Tasty Display

I recently visited the National Portrait Gallery twice in 7 days - that's not too much is it? - to see two different exhibitions. The first was the Beatles to Bowie: The 60s Exposed collection of the musicians and models who epitomised the emergence of pop culture from the 'Swinging London' scene to Beatles-mania through to the progression of psychedelia.

The second was to check out this year's Photographic Portrait Prize. On this visit however, I wasn't feeling too good and needed a little sit down and a refreshment (any excuse, right?). So, not wanting to venture outside and wander about in the cold, I headed to the Portrait Restaurant on the 3rd Floor.

There's a different menu depending on the time you arrive. It was about 4:15 which meant we got the 'Afternoon Tea' menu. Settling for a Latte, hot chocolate and a sultana and apple scone I was expecting an overpriced snack.

What I did get, however, was a velvety Latte with a kick to it and a warm scone which had the right amount of crumble to it - just enough to keep it together with the clotted cream and jam.

The view is also quite impressive, with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in the near distance, especially as the sky darkened and the lights of London began to twinkle. (Which reminds me, Christmas is a mere 5 weeks away!)

The afternoon coffee and scone came to £10 including service charge*, which is pretty good value considering it's within one of the Capital's more expensive areas and run by head chef, Katarina Todosijevic, whose background is with the Conran Group (now known as D&D London). I must visit again for lunch because the Beatles to Bowie Set Menu looks very tempting!

* Service charge is 15% but if you're just popping up there for a tea or coffee, you shouldn't need to pay more than a tenner.


British Sausage Week

It was British Sausage Week this week. Here's a little bite (which actually turned out to be a rather large and very filling bite) a friend and I put together for lunch, off the cuff.

Just simply:
Sausages (oven cooked)

What a banger!

3 Hour Lasagne

There's no doubt about it, a lasagne is one of the most comforting dishes ever. Especially one that takes 3 hours to make. If you've got time to burn get involved in some of this...it's a guaranteed classic.


For the ragu
500g pork mince
500g beef mince
3/4 of 1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic
4 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
500ml red wine
200ml beef stock
2 x stem of rosemary
3 ball of mozzarella, sliced
handful of grated Parmesan
4 strips of anchovies, sliced lengthways

For the Bechamel sauce
1 1/4 pints of milk
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 onion
2 x bay leaves
50g butter
50g plain flour

How to make:

Cook the onion, celery and carrot on a medium heat for 15 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the crushed garlic and rosemary and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the mince and cook until the juices from the meat have absorbed. Then add 400ml of the red wine and cook for 45 minutes.

Once the meat has absorbed the wine, add the tomatoes and beef stock and simmer for 2 hours adding the rest of the wine in stages. Season with salt and pepper.

15 minutes before the ragu is ready, heat the milk in a saucepan along with the 1/4 onion, nutmeg and bay leaves.

In a separate pan, melt the butter and mix together with the flour. Then add the milk in stages to the butter/flour mixture. Whisk thoroughly until all or most of the lumps have gone. If there are too many lumps after about 5 minutes, sieve the bechemal sauce into another pan.

In a glass or casserole dish, layer up the lasagne as follows: lasagne sheets, ragu, mozzarella, Bechamel sauce, lasagne sheets, ragu, anchovies, mozzarella, Bechamel sauce, lasagne sheets, Bechamel sauce to cover the top layer, then scatter the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Put in a preheated oven set to 180, gas mark 4 for 30 minutes.