Cooking with Reinbold: Lasagne Per Favore

‘Unnatural cook’ LOTTE REINBOLD invites us into her weird and wonderful kitchen, full of ‘culinary anxiety, illicit creations, and jolly wine’. This week, she attempts lasagne…

cheese cooking food lasagne lotte reinbold matchmakers mould Nutella Sainsbury's sainsburys basics Wine yoghurt

Let’s get this straight: I am not one of life’s natural cooks. In fact, there’s a lot about my cooking that is distinctly unnatural. Cheese and peanut butter sandwiches, the Romeo and Juliet of the sandwich-filling world, are always welcome to grace my dubiously-clean crockery. My fridge has more secret compartments filled with illicit creations than your average Austrian basement (too soon?!).

And yet, if I’ve learned anything from a year in Cambridge, it’s that persistence will eventually pay off. With that maxim in mind, I decided to make a lasagne for my housemates.

All the food I own…

First, I gathered my ingredients. A lot of these were begged/borrowed/stolen from my housemates, as Sainsbury’s always seems to instil in me existential angst and the desire to live on nothing but mint Matchmakers for a week (it can be done). Important things to notice, however, are the bottle of Sainsbury’s Basics Beaujolais, “for jolly cooking,” the packet of marshmallows to dip in Nutella to stem culinary anxiety (though not to add to the lasagne), and the Quorn mince (less chance of food-poisoning than using meat, and it tastes basically the same).

I should note that I’m not going to provide a recipe, as that would be a bit pointless. My cooking process consists most of blundering around the kitchen throwing things into a pan, nearly cutting off my fingers every time I chop an onion and then burning everything to a crisp “for germs.”

All you have to do is chop onions, garlic, courgettes and mushrooms and put them into a pan. Then pour in the rest of the jolly wine (if there is any). You leave that for a bit, and make the roux. This is what the roux looked like:


Mysterious roux

I wish I could tell you how to make a roux. It’s a proper cooking word, that. From the look of the picture, it involves butter and milk. But it was at this interval that my housemates intervened. I was told in no uncertain terms that the roux was far too difficult for someone like me to attempt, and put to grating cheese. As it turns out, I didn’t make such a good job of that either.

Demonstrating my culinary ability

Though I fumed as I gaily decorated the work surfaces with Sainbury’s Basics Red Leicester, it was probably for the best that I was roux-fully deprived of the glory of making the Béchamel sauce. I had already at this point nearly chopped off my fingers a few dozen times, had a couple of glasses of wine and learned: “you probably shouldn’t leave things which are frying unattended, Lotte.” Spoilsports.

At some point, you should probably add tomatoes, mince and spinach to the vegetables. That’s what I did, anyway. The finished product, once I’d poked it into a dish, looked only marginally like the bastard pasta son of Garfield:

It worked!

Pretty good, huh? Well, yes. Too good. It emerges that my housemates had been making culinary interventions every time I was distracted (which, after a couple of glasses of wine, was fairly often), adding some pepper here, some oregano there, and generally turning my amusing column-inches into something they could actually eat for dinner. The selfish beasts.

What’s more, it was actually fairly delicious. This is not how it’s meant to be. It really isn’t. The only thing I can redeem myself with is the fact that I’ve been eating a yoghurt which I decided to leave out of the fridge for an hour a few days ago as I’ve been writing this. It emerged, just as I took the last delicious spoonful, that what I thought was delicious natural yoghurty-ness was, in fact, mould. Oh well. Back to the chocolate Matchmakers, then.