The Odessa Record -

Young newbie chefs make mac and cheese

 
Series: Welcome to my Kitchen | Story 13

August 15, 2019



Mac-n-Cheese, a favorite of most kids and many adults, and a staple side dish on most southern cooking menus, has increased in popularity nation wide. Often, one of the first things kids learn to cook is boxed macaroni and cheese. Easy, salty and addictive.

In our last session of Go Odessa Summer Recreation cooking class, we made Macaroni and Cheese. The younger group used a boxed mix with macaroni cooked and chilled ahead of time, so only low-heat, stove-top cooking was required to complete the recipe. The age 10-and-above session made Danielle Hardung’s stove top recipe. I have printed this recipe from the “Odessa Friends of the Pool, Fiesta Fare” edition of their cookbook many times, most recently in February of this year.

Best Boxed Mac-n-Cheese, Ever!

1 package (7.25 ounces) regular macaroni and cheese (I used the Kraft brand.)

1/2 tsp vegetable oil

4 Tbsp butter or margarine

1/3 cup milk

2 slices American cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions until just done, al dente. Drain, toss gently with the oil and refrigerate until chilled or over night.

To prepare, melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add milk and stir until warmed.

Stir in the powered cheese mix and stir vigorously until the powder is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

Stir in cheese slices, one at a time, stirring until melted.

With a fork, gently break apart chilled macaroni and add to sauce. Stir gently until heated through.

Serve immediately. Yield: about 3 cups.

We talked with the kids about the different types of stove tops, electric burners, glass tops, induction tops and gas rings like we were using in the community center kitchen. We stressed safety rules, especially with the open flame of gas rings.

We were also wondering why our water for the second-session group to cook macaroni was taking so long to boil. Partly it is a quirk of gas ranges but also that the one filling the kettle used cold water.

A teaching moment when boiling water is always to start with the hottest water coming from the tap. Your hot water heater has done half the work, so the water will boil quicker.

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

2 cups dry macaroni noodles

Salt

2 large eggs

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce (we omitted this in cooking class)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

4 Tbsp butter

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

Meanwhile, mix eggs, half the evaporated milk, mustard, Tabasco sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and ground black pepper together in a medium bowl.

Drain macaroni and return to the pot. Over low heat stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the egg mixture and half of the cheese. Continue to cook over low heat, gradually stirring in the rest of the milk and cheese until creamy and hot, about 5 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper if desired. Yield: about 5-6 cups.

Besides accurate measuring of ingredients we learned about judgment calls, eyeballing what is half, and adding additional seasoning.

Baked versions are another version on the Macaroni and Cheese scene. Various pasta shapes and a variety of cheeses make appealing side and main dishes.

I took Swiss-American Macaroni and Cheese to a recent potluck lunch and received several requests for my recipe. Swiss cheese needs a low cooking temperature to prevent it from becoming stringy, so careful attention to the sauce is important.

Swiss-American Macaroni and Cheese

2 1/2 cups dry macaroni

Salt

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk, plus more for thinning if needed

1 cup sour cream

2 cups grated Swiss cheese

2 cups grated or finely diced American cheese or 12 individual slices

3/4 tsp onion powder

Topping:

1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs

1 cup finely crushed Ritz crackers

3 Tbsp melted butter

1 tsp ground paprika

Cook macaroni in salted water according to package instructions. Drain well and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease or spray with baking spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Meanwhile, make sauce in a medium saucepan by melting the 1/3 cup butter and blending in the flour. Stir in milk, stirring until thickened. Combine sour cream with 1 cup milk and stir into mixture, stirring until heated through.

Reduce heat to medium low and add Swiss cheese. Stir very gently until cheese is melted. Then add the American cheese and stir until just melted. Gently stir into cooked macaroni. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Combine topping ingredients and spread evenly over surface. Place in oven and bake 25 minutes until slightly bubbly at the edges. Yield: 12-15 side servings.

Now our cooking thoughts turn to Deutschesfest baking and back-to-school lunch ideas. What are your Fest favorites and what treats will you be filling those school lunch boxes with? We can’t overlook canning and preserving while peaches, pears and green beans are in abundance.

Share your favorite recipes by sending them to: Welcome to My Kitchen, c/o The Odessa Record, P.O. Box 458, Odessa WA 99159, emailing them to therecord@odessaoffice.com or dropping them in the Welcome to My Kitchen tin in The Record’s office.

Speaking of the mail tin, I am putting copies of the recipes used in the Go Odessa Summer Recreation Cooking Classes for the kids who missed sessions. Though the recipes have appeared in the paper, the versions I handed out were written with young readers in mind. Cooking and baking are important life skills and I am passionate about giving all the opportunity to learn. Keep garden vegetables picked to promote production.

 

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