This is another recipe post hot on the heels of the previous one and all because Alex is feeling poorly and in need of soothing sustenance. What can be more comforting than good old mac and cheese? Except that my Annie Bell recipe, torn out of an old Country Living magazine (Sept 2005) calls it “Pasta Gratin with Wild Mushrooms and Bacon”. This is an upmarket version of the classic but it can be adapted to suit one’s budget. Don’t stint on the bacon though.
First of all, I would like to share a tip that I learned from Delia Smith on how to make a no fuss white sauce.
- 40 g cake flour
- 50 g butter
- 750 ml milk
- Bayleaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper
Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk continuously over a medium heat until the sauce boils and thickens. Then turn the heat down to its lowest and let the sauce cook for 2 minutes. That’s it.
To make this into a basic cheese sauce, remove from the heat and stir in a cup of grated mature cheddar. However to make a more luxurious cheese sauce, whisk in 1 tbsp Dijon mustard and 150 g crème fraîche instead.
Now for the
Mac and Cheese
- 200 g pasta
- 20 g butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250 g meaty mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 150 g sliced Fontina cheese (Fontina is pricey in SA but it does add a lovely flavour – skip this if your budget is tight)
- 6 rindless slices streaky bacon (add more if you can)
- Heat the oven to 210ºC (190ºC fan oven). Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, give it a stir and cook until almost tender. Drain it into a sieve, quite thoroughly, and then return it to the pan.
- At the same time, heat the 20 g butter and the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan, season with salt and pepper and sauté for several minutes until soft and starting to colour. If they give out any liquid, cook until this evaporates.
- Toss the pasta with the hot cheese sauce and the mushrooms. Tip into a 35cm shallow ovenproof dish and mix in the sliced Fontina. Lay the bacon on top (as much as you can squeeze in) and cook for 15 minutes, then give it a few minutes under the grill until golden.
Broccoli and cauliflower are starting to come into season now and they are so tasty steamed and then smothered in a white sauce, sprinkled with lashings of grated parmesan and popped under the grill for a few minutes until brown and crispy on top.
Recently Peter and I have been trying to cut down on the amount of carbs that we eat, especially potatoes. Since I’m a great fan of mashed potatoes, I had my doubts that cauliflower could serve as an acceptable substitute, but I have to admit it’s not half bad. This recipe is from The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes et al.
- 1 head (1kg cauliflower) broken into florets
- 300 ml milk
- 100 g butter
- Salt and peper
- Steam the cauliflower until it is mushy
- Add the butter and the milk and mash with a potato masher
- Season to taste
The recipe actually calls for the cauli to be puréed with a stick blender or in a food processor before adding the milk and the butter. However I didn’t find that necessary.
Nothing better than homegrown veggies!