By Kristen Kuchar
Ulysses Press, $12.95, 135 pages
Do you have a favorite macaroni and cheese recipe that you always go to when you need to serve up a good dose of comfort food? Do you get nostalgic just thinking about delicious family dinners of the past – simple noodles coated in melted cheese? Food writer Kristen Kuchar knows the feeling. As a lifelong fan of the well-loved classic, she was inspired to take a basic boxed mac n’ cheese and experiment with variations. What other basic ingredients and flavors could she add to noodles and sauce to create palate-pleasing dishes? The result of her quest is Mac N’ Cheese To the Rescue, a cookbook with 100 recipes. Sections include breakfast, snack and appetizers, soups and salads, sandwiches, pizzas, tacos and burritos, vegetarian, poultry and fish, pork, beef and lamb.
Don’t expect anything spectacular with regard to the book’s design. Aside from two pictures on the cover, there are no photographs featuring finished images of completed recipes. The book’s pages are a newsprint quality (unlike smoother, glossy pages found in more expensive cookbooks). When you are cooking using boxed mac n’ cheese as the basis for each recipe, you are likely cooking with a budget in mind and perhaps glossy pages are color photos aren’t a priority. That being said, many people do pick recipes to make based on photos of the finished product and the book’s pages won’t hold up that well to repeated use and greasy hands in the kitchen.
Kuchar includes a personal anecdote or cooking tip above each recipe. Missing is any nutritional information. This is inexcusable in today’s society when so many people are struggling with obesity and diabetes. To say that the book has 100 recipes is stretching it a bit. Basically a typical recipe for Kuchar means making a whole meal (i.e. meatloaf) and then adding boxed mac n’ cheese to it. This doesn’t create a new recipe – it is essentially a side dish on top of a main dish. If you want a cookbook with macaroni and cheese recipes (even recipes dealing with mac n’ cheese of the boxed variety), look somewhere else.
Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin