Top Food Blogs

Monday, 22 December 2014

Baked Glazed Ham

Many people find it unnecessary to glaze a ham, but nothing looks more appetising I think.
It looks so festive on the table and doesn't take long at all.
Go the extra mile and do it, you will be very happy with the result.
Buy yourself one of those foil baking dishes, so no excuse about the washing up.
It takes 1 1/2  hour to create the centrepiece of your dining table, with the turkey of course.

My favourite Glaze

Cooked ham

1 cup pineapple or orange Juice
1/4 cup sherry
500 grams brown sugar
 prepared hot english or dijon mustard
cherries, cloves or orange slices

Turn oven to 160 C.

Strip the ham of the skin. You can slide your hands under an end and remove the whole skin quite easily. Just slowly lift it from the fat. If you do it with a knife you will have uneven fat left and it doesn't look as nice.
Rub the fat with the mustard.
Lightly score the fat into a diamond shape.
Stand the ham in the foil dish. You can prop it up with skewers to raise it slightly from the bottom
if you can be bothered. This helps the glaze to run further around the underneath of the ham.
Put the juice, sherry and sugar in a saucepan on the stovetop and simmer until the sugar is melted .
Pour around the ham and cook for 30 minutes on the second bottom shelf. Then begin basting every 20 minutes. Turn the ham around in the oven to brown evenly.
Remove and score again if needed and decorate with cherries cloves or orange. Skim the fat from the sauce and serve drizzled over the cut ham.

This second glaze isn't as sweet you can taste the stout and its spicier.

1 1/2 cups stout
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cardamon

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan on top of the stove and simmer until sugar has melted.
Proceed with the same method as above.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Asian Style Salad of Red Cabbage, Asparagus, Capsicum with Mango

We have had so many humid days with wild storms, followed my even greater humidity. Crazy shopping days and lots of festive Xmas get togethers.
You don't tend to want to eat much, when you have a night off, and certainly it needs to be light and fresh, for me.
This salad is just that and is beautiful served over chicken breast, veal or pork cutlets or yummy just by itself.
Would be lovely with left over turkey on boxing day. You could use nectarine instead of mango
The dressing really adds to the flavour.

1/4 red cabbage finely shredded
1/4 white cabbage finely shredded
1 red capsicum finely sliced
bunch of asparagus steamed and cut into 4
1 cucumber peeled and seeded
1 mango peeled and cut into large dice
spring onions aprrox 6 chopped finely
cashews 120 grams roasted
1cup chopped  parsley
1/2  cup coriander
1/2 cup chopped mint


2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown if you don't have this
2 tablespoons lime juice

You may add a small diced chilli if you would like it hot.

All the ingredients go into a saucepan on the top of the stove. Stir and heat until the sugar is melted.
Set aside.
Mix the red and white cabbage together with the asparagus, capsicum and cucumber. Toss half the parsley and coriander through.
All the ingredients for the salad can be prepared ahead and plated up and dressed at the time of serving.
When ready to plate pile the ingredients together that  you have prepared and lastly cover with the roasted nuts, mango and the remaining chopped herbs.
Spoon the dressing over making sure you get some on the meat if serving it on top. Delicious!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Quinoa, Rice and Coconut Salad

I just love the sweetness of this salad. Black quinoa is slightly bitter with an earthy sort of taste but takes on a totally different dimension with the dressing and coconut. It is substantial enough to have on its own, well, maybe if you are female or not feeling very hungry. It can be made well ahead and I feel it is better to do this as the grains have more time to absorb the flavours. You can play around with the ingredients. Add more nuts, toast them or use less coconut, add some sultanas or cranberries.
I had no time to photograph the dish. It was eaten in a flash !

2 cups black Quinoa
2 cups brown rice
1 cup shredded coconut
3 carrots finely shredded
1 cup slivered almonds
grated rind of an orange
1 cup finely chopped parsley
2 cup finely chopped spring onion


1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup sherry vinegar or you can use mirin

The quinoa needs to be soaked for 15 mins just covered in water. If you have a rice cooker use that to cook it, otherwise I cook it in the microwave uncovered for 10-15 mins. The water ratio should be 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 cups water. Set aside to cool.
Cook the brown rice and set aside to cool.
The carrots I shred in a food processor to quite fine.

