Saturday, November 5, 2011

Autumn Comfort Food

One of my previous entries was about staples. Well, actually it was about a restaurant called Staple and Fancy. This entry is about staple and homely. There is nothing like pairing pumpkin with an old homely staple in our house. Staple that is, since children entered the picture. Homely that is, since I make it that way. Mac n Cheese and pumpkin, please? Glenna sent me a fail-safe recipe. I altered it ever-so-slightly based on what I could find in the fridge and cupboard. It was a hit! By the way, Paul still added more flavor to it after he got home. That's what he does... Sorry folks, I didn't add bacon, which Paul considers a spice. But I bet foraged mushrooms such as Chanterelles would have been fabulous. Paul bought an entire box from a friend who works at Whole Foods. Here's a tip: Don't try to pair it with a German Gew├╝rtztraminer which was all that was open in the fridge. In fact, don't ever buy a Gew├╝rtztraminer! Torsten's theory is that Germans export it so they don't have to drink it. (I agree!)

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
·       2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces) I used rigatoni.
·       2 Tbsp. butter
·       2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
·       1/2 tsp. salt
·       1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
·       1 cup whipping cream I used half & half·       1 cup whole milk I used skim milk
·       4 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup) I used Quattro Frommagio
·       1 15-oz. can pumpkin
·       1 Tbsp. snipped fresh sage or 1/2 tsp. dried leaf sage, crushed I used Herbes de Provence
·       1/2 cup soft bread crumbs I used Panko·       1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
·       1/3 cup chopped walnuts I omitted these (Lily is still too young)
·       1 Tbsp. olive oil
·       Sage leaves (optional) I didn't have sage!

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.
2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
3. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.

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