Cheese. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best foods ever invented. There are so many different varieties with so many different uses. From tiramisu to pizza to cutting out the middle man and going straight in for a fondue, a small amount of cheese can lift a dish from good to truly sublime.
The methods of making cheese have been refined a lot over history with the earliest record of cheese being over 7500 years ago! Cheese evolved differently in different areas of world depending on the climate. Hotter climates gave rise to hard, salted cheeses as it prevented the cheese from turning however in Europe, the climate was much milder so cheeses could be aged for longer and with less salt resulting in cheese that could grow moulds leading to stronger flavours.
In terms of sweet dishes made from cheese, the most common is cheesecake however even this has changed dramatically over the years. 200 years ago – you couldn’t buy cream cheese to use and would have to make your own curds every time you made the cake. This lead to it having more of an eggy, ricotta-like flavour and texture rather than the luscious smoothness of today’s cheesecakes. Cream cheese frosting is another example of a savoury item being used for a sweet dish. The bizarre thing about this icing is that cream cheese varies massively by country. The standard recipes use American block cream cheese which is very thick however here in England, the most widely available brands are far softer and turn very runny when they are beaten making the icing turn to liquid!
Macaroni cheese has been a family staple for as long as I can remember. It has been a tradition on Yom Kippur to break the fast on cauliflower cheese however my mum would make macaroni cheese for the children – me included. Hunger is definitely the best condiment because no matter how amazing this tastes normally, when you haven’t eaten for 25 hours, it is just that little bit better! Since then I have taken the recipe up to university and continued breaking the fast on in when Yom Kippur falls during the university term. The macaroni cheese keeps well and also freezes but it isn’t often that there is enough left for that to ever be an issue!
Preparation time – 20 minutes Cook time – 40 minutes
Serves – 4-6 Cost per portion: about 90p
200g Cheddar – grated
200g Red Leicester – grated
40g plain flour
1 pint milk (full fat gets the best flavour but I will use whatever I have around!)
500g dried macaroni
Cayenne Pepper (a pinch)
Nutmeg (a few grates)
One Bay Leaf
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 (1900C)
Boil a pan of salted water.
Place the flour, butter, milk, salt, cayenne pepper, bay leaf and a little grated nutmeg into a heavy based pan.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about a minute less than the packet says
Heat the sauce mix whisking continuously until it has thickened and is almost boiling – this should take about as long as the pasta.
Drain the pasta and stir in a tiny bit of olive oil to prevent it sticking during the next stage.
Stir three quarters of the grated cheeses into the sauce (off the heat) and season with black pepper to taste.
Stir the sauce into the pasta and make sure it is all evenly coated.
Pour into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the dish.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is starting to brown and the macaroni cheese is bubbling.
Spoon onto plates or into bowls and serve immediately!
Let me know if you try this at yourselves and pop a photo across or tag me on Instagram at harryshomebakery! I love seeing what you guys create at home.
Have a good one and I’ll see you next Monday with a recipe for a multicoloured Battenberg cake!