The loveliest and most special of guest bloggers today friends. Ayeisha Mesinger creator-designer of Morgan Parish handbags and Niki Shwartz-Wright writer-business woman extraordinaire, extol the virtues of the pimiento cheese mac n cheese on the cover of the March Bon Apetit magazine. They were kind enough to answer my many questions about the experience of the mac. Enjoy!
How did you decide to make the dish?
Ayeisha: Our decision to make this dish stemmed form a combination of general hunger and Niki seeing this delectable looking food pic that graced the cover of this month’s Bon Appetit.
Niki: Yes, I think it went something along the lines of (slo-mo voice): I waaannt thaaaaatt!!!!!
A: Often the covers prompt instant salivation, but sometimes they can be rather intimidating and don’t seem attainable to the normal human being. In addition to the recipes good looks, we saw that it’s execution time was 45 minutes, which, in the world of Bon Appetit is like a 50 yard dash, so that definitely made us game for trying it out.
What were you drinking when you were cooking?
Ayeisha: I was drinking my usual Kentucky Bourbon, Maker’s Mark, of course =)
Niki: Since I can’t drink Bourbon without making a psychotic face and punching the air after each sip, I was drinking a kidney pleasing Vodka Cranberry.
When you served it?
A: Switched to wine for the eating portion of the meal (The Pinot Project, I believe)
N: Yes, which my boyfriend described as “very flavor forward”…whatever that means. It was delicious!
What did you serve alongside the mac?
A: We made the Mac the centerpiece of the meal. We wanted to keep the meal on the light side in general, as we had been having some lovely meals out that were leaving us pleasantly stuffed.
Niki: What Ayeisha is trying to say is, The Fats came to town and we were taking down large amounts of calories at every opportunity. We needed a light meal. Hence, mac & cheese.
Ayeisha: We did add an easy breezy mixed greens salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and a homemade dressing on the side to top it off.
Explain the shop/prep/cooking process.
Ayeisha: The shop was done at Ideal Market. It’s a local Boulder market that is technically a mini-Whole Foods. We divided our list which was pretty straight forward. The hardest thing to locate was the Pappadew pepper, which I am sure everyone is familiar with from the olive cart, but none of us knew was called Peppadew. Also a bit confusing is the fact that the recipe is called a pimiento mac and cheese, but technically no pimiento in the recipe. As we were getting olives and Gerkin for the pre-dinner munchums, we came across the missing link. The Peppadews were in the Olive Cart! Crisis averted we went home to begin our mission….
Niki: I cannot take any credit for the shopping process of this meal as I had located the newest copy of People Magazine and HAD to find out all about Christina Applegate and her new baby. She’s presh, by the way…
Ayeisha: Cooking was easier than expected. It was mostly in the prep which even then was mostly about grating cheese in terms of muscle. No roux making needed at all! Simply boiling some of the ingredients and then blending them together before mixing in the cooked pasta which then went into the oven, topped with the toasted crumbs. I mean, real child’s play when it comes to Bon Appetit. If you are a novice home chef, this meal will make you look like a pro. Plus it was the kind of cooking that allowed you to still be interactive with your guests.
Niki: Absolutely. Even though Ayeisha was steering the ship, I honestly felt as if I could tackle this dish at home alone and would probably be able to pull it off. Which is saying a lot as my cooking ability is…well, I have a handicap.
Ayeisha: As a side note: There is always something one forgets to purchase while at the store (or in my experience their is anyhow). Naturally, once we arrived home, we didn’t start cooking for a couple hours at which point we realized in the commotion to find the Peppadew part of the equation, we forgot to get the panko! We substituted toasted crushed saltine crumbs for the panko…Maybe not so much a top chef move, but it worked great all the same!
Niki: I thought it was a brillz move on A’s part to do this. When I saw her actually toasting the crumbled saltines in a pan, I nearly lost my shit. What creativity!!!
Describe the way it tasted!
Ayeisha: Last but not least, it tasted wonderfully scrumptious. It was perfect kind of cheesy, but a different kind of cheesy because the recipe didn’t called for making a roux as most Mac’s do. It was not heavy in taste and didn’t leave us comatose at all. There was a little heat to the mac as well as a perfect amount of salt. It was warm and cozy which was great as the weather outside was not. The bell peppers and peppadew added great sweet-tangy flavor (as promised by Bon Appetit), and were a great twist on a classic.
Niki: It was a little like that scene from What About Bob? All I could say for about 10 minutes while eating it was “Hmmmmm” “Oh, Hmmmmmm” “Hmmmm Hmmmmm Hmmmmmmmm!!!!!!” Serious restaurant quality.