Kraft Macaroni & Cheese


Growing up, my all time favorite food was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

INTERESTINGLY, Wikipedia.org and About.com Inventors say that Kraft was introduced in the US and Canada in 1937 during World War II.  The rationing of milk and dairy products, in addition to an increased reliance on meatless dinners, created a great market for the product, which was considered a hearty meal for families.  Their advertising slogan was:”Make a meal for 4 in 9 minutes.”

By choice and absolute pleasure rather than war time hardships and food rationing, I pretty much lived off of Kraft Mac & Cheese for the large majority of my childhood and adolescence.  I loved all of the special pasta shapes, like pin wheels, spirals, and blue Blue’s Clues dogs, which tasted even better than the original elbows.  Unashamedly, I was able to gobble down an entire box myself, which is most likely why I was such a chunker. But who am I kidding? Kraft remained a staple food group in my life all through college as well.

Ty had never had boxed Macaroni & Cheese, which led me to believe that he had a sad and deprived childhood.  SO, when he came to visit me in the US, we had a Mac & Cheese eating marathon where we indulged in Kraft and two kinds of Annie’s. Luckily he liked boxed macaroni and cheese, which reaffirmed my love for him.

When I moved to South Africa, I began having intense night sweat-inducing withdrawal as the bright yellow, artificial, creamy, cheese left my system.  Luckily, my mom sent us an emergency package full of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese sachets.  Since we had a limited supply, we rationed ourselves to 1 packet per month (like during war times), which enabled us to effectively maintain our supply for nearly 1 year.  It was devastating when we finished our last sachet and were forced to go many months without it.  However, earlier this month, a sweet sweet girl named Ann organized one of her American friends to bring us a few boxes when she came to visit!  Ty and I were unable to control our urges and are down to one box again!  Luckily, my mom’s friends are coming to South Africa JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME to refill our supply!

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (complete with pasta and sachet of cheese)
  • water for boiling the pasta
  • 2 heaped tbl butter
  • 1/2 milk

Directions

  1. add water to a pot and bring to a boil
  2. add the macaroni and cook on high
  3. strain the pasta when it is done cooking and pour it back into the pot
  4. place the pot on the warm burner and add the sachet of cheese, butter, and milk and stir vigorously.  Add more milk if you want the sauce to be thinner
  5. note: I am an extreme purist when it comes to Macaroni & Cheese so I would recommend adding NOTHING else

Chicken a la Queen


Every year, my stepmom makes turkey tetrazzini with the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner, which is my absolute favorite meal not only because of its creamy, chicken-y, pasta goodness but also because it is special, in that I have to wait an entire year to enjoy it! When I first moved to South Africa in 2009, I cooked a giant Thanksgiving feast and of course made turkey tetrazzini with the leftovers to continue the tradition all the way in South Africa.

Salford Road Thanksgiving 2009

Ty absolutely loved it and from that moment on, I was determined to incorporate the comforting taste of home into our South African diet and embarked on a journey to create the perfect rendition of turkey tetrazzini.

As I was writing this post, it became evident that my experimentation occurred in phases:

  • Phase 1 – substituted chicken for turkey because it is much more convenient but just as delicious
  • Phase 2 – refined my sauce recipe to perfection
  • Phase 3 – mixed the sauce and pasta together and served immediately as opposed to baking it in the oven because it is quicker and dirties less dishes but is just as delicious
  • Phase 4 – experimented with vegetables to give a healthy flare
  • Phase 5 – learned (kind of) how to exhibit self-control in order to prevent oneself from going back for seconds, thirds, fourths, and fifths
  • the most delicious Chicken alla Queen recipe for any and all occasions – not just the day after Thanksgiving!

Chicken alla Queen

Ingredients (serves 2 + leftovers (incase you haven’t realized by now, we love our leftovers))

  • 1 heaped tbl butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 heaped tsp diced garlic
  • 500g shredded rotisserie chicken or homemade boneless skinless herbed chicken breasts
  • 250g sliced brown mushrooms
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbl maizena (corn starch)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your liking (Ty’s favorite is gouda (on everything))
  • 250-300g pasta with ridges (I prefer penne)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. melt the butter in the pan and saute the onions and garlic until lightly brown
  2. add the chicken (raw or cooked) and mushrooms and stir in the spices
  3. when the mushrooms have softened, add the stock, milk, and cheese
  4. at this point, cook the pasta
  5. once the sauce starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium
  6. create a maizena paste and slowly mix it into the sauce
  7. let simmer for 5 minutes while stirring periodically
  8. if the sauce is not thick enough to your liking, add a bit more maizena paste
  9. once the pasta is done, mix the pasta into the sauce and serve
  10. top with a dash of salt and pepper to taste

Traditional & Non-Traditional Bobotie


Although Table Mountain is  one of the “New Seven Wonders of Nature”, Bobotie is in actuality the true Wonder of South Africa. This traditional South African dish, pronounced “bu-booah-tea”, is deeply rooted in South African history and my kitchen.

