I’ve enjoyed many great meals in my lifetime. I’ve had the opportunity to dine in some of the finest restaurants in the world. In my humble opinion, no gourmet meal can compare to a piping hot bowl of from-scratch macaroni and cheese. It’s like my kryptonite. Well, that and grilled cheese on freshly baked sourdough. And angel hair pasta with butter and parmesan. Note the carb theme, and the cheese theme. Yeah.
Imagine how delighted I was to learn that my friends Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord wrote an entire cookbook dedicated to the art of macaroni and cheese! They thought outside the box, literally, and created a treasure of a cookbook. More “cheese and macaroni” than “macaroni and cheese,” these recipes celebrate a vast array of cheeses like Humboldt Fog, Bucherondin, Petit Basque and Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar (one of my all time favorites!). Substitutions are given for most cheeses should they prove difficult to locate.
Wine pairings are also given, which reminds me of the time co-author Garrett McCord and I attended a Wine, Beer and Cheese Smackdown at the IACP conference in San Francisco. Wine and Beer experts dressed as Mexican wrestlers. I got tipsy. So. Much. Cheese.
That’s all I’m going to say about that.
This is not a kosher cookbook, not even close. That said, I was able to find a few recipes that were adaptable for my kosher readers, including the gem featured in this post – Gouda Macaroni with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts. In the book the suggested cheese for this recipe is Grand Ewe, a vintage sheep’s milk Gouda, however regular cow’s milk gouda is mentioned as a workable substitute. Gouda is pretty easy to track down kosher, and I must say it was fantastic in this recipe.
One of the things I love most here is the ease of preparation. After a week of harried Thanksgivukkah cooking, the stovetop simplicity of this dish was a breath of fresh air. It took less than 20 minutes to make (and less than 5 minutes to inhale). There is nothing simple about the flavors, though. The salty savory cheese, the sweetness of the raisins, the crunch of the toasted pine nuts… it was layered, sophisticated, creamy, dreamy and perfect for serving on a chilly winter night.
Melt – The Art of Macaroni and Cheese would make a great gift idea for the macaroni and cheese lover on your list! Buy your own copy here. Also, be sure to check out Stephanie and Garrett’s fabulous food blogs – The Culinary Life and Vanilla Garlic.
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Gouda Macaroni with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
- 10 ounces elbow macaroni
- 8 ounces gouda (rind removed, shredded)
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pine nuts, toasted lightly, divided
- 1/4 cup mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.To prepare the mornay sauce, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the milk steams and tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat.
- Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium flame. Add the flour and stir with a flat-edge wooden paddle just until the roux begins to take on a light brown color, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, about 3 minutes.
- Slowly add the hot milk and stir constantly until the sauce thickens enough to evenly coat the back of a spoon - a finger drawn along the back of the spoon should leave a clear swath.
- Stir in salt, pepper and golden raisins. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Turn off heat, add Gouda and mascarpone, and stir until completely melted. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce seems a bit thick, feel free to add more milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency (I ended up adding a 1/2 cup to make my sauce less thick and more smooth and creamy).
- Pour sauce over pasta and stir in the pine nuts. Serve warm.
- Alternative cheeses: Grand Ewe, Ewephoria sheep's-milk Gouda, Cypress Grove Lamp Chopper, or Trader Joe's generic sheep's-milk Gouda. Wine pairings: Dry Riesling, Merlot