Meat lasagna

Meat lasagna

Meat lasagna

This is the classic meat lasagna recipe that you have probably had a variation of many times in your life. The meat sauce is the classic meat sauce base used in most Italian pasta recipes that can be altered for your own taste. Every Mom, Dad, or Grandmother seems to have their own perfect recipe so start here and create your perfect lasagna. I like to add a tablespoon of Chutney substituting the wine with chicken stock to my meat sauce and sometimes a few fresh herbs that happen to be around the kitchen so send it and make your own. (Good for 4-6 people) Note: the meat sauce takes a while to cook but is well worth the time but if you have your own favourite meat sauce, use that.

What you need

Dried lasagna sheets cooked for 4 or 5 minutes and dried
1 liter bechamel sauce

Meat sauce

2 tablespoons grated onion
2 tablespoons grated carrot
2 tablespoons grated celery
1 heaped tablespoon butter
500g lean beef mince
1 cup white wine or chicken stock
125ml milk (1/2 cup)
pinch nutmeg
750g peeled chopped plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper

150g grated parmesan cheese

The process

Add the butter to a pan on a medium heat and then add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until translucent and beginning to soften. Add the mince and cook until the mince has lost it’s pink color. You don’t want it to brown and in fact begins to look grey, this is good.

Now add the wine or chicken stock, stir and allow to simmer until all of the liquid has evaporated. Stir it occasionally to make sure there is little or no liquid left. Now add the milk and nutmeg and allow to simmer again until the liquid has evaporated.

Now add the tomatoes with all of their sauce, stir, reduce the heat to medium low and leave to simmer for about 3 hours stirring occasionally. If you notice the sauce sticking add a little more chicken stock. You really want to do this, it softens the meat and produces an incredible flavour.

Heat your oven to 180 Celsius and begin the assembly. Use a 33cmx23cm baking dish and place a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom, a layer of pasta sheets and then a layer of bechamel sauce. (I sometimes sprinkle a little cheddar cheese at this point). Repeat the process until you have completely finished the meat and end off with a layer of pasta sheets topped with bechamel sauce.

Sprinkle over the parmesan cheese and into the oven for 40 minutes until browned and bubbling.

That is the best Classic lasagna and meat sauce I have ever tried. You may want to try the Spinach and Ricotta lasagna recipe as well.

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

Spinach and ricotta are such a great combination and when used in a lasagna together with a rich bechamel sauce you are in for a treat. It’s vegetarian in every way but as a confirmed meat eater this is a really fantastic lasagna recipe that leaves you satisfied in a way that only comfort food can. This makes a nice size lasagna good for 6 people.

What you need

Lasagna sheets

1 kg spinach leaves
2 tablespoons butter
250g ricotta cheese
pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 liter bechamel sauce or light cheese sauce(From Woolworths if you don’t want to make it)
150g fresh parmesan grated
1 tablespoon butter

The process

Put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil and trim down your spinach removing the stalks and hard white bits. Using baby spinach leaves is the best option but any spinach will do. Drop the spinach into the water and boil for about 2 to 3 minutes to soften.

Strain the spinach and allow to cool, then squeeze it like a rag to remove as much of the water as you can. It’s also a good idea to place it in a clean dish cloth and squeeze. Now chop it into small pieces and set aside.

Cook your pasta in salted water for 4 minutes or so (about 1/2 the cooking time on the pack), drain and allow to cool and drain. To prevent them sticking together separate while still hot and set aside to cool.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a pan on a medium heat and saute the spinach and add to a bowl. Now add the ricotta, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, mix together to distribute evenly.

Now it’s assembly time so first put on your oven to 180 Celsius and then get a baking dish that is 33cmx23cm or there abouts and spread a thin layer of the ricotta mix onto the bottom(about 4 tablespoons worth), then a layer of pasta sheets and then a thin layer of bechamel sauce. Repeat until you have filled the dish finishing off with a layer of pasta that is covered with the rest of the bechamel sauce.

Now top it off with the grated parmesan, a few dots of butter and into the oven for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and smelling fabulous.

