Homemade gourmet macaroni and cheese

By mattantonino | April, 23, 2010 | 7 comments

Ah, good ole mac and cheese. My girlfriend’s daughter came to us a few nights ago after some Kraft with “this tasted nassssty.” I’m glad she is growing up. Now we get to test better recipes for family classics. This one had to be the first. While it came out “slightly dry” (don’t overboil or overbake it, hey) I think we’ll enjoy it next time. I always have tweaks after the first and second cook.

This recipe was an amalgamation of all the ones I was able to find for fancy mac & cheese. Call it an “original” – maybe my first.

As you can see from the lighting diagram in photo #2, the setup is very simple again. Softbox on left, reflector(s) on the right. We shot this a little after dark so the background was simple enough to control. Photo #3 was taken in the oven. I thought I’d sell more if I got some cooking shots and oven baked photos. The light was a simple stove light with the kitchen light. I had to shoot these with a really slow shutter though, so I was on a tripod the whole time. #5 should definitely sell the best. Graphic designers love that copyspace and I try and give it to them with all the food photo setups I shoot.

I’m going to try submitting #4 to Tastespotting just to see how it does. (Edit: This is my 2nd most popular post thanks to TasteSpotting, FoodGawker and StumbleUpon! Thanks!!)

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baking gourmet mac and cheese


  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 long spray olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 12 oz elbow macaroni
  • sea salt and fresh pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and spread the breadcrumbs. Spray them with the olive oil covering lightly.
  2. Bake the breadcrumbs for 5 minutes or until very lightly browned.
  3. Boil salted water for the pasta and cook simultaneously with the sauce.
  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the dry mustard and garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  5. Add the flour and whisk to a paste. It will solidify very quickly.
  6. Gradually whisk in the milk and turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly to mix the paste into the milk.
  7. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the cheddar, mascarpone (gooey cheese yum!) and half the parmesan. Whisk the mix together until they blend. Season with salt & pepper.
  9. Mix the elbow macaroni and cheese sauce together and split into four 10 oz. ramekins or an 8×8″ baking dish.
  10. Toss the remaining parmesan with the cooked breadcrumbs and spread over the dishes.
  11. Bake the mac and cheese for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. These come out VERY hot. Let stand 5-8 mins before serving.


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7 Responses to Homemade gourmet macaroni and cheese

  • Happy Cook

    Wowo tha tis what i call setup. I like the idea of using tin foil as tha tis cheaply available. When it is dark do you us any special lights.
    Your pics are always so so beautiful.

  • Grace

    Hey Matt, photos look great, want to dive right in for a mouthful! So excited, our new photobox kit came in yesterday, hoping it will be easier to do photo shoots now. Have you ever used one? Are they any good?

  • Eddie

    Beautiful pictures! Did the 4th one make it onto TasteSpotting?

  • mattantonino

    Hi Eddie – thanks for the comment. I have yet to submit it. VERRRRRY busy week here. I hope it will!

  • mattantonino

    I use a light tent, yes. It’s a 24×24″ cube. I love my light tent but don’t tend to bring it out for many food shots unless all I want is that isolated look.

  • mattantonino

    Thank you so much for the comment! The foil reflectors really do rock. When it’s dark I use the same single strobe and the same reflector setup. Sometimes I have to add in a reflector “behind” the food to act as the window light but not usually.

  • Katie

    I love that you include the photos of your lighting setup, that’s what I always struggle with most. Thanks for sharing all your secrets! I’ve studied your photoshop tutorials on foodblogforum religiously, keep ’em coming!