another mac and cheese recipe.

…This time inspired by the celebrity cookbook author I disparaged yesterday. Conclusion 2: It turns out she really can cook. I just made this, tasted a bite, and smiled. Yum.

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food; it reminds me of childhood and cozy winter nights. I had an irksome morning with lots of school work and some unpleasant news, and I knew it was time to get to the kitchen to make food for people I like. Some people paint or write when they’re upset. I search the fridge and cupboards for ingredients I can mix together to make something delicious. Then I adorn an apron, put on some loud music, mix and whisk and saute, and often end up with flour on my face.

I altered the recipe slightly because I’ve never really liked nutmeg in macaroni and cheese dishes. (If you like it, add a pinch to the cheeses as they melt.) Instead, I prefer the very subtle taste of dijon mustard, which has been the secret ingredient in the best macaroni and cheeses I’ve ever tried. I also used whole wheat pasta and low-fat cheeses to up the health ante just a tad.

I’ve never tried mascarpone in mac ‘n cheese before, and it’s delicious! Creamy without being overly rich. Plus, this recipe takes less time than others because it doesn’t call for making a roux (butter + flour + milk + lots of whisking) for the base of the sauce. I think this will delight kids and adults alike. Enjoy! lv, molly

Macaroni + Cheese w/ Mascarpone + Parmesan

3/4 pound elbow macaroni (you can sub whole wheat)
8 ounces mascarpone (low-fat if you can find it)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 C tightly packed grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/2 cup for topping
1/2 C low-fat milk
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C plain bread crumbs
2 Tbl unsalted butter (or a few spritzes of canola spray)

For variation add one of the following:
1 cup basic tomato sauce
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup taleggio cheese,broken into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and turn it on to convection if that’s a possibility. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package.
Meanwhile, stir together the mascarpone and 1 cup of Parmesan in a small saucepan over a medium flame until the cheeses melt together, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk, dijon, and salt and pepper to taste and keep the sauce warm over a low flame.
Drain the pasta and combine it with the sauce.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the bread crumbs.
Put the macaroni in a large baking dish; scatter the bread crumb topping over it; dot it with the butter; and bake it for 15 minutes. Serve with a simple green salad.

Image via here. Not my own but representative of how this dish looks!

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hello, valentine.

Valentine's Balloon Card

Whatever your thoughts on Valentine’s Day, I hope you have a happy day. I found some Spiderman Valentines in my desk today, and I’m pretty excited about that. One says, “I hope you CATCH some adventure today.” Me too.

KEXP is playing Love & Hate songs all day, and so far it’s been an awesome mixtape. Have a listen here.

And no Valentine’s Day is complete without a delicious dinner. Here’s what I’m making. Pure comfort food. lv, molly

Spaghetti with Spicy Tomato Olive Sauce

Serves 4

1/2 cup brine-cured black olives, pitted and cut lengthwise into slivers
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
2 (14- to 15-oz) cans stewed tomatoes (San Marzano are the best)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 lb spaghetti

Cook olives, garlic, and red pepper flakes in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and salt and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up large pieces of tomato, until sauce is slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
While sauce is simmering, cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente.
Drain spaghetti in a colander and add to sauce. Cook, tossing, over moderately low heat until pasta is coated, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Arugula Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette

1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbl fresh lemon juice
2 Tbl minced shallots
1 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/4 tsp white wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
Salt + freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients except the olive oil. Then slowly pour the oil in, while whisking, to emulsify. Toss with baby arugula.

Garlic Bread

1 16-ounce loaf of Italian bread or French bread
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
1 Tbl of freshly chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix last 3 ingredients. Slice bread in half. Spread garlic butter. Heat in oven for 10 minutes.

Blackberry Pie

See previous post(s)

Card from Rifle Paper