Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower and Broccoli

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This version of the classic comfort food gets heat from cayenne, white pepper and dry mustard, and sharp flavor from extra sharp cheddar and Parmesan, and a kick from the Chardonnay. I add cauliflower which is good on its own with the cheese sauce, and if you like, broccoli for extra color.
Preheat oven to 375◦

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Serves 10

½ large onion or 1 small onion, chopped
1 large head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
2 Tb butter
Melt butter in heavy frying pan. Chop onion and stir into butter over medium-low heat until soft. While the onions are cooking, slice cauliflower and broccoli and cut into flowerets. Stir into onion mixture and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Alternatively, you can roast the cauliflower in the oven and add to the onions and broccoli. I use a food processor with a grater attachment to grate the cheese.
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 tsp salt
Boil a large pot full of water. Stir in salt and macaroni and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Drain. Pour back into the pot. Stir the cauliflower and broccoli into the macaroni.

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roux:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
a few shakes cayenne to taste
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups milk (I use 1%)
¼ cup dry white wine such as chardonnay
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until it makes a thick, smooth paste. Cook the roux for 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in one cup milk until smooth. Whisk in the rest of the milk. Stir in cayenne, mustard, bay leaf, salt and white pepper. Cook this béchamel sauce for 15 minutes, whisking constantly. Turn off heat. Remove bay leaf. Whisk in grated cheese until fully incorporated in sauce. Stir in ¼ cup wine. Adjust salt if desired.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni and vegetables and stir until it is well combined. Spray a large casserole with non-stick spray. Pour mixture into casserole.

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Bake at 375◦ for 30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Potato-Leek soup with cheese, mushroom, cauliflower variations

Potato-Leek soup

3 cups chicken broth (You can make this a vegan dish with vegetable broth)

1 leek, white part only

2 Russet potatoes

1 tsp. salt (to taste)

5 grinds black pepper

chopped leeks and potatoes

Skim refrigerated broth and bring to a boil. Cut the white part of leeks lengthwise and chop coarsely. Peel two russet potatoes and slice thin.

boiling potatoes and leeks in broth

Boil in the broth until soft, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

potatoes and leeks in broth in blender

Let cool, then blend until pureed.  (If  you have a immersion blender, you blend it in the pot.)

Cheese Soup (no cream or butter!)

shredded Jarlsberg cheese

Add 1 cup low-fat Jarlsberg or sharp cheddar cheese to pureed soup, stir until melted.

No cream added Mushroom Soup


Make potato-leek soup. Quarter 10 mushrooms for each 2 cups of potato-leek soup. Boil soup and cook mushrooms on medium for 10 min. You can blend a few spoonfuls of mushrooms in the broth. That’s it. It’s practically non-fat.

Mushroom-cheese Soup

Add cheese to mushroom soup.

Cauliflower with cheese and Mushroom Sauce


cauliflowerets cooked in broth

Boil cauliflowerets in broth for 5 minutes until soft, then remove with slotted spoon. Pour cheese and mushroom soup over them and top with minced fresh chives.

cauliflower cheese and mushroom soup

Cauliflower Cheese and Mushroom Soup

Blend a few spoonfuls of cooked cauliflower into the cheese and mushroom soup, then pour a bowlful over cooked cauliflowerets. Top with fresh chives.

minced chives

Top soups with fresh minced chives.