Tuesday, 27 June 2017


I had been planning on cooking this recipe last Saturday night but I got carried away with the pic n mix selection in Sainsbury's and ended up just scoffing sweets for supper. I really need to give up sugar one day as my sweet tooth is out of control....but I am not ready just quite yet, especially when ice cream season is upon us.

Anyway I had to cook this tonight before the spinach went off and despite the rain, we served it with barbecued steak topped with blue cheese (my favourite). It took around 25 minutes in total.

Ingredients for 4-6 people as a side:

500g spinach, washed and chopped
25g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
200ml milk
150ml double cream
A few gratings/pinch of nutmeg 
75g Gruyere, grated
75g Parmesan, grated

Put the spinach in a colander and pour over a kettleful (or two) of boiling water, to wilt, then cool and squeeze out as much excess water as you can.

Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Keep stirring and gradually add the milk to make a white sauce. After about 5 minutes, stir in the cream and season. Add the nutmeg and Gruyere and cook until the cheese has melted. Stir in the spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Tip into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle over the Parmesan and heat under a hot grill for a couple of minutes until golden and bubbling.

I think the final picture speaks for itself....this was incredible. My husband Pascal was most surprised that this is the second dish he has loved which is made with a white sauce. It went perfectly with our steaks but I would say it would go with anything or you could even serve it on its own. Amazing!

Sunday, 25 June 2017


Years ago I had the most amazing mushroom lasagne at Carluccio's restaurant however it was then removed from the menu and much to my disappointment, never returned. As I had leftover lasagne sheets from my Spinach, Ricotta & Pesto Lasagne, I thought I would finally try and make my own mushroom one. This is a recipe from Olive magazine and it took around 1 hour 40 minutes to make although you can make it and cook it later or the next day.

Ingredients for 4 people:
4 shallots, finely chopped
500g mushrooms, sliced (we used closed cup but you can use whatever you like)
1 bunch of tarragon, leaves stripped and chopped (about 15g)
3 tbsp flour
500ml milk
200g mascarpone
6-9 lasagne sheets (depending on the size of your dish)
4 tbsp Parmesan, grated

To serve:
A green salad

Preheat the oven to 180C / fan 160C / gas mark 4 and prepare the ingredients.

In a large frying pan, fry the shallots in a knob of butter until they are soft but not too dark. Add the mushrooms and some more butter, and cook whilst turning continuously. There will be a large pile, however they do reduce. Fry the mushrooms until they are cooked through and golden brown.

Turn up the heat, add the tarragon and cook for another couple of minutes. 

Meanwhile melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan, stir in the flour and make sure it is absorbed before adding the milk over a low heat. Pour in the milk a little at a time until you have a smooth sauce which will gradually become thicker. This took us about 10-12 minutes. 

Season well and stir in the mascarpone. Finally fold into the mushroom mixture.

Next it is time to assemble the lasagne. Start with a layer of pasta, add a third of the mushroom mixture and then repeat to make three layers finishing with a layer of the mushroom sauce. Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan and then cover with foil and cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Finally take off the foil and brown the top for a further 10 minutes.

As my husband and I were cooking this, he repeatedly told me how he didn't like milk, he wasn't keen on mascarpone and he much preferred tomato based pasta dishes. I was just thinking "disaster"!!! Thankfully he was still willing to give the lasagne a go and he was in fact very pleasantly surprised. We both were - we loved it. Pascal even had seconds.....so much for not liking a white sauce. I would really recommend serving it with a salad too. An excellent dish, although I am not sure I can convince my daughter as mushrooms are her number one most hated vegetable!

Like with some other pasta recipes, you can make this the day before which makes it perfect when entertaining. Plus different mushrooms will change the flavour, you could even use a combination. I bet the leftovers will be even more amazing....if there are any!

Monday, 5 June 2017


It was awful on Sunday to wake up to the news of yet another terrorist attack, it is so devastating. It certainly makes me wary about going into central London and all I wanted to do on Sunday was hanker down with my family at home. We decided to cook this lasagne as it sounded a little healthier and lighter than a normal lasagne which was just what we needed after a week of indulgence.

It took about 45 minutes to prepare and then 45 minutes to cook and it is freezable.

Ingredients for 8 people:

100g butter
100g plain flour
600ml semi-skimmed milk
400g ricotta
100g Parmesan, grated
2g ground nutmeg
200g spinach, washed and roughly chopped
2 bunches of spring onions, sliced
Roughly 225g dried lasagne sheets
190g pesto
2 heaped tbsp pine nuts
(I also added some grated cheese as I am a cheese addict but it probably wasn't necessary)

Melt the butter in a large pan, then stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk gradually, one splash at a time, to make a smooth sauce. Bring to a gentle bubble while still stirring, then cook for a couple of minutes until thickened.

Turn off the heat and whisk in the ricotta and half the Parmesan until smooth. Season and add the nutmeg. Spoon out a couple of ladlefuls of the sauce and reserve for the top of the lasagne. Then stir in the chopped spinach and spring onions into the rest of the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 180 C / fan 160 C / gas mark 4.

Spread a third of the spinach sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish. Add a layer of pasta, then spread over a third of the pesto. Top with another third of the spinach sauce, followed by pasta and pesto and then repeat one more time. Add a final layer of pasta, then spread over the reserved white sauce. Scatter with the remaining Parmesan and the pine nuts (we also added some extra grated cheese). (At this point, if you are freezing rather than cooking, pop in the freezer now). Otherwise bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until bubbling, browned and crisp on top.

A lot of pictures there!! This recipe is quite full on to make, but then lasagnes always are, however it was totally worth it and we really enjoyed this. I am a huge lasagne fan so it was nice to have one that is slightly different to normal plus it felt almost healthy with all the green vegetables. Having said that, both my husband and my daughter recommended we should have had some mince on the side....I reckon a tomato and onion salad would do the trick. I am already looking forward to reheating our leftovers although not this week as it is diet time again (boo)!

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