Macaroni and Cheese
I've never made mac and cheese beyond boxed types but my husband grew up with it hot out of the oven and crunchy on top. No one knows what recipe was used in his house as a kid or if they do they aren't talking. I want to make this for him, but for someone who doesn't have a cheesy-food making background, I don't even know how to judge a good recipe like the myriad I've found here on Chow.
Since you are familiar with latkes and matzo balls I would think an old Joy of Cooking might help.
Oven to 350.
4 oz macaroni
Cook, drain, place in buttered baking dish
Sprinkle 1 cup grated cheese
Beat 1-2 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika
a few grain cayenne
Pour over macaroni
sprinkle with dry bread crumbs with or without dots of butter.
Bake about 40- 50 minutes
My favorite is a Martha Stewart recipe - I've made a few changes to it, so it's not exactly the same, but I couldn't find a link to the original on her website anyway.
Mac and Cheese
6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
couple shakes of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons worchestershire
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups grated Gruyere
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked 3 minutes less than directions, rinsed in cold water
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour and dry mustard. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, worchestersire, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere. Set cheese sauce aside.
4. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.
i haven't seen the CI recipe, but if the sweetness of condensed milk is too much for you (as it would be for me), you can always substitute evaporated milk - to mimic the syrupy viscosity of condensed more closely, you can even add a little nonfat dry milk powder to it, or just boil it to reduce slightly.
I believe the Alton Brown recipe is quite similar to the CI stovetop recipe (evap milk, about 2 eggs). If I recall correctly, the CI recipe leaves it up to you whether to serve right off the stove, or top with crumbs and bake. I've done both, it works fairly well either way. That recipe is sort of a compromise between super creamy and custardy-- it's not our favorite, but it's quick and easy, so we do use it from time to time. If I have time, I definitely go for a bechamel version (and I tend to leave the sauce kind of thin, since it can thicken up a lot in baking!)
I have a three cheese mac and cheese with a crunchy topping. Gruyere, Cheddar and just a touch of gorgongonzola, just a tough for a bite, some onions, traditional noodles, bechemel sauce with a crunchy cracker crumb crust. Some flavorful herbs and the best ever.
If you need the recipe see www.simplykatering.blogspot.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Glad to send you to it. If you want I can post here, just hate to post long messages.
Family favorite for over 20 years, passed down from grandma