You will probably find my first Meatfree Monday post rather boring . . . delicious, of course . . . but boring nonetheless. I haven't had a time to go to the shops yet for this week's shopping so it's something I have pulled together using ingredients I have on hand.
This recipe is as old as the hills, hailing from a day and time when every Monday was Wash Day and women needed something quick and easy and that could basically take care of itself in the oven whilst they did the week's washing for the family.
This may be simple and plain, but it is filled with flavour. It's economical and easy to put together. The hardest part is probably making the bechamel . . . and anyone can do that, just so long as they remember the two rules of bechamel.
- Don't be in a hurry and try to cook it over too high a heat. Medium-low heat and patience is the key
- Whisk, whisk, and whisk some more. Whisk it constantly until it thickens. Don't turn your back on it for an instant. It's a sureity it will catch the second you take your eyes off of it!
Cooking marcaroni is likewise very simple. Just follow the package directions and stir it occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick together. Also be sure to add it to the water, only after it comes to the boil and keep it at a slow boil the whole time it is cooking.
I always use good quality Italian chopped tomatoes in tomato juice for this. Lotsa, lotsa good tomato flavour.
Likewise you will want to use a good and flavourful cheese. Today I used a mixture of the cheeses I had leftover from our trip up to Cumbria, the Flakebridge and the Eden Chieftan, but any good and flavourful cheddar will do.
The rest is just cooking magic. Totally delicious this is. I could eat it every day, no kidding. (All you need is a tasty mixed salad on the side and some crusty bread to sop up all of that tasty sauce!)
*Wash Day Macaroni and Cheese*
Plain and simple needn't mean that something isn't tasty. This is absolutely delicious!
2 TBS butter
2 TBS plain flour
12 fluid ounces milk (1 1/2 cups)
salt and ground white pepper to taste
6 ounces dry macaroni (1 cup)
1 (415g) tin of chopped tomatoes in juice (15 ounce tin)
1 stalk celery chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
6 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed and divided (1 1/2 cups)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook and stir for one minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook and stir until thickened. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a shallow casserole dish. Set aside.
Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain well. Stir in the tomatoes, onion, celery and half the cheese. Add the sauce and toss to mix. Pour into the prrepared baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and some crushed croutons.
Bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly and lightly browned on top. Delicious!
Just in time for all that entertaining we'll be doing over the next couple of months with Bonfire Night and then Christmas, the people at Branstons have come out with some tasty new snacks! Branston Peanuts and Crackers are a delightfully tasty mixture of Branston's smooth pickle flavoured oven baked peanuts mixture together with savoury cheese flavoured crackers. Perfect as a nibble with drinks, these would be a great entertaining nibble during the holiday season. I highly recommend keeping a few bags in the cupboard just to put out when unexpected company drop by as well. I really enjoyed them. They were just the right combination of tang, crunch and salty moreishness. Many thanks to the people at TurnKey and Branstons for sending me some to try out! (Branstons and Cheese the perfect combination!)
Over in The Cottage today there's a delicious Blackberry Pie with Streusel Topping.