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It’s been a rather good week. I’ve been uber productive and am slowly beginning to de-clutter the attic and have caught up on paperwork etc. On the downside the puppy has managed to eat yet more important items but on the plus side she has grown even cuter again. She is currently trying to figure out how to wrap herself in a blanket to all keep warm and snuggly and I have discovered that she likes watching Peppa Pig on television, its the only thing that keeps her still and quiet.

Work has been calm but busy, if that makes sense and I am totally in need of a night out. However one does not always get what one would like or need, but when it comes to food, that is something I can control.

As if I hadn’t eaten enough caramel and cookie dough squares this week, I decided I needed to totally up the fat content of this week and make a really oozzy and melt in the mouth mushroom lasagne. I make a very good regular meat and also a very good vegetable lasagne but have been looking for new ways to make one of my favourite dishes. I came across a great and indulgent recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’ book. Ottolenghi takes great fresh ingredients and turns them into delightful dishes that demonstrates their flavours to the fullest and showcases them while being comforting and delish! This is a recipe that when I first looked through the book, I overlooked it but like many of you I’m sure, when I go back through a book a while later, I see new things that jump out and make me want to try. Whether it’s the change of season or the simple fact that someone else has highlighted a new dish to you, I can always find new things to want to make. This is why I am not very good at returning library books, as I’m never quite done with them. Thank goodness, this is a book that I actually own!

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OTTOLENGHI’S MUSHROOM LASAGNE

SERVED WITH A SIDE OF CABBAGE, CUCUMBER AND DILL SALAD

When I first saw this, I thought to myself that it was way to much cheese. But this is me we are talking about, there is no such thing as too much cheese. In our family Christmas traditions, we try to fit in a dinner of Raclette. A dish of melted cheese! The best you could ever ask for. So no, there is no such thing as too much cheese!

For the mushrooms:

  • 35 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 400 ml  lukewarm water
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 800 g of mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced if large (I used portobello, brown, and white)
  • 2 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

For the lasagne:

  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 550 ml milk
  • 400 g ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 150 g feta, crumbled
  • 170 g gruyère, grated
  • 400 g lasagne sheets
  • 150 g fontina, grated (or mozzarella)
  • 50 g parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper

THE HOW

Preheat the oven to 170°c  (fan oven). Soak the porcini in the lukewarm water for five minutes. Strain, squeezing the mushrooms to remove all water. Reserve the liquid.

Melt 60 g butter in a large, heavy-based pot, then add the thyme, porcini and fresh mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms soften. Off the heat, add the tarragon and parsley, and season. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Make the bechamel in the same pot. Add 60 g butter and the shallot, cook over medium heat for a minute, then add the flour and cook, stirring, for two minutes – the mix will turn to a paste but not colour much (if it is too thick, add a tbsp of milk to help mix). Slowly whisk in the milk and porcini liquid. Add half a teaspoon of salt, whisk until boiling, then simmer on low heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick-ish, about 10 minutes.

In a bowl, mix ricotta and egg, then fold in three tablespoons of bechamel sauce and the feta. Stir the gruyère into the remaining bechamel. Pour boiling water over the pasta, soak for two minutes, then dry on a tea towel.

Spread a fifth of the sauce over the base of an oven-proof dish. Cover with a few lasagne sheets. Spread a quarter of the ricotta mix on top, scatter over a quarter of the mushrooms and sprinkle on a quarter of the fontina. Repeat the layers three more times, then end with a layer of pasta topped with sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and I like a sprinkling of coriander on top and bake for 40 minutes (checking to make sure it is not overcooking on the top, if it is, cover loosely with foil) until it bubbles around the sides. If using foil, remove the foil and cook for 10 minutes more, until the parmesan turns golden. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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For the salad:

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SMITTEN KITCHEN’S GREEN SLAW

This is a salad that I have made many many times this year. We simply love it. And the best part is that it makes a huge bowl but keeps really well in the fridge so you can eat it all week long. From the ‘Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’ by Deb Perelman, this is something I don’t know how we survived without it. Crisp and clean with sharp and sweet notes and works perfectly with the rich creamy lasagne.

  • 1 medium green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, halved, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill (add more if you love dill)
  • 120 ml white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 120 ml cold water

THE HOW

Toss the cabbage, cucumber and dill together in a large bowl. To make the marinade, whisk the vinegar, salt and sugar together until dissolved. Stir in the water and pour the marinade over the cabbage. Leave to marinade for about an hour, occasionally tossing to coat and soften the whole cabbage. It will look like rather a lot of salad to begin, but once marinaded it wilts down but remains crunchy.

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Pair this with any meaty or creamy dish and enjoy!

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