Thursday, July 3, 2008

American Macaroni from 1080 Recipes--Cook From Each Book Initiative

In an earlier post, I mentioned my gigantic cookbook collection and my personal "Cook From Each Book Initiative": my plan to once or twice a week select and cook one recipe from each book I own until I have cooked something from them all. Basically this is so that when anyone sees my cookbook collection and inevitably says "Do you really cook from ALL of these???", I will no longer have to hang my head in shame and mumble "I cook from SOME of them". Instead I will be able to say "Why yes I do!" with full confidence and bravado.

This Christmas, I received a copy of "1080 Recipes" by Simone and Ines Ortega, a beautifully illustrated, delightful Spanish cookbook that sits proudly on a bench in my living room and that I frequently pour over but from which I have not yet cooked. This book has been beloved in Spain for over 30 years and was translated to English and published here last year. There are many delicious recipes in the near thousand pages of this book but I kept going back to one funny little, kitschy recipe, #271, American Macaroni on page 223. There is no explanation on where this recipe came from or why it is called American Macaroni (my guess is the Cream of Mushroom Soup involved and the Mac & Cheese similarities), these are things that I ponder when I look at this book and this recipe, so it seemed high time to give it a try. It is a strange sounding combo of flavors--the soup, curry powder, Parmesan or Gruyere cheese and it is not particularly healthy but it has a vintage feel and I love vintage, kitschy recipes. Also I had the ingredients already in my cupboard (which I love) and it also got pretty gray, cloudy and rainy (but not cold--this is Hawaii remember!) on the way home tonight requiring me to have some comfort food of course, so it seemed like a good time to make it.

American Macaroni
from 1080 Recipes, Simone and Ines Ortega
Serves 4

12 ounces (about 3/4 box) macaroni
12 fl oz canned, condensed cream of mushroom soup
scant 2 cups milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the macaroni as described below, refresh under cold running water, drain and set aside. Pour the soup and milk into a pan and heat gently. Add the macaroni and sprinkle in the curry powder. Mix well and pour into a deep ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle with the cheese and dot with the butter. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.
How To Cook Macaroni: (page 221) Allow 2 to 2 & 1/2 ounces dried pasta per person. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook uncovered. When the water comes back to a boil, lower the heat slightly but make sure the water is still boiling and cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a large colander and refresh under cold running water. The pasta is now ready to use.

For the macaroni, I used Strozzapreti pasta which according to Wikipedia means "priest choker" in Italian! Apparently there are several stories regarding the origin of the name which you can read here. The most colorful being that gluttonous priests loved the pasta so much and ate it so fast they sometimes choked themselves to death. It also mentions that Strozzapreti is an elongated form of cavatelli; a type of pasta about 3 cm long with a rolled edge. I used a 10 3/4 oz can of Campbell's Special Request--lower sodium and lower fat soup (rather than the 12 oz can requested) so I reduced the milk to 1 1/2 cups instead of 2 cups. I also added a little kosher salt. I used Parmesan for the cheese as I had some leftover from the Chicken Parmesan for my last Barefoot Blogger's post.

So, how did it taste?? Pretty good! It isn't an overpowering curry flavor, just lightly spiced. It has a nice creamy texture and the crunchy browned cheese topping was especially good. I ate it with some sliced turkey breast and salad. A smarter person than I would have reduced the recipe but I didn't so I think I will grill some chicken sausages to eat with it this weekend. Obviously there are many more recipes to try in this book, but this was a fun one to start with.


  1. looks good, you could probably freeze some for a quick dinner during the week or for another time--that's what my mom always did :)

  2. Kat--good idea! I just looked at the recipe again and it said "serves 4" and I think that would be 4 hungry people as a main course! I barely made a dent in it so freezing it is a good plan.


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