Sunday, 1 November 2009
Delicious Lasagne and Apple Pie
Autumn just makes me want to snuggle up on the sofa with a giant mug of tea and lots of warming food. The colder weather and drizzly days are such a great excuse for whipping up a load of comforting food and indulging in some really cosy nights in. I love baking on a wet and rainy Sunday afternoon, filling the house with delicious smells and eating home made scrumptiousness!! This weekend we had a busy Friday and Saturday, and Sunday was really gloomy and rainy, so it seemed the perfect day to hole up in the kitchen and make lasagne and apple pie - possibly two of the most warming, comforting dishes ever to have been invented. I mean, having a creamy, rich and meaty lasagne followed by sweet apple pie with melt-in-the-mouth pastry for dinner can only make things better...and a perfect end to the weekend!
The lasagne was a giant dish of hearty goodness, layers of deep tomato and meat sauce, cheesy bechamel and pasta, topped with even more cheese. I softened some onion and garlic, then added the beef mince and browned it off. After that I squeezed in a tablespoon or so of tomato puree and cooked it out for a couple of mintes, a splash of red wine, a tin of chopped tomatoes, about half a tin of water, and seasoning. Then I let it simmer for about 45 minutes for a really deep flavour. For the cheese sauce I made a simple bechamel and added a generous couple of handfuls of cheddar cheese. Then I assembled the lot layering the meat, then pasta, then cheese sauce, and repeat finishing with the cheese sauce and an extra sprinkling of cheese. Bake for about 30-40 minutes in an oven at 180 degrees until the pasta is soft (I checked it by skewering it with a butter knife, and took it out of the oven when the knife slid through easily). And then a lovely big portion each, Yummmmmm!!!
Then on to the apple pie :-)
I used a pastry recipe from Valentine Warner's book 'What to Eat Now, More Please!' which was really lovely. Pastry is always a slightly nerve-wracking prospect I think, but this one was really buttery and short, and deliciously melt-in-the-mouth. Not overly sweet, it complemented the cinnamon flavoured apples beautifully, and an extra sprinkling of vanilla sugar on top was perfection! I didn't have a pie dish, so I used a cake tin, which worked just as well, and made for a deeper pie, which can never be a bad thing!! For the apple filling I followed a Hummingbird Bakery recipe, which I've used before for brownies, cupcakes and a chocolate cake. The Bramley apples are sliced and cooked in butter, cinnamon and caster sugar until slightly softened, then placed in the raw pastry case, and baked for about 35-40 minutes at 180 degrees until golden brown. Leave to cool for a while, then we had it with a healthy dollop of custard.
Needless to say we put away a hefty amount of pie in one sitting, and were completely stuffed... and happy!!!