Tuesday, 8 November 2011

I Made Dinner!! - Mac 'n' Cheese

At the end of last week i made a blog post asking my fellow bloggers and followers to give me some hints, tips and some recipes to help me get started cooking, the reason behind this was that Marie my fiancée became very ill on the Thursday and it occurred to me that i had no idea how to make dinner for myself or for the kids, because i have been so reliant on Marie to take care of that type of thing.

So feeling a bit down i decided to call upon everyone and then yesterday after a horrible day in town doing the weekly food shop i came home and decided that i would give cooking a whirl, and what better dish to start off with than the American classic Mac 'n' Cheese! I have no idea why i wanted to make this but i have seen it on several cooking shows like Master Chef etc and it has always appealed to me and i have always said every time that i see it, i really want to make it, so yesterday my adventure into the land of cooking began.

Let me first start off by saying, anyone that thinks cooking is easy is absolutely insane! It is now on my top 10 list of the hardest things i have ever done in my life, i honestly can't believe people that do it as a profession or on a daily basis. You would think that following a recipe would be one of the easiest things there is but when there is more than one step for example: Stick X in oven and wait 20 minutes it becomes a bit overwhelming, well at least for my first time it did lol.
Not to mention the strength it takes, i honestly can't understand now looking back to the chef's that i have seen who are not exactly in the best shape of their lives how in gods name they manage to stir a pot of "x" for "x" minutes.

But my lovely friend from America "Holly" gave me the recipe and off i went:

1 (8 ounce) package macaroni 
4 tablespoons butter 
4 tablespoons flour 
1 cup milk 
1 cup cream 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
fresh ground black pepper, to taste 
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded good quality 
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, buttered 

Preheat oven to 400°F Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside In a large saucepan melt butter. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended. Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly). Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Turn off flame. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. (You can also freeze this recipe in zip-lock bags for later use - once you have mixed the macaroni along with the cheese sauce allow to cool to room temperature before adding to your freezer - I generally pull it out the night before and allow macaroni and cheese to reach room temperature; I then add the macaroni and cheese to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.

The ingredients!
Now it seemed simple enough nothing to challenging, or at least so it would seem, the whole put this in a saucepan and stir for 2 minutes constantly followed by adding this to the saucepan and stirring for a further 10 minutes constantly wrecked my arm, admittedly i got Marie to help me out and take over some of the stirring and adding stuff while i stirred because I DON'T HAVE 3 ARMS!
I cannot for the life of me figure out how you are meant to stir, while holding the handle so that the saucepan doesn't go spinning around and around as you are stirring away and then on top of that adding more ingredients it just baffles me like you wouldn't believe (Insert Laughing Here!)

It turns out that i made some fundamental mistakes as i used the same pan that i had just cooked the macaroni in to then cook the sauce let me just say DON'T DO THIS! i didn't put 2 and 2 together to come up with 4 and realise that adding butter to a already heated pan would make it stick no matter how quickly i was at stirring it, but i managed to salvage it and get the sauce to come up pretty nice if i don't say so myself, but next time i do this i will make sure to cook the sauce and the macaroni in 2 separate pots, i also think i made a slight error with the top crust, either that or we don't get the same breadcrumbs over here that you do in the states, but although some of it got hard and nice and golden brown after 20 minutes there was still alot of loose breadcrumbs lying around, so i think i maybe never added enough butter on top with the breadcrumbs or maybe i wasn't meant to do that at all, but that is what Marie had written so i followed what she wrote.

The finished product.

All in all it actually turned out really well, myself and Marie enjoyed it and the kids well you know what some children are like with trying new things, it looks weird and i don't like it! But i think i shall try it again and perhaps make a small batch without the breadcrumbs since that is what my oldest daughter and Alexander (one of the twins) didn't seem to like about it, and see how it turns out, and perhaps add a little extra cheese just to give it a little more cheesy flavour as i felt there wasn't enough cheesy flavour in it, although that was perhaps because of my small mistake with using the same saucepan twice without letting it cool down.

But for my first ever time attempting to cook a dish from scratch, i think i did a pretty damn good job! Granted i got lots of help from Marie, but i think i will be confident enough next time to perhaps do it all myself, especially knowing now what to do and what not to do.

But for now i think i shall bid you all farewell and leave it there, so until next time!

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