Lasagne is one of those great meals that can be modified to suit a range of tastes and is often a favourite meal from childhood. I make lasagne from scratch, usually with a meat and tomato layer, a spinach layer and cheese sauce. I make the pasta sheets too. The ones I used for this lasagne were the leftovers of the chicken noodle soup noodles I made a week or so ago. I kept the pasta well wrapped in the freezer and defrosted it in the fridge the day before I used it. The same recipe does both meals well and cooks equally well being boiled in the soup and baked in the lasagne. That recipe is here. This lasagne feeds Hanno and I for three meals, so it's a frugal favourite and it's very tasty.
Lasagne is a good dish for vegetarians. When I was vegetarian, I replaced the meat layer with a homemade baked bean layer - with half the beans crushed and half whole to give a thick and rich sauce. If you add the spinach layer and cheese sauce and make the pasta with wholemeal flour instead of white, you have a complete protein, vegetarian meal.
- Brown 700g\1½ lb topside mince\ground beef in a frying pan on medium heat.
- Add one chopped onion, one sliced stick of celery and some garlic - as much as you like, and mix it in.
- When the onion is starts taking on some colour, add two big spoons of tomato paste, mix it in and cook for three minutes. Stir it so it doesn't burn.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, one can of whole tomatoes, one can of water and one teaspoon sugar. Crush the tomatoes and mix together.
- Add herbs of your choosing - I added fresh oregano and parsley.
- Bring to the boil and let it simmer, with the lid off, for about 30 minutes - until it's well reduced and the sauce is thick.
- Pour about 600mls\one pint milk into a saucepan over medium heat. You can use milk power and water.
- Add 2 large tablespoons cornflour and whisk in.
- Add salt and pepper and a sprinkle of chilli powder or Tabasco.
- Add 1½ cups grated chedder cheese.
- Mix together and stand there stirring until the cheese has melted. Cheese sauce burns easily, so keep stirring.
- When the sauce is thick and smooth, add it to the lasagne.
I'm sure everyone knows how to make up a lasagne in layers. I usually have two layers of meat sauce, two pasta layers, two cheese sauce layers and one spinach layer. But make yours up however it suits you.
For a gluten-free version of this, don't use the pasta - use a layer of cooked mushrooms or eggplant instead and instead of making a cheese sauce, sprinkle grated cheese on instead.
MOIST AND RICH COFFEE CAKE
This is a very easy to make coffee cake but it turns out so well, you could use it as a special dessert or a celebration cake. Naturally, you have to decorate it better than I did, but it would stand any test for a special cake. Probably not the best cake for children or anyone on a diet.
Like my whole orange cake, this is all done in a food processor and is equally easy to make.
75g\2½ oz walnuts
225g\8 oz caster sugar
Add these first two ingredients to the food processor and mix until they're powdery.
225g\8 oz room temperature butter
4 fresh eggs
5 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in two tablespoons boiling water
Mix until everything is light and creamy.
225g\8 oz self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
and enough milk, sour cream or yoghurt to make a thick batter. Use whatever you have on hand but the addition of sour cream or yoghurt to any cake gives it something extra special.
When the mixture is nicely combined, add equal amounts to two 20 cm greased and baking paper-lined cake tins and cook on 180C\360F for 20 - 25 minutes - or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Turn out both cakes on a cake rack. If both cakes have a raised dome top, cut the top off one of them. You'll need the bottom layer to be flat on both top and bottom.
While the cakes are still hot, mix together 2 teaspoons instant coffee and two teaspoons boiling water, and dribble this over the tops of each cake. Then let them sit there to cool down.
350g\12 oz icing sugar
175g\6 oz soft butter
2 ½ teaspoons instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
Beat the icing sugar and butter together until it's creamy, then add the coffee and mix until it's incorporated.
Sandwich the two cake halves together with about one third of the icing and decorate the top and sides with the rest. Decorate with crushed walnuts.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and they make it into your favourites recipes file.