15 Jan It’s Mac and 6 cheese Time
I remember as a kid eating macaroni and cheese out of the box A LOT. As a child it was one of the first things I was allowed to learn how to cook without burning the house down. It was simple, quick and easy. Growing up we didn’t have much but we did the best we could with what we had. Have you ever eaten something SO much as a child that now as an adult it absolutely repulses you? Well I feel this was about pancakes and Mac and cheese, LOL . There was a time in my childhood when we ate pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well and then there was macaroni and cheese, out the box. My Grandmother would make it with just about everything. Mac and cheese with hot dogs, mac and cheese with green peas (blah), mac and cheese with tomatoes (which actually wasn’t to bad), mac and cheese with ketchup and Vienna sausages… well you get the point we had it with just about anything. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining because my grandmother made sure my belly was always full. And she did the best with what she had.
It was a fall night and I was just so sick of macaroni and cheese but I was grateful it wasn’t pancakes AGAIN. It had just rained and I was looking out the window. I had a ballet recital this night and I was pretty bummed that no one from my family showed. As a 10 year old, it broke my heart. I danced well and I put on my best face. I got a standing ovation and no one was there to see it. My dance teacher, Ms.Sistaire named the number that I danced after a poem that I wrote for her. It was called perfect peace. I was SO proud. I cried looking out the window this night but my tears subsided once I smelled the noodles and salt water boiling. My little heart skipped a beat because oh shoot wait a minute, that’s NOT mac and cheese from the box. My nana was making it from scratch. I stared at this one particular building. It was the tallest building downtown and had a huge clock on it. I could always spot it looking out the sixth floor in my Brooklyn project window. I talked to it along with the stars. Just wishing and praying that things would be better.
Dinner was almost ready and I could hardly keep still. I knew that my grandmother had to work that night so I had no choice but to accept that she couldn’t make it. But what happened to the rest of my family? I let the thought go and focused on the meal that was being placed before me. I never really spoke my mind as a child, I kept things to myself. Even though my heart was broken deep down inside I knew my grandmother was making this meal for me, she was a woman of very few words. But when she spoke I knew to listen. She fixed my plate and I controlled my tears. My plate had fried chicken, homemade mac and cheese, strings beans, and banana pudding in a cup. I was in heaven! With every cheesy bite and crunch of chicken, that’s all I needed. This very night I changed how I viewed mac and cheese. I savored every bite and swallow, because it was then that I fell in Love with it. That dish comforted every pain and made everything all better. It wrapped me tight. Felt as though I was being hugged and kissed. I enjoyed this feeling. I remember telling myself that as soon as I was old enough to buy my own things from the grocery store I was going to create a macaroni and cheese that no one could deny. I had to figure out a way to not hate the dish because I ate it so much and I did just that. I can’t say the same for pancakes LOL!
This story I hold close to my heart because it’s how I came up with my business name, Kandii’s Komforts. I wanted to be able to comfort people with good food the way I was comforted that night. Food in general brings people together. My desire is to allow every meal I create or recipe I write to bring the same joy, comfort, and Love that I got to others. I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. It will forever be a staple in my home. From my stove to your belly, let Kandii Komfort you.
6 Cheese Mac and Cheese
What your beautiful self will need:
1 box of barilla elbow macaroni pasta
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
paprika, for color
3/4 cup heavy cream
baking pan glass or aluminum
2 tbs of butter
nutmeg * my Secret ingredient*
(I prefer to use Cracker Barrel cheese. In this dish the quality of cheese truly matters.)
1st cheese – extra sharp cheddar
2nd cheese – aged reserve cheddar
3rd cheese – mild cheddar
4th cheese – Vermont white cheddar
5th cheese – Monterey Jack
6th cheese – Gouda cheese
Grab all the cheeses -aged reserve,mild cheddar, vermont, cut these cheeses into medium or small size blocks (yes all of it), now cut 1/2 of the extra sharp, gouda, and monterey cheese. Put the other 1/2 aside, these cheeses you will need for later- (extra sharp and vermont.)
*if I lost you read it again, lol*
By now you should have all your cheeses cut up and in a bowl set aside.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grab a BIG, I mean BIG sauce pot or soup pot. Fill it a little more than half way with water, add salt to the water
once the water boils, add your pasta and stir about 8 mins al dente, don’t over cook the noodles *nobody wants soft soggy mac*.
Once the pasta is done put it in a strainer and you are now gonna “shock” your noodles.
shocking is basically running cold water and putting the noodles that’s in the strainer under the running cold water. This stops the cooking process.
Ok, NOW for the fun part. Put the noodles back in the pot, add your heavy cream, egg and butter. Stir quickly on low heat.
*if your heat is TOO high you will have scrambled eggs in your noodle you don’t want that*
Grab all of your cheese – the 1/2 of the gouda, monterey, extra sharp, all of the aged reserve, mild, and vermont. Now turn the heat up a little more to about med high. Add the cheese little by little YES you are melting the cheese in the pot *trust me*, continue to stir. If your mac is too thick add a little bit more of the heavy cream, but remember less is more! Keep stirring until the cheese is melted but still has chunks of solid cheese left. Use a spoon to check the consistency, if it is cheesy and you still have whole pieces of cheese you are ready for the next step.
Now add your salt and pepper. VERY IMPORTANT! Less salt is more, you only want the salt to enhance the taste. You don’t want over salty mac! Be sure to taste test before adding more salt, your cheese holds most of the flavor.
Ok so to add my secret ingredient, nutmeg. You want to add a pinch! Nutmeg is EXTREMELY strong so be careful when adding it, remember a pinch. DID you hear me A PINCH. The nutmeg gives it that hmmmm what is that can’t put my finger on it flavor. A PINCH! if you put too much well…scoop that part out and try again.
Mix well… Now grease your pan with some butter. Pretty much coat the pan with butter. Now pour you mac mixture in your baking pan. Once that is done add the other 1/2 of the extra sharp and vermont to the top of your mac. Have fun with this part make it pretty, add some paprika for color.
Now cover your mac with foil and bake for about 15 mins covered!. Once the 15 mins is up remove the foil and put back in the oven for 5-6 mins more to caramelize the top.
With this mac recipe, the sky is the limit. If your bold or feeling experimental add small pieces of chicken, bacon, or tomato. If you are a texture person you can add bread crumbs to the top, I don’t like crunchy mac so I pass. Have fun with this, get the family involved. Call the children, the hubby… or if you just want a quiet comforting moment cooking this all alone I understand, lol.
I hope you a enjoy this! 🙂
Leave comments, experiences or suggestions.