Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scottish Lasanga

We’ve been in Aberdeen for a little over two weeks, and I’ve only had one minor panic attack.  My advice to any Americans moving to the UK is to avoid going to the grocery store when you’re jetlagged, hungry, and overall cranky and then try to find the 20 ingredients you need to make your famous lasagna. It’s just not a good idea. 

In this scenario, you may find yourself worked up over the fact that there are no stewed tomatoes or Parmesan cheese to be found. And to make matters worse, as soon as I had located the majority of the things I needed, someone in the bakery burned the bread, setting off the fire alarm and forcing the evacuation of the entire store which meant the abandonment of my shopping cart. Which meant I had to start all over again at a new grocery store.

I was already in a pretty fragile state before the fire alarm, so I went from cranky to meltdown in about 60 seconds. I swear to you that in that moment, I was ready to give up, pack my bags and catch the first plane back to Houston. I just kept asking myself “Why did I ever think I could live without Target?”.
Of course, when I woke up the next morning, I felt pretty silly about my reaction and realized that I could easily improvise and still make my famous lasagna. So maybe I’d have to substitute some things, and possibly even stew my own tomatoes, and maybe it wouldn’t taste exactly as delicious, but it would still probably be tasty. I mean, Scottish people make Lasagna too, right?
So the next morning I set out on a mission, refreshed and determined to find the ingredients needed to make a satisfying dinner. Stewed Tomatoes became Chopped tomatoes in Tomato sauce.
Lasagna noodles came in short and fat form without squiggly edges. Who am I to judge how the Scots craft their lasagna noodles?
And though I still couldn’t locate grated Parmesan cheese at ASDA, I was able to find a big jug of it at Costco, so that was covered. When I had satisfactorily found all the ingredients (or suitable replacements) I headed home to actually cook the dish. And that’s where things got interesting.
I’ve mentioned that we’re currently renting furniture under the one bedroom apartment package. This contains pots and pans, cooking utensils, plates and glasses, and a few kitchen appliances such as an electric kettle and a toaster. It does not include mixing bowls or measuring cups.  I had to put on my creative hat, and muster up my patience but I found ways to improvise. For instance, in a jam, a Tupperware container makes a great mixing bowl.
The oven and I had a few words when she was apparently refusing to heat up. After some gentle prodding and encouragement (and a quick glance at the instruction manual), we came to an understanding and I think we’re going to become great friends.
I put the lasagna in the oven and crossed my fingers that it would at least be edible. When Jonathan got home he was so excited to have a home cooked meal, but I  warned him that it may taste a bit different from the lasagna he’s used to. Of course,  I also reminded him that since he moved me to this country without stewed tomatoes or squiggly edged lasagna noodles, that he was ultimately to blame if it was distasteful.
When it came out of the oven, it looked like my old lasagna. It smelled like my old lasagna. There was just one more piece of the puzzle and I winced as Jonathan dug in for a taste test. But what do you know, it tasted just like my old lasagna too!
I’ve included the recipe below, and trust me, it’s a fan favorite. I’ve marked any Scottish substitutions or changes I had to make in a different color, so that if you’re shopping in the UK, you know that Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice is just a long-winded way of saying Stewed Tomatoes. 

And in case you were wondering, the southern translation of 'serve piping hot' is 'serve when it's really stinkin' hot'.
Doublin Family Lasagna(Which I believe was somewhere down the line adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe. Gotta give Betty her props.)


Meat Sauce:
1 lb ground beef
½ lb ground pork
2 small onions chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 lb can of stewed tomatoes (Chopped Toms in Tom Sauce)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/8 cup parsley flakes
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil leaves

Cottage Cheese Layer:
3 cups creamed cottage cheese (2 12 oz cartons)
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano

Other Ingredients:
¾ lb mozzarella cheese
1 package 8 oz lasagna noodles
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 13x9x2 pan

PREPARATION: (About 2 hours)
Cook beef, pork, garlic and onions together in large pot on medium until brown and onion tender; drain fat (try to get lean beef and pork so less fat)
Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, ¼ cup parsley, sugar, 1 tsp salt, basil leaves; heat until it starts boiling; reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour.
Heat oven to BAKE 350 degrees (about 180 Celsius)
Mix cottage cheese with ½ cup Parmesan cheese, I tbsp parsley, I tbsp salt and oregano leaves in bowl; set aside until meat is done
Cook noodles in boiling water (usually 2-3 at a time; you will need about 8) and lay them FLAT on wax paper (don’t let them touch or they will stick)
Set 1 or ½ cup of meat to the side to put on the top of lasagna
Put ½ of noodles on bottom of pan
Put a layer of meat
Layer of mozzarella cheese
Layer of cottage cheese
Repeat layering; sprinkle meat on top
Bake for 45 minutes uncovered; let stand for 15 minutes before cutting

1 comment:

  1. I can speak for this recipe, THE BEST LASAGNA EVER!!! Your new Aberdeen friends don't know how lucky they are the next time you make this and invite them over to share.