Recently I had the opportunity to hop on a train with several friends I have lost touch with over the years. I moved toSt. Augustinein March of 1994 and met lots of wonderful people through working in the restaurant business. Back then we were all in our early twenties. Since then most of us have married and have had kids, some divorced, and remarried, etc. Back in our twenties we went out after work and spent a lot of our tip money at quarter beer nights, flip nights, and ladies nights. Now we spend out money on mortgages, family vacations and school supplies instead of tequila.
I lost touch with people I cared about because life just carries us all away in different directions. I am so glad life brought us together for 48 hours on a passenger train headed to southFlorida.
My friend Michelle coordinates the train’s serving staff, the menu, and does all of the shopping for beer, wine and food for the executives and media people that travel from Jacksonville, to Miami, to Hollywood, to the Port of Call in Miami, back to Hollywood, and then home to Jacksonville. Recently, she had an unusually large event coming up so she brought a few more servers on.
Michelle worked the hardest. I think because she is ultimately responsible, she felt the need to do so much. At night, when ‘the help’ were the only people on the train, and we were parked in the train yard inMiami, she finally took off her Chef’s coat and let her hair down with the rest of us.
When the trip was deemed successful and complete, there were a few leftovers. One of them being a 1.36lb block of smoked Gouda cheese that came with me.
I put it to good use making smoky, crunchy, delicious baked macaroni and cheese.
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
¼ Cup grated raw onion
2 coves Garlic peeled, and pressed or grated
2 ½ Cups Milk
Approximately 1 lb Smoked Gouda Cheese grated
4 oz Sharp Cheddar grated
4 strips Bacon fried, drained and crumbled
1 Box Corkscrew pasta- I like the Dreamfields brand- low glycemic- comes in a 13.25 oz box
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/3 cup Breadcrumbs
2 more Tbsp Butter
Boil pasta, just a couple minutes shy of what directions indicate. This way, when you bake the mac n cheese, it will not end up mushy. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water.
Melt the butter over medium low heat. When melted add the flour. Keep on medium low, stir occasionally and eventually it will turn to a golden color. This will take about 10 minutes or so. Add the grated onion and garlic. Once the liquid from the onion is cooked out and the roux is a medium golden color, whisk in the milk. Turn up the heat to medium, and continue to stir. If you walk away the milk will boil over and you will have a huge stinky mess. Stir for 10 minutes.
Once the milk and flour mixture has thickened up, turn off the heat and stir a generous half of the smokedGouda, and all of the cheddar into the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Grease a 13 x 9 casserole.
Mix together the sauce and the pasta, add more gratedGouda, and pour the mixture into the casserole dish.
Melt the 2 Tbsp butter. Take off of heat. Mix in the bread crumbs and bacon, and even some cheese if you feel like it, and you happen to have a ton of it like I did.
Sprinkle over the top of the mac n cheese.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Chris loved it. He ate it with dinner, and I’m pretty sure he got up in the middle of the night and made himself a snack.
Heather Saalfeld has lived and worked in downtown St. Augustine for the last 15 years. She has a ten year old son, Leo and a bad dog named Jeffe. Her passions are travel, food and entertaining. She is a bartender at St. George Tavern and Cap’s on the Water, and a full time student at Flagler College. In her spare time she attempts to garden. Her best days are spent with family and friends, usually around a large table in the back yard.