The Macra-roni Terror (Part Two)

The Doctor confronts the Macraroni pie.
Be careful, Doctor!

Last night I made an attempt at baking a Macraroni pie. I’m not going to share any particular recipe at the moment though because it was only a partial success. The mac’n’cheese with crab part turned out fine and I’ve got a whole casserole of the stuff left over.

The pastry? Far too dense. In fact, I may have inadvertently stumbled on the recipe for Dalekanium (known in other universes as duranium or adamantium). Suffice it to say, it way barely edible. My food testers Sharon and Renae only ate the macaroni and left the shell. I made a go of eating the pastry but more out of a show of perseverance than actually finding it tasty.

I may try to redo this more carefully at some point. I was in a bit of a hurry and probably ended up with way more flour than needed in the conversion from weight to volume. A proper kitchen scale would have been useful.

The density of the pastry shell did make the Macraroni pie a formidable monster. In the end, it would take more than one Doctor to finish it off.

Two Doctors and Macraroni Pie
We’ll need a sauvignon blanc and some cocktail sauce.
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The Macra-roni Terror (Part One)

The Macra-roni Terror
The catch of the day

The big news today for Doctor Who fans was the recovery of several 1960’s episodes once thought lost forever. We here at the Spaghetti Flan blog are big fans of classic Doctor Who, so we (OK, I) couldn’t be more pleased.

Alas, many older stories remain missing such as the 1967 serial The Macra Terror in which the Doctor and his companions land on a futuristic Earth colony menaced by giant intelligent crabs known as the Macra. All the episodes from this story have been erased from the BBC archives, and the only place you can now see these monsters is in a brief cameo appearance in 2007’s Gridlock.

Macra from Gridlock
Our first gig in 40 years! Thanks, RTD!

I’ll get back to the spaghetti flan at some point, but I thought I’d take a detour to celebrate the still-missing episodes with a new pastry and pasta dish inspired by The Macra Terror. In addition to giant crabs, this story also features the young Scots companion Jamie MacCrimmon. Looking to the future, Peter Capaldi, the next Doctor Who is also a Scotsman. It seems appropriate then to base my recipe on a traditional Scottish dish, the macaroni pie. My version, the “Macra-roni Terror” adds a delicious helping of lump crab meat.

The plan, very simply, is to make a hand-raised crust using hot water crust pastry dough, fill it with a macaroni, cheese, and crab mixture and bake it. While I have to admit to having reservations about the whole canned spaghetti dish, I think this one could be promising. We’ll see in Part Two.

In the meantime, I can now sit down and watch The Enemy of the World and (most of) the Web of Fear. Who knows? These stories may even inspire a new recipe. Spag-Yeti and Meatballs maybe?

Episode IV: A Noodle Hope

Campbell's Spaghetti
Is it proper science if I don’t use a Bunsen burner?

For the sake of scientific experimentation, my assistant and I finally got around to heating up a can of Campbell’s Spaghetti the other night. Did I say “assistant?” I meant “companion.” Well, “wife” actually.

Neither of us were terribly impressed. Mrs. H thought that it smelled and tasted like the Spaghetti Os she remembered eating at a friend’s house when she was a kid. As for me, I have almost no memory of Spaghetti Os. Either my mom never served them or I simply blocked them out of my mind.

I can say that what we ate was not what you would call authentic Italian cuisine, not even if Olive Garden is your idea of authentic. The sauce is a bland, sticky, orange-hued concoction, not unlike what you might get if you mixed Campbell’s Tomato Soup with Cheez Whiz. The pasta was overcooked to the consistency of Jell-O. I’m hard pressed to explain how it is that it doesn’t simply disintegrate in the can.

Now I realize that Jon Pertwee’s recipe calls for the Heinz Spaghetti with Tomato and Cheese Sauce, but if it’s anything like the Campbell’s version, I have to wonder how Jon Pertwee, sophisticated man of the world that he was, could have given us a recipe based on this stuff. I’m starting to think that maybe he was never a canned spaghetti buff at all, but instead simply lending his image to Heinz in exchange for an endorsement fee.

Was he really just in it for the money? Was his 1976 ode to Heinz Noodle Doodles (set to Darren’s visuals below) something less than an expression of heartfelt affection for pasta in a can?

