BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH CAULIFLOWER AND JALAPEÑo Pepper
Note: If you do not have jalapeño pepper cheese, then you can use all Cheddar and add 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced. From "Simply Satisfying," by Jeanne Lemlin.
• 2 c. macaroni, cooked and drained (1 c. uncooked)
• 1 small to medium cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets and steamed until tender
• 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter
• 1/4 c. flour
• 21/3 c. milk
• 2 c. (8 oz.) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
• 1 c. (4 oz.) grated Monterey Jack and jalapeño pepper cheese
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• 2 tbsp. bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure to drain the macaroni well after cooking. If you want to cook it in advance, then toss it with a little oil to prevent sticking. Make sure the steamed cauliflower is well drained.
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook this roux for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking often, until mixture thickens and begins to boil, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, salt and pepper. May be prepared to this point up to 24 hours in advance. Chill macaroni, cauliflower and sauce separately. When ready to cook, heat the sauce and proceed with next step.
Put macaroni and cauliflower in a 10- by 10-inch baking dish (or something comparable) and pour on the sauce. Toss gently to mix. Sprinkle on the bread crumbs.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.