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Sunday, 29 July 2012

LASAGNE

Good Morning to you,

There are so many recipes for Lasagne,  I wasn't sure I should include my version, but then I realised, that is what it is, my version, of a well known dish.

Some would say Lasagne is "old hat" and very 70's, this may be so, but what does that matter.  If a dish is tasty and enjoyable, then fashion doesn't come into it.

As a home cook I  adapt recipes, to include a little more of "this" and a little less of "that", to cater to my  families tastes. Isn't that what home cooking is all about! 

I have cooked this recipe for years, but do you know I "just" cook it, ( I can hear Natasha whispering in my ear, "Mum you don't "just", it takes knowledge and experience"), but all you mums out there will know what I mean.   I don't weigh and measure, I make it without thinking, but for you I have sat down and weighed and recorded the ingredients.  So without further ado this is my version of Lasagne.



The Meat Sauce




3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 - 3 cloves of garlic (depends on your taste buds)
1 carrot - chopped into 3 chunks
1 celery stalk - cut into 4 chunks
900g/ 2lb of lean minced beef
300 ml / 1/2  pint  of red wine
125 ml / 4fl oz   of milk
1 x 425 g/ 14oz  of tin tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
(dried if you don't have fresh)
Salt and Pepper


THE CHEESE SAUCE



700 ml/1 1/4 pint of milk
75g / 3 oz  butter
75g / 3 oz  flour
Salt and Pepper
Grated Nutmeg
75g /3 oz  grated Parmesan Cheese
or
Grana Padona Cheese
75g /3 oz  grated Mature Cheddar Cheese


METHOD


Pre-heat oven 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4
1 rectangle dish 12" x 10" (smaller if you prefer more layers to the  lasagne)
15 (approx) of dried lasagne sheets
Cooking time 45 minutes



Put olive oil into the pan, along with chopped onions and cook until golden in colour.



 Remove onions from the pan and set aside.


Using the same pan, brown the beef.  Stir every so often to make sure all the beef is browned.


Add the red wine and bring the mixture to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the wine has evaporated.  It is the flavour you want and not the alcohol content.


Add the garlic, oregano and the onions which were set aside and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the milk to the mixture and stir.  Continue cooking until the milk has been absorbed.


Add the chopped tomatoes and 1 1/2 pints of water, or stock if preferred.



Add the celery and carrot.  They have been cut into chunks as it is the flavour of the celery and carrot we want.  At the end of the cooking time they will be removed.  

Add 1 teaspoon of sugar, this cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook for 45 minutes.

When cooked check the seasoning, if more salt is required add now.

CHEESE SAUCE


Melt the butter in a pan.


Add the flour and stir.  Cook over a gentle heat for 2 minutes to make sure the flour is cooked.


Add the milk, yes all of it, it won't be lumpy as long as you whisk continuously.  Add the grated nutmeg and salt then whisk until thick and glossy.


Add the Cheddar Cheese and  Parmesan Cheese, or  Grana Padona Cheese. Whisk until melted. I find taking the sauce off the heat , adding the cheese and whisking allows the cheese to melt, without the sauce catching on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.


LAYERING THE LASAGNE


Place a little meat sauce in the base of the dish.



Place lasagne sheets on top, try to cover most of the base of the dish.

Cover the lasagne sheets with meat sauce.



Continue layering with lasagne sheets and meat sauce.  You might need to do a little patchwork, as the lasagne sheets don't fit exactly.

The final layer will be lasagne sheets.

Place the dish onto a baking sheet, this will make it easier to take to the oven when filled with the cheese sauce.


Add the cheese sauce over the top of the lasagne sheets.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, I usually check after 40 to make sure the Lasagne is golden in colour.


Due to the lighting the lasagne looks darker than it actually was......honestly!



Do try this recipe, as I know it will become one of your family favourites.  Cook it the way I have shown you, then  next time you make it,  you can adjust the taste to suit you and your family. Please let me know how you get on with this dish as I would love to hear.

Apologies to my American friends, I need to familiarise myself more with American weights to be sure I give you the correct amount, as I find it confusing ie weight of meat in cups is different to weight of flour in cups.  I will master this I promise.

