Macaroni & Cheese

Alaina would be disgusted by this deliciously cheesy Barefoot Contessa grown-up version of baked macaroni and cheese. It is insanely cheesy. I don’t understand. How can you be Italian and hate cheese!?  I happen to be in love with this dish. Over the years baked macaroni and cheese has become my ultimate indulgence meal. Brent and I always bake macaroni and cheese for his birthday. I’ve experimented with several blends of cheese, and toppings, and this one tops them all. I love the creamy blend of gruyere, with the bite of blue and cheddar cheese, topped with crusty bread crumb topping. I’m drooling as I type. Too bad we never have leftovers. 

Ingredients:
Kosher salt
2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni
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, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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 stir well. Pour into a baking dish.

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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Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Potato

Marta, Brooke, Mary Ann and I braved the crowds, and celebrated Easter Sunday at Saint Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica. The parish organized eleven services throughout the day, and they were all filled to capacity. It was beautiful seeing a long line of people wrapped around the block waiting for their spot in church to worship. After mass we cooked a tasty Easter brunch with mimosas, fruit salad, carrot cake, and this egg dish. Thank you Food and Wine Magazine for making this my go-to brunch dish. I’ve made it several times over the past few years, and am finally sharing it with my huge following of fans to enjoy.  Happy Easter!

Ingredients:

2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1/2 pounds chorizo (we used soyrizo from Trader Joe’s)
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6-8 large eggs

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375°. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 25 minutes; drain and let cool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 3/4-inch pieces.
Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Add the chorizo, break it into chunks with a wooden spoon and cook over moderate heat, turning, until cooked through and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape the chorizo mixture into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
Heat the oil in the skillet. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 6 minutes. Stir in the chorizo mixture. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Using a ladle, make 6-8 indentations in the potato-chorizo mixture about 1 inch apart; crack an egg into each one. Bake the skillet in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the egg whites are just set but the yolks are still runny.