Tag Archives: cheese

Ricotta, Aubergine, Prosciutto and Tomato Salad

This recipe was heavily inspired by a trip we took to Tuscany in June last year. We’re planning some special posts to celebrate 100 posts on the blog (only 4 more to go!) which will expand more on this and some of our other top foodie moments so keep an eye out for that! We had the most brilliant moment eating ricotta, a creamy gorgonzola, the most heavenly vine tomatoes, and two types of focaccia under the arches of the Uffizi gallery in Florence during a spectacular storm. Cuddled up together, in our anoraks (nerdy love), attracting all manner of jealous stares from everyone else who was trapped by the rain but hadn’t thought to bring lunch… the memory never fails to make us smile. We took a couple of elements of this perfect picnic, a bit of inspiration from a classic Tuscan dessert and added in our current obsession of chargrilled aubergine and a beautiful salad sprang into creation.

Salad Detail

Ingredients

  • Vine tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 aubergine, sliced into 0.5cm thick slices
  • 1 sweet, pointed red pepper
  • Ricotta
  • (Prosciutto – optional)
  • Mixed salad leaves – we chose lettuce and peppery leaves like watercress to add some bite
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Coat the tomatoes in 1tbsp of the olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and then place in a dish and put into a preheated oven at 140°C – the idea is to cook these slowly, dry them out to concentrate the flavours. The tomatoes we had in Italy were the best either of us have ever tasted and we knew that we wouldn’t get anything that delicious here so by semi-drying them we’ve managed to get a little closer. These should take around 1 hour altogether.

Slow Roast Tomatoes

Once they’re in the oven it’s time to prepare the pepper. You know those whole roasted red peppers that you get in a jar? Well this is one of them, but done fresh so it doesn’t have any of that vinegar-y taste. You can start off just holding it over a flame but we ended up rigging up a little system with two skewers going through the length of the pepper so that we could get every bit charred. The whole thing needs to be pretty blackened, it looks scary but will taste like heaven! Simply hold over an open flame, rotating every now and then to char the whole pepper – this should take about 10-15 minutes. Once it’s done pop in a freezer/sandwich bag, seal and just leave it to cool, once it has the skin will just rub off leaving you with sweet, soft flesh.

Charring a Pepper

Pepper Charred

For the aubergine salt the slices – sprinkle table salt on and stand upright for around twenty minutes then dab with kitchen paper. Mix 1 tbsp of olive oil with salt and pepper in the bowl/ramekin and then brush the slices with this before laying them on a hot griddle pan. They should only take 1 minute on each side as they are quite thin, you’ll have to do this in batches but the salad is supposed to be warm, not hot so just pop the ones you’ve done on a plate.

Aubergine Chargrilling

Now it’s assembly time – scatter some leaves on a plate, add the tomatoes, slice up the red pepper and add this. Blob some ricotta on and then drizzle each blob with a little honey and crack some black pepper on – this is a classic Tuscan dessert which we tried while dangling over the Arno, using it in a savoury dish is a little unconventional but it really works.

Tasty Ricotta

Place on the aubergine and the prosciutto if using, we used about 3 slices between us. For the dressing just mix equal quantities of good quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil with salt and pepper and drizzle this on.

2 Salads

Salad on the Table

We’re submitting this recipe for Fromage Homage’s Cheese, Please! Challenge, this salad will forever remind us of one of the most amazing, joyful moments we’ve had and it’s been great playing around with the flavours and putting our own spin on it.

Fromage Homage

Moroccan Lamb Burgers

For some people their ideal romantic Valentine’s Day meal would be champagne, oysters and rose-water flavoured chocolate mousse all while bathed in the soft glow of candlelight. Us? Nah. We definitely see more romance in a beautifully crafted burger and a great cider. And this is a beautiful burger – delicately spiced lamb mince dotted with sweet apricots with a couple of chunks of griddled halloumi, a dollop of Moroccan chutney from this lovely company (thanks to Mumma and Papa Bird for that!), and drizzle of yoghurt all served in one of the gorgeous buns that we showed you how to make on Monday coated in a swirl of harissa. So grab someone, or several people, that you love and show them you care with this stunner.

