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Back on Track? Macaroni Cheese from Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat

2010 June 20
by Reemski

The cooking caper, and more particularly attempting to cook a recipe from every one of my cook books, seems to be back on track with my enforced time at home. The bung knee has really limited my ability to get out and about, especially since my Physiotherapist has demanded that I only walk for 15 minutes at a time. The joy in this is that I’m spending less money (though my boyfriend disagrees) and spending more time at home cooking and resting.

Recently, Zoe from Progressive Dinner Party tweeted about Eat Your Books, a nifty service that lists recipes within cookbooks and sticks them online so you can search your recipes.  Ok, so think about this: it lists the recipes from your cookbooks online so you can search them. Just the week before I saw Zoe’s tweet I’d been thinking that this very concept would be so useful. At work when trying to figure out what’s for dinner, knowing that you have specific ingredients to use up, or like me in this instance, looking for a recipe for a specific dish and wanting to find the variations. This service quickly opened up my cookbooks for me in a way that was not possible before, so I quickly laid out my US$50 life membership. Now a caveat: not all the Aussie books are online, but of my approximately 100 cookbooks, 72 of them are. Enough to make it very worth my while.

Macaroni Cheese. You know I’d never eaten it prior to this particular day? Probably more to do with the fact that my parents, coming from the Middle East, had never encountered it in this form [also same with brussel sprouts, I’ve only ever had them as an adult and LOVE them], rather the closest I’d ever got to it is the pastitsio/pasticcio that is common in the Mediterranean and rather than being cheesy [I don’t think there is any cheese at all in the versions I’ve eaten as a child], is much heartier with the addition of meat.

So when I tweeted about the lack of macaroni cheese in my life I got some hilarious responses, from the haters to the lovers, to the gourmands and those that believe in the power of the packet Mac’n’cheese, and everything in between. I also scored some recipes, but thought for my first time, I should find the simplest recipe I could and start from there. I hit Eat Your Books and was rewarded with 3 recipes: one by Jamie Oliver with 4 kinds of cheese, one by Maggie Beer with pumpkin, verjuice and goat’s cheese, and Nigella’s super simple recipe, which is what I chose for my introduction.

I’m not going to spell out the recipe as it’s just a basic bechamel, with a touch of cayenne, and a pile of cheese, mixed through the macaroni, and topped with breadcrumbs and more cheese, then baked or grilled till the top is brown. Très simple.

What did I think? Oh my god, yum!  And so decadent in it’s simplicity. Oh my god yum. Uugghh, tummyache….

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25 Responses leave one →
  1. June 20, 2010

    Wow! I saw Zoe’s tweet about Eat Your Books and your follow ups, but until reading this I couldn’t quite put together how it worked. Wow, again! This is something I’ve been dreaming of. 50 bucks for a life membership seems reasonable, too.

    As for the mac’n’cheese… that looks sensational. I haven’t ever had it, either, which is odd given that I’m firmly in the demographic! It does seem like perfect comfort food, so I’d better have a bash at it.

    Glad to hear your knee is improving!
    Injera´s last post..Simply Baking – simply vanished!

  2. June 20, 2010

    Good lord woman! that looks so good I want to lick the screen! Yum! I like the idea of this cookbook service…must check it out!
    Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul´s last post..Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake

  3. June 20, 2010

    I’ve only made/ eaten it once, when I was in yr 7 for Home Economics class, LOL. After hearing about how good yours was, I think that I should try it again…

  4. Amy @ cookbookmaniac permalink
    June 20, 2010

    ‘Eat your books’ looks like I would get a lot of use out of that site. I have so many cookbooks, the floor is now my bookshelf. haha. My appreciation for mac n cheese only evolved recently too. Growing up with mostly chinese/vietnamese food I am loving the trashy : )

  5. teacoffeetea permalink
    June 20, 2010

    Oh my, oh my!! Yum!!!! I need to make this as soon as possible. I’ve kind of had mac and cheese, I think. My childhood favourite and now such a comfort food was my mum’s ‘noodles, bacon, cheese and onion’. It is not exactly gourmet, but made with shell pasta (very important as sometimes the cheese and bacon fill up the shell and you get a perfect burst of goodness!), Kraft Singles (yep!), bacon and onion. Hence the name of the dish. I’ve tried to fancy it up over the years, but the original recipe gets me everytime. Ok. I’ve got to go now and fry up some bacon!