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix. Add the dressing and serve.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Indian Spiced Chicken

Another old family favourite. Great for a do ahead and can be increased. This dish is not hard although it looks time consuming because of the spices, but it isn't. A real crowd pleaser !

You could cook them on the barbecue but the marinade will burn. So place them in  a foil tray and roast them in the barb with the lid closed.

2 whole chickens approx Size 12 or cut up or 2 kilos thigh cutlets
200 gram natural Yoghurt
2 medium onions
4 cloves Garlic crushed
3cm piece of Fresh ginger grated
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
2 teaspoons ground Coriander
2 teaspoons ground Paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground Turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Fry the onions until golden, add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and add all the spices and cook for a further minute, continuing to stir.
Remove from the heat and cool.
When cooled mix into the yoghurt.
This is the marinade.
Spread over the chicken and leave overnight.
If you have chicken pieces you can place them into a plastic bag with the yoghurt mixture, its very easy to mix and cover all the chicken pieces that way.
Roast on a medium heat.
Serve with basmati rice, yoghurt and spicy red lentils or a coriander and cashew nut pesto would make it really special.
Or a coriander and tomato salsa.
1 red onion
2 chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Hue to Hoian and Ho Chi Minh

A great spot on the Mekong for lunch

A couple of days in Hue became a historical awareness . These beautiful gentle people with a wonderful sense of humour, have endured thousands of years of battles and  two major wars in recent history.  The  ancient capitol of Vietnam, the city was under Chinese rule from 111 BC and the history is prevalent. Lots of Chinese influence in their architecture. The French also had control  and there are many French restaurants to be found. I feel though they are finally establishing their own "modern" Vietnamese identity and are very proud of it.
As we travel south, the food becomes spicier and each city claims to have the best pho or noodle soup.
Our cooking class in Hue was in a beautiful garden setting. The markets in Hue and Hoian, also an ancient town were similar, but each offered slightly different produce. Each of the markets are frequented every day by locals so there are also many cooking utensils on offer.
Unfortunately I don't have enough luggage space to bring it all back !
Sophistication is far from every day life, yet these softly spoken humorous people  bring service to a whole new level. Proud and eager to please every dining experience puts western service to shame.
We loved the glamorous, Ly Club and Nam Pham for the food, ambience and architecture.
The Ho Chi Minh cooking school took us to a whole new level. We drove for an hour to the outskirts of the city to a rural farm owned and operated by a Vietnamese chef who also owns a restaurant in Melbourne. We were given a guided tour of the farm and picked our herbs and vegetables for the class. The chef who is also a doctor regaled us with many medicinal remedies, for very herb we collected. All stories were told with a great command of the english language. The lake on the farm is thanks to the Americans who bombed the area in the war and now full of water, the crater provides them with fish.
So they say thank you America !
We ate, we drank,  we shopped,we laughed and learnt.
I am very excited about the next culinary adventure to Vietnam in March 2015
Market ladies with their fresh produce

The beautiful handmade ceramic artwork on the wall leading into our cooking class at Ancient Hue
The garden setting for our cooking class

Ancient woman with her produce

Happy students

Making rice paper sheets for fresh spring rolls

Japanese bridge in Hoian

Picking our produce for Ho Chi Minh cooking class
A final row down the canals of the Mekong

Friday, 10 October 2014

Hanoi Cooking Centre and Street Food Tour

Hanoi is the first stop on the reconnaissance for my Want Food Tours to Vietnam in 2015.
Wonderful food and gorgeous gentle people, with a curiously Western sense of humour all help to make it a memorable experience. The street food tour with one of the chefs from Hanoi Cooking Centre was so informative and amazing. The cooking class also professional, but lots of fun.
An hour in one street, was all the time we needed to find some beautiful embroidered sheets, linen, 
silk shirts. Off to Hue next the Ancient capitol of Vietnam.

Site inspection of our accommodation L'Opera hotel...... perfect spot for afternoon drinks

Don't have a car , not a problem load up your motorbike
Roast dog anyone ? 