Would Pertwee have perhaps preferred a grapefruit or an egg for breakfast instead of a big bowl of Sugar Smacks?

Pertwee on Sugar Smacks Box
For even more timeless energy, enjoy with a double espresso.

But Pertwee was Dr. Who, for heaven’s sake! The Doctor doesn’t save the universe for commercial gain. He doesn’t even carry cash. I can’t imagine Doctor Who allowing his name to get plastered onto a can of substandard pasta in exchange for a promotional fee.

Doctor Who Pasta Shapes
What, no Ood?

Oh.

I may have to go another way with this. Maybe make my own sauce and use a decent pasta, cooked al dente. Though probably not Barilla. Doctor Who’s gay-friendliness doesn’t seem like a good fit. A local brand will do.

Who Discontinued My Cheese?

Jon Pertwee analyzes spaghetti
Good heavens, Jo! The sodium levels are astronomical!

You can’t make spaghetti flan without Heinz Spaghetti with Tomato and Cheese Sauce. Unfortunately, the venerable  spaghetti with cheese product appears to have gone the way of the Dodo, at least in the US and the UK. In the US, the only Heinz spaghetti I can find is Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce (without cheese!) and that’s imported from Britain, but at least you can buy it by the case.  In the UK, Heinz offers a wide range of tinned pasta varieties like Spaghetti PLUS Pepperoni or My Little Pony Pasta Shapes but from what I can tell, there’s no Spaghetti with Tomato and Cheese sauce on offer.

Dodo and Steven from the Celestial Toymaker
Dodo Chaplet, seen here wearing a Spaghetti Os skirt.

But all is not lost. There are places around the world where you can still get a can of Heinz Spaghetti with cheese in it. The Australians even have a version with extra cheese! New Zealanders have it too. Alas, my Kickstarter to raise funds for a Australian spaghetti fact-finding junket never got off the ground.

But as luck would have it, we took a family vacation to Canada this past summer. And there, on the shelf of a convenience store in the small Bay of Fundy village of Alma, sat cans of Heinz Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce With Cheese conveniently located next to the toilet paper and feminine care products. Fantastic!

Spaghetti on shelf
And it’s bilingual!

If a trip to Australia or Canada isn’t practical, there are other options for the spagflan enthusiast. Maybe the simplest thing to do is to use regular Heinz Spaghetti (without cheese) and add your own cheese. Or you might use another brand like Campbell’s (formerly Franco-American) Spaghetti in Tomato and Cheese Sauce.

WWJPD? Research and analysis, of course. Here are the ingredients and nutrition facts for some of the options available in the US plus the Canadian import. I’ll try a couple of them, but I need to pick up some flan rings first.

Campbell’s Spaghetti in Tomato and Cheese Sauce Campbell’s Spaghetti O’s Heinz Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce Heinz Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce with Cheese
Country US US UK CA
Price per can $1.99 $0.99 $3.39 $2.29
Volume per can (ml) 498
Weight per can (grams) 418 425 378 420
Price per 500g $2.38 $1.16 $4.48 $2.25
Serving size (grams) 252 252 189 210
Calories/serving 200 170 110 170
Fat cal/serving 15 10 5 n/a
Fat (g)/serving 1.5 1 0.5 1.5
Sat fat (g)/serving 0.5 0.5 0 0.5
Trans fat (g)/serving 0 0 0 0
Cholesterol (mg)/serving 5 5 0 0
Sodium (mg)/serving 950 600 440 630
Total carb (g)/serving 40 35 25 34
Fiber (g)/serving 3 3 1 3
Sugars (g)/serving 13 11 8 10
Protein (g)/serving 7 6 3 5
Calories/500g 396.8 337.3 291.0 404.8
Fat cal/500g 29.8 19.8 13.2 n/a
Fat (g)/500g 3.0 2.0 1.2 3.6
Sat fat (g)/500g 1.0 1.0 0.0 1.2
Trans fat (g)/500g 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Cholesterol (mg)/500g 9.9 9.9 0.0 0.0
Sodium (mg)/500g 1884.9 1190.5 1164.0 1500.0
Total carb (g)/500g 79.4 69.4 66.1 81.0
Fiber (g)/500g 6.0 6.0 2.6 7.1
Sugars (g)/500g 25.8 21.8 21.2 23.8
Protein (g)/500g 13.9 11.9 7.9 11.9
Ingredients Water, tomato puree (water, tomato paste), enriched spaghetti (enriched wheat
flour (wheat, ferrous sulfate, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic
acid)), high fructose corn syrup, contains less than 2% of: salt, cheddar cheese
(cheddar cheese [milk cultures, salt, enzymes, calcium chloride], water,
disodium phosphate, enzymes), dextrose, citric acid, flavoring, enzyme modified
butter, skim milk.
Water, Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat
Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid),
High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains Less than 2% of: Salt, Enzyme Modified
Cheddar Cheese (Cheddar Cheese [Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Calcium Chloride],
Water, Disodium Phosphate, Enzymes), Flavoring, Potassium Chloride, Vegetable
Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola and/or Soybean), Enzyme Modified Butter (Milk),
Skim Milk, Paprika Extract, Citric Acid.
Spaghetti (Durum, Wheat Semolina, Wheat Flour, Water), Water, Concentrated
Tomato Puree, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Modified Corn Flour, Citric Acid, Onion,
Garlic, Celery, Spice Extractives, Iron Sulfate, Maltodextrin, Niacin,
Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12), Riboflavin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Potassium Iodide.
Spaghetti, Water, Tomato Puree, Sugar, White Vinegar, Salt, Modified (Corn)
Starch, Soybean Oil, Skim Milk Powder, Cheddar Cheese, Spices, Natural Flavour

