Cook. Better. recipe, review and giveaway

Cook. Better. by Nikki Werner and Brandon De Kock is not a book covering the basics. It is a book devoted to seasoning, knife cuts, techniques, tricks and tips to make everything we cook from the basics to more complex dishes - better. 

For instance, the Macaroni cheese recipe we're sharing today recommends that we rinse our boiled macaroni for a more defined macaroni and cheese. I've been doing that for a decade and when I wrote that in a recipe folks thought I was clueless. As the unofficial queen of macaroni and cheese, I have made variations of this dish hundreds of times and through years of experimenting I found that by rinsing the pasta it provided two things 1) it stopped the cooking process because no one likes mushy pasta and 2) it keeps the sauce from clinging to the pasta and becoming what I technically refer to as gloopy. This book shares tips such as this one so that others don't have to experiment for years to find perfection, they can cook better now. 

The secrets to delicious food from obtaining the maillard reaction to the various stages of cooking a sofrito for maximum flavor are covered. When I first began making bolognese, I inadvertently rushed it. Now just cooking the sofrito can take up to thirty minutes, adding the tomato paste another ten minutes - all that time cooking to a perfect dark hue adds infinite flavor. This is the type of information you will find in Cook. Better. Broken down by technique and ingredient from Garlic to Tenderness to Heat to Chocolate, each chapter delivers all the facts we need to make the best tomato sauce to the perfect mashed potatoes with myriad photographs including step-by-step photos to assist with technique.

Special thanks to the publisher, Sieeking Verlag, for sharing the recipe for Macaroni cheese and for providing two copies of this guide to better cooking to our members worldwide. Scroll to the bottom of this page to enter our contest. 

Macaroni cheese: 
A maccie cheese to feed an army. It's very cheesy and very rich.

Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

need to know

  • Undercook in the beginning: Undercook the macaroni so it can still absorb some of the sauce and cook during baking without becoming flabby.
  • Don't overcook at the end: Don't bake the macaroni cheese for too long or at too high a heat or the cheese sauce will look curdled.
  • I like to use a pale Cheddar in the sauce and a yellow one on top, but that's just me! - N


  • 100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) butter
  • 100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) flour
  • 1.4 (47 fl oz/5 cups) litres fresh full-cream milk
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4½ cups) mature Cheddar cheese, grated 
  • sea salt and white pepper 
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) macaroni

1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C (370˚F).

2. Make a white sauce (page 118) in a large pot, using the quantities of butter, flour and milk listed above, and boil for 5 minutes. Adjust the heat and stir to prevent it scorching or sticking to the bottom of the pot while boiling.

3. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in 320 g (11 oz/3 cups) of cheese until it's all melted. Season well and set aside.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, add the macaroni, bring back to the boil and cook for 5 to 6 minutes-it should be slightly underdone.

5. Tip into a colander and drain well. Return the pasta to the pot and fold through the sauce.

6. Tip the mixture into a baking dish (we use one that measures 25 x 25 cm/10 x 10 inches, and 5 cm/2 inches deep), smooth out so it's even and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.

7. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes, then briefly switch to grill until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Feeds 6

If you like your maccie cheese noodles defined, rinse your macaroni! Earlier we said don't rinse pasta, but in this case cold water stops cooking pronto and prevents the pasta from bonding with the sauce. 

My friend Woz reckons maccie cheese ain't maccie cheese unless it has bacon inside and tomato on top. If you agree (and I sometimes do), fold your fried, chopped bacon bits through the macaroni with the sauce (step 5) and lay thin slices of tomato over the cheese topping just before baking. - B

Hmmm … total nostalgia: my mom used to add a sprinkling of dried basil to the tomato


The publisher is offering two copies of this book to EYB Members worldwide. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you like to perfectf?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on January 27th, 2018.


  • heyjude  on  12/18/2017 at 11:45 AM


  • infotrop  on  12/18/2017 at 11:52 AM

    I want tips for making perfect gravy.

