Wednesday, September 30, 2009

White Bean Chili with Bulgur

Every Sunday night, I cook with the intention of having leftovers. I have a love-hate relationship with leftovers.  On one hand, there is comfort in knowing you have something luscious waiting in your refrigerator when you’re ravenous after class or work.  Conversely, I love to cook, and having leftovers puts a kink in being able to cook unless you happen have no scruples about throwing away food.  However, with my current life style, leftovers are a necessity, and I spend abundant time on the decision-making process for my Sunday night cooking to ensure I will not be disappointed throughout the week. 

Recently, I stumbled across a white bean chili recipe that made me swoon.  Generally, I am drawn to vegetarian chili in theory, but disappointed by the reality.  The idea is not without appeal, but after a bowlful, I’m not satiated.  This particular recipe (from the September issue of Real Simple magazine) has a novelty component that won me over: a simple bulgur* salad to garnish the chili.  The bulgur adds heft, texture, and nutritional value; its simple dressing adds freshness to the melded flavors of the chili. 

Chili Recipe (adapted from Real Simple, September 2009)


½ cup bulgur*
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 14.5 oz. can chicken stock, vegetable stock or 1 ¾ cups water
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans small white beans, drained and rinsed

Additional accompaniment:  1 cup shredded Monterey jack

Bring one cup of water to a boil; add bulgur and a dash of salt.  Reduce heat and cover.  Simmer, stirring occasionally for 12-15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender.  Add lemon juice and zest, scallion, jalapeno, 1-tablespoon olive oil, and chopped parsley.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pot.  Add chopped onion and green pepper, and sauté until tender (about 8 minutes).  Add garlic and all of the remaining spices and herbs; sauté for a minute or two, until garlic is fragrant and spices are evenly distributed.  Add the can of tomatoes and stock or water.  Bring to a boil.  Add the beans and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve topped with the shredded cheese and a scoop of the bulgur. 

Comments:  The original recipe received minimal adjustments.  I increased the lemon, added a couple more spices, and changed the beans.  The original recipe called for cannellini beans.  I find them to be horsey in size, and I dislike how the skins separate from the bean.  Nonetheless, any bean you enjoy would work here.  Black beans or chickpeas would be delightful.  Next time, I plan to use one can of black beans, and one can of small white beans so I can call it and “Black and White (Bean) Chili.”  Also, the Real Simple recipe didn’t call for cheese, which I didn’t hesitate to amend.  Personally, I always take an opportunity to add cheese if it is contextually appropriate.  It if my favorite food, and I cannot be deterred.  Additional vegetables could enhance the chili, but are not necessary.  Zucchini would be particularly lovely, but I would add it with the tomatoes and broth to avoid mushiness. 

This recipe surpassed my expectations.  I made the chili on Sunday night, and it lasted me through Wednesday; I enjoyed the last bite as much as the first.  In fact, the flavor improved daily.  If you are die-hard meat hawk, you could brown a pound of ground beef before adding the onion and bell pepper.  However, as a vegetarian meal, this dish is a nutritious, delicious bargain that is mindful of your carbon footprint; I personally wouldn’t meddle with such a desirable combination of traits.  

*See glossary for definitions

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Penne and Broccoli

Penne and broccoli is one of the simplest and most satisfying dishes in my repertoire.  Generally, the only thing I may have to purchase in order to make this meal a reality is a broccoli crown.  It is “pantry cooking” at its finest.  I have yet again to offer thanks to Marc Bittman* for dish, although my preparation includes a few crucial variations from his original recipe.  I started making this when I was first learning to cook, and it was because of this dish that I began speculating about flavor combinations and what it meant to alter a recipe with success.  In general, many mistakes were made as I fine-tuned this skill, however this dish is close to foolproof. 

