Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Quorn Lasagne


As I frequently make my own Quorn Lasagne anyway, I was intrigued to find out how this recipe would compare. I tend to just ad lib with quorn mince, tinned tomatoes and whatever veg I have lying round in the fridge and generally it's pretty tasty, it is one of my husband's favourites - this had a lot to live up to therefore.

Actually we were very, VERY impressed with this lasagne. The richness of the sauce is phenomenal and for the first time ever I also made my own white sauce (a skill I will definitely be using again in the future) which also got the thumbs up. We both thoroughly enjoyed this and it definitely was better than my own versions - but the only downer for me is the points content, which is high.

This is a picture of the finished lasagne before serving, textbook apart from the cheese dribbling down the side of the dish!

I think I actually needed a slightly bigger lasagne dish for this - or even an actual lasagne dish would probably help, this is just a ceramic roaster which I normally use but which struggled with the quantities of this recipe. 

Anyway, once served this was what it looked like, it is making me want to eat it again actually looking at these images, that is testament to how nice it was:

I think that the secret to why the sauce is so good and tastes so rich is down to two elements, firstly the addition of red pesto and secondly the 3 tbsp of red wine. Neither of these are items which I generally add to my lasagne sauce but here they seemed to make a real difference and add a tasty depth to the flavour. This recipe uses passata where I would usually use chopped tomatoes and again I think I preferred this in the sauce, which seemed less dry as a result.

The white sauce was actually surprisingly easy to make and in retrospect I don't really know why I have never made this myself before as it is much nicer than the synthetic versions you can buy in jars and which I generally end up scraping off the top of my portion of lasagne anyway. Flour, butter, milk and some grated cheese turned into a silky, thick and smooth rue.

So, this ticked every box in terms of flavour, simplicity and satisfaction - but what about the points?

It is important to clarify that due to the shape of my lasagne dish and the sizes, I made this recipe into 3 portions although in the book it is down as serving 4. I only served this with a salad and no other carbs and to me this was a generous and filling portion. 

Based on this recipe serving 3, on propoints, a portion of this lasagne costs 18 points which, I am sure you will agree, is quite high. This is broken down as follows: lasagne sheets (4), quorn mince (2), pesto (2), oil (2), milk in white sauce (1), butter in white sauce (2), cheese in white sauce and on top (3) flour and red wine (2). 

Despite this being a high points scorer I actually think it is worth the splurge (and anyway, if I know I am having it again I will do some exercise to earn extra points for the day). It certainly tastes so good that even at 18 points it seems pretty good value for such a rich dish.

The pesto and red wine in the sauce clearly help with this and personally I feel like this recipe has given me new inspiration where lasagne is concerned, a dish I frequently cook has been injected with a whole new range of possibilities.

This gets a 9/10 from us, definitely one of my favourites so far from the Quorn Cookbook.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Fillets in a Creamy Pesto Sauce


This is yet another interesting idea for what to do with Quorn fillets (although the recipe says to use either fillets or pieces). I do like it in theory but to be honest I do not think this is one I will rush to make again.

The sauce that these are simmered in is ok, not remarkably tasty but quite edible. The thing that bugged me about it, I think, is that it is high fat and also simmers away quite easily. 

I found that after simmering the fillets in the sauce for the suggested 20 minutes there was literally about a tablespoon of actual sauce left which you are then supposed to stir the creme fraiche into - I had to thin the sauce back out with extra vegetable stock which I had deliberately kept to one side predicting that this would happen when I saw the quantity of the sauce to begin with.

This is the dish once finished, it does look quite appealing on the plate and the sauce goes very nicely with some mash as served here:

The sauce is quite rich, being made of red pesto, creme fraiche, stock, tomato puree and thyme. I did really like the use of fresh thyme here and you could really taste it in the finished sauce. 

Although the recipe calls for half fat creme fraiche, this is still quite a high WW point count. The recipe says this serves 2/3 and that I think, is because you get 6 quorn fillets in a pack so a moderate size serving would be 2 fillets. Because there are 2 of us and a spare one portion would be pointless, I split this between the two of us and accordingly it works out at 11 points per portion.

This is 3 for the pesto, 4 for the quorn, 2 for the creme fraiche and 2 for the oil which is needed to brown the fillets in. I guess you could cut out the oil by pre-cooking the fillets and if you split the recipe by 3 it would be 7 points per portion but not particularly generous sizes. The problem with keeping it at 11 points is that you then have to also take into account whatever you serve it with and that bumps it up.

The method here is quite good, simmering the fillets in sauce before removing them and creaming up the sauce itself to serve. I felt the whole way through cooking though that this was quite a fatty recipe and I did think the sauce tasted rich and a little bit oily (although it was quite nice). 

