The Aviation

Meet my new favorite cocktail, the Aviation. It’s a classic, but a less common one–perhaps because the ingredient creme de violette is so hard to come by.

The recipe consists of:

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • a dash of creme de violette

Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry.  I like to use amarena cherries that have been “bourboned.”  If you don’t have creme de violette then elderflower liqueur makes a nice substitute.

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Mac and Cheese

Standard Recipe

This is my mom’s famous mac n’ cheese recipe. I’ve passed it on to several friends who have passed it on to their friends… it is currently making its way around North America. There are a lot of tasty variations you can do with it. Below is the standard recipe, and following it are a few variants I’ve tried and some other ideas.

ingredients

  • 10 oz extra sharp cheddar, grated (original recipe called for 8oz, but I find this isn’t enough. In fact, I’d recommend 12oz to be on the safe side.)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (I use white pepper, but black is cool–you could even use cayenne, though you might want to use less)
  • 2 cups milk, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups small elbow macaroni
  • tobasco or worcestershire sauce (optional)

preparation

  1. grate the cheese (don’t cut the cheese)
  2. measure out flour, salt, pepper, milk
  3. warm milk in microwave (don’t boil it, just get it to room temp)
  4. preheat oven to 375F

make a white sauce

  1. melt butter in saucepan
  2. add warm milk, flour (so the mixture won’t be runny), salt and pepper
  3. stir this mixture regularly (but not constantly) over medium heat
  4. add some of the grated cheese when the sauce is hot along with a drop or two of tabasco and worcestershire sauce

boil macaroni

  1. fill large pot with water (add 1 tsp of salt) and bring to a boil (I’d start boiling it before you begin the white sauce–you should be able to do both simultaneously and have them ready at nearly the same time)
  2. once boiling, add macaroni
  3. cook four minutes for standard macaroni, 6 minutes for Barilla “plus” (or other pasta which takes longer than regular pasta)–the point is that you don’t want the macaroni to be thoroughly cooked, not even al dente–it will cook more in the oven.
  4. drain macaroni and blanch with cold water

prepare casserole

  1. layer the pasta, cheese and white sauce in a casserole dish:
    • macaroni
    • cheese
    • white sauce
    • repeat
  2. I usually manage three layers. Only use a little bit of the cheese–save enough that you can completely cover the top.
  3. top with the remaining cheese
  4. bake at 375F (preheated) for 30 minutes–or until top is bubbling.
    • NOTE: if you prepare the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it, add an additional 10 minutes baking time.
  5. let stand for a few minutes and serve!
  6. refrigerate leftovers, or cut into individual servings and freeze!

Variations

Bacon-Jalapeño

  • take one large jalapeño, cut it open, remove the seeds and dice
  • fry up six thick slices of bacon (about 8 oz), cook until most of the fat is gone and the bacon is crispy
  • set out a plate with a couple paper towels on it, let bacon cool on paper towels
  • blot bacon with additional paper towels
  • stack bacon slices on cutting board and cut into small slivers of hickory-smoked goodness
  • prepare standard mac n’ cheese recipe
  • when layering pasta, sprinkle bacon and jalapeño bits into each layer

Gorgonzola

  • prepare standard mac n’ cheese recipe
  • instead of adding grated cheddar to white sauce, add 1/4 cup of crumbled gorgonzola
  • if you really love gorgonzola, also sprinkle some crumbles into the casserole as you layer it

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