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Somebody asked for this recipe, I hope you enjoy it.

This is my speciality, I make it every time we have people stop for dinner (and I haven’t had time to prepare something), and practically once a week through the winter as it’s such a comfort food. This recipe serves four, or in our case two plus a second helping for me and a portion to freeze as a quick lunch for another day.

Boil a big pan of water, add some salt and some garlic puree if you have it. If you don’t have garlic puree, a clove of garlic ‘smashed’ under the flat of a blade will do. Just let it boil in the water. When the water is boiling, add about 1lb of pasta shapes of your choice. The more surface area the better, but be aware that tube types need to be more carefully drained after boiling to make sure your sauce doesn’t get too watery. Bring back to the boil and let simmer for around 8 minutes (or as directed on the packet, don’t use quick-cook pasta if possible, the regular hard egg pasta is better for flavour and doesn’t go soggy). Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.

Meanwhile, chop and gently fry off an onion til it starts to go transparent, and set aside.

Make the sauce. Either do this the old fashioned way (below) or use a packet white sauce as a base. Add half a teaspon of dry mustard powder and a half teaspoon of mixed herbs at the dry stage for additional flavour.

For a traditional white sauce, start with a small pan and melt a quarter stick of butter over a low heat. Remove from heat, and sprinkle in a large spoonful of plain white flour and mix. Keep adding flour a spoon at a time until you have a consistency like thick paste. Mash out any lumps. Now add milk, a little at a time, and stir to incorporate into the flour and butter mixture. Keep adding and stirring until you have a pan full of milk and no sign of the paste left. Return to the heat and slowly bring up towards the boil, stirring constantly to stop it sticking. Don’t use a high heat, let it take it’s time. The sauce will thicken as it heats. Don’t worry if the sauce is not quite as thick as you want it to be in the finished dish, it will thicken more when you add the cheese. If you are really concerned that it’s too runny you may not have used enough flour in the ‘roux’ (paste) stage. It’s too late to add more now, but I always keep a can of McDougalls thickening granules on my counter for such occasions, and it’s an instant fix I would recommend.

Now grate your cheese. I use a strong English cheddar, but you can use any strongly flavoured hard cheese. Ask at your local Italian delicatessen for a suggestion if you aren’t sure what might be suitable. I use about 4-5oz in the sauce and another 2-3oz for the topping, so you will want about half a pound. But you can add more if you love cheese

Add the grated cheese to the white sauce, reserving some for the topping, and stir through to coat all the pasta. Season very well with black pepper. Then add the fried onions and stir through.

Now take a Pyrex or similar overnproof dish, a lasagne pan is ideal, and tip the pasta and sauce in. Smooth out so it’s even, and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Pop under a hot grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Serve!

Mac and cheese keeps really well and tastes even better the next day if refrigerated overnight. You can also freeze it and reheat in the microwave if you have any left over.

Bon appetit

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