There's something about cheese that's comforting. I'm sure there's a scientific reason as to why but unfortunately, I just like to eat it, not study it. Melted cheese on toast or all over chips, a nice mature block on a cracker or blue cheese mixed through hot pasta or a fresh salad. It's all delicious.
It's also easy to prepare. How ever you want to serve it, it's quick and simple. When we got back from New Zealand, we ended up stuck at Heathrow for hoooouuuurs. I was tired and hungry and all I'd had to eat for two days was aeroplane food. So when we finally got home I put a pan of pasta on and made mac and cheese. I was exhausted but it was so totally worth it. Likewise, if you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that my fellow blogger friend from Italy was visiting. When she comes to visit, I don't cook anything Italian because she can have her fill of that at home. So when she left, I really was craving a big bowl of pasta.
When you've been cooking a lot for people or events, sometimes you just want something quick and easy and utterly delicious. Enter mac and cheese. You can add whatever you like to it: bacon, chorizo, mushrooms,... the sky is the limit - so to speak. Everyone makes their mac and cheese their own preferred way. Some people like it runny and in a bowl, some people like it more like a thick pie that you can cut a slice out of. I like mine in between that and it absolutely has to have a crunchy top. It's all about the texture.
People are trying to make mac and cheese fancy nowadays by adding truffle and lobster and other such things to it. That's perfectly fine if you have the patience and the money. As long as you have your basic mac and cheese recipe down to a t, you are sorted. Here is mine.
Macaroni and Cheese
125g plain flour
2 tsp black pepper
600ml whole milk
350g really mature cheddar (you can substitute some of this for gruyere if you like)
60g grated parmesan
40g panko breadcrumbs
400g pasta (I use a mix of conchiglie and "elbow")
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet instructions. Drain it a minute or to before it says in the packet so that the pasta is al dente because it's going to cook in the oven as well.
Melt the butter and brown it a little then mix in the flour. Add the milk and stir until there are no more lumps. Add the pepper and 300g of the cheddar cheese and keep mixing until you have a thick, smooth sauce. It's quite a fast paced stage of the recipe.
Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce and pour it into a deep oven dish like a roasting tin. Mix the rest of the cheddar with the parmesan and the breadcrumbs to make the topping and sprinkle it evenly all over the top. Let none go to waste. Put the dish in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until it's olden and crispy. You will hear it sizzling as it comes out of the oven.