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Showing posts with label Taleggio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taleggio. Show all posts

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe. Ever. Seriously.

A long time ago (at least it feels that way) I wasn't sick. I planned on making mac n' cheese. Then I got sick. I made nothing. I spent my days and nights with cold meds, tissues, the original theatrical release of the Star Wars trilogy and the LOTR extended edition trilogy.

Well, last night I got my spunk back. And I made mac n' cheese. And it was scrumptious! Possibly the best I'd ever made. Seriously. What follows is the single best recipe for macaroni and cheese known to mankind. My new name is "Egowench". It's only temporary I promise.

Please feel free to use this recipe and pass it along to people, I only ask one thing. When people ask you where you got this delectable awesome, sensual, sumptuous recipe from, tell them the truth: that your superior internet surfing and blog reading abilities are responsible for this Cheesy-wenchy dairy delight.

Topping:

Panko breadcrumbs (4 oz.)
3T dried parsley
1T dried onion
2t dried thyme
2t dried oregano
2t kosher salt
2t dried minced garlic
4T butter, melted

You should make herbed breadcrumbs with the flavors you like, but they should be dried. Fresh hers are going to add too much moisture to the breadcrumbs resulting in a soggy mess more akin to french toast.

In batches (unless you have a huge skillet) lightly toast the breadcrumbs in the melted butter. You don't want them brown, just less Casper the friendly ghost looking. Set them aside to cool


Macaroni:

I used a 16oz. box of whole grain rotini.

the spiral shape holds onto that sauce like nobody's business. Whole grain pasta is better for you, and sturdier. You can boil it for a while and bake it off and it doesn't go limp. Don't forget to salt your water before cooking the pasta.


Mushrooms:

8 oz. mixed mushrooms (shitake, portobella, button, oyster, whatever tickles your fancy)
1 whole onion diced
dried thyme, dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste
3T grapeseed oil

Heat up your pan and add the grapeseed oil. Then sweat the onions (cooking until soft, but not colored). Add the mushrooms when the onions are soft. then add your seasoning. Cook until all the moisture from the mushrooms is gone. Set this to the side.


Cheesy Goodness:

4T salted butter
1/2 head of roasted garlic
4T AP flour
4 c 2% milk
1/3# Pleasant Ridge Reserve (grated and at room temp) *If not available, use a high quality Gruyere in it's place*
1/3# Taleggio (cut in small chunks and at room temp)
2/3# Asiago Fresco (cut in small chunks and at room temp)

  • melt the butter in your pot.
  • squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the butter
  • whisk to break up the garlic and incorporate it into the butter
  • *that smell alone is to die for*
  • next add your flour and whisk it into the butter
  • keep whisking for a few minutes making sure the butter, garlic and flour are all well incorporated
  • slowly add your milk to the roux-whisking constantly
  • *I would not advise you to use skim milk, or 1%. 2% has enough substance to it while cutting a few calories. Mac n' cheese with skim milk always tastes watery. 1% isn't much better.*
  • keep whisking until the sauce starts to thicken
  • when it has started to thicken, take it off the heat-immediately
  • while whisking add the grated Pleasant Ridge Reserve in small batches until it is incorporated
  • next, add your cubes of Taleggio and Asiago Fresco a little at a time, whisking like crazy and waiting for each batch to be incorporated before doing the next batch.
  • salt and pepper the sauce to your taste
  • now that the sauce is done, add your mushroom mixture to the sauce
  • then add your cooked pasta
  • pour that into a casserole dish, pie tin or bread loaf pan, add a generous heaping of breadcrumbs to the top and put into a 350F oven for 20 minutes
  • turn the oven off, and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to toast up those breadcrumbs real good.
  • Enjoy!
I find that the biggest problem with mac n' cheese is that the sauce breaks. This happens because people use a super hot oven, and the mixture ends up boiling. That's when you end up with gritty, curdled cheese sauce. Not good. Never let the sauce boil. Not when it's on the stovetop, not when it's in the oven.





Did I mention that I got a new camera yesterday? I upped those megapixels a bit, and I think it's noticeable.




