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Old 05-05-2015, 05:02 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by em6989 View Post
Oh wow puffin3, that sounds way more sophisticated than I have ever gone before! Using a fennel bulb is an interesting idea. I would definitely like to eat one of your mac and cheeses!
Originally Posted by Cooking Goddess View Post
puffin, your first post looked more like a science text than mac and cheese recipes ever should!
Yeah... that's sort of what I was thinking... more like a lab report from chemistry class. And way more complicated sounding that any mac 'n cheese I ever made.

Originally Posted by em6989 View Post

em, I'm another one who has made the sauce from bits and dabs of orphans cheeses. I also make my cheese sauce a simple way: melt butter, add equal amount flour, stir until they are blended smooth and just start to darken (I like my mac & cheese roux on the light golden side, not too brown). Then add your milk/cream, stir almost constantly until thickened. The common ration is 2 Tbsp butter/2 Tbsp flour/1 cup milk, one cup shredded cheese. I almost always use two cups cheese... Every once in a while I get a taste for just a little sauteed onion flavor in the dish. At those times I just add the minced onion to the butter as it melts and cook until it becomes clear. (I use just a bit more butter-to-flour than I would without onion.) Then proceed with flour, etc.

Another fan of shaped pastas. The more wrinkles and twists, the more places for the clingy cheese sauce to latch onto. Yum!

When we have leftover ham, I like to add chunks of that into the mac & cheese. I've always wanted to try it using a Swiss-style cheese for the sauce, but never seem to have any on hand when the ham is in the fridge.
I like rotini for mac 'n cheese... it has great sauce retention properties. And yes, ham goes well with anything cheesy.

For cheeses, anything with good melt properties works. This quote from Sara Moulton:

If you follow the tips below, you can count on a smooth sauce when you use Asiago, Cheddar, colby, fontina, Gouda, Gruyère, Havarti, Monterey Jack, or Muenster. Blue cheeses and soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert also melt well if you remove the rind. When melting cheese, the following tips will help insure a smooth sauce. Bring the cheese to room temperature before using, grate or finely chop the cheese, thicken the sauce before adding the cheese, and heat only until the cheese has melted. Overheating can make the cheese harden and release fat creating a lumpy sauce.

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Old 05-05-2015, 06:24 PM   #22
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I came up with this recipe on another message board for a contest seeing who could come up with the most complicated and expensive variation on a standard recipe. If I remember correctly, I won!

New Age Tuna Noodle Casserole


• ½ cup soy sauce
• ½ cup dry sherry
• ½ cup sesame oil
• ½ cup ginger, grated
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
• 1 tsp grey sea salt
• ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 lb Sashimi grade Ahi tuna
• 3 eggs
• 2 cups flour
• ½ tsp kosher salt
• 2 quarts chicken stock
• 2 Tbs butter
• ½ cup celery, chopped
• 1 shallot, diced
• 1 ½ cups haricot verts (I was accommodating someone who didn't like peas in their tuna noodle casserole)
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• ½ cup olive oil
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp fresh thyme
• ½ cup sour cream
• 1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
• ½ cup camembert cheese, diced
• 4 ounces dry white wine
• Pinch of nutmeg
• ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
• ¼ cup carrot, diced small
• ¼ cup red bell pepper, diced small


Combine first seven ingredients (through black pepper), place in a plastic zipper bag, add the tuna and marinate for one hour. Remove the tuna from the marinade and discard marinade. Place the tuna in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water and cover. Steam for 6 to 8 minutes or until the tuna flakes easily with a fork. Flake the tuna and put aside.

Beat the eggs until frothy. Combine flour, kosher salt, and eggs to form a dough. Knead the dough until smooth. Turn the dough onto a floured cutting board and roll the dough, turning often, until thin. Let the dough dry for 45 minutes, then turn and dry another ½ hour. Cut the dried dough into noodles. Drop the noodles into boiling chicken stock, reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain and put aside.

Sauté the celery and shallot in 2 Tbs butter and put them aside. Place 1½ cups haricot verts in boiling water for 5 minutes, then into an ice bath. Combine the tuna, noodles, celery and shallots in a bowl.

Finely chop the garlic and combine with the salt. Place the egg yolk and Dijon mustard in a bowl and whisk. Slowly add the olive oil as you continue to whisk. Once you've blended in all the olive oil, add the garlic, lemon, and thyme. Add the sour cream, gruyere cheese, camembert cheese, white wine, and nutmeg, then fold in the tuna, noodles, celery and shallot mixture.
Spoon all of the ingredients into a buttered 4 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350oF for 30 to 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with scallion, carrot, and bell pepper.

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Old 05-05-2015, 06:43 PM   #23
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Like CG said, I also follow the basics of equal parts flour and butter for a simple roux, and a cup of milk. I usually drink 1 or 2% milk, but for mac and cheese I use the good stuff - whole milk or 1/2 and 1/2 mixed with whole milk.

