The Best Mac ‘n Cheese

It’s difficult  to give you a recipe for this simply because I have no idea really of the quantities I use for anything in it, it has just become something I do completely by sight. I don’t really think it matters if you don’t want to put in the bacon, the mushrooms or the spring onions, and really the quantities are not that big in proportion to the rest of the dish – after all, this is mac n cheese, not bacon, mushroom & onion pasta. Plain macaroni cheese is still completely brilliant and well loved in this household. Alternatively simply exclude the bacon for a vegetarian dinner. I’d like to tell you this serves four, but to be completely truthful with you, it serves two of us with leftovers. And eating macaroni cheese cold the next day, is a priviledge that is mine alone in the Greedy household. If you wanted uber mac ‘n cheese you could easily top this dish with seasoned breadcrumbs before putting in the oven.

macncheese

  • 500g macaroni
  • 1 quantity of white sauce
  • 100g cheddar, grated
  • 50g parmesan grated
  • 100g streaky bacon, chopped into inch pieces or cubed pancetta
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 spring onions, white only, chopped into 1/2 inch rounds
  • salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to Gas 6. Firstly, cook the pasta in a very large saucepan as per packet instructions, drain and leave covered, to one side. In a shallow pan, fry your bacon pieces, and when it starts to brown, add your sliced mushrooms and spring onions together – the fat in the bacon should ensure you don’t need to add extra fat to fry it off but you could add a teaspoon of butter if it is very dry, if you’ve bought back bacon for instance. Then, make your white sauce and when cooked, turn off the heat and  stir in three quarters of your grated cheese. Combine the pasta, cheese and bacon, mushroom and spring onion mixture in the pan you have cooked the pasta in and then pour into an ovenproof dish Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top. Put in the oven for 20-30 minutes until piping hot the all way through, and brown on top. I think I’m supposed to suggest you serve this with salad or veg, but we never do. Scoff.

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Tagliatelle with Aubergine, Tomato and Mozzarella

Sometimes, only a big plate of pasta will do. You could omit the chilli or the capers if you wanted to. But I wouldn’t. I never used to eat aubergine, imagining I didn’t like it. But I really do.

Serves 2 greedy people.

  • small aubergine (about 300-400g), diced into roughly into half inch cubes -don’t get a ruler out or anything, just not big chunks.
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
  • small glass white wine
  • 75g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 pint passata (although, at a push, a tin of chopped tomatoes will be ok)
  • 1 tbsp torn basil leaves thats about 6 or 7
  • 100g buffalo mozzarella, chopped
  • 25g parmesan cheese, grated plus some for sprinkling
  • salt & pepper
  • 250g tagliatelle.

This is delicious.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Put the aubergine in a large roasting tin, and sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a generous amount of salt and freshly milled pepper. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Heat a large frying pan, and put in another couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put in the chilli and garlic and stir, for a moment or so. Put in the cherry tomatoes, passata, capers, basil and wine. Simmer this gently for ten minutes – don’t worry if the sauce reduces down a touch. In the meantime, cook your pasta – mine took 7 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, put the aubergines and cheeses into the tomato sauce and stir until the cheese is melted (although I wouldn’t want the mozzarella to melt completely) and the sauce has returned to simmering point. Drain the pasta and serve onto a wam plate with the sauce on top.

Creamy, Spicy Sausage Pasta

Comfort food at its best. Not only is this completely delicious, but aside from crumbling a few sausages into a frying pan by hand, there is no work aside from occasional stirring. Within about 15 minutes you have a perfectly lovely heartwarming (and bellywarming) dish and you won’t really even notice you’ve done it. I know it says spicy in the title. Its not hot though, just has a tiny kick to balance the cream. This was inspired by a Nigel Slater dish, once upon a time, but its been so long since I’ve looked at the recipe I can’t honestly say its the same thing anymore. Also, as I don’t weigh or measure anything for this recipe, is fair to say you could tweak a little without anyone really noticing. So, to serve 3 very greedy people:

sausage pasta

  • around 400g good quality pasta – shapes – radioatore, fusilli, or conchiglie. Mine was fusilli.
  • about 500g very best pork sausages. Really the best you can get. This will be rubbish without decent sausages. FREE RANGE pork please.
  • glass of dry white wine
  • small pot of double cream
  • scant tsp of chilli flakes
  • tbsp dijon mustard
  • small handful of basil leaves, torn.

I am assuming that your pasta will be taking 10-12 minutes to cook, so put your pasta on. Put a large frying pan on over a medium heat and just start squeezing the pork out of the sausages into the pan, crumbling it roughly whith your hands as you do. You don’t need to be too precious about this, put be prepared to break up big chunks with a wooden spoon or something. If they’re good sausages, they shouldn’t release too much water, but there likely will be some, so you might want to drain any liquid from the pan as you go if the sausage appears to be steaming rather than browning. When the crumbled sausage is brown in parts, pour in your wine, and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes while you stir the pasta, and probably get yourself another glass of wine, or poke your head round the kitchen door to watch Eastenders. Anyway, after a few minutes of that, stir in your chilli flakes and then your cream. Turn the heat down a touch but not too much and let it bubble away, stirring regularly. Stir in your mustard. I reckon your pasta will be done about now, so, drain it (but don’t drain it until bone dry, a tiny splosh of pasta water is good in any sauce). Chuck the torn basil leaves into the sauce, closely followed by the cooked pasta and give it a very thorough stir. Scoff.

