Friday, 25 September 2009

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne

I was a vegetarian for years - from the age of about 15 till I was about 25. This was my dinner party dish throughout those years! It still comes out now and then for special occasions, especially if a veggie option is required. In particular, I make it each year for the Coffee Plus weekend away, and someone always asks for the recipe. So I've been making it today ready for tomorrow night! Just one thing... I have no idea how much fat is in this dish, and if you work it out, please don't tell me!! I want to continue to enjoy it! It is a dinner party dish, not an everyday one, so just forget how much cream and butter has gone into it and enjoy the eating of it, huh?! Oh, and even people who don't usually like spinach tend to like this :-)

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne

Serves: 6 decent-sized portions, or more as part of a hot buffet

Takes: 20 mins preparation + 30 mins cooking time


Spinach and mushroom layer:
1 lb frozen spinach (I usually chuck in slightly more for luck)
1 punnet button or closed cup mushrooms (about 250g)
2 oz butter
2 1/2 fl oz double cream
salt and black pepper

White sauce:
1 1/4 pints milk
3 oz butter
2 oz plain flour
3 fl oz double cream
pinch nutmeg
salt and black pepper

8 oz lasagne verde
cheese, eg medium-mature cheddar (don't know how much 'cos I've never weighed it! I just grate it from the end of whatever piece I have in the fridge!)


  1. Defrost the spinach overnight, ideally in a sieve over a bowl so the water drains out. When it's defrosted, squeeze out any excess water.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Wipe and thickly slice the mushrooms and cook in the butter till golden. (I don't peel my mushrooms but if you usually do, go for it!)
  3. Stir in the spinach and cream. Cook gently until the cream has been absorbed then season to taste and set aside.
  4. To make the white sauce, put the milk, butter and flour in a large saucepan and put over a gentle heat.
  5. Stir continuously with a balloon whisk till the sauce comes to a simmering point and starts to thicken.
  6. Reduce the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes then allow to cool slightly.
  7. Push the sauce through a sieve into a large bowl then beat in the cream and add the nutmeg and salt and pepper.
  8. Spread about half the spinach mixture over the base of a lasagne dish and arrange a single layer of lasagne sheets over the top. Cover with half of the white sauce. And another layer of lasagne sheets.
  9. Repeat the layers so you finish with white sauce (ie three layers of lasagne sheets altogether). Grate a generous sprinkling of cheese over the top.
  10. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180oC for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. 
All the preparation can be done in advance - even the day before if necessary - and the lasagne kept in the fridge till you're ready to bake it. Any leftover portions freeze well. Great served with chips, or baked potato, or salad and garlic bread, or as part of a hot buffet...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Shortbread Biscuits

My first recipe is for easy shortbread biscuits. I love this recipe because it is _very_ easy, it's quick, it's forgiving, you can ring the changes by adding different ingredients, and the biscuits always taste great (in fact, the uncooked mixture also tastes great...)

Shortbread Biscuits

Makes: 12-24, depends how big you make 'em!
Takes: 5-10 mins preparation + 20 mins cooking time


3 oz caster sugar
7 oz butter or margarine (I use buttery spread)
9 oz plain flour

  1. Cream together the sugar and butter till light and fluffy. An electric mixer is best for this; you can do it by hand but it's quite hard work by the time you've mixed in the flour too.
  2. Sift in the flour and stir then beat till the mixture comes together in a soft dough. It might start off a bit crumbly but it will come together if you keep mixing.
  3. You can refrigerate the dough at this point (for a couple of hours or overnight) so it firms up slightly, but it's fine to use straight away. If you want to roll it out then refrigerating will probably help.
  4. Either roll out to a thickness of about 5mm on a well-floured surface then use cutters to cut out your biscuits, or break off little balls of dough and flatten to about 5mm thick. I usually do the latter as it's quicker and I like the homemade look, but it's nice to cut Christmassy shapes or hearts or the kids' initials for special occasions.
  5. Place the biscuits on a lightly greased baking tray and bake at 180oC (fan oven) till the edges start to brown. (It takes about 20 minutes. I forgot about my batch today - the ones in the photo - and they got 30 minutes, which is why they look quite brown! Still delicious, just crunchier.)
  6. Cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack. Try not to eat them while they're hot, you will burn your mouth. Don't say I didn't warn you...
Store in an airtight container - they'll keep for a few days but probably won't last that long!


You can add raisins, chocolate chips, chopped cherries, Smarties/M&Ms etc to the mixture after step 2. Or sift in spices (eg cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice) with the flour - adding ground ginger here then chopped ginger after step 2 is delicious! I use a jar of ginger preserved in syrup (not the whole jar!!) You could add grated lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon after step 1, and increase the flour to 10 oz. Or mix in desiccated coconut and chopped glace cherries. Or some oats and raisins. Or replace a tablespoon or so of flour with the same amount of cocoa powder. Or... So many ideas!!

Here are some with chocolate chips added, and some where 1 oz of flour was replaced with 1 oz of cocoa powder, and white chocolate chunks were added. I spooned heaps of the mixture onto the baking sheet, keeping them quite rough and fairly thick, and only aiming to make about 8 large cookies. They needed about 30 minutes to cook because of the added thickness.

Also, these biscuits ice really well (though I'd use the rolled out and cut version, as they have a smooth top surface!). Just sift some icing sugar and mix with hot water to make a fairly stiff icing, adding any colours or flavours you wish, then spread over the cooled biscuits. You can add chocolate or sugar sprinkles, jelly sweets, etc, etc, before the icing sets. Or add cocoa powder to the icing sugar for chocolate icing.

Enjoy :-)


This is a place to collect together some of my favourite recipes - a kind of online cookbook. Cooking and baking is part of how I am creative, but I thought including recipes in my other blog might get a bit messy and it would be handy to gather them all in one place. I don't plan to update this one as frequently as the other, but whenever I think of it - perhaps when I rediscover an old favourite, or realise that I make a particular dish nearly every week, or I'm planning the next day's meals, or just because...