Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quick and Easy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

B is a big fan of macaroni.

We have loads of these when living in London - you get the ready-to-(h)eat packs from supermarkets for very reasonable price.  So convenient that you can tuck in after few minute nuke.

B missed the gooey delicious dish and was always asking for me to bring back some during those dreadful business trips but they have really short expiry date so the supply is limited.  Today, we found a a cheater version of macaroni...

Cheater's Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Serves 2
1 can of white pasta sauce
1 heap rice bowl of elbow macaroni
some breadcrumbs (i made mine from toasted leftover bread)
some freshly ground black peppersome grated sharp white cheddarsome grated moserella cheesesome grated cheddar

1. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. This step is necessary to stop cooking and wash off excess starch in the pasta.  The pasta will soften further when the sauce is added and baked.

2. Prepare cheese sauce.  Usually I find the canned stuff to be overload on sodium, so I would lighten it with additional cream or milk (whichever I have in the fridge).  Pour the sauce and extra milk/cream/cheese (if using) into a wok and heat it until the mixture bubbles.  Add black pepper.

3. Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce and toss the macaroni well.

4. Transfer the content into a oven-proof casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and moserella cheese. Bake in a preheated oven @170C, until the cheese melted and bubbling.

For extra treat, I added bacon, breadcrumbs, and brocolli.

I don't know but if B has a comfort food, this will be it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sunday Morning Pancake

B's love for pancakes begins with MacDonald's Hotcakes... we used to share many weekday mornings at Macdonald, with B enjoying dipping pancakes into the syrup while I put up with the horrid coffee (despite being branded premium toasted coffee!)  

We then tried making our own at home, using the ready mix.  You know, those powder mixture in plastic container which you just add milk and shake, and you have the batter ready in 30seconds flat!  QUick and easy,  but it hardens as soon as it leaves the pan.

So it was back to Mac again until I re-discovered this pancake recipe in my bookshelf "Homemade", by Clodagh McKenna .

As suggested in the book, I made the batter the night before and let you rest in the fridge.  It thickened the next day, and I read from somewhere that it is ok to add more milk to thin the batter if thin pancake is preferred.  It was just nice for me...  think thick and fluffy!

New-York-Style Blueberry Pancake
200g self rising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
70g caster sugar (I used 50g)
1 egg
300ml milk (I used whole milk, not skim)
50g butter (melted) + more for greasing the pan.
250g fresh blueberries ( I omitted)
maple syrup ( I used honey cos that's what i have at home)

1. sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

2. in a separate bowl, whisk egg and  milk together.

3. Pour the milk mixture into the center of the well of the flour and whisk together until it forms a batter. Leave the batter in a fridge for an hour before you use.

4. Just before cooking, stir in the melted butter which prevents the pancake from sticking to pan (and yes it works!)

5. Over medium heat, grease the frying pan (non-stick preferably!) with a kitchen towel so you use just enough butter (a tip i pick up from the auntie at Tangs homeware department. Have you seen her before?) 

6. Pour enough batter to cover the pan and swirl around to make sure you get an even spread, allow to cook for 1-2 minutes . Then Flip over the pancake with a spatula and cook for about another minute on the other side. Then place on a warm plate, cover with tin foil and put in a low heated oven. Continue again until you have enough made.

The recipe says it makes 10 pancakes, but i suppose it all depends how thick you want the pancake, and how big is your pan...  I do get enough to nicely feed my family of 3.

Why I can't get the nice evenly browned pancake like this?

This is pretty good for the minimal effort.  It is very buttery and tender, even when cold.  But I guess nothing stops me from experimenting with buttermilk instead of whole milk... read from some blog (like this) that it makes it even more moist.

When I get enough energy (and time), I would pretty much look forward to try out the one in KAF or even this one in Jamie Oliver - it calls for egg white to be whipped separately.  I believe this is what the atas (upmarket) like Strictly Pancakes does.