Recipes of the week: Cauliflower macaroni cheese & smoky chili beef

So much for photographing my recipes … I forgot again. It gets so frantic at the pointy end of the day when I’m rushing to deliver three meals to a hungry family down the road.

So, the main pic comes from Betty Crocker and her cauliflower mac & cheese recipe is a “skinny” one. Mine isn’t. The chilli beef pic is from an amazing Tin Eats recipe – click here for the lowdown.

Cauliflower macaroni cheese

This is another one of the youngest’s favourite dinners. In researching ways to make it extra yummy, I discovered you shouldn’t use bagged grated cheese as it contains anti-caking agents that make the sauce a bit grainy. I wish I hadn’t discovered that because it added an extra level of complexity to creating the dish. I think I will just forget about the texture of the sauce next time in the sake of sanity.

15g unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic

1 stick of celery, chopped

1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets

1 pkt macaroni

1-2 tablespoons cornflour

2 cups milk

1/2 cup lite cooking cream

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1-2 cups of a mix of your favourite cheeses, such as Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella or Gruyere, grated (use less cheese if you are worried about the effect on your health)

1-2 leftover cheese & bacon rolls (depending on size), turned into breadcrumbs in a food processor (or any breadcrumbs of choice)

METHOD: Boil cauliflower until just tender, drain. Boil pasta until just tender, drain. Preheat oven to 180C. Melt butter and saute onion, garlic and celery until softened. Add milk and mustard bring to gentle simmer, mix cornflour with a little warm water to form a paste, add to milk mixture and continue stirring to prevent lumps. Stir in cream. Remove from heat and add grated cheese, stir to melt it through sauce. Mix cauliflower, pasta and sauce together. Pour into a casserole baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Spray with a little rice bran oil and bake until topping is golden.

Smoky chili beef

There are two ways to serve this one, either in tortilla “baskets” or with a polenta crust. I went for the polenta crust this time around.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1.5kg beef blade, cut into 2cm cubes

Sea salt

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons smoked paprika (Masterfoods usually has it)

2 teaspoons Mexican spices of choice

2 dried chipolte chillies or a liberal tsp of Chipotle chilli paste (Woolies has it)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 large jar passata

1 cup beef stock

400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed


1½ cups plain flour

1 cup instant polenta

1½ cups buttermilk 

Salt & pepper

1 cup grated cheddar

½ cup chopped coriander leaves

METHOD:  Prehead oven to 160C. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-based casserole. Cook beef in batches until browned. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in pan and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in passata, sugar, dried spices, tomato paste and salt. Cover and slow cook for 3 hours. Add kidney beans and cook for another 30 minutes to and hour 4 until the beef is meltingly tender.

Place the flour, polenta, buttermilk, salt and pepper, cheese and coriander in a bowl and mix to combine. Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the beef and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until cooked through and golden. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

If you’d like to make the tortilla basket version: when the beef is tender, remove from oven. Gently press tortillas into oven-proof bowls to create fluted basket shapes and bake until crisp. Fill with beef mixture, sprinkle with coriander and serve with grated cheese, sour cream, rice and soft tortillas.

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