If you Google “penne with broccoli,” you will find many minor variations on the same theme.  Some call for Parmesan, some Romano, and some do not require cheese at all.  This is actually one of the few pasta dishes that I would potentially accept without cheese, but why deprive yourself?  Some recipes call for hot pepper flakes; some call for flat leaf parsley; some call for neither.  Ultimately, the variety amongst the recipes epitomizes what cooking should be: cook your food the way you like it.  With that being said, I will present you with my personal rendition so you may tailor it to your tastes. 

Penne with Broccoli:

While a pot of water comes to a boil, clean and chop a smallish broccoli crown (I like about 1/3 lb. for myself and this includes one hearty meal, and a portion of leftovers).  Put the broccoli in a bowl, cover it with vented plastic wrap, and microwave for about a minute and half (you want the broccoli just shy of al dente* since it will finish cooking later).

 When the water is almost to a boil, sauté couple of minced garlic cloves and a generous sprinkle of hot pepper flakes in a two to three tablespoons of olive oil.  Zest* a lemon into the hot garlicky oil. 

Add the par-cooked broccoli.  Season with kosher salt* and freshly ground pepper*. Then add about a quarter of a box of penne to the boiling water (I like to salt to water).  You want to give the broccoli about ten minutes in the pan, so time the cooking of your pasta accordingly.  With that being said, it is better for the sauce (or broccoli in this case) to wait for the pasta than the other way around, so it is best to wait an extra minute or two before putting the pasta in the water if you’re fuzzy on the timing.  However, in the event that this doesn’t work out, and the pasta is ready before the sauce, reserve at least half a cup of the pasta cooking liquid* before draining the pasta to help revive it and bring everything together in the final stages.

While the penne cooks, mash the broccoli with the back of a spoon (I generally cook with a wooden spoon.  It makes an excellent broccoli-masher).  Really brutalize the broccoli, break it apart, mash it into little pieces.  It will adhere better to the penne.  If the pan looks bone dry, add a little more olive oil (don't worry, it's good for you).  Just before the penne is ready, juice the zested lemon into the pan (I like to juice it through my hand, or even the grater I used to zest the lemon, to catch seeds). 

Then add the cooked penne.  I like to add the penne directly from the pot to the hot pan of broccoli, using a slotted spoon.  This way, you will get a fair amount of the starchy pasta cooking liquid* into the pan, which brings the dish together.  If you prefer to drain your pasta in a colander, reserve a little cooking water first.  Toss everything together; add salt and pepper to taste, flat leaf parsley if desired (although it is by no means necessary here), and parmesan.  Enjoy!

This recipe is not a far cry from any other penne with broccoli you may find online, or in a cookbook, except for one element: the lemon.  Personally, I find the lemon to be mandatory.  It adds both brightness and depth of flavor.  However, if you have a hankering for this, and have all the ingredients, but the lemon, you will enjoy it nonetheless.  This pasta dish is enormously satisfying, especially considering it only requires a handful of inexpensive ingredients.  The penne makes a major contribution to the satisfaction quotient.  The buxom tubes are deceptive to both your eye and your stomach; a small amount seems to be a lot more than it is in reality.  Furthermore, broccoli is such a substantial vegetable.  As much as I love zucchini or bell peppers, broccoli can stand alone in a way that other vegetables cannot compete with.  Plus this dish is ripe with flavor: garlicky, lemony-bright, spicy, and salty.  Despite its short list of ingredients, it is tall on flavor.

*See glossary for definitions

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I WANT YOU... to make a grilled cheese sandwich

This morning, I was listening to the world’s greatest news program, the Takeaway*.  A new concept was being discussed: “wiki-cuisine,” a website where anyone can contribute their ideas and suggestions to individual recipes.  The website is called Foodista (  Barnaby Dorfman, founder and CEO of Foodista, was interviewed, and he was rather convincing about the site’s merits, putting a wonderfully egalitarian spin on it. 

