Another Way to Serve Macaroni Cheese...

....Or this weeks Presto Pasta entry.

I have yet to meet someone who dislikes Macaroni Cheese. However, it can be a little bland, a little too sloppy, a little too dry, not enough cheese etc.
My husband makes a great Mac and Cheese, which I allude entirely to his secret cheese sauce recipe. I know his secret ingredient but I’m not spilling the beans....yet.
When I make Macaroni Cheese, I am never quite satisfied with the results, so I am on a permanent perfect pasta quest. Luckily there is lots of inspiration available online, through other food bloggers and in cookbooks. It would appear that Mac and Cheese captures our imagination in a way that can only be rivalled by Hamburgers.
My mum recalls a story about when I was very young. She would feed me macaroni cheese and I would suck all the sauce from the tubes which I would then feed to our black Labrador, Monty.
This isn’t the only Macaroni Cheese (from here onwards referred to as MC) story. Another time, my cousin Stuart poured a whole container of salt onto my MC and dared me to eat it. Bravely or stupidly (I favour the latter), I ate quite a substantial amount and then promptly regurgitated it, Linda Blair style.
Fortunately for those around me, my table manners have improved considerably, as has my intake of salt, but I still love the soft, gentle creaminess of MC. It is one of the first ‘solid' foods that many of us eat, along with sweetcorn, and for this reason I think we hold it close to our hearts – and even closer to our stomachs. Our first baby steps towards eating true, grown up foods.

Whilst surfing the UKTVFood website looking for ways to use up my cauliflower (and here's what I did with the rest of it), I came across this recipe for a posh version of MC. Now, this seems to me to be a contradiction in terms. Of all things, MC is not posh. It is homely, cosy, comforting, simple...but it is not posh or sophisticated or edgy.

However, there was something in the recipe that grabbed me. It wasn't that it was served in filo cups - pointless and frou frou. Nor was it the final sprinkling of chilli and coriander - seems like an afterthought to me. In fact it was the simple addition of some boiled cauliflower and a non-roux based sauce that won my heart. I had very few of the ingredients required so I reworked the whole dish, and stealing inspiration from Ina Garten's recipe for Chicken with Biscuits, used up some homemade puff pastry ("What??? You made homemade puff pastry? Why haven't we been informed of this development in your ongoing cooking skills?" All in good time is all I have to say right now) and came up with this Macaroni Cheese with Cauliflower and Puff Pastry. (Oh, and I do realise that biscuits aren't made with puff pastry - it's a visual thing).

It is a great way to use up any leftover cauliflower (and you could use other vegetables too, carrots, broccoli, green beans), scraps of pastry (which I always freeze for occasions such as this) and if you find you don't quite have enough pasta. In fact, I used small and large Macaroni tubes. Furthermore, the original recipe requires a melting cheese like Gruyere as the base for the sauce, I completely ignored this and used dried up nub ends of Cheddar, White Leicester and some Parmesan. I would think that you could use almost any combination of cheeses, or even stir in some cream cheese to make it extra unctuous.
So, if you find yourself stuck with all the above ingredients and nowhere to go, try this:

MACARONI CHEESE WITH CAULIFLOWER AND PUFF PASTRY - serves 2-4 (depending on if you serve extra veg with it)
Ingredients:

300g Macaroni or similar tube pasta, cooked as per packet instructions, drained
100g Cauliflower, cooked, drained
150g Grated Cheese which a good melting texture, any combination, Gruyere, Cheddar, White Leicester, Emmental, Edam, etc. Blue cheese would be fabulous too!
50g Grated Parmesan
6 Egg Yolks (freeze the egg whites for meringue)
Some Scraps of Puff Pastry (of course, frozen is fine) or Shortcrust Pastry (optional)
Worcestershire Sauce
Cayenne Pepper
Salt, Pepper
Squeeze Fresh Lemon Juice
METHOD:
Preheat oven to 180c.
If your pasta and cauliflower isn't leftovers, cook it all together in a large pan with plenty of salted water, until al dente.
In a large saucepan over very gentle heat, whisk together the egg yolks and cheeses until melted together (don't do as I did and place the eggs over a high heat because the hot plate doesn't cool down quickly enough and end up with partially cooked egg yolks before the cheese has even touched it. Don't worry, I just about managed to bring it back again, with lots of frantic whisking). If you find that the sauce seems to be a bit lumpy, add some milk or cream to thin it down slightly and make it smoother.
Add a dash of Worcestershire Sauce, Salt, Pepper and Cayenne Pepper to taste.
Add the cauliflower and macaroni to the sauce, mix well and pour into a ovenproof dish.
Roll out the pastry and cut out large circles to resemble biscuits. I thought afterwards that it would be cute to do little star cut-outs too but it was too late at this point.
Sprinkle over some grated Parmesan and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden.
Serve with some green vegetables and enjoy!

35 comments:

Lydia said...

Oh boy, I'm not sure I can get my head around this newfangled mac and cheese! I admit I'm a bit of a purist, though I do like to incorporate small bits of whatever cheese are sitting in the fridge.

Cheryl said...

Now that is some original mac and cheese. I would have never thought of cauliflower. I would eat it in a heartbeat.

Jerry said...

I usually add broccoli to my Mac&cheese, as I think that broccoli and cheese is one of the ultimate combinations, and my wife agrees.

