A guest post by Junko Inoue
“What type of restaurant would you own?”
That was the question when my husband and I were talking about food and restaurants. Our first answer was “Italian!”. We see many Italian restaurants here and there, everywhere, and Italian food is enjoyed all over the world.
Recently I borrowed a book, The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes, an illustration-rich, kid-friendly Italian recipe book that shows how adults and kids can enjoy cooking together. I kept turning the pages and really enjoyed the recipes and I thought, “Which dish is the most popular and safe for kids?”. Why did I say “safe”? It’s because I recall the conversations mothers have about food and kids. One child didn’t like strong colors on food. Another kid hated vegetables, and the most interesting one for me was one girl only ate white food. No sauce for pasta, no vegetables, and no meat. Aren’t our kids are so interesting and funny when it comes to eating?
So, I came to the conclusion that Macaroni & Cheese is the safest dish, and so I tried Silver Spoon’s “Baked Macaroni & Cheese” today. Yummy béchamel sauce, two kinds of cheese and cute little macaroni pasta! Who doesn’t like this dish?
The original recipe reprinted from “The Silver Spoon for Children”.
Baked Macaroni & Cheese
I made my own changes that included finely shredding the Parmesan and cheddar cheese instead of grating them, and sprinkling extra cheese over the béchamel sauce before baking.
For the béchamel sauce:
4 Tbs sweet butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups whole milk
freshly ground black pepper
For the baked macaroni:
2 ¾ cups macaroni pasta
1 ounce Parmesan cheese
1 ounce Cheddar cheese
1. Grate the Parmesan and Cheddar cheese. Set aside.
2. Put the butter in a small pan and melt over gentle heat. You don’t want to over heat the butter or let it brown, as this will affect the color and flavor of the sauce.
3. As soon as the butter has melted, add the flour and cook the mixture over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly to make a smooth glossy paste.
4. Take off the heat, add about 4 Tbs of the milk, and stir until the milk is completely mixed in. The mixture will go very thick, so stir until it is smooth.
5. Put back on low heat, add a little more milk, and stir again. Continue to add milk a little at a time until you have added half of the milk.
6. Swap your spatula or wooden spoon for a whisk and continue to add the rest of the milk. You can add more at a time now, as long as you keep whisking to help prevent the sauce from going lumpy.
7. Keep the pan on low heat and let the sauce cook very gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cooks. You will know it’s ready when the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your wooden spoon.
8. Turn on the oven to 400 °F. Then bring a large pan of water to a boil and cook the macaroni.
9. Add the Parmesan and Cheddar to the béchamel sauce and season with a little freshly ground black pepper.
10. Pour half or the béchamel sauce over the macaroni and mix the macaroni and sauce together.
11. Spoon the macaroni into an oven-safe dish about 10 inches square. Spread the remaining béchamel sauce over the top of macaroni.
12. Place the dish onto a baking tray. Put it into the oven and cook for 20 minutes until it is golden brown and bubbling.
Makes enough for 4.
The original recipe reprinted from “The Silver Spoon for Children”. Image: Junko Inoue
Junko cooks, shoots, and lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband Aure.