Basic lasagna recipe

It has been a while since my last post. Ah, such a busy life..:) Anyway, I really hope you will enjoy today’s recipe: LASAGNA! Probably the most famous dish of the Italian tradition.

Lasagna is a very tasty and easy recipe BUT there are few important things to keep in mind. First thing, the quality of the pasta. This is vital for your dish.  Many blogs and books advise you to boil the lasagna sheets before assembling the dish, well, do not do it! If you buy a good quality brand of pasta you don’t need to pre cook them as they will cook in the oven with the other ingredients. In my dish I used De Cecco sheets, they are the best. Especially if you make lasagna for the first time, make sure you buy good quality pasta. I don’t recommend you to buy cheap brands – the result is awful.

Second thing: the traditional recipe for lasagna includes 4 main ingredients: pasta, ragù (meat sauce), besciamella and parmesan cheese. All the rest is optional. Of course you can add mozzarella cheese,  vegetables, ham, chicken..whatever you want but they are not part of the original recipe.

Last but not least: try to make your own hand made besciamella sauce, don’t buy it. It is not difficult, you just need some practice. But I guarantee you that the result will be amazing.

What you need:

How to make it:

Pre heat the oven at 200C°. Pour a thin coating of besciamella sauce into a non-stick tray. Make sure all the tray is covered with a bit of sauce, alternatively you can coat it with butter or olive oil.

Arrange the pasta sheets in order to cover the bottom of the baking dish, then add the ragù and the besciamella sauce. Cover the sauce with another layer of pasta, then again with the meat and the besciamella. At the end you should have 3 layers of pasta.

Cover the top with the ragù and the besciamella sauce left and spread all over the parmesan cheese. This will make sure your lasagna gets a bit crusty on the top.

 Cook your dish for 35 minutes at 180C° and serve very warm. It’s perfect with a glass of  red wine!

 

TIP: if you like you can add some parmesan in between the layers of the lasagna, but remember to keep most of it for the top.

Besciamella sauce

One of the most common Italian sauces.

What you need:

  • 50 g unsalted butter;
  • 2 tbs whit flour;
  • 250 ml skimmed milk;
  • black pepper/nutmeg.

How to make it:

Warm the butter in a sauce pan over a medium heat and when completely melted add the flour. Whisk well to combine the ingredients. Gently start adding the milk to the mixture: add a cup at time and while doing it continue to whisk. If you don’t do it, the ingredients won’t combine well. Add little by little all the milk and keep cooking for at least 10 mins.

 

 

TIP: If you prefer a more liquid result, don’t cook it for more then 5 mins after you have added all the milk. You can add some black pepper or nutmeg  at the end, if you like.

Tortilla de patatas

From Spain with love! The tortilla de patatas (omlette with potatoes) is a very easy recipe to prepare and it’s perfect for your lunch box or for a pic nic.

 What you need:

  •  4 eggs;
  • 3 large potatoes;
  • salt;
  • 1 small onion;

How to make it:

Wash and peel the potatoes, cut them in small, irregulars pieces (if you prefer you can slice them). Heat some olive oil on a fry pan and when it is very hot add the potatoes. Keep cooking until golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat, drain the oil and set the potatoes aside.

Beat the eggs togheter, add the salt and slice the onion. Cook the onion for few minutes in the same fry pan until tender, add the potatoes and as last ingredient add the eggs.

Cook the tortilla initially on a high heat and after few minutes decrease the temperature. Cook for additional 2 minutes.

 Now the hard part: you need to turn your tortilla. You can do it by using a plate as the top of the dish is still too liquid to turn it in the pan. Cover the fry pan with a plate. Quickly rotate the pan on the plate (basically you want to transfer the tortilla in the plate) and then put the tortilla back on the pan.

 Cook the other side of the tortilla for additional 5 minutes or until firm. You can turn the tortilla again if you wish a perfect finish.

TIP: if you like you can also add some parsley to the eggs. This is not part of the original recipe but it gives the dish an extraordinary taste.

