Thursday 11 August 2016

Macaroni cheese pies, sick cat and olympics

It has been an interesting week.  After a flat tyre last week, this week has brought the drama of a sick cat, the fun of the Olympic games and the comfort of macaroni and cheese pies.

Let me start with Zinc our cat not being well.  She is 15 years old which is quite elderly for a cat and recently was diagnosed with kidney disease.  Last week she was sneezing and this week she has been off her food and bleeding from the nose.  Yesterday I took her to the vet, fearing the worst, and found she had a cold.  Which seems minor but she is still struggling to eat.  We could barely syringe a few drops of yoghurt into her tonight.  It is a worry!  (Update: Zinc died just a few days after this post.)

[To be clear: Zinc does not wear winter woollens when she has a cold.  It is an old photo I found which seemed fitting.  Sylvia  had draped something green over her and it looked like a scarf!]

But back to the macaroni cheese pies.  I have had Shaheen's macaroni cheese pies recipe bookmarked for ages.  Then when we were in Scotland in March, E bought some from the supermarket.  They were such great comfort food.  I returned determined to make them myself.  (While they are popular in Scotland, they are harder to find in Australia.)

So when I made them a few months ago, they were not quite right.  I was out of butter or margarine and could only use oil in the roux.  The crusty hot water pastry was too thick and using muffin tins meant there was not enough filling.  The oven turned itself off.  Don't get me wrong!  We loved them but I knew I could improve them.

A few months later I tried again.  This time I tried veganising the pastry I made for homity pies by using aquafaba instead of egg.  It worked wonderfully.  Then I added a bit of aquafaba into the cheese sauce and it was such a good cheese sauce.  Coincidence?  I loved these so much that I spent the next day wondering how long was reasonable to wait until I had one.  It is worth noting that while the cheese sauce was incredible creamy and glossy when first made, it thickened and lost its gloss after a while but that was fine in the pies.  I really loved the melted cheese and slightly cooked edges of pasta on top of the pies.

Dinner was late.  I gave Sylvia some macaroni cheese to eat without waiting for it to cook in pastry.  We ate our pies in front of the telly so we could watch some Olympics.  We don't watch much sport in our house but we have watched a bit of the Rio Olympics.  I have particularly enjoyed seeing some men's gymnastics.  E really loved seeing some soccer.  It was quite amusing that he was yelling at the tv in a way we don't usually hear!  I have seen a few events where the commentators suggest anything but a gold is a disappointment but it is interesting to see that the competitors are just delighted to get any Olympic medal.  Sylvia has asked me why we only see Australian competitors being interviews! 

Strangely enough when I made the first pies, Sylvia loved the filling but not keen on base, but for this batch she couldn't get enough of the pastry but not so interested in the filling.  I loved one at room temperature for lunch but am not sure I am ready to waste them in Sylvia's lunchbox.

On the first day we had these pies, I served them with some spinach and cherry tomatoes.  On the second day we went a bit more fancy.  I made some miso harissa roasted pumpkin.  While it baked I worked on an eggplant side dish that was a bit of experimenting.  I roasted some olive oil drizzled eggplant cubes until soft, added red capsicum, cherry tomatoes and chickpeas.  I used some lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and white pepper and roasted until everything softened.  It was really nice and if I can make it again with some more accurate notes I will write it up.

I was especially pleased with my shortcrust pastry as it was my first time using my new blender blow attachment for pastry.  It worked really well.

We really loved these pies.  They disappeared quickly and we would have welcomed more.  I suspect there will be requests for me to make these again soon.

I am sending this to Pasta Please and Meat Free Mondays.

More pasta bakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Green lasagne with broccoli and rocket pesto
Neofolk buckwheat pasta bake (gf)
Pumpkin and tofu ricotta cannelloni (v)
Tempeh and pumpkin lasagne (v)  
Spaghetti pie (v)
Vegetarian enchilada pasta bake (v)

Macaroni cheese pies
Makes 8 pies

1 batch shortcrust pastry - see below
200g macaroni
3 tbsp butter or margarine
3 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 1/2 cup milk (I used soy)
1/4 cup aqua faba
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp seeded mustard
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
150g extra tasty cheese
grated and added to sauce
50g extra cheese on top

Put on macaronni to cook in salted water according to the packet instructions.  (About 8 minutes for my pasta.)

