Béchamel sauce

Béchamel sauce © dan and tuesy

Béchamel sauce © dan and tuesy

There are so many version of this sauce out there. Try the most convenient one for you, practice making it until it’s perfect and you can do it with your eyes closed!

The recipe below is from a new cookbook I just bought on discount called Hamlyn Cookery School. It is my new favourite book with easy to do recipes with step-by-step photos. It’s what we would like our recipes here to look like!

This recipe makes enough for 4 servings.

You need:

  • 300ml, full-cream milk
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 3-4 flat-leaf parsley stalks
  • 15g butter
  • 15g flour
  • nutmeg, freshly grated
  • salt and pepper

What to do:

  1. In a saucepan, put the milk, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and parsley stalk. Bring almost to a boil then remove the pan from the heat and leave it to infuse for 20mins. Strain milk into a jug.
  2. Melt butter in saucepan until bubbling. Put flour and cook gently, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 1-2 mins.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the milk gradually, still stirring until the sauce is completely smooth.
  4. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce comes to the boil then reduce heat to low. Cook for another 5 mins, still stirring until the sauce is smooth and glossy and thinly coats the back of the spoon.
  5. Season to taste, adding lots of nutmeg.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne

This is in the oven right now as I start writing this. It’s my first attempt at lasagne. Ever. And the greengrocer seems to have sold me some slightly dodgy spinach, so I can’t really vouch for its quality just yet. Maybe Tuesy can report back after I serve it up.

Here’s what you need to do:

1 Butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper

Peel and halve the squash. De-seed that thing. Chop it into big chunks (1 inch square has to be good enough, I reckon), toss it all in a roasting tin with the olive oil, chopped onion and a tablespoon of water. Season with salt n’ pepper. Roast at about 200 degrees (or considerably less if your oven is a fan-assisted raging furnace like Tuesy’s) for 25 mins. While that’s going on, you can get started on the sauce:

25g butter
25g plain flour
1 pint milk

Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the milk, stirring all the time (you don’t want it to go too lumpy) and then simmer it for about five minutes. It’ll go a bit thick, but not too stodgy.

In the meantime, cook 250g of baby leaf spinach in a few dribbles of water (use a separate pan!). Add salt and pepper.

To finish the sauce, you’ll need:

250g carton of ricotta
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (Tuesy: I did the grating!!)
6 sheets of that
lasagne that doesn’t need pre-cooking (Tuesy: this means, use regular lasagne sheets but you don’t have to pre-cook even if the packet says so. As this is very saucy, the pasta will cook anyway!)
50g of parmesan cheese, grated (we like it cheesy, so we’d go up to 80g for this one. I know, we’re just wild…)

Mix the ricotta into the sauce, add the nutmeg and a bit of salt n’ pepper if you haven’t got enough seasoning already. Here, for atmosphere, is a picture of some nutmeg during the grating process:

Now you get to build your lasagne. In an ovenproof dish, put the squash and onion stuff, nicely roasted by now, in the bottom, add the spinach on top and in between and all over, then about a third of the sauce. Layer the lasagne sheets on top, pour on the rest of the sauce. Finally, sprinkle the cheese on top and still more salt n’ pepper if that’s your thing.

Bake for about half an hour, or until the top part achieves your ideal level of crispy, golden goodness. Mine is nearly ready. Hope it’s good. Tuesy’s getting ready to test out her new food processor with some cup cakes, so there may be a delicious dessert blog to come shortly.

Tuesy: The lasagne Dan made is the best lasagne I have ever had in my flat tee hee… it was the FIRST lasagne I’ve ever had in my flat 🙂 But but but! It was also the best lasagne in the whole world! I absolutely love it!

The picture below is a macro shot of the lasagne. We love a crispy top!

PS. Dan used the Good Housekeeping guide to cookery for this recipe. He got it from his brother for xmas and it has changed his life! And I am grateful, of course 🙂

PPS. Recipe for the delicious dark chocolate cup cake to be published soon!