Green peas with speck and chilli

I had some spare speck left so I thought why not to prepare something nice for dinner? And then I came up with this nice idea! Easy peasy!

 What you need:

  • 100 g speck;
  • 250 g peas (I used the frozen ones. The fresh one are the best option);
  • 1 tbs of tomato puree;
  • half finely chopped red onion;
  • extra virgin oil;
  • chilli flakes.

How to make it:

Pre heat a fry pan on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Finely chop the speck and cook it for 2 minutes in the pan. To prevent the speck from sticking  add 1 tbs of warm water. When the speck is tender enough and the fat starts melting , add the peas with half cup of hot water.

Cook for 5 minutes. You can now add the chopped onion and the tomato purée.

Keep stirring on a medium heat and after 5 minutes  add the extra virgin olive oil and the chilli flakes. Serve warm, it’s perfect with chicken or eggs!

 

Euro cup 2012

Even if Italy lost against Spain in the final, we still did a great job!Thanks to the Azzuri for all emotions in this tournament! And remember it’s always time for a good Italian pizza!

Roasted chicken with potatoes

What you need:

  • chicken drumsticks (6 or 7);
  • extra virgin olive oil;
  • salt;
  • sage, rosemary and thyme;
  • 4 large potatoes;

How to make it:

The firs thing to do is marinate the chicken. Mix the salt, the rosemary, the sage and the thyme together and sprinkle the drumsticks with the mixture one by one. Put them in a salad bowl and cover with enough extra virgin olive oil. Allow the chicken to marinate for 2/3 hours.

 

Cut the potatoes in small pieces and boil them for 10 minutes in a sauce pan (remember to add the salt to the boiling water). Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and meanwhile place your chicken in a roasting pan. Add to the tray the potatoes and more olive oil. Remember that the oil will prevent the potatoes from sticking in the baking tray so..be generous! At least 5 tbs of oil are required. Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes and every 10 mins remember to turn the chicken (and the potatoes). If the chicken or the potatoes are too dry add more oil. When the  drumsticks are well roasted and cooked (like in the pic) it’s time to enjoy your meal.

 

Risotto with asparagus, mint and yoghurt

Well, let’s now celebrate this lovely day with a fresh receipe (finally spring looks to be in Dublin). I actually invented this receipe and at the beginning I was a bit scared of the result! With my big surprise (and also my boyfriend’s one) the risotto was fantastic. I hope you will enjoy it too!

What you need:

  • 1 cup of rice for each person
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • half chopped onion
  • 100 grams green asparagus
  • 125 ml natural yoghurt
  • 2 or 3 mint leaves
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1tsp salt

How to make it:

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan fry and when it’s hot add the onion and the chopped asparagus (rember to remove the woody ends of the asparagus before cooking them). Cook the vegetables for few minutes and then add the rice. Before the risotto starts sticking, add 2 cups of water and cook it for 7/8 minutes or until the water is all evaporated – remember to stirr constantly and gently!

When all the water has evaporated  you will need to add the yoghurt and cook the risotto with it. This will make your recipe more creamy and will provide it a really nice, fresh taste. Just note that while cooking the yoghurt will become very liquid (as in the picture); don’t worry, this is normal but don’t forget to stir it: ALWAYS!

Keep stirring the rice until all the liquid has gone: this will take around 10 minutes and after this time the dish should be ready (if you are not sure you can always taste your rice and see if you need to cook it more or not!). When no more yogurt is left and your “mantecatura” has been performed the last step is to add the mint leaves, the salt and if you like a pinch of parseley. Serve the risotto immediately and if you like add some Parmesan cheese on the top . In the picture below you can see the dish finished. I know it’s not a great picture but believe me, you will love it!

 

Strawberries Tiramisu

It’s  spring time(well in Dublin not really but let’s consider the calendar, not the weather)! This is the perfect recipe to prepare for your Sunday’s afternoons or maybe just because you need to make a dessert for your friends! So here we go with one of the best Italian dessert in a very fresh version: TIRAMISU WITH STRAWBERRIES.

