Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

Just like that, the hectic holiday season is behind us and we are into 2019. We spent our Christmas at my brother’s house, so we did not host either Thanksgiving or Christmas in 2018. It always feels odd to me when I do not end up cooking much at the holidays, and my only real contribution to Christmas dinner was a batch of roasted Brussels sprouts. We had great food, though, including a salty Wayco ham.

I always have a long list of things I want to cook/bake that are unrelated to this blog project. I plan to actually sit down and make a list of the top things I want to make this year, so I can physically cross them off as I complete them. I had planned to make my list yesterday since it was the first day of the year, but I spent the day with a fever on the couch instead. Boo.

Savory Polenta

The 115th episode of Good Eats is one that Alton chose to remake in his new show Good Eats:  Reloaded. Savory polenta is the first recipe in this one. So, what is the difference between grits and polenta? According to Alton, grits and polenta are different preparations of the same main ingredient:  cornmeal. Grits are often made from ground hominy, which is white, while polenta is made from ground yellow corn. Either way, when purchasing cornmeal to use in either grits or polenta, always look for stone ground cornmeal; the terms “polenta” and “grits” are often featured together on the label of stone ground cornmeal. To make polenta, place 2 T olive oil in a saucier over medium heat. Add 3/4 C chopped red onion and 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, and cook the onion until it has softened.

Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for two minutes.

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Garlic added to onion.

Next, add a quart of chicken broth and bring the broth to a boil over high heat.

When the broth is boiling, gradually add 1 C coarse cornmeal, whisking it in. Once all of the cornmeal has been added, place a lid on the pan and place it in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, stirring the polenta every 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and stir in 3 T butter, 2 ounces grated Parmesan, and 1/4 t pepper.

You can now eat the polenta as it is or you can pour the warm polenta into a parchment-lined 9×13″ pan. Let the polenta cool to room temperature in the pan, and then place it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

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Polenta poured into 9×13 pan.

After chilling, flip the polenta out onto a cutting board and use a biscuit cutter to cut rounds.

Toss the polenta circles in olive oil and you can fry, saute, or grill them; I opted for sautéing. I served my polenta with a homemade tomato sauce and some grated Parmesan.

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Polenta rounds with tomato sauce and Parmesan.

This polenta is easy and delicious. We tasted the polenta after adding the butter, cheese, and pepper, and I would have been content to eat a bowl just like that. I also liked the sautéed version, as there was a slight golden crust on the outside, while the polenta remained tender and buttery on the inside. The garlic and onion flavors were obvious and made the polenta savory with a little kick. This would also be a great vegetarian dinner option if you substituted vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and this seems like a very kid-friendly dinner option too. Don’t bother with that tube of polenta at the grocery store when you can make this version at home!

Cheese Grits

I first remember having grits when I was in the Florida Keys for my cousin’s wedding. We stopped for breakfast at an oceanfront restaurant and grits were one of the side dish options. I instantly became a grits fan. For Alton’s grits, combine 2 C milk, 2 C water, and 1 1/2 t Kosher salt in a saucier and bring the mixture to a boil.

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Milk, water, and Kosher salt in a saucier.

Once boiling, slowly whisk 1 C coarse cornmeal into the liquid.

Place a lid on the pan and cook the grits for 20-25 minutes, stirring every two or three minutes, and keeping the heat as low as possible. I found that my grits were still too thin after 25 minutes, so I cooked them for about 35 minutes.

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Grits after stirring/cooking for ~35 minutes.

Stir in 4 T butter and season with Kosher salt, if needed.

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4 T butter.

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Butter added to grits.

Lastly, slowly stir in 4 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese.

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Cheddar, slowly added to grits.

We ate these grits for a pre-run breakfast, alongside purple barley bread and they kept me fueled for 8.5 miles.

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A bowl of cheese grits.