However, John Hockenberry (a host of the Takeaway and my personal hero) was suspicious of the concept, and I ultimately tend to agree with him. I need at least some sort of perspective on a person before I can be receptive to cooking advice.  Plus, food is so personal, and the reasons for our preferences are complex.  The Takeaway used a classic example to illustrate this point: grilled cheese sandwiches.  The hosts asked each other, their interviewees, and listeners how they liked their grilled cheese prepared.  There were some strong opinions out there, and a surprising amount of open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches reported.  Hockenberry’s daughter likes to wrap her sandwich in aluminum foil before she puts it in the pan.  I am open to many variations of grilled cheese from classic with American to sandwiches with highfalutin cheeses and various accompaniments (fresh herbs, tomato, bacon, smoked ham, etc.)  With that being said, I do feel strongly about two things:

1.     The bread.  You must have good bread to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  White, wheat, multigrain, it doesn’t matter, but it must be a decent loaf.  If you live in Colorado, watch out for Udi’s Italian Wheat or Mulit-Grain to go on sale, and stash it in the freezer.  You’ll be eating delicious sandwiches and toast for a month.
2.     It must be grilled!  In a hot pan with butter or olive oil, until the sandwich is a luscious golden color.  I have nothing against melting cheese on some bread in the toaster and having an open-faced tasty treat.  I call this delicious, but I do not call this grilled cheese. 

Besides inspiring deep thoughts on grilled cheese sandwiches, the Takeaway also inspired my dinner. We’ve had a few cold, dreary days in Boulder, and school has been particularly overwhelming this week; a warm, melty sandwich seemed like perfect antidote.  I decided to branch out a little from the traditional grilled cheese, and made myself a Monte Cristo. 

I went for the Monte Cristo in its simplest form.  I chose smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, and sharp Dijon mustard for the filling.  For bread, I went with multi-grain, more to add a contrasting color than anything else.  I hate when food is monochromatic.  This is a partial explanation for my obnoxious affinity for flat leaf parsley: a little color goes a long way.  So at least the multi-grain provided a warm brown to the pale layers of the filling.  My sandwich was light on the turkey, so the Swiss would shine through.  After all, the inspiration was a grilled cheese sandwich.  Next, I beat an egg with a touch of hot sauce, took the sandwich for a quick dip and put in a hot pan coated in olive oil.  As opposed to butter, I felt the richness of the egg batter needed the grassiness of olive oil for the sake of balance.  I gleefully ate my sandwich, with a pile of hot peppers on the side.  I’m sure that the vodka and my delirium made a contribution, but this meal was all I could have asked for after a long day.

So, there you have a synopsis of my grilled-cheese-motivated cooking jaunt.  And now, to pay homage to the inspiration for this post, please inform me of how you like your grilled cheese, if you feel so inclined.  As they say on the Takeaway, join the conversation. 

*See glossary for more information.

If you want to hear the Takeaway’s story on grilled cheese and Foodista, click here:

If you want to be in on the world’s greatest reporting and commentary, click here and listen daily (you won’t regret it):

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rosh Hashanah

In addition to the mountains and almost daily sunshine, Boulder has another huge selling point for me: my cousin, Shell (short for Michelle).  Her apartment is a five-minute walk from mine.  Boulder is still new to me, and having her here is like having a bit of home with me.  Though I have treasured our proximity since my arrival, I was especially grateful for her presence this past weekend; it was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Our family was never particularly religious, but we have always been thrilled to have an excuse for a great dinner.  The holidays in our family definitely have a distinct flavor (I think it’s Lawry’s seasoning salt).  A lot has changed in our family over the years, including this annual dinner, which no longer takes place.  This is simply due to the various directions our lives have taken: kids grew up (myself included), people moved, new generations have been sprouted.  So, when Shell and I decided to throw our own holiday, the ordeal had a particularly nostalgic flare, since we were recreating something that is no longer in practice.

Our buttery, salty spread included:  matzo ball soup* (tender, fluffy matzo balls, not the dense baseballs you find in delis), brisket*, twice-baked potato casserole, and carrots glazed in butter and brown sugar.  In fact, this was not necessarily a traditional Rosh Hashanah meal, but more of a conglomerate of the Jewish holidays in our family.  This was not an elegant meal, nor one of perfect presentation, but it certainly was tasty.

