Cooking Through Fiction: The Field Guide — Spiderwick Macaroni and Cheese
Years ago, my mom bought me The Spiderwick Chronicles series from a children’s store in my hometown because she said, “They were pretty.” And they are. The illustrations are fantastic, and the book covers alone make you want to rub your fingers over the embossed artwork, the gothic font, and the shiny high-gloss finish. During one of my bouts of insomnia, I sat up all night (and morning) and read the entire series. Now, I’ve decided to reread them on my “Cooking Through Fiction” journey.
In The Spiderwick Chronicles series, the Grace children are in for an adventure. After her divorce, Helen Grace moves her children into a dilapidated Victorian home owned by their Aunt Lucinda (who is supposedly crazy). The children—Mallory and twins Jared and Simon—cope in different ways. Simon collects animals like a zookeeper, Jared gets into fights at school, and Mallory parries imaginary opponents with her fencing sword.
Soon the children find a secret room with a hidden book, The Field Guide, which makes them the target of magical creatures and mischief. Understandably the family needs comfort, and what’s one of the best comfort foods in the country? Macaroni and cheese!
“The scuttling grew louder as they neared the kitchen. In the kitchen sink, Jared could see a pan crusted with the remains of the macaroni and cheese they’d had for dinner.” (Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles #1) [New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003], 19)
Spiderwick Macaroni and Cheese
Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
16 oz spiral pasta
1 c shredded Gruyere cheese
1 c shredded white Cheddar cheese
1 c shredded cheese Jarlsberg (or Emmentaler or Fontina)
1 ½ c shredded smoked Gouda cheese
½ c butter plus 2 tbsp
½ c milk
½ c Ricotta cheese
⅓ c sour cream
½ tsp nutmeg
3 strips of bacon, pan fried until crispy and then diced
½ c panko
How to Make
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package. Strain and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
Add the milk, nutmeg, and ricotta cheese. Continue to heat for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture is hot, but not boiling.
Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the sour cream, Gruyere, Cheddar, Jarlsberg, 1 cup of the smoked Gouda, and the bacon squares. Set aside.
Pour half of the pasta into a large casserole pan, and pour half of the cheese mixture into the casserole pan. Mix until well blended. (Note: I used individual serving dishes.)
Add the remaining pasta and the remaining cheese mixture, and blend again until the pasta is completely and evenly coated in the cheese mixture.
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan. Add panko and stir. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of smoked Gouda and panko onto the top, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
Broil for another 2 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
Read my review of The Field Guide on Goodreads.