Meaty Mac’n’Cheese with Cathedral City

27514037621_4d54d27c71_b

Cheese. Cheese. CHEEEEEESE!!!!! Do you know what? I think I should have been born a mouse!  I want you to go on a little journey with me. C’mon, it’s easy, just close your eyes… think of a whole block little bite of mature cheddar cheese from the West Country. Think of closing your mouth as your teeth sink into the cold, delicious, taste bud tingling creaminess…..  Oh! Sorry! I lost myself for a moment there! HAHA!  Back to being serious, because that’s what I am (honest!)

Did you know that over 20% of the country eat cheese at least once every 4 days? 55% of us choose the cheeseboard over dessert (I’d have both, if I’m honest, whilst over 65% of the national always have cheese in their fridges?  No wonder it’s the Nation’s favourite ingredient!

So, what better way when the British summer is just beginning and it’s still cold and rainy outside like the deepest, darkest depths of winter, than to make a hearty meal to serve at the dinner table for all to tuck into, because almost two thirds of us prefer to enjoy a meal around the table with family and friends, and what better ingredient to use than Cathedral City mature cheddar cheese?  I know of not one reason why!

Cathedral City Meaty Mac'n'Cheese

  • 15ml Rapeseed oil
  • 100g Pancetta, cubed
  • 2 Chicken breasts, cubed
  • 200g Macaroni
  • 10ml Plain flour
  • 5ml Dijon mustard
  • 50ml Chicken Stock
  • 300ml Creme Fraiche
  • 200g Cathedral City Mature Cheddar cheese
  • Ground black pepper

Cathedral City Meaty Mac'n'Cheese

  • Heat the oven to 200℃.
  • In a large pan, gently heat the oil.
  • Add the pancetta and the cubed chicken breasts and cook for 5-10 minutes until starting to colour.
  • Whilst you’re browning the meat, bring a large pan of water to the boil.
  • Add the macaroni to the pan of boiling water, stir, reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour fairly evenly all over the browned pancetta and chicken and stir to coat thoroughly.
  • Add the mustard and the chicken stock and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
  • Add the creme fraiche and heat through, but do not boil.
  • Grate the cheese (sneak yourself a bite – go on; you’re working hard and you deserve it!  You must also eat that last little, annoying, bit of cheese that you can’t grate if you value your nails and fingertips.

Cathedral City Meaty Mac'n'Cheese

  • Stir through 150g of the grated cheese until melted.
  • Drain the macaroni and stir this through the pan of pancetta, chicken and creamy cheese sauce.
  • Season with pepper to taste.
  • Have another taste, just to make sure that the grating didn’t interfere with the delicious taste of the cheese! Sprinkle (what’s left) of the cheese over the mac’n’cheese.

Cathedral City Meaty Mac'n'Cheese

  • Place into the oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden, crispy and bubbling beautifully.

Cathedral City Meaty Mac'n'Cheese

  • Share with the family if you really must, but make sure they leave you some for a indulgent, tasty snack later!

Cathedral City Meaty Mac'n'Cheese

Most importantly, you must always remember the rules of cooking with cheese;

  • Taste a bit as soon as you open the packet.
  • Taste a bit more as you prepare it at every stage of the recipe… just in case!
  • Only share the finished dish, if you really must.
  • Find Cathedral City on Facebook and find out what kind of cheese lover you are.

So, now I’ve shared my #CheeseRules with you because I truly to #LoveCheese tell me what are yours?  C’mon, enjoy cheese and ‘Welcome to the Club’

The recipe was adjusted to feature and include Cathedral City Mature Cheddar Cheese. I received a voucher to purchase ingredients for this recipe.

National Sandwich Week with the Central Co-Operative

image

Having previously managed the payroll for a very large food manufacture of about 100,000 sandwiches a day many years ago, the invitation from the Central England Co-Operative to create a great sandwich combination using tasty ingredients that could be found in your local store to celebrate National Sandwich week was was right up my street!

As the weather has been very changeable recently, including snow, hailstones, ice, wind and sunshine (and all in one day too!) I decided on a combination of a hot, toasted, sandwich and a lovely salad to go with it. I bought a variety of ingredients including a pack of sandwich thins, Mozzarella cheese, tomato pesto, mixed salad leaves, beautifully sweet Piccolo tomatoes, sweet baby peppers and some delicious mixed root vegetable crips to make my lunch.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
After preparing a really quick salad using the leaves, peppers and tomatoes, I simply tipped some of the root vegetable crisps into a small bowl and set about preparing my toasted sandwich.

