I guess I am not in your typical demographic to be going to a hip-hop gig! On Saturday Morning at the park, when I mentioned to a dad I was at De La Soul the previous evening, I could read the subtext running behind his eyes…! Funny thing about the friends you meet when you become a mum…they have no clue of your past!
I played De La Souls, 3 FT high and rising album on repeat in my teens; It’s hard not to love the beat, riffs, mixes, rapping and scratching. It’s really ‘out there’ and full of silly humour and until this day still ‘get’ the hip-hop vibe. As my friend at the gig pointed out, quite a lot of the time hip-hop can be based upon struggle and oppression; Maybe my connection with this genre of music is more than just an appreciation but is set in my DNA.
My Italian grandparents
Vittoria and Luigi, my grandparents came over from Italy to the UK back in the 50’s. Times were tough back then after the war, and work was scarce. My grandmother’s father worked, her mum stayed at home and the few stories of my great grandfather’s background were, let us say, from more of the ‘underworld’ side of Italian culture and maybe that’s the reason I enjoyed reading Mario Puzo books!!
They sought a better future for themselves and their future family with a strong desire to work hard and succeed. But to leave your motherland over 60 years ago and settle in a country where you didn’t speak the language or know the culture couldn’t have been easy. So maybe this struggle to succeed is locked into my cells and why hip-hop resonates with me. So writing this week’s blog fitted well with my weekends escapades…Da La-sagne!!
It’s not the most fuss free of recipes though right? After all these years I have finally found a way to make it feel fuss free. It’s a bit of a 2 pronged attack, but you do get a meal at the end of attack 1! First of all its about making a great tomato sauce with 5-6 different veg, (as always use what you have and swap stuff in and out) passata and a combo of pork and beef mince to effectively make a spag bol. Phase 2 is just building the lasagne….easy!
But instead of making the traditional bechamel/white sauce, which I know would put some people off, I use crème fraîche, which really makes it easier. Having the lasagne all built and ready to go in the oven on these, still, chilly evenings for me is a joy. We still have half left for tonight…..a glass of red wine with it this time I think.
Let me know what you think about my fuss free lasagne and hip-hop music in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group or take a look behind the scenes and read food reviews on the Fuss Free Foodie page. See my fuss free life in pictures on Instagram or what I’m tweeting on Twitter. Don’t forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share! Lisa x
Fuss Free Lasagne
Serves up to 6
Approx. 24Cm sq Pyrex dish
For the spag bol:
500g pork mince
500g beef mince
1 onion, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
1-2 celery stick, diced
125g mushrooms, diced
1 courgette, diced
Half butternut squash, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1L passata (x2 500g boxes from Aldi)
1 glass of red wine
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbsps olive oil
3 branches of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried herbs
For the lasagne:
250g dried lasagne sheets (at least half a box needed)
600ml crème fraîche, decanted into a bowl and stirred, so it has a thinner consistency if too thick add a dribble of milk
150g Parmesan, grated finely
- In a large casserole dish, add a tbsp of oil and fry the pork on a medium heat until all the meat has changed colour and any juice has started to evaporate.
- Take out of the pan and put to one side, then do the same with the beef mince. Keep all the meat to one side whilst you make the tomato sauce.
- Put 2 more tbsps of oil in the pan and add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and fry on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until it has softened and reduced in size. Add the garlic and fry for 2 more minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and fry on a higher heat to extract the water. Once this has all evaporated, add the courgette and squash and continue to soften for another 10 minutes.
- When everything is softened and reduced down add the wine. Reduce the liquid by half and then add the passata. Season with salt and pepper, add some herbs and simmer for 15-10 mins. Blend smooth.
- Add the meat to the sauce and simmer for at least another 15 mins or longer on a lower heat. You are aiming for a fairly sloppy sauce. Once it cools the meat will soak up more of the juice and be firmer. You can use some of this for a spaghetti bolognese and then when cooled store the rest in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to make your lasagne.
- (See tutorial!) When you are ready to build your lasagne, have all your ingredients to hand. Your first layer is the meat sauce. Spread about 3-4 serving spoon fulls on the bottom, and cover the base completely. Drizzle 2 spoonfuls of crème fraîche on top too. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets all over the top of the sauce.
- Spoon another layer of around 3-4 spoonfuls of meat sauce on top of the lasagne sheets. It should be about 1cm thick roughly. Drizzle on 2-3 spoonfuls of crème fraîche and a good handful of Parmesan. Repeat this process until you get a layer of lasagne at the top. Put the last of the crème fraîche on this final layer and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
- As you are building the lasagne be conscious that you are probably going to have 4-6 layers and try and manage the amounts according to the size of your dish. But sometime one layer may be thinner or thicker than another, and this doesn’t show in the final dish!
- Set aside until ready to cook in the oven for 45 minutes at 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4. If the top is browning too quickly just throw a piece of tin foil over the top and take it off a few minutes from the end to crisp the top up.
- I like to serve with a salad…but if it was up to my husband he’d serve it with chips or garlic bread!