Sunday, January 11, 2009

Things that feel good.

Eating comfort food is a lot like curling up with a good read on a cozy bed in the warm afternoon sunshine. It is certainly an indulgent behavior, but it is not exactly wasteful or greedy, and it comes with a feeling of warmness that almost radiates from within. Thus, I feel good about ringing in the New Year with a meal of classic comfort food as I sat in my cozy apartment with my dear husband and good friend, drinking wine and enjoying upscale macaroni and cheese that warmed us from within.

If what we eat is compared to self-indulgent activities, than flourless chocolate cake is to pedicures in the wintertime what macaroni and cheese is to reading on a sunny Sunday afternoon. One is delicious yet over-indulgent, and a bit too extravagant for anything except special occasions. The other is a tiny bit excessive but very wholesome, and more acceptable to intersperse into daily routine on a non-special-occasion occasion, like the first weekend of the New Year. The day didn't really call for a notable celebratory feast, but it felt important enough to give it a little more than canned soup and a grilled cheese. It felt just right to experiment with homemade macaoni and cheese.

The macaroni and blue cheese with chives tasted amazing, creamy, rich, warm, and definitely blue. It looked like a classic macaroni and cheese, but with an extra oomph of sophistication thanks to the cheese that helped eradicate some of the guilt that comes with eating pasta smothered in cheese and cream. It is a definite winner of a recipe, both for its comfort food qualities and for the ease of preparation. In the next few months, in the lingering chill and darkness of winter, I strongly suggest you each pull out this recipe on a cold night that deserves a little something extra. Serve it with a crisp salad bright with the acidity of a homemade vinaigrette, and enjoy the blissful indulgence of comfort food. Just don't finish the night with the flourless chocolate cake, or you might burst of overindulgence.

Macaroni and Blue Cheese with Chives
by chef Scott Simpson of Blue Onion Bistro (2003)

  • 1 pound spiral tube-shaped pasta
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly (do not allow to brown).

Gradually whisk in milk and cream. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, whisking occasionally, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add grated cheddar cheese and 1 cup crumbled blue cheese. Whisk until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Add cooked pasta to sauce; stir to coat. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup blue cheese. Bake until sauce begins to bubble, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve

1 comment:

ohmypuddin said...

It was delicious! I'm glad I invited myself over for that.