Just a thought, this Lasagne freezes well.   Cook the same amount as I have and then cut it into portions  and freeze for days when you are too busy to cook.  If you decide to do this, make a little extra meat sauce and freeze in portion sizes, just enough to add moisture to your lasagne when you cook in the oven. 


See you Wednesday, take care until then.


Best Wishes,




Daphne xxx

Saturday, 28 July 2012

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012

Good morning Everyone,

What a wonderful opening to the London Olympics 2012......it was so exciting and so creative.

Washington Post.com


How proud we were.  George and I sat up until 1.30 am, yes 1.30 am!  it's unheard of, but we just didn't want to miss a moment.


The creativity of Director, Danny Boyle was astounding.  I loved the way he incorporated so many elements of English life into the Opening Ceremony and how all ages were included.  Our thanks have to go to the thousands of volunteers who helped to make the London Olympic Opening Ceremony so spectacular.  Our "hats are off to you."  Thank you so much.

This is the man we have to thank for his vision.



Mirror co.uk


So from our household in England, we would  like to send our best wishes to every athlete competing in the London Olympics and to say enjoy every minute , as it is an experience  you will remember for the rest of your lives!

Best Wishes,





Daphne xxx



Wednesday, 25 July 2012

BLUE AND WHITE

Good Morning Everyone,

 Gosh, can you believe it,  Wednesday is here again!  Where does the time go? Phyllis did warn me, that the older you get the quicker time passes.  I am inclined to agree to a certain extent, but I also believe, the busier you are the faster time passes and since I have started blogging my days are so full they seem to be  zipping by!

What is your opinion on blue and white, do you love it or hate it?


 I  love  blue and white, whether it is blue and white ceramics, blue and white material...well let's just say anything blue and white makes me smile.



I grew to love blue and white when I lived in Germany as a young married wife. 

Look how young I was, a friend snapped this photograph without me knowing


 I've noticed blue and white  comes in and out of fashion, but I have never cared for fashion with regards to the home.  I like my home to be individual and to be a collection of  items which tell the story of our married life. I'm not interested in things which are disposable and that will flit in and out of my life. I don't want to be told, this is what I should have this year and what colours are in vogue at the moment.  I want to be an individual and I want my home to reflect this. I want to display treasured things that stay with me, that mean something when I look at them.  To remember where it was bought or who gave the item to me. I have loved building our home slowly over the years and not to rush out to buy the latest whatever. Our home is filled with a wonderful eclectic mix and we love it. 





 So with that in mind, I thought today I would show you something that I really love,  my collection of blue and white plates. Well not my entire collection, as you would be bored to tears if I showed you them all.  So I've selected a few pieces which I think you will enjoy.   These blue and white plates are from different parts of the world and have been packed and unpacked so many times that I have lost count.  Some beautiful plates  have been lost along the way, but that is part of of life!

A Blue Delft Plate


This is a beautiful Blue Delft plate. This is such a pretty plate.  The flowers  appear to be  huddled together, and remind me of a coral reef.  Then there are the taller flowers stretching their faces towards the sun, you can almost sense their movement in the wind. See the little bug, don't you just love   that it has gone unnoticed by  the bird.


Royal Doulton Plate




This plate is a fine china Royal Doulton Plate.  The willow pattern was designed by Thomas Minton around 1790.  An interesting fact, Phyllis' maiden name is Minton.

Willow refers to the pattern and the background colour is always white, whilst the foreground colour could be blue, pink, green or brown.  Here is a poem which describes the Willow pattern.
 
 
 
Two birds flying high,
A Chinese vessel, sailing by,
A bridge with 3 men, sometimes 4,
A willow tree hanging oer,
A Chinese temple, there it stands,
Built upon the river sands,
An apple tree, with apples on,
A crooked fence to end my song.


This plate is from Portugal and is quite different from the previous plates I have shown you. Do you see  the  cut outs, I feel this is a more feminine looking plate. 





This plate is from Dresden, Germany.  We visited there many years ago and this plate was bought as a memory of that visit.





This is "Water Tower" a Wedgwood Queen's Ware blue and white plate

 Do you see the sun peeking through the clouds and the little girl playing with her cat.


You don't get a sense of size from this picture, but the plate measures
14 inches in width.  It is spectacular hanging on the wall.


