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Horn & Hardart's Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 2 or 3
Horn & Hardart was a Philadephia and New York restaurant chain that also had stores specializing in take-out. With the TV and radio advertising motto "Less work for mother," they actually pioneered the concept of prepared foods to eat at home. The restaurants were called Automats because, besides a cafeteria line, they featured food behind tiny glass windows that was accessed by putting a few nickels in the slots. The last Automat -- on Third Ave. and 42nd St. -- closed only about 10 years ago. It's now a GAP. But New Yorkers and Philadephians old enough to have experienced Horn & Hardart have deep nostalgia for many of its specialties. The mac and cheese is probably prime among them.
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2   tablespoons flour
11/2   cups milk
2   tablespoons light cream (see note)
1   packed cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4   cup crushed tomatoes (I used Pomi, you can use any canned product)
1/2   teaspoon sugar
  Dash cayenne pepper (I used several dashes)
    Dash white pepper
1/2   pound small elbow macaroni, cooked until barely done

    1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, blend in flour and cook about 2 minutes.

    2. Beat in the milk, then the cream and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Remove from heat.

    3. Stir in the cheese until melted, then the crushed tomatoes, sugar and two peppers.

    4. Stir in the macaroni.

    5. Pour into a shallow, buttered baking dish and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven until the surface browns, 25 to 30 minutes.

    NOTE: This recipe must have been broken down from one that made an enormous quantity, which explains the small amount of light cream. If you don't want to purchase a half-pint container of light cream just for two tablespoons, simply add two tablespoons more milk. You'll never know the difference. I also think it needs a little salt, which is not called for in the recipe.

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