Moroccan Lamb Burger

Ingredients for two burgers

  • 250g lamb mince
  • 1 tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3-4 dried apricots, finely diced
  • A large pinch of salt
  • 1 heaped tsp tahini paste

To serve:

  • Two burger buns – you can buy them from a shop but try making your own with our recipe!
  • Halloumi sliced, chargrilled
  • Harissa paste
  • Yoghurt
  • Moroccan chutney (optional)
  • Salad

To  make the burgers simply squidge all of the ingredients together with your hands, shape into two patties and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before cooking.

Moroccan lamb mince

Once you’re ready to cook you can either cook them entirely on the hob, entirely in the oven or a bit of both. We went for the latter option because they were fairly thick burgers and we wanted to make sure they cooked through but we also wanted some beautiful charring on the outside. Pop them on a hot griddle pan for about 1 minute each side and then put in a preheated oven at 190°C for about 10-15 minutes to finish them off. While they’re in the oven it’s the perfect time to griddled that halloumi until it’s perfectly golden.

Lamb burgers cooking

Halloumi griddling

Then you just get to layer up your burger! Obviously it’s completely up to you how you do it but we put a swirl of harissa on the bottom piece of the bun for a burst of heat, whacked the burger on, then the halloumi, then the chutney, then the yoghurt and served it with plenty of salad on the side. True love, Fats and Bird style.

Salad

Burger with halloumi

Burger with halloumi and sauce

Pimped Baked Potatoes 2 Ways

Hands up who remembers those soggy baked potatoes with beans and plastic cheese in a polystyrene box that you got at school? We certainly do. This is a world away from that and one of the easiest meals ever to knock up, just whack a couple of potatoes in the oven, go and relax with a cup of tea and an episode of something, come back, spend about 15 minutes actually cooking and you’re done! There are two different ways to have them here, one is twice baked with bacon, onion and cheese and the other has the most delicious smoky, spicy baked beans and is topped with a bit of sour cream. These beans would be even more amazing with some avocado on top, we did have one but sadly it wasn’t ripe enough to use. This might not be one to impress your friends with but on a cold, miserable evening you really can’t beat this sort of comfort food.

Ingredients for two people

  • 2 large or 4 small potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 1-2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • Cheddar, grated (as much as you like!)
  • 1 heaped tsp of chipotle pasta
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tin of baked beans
  • Sour cream and salad to serve

We’re sure you don’t need telling how to bake potatoes but prick them with a fork a few times, rub with olive oil and salt and bang them in a preheated oven at about 190ºC. Ours were fairly dinky and took just under an hour but if yours are bigger then have the oven slightly cooler and cook them for about an hour and a half. You could be cheaty and cook them in the microwave but if you do then please put them in the oven for 10 minutes at the end to let them get a little crisper, they’re too sad otherwise!

When the potatoes are not far off cooked whack the finely diced onion and bacon in a small pan and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are really soft and slightly caramelised. Then tip half of this mixture into a bowl, leave the rest in the pan but take it off the heat for a moment. Take half of the potatoes out of the oven, cut in half and scoop out most of the flesh leaving just a little around the edge so the skins hold their shape. Put this in with the bacon and onion mixture in the bowl and add the cheddar, you can use as much or as little as you like, we only put a small handful as ours was very strong. Mix all of this together and then pile it back into the skins and grate a little extra cheese on top. Put these back into the oven on a baking tray just for ten minutes for the cheese to melt.

Empty potatoes

Cheesy potatoes full

Put the remaining bacon and onion mixture back on the heat and add in the chipotle paste. Using 1 heaped tsp made this fairly spicy so adjust to your taste. Cook this in for a few seconds then add the smoked paprika and the tin of beans. Let all of this heat together for around ten minutes while your cheesy twice-baked potatoes in the oven finish getting gorgeously gooey and then serve up! Pop a dollop of sour cream on top of the spicy beans to cool things down a bit and we had a salad dressed with a balsamic dressing.

Bacon, onion and chipotle

One of the easiest midweek meals, not the quickest, but minimal effort and so delicious!

