Monday, August 16, 2010

The Simplest Things

Don't you hate it when cliches turn out to be true? The one I'm thinking about now is, 'The simplest things in life are best.' Maybe it's not always true, and I'll bet winning an Olympic gold medal backed by millions of taxpayers' dollars (therefore the opposite of simple) must feel pretty cool, but mostly the saying's spot on, I reckon.

Take yesterday for example, here at Onemilebridge. Sunday lunch with friends. What could be simpler - or nicer!

Lunch was pretty simple too. Lasagne cooked by me, bread baked by Farmdoc, and pavlova brought by our guests. Though lasagne's not exactly simple - it always seems to dirty every dish in my kitchen - it's not all that sophisticated either.

I base my recipe on Marcella Hazan's recipe in The Classic Italian Cookbook, a book I've been using for years.

I made the pasta using 100 grams of flour, 1 egg and some spinach leaves picked in the morning. First I washed the spinach thoroughly. (I'm always amazed by how much grit is hidden in spinach.) Then I cooked it in just the water that clung to the leaves for about fifteen minutes. When it was tender I wrung out all the water, chopped it finely, and kneaded it into the pasta dough. Then I rolled it out with my pasta machine and slipped four pieces at a time into boiling water for a couple of minutes.

I cooked up my normal bolognese recipe with our own lamb mince, and made Marcella's bechamel sauce. Then I assembled the dish, grated some parmesan on the top, put it in the oven, and washed the dozens of dishes I'd dirtied.

The proof of the pudding (or lasagne) as they say, is in the eating, and it really did melt in our mouths - that is when we weren't talking.

Finally the pièce de résistance - the pavlova. So to finish with another cliche - here's a picture that must be worth at least a thousand words:

Thanks, Janet and Annie, for a great afternoon. Sorry the weather was too cold for a picnic on the bridge. Next time, maybe.

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