Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rosemary-Brie Mac 'n Cheese

Someone in my building has been playing the theremin, or possibly the saw, for six consecutive days now. For at least five hours each day, the tremulous, mournful whine navigates a path through the raindrops and into my window, along with September's calling card: the damp chill that settles on sofa cushions and bloats doors until they groan in their frames. To the doleful duet between warbling theremin/saw and congested gutters slopping rainwater into the alley, W. takes practice-GRE tests sequestered in her room; I perch at my computer and wonder what to write.

I got a job serving at an upscale restaurant in the Union Square area. I'm continuing to pursue other avenues of employment more closely related to my various long-term ambitions, but this gig will definitely pay the rent without breaking my back, and also offers good food at a generous discount. I feel it would be inappropriate to write a review for it during my tenure as an employee (particularly since my superiors can consult my resume for the blog address); suffice it to say, then, that the restaurant is particularly known for its candle-lit ambiance (featured below).
I'm enjoying it so far (and will be even more so when my training is over on Thursday and I actually get to keep my tips); the consistent patterns of set-up, glass-filling, and reciting specials make me feel rhythmic and at ease. The job also offers a welcome opportunity for me to expand my knowledge of wine; and besides, being any part of a process of providing people with good food is very satisfying to me.

All that said, I haven't cooked a stitch or snapped a photo in two weeks; lately, I've been eating questionable staff meals at the restaurant, but the only thing I've bothered to make at home is another round of this self-devised "French" mac 'n cheese (or should I say, "mac et fromage"?) that I made, ostensibly for my passel of nieces and nephews, at the beach. I think the adults enjoyed it more than the children, but all-around I'd say it was a success and worth repeating.

Rosemary-Brie Mac 'n Cheese


2 cups small elbow macaroni, or similar pasta as desired
1/2 cup panko flakes or other breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole milk (be prepared to add more as necessary)
7 oz. Brie, rind removed
5 oz. gruyere, cut into
½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
5 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced and
sautéed in 1 teaspoon butter
1 cup diced fresh figs
salt and pepper to taste


Cook macaroni in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain.

Melt 3T butter in large saucepan; melt remaining tablespoon in small saucepan. Mix panko or other breadcrumbs into small saucepan; remove from heat and set aside.

Add flour to large saucepan; whisk over medium-low heat 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Add rosemary and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Whisk 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Add cheese, mushrooms and figs; stir until melted. Add more milk if necessary for thick, creamy consistency.

Preheat broiler. Mix macaroni into sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into Pyrex (or, for more crunchy surface area, spoon into 9-inch pie plate); sprinkle crumbs over. Broil until crumbs brown, about 2 minutes, and serve hot.

Now that I'm not frantically job-hunting or penny-pinching so ferociously (not to say that I won't continue to be an expert on dining in the East Village for ten dollars or less for a good while yet), I hope to get back to blogging with some regularity/continuity. After all, the CSA keeps pouring in, the Greenmarket still spreads its welcoming arms every Sunday, and I continue to be hungry. Thank you for your patience and support!


Tanna said...

I was hooked from the Rosemary-Brie in the title - wonderful flavors.
The restaurant look enchanting!

connie said...

good luck at your new job, it looks like a very nice place and it sounds like you enjoy it already. and rosemary and brie? oh my goodness, how wonderful!

helios said...

Wow,that recipe looks and sounds amazing. And this yucky weather certainly makes one crave comfort foods like mac and cheese. Now... off to solve the restaurant mystery (although I think I already know... ) :)

Mom said...

I had no idea that there was fresh figs in that Mac'n Cheese you made at the beach. I should have paid more attention! I was too busy eating the wonderful "adult dish", spaghetti boiled in $40.00 worth of Chianti (see Tuscan Spaghetti, March 5, 2006)yummm. I was eating as fast as I could but was so afraid I would be too full to have a large slice of Sunrise Lemon Cream Tart (that would be your 6/2 post). Just too much to take it all in!:)

You continue to teach me new things...I mean, "theremin"? You didn't hear that word around the kitchen table, while growing up. The saw on the other hand, I understand, my being from TN and all. Strange that you should hear that sound in New York City though...I can't wait to hear what happens next!

ThursdayNext said...

I have been to your new place of employment so many a time, and it is just wonderful. I wish you all the best; what great food you will have each night! Yay! Oh this mac and cheese makes me want to take a bite out of my computer screen...

Kate said...

tanna - it's a good combination. *chomp* and yes, the restaurant is very pretty, even though it takes an hour to light the candles at the beginning of the shift...

connie - all luck is appreciated. thanks =)

helios - did you figure it out? come visit me!

mom - thanks for such a nice comment =) maybe you should learn to play the theremin...

amy - yay you like my restaurant! COME VISIT ME I WILL COMP YOUR DESSERT!!! by the way, i am so honored to have a place in your poem =)

Ivonne said...

Mac and cheese with rosemary ... comfort food at it's finest!

Good luck with the new job!

Jahnna said...

i thought about you in Trader Joe's the other day. i don't remember what it was about buying potatoes in a grocery store that made me think about you, but i did and all i could think about for the last couple of days is that i should tell you that i thought about you in Trader Joe's. i was hoping that by this point the original imeptus for the thought would have come back, but i'm afraid we'll all just have to be disappointed on that one.

maybe i just wanted to tell you that there are actual organic grocery stores where we live now.

Lex said...

That mac 'n' cheese looks delicious! Also, the restaurant is beautiful, and I'm so proud of you, working girl! I miss you terribly, but at least your blog makes me feel like there's a part of you with me always.

Jennifer said...

Hi Kate,
Happy Blog Day -- Pie in the Sky is one of my featured blogs!

Kalyn said...

The mac 'n cheese looks just amazing.

Anonymous said...

Where are the new updates, Kate???

We are all waiting anxiously!

Anonymous said...


jaeyde said...

I was having a craving for some good mac'n'cheese tonight and already had brie... Found you through a google search for brie mac'n'cheese. Had to make some minor adaptations for ingredients I didn't have on hand, but wow this was great!

Thanks for sharing :)

-Portland, Oregon

el. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gaby said...

this looks awesome! I like the idea of figs in it, I'll try it tonight :)

Kate said...

Great! Let me know how it goes :)

Anonymous said...

i was looking for a recipe to try to re-create the scrumptious brie mac & cheese i fell in love with last summer that I got from s'mac in the East Village. this was the closest recipe i could find online.
i didn't have any panko/breadcrumbs so i cut up some sourdough fig bread i bought at the farmers' market the other day.
also didn't have gruyere but used some pecorino romano i had instead... gave it a nice nutty tang to cut the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients.
pic can be viewed here

katty said...

I must to say the cheese drives me crazy, I approach every time for eat cheese and I add in my recipes all the time. I read some days ago the cheese have many properties and vitamin. The most important thing is the potassium and calcium the cheese contain. I am sure that When i buying my house through costa rica homes for sale i will prepare a dinner for all my friends and I will add many cheese. That will be wonderful.

Suz said...

Hi Kate. This is my first time posting/reading your column. I also found it when searching the internet for a rosemary/brie/shitake recipe after falling in love with the one from s'Mac. (The one in my neighborhood sadly closed.) I very much enjoyed your non-recipe-related writing in the post. As for the recipe, I've tried it with both guyere & emmenthal & it was bitter both times. Any suggestions? I don't know what I did wrong. Thanks & best of luck to you!