Street food delicious pillow cakes for 60 cents
Original homes in the old quarter
Happy chickens lay white eggs, unhappy brown eggs !!!!
Dried mushrooms

Vast array of beautiful kidney beans, mung beans, chick pea, lentils.......... love their display
Fresh produce delivered to your door
Some of the lads having a  local Hanoi beer in a popular beer garden
Chicken anyone ?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Risotto with Sausage and Peas

Last week end we had the pleasure of attending the long Lunch at Rylstone Olive Press.
The growers  and manufacturers of my favourite olive oil.
Rylstone has continued to win awards more recently at The New York International Olive Oil competition. They have won the highest award of any Australian olive oil to date beating over 700 oils from all over the world.
A true credit to the hard work and insight of Jayne and Peter Bentivoglio, and the team.
We were guests of the Bentivoglios an Friday night for a casual dinner in a  purpose built shed overlooking the olive groves. What a divine setting, sipping champagne as the sun went down over the mountains.
The Olive Groves

Self, James Brown( Manager  Rylstone) and Sam McKay

 Michael Want, Matteo, Giovanni, Alice Wood
Barb Sullivan and Prue Puskar (Rylstone)

Saturday we headed out for the lunch in the building that houses the actual press.
 It is little more than a press , it is more like someones very large home with a wonderful ambiance . After a tour  of the press and pre lunch drinks, 80 were seated comfortably to begin our feast.
 We immersed ourselves in the 4 course menu of Giovanni Pilu from Pilu at Freshwater in Sydney.
Of course all the food was cooked with Rylstone Olive Oil and we also got to sample the range with our antipasti.
One of the highlights of the meal for me, besides the dessert was the risotto.
Absolutely sublime, the most delicious risotto I have ever tasted. One of those occasions when you want to keep eating, but know there is more to follow.
Lots of eating and drinking well into the evening, a great day was had by all.
Then on Tuesday I was lucky enough to be asked to attend a cooking demonstration of risotto and olive oil with Giovanni Pilu and Alessandro Pavoni from Ormeggio.
The chefs were at William Blue Hospitality School with Jayne Bentivoligio, the dynamic founder of Rylstone Olive Oil.
We were taught many things about olive oil the good and the bad. A very informative talk from Jayne. I will never buy some of those supermarket oils again !!
Well that risotto did it for me. I had to come home and try to create as well as they did.
One is never too old to learn and I learnt that day that you never serve the risotto piled up in a dish.
It must always be served on a flat plate so the grains aren't on top of each other and continually cooking.
This risotto is a variation of Alessandro Pavoni's and we all thought it was pretty delicious.
The chefs also prefer Canaroli rice to Arborio rice which they feel is better for Arancini. Aquarello rice being the one of choice for the chefs.

2 cups of Canaroli Rice
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
150 mls white wine
 3 litres chicken stock
4 Italian sausages
300 grams of peas
200 grams pecorino cheese
100 grams butter
Rylstone Olive oil

Put the stock into a pot and bring to the boil, then turn down to a rolling simmer.
Also put the wine into a saucepan and heat till nearly boiling.
Remove the sausages from their casings and cook in a little olive oil and chop them as you half cook them, similar to cooking mince. Set aside, leaving the remainder of the cooking to happen with the rice.
Next fry the onions and garlic in a little more olive oil until transparent and also set aside. Be careful not to burn them.
Heat  a spoon of butter in a large pot on top of the stove, with a little olive oil to stop it burning.
Add the rice and stir it thoroughly till it is quite hot and all the grains are coated in the butter and oil.
Don't let it burn.
Add the hot wine and don't stir, just let it absorb the liquid. Shake the pan to move it around.
Next ladle the hot stock ladle at a time until the rice is just covered and leave until the liquid is absorbed.
Add the onion and sausage and start stirring.  Heat 200 grams of the peas and puree them and add
 to the rice . Lastly add the whole peas.
Keep ladling until the rice is cooked, al dente. Stirring the liquid through. Season if needed. Remember the cheese and stock are salty but I feel it needs salt to bring out the flavours.
 It must still have a slight crunch. The mixture mustn't be too dry it actually should be quite wet.
 Let it it sit for a minute.
Then add big knobs of  the remaining butter and the grated pecorino cheese and let sit for 2 minutes.
Shake the pan to mix it, if you can't, give it a light stir. Drizzle with  extra olive oil.
Place onto a flat plate and give it a light tap on the bench to spread it further.
Serve at the table, sprinkle with a little more cheese and let the guests serve themselves. Yum Yum !