Baked potatoes

Rosemary and Walnut Bread

We’ve been making bread for a little over a year now, and we’re getting more and more confident at trying new things… Sometimes though, all you want is a great loaf with some cracking flavour in it. That’s what we’ve got here – this is a variation on our standard bread recipe, with the added lovely, woody, comforting flavours of rosemary and walnut pimping it up – not to mention some delicious sea salt to take the crust to the next level… On top of that, Fats picked up a couple of little loaf tins over Christmas, so we’ve provided the quantities and timings for a 400g loaf, which is perfect if there’s just a couple of you. To make a whole 800g loaf, simply double the quantities provided and bake for 20-25 minutes.

We managed to make this bread in an evening, after work and before dinner, so no excuses! Couple of tips though – warm water really helps it rise fast, especially in the winter, and it has to be put somewhere pretty warm – ours was above a radiator. We know that bread tastes better the longer it has to rise, but if you’re desperate then it is possible to make this in under 2 hours!

So, for a 400g loaf, you’ll need:

  • 150g strong white flour (plus extra for flouring the surface)
  • 100g non-white flour (we used 3 malt & sunflower – oooh, posh! – but wholemeal, rye or similar would be tasty too!)
  • 1/2 tbsp butter plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 150ml cold water
  • 30g walnut pieces
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 tsp good quality sea salt
  • 1/2 beaten egg (not sure where you’ll find half an egg…)

Add the two types of flour, the salt and the yeast to a bowl (keep the salt and the yeast at other sides of the bowl initially) and rub in the butter, so that there are no lumps of it remaining – you may find it easiest to cut the butter into small bits before this step. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the water, then mix it together with the flour.

Once this has all combined, tip out onto a floured surface and knead vigorously for about 10 minutes – when it’s done, it should be nice and springy. Put this into a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Put it somewhere to rise – depending on how warm it is, it should take between about 1 and 2 hours to double in size.

To prepare the awesome flavour, chop up the walnut pieces so they’re about 1/8-1/4 the size of a walnut – no need to be exact – and finely chop about 3/4 of the rosemary leaves (the rest should be less finely chopped, and will be used for the topping).

Rosemary and Walnut Ingredients

Once the dough has doubled, empty it out onto a floured surface and flatten with the palms of your hands. Once it’s a reasonable size, cover in the pieces of chopped walnuts and the finely chopped rosemary. Fold the dough over on itself, and repeat the flattening-folding a couple of times to work the rosemary and walnut in. Now flatten it out one last time, so that one side is about the length of your loaf tin, and the other is about 1.5 times this. Line the tin with baking paper and butter. Roll the dough up, and place in the tin. Leave this somewhere to prove – this should take about 1 hour.

Rosemary and Walnuts Before Working In

Rosemary and Walnut in Tin

Prepare the oven by pre-heating to 230ºC. Mix together an egg wash with your half an egg and the remainder of the rosemary – you can throw in a few walnut pieces if you have any lying around. Once the dough has proved, cover with the egg, making sure there are no big lumps of egg anywhere – you’re making a loaf of bread not an omelette! Place the sea salt on the top of the egg wash, taking care not to crush any of the flakes. Put in the oven and immediately turn down to 220ºC. It should take about 18-20 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on it so that the top doesn’t burn.

Rosemary and Walnut With Topping

Once it’s baked, take it out and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cooling the rest of the way on a cooling rack. This bread is definitely better once it has cooled down, so don’t be tempted to crack into it too soon!

Rosemary and Walnut Done

We had this with a winter salad from our new Rachel Khoo recipe book – the rosemary and walnut perfectly complemented the roast carrots and parsnips! It’s also particularly good with cheese – we can recommend Taleggio, a nicely pungent washed-rind cheese that we managed to pick up in the supermarket, but Brie or Camembert, or any blue cheese would be good too – this loaf has the flavour to stand up to strong cheese!

Rich and Creamy Lasagne

Lasagne is a bit deceptive – you think “Ah just a bit of meat sauce here, some cheese sauce there, bit of pasta, job done!” but it takes a bit of love and care to get a really good lasagne. And some days there really is nothing better than a really good lasagne! This one is a proper stick-to-the-ribs-er, a slowly reduced sauce made with a mixture of pork and beef mince, red wine and herbs, and a smooth cheese sauce with an extra cheesy layer on top! Bird made this while watching Lady & The Tramp… maybe it added a little Italian flair?