These grits are cheese, rich, and creamy. Due to their richness, I could only eat a small bowl before I felt pretty full. Alton’s grits are definitely heavier than his version of polenta, but equally tasty.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Lastly, Alton finishes this episode with a sweet pineapple upside-down cake. Although this cake has been around forever, this was my first time making a pineapple upside-down cake. To begin the cake, place 3/4 C whole milk in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the milk until it is boiling. Sprinkle 1 C coarse cornmeal over the milk and let it sit.

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Topping ingredients: butter, dark brown sugar, canned pineapple rings, toasted pecans, and maraschino cherries.

Next, place a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt 4 ounces of unsalted butter in the pan. When the butter has melted, use a pastry brush to brush some of the butter up the sides of the pan. The butter will brown slightly.

Add 1 C dark brown sugar to the pan and stir until melted, which will take about five minutes; watch the sugar carefully, as it can easily burn.

Once the sugar has melted, remove the pan from the heat and place canned pineapple slices around the perimeter of the pan, and one additional ring in the center.

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Pineapple rings added to caramel.

Put a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple slice and sprinkle 1/3 C of toasted/chopped pecans over the pineapple.

Drizzle on 3 T of the juice from the canned pineapple and set the skillet aside to cool slightly.

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Pineapple juice drizzled over topping.

While the skillet cools, combine 4 3/4 ounces flour, 2 t baking powder, and 1/2 t salt in a large bowl.

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Flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 eggs, 3/4 C sugar, 1/2 C canola oil, and the milk-soaked cornmeal from earlier.

When the wet ingredients are combined, add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk for a count of six. The final batter will be a little lumpy, but that is okay. Do not over mix.

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Wet mixture added to dry ingredients.

Pour the cornmeal batter over the pineapple in the skillet and place in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before flipping the cake out of the skillet. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.

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Cooled cake flipped onto cake stand.

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Alton’s pineapple upside-down cake.

This cake is fun to make because it looks pretty when you invert it out of the pan. The topping is a delicious mix of dark caramel, crunchy pecans, and juicy pineapple; the best part, in my opinion, is the part by the edges of the pan, as the caramel is thick and slightly chewy there. The batter of this cake has the slight grittiness of cornmeal, and is only slightly sweet. I like the fact that the cake itself is not overly sweet, as the topping is sweet enough. This cake is great for breakfast, dessert, or both!

The ground is frosted here and the holidays are just around the corner. Thankfully, we don’t have any snow yet. We are not hosting Thanksgiving this year, but I still highly recommend Alton’s Thanksgiving recipes. His “Countdown to T-Day” special is broken down into a specific schedule that works beautifully and cuts down on hosting stress. The original Good Eats roast turkey is also delicious.

For Thanksgiving this year, Ted is making a cranberry gin and tonic and a cherry pie. I will be making my dad’s blue cornbread and sausage stuffing, along with Alton’s pecan pie from the countdown special. It sounds as if there will be plenty of food!

Parmesan Crisps

We always have a lot of cheese in our house, but the 113th episode of Good Eats gave me a great excuse to consume some more, beginning with Alton’s Parmesan crisps. I’ve mentioned before that I introduced my dad to Good Eats years ago and it became one of his favorite shows. He served us this recipe as an appetizer when we went to his house several years ago, as he had recently watched this episode. To make the crisps, you first need to line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. Next, place tablespoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese on the lined baking sheet, flattening them into discs. Be sure to space the discs adequately, as they will spread.

You can leave the Parmesan plain, or you can sprinkle on some seasoning, such as black pepper or paprika. I made a total of six crisps:  two plain, two with pepper, and two with paprika.

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Two plain crisps, two with paprika, and two with black pepper.

Stick the baking sheet in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. *These were the baking instructions from the episode, whereas the online recipe tells you to bake the crisps in a 300 degree oven for 5-6 minutes. If you bake the crisps at 375, they will be done in 4-5 minutes.

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Cheese crisps after baking.

When you pull the baking sheet from the oven, you can let the discs cool into flat chips, or you can shape them into little cups by draping them over cups or spice jars until they cool and harden.

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Molding crisps on spice jars.

