New Era Mac 'n Cheese!


Having grown up a 'Disney' child.....as in, I was raised on a diet of American influences at home and through the medium of television, it is no wonder I have a penchant for American style foods, especially for pure 'down home' cookin.....that deliciously comforting food only your mom or grandma could make.Along with the wondrous fried chicken, in my top ten of all time favorite dishes, would be the simple macaroni and cheese which is pure comfort food of the southern type! and I'm not talking that certain beverage to which I am also partial!However the possibility of eating the carb filled fest, that would be my traditional home made macaroni and cheese, is completely out the window at the moment as I am attempting to improve my health and alter my body shape....a never ending task! ( I'm sure you know exactly what I mean) .......so I have crossed to the Low Carb side....(note the reference to Star Wars.....they were filming a few miles up the road from me last week on beautiful Malin Head and No I don't know anything! so don't ask)......and indeed I have found this style of eating successfully satisfying and satisfyingly successful as a few inches seem to have disappeared from my midriff and I'm going to have to buy a smaller size in trousers in another week I reckon.
To fill that craving we all get from time to time for something comforting in the shape of warm gooeyness, I went searching and came a cross a very basic recipe for low carb mac and cheese but using cauliflower in place of macaroni. I tried the recipe but between you and me it was a bit bland and kinda boring.....so in my inimitable style I jazzed it up and have produced this exceptionally tasty New Era Mac 'n Cheese.
You will need........feeds 2 for a main meal or 4 as a side dish
1 decent sized cauliflower100 g sliced mushrooms of your choice...I like to use the button closed cup ones but it's equally nice with chestnut or those big flat field mushrooms or you could be adventurous and try some wild mushrooms1 - 2 cloves of garlic crushed1/2 white onion thinly sliced80 g of good strong mature cheddar grated100g cream cheese...the thick full fat type only!approx 80 g feta cheese cut into thick slices....1 slice per person50 g of salami or you can use smoked bacon or pancetta....cut into strips300 mls of cream....real cream!...you can even use thick double creamsea salt, fresh black pepper
How to:  remove any outer leaves and coarse stalk from the cauliflower and divide into large floretscook the florets in a good quantity of boiling salted water until almost done, the stalks should still have a firmness to them when pierced with a forkdrain the cauliflower and set aside to drip while you prepare creamy sauceheat a heavy bottomed frying pan then add the salami / pancetta or bacon strips...allow the fat to render down out of the meat, if you think the pan is too dry you can add some olive oilcook the meat until it begins to crisp then add the sliced onions and enjoy that delicious smell!now add the sliced mushrooms and continue cookingwhen the mushrooms have softened add the creambring the cream to the boil and add the grated cheddar and the cream cheese, turn the heat down and let the cream bubble gently while the cheese melts in...keep stirring or the cheese can stick to the bottom of the panonce the cheese is melted season the cream with salt and pepper and add the crushed garlic....stir everything together well.place the drained cauliflower florets in a large oven proof dish or you could do individual ones if you likespoon the creamy, cheesy bacon and mushroom sauce over the top of the cauliflowerlastly, top the dish with some slices of feta cheese.....as these bake they will add a delicious saltiness to the cauliflowerbake your dish in a pre-heated oven 190oC until golden brown....takes about 15 minutes
As I said before, you can enjoy this as a dish in it's own right or you can have it as a side dish.I served it with some really crisp oven baked sweet potato fries.....the sweet potato is low carb and a little makes quite a few 'strips'. If you are vegetarian you can dispense with the meat but you might want to add a little extra garlic or even some fresh chopped chillies to add flavour. You can replace the onion with leeks too...I would suggest using about one thin leek stalk, cut into slices and cook along with the mushrooms before adding the cream.This dish works well with a few other vegetables like broccoli, courgettes/zucchini cut into chunks....just make sure you are sticking to those low carb veggies......high carbs + high fat = weight gain!  low carb + high fat = ketosis and the burning of your own excess fat!