Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until nearing al dente, but not fully cooked. Drain. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Over low heat, stir the dry mustard and cayenne pepper into the béchamel sauce. Gradually add the cheddar, gruyere, and 1 cup of the Parmesan, stirring constantly until all of the cheese has melted into the sauce. Add last cup of milk. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
In another large skillet, cook bacon until crispy and golden brown. Remove cooked bacon from skillet, reserving 3 tablespoons rendered bacon fat.
Add the cooked pasta to the bechamel and stir to coat with the sauce. Coat the bread crumbs and chopped parsley with bacon fat, and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni. Sprinkle with ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
Bake until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with crumbled cooked bacon. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.
— Kelsey Nixon
* * * *
HONEY GLAZED APPLE PEAR TART
1 sheet all-butter frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
1 Bartlett pear, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup honey, warmed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with non-stick cooking spray.
Unfold pastry on parchment paper. Using a fork, pierce a half inch border around edge of puff pastry. Prick the center of the pastry as well, about 10 times all over.
Arrange pear and apple slices on top of pastry in 4 rows or diagonally overlapping fruit slices and avoiding the border. Brush fruit with melted butter and top with cinnamon sugar. Bake 15 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beginning to puff.
Brush honey over fruit and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6.
Apricot Plum Tart: Cut 2 plums and apricots into quarter-inch-thick slices. Arrange on top of puff pastry and brush with melted apricot preserves rather than honey.
Rhubarb Tart: Thinly slice ½ pound rhubarb stalks on the diagonal, and marinate in 1 cup orange juice and ½ cup sugar for 10 minutes. Strain rhubarb, reserving juices. Arrange rhubarb slices on top puff pastry. Sprinkle with white sugar. While pastry bakes, reduce rhubarb juices until it becomes a syrupy glaze. Brush with glaze when pastry finishes.
Pear, Pecan & Blue Cheese Tart: Slice 3 cups Bartlett pears and top with ½ cup chopped pecans. After brushing on the honey, top with 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles.
— Kelsey Nixon
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