Mum’s Homemade Lasagne

A firm favourite in my house when I was young was always homemade lasagne. I’m not entirely sure why my mother always chose to make lasagne, seeing as she doesn’t like to cook – it’s really quite involved. I’m not one to complain though.

I’m trying something new today. I’ve added this recipe in pictorial form. I find recipes like this easier to follow. Not sure if that holds true for everyone though. In case you don’t like it, here’s a cute picture of my dog. Feel better now?

This is one of my favourite things to eat at home, but you can enjoy it without me this time. I’m still slightly traumatised by a story I was told recently about how cows are slaughtered for meat, and how they jerk afterwards and kick their legs. Sigh. I guess in a couple of weeks or so I’ll come back to the second lasagne stashed in the freezer.

Mum’s Homemade Lasagne

I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from. I collected it by following my Mum around the kitchen with a notebook and a camera. This recipe makes 2 trays of lasagne. You can adjust the proportions of meat to vege, and the cheesiness of the sauce. It will still work. Not like it has to rise like a cake or anything. Creativity food!

Beef Mince

800g beef mince
2 carrots
6 tomatoes
2 peppers – red or green is fine
3 sticks of celery
2 yellow onions
2 whole heads of garlic
Chilli powder – optional
Salt & Pepper
1/2 bottle of Prego or another pasta sauce, OR
1 can of crushed tomatoes, and
3 bay leaves
1 teasp basil
1 teasp thyme
1/2 teasp rosemary
– Add more herbs as you like. You might need a bit more basil.

Cheese Sauce

1 litre milk
2 tablesp butter
3/4 of a block of Philly cheese / other cream cheese
400g grated cheddar
1/2 to 1 cup of grated parmasan
Any other cheese you like, these proportions aren’t fixed 🙂

A box of lasagne sheets
1/2 cup grated parmasan – to sprinkle on top
1/2 cup breadcrumbs – to mix with parmasan and sprinkle on top, optional

 1.

  • Dice the veges, garlic and onion.
2.

  • Defrost the meat.
3. 

  • Fry garlic until fragrant.
  • Add onion, fry until soft. Add a pinch of salt.
  • Add the meat, break it up and add salt, pepper and herbs (if using).
4. 

  • Keep frying the meat until it goes about this brown (see pic).
  • Add the vege and tomato, and stir it around.
  • Add the pasta sauce. Stir it around and keep cooking for a bit until the sauce boils down and the meat isn’t too wet. You can substitute for crushed canned tomatoes, use all fresh tomatoes (tell me how, I haven’t figured it out yet…)
5. 

  • Mix milk, butter, and cornflour in a pot over low heat.
  • Keep stirring, and take it off the heat when it reaches the consistency of thick cream.
6. 

  • Add the cheeses to the milk, and mix well. Don’t worry if there are still a few lumps, they’ll melt away in the oven.
  • Pour a thin layer of cheese sauce into an ovenproof dish.
7.

  • Add a layer of meat, then a layer of instant lasagne sheet.
  • Repeat! Try to get at least 3 layers of lasagne sheets, it’ll taste better
8. 

  • Finish it off with a layer of cheese sauce, and a layer of grated parmasan. You can mix the parmasan with some breadcrumbs if you’d like a bit more crunch.
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for about 45 minutes, or until the top goes nice and brown and the inside of the lasagne is piping hot.

Then… take a plate, and a big spoon, and enjoy 🙂 I like mine with lots of chilli flakes.

Also, this freezes really well in the bowl (just stick it back in the oven for a bit to heat up and crisp). Make sure you cool it to room temperature before putting it in the freezer, and defrost it to room temperature before putting it in the oven – so that your bowl doesn’t crack. I speak from experience.

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Grandpa’s English Kitchen: Oxtail Stew

When I was little, my grandpa made the long trip to visit us every year, until he was 98 years old. He used to cook sometimes, and my favourite dish was his oxtail stew. That sounds a bit odd, coming from someone who is an inconsistent flexitarian. However, this is different, and once you try it, you will know.

Close your eyes and imagine you are in a little cute english kitchen with wood panelled walls and a yellow table cloth. There’s a jack russel running around somewhere, and horses and cows outside, please don’t forget to take your muddy wellingtons off at the door.

Grandpa’s English Kitchen: Oxtail Stew

Oxtail – 4 slices. Get it fresh from your butcher!
Onions – 2 large ones. I used 3 as I had smaller ones.
Pearl barley – a handful, I like barley so I add more. This time I added a cup.
Oxo cubes – 2. Any other beef stock should also work, but Oxo comes out tastiest.
Lea & Perrins sauce – 2-3 table spoons
Bay leaf – two or three
Tomato paste – 2 tablespoons
Carrots – chopped
Any other vege you like – potato  and button mushrooms would be nice, you can use other vege like pumpkin but just be warned that it will change the flavour a bit
Water – enough to cover everything, and a bit more

  1. Heat everything in a big pot with the water, until it is boiling. Don’t add your extra vege at this stage, only the carrots.
  2. Add any extra vege. Use your cooking method of choice to finish:
  • Oven – pour into a large oven-proof dish. Make sure there is enough water in the dish to cover the ingredients, and cover with silver foil. Stick it in the oven at about 180-200 degrees celcius. Leave it there for about 3 to 4 hours, checking occasionally to make sure there is enough water.
  • Slow Cooker – pour into a slow cooker. Make sure there is enough water in the pot to cover the ingredients. Leave it on low setting for 8-10 hours, or 7-8 hours on high setting. If you are going to leave it alone for the whole day or overnight, add extra water and use low setting. (I haven’t tried this, this is just how I was told to cook the stew)
  • Pressure Cooker – pour into pressure cooker. Make sure there is an inch or more of water covering the ingredients. Close the lid and cook on high until it boils, then reduce the temperature and leave it on the stove for an hour or so.
    Pressure cooking can be scary and dangerous, it’s important to read the manual (I didn’t, who needs manuals, it’s a pot, it can’t be so hard, and so on). As a result there was some kitchen excitement as I tried to open the lid for the first time.

    Sauce trajectory:

    Caution, hot soup burns sometimes.

  •  Keep going until the meat gets so tender it drops off the bone.

It’s nice with crusty bread or potato (if you didn’t already put potato in the sauce).