Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Special Occasion | Sriracha Mac n' Cheese and Apple Pie

Today marks the day that Denny and I started "dating" I guess you could say.  I don't really know how people start dating nowadays.  Nobody says "Will you be my girlfriend/boyfriend?" (circle yes, no, or maybe)  This isn't the old days.  For us, we simply found out that a band we both liked was playing a show, it was Halloween weekend 2 years ago so we decided to dress up in ridiculous costumes.  We both remember it as the day "sparks flew" and we have pretty much hung out ever since that day.  One day shortly after that we decided to move in togther, one day shortly after that we decided to buy a house, and one day shortly after that we decided we would get married.  And that's how it happens, I guess!

On Sunday night I decided to make a "special dinner" in celebration.  I saw this recipe on Shutterbean a while back and immediately knew this was "the one".  One of our favorite things to eat on a lazy night is boxed mac n cheese with tuna and sriracha, so there was no doubt that this was the mac n cheese recipe to end all mac n cheese recipes (for us, anyway).  Then of course, I got the Mac n Cheese cookbook for my birthday and it was game over.  I now have mac n cheese recipes earmarked for every upcoming holiday.  It's a sickness.

Sriracha Mac N Cheese

For the Mac Sauce (without this your mac n cheese ceases to live)
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp salt

In a saucepan heat the milk over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, right before it comes to a boil.  Remove from heat.  In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter then add the flour, whisking constantly (I mean constantly, ya'll).  Cook this for only a few minutes until it turns a light brown.  Slowly add the warm milk, one cup at a time.  Whisking, you guessed it, CONSTANTLY.  You will at first think you burned it and did something wrong because it's going to do a super thick coagulating thing.  But keep trucking, add the rest of the milk, one cup at a time and keep stirring that mo'fo'.  You will alas get a super creamy bechamel sauce (look at us being fancy), that should coat a spoon.

For the Mac
3/4 lb dried elbow pasta
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 1/3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups grated Havarti
2 tbsp sriracha sauce
1 cup chopped scallions (green onions)
3/4 cup Panko crumbs

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cook the pasta until al dente.  Drain and rinse with cold water, continue to drain.  Mash together the ginger and butter.  Combine the mac sauce with the Havarti and ginger butter over medium heat.  Stir in the sriracha.  Stir in the cooked pasta.  Commence drooling.  Add the green onions (although I would probably have preferred them sprinkled on top of the finished mac, rather than cooking them.  Up to you!)

Pour the mac mixture into a 14" casserole baking dish.  Top with Panko and put in the oven for about 20-25min until the top is a golden brown and the mac is a' bubblin'!  Remove from oven and try not to get drool into anyone's servings but your own.  Don't be gross.

Denny was eyeing some apple pie the night before, so I made that too.  Making my own pie crust might have been a tad too much to take on after an overwhelming (and disappointing) day of IKEA shopping (the word "stroke" comes to mind).  But I was determined.  In the end, the crust fell apart (likely because I added too much shortening), but we were left with a gooey apple crumbly thing on our plates, so we were happy :)  Ask me if I took a picture of the whole pie when it came out of the oven and the answer is no (except maybe one on my phone) because I was brain dead by the end of the meal, and was also in a mac n cheese coma.  The best kind of coma there is.

Apple Pie from Smitten Kitchen

For the Crust (Non-lattice)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
8 tbsp vegetable shortening
12 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
6-8 tbsp ice water

1. Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with steel blade until combined.   I used a blender and it worked but was pretty fussy. Add shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; cut butter into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons ice water over mixture and mix.  Add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it will not come together. Divide dough into two pieces and wrap separately in plastic and refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.

The Filling
3 1/2 lbs apples (I used Honeycrisp - the recipe calls for a mix between Macintosh and Granny Smith)
 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cups + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500°F. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).

2. Roll dough between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by peeling off the top layer of plastic and flipping the rolled dough face down onto the pie pan.  Peel off the second piece of plastic, which should now be on the top. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.  I stuck mine in the freezer because I was short on time and my dough was falling apart :)  The colder the better in my case.

3. Peel, core and cut apples in half, and in half again width-wise; cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.

4. Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch disk and place over filling.  Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

5. Place pie on baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

6. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. (Ha, if you can wait that long)


At the end of the night I asked Denny if it feels like we have been together for 2 years.  His response was, "Psh, no it feels longer."  And I have to say I agree.  I keep expecting this to be something more like our 5th, or 6th, or 7th year anniversary.  Like I said, we moved in together, bought a house, got a dog, decided to get married - all in less than 2 years.  You can trust that a whole hell of a lot happened in between that as well.  A lot can be said about how fast it all should go - this relationship thing - but all I know is I have someone who shows me everyday that he is up for life's challenges and still loves me at the end of it all.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  And I feel pretty good about that!


  1. What a sweet post! I'm just catching up on your blog and I love this post! Shutterbean is one of my favorite blogs and I've been eyeing that mac and cheese too. If you like her, you should check out Joy The Baker too-a most excellent baker and a great writing voice. Shutterbean and Joy the Baker also have a podcast together which is hilarious too! I listen to it on my commute into work. Miss you friend! xoxo

    1. I do love Joy the Baker also! Unfortunately, her posts don't update on my blog feed for some reason, so I am not as up to date on her as I would like to be. I have listened to their podcast as well and enjoy it. I just realized that I need to add you blog to the list! Yours is one I follow religiously as well :) Let's get together for some Ron Burgandy ice cream soon! Christmas is almost upon us! You know what that means....