Growing up in our house focused heavily around meal times and when mum replied to the daily, ‘What’s for tea, mum?’ with ‘Macaroni Cheese’ I’m sure the whole street could hear the cheers that went up. It was the 80’s and pasta was already a family favourite, I can remember sitting at the table in the kitchen waiting for mum to finish grilling the top to a crispy cheesy for us and wishing she would hurry up.
Once on the table I would happily squirt some tomato ketchup on top because that’s what we did back then. If any Italians are reading this I can feel your shock and only after spending years in your country and learning how you cook and eat can I see now the error of my ways, however, it was so good!
Funnily enough when I lived in Italy no one had heard of Macaroni Cheese, they had Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi which everyone agreed was most likely where our Macaroni Cheese came from. A quick check on Wikipedia has it that Macaroni Cheese is an English dish made of short pasta and a cheese sauce.
I wanted to make it for the girls and see if they had the same reaction to me all those years ago. They did. The success of macaroni cheese continues!
If you are introducing no meat nights into the family diet then this one is very popular and will fill them up. It’s a very simple recipe that requires baking in the oven and of course, it can be pimped in so many ways. You could add fried bacon lardons, or a mixture of vegetables cut up small.
I served it up in it’s 1980’s glory but I did not offer the squirt of ketchup on top even if dad and I did have a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper though ;)
Macaroni Cheese | a family favourite revisited
Author: Marianne Weekes
Recipe type: pasta
- 300g macaroni
- 25g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 600 full fat milk
- 1 tbsp English mustard (optional)
- 225g Cheddar cheese grated
- Heat the oven to 200C Gas mark 6
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water.
- Melt 25g of the butter in a pan and add the flour, stir for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk whisk gently to remove any lumps that may form.
- Cook over a medium heat stirring continuously until thickened, season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mustard if using and two thirds of the grated Cheddar cheese, mix well together.
- Add the pasta and combine well, pour into a baking dish and scatter the remaining cheese on top.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until golden
- Spice it up with chopped chilli peppers added to the mix.
- Mix up the cheeses and go for a quattro (4) formaggi (cheese)
Please also see my Macaroni cheese with bacon and chives recipe
In a moment back then I was taking part in the Great Bloggers Bake Off and making cakes like they were going out of fashion. Then I ran out of time so never got this one posted in time for week 7 and then the remits got very difficult and I couldn’t see myself fathoming out strange recipes with foreign names and cakes of 20 layers baked under the grill. So I stepped back and let the professionals continue.
However I was pleased with our savoury parcels. They were easy to make, economical and on top of that really tasty so I thought I’d share the recipe with you just in case you were inspired too. I used ready to roll puff pastry which saves me colossal amounts of time (does anyone make their own these days?) and minced beef is the base of my filling. I used the vegetables that I found in my fridge, feel free to alter as it’s a great way of getting children to eat them without realising they’re there. ;)
Minced beef and vegetable puff parcels
1 onion finely chopped
1 carrot chopped into small dice
1 clove of garlic chopped
celery, finely chopped
1 pepper chopped
500g minced beef
fresh rosemary chopped
salt and pepper
1 egg beaten
- Heat the oven to 180C/ Gas 4 / 350F
- Dust a baking tray with flour and set to one side
- Fry the onion, carrot, garlic, celery and pepper over a medium heat until softened and lightly coloured.
- Place the vegetable mix into a large bowl, add the minced beef, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix with your hands.
- Roll out the pastry to the shape and size of a tea towel and cut into four rectangles.
- Place a large dollop of minced beef mixture along the short side of the pastry leaving a 2 cm edge all around.
- Brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg
- Tuck in the sides and roll the pastry so the minced beef becomes a savoury parcel.
- Seal the pastry by using the beaten egg along the edges and place on the baking tray
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes circa.
We ate ours hot out of the oven with mashed swede and fresh garden peas but they would be just as tasty for a picnic.
Note: The two smaller ones were actually a little on the big side for our 6 year olds so you could go even smaller.
If making for adults only you could spice up with a teaspoon of chilli powder to add a kick.
I love it when I try something new and it works, or as in this case it blows me away with just how good it is.
There’s nothing like the arrival of Spring to have me lusting after lamb. Last year I showcased the perfect Roast Spring Lamb for a delicious Easter lunch and it’s a favourite of mine that I go back to as often as I can but this year I wanted to try a different lamb recipe. Olives et Al got in touch and suggested I try Lamb Dukkah, they sent me their delicious products and I followed their recipe using my Sage Multi Cooker instead of traditional slow cooking in the oven.
It was SUPERB. The lamb fell off the bone and is mouthful after mouthful of delicious flavoured meat. I have since had a look around and discovered there are lots of different Dukkah recipes out there, I am transformed, I am now a Dukkah loving mamma.
As all of the recipes on this blog it is simple, it’s a chuck it in the pot and let it cook slow meal which we all love and know so well. I served mine with giant cous cous and some fresh green beans
- 1 shoulder of lamb on the bone
- 2 crushed cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- 3 large white onions sliced
- 1 -2 tbsps Olives Et Al Spiced Dukkah
- 1 tbsp Olives Et Al Tapenade Marocaine
- 1 large bunch thyme or oregano
- a few bay leaves
- a handful of Olives Et Al Lemon and coriander Olives
- 150 ml white wine
- Rub the lamb with the crushed garlic and olive oil
- Put half the sliced onions in the slow cooker, place the lamb on top scatter the remainder over and add all the other ingredients to the pot.
- Add the white wine put the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours
- Leave to cool to room temperature – best left overnight to allow the flavour to develop
- Serve with cous cous and flatbreads
- I have no notes other than to say it’s utterly sublime, try it.
This is one of those meals you prepare and it cooks itself in the oven for about an hour, a one pot comfort meal that the whole family can enjoy. It’s economical using turkey steaks and potatoes as the main ingredients, it got thumbs up from the Mr and the kids in our house.
Turkey and potato bake
Turkey and Potato bake
Author: Marianne Weekes
Recipe type: Main
- 400g thinly sliced leeks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 850 ml skimmed milk
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 15g butter
- 1 tbsp English mustard
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 800g thinly sliced potatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 400g turkey steaks cut into strips
- 100g baby spinach leaves
- 50g grated Cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190 C
- Gently fry the leeks and garlic in a little olive oil so they soften and put to one side
- Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the flour, butter, mustard, nutmeg and seasoning to taste and stir continuously over a medium heat until thickened.
- In a casserole dish layer potatoes, leeks, turkey strips and spinach ending with a layer of potatoes on top. Press down.
- Scatter over the cheese and bake with the lid on for 30 minutes
- Remove the lid and bake for another 30 minutes to brown the top
- Make sure you slice your potatoes thinly, if left too thick they won't cook all the way through.
- Can also be made with strips of chicken breast
And a photo of the meal served up
Want to step away from beef, pork and chicken? Well how about turkey my friend? This recipe uses 1 x 500g of turkey mince, it is economical, very tasty and a simple recipe to get ready too. Suitable for all the family too.
[yumprint-recipe id=’6′]and a photo of the turkey meatballs before they go into the oven