Jan. 25, 2014
It’s been a busy week here at EatDrinkIndy.com. Lots happening, and even more going on next week. Assuming that we’re not all frozen by the below-zero temperatures on Monday, I’ll be part of a panel discussion on gender and professional cooking, along with Thom England of Ivy Tech, Erin Till of Neal Brown Hospitality Group, Kathy Jones of Iozzo’s and Junonia Fish Market and Regina Mehallick of R bistro. That takes place at 2:30 p.m. at The Platform, in the West Wing of the Indianapolis City Market. It’s free and open to the public, so bundle up and join us!
Today, I interviewed Cleveland chef Steve Schimoler, owner of Crop Bistro & Bar, following his demo at the Indianapolis Home Show. That will likely end up as a post for another day, because what I had been looking forward to most today was actually getting into the kitchen myself. If you’ve been following along on Facebook, you know that since it was going to be a cold, snowy weekend, I was going to try a couple of new recipes. I decided that bread pudding and mac and cheese were the dishes du jour, so I found a couple of promising recipes and tried them out.
But I have to say, that I was disappointed in both.
Now, it’s not that they weren’t plenty good. In fact, I had two servings of the mac and cheese and a generous portion of bread pudding — complete with a rum sauce. But here’s the thing: they just weren’t as fabulous as I was hoping for.
I tried a recipe called The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Ever, which is certainly a name that will get your expectations up. It sounded good and looked great, and honestly, it tasted just fine. But I think it’s the white sauce base that this and so many other recipes start with. Martha Stewart’s and Ina Garton’s mac and cheese recipes start this way, and, I don’t know, I think it’s a textural problem. And I’m perfectly willing to take the blame; I’m sure it’s a technical flaw on my part, but when I make this type of mac and cheese, it tastes to me like a white sauce with cheese (which is what it is), rather than a melty cheese sauce.
I’d be interested to talk with Katy Williams about her mac and cheese recipe; I liked her Facebook comment: “I learned to make it from a lovely lady from Charleston. Simple and delicious and no white sauce to dumb down the cheese.” Maybe that’s my problem; the white sauce is dumbing down the cheese.
As for the bread pudding, there were several issues. I’ve made bread pudding plenty of times; it’s one of my favorite desserts. And I know that using the right kind of bread is important. I usually use challah, but I grabbed an Italian loaf at the store, since that’s what they had. And then in trying a recipe from Epicurious.com (which is usually my go-to recipe site), I halved it, which could have resulted in too much bread and not enough egg/milk mixture. And the custard needed to be richer; I think it needed some heavy cream. Finally, I know better than to use chocolate chips, because chips used in chocolate chip cookies — which is what I had on hand — are made to hold their shape. So rather than getting all melty, the chocolate chips just sat there.
Now, again, I’m not saying it wasn’t good; I don’t think anyone would turn it down it you offered them a bite (especially topped with the rum sauce the recipe called for). But It wasn’t my favorite. I’d like it to be richer and more custardy, and I’d completely ditch the chocolate chips next time. I’ve made a chocolate bread pudding with Traders Point Creamery chocolate milk, and that one rocks (I think I might have added cherries too).
So I remain in search of the best bread pudding and macaroni and cheese recipes. If you have any suggestions, please, send them along.