I love to cook, or to be more precise I love to feed other people. Tonight three of my Dutch girlfriends came over for dinner and I love nothing more then having a table full of people all talking, drinking, eating and having a good time. The only thing I do not like is having to tidy up afterwards.

Here is my slightly fancy version of Mac and Cheese.

Ingredients:

300gr of small pasta

2 packets of bacon bits (optional)

1 large onion

1 leek

1 tablespoon of Pernod or any other aniseed liqueur (optional)

40gr butter

40gr of flour

Milk (200 ml)

Small tub of crème fraiche

1 garlic and herb stockcube

fresh nutmeg

slug of white wine (optional)

250-300 gr of grated cheese. I like to use a mix of grated cheddar, parmesan and emmental, sometimes I will add blue cheese too.

(Panko) breadcrumbs

Turn on the oven to 200 Celsius. Start by cooking the pasta al dente. Meanwhile cook the bacon, once it is nicely browned put it in the bottom of your baking dish. In the same pan, cook the onion and the leek. I always let them brown a little as this gives a nice flavour to the dish. Add the Pernod and let it evaporate. Add to the bacon bits.

In a pot with a thick base; melt the butter and stir in the flour. Keep stirring but take off the heat. Slowly add in the milk bit by bit whilst returning the pot to a moderate heat. Add in the crème fraiche one spoon at a time. Use a whisk if you are worried about lumps. Stir in the stockcube, add the wine and the nutmeg. Finally stir in the cheese but save some to put on top of the dish.

Add the cooked pasta to your oven dish and make sure you mix well with the bacon, onion and leeks.  Then add the cheese sauce and make sure all the pasta bits are covered. Finally top with the remainder of the cheese and breadcrumbs and slide into the oven. It will take about 10 min for the cheese to melt .

I served this with a fresh salad of finely sliced fennel, apple, parsley and pecan nuts.

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