Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's all about layers

Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes. No.
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry.
Shrek: No.
Donkey: Oh, you leave em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin' little white hairs. Shrek: NO. Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers. [sighs]
Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions.
(Shrek, 2001)

I don't like onions either, but I do like other things with layers. Like lasagna. I believe it to be a universal truth among my friends that I make the most amazing lasagna going round, however this week a friend made me lasagna and I may just have been knocked off my throne.
With all the buzz about Masterchef, it seems everyone is king of their own kitchen, and more than willing to throw in a few extra ingredients to make a recipe their own.
Traditional lasagna - beef sauce, cheese sauce, pasta sheet - has been overtaken by spinach and ricotta, or chicken and vegetable. My friend added ham and egg. Is there such a thing as a traditional lasagna anymore?

I am interested to hear about how you make your lasagna. Do you make white sauce from scratch, or just throw some shredded cheese between the meat and pasta. Do you add herbs and spices to your meat sauce, do you use fresh pasta or dried? What makes a good lasagna? My original recipe for lasagna came from the back of a box of lasagna pasta sheets! What about yours?

'Stereotypical' Traditional Lasagna
Serves 5

· 250g Instant Lasagna Sheets

Meat Sauce
· 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
· 60g ham, finely chopped
· 1 medium onion, finely chopped
· 1 carrot, finely chopped
· 1 stick celery, finely chopped
· 1 clove garlic, crushed
· 500g beef mince
· 5 tablespoons tomato paste
· 125ml dry white wine
· 375ml water
· 1 chicken stock cube
· salt, pepper and pinch of nutmeg

·Cheese Sauce
· 2 tablespoons butter
· 2 tablespoons plain flour
· 500ml milk
· salt, pepper
· 125g mozzarella cheese (cubed or grated)

Meat Sauce
Heat oil in a medium saucepan, add ham and cook gently for 3 minutes. Add onion,
carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add mince and cook stirring,
until brown.
Stir in tomato paste, wine and water into which stock cube has been dissolved. Season
with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring

Cheese Sauce
Melt butter in medium saucepan, stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes over gentle heat.
Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk. Return to heat and stir until thick and
Season with salt and pepper, add mozzarella and stir over low heat until cheese melts.

Preheat oven to 180ÂșC.
Pour 125ml meat sauce into base of lightly greased baking dish. Alternate layers of
lasagna, meat and cheese sauces, ending with cheese sauce layer. Sprinkle top with
grated parmesan cheese if desired.
Bake in oven for 35 - 40 minutes. (Test by pricking with fork) Let stand 5 - 10 minutes
before serving.
(recipe courtesy of

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1 comment:

  1. Lasagna is such a universally loved dish! Mine is similar to yours, except instead of cheese sauce I do 1 tub sour cream, 1 tub cream cheese and a couple of egg yolks - yum!