First meal of the year for me was a lasagna. I felt like cooking from a recipe rather than from my own jumbled thoughts (I have a cold - I've had a slight fever for a week now, and am rather dizzy) so I decided to try the lasagna from Jamie Oliver's latest cookbook, Jamie's Dinners. What I ended up doing wasn't exactly the same as his - he suggested a layer of Butternut Squash, I substituted with button mushrooms instead - but I ended up with the best lasagna I've had. I also augmented some quantities, and generally made some changes.
Here's what I did:
140 g bacon, chopped
a fat pinch of cinnamon
2 small onions, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
dried herbs - I used sage, oregano, basil and thyme, a large pinch of each
2 tablespoons of olive oil
500 g minced meat (I used a mix of pork and beef, for best flavor)
2 400 g tins of whole tomatoes
300 ml red wine
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F). Fry the bacon with the cinnamon. (This smells incredible!) Add the garlic, onions, carrots and the olive oil. Blend well. Add the herbs. Add the meat, fry for a couple of minutes, and add the tomatoes and the wine. Bring to a boil, cover with wet greaseproof paper and a lid, and place in the preheated oven for two hours. (Yes, you read that right.) You can also cook it on the stove of course, at a low heat, for about the same length of time. This makes more sauce than you need - perfect since I needed a couple of lunches for next week. I just boiled some pasta to go with it.
500 g button mushrooms, halved if they're small, quartered if they're larger
big bunch fresh thyme
Fry the mushrooms in the oil, add the thyme. Simple as that.
500 ml creme fraiche, full fat
1 tablespoon of salt (Jamie suggests using anchovies for the salty flavor. *shudder*)
2 handfuls of grated parmesan cheese
a little bit of milk
250 g mozzarella
more parmesan, grated
200 g fresh lasagna sheets
Assemble the lasagna by first lightly greasing a casserole dish with some olive oil, and then add the first layer of lasagna sheets. Add a layer of meat sauce, then white sauce, and then another layer of sheets. I then added the mushrooms, and covered in white sauce. Lasagna sheets, and repeat with one more layer of meat sauce and white sauce. Finish with a final layer of lasagna sheets, and cover it with the rest of the white sauce. Tear up the mozzarella and place on top, and add the rest of the grated parmesan. Cook in 200 degrees C (400 F) for about half an hour, watching closely so the top doesn't burn.