Following is a recipe that takes the flavors of pimento cheese and bakes them into a classic mac and cheese. The basis of this recipe is one that I have used over and over and it always pleases. But here I decided to add some additional flavors by adding minced pepperdaws and a small amount (1Tbs.) of minced shallot. The pepperdaws are a little more aggressive in flavor than the standard pimentos but since this is a baked dish I needed the flavor and texture to stand up to the heat.
This recipe as well as the basic (without the pimentos or shallot) is very easy to put together without having to make the bechamel that some mac and cheese recipes call for. Where I like the bechemel version as well, the convenience and ease of this is hard to beat.
Pimento Cheese Mac and Cheese Recipe
1 8oz. Package of Macaroni
2 Cups of Milk or Half and Half
2-3 Cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup Chopped Pepperdaws
1 Tbs. Minced Shallot
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
Mix milk or half and half together with the three eggs. Add the chopped Pepperdaws and Shallot and Salt. Mix well.
3. Butter a 9″ x 9″ baking dish and add a layer of the cooked macaroni and the 1/2 the grated cheese. Add the rest of the macaroni and then pour the milk and egg mixture over the macaroni and cheese.
4. Finish by evenly distributing the rest of the grated cheese over the top of the dish.
5. Bake in a 350° degree oven for 35-40 minutes until slightly browned.
I did not have a photo of the rice cake I mentioned in a previous blog about the lunch at All’Osteria Bottega so I figured that would be a good excuse to track down a recipe and share it here. As you will see it is really a simple recipe but does take some time in preparing the rice. After that it is really straight forward. This makes a really moist cake that is delicious for breakfast with coffee or tea or as a traditional dessert after dinner.
Rice Cake Recipe
1 quart of whole milk
4 oz. of arborio rice
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of finely chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup of chopped candied fruit peel, **See note.
the peel of 1/2 a lemon
1-2 jiggers of Amaretto or other liquor (I used Brandy)
Bring milk to a boil. Add the sugar, rice and lemon peel and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 45- 50 minutes. Make sure to stir periodically to avoid burning the rice.
When the rice and milk mixture has thickened (the mixture should be completely thick with no liquid visible) remove from the heat and let stand to cool completely.
When thoroughly cooled add one egg at a time. Stir in vigorously with a wooden spoon to make sure all eggs are well incorporated into the mixture.
Add the candied fruit peel and the finely chopped toasted almonds and Amaretto. Stir until all is well incorporated into the rice batter.
Butter and flour a 10″ x 10″ cake pan. I used a small pyrex dish and it came out fine.
Place in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for one hour (mine took about 15min. more). Check the center with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean remove from the oven and allow to cool before trying to remove from the cake pan.
When cooled remove from the cake pan and slice into small cubes.
***Note: If you can’t find candied fruit peel you can always substitute with the zest of your preference. Also the cake I had at the restaurant used Amaretto but you can use whatever type of alcohol you prefer. I did not have Amaretto so I used Brandy.