James St Recipes: Niall McKenna's macaroni cheese and crab salad
NOW that summer is finally here and we can spend more time outdoors enjoying the brighter evenings, no one wants to spend hours in the kitchen preparing mid-week dinners. This week's recipes can be quickly prepped in advance and are easy to re-heat.
A family favourite in our house is macaroni cheese. This wholesome dish can be prepared in advance and popped into the oven when the kids come home from school. Like most dishes, it tastes even better when topped with pancetta or crispy bacon.
The second dish, crab salad, is one of my all-time favourites for the summer months and can be found on the menu at our new Waterman Restaurant, beside the cookery school on Hill Street in Belfast.
For more information, or to book an experience at Waterman Cookery School, visit cookinbelfast.co.uk.
400g macaroni pasta
For the sauce:
½ onion, finely chopped
50g plain flour
300g mature cheddar cheese, grated
400ml double cream
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
75g parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper to season
Place the milk and onion in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
In a second saucepan, add butter and once melted add in the flour, mixing until smooth. Next, add the boiled milk to the saucepan slowly and mix vigorously to smooth out any lumps. Keep stirring the mixture and bring to the boil.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the cheddar cheese and stir in the cream and mustard
Place the pasta in a separate pot of boiling water and cook to before al dente, as it will get cooked again when placed in oven.
Remove the pasta from the water and mix with the cheese sauce.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Place the mixture in an oven proof dish and top with grated parmesan cheese, baking until the top is golden.
BABY GEM & CRAB SALAD
3 baby gem, washed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
5g capers (in brine, not salt)
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 chilli, chopped
10g crème fraiche
100g white picked crab meat
10g chives, chopped
10g flat leaf parsley, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Wash the baby gem, wrap in a clean towel and place in the fridge.
Try and buy the crab meat as fresh as possible as it makes a massive difference to the taste.
When working with any shellfish always try and have the ingredients pre-prepared and use utensils that are cold.
Place the crab in a bowl, add mayonnaise, crème fraîche, chives, chilli and parsley. Add half of the lemon juice and all the zest. Mix thoroughly and season, it should not need a lot of salt, but this depends on your palate. You can also increase the heat of this dish by increasing the amount of chilli used.
To serve, make a dressing using the rest of lemon juice, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and mix. Pour the dressing over leaves and mix through. Season again and place on dish adding a sprinkle with shallots, capers, and crab mix.