Quickasaflash Spaghetti Carbonara

I genuinely think a lot of people don’t know what Spaghetti Carbonara is. I’ve seen recipes with cream, garlic, white wine, mushrooms, herbs, onion and tomatoes (I mean, tomatoes?) in them. All of these things may be very nice in pasta, but they do not an authentic Carbonara make. If you want to add any of those ingredients, go right ahead, but with few ingredients, only two of which you have to go to the trouble of cooking, this delicious and economical dinner is as quick to shop for as it is to cook. And it is very quick to cook – as fast as your spaghetti, essentially. Fast Food. I make a LOT of this pasta, for two because I am very greedy. You could cut this down to maybe 80-100g spaghetti per person if you are a person of normal appetite.

  • 250g spaghetti
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 150g pancetta
  • 40g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • splash olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Put some water in a large saucepan and bring it to the boil. Add the salt and when it comes back to the boil, add your pasta. Cook to packet intructions. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan and add your dash of olive oil. When it’s hot, add your pancetta and cook it for about 6-8 minutes until it’s nice and brown and crispy. Turn off the heat. Put your eggs in a bowl and beat with the cheese and the pepper. If it’s very thick, you can add a tablespoon of water, but don’t worry too much. When the pasta is cooked, put the pancetta back on the heat and drain the spaghetti in a colander,(but don’t drain it completely dry) and toss it into the hot pan with the pancetta until its completely mixed. Turn off the heat, pour the egg mixture all over the pasta and very quickly and very thoroughly mix the egg mixture into the pasta and bacon. Whatever you think is going on, do not turn the heat back on, or stir it over the heat, because you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. You don’t want that. Just believe the heat of the pasta and the heat of the pan is going to do its job, and it will. Soon you’ll have a nice, thick, clingy sauce. Scoff.

Mushroom Lasagne

Apparently, there are people out there, who don’t like mushrooms. I can imagine few things as inoffensive myself, and mushrooms don’t lack potential if you think about working to their strengths. The only type of mushroom that I don’t have any room for is the anaemic white button but I’m sure if pushed I could find a use for them too. I don’t know if its the time if year, but its not particularly to find wild mushrooms around here at the moment, so I used some dried porcini in this along with chestnut, ‘exotic’ and flat field mushrooms. All available from the supermarket. I know this might sound like a fair few mushrooms, but believe me, this amount will reduce down to very little and you don’t need to buy the combination of mushrooms that I’ve suggested, but don’t get any less in weight. You can add more garlic if you want to, but I didn’t want overpowering, just background. Serves 4.

For the mushroom filling:

  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 150g flat field mushrooms, chopped
  • 200g exotic mushrooms, sliced
  • handful of dried porcini, rehydrated as per instructions
  • one clove of garlic, crushed
  • half a large onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • shake of worcestershire sauce
  • sprig of fresh thyme
  • olive oil

In a large pan with a lid, pour in a good splosh of olive oil, add your onion, garlic and thyme, salt & pepper and cook over a medium-low heat, lid on, but stirring regularly until the onions are golden and completely softened. Then a handful at a time, add the chopped mushrooms, mixing thoroughly after each addition until the mushrooms are thoroughly mixed with everything else. Turn the heat up a smidge and start to cook the mushrooms, stirring briskly, until they start to break down and release their water. If the mixture seems very dry, you can add some more olive oil but very soon, the mushrooms should be softening and releasing their juices. You want to cook the mushrooms down for about 30 minutes over a low heat, until the mushrooms have shrunk right down and the pan is dry of the juices. Set to one side.

To assemble the lasagne:

  • 1 quantity of white sauce (I don’t have my own recipe, after making it by sight for 17 odd years. Can’t beat Delia for the basics though)
  • packet of lasagne sheets
  • 150g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 100g strong cheddar, grated
  • quantity of mushroom filling

Preheat oven to gas 5. For me, lasagne is all about the pasta, so I always make lots of thinner layers rather than a couple of big ones. Divide the mushrooms roughly into 4 equal quantities. Put a little white sauce into the bottom of a lasagne pan and place on your first layer of pasta. On top of this, put on your first bit of mushroom filling,  about a  fifth of the cheese and an approxmate fifth of white sauce. Add another layer of pasta and repeat the process until you’ve used your mushrooms. Put on a final layer of lasagne, top with the remaining white sauce and finish off with grated cheese.   Put the lasagne in the oven and cook it for 30-40 minutes. Goes nicely with green veg. Scoff.