  • wester  on  12/18/2017 at 12:00 PM

    If they have any tips to improve Green salad with Parmesan and pine nuts I would really like to try them.

  • Siegal  on  12/18/2017 at 12:17 PM

    Creamy mushroom pasta sounds great

  • tennyogirl  on  12/18/2017 at 12:42 PM

    Green salad with parmesan and pine nuts

  • Kristjudy  on  12/18/2017 at 12:59 PM

    Mushroom pasta sauce

  • ksg518  on  12/18/2017 at 1:23 PM

    Gravy. Sometimes mine is great but other times......

  • lpatterson412  on  12/18/2017 at 1:24 PM

    Popcorn and then also gravy, such a cool sounding book!!

  • readingtragic  on  12/18/2017 at 1:42 PM

    Three minute chicken, because, hey, dinner in three minutes...

  • LaurenE  on  12/18/2017 at 2:41 PM

    Creamy mushroom pasta

  • ravensfan  on  12/18/2017 at 3:11 PM

    Butternut soup

  • janv  on  12/18/2017 at 4:43 PM

    Best ever Bolognese sauce , because the best is, well ...

  • skipeterson  on  12/18/2017 at 4:45 PM

    Chicken schnitzel

  • lauriesk  on  12/18/2017 at 5:45 PM

    I would definitely try the three minute chicken first.

  • stargirl  on  12/18/2017 at 6:28 PM

    best ever bolognese sauce - one of my faves!

  • kmn4  on  12/18/2017 at 7:16 PM

    Chicken schnitzel

  • lovelily1001  on  12/18/2017 at 10:24 PM

    Let's start with that garlic vinaigrette!

  • pfgarden  on  12/18/2017 at 10:34 PM

    I would live to perfect roast potatoes

  • Angryyew  on  12/18/2017 at 10:55 PM

    That mac & cheese looks pretty good.

  • AnnaZed  on  12/18/2017 at 11:45 PM

    Nikki‘s tomato sauce, from Giorgio, via Peter

  • JulieG1002  on  12/19/2017 at 12:06 AM

    Roast Chicken

  • contest718  on  12/19/2017 at 2:08 AM

    Garlicky green beans

  • love2laf  on  12/19/2017 at 6:41 AM

    Macaroni cheese

  • dbielick  on  12/19/2017 at 8:59 AM

    Creamy mushroom pasta

  • ptkcollins  on  12/19/2017 at 9:07 AM

    Chicken schnitzel

  • lapsapchung  on  12/19/2017 at 9:28 AM

    Fat-stack lamb chops

  • Dutchmary  on  12/19/2017 at 10:16 AM

    Chicken schnitzel

  • wjsisung  on  12/19/2017 at 12:12 PM

    Butternut squash

  • sarahawker  on  12/19/2017 at 2:16 PM

    Mushroom pasta sauce

  • GregH  on  12/19/2017 at 3:45 PM

    Brandon‘s simplistico tomato sauce

  • HMSHoney24  on  12/19/2017 at 4:45 PM

    Creamy mushroom sauce! Yum-mo!

  • v.t  on  12/19/2017 at 4:57 PM

    Popcorn and butterflied leg of lamb

  • obigi  on  12/20/2017 at 3:29 PM

    Cheat‘s "creamed" spinach

  • ltsuk  on  12/21/2017 at 9:37 PM

    chicken schnitzel

  • JaneRose  on  12/21/2017 at 10:20 PM

    I'm definitely making that macaroni cheese!

  • Lucicat  on  12/22/2017 at 1:15 AM

    garlicky green beans

  • htlibrarian  on  12/22/2017 at 2:46 AM

    Best ever bolognese sauce!

