This comforting family standby never falls out of favour. Keep it plain for the kids if that's how they like it, or glam it up a bit for the adults by replacing some of the tasty cheese with blue cheese or another strong-flavoured variety, or even a combination of types.
300 g (10 1/2 oz) macaroni
2 slices country or sourdough bread, crusts trimmed
50 g (1 3/4 oz) butter
35 g (1 1/4 oz/1/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
875 ml (30 fl oz/3 1/2 cups) milk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
125 g (4 1/2 oz/1 1/4 cups) grated tasty cheese
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, to drizzle
green salad, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
2. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, following the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain well. Process the bread into coarse crumbs by pulsing it in a food processor.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to sizzle, stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until pale and bubbly. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the milk until smooth. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to boil and thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard and egg yolk. Stand for 5 minutes to cool slightly then stir in the cheese until smooth. Stir in the pasta and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Spoon the pasta into a greased 2.25 litre (80 fl oz/9 cup) ovenproof dish, measuring about 18 x 30 x 6 cm (7 x 12 x 2½ inches). Put the breadcrumbs and parsley in a bowl, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta mixture. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden. Serve with a green salad.