Drain the Mozzarella and slice about 5mm thick.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
The Sandwich Thins are pre-sliced so it’s very quick and simple to separate the two halves.  Place a couple of generous teaspoons of the tomato pesto on one side of the bread.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Spread the pesto over the bread into a relatively even layer.  Repeat with the other sandwiches as required.  I made two for lunch today; one each for my husband and myself.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Tear the mozzarella slices into strips and cover the pesto.  I’ve left a small gap around the edges to stop the cheese oozing out (and being wasted) on to my sandwich press. Top with the other half of the Sandwich thin.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Preheat your sandwich maker (I have an Antony Worrall Thompson for Breville flat sandwich press that I’ve had for many years).

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Place your sandwich onto the sandwich maker and close the lid.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Toast for a few minutes until the top is nicely browned and the mozzarella has started to melt.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Slice diagonally using a sharp knife.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Serve with a helping of salad and some of the root vegetable crisps.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Tasty (the sandwich that is!)

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative

I was sent a voucher from the Central England Co-Operative to buy my ingredients to participate in the creation for National Sandwich Week.

Beef Cobbler

image

I’m sharing a tasty meal for you to enjoy. It’s relatively quick and easy to make, so perfect for a midweek meal, and will feed a family when combined with fresh vegetables.

image

 

10ml vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

500g minced beef

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 beef stock cube

1 Knorr herb flavour pot

15ml Bisto gravy powder

175g self raising flour

15ml cornflour

175g self raising flour

0.25ml Colemans mustard powder

Pinch salt

25g butter, cubed

25g Parmesan cheese, grated

50g Cheddar cheese, grated

2 eggs, beaten

Oven temperature: 200°C

1. In a saucepan, heat the oil gently and add the onion. Cook until starting to soften, but not brown.

2. Add the minced beef and cook until browned.

3. Add the chopped carrot and stir through.

4. Dissolve the stock cube in 100ml boiling water and add to the saucepan along with the Knorr flavour pot.

5. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes until the carrots are softened.

6. To make the cobbler (scone) topping, in a large bowl place the flour and mustard powder and stir together to combine.

7. Add the cubed butter and, using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

8. Stir in the cheeses.

9. Beat the eggs and add approx 2/3 of these to the flour and butter mixture. Combine with a fork until it starts to bind together, then knead gently until it forms a ball, adding more egg as required.

10. Turn the cobbler mix out onto a floured surface and gently roll out to a thickness of about 1cm.

11. Using a 5cm circular cutter, cut out as many rounds as you able to get from the mixture, re-forming and rolling as required.  Set aside briefly whilst you thicken the minced beef.

12. Mix the Bisto and cornflour together and add cold water to mix to a runny paste, the consistency of single cream.

13. Increase the heat under the mince and return to the boil.

14. Add the Bisto and cornflour mixture and stir constantly until thickened. It is essential that you continue to stir this whilst it thickens or you will get a lumpy gravy!

15. Season to taste.

16. Transfer the mince to a heatproof dish and top with the cobbler rounds, overlapping as required.

17. Brush the top of the cobblers with the remaining beaten egg and transfer the dish to the oven.

18. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cobblers are browned.

image

19. Serve with plenty of freshly steamed vegetables.

image

Wonky Veg Blogger Challenge with Asda

image

As a youngest of four children to parents who turned virtually all of their large garden over the growing of vegetables, I grew up knowing and appreciating the hours of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears that goes into producing a harvest of fine fruit and vegetables for the table, not to mention knowing the provenance of my food.  Dad didn’t grown food because it would come out of the ground looking pretty, but because he wanted his family to eat wholesome food that mum would then turn into the most amazing meals for us to eat (IF we left it there long enough to get to the kitchen table that is.  Pods of peas were generally found empty and carrots were pulled and sneakily consumed straight from the garden but us all; including mum and dad!) We didn’t have much of a lawn in our large garden, because dad said “you can’t eat grass!” Our playground was the playing fields, tennis courts and running tracks of the school 2 minutes away at the back of the houses opposite my parents’.

