Mac & Cheese and the Middle School Dance


Macaroni & Cheese with Truffled Breadcrumbs  |  Savory Apple Compote

It is Friday night but it doesn’t feel like it…

What happened to the Friday nights I used to know?  Michael and I would meet after work in NYC and go out for drinks and dinner, either by ourselves or with friends, and relax…replay the highlights of the week, disregard the lows and look forward to the weekend…two days of doing whatever we wanted to do.

Tonight, it is pouring.  We are in the midst of a string of storms moving through the Bay area since Wednesday with no clearing in sight until Monday.  The dogs have severe cabin fever.  Michael, who left yesterday from Finland, is trying to make the final leg of the trip home but his last flight is delayed in NYC because of the weather in San Francisco.  Eighth grade boys downstairs watching the Stanford v. UCLA football game {with no interest in going to the dance}…sixth grade girls upstairs, running laps from bedroom to bathroom, getting ready for The Big Event.  Maddie {the seventeen year-old big sister} is in charge of their hair & make-up.   I am at my computer trying to write this blog post.  Christmas music playing in the background…{sort of like an updated scene from It’s a Wonderful Life…you know, when George comes home after losing all the money and there is absolute chaos in his home}.

As The Dinner Concierge for this crowd, I needed to come up with something that:

  • everyone would enjoy
  • was warm
  • could be eaten with one utensil in one bowl
  • could be served in stages {early} for the girls, {early & later} for the boys
  • did not come out of a cardboard box
  • Macaroni & Cheese

We are not talking about out-of-a-box instant {powdered cheese…no, no, no}.  This is the real deal…luscious, creamy, decadent {truffled bread crumbs and all}.  It takes a bit more effort than instant but, man, it is worth it!  This is a mac & cheese worthy of a party…it is special.  Third quarter of the football game is just finishing and the mac & cheese is gone…boys want to know what is up next on the menu {uh-oh}.

Start by making the breadcrumb topping…{recipe follows}

Truffled Breadcrumbs with Chive & Parmesan

  • 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons infused white truffle oil
  1. For the breadcrumbs start with cubes of fresh white sandwich bread.  For this recipe, I used Parker House rolls {left-over from our dinner Wednesday night}…they were so buttery and delicious!  After cutting the bread into cubes, place {in batches} into a food processor and process into crumbs.  Place all of the breadcrumbs into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the chives, parmesan cheese & truffle oil.  Combine & fluff with a fork.  Set aside.
Now for the pasta…{recipe follows}
In addition to the cheddar {first photo of this post} and the Gruyére {above} I used a generous amount of Cottswald with chive & onion…the green flecks of chive not only add flavor but also color to  the cheese sauce.

Macaroni & Cheese with Truffled Breadcrumbs

  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • 16 ounces whole milk
  • 16 ounces heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1½ cups Cottswald cheese, grated
  • 1½ cups Gruyére cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Ground white pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, halved
  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. In a large pot of salted water {drizzled with oil}, cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  3. In a separate pot, heat milk and creme until hot but NOT boiling.  Set aside.
  4. Melt 7 tablespoons of butter in a large pot and whisk in flour and mustard.  Add milk and creme and cook until thickened {whisking constantly, making sure there are no lumps}.
  5. Add ¾ of the grated cheeses to the milk mixture.  Remove from heat continue to stir until a smooth cheese sauce is achieved {if sauce is too thick at this point you can dilute with a splash of dry white wine}.  Add pasta, mix and pour into a 2 quart buttered {with the last tablespoon of butter} casserole dish.  Top with the remaining gated cheese and then the breadcrumbs.
  6. Place casserole in oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and cheese is bubbling.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

I really liked this new side dish…but the kids all opted for the bowl of fresh blackberries that I had on the counter.  Next time I will definitely increase the sage and decrease the vinegar.

On a side note, the first Christmas item of this season made an appearance today…

And finally, last, but never least…two very pretty young ladies on their way to the dance:

Have a Great Weekend Everyone & Happy Dining!

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