It’s been a pretty quiet week for me as there were no meetings. I didn’t even have a whole lot to do since my daughters left my house in a really clean condition and had all the laundry done except for my clothes. As usual at this time of the year, I am working on things for the craft show. The Auxiliary frequently has a quilt that is on our drawing, and this year is no exception. One of our members pieced a beautiful quilt, called “Twirling Fans” and then it was hand quilted. We usually take it, on a stand, to the local banks and they sell some of our tickets for us, and then members take turns seated at a table by a local department store selling tickets for several Fridays before the craft show. This year, since a local ice cream parlor moved to a different location, our Hospital CEO suggested that we sell our tickets in the new wing of the hospital that has a drug store, doctor’s offices, and therapy departments, so we wouldn’t be out in the wet/heat/cold or whatever. It has been a really successful endeavor moving to this location. A friend and I worked on the 12th and sold quite a few tickets. We also, while we were sitting there did hand work that we both brought along. It is always interesting getting to “people watch” as folks go in and out; some stop and visit, some don’t have the time or don’t feel like it, but it is always something different going on each time.
The following information on macaroni and cheese is from an older Texas Co-Op Power Magazine. Both my daughter and I found it an interesting view of the beginnings of macaroni and cheese. Most of us have probably wondered at some point in time as to where or how mixing cooked macaroni with cheese, milk and butter began. It was a favorite Friday dish in our home when I was growing up, as it was a featured “main dish” during the years that we did not eat meat on Friday. It has always been known as “comfort food” and to heck with the fat and calories! Most of us remember the delicious macaroni and cheese that was served at the Luby’s restaurants, and I know that a lot of folks, who ate there, ate it as part of their lunch every time they went. Everyone has his or her own favorite method of making it and probably almost everyone thinks that no one makes it as good as their mother or grandmother! These recipes are a little more labor intensive then our favorite blue box, but the difference in taste is probably worth the effort.
The article is called “All Grown Up” and is written by Shannon Oelrich. I know that many of my readers live in the environs of Devine and therefore do not have access to Texas Co-Op Power magazine; so, I thought that perhaps they would enjoy the article also. I will be using the main part of the article but only a couple of the recipes provided.
In her cookbook, “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” (1918) Fannie Farmer proclaimed, “Macaroni is valuable food, as it is very cheap and nutritious; but being deficient in fat it should be combined with cream, butter, or cheese, to make a perfect food.” Thus proclaimed, macaroni mixed with cheese and cream became a staple on American family tables.
These days, macaroni and cheese is seen mostly as a dish for the elementary school crowd, but some cooks have started reclaiming this standard comfort food by going well beyond the familiar blue box.
Linda Kinard of Navasota Valley Electric Cooperative won a first place blue ribbon for the following version of macaroni and cheese. It is called “Macquiche” and is an imaginative dish of things you wouldn’t necessarily combine, but the flavors work well together. There’s enough cheese and macaroni to please the little ones, while adults will savor the flavors of smoked ham and Parmesan, plus everyone gets some vegetables.
4 cups whole-wheat macaroni
3 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced zucchini
½ cup thinly sliced green onions
1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 cup diced smoked ham
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 cup 2-percent milk
2 cups half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 2½ quart casserole dish; set aside. Cook macaroni in unsalted water to al dente (slightly firm). Drain and allow to cool to room temperature. Melt 1½ tablespoons butter in medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add carrots and sauté for 1 minute. Melt remaining butter in same skillet with carrots; add zucchini and sauté for another minute. Add green onions, and garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. (Veggies will be crisp-tender). Stir in ham, Parmesan and seasoned salt. In large bowl, combine veggie/ham mixture with macaroni and 3 cups of the Cheddar and Mexican cheeses (mixed together), reserving the other cup for topping.
Spoon macaroni mixture into buttered 2½-quart casserole dish. Beat eggs and combine with milk and half-and-half. Pour over macaroni mix. Bake 30 minutes and sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over top of casserole. Bake until knife blade inserted in center shows only a little thickened custard (about 10 more minutes or so). Serves 6-8
Cooks tip: Wash and chop veggies and ham a day or two before dish is cooked. You can also put the whole casserole together and store in refrigerator the night before baking.
Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese
3 slices white bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
2¾ cups milk
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
9 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese (divided)
4 ounces grated Romano or Gruyère cheese (divided)
½ pound elbow macaroni
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish; set aside. Remove crusts from bread and tear into quarters. Place bread in medium bowl. Melt 1-tablespoon butter and pour over bread tossing lightly; set aside.
Place milk in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Melt remaining butter in high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour and cook for 1 minute, while stirring. Whisk the warmed milk a little at a time into flour mixture until smooth. Whisking constantly, continue cooking for about 8 to 12 minutes or until mixture bubbles and thickens.
Remove pan from heat and stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1½ cups Cheddar cheese and ¾ cup Romano or Gruyere, then set aside.
Boil macaroni until it begins to soften, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse in cold water. Drain well, and then stir into the cheese sauce. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish and sprinkle remaining cheese and bread on top. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. Serves 6.
The following mac/cheese recipe is the one my mother-in-law made for many years. It is so very good. It is a little extra work, as are the two recipes above. The last one is an ‘almost’ recipe. It is one someone sent me, and is very similar to the above-mentioned “Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese”.
Macaroni au Gratin
1 pkg. (7 or 8-oz.) elbow macaroni
1 recipe white sauce
1½ cups shredded American cheese, divided usage
2 tbs. butter or margarine
3 tbs. butter or margarine
3 tbs. flour
1½ cups milk
Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain well, rinse with cool water and drain again, set aside.
While the macaroni is cooking:
In a sauce pan, blend 3 tbs. butter or margarine and 3 tbs. flour in a saucepan, cook 2 to 3 minutes, gradually whisk in 1½ cups milk, cook and stir constantly until the mixture boils, cook an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place a layer of the cooked macaroni into a sprayed casserole dish, top with 1/4th of the white sauce and 1/4th of the cheese, repeat layers, finishing with cheese, dot with 2 tbs. butter or margarine. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and cheese on top is lightly browned.
Almost Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese
(Makes 6 servings)
2 cups dry elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1¼ cups boiling water
3 cups (12-oz) American cheese, divided use
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Heat oven to 350ºF. Cook macaroni 1 to 2 minutes longer than instructions on package, so pasta is soft, but not mushy, drain.
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry milk, flour and butter. Whisking constantly, gradually add boiling water; add 1-cup cheese and continue whisking until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Fold in macaroni, 1 more cup of cheese and salt.
Transfer to a lightly greased 11×17-inch casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake 25-30 minutes or until sauce in center of casserole is thick and creamy.
Remove foil and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese evenly over top. Return to oven until cheese melts.