You know how, as food bloggers*, we like to convince our readers that we always eat like this? That beautiful, creative, well thought out and healthy meals grace our tables daily and effortlessly? That we never succumb to take-out pizza, boxed cake mixes or store-bought vanilla extract?
(*I’m addressing this to “food bloggers” because I’m convinced that at least 90% of food blog-readers are food-blog writers, too.)
Well, in my house at least, the above is emphatically not the case. Sure, I try to eat healthily most of the time, and the last time I used a baking mix was years ago, but come on- I’m not Super Foodie Girl, here. To prove this, I feel like it might be time to come clean about one of my favourite meals, one that is eaten all too often in my house: macaroni and cheese.
I’ve talked about my love for mac n’ cheese before, but I don’t think I really admitted how often we eat this around here. I’d say some variation of this dish graces our table every week, either because I’ve planned it, or because we’re too tired or uninspired to think of anything else. Plus, it’s the all-time favourite meal of my three-year-old child26-year-old boyfriend, and what Andrew wants, Andrew gets.
Luckily, no amount of fatigue can quell my kitchen creativity, so I’m always trying out new recipes for our favourite dish. Some experiments are deemed failures (Andrew wasn’t too keen on my Mac n’ Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Sundried Tomatoes the other week) and some are pronounced winners. Truthfully, the scale tips in favour of the latter (it’s sort of hard to make mac n’ cheese bad, after all), so we now have a lengthy roster of winners to choose from.
This version uses the mild, oniony flavour of leeks and the tartness of sour cream to keep things interesting, along with a healthy (er, unhealthy) dose of mature cheddar and parmesan. I usually use whole wheat pasta for it, if only because the extra nutrients soothe my food-blogging guilt, slightly.
Macaroni and Cheese with Leeks and Sour Cream
- 250g pasta, any shape you like
- 1 Tbs. butter
- 2 leeks
- 1 Tbs. flour
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbs. milk
- 1/3 cup sour cream (low-fat if you must)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- sea salt and black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, and when it does, salt it generously. Cook pasta according to packet instructions.
- While the pasta cooks, slice the leeks (white and light green parts only) into 1cm rounds and rinse them well. Mix together the flour with 1 Tbs. of milk in a small cup, and set aside.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and cook for 5-6 minutes until softened.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the sour cream to the pan, and stir well. The mixture will begin to curdle- DO NOT panic! Keep stirring, and it will come together.
- Stirring all the time, pour in the milk/flour mixture and wait until the sauce thickens- about three minutes. Add the cheeses and stir until melted. Taste, season with salt and pepper and take off the heat.
- When the pasta is ready, drain and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.