Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ladies' Night

Every lady needs a ladies' night now and then to keep her sanity. Usually this involves meeting at a restaurant and chatting over a bottle (or three) of wine, but this time around, my friend Danielle suggested the more economical approach--cooking at home. Hence the Weehawken kitchen moved to Danielle's apartment in, well, Weehawken.

The dish of choice? Mac and cheese. And what's a stick-to-your-ribs hearty dairy bonanza if it doesn't come from the countess of cream herself, one Barefoot Contessa.

Listed as a "kids' recipe" in her Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook (who are you trying to kid here, Barefoot), this is the most indulgent whole-milk-and-cheese-explosion version of mac and cheese you'll ever need. For those who dare, here's the recipe.

To balance the meal, first we made a salad, and Danielle made some delicious eggplant croquettes (note them sitting on the stove adjacent to the QUART of whole milk warming up for the mac and cheese). Check out the recipe here.

Then we began the heavy eating, er, cooking. Katie started grating mountains of cheddar and gruyere as Emily drooled.

The hardest part of making this dish is at every step, you want to stop and taste the velvety smooth cheese love. It calls out as it's cooking, like a Siren. Here's Danielle sneaking one before we poured it into the baking dish.

Once I fended away the fellow females, I got the dish ready for the oven and "made" some (frozen) cheesy garlic bread. (I know, I know, but you can never have too much cheese).

By the time the buzzer went off, to say we were ready was an understatement.

Now as if the night could not get any better...

Over dinner, Danielle asked my opinion on Cablevision's (Weehawken's SOLE cable provider) decision to yank the Food Network. My inarticulate grumbly growl was the only response I could muster. At that moment (I kid not), Danielle got a text that Scripps and Cablevision had made up.

This called for a celebratory dance around the television.

Oh, Food Network, how I had missed you!!! I'll never again underestimate the joy in an all-day marathon Food Network cake challenge on a cold and lazy weekend.

Sidebar: Danielle and I share a love for our Weehawken kitchens. In her spare time, Danielle crafts the cutest refrigerator magnets, with everything from cuts of meat to fruits and veggies. Check out her Etsy store here and pretty up your kitchen.