This week I delved into some of my favourite cookbooks of the moment. I’m a real sucker for them; from the cherished, well-thumbed books that I refer to on a regular basis to the latest releases with their perfectly stylised pictures that allow you a peek into the author’s kitchen.
One of the newest additions to my cookbook shelf is ‘Supper for a song’ by Tamasin Day-Lewis. It’s a fantastic book – very ‘now’. The sub-title reads ‘for the clever cook in the cost-conscious kitchen’. It is creative common sense cooking. As a busy mum, I really appreciate the good base recipes that can be added to and tweaked to deliver several meals in various guises for the entire week. I love the recipes that help create delicious meals from the lonely ingredients that live at the back of my food cupboards or the leftovers that linger in my fridge.
The book is filled with comfort food to satisfy anyone with a liking for creamy risottos, robust pasta dishes and slow-cooked stews and for those with a sweet tooth there is the very inviting chapter titled ‘The Saturday bake’ – ‘Bay, honey and lemon cake’ or ‘Earl Grey fruit tea loaf ‘ anyone?
Divided into chapters such as ‘Something-out-of-nothing suppers’ and ‘Happy food’, this is cooking for real homes. I have a list of recipes I want to try out including ‘Winter panzanella’, ‘Red onion squash gnocchi with sage butter’ and ‘Chocolate and chestnut terrine’. I turned to this book recently one very hungry lunchtime and found everything I needed in my cupboards and near-to-empty fridge to make the ‘Chick pea and smoked paprika soup’. I can’t recommend it highly enough – it was delicious and so very quick to make.
But today I want to share the amazing Autumn Lasagne recipe – perfect for a cold November weekend and great if you have people over for supper. It’s the sort of recipe that would be worth doubling up on and freezing one for a mid-week meal.
All in all I can see that this book is set to become one of my cherished, well-thumbed cookbooks that will be a regular saviour in my kitchen.
Supper for a song by Tamasin Day-Lewis is published by Quadrille, £20.00. Photography by James Merrell.
Supper for a Song Book Giveaway! Quadrille have very kindly agreed to giveaway one of these lovely books to one of our lucky readers. Please leave a comment about what you’d like to see more of on the blog and I will pick a random winner by next Friday. The book will then be sent over to you asap, as an early Christmas present!
Autumn Vegetable Lasagne
This is not strictly vegetarian but it can be if you want it to be. Nor is it strictly an autumn dish; you just need to tweak the vegetables in the rootier direction if courgettes are past tense and add onion squash, red peppers, celeriac, aubergines or what you will. If the morels are beyond your touch eschew them, likewise the prosciutto, but you need so little of both, and the morels with their bosky funghi liquor contribute so much depth of flavour, that it is worth stretching a financial point if you can. I like the combined forces of pecorino and Parmesan scattered over this dish, but if you only have one or the other don’t worry.
2 tbsp olive oil
200g/7oz chestnut mushrooms, sliced
20g/3/4oz dried sliced morels, soaked in warm water to cover for 30 minutes and
2 tbsp Marsala, or port or Madeira (or red wine if you have a bottle open instead)
900ml/11/2 pints Jersey or full-cream milk
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp plain flour
sea salt and black pepper
nutmeg for grating
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
6 small green or yellow courgettes, cut into small cubes
400g/14oz tin cherry tomatoes
a handful of basil leaves, torn
6 slices prosciutto, sliced into long strips (optional)
1 packet of lasagne
60g/2oz each Parmesan and pecorino
1. preheat the oven to 200°c/gas 6. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a small pan and cook the sliced chestnut mushrooms until they begin to release their juice. Add the morels with their soaking liquor, if using, and the Marsala and simmer for 5 minutes. remove from the heat.
2. To make the béchamel sauce: heat the milk with the bay leaf in a pan. Melt the butter in another pan, stir in the flour and cook for a minute or so until you have a biscuit coloured roux, then add a quarter of the hot milk and whisk until smooth. continue to add the milk a quarter at a time, whisking well. season and flavour sparingly with nutmeg. Add the liquor from the mushrooms and let the sauce cook gently for a further 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Adjust the seasoning.
4. Meanwhile, sauté the onion and garlic in the remaining olive oil with a sprinkle of salt until they begin to soften, then add the courgette cubes and cook until they are al dente. Add the tomatoes and torn basil and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. season with pepper.
5. Add the mushrooms to the béchamel. Heat the prosciutto strips briefly in the pan used to cook the mushrooms with no extra oil, turning until they begin to crisp a little, then add to the mushroom sauce mixture.
6. Briefly immerse the lasagne sheets, one at a time, in a pan of boiling, salted water for about a minute until supple, then drain in a colander.
7. Spread a little béchamel, avoiding the bits, over the bottom of a large baking dish, then add a layer of lasagne sheets. Cover with half the béchamel mixture. Add another layer of lasagne, followed by the courgette and tomato mixture. Add a final layer of lasagne and the last of the béchamel mixture. top with the grated cheese.
8. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling, and a skewer inserted in the centre meets with little resistance from the lasagne. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving. This is one of those dishes that seems to stay hotter for longer.