Curling Up on Winter Afternoons with Macaroni & Cheese using Comté Cheese and Kettle Chips!


Winter is here...
The toes get cold without socks...
You wake up and grab a sweater first thing...
And shiver while waiting for the kettle to boil...
The heater struggles & takes forever to warm up the house...
Your nose & your cheeks tingle in the sharp, cold wind and  your eyes tear...
Snuggling on the sofa with a blanket and a good book on Sunday afternoons is  bliss...
Cradling a steaming mug of tea in-between sips in your hands feels oh-so-comforting...
Gone are those gorgeous autumn leaves...
The trees look bare & lonely, shrouded in silence...
Darkness descends early afternoon and lingers long...
Some days the wind howls as if it has lost it's best friend, I feel like opening my window and letting it come inside for some cosy comfort, maybe a cup of tea....
Hot chocolate and mulled wine cheer the soul and gladden the heart, so do stews and soups...anything warm and heartening...filling and comforting...


I feel winter in the UK has two parts-- the part before Christmas and the part after. Of course the before part is way more fun, even though the after part has the new year, the sales and St Valentine's Day. The before has all those twinkling lights, the glitzy decors, the shops overflowing with gifts, Christmas songs being played everywhere, fairs and markets all over the place, Secret Santas, planning on in full swing, the air crackles with an anticipation and buzz  which I love. Many people say that Christmas has gone terribly commercial, maybe it has. But  that does not dampen my spirits. I love all of it, the shopping, the planning, the preparations.
London is in the middle of her Christmas preparations. The city looks beautiful around this time, specially in the evenings with all the sparkling lights on. Some photographs of London from my lens.
This is the busy time of the year and a lot is happening. Sometimes I feel like I need to run to keep pace. But then don't we all feel like that from time to time? Rather let's talk about something more interesting. Let's talk about food. 

Recently I attended two cool food events. First was the launch of a new flavour of Kettle Chips--Smoked Paprika, Porcini and Garlic Butter. It was a fun evening with us relaxing on plush seats to watch Bridget Jones Dairy yet again, while munching on Kettle Chips. They served the chips with a really interesting dip which made it more fun.
The next event which I attended was a Comté cheese tasting event at the La Cave, London. This was my first cheese tasting event and I could not have started with any better cheese. The evening was made special by Claire Perrot who led the tasting. Claire is very passionate about Comté, the whole process, the mountainous region where this cheese comes from, what makes a Comté and how some cheese remain white and fail to make the grade. It was very interesting hearing Claire talkNot too much of a red wine person, but the wine and cheese pairing that Claire did for us was perfect.
Claire Perrot at the Comté cheese tasting at La Cave, London, Photo courtesey  Comté cheese

Needless to say I came home with a big bag of Kettle chips and some Comté cheese. Having consumed half a bag of chips while watching the movie I was not keen on another chips binge. So I decided to cook something with the chips. Same with the cheese. At the tasting I had consumed a lot of cheese because it was so very tasty. Now I wanted to see how Comté tasted when cooked. Me being the lazy one decided to punch both of them and made an extremely cheesey macaroni cheese with crispy potato-chip topping.
The original recipe is Chef John's which you can find here.




Ingredients for the Cripsy Potato-Chip Topping

1. Half a bag of Kettle Chips (I used the new flavour, Chef John recommends a sharp cheddar flavour)
2. One cup of Comté cheese
3. Half cup of home made fresh breadcrumbs (the Chef recommends Panko breadcrumbs)
4. Butter (I did not use butter in this step at all)
Steps for Making the Crispy Potato-Chip Topping
1. Heat a non stick frying pan, reduce the flame and add the breadcrumbs and toast them light brown.
2. While the breadcrumbs are toasting, bash the potato-chips with a rolling pin. Be careful not to make a fine dust, stop while there are still some fairly semi big pieces left.
3. Add this to the pan and continue toasting.
4. Stir at regular intervals, toast till the potato-chip pieces have turned golden brown and it smells really nice.
5. Switch off the heat and add the cheese and mix throughly. The cheese will melt in the heat and cling to the breadcrumbs and potato-chip pieces.
6. Make this before starting on the macaroni and cheese and keep aside.

