Wednesday, March 4, 2009

[Entree] Gordon Ramsey Cookalong Lasagna, Take 2

I've been following Gordon Ramsey's "Cookalong Live", albeit a bit delayed. However, I have to share and show off my attempt at his Lasagna Al Forno. The first time I did full mise en place, and it took about 75 minutes to put together. The second time it took about 45 minutes, and is utterly fantastic. Only takes a few ingredients that you might not have, nothing really too special (except for the pre-cooked lasagna sheets), and comes together VERY easily.

Highly recommended. There's even videos on how to make it.
Two hints
1) Tomato paste, not puree - the brits apparently name things differently.
2) Mince - ground beef, about 2/3 - 3/4 of a pound. I use 85/15 ground beef and it comes out wonderfully.

And since they can't be arsed to keep the recipe in one place (or even searchable on their own site...)

2 tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 pinches dried oregano
300g minced beef
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
30ml (2 tbsp) red wine
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
50ml milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
25g butter
25g flour
300ml milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
60g Cheddar cheese, grated
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
6 sheets of 'non-cook' lasagne sheets
For the salad
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 x round lettuce head, rinsed and dried

How to make Gordon's classic lasagne al forno
1. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/ gas mark 7.

2. Heat the olive oil in a hot pan. Grate the onion and carrot and crush the garlic before frying together. Season with the bay leaf, a pinch of oregano, Worcestershire sauce and a little salt and pepper. Allow the onion to soften before making a well in the centre of the pan. Place the mince in the middle of the pan and stir to break it up. Add the tomato puree and allow to cook out for 30 seconds. Continue until all the meat has browned nicely. Add the wine and cook off the alcohol before adding the tomatoes. Leave to simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Finally add the milk, turn off the heat and set aside (watch Gordon's video on how to prepare bolognaise).

3. To make the cheese sauce, first melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and using a wooden spoon, stir to form a paste. Over a gentle heat add a third of the milk, whisking to prevent any lumps forming. Add the rest of the milk a third at a time, whisking as you go. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Allow the sauce to cook out for another minute before adding the Cheddar cheese. Stir and remove from the heat (watch Gordon's video on how to make the best white sauce).

4. Spoon half of the meat sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and place pasta sheets on top (break the sheets if necessary to avoid any overlapping). Next, pour in just under half of the cheese sauce, and spread evenly using a spatula before spooning the remaining meat on top. Add the final layer of pasta and use the spatula to pour over the remaining cheese sauce.

5. Finish with the grated Parmesan and sprinkle with another pinch of oregano. Add a light seasoning of salt and pepper before cleaning the edges of the dish and placing in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. In the bottom of your salad bowl use a fork to whisk together the mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully open the head of lettuce, season inside with salt and pepper. Upend the lettuce headfirst into the salad bowl. Holding the root, wipe the leaves around the bowl to coat in the vinaigrette. Twist the root and pull it out. Turn the dressed head of lettuce onto a large plate and gently open out.

7. Portion out the lasagne and serve alongside the salad.

Monday, March 2, 2009

[Russian] Olga's Haluski (halushki/helushki)

No baking on this one, but a really good Russian version of dumplings. This recipe includes all the stuff we serve it with; potatoes, kielbasa, onions. It's very simple, tastes really good, is very filling, and cheap. Russian poverty food, with some meat added.

  • Heluski

    • 4 Cups AP flour
    • 1.25 cup warm water
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon oil

  • 3 medium potatoes
  • Vinegar (serve with food)
  • 1-2 pounds of kielbasa/sausage
  • 3 medium onions
    • 1 stick of butter
First, we need to cook the onions down, since this takes longer than the other steps. Peel and slice 3 medium onions into rings. Put in a pan, add one stick butter, cover, and cook on medium until clarified. Once this occurs, turn it to medium-high (not high but close to it) and let them fry and caramellize. You want to fry the onions. Once you get them nice and brown, turn to low. Yes, there will be an oil slick of butter; that's fine

In another pan, cook kielbasa or a sausage. Cut into whatever size you desire (4-5 inch-long pieces work best). Cook and brown to taste, and once cooked set on low. This step can be done at the same time as the boiling, but doing it ahead of time will make it easier if you're not a whiz in the kitchen.

To make the Haluski itself, mix all 4 ingredients together and knead on a floured board. When I did it, it initially was very dry, but as it was kneaded it came together and absorbed all the flour. The consistency when done was not sticky, and texture was almost plasticine. Now, take a hunk of the dough and roll it with your hand into what looks like a snake - a round, long strip of dough about 1 inch thick. Once you have that, take a butter knife or regular non-sharp knife and cut off slices about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. It will deform as you do it; that's fine. The end result looks like this:

Peel 2-3 Medium potatoes. Add to pot of water, with about 2tbl salt, and boil until about mostly done. At this point, add haluski, all at once (yes, this'll drop the temperature) and boil approximately 4-5 minutes. The haluski will float to the top when done; you can either fish out the potatoes & haluski, or drain.

Get a large serving bowl. Pour the haluski and potatoes into it, pour the onions & butter over them, then take the sausage and place it on top.

In our family, we use a serving spoon to grab mass quantities of potatoes/heluski, and a piece or two of kielbasa. Pour a splash of vinegar over the potatoes/onions/heluski - even my wife the Southerner agrees on that. Eat.

[Index] Find duplicate indexes

I've been working on indexes lately, if it's not been obvious. I went looking for code to detect identical indexes, and this one seems the best.

Here's the top one, which looks for identical indexes.

-- exact duplicates
with indexcols as
select object_id as id, index_id as indid, name,
(select case keyno when 0 then NULL else colid end as [data()]
from sys.sysindexkeys as k
where = i.object_id
and k.indid = i.index_id
order by keyno, colid
for xml path('')) as cols,
(select case keyno when 0 then colid else NULL end as [data()]
from sys.sysindexkeys as k
where = i.object_id
and k.indid = i.index_id
order by colid
for xml path('')) as inc
from sys.indexes as i
object_schema_name( + '.' + object_name( as 'table', as 'index', as 'exactduplicate'
from indexcols as c1
join indexcols as c2
on =
and c1.indid < c2.indid
and c1.cols = c2.cols
and =;