Monday, February 20, 2012

Five Minute Lasagne

We have only had baby tomatoes ripen so far this year but we have millions of them. So when I spotted a bargain box of BIG juicy ripe tomatoes on a visit to the Sunday markets, I couldn’t resist.  A week later, I have fused my trusty food dryer, made  barbecue sauce, hands off chutney, raw tomato sauce, ratatouille and ratatouille flan, smoked and dried tomatoes and there are still some of them  awaiting my attention.

There is nothing like a glut to bring out some creative cooking. I have a very strong memory of the first time my Italian friend Luana, cooked lasagne for me many years. I have never asked her for the recipe - we always have so much else to talk about – but here is my version of what I remember.

It will take you less than five minutes to assemble and about forty minutes to cook. There are no amounts for ingredients, decide what size dish you want to make and keep on layering.
Deceptively simple, this is a light, fresh, elegant way to serve lasagne. The juices in the bottom had me sucking at the baking dish (á la Nigella!) before I did the dishes... Luscious!

Lasagne sheets
Large fresh tomatoes, sliced thickly
Fresh basil, whole leaves or torn
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
White wine

Begin by putting a very thin layer of white wine into the bottom of a dish.
Add lasagne sheets to cover.

Layer by covering with fresh tomato slices sprinkled with basil, drizzled with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Only use a couple of leaves for each layer or the taste will be overpowering.

Continue for at least three layers of pasta, more of you like, ending with a layer of tomatoes.

Cover with foil, making sure that the foil does not touch the tomatoes as it will dissolve the aluminium. (Yuk!)

Bake 180C for 40 minutes. Remove foil and check pasta for doneness by piercing with a skewer. Allow to rest for ten minutes before cutting.

If desired, grill for a couple of minutes to brown the top.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three months since the fires...

The yellow wind blew fear a hundred miles and more

In search of the balm of an answer, only an error message on the screen

A panic then - seeking numbers, pressing options

Yesterday’s bland recorded voice     declares a smoke alert

I return to work without reassurance.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Where was I?

My return to the garden in November, after many months with a painful frozen shoulder was made in spectacular fashion, never one to do things by halves, I agreed to host some local permies as part of an open edible garden scheme. The garden had been ignored all winter, so there was plenty to do to get things 'up to scratch' for visitors. The weekend was inspiring, exploring other peoples gardens as well as sharing my own, meeting like minded people along the way.

Hot on the heels of this, the town was invaded by a thousand Harley Davidson riders who held their international meet here over the week. They had just left town when two devastating bush fires destroyed many homes and shook us all badly. 

The new year started very quietly, the erratic  hot and windy weather helped another bush fire, thankfully less dramatic. 

Now that school has gone back after the summer holidays, town is quiet, subdued in a business downturn.

With the Chinese new year, I feel the energy is changing. The white grape harvest has started and we have our free concerts in the park and outdoor movies at Cape Mentelle to entertain us. The summer vegetables are abundant and have me back busy in the kitchen. 

Bring on the year of the dragon!