baked macaroni and cheese

you make this dish once and you will forget about the boxed stuff with the disgusting powdered or gelatinous cheese package forever!  enjoy a warm night at home with roasted brussels sprouts, baked macaroni and cheese, and a red brick long john ale (if you are lucky enough to find it) for a filling, rich, and delicious meal.  you deserve it, it's friday.

baked macaroni and cheese (adapted from mark bittman's how to cook everything):

heat the oven to 400 degrees.  bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

heat 2 1/2 cups of 2% milk with 2 bay leaves in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  when small bubbles appear along the sides, turn off the heat and let stand.  cook 1 pound of elbow pasta in the boiling water for about 7 minutes (you want it to be a bit under cooked).  drain it, rinse it with cold water quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a large bowl.

in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  when it is foamy, add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and cook, stirring,  until the mixture browns.  remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4 cup of milk to the hot flour mixture, continuously stirring.  as soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add another 1/4 cup of milk and continue to do so until all the milk is used up.  the mixture should be thick and smooth.  now, add 1 1/2 cups of grated gruyere cheese and 1/2 cup of grated gouda and stir.

pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, toss in a small handful of chopped fresh rosemary (you could really use any herbs you like) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  use about 1 tablespoon of butter to grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and pour the pasta into it.  bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.