Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2011

Lasagna is one of the best main course dishes to make with my toddler, especially if I have the sauce or sauces already prepared. It then becomes a simple but fun assembly job!

This lasagna is based on the Red Bean Lasagna from Rose Elliot’s ‘Vegetarian Pasta ‘. It is perfect for a bean-loving girl such as my daughter. Apart from the cheese on the top it is also vegan!

Red Bean Lasagne

50g margarine

40g flour

600ml soy milk

1 bay leaf

slice of onion

some extra milk

ground nutmeg

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 430g tin kidney beans

2 400g tins tomatoes

2 heaped tablespoons tomato purée

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

salt & pepper

enough lasagne sheets to cover your lasagne dish three times

70g Parmesan cheese, grated (omit or substitute for vegan dish)

 

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the margarine and stir in the flour. When it starts to bubble, add half the milk and whisk over the heat until it thickens. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until the sauce is thick and smooth.  Add the bay leaf and onion and leave over a low heat for ten minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the extra milk carefully over the top — this will help prevent a skin from forming.  Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C/gas 6.

For the bean/tomato sauce, fry the onions in a little oil until starting to brown, then add garlic and stir for about a minute. Add beans and tomatoes and leave on the heat, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until sauce is just beginning to thicken. You don’t want it too thick or there won’t be enough liquid to cook the lasagne! Add the tomato purée, chilli powder and salt & pepper to taste.

To assemble the lasagne, remove the bay leaf and onion from the béchamel sauce and whisk until any lumps are gone. Rinse one third  of your lasagne sheets under cold water and use them to cover the bottom of a greased lasagne dish. Pour a third of your béchamel sauce  on top and cover with half your bean/tomato sauce. Cover with another layer of lasagne and the same quantities of the sauces. Top with the rest of the lasagne, the rest of the béchamel sauce the cheese, then bake for about 35 minutes until the pasta feels soft when you stick a fork or skewer through it.

Variations

Lasagne is almost infinitely variable! You can use different sauces, just one sauce instead of two, you can replace the béchamel sauce with a soft cheese (my favourite for this is marscapone), you can add a layer of sautéed vegetables between the sauces… whatever sounds good to you! My daughter and I particularly love to add layers of sweetcorn. Yum.

spreading out sauce

What my toddler did

Despite my recommendation above to have your sauces made already, I did not. So my daughter did a lot of ‘helping’ to stir things on the stove. I hold her on my hip for this so I can put her down and get her out of the way quickly if anything starts to spit or bubble too fiercely. Other things she did:

  • Choosing a bay leaf from the bag.
  • Peeling (most of) the onion.
  • Attempting to use the garlic press (not very successfully!)
  • Helping to grease the dish.
  • Putting lasagne sheets in the dish — I rearranged them slightly after.
  • Spreading the sauces out to cover the lasagne.
  • Sprinkling the cheese on top. Or throwing it on in big lumps, whichever she felt like!

If I had made the sauces earlier and they had been cooler I would have put the appropriate quantities in bowls for her to pour into the dish as well. When we do this she has practically assembled the whole lasagne herself!

The finished product
…I actually forgot to take a picture of the finished product because we were so eager to eat it! So here is a picture of the almost-ready-for-the-oven product instead.

sprinkly cheese

I am going to be away for two and a half weeks for Easter, but when we get back… apple upside-down cake! Yum.

Read Full Post »

I was going to tell you about a lasagna we made for my second post… but then I saw that one of my favourite baking blogs had issued this cheesecake challenge, and it was too tempting to pass up!

My daughter loves cheesecake. But something she loves even more is peanut butter, so the choice of recipe was easy:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:
1 pack (32) of peanut butter sandwich cookies, processed into crumbs
5 and 1/3 tablespoons butter, melted

Cheesecake Ingredients:
4 packages (8 oz. each) of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature
3 (1oz) squares semisweet bakers chocolate (melted and cooled)
3 (1oz) squares bittersweet bakers chocolate (melted and cooled)

Peanut Butter Mousse Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons salted smooth peanut butter

Optional decorations:
Reese’s cups
melted chocolate
whipped cream

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the crust, mix the crust ingredients together and press into bottom and up the sides (about 3 inches) of a springform pan. Set aside.

For the cheesecake: Mix cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until well blended and creamy. Add the eggs and continue mixing until combined. Add chocolate and continue mixing until combined. Pour mixture into prepared crust and smooth top with a spatula.

Bake for 55 minutes or until center of cake is almost set. The top may crack, but it doesn’t particularly matter, since you’ll be covering it anyway. Let the cake fully cool. When almost cool, place it in refrigerator to chill while you prepare peanut butter mousse.

For peanut butter mousse, dissolve the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. In a saucepan over moderate heat, cook the cream until it bubbles around the edges. In another bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Temper the eggs: pour about 1/2 cup hot cream into the egg yolks slowly while whisking vigorously. Then slowly pour the egg mixture into the saucepan of cream (whisking constantly). Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter and the gelatin. Place mixture into a wide bowl to allow it to cool for a bit, then chill it for just a little while — not until set, but until it’s not so runny. Pour the mixture onto the top of the pie and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. You can pipe on melted chocolate and decorate with chopped Reese’s cups, if desired.

When completely chilled, loosen the cake from rim of springform pan by wrapping the pan in warm dishtowels. The remove the springform pan. Refrigerate the cheesecake for one day or overnight before serving. Garnish with fresh whipped cream if desired.

Variations

I actually made quite a few adjustments to this recipe. We don’t have peanut butter sandwich cookies here, nor could I find any other kind of peanut-containing cookie. Instead I used a pack of digestive biscuits for the crust and replaced two of the tablespoons of butter with peanut butter in an attempt to still give it a nutty flavour. If I were to try this again I might up it to three tablespoons or even four.

We’re vegetarian, so I used the mousse part of this recipe instead of the mousse recipe used above. I ended up omitting the whipped cream because I felt that the texture of the mousse was fine without it — also, whipping cream by hand is something my toddler can’t really do yet, and my electric mixer is currently in a different country! The mousse complemented the cheesecake very well.

Finally, I substituted the Reese’s cups with chilled and chopped Snickers-like bars. Remember though that they do contain whole peanuts, which can be a choking hazard for toddlers. If you are at all worried about this, it may be better to use something else. (Hey! Like Reese’s cups!)

putting digestives in food processor

What my toddler did

  • Putting the digestive biscuits into the food processor. Note that this was before I put the blades in, so I had to move the biscuits out of the way a little once she was done.
  • Helping turn the dial to switch it on.  Thankfully she likes loud noises, but there are quieter ways to make crumbs!
  • Spooning the biscuit-and-butter mix into the cake tin.
  • Fetching all the cream cheese from the fridge.
  • Stirring the cream cheese while I finished off the crust.
  • More stirring while I melted the chocolate.
  • Licking the chocolate-covered spoon while I finished off the stirring and got the cake into the oven. She stood in her “safe spot” by the fridge for this, which is where she must always be when I open the oven.
  • Waiting (more or less) patiently overnight while the cheesecake cooled.
  • Stirring the “mousse” and spooning it onto the cake.
  • “Squirting” leftover melted chocolate over the mousse for decoration. I guided her hand for part of this.
  • Putting aforementioned Snickers-like chunks on top to finish off (whilst snacking on one or two).

decorating the cheesecake

The finished product

close-up

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cheesecake

In my daughter’s words: “Mmm, tasty!”

Read Full Post »