Sunday, May 08, 2005

Cooking and those who don't.

I can bring home the bacon and fuckin' fry it up, man.

Today, before one o'clock, I had made two chicken pot pies (the real sort, with mushrooms and carrots and peas and cream sauce and biscuit dough) and a brisket and put together my crazy Kuwaiti friend Mahmoud's desk.

Mahmoud bought, on a whim, one of those melamine desks with forty umpteen holes and numerous little odd screw-things that are supposed to attach the various bits together. He had no clue how to start with the thing, so I went over to his place and had it together in fifty minutes.

Let me tell you how to reduce a crazy gay Muslim to rapture: bring a chicken pot pie into his house. I'd fed him once before on the stuff and he kept asking, "Is this something Americans eat all the time? Or do you keep it for special occasions?" Every once in a while he'd mention it with a sigh and a woeful look. So I thought I'd take him a pan. He ate half of it while I put his desk together.

Then, as I was leaving the house to get gas, I ran into a neighbor. She doesn't cook either.

(A quick aside: When I say "doesn't cook", I mean *DOESN'T COOK*. Mahmoud keeps Tupperware in his oven. Stephanie occasionally heats things in the microwave.)

Anyway, she's doing spring cleaning at the moment and wanted to give me three pans: all Calphalon. One's a medium-sized skillet, the twin of which I already have, but there are two true finds: a very small omelette pan, just perfect for one person, and a straight sided skillet that I've been looking for in thrift shops for years. Neither of them is made any longer and haven't been for some time.

So I came back and made her a cake. Chocolate, with chocolate frosting, because she likes that sort of thing.

The top looked a little rough-and-ready, so I grated some white chocolate over it. Then I noticed that the middle of the top was sagging a bit (it was still warm), so I just piled on some of the tiny sweet strawberries I got earlier today at the store.

I just took it downstairs. Stephanie looked like I'd handed her an Oscar. She got very flustered, round-eyed and stammering, and finally put it on the counter and stood staring at it for a few moments.

This is what I love about people who don't cook. What for me is a fun hobby and for Chef-Boy is a way of making money is some sort of arcane alchemy to them. The simplest things, like making stock from scratch, fill them with awe and appreciation. Tell people who don't cook "Sure, come on over, I'm just about to pull the bread out of the oven" and you'll hear sonic booms preceeding their entry into the driveway.

Therefore, in honor of those who don't cook, I present the best recipe ever for those who do or don't.

Kick-Ass Mac and Chee

Melt four tablespoons of butter in a very big saucepan. Use medium heat; you don't want to burn the butter.

Add five tablespoons of flour. Whisk the butter and flour together until it's marginally smooth.

Pour in four cups of milk. Whisk like a madman until all the lumps are gone. If you can't get 'em all out, don't sweat it.

Add a teaspoon each of dry mustard and garlic powder, along with a couple of shakes of cayenne pepper. Keep heating the milk mixture, stirring, until it thickens up a bit.

Now add eight ounces of grated or chopped-up sharp cheddar, five ounces of mild cheddar, and five ounces of mozzarella cheese. Don't add 'em all at once; let the previous cheese melt a bit before you add the next.

Let it melt all together, stirring constantly, until it's creamy.

Pour over twelve ounces of cooked pasta. Devour.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I keep my George Foreman grill in my oven. And sometimes tupperware, or maybe muffins I bought at the grocery store.

Wendy, S.N. said...

I am a non-cooker. I mean, I can cook limitedly. I just don't like to, and do it as little as possible.

Last week my husband was looking to put something down in the kitchen, and I told him "Put it on the stove. It's not like it's ever on anyway."

W. :)

Jodie said...

Even though I DO cook, it's a tremendous gift when someone cooks FOR ME. :D

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Tiberia said...

It's funny, isn't it? How cooking gets viewed like magic, instead of a skill that needs practice like anything else. I work with a bunch of women who, for the most part, don't cook (it ranges from never cook at all to get all nuts on the holidays but don't cook on a regular basis). They are mystified that I always have homemade left overs for lunch...heh!

Jen said...

I am about to be Mommy of the Frickin' Year! My kid is a bone-a-fied Mac -n- cheese junkie.

I took him to a foofy restaurant and he ordered MNC. It arrived in its own little casserole dish, topped with bread crumbs and perfectly brown, bubbly cheese. My son, 5 at the time, was hesitant to try something that deviated so wildly from the flourescent yellow easy-mac crap that he has come to know and love.

After a bit of cajoling, he tried it, and I swear to Frogs, his little eyes rolled back in his little head. He opened his eyes, looked at me, and said, with a single tear rolling down his face, "This is the best thing I've ever tasted."

So of course the bastards wouldn't give me the recipe.

But I think yours will work nicely.

Jo said...

Jen, you can cut the seasonings if you want, or increase them to make the dish more spicy. (I'm thinking five-year-old tastebuds might not go for mustard.) You can also cover the top of the dish (a BIG dish) with the same buttered crumbs and bake it. Tres chic!

AJ said...

You must try adding a bit of fresh ground nutmeg to your Mac-n-cheese...it'll make your head explode!

Kate said...

Oh. My. Frogs. I made the Kickass Mac&Chee two nights ago and it is SO GOOD.

I used generic mozzarella, 5-year-old aged white cheddar from Canada, and mild colby/jack mixture. I poured it over brown-rice pasta. Then I topped it with crumbs and ran it under the broiler (and left it too long so the smoke alarm went off but that is neither here nor there).

Then I let a little dish of it cool and gave it to the dog. He turned around and around and around in circles after he ate it, and danced side-to-side, and then sat staring fixedly at us all during dinner, occasionally remarking that we were pigs for not sharing. We were pigs, too -- we ate like starving Cossacks. Melty, creamy, cheesy, sharp, nurturing, all at once, that is Kickass Mac&Chee. Then I let the dog lick the pot and he pushed it all the way across the living room and I found it the next morning under the furniture.

I have just eaten the last of the KAM&C for lunch. It's even better, if that's possible, the next day. My tongue is tingling, tears of joy are in my eyes, and my stomach is grizzly-bear full. Oh my GOD was that good.