Granny Morty’s Spaga-roni Cheese.
Origin: It is hard to explain to your teenage children that when they reach their forties and have children of their own, pieces of furniture and family heirlooms that they stick their noses up at now, will suddenly become treasures in their lives. They will want to cook the food their mums and grannies cooked for them as a child and they will be frantically looking for black and white photographs of mum and dad’s wedding….. We often joke around the family table about who we are leaving what to, and to horrify them, mention the kitschiest items in the house are to be cherished and carried through time by their children, and their grandchildren.
The list is met with frowns and comments like ‘ah swak – mum no way please don’t leave that to me - it is aweful!’
Why is it that only as you get older and loose people and places in your lives, do you then cherish and hold onto every memory of the past. At the time all was taken for granted. Clearly that is why God created the 5 senses that are sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. They are like the hard-drives of our bodies, recording all the data, which will never leave us and flood back later in life in the form of memories.
Have you ever suddenly smelled a familiar smell that takes you far back to your childhood or a particular taste that you will never forget?
This recipe is one retrieved from my data base. My dad’s mum was a very simple mother. She was put on earth to be just that a mother to three hectic boys and a husband to a hard working man. Her home was simple. My distant memories of her, as she died when I was about 12, were a dark cozy house, tea in blue Spode china tea cups and the smell of Roast Mutton on a Sunday.
I will never be able to reproduce the Roast Mutton, as I remember she had a pot of lard in her fridge that she had cured and used for years and that is a secret that has gone with her.
What I have tried to remember though was my favorite spaghetti dish, that I helped her make a few times and this is how I think it was made.
I made it for my dad last night, and it is the closest we have ever come to the original, as there was no recipe to follow, just those few visual memories of the days in her dimly lit, warm kitchen at her tiny Defy stove, and the smell of the grilled cheesy end result, which she proudly served to the family in an antique enamel baking dish with the mandatory bottle of Worcestershire sauce to splash on the creamy spag-aroni. (Dinner in 20 minutes – great for Sunday nights.)
Granny Morty’s Spag-aroni. (serves 5 – 6)
400 g spaghetti
2 liters of boiling water
5 ml (1 teaspoon salt) for the boiling water
5 tomatoes (nice ripe red ones are the best to use)
1 large or two small onions
15ml (1 tablespoon) butter
15ml tomato puree
10ml Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
- Bring the water and salt to the boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente (just cooked.)
- Grate the tomato and onions. (Peel onions first, but tomatoes just cut in half, grate and throw the skin away.)
- Drain the spaghetti and using the same pot, fry the grated onion and tomato in the butter for 5 minutes. (See picture on the RHS.) Add the tomato paste and Worstershire sauce.
- Add the drained spaghetti back to the pot and stir into the tomato and onion mixture. Taste – and season well with salt and pepper. It needs quite a lot of salt.
- Heat the spaghetti through, and add 250ml – 300ml boiling water so that the mixture has a ‘saucy base’. Boil for a few minutes. This is the trick, to know how much water to have as it mustn’t be too dry and not too runny.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the eggs and egg yolk very well.
- Lastly add the cheese, and stir until melted.
- Tip into a baking dish, and cover with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and more grated cheese. (Gran M used to put a row of thin tomato slices down the centre of the dish!)
- Grill until crispy and serve immediately with a salad, and Worcestershire sauce.