Mac and Cheese

This is my go-to recipe for Mac and Cheese for a very long time. It’s very quick besides being rich and creamy. It’s so much better than eating it out of a box and it’s sure to be loved by everyone.

The ingredients used are all staples that one can find in any kitchen. I used cheddar and parmesan. This is something that many of us grew up on and it’s a classic comfort food.

Instead of making a roux in the classic way, I find that adding onions to the butter and then adding the flour prevents the lumps forming. I prefer to do it this way.

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Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, etc can all be used. I just used some green pepper and carrots. It’s a very versatile dish in that way. The topping of breadcrumbs is what gives it that extra texture – chewy pasta with a crisp topping. Just lovely!

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 1 hour

Ingredients

½ cup butter

6 tbsp flour

2 large onions, minced

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli powder

½ tsp mustard

4 cups milk, warmed

450 grams elbow macaroni

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

4 tbsp black olives, cut in half

200 grams Cheddar, grated

50 grams Parmesan, grated

½ cup breadcrumbs

4 tbsp melted butter

2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely

Salt to taste

Instructions

Grease a baking dish and preheat the oven to 180 C.

Melt the ½ cup butter in a large, heavy pan. Add the onions and cumin seeds and cook until the onions are transparent. Add the flour and mix well. Saute for two minutes and add the pepper, turmeric, chilli powder, mustard and salt.

Add the warm milk gradually, stirring all the time and cook on low heat until the sauce is thick and smooth. Remove from heat and add the grated cheddar cheese olives and tomato ketchup.

Bring plenty of salted water to a rolling boil and add the macaroni. Stir well and add a cup of cold water immediately. This will prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook on moderate heat until the macaroni is just cooked or al dente.

Drain immediately and mix with the cheese sauce. Spoon into the greased baking dish.

For the topping, add the grated Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, melted butter and chopped coriander together. Spread this on top of the macaroni and bake for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Pasta Alla Norma

I was first introduced to this classic Sicilian dish when I was watching Kitchen Boss by Buddy Valastro. Since then, it has become one of my favourite pasta recipes.

It’s a very light and refreshing dish, full of fresh flavours. The tomatoes and aubergines adds colour and robust flavour to the pasta.

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It is recommended to use Ricotta Salata, but I used Parmesan cheese. I used mini fusili wholewheat pasta and it was really delicious.

I departed from the original recipe by adding a few spices (of course)! I really liked the end result. It was very satisfying and delicious.

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PREP: 1 hour COOK TIME: 45-50 minutes SERVES: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 4 cups strained tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 300 gms mini fusili
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3/4th cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Cut off the ends from each aubergine and peel them. Slice one aubergine into 1/8” round slices and dice the other into ½” cubes. Salt the slices and cubes and leave to drain in a colander for one hour.

Roast the caraway seeds and fennel seeds separately and powder them.

Prepare the breadcrumb mix by mixing them with 1 tsp each of the powdered caraway and fennel seeds. Add 1 tsp of the nutmeg powder to the breadcrumbs along with salt and 3 tbsp grated cheese. Mix well and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to boil.

Heat the olive oil and saute the onions. When they are cooked add the garlic, red chilli flakes and the remaining of the powdered caraway seeds and fennel seeds. Add the remaining nutmeg and the diced aubergine. Saute for a few minutes and add the strained tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer, simmering for 5 minutes. Add the butter and the chopped basil.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the tomato sauce. Transfer to a serving dish.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Pat the sliced aubergines dry with a paper towel and toss them in flour, patting off the excess flour. Dip the slices in the beaten egg and coat with the breadcrumbs. Fry the slices a few at a time in the oil until they are golden brown on both sides.

Slice the fried aubergines into three strips and top the pasta. Garnish with the grated cheese and serve immediately.

Spinach and Paneer Gnocchi

Fluffy, light as air gnocchis with the goodness of greens and cottage cheese. What could be better?

This recipe has been adapted from a book called ‘Great Greens’. I love to experiment with different spices. My palate is not suited to bland food. Besides spices are very good for the health.

The nutrients in spinach strengthen the body, contain calcium, iron, Vitamin K and folic acid. Even children will love these tasty gnocchis.

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You can also substitute ricotta cheese if you don’t have paneer. The dressing gives it the extra flavour to make it absolutely delicious. They just disappear when I make them at home for dinner.

 

PREP:20 minutes plus chilling COOK TIME: 20-25 minutes SERVES:4

Ingredients

  • 750 g fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
  • 200 g fresh paneer (cottage cheese)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 2 flakes garlic, chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 50 g plain flour, plus extra for shaping
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Dressing

  • 75 g butter
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder


To serve

  • 125 g Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

Place the spinach in a pan with the cumin seeds, green chili, garlic and 1 tablespoon water. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the leaves are wilted and tender. Increase the heat to drive off any remaining water. Squeeze dry and leave to cool.

To make the gnocchis, place the spinach, paneer, egg yolks, Parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Turn into a large mixing bowl, sift over the flour and mix to form a dough. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Using well-floured hands, take small pieces of the gnocchi mixture (about 15 g) and shape them into 24 ovals or egg shapes. As each gnocchi is made, place it on a lightly floured tray until ready to cook.

Bring lightly salted water to boil in a large pan, reduce the heat to simmer and poach 5-6 gnocchi at a time for a few minutes until they puff up and rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and pile into individual warmed dishes.

Melt the butter and add the chilli powder. Take it off the heat immediately. Spoon over the gnocchis, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve hot.