Book Review: Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

Posted by Brette in Books

melt coverWhen I heard that Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese by going to be published by my friend Stephanie Stiavetti and her co-author Garrett McCord, my first reaction was to drool. Because an entire book about macaroni and cheese is possibly the evilest, most wonderfulest thing I could imagine. Then I started to wonder, what exactly could Stephanie be up to? How many recipes for mac and cheese are there? Well, it turns out there are more than you can imagine. Stephanie was kind enough to send me a book and then kind enough not to get mad at me when it sat on my desk for several months while I waded through an incredibly complex work and personal time. I’ve finally shoved some other things to the side and gotten down to enjoying this book.

First let’s talk about the concept of the book. This is not a throw a recipe together from your pantry kind of cookbook. You need to plan ahead to make these recipes. Each recipe specifies a particular artisan cheese (I cannot fathom how much cheese Stephanie must have tasted and how she can still fit in her pants).  The recipes revolve around these very special cheeses and are meant to highlight the amazing flavors of said cheeses. And although she has chosen the most perfect cheese for each recipe, she offers alternatives if you don’t have access to a wonderful cheese shop. Which I don’t.  At first I was kind of put off by this. I mean, it can be hard enough to source the ingredients in recipes, but to have to order artisan cheese? Well, it seemed a bit nuts to me. However, the recipes are exciting enough by themselves so even if you use grocery store cheese (which I do!), you will still find a lot of things in this cookbook you’re going to want to make. With your grocery store cheese. And they’re going to knock your socks off because the flavor combos are amazing.

Since I am gluten and lactose intolerant, I was hoping for a little recognition and there is one recipe that uses gluten-free pasta, however I am not one to stand on ceremony so I always make my own substitutions in recipes for my own dietary issues. Here are the recipes I can’t stop thinking about and will be trying:

Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

Paneer, Pineapple, and Cucumber Pasta Salad

Early Autumn Pasta Salad With Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar and Fuyu Persimmons

Roaring Forties with Honey-Roasted Delicata Squash, Sage Butter, and Rotini

Raclette with Cornichons, and Sauteed Onions

Red Hawk Macaroni with Prosciutto and Raspberry Jam

Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage and Macaroni

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Lenora Goat Cheese, Star Pasta, and Crushed Gingersnaps

Orzo Pudding with Poached Dried Fruit

As you can see, this isn’t blue box mac and cheese. And really it’s not a mac and cheese cookbook. It’s a cheese and pasta cookbook, done creatively with massive attention to detail. It’s filled with gorgeous photos and tons of info about cheese, so you can become a true expert just by holding it in your hands and breathing it in.

If you love cheese and love pasta, you want this book on your shelf. There are so many times when a pasta dish seems like the solution to my dinner dilemmas, but my repertoire is getting a little tired. These recipes will spice that up for me, giving me some new go-tos I can shop for in advance and have at the ready.

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