It was a dreamy fall weekend around here. Some of the husband's very best friends came through to visit (well, they are both of our friends, but I am talking groomsmen-in-our-wedding status -- some of his oldest and dearest). Lots of sports watching was on the agenda, so I had plenty of time to pour over two of my favorite birthday presents... long-coveted copies of the Barefoot Contessa Parties and Barefoot in Paris. Yes, I got not one but both of these books this year, at long last (thanks, Abs!)... hooray! So, I immediately had to cook something from the Paris book, and settled on Ina's Beef Bourguignon, which I have seen her make on the show before, and always looks so delicious. This is a slightly complex recipe, but worth the trouble. The highlight of the cooking experience was flambe-ing off the cognac. Very dramatic.
Check out the actual falling leaves in the upper left corner of this photo - so fall-y.We finally harvested the apple tree in our backyard! We ate one right off the branch, and it was sweet and crunchy, but we've determined they'll be better for cooking than just eating. I am hoping to make some apple butter in the next few days, but I ran out of steam for that this weekend. We have two soup pots full of apples though, so several apple creations are definitely in our future. For our other little project this weekend, we made some delicious homemade mac and cheese; one tray for us, and one tray for friends in town who just had a baby and who also have a 2-year-old. We wanted something both toddler and nursing mama friendly, and this fit the bill.
1 lb. tri-color elbow macaroni
1 lb. Extra Sharp Cabot Cheddar, grated
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of half-and-half
2 cups milk
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Prepare a bechamel: warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, ~10 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, and black pepper.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni to al dente and drain well.
6. Return the macaroni to the pot and toss it with the grated cheese and half-and-half.
7. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish, and pour the bechamel evenly over the top.
8. Sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs over the top.
9. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
You could definitely spice this more if you wanted to, maybe with a bit of cayenne and more salt and pepper. We purposely kept it a bit bland, given our audience, but it was still really tasty. I'm now more than ready to join the boys on the couch with a glass of wine and enjoy this Sunday evening. I leave you with this guy, who hopes you enjoy your Sunday evening as well.