About 18 months ago, when I first moved to London and picked up a copy of Time Out magazine, I spotted a rather tasty look mac n cheese street food stall called Anna Mae’s. Unfortunately at the time I seemed to miss out on every opportunity to sample some of their delicious dishes around London, however fast forward a couple of months and who do I walk past at Glastonbury festival – Anna Mae’s!
At the time I was meant to be meeting a couple of friends but the smell of melted cheese forced me to head over and purchase a pot. From that first encounter, Anna Mae’s mac n cheese has become a favourite of mine. I don’t often eat mac n cheese, simply because it seems to often be overlooked on many menus. Plus I’m sure no one can do it quite like Anna Mae’s!
So when the team got in touch to say they’d like to send me a recipe book of theirs, I jumped at the chance to receive one. Finally I could re-create that incredible gooey, indulgent, creamy dish that I have since longed about. And it meant that I could also rustle some up for Stew who missed out by not attending Glastonbury with me.
When sifting through the mountains of recipes that fill their book, I finally narrowed down my choices and went with their ‘My Big Mac Greek Wedding’. The names are one of the best things about this book! Plus the gorgeous imagery of the dishes and lots of fun photos showing the team and their van all over the UK. It’s really a visionary delight, and your mouth will be watering before you’ve even bought any ingredients.
The dish I chose is a Greek twist on a classic mac n cheese, calling on Kalamata olives and feta cheese, plus basil and sweet red peppers. But with all of Anna Mae’s recipes, it always begins with the ‘starter sauce’. This sauce is the foundation to all of their fantastic mac n cheese dishes. So first you need to nail this! But don’t worry it’s really simple – just 4 ingredients and lots of stirring. So prepare to roll up the sleeves and work those biceps… Believe me it’s worth it!
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 600ml whole milk, at room temperature
- 50g unsalted butter
- 50g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 medium sized pointed red peppers, seeded
- 400g macaroni
- 230g mature Cheddar, grated
- 90g Monterey Jack, grated
- 30g Parmesan, grated
- 80g Kalamata olives, pitted and cut thinly
- 120g feta, crumbled
- A good pinch of fresh Basil, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the seeded peppers on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, until the skin is charred. Remove from the oven and slice into 1cm thick rounds, and switch the oven to grill.
- While the peppers are roasting bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni accord to the pack’s instructions – al dente. Tip into a colander and leave to drain completely.
- Make the starter sauce by heating the milk in a small pan until hot, but not boiling. In another pan melt the butter and then reduce the heat to low. Gradually stir in the flour using a wooden spoon until you have a paste – a roux. Continue to stir for another 3-4 minutes until the roux turns a golden colour. Add the hot milk a little at a time, stirring well until the whole mixture is combined. Cook for a further 5-8 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough that it sticks to the back of the wooden spoon a little.
- Reduce the heat of the sauce to low and then add all of the cheese except the feta. Stir until everything has melted.
- Add the pepper slices, olives and basil (reserving some for garnish) to the sauce. Stir through the drained pasta and then transfer everything into a large ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the feta and grill for 5-7 minutes until the feta has softened and the mixture slightly browns on top.
- Season with pepper and the remaining basil and serve with a side salad.
You can order a copy of Anna Mae’s recipe book on Amazon for £12.08. And in the meantime expect many more mac n cheese recipes coming your way on here 🙂