Untruffled

It was that kind of day.  I had the sniffles.  Rainy and dreary outside and BOTH soccer practices had been cancelled.  BOTH of them.  It very rarely happens that we aren’t picking one child up and dragging another in the opposite direction during the week.  Rarely…heh.  So how did I choose to celebrate?  By trying out a new recipe, of course!

This is not a cooking blog.  Not by any means.  I have mentioned several cooking incidences….such as the disappearing apple brown betty….and the pesto pizza the Princess and I were hooked on for a while….and the step by step directions for swiss steak  posted for the Prince’s future benefit.   But I am far from being the kind of master cook that would dare to talk about cooking here.  FAR from it.  Tonight I chose to tackle my very first home made Macaroni and Cheese. 

Now Mac’n Cheese  has long been a staple in my family’s life.  Not the REAL stuff however. More like the orangey Kraft stuff from the box.  Nothing goes better with hot dogs and ketchup…or fish sticks and applesauce.  And we have a LONG history with it.  The stuff practically got me through Sunday nights while I was in college.  The instant microwave packages were the very first things my kids learned to cook on their own, I think.  They used to eat it for breakfast before school on cold, winter mornings.  (I am not a Mom who divides food into specific meals.  If they eat anything hot for breakfast,  it’s a good day!)  And if we really want to go gourmet we use the white cheddar or Shells and Cheese boxes.

Several weeks ago, a recipe in People magazine caught my eye.  The Waverly Inn Truffled Mac and Cheese.  The Waverly Inn is in New York City.  People wait for weeks – no, months, I think – for a reservation there.  Intriguing.   I have never eaten there.  I don’t even live in New York City.  I only know about it because Maura Tierney was photographed there while out with  friends.  (Yes, I remain a geeky fan.  See her recent turn on ‘Rescue Me’??  Fabulous!)

Anyway, the recipe looked simple enough. I don’t exactly keep Da Rosario white truffle oil ($12 for 1.76 oz. bottle) in my pantry but I figured it was almost a minor item (added after cooking…’to taste’??) even though it was listed in the recipe’s name.  I even bought whole milk for the occasion…..which we NEVER have on hand.  We are a 1/2 percent family. 

I dutifully boiled up the one pound box of macaroni and set it aside (with a drop of olive oil to keep it from sticking).  I melted butter and whisked it with flour and dijon mustard untill it was a fragrant golden color.   Oops.  Added the milk a little quickly but continued to whisk and stir while the milk boiled and the sauce thickened.  I added the Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheeses and stirred them until all the shredded pieces were melted and the mixture was fragrant and creamy.  I skipped the salt because I didn’t have unsalted butter to use in the beginning.  It wasn’t really until I began to add the macaroni to the pan and it was beginning to overflow that I realized how much Waverly Inn Untruffled Mac and Cheese I was going to have on my hands.  And the stove.  And the counter top.  And, eventually, the dinner table.

Undaunted, I poured the mixture into one of my biggest baking dishes and covered the top with toasted bread crumbs, slipped it in the oven to finish heating through and set about finishing the pulled pork barbecue sandwiches we were having with the humungeous main dish.  Added cottage cheese, cold veggies and dip, sugar free Kool Aid and dinner was served.

I am not sure if it was all my anticipation of the fragrant dish, my sniffles, the rain drumming on our roof….or the absence of the Da Rosario white-truffle oil to taste.  Maybe it was just the years and years and years of Kraft boxes in our cupboard.  The Waverly Inn’s Untruffled Mac and Cheese just did not do it for me.  Or for anyone else at our table.  It was so…so….so bland.  Sigh. 

Princess ran the rest of it to the neighbor’s, who were happy to have it  for their dinner.

I am not sure what Ms. Tierney and her friends were eating at the Waverly Inn.  Or anyone else for that matter.  I am not sure what else they serve there.  It might be interesting to find out.  Might. 

I used to be impressed that a chef – or restaurant – could demand that kind of wait time for reservations.  I am not so much any more.  I realize that I am no master chef and my ingredients might not be the same quality.  But if I am ever in New York again, I will hit Morandi  or Chez Josephine for a late lunch…..and serve up a microwave cup of Kraft’s mac and cheese back at the hotel for dinner.  Or maybe just stop by the corner hot dog stand.  I am SO not a hoity toity when it comes to food.  I enjoy presentation.  I enjoy anticipation.  I enjoy something different.  I enjoy fun.  But sometimes the orangey Krafts stuff is juuuuust right.

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