4 Cheese Macaroni makes Monday’s supper magical…

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4 Cheese Macaroni makes Monday supper magical...

This is one of those dishes that is simply a sensory delight. It transforms a dull clichéd pasta and cheese dish into a veritable dish of the Gods. It looks good, it smells unbelievable and the texture is phenomenal. It is a dish to leave home for, to marry for, to fight for. I cannot tell you how good it is – but, and I know I wax lyrical rather too often at times – this dish is really worth waxing about – it is fabulous in every sense of the word. Please – please – please make it – and make it soon. Throw all other macaroni recipes in the bin.

For 4

500 gms pasta – use macaroni – I used a mix from my odds and sods tin – very home should have one
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 large teaspoons of oregano
75 gms Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus a little extra for grating
100 gms Taleggio cheese, roughly chopped – my favourite …mmmm
100 gms mascarpone cheese
1 ball of mozzarella cheese
75 gms of lardons pan fired and put to one side
A sprinkle of dried chilli seeds

Preheat the oven to 200ºc. Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain in a colander and keep back a little of the cooking water.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan, add the oregano and fry gently for a minute, then turn off the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the oregano oil (this is a vital part of the process and adds immensely to the sensory experience of this dish- I promise), along with a couple of spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water and the parmesan, taleggio and mascarpone.

Return to a medium heat and toss and stir around until most of the cheese has melted and you have a seriously goo style sauce – you may need to add a little more of the reserved cooking water. Add a short sharp shock of sea salt and two or three grinds of black pepper, then tip it all into an earthenware dish. Add the lardons. Add the mozzarella sliced into slivers and sprinkle over the extra parmesan. Then add the sprinkle of chilli seeds. Bake the macaroni cheese in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and stick the dish under a preheated grill until golden brown.

I served it with a rocket salad and a fine bottle of Primitivo from Puglia – a favourite wine of mine.

My Monday is now complete. I can face the rest of the week- all because of this dish.

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A tuna day keeps the doctor away….!

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A tuna day keeps the fiddler away....!

A Tune A Day was a popular guitar tutor book when I was knee high to a grasshopper…by an old guitar player called Bert Weedon if I recall…anyway…tuna is supposed to be good for you like all oily fish so I guess eating it should keep the doc away! Look, I’m rambling…so…Tuna…what can one say..the tinned variety does not always get a good press…but I have a phenomenally simple recipe that our family loves. Tis cheap as chips…and yet satisfying, vibrant and malleable. My wife does a version of this pizzaiola sauce mixing it all up cold first then adding it to the hot pasta. Delicious. Love it. But….I have to…it is in my nature….be different…and so I have taken her dish and cooked it! So…in a frying pan – I use a wok because it is easy to add the pasta to at the finale- I drizzle some olive oil, a chopped clove of garlic, a whole pierced red chill, and a good sprinkle of dried oregano. Get it warm and cosy…not fizzing. Then add 800 grams of your best chopped tinned tomatoes, a dash of tomato puree or a good tom sauce, and a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves and stalks. Bring it to a gentle simmer. Add 2 teaspoons of rinsed capers, a good handful of black olives – if tinned rinse! – and I added 6 mozzarella pearls halved – though you could just add a sliced ball of mozzarella. Sprinkle in some ground black pepper and a little ground rock salt. Add a tin of tuna..stir it gently in. It should look like this!

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Put on 400 gm of rigatoni pasta – best for soaking up the juices – and let the sauce simmer whilst it cooks. The mozzarella will become unctuously runny and the whole thing will make you want to pour a good glass of red in celebration. Drain the pasta. Add it to the sauce carefully and stir it all together. Add a few more torn basil leaves, a drizzle of oil and serve. This is soooo easy and soooo terrifically delicious. Cheers!

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