Ingredients for the Macoroni & Cheese

1. One pound elbow macaroni
2. Three to four cups shredded Comté cheese (the original recipe asks for Cheddar cheese)
3. Two table spoons of butter (the original recipe asks for one fourth cup of butter)
4. One fourth cup flour
5. One fourth tea spoon of cayenne pepper
6. One eight tea spoon of white pepper
7. One fourth tea spoon of dried thyme
8. One fourth tea spoon of Worcestershire sauce
9. One tea spoon of salt
10. One pinch of grated nutmeg
11. One tea spoon of Dijon mustard
12. Three cups of milk
Steps for Making the Macaroni Cheese

1. In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter, add the flour and mix the butter and the flour well. Butter may burn rather quickly, so reduce the flame to low medium.
2. Add the spices--dried thyme and cayenne pepper.
3. Add the milk, cold a little at a time, and keep mixing. Cold milk is the secret to a lump free smooth sauce. 
4. While the sauce is cooking grate some nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce and the salt.
5. Turn off the heat and add the cheese, mixing throughly.
6. Add the Dijon mustard to the sauce.
7. Boil the macaroni according to instructions at the back of it's packet and add it to the sauce.
8. Sprinkle the potato-chip topping and serve hot.


40 comments :

  1. Wow..really very healthy and crunchy one bowl dish.

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  2. This is such a deliciously written piece- with the pics and all it made my winter Monday a tad warmer! Mac and cheese is one of my comfort foods and now more than ever you've made me want to try it your way! May be not Kettle and may be not Comte, the rest I will make sure I follow!

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  3. it was very interesting to read about London before Christmas! I also somehow feel it's now a bit too commercial

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  4. Suchi , just love the way you've described the beginning (?) of winter season in your side of the world ! Good thing that we don't have that kind of bone-chilling winter here lol Okay , I'll stop sighing over the combination of Kettle chips and cheese :D Delicious and comforting dish eventhough I don't like macaroni , don't ask why :P Your square serving bowl is pretty dandy !

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  5. I loveeeee your X-mas photographs Suchi, they are sooo classy ! Mac and cheese is the best comfort food in winters no :)

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  6. Cooking with chips?! Interesting, but it wouldn't happen in my household...(gone in a flash)
    Must be nice and crunchy.

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    1. I know, even in mine chips have a way of disappearing before you can say chips...but I have had an overdose, hence :-)

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  7. This is quite interesting really n I love ur pics always..

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  8. Very cool, very sinful... all that cheese and chips. Like the way you have positioned the Kitchen Karma to read like store names :-)
    One of the pics looks like Kingston square where they have the farmers market.

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    1. Hi Radha, no these photos are of Covent Garden...though we live pretty near Kingston and keep going there to shop :-)

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  9. Hi Suchi,
    This looks so comforting and delicious!

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  10. Hi Suchi,
    This looks so comforting and delicious!

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  11. looks great comfort food and fun crunch with the chips london is so nice this time of year

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  12. Christmas is always so pretty being white and snowy in the Northern hemisphere. Ours is totally opposite being so bright and sunny...

    Your version of marcaroni and cheese looks and sounds very comforting to indulge during your chilly Christmasy season... Ours will be ice cream and popsicles :p

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  13. Mac and cheese, topped with chips, would love to taste this combo, looks very tempting..

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  14. Suchi, What a lovely blog this is!

    Thanks so much for taking the trouble to leave a comment over at my blog! Just makes my day :))

    Your pictures are making me so so nostalgic .... I miss London so much! It must be amazing during Christmas ...I was in London about a month ago! Its my most favorite city in the whole world!!

    Lets hope I can visit soon again and maybe meet you :))

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  15. There's so such thing as too much Mac & Cheese. Loved this recipe, all the way to the use of two of my favourite flavours: thyme and cayenne.

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  16. I've always wanted to visit London at Christmas time, Suchi. Never would I believe I would actually see such personal pictures from someone I actually "know:)" Thank you so much for sharing them...

    What a wonderful time you must have had at these events. I never tire of Bridget Jones:)

    You have created such a comforting meal with the chips and cheese. I bet it tastes oh so good. I must remember the next time I make Mac N Cheese, which will be very soon, lol...Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your recipe Suchi. I love this time of year!!!

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  17. Loved ur little poetic description Of winter,,winter seems so beautiful in ur pics and in ur words..
    .need something like this on winter to keep our engine running :)

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  18. Lovely!!! I simply love mac n cheese... n after seeing ur clicks, I'm tempted to make it this week :) Super-duper one...

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  19. Hi Suchi, Hope you enjoy the both parts of the Christmas. Great to see that you had a lot of fun in the cheese tasting event. The potatoes look so delicious and mouthwatering.
    Deepa

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  20. Hi Suchi, how you doing? Your mac and cheese look really awesome. Thanks for sharing your recipe and the beautiful pictures.

    Have a wonderful week ahead,regards.

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  21. Hi Suchi,great pics and equally good recipe.Will try soon.

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  22. Merry Christmas, Suchi...Keep the Spirit in Your Heart:)

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