....... and now for something a little different. This is a beautiful Spanish Plate, it is so vibrant to look at ..... it reminds me of hot sunny days.


Size - 14 inches wide

This is another large plate from Spain, I know there is brown and green amongst the blue, but look how vibrant the blue colour is, again it is a stunning plate.




This is a Japanese plate.  George loves Bonsai trees and has quite a few which he cares for.  The spruce tree to the left of the plate reminds me of  George's Bonsai trees.





Isn't this Portuguese plate fabulous.  I just love this plate.

....... and finally,



Not one,

but

two

 Blue Delft Tiles


Sorry about the gaps in the corners, they really aren't this big.



Blue Delft Tile

I hope you have enjoyed looking at this small selection of my  blue plates. I have so many more to share with you, but I will leave that for another day, as I don't want you to overload on blue and white!

Enjoy the rest of your week and I will catch up with  you on Sunday.  Until then, take care.

Best Wishes,




Daphne xxx

Sunday, 22 July 2012

CAMP COFFEE CAKE

Good Morning to you,

 I am very happy today, as I am making a Coffee Cake.  This cake I know my Father and Gramps would have loved!  Last week I introduced you to their favourite coffee, so this week I thought I would incorporate  Camp Coffee into the recipe,  instead of my normal filter coffee.  It will be interesting to see how this cake turns out, as I have never baked with Camp Coffee before!  So I am going to gather my ingredients and give this cake a try, fingers crossed it tastes as delicious as it normally does!

"CAMP COFFEE CAKE"

Sliced coffee cake with mascarpone cheese mixed with marshmallow fluff it
is not good for the waistline, but my.......it tastes good!

INGREDIENTS




275g/9 1/2 oz/1 1/4 cups of plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
75g/2 3/4 oz/ 1/3 cup  sugar
150ml/1/4 pint/2/3 cup of milk
2 eggs
100g/3 1/2 oz/1/2 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons of Camp Coffee
or use
2 tablespoons of your normal coffee
1 tablespoon of water
50g/1 3/4oz/1/3 cup ground almonds


TOPPING





75g/2 3/4 oz/1/2 cup of self raising flour
75g / 2 3/4 oz / 1/3 cup Demerara Sugar
25g / 1 oz unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of water


METHOD



Pre-heat the oven 190c/375f/Gas Mark 5


You will see that the baking parchment is not exactly round...this was the end of
a roll and I didn't want to waste it.
What's the saying, "waste not want not".


Butter a 23 cm/9inch loose bottom round cake tin
Line with baking parchment



Using a large bowl, sieve the flour and baking powder.




Add the sugar, ground almonds and stir



In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter, eggs, milk, Camp Coffee with 1 tablespoon of water (or your normal coffee) and stir.



Pour the coffee mixture on to the dry ingredients.


 Mix together




Place the mixture into the buttered cake tin.


MAKE THE TOPPING



Place the sieved flour and cinnamon in a bowl.



Add  the butter and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.



Add the Demerara sugar and stir.





Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir.



Sprinkle the cinnamon topping over the cake mixture

Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 50 minutes.  As always keep an "eye" on your cake because your oven might be different to mine. If you find your cake is browning too quickly, cover with tin foil or baking parchment.

Baked cake with crunchy topping


Remove from the oven and check to make sure the cake is thoroughly cooked by inserting a baking skewer into the centre of the cake, the cake is baked when the skewer comes out clean.


Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes.  Turn out onto a wire tray to cool and peel off the baking parchment.





When cooled, slice and serve with mascarpone cheese mixed with Marshmallow Fluff.  I found another use for it!  Normally I add icing sugar to the mascarpone, but the Fluff worked well.  If you prefer, you can enjoy this coffee cake with whipped cream..... or just eat it on it's own!

When cooled slice and enjoy.


NOTES.

I did  enjoy making this cake.....I think next time I would add 3 tablespoons of Camp Coffee as I didn't get too much of a coffee flavour, but as with all new things it's trial and error.

I hope you enjoy making this cake, let me know what you think and whether you feel it needed a stronger coffee flavour.

See you Wednesday,  take care until then.

                                     Best Wishes,



                                       Daphne xxx







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