Miguel Barclay has a new book out, yay! Okay I didn’t like his last one much but I loved his first one so much, I’ve still got faith.
So, first up, One-Pan Lasagne, a lot of the recipes in this are one-pan (part of the Super Easy part), although it does assume that you’ve got a frying pan that you can transfer to the oven (which I don’t but it’s on my wish list), although Barclay does give instructions on what to do if you don’t have such a pan. Anyway, as always with Barclay’s recipes, they’re written for one (which I love) but are easily scalable (which I love even more) and this lasagne was for four, so it would have had to have been a pretty big oven proof frying pan anyway.
So how can you make lasagne with just ‘one pan’? Answer – you skip quite a few steps but this is meant to be the sort of lasagne that you can make when you get home from work and short of getting your lasagne sauces out of jars, you can’t really make a proper lasagne on a weeknight anyway (well, you could but the question is, do you have the energy?). The one-pan-ness is solved by only having one layer of pasta (the top layer, obviously) and the cheese sauce being creme fraiche and grated cheddar cheese ….. so not exactly Béchamel. Anyway my work schedule is topsy turvy, I work evenings and weekends and I made this in a rush before I started my Saturday afternoon shifts and yep, I certainly couldn’t have made proper lasagne. So, for what this is, it’s definitely on the upper end of edible, however, I think an Italian would scoff at calling this lasagne and using creme fraiche was ummm … interesting. It was the creme fraiche that marked this down for me, it’s slightly sour taste and it’s constituency was just not Béchamel and slightly off putting. However, as someone who craves lasagne on a regular basis and yet doesn’t eat it anywhere near enough (because when I crave lasagne I’m craving homemade lasagne, not the supermarket stuff), this, creme fraiche and all, is probably something I will make again, however, if I can get round to it and make some of the freezer cheese sauce from The Magic Fridge, substituting that for the creme fraiche would be even nicer.
Also of note, as usual Barclay’s meals are meant to come in under £1 a portion, I’m not going to work out the maths for my attempts this time but if you’re making this and you’re scaling this up to four, just doubling the mince, instead of quadrupling the mince, is fine (I had to do that because that’s all I had), although I would still quadruple the rest of the ingredients. So anyway, although I haven’t costed this, this is pretty cheap.
When a recipe makes you think fondly of other recipes, as in “this is okay but I can think of several recipes that are nicer and isn’t it about time I go and make them again”, it’s a sign that the recipe hasn’t really hit the mark. This is Cheese and Potato Hotpot from the new Miguel Barclay book, it’s okay, it’s warm and comforting but it’s also greasy and stodgy and I don’t think I’ll rush to make this again. I certainly don’t have that much issue with ‘greasy and stodgy’, by the way, but if I’m going to push the calorific boat out, I dunno, I think that I want a little more flavour.
A note again on scaling up the ingredients, I made this for two this time but I didn’t double the potato and I actually halved the onion (1 portion calls for 1 onion, I used 1/2 onion for two portions, maybe if I had used more onion there would have been more flavour but it just seemed like a lot of onion).
This is Detroit Pizza, also from Barclay’s new book and it was okay. I’m beginning to think that perhaps I’m the wrong market for this book, it’s billing as being ‘Super Easy’ is absolutely right, which is good, I’ve been cooking for years but I remember what it was like, starting out, not having much of a clue (despite having a GCSE in Home Economics, so I did do cooking at school, not that it was that much help, whereas these days a lot of people don’t get a chance to cook even in school – eg my 14 year old, she had basic cooking lessons in Infants, so about 6 or 7 years old, plus two cooking lessons in secondary, although in defence of her secondary school, they’re having some building issues, anyway, luckily she can cook, as she cooks at home), anyway, I think that Barclay’s latest book seems pretty good for people with limited cooking experience and thinking back to when I was teaching myself to cook from Naked Chef books, if I had made the ‘pizza’ that I made this evening, I would have been pretty darned impressed with myself. Fast forward about twenty years and I’m like, well, that was edible but I can think of better cheat pizzas (using pitta or naan bread).