Thats it, it is fantastic.

Chicken pasta with peas and creamy mustard

Chicken pasta with peas and creamy mustard

chicken and pea pasta

Chicken and pea pasta

If you only have about 15 minutes to spare for dinner and feel like a chicken pasta that is very satisfying and offers a creamy, delicious sauce, then you are going to want to try this chicken pasta recipe. The sauce is a very unusual blend of cream with a hint of mustard that goes so well with the chicken that I can’t imagine why it is not seen in restaurants. ( for 4 people)

What you need

250g dry pasta, spaghetti or tagliatelle but any pasta will work
Olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped or grated
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup fresh cream
2 cups peas (frozen and thawed)
2 cups or about 350g cooked chicken cubed or shredded
The process

Place your pasta in a large pot of salted water letting it boil until cooked while you prepare the sauce.

You can either poach the chicken by cutting it up and placing the pieces into some boiling chicken stock for about 2 minutes or simply stir fry the pieces until white. Set the cooked chicken aside.

In another pan on a medium heat cook the onions until transparent and soft, try not to let them brown. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute. Now add the wine and the mustard, put the heat on high and bring to the boil.

As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to medium low and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid. Stir in the cream and allow it to continue simmering for another 5 minutes or until the sauce begins to thick slightly.

Add the chicken and peas (make sure you have thawed the peas properly and that they are free of any water) and simmer for another 2 minutes until the mixture is hot.

Your pasta and your sauce should be ready at about the same time, so now drain your pasta and add it to the chicken and pea sauce, toss it to coat the pasta and you are done.

Quick Cheese Muffins

Quick Cheese Muffins

Cheese muffins

Man these are so easy and so delicious you will not be able to wait for them to cool. The great thing about these is that they take just 10 minutes in the oven so if you are having people over just pop them in the oven a few minutes before they arrive and you will treat them to warm fresh cheese muffins. (makes 12)

I also like these with plenty of butter and a something sweet so you will usually find them smothered in marmalade or a jam of some description if they are on my plate. Give these a try, the family will love you no matter what…

What you need

120g sifted flour (1 cup sifted flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
150g grated cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder (don’t leave this out)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
185ml milk

The process

Heat your oven to 200 Celsius and butter a muffin tin.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and mustard powder together into a bowl and then add the cheese and give it a quick turn with a spoon.

Whisk the egg lightly with a fork to break it up and add to the milk, then add it to the flour mixture and give it a good mix to distribute the cheese evenly and make a consistent batter.

Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 10 minutes.

It really doesn’t get much simpler than that folks and they are very delicious. They will also keep in the fridge for a few days ready for work or school. Try the banana bread as well if you are in baking mode.

Banana bread with pecans

Banana bread with pecans

Moist Banana bread

This is a really easy banana bread recipe that is moist and will satisfy you day or night. The pecan nuts add such a wonderful texture to the banana bread that you really don’t want to leave them out. This recipe is from an old recipe book that never fails to turn out perfectly so give it a try, you will be very glad you did. If you prefer a more traditional easy banana bread recipe try this easy banana bread.

You really need a scale for this one, so if you havn’t got one go out and get one.

What you need

115g butter at room temperature
200g sugar
2 eggs
240g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium ripe bananas mashed (the riper the better, don’t be put off if there are a few brown spots)
100g pecan nuts chopped

The process

Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius and grease a bread tin with butter. (don’t be shy with the butter)

Add the sugar and butter to a bowl and use a wooden spoon to cream them together until they are a shade paler and nice and creamy.

Add the eggs and mix together, then sift over the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Give it a few turn with your spoon and then add the mashed bananas and nuts. Mix the whole lot together well so that the nuts and banana are evenly distributed.

Pour into your bread tin 21cmx8cmx9cm and sprinkle a few left over bits of pecan nut over the top.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes or until the top is browned and a skewer comes out clean. Check it at 35 minutes for safety sake.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

It seldom lasts until it is cool and I can tell you that a warm slice of this with a generous buttering is too good to resist.

