The beauty of days off work is that you can indulge your cooking fetishes to your heart's content. I've been keen to make some fresh pasta and a rice pudding for a while so today seemed like a good opportunity to have some fun.
I bought a shin of beef from the local Halal butcher in Balham and agressively browned it in medium sized chunks. Next I cooked a batch of pancetta and then tossed in 5 cloves of garlic to bring their flavour out. All this was lobbed into Stewie, my slow cooker along with a jar of passata and some choppoed tomatoes. In too went a splash of red wine, some pepper, some sweated shallots, a smidgen of mushroom ketchup and a small prayer. I let this tick over for around 12 hours until the shin had transformed from being a tough brute into a silky princess. The soft beef pulled apart and broke down into a rich, deep ragu. Perfect for my lasagna.
Whilst the ragu was slowly spluttering away I had ample time to make my pasta from scratch. I bought some special pasta eggs and tipo 00 flour from the Northcotte Road in order to do it properly. The eggs were bright orange and the pasta was super fine.
Making pasta is easy. Simply use 100gr of flour for every egg. I used two eggs and 200gr of flour which by sheer chance turned out to be exactly the right amount. Kneed the eggs and flour together to make a dough. After a while it will begin to cohere and look like the picture below.
Pop it in the fridge and leave it there until it's time to roll it out. Use a pasta maker to roll the dough out into thin sheets that fit the dish you're going to cook the lasagne in.
To make the white sauce simply make a white sauce and add some cheese. You can add some mustard and nutmeg if you want but it doesn't matter too much. The bechamel is very straight forward. Just don't burn it or let it get lumpy. Whilst it was finishing off I tossed some spinach in a hot wok and blasted some mushrooms to use in a secret layer!
When filling the dish put the ragu at the bottom then top with a layer of pasta. On top of this I put the wilted spinach and mushrooms which in turn were topped with a layer of pasta. Add more ragu on top of this making sure to push it into all the corners then add another layer of pasta. Then slosh the bechamel sauce on top and grate some parmesan on to finish.
Place in the oven.
We guzzled our lasagne with a light salad with flame grilled red peppers and some roasted tomatoes. It was delicious and worth every ounce of effort and time!
As if a vast helping of gooey lasagna wasn't enough we tucked into our coconut rice pudding with glee. To make it simply visit the BBC Food site, look at the recipe and bastarise the hell out of it. I used 200gr of pudding wine, 2 tins of coconut milk, a tin of evaporated milk, about a litre of full cream milk, some single cream, a few tea spoons of sugar and some coconut shavings. Pop this in the oven for a few hours at 150 degrees celcius and try not to burn your hands!
Add some milk if it gets too dry - I found I had to top it up quite a few times. And enjoy.
I can't think of many better ways to enjoy a day at home than to cook for friends.