The simple lasagne – damn tasty it is. There’s nothing more comforting in winter than a hearty, flavorful lasagne. It is a truly warm and loving feel when you bite into a layer of crispy cheese and sleek white sauce complimented perfectly by an assortment of tasty vegetables coated in a tasty tomato sauce… and then there’s the actual lasagne! The beauty of lasagne is that it creates a mighty meal without using lots of extravagant (or expensive) ingredients. All of this is greatly improved by the feeling that you will have made it yourself. Shop bought lasagnes are not comparable. You can add mince if you really feel the need but I will certainly argue this recipe is better of without it. This recipe means you don’t have to precook your pasta which saves a lot of time and effort and stops it from becoming soggy.
Serves 6-8 extremely hungry peoples
For the pasta
For the white sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 500 ml milk
For the vegetable sauce
- 1 leek (or onion), roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- A large handful of kale, stalk removed and roughly torn
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 pepper, thinly sliced
- 5-6 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 5-6 tablespoons passata
- A small handful of basil or oregano (optional)
- AS MUCH CHEESE AS THE LAWS OF PHYSICS ALLOW
To start make your pasta. Pour the flour into a bowl and create a well in the centre, to this gradually add your eggs. Mix with one hand to form a smooth dough. If its too dry you can add a little water and is its to wet you can add a little flour but try not to of set the balance or the dough will be unworkable. Next tip onto lightly oiled work surface (using olive oil instead of flour helps prevent it from sticking better) and knead for 10-15
hours minutes. By this time you should have a nice smooth, elasticky dough. Cover and put in the fridge for an hour – if you’re really pushed for time half an hour will do but might not give the same effect.
During this time make your vegetable sauce. Saute the leek and garlic in the oil until slightly browned. Soften the carrots. Add the kale until softened. Next add the tomatoes , passata and the peppers before bringing to the boil. After 4-5 leave to simmer until the rest of the lasagne is ready. Add the basil just before its poured into the lasagne.
To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and mix until its a thick paste. Gradually, stir in the milk until the sauce is thick and without lumps. This should take 5-10 minutes.
You now need to roll out the pasta. Fix your pasta machine to your table/board if necessary. Next divide your dough into 7 or 8 lumps (this makes it easier to roll) and roll each out to a 1 cm thickness, so it goes through the pasta machine without ripping. Take one strip and put it through the machine on the thickest setting, then the second thickest then the third before putting it through the thinnest. Cut in half if necessary to fit into your tray. Repeat with each strip.
Finally the moment of truth – and also the fun bit. Layer up your lasagne. First with the tomato sauce, then the white sauce then the pasta until you have used up all of your ingredients. Finally top with mountains of cheese and bake in the oven at 200C (180C if fan assisted) for 40 minutes. As the room fills up with the smell of proper home cooking cut into 8ths and serve. DELICIOUS!
I’ve adapted this delicious recipe from when is saw it on Professional Masterchef and had to give it a try. These velvet smooth mushy peas are officially a puree (so I don’t want any members of the mushy peas police phoning me up) but as much as anyone may protest the only difference is the name and the fact it tastes 100 times nicer! Some of it may seem a bit complicated for mushy peas but the result is most definitely worth it. This is perfect with fish or basically anything else. Enjoy!
- 1 small onion or shallot
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- knob of butter
- 500ml of vegetable stock
- 200g of frozen peas
- 1-2 tsp sherry vinegar
First thinly slice the shallot and chop the garlic as finely as possible. Fry them with the thyme in a little butter for 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. As soon as it has boiled, simmer it for 5 minutes or so until it has reduced slightly. strain into another pan and return it to the boil before adding the peas. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the peas are nice and tender.
Drain the peas but keep the cooking stock – some of it will be used later. Blend the peas in a food processor with enough of the stock to make a velvety, smooth puree – any left over stock can be used to kick start soups or strengthen sauces. Season with salt and lots of black pepper, then stir in the vinegar and serve (or transfer to a bowl and reheat in the microwave). Tuck in!!
Here’s my take on Paul Hollywood’s pita bread recipe from his book ‘Bread’, (‘Bread’ is a book I’d highly recommend if spotted as a bargain at a car boot sale or school fair). I’m 12 and the pictures are from my first attempt at pitta bread. The pitas can be filled with basically anything but my favourite is stir fried vegetables and noodles! This is my first blog so it’d be great to hear if anyone tried the recipe and let me now how it worked out. Paul Hollywood uses 20g of nigella or black onion seeds, but you can also add something like a teaspoon of dried oregano or whatever’s to your own taste .
Makes 5 medium sized pitas…
- 250g strong white bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon yeast
- 160ml cool water
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, as well as extra for oiling
- Put the flour in a large bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides.
- Pour in 120ml of water and add 2 teaspoons of oil. Mix the ingredients together with the fingers of one hand like you would a crumble mixture.
- Add the remaining water a little at a time until all of the flour has been collected from the side of the bowl, this should form a sleek, smooth dough.
- Next pour a little oil onto a work surface and knead thoroughly for around ten minutes giving you a soft, stretchy dough.
- Once you have done so, form into a ball, place in an well oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film. Leave for at least 1 hour. In this time it should double in size.
- While the dough is proving place two baking trays in the oven at 220C or your hottest temperature.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back by folding it in on itself repeatedly until all the air bubbles are gone.
- Divide the dough into five equal pieces and shape each into a ball, flatten each one with your fingertips then roll into an oval (5mm-1cm thick).
- Take the hot trays from the oven, dust with flour and lay the pittas on top. If you’re not going to eat the pitta within half ann hour of baking sprinkle a little water. Return to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes. During this time you may watch the oven eagerly, then run around like a maniac screaming,”THEY’VE PUFFED! THEY’VE PUFFED!” (this is a procedure I didn’t hesitate to take part in)!
- Wrap the pitas in a tea towel until cool, to capture steam and keep them soft. They are at their best on the day they were baked but can be frozen.