  • sdg8trgrl  on  12/22/2017 at 9:20 AM

    Cauli cheese

  • jezpurr  on  12/22/2017 at 12:48 PM

    The Mac recipe caught my eye!!!^_^

  • t.t  on  12/22/2017 at 2:52 PM

    Chicken stock

  • fbrunetti  on  12/22/2017 at 4:14 PM

    Roasted butternut

  • mpdeb98  on  12/22/2017 at 7:14 PM

    Chicken schnitzel

  • Dannausc  on  12/23/2017 at 7:24 AM


  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  12/23/2017 at 7:20 PM

    I would try making the ganache first because I've not had much luck making it before.

  • Shelley.b  on  12/23/2017 at 9:44 PM

    Mac and cheese

  • trudys_person  on  12/23/2017 at 11:13 PM

    Chicken Schnitzel and Cauli Cheese ... together!

  • Livia  on  12/24/2017 at 3:50 AM

    It has got to be the Braaibroodjies

  • RSW  on  12/24/2017 at 8:04 AM

    macaroni and cheese

  • Senkimekia  on  12/24/2017 at 11:29 AM

    Mushroom pasta sauce

  • Titch  on  12/26/2017 at 3:44 AM

    Three-minute chicken, I love chicken so would try this recipe first

  • annieski  on  12/26/2017 at 4:49 AM


  • AnneOther  on  12/27/2017 at 7:11 PM

    Three words: Creamy mushroom pasta!

  • lgroom  on  12/28/2017 at 12:34 AM

    Mmmm ... the creamy mushroom pasta.

  • cambridgecook  on  12/28/2017 at 3:44 PM

    leg of lamb

  • robynsanyal  on  12/28/2017 at 4:55 PM

    Three-minute chicken

  • antpantsii  on  12/29/2017 at 10:48 AM

    leg of lamb or the mac n cheese

  • PennyG  on  12/29/2017 at 3:41 PM

    Foolproof fillet

  • rchesser  on  12/29/2017 at 5:36 PM

    The Creamy Mushroom Pasta!

  • Kristjudy  on  12/29/2017 at 5:47 PM

    Creamy mushroom pasta!

  • veronicafrance  on  12/30/2017 at 8:06 AM

    Braaibroodjies, just because I don't know what they are! The book sounds great; however experienced a cook you are, there's always something new to learn.

  • lhudson  on  12/30/2017 at 9:27 AM

    Creamy mushroom pasta

  • ckbkcollector  on  12/30/2017 at 8:17 PM

    creamy mushroom pasta

  • BINABUG  on  12/30/2017 at 8:25 PM

    Lasagne - ANY TIME I make it , it falls apart. It doesn't stay "snug" lol. I usually also don't use cottage cheese, I use a soft cheese instead. I don't like a whole lot of meat in mine and prefer chicken in it over ground beef. I'd love to find out how to make the perfect recipe. (and also love to add spinach to mine as well )

  • gallucci  on  12/31/2017 at 12:28 AM

    lamb chops!

  • davisesq212  on  12/31/2017 at 12:39 AM

    I would try the ribeye steak first!

  • Poppyjoey  on  12/31/2017 at 6:25 AM

    The Three Minute Chicken sounds good

  • chasteph  on  12/31/2017 at 8:13 AM

    The Maccaroni Cheese looks good-with its subtle tweaks.

  • Whyvette  on  12/31/2017 at 8:25 AM

    Creamed Spinach would be a hit with my family.

  • RickPearson54  on  12/31/2017 at 8:52 AM

    3 minute chicken

  • luccio  on  12/31/2017 at 9:09 AM

    Ganache - 'cos I've never actually tried making it...

  • Rina63  on  12/31/2017 at 11:11 AM

    Mushroom pasta sauce

  • AngelaLCooks  on  12/31/2017 at 11:29 AM

    3 minute chicken

  • dsf0422  on  1/1/2018 at 5:53 AM

    Gravy..........without lumps!!!!

  • Cgautier  on  1/1/2018 at 8:39 AM

    Mushroom pasta sauce sounds like something I need to know how to cook.

