Hello, friends! I’m so glad to be back in the blogger’s seat after two months of admittedly unannounced summer and early-fall vacationing. I was in: 1. Amsterdam, 2. Barcelona, 3. Lisbon, 4. Back-to-school mode, and 5. My own head a lot. It was fun, busy, and a little messy and all over the place. Some parts were a lot prettier than others. I don’t think I have to tell you which. I decided you didn’t need to see it all unfold — though I will post some snippets of our travels later this week. But anyway, we’re here now, and I’m very happy about it. Hi!
Sometimes it’s easier to piggyback on someone else’s talent and motivation when you’re trying to get back into the swing of things, rather than having to rely on your own. And boy, am I lucky in that respect right now. Just like me, my friend Phoebe Lapine was all over the place this summer. But not so much like me, Phoebe was headed every which way as a contestant on the BBC America show Chef Race US vs. UK, which premieres tonight starting at 9 p.m. Eastern. Despite the fact that I don’t own a TV, and despite the fact that something called US vs. UK should probably strike a touch of fear into the heart of this American girl living in London, I am really excited to help spread the word about this show and support Team USA. So excited, in fact, that I thought I’d better make macaroni and cheese — a veritable tranquilizer gun of a dish — as my calming contribution to Phoebe’s all-American virtual viewing potluck. You can get the mac & cheese recipe and a list of the all-American dishes contributed by other bloggers at the bottom of this post, and be sure to visit the home of the virtual viewing party for Phoebe’s insider view on the events, as well as a chance to win some hot little red, white, and blue prizes. We’re talking stars and stripes here, people, not Union Jacks. But I should probably stop before I get deported. (Go USA! Shhhh. It’s like the Olympics all over again.)
Phoebe describes Chef Race as a mix of Top Chef, The Amazing Race, Survivor, and The Apprentice. I am not even going to pretend to understand what that means, but I just thought you should know. (And seriously, if you want to learn a little more about the show’s 10-episode trajectory in which contestants cook and business-lady themselves from Santa Monica to NYC, you can read about it here.) And here’s a crazy tidbit. Another of the eight American contestants, Chef Ronaldo Linares, was executive chef at the tiny and wonderful Martino’s Cuban restaurant in my NJ hometown — one of my parents’ favorite places for decades. Small world, big race. Like I said, just thought you should know.
Alright, kiddos, hope you’ll watch and enjoy the show tonight. I’ll be back later this week with more good things to read and eat, resuming the regular posting schedule.
Talk to you soon.
All-American Macaroni and Cheese
This is a savory but simple, classic interpretation of macaroni and cheese. You can make it a day ahead and bake it right before eating. A simple side salad is optional. Pajamas, though, are pretty much mandatory.
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground or gated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in the center. Set aside a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish.
Boil the pasta until just shy of al dente -- 5 minutes if the package says 7, for example. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until well combined. Cook for one minute, until frothy and just slightly darkened in color. Pour in the milk all at once, and add the bay leaf. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. When the mixture boils, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
Remove the bay leaf and stir in the salt, nutmeg, cayenne and black peppers, and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted, then stir in sour cream.
Spoon drained pasta into cheese sauce and stir to coat, then tip the whole delicious mess into the baking dish. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes, then remove cover and bake 15 minutes more, until lightly browned and bubbly.
DON’T MISS THE OTHER BLOGGERS’ RECIPES FOR THE POTLUCK (Apparently it’s a mac and cheese kind of day!)
Feed Me Phoebe: Kitchen Sink (Gluten-Free) Mac n’ Cheese
Cooking With Books: Apple Pie Shortcake
The Naptime Chef: Baked Mac & Cheese with Marinara
Creative Culinary: Spiked Apple Crisp
And Love It Too: Coconut Flour Apple Crumble (Nut-Free)
Sarcastic Cooking: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Bacon and Tomato
Umami Girl: All-American Macaroni and Cheese
Flavia’s Flavors: Pumpkin Doughnut Holes
The Promise 365: Grandma Mary’s Baked Beans
Women on Fire: Red, White, and Blue Muddle Sunrise
One Hungry Mama: Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
Mother Would Know: Basil, Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta
Ronaldo’s Cucina: Cuban-Inspired Ground Beef
Chef Pippa Calland: Deviled Eggs
Stan Frazier: Shrimp Scampi
Sweet Dreams LA: Fuji Apple Bread Pudding with Southern Whiskey Butter Sauce
Chef Robin Bodwin: Bread and Butter Jalapenos
Rawstachio: Elvis Sandwich 2.0
Chef Cody Utzman: Grilled Rib Eyes with Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes and Sweet Corn Salad