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Thursday, 23 August 2012

What' no pasta!

23rd August 2012
 
Strength shows not the ability to persist, but the ability to start over.
Getting up in the dark, not as much fun as waking up to a beautiful blue sky, it is however a sign that summers coming to a close and we have the last bank holiday of the year ahead of us. 
Yesterday I cooked corned beef casserole, I layered thin slices of courgettes, carrots, onions, red pepper. A tin of corned beef (20pp), potatoes (9pp), and vegetable oxo cubes stock (1pp), cooked in oven covered in foil then removed foil to brown potatoes.  When cooked I topped with a little cheese (6pp), and the dish served 4 at 9pp each, really nice.
 
I was a bit of a rebel later though and went to the chip shop on the way home, the one at Ashmore Park, I only had a cone of chips even though for 30p I could have had a regular bag, tempting as that was I resisted.  When I got back I weighed them – 460g, which is a pound of chips and also is 32pp, now my helper had asked me how many chips in a handful, so I weighed them and worked that out and that was 8pp (of course that’s using my hands, so it would depending on the size of your hands!)  If you were to make them at home yourself they would be 24pp according to esource.  I did share them with my mom and there was plenty, but seriously one portion on esource is 165g, so there was almost three portions in that bag.  Plus how many of you would have had fish, kebab, roe, pie or similar with it!  A pukka steak and kidney pie is 13pp!
 
One of my members bought the hairy bikers recipe book in for me to look at, I’ve only seen a bit of it on tv but the one I say was when he cooked lasagne with leeks instead of pasta, interesting to find out if it is as nice as the photo.  So here’s the recipe folks, knock yourself out and let me know.
 
I’ve inputted the ingredients onto esource and it works out at 13pp a portion and serves 4.  I can honestly say I have cooked many a lasagne with pasta for less than those ProPoints, so don't be fooled, a couple can be found on my http://www.happyowls.co.uk/recipes.html website, and there are plenty in the cook books.  But if you fancy a pasta less one this is your recipe;
 

Skinny beef lasagne

Who would have thought you could eat lasagne when on a diet? Well thanks to our amazingly clever recipe you can.   The pasta is replaced with sheets of blanched leeks so you can have all the deliciousness without the calorie count. 354 calories per portion.
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large leeks, each about 300g/10½oz
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery sticks, trimmed
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 500g/1lb 2oz lean minced beef (22pp)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 150g/5½oz chestnut mushrooms, wiped and chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour (4pp)
  • 150ml/¼ pint red wine (4pp)
  • 400ml/14fl oz beef stock, made with 1 beef stock cube
  • 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée (1pp)
  • 1 heaped tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500ml/18fl oz semi-skimmed milk (6pp)
  • 3 tbsp cornflour (6pp)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 50g/2oz extra-mature cheddar, grated (6pp)
  • 25g/1oz parmesan, finely grated (3pp)
  • 3 medium vine tomatoes, sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper
 
Preparation method
  1. Trim the leeks until they are about the same width as your lasagne dish. Cut the leeks lengthways through to the middle but no further.
  2. Open out the leeks and remove five or six of the narrow leaves from the centre of each leek. Thinly slice these inner leaves. Separate the larger leaves – these will become your ‘lasagne’.
  3. Finely chop half the onion and cut the other half into wedges. Thinly slice the celery and dice the carrots.
  4. Put the minced beef in a large non-stick frying pan with the sliced leeks, chopped onion, celery, carrots and garlic.
  5. Place the pan over a medium-high heat and fry without added fat for about 10 minutes until lightly coloured. You’ll need to break up the mince with a couple of wooden spatulas or spoons as it cooks.
  6. Stir in the chopped mushrooms and cook for 2–3 minutes more. The pan should look fairly dry at this point.
  7. Sprinkle over the plain flour and stir it thoroughly into the mince and vegetables. Slowly stir in the red wine and beef stock. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato purée and dried oregano, then drop a bay leaf into the pan and bring it to a simmer. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Turn down the heat slightly and leave the mince to simmer for 20–30 minutes until rich and thick, stirring occasionally.
  9. While the mince is cooking, put the onion wedges in a saucepan with the remaining bay leaf. In a small bowl mix three tablespoons of the milk with the cornflour.
  10. Pour the rest of the milk into the pan with the onion wedges and set it over a low heat. Bring to a very gentle simmer and cook for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the milk to infuse for 10 minutes.
  11. Half fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the leek ‘lasagne’ and bring the water back to the boil.
  12. Cook the leeks for five minutes or until very tender. It is important that the leeks are tender or the lasagne will be tricky to cut later.
  13. Drain in a colander under running water until cold. Drain on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
  14. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  15. Remove the onion wedges and bay leaf from the infused milk with a slotted spoon, then return the pan to the heat. Give the cornflour and milk mixture a good stir until it is smooth once more and pour it into the pan with the infused milk.
  16. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, stirring regularly until the sauce is smooth and thick.
  17. Season the sauce with a good grating of nutmeg to taste and plenty of ground black pepper.
  18. If the sauce is a little too thick to pour easily, whisk in a couple more tablespoons of milk.
  19. Spoon a third of the mince mixture into a 2.5 litre lasagne dish. Top with a layer of blanched leeks. Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with leeks. Pour the white sauce over the leeks and top with the sliced tomatoes. Mix the Cheddar and parmesan cheese and sprinkle all over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden-brown and bubbling.
  20. Divide into portions with your sharpest knife. Serve with a freshly dressed green salad.
 
Well it’s lightening up outside, I better get ready to walk Alfie, got a very, very busy day, still got a two cases to pack!

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