Truffled Macaroni and Cheese
Sophisticated Comfort Food for Sophisticated Ladies, when its 10 degrees and snowy.
Today the Bookies absolutely devoured this super-comfort menu despite the fact that I was certain I would draw scorn for the flagrant flouting of conventional Ladies' Lunch comme-il-faut. But, heck, we were discussing Nicole Krauss' The Great House, and it was so darn depressing, what with all those sad, hungry, angsty characters that there was really nothing to do but cheer ourselves up with carbs and calories.
Even before it was the chi-chi menu staple (and...hello! an appetizer??), Mac-and-cheese has always been a personal favorite of mine and ours. I admit, that, in a pinch I have resorted to a frozen Stauffer's, (usually picked up at the 7-11, at the bottom of the Stratton Access Road), scratch Mac and Cheese has always been a relative no-brainer.
So this one is gussied up with Truffle oil, truffle salt, or whatever Truffle-y condiment you have hiding in the back of the cupboard. But Lord knows, this recipe is just FINE without it. The listed cheeses are only a suggestion, really. Use "cleaning up the cheese drawer" as an excuse for this excess.
The tart and tangy Apple Endive salad, seemed a wonderful counterpoint to the richness of the pasta.
Truffled Macaroni and Cheese
1 1/2 lb.macaroni or radiatore, or orichietti (something that will hold the sauce)
1 stick butter (1/4 lb.)
1/2 cup flour
5 cups hot milk
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp, cayenne
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
8 oz Gruyere , grated or chunked
8 oz grated Fontina
1 cup grated cheddar or smoked cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 slices of stale good bread, cubed
Butter for "dotting"
1 Tablespoons truffle oil and more for drizzling on top
1 Tsp. truffle salt or regular salt
Butter a large rectangular baking pan, Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Check the pasta directions (varies by brand) and cook about 3/4 of the package timing, till the center still is a bit crunchy.
In a big saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, don't let it brown. Slowly whisk in the flour, and let it cook, continually whisking so lumps don't form. for about 6-8 minutes over medium heat.
Slowly pour the milk into the "roux", whisking constantly, and cook the sauce for about 10 minutes, until it thickens.
Add the truffle salt, white pepper, mustard, 1 Tablespoon of truffle oil, cayenne and nutmeg.
Slowly add the gruyere, cheddar and fontina cheeses and cook for 2 more minutes until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Drain the pasta and add to the cheese sauce. Just mix to combine. Pour into a buttered rectangular baking dish about 12 x 8" (not too deep).
Mix together the bread cubes and Parmesan and spread on the pasta. Dot with butter.
bake for about 40 minutes until the top is browned and bubbly.
Let stand for 10 minutes, and drizzle the top with more truffle oil, and sprinkle with more truffle salt.
Endive and Apple Salad
2 granny smith apples
big bunch of Italian Parsley (or Watercress)
Wash endives, cut crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch thick, and mix with coarsely chopped parsley or watercress. Sprinkle with dried cranberries.
In a jar shake together:
2 Tbs. dijon mustard
3 Tbs. fresh grapefruit juice
3 Tbs, apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup neutral oil (can use olive, but I prefer canola or corn oil for this)
salt and pepper to taste.
Cut apples into cubes and mix with dressing in a small bowl and reserve until ready to serve. (This keeps apples from turning brown, and infuses them with the dressing)
When ready to serve, add apple/dressing mixture to salad, and toss well.