Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Nov 8, 2011

Brie & Mushroom Mac & Cheese with White Wine

Libations used: 1/2 cup white wine
Libations left over: pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with dinner
It was raining most of the weekend here in Los Angeles, and when that happens I crave comfort food.  My ultimate comfort?  Mac and cheese.  It brings back memories of childhood and I freakin' love cheese.  I had been eating big dinners all week, so as much as I love making my Beer-Baked Mac 'n Cheese, my stomach couldn't handle the richness.  This recipe for Brie-Style Mac and Cheese with Mushrooms from The Kitchn ended up being a nice, lighter alternative.  They recommend using Crave Brothers Petite Frère Cheese, but I just used the cheapest Brie I could find at Trader Joe's.  I did have a really nice cave-aged Gruyère, so I got at least one fancy cheese in there.  Ultimately, use what you've got and or grab your favorite Brie and Gruyère at the store.  This recipe tells you to make your own bread crumbs, which I highly recommend.  It doesn't take long and the results are so much better.  I used an inexpensive Chardonnay that I had on hand to mix in with the mushrooms and garlic, and then poured myself a glass to enjoy with dinner and some "Boardwalk Empire."  A truly lush night in. 

Brie & Mushroom Mac & Cheese with White Wine - serves 6
  • 1 lb package of shell pasta
  • 2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread - I had Ezekiel bread on hand, so managed to slip in something healthy!
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 8-10 oz Brie - rind removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine - I used Chardonnay
  • 1 Tbs flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 oz (1/2 cup) grated Gruyère

- Preheat oven to 350.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Add the bread slices to a food processor and grind into crumbs.
- Add the nuts and pulse until well combined.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs of butter.
- Add the breadcrumb mixture, stir frequently and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture begins to brown.  Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and 1 Tbs butter over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to release their juices.
- Add the wine and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
- With the remaining liquid and garlic, whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute.
- Add the milk and whisk the mixture until the flour has dissolved and it begins to thicken.
- Remove from heat and add your cheeses, stirring until melted.
- Add the cooked pasta and mushrooms and stir until well combined.
- Add to a casserole dish and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Put in oven and bake for 15 minutes.