You could fill the cups with a small salad or a meatball and serve as a party hors d’oeuvre, or you can stick the flat Parmesan discs into mashed potatoes as a garnish.

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Parmesan cheese crisps.

These cheese crisps are about the easiest snack you could ever make. They bake up crispy with the salty nuttiness of Parmesan, and they are kind of fun to eat – like eating a lacy cheese doily.

Cheese Soup

A couple weeks before I started this episode, we had kind of a chilly weekend, and I made the comment that I was in the mood for hearty soup. Ted found a recipe for beer cheese soup online and I made a batch for lunch that afternoon. Little did I know that I would be making Alton’s cheese soup a couple weeks later! Alton’s cheese soup starts with heating a quart of chicken broth to a simmer on the stove.

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A quart of chicken broth, heating to a simmer.

While the broth warms, melt 2 T butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

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2 T butter in a Dutch oven.

To the melted butter, add 5 ounces diced onion, 5 ounces diced carrot, 5 ounces diced celery, and a big pinch of Kosher salt.

Let the vegetables cook for 5-10 minutes, or until softened. Using a hand sieve, sprinkle 3 T flour evenly over the vegetables. Stir and cook the flour until it is no longer visible.

Increase the heat to high and slowly pour in the warm broth, stirring as you pour.

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Warm broth added to vegetables.

Next, add 1 bay leaf and 1 T garlic, stirring to incorporate. Cover the pot, decrease the heat to low, and simmer the soup for 30 minutes.

After the simmer, remove and discard the bay leaf, and pour in 1 C heavy cream. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is smooth.

Now it is time for the cheese, and Alton uses 10 ounces of shredded Fontina for his soup, stirring it in a handful at a time.

Once all of the cheese has melted and the soup is smooth, finish the soup by adding 1 t Marsala, 1 t Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 t hot sauce, and 1/2 t white pepper.

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Alton’s cheese soup.

Alton recommends serving his cheese soup with a good beer. You can keep the soup warm in a thermos if you are not going to serve it right away. To re-heat leftover soup, a double boiler is recommended to prevent curdling. This soup is really delicious, having a velvety, creamy mouthfeel without being overly heavy. The flavor of the soup is rich, cheesy, and perfectly seasoned. I would say this is one of the best cheese soups I have had, and it is excellent for a chilly day.

Fromage Fort

The last recipe in this episode is a great use for any leftover cheese you may have sitting around. You will need a pound of cheese for this recipe, and you can use any blend of cheeses you would like. I used a blend of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, goat cheese, and queso fresco.

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A pound of cheese: cheddar, goat, mozzarella, and queso fresco.

Let the cheeses come to room temperature for an hour before you begin. Remove any hard rinds from the cheese, cutting cheeses into rough 3/4″ cubes. If you are using any super hard cheeses, you will want to grate them. Place your pound of cheese in a food processor, adding 1/4 C dry white wine, 3 T room temperature unsalted butter, 1 clove of garlic, and a small handful of parsley.

Process the cheese mixture for a full two minutes. Serve the cheese spread with crackers.

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Fromage fort.

This was a great way to use up some excess cheese, and it was definitely better than any prepared cheese spreads you can buy in the grocery store. The fun thing about this is that it will be different every time, depending on which cheeses you use. I don’t think I could have identified the cheeses in my spread, other than the cheddar. The garlic was quite prominent, while the wine was pretty subtle. I foresee myself making this again, as we really like to have appetizers and we often (ahem, always) have a variety of cheeses in our refrigerator.

To finish this one off, I’ll share some cheese tips from Alton. To store soft cheese, place it in a lidded container with a slice of apple or a damp paper towel. Store hard cheeses by wrapping them (not tightly) in wax paper, securing them with rubber bands. Always bring cheese to room temperature before eating.

For a cheese tasting, Alton suggests serving three cheeses with a theme, such as three cheeses from the same country, three of the same type of cheese with different lengths of aging, or three cheeses made with the same type of milk. Allow 1/4 pound of cheese per person for a cheese tasting.

