Archive for September, 2008

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

September 24, 2008

My friend Megan brought this mac and cheese over for a football party.  She found it on Recipe Zaar and tweaked it by adding Gouda cheese, mustard powder, and garlic powder.  It was OMG good.  Just don’t look at the nutritional content…

Fannie Farmer’s Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
From the 1946 edition of “Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook”

Serves 4:
1 (8 ounce) package macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gouda
1/2 cup buttered breadcrumbs (we just used the Italian-style, although Megan and I agreed it would be AWESOME with panko breadcrumbs)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan melt butter.
  4. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, and a generous pinch of garlic and mustard powders.  Using a whisk, stir until well blended.
  5. Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly).
  6. Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes.
  7. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.
  8. Turn off the burner.  Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.
  9. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  10. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Ray’s Hell Burgers

September 2, 2008

In the last few days of summer, seek out that backyard favorite – better than what you can make at home.  But you’ll have to look for it…this is on-a-mission dining.

Ray’s Hell Burgers

The setting:
Everywhere you turn, people are griping (with reason!) about the economy, and food costs are rising like crazy.  Ray’s Hell Burgers is the type of restaurant you want to seek out in a time like this: no frills, just great food. 

Even knowing the small strip mall in Arlington where Ray’s Hell Burgers (and Ray’s the Steaks) is located, it still took some sleuthing to find it.  From Ray’s the Steaks, walk down the strip mall to number 1713.  This door is all you’re going to find:


Be prepared to swoop in on a table as soon as you see one open up.  And also be forewarned: this is basically your middle school cafeteria setting.  Ray’s the Steaks looks like a ballroom compared to this hole in the wall.

The service:
There are a few printed paper menus lying around, so grab one and stand as out of the way as you can be to glance it over.  Basically, all you need to decide are how you want your burger, how you want it cooked (and good luck to you if you say well-done in this establishment), and what kind of cheese you want.  Do not think you’re going to make this decision at the counter – choose before you get to the no nonsense faces by the register.  Oh – and take cash.

The food:
I don’t know when it became so difficult to make a good burger.  I make a pretty good burger at home, but I can’t make anything from close to the quality of meat that you’ll get at Ray’s Hell Burgers.  Everyone in the open kitchen has their station: the guy butchering the steak-quality meat, the gal grinding it into the meat grinder, the two girls weighing that meat on a little scale and forming into patties, the guy on the grill manning the onions…it’s a machine back there.  And what they produce is a helluva burger.

Brian beat me with his burger au poivre: the meat was juicer, the flavor better.  I will only order a Ray’s Hell Burger this was from now on.  They also have just about any cheese you could want on a burger for a surcharge ranging on how fancy your cheese is.  I stuck with white cheddar and wasn’t disappointed.

During the summer, you also get a small ear of corn on the cob and a watermelon wedge.  No word yet on how that will change with the seasonal fruits and veggies.

We also decided to cap off our summer evening doing what you do in the summer: we went for s’mores.  Cosi serves them over a can of Sterno, and we had a great time teaching Jack how to get the marshmallow just crispy charred enough so that it’s gooey the whole way through.  A really wonderful evening.


Best for: A good burger at a great price: we averaged less than $10 a person – yes, please!

Worst for: A romantic date night or vegetarians.  It’s burgers here and burgers only.