So, one of my goals was to make something every week. And so far, I am doing great! Made a great cake last week (although, truth be told, I messed up the glaze, so I am going to try it again this week some time but make it into cupcakes... yea yea!!), and this week I got the urge to try making Mac and Cheese. Now... I've NEVER made a for real, homemade Mac and Cheese before and I decided to just wing it (how's that for trusting my culinary skills?!)! So here is how it went down:
You will need the following ingredients if you are going to follow my recipe (that's right, I made this baby up all on my own!! No help from Food Network, any other site or cookbook):
*Pasta enough for about 6 servings
*1/2 of a small wheel of brie cheese
*2/3 of a cup of another strong cheese (I used Eczine here in Turkey... I don't know what the equivalent would be, it has a strong flavour but is very soft)
*1 1/2 cups of grated, fresh parmesan
*3 cups of grated white cheese (in Turkey, I used Kaşar Peynir, but I think a white cheddar or another cheese of your choice would be fine)
*3 cloves of garlic finely minced
*1 stick of butter
*2/3 cup of flour
*2 cups of milk
*1 green onion chopped
*1 red bell pepper chopped
*2 stalks of fresh dill finely chopped
*1 tbsp each of rosemary, sweet basil and oregano
I chopped all the ingredients first and cooked the pasta while I was chopping. When cooking the pasta, make sure to salt the water to give it some seasoning and when it starts to boil put a small pat of butter in there. Keeps it from boiling over and gives it a nice buttery flavour. Don't over cook your pasta. Make sure it's just al dente (a little on the undercooked side) because you are going to cook it again once you pop it in the oven.
I used the same pot that I cooked my pasta in (I threw it in the baking tin once it was drained) to make my roux and cheese sauce. I've NEVER done a roux before but it's pretty easy and I had fun with it. I threw my butter in the pot (it was on a pretty low heat), and added my minced garlic... talk about YUMMY smells!! When that was melted, I began to add the flour:
It gets thick really fast, so don't leave it!! I didn't end up using all my flour because I didn't want it to be pasty. Then I switched to using a whisk and began to add my milk, constantly stirring. You may need more or less milk depending on your tastes or how thick you like it. I added the two soft cheeses to the building milk sauce and melted them right in there. Then I tossed in a little of each of the other cheeses.
Then when that was all happy, melty, gooey, I tossed another small handful of the harder cheeses onto the pasta and threw in the pepper and onion. I tossed them lightly together and then oozed my cheese sauce over the top.
Finally I sprinkled the remaining cheeses over the top of the pasta mix and topped with all my herbs and spices. Threw it in the oven at 350 F and let it baked until it looked like this:
And, I am not tooting my own horn here (well, maybe just a little) but this is INCREDIBLY GOOD!! It's gooey, flavourful but not too rich. The cheesy spice crust on the top is much better than a bread crumb one in my opinion (I don't need more carbs on my carbs) and it does get a little crunchy on top because of the parmesan and the herbs.