Mac and "Cheese"......

On my instagram feed I've posted a photo or two before of the Mac and Cheese meal that goes down very well in my flat, with my girls regularly coming over for a feed, it has been tried and tested by many an eager victim.
This is a recipe that I have worked on and improved alongside my old flat mate after he decided to treat me to a vegan mac and cheese meal. Over the past two years I've worked on making it the best I can, and made many variations improving on the original recipe which if I remember rightly, had miso soup in it at one point!
At last I think the recipe is perfected, and as I've been asked a few times exactly how it's made, and what the recipe is which I will finally share it with you now.
It's surprisingly simple and easy.

It's also a recipe that doesn't require me to run to the shops for ingredients as I'll generally have everything I need in the kitchen!

Ingredients :-

Dairy Free Margarine
Almond (or Soya) Milk
Vegan cheese of your preference
Vegan Cream Cheese
Salt and Pepper 
If you'd like you can also add boiled cauliflower to make it a cauliflower and macaroni cheese which I'll do on occasion.

You'll have noticed that there isn't any measurements on the ingredients.
This is because there isn't really a wrong way to make it, some people may prefer thicker or thinner cheese sauce, some may like loads of sauce, and others not too much so you can always amend to your choosing.

Throw yourself some macaroni (and if adding cauliflower, boiled the pasta in a steamer with the cauliflower in the steaming compartment) into a pan with some boiling water, salted and with a little oil in to stop the pasta sticking.
Usually macaroni takes about 11-13 minutes to cook (which is also the amount of time the cauliflower would need to steam conveniently) so you can take your time to prepare the cheese sauce while this is cooking and also once the pasta has been drained.
If you're placing the mac and cheese in the oven to brown on top too, some may prefer to eat it as it is, then this would be the right time to preheat your oven as well.

Get your ingredients out and ready to go, you don't want to be dipping in and out of the fridge making this! 
For the butter alternative I prefer Pure sunflower margarine, they do also offer soya and now olive margarine which tastes amazing melted onto potatoes, and you can now find them in most supermarkets and now even some corner shops.
We now only use Almond milk in the flat now, as I don't eat meat either, I look to nuts, beans and pulses for my protein hit.
I'm not sure if I get loads of protein from using this milk, but as alternatives go it has proved the best for cooking with, and doesn't give you that horrible aftertaste soya milk can sometimes leave.

I've decided in this recipe to use two grated cheeses as well as the cream cheese, today I used the classic vegusto, and the red cheddar style cheezly. 
My favourite to use is the Vegusto Mild Aromatic cheese, it works the best for sauces and gives the quintessential cheese flavour which these two sadly do not quite hit, but as it is so good it's generally sold out in the two stores selling it in Liverpool!
Soon as I find it again I shall be buying a few so I don't run out so fast, but as I use it for pizzas, pastas, in fajitas, on nachos etc etc, it doesn't last long in our house.

So we start with the roux! 
I use this method to make creamy cheese sauces for quite a few things now too, it has proved very useful over the years, and I'm always finding more and more things I can make using it.
A roux is generally equal parts melted butter, and flour, so it's easy as can be, simply melt the butter in a nice heavy set pan over a medium heat, and once it's fully melted mix in the flour.
Be careful to not leave the butter bubbling too long, or melt on a high heat however, as that can on rare occasion make adding the flour react into a spitting hot mess!
I found that out the hard way.

Once you have a nice thick mixture, little by little add the milk into the mixture while stirring.
This is when you have the most control about how much sauce you make, and how thick you make it.
Once you have it just right for you, it's time to add the cheese into the mix!

Finely grate the cheese, as it helps it to melt better and quicker, vegan cheeses not general being as melty as real cheese.
Throw as much cheese as you'd prefer while mixing into the hot roux and stir until it's melted and blended.

I like to add a generous spoonful of Tofutti cream cheese, it makes the sauce have an extra creaminess to it, which makes it all the more delicious and it easily melts into the mixture.
I also add a dash of worcester sauce and some pepper too for a little kick of flavour, but this is of course optional, and open for experimentation!

Once the sauce is all mixed, smelling delicious, and the right consistency for you it's time to mix it with your pasta.
If you have a big enough pan you can use it to mix it through thoroughly, if not you can pour the sauce over the pasta placed in a ceramic oven dish, and carefully spread and mix it through that way.
If you're not popping into the oven you can enjoy it from this point, sometimes for a quick, easy comfort food meal this is just perfect.
I prefer it from the oven tho, especially if it's made with Cauliflower.

Pop into the ceramic dish as flatten it down slightly so the pasta sticks together slightly, before placing into the oven.
We have a top oven/ grill that I prefer to use to make the top extra golden and crispy, it also cooks slightly quicker at about 15 minutes at about 200/250.
If you are cooking in a main oven, then place in the middle shelf for about 20 minutes at 200/250.
You can also add breadcrumbs, and extra salt and pepper to the top before you pop it in to bake.

Et Voila!
I like to team mac and cheese with a mix of baked beans and chopped tomatoes.
My parents used to serve this alongside cauliflower cheese when I was a child and it compliments it perfectly, it also brings back all those childhood memories of my dads cooking after a long day at school.
I drain out as much of the juice as I can before I combine and cook these in a pan, as there's usually a lot more liquid due to the combination which makes it get a little soggy if you leave it all in.

Edd likes to add a little bit of spicy sauce sometimes too, but mainly as I seem to have accidentally got him addicted to this sauce after picking it up on a shopping trip!
The mac and cheese will usually come out golden, and bubbling, I love making this meal on a cold winters night as it's so warming and filling, it's such comfort food for me that it really cheers me up at the end of a long or tiresome day.

See how easy it actually is?! 
It takes about 30-40 minutes to make from scratch to serving, and gives you a nice little break too once it's in the oven before you have to make whatever else you decide to team it with (go for beans, trust me!) which is always great, especially if you're making this after work when all you really want to do is have a sit down.
Let me know if you try it out, and if you make any amendments, how they worked for you!
It's a great recipe in that it isn't so strict, making it somewhat different every time and meaning it can be made just right for everyone.
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