Tag Archives: mushrooms

Macaroni cheese with a twist

11 Oct

Macaroni cheese with a twist

It’s cold dark and rainy outside and summer is a long distant memory.  However, there is a plus side to this.  Wintery food: rich sauces, unctuous cheeses, sweet parsnips, roast potatoes, all the best bits!

So after a miserable journey home through endless puddles and delayed trains, I was ready for some cheesy goodness.

As much as I love macaroni cheese, I always find that an entire plate of nothing but pasta and cheesy sauce gets a bit monotonous.  So I decided to mix it up.  Not just by adding the mushrooms and a few slices of tomato, but by adding some heat to the mushrooms to cut through the cheese and enliven the taste buds.  This comes in the form of smoked paprika (my ingredient numero uno) and cayenne pepper.

And should you be short of time, or the inclination to make a cheese sauce, there is a simple solution.  Philadelphia. Or any other such soft cheese you may find on your supermarket shelves.  Just mix this into the pasta with a little splash of the pasta cooking water and bingo!  Instant gluten free cheese sauce.

The ingredients:

500g Pasta – macaroni/penne/etc – I used Sainsbury’s freefrom corn penne pasta

150g mushrooms, sliced

4 medium tomatoes, sliced

¼ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

150g cheddar – the stronger the better if you ask me.  You will need ½ for the sauce and ½ for the topping

And for the sauce:

50g butter

50g plain flour – I used Doves farm gluten free plain white flour

½ pint milk


The recipe:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and drain
  2. Heat a frying pan and 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and when hot, add the sliced mushrooms.   Make sure the oil is hot so the mushrooms go golden brown rather than soggy and watery.
  3. When the mushrooms are cooked (about 4-5 mins), add the cayenne pepper and smoked paprika, making sure that all mushrooms are evenly coated and cook for another minute.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour and stir until it forms a paste and cook out for 1-2 mins
  5. Add the milk bit by bit, stirring/whisking vigorously to make sure you don’t get any lumps
  6. Once you have added all the milk, add ½ the cheese and stir in until you have a smooth sauce
  7. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to coat.
  8. Put ½ the pasta in a shallow oven proof dish, followed by the mushrooms in a layer on top, then the rest of the pasta on top of the mushrooms.
  9. Place the sliced tomato on the top of the pasta, and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the tomatoes and pasta.
  10. Put the dish in a pre heated grill for 5 mins or until golden brown.
  11. Serve

Thai curry aubergine boats and sticky rice

30 May

Thai Aubergine boats and sticky rice

Serves 2.  However you might end up with some curry left over.  It depends how big your aubergine is!









Ingredients (and prep)

For the Thai curry paste:

3 garlic cloves – thinly sliced/diced/grated

½ cm chunk of ginger – thinly sliced/diced/grated

2 small chillies – deseed and thinly sliced

½ table spoon cumin seeds – toasted in a dry frying pan/wok for a couple of minutes until they become fragrant

½ tsp. ground coriander

Salt – to taste

Pepper – to taste

Handful of fresh coriander leaves

To make up the curry:

1 large aubergine

7 chestnut mushrooms – sliced (but most mushrooms will do, just grab a handful or two)

75g dried green lentils – cooked until tender according to packet instructions (most types of lentils will do, whatever you have in the back of the cupboard.)

5 spring onions – sliced on an angle

Large splash gluten free soy sauce – but add more to taste as your curry evolves.  Use this rather than salt to season.

2 tsp honey (or palm sugar will do)

1 lime – you’ll need the zest and the juice

1 can coconut milk

The rice:

100g Sushi rice or any other short grain glutinous rice

2 tbsp. Rice wine vinegar (optional)

The recipe:

1.    Whip out you pestle and mortar (or blender if you don’t have a pestle and mortar, whilst the blender is far less tiring and speedier, the pestle and mortar feels far more authentic and therapeutic if you’ve had a tough day).  Throw the ginger, garlic and chilli into the pestle and mortar and bash away until it looks like a paste.  Add in the toasted cumin seeds, salt, pepper, ground coriander, keep bashing.  Add in a handful of fresh coriander; keep bashing until you have a nice smooth paste and looks a bit like this:







2.   Halve the aubergine long ways.  Score through the flesh in a criss cross fashion without breaking through the skin.  Scoop out the flesh with a spoon (keep this aubergine flesh aside for later), leaving the aubergine shell about ½ cm thick.  Sprinkle the flesh side with salt and leave to stand whilst you prepare the filling.

3.    Heat some oil in a wok, when its hot, add the paste.  Fry for 2 minutes – take care not to let it burn.

4.    Add the spring onions, mushrooms and aubergine flesh to the paste and fry for 3-4 mins, until slightly browned.

5.    Add a large splash of soy sauce, the cooked lentils, honey, zest of 1 lime and the coconut milk.  Stir and leave to simmer for about 15 mins.  Adding soy sauce to taste.

6.    Rinse the aubergine boats in cold water and place in an oven proof dish.  Carefully spoon the curry mixture into the boats.  Cover the oven proof dish and place in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 25 mins.

7.    Whilst the boats are in the oven, prepare the rice.  Put the water and rice into a saucepan and simmer gently according to packet instructions (I personally don’t bother adding salt or anything to the water).  Check the rice regularly to make sure it isn’t boiling dry and sticking to the bottom of the pan.  When it is almost done, turn off the heat, put a lid on the rice and let it slowly absorb the remaining water on its own.

8.    When the rice is done, sprinkle in the rice wine vinegar (this isn’t a necessity, but it does help season the rice nicely) and gently fold into the rice.

9.    To serve, if you want to impress, presentation is key (otherwise you are likely to end up with a capsized aubergine boat!).  So here’s how I did it:

  • Lightly grease a teacup or ramekin (or empty GU pudding pot) with a spot of oil
  • Fill the receptacle with rice and gently push down and level off.
  • Place a plate on top of the rice, invert, tap the bottom of the cup/ramekin and remove carefully
  • VOILA!  A beautiful little portion of rice!

10.    Take the aubergine boat out of the oven dish and place beside the rice, taking care not to ‘capsize’ the boat and loose the filling!