Our dear friend Ellen Silverman, resident photographer at ‘the improvised life’, did all the photos for Gwyneth Paltrow‘s new cookbook My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness. To quote Heather Horn of The Atlantic Online “the book is an eyeful”, no doubt due to Ellen’s sensual and luminous images. Here’s a sampling of photos from the book, along what looks to be a great, unexpectedly over-the-top recipe for Mac and Cheese (we haven’t had a chance to try it yet).
It smacks of Paltrow’s friend Mario Batali’s influence (He is one of the best cooks we know). In lieu of the traditional and somewhat time-consuming cream sauce and grating of American cheese, Paltrow uses marscarpone as a base for freshly grated Parmigiano (easily bought) as the sauce for the macaroni. Fast and furious, with those big-guns ingredients, it cannot fail. You’ll find the recipe at the end of the post…
Recipe: Macaroni & Cheese (A Few Ways) from Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness
I grew up looking forward to the nights we had mac and cheese; my mother would pop the supermarket frozen kind in the toaster oven and the bubbling American cheese would go all brown on top. My brother and I used to fight over the crispy bits. In this more Italian-leaning (and preservative-free) version, the ultimate comfort food gets an elegant makeover. I love to serve this in ramekins for individual portions, adjusting the flavors at the end for each member of my family.
1 pound elbow macaroni (preferably with ridges)
8 ounces mascarpone
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup tightly packed grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/2 cup for topping
1/2 cup milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted
for variation add one of the following:
1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup Taleggio cheese,broken into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 400°F and turn it on to convection if that’s a possibility.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package. Meanwhile, stir together the mascarpone, nutmeg, and 1 cup of Parmesan in a small saucepan over a medium flame until the cheeses melt together, about 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and salt and pepper to taste and keep the sauce warm over a low flame. Drain the pasta and combine it with the sauce.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the bread crumbs. At this point, you can put the macaroni in a large baking dish, scatter the bread crumb topping over it, dot it with the butter, and bake it for 15 minutes and it will be great.
Or you can do any of the following variations, which can be done in 4-ounce ramekins to make individual servings:
1. Put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, then pour the macaroni over the sauce, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, dot with butter, and bake for 15 minutes.
2. Mix the mozzarella with the macaroni before pouring into the baking dish. Top with the bread crumb mixture, dot with butter, and bake for 15 minutes. This is also particularly nice with the tomato sauce base as in number 1, above.
3. After you pour the macaroni into the baking dish, tuck in tiny bits of the crumbled Gorgonzola, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, dot with butter, and bake for 15 minutes.
4. After you pour the macaroni into the baking dish, put a layer of Taleggio on top, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, dot with butter, and bake for 15 minutes.