Plain Food #1
Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Cheese
About plain foodIt's another word for "comfort food" I suppose, though god knows there are enough recipe books of comfort foods out there. But more than just comfort, my idea of plain food is something that is easy to do, quick, cheap, and also delicious and comforting. Some comfort foods, after all, are quite expensive and/or labour intensive.
So we do this thing with spaghetti, tomatoes, and cheese. It doesn't have to be fresh pasta. In fact, why not just get the 3-minute cook type of spaghetti (which usually takes more like 5 minutes, but I'm not arguing)? And they're not sun-dried tomatoes, or fresh, or exclusive in any way. A tin of cheap plum tomatoes, or chopped plum tomatoes. And the cheese is bog-standard cheddar, nothing fancy, could be eastern bloc cheddar for all I care.
So. How much cheese is up to you. As little as 4 ounces (125 g) or twice as much as that. You could even use low-fat cheddar, though the results won't be up to the real thing.
You grate the cheese. If you use a Magimix or something to grate the cheese, you could then swap the disk for the chopping blade and pour in the tin of tomatoes, blending everything together. So you now have a mix of cheese and tomatoes. Add plenty of black pepper. Now comes the secret ingredient, which is milk.
For years after I left home, my attempts at this recipe lacked the element of delicious comfort, because I forgot the milk. My sister put me straight. You need to add around half a glass. By "a glass" I suppose I mean one around the size of those Amora mustard pots that double as glasses, or a school Duralex water glass. But you learn to judge the right amount of milk.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti, or pasta shapes. This recipe is especially good with stellini or other similar teeny weeny shapes. When it's properly al dente, drain it, and return the pasta to the pan and put it on a low heat. Pour in the tomato/cheese/milk mixture and gently heat through, stirring continually, until the cheese is melty and gooey.
It'll stick to the spoon, stick to the fork you eat it with, stick to the roof of your mouth, and the saucepan will be a bastard to wash, but that's all part of the charm.