Oooh. The new camera is working for me. Oh yes it is.




This serving was taller. Then some noodles fell. Into my mouth.

Monday, March 2, 2009

And the answer is......

Grayson is a New World cheese that is modeled after the Old World cheese Taleggio. I find Taleggio to be a milder cheese, while as I've described, Grayson is a big burly cheese. A lot of American cheeses are inspired by Old World cheeses. Bonne Bouche from VT Butter & Cheese Co. is a tastier (in my opinion) version of the French Selles-sur-Cher.

This has happened for a few reasons. First of all, this country is culturally speaking, a melting pot. Many American citizens have roots that can be traced to other cheesy parts of the world. When their ancestors came here, they brought their talents and knowledge with them. In addition, many cheesemakers go to Western Europe to learn how to make cheese. They bring those skills back and turn out American cheeses that are inspired by their travels.

The next time you're thinking about a cheese that's European, ask your cheesemonger if there's an American cheese similar and try them both. Compare the look, feel, smell and of course taste of the cheeses. You might find a new cheesy friend.

Trivia Time!

I did this completely unintentionally, but the past two posts (Taleggio and Grayson)have a connection. Yes, they are both square cheeses. Yes, they both got me a double seat to myself when going home on the bus. And yes, they are both delicious. They have another connection. A very interesting one.

The first person to email me the correct answer wins.....a......um......well, I dunno. My admiration and respect? A pony? No, no ponies. You will win my admiration and respect, not a pony. What are you going to do with a pony anyway? I will post the answer by the end of day (CST) on Monday.

Good luck!

psst! You might be able to find the answer at the Meadow Creek Dairy website. You might also want to take a trip to your local cheeserie to get an answer (along with a luscious hunk of cheese of course)




Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's a stinky cheese weekend!

Taleggio. The stinky, milky, creamy, beefy, cheese of footy aroma that comes to us from northern Italy. I've had Taleggio when it's young and it has a really creamy milky flavor to it. I've also had it when it is just perfectly ripe and has some beefy qualities, and an almost olivey fruitiness to it. I've also tasted it when it was verrrrrrrrry ripe. Although the taste was nice (kind of like dry aged beef and warm milk) the smell.......oh sweet mother of cheese......the smell was......hard to describe, but I'll give it a shot. So imagine if you will the Bulls locker room at the end of game 7 of the series, that went into double overtime, and then they lost anyway so you have that smell of sadness and despair, and then all their jerseys go into one laundry bag. It kind of smelled like that laundry bag. And dirty socks. Tasty though.

I first met Taleggio when I worked at a northern Italian restaurant in Virginia. I used the cheese for sauce, cheese plates and for putting into my tummy. This cheese is delicious! It's also a super great melting cheese. Grilled cheese? No problem. Mac n' cheese? Absolutely. Cheeseburgers (last night's dinner). Heck yes! This cheese can do it all.

This is one of my all time favorite cheeses. When I can't figure out what to pick up at the shop, I know that a chunk of Taleggio is always going to be a good thing. Does Martha own that saying or am I allowed to use it?

Today at the shop I had cause to open one up and I realized that this is an interestingly shaped cheese for a two reasons.

  1. It's a square
  2. When we cut it we cut it into a diagonal (just like all squares-the Grayson is a square too)
How do you know that you've got Taleggio and not some Taleggio wannabee impostor that tastes like ick and smells like plastic? Ok, well if it tastes like ick and smells like plastic, it's not the real ting. But if your cheese isn't branded like cattle, it's not the real thing.

No, I don't know what the brands stand for. In my mind it's Taleggio, Taleggio, Taleggio Hey! I'll look into it though. Promise.

Mmmmmm...fresh cut Taleggio.


Once cut in half from corner to corner, the cheese is then portioned for each customer. Going from the center of the cut side we cut off wedges. Doing it this way insures that each customer is getting the same amount of rind and paste ratio with each portion.



I haven't decided if this wedge is going to be pizza, or mac n' cheese. All I know is I'm off today, and this cheese is going in my tummy.