Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


11-17-14 (147)

11-17-14 (126)

11-17-14 (94) copy

This is the second installment of my mac & cheese hat trick.   Easy & THIS one was the crowd pleaser of the three.  The other day I posted Chipotle Gouda and Guinness (Stout) Mac and Cheese with Vegan Pulled Chicken (or Pork) in Homemade Chipotle Apricot BBQ Sauce – seen just above.  I kinda liked that one the best but this one is simple & elegant.  Just do not be heavy-handed with the truffle oil because it gets overpowering quickly,  Also – be sure it is not old – because it goes rancid faster than most oils or, maybe because you typically use it sparingly, it just sits around past its shelf life but be sure to sniff it before using it.

Here is the mint & zucchini mac & cheese!

11-17-14 (69)

Again – I cooked these for a birthday party (the three versions) and did not photograph them out of the oven.  The photos in ramekins were taken the following day as I reheated leftovers.   You could cook yours in a casserole pan or in ramekins.  Either way, it still tastes delicious!

Without further ado – I present my Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko!

11-17-14 (42)

11-17-14 (70)

Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko


1 lb pasta – cooked, drained & cooled under running water

12 oz smoked Gouda – grated

2 cups mozzarella – grated

A few tsp truffle oil (black or white) used in a quantity to suit you particular tolerance of the flavor

1 TBS Dijon

4 cups milk

4 TBS butter

4 TBS flour


1-2 cups panko

11-17-14 (37)

11-17-14 (119)

11-17-14 (143)


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook & cool the pasta.  Drizzle about 1 tsp truffle oil on it & stir it in.  Set aside.

Warm the milk.

In another pan, melt the butter over med-high heat & then add the flour.  Whisk constantly & it should bet thick pretty fast.  Heat it until it starts to turn a golden sandy color.  Then, reserving ONE CUP of the milk to the side for later, add the remaining 3 cups of milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking the whole time, until all the milk is incorporated & it is sorta thick – but still pourable.

11-17-14 (27)

11-17-14 (38)


Whisk in the Dijon and a tsp of truffle oil.  Taste it & decide whether you think it could use more truffle oil.  I did not add more here – but you can if you like.  All truffle oil is not created equal & some may be stronger than others & the amount required is a matter of personal preference.  Add S&P.

Now add the smoked Gouda & the mozzarella.  When the cheese is all melted & incorporated, mix in the pasta.  Taste it.  Does it need more truffle oil?  You decide but try to go light with it.

At this point, I felt my pasta was too dry & might get ruined in the oven so I stirred in the remaining cup of milk.   This is also a judgement call.  I like wetter mac & cheese – others like it drier.  Use your judgement.  The top picture is before I added milk & the next shows what it looked like with a cup of milk added.

11-17-14 (40)

11-17-14 (43)

11-17-14 (44)

11-17-14 (54)


The truffle mac & cheese is above on the right.

Treat a casserole pan or a bunch of ramekins with cooking spray & put the pasta in.  Top with panko.  I sprayed the panko with cooking spray.  It helps add some crunch to the breadcrumbs.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until it is all melty & the panko is beginning to brown.

Serve with additional truffle oil on the table so folks can add more if they like a heavy truffle flavor.


11-17-14 (152)

11-17-14 (138)

NO CARB Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Carrots, Saffron & Toasted Anchovy Bread Crumbs


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


Let me apologize up front for the scant photography with this recipe.  My phone completely died early in the process of making this & I had no way to document the various steps.  Sorry!

Also – let me say that this dish could be made the traditional way – with Arborio rice – or the no carb way, using just grated cauliflower or it can be made the way I did it here – with about 2/3 of the recipe comprised of cauliflower but with a cup of Arborio for added texture.  I would have skipped the rice entirely but my boyfriend is a finicky eater & textures, in particular, can put him completely off things.  Having never tried a cauliflower-based risotto, I was unsure of the sturdiness of the final result, so, I added the cup of risotto rice.  As it turned out, I could have skipped it because 1) I think the cauliflower holds up well and 2) he wouldn’t eat it anyway.

In the future, I will experiment with an all cauliflower risotto & I will better document the process.  Do not be alarmed by the lack of photos here and, therefore, intimidated to try this.  It is a very easy & delicious dish!  The anchovy bread crumbs are very optional but add a nice hint of salty flavor the the sweetness of the carrots.  I used some leftover homemade artisan bread but any bread crumbs would likely work.  I just liked how chunky the homemade breadcrumbs were.



NO CARB Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Carrots, Saffron & Toasted Anchovy Bread Crumbs

1 large head cauliflower (2 heads if not using Arborio rice in the dish)

1 lb carrots

3 TBS olive oil – divided

3 TBS butter – divided

1 small onion – diced

1 cup Arborio rice (optional)

1/2 cup dry vermouth (or other dry white wine)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

5+ cups vegetable (or other) stock

1 tsp saffron threads

1/2 tsp white pepper

Salt to taste

1 tsp sugar

1 large tomato – diced for garnish

Fresh parsley – chopped for garnish

Parmesan (or other hard cheese) – grated for garnish

For the Toasted Anchovy Bread Crumbs

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 TBS olive oil

1 TBS butter

1 TBS anchovy paste (or minced anchovies)


For the toasted anchovy breadcrumbs

If using stale bread – pulse the cubed bread in a food processor until crumbly.

Heat 1 TBS each of olive oil & butter & dissolve the anchovy in it.  Add the breadcrumbs & stir until they begin to get browned & toasty.  I drained mine on paper towels to remove excess oil & set aside.


For the Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Carrots & Saffron

Heat the stock to boiling & then reduce heat to low & simmer – covered.

Meanwhile, with the grating blade of your food processor, grate the cauliflower into rice-like shards.  Set aside.


With the regular blade in your food processor, pulse the carrots into a near puree.


In a large stock pot, heat 1 TBS each of olive oil & butter on medium heat & add the minced carrots.  Coat the carrots with the oil & butter then add 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 tsp salt & the sugar.  Cook, covered, for about five minutes.  Uncover and cook, stirring constantly (adding a tiny bit more olive oil if it gets too dry) until the carrots begin to brown.  Remove from heat.  Puree half of the browned carrots in a blender with 1 cup warm water.  Set both carrot elements aside.

Using the same pot you cooked the carrots in, add 2 TBS each butter & olive oil & cook the onion until translucent.  Add Arborio rice (if using) & cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute.   Whether or not you are using Arborio, add the cauliflower now and, stirring constantly, add the cup of wine & let the alcohol cooks off over high heat.  Add the carrot puree (not the browned carrot – but the puree with water added) and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens a bit – maybe a minute.

Add 1/2 cup of hot vegetable stock and stir it often – until the liquid is absorbed.  Repeat this process until all but about 1 cup of broth is incorporated.

Mix in the remaining browned carrots (reserving a small amount for garnish – if desired), the saffron threads, white pepper, the Parmesan & the heavy cream.  Add small amounts of the remaining broth to thin the risotto to the consistency you like.

Serve immediately topped with the remaining carrots (if you reserved some), diced tomatoes, fresh parsley & more grated cheese & the toasted anchovy breadcrumbs.