Appetites: Macaroni and Cheese

We had a stack of leftover pulled pork from Aaron’s birthday party this week so I thought I’d throw together an American bbq dinner of sorts with the leftovers as a quick midweek meal. We had the pork and the coleslaw, so to it I added a batch of cornbread and Anthony Bourdain’s macaroni & cheese from his book, Appetites.

It was really nice, albeit a bit different from my usual macaroni & cheese, though the method is virtually the same. It had an extra 2 cups of milk and 8 oz of cheese! The seasonings were familiar, cayenne and mustard (I used paprika instead of cayenne) and instead of just using cheddar like I normally would, it contained 4 different cheeses – mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan and Gruyere (I substituted monterey jack for the Gruyere because that’s what I had on hand).

The feedback on his version of macaroni & cheese was mixed. The younger two refused to eat it (I think the Parmesan on top was too strong a flavor) but the rest of us thought it was great. Will I change my recipe and use this one instead from now on? Nah. I am open to seeing if there is a better recipe out there, but this one ain’t it. But it was quite close and it was creamy and delicious!

Wholemeal cheesy pasta with garden salad

Went into my sadly neglected kitchen today and turfed a whole bunch of food that had gone off or was past its use by date and had to resign myself to the fact that Christmas is over and leftovers are all but gone now. Time to get back into the kitchen and actually cook, and not just pull out containers from the fridge and dish out onto plates and at the very most zap them individually in the microwave. So our first Meatless Monday meal of the year was something very simple and ultra comforting – wholemeal cheesy pasta and a ‘whatever is in the fridge that needs using’ garden salad.

The recipe is dead simple and it was on the dinner table in 30 minutes.

Firstly the ingredients: 500 grams wholemeal penne pasta, ¼ cup unsalted butter, ¼ c plain flour, 2 ½ cups milk, 1 tspn each paprika and dry mustard, 450 grams grated or cubed cheese (I used Monterey jack), salt and pepper to taste, bread crumbs (optional)

Put a large saucepan of water over high heat until it comes to a boil, add salt and pasta, then cook according to packet instructions (mine said 9 minutes). Meanwhile in a slightly smaller saucepan make a cheese sauce. Melt the butter and the add the flour and whisk until a roux is formed over medium high heat. Slowly add the milk and whisk constantly until it thickens. Then stir in the paprika and mustard and add the cheese and leave to melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.

Drain the pasta and put into a large casserole dish and stir through the cheese sauce.

Top with breadcrumbs and toast for 15 minutes in a hot oven. While this is toasting, throw together a salad.

In our salad bowl tonight: cos lettuce, 2 diced tomatoes, 2 peeled and sliced cucumbers from a friend’s garden, ¼ of a finely diced red onion and store bought ranch dressing.

Serve and enjoy!