And, for those of you who are lactose-intolerant, you can feel pretty safe when eating aged cheeses. Why? Aged cheeses have little to no lactose because the bacteria in the cheese has consumed the lactose. I don’t know about you, but I’m craving some cheese now.

Do you ever have memories from childhood that seem incredibly prominent, such that you feel like they occurred with regular frequency? For some reason, I have a very strong memory of my mom making cheese souffle when I was little; the odd thing is that my memory makes me feel that this happened regularly, when, in fact, it may have only happened once or twice. I think I will have to call my mom later and have her set the record straight about her cheese souffle routine. Whether it happened once or many times, I remember sitting at the dining room table with my dad and brother, eagerly anticipating my mom’s arrival from the kitchen with her hot souffle dish. Would her souffle successfully rise and puff above the top of the dish? I recall a beautiful orange souffle, golden on top, with a perfect puffy “top hat.”

Cheese Souffle

Though I had consumed cheese souffle when I was young, I had never made one before I set out to prepare Alton’s souffle for our Saturday breakfast. Per Alton’s instructions, I preheated my oven to 375, which is his temperature rule for any souffle. For a souffle vessel, he recommends a 1.5-quart round souffle dish, preferably with an unglazed bottom (for heat penetration) and fluted sides to increase surface area; it just so happens that we have a dish just like this. First, I greased my souffle dish with cold butter.

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Souffle dish, greased with cold butter.

Next, I added 1 T of grated Parmesan to the dish, covering it with plastic wrap and shaking to coat the inside of the dish. I found that I actually needed a little more Parmesan to coat my dish, so I added some extra and shook again. Lining the dish with Parmesan gives the souffle something to “hold onto” as it climbs the walls. The souffle dish goes into the freezer while you prep everything else.

Alton’s recipe then calls for making a roux by melting 1 1/2 ounces of butter over medium heat, allowing the butter to cook until it stops bubbling, which means most of the water has been cooked out.

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Butter, cooking until it stops bubbling.

While the butter cooks, in a lidded container combine 3/4 ounce flour, 1 t dry mustard, 1/2 t garlic powder, and a heavy pinch of Kosher salt, shaking to combine.

You will also want to separate 4 egg yolks (you will need 5 egg whites later, so save the whites here), grate 6 ounces of sharp Cheddar cheese, and heat 1 1/3 C milk in the microwave.

When the butter has ceased bubbling, add the dry ingredients to the pan, whisking over low heat until you have a nutty aroma. To the roux, add the hot milk, whisking and increasing the heat.

Beat your egg yolks until light in color and turn the heat off under the roux. Temper the egg yolks by gradually adding small amounts of the hot roux, whisking. Once you have added about half of your roux, you can whisk the egg yolks into the roux pan.

Keeping the pan off of the heat, whisk in the grated Cheddar until you have a smooth mixture, which will take a few minutes. Set the base aside to cool.

Note:  To cut down on preparation time the day you are making your souffle, you can make the souffle base to this point and refrigerate it for up to a week; just be sure to press a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface to avoid having a “skin” form. If you do this, you will need to bring the base to room temperature before using. While your base cools to room temperature (or warms to room temperature if you prepared it in advance), beat 5 egg whites in a metal bowl, along with 1 T water and 1/8 t cream of tartar until you have stiff peaks.

Stir 1/4 of your egg whites into your room temperature base, as this will lighten the base.

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Stirring 1/4 of the egg whites into the souffle base.

Gently fold the remaining whites into the base in three installments, avoiding deflating the foam by over-mixing.

Pour the souffle into the prepared dish and use your thumb to make an indentation all around the edge of the souffle, as this will help to form a nice “top hat.” Place your souffle dish in a pie pan (for ease of removal from the oven), and bake it for 35 minutes.

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Souffle in prepared dish.

After 35 minutes, use a sharp paring knife to peek into the middle of the souffle – if there is a lot of liquid, place it back in the oven for 5 more minutes. My souffle seemed to be done after 35 minutes.

