What I'm cooking and eating

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Macaroni cheese revisited

Macaroni cheese is, of course, infinitely variable, but this particular casserole has a couple of new things.  First of all, I discovered that home-made spaetzle should really be kneaded for several minutes, and this certainly does improve their texture and the length of the finished product in my noodle maker.

Secondly, I decided to try Amuse your Bouche's crispy garlic breadcrumbs instead of my normal breadcrumb-and-cheese topping; the first time I tried to make these they were a disaster, but, but I realised that if I made the bread into breadcrumbs first, it would work rather better.   It did!

Thirdly, I used a tin of tomatoes instead of the normal béchamel - I used to do this a lot in the past, but haven't done it with leeks before.

So:

The noodles:

1 cup (roughly 250 ml by volume) plain flour
1 egg
Salt, pepper and mustard to taste
Enough water to make a stiffish dough.

Knead the above - ideally using dough hooks on a stand mixer - for several minutes, until it is really smooth and stretchy.  Press through a noodle-maker into boiling salted water; bring back to the boil, then drain, and rinse the noodles in cold water until they are cold (this helps set them).

The main event:

1 leek, chopped
About 1/4 small pumpkin or butternut squash, diced
c 20g butter
c 1 tbs plain flour
1 tin tomatoes
Seasonings - salt, pepper, mustard, maybe sweet paprika
Several handfuls grated cheese

Cook the leek and pumpkin (or any other vegetable you fancy) in the butter until no longer raw; using a blender, whizz the flour with the tin of tomatoes and pour the result on to the vegetables; bring to the boil and add the noodles and grated cheese.  Smooth the surface, and top with: crispy garlic breadcrumbs (see recipe here).  Bake at Mark 5 for about 45 minutes, until the breadcrumbs really are crispy.

Edited to add: I was not totally convinced by this.  The garlic breadcrumbs were wonderful, a great addition to the repertoire, but I think with a tomato sauce I do prefer onions to leeks, and I'm not sure the home-made noodles showed to best advantage like this.  Maybe commercial pasta would have been better (the dried kind - one can buy fresh spaetzle anywhere on the Continent, but not in this country as yet).  The pumpkin worked well, though.

2 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed my garlicky breadcrumbs! :) I'm very impressed with your homemade spaetzle - something I'm yet to try.

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    1. Your garlic breadcrumbs are lush! As for the spaetzle, don't you make noodles by rolling out the dough, rolling it up, and cutting into strips, which is quite beyond me - I'd get cross and sweaty and everything would stick together! Using a noodle press (potato ricer, really, but it serves the same purpose) always feels like cheating!

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