last night we checked out the alternate spot for the performance...i think we're going to go for it. the place is called "the richmond" it's the perfect amount of space and you don't really need to do much to the room to make it look nice and dress it up. the lady there has done hundreds of events and was super friendly, in a kind of brash, mother-hen, bossy kind of way - you really got the sense that she was looking out for your best interests and was bringing loads of experience to the table (even though she totally busted my balls when i tried to dance around the nature of the party - "what kind of party" "a party" "for what?" "ummm...our love?" "is this a wedding" *stalling* "is there going to be a CEREMONY or SOMETHING FORMAL?" "ummmm...maybe?")
they're run as a non-profit and they're also socially conscious (a portion of our fee goes towards a different charity each month) and eco-friendly (they run on bullfrog power, donate all leftover food, don't allow bottled water, etc).
unfortunately, they don't have the date we wanted available so i had to get a new permit for the park and we have to change the date to the following saturday. that's okay though!
then i trooped home simply ravenous and cooked up one of my all-time favorite meals - macaroni and cheese (except sub penne for macaroni). i used to make this a baked dish, but then i cottoned onto the fact that i much prefer a slump of noodles bathed in gooey, warm, cheesy sauce as opposed to the firmer, drier result you get with the baked version. to replicate the breadcrumb topping (nothing is better than carbs topped with carbs), i just toast off some bread crumbs with some thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper and spoon as much as i like onto each serving.
you can sub in whatever cheeses you like...i tend to keep it fairly consistent with fontina (for smooth melting) and cheddar (for flavour)...all cheddar mac'n'cheeses tend to get a little grainy and texturally weird for me.
i made a salad too (radicchio, fennel, red onion, romano beans, orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper), but ended up skipping eating salad for TWO GIANT helpings of mac'n'cheese. it was soooooooo good. the noodles continue to absorb the sauce as it cools, so it firms up quite a bit (another point in favour of not doing the baked mac'n'cheese thing).
tonight i'm planning on making seafood (clams, mussels, maybe some salmon) chowder and having that with leftover salad and a slice or two of the whole grain sourdough that the dotytron baked off today. i'm feeling slightly more in control of the holidays...i've made up menu plans for my family's 3 day extravaganza and the dotytron's family's breakfast and dessert (those are my traditional contributions)...i know what i'm doing for gifts, and i made another double batch of cookie dough that i balled up and froze off (gingersnaps).
*edit here are pics of the chowder and the bread
this loaf turned out a little flatter, a little less sour, and more moist, with a denser, wetter mie. i think it must have been the 12 hour counter rise instead of the 24 hour fridge rise that did it, even though it rose much more during the quicker, warmer rise at room temperature. i think i might prefer the first batch, but it's kind of splitting hairs because they're both delicious.
in other news...my dodgeball team now has its own messageboard. LOL. i kind of like private messageboards...besides...wading through ten billion emails every time we started to get on a tear wasn't good information management.
mac'n'cheese of the gods (carbs on carbs!)
makes 4 giant servings or 2 me and dotytron size servings
2 c. of panko breadcrumbs
1 T. of fresh thyme, chopped (strip the leaves from the woody stems, first)
1/4 of olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lb - 1 1/2 lb. penne pasta (or any short, tubular pasta)
4 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. all purpose flour
4 c. of milk (any percent)
400 g. of fontina cheese (danish, the kind with the red wax on the outside), grated
250 g. white cheddar, grated
(any other cheese you think will taste good or have on hand - i've used asiago, parm, romano, but the cheddar and the fontina are the constants)
salt and pepper
- rub all the ingredients for the breadcrumb topping together, until everything is pretty much moistened with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper
- pour into a shallow pan and toast in a preheated 400F oven for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown (stir periodically), set aside.
- melt the butter in a big saucepan and when it's melted, whisk in the flour. whisk this for a minute or two over medium or medium-high heat. slowly whisk in the cold milk (do this slowly at first so you don't get any lumps of flour/butter [roux] in your bechamel [finished milk sauce]). once you've added all the milk, increase the heat slightly and continue stirring until the mixture starts to bubble and has thickened.
- turn the heat lower and add the cheese, stirring until melted...keep the sauce warm on low heat
- meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water and drain.
- toss the cheese sauce with the pasta
- taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper (keep in mind: cheese is salty!)
- top with breadcrumbs and house it.