Stovetop mac n' cheese

4 oz elbow macaroni
2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl flour
8 oz whole milk
1/2 Tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 Tsp garlic powder
1/8 Tsp dark molasses or honey
black pepper
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
Grate the cheese. Combine the butter and flour into a microwave safe bowl. Stir thoroughly.

Set the microwave to 50% power and the timer for a few minutes. Start the microwave, then stop and stir the roux every 30 seconds. Continue zapping, stopping and stirring - until the flour takes on a blond color and emits a slightly nutty aroma.

Cook the macaroni in boiling water until al-dente (about 8 minutes). Drain the macaroni. Pour the roux into the pasta pan. Heat the roux over a medium flame. Pour in the milk. Stir. Add the pepper flakes, garlic powder, molasses and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. When the sauce is thick and bubbly, return the pasta to the pan. Heat the pasta through. Throw in the cheese - by handfuls. Continue stirring - until the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy.

Variation: Preheat the broiler. Pack the mac n' cheese into an oven-proof bowl. Place the bowl under the broiler - until a golden-brown crust forms over the surface of the mac n' cheese.