It's almost never the same here either, I also use up bits and pieces of cheese. My faves are Havarti and smoked gouda, mont jack, a little cheddar....whatever I've got. Love a bit of cayenne in there too, not much.

My only die hard rules are to use good milk, be gentle with the cheese as far as heat, and use more cheese sauce to pasta ratio so the leftovers aren't 'dry'. For just me there is always some planned leftovers.

Mac and cheese is usually a side for me, but I've added sliced brats, hot dogs, and crumbled gr beef to make it a main dish. Love tomatoes on top, too, as others have mentioned.

Now I'm craving mac and cheese!
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Old 05-05-2015, 06:54 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by puffin3 View Post
All food cooking is basic chemistry experiments..............................My long winded point is I take a lot of pride in my cooking.
I hope some of my advice wears off on some here.
I've been cooking for over 50 years. I take pride in my cooking, too. BUT sometimes we can make something oh-so-simple look like an impossible task. If em doesn't have decades of experience, simple might be the best way to start. We don't want to scare her off right away!

jabbur, thanks for bringing up the cream cheese add. It can make the mac-and-cheese oh so smooth!
... nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have... ~~~ LeBron James
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Old 05-05-2015, 11:13 PM   #25
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Hi Em
Welcome to DC , I like Addie add a
Can of tomatoes to mine, I drain my
tomatoes. I sometimes add fresh basil.

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Old 05-05-2015, 11:28 PM   #26
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Hi Em! Welcome to DC. I am not a big pasta fan, but I do like mac and cheese every now and again. No tomatoes here, no Velveeta. I do add cream cheese (although silken Tofu works if you don't have cream cheese on hand), blue cheese, a sharp cheddar, Asiago, and any other other cheese I have on hand. I add the grated cheese by the handful to the béchamel. I will sometimes add a couple of tablespoons of mayo or sour cream. I then add the pasta, and I like one that has lots of twists to hold the cheese. I sometimes will top with breadcrumbs. I always add a bit of nutmeg, paprika, and because I like heat, I will add some Frank's or another hot sauce. I do not add tuna or other protein, I don't add veggies, but I have dissolved a couple of anchovies in the béchamel when melting the butter. I also add mustard--usually dijon. It has to be more sauce than pasta when I put it in the oven. I don't like dry mac and cheese. I usually cook the pasta the night before, drain it, save about 1/2 c of the pasta water to add to the sauce, toss the drained pasta with some oil, and keep it in the fridge overnight so that the pasta doesn't absorb all the sauce and be dry. I bake it in the oven, covered for the first 30-35 minutes, uncovered to finish.
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Old 05-06-2015, 05:14 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Josie1945 View Post
Hi Em
Welcome to DC , I like Addie add a
Can of tomatoes to mine, I drain my
tomatoes. I sometimes add fresh basil.

I use the juice of the tomatoes as part of the liquid for the béchamel sauce. Nothing goes to waste.
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:21 AM   #28
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For me the cheese should be the star in a mac 'n cheese dish - it needs to stand out. I would never put tomatoes in it and still call it mac'n cheese - that would make it a cheesy tomato macaroni casserole. If I was to add anything extra, it would be lightly done with something like broccoli, or maybe some peas.

Ina Garten has THIS recipe on the Food Network site that is a very cheesy mushroom mac and cheese that sounds wonderful, though not what I usually call just mac and cheese. It uses shitake and cremini mushrooms, truffle butter, and a mix of cheddar and Gruyere cheeses.

Most recipes for mac and cheese depend heavily on sharp cheddar. Other cheeses come into the mix for more nonstandard recipes, but even in those cheddar is often listed in the largest quantity. Almost all seem to use a béchamel sauce for a base.

I don't think I'd add bacon to mac and cheese (although I've seen a recipe for mac and cheese carbonara that looked good), despite my love of the stuff, because it too has a tendency to dominate a dish. I guess my preference is for mac and cheese to be just that, with the accent strongly on a very cheesy sauce baked with macaroni. There are lots of great casseroles that incorporate macaroni and plenty of cheese but that I don't actually call mac and cheese because they are altered beyond my personal requirement for the cheese to dominate the dish. I don't mean to push my definition on anyone else though - it's just personal quirk.
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:33 AM   #29
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I'm not a big fan of mac and cheese, but I once saw a chef make one that appealed to me. I used her recipe and it was great. Unfortunately, I lost the recipe. It had three kinds of cheese, one of them a blue. It had some sun dried tomato too. That's all I really remember. I don't think there was any bechamel, just milk or cream.
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Old 05-06-2015, 10:39 AM   #30
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I like to put pickled jalapeños on my mac-n-cheese...

Ok, so I like to put pickled jalapeños on lots of stuff....

"First you start with a pound of bologna..."
-My Grandmother on how to make ham salad.
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