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Wednesday, 25 July 2007

a tasty ear for a cosy night in

After getting a bit sauced on Friday night, Saturday laziness demanded comfort food for hungry bellies. I had the mac cheese craving but wanted something a little more silky and luxuriant on the taste buds. A rummage around the cupboard, fridge and herb pots gave me the splendid chewiness of orecchiette pasta, a handful of olives, a bag of mushies, fresh basil and parsley and, to really kick it up a notch, some truffle infused olive oil... all punching around the thigh-bulking cheeeeeesiness of cheddarfied white sauce.

Before I give you the shizzle I want to point out that the original recipe came from a North American book. I looked at '1/4 cup butter' for a long time hoping it would make sense. In the end, all I heard was... "I knew these people, these two people. They were in love with each other..." So I cut off a slab and hoped for the best. It seemed to work. That's as precise as I can be. Also, it really is worth using orecchiette pasta here. The name translates as 'little ears' and they are THAT satisfying to chew threw.

This is adapted from Jennifer Warren's basic mac cheese recipe in her book, Vegetarian Comfort Food.

What you need

Orecchiette (or your favourite noodles) for 2
Olive flesh cut off the pip (about 10 olives)
A dozen (or so) sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1.5 cups soy milk
Good pinch of sumac
A little girl's handful of chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
1 cup of grated cheddar
Fresh basil leaves
2 spring onions (sliced)
Truffle oil

Making it

This is a multi tasking affair. Turn the oven onto 200(c)/400(f). Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook your pasta while you make the sauce.


Melt the butter in a saucepan, sift and whisk in the flour then gradually whisk in 3/4 cup of the milk. Remove from heat and continue whisking while you add the sumac, parsley and 1/2 cup of cheese. Return to the heat and add the rest of the milk. Stir constantly, bringing it to the boil for a couple of minutes. Season to taste.


Drain and season your little ears then toss them in a bowl with the olives, spring onions and mushrooms. Empty the mix into an oven proof dish and pour your sauce all over it. Give it a shake and sprinkle the top with the other 1/2 cup of cheese then pop it in the oven for a good ten minutes. Nuke the top under the grill or with a cook's torch, blow torch, lighter & aerosol. Scoop out into bowls, drizzle with truffle oil and sprinkle the top with fresh basil leaves. Get comfy and press play for...

"...The girl was very young, about 17 or 18 I guess. And the guy was quite a bit older. He was raggedy and wild..."

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