In just a few days I will be heading off to Italy, I have been dreaming about the pasta, pizza and gelato for months now so it seemed fitting then to have an Italian themed blog post at some stage. Luckily for me I received a very nice parcel from Philly cream cheese – their Grated Philly & Tasty is a combination of Philadelphia cream cheese mixed with tasty cheese to provide a creamy melt – perfect for pasta dishes like lasagne. The product should be hitting supermarket shelves soon and you can find more information here. Each packet has an easy to follow recipe on the back (mine incidentally had a simple lasagne recipe).
The first thing I noticed when I opened my packet was that the cheese wasn’t clumped together, like so many other grated cheese products, I had a quick taste and it definitely lived up to the creamy name, it also had definite cheddar flavour that tasty cheese is known for. It also smells nice and fresh – always a good sign. I very rarely keep grated cheese in the fridge as I sometimes feel that it tastes old and feels quite dry, so I was impressed that this felt freshly grated and soft.
Lasagne can be quite a laborious process, but I think it is worth it. This is a recipe that has come from years of making this dish and I find that it is full of flavour and I highly recommend a slow cooking process for the meat filling. I also recommend using two or three different kinds of mince meat as it contributes to a flavourful meat sauce. In this recipe I used a mix of beef, pork and veal but you could use whatever you prefer.
The addition of verjuice to the bechamel was something I learned from Katie Quinn Davies and it adds a slight sweetness to the sauce which I really enjoy. You can also add some grated nutmeg if you wanted to, in this recipe I opted out of doing that (read I forgot).
The lasagne was in the oven for about 35-40 minutes and came out with crispy edges but not too dark with the meat sauce bubbling around the edges. I have to say I was impressed with how the cheese melted and the bechamel itself was lovely and velvety smooth – which I think is probably because of the addition of the cream cheese. I would actually love to try this on a croque monsieur.
Grated Philly & Tasty were given to me at no cost, but all opinions expressed are my own.
Meat and Spinach Lasagne
An original recipe from Eating with Katie
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch chilli flakes
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
500g beef mince
500g pork or veal mince (I used a mixture of the two)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon, heaped tomato paste
1 glass red wine
1 can tomato puree
200ml beef stock
fresh lasagne sheets
60g flour – seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup verjuice
1-2 teaspoons English mustard
200g Grated Philly & Tasty
1. Heat a heavy based pan over medium – high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and fry onion, garlic and chilli flakes for a few minutes.
2. Add carrots and celery and cook until all vegetables are softened and onions are slightly golden.
3. Add meat, and cook until browned. Then add in balsamic vinegar. Stir. Add tomato paste. Stir through and add red wine. Cook for a few minutes.
4. Add tomato puree, pour stock into empty can and swish around to get any remaining puree. Pour over the meat.
5. Bring to a rapid bubble, then reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
1. Heat milk in a separate saucepan over a low heat.
2. Heat a saucepan over low heat. Add butter and heat until melted. Add flour and rapidly whisk, until you get a smooth paste.
3. Gradually add warm milk, stirring the whole time. Pour in verjuice and add the english mustard. Slowly sprinkle over Philly Creamy and Tasty and stir until cheese has melted and sauce has thickened. Remove from heat
1. Spoon meat into the bottom of a oven proof dish. Add a handful of spinach. Pour over about a ladle of bechamel sauce. Layer lasagne sheets on top and pour over about half a ladle of bechamel sauce. Repeat until meat is finished – finishing with a lasagne sheet on top. Pour over the remainder of the bechamel sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180c for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.