Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Three-Cheese Topped Pork Lasagne

Foolishly,and in my natural greed, I forgot to take a photo of Sunday night’s dinner – but frankly it was too delicious not to share so here we are. Not a health tonic, it’s much more of an indulgent, comfort-food style of eating: my Three-Cheese Topped Pork Lasagne.

This can of course be tweaked to include beef or lamb mince, but do try the pork version as it is a definite flavour winner.


400g lean pork mince

1 red onion, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp dried oregano

Tin of tomatoes

2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste

Lasagne sheets (I used dried but you could use fresh or if you have a pasta maker make your own)

425ml milk

45g butter

20g plain flour

Parsley stalks

10 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

Half ball of Mozzarella

100g Parmigiana Reggiano

100g Mature Cheddar

How To

The Béchamel Sauce

  1. First in a saucepan warm through the milk with the peppercorns, parsley stalks and bay leaf as well as some generous seasoning. Allow to boil, then simmer for five minutes. Take off of the heat.

2. In a separate pan melt the butter slowly, not letting it burn. Once melted add the flour, bit by bit, constantly stirring it in with a wooden spoon.

3. Sieve the milk contents into the butter and flour mixture slowly, keeping up the stirring until all milk has been added and the consistency is thick and sauce-like whilst also smooth.

4. Add about 20g of the Cheddar and continue to stir until the sauce returns to the thick and smooth consistency

5. Taste and then add seasoning where necessary and take off of the heat.

The Meat & Sauce

1. Firstly sauté the chopped onion and garlic in some extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan.

2. Once softened add the pork mince and continue to move around the pan with a wooden spatula or spoon until its beginning to brown.

3. Add the cinnamon and oregano to the meat with a pinch each of sea salt and ground black pepper and allow to cook for a few minutes.

4. Add the tin of tomatoes and stir through so the meat is evenly covered. Next add the two tablespoons of sun-dried tomato paste. Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minute. Just before taking off of the heat add in some roughly torn fresh basil leaves.


1. In your greased, ovenproof dish firstly layer some of the meat.

2. Use a large spoon or ladle to pour on some of the béchamel sauce then use a palette knife to spread over the meat.

3. Add a sprinkling of the Parmesan over the sauce.

4. Top with the lasagne sheets so all of the sauce is covered and then add your next layer of meat.

5. Repeat this process so you have three layers of meat and then for the top layer top the lasagne sheets with the remaining béchamel sauce.

6. Finally use the remaining cheese to cover the top, sprinkling the Parmesan and Cheddar on evenly and tearing the Mozzarella and placing in even spots around the lasagne.

7. If you want to you can top with slices of tomato for a garnish.


1. Place in a pre-heated oven at around 160-170 degrees and allow to cook for around 40-45 minutes or until the top is a glorious golden brown and the cheese is bubbling away


Perfect with a simple green leaf salad, lightly dressed with either a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper. Serve with a glass of glorious Italian red wine - I enjoyed with a Barolo Milani 2007/8 Rocca, which was given to me recently as a present, and it went down rather well indeed.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Table Café – A New Era

The Table Café in Southwark Street has long been on my food radar, working as I do in PR, I’ve been there with several IPC journalists for coffees, pastries and breakfast and have always enjoyed great food.
This week I was invited to a party at the café to celebrate a new era for the venue, as Cinzia Ghighoni, acclaimed chef formerly of Zucca, Duck Soup and Angela Hartnett takes over the culinary reins. I invited my friend Jade along with me promising her great food and wine, and with the re-launched wine menu, the promise was kept.

When we arrived at around 7pm the place was buzzing with people, a group of food journalists, home economists, bloggers and wine experts, all keen to try out the new style. We were greeted with a glass of Coates & Seely Blanc de Blancs NV, I’m no wine expert I’m afraid, but this was a gorgeous glass of white sparkling wine, and went down a little quickly with Jade and myself – we are partial to the odd glass of fizz and allowed the friendly waiting staff to re-fill our glasses quite rapidly.

Our first bite was a piece of the most gorgeous focaccia, moist and salty, an opening of what was to come. The next small plate was some Baccala Mantecato with polenta crisps. I’d never heard of this dish before, but enjoyed it immensely - it had a creamy fishy taste and reminded me of a garlicky tarramasalata, lovely. The polenta crisps were also good and we’d soon eaten all of these with some of the fishy dip remaining – we found ourselves heading over to the front of the place, to get more of the focaccia to mop up the rest of the Baccala Mantecato – this was right in front of the open-kitchen and we remained there for most of the rest of the evening as it gave us the perfect view of the busy and efficient chef team preparing the rest of the dishes. I’ve since learned that Baccala Mantecato is a salt cod concoction, and one that I hope to try again.

The next dish was a Friggitelli (a mild, Italian green pepper) with ricotta, marjoram and breadcrumbs, this actually reminded me of how simplistic good Italian food is. It was lovely, with a lemony flavour to the ricotta, it was beautiful in its simplicity, the toasted breadcrumbs gave a little crunch to the otherwise creamy texture and Jade and I frankly inhaled this dish – another good one.

We then had a seafood plate of octopus with the most flavoursome and delicious aubergines I’ve ever tried. Aubergines are such a great sponge of herbs and spices and these were marinated, moist and full of fresh Italian flavours, absolutely fantastic. The octopus was good too, but we could have enjoyed the aubergines alone. This was served with a glass of Prieuré de Montézargues Rosé 2011 which matched really well with the delicate flavours of the fish and the aubergine.
The next dish was definitely my favourite – a veal dish which yet again was simple but fantastic. Slices of perfectly cooked, soft veal topped with woody girolles and completed with shavings of Scorzone Truffle – a delicious black Italian truffle and a drizzle of oil. This dish was so lovely, it felt incredibly decadent even in its simple format and was served with a delightfully dry but fruity red, Reverdito ‘Simane’ Langhe Nebbiolo 2010, another selection by the creator of the wine list, Matt Walls, who I take my hat off to for a great selection of wines.

Our Italian pudding was a Passion Fruit Tart, which had a light pastry casing and was beautiful in appearance and taste with a light and fruity cream filling. This was served with my favourite wine of the evening – a dessert wine: Château Bouscassé ''Larmes Célestes 2010. Now at this point Jade and I were getting a mini wine education from the lovely Denise otherwise known as The Wine Sleuth. As I’ve said I can’t declare to be a wine connoisseur but I did really enjoy this sweet and fruity dessert wine, and will be investing in a bottle for home consumption when I have people round for dinner as it was the perfect finale to a fabulous evening of great food and wine.

Shaun Alpine-Crabtree is the founder of the restaurant and has gained a 2 star award from The Sustainable Restaurant Association too for spearheading the venue’s collaboration with the homeless charity St Mungos, with whom, the restaurant work with on their herbs. It was these fantastic herbs that made up the most unusual ‘goody bag’ I’ve ever received, a batch of these herbs in a wooden box.

It was a great evening and now that I know the venue play live Jazz on a Saturday evening I may venture there in the evening as well as for the go-to for visits when in Southwark Street. The new Italian direction looks set to take The Table Café onto the next stage in an already splendid food journey.

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