From Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking


3 T canola oil

1/4 C minced shallots

1/4 C minced celery

2 T Wondra flour

1 1/2 C half and half, heated

1/2 C dry white wine

1 C mascarpone cheese

3/4 C sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 C fontina cheese, grated

1 lb elbow or tube macaroni, cooked and well drained

to taste Tabasco sauce

to taste course salt

3/4 C fresh bread crumbs

1/4 C parmesan cheese, fresh grated - optional


Preheat oven to 350F. Generously grease a 2 quart casserole. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and celery and saute for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft. Lower the heat and stir in the flour until well incorporated. Whisk in the hot half and half and then the wine. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture has begun to thicken. Remove from the heat and beat in the cheeses, stirring until they have melted into the sauce.

Stir in the macaroni and season to taste with Tabasco and salt. pour the mixture into the prepared casserole.

If using the Parmesan, combine it with the bread crumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture (or the bread crumbs) over the macaroni. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling and the top is golden. Serve hot.

Note: To lower the fat in this recipe, replace the half and half with 1 and 1/2 cups nonfat milk plus 1/4 cup nonfat yogurt and the cheeses with reduced fat cheese. When lowering fat in a cheese based recipe, you will often lose flavor, but flavor can be enhanced with the addition of finely minced fresh herbs or chile peppers or even a chile based salsa.

Serves 6