Welcome to our first ever Cookery Corner! I will be taking the first recipe, showing off the meal I made for my fellow Gaveller, Alison, my husband, Tony and my two children. My kids are pretty good with food; my son is 10 months old and as long as he’s hungry he’ll eat most anything, my daughter is 3 and a half and so sometimes decides she just doesn’t want to eat the thing she’s happily eaten for years tonight, no sirree! Both of them ate this meal, plus Alison and Tony scoffed it too, so I declare this a winner of a meal!
So, onto the actual food. The mum in the recipe title is not mine. My mum tells me that when she was pregnant with me she was addicted to macaroni cheese, but she’s never been fond of any sort of pasta so its not one my sister and I grew up with. In fact I had never eaten mac’n'cheese before this meal. A truly monumental occasion. When Alison and I decided to expand to add cooking (and baking, two things we both love to do) to our blog I decided to choose a recipe book to use throughout the year. I have millions of the things you see, many of which I rarely ever use. The book I chose to use is brilliant for this purpose as it’s divided into months of the year. The macaroni cheese is credited to Lotte Duncan, who in turn credits it to her mum, hence the title. The book I will be using this year (although I will dip in and out of others, too) is Lotte’s Country Kitchen. I used to work with Lotte’s neighbour and they have since gone into business together opening a gorgeous cafe where my daughter is particularly partial to their “yellow cakes”. If you ever find yourselves in Chinnor look them up here Lotte’s Kitchen .
So to the recipe:
40g/1 1/2oz butter
4 tablespoons plain flour
570ml/1 pint semi-skimmed milk
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon English mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
200g/7 oz Cheddar cheese, grated
50g/2oz Gruyère cheese, grated
salt and pepper
I was a little intimidated by the types of mustard and the Worcestershire sauce. I have always thought I’m not a fan of mustard or the W. sauce, although I have no idea where this came from. Could be I tried them as a child and didn’t like them, or could even be that I was just told as a child I wouldn’t like them. Whatever the reason I didn’t think I liked them and was worried that I wouldn’t like the recipe. Nevertheless I trusted Lotte’s recipe or Lotte’s mum’s recipe so I charged on ahead.
It’s a simply put together dish; cook the macaroni (instructions will be on the packet no doubt, but its the same as any other pasta) then make a cheese sauce which is where the milk, flour and cheese comes in of course. I’ve made cheese sauces for lasagnas before so this was no different: melt the butter, stir in the flour to make a paste, then add the milk until it thickens. At this point, add the cheese (although always keep some back to scatter on top of whatever the cheese sauce is for).
The difference with this cheese sauce was that I mixed the nutmeg, two types of mustard and W. sauce together in a small dish and then stirred the (disgusting looking and strong smelling) combination into the cheesy concoction. Lotte doesn’t mention in her book to mix them first, she simply instructs to add them, so you probably don’t have to mix them first.
The final stage of putting the dish together is to stir the pasta into the sauce. I also cooked some bacon to layer on top; Lotte mentions this in the recipe although bacon isn’t on the list of ingredients. She also mentions tomatoes, but I am personally not a huge fan, so omitted those. I feel pretty confident in say whatever you choose to put on top of this dish will be tasty!
The dish is baked in an oven at 180 degrees/gas mark 6 for 20 minutes until it goes that beautiful colour of perfectly cooked cheese!
I admit here that I had put aside some Cheddar to sprinkle on top and completely forgot until I was dishing up. Not one to waste good cheese I bunged it on top of the hot food and it melted nicely! I served the macaroni cheese with garlic bread and a green leaf salad.
Everyone declared it delicious and I discovered that while mustard probably won’t make it onto my plate in its natural form, I will gladly use it in recipes. And as for Worcestershire sauce? Where have you been all my life, you yummy thing, you?
…probably in Worcestershire…