Mac and Cheese with Truffled Prawns

Snazzy up the humble mac and cheese with colby jack cheese, gruyere, heavy cream, prawns, truffle oil, and grilled bread.

When I ask my friends why they don’t cook at home, they tell me they don’t have time.

I find that rather odd, especially since I’ve always thought people don’t cook at home simply because they don’t know how!

Ever the advocate of home cooking, I tell them they can prepare food in advance—at a leisurely pace—on weekends. They can vacuum seal (I recently got a vacuum sealer and it has changed the way I store and save food) and freeze pre-cooked meals, then simply reheat portions on busy weekdays. They can chop vegetables to relieve stress, then add the pre-chopped veggies to salads or stir-fries. Most people are surprised to know that a lot of baked goods can be made in half the time it takes to drive to a nice pastry shop.

Most importantly, cooking at home ensures you have total control of what goes into your meal. I try to eat lean, clean, and green whenever I can, but when I do indulge, I’m in charge of just how much fat, sugar, or sodium I put in my food.

This month, I’m going to help you plan and prepare three different kinds (healthy, hearty, and happy) of on-the-go meals.

Healthy

Homemade granola is the perfect fiber-rich, protein-packed, low-fat, low-sugar, and low-sodium breakfast munchie. I make three different kinds of custom mix-ins so that everyone in the family can secretly feel special. Mr. Flintstone, a fitness freak if I ever saw one, enjoys his "cheat day" granola with dried cranberries, dried mangoes, and soymilk. I send a jar to my parents as well because they like to snack on sunflower and pumpkin seed studded granola clusters while going about their business. The eldest youngster, a 7-year-old budding gourmand, concocted a crazy mix that pays tribute to our favourite Ben & Jerry’s flavour—chunky monkey! We mix in Reese’s peanut butter chips, Hershey’s chocolate chips, and banana chips. How this boy makes my heart skip a beat with his brilliant ideas!

Hearty

For most moms I know, mother’s day is all about comfort food. When I think of comfort food, I think of mac and cheese and ham and cheese. Moms can never get enough of cheese and that’s a fact of life.

Since my mom, who would have made a stellar career as a food critic, is coming over, I decided to snazzy up the humble mac and cheese with colby jack cheese, gruyere, heavy cream, prawns, truffle oil, and grilled bread. This can be readied up in advance, so when it's time to eat, all you have to do is pop it in the oven.

The ham and cheese sandwich is given a makeover by switching the key ingredients. In a ciabatta goes blackforest ham, brie, granny smith apples before being grilled to toasty perfection.

Happy

Cooking is a great activity to bond with little ones. Kids really love helping out if given the chance. Cookie butter oatmeal bars and cereal popsicles are fun, fuss-free recipes that will surely delight your little chef at home.

If possible, take the kids to the grocery and let them pick out the ingredients you need. Let them count how much money they need to hand over to the cashier. At home, let them measure and mix ingredients. Just make sure to keep them away from sharp objects and heat sources!

Mac and Cheese with Prawns and Truffle Oil

Ingredients:

Pasta:

500g fusilli,  cooked according to package instructions

Blond roux:

½ stick salted butter
3 tablespoon all purpose flour

Bechamel:

Blond roux
1 cup of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cayenne pepper
Sea salt
Ground white pepper

Cheese sauce:

Bechamel
250 grams colby jack cheese (plus additional cheese for grating)
250 grams gruyere (plus additional cheese for grating)

Sauteed prawns:

300g prawns, peeled and deveined
½ stick salted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 shallot, minced
Flat leaf parsley, chopped roughly
Truffle oil

Procedure:

1.    To make the cheese sauce, you must first make the blond roux. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Stir in the flour. Mix butter and flour into a paste and cook until lightly golden brown. After making the blond roux, you can now make the béchamel. Add milk in a long steady stream. Whisk milk with roux briskly until mixture thickens. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes while constantly mixing. Add heavy cream, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt, and ground white pepper. After making the béchamel, you can now make the cheese sauce. Simple add colby jack cheese and gruyere to the béchamel until cheese melts.
2.    Boil pasta according to package instructions in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain pasta and add immediately to cheese mixture.
3.    Butter a large casserole and transfer mac and cheese in it. Grate additional cheese and broil for 10-15 minutes until cheese bubbles.
4.    Saute garlic and shallots in olive oil over low-medium heat until soft. Remove garlic and butter with a slotted spoon. Melt butter in pan and saute prawns in several batches just until it takes on a bit of color. Be careful not to overcook. Place cooked prawns over broiled mac and cheese, lightly drizzle with truffle oil, and sprinkle with parsley.
5.    Serve!

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