Matzo ball soup was our first course.  This is very simple: pick up a pack of Manischewitz matzo ball mix, follow the directions, and DO NOT open the lid until the timer goes off.  Put some canned chicken stock on the stove with aromatic vegetables*.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender; serve with the matzo balls, which can be made ahead. 

The potato dish is quite literally a giant twice baked potato.  After baking boatloads of Idaho potatoes, scoop out the flesh and mix in butter, sour cream, dried chives, dried parsley, parmesan (any type/brand will do), Lawry’s seasoning salt, and garlic salt.  Keep adding ingredients until the consistency is smooth and it tastes… perfect.  Or as Shell and I said, it tastes like home.  Then before dinner, top it with more parmesan and paprika, and throw it a hot oven until it is brown, bubbly, and lovely. 

The brisket is a tender, salty masterpiece that needs over four hours in the oven to reach its full potential.  If you are looking for hearty comfort food, this will do the trick. 


3 1/2 to 4 lb. flat cut brisket - well trimmed of fat and seasoned with Lawry's Seasoning Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika (you can season it the night before and let it settle in)

Bake UNCOVERED at 400 degrees for 30 minutes

Decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees

Pour mixed sauce around brisket:
  1 small can tomato sauce
  1 can beef broth
  1/3 cup red wine
  1 1/2 cups of boiling water
  Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 package of Lipton Onion Soup mix over brisket, seal well with foil

Bake for 3 1/2 hours at 325 degrees.  If desired, add carrot, potatoes, small onions for last hour of cooking.

The recipe above isn’t exactly the way my aunt does it because she doesn’t use a recipe.  Nonetheless, it comes from another Jewish kitchen, and it has all the same ingredients.

Overall, Shell and I were quite pleased with ourselves.  If any other this sounds particularly good to you, feel free to e-mail me for details.  I’d be more than happy to divulge.  However, I feel the need to refrain from boasting too much about flavor due to my undying bias towards this food.  Because of this, I will attempt to provide my readers with an objective measure of my enjoyment: I had three heaping servings of potatoes, and ate them for breakfast.  They are also making repeat performances in my dreams.

*See glossary for definitions

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My First Curry

Indian food seems to be one of my culinary blind spots.  Between my parents’ love of food, my cooking pursuits, and my years of waitressing, I have been exposed to a lot in the world of food.  Somehow, Indian cuisine has not been a part of that.  My brother took me to an “all you can eat” Indian buffet for lunch once; maybe that turned me off.  Nonetheless, this entire cuisine is a mystery to me, and lately this lack of knowledge has been nagging at me. 

I started doing a little research on curry.  It seemed like a good place to start.  After evaluating Mark Bittman’s* recipe for all-purpose curry powder, I realized that the flavor isn’t as unfamiliar to me as I originally thought.  Peppercorns, cumin, coriander, ginger, and turmeric: what could be bad?  While I wasn’t quite ready to embark on constructing my own curry powder, it seemed time to tackle cooking a curry. 

Within a week or so of being in Boulder, I stumbled across some curry powder on sale, and it seemed like fate.  The purchase of the curry powder occurred about a month ago, and every weekend I say I’m going to make a curry, yet it doesn’t come to pass.  Whenever I open my pantry, the yellow curry powder seems to glow brighter, staring me down out of resentment and neglect.  Finally, last weekend, I took the leap.  I combined my own instincts with another Mark Bittman recipe and a Martha Stuart recipe to create the concoction mapped out below (forgive my recipe-writing skills, I’m a novice). 