You can also make these in a muffin tin but the baking time is reduced to around 20 minutes or so, so check on them frequently if you decide to make muffins.

Ham and Cheese Waffles

Ham and Cheese Waffles

savory waffle

Waffles are something I seldom make and for some reason I always get back to them after a long weekend in Dullstrom where we always, without fail have a meal at Harry’s Pancakes. My favourite are the savoury pancakes so here is a waffle recipe that you will love. (makes 4 or 5 waffles)

To make this a sweet waffle, just substitute the cheese and ham in the mixture with one heaped tablespoon of sugar and thats it, you have a light waffle recipe that you can now add other goodies to like chocolate chips, add 50g, or berries, add 50g, you get the idea.

What you need

210g cake flour (1 3/4 cups sifted flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
25g grated cheddar cheese
25g chopped ham
3 large eggs seperated
70g melted butter
125ml milk

The process

Heat your waffle iron.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks stage and set aside.

Beat the Yolks in another bowl, then add the melted butter and the milk. Beat them lightly to combine.

Sift the cake flour and baking powder into a bowl and then toss in the salt, cheese and ham and make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks mixture and using a fork mix the ingredients together working from the center out. Don’t spend a lot of time mixing, just get it combined so there is no dry flour about.

Now add the egg whites and fold them in until they are evenly distributed. The batter may be a a bit streaky but this is how it should be.

Thats that, you are ready to make your waffles. I am a big fan of marmalade for a savory and sweet combination but you may want to make a cheese sauce that you add a handful of chopped ham to as well, it’s simply fantastic.

Other savory variations could be cheese and spring onions, bacon and almost anything… just get together your favorite flavours and set to it. You can also quite happily add a poached egg on top and then smother in cheese sauce and bacon. Hell I am getting seriously hungry typing this!

Easy pumpkin soup

Easy pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkins have been dramatically reduced at Fruit and veg city so I thought I’d try a really good pumpkin soup recipe. It’s really simple, thick and so good for you. You can also use butternut in this recipe but there is a fabulous butternut soup recipe from Nigella. The cooler weather will be closing in on shortly so get your winter soup recipes ready.

What you need
1 medium onion chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups cubed pumpkin
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt and pepper
3 cups chicken/vegetable stock
1/2 cup fresh cream (optional)

The process

Sauté the onions in the butter on a medium heat, add the stock and pumpkin cubes and simmer until the pumpkin is soft.

Add the pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper and let simmer for another minute or so.

Wizz the whole lot with a hand blender or place into a food processor and wizz until smooth. ( sometimes its great to leave a few larger pieces)

Serve it with a swirl of fresh cream or just as it is with some warm crusty bread.

Variation

For a different and more intense flavor you can roast the pumpkin with some olive oil and blend together with 1 tablespoon of sugar added to the chicken stock.

Pumpkin Fritters

Pumpkin Fritters

Pumpkin Fritters

Pumpkin Fritters

I had pumpkin fritters that were bought from Woolies and although I enjoyed them, there is nothing like home made pumpkin fritters doused in cinnamon sugar to deal with a comfort food craving. I turned to a trusty book by Lannice Snyman called tortoises and Tumbleweeds and found a really fantastic recipe that did the trick. Try them, they are real simple and the taste, well let’s just say I ate for three. (enough for 4 people if you are not me)

What you need

600g pumpkin chopped
250ml water
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
100g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of cinnamon
Oil for frying

60ml sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

The process

Place your pumpkin cubes and water with the pinch of salt into a pot onto the stove, bring to a boil and then turn down to medium and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or so until the pumpkin is nice and soft. Drain off the water, allow it to cool for a few minutes and then mash it well.

Put a pot with about 6cm of oil in the bottom onto a medium to high heat before you continue.

Once the oil is on and the pumpkin well mashed transfer it to a mixing bowl and add the egg, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Give it a good mix to distribute all of the ingredients.

Now take a small amount of batter and test to see that the oil is hot but not too hot. The batter should bubble gentle and not bubble over.

