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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Macaroni & Cheese with a Twist

Mac & Cheese is one of those favorites that will always be made in kitchens across the globe. I did not have a lot of time for cooking when I made the dish the first time, but it was so popular that I've had to make it countless times since. What is the twist? I add veggies and then I do a little something with the sauces. Read on and I'll explain exactly how to make this fab dish that is brilliant for serving vegetarians as well.

Although I make the dishes separately in the blog, in reality this is all happening at once. Set your oven to 180 degrees Celsius to preheat it.

The Macaroni
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add some salt (about 1 teaspoon). Some people add oil to the water as well, but I only do this if I seem to working with a very clingy pasta. Add 500 g of pasta to the rapidly boiling water. Do NOT cover with a lid. Stir every so often. Cook on high.

Cooking time is approximately 10 minutes. Strain the pasta when done.

Spread the pasta in a flat deep baking dish. This needs to be quite big. If you are living alone, or don't have large family, I suggest you make the same quantity, but put it in different foil containers. Do not bake at the end, but cool it down and freeze for later use. When ready, defrost and bake at 180 degrees Celcius for an hour.

The Cheese Sauce
Add approximately 1 L of milk to a pot.

Add more or less 100 g butter to the pot. I prefer real butter, but feel free to swap with Margarine if you do not have butter in the home.

Add a teaspoon of salt.

Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. I used approximately 1 teaspoonful.

Add approximately a dessertspoon crushed garlic. It is best if you crush it yourself, but add pre-crushed garlic which you can keep in the fridge with great success.

Crumble between 100-150 g Feta Cheese into the pot. Put the pot on the stove top on high. Bring it to boil. Stir occasionally to make sure the butter and cheese melts properly.

Add a decent helping of flour to a bowl. I used about a cup. I will only use half of this in the cheese sauce. The rest will be used in the tomato broth.

Add cold water to the flour and whisk until all the lumps are dissolved.

Add half the flour mixture to the cheese sauce once it is boiling rapidly. Remove from the stove top and stir quickly. (If you leave the pot on the stove the bubbling mix may burn you as it is likely to spatter.)

Empty the cheese sauce over the macaroni.

Mix the cheese sauce thoroughly with the macaroni.

The Vegetables
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add 1 kg of Mixed Vegetables and a teaspoon of salt. I prefer to use fresh veggies, but I don't always have time to do that and for this recipe I often use frozen veggies as I make it on the fly.

Add about a teaspoonful of this lovely spice mix, called Rosemary and Garlic. If you do not have this in the house, add fresh rosemary and crushed garlic. This is simply to add some flavor to the veggies in the cooking process. If you do not add anything it will not be the worst thing since the dish has enough strong flavors to carry it.

Cook the veggies to a firm but slightly soft point. Drain the water and spread the veggies evenly over the pasta. Do NOT mix it with the pasta; it is layered on top.

The Tomato Broth
Chop a medium sized onion. Heat some oil in pan and fry the oven to golden brown. Fried onion brings a flavor to the dish that can not be mimicked by any onion in the tins that I add.

Put the onion in  a cooking pot and add a tin of Chakalaka (especially the type with the sweetcorn) as well as a tin of Tomato & Onion Mix. Again, this can be made from scratch if you have the time to do so. If you like your food very strong, you can add two tins of Chakalaka. My family doesn't and so I tone it down with the tomato and onion mix. The milk and cheese in the dish will assist in taming the chilies even further. Bring the mix to the boil.

Thicken the tomato broth with the other half of your flour mixture once it is boiling.

Remove from the heat and stir quickly to prevent lumps from forming.

Pour the tomato broth over the vegetables and spread it evenly.

Cover the dish in a thick layer of grated cheddar cheese. I keep grated cheese ready in the freezer and you can see the ice on my cheese. This will evaporate without adversely effecting the dish.

Bake for about an hour at 180 degrees Celsius. Enjoy! Let me know how your family liked this dish.

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