What you need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 250 grams mascarpone cheese
  • 40 grams sugar
  • Savoiardi biscuits (2 packages)
  • 400 grams of fresh, red strawberries
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon

How to make it:

Let’s start by cleaning the strawberries, remember to keep some of them for the decoration. Wash tand cut them in small pieces, then put them in an bowl with the orange and lemon juice and leave them in the fridge for 15 minutes.

 

Meanwhile you can start preparing the cream. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks togheter with the sugar. Gently add the mascarpone and stir with a wooden spoon. Beat your egg whites until  stiff peaks form in your bowl. Add them to the cream.

In a different bowl squize the other orange, add 2 tbs of water and the liquid of the strawberries.

Let’s start now to create our tiramisu: put some cream on the base of your cake tray, take the savoiardi biscuits and dip then into the strawberry juice. They have to be moist enough but be careful not to break them..we all know how are biscuits with liquids ;0)!

Gently dispose them in the tray and when it is all covered, add some of the cream on the top. You can now add the strawbeerries. If you prefer you can blend them with a food processor so you will have a nice sauce..Personally I prefer to eat the strawberries. You can now add another “floor” of biscuits and then again the cream. When all your cream is finished add the strawberries for the decoration on the top and put the tiramisu in the fridge.

 

 

TIP: If you want to have a better result you can prepare your dessert the night before serving it!

Pancakes!!!!!

I couldn’t resist, I had to write about pancakes! Last Tuesday was Pancake’s Tuesday and I decided to make some for a good reason!We were collecting some money by selling our delicious pancakes in the company I work for. It was my first time and I have to say they were really good!

Well here we go then, enjoy :o)

What you need:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 250ml of milk
  • 1  egg
  • a pinch of salt
  • some butter or margarine for frying

How to make it:

Let’s start by sifting togheter the flour with the salt in a bowl;then make a hall in the middle. Add the egg in the centre. Gradually add the milk and stirr with a wooden spoon until all the flour has been incorporated. With a mixer beat again the ingredients until you don’t have a smooth batter. Add the rest of the milk and beat for another 1 minute. You should have a nice and smooth cream like the one on the pic below!

 

Let’s now fry the pancakes!Get a non sticky pan and heat it well, then quickly coat the pan with the margarine or the butter. Put part of the mixture in the pan and fry it until golden brown on the side. Once is well cooked, you need to turn your pancake – actually it’s not that easy so if you don’t manage to flip the pancake (as I do,LOL) just turn it with a spoon or a palette.

 

Keep doing this operation until all the pancakes are ready. You need to serve them really warm before adding your favourite topping. Some tips? Nutella, Jam, Golden Syrup,….mmmmmmmhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! :0)

 

Carrot and orange cupcakes

Hi all, today is cupcake’s day!YAY!So here we go with these delicious mini cakes!

What you need for the cakes:

  • 115 g softenend butter
  • 115 g brown sugar
  • the zest of 1 orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g of carrots
  • 20 g of chopped walnuts
  • 125 g flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

 

What you need for the frosting:

  • 250 g mascarpone cheese
  • 5 tbsp icing sugar
  • zest of an orange

We will start by preheating the oven to 180°C. Place the softeoned butter in a bowl, with the sugar and the zest and beat unitl you don’t have a fluffy mixture – gradually add the eggs and keep beating.

Grate the carrots, squeeze the water in excess and add them to the mixture along with the walnuts and orange juice. Stir well. Sift the flour and the baking powder and set aside. Line your muffin case with 12 paper cases and spoon the mixture on them. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden.

While your cupcakes are baking prepare the topping. Place the mascarpone in a bowl with the icing sugar and the orange zest. Beat togheter until they are completly mixed.

Spread your frosting on the cupcakes using a spatula only when they are completely cold !Et voilà..that,s the result!