An oldie, but a goodie! If you love cheese, you’ll love this recipe… it used three different varieties to add a real depth of flavour to an old favourite, and a decadent hit of truffle because – well, why not? Truffle and cheese are a match made in heaven, turning this dish into a real luxury comfort food.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to get hold of fresh summer (black) truffle, simply grate or shave a generous amount into the mixture just before serving. Alternatively, jarred/tinned truffles can be used in the same way. This recipe, however, uses truffle infused oil which is widely available for a fraction of the price.

(Serves 4)

300g dried macaroni
35g butter
1 tbsp truffle oil
35g plain flour
½ tsp English mustard
550 ml milk
½ onion, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
6 black peppercorns
50g parmesan, grated
100g strong cheddar, grated
100g ricotta cheese
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Place the milk in a saucepan with the onion, bay leaf, thyme and whole peppercorns. Heat until just about to boil, then remove the pan from the heat.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil, add a little salt, then the dried pasta. Cook until tender – approx. 20 minutes. Drain and put to one side.
4. Melt the butter in another pan and add the truffle oil, then the flour. Stir to form a loose paste. Add the mustard and mix well.
5. Strain the onion, herbs and peppercorns out of the milk. Slowly add the milk to the pan of butter and flour, mixing well after each addition to beat out any lumps. Keeping the pan on a medium heat, keep adding the milk until you have a smooth sauce.
6. Add the cheeses to the sauce and gently cook the sauce until all of the cheese has melted. Once you have a smooth, melted sauce, season it with a little salt and pepper and pour it over the drained macaroni. Transfer the mixture to an oven dish and bake for 15 minutes until the top of the dish is golden brown.

5 TRADITIONAL ENGLISH DESSERTS WITH A MODERN TWIST

Bread & Butter pudding brûlée

Bread and butter pudding: a British classic – cheap, simple, and utterly delicious. But not overly sophisticated. This version, however, takes it to a whole new level, producing a soft, creamy souffléd centre topped with a crisp caramel shell. Bread and butter pudding has never tasted this good.

Ingredients:

1 loaf of sliced white bread
100g butter (room temperature)
60g demerara sugar
8 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
800 ml double cream
400 ml milk
1 vanilla pod
30g apricot jam
100g golden sultanas
1 Earl Grey tea bag

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
2. Grease an ovenproof dish (approx. 500mm x 300mm) with some of the butter and sprinkle a little of the demerara inside it so that it sticks to the butter.
3. Use the remaining butter to spread over the sliced bread. Remove the crusts and cut each slice into four triangles.
4. Place the sultanas in a bowl, add the tea bag and pour over enough hot water to cover the fruit. Leave to steep for 30 minutes, then drain well.
5. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and the pods to a saucepan and pour over the cream and milk. Place over a medium heat until the mixture just begins to simmer. Remove from the heat.
6. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until light, pale and fluffy. Pour the heated cream mixture over the eggs, whisking as you do so. Transfer the mixture back into the pan, and remove the vanilla pod. Place back onto a low heat and stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from the heat.
7. Place a layer of the buttered bread in the base of the dish, overlapping each piece slightly. Scatter over a few sultanas and then add another layer of bread. Repeat until the dish is half full.
8. At the half-way point, spread a thin layer of the apricot jam over each slice of bread before layering it in the dish. Continue adding layers of bread and sultanas until the dish is full.
9. Pour over half of the custard mixture and leave it to soak into the bread for 15 minutes.
10. Gently press down on the dish using your hands, to encourage the custard to reach the bottom of the dish. Add the remaining custard, cover the dish, and leave it to refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
11. Place the dish inside a larger dish or tray that can be filled with water. Add hot water to the larger tray until it reaches half-way up the pudding dish – this is your ‘bain-marie’, it will allow the pudding to cook without overheating and splitting.
12. Transfer to the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes. The top of the pudding should retain a slight wobble when cooked.
13. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining demerara over the dish and place it under a very hot grill to caramelise (alternatively, brulée it using a blowtorch).