This time last year, after a campaign my Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty on their Friday Night Feast programme, Asda was one of the supermarkets to launch wonky fruit and veg for sale at discounted prices in their stores in a bid to help reduce this abhorrent food waste.  The public embraced this common sense approach and continues to do so today and Asda are now the first major UK supermarket to sell the Wonky Veg Box.  You may even have seen that Jamie and Jimmy featured this on Friday night (5th February) on their Channel 4 Programme highlighting the success of this trial.   Therefore, when I was approached to take part in the Wonky Veg Blogger Challenge in association with the launch of the Wonky Veg Box by Asda, that is being trialled in 128 of their stores I just couldn’t refuse!

image

Having been sent a box of vegetables, which Asda say “could feed a family of 4 for a week”, which they’re selling for the bargain price of £3.50, along with a selection of food prep goodies, including a spiralizer, and a gift voucher with which to buy any additional ingredients to compliment my vegetables, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in with my challenge.

image

Saturday being a non work day should have equalled a lay in, but oh no, not in my house when I have good food to prepare! At 8:30am I was already in my kitchen, my hair was tied up and my apron was on preparing to cook up a storm!

image

Using less than half of the potatoes and a couple of the leeks, along with two onions, I set to making a simple but tasty potato and leek soup for lunch.  Simply chop the onions finely and sauté off in a little bit of butter, to soften, without colouring.

image

Sliced the leeks and cube your potatoes and add them to the pan.  Cook out gently for another 6-8 minutes, until the potatoes start to soften too.

image

image

Pour in about 500ml milk and bring to a simmer. Don’t boil it as you can split the milk.  Continue to cook until the potatoes are cooked through.

image

Using a stick blender or a food processor, blend the soup until you get the desired consistency; be that with chunks or smooth.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste, and adjust the thickness if necessary with some boiling water.  Serve, with a little bit of sprinkled paprika over the top and some crusty bread. (You can even cube and fry some stale bread into croutons.  Don’t throw that stale bread away; it’s great for making croutons or for blitzing into breadcrumbs, you know).

image

Dinner was next on my thought trail, so for this I decided I’d go for a hearty casserole.  The weather this weekend was wet, cold and blustery, so what would be better later than battening down the hatches, and tucking into some delicious and comforting food?  To go with the Wonky Veg from my box, I bought 3 sirloin steaks and a bottle of Merlot red wine, some chopped tomatoes, double cream, Thyme and gruyere cheese.

image

Cut the steak into bite sized cubes.  Add to a hot frying pan to which you’ve added a splash of oil and sear all over to colour the outside for that added ‘oompf’ of flavour.

image

Remove the browned steak to a casserole dish and set aside.

image

Meanwhile cut your carrots, leeks, parsnip, red and green peppers and a couple more onions into even sized pieces and add to the pan that you’ve just removed your steak from (don’t let those amazing pan flavours go to waste!).  Add half a bottle of red wine and cook out for 5 minutes to remove the alcohol, scraping the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon to release those unctuous meat juices from the bottom.

image

Pour in a tin/carton of chopped tomatoes and a generous pinch of thyme which you need to have chopped.  Bring to a simmer.

image

Pour the tomatoes and vegetables over the steak pieces in your casserole dish and stir together.

image

Put the lid on and cook slowly about 150℃ for 3-3½ hours.  (You could even put this into a slow cooker and let it (as my mum would say) ‘chuggle’ away all day while you get on with whatever you have to get on with.

For my veg accompaniment, I chose to make a take on a potato dauphinoise using the addition of one of the two Savoy cabbages from my box to the equation.

In a large saucepan, add about 300ml double cream, 100ml milk, some grated nutmeg and a clove of garlic (that you’ve bashed open, rather than crushed).  Bring this to a gentle simmer whilst you prepare the potatoes and cabbage.

Peel and slice the potatoes thinly (I use a hand held Oxo Good Grips Mandoline on setting 2 for this) remove the central stalk and and finely shred the cabbage.  Butter the inside of a dish that you’ll be using and add a layer of potatoes, overlapping each slice to create ‘swirls’.  Top this with the shredded cabbage and another layer of the potato slices.  Press down to compress to form a potato/cabbage ‘cake’.

image

Add salt and pepper to taste to your cream and milk mixture, then remove (discard) the ‘bashed’ garlic clove and pour this mixture over your potato and cabbage.  Sprinkle generously with some grated Gruyere cheese.  Butter the inside of some tin foil (to stop it sticking to the cheese) and place this over the top of your dauphinoise.

 

image

Leaving the casserole in the oven, turn it up to 180℃, place the dauphinoise in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes.  Remove the foil and allow to brown for another 10-15 minutes until the top is golden and the potatoes are cooked when poked with a knife blade.

Serve and enjoy!

image

My box certainly won’t be feeding this family of 3 for a week (we’re one member of the family down as he is away at University), but we did get lunch and dinner out of the box, with leftovers of each dish to enjoy tomorrow night.

This is all I have left in my box:  One large and wonky cucumber, five onions, one red pepper and a savoy cabbage.  Not bad for £3.50 eh?  I’ll certainly be buying one in the future!

image

I was invited to join the campaign and was sent the Wonky Veg box, along with the vegetable preparation tools and an Asda gift voucher to buy additional ingredients.