Amazing Menu

Chef Daria – the American Vacation Edition

No, we’re not presenting the foods of individual states – or commonwealths, like Pennsylvania and Virginia. We’re presenting kid food! With a twist, of course, because I am not interested in following a child’s diet, which has too much tuna fish and not enough beer for my tastes.
Fortunately, the children in “TAR – Family Vacation Hell Edition” have all aged out of the super-fussy phase. Carissa probably eats sushi already, and even brags about it at school.

Fortunately, the children in “TAR – Family Vacation Hell Edition” have all aged out of the super-fussy phase. Carissa probably eats sushi already, and even brags about it at school. But let’s look at an American favorite that the little kids, the teenagers, and the grown-ups will all eat, if not love: macaroni and cheese.

After doing much research on this, and misplacing my favorite gourmet mac n’ cheese recipe in the process, I’ve learned something very important about macaroni and cheese: as soon as a cook tries to make it more sophisticated, the orange cheese goes, and hot sauce or cayenne pepper are added. So we move from the neon orange powder that passes for cheese in the box mixes to white-on-white, with the occasional fleck of red. As a matter of fact, I am right now looking at Martha Stewart’s recipe for Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese, and she uses white bread, milk (white), white cheddar cheese, Gruyere (white), and macaroni (white).

Since this column is as experimental as TAR- Families in SUVs Edition, I will provide some links for “regular” macaroni and cheese, then get into the “gourmet” versions. But first, my favorite, which I’ve actually made, from Better Homes and Gardens, with bacon, onion, and blue cheese. Enjoy!


Standard Macaroni and Cheese

I did not include the recipe that called for sugar. No, no, a thousand times no. Sugar is banned, period, end of discussion. Bleccccchhhhhhhhh! Oh, and ditto for recipes that include “cheese product” and mayonnaise. When it’s so easy to do something right, why do it so violently wrong?

Here’s a basic recipe for mac ‘n cheese. And could anything be simpler than this two-step recipe with four ingredients? Cooking Light magazine, which is usually fundamentally sound and often creative, tries to make it low fat, which undoubtedly appeals to some people, although I personally wouldn’t bother. I have nothing against crockpots, but this recipe for crockpot macaroni and cheese horrifies me for a number of reasons. Then again, I am also horrified by tomatoes, and I include some of those recipes, too.


Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese

Moving right along, let’s check out creole macaroni and cheese, in honor of the Schroeder and Rogers families, though I’m still not inclined to cut Papa Rogers a break yet. We can also play with Greek macaroni and cheese, in honor of a country the Race probably isn’t visiting this season. Meanwhile, this recipe has some bite to it. If you make it, you’ll need this subrecipe for green chile sauce.

We also have a recipe called macaroni and cheese for grown-ups. And for Carissa, who thinks she turns 27 next year. Then there’s the ultimate macaroni and cheese, which sounds tolerable at worst, and maybe even good.

That’s it. Next time: brownies! Or burgers, or chili. But probably brownies.