Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

Dish: Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

Difficulty: Coordination of the different parts was a little tricky, but otherwise fairly straight forward

Utensils Used: Wooden and serving spoons, spatula to serve, garlic crusher (at last!!), food processor (to do it properly)

Cock Ups: About 4. I lost count.

Recipe Book: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10603/roasted-vegetable-lasagne

Cooking: After tiring of my one and only cookbook and failing to remember to pick some new material up from my mother's, I resorted to google, and came across this recipe. Being a long time fan of lasagne, I thought I'd give it a go.

After heating the oven to 180, I cut up 3 peppers. The recipe specifies red, but I used green and red. Because I'm a rebel. Two aubergines were sliced thinly and I threw in one courgette for good measure, also cut into big chunks.

The veg was put on lightly greased baking trays, tossed with a bit of Olive *cough* Sunflower Oil, seasoned, then put in the oven for 25mins. I thought this would be ample time to make the tomato sauce. Hah.

Also, did I get a duff aubergine? I've never had them with this many seeds in before...

To make the tomato sauce I chopped an onion and crushed (the recipe said slice, but I got excited to use the crusher) two cloves of garlic. I missed out the carrot from the recipe. Mostly because I hate peeling them. This was cooked for about 5 minutes until softened.

Meanwhile I genuinely accidentally misread the amount of white wine required for 300ml instead of 200ml, but there was a fairly easy solution to that error...

Add 2tbps of tomato puree, or squeeze in a generous dollop if you are too lazy to try and scoop it out of the tablespoon measurer and then wash it afterwards.

Cook for a minute, then add the wine.

The Boyfriend came home as I reduced the wine/tomato puree/onion mix down by 2/3rds and announced that the house smelled like a pub. I took this to be a promising sign.

Once the mix was reduced, I added two cans of chopped tomatoes. The recipe asked for half quantities of the homemade tomato sauce, but I kinda forgot that til halfway through, so just reduced the amount of tins of tomatoes by one. I wish I'd just gone for three - there wasn't quite enough of it to cover the whole of the lasagne.

I also threw in a few mushrooms, as there were some looking slightly past their best in the fridge. The recipe then states 'add a handful of basil leaves then simmer for 20 mins.' So, um, Italian Style Seasoning counts right? After that, you were supposed to leave it to cool and food-process it. But I don't have a food processor, so I left it hot and lumpy.

By this point, I'd already opened the door of the oven and turned it off to stop the roasted veg from becoming charcoal. The Boyfriend was expecting dinner to be ready any moment, but, foolishly, I hadn't checked how long it takes to cook - 45mins at 160. I'd also, stupidly, left the door of the oven open too long, so it took ages to heat back up again...

Layer the veg, tomato sauce, lasagne sheets and white sauce (the recipe includes a homemade white sauce, but I was too lazy and just bought one). It's supposed to stretch to three layers, but I found the third a bit of a pinch. Over the final layer of lasagne, pour the remaining white sauce, then break up a ball of mozzarella and sprinkle across the top. I also added some cheddar. Just because.

Cook for 45 minutes.

Washing Up Required: Well, it still all fit in my half size dishwasher...

Result: It looked and smelled delicious. Definitely worth the effort to prepare.

Taste Test: While I was generally impressed with the effort (despite it needing about another 5 minutes in the oven) the Boyfriend was less enthused.

'It looks... Like lasagne.'

After a hesitant taste, he declared: 'It's alright. It's better than that shit you made last time, anyway. It's edible.'


Overall Verdict: A bit of an effort, but tasty and with all the veg in there, you could probably even argue it's healthy.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Restaurant Review: Ambrosia

Restaurant: Ambrosia

Location: Market Drayton, UK

General First Impressions: I've been going to this restaurant for a while, so I don't really have a first impression that I can remember. It always smells delicious though.

Starter: I don't normally do starters here, but went for the vegetarian platter. It had onion rings, spring rolls and other veggie staples, along with a sauce for dipping. I honestly can't remember what the sauce was, because I normally pay no attention to them - I'm not big on sauce - but in the interest of thorough testing I tried a bit. It was okay, but for me added nothing to the delicious spring rolls. That's me though, the girl who doesn't like sauce.

But no amount of desire for integrity in my blogging could make me touch the seaweed.

The vegetable wonton did end up in my handbag at one point, but that was my own clumsiness, combined with the champagne I'd drunk before, not an attempt to hide it so I didn't have to eat it. Honestly, you can't take me anywhere...

Main: For my main I was boring and went for my favourite mushroom curry with egg fried rice. The portions are very generous and the curry sauce rich, so it's no easy task to get through the whole lot. I managed though, a testament to how much I was enjoying the food and the company.

It's very much a typical 'make your own bowl of food' from the heated serving dishes kind of place - no call for fancy presentation - though the duck is separated out for you, a process that usually really impresses me (easily entertained) but I think our waitress was fairly new, so it didn't have the speed or elegance that I've seen waiters achieve in the past.

Drinks: The Boyfriend shared a bottle of the House Red wine, which he said was very enjoyable.

Price: It was £20 per head for starter, main, rice and two shared bottles of the cheaper wine.

Overall: This is our only sit in and eat chinese restaurant, and has been a staple of celebratory nights out for me since I was seventeen. The fact that we keep going back time and time again says volumes about the quality of the food and the reasonable prices. It's not just because it's the only one, I promise.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Restaurant Review: The Cosy Club

Restaurant: The Cosy Club

Location: Bath, UK

General First Impressions: Having run through torrential rain to get there, anything warm and dry would have impressed, but the Cosy Club was particularly cosy, with lovely sofas and big chairs with cushions for added comfort, quirky decorations and a sort of old converted loft space feel.

I was charmed immediately by the place, and enjoyed sitting outside on the balcony (sheltered, obviously) at the waiting table and at the table we eventually ate at - everywhere in the restaurant was nice.

Main: No starters or deserts this time, just a Tapas main course. At 3 for £8 this was a fairly reasonably priced main. I chose Roasted Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash with Goats Cheese, Pan Fried Haloumi, Corgettes and Peppers with Rose Harrisa Dressing and Falafels with Red Onion and Coriander Yoghurt Dip.

The Tapas were beautifully presented in individual bowls on a wooden carrier, though the waiters did get the bowls mixed up between me and a friend. It was easily sorted though, as each of the bowls just had to be swapped for the right one. Being veggie, I do get a bit concerned about cross contamination, but the bowls kept everything nicely separate.

The Tapas was served with fresh ciabatta bread. I really enjoyed the falafel and sweet potato dishes, though I was disappointed by the haloumi - it was a bit oily and I wasn't keen on the sauce.

Drinks: It's worth mentioning that the drink you can see in the photograph is a Cherry Bakewell Cocktail, which was totally disgusting in the best sort of way. It really did taste like a Cherry Bakewell. There were other cocktails on the menu, my favourite being the Juno Rapple, which was a deliciously fruity mixture and very refreshing after the run in the rain.

Price: The drinks were typically quite expensive compared to other cocktail bars, but you could get a jug of cocktail for £18 which held at least four drinks' worth. Food was reasonably priced and, I gather from the rest of the party, mostly well enjoyed.

Overall: For something a bit different with a really good atmosphere, Cosy Club is a great place to go. The food isn't going to blow your mind, but for £8 a main, it's not exactly going to blow a hole in your bank account either.

Website: http://www.cosyclub.co.uk/bath