It is just starting to get really cold here in Wellington. We were ever so lucky in May with the warmest temperatures for the month on record. But June seems to have made up for that already.
It always pays to look on the bright side of life (are you whistling?!), and the bright side of winter is the food and the cooking : Stews, puddings, roasts. Things that are the antithesis of warm days and balmy nights ; save the cool, light dishes for summer. At this time of year I want something to comfort and to warm. Lasagne is just the thing.
I first made lasagne about two and a half years ago, I remember because it was what I took to my sister and her family when my youngest niece was born. That was my first lasagne because I flatted for years with a friend who made the best lasagne ever, so why would I make one, much better to talk her into it!
1 small onion, chopped finely
150g beef mince
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried mushroom powder
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup tomato puree, not paste, or canned tomatoes
salt and pepper
Fry the onion gently in a little olive oil until starting to turn golden. Add the mince and fry until brown through out. Add the garlic, bay leaf, mushroom powder, wine, tomato puree and enough water to just reach the top of the mince. Simmer for 30 minutes, topping up with water as necessary, but the end result should not be too wet. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk
salt and pepper
Melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook over a medium heat for a minute then gradually stir in the milk, mixing well to avoid lumps. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
150g fresh pasta, made with 100g flour and 1 egg, rolled thin and cut into squares.
Cook the pasta squares in lots of rapidly boiling salted water for a minute, in batches, then lay on a damp tea towel.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Butter a baking dish and lay a third of the pasta in the bottom. Spread the pasta layer with half the meat then a third of the béchamel and a third of the Parmesan. Repeat the layers, finishing with pasta, béchamel and cheese. Bake at 200°c for 30 minutes and serve piping hot.