Gluten Free Mac n Cheese – Rick Stein stylin

In an attempt to involve our kidlets in the cooking and ‘not just eating process’, a decree has been passed in our household (royally of course) that ‘each child shall take turn-a-bout choosing and cooking Sunday’s dinner with their Mum’. We took a respite from this over the Christmas and school break but once those holiday shenanigans ended we began again. This mother of two boys is determined to ensure that our lads eventually leave home (albeit in their early thirties) with the ability to cook a decent repetoire of dishes.

Kid 1, on the cusp of turning 14, decided that after watching Rick Stein cook up a decadent version of Mac n Cheese (Macaroni and Cheese for those that may not know), that this would be the dish for him. We have since renamed it ‘Heart Attack on a Plate.’ But my, how very delicious it was. To save precious energy (I am old and he is, well, an adolescent), we decided that the dish had to be entirely gluten free and vegetarian. Frankly, we couldn’t be arsed bothered making two different versions. And guess what, none of us cared.

Well, The Yak actually cared a great deal as he truly loved this old school classic. I mean, really, dangerously, intimately loved it. Hence, we cannot make it again for a very long time. Our parental ageing bodies cannot take this amount of saturated fat too often, even if the youngsters can. However, if you are looking for a moreish, autumnal or winters, tasty, zingy, creamy, monstrously wonderful comfort dish, this is it. Don’t baulk at the amount of cheese, keep grating. Its a veritable mountain but it is required. (The next Mac n Cheese I make will be a healthier version, you will hear the complaints globally but that’s the way the cheese grates, or well, doesn’t.)

GLUTEN FREE MAC N CHEESE

WHAT YOU NEED
100g butter
100 g gluten free flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1.2 litres milk (I used low fat but the orignal recipe calls for full fat)
75 ml double cream
1 bay leaf
400g mature cheddar grated
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (or dried if you don’t have fresh)
500g of your favourite gluten free dried macaroni
60g gluten free breadcrumbs
50g Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 200C (or 180C fan-forced) and grease a 35x20cm ovenproof dish.
Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan then stir in the flour and cook for two to three minute until the mixture (roux) starts to bubble.
Add the mustard and remove the pan from the heat, add the milk, cream and bay leaf and quickly whisk together.
Return the pan to a medium heat and continue to stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and boil.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, remove the bay leaf and add the cheddar. Stir until the cheese has melted then season well with black pepper and nutmeg.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni until al dente as per the packet instructions, usually around 8-10 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce.
Pour the mixture into the ovenproof dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together and sprinkle over the top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling and serve immediately.

Cooking Notes: Choosing a decent gluten free pasta is a veritable minefield, to avoid too many white starchy carbohydrates I will often use a buckwheat pasta for The Yak. For this recipe we used a generic supermarket brand corn and rice pasta which was actually OK but that was only because the people in my life cannot follow a simple shopping instruction. Thus far, the best ‘most like wheat based pasta’ gluten free pasta I have ever purchased, is the fairly new gluten free Barilla pasta range. I am not paid to say this, nobody pays me to say anything, although I wish they would. I would also happily be paid not to say anything at all. I am open to all offers.

A slight adaptation of a Rick Stein recipe. Go here for the original non-gluten free and non-vegetarian recipe for those of you who don’t have to care.

Rick Steins Mac n Cheese

I never usually comment on my photos but I had to state that this photo cracks me up. Our lad is standing in exactly the same way that I often do. It is also the same way that my physio has told me off for as it is not good for your spine alignment. It seems to be that very little in this post is actually ‘good for you’ but frankly, cest la vie!

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Eggy bread and cooking with Kid 1

The only tenuous connection between this post and Easter is the use of the word ‘egg.’ Of course, one cannot live on chocolate alone (although Kid 1 would give it a good try.) At some point during the Easter celebrations, it is good to put something else apart from chocolate into your gob.

Kid 1 had been requesting a cooking lesson on what we call in our family ‘eggy bread.’ The naming of this bready treat harks from the Yaks’s British heritage. It is more commonly known as French Toast or in Frenchy speak ‘Pain Perdue.’ Whatever you call it, the process of soaking an enriched egg and butter bread in a creamy sweet egg wash and frying it up, makes a wonderful breakfast or in this case ‘breakfast for dinner’.

Enriched bread such as brioche or challah, will give you the best result. An even better result is achieved if the bread is one day old. You are looking for a crispy golden exterior and creamy soft interior. Kid 1 and I had a lovely time in the kitchen and both munchkins greatly enjoyed the puffy golden sweet, finished product. Next time, Kid 1 wants to make the brioche himself, grow chickens to make the eggs and farm our own cows for the milk and cream. Maybe we can just start with the brioche?

EGGY BREAD/FRENCH TOAST/PAIN PERDU

WHAT YOU NEED
3 thick (3cm or so) slices of brioche (or a similar bread such as challah, it is better if the bread is a day old.)
3 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tbl caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence
2 tbl butter
2 tbl oil
Maple syrup to serve

HOW YOU DO IT
Beat the eggs, cream, milk, sugar and vanilla in a large jug or medium size bowl.
Pour the egg mixture into a dish that will fit the brioche slices in side by side.
Place the bread in the dish and soak in the egg mixture for 5 minutes.
Turn the bread over onto the other side and soak for another for 5 minutes. Preheat the large non-stick frypan to a medium heat whilst the bread is soaking.
Add the butter and oil to the frypan and once the butter has melted, cook the bread for about 6 minutes each side until puffy and golden brown.
It can be kept in a warm oven for ten minutes or so until ready to eat.
Before serving you can dust the eggy bread in icing sugar but as this was for my kids and they go nuts with maple syrup, I didn’t.
Drizzle generously with maple syrup.
Serves 2 people.

Cooking Notes: To serve 4, simply double the recipe. If you would like to make a savoury version, leave out the sugar and vanilla. It is delicious served with crispy bacon and a sauce of some kind. (A relish, tomato sauce or hot sauce, whatever takes your fancy.)

A Cheergerm creation