  • EmilyR  on  1/1/2018 at 11:15 AM

    cheese sauce

  • Cinnamonc63  on  1/1/2018 at 12:43 PM

    Cauliflower Cheese, Page 120.

  • kerrin1976  on  1/1/2018 at 3:14 PM

    Roast chicken

  • ravensfan  on  1/1/2018 at 4:42 PM

    Best ever Bolognese sauce

  • sequoia55  on  1/1/2018 at 8:45 PM

    Chicken schnitzel

  • iza27  on  1/2/2018 at 7:24 AM

    No peeking chicken .

  • sgump  on  1/2/2018 at 3:09 PM

    Braaibroodjies--because the name just sounds so fun!

  • kennethjohngilmour  on  1/2/2018 at 4:36 PM

    wife and I love it so would try the macaroni cheese found on page 122

  • BMeyer  on  1/2/2018 at 4:55 PM

    3 minute chicken

  • mihaela_d  on  1/3/2018 at 2:27 AM

    Creamy mushroom pasta

  • Phil.Adams  on  1/3/2018 at 5:56 AM

    3 minute chicken (because how?!)

  • tararr  on  1/3/2018 at 1:22 PM

    I love mushrooms so... Mushroom pasta sauce

  • kitchenclimbers  on  1/3/2018 at 5:26 PM

    mac and cheese

  • LJStubbs  on  1/4/2018 at 1:08 PM

    Chicken schnitzel.

  • sugo  on  1/5/2018 at 8:07 PM

    No-peeking chicken

  • bettinab  on  1/6/2018 at 1:06 AM

    Macaroni cheese ( may add truffle to that)!

  • stitchan  on  1/6/2018 at 7:52 AM

    Mushroom pasta sauce

  • Julia  on  1/6/2018 at 3:13 PM

    Creamy mushroom pasta.

  • Scotsman61  on  1/6/2018 at 8:47 PM

    Chicken Schnitzel and Cauli Cheese

  • VeryVigario  on  1/7/2018 at 8:27 PM

    Creamy mushroom pasta

  • dvajefink  on  1/8/2018 at 8:51 AM

    You got me at the Mac and cheese!! 🧀

  • motherofpearl81  on  1/9/2018 at 12:42 PM

    Macaroni cheese

  • jd5761  on  1/9/2018 at 2:47 PM

    Creamy mushroom pasta for me

  • camerashy131  on  1/13/2018 at 8:00 AM

    Fat-stack lamb chops

  • Laura1  on  1/14/2018 at 7:00 AM

    creamy mushroom pasta

  • SnarkyLarane  on  1/14/2018 at 6:05 PM

    I love technique books! Mushroom pasta sauce sounds awesome!

  • FireRunner2379  on  1/20/2018 at 3:59 PM

    The Best ever Bolognese sauce sounds good!

  • jc214a  on  1/24/2018 at 5:49 PM

    Mushroom Sauce.

  • orchidlady01  on  1/26/2018 at 12:16 AM

    Three-minute chicken and Chicken schnitzel

  • rychepet  on  1/26/2018 at 12:34 AM

    I'd love to try the Three-Minute Chicken from page 54. Fast and easy---that's for me!

  • boulder42  on  1/26/2018 at 1:23 AM

    Creamy mushroom pasta

  • MaryCunningham86  on  1/26/2018 at 5:01 AM

    No-peeking chicken

  • FuzzyBee  on  1/27/2018 at 9:34 AM


  • Jenamarie  on  1/27/2018 at 9:55 PM

    Creamy mushroom pasta - love mushrooms!

  • SheenaSharp  on  1/27/2018 at 10:04 PM

    Mushroom pasta sauce

  • tmcginty  on  1/28/2018 at 8:23 AM

    Chicken schnitzel

  • rachael_mc  on  1/28/2018 at 5:34 PM

    Cauli Cheese

  • obbigttam  on  1/28/2018 at 8:41 PM

    Braaibroodjies - mainly because I'd love to see how my friends and family would pronounce it lol.

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