I didn’t write anything yesterday.
However, I did bake a Lasagne for dinner which we shared with some friends. As I removed it from the Aga, I noticed that it was five o’clock and already dark. A Lasagne seemed just the right dish to be removing from a stove on a dark Scottish evening.
I took a photo of my Lasagne to show you, and because photos of food are supposed to add interest to a blog post which, I think, generates more readers and followers.
Unfortunately, my mobile phone photo did not do my creation justice, making it appear unspeakably inedible. Which it most definitely was not.
And I had every reason to expect my Lasagne to be a success; to have the perfect balance of moistness to firmness, sauce to meat, and softness to toasted cheesy crunch.
But why such confidence?
Because, this was no ordinary Lasagne recipe; this was Mary Berry’s Aga Book Lasagne recipe.
As you may, or may not, remember, we inherited an Aga with our new house and have been getting to grips with the techniques involved in baking and cooking on it. It has been a joy to re-learn how to prepare all our favourite meals; it’s been a greater pleasure to try out Mary’s Aga Book recipes for the first time.
If Delia Smith taught the nation how to cook (for American blog readers please replace ‘Delia Smith’ with ‘Julia Child’), and Nigella how to caress our mixing bowls and lick our spoons, (I call it food porn), then Mary Berry leads the field in the art of cooking on an Aga. She wrote the official Aga cookbook, of which we have two copies: one inherited along with the Aga, one kindly donated by a family member. The photos inside are reminiscent of 1980s recipe book photography: innocently placed dishes alongside floral displays or sprigs of fresh herbs. Food porn (are you reading this Nigella?) this is not. The recipes, though, have stood the test of time; those I have attempted are surefire winners:
Mary’s ‘Special Scones’ proved to be the best I’ve ever baked; a beautiful, break-in-the-middle rise, wonderfully moist, moorishly soft.
Likewise her traybakes. The sharp lemon slices and fruity slices were received by grateful friends with open mouths and licking lips.
Aga pizza anyone? No problem; we’ll just use the roasting oven floor like a traditional wood oven and hey presto! pizza which your average Neapolitan would struggle to say no grazie to.
And as for the Lasagne….it was delicious.
Mary Berry: can she do no wrong?
Baker supreme, consummate television performer, snappy dresser and master of the optical put-down. The looks she gave Christine this year on the Bake-Off were enough to curdle anyone’s crème pâtissiere.
In my Bake-Off dreams, Mary duels Christine out of the tent with a wooden spatula, whilst Paul Hollywood cowers behind a tottering tower of a show-stopping skyscraper of profiteroles. As I said: in my dreams.
It’s cold north of the border now; but with the Aga fired up and ready to go, I plan to test every recipe in The Aga Cookbook. With Mary to guide me, each one, I anticipate, will be as successful as last night’s Lasagne. And if one should fail, I shan’t tell you about it. Who am I to chip away at this woman’s honour. She is a God(send) to bakers everywhere.
All hail Mary Berry.
I might not have been creative with the writing yesterday, but I was creative in the kitchen. Which I’ve now written about. That’s two bursts of creativity in less than twenty four hours.
It’s shame I don’t have a photo of my Lasagne to show you. Will this do?