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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rewind: Cheesy Goodness for a Rainy Day

NOTE: Snapshots were taken with my iPhone.

It's not too often that it's dark and "stormy" in San Francisco. But when it is, I yearn for a hearty home-cooked meal. For some reason I'm always intrigued by Macaroni and Cheese (I LOVE - strike that, am ADDICTED to - cheeses made from Sheep's and Goat's milk). Unfortunately, it's not a meal that I can enjoy outside of the home - most Macaroni and Goat Cheese entrees at restaurants still contain dairy, not cheese but heavy cream or milk.

So this rainy day, here's my take on Mac and Cheese. My recipe is adapted from two recipes that were reprinted on Cooking.com: from Seattle's Dahlia Lounge, Oodles of Noodles with Cheese (http://www.cooking.com/Recipes-and-More/recipes/Oodles-of-Noodles-with-Cheese-recipe-3427.aspx) and from Welden Owen, Macaroni Gratin with Wild Mushrooms (http://www.cooking.com/Recipes-and-More/recipes/Macaroni-Gratin-with-Wild-Mushrooms-recipe-664.aspx).

Macaroni and Goat Cheese Gratin with Wild Mushrooms

Serves 6


NOTE: If you're unable to find good-quality fresh wild mushrooms, substitute assorted dried mushrooms. In place of fresh Chanterelle and Oyster mushrooms, I substituted 2 0.88 oz packages of Trader Joe's Mixed Wild Mushroom Medley.
  • 1/2 cup Bacon, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup croutons, pulverized
  • 1 cup Pecorino Reggiano, finely grated (about 3 ounces)
  • 2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance spread
  • 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 2 Tbsp Shallots, chopped
  • 1 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 3.5 oz fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 oz fresh Chanterelle Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 oz fresh Oyster Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 - 4 oz packages of Trader Joe's Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Chives, minced
  • 1 cup Drunken Goat Cheese, finely shredded


  1. (Optional) If using dried mushrooms, place in cold water and let sit for a few hours. Before using, drain well and squeeze out any excess liquid. Reserve mushroom-infused water.
  2. In a bowl, toss bacon with breadcrumbs, pecorino reggiano, parsley, and lemon zest.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt Earth Balance in 1 Tbsp EVOO until foamy.
  4. Gradually add EVOO mixture to the breadcrumb mixture until blended.
  5. Preheat the broiler at High setting.
  6. Fill a large saucepan three-fourths full with water and bring to a boil.
  7. In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, warm the rest of EVOO.
  8. Add the shallots to saute pan and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  10. Add all the mushrooms and saute over medium heat until the mushrooms are soft and slightly browned, 4-5 minutes.
  11. Add the macaroni to the boiling water and return to a boil.
  12. Return the mushroom mixture to low heat.
  13. Add the goat cheese and chives to the mushroom mixture, stirring until cheese is melted.
  14. (Optional) Slowly add mushroom-infused water to increase consistency, approximately 3 Tbsp.
  15. Cook the macaroni until slightly tender to the bite, about 5 minutes.
  16. When the macaroni is done, drain it immediately and add to the mushroom cheese sauce, stirring until macaroni is well coated.
  17. Transfer the macaroni mixture to a broiler-safe 9-inch rectangular baker/casserole with 2-inch sides or individual gratin dishes.
  18. Sprinkle the Drunken Goat Cheese evenly over the top.
  19. Sprinkle the breadcrumb and pecorino reggiano mixture evenly over the top.
  20. Place under the broiler just until the breadcrumbs turn golden and the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.
    NOTE: Pyrex is NOT necessarily broiler safe (verify if your baker is broiler safe by checking the bottom). If your baker is NOT broiler safe, place in a 400 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  21. Serve immediately.

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