Lasagne

Lasagne

Who doesn’t enjoy a good Lasagne? This one is quick and easy but packs a delicious punch of flavour that will have you returning for more and more and more …

Ingredients:

Yield: 6

For the Mince

1kg lean beef mince

400grms chopped canned tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato puree

600ml beef stock

2 large onions (finely chopped)

2 celery stems (finely chopped)

4 cloves garlic (crushed to a paste)

60ml vegetable oil

1tsp ground cinnamon

2tsp mustard seeds

3 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley

250ml white wine

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of salt

Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese for topping

Lasagne sheets (1 – 2 boxes depending on the size of your oven dish)

For the Béchamel Sauce 

60grm butter

60 grm plain flour

1 litre milk

55grms parmesan cheese

½ tsp ground nutmeg (optional)

Pinch or 2 of salt and pepper

Method: 

In a deep pot bring half the oil to temperature, add the mince and cook over a medium heat.   While that’s going on, heat another pan, add the remaining oil and gently *sweat the onion and celery for 2 or 3 minutes, before adding the cinnamon and garlic and cooking for an additional 2 minutes before adding all, to the mince pot.

Now add the tomato puree, parsley, oregano, mustard seeds, canned tomatoes, stock and the wine and stir to combine. Bring to the boil and then drop the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent sticking to the pot.

Pour boiling water into the kitchen sink and lay pasta sheets – this will par cook the sheets, lessening the required cooking time.

Preheat the oven to 180ºc

To make the Béchamel sauce … Melt the butter in a heavy-based pot over a low heat, then add the flour. Stir with a whisk, and cook gently for 2- 3 minutes to make a white *roux. Slowly pour the cold milk on to the roux, whisking as you do so, and bring to the boil over a medium heat, whisking continuously.

Once the sauce comes to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent lumps forming. Season to taste with salt, pepper (preferably white) and add the nutmeg.   Continue stirring until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. If it thickens too much, add a little milk, stir through and remove from the heat.   Stir in the parmesan cheese and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Remove your pasta sheets carefully from the water and lay on a clean dish towel, cover with another dish towel to pat dry.

If your mince still contains a lot of liquid, increase the temperature and bring to the boil for a few minutes, to cook away some of the excess liquid. Remember however, that it is a mince sauce so you don’t want to cook away all the delicious sauce you have just spent 40 minutes creating.

To assemble – spoon some of the mince mixture into your ovenproof dish, cover with lasagne sheets, spread over some of the béchamel sauce and repeat the process ending with a layer of béchamel sauce. Top with a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling goodness

Cook Notes:

*Sweat – to sweat vegetables means to cook on a gentle heat to soften but not brown

*Roux – A roux is a common way of starting many sauces. It is a mixture containing equal parts of flour to fat (butter) used to thicken liquids. The longer a roux cooks, the less its thickening ability.

Lasagna collage 3

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Photography by Darren Bester

 

Yield: 4

Ingredients 

8 Quail eggs

8 slices Parma Ham

Baby Gem Lettuce or Crisp Lettuce or Cos Lettuce

8 Ciabatta Bread Slices

Parmesan Cheese for garnishing

For the dressing: 

1 egg

1 clove garlic

2tsp Dijon Mustard

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 anchovy fillets

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup vegetable oil

Method: 

Cut the ciabatta bread as thinly as possible, place on a baking tray and bake at 100 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, until crisp and golden, remove from the oven and set aside.  Soft boil the quail eggs (2 minutes) and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Peel the eggs carefully and set aside.  Place the Parma Ham on a baking sheet and bake at 140 degrees for 5 – 8 minutes, until crisp, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Shred your lettuce and place on the centre of each plate.  For the dressing – place the egg, garlic, dijon mustard, anchovy, lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend to combine, slowly add the oil, drop by drop until it emulsifies and forms a mayonnaise consistency, season to taste.

Drizzle sauce over your salad leaves generously, top the leaves with the ham and your home made ciabatta croutons, drop your quail eggs into hot water to heat through for 30 seconds, drain, season and plate. Garnish with parmesan shavings & enjoy, with a nice glass of wine !

Notes: If living in Cape Town, you can buy quail eggs and anchovies from Giovanni’s in Green Point.  Soft boiled quail eggs are so tricky to peel, so buy a few extra as you are bound to have a few ‘casualty’s’ like I did.   If making this salad for dinner at home, opt for normal eggs, they provide more sauce for your salad, they easier to peel and more affordable.  You can make your croutons a few days ahead of time and bake your Parma Ham a few hours in advance.  The dressing can also be made a day or 2 in advance.  The dressing was a big hit at my dinner party, the recipe for the dressing was taken from one of my Donna Hay cookbooks.  A great dinner party starter as all the prep is done ahead of time so all you have to do is plate up and serve!

MarthaWho - Caesar Salad-1