For whatever reason, everyone seems to be talking about macaroni and cheese these days. First, the New York Times, which mentions Martha's recipe. Then Andrea over at the Strong Buzz publishes her mother-in-law's recipe. I really like Emeril's recipe, which I've adapted slightly each time I've made it. Macaroni and cheese was one of the first meals I ever learned to make. I vaguely remember learning how to make it in Girl Scouts -- making a bechamel, adding cheese, and adding it to cooked pasta before baking it, but the first recipe I ever followed for mac and cheese was from the Kraft cookbook, which a family friend had given to us as a gift. I still generally follow it, although I've tweaked it just a tad.
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
2 cups warm milk
8 oz grated cheese (I like a mix of sharp cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan, but really you can experiment here)
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 t powdered mustard
1/4 t white pepper
approx 2 T breadcrumbs or panko
8 oz pasta, cooked (elbows, rotini, penne, small shells -- something that'll hold the sauce)
Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter over medium heat; add flour and whisk together. Gradually add the warm milk, stirring constantly, until all of the milk is incorporated and the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and add all but 1/4 cup of the grated cheese. When cheese has melted, add cayenne, mustard, white pepper, and a dash of salt. Taste and correct as you see fit.
Place 1/2 of the pasta in a 9" square pyrex baking dish; top with 1/2 of the cheese sauce. Follow with remaining pasta, topped by remaining sauce. Top with the reserved cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until top is golden. Enjoy!