Return of the Mac and Cheese.

mac-and-cheese

Nothing is more satisfying than Mac and Cheese, well hold on tight, because if you add broccoli and bacon then you have a dream come true. This loving dish can be on the table in 15 minutes flat, and really 15 minutes, not Jamie Oliver 15 minute meals, that really take 45 minutes. I did use cauliflower, for a take on cauliflower cheese, but it looked too beige, even my 4 year old asked “why is it all the same colour’. So a bit of broccoli and bacon spruces it up.

I’ve gone on a bit about cheese sauce on this blog, which I didn’t realise until now. So I’ll be lazy, due to being in a Mac and Cheese coma,  and just post the link for the cheese sauce from a previous recipe. The secret ingredient is again, nutmeg.

Also if you fancy another take on Cauliflower cheese, then you can visit the archives for this delicious and equally as satisfying recipe. It’s made with coconut milk , if you’re looking for a healthier option.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Floret of broccoli, cut up very small

100g macaroni pasta

Cheese Sauce:

1.2 litres (2 pints) whole fat milk

50g (2oz) butter

50g  (20z) plain flour

250g (8oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated

Salt and pepper

Teaspoon of nutmeg

Method:

Put the cut up broccoli and pasta in a pan together and boil for 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, follow the link for the cheese sauce directions, and add nutmeg instead of paprika at the end.

Stir it all together, then in the frying pan you used for the cheese sauce, cut up 3 thick strips of smoked bacon and fry until crispy. I use scissors to do this.

Add the bacon sprinkled on top to the dishes of mac and cheese.

 

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Cheesy,  Pleasey Lasagne

This lasagne got all round ‘mmm’s’ and ‘ah’s’, from the willing testers I cooked it for. They said things like ‘its better than a meat one’, ‘I bloody love it more than my husband, you’re the best.’ OK, the second comment isn’t real, I put that in, but the first one was real. I always think it’s a test of a winning recipe if meat eaters love it too. Blimey, this was so cheesy and tasty, that you’d be hard pushed not to want more.

A show off guest, said that that he does a similar recipe, but with 3 different types of cheeses. I then felt threatened, and made the other guests rate mine out of ten, and also after some interrogation, I found out he used a shop bought cheese sauce, the cheek of him. So if you want to turn this a bit fancier, you could add 3 types of cheeses, swit swoo.

Don’t be scared about making you’re own cheese sauce, it’s actually fairly simple, and I’ll walk you through it on here, and then you can knock up some cauliflower cheese. The key is to keep taking it off and onto the heat at certain points.

Cheese Sauce (exact amounts in the recipe below)

  • Start with a large dollop of butter and melt it slowly on a low heat. Once melted, take it off the heat and then add plain flour, until the mixture turns into a play dough type creation. So add a tablespoon of flour at at a time, and keep stirring it until you get the play dough, takes about 1 minute. You may have to add to the heat again to get the play dough consistency, so this is where you do a bit of an ‘okey cokey’ with the pan and the heat.
  • Then, add a splash of full fat milk (other milks will do even coconut) and sort of knead it with a wooden spoon, add a few more splashes of milk and any lumps, don’t panic, just keep kneading with the spoon. Then add back to the heat, and stir, which will thicken it also. Add a bay leaf. This takes about 2 minutes.
  • Then add the grated cheese, and stir in again. Add some more milk if it goes a bit thick. Then warm gently, don’t allow to boil. This whole process takes a few minutes.

 

Serves 6

Oven: Gas Mark 190 deg C, or 375 deg F

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic

Handful of rosemary

1 onion

300g mushrooms, I love button mushrooms, but you can use a mixture

200g spinach

200g fresh lasagne sheets

50g pine nuts

Teaspoon of nutmeg

For the cheese sauce

1.2 litres (2 pints) whole fat milk

Fresh bay leaf

50g (2oz) butter

50g  (20z) plain flour

250g (8oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated

Salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven, 190 deg C.

Use a 4 pint lasagne dish.

Toast pine nuts for no longer than a minute, on a low heat, until they are browned. Place to one side.

Fry the onions, crushed garlic, rosemary, mushrooms, and stir through. When the mushrooms are nearly cooked add the spinach in batches, it seems alot, but it cooks down. drain some of the juice.

When you have done this, add the mixture to the pine nuts.

Make the cheese sauce using the ingredients above.

Save a 1/4 of the cheese sauce for the top of the lasagne.

Add the spinach, mushroom etc to the cheese sauce and stir in. Get the bay leaf out, and place to one side.

Add the lasagne sheets to cover the bottom of your dish, then add a layer of the cheesy sauce mixture, then repeat 3 times.

Finally, add a final layer of lasagne sheets. Then add the final layer of the cheese sauce, and grate some cheese over the top. Bury the bay leaf in the top layer, in the middle.

Place in the oven for 35- 40 minutes, until its all golden, like Donald Trump’s fake tan.

 

Good Old Spag Bol

Who doesn’t love a good old spag bol? It is a regular in most people’s homes. But, a few people have messaged me to ask what are the key ingredients to the perfect spag bol, as they often find it hit or miss. To share the love, I’ll share my 3 key ingredients to a fool proof spag bol. you guys won’t tell anyone right?!

Celery- cut it up really finely if you have any fussy eaters in the family, or even if you don’t like celery at all, I promise you it makes such a difference, and you won’t be running to be sick with an overwhelming celery taste.

Bacon- I’m sorry to all the veggies out there, but bacon makes a spag bol average to delicious. It revs up the scrumptious factor.

Nutmeg- This sweet, cheeky ingredient means that you get a sense of sweetness and warm through the bolognese. Lots of cooks add sugar to their sauce, so this has the same effect, but naturally sweetens the sauce.

My preference is to smother the sauce and pasta with a strong grated cheese. I steer clear of parmesan, as I think it smells like puke, but I know people love the ‘essence of vom’ cheese, so if I can get you to add celery, then who am I to judge, if you want to ruin it with parmesan.

Also the key is to simmer the sauce for 20-30minutes. However, if you dont have the time, then add a dollop of tomato puree, and add extra ingredients that will soak up and thicken the sauce. I always opt for a small tin of green lentils.

Serves 6:

Ingredients:

1 stick of celery

1/2 grated courgette

10 mushrooms, roughly cut up

1 onion

Small pack of mince, or quorn mince

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 slices of chopped up bacon, or a teaspoon of paprika

1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon oregano

Dollop of tomato puree

Method:

Cut up the onion and celery finely. Grate the courgette and chop the mushrooms. Crush the garlic, and roughly chop up the bacon with scissors into small pieces. Fry all of these for about 2 minutes.

Add the mince, nutmeg and oregano, and cook until the mince and bacon are cooked. Make sure you do this on a medium heat, so it doesn’t take all day, but also so it doesn’t burn.

Add the chopped tomatoes and reduce the heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Keep giving it a stir every 5 mins, and make sure it is simmering on a low heat.

If after this it still looks a bit watery then add the dollop of tomato puree and simmer for another 10 mins.

Then cover in hurl scented cheese, or don’t.