Food Glorious Food

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)
  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  1. Steam the cauliflower until it is mushy
  2. Add the butter and the milk and mash with a potato masher
  3. 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!






these peppery radish sprinkled with coarse are delicious as a healthy snack

these peppery radish sprinkled with coarse salt are delicious as a healthy snack

our pumpkins have ripened beautifully

our pumpkins have ripened beautifully


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4 Responses to Food Glorious Food

  1. Adam Rice says:

    You can do the same with carrots, butternut and celeriac, as well as Pumpkin. They all make great mash and are low in calories and carbs (and fat for that matter). All go great with sausages!
    By the way we are doing an Italian evening meal in the next month or so and would love any ideas for a Primi pasta dish and a more substantial secondi. We will do antipasti misto for a starter and Tiramisu for dessert from our local Neapolitan guy at the farmer’s market. We have Limoncello liqueur and Aperol to make aperitifs. Adam

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Adam

      Since you should be enjoying spring harvests right now, perhaps something with asparagus would be nice and light.

      This recipe is adapted from a book Easy Italian in Minutes (my kind of cookbook!) and it’s called Open Ravioli with Asparagus & Sage Butter – sage butter being a firm favourite in our family.

      Serves 4

      300 g asparagus
      125 g butter, cut into cubes
      10 g fresh sage, some chopped & some left whole
      250 g fresh lasagne sheets
      125 g Parma Ham, cut into strips
      40 g Parmesan, shaved
      Salt and freshly ground pepper

      Cook the asparagus gently for 3-4 minutes, until tender (I usually steam them).

      Cook the fresh lasagne sheets according to the instructions given.

      Heat the butter in a frying pan until sizzling and add the chopped sage. Quickly fry until the sage is crispy and the butter is nutty brown.

      Arrange layers of lasagne sheets, sage butter, cooked asparagus, strips of Parma Ham and top with Parmesan shavings and ground pepper.

      For Secondi, I recommend Nigella’s Tuscan Bistecca Tagliata.

      This recipe is for two. Be warned – the steak is cold by the time it gets to the table but is absolutely delicious.

      Steak – Work on 200 g per person (although if you are having antipasti and primi maybe less is more!)

      2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
      1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
      1 tsp dried oregano (or dried Italian herb mix)
      2 tsp red wine vinegar
      1 tsp sea salt flakes
      1 steak (300-400 g)
      250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
      Freshly cracked black pepper

      Heat a frying pan. In a dish (where you can fit the steak later on), combine the extra virgin olive oil, chili, oregano, salt and red wine vinegar. Slice the cherry tomatoes. Oil the steak lightly and put it in the hot pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. If you do not want your steak rare, cook it for longer. Place the steak in the marinade and marinade for 1 minute on each side. Remove the steak and place on a chopping board. Place the cherry tomatoes cut side down in the marinade. Cut the steak into thin slices and arrange on a serving dish. Pour the cherry tomatoes and marinade on top of the steak. Season with black pepper and serve immediately.

      Buon appetito

  2. louise says:

    I make Mac and cheese on a regular basis, my son Adam’s favourite. I have started making my pasta in the microwave, perfect everytime and boiling water doesn’t ruin my cupboards 🙂 Boil a kettle, salt, little oil, stir in pasta, pop in microwave for 12 mins on high and stir halfway through, drain, rinse and Bob’s your uncle! 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      I must pass this tip on to Alex. Here on the farm (because of the altitude I think) it takes ages to cook pasta so I’m going to give it a try. Thanks.

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