With the of loud swoosh of the refrigerator door opening, Amore and Dolce are immediately on the alert to kitchen activity. The clink of condiment jars rattling against each other as the door swings open, informs them of a possible treat or nibble of something good. The crinkling of plastic is blatant advertising of cheese or maybe carrots. The un-snapping of a plastic lid translates to yogurt or sour cream. From the living room, the girls can decipher if the clanking noise is Malcolm reaching in to grab his Ice Tea pitcher or if the crackling sound is some cheddar cheese being placed on the kitchen counter for slicing or grating.
They can verify the difference between the opening of the frig door and the freezer, between the lifting of the treat jar lid and the spare change cover, between the squeak of the cupboard and the drawer. Their ears can define a broccoli chop vs. an onion cut, a carrot slice vs. celery stick. The sound of the knife against the chopping block as it cuts through the veggie announces how quickly the girls will start sniffing around the kitchen. They love broccoli and carrots, can’t have onions, and are so-so with celery.
Amore immediately runs in to investigate. Nose to the floor, sniffing out the latest crumb, Amore is determined to gobble it up before Dolce has a chance to. Dolce, on the other hand, waits on the couch, head tilted, eyebrows cocked, her little mind working to interpret the sound coming from the kitchen. Dolce is more discerning. She wants to know the clatter is worth the effort of movement. An apple wedge, a cheese cube or a carrot stick will haul her off the couch and into the kitchen in three seconds. Or, if she hears Amore chomping, she can be there in two. The jangle of the silverware drawer doesn’t even merit a head lift from her soft pillow.
I would have to say cheese is their absolute favorite. Even Bleu Cheese.
MAC N’ CHEESE N’ CHEESE
- 3 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
- 12 bacon slices, chopped
- 3 cups fresh, coarse breadcrumbs (may use Ritz cracker crumbs as a substitute)
- 1 cup finely grated Asiago Cheese
- 1/2 chopped fresh parsley
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 6 cups whole milk
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 3 cups grated Fontina Cheese
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tbsp. coarse-grain mustard
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 13x9x2 inch casserole dish. Cook macaroni pasta in boiling water per package directions, until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, rinse and drain again.
Cook chopped bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon and 1/4 cup bacon drippings to large bowl. Add breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, and 1/4 cup parsley with bacon and toss until blended.
Add minced garlic and jalapeno to remaining pan drippings in skillet and saute over medium heat until fragrant. Add flour and whisk 3 minutes. Gradually add in whole milk, then add egg yolks, cayenne, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Cook until mixture thickens, whisking constantly. Add 2 cups of the Fontina Cheese, Cheddar cheese, remaining Asiago cheese and stir until cheeses melt. Remove from heat. Mix in macaroni, coarse-grain mustard, remaining parsley and the last of the Fontina Cheese. Transfer macaroni mixture to prepared dish.
Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over macaroni . Bake just until topping is golden about 15-20 minutes.
(Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake)
If a little is good, then, a lot is better. Trust me. Always add a little more butter and a lot more cheese!