11 September 2008

Grown Up Mac and Cheese in Barefoot Bloggers Style

Another milestone has been reached in what I like to call my blogging career.... as insignificant as that might be!!!I have become the 100th member of the Barefoot Bloggers !!!!!! This is a group of ladies who twice a month create a chosen recipe from one of my culinary idols Ina Garten... the Barefoot Contessa herself!!!! Being a BB gives me an excuse to cook many of Ina's recipes... as if I really need an excuse. Joining this illustrious group of ladies will allow me to branch out and meet many new faces through blogging as well as cook up a storm with Barefoot style!!!!

Ina Garten knows how to entertain with simplicity, style and fun. I can't wait to discover more of her shortcuts and strategies for make-ahead menus, memorable parties and amazing food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This time the recipe is Grown Up Mac and Cheese chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl.

I served it with a tossed salad with some fresh garden tomatoes I picked up from my Italian "grandmother" at the farmers market this past Saturday. She is not really my grandmother as you have probably already guessed. I figure if I can adopt my blogging friend Ivy of Kopiaste and call her my sister (I would love to have her as a sister in the real world)....I can have a Gran too since I have never had one. Sad I know. My "market Gran" barely speaks English, can barely see the scale when she weighs my tomatoes and peppers, and cannot stand for long periods of time...but I always buy my tomatoes from her at the market. I noticed this morning that the price of her tomatoes had risen...they used to be a bargain but she has also become crafty and her competitors around the market from the more commercial fruit and vegetable growers are charging $2 for their tomatoes ....so she is charging $3. Nevertheless I still support her and have a little chat with hand gestures and lots of smiles and nods. She is a very enterprising lady to have a stand at the farmers market with fruit and veggies from her backyard garden and I will always pay $3 so that she can continue and visit her every Saturday morning as a dutiful "granddaughter" should. Whether she has a stand out of necessity or sees it as a way to make a few dollars I don't know. Whatever the reason I will continue to be overcharged for my tomatoes. She is such a sweetie!!!!!! It is the people that make up this interesting world that make it all worth while.

TIDBIT: Ina began to dabble in cooking and entertaining in an effort to occupy her time while her husband Jeffrey served his four-year military tour as a paratrooper during the Vietnam War. She also acquired her pilot's license during this time, according to an interview she gave to the Raleigh News & Observer.

So far the Barefoot Bloggers have cooked up 25,584 Friday dinners for Jeffrey !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

**Grown Up Mac and Cheese**

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
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  1. Yumm! All those cheeses and then the thick bacon. Looks just great. Congrats on being a Barefoot Blogger!

  2. I always enjoyed her show, have most of her books and have never had any of her recipes fail to please.
    You'd think Jeffery would be bigger than he is after all those meals wouldn't you ;0))
    I love the blue cheese and basil in this one. Love the look of that bacon on yours.

  3. Sounds really delicious!

  4. Bellini can I come live with you?! EVERYTHING you make is so my style and just looks tempting and gorgeous and delicious.

    I need to find out more about these Barefoot Bloggers, I love Ina's food!

    Those potatoes sound REALLY good too!

  5. Val, nicely done...the blue here gives that kick!

  6. LOL - guess what I just posted today - mac 'n' cheese! Great minds think alike. I think I might try adding bacon to my recipe too :)

  7. Congratulations Val, You do Ina proud every time! She has a great life, dosen't she?

  8. Yummmm. I love that mac and cheese an I loved the story about your Italian Grandmother!

  9. Hey sis, thanks for the mention. I am so proud and lucky to have you as my blogging sister.
    When I read Mac and Cheese I thought that Mac stood for McDonald's and presumed you were preparing a burger and I only understood that Mac stands for macaroni,which is the Greek word for pasta, only after reading all the recipe. It sounds like a very interesting recipe and it's an opportunity to try the blue cheese.

  10. That picture is gorgeous. Yum! Interesting tidbit about Jeffrey too.

  11. Welcome! Looks wonderful!

  12. Ina is one of my culinary idols too. I have all of her cookbooks. I've been wanting to join the BB group, but I just don't think I can manage one more group. Sigh.....

    I've made this mac and cheese before and I love it! You did the dish justice. It looks great!

  13. A very flavorful Mac & Cheese! I love that cheese combination!



  14. I love Ina and love this recipe! I'm glad you're having fun with the new group!

  15. At the moment Ina is nowhere to be found here on SA TV, but I used to love her food, I think it is because she lives this dream life.
    I love the look of this Mac -n- cheese.

  16. Yay Val. I came across the Barefoot Bloggers a while back and thought about joining - I am huge fan of Ina's.

    Honestly, I had forgotten about BB until I read your post. What do you think? Should I sign up?

  17. What a fun group. I could never get sick of Inas recipes. Mac and cheese is always so good and versatile.

  18. I do a similar preparation of mac & cheese, so I know I would love this. It sounds like a delicious indulgence!

  19. I love Ina and mainly like her desserts recipe. This a quite a good group that you joined.

  20. I like the Barefoot Contessa as well Val. Congrats for joining the group and I gotta say that Mac and cheese is so perfectly "cheesy".

  21. Hmmm...macaroni and cheese that doesn't come from a box that separates the pasta from the cheese. I guess I wouldn't be able to call it KD anymore. Plus, I'd probably have to come to terms with KD tasting pretty bad. I don't know if I'm ready for all of this change. But - it does look good and I have a lot of faith in Ina. Such a quandary.

  22. The bacon on top looks delicious! Keep supporting Gran!

  23. I adore Ina Garten - she's an inspiration - entrepeneur. intellegent and she can pull it together with style. You did her recipe justice - great cheeses, bacon...mmmm...hog heaven

  24. 100! Welcome to Barefoot Bloggers!!! Hope you have a great time trying these recipes with us. Ina rarely has a dud. ;)

  25. Looks absolutely delicious! I need to join the Barefoot Bloggers. You all make such good things!

  26. Welcome to the Barefoot Bloggers!

    Your Mac and Cheese looks absolutely delicious! I canr relate to the Italian grandmother at the market.

  27. Delicious - and definitely one to hide from the kids!

    I love Ina - they show her on UKTV Food now - yay!

  28. I love Ina! ANd this recipe - YUM!

  29. Oooh - looks and sounds absolutely DEEEEE-LISH!

  30. That is so sweet of you to be so supportive of your adopted gran!

    I do enjoy watching Ina, very comforting programming. I don't have any of her books though. I haven't seen any in the library either, I will have to put in a suggestion or two!

  31. Your pictures are sooo good!
    I want to eat everything you make!!

  32. Oh, yum! I want to reach through the screen and snatch that bacon! This is such great comfort food. My daughter and I would devour it! YUM!

  33. Oh gee, forgot to say congrats on being the 100th member! Yeah!


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