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Souffle after baking for 35 minutes.

Serve your souffle promptly. The nice thing about a cheese souffle is that you could eat it for any meal, but we had ours for breakfast before an 11-mile run.

Honestly, I was worried that my souffle was going to flop, as I felt that I had over-beaten my egg whites, but it actually turned out quite nicely. I do wish my souffle would have had a better rise above the top of the dish, but it still was nice and airy, and had a light crust on the outside. The cheese flavor was really prominent in this souffle and it had the texture of super light scrambled eggs. Souffles can be intimidating, but they are really not difficult, and Alton’s recipe seems to be one that works.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Next up in my blog project was Alton’s recipe for baked macaroni and cheese. Last fall, Alton posted an updated version of this recipe on his web page, and I went ahead and made it, despite knowing it would be coming up later in my project. Yes, I usually try to wait to make the Good Eats recipes until their time arrives in sequence, but last fall was a rough time and I was searching for the highest calorie recipes I could find. Ted had lost 35 pounds from his skinny runner/cyclist frame, due to complications from cancer treatment, so I was on a mission to fatten him up. When Alton’s baked macaroni and cheese showed up in my Facebook feed, it was just perfect timing. Knowing this recipe was good, I was excited to make it again – this time for my blog.

Cheese-wise, you will need 12 ounces of grated cheddar cheese for Alton’s recipe.

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12 ounces of grated cheddar.

Begin by cooking 1/2 pound of elbow macaroni in salted water for six minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water to halt the cooking process.

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1/2 pound of elbow macaroni, cooked for 6 minutes and rinsed under cold water.

Next, melt 3 T butter in a pan over medium heat, and whisk in 3 T flour. Cook this mixture until it is sandy in color.

Add 1 T powdered mustard, 1/2 t paprika (I used hot, smoked paprika), 1/2 C chopped onion, 1 bay leaf, and 1 t Kosher salt, whisking to incorporate.

Slowly add in 3 C whole milk, whisking until thickened, which will take several minutes.

Discard bay leaf. In a small bowl, lightly beat one egg. Temper the egg by whisking in 2 T of the hot milk sauce. You can now add the egg to the pan of hot sauce and it will not curdle.

Whisk in 3/4 of the grated cheese until melted.

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3/4 of cheese being added to sauce.

Fold the cooked noodles into the cheese sauce and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top of the casserole.

Finally, combine 1 C panko bread crumbs with 4 T melted butter, and sprinkle the buttered crumbs evenly over the surface of the casserole.

Bake the macaroni and cheese at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the macaroni and cheese sit for a few minutes before serving.

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Alton’s baked mac and cheese.

As I said before, this macaroni and cheese is not low-cal, but it is quite delicious. While the noodles remain “toothsome,” the sauce is rich and cheesy with a little bite from the powdered mustard and paprika. The crispy panko topping is the icing on the… mac and cheese? For mac and cheese fans, this is a sure hit.

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

As if one great macaroni and cheese recipe weren’t enough, Alton also has a stove top version of America’s greatest casserole. For this recipe, you will need eggs, evaporated milk, hot sauce, powdered mustard, Kosher salt, pepper, elbow macaroni, butter, and cheddar cheese.

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Ingredients for Alton’s stove top mac and cheese: pepper, hot sauce, powdered mustard, butter, eggs, cheddar cheese, elbow macaroni, evaporated milk, and Kosher salt.

Begin by grating 10 ounces of cheddar cheese.

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10 ounces of grated cheddar cheese.

Next, whisk 2 eggs in a bowl and add 6 ounces of evaporated milk. Add 1/2 t hot sauce, 3/4 t powdered mustard, 1 t Kosher salt, and some pepper.

Set the sauce aside while you cook 1/2 pound of elbow macaroni in salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and place it immediately back in the pan, stirring in 4 T butter until melted.

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Butter added to hot elbow macaroni.

On a low burner, add the egg mixture to the noodles, along with the grated cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until the sauce is smooth.