Take tablespoon sizes and drop them into the oil, doing about 6 at a time until they are golden brown and crisp all over.

Place the cooked pumpkin fritters onto some kitchen paper to remove some of the oil and then cover in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

There are few things that will satisfy a craving like these little beauties. I also made the Denningvleis for some friends a while back from the same book which was a real hit.

Milk Tart

Milk Tart

Milk Tart

Milk tart or Melk Tert is as South African as biltong and dry wors and this is one of those recipes you are going to want to bookmark, print or share so that you never lose it. Milk tart has been one of my favorite desserts for a very long time and I have tried quite a number of Millk Tart recipes and if you have been following these recipes for a while, you will know that the easier the better for me. It’s a goodie this one, try it.

What you need

Crust
110g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons caster sugar
60g butter

Filling
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons maizena (cornflour)
2 tablespoons flour
500ml milk
100g sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Cinnamon

The process

Heat your oven to 180 Celsius

On a low heat melt the butter for the pastry.

In a mixing bowl, add the flour baking powder and caster sugar for the crust and give it a mix to distribute the ingredients evenly. Add the melted butter and use your fingers to mix it into the dry ingredients until you get it all sticking together in a crumbly shortbread kind of consistency with no flour left in the bowl.

Now take your pie dish (about 20cm circle) and press the pastry into the base and up the sides with an even thickness. Prick it with a fork about 4 or 5 times over the base and then pop it into the oven for about 12 minutes or so until the pastry is light brown. Remove and set aside.

While the pastry is browning get another mixing bowl and add the flour, maizena and eggs, whisk them together.

Now take a small pot on a medium heat and add the milk, sugar and salt. Heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and you are stirring continuously. The milk should be threatening to boil at this stage with small bubbles appearing around the edge (don’t let it boil).

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes and then pour the milk in a slow stream into the egg mixture while you whisk. It is really important to add the heat gradually while you whisk. This prevents lumps from forming and does not cook the egg too quickly(If there is someone nearby to help you, that is best)

The mixture will be thickening while you whisk and once you have finished adding all of the milk mixture, return everything to the pot over a medium to low heat and add the vanilla essence. Cook it for a few minutes stirring constantly(slowly) until the custard has thickened to a wonderful creamy texture.

Fill up your base with the custard filling, give it a good dusting with cinnamon and set it aside in a cool place to set. Then pop it in the fridge for about an hour before digging in.

I know it seems like a long recipe but it’s really not…. I just want you to really enjoy this one!

Mushroom tarts

Mushroom tarts

mushroom tarts

Mushroom tarts

These mushroom tarts are amazing, they are like little crustless quiches that you make in a muffin pan and are perfect for picnics, lunch boxes or something special for the road instead of sandwiches. You really must try these, they are fantastic and so easy. (makes 12)

What you need

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
500g button mushrooms chopped
hand full of parsley chopped
salt and pepper

4 extra large eggs
200ml milk
125ml cream
125ml cheddar cheese grated

The process

Heat your oven to 180 Celsius

In a pan on a medium heat, melt the butter and add the oil. Toss in the onions and cook them until they are transparent but not browned.

Now add the mushrooms and parsley and cook until the mushrooms are beginning to brown on the edges. Give it a grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt and mix again.

Remove from the heat and lightly butter your muffin trays. Evenly distribute the mushroom mixture into each muffin and set aside.

Now whisk the eggs, milk and cream with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture equally over the mushroom mix that is in each muffin tin and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of each one.

Pop the tray into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. The cheese will be melted and beginning to brown on the tops.

Remove from the oven and let them cool a little while before devouring. They keep for a day or two in the fridge but I doubt that will be an issue.

This is another recipe that you can have a ball with, use less mushrooms and add some bacon, spring onions or anything else that really grabs you. Serve a whole lot of different types at a party, you will be lauded I tell you. You can also fancy them up a bit by topping them with a little bit of green and adding a touch of balsamic reduction.

Try this mushroom soup recipe, its fantastic