In the film “Somewhere,” director Sophia Coppola’s latest work, there is a scene in which the 11-year old daughter of the movie’s protagonist is making macaroni and cheese from scratch. Her father is a Hollywood actor who resides in a hotel suite in LA. Just before we see her cooking, she is on the phone with the hotel receptionist, ordering in the ingredients. I was dazzled by the depiction of this girl’s sophisticated talents in the kitchen.
When I was her age, my only encounter with macaroni and cheese came from the blue Kraft Macaroni and Cheese box. Granted, my parents are Filipino and although we were living in the States, this was not a popular dish in our household. I only learned about it from visits to some of my classmates’ homes. When my family and I went grocery shopping, I would beg them to add a few boxes to our cart. My parents thought it was the unhealthiest meal I could ask for, especially since it came straight out of a box. However, they gave in and I remember how much fun I had following the simple directions and the feelings of independence it gave me.
I’ve come a long way from cooking out of that navy blue carton. Fortunately, I have also eaten better versions of this rich cheesy pasta in some of NYC’s delicious soul food restaurants and enjoyed it even more in the southern parts of the US. The scene from the movie sparked a craving for mac n’ cheese, so before we swap the heavy casserole dishes of winter and trade them in for the lighter meals of spring and summer, I’ll take this last opportunity to indulge my waistline. Wait? What am I talking about here? I’m pregnant and I need the calories! Here’s to grown up macaroni and cheese!
Macaroni and Three Cheeses(adapted from Vegetarian Times)
1 1/2 cups medium-sized elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Emmenthal cheese
1/4 teaspoon of dried sage
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350/180 degrees.
Lightly grease a ovenproof baking dish.
Boil pasta in salted water.
After draining it, set it aside in the baking dish.
Melt butter in a saucepan and add the sage.
Then quickly whisk in the flour.
Cook until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.
Then add the milk, constantly whisking, again until the sauce thickens.
This may take 6-7 minutes.
Remove from heat, set aside.
Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl and add a tablespoon of each cheese in the bowl.
Add the remaining cheese to the sauce and stir until smooth.
Reheat over very low heat to melt completely.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pour sauce over the macaroni and gently combine sauce and pasta.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs and cheese mixture on top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with a side of spinach to lessen the guilt.