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A Southwest Summer: Southwest S'mac and Cheese

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There are reasons so-called comfort foods bring you comfort. It might be that chicken noodle soup that your mom made you when you were sick. It might be those chocolate chip cookies at grandma's. It might be the meatloaf you dreaded growing up but soon learn to master as an adult. Then there is macaroni and cheese, or as it has become known, mac and cheese -- the fine dining choice of college students from Yale to Chico State.

When I refer to mac and cheese, I am not referring to that poison that comes in a box with a packet of orange chemicals with more salt than the lake in Utah. I am referring to actual pasta blended with cheese. Perhaps mac and cheese is a good starting point to hone your culinary skills but there must be a point of graduation and... this is it!

Nothing gourmet fancy here. No ingredients you can't pronounce. No directions you can't understand. Nothing you can't find at your local market. What this mac and cheese makeover is, is something Chef's do all the time - a re-creation to make something good even better! I have chosen Edam cheese and the reason is two-fold. First, I like it! Secondly, its smoothness and slight zing blends well with the heavy cream and it will not interfere with the julienned Italian dry salami we're going to lace through our S'mac and cheese!

So, don't give up the comfort of mac and cheese... just change your position with S'mac and Cheese!

Ingredients needed to make Southwest S'mac and Cheese (serves 2):

  • 4 cups rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram, crumbled
  • 2 cups finely grated Edam cheese
  • Italian dry salami, thinly sliced and julienned

Steps:

  1. In a medium pot of boiling salted water, add the rigatoni and cook until al dente (to the teeth - meaning it has a little chew to it).
  2. Drain the rigatoni and place back in the pot over low heat. Add the cream and stir it to coat the rigatoni.
  3. Stir in the hot sauce, marjoram and cheese until the cheese has melted into the cream and you have a smooth satiny sauce.
  4. Add the salami, stir to incorporate and then serve.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."

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