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The wonder and the majesty

This Mac N Cheese is a little bit extra, if I do say so myself. It’s not for the calorie counters, or the carb and dairy avoiders. Oh no: not for you. Not for you at all.

Ingredients

  • 1.5-2 cups of elbow macaroni (dried)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 cup milk
  • 1 cup stock made up (I use vegeta vegetable stock)
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 of a half round of Creamy Blue Castello, chopped (if you are wondering what to do with the rest of the round, make this amazing blue cheese dip)
  • 100gms provolone, finely grated (you could substitute a tasty cheddar)
  • 100gms parmesan, finely grated
  • 100gms gruyere, finely grated
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Olive Oil

Cook the curly macaroni in salted water and drain. Oil a large baking dish and pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

In a large saucepan (it needs to be large because you will be adding the macaroni to it), melt the butter and add the spring onions and when you can smell the cooked onions, add the flour (you’re now making a roux), stir while cooking. If it starts to stick add a tiny bit of olive oil (less than 1/2 tbsp) and keep stirring. and the roux is a nice golden colour, add 1/3 of the milk to it, turn the heat down to low-medium and stir until fully combined. Now add the rest of the cup of milk and stir until combined.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the pasta, and stir until covered in sauce (congratulations, you’ve just made pasta with white sauce). The sauce should be starting to thicken at this point, so turn down the heat to low-medium and then add your provolone, parmesan and gruyere cheese one at a time, stirring thoroughly when you do.

Once the cheese has melted into the white sauce, take off the heat. Tip out into your baking dish (you can freeze any surplus and microwave, it’s very nice). Tuck your pieces of Creamy Blue Castello into the pasta in the dish (making sure every part of the dish has a portion of goodness), top with panko breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of parmesan and/or gruyere and a drizzle of olive oil.

Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes (it’s already cooked, you are just heating the top and melting the cheese). Then serve…#yourewelcome

It’s pretty deluxe

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Left: hardcore version. Right: softcore version

I don’t particularly like blue cheese, but this dip has won me over. If you make it just before serving, it will be quite runny and you can use it as a salad dressing (great over cos lettuce halves). If you leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight, it will firm up and become more of a dip consistency.

In whatever form, it is great with hot and spicy chicken winglets, and celery. I cannot get enough of celery sticks dipped into this.

Warning: you will need a food processor (I have a mini stick food processor)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • Blue cheese:
    • Softcore version: use 1/4 to 1/3 of the White Castello soft cheese half round (Creamy White)
    • Hardcore version: use 1/4 to 1/3 of the Blue Castello soft cheese half round (Creamy Blue)
    • Extremely hardcore version: use 1/4 of the Creamy Blue and 1/4 of an actual hardcore blue
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Pop everything into your mini food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a lidded container and then either dress salad with it immediately, or leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

Dressed cos lettuce halves and radish quarters

You can thank the Countess Von Noodlestein for inspiring this: she drenches tomatoes and separately chopped iceberg lettuce in something similar. And it is divine. It’s also quite simple.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (aka EVOO)
  • 1 clove garlic (fresh garlic, mind)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Crush the fresh garlic into a dressing container, add the salt, mix and leave for about 20 minutes. Then add the EVOO and the pepper and whisk/shake until well combined. If you are serving this over tomatoes, dress the tomatoes in it an hour/so before so they have time to warm up, marinate and infuse (same with the chopped iceberg lettuce), otherwise drizzle over your cos lettuce halves, your radishes or whatever else you want to bath in luxurious, garlicky, olive oil warmness immediately before serving.

Dressed cos lettuce halves (2018 may be all about the cos lettuce halves) and tomato quarters

Cos lettuce halves with tomato quarters, slow cooked beef ribs and red cabbage coleslaw

I’ve previously shared with you a really delicious, creamy Purple Coleslaw with ginger, lemongrass and garlic.

