Bitt me, Bayby

20 Nov

Mark Bittman recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for Baked Macaroni and Cheese=delicious.
Nothing makes a white sauce based dish better than infusing the milk with a bay leaf. Seriously. One tiny leaf and the sauce will sing. It might even take requests.
I confess I made this months ago. I was in the middle of a passionate affair with everything Bittman. Thought I posted it. I did not. Which is dandy considering that working like a fiend has left me with little time to do much beyond shake a jar once a day.
What reminded me to post this mac and cheese was an evening containing both a delectable dish and an epic fail. It all started quite normally, wandering downtown Culver City in search of a nosh. We eventually settled on Bottlerock. I noted the “mystery wine” option on the menu. If you guess the grape and region you get a free glass. Aha! I could show off my wine smarts-not that it really mattered to partner in crime who claims that every wine tastes “exactly the same” to him. Clearly I was going to be on my own for this one. So I went with the mystery white and ordered a smashlingly good Albarino for him(I waited and tasted after I thought I’d identified my mystery drink). I took a sip of mystery wine. First thought? NOT a chardonnay. It was a light, easy-going wine without a lot of depth or frankly, personality. Quaffable, but not complicated or oaky. So not a chardonnay. My guess was pinot grigio. Wrong! The sancerre? Nope. Third desperate try: a northern climate sauvignon blanc? Not even close.
The answer: A Chilean Chardonnay.
WTF?!! NO!!! Just….NO!
I felt like a huge loser. Fail!
HOWEVER! The truffle mac and cheese was we ordered was the delectable part of the evening and kept my spirits high. So there you go. A good mac and cheese saves the day.
One last note. On the way out the waitress confessed it was indeed an unusual Chardonnay. It was aged in a steel barrel. No oak. AHA! I felt much better hearing this. Validated. If it were a typical Chard and my taste buds couldn’t pick it up I’d feel pretty lame.
Anyway. Screw Chard. Get yourself a Sancerre. Love me some Loire valley goodness. Or an Albarino. Go Rioja region. Make this mac n cheese. Or if you are feeling lazy go to Bottlerock, get their truffle-y goodness, take the mystery wine challenge and let me know what wine shenanigans the staff is up to this week.

What is your favorite wine grape and region? Do tell.

Rotini and Cheese(adapted and healthified from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman love of my cookbook life)
1 1/4 cups skim milk
salt
bay leaf
8 oz. rotini
2 Tbsp. light smart balance
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup grated cheese, your favorite(I used reduced fat)
freshly ground black pepper
1 piece of bread turned to crumbs(rip it up!)
Preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta just to al dente. Drain and rinse. In another small pot cook the milk and bay leaf on medium-low heat til little bubbles appear along the edge. Wait 5 minutes then turn off heat.
In yet another small pot melt the smart balance add flour and mash the stuff in like crazy, let mixture brown just a tiny bit then slowly, slowly add the milk(sans bay leaf, it’s done its job) and stir it up til smooth. Then stir in cheese.
Spray a 9×5 pan, put noodles in it, then mix in the sauce and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake til it looks like bubbly goodness. Consume. Sip Sancerre. Enjoy the good life. That would be my choice, anyway.

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One Response to “Bitt me, Bayby”

  1. Sabrina November 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I never knew you were such a connoisseur! I probably would’ve just guessed white – wait you mean wines are more descriptive than that? I kid, I’m not THAT dense. Well, not quite at least…

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