I would love to try your favourite risotto recipe !!

Our menu
Early start, drinks in the courtyard of the press

Before Lunch

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Pearl Barley Salad with Almonds, Raisons ,Feta and Sweet Potato

Spring is finally in the air ! The month of rain has gone, everything is green and clean. Our thoughts start turning to lighter meals with fresh ingredients like salads.
I have been having a few dining experiences with The Versatile Gent. Amazing meals and wines, fabulous inspirational food to try to replicate at home.
We had an wonderful meal at The Far North in Turramurra, recently, accompanied by Astrolabe wines, from New Zealand.
The charming young owner Brett together with his Japanese chef will make your dining experience one to remember. This is so exciting for anyone who lives in the leafy suburbs of " the far north " because you don't have a huge choice for restaurants particularly of this calibre. Give it a try you won't be disappointed. Oh and try the Astrolabe wines, all beautiful. I am really looking forward to my order .
Well this salad is nothing like the delicious Japanese inspired canapés or salads I had at The Far North, but it would go beautifully with the lamb we had.
I served it with Lamb for a meal with some young guests, we entertained recently. They are always very complimentary and empty plates are an indication that the food was good.
You could put whatever you like into this salad. Ottolenghi inspired, maybe a touch middle eastern but the pearl barley always reminds me of old fashioned stews and soups my grandmother used to make.
I don't think you need much else to go with a meat meal, maybe some steamed greens like broccolini
kale or asparagus. I added some corn on this occasion, as I didn't have any sweet potato !!!

Pearl barley 2 cups
Chicken stock 6 cups
Toasted almonds 100grams roughly chopped
Raisons 1/2 cup
Feta 150 grams
Sweet potato small
Red onion 1 small
Mint 1/2 bunch
Parsley 1/2 bunch
Rylstone olive oil 50 ml
pomegranate molasses 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper

Bring the chicken stock to boil and turn down to a simmer once you have the pearl barley in. Cook until just soft, approx 35 minutes. Drain very well and  toss a fork through to separate and leave to cool a little.
Toast the almonds.
Peel sweet potato and cut into smallish similar size pieces and roast in the oven until just cooked. Set aside to cool.
Slice the red onion finely and slice again.
Chop the mint and parsley.
Cut the feta size bite sized cubes.

As the barley is cooling toss through a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil with the pomegranate molasses, mint, parsley, red onion and raisins. Taste the pearl barley because it has been cooked in stock it will not require as much salt. Add pepper to taste.
Lastly very gently add the feta and sweet potato and sprinkle with the almonds
Perhaps a final garnish with some more chopped parsley.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Want Food Tour to Vietnam

 For those who have expressed an interest in Want Food Ideas to Vietnam.

The tour is for 13 people including myself and departs 5th March 2015.
We will start our culinary journey in the northern city of Hanoi and travel to Hue, Hoian  and
Ho Chi Minh.
It will be approx 11-12 days.
Internal travel is by air.
We are staying in 5 star hotels and doing cooking classes and market tours in each city.
We will also be dining in some fabulous restaurants.
As well as the culinary side there is plenty of time for sightseeing and shopping.
As with past tours it will also be a lot of fun.
I am travelling to Vietnam on 7th October to finalise all classes and hotels and will have final costings after that.
Please let me know if you are interested and would like to receive any further information.
I have already had an enormous amount of interest in Vietnam.
The tour is  filling quickly, but if I have enough numbers I will do another tour in February just prior to this one.
Get in early so you don't miss out.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Gnocchi with Mushroom and Proscuitto

Sydney has been inundated with rain for the past couple of weeks. Weather that has been so bleak, with chilly days and nights only means we stay indoors. We eat, drink, watch TV, watch movies have friends over for a meal or go out to dine and most importantly for me, cook.
The time to try recipes, old and new.
I decided to revisit gnocchi, a dish I haven't made for years.
Coupled with a great red wine, we all loved it. The trick is in the potatoes I think. Buy a variety that is Not for roasting or chips. I used  dirty old desiree potatoes and cooked them in their skins. Cooking them in their skins helps keep the potato flavour and stops them from going too soggy. Soggy potatoes don't make good gnocchi. I mixed it with a little pumpkin to change it and make it a little lighter on the bite. It look like this is a lot of work . It isn't really and is well worth the effort.

