Love Your Ingredients List

What better way to start out a cooking blog than with a recipe that didn’t work out so well? I love macaroni and cheese, especially the way my grandmother used to make it. The top would become brown and crispy; that was the best part. You just don’t get that with other macaroni and cheese (especially not the pre-packaged, microwavable stuff). I could really use a good macaroni and cheese recipe.

I recently acquired a copy of The Food Matters Cookbook. It has several delicious recipes, mainly centered around vegetables with starches and proteins as supporting characters. And lo, it includes a recipe for macaroni and cheese that uses cauliflower to make the sauce nice and creamy. I thought it would be fantastic – macaroni and cheese, and its primary ingredient is a vegetable … so it has to be healthy, right?

I really should have known better. First of all, I don’t like cauliflower. I’ll eat it, it’s relatively inoffensive, but I don’t like it. It’s not something I usually choose to eat. As I mentioned, the primary ingredient in this recipe is cauliflower. A whole head of it, the size of a bowling ball! And, to make matters worse, the recipe doesn’t call for a single clove of garlic. I should have seen the red flags, but no. The appeal of healthy macaroni and cheese was just too strong!

In the recipe’s defense, it does call for Dijon mustard and nutmeg, neither of which I used. I don’t like the former, and I didn’t have the latter in stock. They might have helped, but I’m pretty sure that, without garlic, the recipe was doomed!

Long story short, we boiled the cauliflower until it was very tender, then pureed it with chicken broth, a blend of cheddar cheeses, and some salt and pepper. I was dismayed to discover that this mixture tasted like cauliflower, not cheese. Adding more cheese only meant that there was less of the delicious cheddar to put to other purposes. But, cooking can be like watching a train wreck. It’s painful to watch, but just too hard to pull oneself away.

The saving grace, once the mixture was poured over half a pound of not-fully-cooked macaroni and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, was that the recipe recommends a topping of breadcrumbs. My accomplice and I agreed to use seasoned breadcrumbs. (They were Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, so they must have included at least a small amount of garlic.) We sprinkled on a very generous layer, put the macaroni and cheese in the oven to bake, and prayed.

Our prayers were not heard. Or, if they were heard, they were laughed at and ignored. The only reason this monstrosity was edible at all was because of the bread crumbs! (see? garlic.) Usually very enthusiastic eaters, we each consumed only enough to quiet our rumbling stomachs. The leftovers sat in the fridge for longer than I’m willing to admit. I finally disposed of them a couple of days ago in order to rescue the baking dish and free up some space in the fridge. It was so painful to see so much pasta go to waste!

So, whatever you do, always check the ingredients list before deciding to follow a recipe. If you don’t like the ingredients, you probably won’t like the finished product, no matter how tempting the idea of is.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. garlicturino86
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 01:44:31

    She’s not kidding. We had reasonable hopes for this turn out decent. (I’m the fiancĂ© and co-conspirator of this dish, as well as a fair amount of the ones to come.) But of course, we started realizing the mistake when we tried tasting it (just prior to pouring it into the baking pan)… And it didn’t help that the dish took too long for what we got out of it.

    To be fair, the first bites were decent (ie, the crust), and later bites were made edible (with the addition of even more cheese…). It was definitely a good lesson learner though.


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