My Aunt Cindy’s mom always called her Cynthia. It wasn’t until she was gone that I realized that our YaYa had it right. My aunt was one of the most stylish, classy women I have ever known. She was a Cynthia.
Aunt Cindy taught me about food as an expression of culture. Her Greek heritage was always evident at the table where we laughed as she shared the stories about her family. Her parties were always warm and inviting without being pretentious. The consummate hostess, she served, entertained and engaged her guest with grace and affection.
My aunt died at fifty-three. Everyone who knew her misses her but she lives in our memories and our kitchens as we honor our beloved aunt by making the recipes she taught us.
Here is our favorite recipe from Aunt Cindy, it can be made up to two days ahead and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake. If you have to take a dish to a party this is always a great bet- it travels well and tastes great at room temperature.
Aunt Cindy’s Macaroni and Cheese
1 lb. penne or rigatoni
1 pint heavy cream
1 quart milk
2 stick of butter
1 tbs. salt
16oz. Parmesan cheese
Grease a 9×12 pan and set aside. Cook pasta and drain well. Set aside.
Heat milk in a large sauce pan over low heat until warm and then add butter and cream. When butter is melted and mixture is warm take out one cup and reserve for later.
Add pasta to pot and cook on low heat for five minutes or until thickened. Sprinkle 1/3 of cheese on bottom of pan, then 1/2 of pasta and sauce. Next sprinkle 1/3 of cheese and second half of pasta and sauce. Finish with last of cheese and drizzle with 1 cup of reserved milk/cream/butter mixture.
Bake at 325 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until bubbles appear around edges. Cool for 40 minutes. This is the best recipe for a buffet ever. It’s actually very good at room temperature. Take it to a party in a foil pan for easy clean up, but place a cookie sheet on bottom, its to heavy for one foil pan. I learned that the hard way.
* Note- Not crazy about Parmesan cheese? Use Swiss, cheddar or pepper jack shredded. This technique is a great basic, change the pasta shape and cheese, and you have a brand new dish.