“The Cheese-Maker’s Mac and Cheese” from “Half Baked Harvest”

What I should have done, I realise now, was to take an action shot of this mac and cheese. In the cookbook, the spoon hovers just over the dish, with pasta heaped on top and loads of cheese cascading down. My picture above does not show any of this, and I apologise. But believe me when I tell you that this dish, like many others in this cookbook, contains oodles (I’m sure that’s the technical term) of cheese.

As regular readers of this blog know, our family already has a Desert Island Mac and Cheese, this one from the New York Times. I’ve been making it since it was first published in January 2006, which tells you all you need to know about its staying power.

So was this version better? No, though I’m beginning to think that no version is going to be an improvement on the one we love so much. But was this version at least as good? Again, no.The inclusion of crushed Ritz crackers on the top was an intriguing addition, but it wasn’t enough for us to fall in love with it. It tasted good, it was quicker to make and it wasn’t a disaster, but I couldn’t in good conscience say that it was as good as our beloved favourite.

The oodles of cheese were good, though.

If you’d like to make this yourself, click through this sentence to find it on the Half Baked Harvest blog.

 

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“The Cheese-Maker’s Mac and Cheese” from “Half Baked Harvest”

“Crab & Sriracha Mac ‘n’ Cheese” from “Comfort”

It’s always a dangerous thing in this family to try to find a better mac ‘n’ cheese than the one we already know and fiercely love. I’ve written about this before, and you would think I would have learned my lesson by now, but I guess I like to live life on the edge.

Thus, this new mac ‘n’ cheese with crab and sriracha.

I’m not going to bury the lede. We didn’t like this more than our Desert Island Mac ‘n’ Cheese from the New York Times. But it was a nice change from the usual.

Though I need to add a few caveats. First, Andrew (18) didn’t like the first few bites but ended up eating the lot. “I didn’t like it at first, but I guess I do now,” he said, which is hardly a ringing endorsement, but at least he had something to eat.

Another caveat: rather than taking out a second mortgage to buy all the fresh crab necessary for this (300 g, which would run us about £15 if it was all fresh), I used a mixture of fresh and canned. Given that the dish is smothered in sauce and cheese, I didn’t think we would notice the difference. We didn’t.

Would I make this again? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, it was good. It just wasn’t better than our usual, so we’ll stick with that.

“Crab & Sriracha Mac ‘n’ Cheese” from “Comfort”

“Mac and Cheese” from “Bread Street Kitchen”

img_9562Here in London, there’s no denying that autumn is well and truly here: orange leaves decorate the pavement (and need raking), the days are getting shorter (and lights go on at 4 p.m.) and at our house, the heat is finally on (always the cause of many of celebration here). This also means it has become peak Mac and Cheese weather. Huzzah!

Being Americans, we come by our love of mac and cheese honestly. There’s a reason that every American diner/eatery offers it: We were raised on the stuff. Sure, the stuff we were raised on was day-glo orange and probably not the healthiest alternative, but we were raised on it just the same.

I’ve got a go-to recipe that we all love (thanks NY Times!) but we’re always willing to try new versions. I should say for the record we very rarely experience a mac and cheese that we don’t like.

This one was great. Creamy. Very cheesy. Crunchy on top. It did, however, require multiple pots and pans, which always bums be out a bit. (Our go-to recipe requires no pots and pans, just a long time in the oven.) We loved it, but alas, it did not knock our favourite off of its perch at No. 1.

If you’d like to try it yourself, Google Books has the recipe, which can be found by clicking through this sentence.

“Mac and Cheese” from “Bread Street Kitchen”