Comfort Food

Cold winter nights seem a little warmer when your family comes home to delicious food. First among dishes that come to mind when we think of comfort food is macaroni and cheese. This simple dish has lots of versions, but all say “welcome home” to kids and adults alike. Some are simple recipes while others have yummy add-ins. Here are some of our favorites to get you started.

Classic Mac ’n’ Cheese

Always great to have a classic recipe in your repertoire

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart milk, warmed
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 12 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 8 ounces shredded Cheddar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9” x 13” oven-to-table dish.

Drizzle some oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a 4-quart pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the warm milk and cook for a minute or two more until thickened and smooth.

Remove from heat, add both cheeses, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into prepared dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine with the bread crumbs, and sprinkle on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned.

Roasted Veggie Mac ’n’ Cheese

Sneaking some vegetables into a kid-friendly dish will make it easier for them to enjoy.

  • 1 cup broccoli florets, checked and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb macaroni
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with a little olive oil or nonstick cooking spray.

Toss broccoli, red pepper, squash and carrots onto the baking sheet with 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until vegetables have just softened. Remove from oven and set aside.

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a medium pot. Once water is boiling, add salt and cook pasta 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in Cheddar cheese until melted. Add pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add macaroni and vegetables.

Place mixture in a 9” x 13” dish and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs. Place under the broiler in your oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Gluten-Free Mac ’n’ Cheese

One bite will tell you you’re not missing out on great flavor just because you’re on a restricted diet.

  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus more for dish
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free crisp puffed-rice cereal, slightly crushed
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, about ¼ cup
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons potato starch or corn starch
  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 3/4 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded, about 3 cups
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 pound gluten-free penne, cooked until al dente and drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon butter, toss with crisp rice cereal and Parmesan.

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with potato starch or corn starch and cook 1 minute.

Slowly whisk in milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Cheddar and mustard until smooth; season with salt and pepper. A

Add pasta and stir to coat; transfer to ramekins or baking dish. Sprinkle with cereal mixture and bake until sauce is bubbling and topping is golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Yum!

Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a local Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.