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.


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.


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

    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!