10.5 Autum Mac and Cheese


Fall is now in full swing. To celebrate I took a trip out to Long Island this past weekend to pick apples. It looks like this will be my only chance to cook Halloween-inspired food this year, so I’ve planned a traditional mac n cheese along with some creepy appetizers to accompany the obligatory apple pie.
Truffled Mushroom Caps
20 small cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
8 oz softened cream cheese (room temperature)
2 tbsp yellow onion, finely minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs (I made sour dough crumbs from toasted day-old bread)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp olive oil

truffle oil to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In small bowl combine cream cheese, cayenne, onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Using a pastry bag or a ziplock with a corner snipped, pipe cream cheese into prepared mushroom caps just slightly higher than the top of the mushroom.

In a second bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil and a little extra salt and pepper to taste.

Drop stuffed mushrooms cream cheese-side down in bread crumbs one at a time. Using a spoon, scoop under the mushroom and press down on the spoon as you flip over for maximum crumbs.

Set mushrooms on a baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes until breadcrumbs just start to brown.

Let cool 5 minutes and arrange on serving plate.

Drizzle each cap with a drop or two of truffle oil just before serving.


Savory Elephant Ears
1 sheet store-bought puff pastry dough
1/4 cup basil pesto
Shredded Parmesan cheese to garnish

Heat over to 350 degrees.

Unfold and slightly roll out one sheet of puff pastry dough, retaining sqaure shape.
Cover surface with a single layer of basil pesto and sprinkle with parmesan.

Fold left and right sides of dough half-way into the center of the pastry, fold half way in again to meet in the center of the dough. Fold left and right sides of dough in to each other to create a fairly cylindrical shape. Ends should look like a rolled up heart. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 15 minutes to firm up dough.

Remove plastic and slice cylinder into 1/4″ rounds. Arrange on cookie sheets allowing a few inches room between each (they will puff as they cook).

Bake 10-12 minutes paying close attention to make sure bottoms do not begin to burn. Pastry will still be fairly light on the top.

Let cool 5 minutes then serve.


Macaroni and Cheese with Prosciutto and Sun-dried tomatoes
1 lb elbow pasta, boiled to al dente
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (I made sourdough crumbs from day-old bread)
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 shallot, finely minced
1-2 cups 1% milk
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp whorchestershire sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry (NOT cooking Sherry!!)
salt and pepper to taste

1/4 lb prosciutto, diced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil), diced

Boil water in a large stock pot and cook macaroni as indicated on the package, about 6 minutes until just al dente.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×11″ casserole dish.

Assemble all ingredients before you start cooking, as the sauce tends to burn if you don’t watch it.

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk 2 or 3 minutes until flour begins to brown just slightly and smell nutty. Add in minced onion. Whisk in 1 cup milk. Continue whisking until mixture is smooth and no lumps are present, about 5 minutes until sauce thickens.

Add cayenne, mustard, whorchestshire, sherry, salt and pepper and continue stirring another minute or two. If sauce is too think add more milk. Should have the consistency of a gravy.

Retain 1/3 cup shredded cheese to sprinkle across the top of the casserole.

Reduce heat to low and add shredded cheddar in batches until just combined, then remove from heat.

Toss drained macaroni with cheese sauce and pour half of mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Layer in prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes, then top with second half of mac and cheese mixture.

Top casserole with a light layer of breadcrumbs, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. You can also dot with a tiny bit of butter for browning if you like.

Cover casserole with foil and bake 30 minutes (1 hour if you refrigerate first), removing foil for last 10 minutes to brown the top.



Apple Pie made from my farm-fresh Long Island apples.

Jake, our special guest for the evening, managed to put away a solid 3 helpings along with appetizers and a slice of apple pie.

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JL continues to be off his game, however he gets an honorable mention for eating 5 helpings of the pumpkin pasta I made later this week. It figures he picks the undocumented night to match is best performance.

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