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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

MACARONI AND CHEESE

Good Morning to you,


I do love my kitchen. 

It isn't a shiny, glossy kitchen, full of the latest mod cons.  It's a warm, cosy and inviting kitchen, which I love to be in.

One of the reasons I love my kitchen is because I am surrounded by the things which I have chosen, and aesthetically, they are pleasing to my eye.

Not for me the shiny, clear surfaces, oh no, I like my surfaces to be filled with the kitchen paraphernalia, which I use on a daily basis. Everything is organised and placed where it is, because it is handy to reach.

I prefer  my pestles and mortars placed close by and not tucked away in a cupboard. My stone jars are filled with all shapes and sizes of wooden spoons..... some are quite old and some are new.  I even have one which belonged to Phyllis and one which belonged to Sadie..... I love using them, knowing that Phyllis and Sadie prepared so many family meals using them.    

I love my ridged stone pestle and mortar, as it certainly does a good job of crushing garlic.  I love my wooden pestle and mortar, because it is great for crushing spices.  My old stone jars, which are placed either side of the cooker, are filled with utensils which I have collected from places we have lived and others which have been given to me as gifts.  Such as the amazing wooden masher which Natasha brought back from India.

My spices, oils and vinegars stand on a Lazy Susan, so that when I need something, I just give it a twirl and what I need is at hand. 

I have kilner jars filled with colourful dried herbs, dried beans, lentils and assorted rice.

My window sill is jam packed with different coloured orchids, photographs of my family, blue and white orbs and fresh herbs.

I have a great love for blue and white and I have beautiful blue and white jars, some which were bought in Germany, which hold small items.... such as small whisks, small spatulas, my cake prodder.... sorry I can't think of it's correct name at the moment.

As I said, it isn't a modern, gleaming kitchen, but it is my kitchen and it is filled with things I love..... how about you, do you love being surrounded by the cooking utensils which you use, or do you prefer to have them tidied away in a cupboard.

Today I was sorting out my wicker basket, which is full of pasta, nuts, oats.... you know the sort of thing, just checking on dates, to see which needed to be used up pretty quickly, when I came a cross a packet of Macaroni. At the moment the weather is cold and grey, and as I hadn't used Macaroni for a while, I decided it was the perfect time to make some comfort food.  George is out at the gym at the moment and I know he loves Macaroni and Cheese.  I also know he will be so hungry when he returns so he will be so pleased when he smells,


Macaroni and Cheese baking in the oven or Mac n' Cheese as it is known in America. Now, I have to tell you, I hesitated in sharing this recipe, as it is a little like "taking coals to Newcastle" for my American friends, as Macaroni and Cheese is very popular over there, but I thought  to myself, maybe you would be interested in how I make Mac n' Cheese.  So here I am, jumping off at the deep end and sharing my recipe with you.  The only ingredient I did not have was Chorizo, so I popped out to the shops to buy some and now I am ready.

So it's on with the apron and the music I am sharing with you today is,


Eddi Reader. I first heard Eddi sing when she was a member of Fairground Attraction and it was my daughters who played her music, as they loved the song "Perfect". I loved her voice so much that I bought this cd, which I really enjoy listening to.  I love "Lucky Penny," "Simple Soul," and "Footsteps Fall".  Have a listen and see what you think.

Now that the music is playing, it is time to organise the ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

400g Macaroni
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
900ml pints of milk
50g butter
75g flour
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons of English Mustard
70g Chorizo
100g Cheddar Cheese
50g Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
and a little extra olive oil
 (to oil the dish to prevent the macaroni cheese
from sticking to the dish)

HOW TO MAKE
MACARONI AND CHEESE

Oven temperature:  180C


Bring a pan of salted water to a rolling boil
 and add the macaroni.  
Return the water to the boil. 
Reduce the heat to a simmer
and
cook for 10-12 minutes until al dente
(just tender)

When cooked, drain the macaroni and drizzle a 
little olive oil over the macaroni, 
and
toss  to prevent the macaroni 
from clumping together.


Finely chop the onion
and
place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan
and
gently cook the onions until golden brown.


Add the garlic and cook for a minute.



Chop the chorizo and add to the pan

Cook for 3 minutes
and
set aside


TO MAKE THE CHEESE SAUCE



Place the butter in a pan and gently melt the butter.


Add the flour, and mix to make a roux.

Increase the heat to a medium heat.  
Keep stirring to incorporate the flour and the butter.
Cook the flour and butter for 2 minutes
but don't allow the flour and the butter to turn brown.



Pour the milk into the pan containing the butter and flour,
increase the heat to medium
and
using a whisk, keep whisking until the butter and flour is
incorporated.
Then, using a wooden spoon, stir until the sauce thickens.
When the sauce has thickened, 
add



2 teaspoons of English Mustard

Reduce the heat
and
keep stirring for 2 minutes


Grate the Cheddar Cheese
and
the Parmesan Cheese
and add to the sauce
Keep stirring until the cheese has melted.



Remove the pan from the heat

and

add the egg yolk and whisk into the sauce.

The sauce will become glossy.


Season with salt and pepper

Add the



Chorizo and browned onions to the sauce 

and
stir




Brush olive oil on the base and sides of the dish.
Spoon the macaroni and cheese into the prepared dish

and



bake in a 180C oven for 30 minutes

 or 
until the Macaroni and Cheese
is golden brown,


and I know I say it most weeks, 

but I really mean it, when I say,

ENJOY,

as this is the perfect comfort food for the horrible weather we are experiencing at the moment.

Just a thought, please don't worry about adding all the milk to the roux, as it occurred to me that you might think that the sauce will be lumpy. This will not be the case, because of the oil in the butter. As long as you keep whisking,  this is the easiest method for making a white sauce and it has never failed for me.

When baked, the Macaroni and Cheese is beautifully creamy, but I could not take a photograph straight away, because the steam kept rising and clouding the photograph, so I had to wait until it cooled, so the Macaroni Cheese does not look as creamy as it should. Normally,  I would allow it to cool, just a little, before I took it to the table.

Try my version of Macaroni and Cheese or Mac 'n Cheese and tell me how it compares to your favourite recipe, as it will be interesting to compare.  I think the difference will probably be the chorizo and the English Mustard.

So take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,


and








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