The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Recipe: Three-Cheese Mini Macaroni and Cheese Bites

Recipe: Three-Cheese Mini Macaroni and Cheese Bites

I got a call from my wife at her office the other day. She had just been informed of a “bring a dish” birthday party set for the following day. This is not quite as bad as when your kid tells you, “I need three dozen cupcakes for school tomorrow” as you're tucking him in for the night, but it's close.

I consulted my collezione di ricette and came up with a solution that was simple and delicious: Three-Cheese Mini Macaroni and Cheese Bites. Of course, one of the cheeses had to be Italian or nobody would have believed the dish was mine. And it had to have an Italian name for the same reason.

The whole works didn't take me much more than an hour to prep and cook. I sent it in a small hotel pan, dividing the layers with waxed paper. My wife informed me that the first layer was gone almost as soon as she removed the cover and the rest didn't last much longer. If you need something quick, easy, tasty, and kind of fun for your next party or food holiday, this dish should be near the top of your list.

(Three-Cheese Mini Macaroni and Cheese Bites)

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped *
1 large egg yolk
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 425°. Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until not quite al dente, about 5 or 6 minutes. Drain.

Brush 2 (24-cup) nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. (Or use butter-flavored cooking spray.) Sprinkle lightly with the grated Parmigiano.

In a large saucepan, working over medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until just boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and nutmeg. Fold in the macaroni. (The recipe can be prepared to this point and refrigerated overnight.)

Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni and cheese mixture into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano on top.

Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon or offset spatula, carefully loosen, transfer to a platter and serve.

Yields 48

*As much as I hate to admit this, Velveeta works quite well as a substitute for the deli sliced American cheese

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