Cheesy Chop – A Curdling Experience

So last night was my first attempt at making homemade mac and cheese (This was in December of ’09).  I am sad to admit that Kraft has bested me and France doesn’t sell Velveeta (lol). No, I can’t make mac and cheese on my own… wah wah. FAIL!

Someone Else's Mac & Cheese
Someone Else’s Mac & Cheese

I did a very rudimentary search online for the proper fixin’s for homemade mac and cheese.  From what I understand… homemade mac and cheese is made with:

  • Lots of butter
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Pasta
  • Cheddar Cheese

Also from what I read you can just make up your pasta and then melt the butter and throw in some flour and milk. Let that thicken a little and eventually you can add the cheese in – preferably after it has been taken off the heat. If you add a little white wine it will prevent the cheese from curdling.

This is how my catastrophe occurred: I had the pasta right. Butter – yes, flour – no.  I assumed it would probably work just about the same.  I melted some butter and added milk.  It obviously didn’t really thicken.  I also didn’t have white wine but I figured red would work just as well. Everything was going fine until I threw the first half of the cheese in (shaved). I turned the heat down super low (as low as our bad induction stove would go) and within minutes the sauce just snapped into something sad.  Little ugly chunks appeared and i continued stirring vigorously and removed it from the heat before i threw the rest of the cheese in. It separated. The sad bits sank to the bottom and all I had left was a watery sauce on top.

We then attempted to bake it like as if we intended it to be a casserole. This ended up being an improvement but still pretty sad. The noodles tasted better and some of the cheese stuck. I basically just ate the noodles. By the end of this wonderful experiment we had a “cheese chop” sitting all lonely in a little dish on the counter.

I youtube’d after to try to figure out what the heck went wrong. I watched woman after woman cook cheese sauce like it was nothing! They didn’t take it off the heat or add wine or anything. I need to try this again and probably with flour.  Failure is one of the best ways to learn!

I did like that one woman -rather than adding typical cheddar – threw in gruyere, goat cheese, and a few other tasty ones.  It sounds delicious! When I discover how to do this properly I will let you know. I’m sure most of you who are taking the time to read this can probably make a cheese sauce already – if you can please share!

P.S.  I have yet to post the picture of my wonderful obomination but once I get it you will be sure to see it!

Paindemonium

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Hello all!
I’m now back in Chicago.  My vacation has ended and unfortunately I am still suffering from a sinus infection.  At least now that I am home I can begin my job hunt.  In the meantime, I have begun making my own bread.  My sister-in-law showed me this great book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day that I have started producing bread with.
This is the easiest recipe that I tried out so far.  If you get the book it shows you how to make all of these great varieties of bread.  Definitely pick it up if you think bread-making is your hobby!
So the recipe is fairly simple. You just grab a 5-quart container, 1 1/2 packs of yeast or 1 1/2 tablespoons of active yeast, 3 cups of water, 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, and 6 1/2 cups of plain ol’ flour.  According to their rules you don’t even need to knead it! You just mix everything together until it’s wet, and let it rise in a covered – non-airtight – container for 2 hours or more and then after that you can start baking.  I grabbed a grapefruit sized ball of dough, threw some flour on it, and then stretched it into a ball shape to rest.  After it rests for about a half hour you need to slice a few cuts in the top and scoot it onto a baking stone that has been preheating in an oven to 450° – along with this you also want to put a dish to steam 1 cup of water near a boiler.  Steaming the bread will apparently make the outside nice and crusty.  After another half hour your bread should be done!  My first one had some trouble – It looks like a volcano. The second one turned out much better!

 

Attempt #1

Once you make this batch of dough you can keep it for at least two weeks and the yeast will continue to work.  If you’re a dork like me you can give your dough a name (I read professional bakers often name their sourdough yeast).  I named mine Louis I in tribute to all those French leaders I have read about in the past month.  As you can imagine there are a few more to come soon.   So far it looks like my batch makes about 3 loaves, but I think it depends on how warm your house is while cooking because my dough didn’t rise as much as Amy’s.

Attempt #2
Attempt #2

So here’s my first food entry.  I have another that’s pending.  I attempted to make homemade mac and cheese with some epic failure.  Once I get that picture I will post for all of you mac and cheesers.  Good luck with your bread dearies!!!

Also, if you’re interested in going further with your bread making I discovered a wonderful article written at a site I like called Chocolate & Zucchini.  Here they go through how to create your own natural starter.  Check it out if you would like: http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2009/07/natural_starter_bread.php