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Alton’s stove top mac and cheese.

Honestly, we thought this mac and cheese was great, especially for the time and effort required. I actually thought this recipe had stronger cheese flavor than Alton’s baked version. I did, however, miss the crispy panko topping. Next time I make mac and cheese, I think I will opt for this version because it is easier, faster, and on par with Alton’s baked recipe – I just might add some buttered, toasted panko to the top. I will be making this again for sure.

Next Day Mac and Cheese “Toast”

In case macaroni and cheese was not sinful enough, Alton decided to make it that much richer with this recipe for fried macaroni and cheese. I made this with leftovers from Alton’s baked macaroni and cheese. Begin by combining 1 C flour, 1 t salt, and 1 t cayenne pepper.

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Flour, salt, and cayenne.

Slice your cold leftover macaroni and cheese into individual servings and coat each piece in the flour mixture. Next, dunk each piece in beaten egg. Finally, dip each slice in panko bread crumbs.

While you are preparing your macaroni and cheese, heat peanut oil to 375 degrees on the stove.

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Peanut oil, heating to 375.

When the oil has reached its temperature, fry the macaroni and cheese slices until golden brown and crispy.

Sprinkle the slices with Kosher salt and hot sauce before serving.

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Alton’s fried macaroni and cheese.

This was delicious. The already wonderful, cheesy, rich macaroni and cheese was enhanced with a golden, crispy fried crust all around. If you have leftover macaroni and cheese, frying it makes an extra special treat, and who couldn’t use a treat now and then?

Fondue Vudu

Now that the fruitcake has officially all been eaten in our house, we’re on to the next logical task:  cheese! Cheese is absolutely one of my favorite things, and I will find any excuse to eat it. I have been known to reason that I need to eat more cheese because “I need more protein,” or because “Calcium is good for my bones.” I can also safely say that I like any and all types of cheeses. Well, except for Gjetost. I just can’t do Gjetost. Thank goodness my HDL is 119.

The first recipe Alton conquers in this episode of Good Eats is for cheese fondue. I will confess that I had made this fondue before, though I had not watched the episode prior to making the recipe. I did watch the episode before making it this time around. My family ate cheese fondue when I was growing up, especially when we went downhill skiing in the winter. I remember that my mom’s recipe always had a touch of Kirsch in it. Alton’s recipe also uses some alcohol, though his is in the form of hard cider and brandy.

To begin Alton’s recipe, you rub your fondue pot with a halved clove of garlic.

Garlic, hard cider, Gruyere, and Smoked Gouda.

Garlic, hard cider, Gruyere, and Smoked Gouda.

Alton recommends using an electric fondue pot, but we do not have one, so I used a standard fondue pot. Once you have thoroughly rubbed your fondue pot with garlic, you add hard cider, Kosher salt, lemon juice (Alton uses 1 T in the episode, while the online recipe calls for 2 T), and brandy. You bring this mixture to a simmer.

Pot rubbed with garlic and filled with hard cider, Kosher salt, lemon juice, and brandy.

Pot rubbed with garlic and filled with hard cider, Kosher salt, lemon juice, and brandy.

Meanwhile, you grate your Gruyere and Smoked Gouda, and toss the cheeses with 2 T of cornstarch (the online recipe calls for less cornstarch).

Grated Gruyere and Smoked Gouda.

Grated Gruyere and Smoked Gouda.

Cheese mixed with cornstarch.

Cheese mixed with cornstarch.

Gradually, handful by handful, you begin adding your grated cheese to the cider mixture.

Adding the first handful of cheese.

Adding the first handful of cheese.

Alton stresses that you take this process slowly, allowing the cheese to melt completely and waiting for bubbles to break the surface before adding the next handful of cheese. I found that I actually needed to increase the heat a bit to get the cheese to completely melt and incorporate. Otherwise, little bits of cheese remained visible.

Adding cheese, handful by handful.

Adding cheese, handful by handful.

All of the cheese incorporated.

All of the cheese incorporated.

