Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese for Seda

Last summer I had the privilege of traveling to Armenia for several weeks to see the land of my ancestors and visit some of my family's friends who live overseas. I immediately became close to all of them, and even decided a few of them should be my sisters :) Last year, I promised one of them that if she were to ever visit us in America, I would make her macaroni and cheese.  She swooned and said she would love that very much.  I am so pleased to say that our friends are now visiting us in Rhode Island for a few days before heading to Los Angeles where they also have a home.  I made this macaroni and cheese especially for Seda, as I had promised!  I decided I had to outdo myself and use a variety of tasty cheeses to bring harmonious macaroni and cheese bliss.  After all, I have to seduce them to come visit us every year!  Let me tell you, they loved it!  I've heard raves all day, and I think my seduction may have worked ;-) This tantalizing dish was very popular at lunch today.  Here is my macaroni and cheese ode to my dear Seda, but first some great photos from the trip last year.  I have over 1000, so here are just a few!  I hope you like them!  Enjoy!

Most of our group at Lake Sevan

Me with the flowers, with my mom, grandma, and a few of our Armenian relatives 

Me with Seda, my inspiration for this amazing mac and cheese!

Adorable Arina hiding under the dining room table!  She loved the mac and cheese too :)

Me and the girls at Republic Square (Hraparak) in Yerevan :)

Macaroni and Cheese for Seda
Serves 4 to 8

3/4 lb elbow macaroni
3 T. butter
3 T. flour
3 3/4 cups low-fat milk, heated to a simmer
8 oz white cheddar cheese, grated
6 oz Gouda cheese, grated
4 oz Fontina cheese, grated
1 T. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 1/2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs, from 2-3 slices of bread
1 T. olive oil
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the cheddar, Gouda, and Fontina cheeses together in a bowl, and reserve 1 cup for the topping. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and the pasta, and cook until just shy of al dente, about half as long as the box suggests (it will continue cooking in the oven). Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour to make a roux and whisk until it is nice and smooth. Cook for a couple minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor, but do not allow the roux to brown. Add the hot milk a little at a time, whisking in between each addition, until all of it has been added. Cook, constantly whisking, about 5-8 more minutes on medium heat until thickened, but do not bring it to a boil. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and whisk in the shredded cheese mixture and the Pecorino Romano, a little at a time until completely combined.

Once the cheeses are all combined and melted, add the pasta and stir to coat. It will be very saucy. Pour the pasta into a casserole dish, or divide into small oven-proof bowls or ramekins. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Drizzle the olive oil over the fresh bread crumbs and toss with your fingers to mix. Distribute the bread crumbs over the pasta. Bake the pasta for 20-25 minutes until nice and bubbly, and golden brown. Allow the pasta to cool for a minute before serving, as it will be extremely hot.

Look at all that gooey cheese!! Mmmmmm... 


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