Introduction: Timeshifting Food – Macaroni and Cheese From Scratch for One…or Six
Let’s do the time shift again, with apologies to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Hot lunch for one…or six? No problem.
Thaw in the refrigerator (1 – 2 days). Remove the lid and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Add avocado slices on the side. Serve.
This is a standard baked macaroni and cheese casserole but made from scratch to allow recipe substitution for lactose sensitivity and individual portions. Instead of regular milk or cream soup, it uses lactose free milk and an olive oil and all purpose flour thickener (roux). This is very easy to make and turns out every time.
The microwave is used for all of the prep work and everything is cooked in glass throughout. It is baked in the oven because the cheese crust is one of the best parts of macaroni and cheese.
I use an older Panasonic microwave and a Breville BOV800XL oven for cooking. They work well when cooking for one (or two).
Step 1: Timeshifting the Macaroni and Cheese - Ingredients
85 grams cheddar cheese, shredded (3 oz / 3/4 cup approx.)
28 grams Gruyere, shredded (1 oz / 1/4 cup approx.)
227 grams pasta, (8 oz / 2 cups #41 elbows)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
2 Tablespoons All-purpose flour
2 cups lactose free milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
227 grams Cheddar cheese, shredded (8 oz / 2 cups approx.)
56 grams Gruyere cheese, shredded (2 oz / 1/2 cup approx.)
Note: Everyone makes substitutions in recipes but be aware that they can have unintended results. Flour thickening holds up under reheating, unlike cornstarch. More aged cheese has a higher fat content and results in more free oil and a less crispy topping.
Note: I buy the 5-pound, pre-shredded Cheddar cheese from the big box store and split it into two one-gallon freezer Ziploc bags. They keep in the refrigerator.
Step 2: Timeshifting the Macaroni and Cheese - Preparation
1. In a 2-quart measure, add 5-quarts water, pasta, and olive oil.
2. Microwave covered on High for 12 minutes and on Medium for 8 minutes more.
3. Drain the pasta and put in a 4.5L glass Dutch oven.
1. While the pasta is cooking, grease 6 Pyrex individual baking dishes.
Note: I use rectangular “Pyrex Simply Store 1.875 Cup Rectangular Dish W/ Red Lid”. ShopWorldKitchen.com usually has buy one get the next one half off deals. If you are on their email, you can get dollars off coupons that can equal "free" shipping. I have enough of these things to fill half a shelf but they are constantly in use with several timeshift dishes.
1. While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese(s) for the topping and the sauce. Set aside.
1. In a 2-quart measure, add olive oil and flour. Mix well with a fork until all of the flour is incorporated.
2. Stir in the milk, slowly, while stirring. It is important to get the oil/flour incorporated into the first quarter cup of milk. After that, it mixes easily.
3. Microwave covered on High for 3 minutes and stir well.
4. Microwave covered three times on High for 60 seconds and stir well each time. After the first time, make sure you get the thickened sauce at the bottom mixed back into the sauce,
5. Microwave covered four times on High for 30 seconds and stir well each time. The sauce will have a “fluffy” consistency.
6. Add the mustard and stir well. Break up any clumps of mustard so there aren’t any mustard “surprises”.
7. Add the Gruyere cheese, it melts quickest. Stir to incorporate.
8. Add the Cheddar cheese in batches ( 2 or 3). Stir to incorporate each time. It will become thicker as you add cheese.
Edit 2016-02-26 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: As long as the mixture reaches the "fluffy" state, think "marshmallow creme", the number of times it has been microwaved isn't important. The number and length of time in the microwave is just to get the mixture hot, long enough to thicken, and to prevent a boil over.
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Macaroni and cheese:
1. Pour the sauce over the pasta. Use a silicone spatula to get all of the sauce onto the pasta.
2. Mix well so all of the macaroni is coated.
3. Portion evenly into the Pyrex baking dishes. Use a silicone spatula to get all of the macaroni and cheese into the dishes.
4. Top with Cheddar cheese.
5. Top with Gruyere cheese.
6. Snap on the lids and freeze
Step 3: Bake the Macaroni and Cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and top begins to brown.
Breville – set to “Bake”, preheat to 350 degrees F, 30 minutes, and middle rack
Step 4: Prepare the Avocado
If you have three to four days, buy a green avocado. Let it ripen on the counter until it just turns black. If you aren’t going to use it immediately, put it in the refrigerator. Just ripened avocados will last up to a week and a half in the refrigerator but they will lose some quality. If you need an avocado for “right now”, pick one that is black and firm (not hard). If it is soft, the likelihood of getting a bad one goes way up.
Insert the tip of the knife at the stem end. Slice down, keeping as much of the blade in the avocado as you can. Turn the avocado under the knife blade and you will end up right back where you started. Hold the halves in your palms and twist to separate. Chop the knife blade into the pit and twist to separate. Cut the halves into quarters, the quarters into eights, and peel.
Note: I buy the avocados in the mesh bags from the big box store. Between green ones in the fridge, ones ripening on the counter, and freshly ripened ones in the fridge, you can maintain a steady stream of avocados for weeks. You can use the same strategy with Bartlett pears.