·     In a large, deep skillet, brown 1 ½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs in about 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  When browned (after a couple of minutes), but not cooked through, remove from the pan, and set aside. 
·     Remove oil from the pan until a tablespoon or so remains.  Lower the heat to medium and sauté one medium onion, chopped with 2 cloves of minced garlic and a couple of teaspoons of grated ginger.  Season with salt and pepper. 
·     When the onion has softened, add about a tablespoon of curry powder.  Sauté for one minute.  Add about ½ pound of coarsely chopped red bliss potatoes and 1 cup of water.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until potatoes start to become tender, but are not cooked through. 
·    Add ½ pound chopped cauliflower, 1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes, and chicken thighs.  Stir, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes until chicken and vegetables are cooked through. 
·    Add about ½ cup of frozen peas.  Allow to heat through, and serve over rice, rice pilaf, or couscous. 

If there is an excess of sauce, increase the heat and let it reduce for a few minutes.  The beauty of the chicken thighs is it won’t dry out.  I like to buy them at Whole Foods.  Because it’s dark meat, they are still reasonably priced, and all you need to do is eat them once to see the difference in quality (texture, flavor, and color) of a Whole Foods chicken thigh compared to a regular supermarket chicken thigh. 

The Outcome:
At first, I was disappointed.  I was under the impression that curry was spicy, and this was not even in the neighborhood of spicy.  So I did something that is no doubt sacrilegious to anyone in the know regarding Indian cooking:  I doused it with Sriracha* and soy sauce, and I dug in.  After my little makeover, I loved it.  Next time, I will add some cayenne pepper with the curry powder and be a little more liberal with the salt.  Overall, I ended up really enjoying this dish.  The flavor continued to improve, and it made a huge quantity, so it kept me happily fed for a few days.  But I must admit, I continued the use of my contextually inappropriate condiments. 

*See glossary

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Making Do

don’t want to be off-putting about cooking.  Some people may say I'm a food snob, which I can't completely deny.  However, I do have Maruchan chicken-flavor ramen noodles in my cupboard, for when the mood is right.  I may doctor them up a bit, but they reside here nonetheless.  Monday night’s dinner was lacking in both snobbery and excitement.  It’s important for people to know that even a “foodie”** approaches dinner lightly in the context of a long day.  When I tumbled into my apartment after a twelve-hour day at school, I combined my exhaustion and my leftovers into the following convoluted, yet satisfying meal:

-       Vodka on the rocks
o   This is actually a fairly regular “appetizer” at my place.  It stimulates the appetite, like the perfect appetizer should.  I recommend Svedka for a clean, yet reasonably priced vodka.
-       2 large spoonfuls of last night’s curry, cold (the next post will address said curry).
-       About ¾ of a cup of leftover rice pilaf, microwaved.
o   To this, I added a drizzle of spicy oil from a jar of hot pickled peppers and vegetables (jardinière).
o   Then a sprinkle of Lawry’s garlic salt.
o   Finally, a moderate-sized handful of shredded mozzarella (leftover from last week’s baked pasta; otherwise I would have used parmesan, which I always have on hand).

Honestly, I loved every bite; the vodka didn’t hurt either.  I don’t expect anyone to recreate this meal, myself included.  However, do not underestimate the contents of your kitchen, or your instincts.  Food doesn’t always have to be a vision of loveliness to go down easy.  

**Regarding the term "foodie":  I dislike this term for reasons I find difficult to verbalize.  However, I sort of epitomize the concept, so I use the term from time to time for lack of a better word .  

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blonde on Blonde: Cauliflower and Pasta

Cauliflower is a highly underrated vegetable.  I absolutely love it, and this is a significant statement coming from someone who has a penchant for comfort food (see the previous post for an example).  Steamed, mashed, caramelized, or roasted: cauliflower is the epitome of versatility.  It fits into infinite ethnic cuisines.  Its adaptability is reminiscent of pasta, another one of my favorites, and the two create quite a duet in the right context, such as Pasta with Cauliflower, Green Olives, and Almonds (courtesy of  In this heady blend, linguine is tossed with sautéed cauliflower, and laced with garlic and hot pepper flakes.  Green olives unleash their briny brilliance, while flat leaf parsley, parmesan, and the crunch of toasted almonds provide balance in this pungent dish.  Below is the recipe:

