Monday, January 4, 2016

Italian Sausage and Beef Lasagne

Nothing beats a full plate of Lasagne no matter what language you speak...... 

And I like nothing better than exploring different flavours for Lasagne.  Traditional thick beef sauce with lots of Bechamel sauce is wonderful but sometimes one just needs to look outside the square when it comes to this wonderfully comforting dish.  

I decided, especially after the somewhat recent success of my Italian Sausage and Beef Bolognaise that trying this as the base sauce in a Lasagne would be only the right thing to do!! And trust me it was. 

The flavours were magnificent ... from the underlying flavours of the Italian sausage full of fennel, garlic and chilli, the thick tomato sauce and right through to the thick creamy Bechamel sauce this was definitely a winner.

Italian Sausage and Beef Lasagne

Serves: 8

500 grams Italian sausage, skins removed and cut into small chunks
500 grams lean ground beef
1 brown onions, finely diced
1 cloves garlic, crushed
1 x 425 grams tinned diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato paste
700 gram bottle passata (tomato puree)
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, grated
1 large zucchini, grated
30 grams butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
500 ml skim milk
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
ground white pepper
8 fresh Lasagne sheets
150 grams grated tasty cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large frying pan cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. 

Transfer to a large saucepan and stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, passata, and water. 

Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, oregano, parsley, salt, and season with freshly ground black pepper. 

Add carrot and zucchini.  Stir well until well combined.  Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.

Meanwhile make the Bechamel by adding the butter to a large saucepan.  Cook over medium heat and until completely melted.  Remove from heat.  Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until flour is mixed through and you have a nice soft roux.  Return to the heat and gradually add in the milk, using a whisk mix continually, ensuring it's completely mixed through and that you have no lumps.  Continue with remaining milk.  Leave to simmer over low heat, stirring, until thickened slightly.  Add the mustard and season with salt and pepper.  Stir well. Remove from heat.

Spoon 1/4 beef mixture over base of a lasagne dish. Top with 2 lasagne sheets. Cover with another 1/4 of the beef mixture and then cover with 1/3 of the Bechamel sauce.  Top with another 2 lasagne sheets.  Spread again with 1/4 of the beef mixture and cover with 2 lasagne sheets.  Finally put the remaining beef mixture in the dish and cover with the remaining lasagne sheets. Top with remaining Bechamel sauce over the lasagne sheets and sprinkle with the combined grated cheese.

Cover with foil (spray foil with cooking spray to stop cheese sticking to the foil) and bake in oven for 40 - 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

Serve immediately.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

Chicken wings are one of the most versatile ingredients and I have to be very truthful I don't use them enough.  They are the ultimate finger food... one little package of their very own ready to cook and dish without much fuss really...... so simple and so underrated.

This is one of our favourite dishes... Hot Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing.  Now there are many versions of this recipe.. so ours is not gospel or from the original recipe it's just one that we have stumbled across from many attempts - you know good old trial and error!!

Firstly lets get the definition right: From the United States origin a Buffalo wing or Buffalo chicken wing is a chicken wing section that is generally deep-fried, unbreaded, and coated in vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter.

Until you start googling..... then some recipes claim that deep frying the wings is the only way to go. Some spruke that one Hot Sauce is better than the other. Unbreaded or breaded both are delish.... Remove the tip or keep the tip and it simply just goes on and on...

We do not crumb our version however we do give the chicken pieces a light coating of seasoned flour.  We do not deep fry either we bake them in the oven.  We also cook them with the Hot Sauce on and not just pour it over when it's cooked.... 

Bottom line as I said that's how we like them... others may argue.....

Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves: 4

90 grams blue cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 kilogram chicken wings or drumettes and wingettes
1/3 cup plain flour
ground white pepper
cooking spray
1/4 cup Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or hot sauce of your choice
20 grams butter, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Process the blue cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside.

Place the chicken, flour, salt and pepper in a snap lock bag and seal.  Shake until chicken is completely covered.

Cover a baking tray with baking paper and spray with cooking spray.  Line the chicken in a single layer, shaking off excess flour as you remove from the snap lock bag.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes, turning once, until browned and cooked through.

