Best mac ‘n cheese with crisp, garlic breadcrumb topping. (to die for)

In preparation for Christmas dinner this year, I researched hundreds of mac ‘n cheese recipes with the only prerequisite being that ALL ages would love it, so nothing gimmicky, no strange flavors…
This recipe was a major hit with everyone and it’s well worth adding to your holiday cooking repertoire. The crispy garlicky breadcrumbs on top are also a wonderful addition.
I made it the day before, kept it in the fridge overnight, brought it to room temperature and baked it just before serving, so it really was easy.

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Serves 12

For the topping:
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the macaroni and sauce:
14 oz dried elbow macaroni
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
16 oz coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (about 6 cups)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 1/2 tbsp English mustard powder

Special equipment:
9- by 13-inch baking dish

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle of oven. Butter the baking dish. Set a large, covered pot of salted water over high heat to boil.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the butter and oil until the butter foam subsides. Add the panko crumbs and garlic; cook, stirring, until the crumbs are golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl, stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and salt, and set aside.

Add the macaroni to the boiling salted water and cook until just al dente (avoid overcooking). Drain the macaroni and set aside. In a large wide pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the butter, whisking to incorporate and make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the roux is light golden, about 4 minutes.

Gradually pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly to incorporate and make a béchamel sauce. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook until the béchamel sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes more.

Add the the salt, pepper and mustard powder. Add the cheeses in three batches, whisking until each addition is completely melted before adding more. Remove from the heat.

Add the drained macaroni to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir well to coat. Transfer the macaroni mixture to the buttered baking dish and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden and bubbling, 18 to 23 minutes.

Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Free-form enchilada verde

This is from the magazine “Real Simple” and is like a Mexican lasagna so it’s much easier to assemble and serve

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Serves 6

4 cups (32 oz) store bought salsa verde
18 small corn tortillas
1 & 1/2lbs butternut squash, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 14.5oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 to 4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Toppings
Sour cream, chopped cilantro, sliced pickled jalapenos for topping

Heat the oven to 375 F
Spread 1 cup of the salsa verde in a 9 by 13″ baking dish and top with 6 tortillas.
Top with 1 more cup of the salsa, 1/3 of the butternut squash, 1/3 of the beans and 1 cup of the cheese, spreading evenly.
Repeat the layering two more times reserving the final 1 cup of cheese.
Cover with foil
Bake for 1 hour until the squash is tender. Uncover ans sprinkle with the reserved 1 cup of cheese.
Broil 8 inches from the heat for 4 to 5 mins until the topping is bubbly and browned in spots.
Remove and let stand for 15 mins and decorate with the toppings and serve

Pappardelle with Brussels sprouts, leeks and truffle cream

Sauteed leeks with the earthy intensity of the truffle oil and the smooth creaminess of the cream is a heady combination. Make sure you don’t overdo the truffle oil, so start with a little less and add to taste.

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Serves 4

1/2 oz butter
1 large leek, well washed and sliced at an angle
7 oz Brussels sprouts, cut into 1/4″ slices
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/b fresh (preferably) Pappardelle pasta
4 fl oz dry white wine
2 oz good quality Parmesan cheese,finely grated
A large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp truffle oil
salt and pepper

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

In a wide pan, melt the butter and saute the leek, Brussels sprouts and garlic for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often over medium heat.
Drop the pasta into the pan of boiling water, stirring until the water comes back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes (or if you are using dry pasta, follow the packet’s instructions) until tender. Drain the pasta into a colander and shake off any excess water.

Meanwhile, add the white wine to the sprouts pan and cook for 2 minutes then add the cream.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a minutes.
Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, truffle oil and some salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Remove from the heat.
The sauce should be quite moist. Check for seasoning and strength of truffle flavor and adjust if necessary.

Divide the pasta between 4 warmed bowls and top with some of the vegetables and sauce.
Use tongs to combine the sauce and pasta and serve immediately.

Garlic noodles with mushrooms and miso butter

This is a wonderfully simple recipe from the food blog, “Steamy Kitchen” It’s worth signing up to them, as they have some super recipes with those lovely Asian flavors.
Use either Chinese egg noodles or thin spaghetti noodles.

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Serves 4
1/2 pound dry pasta or noodles of your choice
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 green onions (scallions), chopped
12 ounces fresh mushrooms of your choice
2 tablespoons Miso & Easy (or 1 tablespoon regular miso paste)
2 teaspoons Maggi Sauce (or 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat a wok or large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the butter, garlic and green onion. Cook for 1 minute or until very fragrant, making sure to keep an eye on the heat so that the garlic does not burn. Add in the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the miso, Maggi Sauce (or oyster sauce) and stir.
Add in the cooked pasta and toss well.

Soba noodles with sesame seeds

This is a wonderfully simple and utterly addictive recipe from Nigella Lawson. As she so poetically says, “You can lift the bowl to your face with this dish”. They are served cold so are perfect for a packed lunch.

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3 oz sesame seeds
salt
8 oz soba noodles
5 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil (I love toasted sesame oil)
6 green onions

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a high heat until they are golden brown and tip them into a bowl.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add some salt.
Put in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 minutes (or according to the packet instructions) until they are tender but not mushy.
Have a bowl of iced water waiting to plunge them into after draining.

In the bowl you are going to serve them in, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and oil. Then finely slice the green onions and put them into the bowl with the cooled drained noodles and mix together thoroughly before adding the sesame seeds and tossing again.

Leave the sesame seed noodles for about 30 minutes to let the flavors develop and lift the bowl to your face!

Easy lemon pesto sauce

A light, lemony and more refreshing version of a traditional pesto sauce is delicious tossed with hot pasta for a quick meal or side dish with roasted or grilled meats and fish.
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2 garlic cloves
3 Tbs. toasted pine nuts (to toast the pine nuts, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.)
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 to 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, basil, parsley, cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pulse until ground to a fine paste, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups.

Addicting Asian sesame garlic noodles

This is such a wonderfully easy and stunning addition to a party or just a family meal. I highly recommend you try it because it is always addictive for your guests.

Tastetickler

This recipe is to die for and you won’t be able to stop eating them. You can serve this dish hot or at room temperature and is perfect for a pot luck as you can make the sauce ahead of time, prep whatever you’re going to add to the noodles, and just cook the spaghetti nearer the serving time.
You can augment this recipe as much as you want, but be careful with the red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it.

These noodles are great just with a few chopped scallions added, but you can also add;
cooked prawns
chopped cilantro
chopped scallions
cooked chicken pieces
chopped red pepper
corn

For 1/2lb spaghetti

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 large garlic cloves, chopped roughly
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp re pepper flakes
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Add these ingredients to a food processor.
Cook the spaghetti…

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