I was very surprised to discover that I really enjoyed planning and cutting, and mixing and stirring. Of course, it helps to have a kitchen that's wonderfully kitted out in wedding registry wonderfulness, making the process fun. (Who doesn't want to bake when they have a baby pink Kitchen Aid Mixer? I mean, really. Thanks Ate Joy!)
Eating good food has also always been high on my list of favourite things to do, so I guess cooking kind of just goes hand-in-hand with that. However, the sense of accomplishment I felt after cooking my very first roast chicken rather astounded me. Mostly because at first, I was so terrified of the dead, plucked animal in my kitchen sink. (I have to put my hand where and pull what out?! I have to look for stray feathers and pluck them?!) And because I wasn't sure that I could do it, and my poor new husband and I would be stuck eating some slimy, salmonella-ridden monstrosity for dinner.
Anyway, this blog (after some coaxing from friends & family) is to show you my accomplishments, because gosh darnit, I'm really proud that I went from Kraft dinners to boeuf bourguignon in less than four months!
Now for the delectable pictures, which, if you are my friend on fb, you may already be familiar with.
Could that really be a real, grown-up dinner? Why yes, I believe it is! Afterwards, my husband confessed that he was worried that I wouldn't know how to cook at first, but assured me that this was not the case any longer. He is a man who does not know how to lie.
I decided to make some real macaroni and cheese! I used actual cheese that I grated myself, who would've imagined? I tried Martha Stewart recipes for both the roast chicken and this baked mac & cheese. I love her cookbooks because they are basic and straightforward, and very non-scary for a kitchen novice. (Thanks Joan!) This also turned out great, except I made enough for twelve people! I was very gung-ho and neglected to read the "recipe may be halved" disclaimer. Oh well, neither one of us complained about eating mac & cheese for three days, twice a day. I have since made this recipe again, with rigatoni, and added a yummy dash of black truffle oil over top! DELICIOUS. I also learned not to drizzle truffle oil on top of the breadcrumbs before you bake it, because you will burn your bread. I didn't know it was a finishing touch. Now I know!
Since I have successfully made myself hungry, I must stop for today and continue again tomorrow!
Martha Stewart Roast Chicken Recipe for 4:
- 1 six-pound roasting chicken
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
- 1 lemon
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
- 3 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 3/4 cups milk
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- teaspoon salt
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch ground black pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 2 1/4 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 8-9 ounces)
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (about 4 ounces) or 3/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 2.5 ounces)
- 1 pound elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 1.5-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
- While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
- Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 31 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, and 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.
- Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce
- Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese, Gruyere or Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.