I was minding my own fur clad business when walking home from work last night when I was met with the most unpleasant of surprises. While passing under the freeway I saw an elderly gentleman who I assumed was one of our friendly neighbors, who sometimes sleeps there, setting up shop and was surprised to find he was not setting up shop but had pulled down his knickers to flash his didley widley at me! Slightly disturbed and surprisingly violated I made my way home after calling my experience into 911. (Don’t worry, my wonderful co-worker Jen has now supplied me with the non-emergency line.) After locking the door tight, putting my pepper spray into my purse, and calling my mom I opened a bottle of wine and contemplated how I was going to erase the image that was so recently burned into my brain. The answer of course was in the kitchen. What I needed was some stove therapy.
After eying the blue box in my roomies cupboard I decided to pass on the easy route and instead opened her Macaroni & Cheese cookbook by Marlena Spieler. Reading recipes relaxes me, so I read the entire thing. Back to front, then front to back, mentally noting the recipes that were possible with the contents of my fridge. It was between the Broccoli Mac from the back or the Yankee mac in the middle. The note at the bottom of the Yankee mac had the brilliant idea of adding broccoli to it, so that was that. I used the recipe from the book as a base and went into the kitchen, turned on my Reba pandora station, and dove into the prep for my flasher mac.
^Lunch leftovers: The perks of making way too much food^
Before I even started I looked in my fridge and discovered a few bratwursts that needed used and I decided that yes, brats would go with cheese and broccoli. I browned them in a skillet and then added 1/2 cup water and covered at a simmer for about 15 minutes. Whenthey were done I cut them into slices and set aside. While boiling the water for the macaroni I started the sauce with 3 tbsp melted butter and then 3 tbsp flour. I forgot I needed to heat 3 cups of milk (don’t boil!) so I put that on the back burner while I kept an eye on the butter. I think I browned the butter in the time it took the milk to heat, but browned is not burnt and it turned out to add nice depth to the cheese sauce in the end. Once the milk was heated I added it to the butter mixture and stirrred over high heat until thickened. I then added 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp dijon mustard and then used a small whisk to mix it all together. (The recipe called for mustard powder, but alas I didn’t have any in my pantry. The use of just 1 tbsp of dijon added enough umph to add the mustard to the title of the recipe. It was unexpected and awesome, like some unexpected things are.) Instead of using the suggested cheese I used the cheeses that were in my fridge: cheddar, specially aged sharp cheddar, and a wonderful triple creamed something or other that was nice and tangy. I shredded these and cut up the creamy one into small chunks and added them to the thickened milk. It all melted together nicely.
Somewhere in there I cooked the macaroni and preheated the oven to 350 degrees. After the macaroni was cooked I blanched about 2 cups of broccoli florets and then washed them under cold water. Once the sauce was done I layered the ingredients as follows: macaroni, broccoli, cheese, macaroni, brat slices, cheese, macaroni, cheese. Since it felt like there wasn’t enough liquid(the cheese sauce was really thick, probably because I let the milk get really creamy) I added a dash of milk to the dish before putting it in the oven. I then baked the macaroni for 30 minutes.
I settle down with my wine and my mac and was content. No creepy feeling, just plain old warm gooey from scratch mac and cheese. It doesn’t get better. Well, I suppose if someone hadn’t changed my Reba pandora station it would have been better. But you can’t have it all.