Meanwhile, fry butter and flour a few minutes until it smells cooked and usually will change colour slightly (ie make a roux).  Slowly add milk and aquafaba, stirring constantly until liquid is incorporated into roux.  Add salt, mustard and paprika and 150g grated cheese.  Stir in macaroni once cooked.

Cut pastry into eight pieces, gently knead each into a ball and roll out each to fit 8 greased small pie tins. (Mine were about 10cm in diameter.)  Fill pie with macaroni cheese.  Sprinkle with extra 50g grated cheese.  Bake at 220 C for 20 minutes.

Vegan shortcrust pastry*
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

125g/4oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling
125g/4oz wholemeal flour
150g/5oz butter
2-3 tbsp aquafaba (chickpea brine)

Rub butter into flours and then mix in aquafaba.  This can be done in the food processor.  Knead briefly to form a round, wrap in clingfilm and refridgerate for about 30 minutes.

*NOTES - I also made these with a half batch of crusty hot water pastry in muffin tins - which was ok but I tried to press it into muffin tins and it was too thick and too low a ratio of macaroni cheese to pastry.  I think it might work in the bigger tins if rolled out thinner but it may need longer than the shortcrust pastry in the oven.

On the Stereo:
As Time Goes By: Brian Ferry


  1. I'm sorry to hear your kitty is under the weather! But Zinc really is the perfect name for a kitty with a cold. I hope she'll be back to her old self again soon.

    1. Thanks Cadry - sadly Zinc died - sad for us but she was old

  2. I have never seen macaroni cheese pies before, but they sound delicious. Hope Zinc is feeling better soon.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - you can't beat carb on carb of the macaroni pies

  3. So sorry to hear your kitty is sick. I hope she's feeling better very soon.

    These mac & cheese pies look amazing! I did some mac & cheese muffins but I bet the crust makes it even better! I can't wait to try these!

    1. Thanks Mary Ellen - mac and cheese muffins sound really good too

  4. You had me at a pic of Zinc. She is so cute! I hope she is ok and feels better soon!

    1. Thanks Lorraine - Zinc was just such a beautiful cat - it is sad that the cold got the better of her because her kidney disease didn't cope with her

  5. Oh poor Zinc, hope she feels better soon and chasing you for her grub. The picture is so adorable, thanks for sharing. I agree about the pastry of the macaroni pies, I still haven't perfected my recipe - as its nothing like the ones I found in Scotland, that were very sturdy. By the way, since I moved back to Wales - no Mac Pies here, even though Greggs that sell it there has around 4 stores in town, all they offer me is a measly cheesy onion pastry and its horrid.

    1. Thanks Shaheen - I wish I could buy some macaroni cheese pies to compare to these now - I thought these were pretty good as the pastry held it quite well without crumbling (have asked E and he says it was more like a chip shop crust by which I think he means a meat pie crust but I am just more confused). I think there is a pie shop near us that does pasties with pasta in it - will need to check it out now. (And I know what you mean about Greggs but I still miss the cheese and onion pasties)

  6. Ok genius. I've never even thought to combine macaroni cheese and pies, but it's brilliant.

    Poor kitty. Green really is her colour though!

    1. Thanks Lisa - it is a brilliant idea - the scots know how to do stodge in the best way possible :-)

  7. I hope Zinc will recover fast.
    The macaroni pies look great, I would love to try them.

    1. Thanks Anca - I know you have commented on the post about Zinc dying saying you were sorry to have not read it first so I have updated this post to let people know when they are reading it. Hope you try the pies

  8. omg... you had me at macaroni & cheese pie. YUM.
    You are inspiring me to make a vegan & gluten-free version of this. It of course won't be nearly as good... but it'll be an interesting eat I think I'll enjoy =)
    What is extra tasty cheese??? ;p

    I see you have a separate post for Zinc - I am going to read it now :(


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