Lasagne

2-3tbsp vegetable oil
8 shallots, finely sliced
1 pack Quorn mince
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 small jar bolognese sauce
salt and pepper
1 tbsp garlic granules
2 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp mixed herbs
2 tbsp oregano
275ml London Porter, or any kind of stout
2 tbsp garlic purée
3 tbsp tomato purée
3 tbsp Lea & Perrins Worcester Sauce
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
3 drops oyster sauce
1 tin baked beans, brand immaterial
1 tin sweetcorn
1 Knorr vegetable stock pot
1 red pepper, quartered and sliced
1 green pepper, quartered and sliced
8 portabello mushrooms, peeled and sliced
1 handful of kale
1 handful of mange tout

2 packs Loyd Grossman cheese sauce

Dried lasagne sheets

Grated mature cheddar

You either need a pot you could fit a pair of boots in, or two decent sized saucepans.

This is a modification of my mother’s recipe. The idea is to throw in everything that doesn’t argue.

Warm the oil, and cook the shallots until softened and golden. Add the Quorn mince and stir. Add the chopped tomatoes and bolognese sauce, and wait for the magic to start.

Stir for a couple of minutes.

The joy of Quorn mince is that you can’t really undercook it. Season with salt and pepper, and add the garlic granules, paprika, mixed herbs and oregano. Stir together and add the Porter, garlic and tomato purées. Add the Worcester sauce, soy sauce and oyster sauce – this is the magical ingredient. Let the stock pot melt in, and, once it has, add the baked beans, sweetcorn and peppers.

Allow to bubble away, stirring from time to time, for around five minutes, to let the liquid reduce.

Just before finishing, throw in the kale, mange tout and mushrooms. Stir so that they are well-covered, and then prepare your lasagne dish.

Put in a layer of meat-replacement goodness.

Add a packet of Loyd Grossman cheese sauce. Or, if you insist on doing things properly, make cheese sauce and pour over the meat substitute.

Lay on a layer of dried lasagne sheets.
Another layer of non-meaty yummy stuff.

More Loyd Grossman.

If Aimée’s in charge, about half a block of mature cheddar, grated.

Whack in the oven, at 180 for 35 mins.
On removing from the oven, leave to cool for five minutes, or risk burning your mouth.

Brace yourselves. This is faboo.

Years ago, when my sister, brother-in-law and niece visited from California, I made this lasagne for them.

I was told at the time that my niece was a fussy eater, and I’d be hard-pushed to get her to eat any of it. She cleaned her plate. I think I added wattle seed when I made the lasagne for my niece. I didn’t know what it was, but it added a slight chocolate edge. Also, we’d opened the champagne a little early, so that might have helped in my decision making process.

They had come for a late summer holiday, last minute so as to diminish the fear of flying. My sister felt I was looking too thin. She surely doesn’t have that concern any longer. I’ll say it myself, I’m a great cook. You don’t get chunky without having a working knowledge of cheese.

They had made it to the village and couldn’t find my house. This is perfectly understandable. It’s rather hidden. But they made it to the shop, where I was working.

When we’d spoken, earlier in the week, they had still be in the States, and the shop had just had its weekly delivery of scones and lardy cake. My sister was excited by the prospect of a cream tea.

The scones were dated best before Friday – the family were due on Sunday. I had to burst the bubble, but offered lasagne to cushion the fall.

I suspect it is the curse of life in California – driving dozens, if not hundreds, of miles is no big deal. We have spindly roads in Devon, very few pavements, intermittent street lights and several million roundabouts. The driving demanded by these roads is rather different from the wide open, well-lit, crosswalked and fully-planned out roading of south Los Angeles. As such, when they arrived at the shop, my sister got in my car and my brother-in-law and niece followed in their rental.

After dolloping lasagne and glasses of bubbly, much toasting and catching up, the time came for them to head back to their holiday home.

It was towards Taunton, as I recall. Certainly, one county over, multiple hills, break-neck bends and confusing street signs. They asked for directions and my uncle rattled off a list of how to get to Exeter.

For the geographically challenged, that would have them going West, the wrong way. I had only had a sip of booze, sobered up with a Greek coffee and drove ahead of them, East and pointing away from the turning I wanted but they didn’t.

They made it back to us for lunch the next day.

My lasagne is legendary.