Cheese is one of the oldest made foods dating back to the prehistoric beginnings of herding. According to “The Penguin Companion to Food”, by Alan Davidson – the earliest records of milking come from some cave paintings in the Libyan Sahara dating from 5000 BC or before and show what appears to be cheese making. It goes on to say that actual cheese had been found in an Egyptian tomb of about 3000 B.C. Our love affair with cheese in all its forms is long and wondrous.
Last night I made “Mac & Cheese”. This recipe was different than the one I normally use as I wanted to try something different, not so heavy as my usual dish. It is important to note before we go any further. A good melting cheese should be high in fat. Remember also to only heat it enough to melt and blend with your sauce. Over heating will most likely cause it to begin to coagulate and then you have a stringy mess – so keep it below 140 F or 60 C. Using a soft moist cheese for the best result.
The recipe I used this time was found in a Food Network magazine. I did however make a few changes. I added 1 can of lump crab meat, 4 green onions and a few shakes of Tabasco. Below is the recipe as it is in the magazine. You can see my result in the pics in this posting.
* 1 large egg
* 1 12-ounce can evaporated whole milk
* Pinch of cayenne pepper
* Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 1/3 cups grated muenster cheese (4 ounces), plus 4 deli-thin slices (1 ounce)
* 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
* 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
* 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (4 cups)
* 4 cups medium pasta shells (9 ounces)
Whisk the egg, evaporated milk, cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and black pepper to taste in a bowl. Toss the grated cheeses in a separate bowl.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook until almost falling apart, about 7 minutes.
Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add the pasta to the same water and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.
Preheat the broiler. Combine the egg mixture and the grated cheeses in the empty pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheeses melt and the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and add the cauliflower. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth and light (you can also use a regular blender).
Stir in some of the reserved pasta water until creamy. Toss the pasta in the sauce; season with salt and black pepper.
Transfer to a shallow casserole dish and top with muenster slices. Broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes.