Thursday, February 5, 2009

Insert Cheese Here

My father-in-law likes to joke that roast chicken uses the oldest recipe in the world: add meat, apply fire. Last week I stumbled upon a recipe for rotini and bleu cheese. By the time I started to put it together, I realized that this was a macaroni and cheese recipe -- substitute rotini for macaroni, bleu cheese for cheddar. Add cream (no butter). A few minutes later, I realized the same was true of a fettuccine alfredo recipe I make (instead use fettuccine, Parmesano Reggiano, and lots of butter). I have not seen bleu cheese in a macaroni & cheese recipe, though Mac & cheese has almost as many variations as there are recipes fitting my father-in-law's joke.

I decided to give it the Mini Chef challenge: She loves Mac & Cheese, but thinks bleu cheese is disgusting. The recipe I found gave a 3-1 proportion of cream to bleu cheese. I used a fairly strong bleu, Roth Kase -- and wound up using 4 or 5 - 1 cream to cheese ratio. In my two iterations, she went for it once, but rejected a second. Either she was on to me or I didn't disguise the offensive cheese with enough Parmesan in the rejected batch.

Perhaps this is only kid friendly to the French. I hated bleu cheese as a child, but it has grown on me over the years. The recipe is nearly as simple and quick as any box variety. By itself, this dish is big on flavor, but low on contrasts. I've added Parmesan and vegetables. I recommend peas, carrots, celery and green onions for texture and color. A dash of cayenne may cut the cloying creaminess.

The site I found this on was Frugal Cuisine. Frugal Cuisine looks like a good place to browse when payday is still a few days off . . .

Rotini & Bleu (4 servings with salad)

1 pound of Rotini
3/4 C of Heavy cream
2 Tbls of Bleu Cheese (adjust with strength of variety)
1 Tbls of grated parmesan
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Diced vegetables of your choice

1. Boil water with a lot of salt (I use a tablespoon per 2 quarts of water).
2. Cook rotini for about 7 minutes.
3. While rotini cooks, gently heat heavy cream and bleu cheese until well combined. You can do this on the stove or in the microwave.
4. Drain rotini, add cheese sauce, parmesan and vegetables.

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