Comfort Nosh

The weather has been truly abysmal the last few days. I’m a huge fan of Winter… when the weather behaves, and we have clear, crisp days (like today in sunny Portsmouth) or deep snow when we have nowhere to be. However, incessant rain, mud, gales and general horribleness that is driving me most of the way towards hibernation can go away, quite frankly. If Christmas wasn’t just around the bend, I’d be campaigning for spring already.

In the meantime, comfort food is the order of the day, and if you can sneak some green stuff into it, all the better. One wouldn’t wish to get scurvy in one’s bear den, would one?

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Macaroni and Cheese is my ultimate comfort food. It’s vegetarian, pescatarian, polloterian and omnivore friendly (sorry vegans and the lactose intolerant- I just really like cheese) so a mostly safefood if you have discerning guests, easy peasy to make, satisfying in that you can make the whole lot from scratch (and I do), and so tasty it’s easy to accent it with vegetables to pretend its healthy. I tend to go for peas and sweetcorn, because no prep of them is required and I’m inherently lazy, but broccoli, green beans and/or peppers fit the bill too… ok, now I’m hungry.

Everyone has a different recipe- some like it with a crust, some don’t; some prefer certain spices in their cheese sauce, some don’t; some are toffs when it comes to the cheese content, and some, such as myself, just grab what’s available.

Mac n’ Chee

  • 1 pint milk
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50 grams butter
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Black pepper to taste
  • up to 200-250g cheese (Cheddar, parmesan, gouda… pick your poison)
  • 200g Macaroni
  • Frozen peas and sweetcorn (about a mug/cup of each)
  • Optional: Grated parmesan

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Pop your macaroni on to boil while you make your cheese sauce.

In a milk pan, create a roux with the flour and butter. To do that, add your butter and then your flour in quick succession, and stir as the butter melts into a paste.

Add your milk, little by little, whisking as you go to try and avoid lumps. I wouldn’t be too anal about it though, as they won’t be obvious in the final concoction.

Once all the milk is in, add your spices and keep stirring as the sauce thickens. This can take a little while depending on the shape of your pan, so be patient. As soon as the sauce is good and thick, take it off the heat.

Stir in your grated cheese- the ambient heat will melt it into the sauce. I like my sauce REALLY cheesy, so I usually use at least 180-200g of cheese, but depending on how flavoursome you like it, or the cheese you use, you can use less.

Strain your macaroni, and add it to your oven dish. Next combine it with your vegetables.

Add your cheesy sauce and mix through until all the ingredients are coated with gooey goodness. For extra cheesiness, you can now add any grated cheese you didn’t put in the sauce to the top of the mixture. Otherwise, you can top it with a generous crust of parmesan, or leave it simply as it is.

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Bake in a preheated over at 190 for 35 -45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes. When done, let stand for a couple of minutes, then serve generously, and duly scoff, ideally with at least ONE other person, as this serves four…

You can shake up this recipe in all sorts of ways. Add bacon to give it a carbonara twist, and tinned tuna and broccoli make a great combo with the cheesy sauce. Seriously, make this little beauty your own.

And tell me how you get on, yes?

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