Macaroni and Cheese

Last night I made my favourite dinner - what my friend Troy refers to as Heart Attack on a Plate. Macaroni and Cheese. I know what you're thinking, it comes in a box and is microwave madness. Not so! Mine is from a cookbook I inherited from my mother, the Women's Weekly Original Cookbook, not to be confused with the Women's Weekly New Cookbook. For simplicity's sake, I call them the old and new testament. My sister Michelle and I sometimes refer to them as our heirlooms.

They're from the 70's and they're spectacular. Completely out of print, mind you. You can probably get one on ebay or an op-shop. It was the Stephanie Alexander of the 70's. There is a recipe for "How to host a Cheese and Wine Night" which basically says, buy some cheese and wine and put it on the table. There is also a spectacularly lurid photo of some canapes - Ritz biscuits with bits of meat and traffic light cocktail onions on them. If the appetising bucket of boiled meat on the cover isn't enough to entice you in, let me tell you that there are some gems from the golden age of cookery hiding within - a lot of pineapple rings. The new testament, which has a red cover, has some full three course meals and how to cook them. No rocket lettuce or stir fry here my friends, everything is cooked in three inches of butter.

The Macaroni Cheese recipe is a delight. Not only does it have mustard and worcesteshire in it, but a can of tomato soup! It looks positively radioactive when it comes out of the oven, but my lord, the flavours! You will burst. And it's great cold. Here it is, as I remember it (I rarely look at the recipe anymore).

Make macaroni - you know, boil water, boil mac, rinse, drain, blah. If you can't manage that, ring a pizza for frig's sake. In a big saucepan, melt 90g butter (which is just under two of the little marks on the side of the wrapper). Remove from heat and stir in dry ingredients (dry mix: 1/2 cup flour, teaspoon dry mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika, salt, pepper). Cook 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk gradually. Stir until sauce boils and thickens. Fry lightly chopped onion (1), capsicum (1) and bacon (3-4 rashers, about 125g) then add to sauce. Mix well. Add 185g grated cheddar and 1/2 can tomato soup (small can!). Gently heat sauce, do not boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon worcestishire sauce and cooked mac. Pop it in a casserole dish and shove it in a preheated oven - 180celsius - for 25-30 minutes. For the topping, sprinkle any of the following: more grated cheddar, grated cheddar and parmesan, or my favourite, a tablespoon of melted butter mixed with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs.

Eat and don't think about the butter.