Winter is coming, they say. There’s a chill in the air, the scarves and boots have been liberated from the depths of your wardrobe… and the rain? Let’s not even talk about the rain. You need comfort food. Forget low-carb and salads. You need something you can curl up in bed with after a long day, and for a few minutes, forget about the world, your assignments and your wet socks. You want a hug in a bowl. Leave the ready meals for someone else, the River Foodie is here to help you cook it yourself.
Mac and cheese is a classic. Easy to make, warming, filling and oh-so-cheap, turning basic ingredients you’ve probably already got into a hearty meal. This is a very basic recipe, but you can jazz it up any way you want. Want it meaty? Fry some bacon until it’s crispy and crumble that into it. A spoonful of pesto in the sauce adds even more flavour, and so does some onion. A handful of peas is one of your five a day, and what could be better than that?
Mac and Cheese
A knob of butter or buttery spread
A tablespoon of flour
About half a pint of milk
Grated cheese, and lots of it. Whichever you like, as long as it’ll melt. That lump of cheddar in the fridge will do nicely.
A teaspoon of mustard
Salt and pepper
Enough pasta to fill you – about a handful is a good guide
1) Put the pasta on to boil first.
2) Over a medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Don’t let it burn!
3) As soon as that’s melted, put in the flour, and stir or whisk it until it becomes a beige paste. (I know, that sounds SO appealing…)
4) Pour in the milk, a little bit at a time. If you chuck it all in at once, the sauce will become lumpy, you’ll be stirring for much longer and your arm will hurt. Be patient! Stir in a little at a time, and smooth sauce will be yours! If it does get lumpy and you don’t have a whisk, don’t panic, just keep stirring, and add a bit more milk. Don’t worry if it’s too runny, it’ll thicken as you keep heating it.
5) Once you’ve got it smooth and lovely, add the nutmeg (if using), and start going to town with adding the cheese. If your sauce is runny, the cheese will thicken it. Once you think you’ve got enough cheese in there, add a bit more. Go on, treat yourself.
6) Add the mustard, too. It enhances the cheese flavour and gives the sauce a bit more bite and colour.
7) Once your pasta’s cooked, drain it, and put it in the pan with the sauce. Give it a stir, and heat the whole lot through until it’s thick, sticky and bubbling. As your mum says, eat it while it’s hot!
Don’t fancy anything quite so heavy? Need a snack before you go out dancing? Guacamole will do nicely.
Forget the tubs of supermarket slime, homemade guacamole is fresh and light. Everyone has their own guacamole recipe. This is mine, subjected to rigorous and repeated taste testing.
The base never changes – avocado, lime and salt – but the rest is up for debate. If you like, swap the tabasco for fresh chillies or jalapenos, throw in some finely chopped red onion or spring onions, or add a bit of olive oil or garlic.
Go to a budget supermarket like Lidl or Aldi, or a market, for avocados, and give them a gentle squeeze to check that they’re ripe. Green Tabasco can be found in Waitrose – not cheap, but a small bottle lasts a while, and it’s worth investing in. The more commonly found red Tabasco works well too.
Eat in fajitas, on toast, with raw vegetables or crisps for dipping, or, my favourite, in a bacon sandwich. Serves two, if you can bear to share it.
Half a lime
Mild green Tabasco
A small handful of coriander
Half a tomato, finely chopped
1) Cut the avocado into cubes and put them in a bowl
2) Squeeze the lime over the avocado. Add a dash (to taste) of Tabasco, and a generous amount of salt. Mash this all together, leaving it fairly chunky.
3) Tear or chop the coriander finely, and put that in, along with the tomato. Take the seeds out of the tomato, or it’ll go too mushy.
4) Stir the lot together, and you’re done. See, easy!