The Barnes & Noble Review
Mmmm...macaroni and cheese! Thanks to Joan Schwartz, this all-American comfort classic gets its own cookbook, with 52 recipes from humble to haute. After you've paged through just a few of these recipes from well-known chefs, you'll see that mac and cheese is really the little black dress of casual food: always appropriate and infinitely adaptable.
Schwartz divides the recipes in three sections: Traditional Mac; International Mac; and Mac and Cheese Today. All start with pasta and cheese, but some cook on the stovetop, others in the oven; some use macaroni, others prefer orecchiette; some like cheddar or manchego, while others prefer a combination of mild and sharp (gruyère and cheddar, for instance). Topping? You bet. Breadcrumbs are traditional, but some chefs go for tortilla crumbs or even panko, Japanese breadcrumbs found in Asian markets. As Schwartz writes, "In assembling these recipes, I was struck over and over by the way gifted chefs approached the classic dish, respecting and changing it at the same time."
The Traditional Mac dishes are great. New Yorkers especially will be happy to see the recipes from Chat n' Chew, City Bakery, the Fairway Market, and the restaurant Home. Over in the world of International Mac, you'll find many Italian variations (Rigatoni al Forno, Farfalle al Quattro Formaggi), but also some Greek adaptations (Pastitsio, Greek Macaroni and Cheese), and one inspired by Provence (Macaroni and Cheese Provençal with Cod).
The section on Mac and Cheese Today contains much of the culinary star power, with recipes from Rick Bayless, Katy Sparks, Waldy Malouf, Gordon Hamersley, and Charlie Palmer. These are the cutting-edge recipes, mac and cheese all dressed up for a night on the town. You'll find Terrine of Macaroni, Goat Cheese and Foie Gras (Gordon Hamersley), Baked Conchiglie with Roasted-Garlic-Cheese Sauce, Ricotta Cheese, and White Truffle Oil (Bobby Flay), and Macaroni with Many Cheeses in a Red Chile-Herb Crust (Katy Sparks).
All in all, these 52 recipes will give you a great excuse to serve mac and cheese every week, the whole year long.