Classic Lasagna

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It’s the time of the year again when it rains every single day, when dinner would be perfect if there was warm gooey melted cheese and red wine, when your family is back and everyone digs into the same tray. I spent my entire afternoon yesterday slogging out this lasagna, preparing the 3h simmered bolognese sauce, painfully whisking the Béchamel sauce and tediously rolling out the pasta sheets. Everything was done from scratch and thank God it came out perfect.

It was a perfect Christmas Day dinner, but 4 of us couldn’t finish the lasagna. But I didn’t intend for 4 of us to finish it haha. It’s still raining. And I’ve got my lasagna for lunch 🙂

ps. this lasagna may take ages to prepare but it is a winner.

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Ingredients for Bolognese sauce
1 medium onion, chopped into cubes
1 large carrot, chopped into cubes
10 button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
1 1/4 cups tomato paste (from 2 6-ounce cans)
2 cups red wine
Water as needed
2 bay leaves
Dried thyme, as wished

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Directions for Bolognese Sauce
1. Coat pot generously with olive oil, add chopped vegetables and season them, cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
2. Add in beef and cook for another 15 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.
3. Add tomato paste and cook for 3 to 4 minutes,
4. Add in red wine, cook until half of the sauce is reduced.
5. Add water into the sauce until it is 1 inch above the meat.
6. Add bay leaf and thyme.
7. Reduce heat to low and simmer the sauce for 3 hours. Stir the meat occasionally while adding a bit of water so that the sauce can be reduced and thickened.

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Ingredients for Pasta
100g plain flour
100g semolina flour
2 large eggs

Directions for Pasta
1. Place all the flour in a huge bowl, making a well in the middle.
2. Crack eggs into the well.
3. Gradually mix flour with the eggs until a ball of dough is formed. Add more flour if the dough is too wet.
4. Knead until smooth and elastic.
5. Let dough rest for 15 minutes before rolling out on machine. (I rolled mine to the thickness setting of 7)
6. Cut the pasta into rectangles, according to the size of the dish you are using.
7. Cook the pasta sheets in boiling water for 2 minutes (timing depends on the thickness of your pasta)

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Ingredients for Béchamel sauce
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon table salt
1 clove minced garlic
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions for Béchamel Sauce
1. Melt butter in a medium-large pot over medium heat.
2. Once melted, add in flour and stir until well mixed.
3. Whisk in milk gradually until a smooth paste is formed.
4. Add in grated nutmeg, black pepper and minced garlic.
5. Cook béchamel sauce for a further 10 minutes, stirring it constantly.

Ingredients to assemble
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese

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Directions for Assembling
1. Spread béchamel sauce onto base of the tray.
2. Cover the sauce with pasta sheets.
3. Spread bolognese sauce over the pasta sheets.
4. Spread béchamel sauce over the bolognese sauce.
5. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella and parmesan over.
6. Repeat the layers, you should get about 3 layers.
7. For the last layer, it should be pasta sheet, béchamel sauce and then parmesan cheese. If you want a crispier top, you could omit the béchamel sauce!
8. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 to 25 minutes, until the top is brown and the sides are bubbling.
9. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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Classic Lemon Bars

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The holidays are finally here!!! 🙂 Semester 1 of med school has been crazy, if this is supposed to be the slackest period, then life is going to be crazy busy for the next 5 years. I made these lemon bars a few weeks back when I needed a break from all that studying and also to feed my friends. They taste the best on the same day of baking though because the crust gets soft, which is an added reason for you to just finish the entire tray of lemon bars yourself.

I am in love with the gooey centre and I’m sure you will be too. Even my health-conscious mother can’t control herself when she see these bars lying on the island top.

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Ingredients
For the crust
½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt

For the filling
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¾ cup granulated sugar

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 170
2. Line a 10 x 10 inch baking tray with parchment paper.
3. For the crust, cream butter and sugar together with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
4. Add flour and sugar, beat on low speed.
5. Dump the crust into the tray and press it down with your fingers.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned around the edges.
7. While baking the crust, whisk the eggs and sugar until thick.
8. Whisk in lemon juice and lemon zest.
9. Remove baked crust from the oven and immediately pour filling over the crust.
10. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until it is lightly browned on top and the centre is not jiggling.
11. Cool completely in the pan.
12. Run knife around the edges of the pan and slice into squares.
13. Store in air-tight container separated by wax paper layers.