Teresa invited the family for Easter lunch, and as there were 20 mouths to feed, I made three dishes of lasagne, one with asparagus, one with artichokes and one mixed.
I prepared the vegetables first: 25 artichokes, sliced finely and sautèed in olive oil with a splash or two of water and 3 bunches of asparagus, chopped and sautèed in butter. (I used two bunches of white asparagus and one of green). Then I briefly cooked 20 sheets of lasagne (shop bought!) in boiling salted water. Then I made 3 litres of bechamel sauce with 240g of butter, 150 g of flour and 3 litres of whole milk. I flavoured the sauce with salt, pepper, nutmeg and parmesan.
I then assembled the dishes. A layer of pasta, a layer of vegetable, a few ladles of bechamel and a sprinkling of parmesan, finishing with a final layer of pasta and bechamel. A few flecks of butter and parmesan on top. They cooked 20-30 minutes in the oven.
Could lasagne be the ultimate comfort food?
Augusta had to wait forty years to buy a set of wooden plates, typical of the Tirol area of Italy and Austria; better late than never.
So for lunch I grilled some polenta and arranged cheese, pickled onion, gherkins and peppers and speck on the platters. Nice with rye bread and a glass of beer.
Every now and then I use my Mother’s ramekins… she was very fond of them!… like when I feel like something sweet.
I butter three ramekins, peel and core an apple and cut it into small pieces. I fill the ramekins with the apple add a teaspoon of brown sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. I make the crumble with 50 gm flour and 25g of butter and 15g brown sugar and pile on top. I add a few flecks of butter and bake in the oven at 180°C for 40 minutes.
The plan was to have one for dessert and keep the other two for another day, but I ate the lot!
I use curry powder here, but if you grind cumin, coriander, chilli, cardamom and turmeric you’ll get brownie points! It’s also good to just use paprika.
I cube the chicken breast and mix the pieces in a bowl with flour, curry and salt. I finely slice two shallots and sautè briefly in a frying pan with a little olive oil. I add the meat and stir-fry. When no longer pink, I add a handful of frozen peas and cook briefly. I add two tablespoons of yoghurt mixed with a splash of water. I continue to stir-fry until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Good with rice or breads.
Scallops on the shell are a bit sixties, but here goes anyway!
I remove the scallops from their shells, wash them and pat dry. I also clean the shell and fill it with baby spinach, a little salt and a dribble of olive oil. I make parsley butter with a little grated lemon rind. I place two scallops and a pat of parsley butter on top of the spinach. I put a little mound of sea salt on the baking tray so that the shells sit straight and bake for 12-15 minutes at 190°C.
We like the orange bit, but remove it if you don’t!
The only thing with this is that you will need to wash up three pans!
While the pasta is cooking, I dissolve an anchovy in olive oil with a clove of garlic and chilli flakes. When nicely flavoured, I remove the clove of garlic and add some (leftover) cooked green cauliflower. in another pan, I toast a good handful of breadcrumbs in a little olive oil and add a fresh chopped herb (rosemary, in this case). I drain the pasta and add to the vegetable pan to soak up the falvours. I serve with the toasted breadcrumbs/herb on top.
For all my fans out there (!) I haven’t been very active in the kitchen lately as WORK and the real world take up too much of my time!