Dec 20, 2009

hot buttered cheese

Last night I went to our annual white elephant party. I'm glad the tradition of stealing gifts and holding year-long grudges is intact. That's what the holidays are all about.
Actually, we all pretty much ended up with the gifts we'd brought.

I also watched my first Saints game this year, and of course they lost. I'm sure every Saints' fan will be relieved to know that I will not be watching again. I'm sure I'm the jinx.

Marshall (our intrepid host) had insisted that our dishes must be "red or green" and "home cooked, not store bought."

I'd run through the list of dishes that would be palatable to everyone, even the pickiest of eaters, and couldn't think of anything. What could I make reasonably ahead of time? What was not too exotic, not too expensive, and reasonably easy?
In my research, I found this macaroni and cheese recipe by Martha Stewart. People online just went insane about it, so I was intrigued.

As you can see at the last minute, I decided to put some red (tomatoes) and green (asparagus) to skirt the rules.
This also makes it healthy, right? I figured I'd put one asparagus spear for each quart of butter used. That's got to cut clearly through the cholesterol, don't you think?
It took three types of cheese (the Gruyere was a good idea of hers, I have to admit), and I substituted cream for the milk called, you know, to offset the healthiness of all those cherry tomatoes. After this picture was taken, I went crazy and put even more of those tomatoes. It was practically a salad afterward, I swear.

It was good, but oddly not as good as my grandmother's old recipe, which used very sharp red wax covered American cheese, (something one can't seem to find anymore), long macaroni (bucatini), and a bit of sugar. It's the sugar that makes it.

I also made chocolate covered strawberries, just so no one could fault me on the whole "red and green" front there. I had bought a massive block of Ghiradelli chocolate. It cost a good bit, so I didn't waste a bit of it. I may just have to get the thing out of the house to keep myself from sleeping with it. Oh, and how cool is my dollar tree "silver" platter? A dollar! and it's not even plastic.


Kim Hambric said...

MMMMMMM, this is making me hungry. I'm thinking about cheese, butter and chocolate. Off to get a snack. I do wish my grandma was here to whip up some mac cheese made the old fashioned way. It would definitely fix up my hangover. Damn those holiday parties.

larry said...

looks great jason! i'm hungry! i love me some asparagus. but what it does to your pee is not so about that dollar tree???

mrpeenee said...

Oh sweetie, I just announced plans yesterday morning to whip a big ole tub of M&C. Mmmmm, artery clogging goodness.

Jill said...

Love the lattice work...I adore mac and cheese...and those strawberries!!

A neighbor invited us over for Xmas this year. She just texted me...she'll buy the groceries if I teach her how to cook the menu. I don't think this is a great trade-off. She invited US over to HER house and I'm doing all the cooking! WTF?!

Sorry about the rant...I need wine.

Salty Miss Jill said...

I could eat that very meal you prepared every day for the rest of my life and not get tired of it. Of course I'd have to get sprayed down with Pam to get throught the front door, but that would be a small consequence.

Michael Guy said...

Nummy nums!

And that silver tray will no doubt be an estate treasure for others to squabble over.

Most excellent find! :)

Michael Rivers said...

Those dishes look wonderful!!

Muscato said...

Mother Muscato's mac-and-cheese secret was a dash of mustard powder (heavy spicing in a household as WASP as ours).

I've never been able to make her recipe turn out as well as she made it, and I suspect it's the one case in which she omitted a key ingredient simply so nobody else could replicate her magic.

All of which would be moot if it were possible to get Stouffer's M&C here.

And after all that I'm starving.

Jill said...

I can't get stouffers creamed spinach here. I've had to cream my own.

TJB said...

Mac & cheese is one of nature's perfect foods. In my wilder days, it was particularly perfect when scarfed down at 4am at Cafeteria on Seventh Ave & 17th St. Good times.

Dean Grey said...

This looks fantastic, Jason!

Even Martha Stewart would be impressed!

Just fabulous!


Marshall said...

Your mac and cheese was delicious. Next time though make what you want; don't try to please everyone else. You'll never be able to please everyone.