Rebecca & Graham
Rebecca & Graham live in a stunning flat in Whitechapel, east London. Both were born and raised in London with Rebecca’s mother being half Swizz and half English and her father Ugandan so there were a number of cultural influences which has influenced their love of food. Graham works as an insurance underwriter and Rebecca as a project manager for John Lewis, which entitles her to the most enviable discount!
With the share of the cooking split pretty evening between then both, Graham and Rebecca love experimenting with bold flavours whilst creating something satisfying and comforting that also looks good. Rebecca is expecting their first child very soon, so they are enjoying an indulgent comforting meal before their little one arrives.
What’s your earliest memory of a Sunday Dinner and what did it entail?
Sunday lunches with my mother were usually a roast chicken after church. She makes the most wonderful simple roast. Any leftovers would be become Monday's dinner and possibly Tuesday's if she was feeling creative enough.
Do you have any long-standing family traditions?
My family have always had a fresh green salad with every meal, even with a roast. It was a bone of contention with my husband when we first got married but he's come round to the idea.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up on a Sunday?
Snooze for as long as possible and then eat breakfast. We try to keep our Sundays as relaxed as possible.
Who do you spend your Sunday with?
My husband and our church family. We go to church in the afternoon/evening so we often try to have a group of people round for lunch and then we all head off to church later in the day.
What do you enjoy most about Sundays?
Spending time doing simple things like cooking and spending time with friends. On a Sunday it’s nice not to be in a rush compared to the rest of the week.
Do you eat the same meal every week?
No, we're really bad at meal planning and are often out most of the week so don't really have anything we cook week in week out. I think that will change though once the baby arrives.
What’s your guilty pleasure on a Sunday?
Donuts from St John Bread and Wine or snacking on lots of kettle chips whilst cooking.
What’s on the menu today?
Sweet potato macaroni cheese and a green salad
What’s your inspiration for cooking this meal?
We are huge fans of sweet potato and macaroni cheese is such a comforting classic so when we saw this Nigella recipe we knew we'd love it. We'll also be having a green salad to accompany it. I love to have something fresh and that cuts through all the creaminess. With any luck there'll also be leftovers that we can eat on Monday night.
Who’s cooking the meal?
We'll both be cooking it.
Where are your ingredients from?
Waitrose, I work for John Lewis so I get a staff discount.
nigella's sweet potato macaroni cheese and a green salad
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400°F. Put on a large-ish pan of water to boil, with the lid on to make it come to the boil faster.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them roughly into 2–3cm/1inch pieces. When the water’s boiling, add salt to taste, and then the sweet potato pieces, and cook them for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Scoop them out of the water into a bowl – using a ”spider” or slotted spoon – and lightly mash with a fork, without turning them into a purée. Don’t get rid of this water, as you will need it to cook your pasta in later.
- In another saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the flour, whisking to form a roux, then take the pan off the heat, slowly whisk in the milk and, when it’s all combined and smooth, put back on the heat. Exchange your whisk for a wooden spoon, and continue to stir until your gently bubbling sauce has lost any floury taste and has thickened. Add the mustard and the ¼ teaspoon of paprika. Season to taste, but do remember that you will be adding Cheddar and salty feta later, so underdo it for now.
500 grams sweet potatoes
300 grams pennette (or other small, short pasta)
4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
500 millilitres full fat milk
1 teaspoon english mustard
¼ teaspoon paprika (plus another quarter teaspoon to sprinkle on top)
75 grams feta cheese
125 grams mature cheddar (plus 25g/quarter cup to sprinkle on top)
4 fresh sage leaves
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
4. Cook the pennette in the sweet-potato water, starting to check 2 minutes earlier than packet instructions dictate, as you want to make sure it doesn’t lose its bite entirely. Drain (reserving some of the pasta cooking water first) and then add the pennette to the mashed sweet potato, and fold in to combine; the heat of the pasta will make the mash easier to mix in.
5. Add the feta cheese to the sweet potato and pasta mixture, crumbling it in so that it is easier to disperse evenly, then fold in the white sauce, adding the 125g/1¼ cups grated Cheddar as you go. Add some of the pasta cooking water, should you feel it needs loosening up at all.
6. Check for seasoning again, then, when you’re happy, spoon the brightly sauced macaroni cheese into 4 small ovenproof dishes of approx. 375–425ml/1½-1¾ cup capacity (or 1 large rectangular dish measuring approx. 30 x 20 x 5cm/12 x 8 x 2 inches deep and 1.6 litre/6½-cup capacity). Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar over each one, dust with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of paprika, then shred the sage leaves and scatter the skinny green ribbons over the top, too.
7. Put the pots on a baking tray, pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes (or, if you’re making this in a larger dish, bake for 30–35 minutes), by which time they will be piping hot and bubbling, and begging you to eat them.
Recipe: Nigella Lawson