  6. June 20, 2010

    YUMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!! I made Katie and Kates mac and cheese with 4 kinds of cheese once. We nearly died of awesome and cholesterol poisoning. That’s my ultimate way to go.
    felixexplody´s last post..Feed Me Friday

  7. June 20, 2010

    hot damn now i need me some mac n cheese!
    chocolatesuze´s last post..Chocolatesuze on the Kit Kat Desk Jockey Show [21]

  8. drnaomi (Dr Sister Outlaw) permalink
    June 20, 2010

    You did good choosing the basic recipe. I mean, four cheeses would be nice and all, but basic is the best.

    Cannot for the life of me think why you would sully perfectly good macaroni cheese with verjuice and pumpkin!

  9. June 20, 2010

    @DrNaomi Neither can I…I didn’t even bother looking at that recipe…too hard and I thought Mac’n’cheese was meant to be easy peasy comfort food

  10. June 20, 2010

    Thanks so much for the Eat Your Books link – I had never heard of it, but know that I need it!
    It’s difficult to beat such simple comfort food as Mac and Cheese – but not the box kind with it’s very unnatural colour!
    Also – I personally see no reason for the words ‘love’ and ‘brussel sprouts’ to be in the same sentence!!
    Amanda´s last post..Australian garlic vs imported garlic – what’s the difference?

  11. June 20, 2010

    Great post! The Eat Your Books idea is certainly better than the ol’ spreadsheet I was thinking of.
    OohLookBel´s last post..Another sausage shortcut: Italian Sausage Ragu

  12. June 20, 2010

    Total comfort food. I bet your knee felt better too! 😉
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella´s last post..Naschmarkt & Restaurant Palmery, Vienna, Austria

  13. June 21, 2010

    Perfect for this weather! Comfort on a plate 🙂

  14. June 21, 2010

    oh mac n cheese would have to be one of my favourite comfort meals!!!!

  15. bec permalink
    June 21, 2010

    oh – I did not realise originally that the $50USD was lifetime membership … this I may now consider.

    Great work on the mac&cheese … looks & sounds delicious. An extra crunchy topping I’ve found in the past is to use panko breadcrumbs


  16. June 21, 2010

    That dish looks so sinfully indulgent – cheesy, creamy, crunchy.. Mmm. No wonder the Americans love it so much!
    Forager´s last post..David Thompson’s easy tom yum goong

  17. June 22, 2010

    Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.

    Although last year in the States I did have a lobster mac’n’cheese that was to die for…..
    Joanne @ secondhelping´s last post..International Noodles Incident Party ~ Noodle Kugels

  18. June 22, 2010

    Oh no… I’ve never eaten mac and cheese either… don’t encourage me to try unhealthy tasty foods that I may get addicted too! Naughty!

    Your saucepan/casserole dish looks awesome!

  19. June 23, 2010

    Yum! I love macaroni cheese but haven’t had it since the kids were little – must make it again.I reckon one cheese is enough, but you need a good sharp cheddar type and I certainly wouldn’t bother with verjuice and pumpkin, although do admit to adding peas and corn when I was feeding the children. Actually, come to think of it, if you add the peas and corn and large can of good drained tuna, you have a good old fashioned tuna mornay! More Yum!
    I know what we hare having for dinner now!

  20. June 23, 2010

    Oh, man. Why did I decide to read this today, when I’m hungover? It’s all I want to eat! COMFORT FOOOOOOOOOOD!

  21. June 27, 2010

    Oh lordy, it’s been too long between mac n cheese. There’s nothing a good mac & cheese can’t fix. Glad you got to try this naughty Nigella dish 🙂

  22. June 27, 2010

    oh my god BOOKMARKING. I feel a very strong urge to go and make this immediately. Actually, might just do that. Thanks, Reem!
    Inner Pickle´s last post..well hello-

  23. June 30, 2010

    Injera – I cannot believe you have not tasted mac n cheese it is the ultimate in comfort food.

    Reemski – I think keeping it simple is best however I do add mustard to my bechamel sauce just to give it a bit of twang
    reality raver´s last post..More Stuff On Masterchef Australia

  24. Da Boyfriend permalink
    July 4, 2010

    Da boyfriend approves of this post…

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