Well, two of them anyway, and I had hoped for three, but was otherwise occupied this weekend so didn’t get to the farmer’s market to buy some buffalo milk. I was instead at the Ben & Jerry’s Summer Sundae in Clapham Common, London, where there was unlimited free ice cream, thankfully, for the first time there was sorbet this year and I didn’t feel as left out as before. It is torture watching your friends gorge themselves when you can’t have any. Well, you can but then have to go home early because you are sick… I learned my lesson two years ago!
So, as mentioned in a previous post I have really wanted to make some lactose free macaroni cheese. I spotted a recipe in Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries recently for macaroni with fontina and it looked so good! It’s a great book, if you don’t have it. Styled as a diary, it reminds me of a food blog in print. I really like Nigel Slater’s approach to cooking, as stated on his website: “I have always felt that a recipe should be something to inspire, remind and lightly influence rather than a set of instructions to be followed, pedantically, to the letter.” I absolutely agree, and while this has lent it’s influence to some failures in the kitchen, it has also led to the discovery of some culinary delights, like my recent random broad bean effort.
I’ve never developed a taste for soya milk as a substitute for cows milk. It’s too grainy. I do like my soya latté in the morning but that’s really as far as it goes on a regular basis. Goats Milk is a much better substitute for cooking, both milks have similar fat contents so it’s easier to substitute goats milk for cows in a conventional recipe. I don’t like to use goats milk for baking as it’s a little goaty, buffalo milk is a better substitute for this and occasionally I do use soya milk, especially for muffins and the like. The goat flavour can work really well in a savoury dish if yout twist it to your advantage by using ingredients that will complement this.
So, for this, I used St Helens Farm goats milk & butter, Ossau-Iraty – a brebis (sheeps) cheese from south west France and manchego – a sheeps cheese from La Mancha in spain. The Ossau-Iraty is quite mild, I didn’t want a cheese that would fight with the goats milk and butter for dominance and produce an intense dish. I used it in the sauce and used the manchego to finish off the dish by mixing it some breadcrumbs made from day old bread from our local bakery.
The finished product was really good, a delicate goats cheese flavour blended with the mild Ossau-Iraty and topped off by a mature manchego. A successful experiment overall!
Note: not all lactose intolerants can substitiute goats milk for cows, the only way to find out is by trial and error unfortunately. In the same way, some lactose intolerants can have cows yoghurt and hard cheeses, there are different severities of intolerance.
If you don’t have any problems with dairy you can make this with cows milk, butter and cheeses. It’s a very adaptable recipe and really serves as a guideline. I would encourage you to use your favourite cheeses and play around with it as the sauce itself is very mild and the dish will take on the flavour of whatever cheese you choose, next for me is to use buffalo milk with blue sheeps cheese.
This recipe serves 4.
60g plain flour
1 litre milk
1 tbsp smooth dijon mustard
2 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled & halved
150g Ossau-Iraty (or your cheese of choice)
4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
4 tbsp fine grated manchego
350g macaroni or similar tubular pasta shape
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Cook the macaroni, following the instructions on the packet, drain and cool in iced water or run it under the cold tap in a colander.
Melt the butter over a low heat and add the flour. Stir with a whisk to remove lumps and stir over the heat for a few minutes to cook out the flour. You’ll need to stir constantly to ensure it doesn’t stick/burn.
While doing this, heat the milk to a simmer with the bay leaves and onion and remove from the heat.
Remove the bay leaves & onion and add the milk to your roux (butter/flour mixture), a ladleful at a time, whisking all the time to ensure there are no lumps and it doesn’t stick.
Simmer the sauce over a very low heat until it has the consistency of double cream, stirring frequently.
Fold the mustard, ossau-iraty and pasta into the sauce.
Pour the mixture into a gratin dish and cover with the mixed breadcrumbs in manchego.
Cook for 35-45 minutes until crisp and brown on top.