Kathy, You asked how I made my Lasagna and for the recipe. Well I really do not follow any particular recipe for Lasagna and it is a very much for me making the individual items like the cheese, sauce, tomato and mince (Ragu) base, and fresh pasta if you are making or either the prebought Lasagna Sheets, and then grating loads of tasty cheese.
Not strictly the way the Italians do it but it does work for me. In all honesty I prefer preparing everything from scratch but sometimes for whatever reason that is not possible so I use whatever I can (whether pre-bought items i.e. little cheats) but it still ends up a very tasty dish whichever way you deal with it.
As I tend with a lot of my recipes to do things by memory and experience i.e. gauging how much ingredient to use rather than measuring it out and also just doing things I have had to think about the process I use when making Lasagna, but I am not infallible so if you have any queries lease ask and I will do my best to answer
For the Cheese Sauce
For the Tomato and Mince Sauce Base (Ragu)
A jar of Tomato and Onion sauce; or
A couple of Tins of Italian Plum Tomatoes.
(Optional Fried Leek, Sweet Pepper or a little fresh Chilli)
Mixed Italian Herbs
Ground White Pepper
The White or Cheese Sauce
To start with I usually start off making the white sauce but mine is always a cheese sauce based on the simple Roux method of making sauce i.e. melt a good chunk of butter in a saucepan, add about 4 to 5 ozs of flour and then with a balloon whisk blend the butter and the flour together until it goes thick and paste like. I always do this on a reasonably low heat keeping that balloon whisk working at all times. I add milk as required - sorry I don't measure just do things by eye but only adding a little milk at a time (this is important as the sauce does not need to be flooded but the milk needs to be incorporated a little at a time into the flour and butter paste, but keeping that whisk going all times as this is what keeps the sauce lump free until it is to the desired consistency.
Don't worry if the sauce goes too thin - my remedy to this is to melt a little more butter in a separate pan with some more flour and then to the paste then add a little of the sauce from the other pan and blend it until smooth and the paste is all worked in and then add the contents back to the original pan.
I then add a good teaspoon of made up mustard - the addition of mustard helps bring the flavour of the cheese out more.
As I have said one of my favourite cheeses is the Cornish Smuggler from M & S. I tend to buy it when it is on offer and stock-pile it in the fridge. It packs a lot of punch and a lot of flavour.
I then grate about a block of the Cornish Smuggler Cheddar cheese and add it a bit at a time to the sauce on a low heat until it is just melted. I taste all the time until it is how I want it. Tasting is an important part of the process. There should be a load of cheese left over which will be used in the layering up process. I then pop it to one side whilst I deal with the tomato sauce.
The Tomato Sauce Base and Mince
This varies as to the time available to me. The other day for instance I fried off until golden brown and translucent one medium sized onion, one finely sliced leek, crushed some garlic in. I then in the other side of the pan (I use a large fry pan when doing this) start to gently fry the mince meat off (One pack is more than enough for two and makes one Lasagna that could potentially feed four people. Two packs potentially 6 to 8 people with hearty appetites) until it is coloured. When this is done I then add a jar of onion and tomato passata (or the tomato base as made below) , a good sprinkling of white pepper, (I use a lot of white pepper) and some mixed dried Italian herbs (includes Oregano, marjoram, thyme) and some fresh Basil. I then left this to bubble. After tasting if it needs adjusting this is when I then start playing but often it does not need anything extra. When to my taste I then switch this off and leave on top of the cooker.
[Another time when I do not have tomato base to hand I will set too with a couple of cans of whole Italian plum tomatoes, fried onion (and leek), crushed garlic and herbs and white pepper. I sometimes also add sweet pepper or a little chilli also. I then whisk up in the food processor and then cook through. Sometimes I also fry a little bacon or lardons if I have them and fry these off before adding the onion and the other ingredients. So it is very much changeable as to what I am doing with it. Making it this way I usually end up with tomato base left over which I store in the fridge or make another Lasagna up and put it in the freezer uncooked].
The Layering Up
Once the basics are prepared I then start layering the dish up. I use a square or oblong serving dish. I layer the minced meat and tomato mix in the bottom of the serving dish, then the Lasagna sheets either home made or bought, then a layer of cheese sauce, then a layer of grated cheese and then start the layering again. I packed the dish tight but really for the dish size I used three layers is enough. Once the dish is full I then finally top with a thick layer of grated cheddar cheese, pop it on the baking tray and then cook in the oven Gas mark 4 to 5 until a nice crisp golden cheesy crust is achieved. It may overflow the pan as it cooks that is why I put a baking sheet under the serving dish to catch any overflow. I then let it settle after coming out of the oven for about 10 minutes or so using a knife and cut it into blocks, and serve on a plate with the addition of some fresh salad or you could use seasonal cooked vegetables and/or some garlic bread.
This is an absolute favourite here. You can turn it into a vegetable Lasagna if the meat version is not to your liking. Just blanch some seasonal vegetables or roast some seasonal vegetables and replace the meat layer with your veggies. Layering with sauce and grated cheese in the same way.
I hope this helps.
Catch you soon.
I hope this helps.
Catch you soon.