Now if I can get our son to agree in a few months when he's old enough for it, I'll be happy!

Pille said...

Such a neat idea to combine mac&cheese and cauliflower cheese:)

Aimée said...

Ohhh, this looks good! Writing from a household of 'sickies', I can safely say that some comfort food is an order. Thanks for this!

thepassionatecook said...

Hi Freya, I made macaroni cheese for the first time last week (blog entry to follow soon)... i followed a recipe by an Austrian chef in NY and it turned out very nice. the additio n of cauliflower and puff pastry is very unexpected, though - but who am i to judge, being a MC virgin!

millufe said...

Thank you for coming my blog! This looks so delicious. i've never had mac & cheese, but all of ingredients are my favorite. i will try it!

pom d'api said...

As always, delicious and beautiful !!! I love this dish

Deborah said...

I have been on a mac and cheese kick lately - another recipe to try out!!

Rose said...

Waouuu! I don't think I can handle that much carbs but it sure looks cheeeeeeesy wich is the secret of a good mac and cheese.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Now MC & cauliflower, that sounds great! But I'll have to go without the puff stuff, just sounds to strange.
Sure looks good!

Brilynn said...

Ooooh homemade puff pastry on top! What kind of crazy person makes their own puff pastry? ;)

Anonymous said...

Ooo, I love the addition of puff pastry to your version of mac & cheese!!

Ari (Baking and Books)

wheresmymind said...

Takes a lot for me to eat the White Devil Flower (CAULIFLOWER)

Anonymous said...

Grew up on my mom's made from scratch Mac and Cheese but Kraft has sure ruined my personal home made adventures into MC. I think I better start trying to make it from scratch after reading your blog Freya, signed mother across the sea

veron said...

You are right, who doesn't like mac and cheese. Your recipe is another way for me to get my veggies in too.

Joyce said...

Wonderful, but a heart attack waiting to happen! 6 egg yolks???? plus the cheese? Bet it was fantastic on the tongue!
The puff pastry makes a lovely topping,too.

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Sounds delicious, my son loves mac and cheese but hates cauliflower, I must try to make it... maybe he will start liking cauliflowers (!)

Great site, would love to exchange links with you.

Greetings from London,

Margot

katiez said...

A use for those puff pastry scraps in my freezer....that they happen to go on MC is all the better - All I have to get is the cheese, cauliflower and macaroni - but, hey, anything to salvage those scraps....

Susan said...

Hmmmmm. Not so strange, really. Like a mac and cheese pot pie. My husband tops his recipe with a ton of buttered breadcrumbs, so there's the starch-on-starch happening for us, too. Bet it would also be good seasoned with British-style curry powder.

kellypea said...

Wow, Freya, you have really been busy! I need to get my rear in gear. It just so happens I have some puff pastry left over...hahahaha.

We're mac-a-cheese lovers so this would go down very nicely -- YUM!

Kelly-Jane said...

I read this and made a trad mac cheese for supper. If I'd had any cauliflower I'd have added it, next time!

christine (myplateoryours) said...

I'm on the same wavelength as Susan -- looked at this and said "mac 'n cheese pot pie!" And I LOVE pot pie.

The TriniGourmet said...

wow cauliflower AND puff pastry? :) how decadent! i wish i was there to try it :D

Lucy said...

I love carbohydrates, and I'm not afraid to say it.

The puff pastry discs are a great idea - a crispy, textural difference to all that creamy pasta. Good on you for making it youself. It's not hard, is it? And it tastes so much better than bought.

Cynthia said...

oooooo-K, this is new but I trust you and Paul so I am going to go ahead and say, this is new, different, interesting and will definitely taste good and offer wonderful textural quality :)

T.W. Barritt said...

Mac and Cheese AND puff pastry???!!! It's a culinary epiphany and I love it!

Little Foodie said...

Well, I'm always saying I could eat pastry with everything. Fingers crossed you have good weather for the Ballyhoo this weekend.

sher said...

It looks wonderful to me. I adore mac & cheese and this has me very intriqued!

Jeanne said...

What a cool idea! I probably haven't had mac 'n cheese in almost 10 years. The last person who made it for me regularly was a good friend's late mom, but it was always undersalted, undercheesed and overstodged - so I made an informed decision no longer to eat or make it! My used to make a nice one with loads of cheddar cheese and fresh tomatoes for colour and that all-important scurvy prevention... Yours looks like a dream - kind of like how all good M&Cs want to be reincarnated when they die ;-)

Kirsten said...

Ohhh yum! Any variations on MC are good for me. :)

The story about your cousin and the salt is hilarious!

Ruth Daniels said...

Freya, I'm not sure why I don't receive your fantastic posts. But I will be including this wonderful mac & cheese to this week's Presto Pasta Night Roundup.

Ulrike said...

I made a McCheese variation from my favourite chef Gary Rhodes Maccaroni and cauliflower with four cheeses. I like the idea adding puff pastry

Kristen said...

This is such a different recipe and I bet it is fabulous!

Lassie said...

I actually come form the UK and live in the USA. I used to have (more than once per week) macaroni and cheese with cauliflower!
It was our staple diet. If we weren't having "mince" n tatties, or a stew, it was this meal.
Ever since then, I have loved it all those years!
It's a great meal!
Also, throw some garlic cheesy toast under the grill...and a there is a great meal...:)