Sunday, 10 November 2013


Last night I went to the most amazing dinner party at our friends Jack & Joanna's - they seriously raised the bar with the cooking - we had the most phenomenal meal. Starters of fried halloumi, pimentos de padron and pork belly with the most incredible crackling. Then for mains we had a Turkish dish called Karniyark which translates as Split Belly Stuffed Aubergine which was one of the best things I have ever eaten - I have already found a recipe online so I can cook it myself. Jack owns a restaurant in Queen's Park called Jack's ( ) so I guess it is not surprising he put on such an amazing spread! I am kicking myself for not taking photos.

We followed this with a lemon tart and cheese - I literally rolled / crawled out - although that was probably due to the copious amounts of wine I drunk, the rhubarb vodka and of course the jaegerbomb!!

As Arabella is with her father, I made the most of having a lie in and then all I could think of was carbs, cheese and more carbs. I managed to squeeze in a bikram yoga workshop and then it was all about food and Pascal and I decided on Prosciutto & Porcini Lasagne. I love a lasagne but it is something I rarely have - this recipe for example I ripped out of a Grazia magazine about two years ago - I am very pleased I finally got round to cooking it!

Ingredients for 4 people:

25g dried porcini
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped (I used dried and I don't think it made that much of a difference)
200g button mushrooms, finely chopped
400g beef mince
150ml red wine
400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
pinch of caster sugar
salt and pepper
6 slices of Palm ham
4-6 lasagne sheets (we used 4 but I think it depends on what size dish you use)
500ml of shop bought bechamel sauce or cheese sauce (we used cheese as Pascal doesn't like béchamel)
500g grated mozzarella cheese (you can use less if you want but you know me I am a cheese fanatic)!

One of the first things to know about this recipe is that it takes 1.5 - 2 hours - so be prepared!! For once I actually read the recipe beforehand so wasn't in a mad frantic rush.

First of all place the porcini in a bowl and add 100ml of boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes, drain (reserving the liquid) and chop the porcini.

Whilst the porcini is soaking, heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic and thyme for 5 minutes until just softened. I used dry thyme as I didn't want to buy 50g or something of fresh thyme to only use 1 tablespoon. Add the mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes. It was a little dry for us so we added some water and a little more oil.

Next add the mince and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Once it has browned, add the wine and the porcini liquid and bring to the boil. Finally stir in the chopped tomatoes, chopped porcini, tomato puree, sugar and season.

Cover and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes. Check on it regularly - we didn't and our heat was too high so it was boiling - whoops! It didn't make a difference though and instead decreased the cooking time.

At this point you need to think about when to put the oven on to 200 C / fan 180 C / gas mark 6 and grease a suitable dish.

If you have followed the recipe correctly after 30 minutes you remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened - we only cooked for another 10. At the same time heat the bechamel / cheese sauce until it bubbles.

Finally arrange 3 slices of Palma ham in the dish and top with half the Bolognese, a couple of lasagne sheets (you can use 3 if necessary), half of the béchamel sauce and half the mozzarella. Repeat the layers to finish with a layer of béchamel / cheese sauce and the rest of the cheese. 

Finally bake for 30-40 minutes (we did 30) until golden and enjoy! We served it with a crisp green salad - YUM!!

I don't want to blow my own trumpet but wow - that was amazing!! As I said earlier I love lasagne, but I adore love and covet this one, it is an incredible recipe, the slow cooking, the mushrooms and all the cheese make it spectacular. I always find lasagne tastes even better the next day so I cannot wait to have our leftovers (we had to restrain ourselves from gobbling the whole lot).

This is a great family recipe or would also work well for a dinner party, especially as you can make it the day before and/or freeze it. You can dress it up or down. The salad was perfect with it or you could also make your own garlic bread as an accompaniment....lasagne is the Little Black Dress of food...trustworthy, easy and reliable and this is a fantastic version. Don't be an idiot like me and wait 2 years to cook it!!!

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