Ingredients for the meat sauce

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1-2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 125g pork mince
  • 125g beef mince
  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 small glass of red wine
  • 1 carton/jar of passata
  • Salt and pepper to season

Ingredients for the white/cheese sauce

  • 1.5  tbsp butter
  • 1.5-2 tbsp plain flour
  • Around 1 pint of milk
  • Grated cheese, we used cheddar but parmesan would be lovely too – as much or as little as you like!

Other ingredients

  • Lasagne sheets
  • Salad to serve

To start make the meat sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan/wok and when hot add the onion, carrot and celery. Let these sweat down for around five minutes and then add the garlic and herbs.

Lasagne veg

Cook for a further 10 minutes until everything is softened but not coloured. Add in the meat, breaking it up a bit with your hands as you do so, and then the stock and the wine.

Lasagne sauce

Let the meat brown slightly, then tip in the passata, stir, season and leave to bubble on the lowest heat possible, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Ours took the best part of an hour to fully reduce, you want to be able to draw a wooden spoon through it and be able to see the bottom of the pan cleanly otherwise your lasagne will end up as a big sloppy mess!

To make the cheese sauce simply make a roux by melting the butter in a small saucepan – once melted throw in the flour and stir together to form a paste (the roux). Cook this for a few minutes over a low heat, stirring continuously and then start adding the milk. If you wanted to make this the fanciest, best lasagne you could ever dream of them you could heat your milk with a bay leaf studded to an onion with a clove and some peppercorns for extra flavour but it still tastes amazing without all of that faff. Keep slowly adding the milk making sure it’s completely combined before adding the next lot. Now cook over a low heat, stirring continuously until it has thickened, then switch the heat off. Now it’s time to add the cheese! We like to have the sauce in the layers not be too cheesy, so we only added a small handful to start with and stirred it in to melt.

Lasagne uncooked

Now you’re ready to layer. We started with meat sauce, then cheese sauce, then lasagne and so on finishing with an extra thick layer of cheese sauce! For the final bit of cheese sauce we stirred in a whole load more cheese and then grated some extra on top for a really golden-brown, cheesy topping. The lasagne will take about 45 minutes in the oven at 180C to become gorgeous and bubbly and golden.

Lasagne cooked

Take it out of the oven and let it stand for five minutes (the longest five minutes of your life!) and then serve with a salad and the rest of the red wine… delicious!

Lasagne served

Couronne

We like a challenge, so, upon flicking through recipe books to find inspiration for last weeks menu our eyes were drawn to a beautiful work of buttery art in Paul Hollywood’s “Bread”. Before the latest season of The Great British Bake Off we (and probably most of the nation) would have never heard of a couronne. Now however we know that a couronne is a round treat made of soft, rich, buttery dough, which is usually sweet and stuffed with dried fruit or similar. The recipe we came across was for a savoury one, still rich, still buttery but filled with prosciutto, basil and oozy mozzarella – you can find the recipe here. It was lust at first sight and we put it straight on the menu for Saturday. We’ve made two enriched doughs before – challah and cinnamon buns so this is still fairly new ground for us. The dough is made entirely in a mixer with a dough hook because it’s so sticky and hard to work by hand, mainly due to the huge amounts of butter! This has a whole pack of butter in it. Hello cholesterol problems! But as an occasional treat it’s fine, and it’s so tasty that you have to think “sod it!”.

We’re not saying this is the easiest bread in the world, probably not the best choice for your first foray into yeasted bakes, but we’re by no means experts and it turned out beautifully! Bread, and especially enriched doughs, are seen as really scary by some people (i.e. us, just over a year ago!) but it’s one of the most therapeutic ways to spend an hour or two and you get something really delicious at the end of it. Anyway, enough wanging on, on with the main event!

