Mac & Cheese & Birthdays

Looking into various options for duck yesterday had me nervously eyeing my bank account, so I wanted to cook something cheap and easy for dinner. Paging through the cookbook, I realized Gwyneth’s Macaroni & Cheese recipe included mascarpone, which I had a tub of sitting in the fridge from my ravioli disaster. I have no idea what else to do with mascarpone, so this seemed like kismet.

Gwyneth offers up four different ways to cook your Mac & Cheese, but they’re not that different. I mean, three of the four “variations” are just adding a different cheese. Not that exciting. But we’re not going for exciting today; we’re going for CHEAP. I decided to mix two of her “variations,” which she suggest go well together – adding mozzarella, and adding her Basic Tomato Sauce. Which means I’m actually accomplishing two recipes! I really feel like I’m cheating here.

My trip to the grocery store was extremely fast — a friend on the phone timed it as 7 minutes — seeing as I only needed four things. This is maybe the first recipe I’ve made that didn’t require me to look for any outlandish ingredients. I’m impressed! The only strange request is Gwyneth’s qualifications for macaroni noodles, which apparently MUST have ridges. Whatever.

I returned home and started on the tomato sauce, which is laughably simple, and I can’t believe it counts as a recipe. Heat some olive oil and a lot of garlic for a few minutes. Stir in some fresh basil. Add a giant can of whole, peeled tomatoes with their juices. Crush the tomatoes with a spoon and let simmer for 45 minutes. Let cool. One recipe DONE. This is actually the first recipe in the book, so I guess we can’t fault it for being overly simple.

Next, I boiled a pot of water and cooked the noodles “two minutes less than the package instructed.” Meanwhile, I melted the mascarpone and a good amount of Parmesan together over medium heat. I then added to that a half cup of milk (almond milk, not that “cow’s milk” stuff), plus some salt, pepper, and nutmeg. And that is basically Mac & Cheese.

After that, you just strain the noodles, mix them in with the cheese sauce, cube up a ball of mozzarella (if you’re so inclined), and mix it all together. Take a baking pan and layer it: Tomato sauce, mac & cheese, bread crumbs and extra Parmesan, and a few cubes of butter on top. Bake for 15 minutes, “and it will be great,” Gwyneth assures me.

And it was! I mean, with that combination of ingredients, how can you go wrong? Lindsey declared it her favorite Gwyneth recipe thus far. I’m not sure if Gwyneth can take full credit for such a simplistic mac and cheese recipe, but it was delicious, so let’s not be too hard on her. Plus, it was crazy cheap.

I had a little bit of tomato sauce and mozzarella left over, so you want to know what I did? I took a little chunk of mozzarella and scooped up a bit of the tomato sauce with it, making sure to get a nice hunk of tomato. And I didn’t even use a spoon — I just shoveled that shit into my mouth with my fingers, like the fattest man in the world. And it was amazing. Leave me alone.

And on that note, it’s my birthday today! 24 years old (or years young, RIGHT?!). Let’s see what dear Gwyneth accomplished by the age of 24:

  • Appeared in the movie Hook.
  • Starred in Se7en.
  • Played the title role in Emma.
  • Had millions of dollars.
  • Became engaged to Brad fucking Pitt.

Let’s see what I’ve accomplished by 24:

  • Graduated college.
  • Started a Gwyneth Paltrow-focused blog.

Yikes. I’ve got some catching up to do.

But it’s a beautiful day in Portland, it’s payday, and work is giving me the afternoon off, so it’s already shaping up to be a great birthday. And, believe it or not, I’ll actually be spending a bit of my birthday cooking! Well, not so much “cooking,” but I WILL technically complete a recipe. Hint: It’s the only recipe in Gwyneth’s cookbook that involves alcohol. If you’re in Portland, come and find me tonight! I’ll be the drunk one.

If you never hear from me again, I either went a little too wild tonight, or Jesus chose me to come with him to heaven tomorrow. Either way, at least I’ll be free from having to complete this project.



Filed under Basics, Holidays, Pasta

11 responses to “Mac & Cheese & Birthdays

  1. wendy_loohoo

    For the mascarpone, if you ever find some extra add a bit of herbs to it and then use it as a spread on crackers. I am partial to garlic and chives myself.

    I have a theory for why the pasta should have ridges (my guess is that she also asked for a shape like elbows or a rotini for example) and that theory goes that it will hold the sauce and cheese better to the noodles, same thing with the shape it will be easier for the sauce to cling to.

  2. Happy Birthday!

    That Mac & Cheese looks delicious.

  3. Clair

    Happy Birthday!

    When I was 24, I was half the age I am now. Thanks for making me feel OLD, Danny.

  4. chick110

    Happy Birthday!! 🙂

    Don’t forget that she also had two famous parents, that did help her out some.

    I love mac&cheese, but not with the tomato sauce. Tomatoes and I do NOT get along. I like trying different cheeses though. And again, the weird ridge requirement. So far, Gwyneth still hasn’t won me over to her side yet.

  5. MadMaddie

    Happy Birthday!!!!

    I love this blog… it has me laughing all day at work. The pasta blog had my sides hurting.

  6. zoobabe

    Happy Birthday Danny! I am a sucker for homemade mac and cheese, and your’s looks delish! Bravo!

  7. Uncle B

    Happy Birthday Danny,
    thanks for giving me a great way to end the work week with a smile.

  8. patricia Talorico

    This blog cracks me the hell up. Keep up the good work. Awesome.

  9. honeybunny

    This is the third website on which I have wished you a Happy Birthday. I remember the good old days when all I had to do was send one stinking card. Technology. BAH.


  10. Theda

    Hope you had a fabulous birthday weekend! Thanks for providing some humor and giggles with your posts!

  11. Jillene

    Does she really say that about cow’s milk? “I then added to that a half cup of milk (almond milk, not that “cow’s milk” stuff), ” Where does she think that chese came from?

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