Modernist Mac and Cheese with Raspberry and Lemon Pie for Dessert


Day one of cooking through the Modernist Cuisine at Home book has begun. My girlfriend and I decided to start off with recipes we are somewhat familiar with, but have a modernist twist. Also I have not received permission from the publishers or authors of the Modernist Cookbook at Home, so specific recipes are not included on this site. Maybe I’ll get permission at some point and add them in later, but in the mean time for legal reasons you will not find them here. I’m sure the resourceful person can find them elsewhere online or better yet go pick up the book! The following recipes were cooked that night:

  • White Chicken Stock
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Raspberry Pie Crust
  • Lemon Custard Filling
  • Raspberry Topping

The chicken stock didn’t have anything to do with the other recipes. I went ahead and made that to go through the steps of using my pressure cooker for the first time in preparation for later recipes in the book. The white chicken stock is used throughout the book so getting a feel for how to make it and what it tastes like I felt was a smart idea. Additionally, we didn’t have a protein for this meal so I picked up a rotisserie chicken while I was getting other ingredients and that was used with some Hoagie rolls we had made a few nights before as a meal during prep for the other recipes we made. As a note, I did not get pictures of the stock. This stock is used in a ton of other recipes and will be pictured later.

Mac and Cheese is something Rachel and I have made a number of times in a number of different ways. Previously we had used a recipe that involved melting down a couple different blocks of cheese in a bechamel sauce and we thought we had died and gone to heaven. One of the drawbacks to that recipe was the cheese sauce was incredibly thick and rich. This led to not being able to eat a ton of it. The recipe in the Modernist cookbook is a whole different ball game and on a whole other level of awesome.

The preparation of the Mac and Cheese was actually pretty easy. We took our whole milk, heavy cream, and added Sodium Citrate to it to use as an emulsifier. I know what many people are thinking, Sodium Citrate sounds like a chemical and I read somewhere chemicals are bad. Well turns out Sodium citrate is also known as a sour salt and comes from citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges. When you extract Citric Acid (Vitamin C) from the fruits you also get the salt sodium citrate. Both sodium citrate and citric acid have been used in canning for centuries, and can be found in most grocery stores.

Back to the recipe, for a cheese we used a Vermont 6 month aged White Cheddar I found on the fancy cheese aisle of my local grocery store. Rachel and I are both big fans of cheddar cheese so this was a good one to start with. After that was combined with our milk and cream sauce our sauce was ready. Throw in some Macaroni noodles to some boiling water and the dish was pretty much complete. The sauce was more on the liquid side then previous mac and cheese meals I’ve had over the years which led to a consistent amount of sauce with every bit. It wasn’t too rich and oh man does the cheese flavor stick around. The Sodium Citrate doesn’t break down the cheese flavor like bechamel based recipes do and the results are stunning.

This recipe is staying in the repertoire for sure as we both love it. The Modernist cookbook has 4 or 5 more variations and we will be cooking each of them, so stick around to hear how we like each of them and which one we like the best. So how about some pie on the side.

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Rachel is the baker, but this was my pie to make and I think it turned out pretty awesome. Raspberry crust was the starting point and this recipe was about the difficulty I was expecting from the cookbook in general. I started off taking some freeze dried raspberries and making a powder with them. Next almond flour, all-purpose flour, and VERY cold diced butter went into my food processor. This combined to make a consistency similar to corn meal. The raspberry powder went in next and turned the pseudo-dough into a deep red dough. Lastly, while all this was going on I had 4 egg yolks in the sous vide setup cooking to the ~153 F. Once these were ready they went into the food processor with the dough and the liquids were added. Once the dough came together I formed the dough into a hockey puck type shape and wrapped it in plastic wrap to chill and set in the fridge. As a note, this dough is not super easy to shape as it cracks very easy.


While the dough was setting in the fridge I went about making the custard filling. To start this process I took while milk and heavy cream and combined them with fresh lemon zest in a container. This container was then put in the fridge for two hours to create an infusion. During the time it was in the fridge I prepped the other ingredients and put 10 egg yolks in the sous vide machine set to ~176F. This made the eggs come out perfect for a custard. Once the infusion was ready, I mixed that with the sous vide cooked eggs in the food processor and mixed until they were the consistency of a custard or thick pudding.

About this time the dough in the fridge had time to set and the gluten was rested so we were ready to bake it. I rolled out the dough to about 3mm thick and placed it in the pie pan. This was quite the chore as the dough does not stay together very well and if you decide to try this yourself take your time rolling the dough out. Once the dough was put in the pan, two unusual steps happened. First off the pie pan is set on a cookie sheet and a silicon mat is between the cookie sheet and the pie pan. This is to both heat isolate the pie pan from the cookie sheet and to catch the crust that is spilling over the pan. We are not trimming the crust before baking as the edges will cook faster and we want a consistent pie crust edge at the end. The second unusual step was the recipe called for the use of beans during the baking process. So I took a sheet of parchment paper and set it on top of the crust. Then I poured a bag of pinto beans into the interior space of the pie. The purpose of the beans is to keep the crust from falling inwards while baking. Although I assume it also helps keep the heat on the pie more even as well. The pie then went in for about 20 minutes at 350F.

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Once the pie came out it was ready for the filling and topping. The topping being more freeze dried raspberries ground to a powder and sprinkled on top. So first thing was to remove the parchment paper and beans. Then Rachel and I shaped the outside crust to be even with the pie pan (more on this later). In went the custard and topping sprinkled on top. All in all this pie turned out amazing, and we have another 10 or so pies to make from this book so more will be seen. The one thing I plan on changing for the next pie is the pie pan I use. If you notice in the picture I have a angled edge that is not flat. This made trimming the pie crust a bit of a pain and the end result was not quite what I was hoping for from a presentation stand point. I think we will try a tart pan or something similar for the next pie.

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Overall I’m extremely pleased with the night’s cooking and we can’t wait to hit the next set of recipes. Probably going to be soup next as the cold weather is here early this year and those will be perfect. Thanks for reading whoever you are.

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