Hi! We are Erin and Allison—and together we own a restaurant in Oakland, California, dedicated to the best food on earth: macaroni and cheese. A few months ago a neighbor came into our restaurant, Homeroom, to tell us a story about her daughter’s first words. The mother explained, “She just kept saying ‘ah-ah-chee.’ We couldn’t figure out what she was referring to until we passed your restaurant and she started yelling ‘ah-ah-chee’ over and over and then it hit us—‘mac and cheese’!”
Whether a child’s first words or an adult’s cherished food memories, one of the most rewarding parts of owning a mac and cheese restaurant is how people of all ages and backgrounds have deep connections to our food. A close second is turning those connections upside down by making mac and cheese that is even more delectable, rich, and unique than people’s best memories.
People ask us all the time for our recipes or for advice on how to improve their own homemade mac and cheese. This book represents everything we’ve learned after making thousands of mac and cheeses, from recipes to problem-solving. We’re excited to bring these ideas beyond the confines of our cheesy little corner of the world and into your home.
This dessert is a great summery treat because you don’t have to bake the entire dish—only the topping goes in the oven for about ten minutes, so it’ll keep your house nice and cool on a hot day. Plus, you get to enjoy the freshness of the berries at their peak. With a layer of fresh macerated berries (berries that have been mixed with sugar to bring out their juices), crunchy crisp, and a dollop of fresh whipped cream—you can’t go wrong. You can also try it with other summer fruit—though you will want to adjust the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit, and probably omit the balsamic vinegar. Serves 4
1 pound strawberries, stemmed and quartered
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
13/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
Whipped cream (see Mint Whipped Cream, page 98, or you can use store-bought)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, mix the strawberries, granulated sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Let stand for at least 20 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the butter, flour, graham cracker crumbs, and brown sugar. Spread on a baking sheet, and pat down the mixture on the sheet with a spatula.
Bake the crumb mixture until it turns light brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet, then break it up into little chunks using the spatula.
To serve, spoon the macerated strawberries with some of the liquid into individual bowls, top with crumbly topping, and a healthy dose of whipped cream.