650 gram potato washed and scrubbed. Any potato that is good for mashing is suitable.
250 gram jap pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 cup plain flour

200 grams mushrooms
5 slices prosciutto
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup Parmesan
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
300 ml cream
1/4 teaspoon thyme
8 sage leaves

Turn the oven on to 180C.
Boil the potatoes in their skins, until cooked. Don't overcook them. Set aside to cool
Cut the pumpkin into similar size pieces and place in the oven on a tray to roast the until cooked.
Once the potato is cooled the skin will peel off very easily.
Mash the pumpkin and set aside.
Sieve the flour and salt onto a piece of baking paper and push the potato through a mouli or a sieve onto the flour.
Add the mashed pumpkin.
Break the egg on top and slowly mix the ingredients together with your hands, until the lot is a soft dough. Don't handle it too much, it will come together nicely. If you feel it is a little wet, add a little more flour.
Cut pieces of the dough and roll gently with your hands to form a long sausage shape.
Cut into approx 2 cm pieces and push each piece gently with a fork. This allows the sauce to adhere to the dough, better.
Set them all aside on a clean baking sheet until ready to cook. Sprinkle with a little flour.

Place the prosciutto and sage on a baking tray in the oven and cook until crisp approx 10 mins for prosciutto. Watch the sage as it will easily burn. Set aside when cooked.
Put water on to boil in a large saucepan you would use for pasta and bring to the boil.
Cook the garlic and mushrooms in butter until mushrooms are just cooked.
Add the cream and chicken stock and boil until the cream separates a little and thins out. Add thyme and season.
When the water comes to boil, add the gnocchi to cook. It will take a couple of minutes to rise to the surface which means it will be cooked.
Add the gnocchi to each plate with a little sauce and crunch the prosciutto over the top with some sage and Parmesan. Delicious !

                                             Gnocchi with Mushroom and Proscuitto

Fat little "dumplings" ready to be cooked

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Thai Massamun Lamb Shanks

We are off to the southern highlands to stay with wonderful friends for a Xmas in July, well August this week end.
It is also another week end of sport viewing . The first game of the Bledisloe Cup is on and everyone is for ever hopeful about the Wallabies.  If you aren't going out to the game, get some friends around to watch it and a wintery do ahead meal is in order and this is perfect.
I made it this week, delicious. Although I have also made Osso Bucco for a casual dinner for friends last night and Asian Beef Pies for tonight for twelve.
All of these meals can be done and ready so you can spend time with your guests.
Of course I like to make my own paste but a bought one is fine if you are familiar with it. You may have to add extra of the seasonings.
Saturday night we will be indulging in Turkey with all the trimmings, which we are making.
We have cheated on the pudding, we have Heston Blumenthals puddings, they are absolutely delicious.
Look out for them this coming Xmas if you aren't inclined to make a pudding. I am not a fan of bought ready made food, but they are seriously worth consideration.
This is for 6 people.

6 lamb shanks
2 cans coconut milk
300 ml chicken stock
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons tamarind puree
150 gram massamun curry paste ( homemade is preferred )
fresh coriander
500 gram sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 2 cm pieces
100 grams pearl onions or 1 very large onion cut into eights
Rylstone olive oil

Seal the lamb shanks in a little Rylstone olive oil.
Fry the curry paste in remainder of oil. add the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer.
 Add fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind puree, and continue to simmer for a minute to allow flavours to infuse.
Add the lamb shanks and cook in a 160C oven covered for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove and ad the sweet potato and onion and cook for a further 1/2 hour.
Serve with steamed rice and freshly chopped coriander.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Asian Style Beef Pie

The weather forgot to be winter for a week, but the cold is back with a vengeance.
So another little tummy warmer for the family dinner or smart enough for entertaining casually.
This is not strictly a pie nor Asian except for the Thai spices. The flavours are subtle and the pie is quite rich, with the addition of the pureed sweet potato. You could always use pastry or another variety of potato as an alternative.
It can be totally made with the inclusion of the topping and sit waiting to pop into the oven to warm through half an hour before serving. Delicious and easy.

