Macaroni Cheese

A real crowd pleaser on a cold day, one of the best things things about this dish is that it’s loved by young and old alike. Really easy to eat, it makes an ideal choice for a family lunch, especially if you’re having a casual fork buffet.

Serves: 4; Prep: 10 mins; Cook: 30 mins; Cost: £1.54; Cals per portion: 620

Ingredients: 300g/11oz macaroni; 40g/1 1/2oz butter; 40g/1 1/2oz flour; 600ml/1 pint creamy milk; 150g/5oz strong cheddar, grated

  • Preheat the oven to Mark 6/200oC/400oF. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water for 10 mins and drain. Grease an ovenproof dish generously with some butter.
  • Now make white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then remove it from the heat and stir in the flour – keep stirring until the mixture is completely smooth. Put the pan back on the heat and cook for a further 1-2 mins.
  • Gradually whisk in the pint of milk and cook the sauce, stirring all the time, until it has boiled. Stir the macaroni into the sauce with half of the grated cheddar, tip into the greased ovenproof dish and then sprinkle with the remaining cheddar. Bake for 15-20 mins until all the cheese has melted.

Tips: A great advantage to this dish is that it can be spiced up in so many ways – and again most of the ingredients will be close at hand. Fry an onion, mix into the cheese sauce and sprinkle with paprika and you’re well on the way to a real feast. To really go to town, fry bacon or chunks of pancetta and add to the sauce. Also try tinned tuna.

Toasted Goats Cheese with Chicory

Serves 4

Ingredients:  4 tbsp olive oil; ½ tbsp Dijon mustard; 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped; 2 tbsp white or red wine vinegar; 4oz/100g chicory leaves; 4oz/100g rocket leaves; 4 slices French bread; 4 small firm-textured goats’ cheeses (approximately 2½oz/65g each) or a 10oz/300g goats’ cheese log, cut into 4 slices; 2oz/50g butter; 2oz/50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

  • Put the oil, Dijon mustard, garlic and vinegar in a screw-top jar and shake well.  Arrange the chicory and rocket leaves on 4 plates.
  • Place the bread slices and chunks of cheese separately on a baking sheet.  Spread butter over the cheese, cover with the hazelnuts and cook under a preheated grill for 2-3 mins or until the cheese is evenly browned and the bread is toasted.
  • Place a piece of toasted bread on each plate next to the salad leaves.  Carefully place the cheese and hazelnuts on top and drizzle a little dressing over the toasties and salad.  Serve immediately.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil stack with Balsamic Vinegar and Lime dressing

A recipe by Robert Carrier

This towering new age salad of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves, served with a balsamic vinegar, lime and basil dressing, is at its best when large vine-ripened tomatoes are in season

Starter    Serves:  4

Ingredients:  16 thin rounds fresh buffalo mozzarella; 4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, chilled; 16-24 large fresh basil leaves.  For the dressing:  150ml / 1/4 pt extra virgin olive oil; 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar; 2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice; few leaves fresh basil, cut into thin slivers; salt and freshly ground black pepper; crushed dried chillies.  For the garnish:  4 sprigs fresh basil; 10-12 black olives

To prepare the dressing the marinate the cheese – In a large wide bowl, combine the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, adding lime juice to taste.  Add the slivered basil leaves and season to taste with the salt, freshly ground pepper and crushed dried chillies.  Mix well, then add the mozzarella, spooning the dressing over the slices.  Chill until ready to serve.

To prepare the tomatoes – Cut the tomatoes, one by one, into 6 mm / 1/4 in slices, including the tops and bottoms.  Re-assemble each tomato.

To assemble the stacks – With a slotted spoon remove the marinated mozzarella from the dressing (reserve the dressing).  Alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella to crease a stack on each plate, garnishing each slice of cheese with a basil leaf or two, and topping each stack with a tomato ‘cap’.  Spoon the dressing over.  Garnish each plate with a sprig of basil and a few black olives.  Serve immediately.

Serve with :  Racks of lamb with green herb crust and Lemon Tart