In his series, Behind a Little House, Manuel Cosentino transforms a tiny little house on a simple hill into a series of dramatically majestic landscapes. For two years, the Italian photographer documented the same location, capturing the house set against the changing light and weather throughout the years.
Fog can create adventure out of any ordinary day.
For the crust
3½ cups all-purpose flour (from the freezer if possible)
1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
¼ cup cold vegetable shortening
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. scant apple cider vinegar + enough ice water to make ¾ cup liquid
For mac ‘n’ cheese filling
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups dried macaroni
4 Tbsp. of butter (½ a stick)
4 Tbsp. flour
2.5 cups heavy cream
2 tsp mustard powder
1 egg yolk
1 pound grated cheese — an equal parts mixture of gruyere, sharp cheddar, brie (no rind)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the bacon lattice
8 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
For the crust
1. Measure out all of your ingredients for the crust and make sure your butter and shortening are very cold. (It helps to put them in the freezer after they’re measured and cut into pieces. It also helps to keep the flour in the freezer.)
2. Put flour, butter, vegetable shortening, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse JUST until butter resembles tiny pebbles, about 12-15 times. (If you don’t have a food processor, stir the dry ingredients then cut the fats into the mixture with the tines of a fork until you have tiny pebbles and it’s pretty well incorporated.) Transfer to a large bowl. Gradually add vinegar-ice water mixture, using a fork to stir until dough is a mixture of clumpy wet pieces and sandy pieces, adding more water if dry. Take care not to over-moisten your dough — you don’t have to use all ¾ cups liquid. Watch the dough and stop adding liquid once it begins to clump. It doesn’t need to be completely stuck together.
3. Turn dough out onto a clean counter and form into ball. Be careful not to over-handle it — it doesn’t need to be kneaded, just needs to come together. Once it’s in a ball, cut the ball in half then flatten the halves into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour or overnight. (DO AHEAD: Can be made ahead. Keep dough refrigerated up to 2 days, or enclose in resealable plastic bag and freeze up to 1 month, then thaw in refrigerator overnight. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)
4. Lightly grease a 9” pie plate with butter, shortening, or baking spray.
5. Prepare a clean countertop as workspace to roll out the dough. Sprinkle some flour on a sheet of parchment, put one dough disc on it, sprinkle flour on the disc, then top with another sheet of parchment. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough between those two sheets of parchment paper in a circular shape until its diameter is 2”-3” larger than the pie plate all around.
6. Remove the top sheet of parchment, then carefully pick up an edge of the round and wrap it around the rolling pin. As you continue to roll the pin, the dough will wrap completely around it so you can easily transfer it to the plate. Starting on one edge of the pie plate, unroll the dough, making sure it is centered. At this point it’s best to put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
7. Press the dough into the plate. Leaving enough dough to crimp the edges, trim the overhang with a knife or scissors.
8. Preheat oven to 375°F. Prick chilled crust in pie dish all over with a fork. Line crust with foil or parchment paper, then fill the liner with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven; lift out foil and weights. Reduce temperature to 350°. Return to oven and bake, using fork to prick any bubbles that have formed and pressing down on them with back of fork, until crust is JUST light golden-brown, about 2 minutes longer. (It will bake again later so it shouldn’t be too dark yet.) Let crust cool completely.
For mac ‘n’ cheese filling
1. Boil pasta in generously salted water until just al dente, following directions on package.
2. Cook bacon pieces in sauté pan until just crispy, drain on paper towels and set aside.
3. In a large pot, melt the butter. Then stir in the flour. Whisk to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes. Now you’ve got what is called a “roux” — equal parts butter and flour cooked together. Add the cream and whisk again, let cook, whisking occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until it thickens. Now you’ve got bechamel sauce.
4. Add mustard powder and whisk to combine.
5. Temper egg yolk into the bechamel: To do this, take a little of your hot bechamel and put it into a bowl with the egg yolk. Whisk so that the egg heats up gently. Then dump the warm egg/bechamel mixture into the hot pot of bechamel, and whisk.
6. Add all the cheese and stir to combine. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
7. Add macaroni and cooked bacon pieces to cheese sauce, then add more freshly ground pepper to taste.
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Fill the baked pie crust with the mac ‘n’ cheese. You’ll use all but 1 or 2 cups.
3. Weave a lattice with 8 bacon slices (4 in one direction and 4 in the other direction — keep them long as long as possible because they will shrink when they cook).
4. Using your fingers, spread brown sugar on the strips of bacon, then put in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes or until the bacon is cooked. Serve warm.
(worth the farts)