1 kilo beef chuck cubed
Rylstone olive oil
2 onions chopped finely
2 carrots sliced and quartered
2 cloves garlic crushed
1tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3 teaspoons palm sugar
1 large red chilli or 2 small very finely chopped.
750 ml beef stock
2 shallots

2 large sweet potato or 500 gram
large knob butter
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
large knob butter
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
3 tablespoons toasted chopped pecans ( optional )

 Drizzle beef with oil and brown in a casserole dish in two or three batches over a med heat.
Add the carrots onions and garlic and fry gently for a couple of minutes stirring it through the beef.
Add the stock, soy sauce, fish sauce,  palm sugar and chilli and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for one and half hours. Add chopped spring onions just before serving.
Steam sweet potato and mix through butter and milk with the crushed ginger. Add the pecans last if using.
Divide the mixture into four ovenproof ramekins and top with the sweet potato and warm in a moderate oven for about half an hour.
Serve with steamed Asian greens.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Tomato Soup with Chorizo

Another simple winter lunch or dinner. Of course fresh tomatoes would be far more delicious, however they are not as beautiful in the winter and are more expensive. This is very quick, filling and tasty and with the addition of milk it makes it a little softer on the palate.

1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 large jar tomato passata
1 tin chopped tomatoes
750 ml chicken or vegetable stock
3 spring onions
handful of basil leaves
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-2 cups milk  
2 chorizo

Chop onion and garlic and sweat in a little olive oil in a large pot on stovetop.
Add tomato passata and tinned tomatoes, chopped spring onions, sugar, cumin and basil.
Simmer for about 20 minutes to let flavours infuse.
Slice chorizo and then cut each slice again into quarters. cook separately in fry pan until just done.
Blend the soup mix with a handheld stick or in a blender.
Add the milk  and lastly the chorizo. Adjust seasoning and serve with crusty french bread.
If you don't want it to be a little creamy omit the milk. Alternatively you could add a dollop of cream at serving for each diner to swirl through as they are eating.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Mexican Mac and Cheese

My sister and I recently had the pleasure of visiting my daughter in New York and were lucky enough to go to some wonderful restaurants. She works as an interior designer  in hospitality and helped us decide from the millions of restaurants on my list. So many to choose from. In fact she told me you could eat out every night in New York for 58 years and never eat at the same place twice.!
We dined in many very good restaurants and enjoyed a wide variety of cuisines.
What does astound me is the Americans love of Mac and Cheese, or Macaroni and Cheese as it is correctly called. It is on many menus in very good restaurants, maybe with the addition of lobster, or duck to take it to another level.
There are restaurants totally dedicated to the dish and people line up to buy it.
Although there was Macbar near me in Soho, I didn't go there. I haven't eaten Mac and Cheese since a small girl but thought I would give this a try to remind me what all the fuss is about. I was pleasantly surprised. I made mine with a little touch of Mexican. A simple family winter meal. Play around with ingredients and change it next time.

375 grams macaroni or elbow pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup plain flour
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 small onion finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 red capsicum, finely chopped
2 small chillies finely chopped
1 can red kidney beans
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra cheese
handful of chopped coriander

Cook the macaroni or pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Set aside.
Fry the onions, garlic, chilli and capsicum in a small amount of oil until soft. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Melt the butter and mix in the flour and make a roux. Add the chicken stock and mix really well. Warm the milk and gradually add it to the stock mixture. Mix the two cheese into the roux and stir until the cheeses have melted.
Return the onion, capsicum, chilli and garlic to the sauce. Add the drained kidney beans and mix through. Adjust the seasoning. The mixture shouldn't be too thick as it will also thicken whilst baking.
Stir the pasta and the sauce together.
Preheat the oven to 160C
Place in a an ovenproof casserole and sprinkle with the extra cheese and chopped coriander
Bake for approx 30-40 minutes.