Is there anything so comforting as Macaroni and Cheese fresh out of the oven? With its gooey, cheesy inside and its crunchy breadcrumb crusted topping, there are few savory comfort foods that can compare.
While I was making my fiancé’s birthday cupcakes, I was contemplating birthdays and pictures of macaroni and cheese kept popping up. Growing up, the birthday child (or adult) got to choose whatever they wanted for their birthday dinner, and the number one pick was Dad’s Macaroni and Cheese. That is what we called it growing up but it was actually his Mother’s recipe. We called it Dad’s Macaroni and Cheese because it tasted infinitely better when Dad made it.
The Farr Family Macaroni and Cheese recipe is very similar to the recipes in my antique cookbooks except that it has one secret ingredient. For twenty years my Dad wouldn’t share his secret ingredient with anyone: it wasn’t on the recipe card, no one was allowed to be around when he made it, and he certainly never told us.
There have been very few changes made to the original Macaroni and Cheese recipe, but rumor has it that my Mom added the breadcrumbs on top. As I was pulling the final dish together last night, I reached for the ubiquitous Potato Breadcrumbs (yes, there are still some left!) and thought, “You know what makes breadcrumbs better? Butter! Mmmm buttered breadcrumb topping.” And that is how the current iteration of the recipe came to be. I hope my Dad will approve of my addition.
Farr Family Macaroni and Cheese
6 Tablespoons salted sweet cream butter
6 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon dry mustard (the secret ingredient. Shhh!)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (I pack freshly grated cheese into the cups. More is more!)
½ cup finely ground breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons salted butter (for crumbs)
Pre-heat oven to 375°. Cook your macaroni until it is firm. Drain and set aside. Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add mustard to flour and stir to mix. Add flour mixture to melted butter, stirring until smooth. Cook 5 minutes on low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Slowly add in milk a little at a time, stirring constantly until thick. Mixture should just come to boiling.
Add macaroni to cheese mixture and stir until it is fully coated. Spoon into oven-safe dish. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter and mix with ½ cup breadcrumbs. Spread buttered crumbs on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. Serve hot.
This recipe as written makes an 8” x 8” dish. It will comfortable serve 4. I halved the recipe to make the ramekin pictured. It served 2 with some leftovers. It is actually a surprisingly easy dish to make, but it does require constant stirring for ~ 10 minutes.
It is rich and flavorful, and once you have one bite, there is no going back!
Roasted Lemon Asparagus
Preheat oven to 400°. Trim tough ends from asparagus spears. Spread on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle asparagus with a light coating of olive oil (start with a teaspoon) and season with a pinch of salt and pepper (to taste). Place thin slices of lemon over the top of asparagus and squees 1/8 of a lemon over the spears. Bake at 400° until a fork can easily be inserted into a spear but it is still reasonably firm. Turn asparagus after 5 minutes. The time will vary drastically depending on the thickness of the asparagus.