Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Celebratory Lasagne

Last weekend the crew from work gathered together for a team dinner, to celebrate the completion of a project. We all pitched in, bringing mains, dessert, beer and wine. I volunteered to make lasagne for the obvious reason that it feeds many people. Unfortunately I'd forgotten how much work a lasagne is. There was the trip to the markets mid-week to source quality ingredients, the bolognese sauce made from scratch and the white sauce with it's associated stress (I'm paranoid of ruining white sauce yet I can't actually remember ever doing so). Then of course comes assembly and the grating of parmesan on top. Not to mention the transporting of this big bertha over to Bulk's house (my workmate hosting the dinner) for deployment to the oven.

Upon emergence from the oven the lasagne looked pretty good. So good that everyone tucked in before I had a chance to take a photo! I used a basic red wine bolognese sauce, preferring pancetta over bacon. I can't ever remember making such a large quantity and I was initially quite alarmed at how much reducing might be needed. Luckily it was good to go by the time I'd pottered around and made the white sauce (about an hour or so later). I think next time I'll make a cheese sauce instead of a basic white sauce for a little extra flavour. One of the main reasons I didn't do so was I didn't have enough time to grate any cheese.

Despite my grumblings above, I really enjoyed making the lasagne. But it brings me to the topic of shortcuts. Surely when cooking a lasagne for so many people it would make sense to simply use bottled pasta sauce instead of making bolognese from scratch. Packet grated cheese instead of white sauce? Yup, it would certainly be quicker, but there's a large part of me that stubbornly wont let go of making things from scratch. I'm sure everyone who likes to cook from scratch would agree, there's a lot of love going into scratch-made food. I refuse to accept that food from scratch is always better, often it takes much trial and error to get things right. And once that occurs, you become adventurous, tweak something here and there in the recipe, and the cycle starts again.

There's also the question of "how scratch is scratch?" Can I truly claim to have made the sauce from scratch when I used packet tomato paste and tinned tomatoes?

My ability to cook, write in this blog AND time-manage appears to be lacking (as evidenced by my sporadic postings). If I refuse to do anything but cook from scratch then I guess I should choose my recipes a little more thoughtfully. At least until my life calms down a little.......because that will happen soon, won't it?

Time for seconds anyone?


Kristen said...

Looks delicious! I bet everyone really enjoyed the meal.

Peter said...

Hey Ali

Nice to see you're back on track...The lasagne looks yummy...Good work!

I agree..Its better from scratch...It just tastes better. Keep up with the posting

Ali-K said...

Kristen...I'm sure you'll agree not too many meals involving food, wine and good friends are unenjoyable!