Not vegetarian friendly, but this post comes with its own soundtrack and I have to say is a perfect tune for cooking up some good ol’ mac-n-cheese!
Of course I’m going to take the time to remind you how I have a love-hate relationship with cheese. Cheese is a narcissistic food; it lakes to take center stage and push all other edibles into the wings. I understand that in a mac-n-cheese recipe, the cheese is supposed to steal the show but as casting director, I chose some excellent supporting actors.
Once upon a time, the significant other and I had a date night at 25Forty Bistro and Bakery. It was a good night. The restaurant is decorated in my favorite colors: black and white. A small spot, which pleased me, that had floors and walls painted in chalkboard paint. Floors to write reservations, a wall with a map of the world showing the locals of all the wines. You can check out
flickr food porn on the right to find more pics. The bread basket, although extra, was worth it, showing off the bakery side of this little restaurant. I was so happy that I agreed to stepping out on a limb and ordering mac-n-cheese as a side to share. Not only have I been staying away from this plate since I was seven or eight, but I am also NOT a barbecue sauce fan and this was going accompanied with it:
DELICIOUS! This was not at all overwhelmingly cheesy, in fact the lightness of the noo noos and cheese evened out the tang of the uniquely flavored barbecue sauce. All of this paired with the crispy fried kale was AMAZING! Needless to say, this dish stuck with me for some time before I decided to try my hand at making mac-n-cheese (baby steps, you know?).
I perused and perused foodgawker.com looking for a good start: check out here and here. I used The Parsley Thief recipe predominantly, adding garlic from the first and cutting the ingredients in half. For cheese, I used half a pound of white cheddar grated in my new food processor!!! I also made the executive decision that I wasn’t going to leave this all to the cheese. Hot Italian Pork Sausage was on sale at Sprouts so I picked up one as well as asparagus and I already had sun-dried tomatoes at home. For noo noos, I had orecchiette on hand which was a great substitute for shells. I also used panko crumbs lightly toasted with herbs, garlic and parmesan for topping. Oven pre-set to 350 degrees and 25 minutes later:
Taking a big ladle, I plated, but it wasn’t alone…
…There was kale too! With as many recipes I have seen on blogs using kale and it popping up on restaurant menus, I’m going go out on a limb (again) and say it is the bacon of vegetables.
For the kale, I used this recipe sans the chili and lime. Those just didn’t seem like they’d mix with the rest of the ensemble. I was pretty darn proud of myself, especially after it received an encore from my darling.
Did I forget to mention I had time to make dessert earlier too? Well, that’s the kind of thing you can do when you’re unemployed. I used Ben & Jerry’s sweet cream base #1 and added a little Ovaltine, crushed Maltesers (they are better than Whoppers, just admit it), and homemade chocolate chips. When I served it up, it was still soft giving it a creamy consistency like gelato and I just love gelato time.
Enjoy and let me know if you try it out. Okay, one last look!