This new version is a purple cabbage coleslaw for the days when you don’t want a creamy salad (perhaps you are cooking something that is quite fatty and rich in and of itself, like beef ribs). It’s a lot more simple that the creamy version, but word of warning: it’s not for the coriander h8rs.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 head of purple cabbage (red cabbage), finely sliced
  • 1/2 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped finely (coriander ha8rs could substitute mint and/or basil…I guess).
  • 1-2 tbsp sushi vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

Pop the cabbage in a bowl with a lid, add in the sushi vinegar and caster sugar. Shake and leave for 1-2 hours: I left it on the counter top but you could also leave it in the fridge. Every so often, shake your bowl (hence the need for a bowl with a lid) to make sure the vinegar and caster sugar are covering all the cabbage and the sugar is dissolving (you could also mix the sugar and vinegar together before you pop it on the cabbage, but I was lazy).

When you are ready to serve, add in the coriander and stir thoroughly.

Things were mint in the garden. Boom Tish.

From August-November, I managed to get quite a good harvest out of the snow peas and sugar snap peas I planted, particularly the snow peas.

Demurely productive vegetable garden.

And I got a respectable harvest out of the broad bean, although nowhere near the terrifying surplus of 2013 (which caused me to research and test a number of recipes). It’s convenient this year’s broad beans weren’t as prolific: I really didn’t have space in my freezer to deal.

Veggie garden with Mulberry Tree photobomb

The Mulberry tree was also prolific but due to a horrendous combination of professional, study, personal and social commitments…I didn’t really get to enjoy it (or take photos of it) this year.

I will have to review Mulberry pruning strategies for next year: I didn’t prune this year because I over-pruned in 2016. As a result all the 2017 fruit was on incredible high verticals that I couldn’t actually reach to harvest: it was prolific, I just couldn’t get to the fruit. I need to research and find a happy medium of pruning for the tree in 2018.

Note the plant markers? That’s what you can do with your bamboo cutlery…

I also used up a lot of seed this year: sprinkling much of it along my back fence line to see if it was still fertile (some of it was quite aged). I also planted leeks, the last of the padron pimiento, tamarillos, tomatillos and oxheart tomato seeds. Some of the padron pimientos came up, so did the oxhearts, and a couple of tomatillos. But sadly no show from the leeks and tamarillos.

Advanced oxhearts

I planted out the oxheart tomato seedings when I sectioned some Sansevieria (aka snake plant) for people. I also planted out the tomatillos.

The tomatoes will grow happily for 2 months, and then all up their sticks within two weeks of one another.

Sadly all the tomatoes gave up the ghost about 2 weeks ago, after growing quite nicely. And I am down to only one tomatillo, which is also disappointing. The padron pimientos are doing quite well though. So that’s something.

At least I still have the mint…until the cabbage moth caterpillars find it and eat it again.

A picture says a thousand words…

Let me OUT.

So here’s 1000 words for you:

LET me OUT.

And even more words, all very unimpressed:

LET ME OUT

 

If you haven’t already worked it out, I have a problem with stopping and smelling the roses nasturtiums. I keep too many lists of things to do, and I don’t always take enough time to appreciate how far I’ve come. So let’s have a moment:

#gardengoal

I’ve always wanted my back garden to be overflowing: with rocket (I now have wild rocket as a weed #achievementunlocked), cape gooseberries (still working on this one) and nasturtiums. Not only are nasturtiums pretty, they are edible and there’s a verge in Guildford that gets covered with them every year…I have always loved it. I have other plans for my front verge, but I did want nasturtiums in my back garden to rival that front verge.

Scenic compost bin vista.

The nasturtiums are now starting to come up without me sewing seeds, which is awesome. The other side of the garden also looks fine:

To the lemon tree, Jeeves.

And the wider view is quite pretty:

Much green, so wow.

We’ve come a long way baby:

More green, more wow, such achievement.

Not too shabby.

This IS a slightly different nasturtium photo from the lead photo. If you MUST know.