Tag Archives: Easy Dinner

Chili Con Carne Mac and Cheese

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

One of my dreams is to one day own a mac and cheese food truck!

You can just about make any flavour and then toss it through macaroni and bake it.  Imagine all the things you like, then mix it in with macaroni.  For example, I love chili and chili con carne, mix it in with macaroni, put cheese on top and and bake it in the oven and you have chili mac and cheese.  You can also have it cold like a salad like they do in the Philippines.  There they have a salad with macaroni, its usually with pineapple, ham, palm seeds, cheddar cheese and coconut dressed with mayonnaise or sour cream, sounds weird but bloody tasty stuff.

Flavours are endless really, vego’s can have Napolitana sauce and cheese or use three types of cheeses and mix it with some mustard and a little cream and bake it with some nice cheddar on top.  My favourite flavour that I’ve come up with is roasted, crispy pork belly all chopped up and tossed in a dry pan to crispen up a little more, finish it some strips smokey roasted capsicums (peppers for non Aussies), roasted red onions and chipotle sauce, toss through macaroni and bake in the oven with some stinky cheese like an Epoisses or Taleggio.  Decadence with all the good things in one plate!  Served with crushed avocado on top and sour cream and boy, you’ve got a dish no one will turn their backs on.

Try this out for starters and see what the fuss is all about.  I am using the chili recipe from the a previous blog to make things a little easier or if you make that chili recipe and wonder what you can do with any left overs.

If you cook up a braise dish like osso bucco or lamb shank or even a curry, try cutting the meaty bits down a little more and toss it through macaroni, add cheese that closely fits its flavour profile on top and bake it and who knows, maybe you can come up with your original mac and cheese!

Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8

 

700gr Raw Macaroni

100gr Salt

500gr Alexandrina Cheddar Cheese – grated

1 Recipe of Chili Con Carne Recipe – previous articles

 

Method

For the Macaroni

  1. Place ten litres of water to boil with the salt
  2. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook until al dente.  This is when you bite into a pasta, it has some resistance to the teeth but no crunch
  3. Staring in a colander and run cold water through, set aside until needed

 

To Finish:

  1. Pre Heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Using a large pot, place the chili con carne sauce and heat up until simmering
  3. Add the blanched pasta and stir through for about 5 minutes
  4. Place into a baking dish
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top until “all” the surface area is covered, this will inhibit the pasta from getting dry
  6. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven or until the cheese is golden brown
Photo by Jun Pang

Photo by Jun Pang

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Spaghetti Alle Vongole

I love easy and tasty recipes.  People always ask me “so, do you cook at home?”.  I do, I love cooking at home, in fact I get a lot of joy cooking for myself.  I don’t have difficult customers or ungrateful people to deal with.  I can be free in my kitchen and with that freedom comes clarity.  I know exactly what I want, I can see how I can cook it and I prepare the dish with great ease because I get to play, I get to cook what ever “I” want.

I also get enjoyment cooking for my close friends, huge satisfaction actually. They’re honest with me, they tell me if it is “really good” or “it might need some work” but generally, good food and wine and even better company are the best ingredients to work with.

Photo by Jun Pang

I love this type of pasta where all you need is boiling water and a frying pan (I cook with a small wok, typical Asian, cook every thing in a wok!).  Very little chopping and very little finesse with knife work is needed.  I can cook this in 20 minutes flat and if you guys at home can’t complete this in 45 minutes, there is something seriously wrong!  Add vegetables like broccolini, perfect combination with this recipe.  Add prawns if you’d like.  Enjoy this with good parmesan cheese and sprinkling of dried chili flakes.  Have crusty bread near by to sop up all the wonderful juicy bits!

Photo by Jun Pang

Spaghetti Alle Vongole

Serves 2

500gr packet of Spaghetti

Olive Oil

5 cloves Garlic – finely chopped

4 Large Red Chilli – de-seeded and finely sliced

1kg Vongole

1 Cup White Wine

1 Bunch Parsley – finely chopped

Sea Salt

White Pepper

Method

  1. Place about 5 liters of water on the boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt into the water
  2. Add the pasta to the water and cook until aldente, with a little resistance when you bite into the pasta but with no crunch
  3. Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat up a large frying pan with deep sides on high heat for about 2 minutes
  4. Add the a splash of olive oil
  5. Add the garlic and chilli and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute on high heat
  6. Add the white wine, then place a lid on top of the pan and cook for about 2 minutes or until the vongole opens up
  7. Take the lid off, make sure the vongole has had enough time to open up, then strain the pasta and add it into the frying pan
  8. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and toss the pasta though thoroughly.  Toss chopped parsley
  9. Divide into 2 bowls and serve with chopped parsley

Photo by Jun Pang

Vongole – Italians call it “vongole”, Aussies call it “sand cockles” and the rest of the world call it a “clam”.  It is a bivalve mollusk, harvested on tidal flats.  They range in colour from light yellow through to light brown.  Unique flavour, light and sweet seafood flavours, like a sweeter, lighter flavour of mussels.

The vongole being steamed open

Toss the pasta through

Plate up