First up: the dough. Your butter must be soft for this so we used an old Mary Berry tip (cheers Bezza!) – cube your butter and place in a jug/bowl of lukewarm water to soften it. The water shouldn’t feel particularly warm to the touch otherwise you’ll end up with a bowl of melted butter and water, just slightly warm. The strong white flour is placed in the bowl of a mixer with yeast and salt, and then milk and eggs are added. Use the dough hook to combine these and then, while it’s still running, slowly add the butter. This should take at least 5 minutes but ours took about 15 because our mixer isn’t the sturdiest! Once all of the butter has been added and there are no large streaks of it take it out and leave to rise in a large, oiled bowl for at least 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

Getting nice and stretchy.
Getting nice and stretchy.

When it has risen tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Don’t knock back, just roll out to a large rectangle (about 50cm by 30cm and about 1.5cm thick). Now’s the time to put the toppings on – we followed the recipe but because this one was a success we now can’t stop dreaming up new fillings! Anyway, for this one lay the strips of prosciutto over the dough trying to cover as much of it as possible. Then tear the mozzarella over and lastly tear the basil leaves over. Roll it up starting from a long edge so you have a large sausage of dough with the filling swirled in the middle. Now comes the slightly tricky part; slice the dough lengthways down the sausage and then grabbing the ends tightly twist it quite tightly so that you end up with a rope-like structure with most of the filling on the inside. Coil this into a circle and place on piece of lightly oiled greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Couronne With Fillings

Couronne Before Baking

This beast then needs to prove for an hour or two until roughly doubled in size again. Preheat the oven to 200°C after about an hour of rising. When you’re ready to bake brush the couronne with a beaten egg and sprinkle on some grated parmesan, and pop in the oven for around 25 minutes. After this time you should be greeted by a golden monster, complete with oozy cheese! Leave it to cool for at least 20-30 minutes, it will still be warm after this time but not boiling hot.

Phwoar!
Phwoar!

We had ours served with the salad that was suggested in the book with spinach, roasted butternut squash, goats cheese, olives and spring onions and we added our own little crunch with toasted pinenuts. This was a brilliant dinner, it would be ideal for when friends are over too and what an amazing impression it would make when it landed on the table! We also had the couronne with tomato-based soups later in the week which was lovely too.

Bread filled with cheese, covering in cheese, served with cheese... what could be better?
Bread filled with cheese, covered in cheese, served with cheese… what could be better?

So give yourself a day when you’ve got time to give this recipe a bit of love and attention and give it a go, it’s so worth it, we would say for the sense of pride alone but the cheesy delight that you end up with isn’t bad either!

 

Broccoli, Leek and Gruyere Quiche

This is not a health food post. If you’re looking for healthy, look away now (although there is some salad porn at the bottom so you’d really better keep reading…). This quiche has flaky, buttery pastry, a rich cheesy filling with caramelised leeks and then the bite and freshness of the broccoli. We apologise now for the lack of photos, Fats was painting a wall and evidently Bird doesn’t multitask well.

First things first – pastry. Pastry is one of those things we’ve always been a bit nervous of, the fear of a soggy bottom is nearly too much to handle. But this was really easy, so give it a go!

Pastry Ingredients (makes enough pastry for a 25cm tart case)

  • 280g plain flour
  • 140g cold butter, cubed
  • 6-8 tbsp cold water

Rub the butter into the flour until you have a fine breadcrumb texture. Then add the water, being careful not to chuck the whole lot in as ours needed less than suggested, until you have a smooth dough that holds together but isn’t sticky. Give it a brief knead so it comes together nicely and then put it in the fridge, wrapped in cling film, for 20-40 minutes before you want to use it. That’s pretty much it! Told you it was easy. The things that seem to help most here are keeping your hands cool, keeping all your ingredients cool and not working it too much at all.

After it has chilled place it on a floured work surface and roll out so it is more than big enough to fit in your tart case, ours was about 5mm thick. Place it in the tart case and use a ball of excess dough to work it into the fluting of the case so you don’t thin it or break it with your fingers. Then place back in the fridge for another 20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 200°C. Once the oven has come to temperature take the tart case out of the fridge, prick the base of it with a fork, line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Place in the oven to blind bake for 20 minutes, meanwhile you can get on with the filling.

Filling Ingredients

  • Broccoli (around 200g, just the florets)
  • 1 small leek, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 280ml double cream
  • Gruyere cheese, grated – as much as you like!

