NYT Creamy Mac and Cheese

Last year, while trolling the internet I came across a recipe from The New York Times for Mac and Cheese. It claimed that it was the creamiest and cheesiest Mac and Cheese out there. At first I was shocked that I was only discovering the recipe right then and there. You see the NYT published the recipe years prior. I quickly read through the recipe and thought it was a lot of cheese (but who doesn’t like cheese???). Reading further I was even more interested because you bake the whole dish…no prior pasta cooking needed. I have always wanted to give one of these one pot pasta dishes a try. That was it, I was on a mission to make it. So on a cool day last year I through the ingredients together and in the oven it went. (Uncooked pasta and all.) After it was done baking I pulled it out of the oven to cool. I was mesmerized by the way bubbled and stared at it’s steam escaping as it rested on my stove top. I found it hard to resist, because I desperately wanted to dive a fork in at that moment. I prevailed I used my will power and held out until it had cooled.

Mac and Cheese cooling out of the oven .

The result - it was fabulous! It was tender, cheesy, creamy, deeply flavorful, and the top of it created this fanatic cheesy crust giving it the right amount of texture. I have told so many others about this recipe and the ones who have tried it out report back on how great they think it is as well. I personally like to pair this with a simple green salad or some steamed veggies. You do not want to pair it with anything too boldly flavored given the richness of this cheesy dish. That aside, I have made this twice this past month. The left overs have been just as good! This is quite possibly my go to Mac and Cheese recipe from now on!

Cooled and ready to eat! Oh so good!!!

Creamy Mac and Cheese (Serves 6)

*As published in The New York Times

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup cottage cheese (not low fat)

2 cups milk (not skim)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Pinch cayenne

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

½ pound elbow pasta, uncooked (I have had success with whole wheat pasta as well)

 

First, heat oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use

one tablespoon butter to butter a 9-inch round or square baking pan. (I tend to use a

ceramic 9 inch pie dish)

Next, in a blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and

pepper together. Reserve ¼ cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine

remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan,

cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.

Then, uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining

tablespoon butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned.

Finally, remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Curry Chicken Salad

When it is hot out, and quite possibly just as hot indoors, do you really want to cook anything? I never minded cooking in the height of summer while I lived in New Jersey or even while I was living in Phoenix. In both of those places we had central air conditioning! Here in Seattle cooking in the summer is completely different, case in point - no air conditioning at all! To be honest, the summer hear in the pacific northwest is beautiful. It generally is mild and there is almost always a breeze. That is until the last week or two, we have been in the 90’s along along with a slight increase in humidity. By the time I walk home from work in the afternoons with the sun beating down on me, and I climb the four flights of stairs to my apartment, I am ready for a cool shower followed by sitting in front of the fan for a bit. Cooking is the last thing from my mind. Salads, quick meals, and grabbing takeout have been the answer to this heat.

Prepping the ingredients for the salad. (Apricots when dried naturally are brown in their approach but just as sweet as the orange ones.)

But Brian came home explaining that he had lunch club at work. The theme they came up with was Summer Salads and Sandwiches. Very fitting given the heat. He explained he was going to make the Curry Chicken Salad I would make for lunch when we owned our bakery. He said to me: “It is always so good. I really love the balance of spice to sweetness and creaminess with it’s crunch.” Unfortunately, Brian had nonstop meetings, worked the weekend, and had business dinners. This evolves into I am now making the Curry Chicken Salad. But I don't mind really, there is not much to chopping the ingredients. While Brian was at one of his business dinners I chopped the celery, shallot, and dried apricots. I mixed them into the curry, mayo, and yogurt to let is all marinate together. I left the baking of the chicken and toasting of the almonds for Brian. I knew he would be home once the sun went down and once the temperature would drop in our kitchen.

When Brian got home he did just that. He baked off the chicken cutlets and let them cool. He toasted the almonds and chopped them and put them aside. When the chicken was done baking and cooled he chopped it up into small pieces and tossed it with the reserved mixture I made and let it all marinate together. He said he tasted it in the morning to adjust the salt and packed it up for lunch club. He said the salad went over well as many of his coworkers took a little bit and either ate it on it’s own with greens or made a sandwich with it. It makes me happy to see others enjoy this salad, not to mention my kitchen did not swelter in heat to make something. Make it for yourself and keep cool this summer. I hope you have breezy days and cool nights!

Curry Chicken Salad with almonds over the top. Served and ready to dig in.

Curry Chicken Salad (makes enough for 6 people)

**Notes: curry powder can vary depending on brand, and region of origin. For this I use a traditional Indian curry. I personally love a south indian curry if available. But if you are weary of the curry then adding just 1 tsp at a time to build a flavor that you are comfortable with.

4 chicken cutlets

2 large ribs of celery, chopped small

1 large or 2 small shallot, chopped small

8 - 10 dried apricots, chopped fine

1/2 cup of almonds, tasted ad chopped

1 tbsp curry powder

1/4 cup of mayo

1/4 cup greek yogurt

sea salt, to taste

Olive oil, for baking

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Coat the chicken with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle a bit of sea salt over it, place it on a prepared baking sheet, and place it in the oven. Check on the chicken after 12-15 minutes. You re looking for the chicken to be cooked though and slightly golden in hue. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Next, in a bowl place your shallot, celery, and dried apricots. Mix it together with your mayo and yogurt. Sprinkle the curry over it all and toss it together and set in the refrigerator to chill and marinate.

Meanwhile, chop your chicken into bite sized pieces. Once all chopped add to your curry mixture and toss well. If serving right away taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If not serving right away cover it all and store in the refrigerator for at least a day, but taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Finally, when ready to serve you can stir the almonds into the mixture, or you can serve them along side. Also, if you feel the salad mixture is not creamy enough feel free to add more mayo and yogurt in equal amounts. Serve it with lettuce or with slices of bread to make sandwiches with.