Book Review: The Mac + Cheese Cookbook

I love macaroni and cheese, but I’ve always been a little nervous about making it from scratch. The Mac + Cheese Cookbook: 50 Simple Recipes from Homeroom, America’s Favorite Mac and Cheese Restaurant by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade makes it really easy to make delicious macaroni at home. Now you can’t stop me!

Cover of The Mac + Cheese Cookbook by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade

All of the macaroni recipes start off with the same base of butter, flour, whole milk, and salt; a béchamel that they refer to as “Mac Sauce.” The mac sauce recipe is a little odd in that they tell you to make 3 cups worth at a time even though the macaroni recipes only use 2 cups. The first time I tried out one of their recipes I went ahead and used all three cups and just increased the amount of noodles and cheese I added later on, which made a LOT of food! When I tried it again I just cut down the mac sauce recipe and only made 2 cups; while they said that it can be hard to make everything come together with less liquid, I didn’t have any trouble at all making the smaller batch.

Next comes the hard part—deciding which recipe to make! There are 28 different versions in the book (not counting the dessert mac), ranging from a classic version with cheddar and Pecorino Romano to a breakfast mac with bacon, eggs, and cheddar to sriracha mac to blue cheese mac with walnuts. They even recommend substitutions to make your mac gluten-free and a recipe for vegan mac! The book also includes a list of suggested mix-ins that can be added to any recipe, ranging from the obvious (bacon!) to the more obscure (artichoke hearts?). I’ve gone for the classic mac baked with toasted panko breadcrumbs twice and let me tell you, I’ll never be able to go back to the boxed version again, no matter how much I love neon orange powdered cheese. (I was planning to add maple bacon last time, but I’m a schmuck and burned most of it. The little bits I managed to salvage and add in as I ate were fantastic, though, so I’ll have to try again next time.) The book recommends buying blocks of cheese and grating it at home, but I’m lazy and just bought the fancier brands of shredded cheese and it was fine. Another tip — if you toast panko in your toaster oven instead of a regular oven, keep an eye on it! If you cook it the full five minutes recommended it’ll get burned to a crisp since it’s a lot closer to the heat. Oops.

Scoop of breadcrumb-topped macaroni and cheese on a yellow plate
Bask in the glory of all that cheese and panko

Of course, woman cannot live on macaroni alone (I wish!), so they also include recipes for 10 side dishes and 11 desserts, all of which look fantastic and easy to make. I haven’t tried any out yet, but I’m especially looking forward to whipping up some homemade buttermilk biscuits and Oreos.

I also really enjoyed the layout of the book. Since Homeroom restaurant has a classroom theme, the book is designed to mimic a textbook. Recipes are called “Lesson Plans,” side dishes are “Extra Credit,” and desserts are “Finals.” There are plenty of photographs to illustrate different steps and to show you what the finished macs look like, along with cute chalkboard-style graphics. All of the recipes are described in simple language to make them easy to follow. All in all, I highly recommend this book to any mac and cheese fans looking to expand their repertoire.

10 Speed Press sent me an advance e-book copy of this title via Netgalley, but all opinions given are my honest assessment of the book. Hell, I even ordered the hardcover because I loved it so much I wanted a finished copy for my bookshelf.

By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

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