DISHING UP THE HOLIDAYS: Alisa Reynolds’ gluten-free Mac & Cheese

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When you think of the holidays, you probably think of things like gathering around the table with family and friends; gift giving; and watching hours and hours of college football. But what would Thanksgiving be without your mom’s sweet potato casserole or your Uncle Irv’s deep-fried turkey; or gift giving without your dad’s killer eggnog; or watching all those bowl games without chicken wings?

Holiday food traditions are as varied as we are. Sometimes a dish is dreamed up by a relative and becomes an annual favorite. Other times, it has its roots in our family’s cultural heritage or where we come from.

Alisa Reynolds of My Two Cents. Photo: Chery Glaser
Alisa Reynolds of My Two Cents.

Every Monday for the next several weeks, we’re going to be talking with a range of people — from restaurant chefs to home cooks — about holiday food traditions from different communities throughout Southern California.

It’s a series we’re calling “Dishing Up the Holidays.”

Alisa Reynolds is the chef and owner of My Two Cents — a soul food restaurant in L.A. She talks about one of her family’s Thanksgiving food traditions — macaroni & cheese.

Alisa says the key to a great mac & cheese is the sauce. Some Parmesan for the top. Then it goes under the broiler to get it nice and brown. Photo: Chery Glaser
Alisa says the key to a great mac & cheese is the sauce. Some Parmesan for the top. Then it goes under the broiler to get it nice and brown.
And voila!

Alisa Reynolds’ gluten-free Mac & Cheese

1 cup grated aged cheddar

½ cup grated Parmesan

1 cup grated Jack/cheddar mix

1 cup grated Havarti

1 cup grated Fontina

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour

3 cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

¼ teaspoon celery seed

1 ½ teaspoons granulated garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 pound gluten-free pasta of your choice — cooked al dente or according to package directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all cheeses together in a bowl, except Parmesan. Set aside.

Melt 6 tablespoons butter with milk, cream, celery seed, garlic, salt, and pepper in a saucepan over medium-low heat. When butter is melted, whisk in gluten-free flour for 1 to 2 minutes.  Then add cheeses from bowl, whisking as you go. Allow cheeses to melt. Remove from heat.

Stir cooked, drained pasta into cheese sauce. Pour entire contents into buttered, 3-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle parmesan on top. Bake in middle of oven 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.