1 1/4 cups pitted brine-cured green olives (plain or stuffed)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1 (2 1/2-pound) head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch-wide florets (8 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Scant 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup water
3/4 pound dried spaghetti or linguine
1 ounce finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup) plus additional for serving
3/4 cup whole almonds with skin (3 3/4 ounces), toasted and coarsely chopped

Pulse olives and parsley in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook cauliflower with salt, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and garlic is golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in water and boil 1 minute. Add olive mixture and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water. Drain in a colander and return to pot.
Add cauliflower mixture and toss well, then add cheese and toss again. If pasta is dry, moisten with some reserved cooking water.
Sprinkle pasta with almonds and serve immediately, with additional cheese on the side.

My rendition was scaled down to about a quarter of the specified quantity, without using exact measurements.  Though I would love Reggiano as a staple in my refrigerator, this is not realistic at $18 per pound.  However, I find Argentine parmesan (also known as “Reggianito”) perfectly acceptable, but I always grate it fresh.  I skipped the food processor, choosing to chop the olives and parsley by hand, and I resorted to adding them at the end, since I am personally opposed to gratuitous cooking of olives, or fresh herbs.  Nor did I add the water to the cauliflower, but used pasta cooking water to moisten the pasta in the final stages.

The end result was sultry, like a blonde puttanesca*.  Although future adjustments are by no means necessary, I have the sneaking suspicion that a grating of lemon zest would be a welcome addition.  This dish will definitely be making some repeat performances in my kitchen.

*See glossary for definitions.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

Confession: I love Velveeta Shells and Cheese. Yes, the processed, bright yellow, gelatinous packet, which melts into a creamy sauce over the shells, as they nestle into each other, creating satisfying clumps of noodles. Well, I have to amend this confession slightly. I love Velveeta Shells and Cheese when it is steaming hot. In fact, the first bite right out of the pan is usually the best. After about five minutes of being in a bowl, the sauce starts to congeal, giving it a plastic-like flavor and texture. The color sets into a deeper, more artificial shade of orange-yellow. I usually eat it anyway since I made to satisfy a very specific craving: creamy, dreamy mac and cheese. I do love baked mac and cheese: béchamel*, Gruyere*, panko breadcrumbs*. But it will not do the trick when this craving strikes; it is a different beast entirely.

My Food Network friend, Alton Brown, has devised a solution to satisfying this special craving that involves real cheese, and doesn’t disappoint you half way through. I saw it on his show years ago, but made it for the first time last weekend. It honestly looks like Velveeta: a pile of smooth meltiness that creates a delightful squashy sound as you stir it in the pan. However, real sharp cheddar is the primary ingredient, and the flavor attests to this fact. The other ingredients are responsible for its unmatched creamy texture. I, of course, have made a few adjustments, but I have included dear Alton’s original recipe, unscathed, with my personal recommendations at the bottom.


1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded


In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

I did not use the whole ½ pound of pasta because I knew I would eat it all. Because of this, I cut back a bit on the butter and cheese (8 ounces), and made the sauce with a single 5-ounce can of evaporated milk. I just added a little sauce at a time until it reached the perfect velvety consistency. For the budding chefs out there, if at all possible, buy a block of cheddar and grate it yourself; it truly makes a difference. I also cut back on the salt significantly and used Dijon mustard, and bumped up the hot sauce to probably a full teaspoon of Sriracha*, adding a delicious garlicky zing. Last, I mixed in some chopped flat leaf parsley* because that never hurt anything. The result was a cheesy masterpiece. Next time, I will be more conservative with the mustard, but I have no significant complaints. And despite the fact that I cut down on the pasta, I still ate too much. This mac and cheese overload resulted in me taking three or four breaks to lie down, while I washed the dishes. Nonetheless, I’ll probably do the same thing next time.

*See glossary for definitions