When dinner rolled around, I figured I would knock out another TJOC recipe. I know I'm doing horribly on several sections (fruits, for example) so I decided I would make Baked Macaroni and Cheese (p. 326), which is in the highly underused (by me) "pasta, noodles, and dumplings" chapter.
The first stage of the recipe is to make a double recipe of White Sauce I (p. 550). And the first part of THIS recipe (it's like a Choose your own Adventure novel!) is to melt some butter in a saucepan and then add a couple tablespoons of flour. Don't let it burn! The picture is blurry because it's difficult to to take a picture while whisking.
A cup of milk is then whisked in.
The milk is whisked (constantly to prevent lumps) until it starts to thicken. I am proud to say that my white sauce was entirely lump-free!
I figured this was the point when the M&C recipe started. And at this point, onion, a bay leaf, and some paprika are mixed in and the sauce is simmered until it super-thickens.
It goes from this (thicker than the last picture but not very thick):
To this (although the cheese IS mixed in for this pic):
At this point, you need to have the sauce ready, have cooked up some pasta (I used elbow macaroni), and have grated cheese prepared (unless you buy it pre-grated--but I tend not to). Two thirds of 2.25 cups of the cheese are supposed to be mixed into the sauce. I'm no math major and that's a bizarre amount. Whisk whisk whisk, and the sauce is combined with the drained pasta:
Half is then poured into a buttered dish and sprinkled with half of the remaining third of the 2.25 cups of cheese (got that?).
At this point, I had to make Buttered Breadcrumbs (p. 960). Easy enough--melt some butter, add some breadcrumbs, a little bit of salt, and brown the breadcrumbs.
I don't know if I browned them enough but this M&C recipe was getting complicated and I thought it was good enough:
The remaining cheese is sprinkled on the mixture and then the breadcrumbs are added to the top and the whole concoction is stuck in the oven for about a half hour.
When it was was finished, it looked pretty tasty....
So what did it taste like?
(You can see Duchie, lusting for some mac and cheese!) It was great! I had low expectations but it was creamy and delicious. It also heated up wonderfully. I really liked the breadcrumbs on top because they gave it a terrific "crunch". Would I make it again? I don't know. There were a LOT of steps and although it was difficult, it was complex, and required a lot of kitchen-time. Plus, *hangs my head* I kind of like the taste of powdered cheese!
While the mac and cheese was baking, I figured that I would whip up some cornbread. I LOVE cornbread but I don't have a lot of luck in making it. TJOC has a number of cornbread recipes, but I settled on Corn Bread, Muffins, or Sticks (p.632) and decided that muffins would be delicious!
The cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt are mixed together. Anywhere from 1 T to 4 T of sugar can be added and I like my cornbread rather sweet--so I added 3 T. I lessoned the baking powder to 2 teaspoons from 2.5 t because of the altitude (it's always guesswork).
The recipe specifically says that all the ingredients should be at room temperature. I used a little trick I picked up somewhere (likely somewhere in TJOC) and placed the (straight out of the refrigerator) eggs in water for five minutes.
The beaten eggs, melted butter, and a cup of milk were added to the dry ingredients.
The recipe makes it very clear that the batter should be combined in only a few strokes. But it did look mixed enough! So I have a bad feeling I overbeat it. Do any of you have experience in cornbread?
The buttered pan is supposed to be put in the oven until it's sizzling.
I don't think that is a great idea because it seemed to burn the butter...I added some more, non burned butter to the hot cupcake pan. I then ladled the batter in the pan...
I only left them in for 15 minutes but I may have overcooked them:
So how were they? Eh, the flavor was good but they were too dense. I will say, they were attractive, so they managed to rise correctly (that must mean that I used the correct amount of baking powder) but they were tough. Maybe they were overcooked? Frustrating but I have many many more cornmeal recipes to try.