accepted the fact that the only way I was going to (and still am going to) gain weight is to carb load. Doesn’t sound too shabby now does it? Having to eat a ton of carbohydrates in order to get back to a more stable, and healthy, weight. Easier said than done, sadly. This recipe, simple and quick to prepare and make, will definitely be fun to adapt into a healthier version. In the meantime, please let me share the few cook-friendly steps it took to prepare a dish my mother and father both truly appreciated and loved!

Although I did not use any specific measurements while making it, I will offer what I feel would be practical for this recipe and one may adapt it to fit their tastes and preferences.

This sauce is as easy as, well, making Kraft macaroni and cheese. And it’s homemade. From my experience, the best and most pleasant things are usually homemade 🙂

Fetticcune Alfredo with Peas

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Total: 15-25+ minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound (one box) of Fetticcune pasta

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) salted butter or margarine

1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup (or more) heavy cream

Pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Dash of low sodium salt (completely optional)

Dash of organic ground black pepper

1/3 cup or more Asiago cheese, grated

1/3 cup or more Parmesan cheese, grated

LeSeur peas (canned) (fresh works as well, but all up to preference or what you have in the pantry)

Directions: 

1. Cook fetticcune (or your choice of pasta) according to boxed directions. This can be done at the same time while making the sauce to ensure that the pasta will be cooked and ready to toss in the completed sauce.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add garlic.

3. Once garlic has browned a bit (be careful not to burn it), add the white wine. Allow it to cook for less than one minute.

4. Add half-and-half and heavy cream. Let it come to a boil. (Can cover sauce pan to speed up the process).

5. Add nutmeg, salt (if desired) and black pepper.

6. Add grated Asiago and Parmesan cheeses. Mix or whisk until sauce is smooth. If necessary, add a bit more cream to thicken sauce.

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7. Add peas and allow them to get warm in the sauce.

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8. Toss fetticcune pasta in sauce.

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9. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper to finish, if desired.

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Verdict:

The end resulting sauce could have been a little thicker, so my suggestion would be to add a bit more heavy cream and to not let the tossed pasta to sit on the stove for too long or else the sauce will begin to evaporate.

Adaptations: Next time I will try it with whole wheat Fetticcune.

Enjoy!