Still here? How about some vacation pictures?

High tide at Alma Harbor
High tide at Alma Harbor
Low tide at Alma Harbor
Low tide at Alma Harbor

WWJPD?

What would Jon Pertwee do? That question will be the guiding principle of this blog.

WWJPD?
WWJPD?

When faced with a difficult decision in my quest to reintroduce spaghetti flan to the world, I shall ask myself how Jon Pertwee would handle the situation. What kind of cheese would Jon Pertwee—or specifically Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor—put on top of spaghetti flan? What sort of wine would he serve with his culinary masterpiece? Should I take a hovercraft or the Whomobile to the supermarket?  Can I open a can of spaghetti with a Venusian karate chop?

If I do what Jon Pertwee would do, it’s certain to be the wisest course of action. Indeed, the world would be a better place if everyone stopped to ask “WWJPD?” in their daily lives.  If nothing else, we’d all be wearing a lot more velvet.

Jon Pertwee’s Spaghetti Flan

If you’re a long-time Doctor Who fan, you know Jon Pertwee as the actor who played the third incarnation of the Doctor in the early 1970’s. What you may not be aware of is that Pertwee is a culinary wizard with canned spaghetti, or at least that’s what this advertisement would have you believe.

Jon Pertwee's Spaghetti Flan
Jon Pertwee’s Spaghetti Flan

The 1962 magazine ad features British television celebrities of the day each with a recipe made using Heinz Spaghetti with Tomato and Cheese Sauce. The celebrity at bottom left is the man who would go on to play the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, with his recipe for spaghetti flan.

JON PERTWEE’S SPAGHETTI FLAN
Line 7-in. flan ring with 4 oz. shortcrust pastry. Cut up and fry 4 oz. bacon and 4 oz. mushrooms. When cooked, fold in 15¾-oz. can Heinz Spaghetti with Tomato and Cheese Sauce and heat thoroughly. Pour into flan case and sprinkle with 2 oz. grated cheese. Bake 30 minutes, Gas No. 7, Electricity 425° F.

Bacon, cheese and canned spaghetti. Could it be anything but delicious?

And just imagine: fifty years ago the cast and crew who first brought Doctor Who to our screens might have come home from a hard day’s work at Television Centre to make this very dish. In fact, it’s not hard to believe that spaghetti has had a huge influence on Doctor Who over the years.

Doctor, Axon, and Master
You were supposed to bring the meatballs.

And it would appear that spaghetti continues to have an impact on the new series as well.

Ood Elder
Oodles of Noodles

While I’d like to be able to bring you a documentary film on this historic recipe, I have neither the budget, time, nor expertise to produce something of the caliber that it deserves. What I will do is give Jon Pertwee’s Spaghetti Flan a new life in my kitchen and share the results on this short-lived blog. Next post: the search for Heinz Spaghetti with Tomato and Cheese Sauce.

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