Once the cheese is all melted and smooth, you add a pinch of black pepper and 1/2 t (the online recipe calls for 1/4 t) of curry powder. Since we like heat, I chose to use hot curry powder.

Hot curry powder.

Hot curry powder.

Fondue with curry powder.

Fondue with curry powder.

We ate our fondue with cubed bread and a little bit of cubed Summer sausage.

Fondue dinner spread.

Fondue dinner spread.

When we have had fondue in the past, we have also really liked to use apples or pears, though we did not do that this time around. We both really like the flavor of this fondue, which is why we have made it a few times now. My fondue ended up being much smoother this time around, which I assume could be due to the additional cornstarch in the episode recipe vs. the online recipe. The smokiness of the Gouda really comes through in this fondue, though it is not overpowering, and the sweetness of the cider is also evident. I find the flavors to balance well, with the sweetness of the cider, the smokiness of the Gouda, the subtle heat from the curry powder, the tartness of the lemon juice, and the salty/nutty flavor of the Gruyere. This is a super easy, but sinful, dinner to make. We like to have it on a day when we have done a good long run or bike ride! This will remain my go-to cheese fondue recipe, and I’ll be making it as Alton makes it in the episode.

Big Cheese Squeeze

The second recipe in the cheese episode is for a grilled cheese sandwich. Being the cheese lover I am, I’m a pretty happy girl if you put a grilled cheese sandwich in front of me, especially if the bread and cheese do the sandwich justice. For his sandwich, Alton tells you to heat two skillets (preferably iron) over high heat. Ideally, you want one skillet to be able to nest inside the other skillet. We happen to have two iron skillets that fit the bill perfectly.

Heating two cast iron skillets.

Heating two cast iron skillets.

While your skillets heat, you grate a good handful of cheese (Alton uses Cheddar in the episode, so that is what I used) and spread Dijon mustard on one slice of bread. You top this with the cheese, grind some black pepper on top, and put the lid on your sandwich.

Mustard on the bread.

Mustard on the bread.

Extra sharp Cheddar.

Extra sharp Cheddar.

Cheese on the mustard-coated bread.

Cheese on the mustard-coated bread.

And some ground pepper.

And some ground pepper.

You then spritz olive oil onto the outer sides of the sandwich and onto the bottom of the smaller skillet. You remove the pans from the heat, place your sandwich in the larger skillet, and put the smaller skillet on top. In about three minutes, you should have the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

Into the skillet, after being coated with olive oil.

Into the skillet, after being coated with olive oil.

Nesting skillets.

Nesting skillets.

Nesting skillets.

Nesting skillets.

I have liked all of the recipes that I have prepared from Good Eats… until now. This recipe was just a complete flop for me. My skillets ended up being way too hot, and quickly burned the outside of my sandwich, and I did not actually turn the heat on under the skillets until I was completely ready to assemble my sandwich. I ended up throwing my sandwich away. Frustrated, and irritated to waste aged extra sharp Cheddar cheese, I opted to wait to try again another day. I tried this method again a few days later, opting for non-stick skillets this time, and heating them over lower heat for less time.

Bread with mustard.

Bread with mustard.

Bread with mustard and pepper.

Bread with mustard and pepper.

Bread with mustard, pepper, and cheese.

Bread with mustard, pepper, and cheese.

Oiled sandwich.

Oiled sandwich.

Nestled skillets.

Nestled skillets.

Guess what? This time, the skillets were not hot enough, so the outside of the sandwich got slightly browned, but the cheese was not thoroughly melted. Great.

Sandwich from skillets that were not hot enough.

Sandwich from skillets that were not hot enough.

I had to place them back over the heat and do it a second time. And, in that amount of time, I could have already eaten a perfectly good grilled cheese sandwich made the old-fashioned way. I will say that I liked the sandwich made with Dijon mustard and black pepper, though I had discovered that I liked the addition of mustard on my own a while ago. I will not be making a grilled cheese sandwich this way again. There is a reason that people have been making grilled cheese sandwiches the same way for years – because it works.