Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
Published on February 2nd, 2010
by Clarabella

Mac and Cheese

Before you start thinking I have been eating McDonalds, Mac and Cheese refers to last nights dinner, Macaroni Cheese. I was perusing a few websites and blogs on the weekend and came across this recipe for Mushroom and Herb Macaroni Cheese. I could not remember the last time that I had Macaroni Cheese and I felt and undeniable desire to give it a go. As we had some vegetarian friends over for dinner last night, I though that it would be the perfect time to sample the recipe. It is also not a long or complicated dish so after a day at work and then a spinning session in the gym, I had a simple yet fabulously tasty dinner to tmake that would not take me hours and lead to us eating in the middle of the night. This recipe is certainly not for those that are watching their fat intake as it calls for copious amounts of gruyere and cheddar in the herby bechamel sauce, but as it is a rich, cheesy dish I found that I did not need a huge serving to fill me up. The herbs and mushrooms added a new twist and broke thorugh the cheesyness nicely and the breadcrumb topping finished it off with a seductive golden crispiness. I certainly recommend this dish when you are hungry and want a bit of warm, comforting indulgence on a cold winter night. I was going to serve Sunday’s chocolate brownies with a dollop of ice-cream for dessert, but we were all more than full from the pasta so all we needed for a sweet finale was a liqueur chocolate or two before we retired to bed exhausted and basking in the warm glow of red wine, cheese and chocolate. A perfect night.

Mushroom-Herb Macaroni & Cheese

(Serves 4-6 as a main dish)

7 tablespoons butter
500g mushrooms of your choice, roughly chopped
1 shallot, minced
Salt & pepper

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
3 cups whole milk

170g shredded Gruyere cheese, divided

170g shredded white cheddar cheese, divided

400g pasta of your choice

1 cup breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Have an approx 25×35cm baking dish ready. Set a pot of water (for the pasta) over high heat and cover.

2. In a large pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallot and saute, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have cooked down and are browned, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, until the liquid has cooked off. Turn off the heat and set aside.

3. For the bechemel sauce, in a medium-sized saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Add the herbs and, still whisking, saute for another 30 seconds. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.

4. While waiting for the sauce to simmer, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook to al dente, or 1-2 minutes less than the box calls for.

5. Once the bechemel sauce simmers, stir in 140g each of the Gruyere and white cheddar cheeses until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.

7. Strain the pasta and in a large mixing bowl, toss the pasta, the sauce, and the mushrooms. Pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 30g each of Gruyere and white cheddar. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the cheese.

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

(Recipe courtesy of The Brown Eyed Baker)

I got my February Delicious Magazine in the post yesterday and from the cover recipe, I can’t wait to go through it and choose all the yummy looking recipes I am going to cook from it next week. The cover is a Spiced Butternut Soup with Chorizo and just looking it makes my mouth water, so that is definitely going to be on the agenda for next week.

I also have to plan when I am going to make the February Daring Baker Challenge recipe. I have to admit that I got confused and thought that January’s recipe was for February, so it is not the Gluten-Free biscuits and Canadian Dessert bars this month, its Tiramisu. Tiramisu with ladyfingers and Marscapone (made from scratch!!! Marscapone, made from scratch!!!). Wow! So I am trying to get over my fear and figure out when I am going to attempt this mammoth task and try not to panic.

Until tomorrow, happy cooking.