Place hot sauce and butter in a bowl.  Microwave for one minute or until butter has melted.  Stir well.

Remove chicken from oven and drizzle with hot sauce.  Toss the chicken in tray to coat.  Ensure they are still in one single layer when done.

Return to the oven and cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes or until crispy.

Serve with Blue Cheese Dressing and any left over hot sauce.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Creamy Loaded Herb Potato Bake

So here we are a New Year - another year to see what adventures 2016 will bring for me, my family, my friends and of course, all the foodie bloggers and readers of the world!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to each and all,
Each day during Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall,
Whether you are following a recipe and making it up,
Serving it on a plate, in a bowl or in a cup,
With all your successes and even the duds,
May every mouthful excite your tastebuds!!!

As for the House of Murray - well 2016 has already started with a bang!!  Surrounded over the Festive Season with our family and friends was the perfect way to welcome in the New Year.  All the food and the drinks saw many of us with full (and some sore) bellies for days but more importantly the feeling of love and friendship was, and always is, priceless and something that I cherish.

Food wise our house has been filled with everything from Roast Turkey and Stuffing, Roast Pork and Crackle, Rich Gravy, Vegetables, Steamed Christmas Puddings (we made a lot this year), Mince Pies, a Gingerbread House (made by Alexandria), candy canes, chocolates to champagne, wine, beer and spirits.  Oh my it's been a food-fest!!!!

One thing however that I do get sick of is all the Christmas food... it's rich and filling but after a week or so I just want comfort food or as my kids said one morning "Mam can we please have some normal food?".... made me laugh but also I couldn't agree more.

So today, New Year's Day, needless to say that we did have left overs from last nights celebrations and we were having more family down for a late lunch.  It was decided to use the leftovers consisting of ham, chicken souvlaki, salads and roast potatoes.  Even though I whinge about leftovers I do not like wasting food!!

Roast potatoes... hhhmmmm what's something I could do with them rather than reheating them only for them to go hard and dry out???  I decided I would adapt a few recipes for Loaded Potato Bakes and make my own without using mayonnaise or sour cream.  What did I use instead?  Béchamel Sauce of course.. why not?  Outcome AMAZING.... everyone had seconds although to point the finger my sister in law Clare had 3 serves!!!

Now this was easy to make although a little time consuming it was definitely worth it!!  I would have to say it may now be on the favourite potato bake recipe list!!  Full of a lush creamy herb sauce, bacon, garlic, spring onion and cheese, with a hint of chilli, smothering soft potatoes what more could anyone ask for??  In our case maybe two casserole dishes full of this wonderful creation??  I could have easily just sat there and ate that instead of everything else that was presented for lunch today.

Creamy Loaded Herb Potato Bake

Serves: 8

1 kilogram leftover roasted jacket potatoes
(OR 1 kilogram jacket potatoes, roasted)
500 grams bacon, diced
6 spring onions, sliced
50 grams butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 litre skim milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Franks Hot Sauce
2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
ground white pepper
150 grams grated tasty cheese

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a casserole dish or baking pan with cooking spray and cover the base with the roast potatoes (it doesn't matter if they overlap).

Place in oven for 10 - 15 minutes to warm through.

Meanwhile cook the bacon and 2/3rds of the spring onion in a frying pan over medium heat until bacon starts to brown and onion soften.  Remove from heat.

In a large saucepan add butter.  Cook over medium heat and until completely melted.  Remove from heat.  Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until flour is mixed through and you have a nice soft roux.  Return to the heat and gradually add in the milk, using a whisk mix continually, ensuring it's completely mixed through and that you have no lumps.  Continue with remaining milk.  Leave to simmer over low heat, stirring, until thickened slightly.  Add the mustard, hot sauce, oregano, tarragon and season with salt and pepper.

Remove potatoes from oven.  Sprinkle with the bacon mixture, pour over the béchamel sauce mix and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake in oven for 30 - 40 minutes or until cheese has melted and sauce bubbling.

Sprinkle with remaining spring onions before serving.