QUARANTINE DIARIES, COMFORT FOOD & ALL THE SMALL THINGS THAT KEEP US GOING
An interview from Ghent, Belgium with 3 of my most favourite people, Phoevos, Dina (my sis) & Pavlos. They made us beef lasagna!
Head straight to the recipe.
A few words about you and where did the quarantine find you?
Phoevos: I live in De Pinte, a little village just outside Ghent in Belgium.
Dina: Hello ,I live in De Pinte a village in the Flanders ,it is in Belgium.
Pavlos: The lockdown found me at home in De Pinte, a small village near Gent, Belgium.
Is this where you spend lockdown? What did it change for you?
Phoevos: Yes, I have been spending these boring hours of lock down in my little, but fun, house.
Dina: Yes, I work on the dinner table ,I also help my son with his schoolwork , also on the dinner table.
Pavlos: I still work from home, but I feel more rested because I don’t have to travel for work.
How do you cope? Do you like to cook?
Phoevos: I spend hours of doing math and literacy with my mum and dad. Then I practice my violin, read a book, and then have some fun time with my family when they finish chores and work. I also play football in the house.
At the begging I was not very interested in cooking; my mum would push me to help her. As a big Harry Potter fan, making food makes me feel I am preparing a potion. The past 2 weeks I have started enjoying cooking much more. I have made some yummy lasagna.
Dina: I love to cook new things and go for walks to a pond nearby to watch some ducklings growing. During lockdown I also enjoy baking.
Comfort food – beef lasagna
Phoevos: I am a big pasta fan and the first thing I would do would be to make something Italian.
Dina: My comfort food is lasagna, I had never made lasagna before (I loved eating it though,) but with lockdown I had more time, so I made it with my son and husband. I love them because, I love pasta, sauces with Mediterranean herbs and cream
Pavlos: Lasagna. Making lasagna is teamwork, I cook them with my family and my task is to make the bechamel sauce, which is my specialty.
- 250 gr lasagna sheets
- 500gr mince beef
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions (1, if the onion is big)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 70g tomato paste
- 250g wine, all wines work (red, rose, white)
- 400 g chopped up tomatoes; we like to use them freshly chopped up and not use tin tomatoes
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 1/2 bunch basil
- Salt and pepper to taste your sauce
For the beef sauce
For the bechamel sauce
- 120 g butter
- 80 g all-purpose flour
- 1 litre milk
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 50g grated parmesan/pecorino- we prefer the latter
DirectionsFor the red sauce
- Lightly saute the coarsely chopped onions and garlics,the add rosemary, thyme, and sauté.
- Add the beef and sauté for 3-4 minutes until golden and caramelized.
- Stir in the tomato paste and mix.
- Add the wine and as soon as it evaporates, add salt, pepper, and the tomatoes, and mix.
- Cover the sauce and lower the heat to medium. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the parsley and basil finely chopped, and mix. You can now set aside and get started on the bechamel sauce.
For the bechamel sauce
- Place a pot over medium heat.
- Add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and mix with a hand whisk until it absorbs the whole butter.
- Add the milk in 7-8 batches by constantly stirring with the whisk.
- As soon as the bechamel sauce thickens, add the nutmeg, salt, pepper, and mix.
- As soon as you see bubbles, remove from the heat, add fold in the grated cheese, and mix.
To assemble the layers:
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Spread the olive oil onto a 36×28 cm pan and then, add a layer of the lasagna so that the whole bottom is covered. It doesn’t matter if you use broken pieces of the lasagna sheets.
- Spread the 1/3 of the beef sauce, the ¼ of the bechamel sauce, the ¼ of the grated cheese, and cover with another layer of lasagna.
- Follow the same process 1/2 more times.
- Cover with parchment paper and foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Allow 30 minutes for them to cool before serving.
Where will you go eat once this madness is over?
Phoevos: To a little but extraordinary Vietnamese restaurant called “Anders”, which in Dutch means “Different”. I love their Vietnamese rolls that are made with transparent rice dough and a bunch of vegetables and flowers. You can dip it in the most delightful sweet plum sauce.
Dina: I would like to go to the local Frituur where I can have some frieten (Belgian style fries.)
Pavlos: Ghent downtown to have a waffle on the go!
Share a wish, just so we can finish on a happy note.
In choir: Spirits up! Stay home, stay safe!
from de Pinte with love,
Phoevos, Dina & Pavlos
PS: If you wish to be part of my quarantine cuisine diaries and share your experience on Eat Yourself Greek (EYG), please drop me a line here. Thanks, Eugeniaby