Bring a pan of water to the boil and then chuck the broccoli in to blanch – it only needs to be cooked for about 2 minutes so after this time take it out, drain it and put in a bowl/pan of cold water to refresh it and stop it cooking. This means it retains it’s lovely green colour when baked. Sweat the leeks in the butter until soft and lightly caramelised. Whisk the two eggs, slowly add the cream and then mix in the leeks and half the cheese.

By this point the 20 minutes on your pastry should be up so remove the baking beans and allow it to colour slightly for 5-10 minutes more in the oven until it is a pale biscuit colour. Once done take it out and arrange the broccoli evenly across it, we made sure not to put a piece bang in the middle because although it would look lovely it would make it a right faff when it came to serving it!

_MG_2986

Pour over the filling and then sprinkle over the other half of the cheese. Put it back in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until lovely and golden on top. Leave it to cool in the case and then remove and serve!

_MG_2991
Use your rolling pin to gently press down on the top of the tart case fluting, this will naturally break the pastry rather than faffing around with a knife before baking!

We had ours with a delicious salad of sultanas which were briefly soaked in the juice of half a lemon giving them a burst of sweet and sour all at once, slivers of carrot, thinly sliced radishes and cucumber and spinach leaves, dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper, a perfect sharp contrast to the rich quiche.

_MG_2998

As you can see, this leaves plenty when there are only two of you, you could make it when you have a lot of people round but then you’d be missing out on all those gorgeous leftovers!

_MG_3000

Pimped Pesto Mac and Cheese

Hello and welcome to our first ever post! We thought we would skip the cheesy intro and get stuck in with some cheesy food.

Mac and cheese is having something of a revival at the moment with it popping up on the menu at restaurants across the country. We just cannot turn down anything involving pasta and copious amounts of cheese so this is our take on it:

What you’re going to need (for 4 people)*:

Macaroni (around 200g)
Cheese – any kind is good, we used parmesan, freshly grated (around 60g)
Goats cheese (around 200g)
Butter (15g)
Flour (15g)
Milk (around 1 pint/568ml)
Green pesto (1 heaped tbsp)
Smoked bacon/cubetti di pancetta (around 40-50g)
1 shallot

*These might be a bit off – we usually don’t measure anything so this is guesswork. If it’s a baking recipe we will definitely include correct amounts, and in future we will try to remember to weigh things.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Chop your bacon or pancetta into very small pieces, and slice your shallot into fine half-rings. Put these in a frying pan with a drop of olive oil on a low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly golden and the shallot is softened. Put these to one side once cooked.

Meanwhile put a pan of water on for the pasta to cook, once it is boiling cook the macaroni until al dente (this took about 8 minutes for us).

Melt the butter in a saucepan large enough for the macaroni to fit in once cooked, and when it has melted add the flour and stir to form a roux. Continue stirring this over a low heat for around 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour.

Then start to add your milk – some people say this works better if the milk is warm, we’ve never found this makes much difference and as we don’t have a microwave this is a bit of a ball-ache so we used cold. Add the milk slowly stirring well in between each addition to keep the sauce smooth (you can switch to a whisk if it helps) and keep adding the milk until you have a smooth fairly thin sauce as this will thicken up later. Continue cooking the sauce, stirring every minute or so, for about 10-15 minutes until it has thickened up and is gorgeous and glossy.

Now comes the fun bit, adding the cheese! Take the sauce off the heat and throw in your grated cheese (see below for highly necessary demonstration):

It's a shame you can't see this because it's sexy.
I wish I had the magical ability to produce cheese from my hand.

Then stir in the pesto, and add the macaroni stirring well so that each piece is well coated.

I might frame this and put it on my wall.
I might frame this and put it on my wall.
PHWOAR!
PHWOAR!

Then tip half of this sexy, cheesy mixture into a lightly buttered oven-safe dish, put the bacon and shallot mixture you made earlier as evenly as you can over it, chuck the other half of the macaroni on and top with slices of goats cheese.

Pop it in the oven for around 20 minutes, and then under the grill for a few minutes to get really golden on top.

Don't you just want to dive right in? We did.
Don’t you just want to dive right in? We did.

We had ours with a simple lettuce and tomato salad with a balsamic dressing, sorry there are no plate pictures, we were too desperate to eat!