Traditional Bobotie (http://www.kitchen-boy.net)

“BOBOTIE: SOUTH AFRICA’S INDIGENOUS CUISINE”

By JOSEPH LELYVELD
Published in the New York Times on December 20, 1981
“Food had almost everything to do with the fateful or, as many of their countrymen might now view it, baleful decision of white men to establish themselves in the city that is known today as Cape Town, at the tip of the African continent. In the beginning – that means 329 years ago – the Dutch East India Company was not at all interested in colonizing the Cape of Good Hope, only in setting up the 17th-century equivalent of a truck stop there for its Java-bound ships.

Within months the company’s men had their kitchen gardens under cultivation; within a couple of years, their first vineyard. The ships that called at Cape Town on their way back to Holland from what is now Indonesia started depositing spices and, a little later, Malay-speaking slaves to work in the kitchens of the whites. Thus, almost from the start the ingredients were on hand not only for racial conflict but a distinctive cuisine, blending Eastern and Western influences. That, in short, is how bobotie was born – but more of that later.

When the British took over the Cape in 1806, this native cuisine was very nearly driven underground. ”One of the most depressing factors of eating in southern Africa,” Laurens van der Post, the writer, remarked, recalling his childhood, ”is the complete absence of our national dishes from the menus of hotels, restaurants and trains.” Yet until the apartheid era, these dishes survived on Cape Town’s side streets in Malay ”cook-shops” specializing in ”kerriekerrie” (curry in Afrikaans).

With the increasingly strict application of the country’s racial codes, the only truly indigenous cuisine was forced to retreat even further into the segregated residences of white and brown South Africans, becoming steadily less accessible to visitors. The ”slegs blankes” – whites only – restaurant scene was then dominated by immigrants from Italy, Greece and Spain – who found it profitable to serve a pretentious, lethally rich ”international” cuisine that systematically violated the best food traditions of guests and hosts alike.

Now, finally, the cultural if not the political pendulum has started to swing, to the point that it is regarded as somewhat fashionable rather than boorish to put authentic South African dishes on South African menus. As a result, the Malay influence is out in the open again and a good plate of bobotie is relatively easy to find.”

Bobotie is one of my favorite meals of all time and whenever I cook for friends it is my go-to classic.  The seemingly strange yet complimentary ingredients create an explosion of flavors that make all people, no matter what their food preference, food-gasm.

The ratios within Royco’s Traditional Bobotie packet are perfect and it requires minimal effort on a lazy night.  In addition, I always add a few dashes of sugar and a few more dollops of chutney.

On special occasions I cook Bobotie From Scratch

This recipe serves 4

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tumeric
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • about 500g minced beef (or minced lamb which is rich and awesome)
  • 1 slice of white bread soaked in milk
  • 200 ml milk
  • 50 ml water
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp Mrs. Ball’s Chutney
  • 1 cup rice

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).  Sautee the onions in a small amount of oil until golden, add the spices, and stir for a minute or so until fragrant.  Add the mince and cook until browned. Next add the milk, water, vinegar, raisins, and chutney.  Break up the milk-soaked bread into pieces and add to the mixture.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the mixture simmer and thicken for about 15 minutes.  Pour the mixture into a deep oven proof pan.  In a bowl, beat together the eggs and about 3 tbsp of the leftover milk from the soaked bread. Pour an even egg layer over the mixture.  Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the egg layer is fully cooked and has turned a nice golden brown.  Serve the bobotie with rice and voila!

For a non-traditional flare, try my Non-Traditional Bobotie Stuffed Peppers

Follow the bobotie recipe as described above except only use about 150 ml milk and 50 ml water.  Cut off the tops, clean out, and lightly oil four peppers (I bet red peppers would be even more awesome than green).  Sprinkle some salt and pepper inside the pepper-shells.  Next spoon layers of rice, bobotie, and egg into each shell.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the peppers are nice and soft.

My successful first attempt at making non-traditional Bobotie stuffed peppers

Additional non-traditional Bobotie variations that are delicious:

  • Bobotie pasta – serve over pasta instead of rice and omit the eggs
  • Chicken bobotie – use chicken instead of minced beef
  • Bobotie burgers – mix onion, garlic, spices, vinegar, chutney, and 2 eggs with raw minced beef. omit the raisins, milk, and water. form into patties and either braai (South African colloquialism for barbeque) or grill in a pan to desired done-ness.  serve on burger buns with lettuce and tomato.