Anyhow, my immune system has finally given up the ghost. The culprit was a fairly mild (for me) allergy attack last night that I couldn't stop with drugs in time. So I'm dragging today, trying to sleep it off before going back into the lion's den.
(I should have known yesterday when I stood fully dressed, literally shuddering from cold while Patrick was sitting on the couch in a flimsy undershirt without a problem.)
However, because it's times like this that you want comfort food, so I took a nap to build back my strength (grocery shopping's killer, ya know ;-)) and made Alton Brown's baked macaroni and cheese. It's very, very good, though of course I've tweaked the recipe a bit. Instead of 12 ounces of cheese, I use 16 -- a mixture of sharp cheddar and mozzarella. I top it with the mozzarella and a handful of parmesan (parmiggiano reggiano if I'm feeling particularly indulgent).
I've yet to see what it would do to the texture of the sauce to add some ricotta, but that's on the to-do list of possible tweaks.
In any event, I've tried to make this several times before and was never totally happy with it. It took almost twice as long as it was supposed to, for one thing, for the sauce to thicken, and I was constantly switching between a whisk and a spoon to get flour out of the corners of the pot when I was cooking the roux.
So I finally bit the bullet and bought an honest to goodness saucier -- a pan dedicated to sauce making (which is really what mac and cheese is -- it's macaroni folded into a bechamel sauce with cheese and then baked). It's not quite professional quality -- real, truly professional cookware is expensive (cooking, writing, and photography...why are two of my hobbies so expensive?) -- but it's not bargain basement either. It's decently heavy, with a distinct thickness of the bottom to even out the heat.
This is the second time I've used the pan for this recipe, and it's amazing the difference it makes. Yay. :-)
Also? Slightly warmed up leftovers smushed between two pieces of toast makes a yummy sandwich.