We gave this a 6/10, it is simple and a good idea for jazzing up fillets but not interesting or tasty enough to be one I would make again in a hurry. I may well experiment with the method though and it is useful to cook this way with fillets.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Tortilla Stack


I feel the need to put the picture of this recipe near the top of the blog today because I was so pleased with how it turned out - both in terms of the taste and the closeness to the picture in the actual cookbook, so here you go:

This recipe was a total success in our household and although it makes four portions, my husband put away not 1 but 3 during the course of the evening, he really was that impressed (mind you he does run marathons so burns off an awful lot of calories.)

The theory is so simple I do not know why I never thought of it myself. Basically you use flour tortillas here, stacked on a baking tray with layers of a bolognese style Quorn mince sauce and grated cheese. It is sort of like a cheat's lasagne because it is fantastically simple and quick to assemble.

Personally I tweaked the recipe somewhat to keep it lower in fat (and those all important WW points) but even so it was delicious and very fulfilling. The quorn mince is fried off with onion and garlic, tinned tomatoes, paprika, chilli powder and tomato puree and then some fresh coriander is strirred through right at the end. I also kept adding water to the sauce because the recipe calls for 20 minutes of simmering but the sauce is actually too dry to sustain this without adding extra fluid. This did not affect the taste though.

Once you have your mince mixture you spoon it onto the first tortilla, spread it evenly out to the sides, sprinkle with grated cheese and then add another tortilla and continue until you run out of mixture.

The recipe uses 200g of grated cheese but this is incredibly high fat and points, I used about 75g, enough for a scattering in each layer and enough to melt over the top and this was adequate. I am sure it would taste richer and more indulgent with the full 200g but for me I would rather make this dish healthier.

This is it before going in the oven:

And this is what it looked like afterwards, before I cut it into quarters:

You can see that it had gone slightly crisp around the edges but this made for a nice variance in the texture and was not a problem. I think if you used the full amount of cheese this would maybe not happen but personally I liked the crispy bits.

In terms of points, I made this as low as possible, frying off my onions and garlic in fry light spray oil and using sainsbury's Be Good To Yourself lower fat tortillas (of which I used 5), because of that the points values for my version were as follows:

9 pro-points per portion -3 for the quorn, 3 for the tortillas and 3 for the cheese. Very simple to work out because everything else is zero points for this recipe.

We gave it a 9/10 and both really enjoyed it. I served it with some oven chips and rocket leaves, as a light lunch it would be lovely just served with a salad. I will definitely be making this recipe again and will experiment with the method too as I like this easy version of producing a lasagne style dish. Another success!  

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Quorn Korma


So, recipe number 15, the first this week due to one thing and another - and its another curry! It sort of highlights how much we love curry that of the 15 recipes trialled so far, this is the third indian style dish I have opted for.

I think of the three this is actually my favourite. A stunning curry paste is blitzed in the blender first and smells absolutely amazing, this is then fried off with the quorn before cream, butter and coconut are added. The result is a creamy, aromatic delight of a dish.

This is the paste after I had blitzed it, you can see it is a pale brown colour. 

This is the most complicated bit of the recipe, once this is done it is very straightforward, simply cooking this off with the pieces in a wok, simmering for 20 minutes until reduced and then adding in the rich stuff (including the cream) for a final 5 minutes. 

This is the dish once finished:

Because of how rich the sauce is, I was worried that the points count would be high, but the amounts of butter and cream are not too bad given this recipe makes four portions. It works out as 8 pro points per portion which is broken down as follows; cream 3, butter 1, quorn 2, coconut milk 1, oil 1. Everything else in the recipe is 0 points (spices, garlic, ginger and tomato puree). 

This means that a portion of rice alongside for 6 points puts the dish at 14 points which, although half of my daily allowance, is actually pretty good for such a rich and tasty dish. It certainly feels like it should be more points than it is.

(I have not calculated the old points values as it is becoming quite a chore to do so! Apologies for this - but it makes more sense to continue with the new system which I am actually following). 

I used frozen quorn pieces and only realized as I was cooking it that the recipe calls for 350g of quorn and the frozen bags only contain 300g. I assume therefore that fresh pieces would have been the better idea because I believe they come in 350g chilled packs - this made no difference to the end result however.

So, the verdict from us was overwhelmingly positive, the husband gave it a 9/10 and its one of my favourite dishes from the recipe book so far. Although it is more complicated than some of the recipes and requires a blender (although a hand blender would be adequate), it is actually easy once the paste is made and this could be done in advance and chilled if you were in a rush.

Very tasty and fragrant, rich and creamy and a recipe which works particularly well with the quorn pieces, this is a brilliant option for a cracking curry.