Under Lockdown in Rome - Thoughts from Eileen Dunne & Stefano Crescenzi

Eileen and Stefano Crescenzi have been housebound in Rome for weeks. But, true to form, they are not letting that get them down. Food is a tonic as ever and the evening meal has become the focus of the day - they alternate who cooks dinner, and each dinner has become a special occasion. 

Here are some of Eileen’s tips from Rome on how to get through the current restrictions:

• The first week is probably the most difficult as it is necessary to adjust to a new lifestyle.
• It's important to establish a routine - arise, shower and dress as you usually do (no PJ days).
• Check your emails.
• Do an exercise routine. There are plenty online, if you are in an apartment like us, otherwise make the most of your garden.
• Think about lunch and what you will have - time to eat healthily, we are supporters of the Mediterranean diet.
• Afternoons can be devoted to hobbies and if you don't have one now is a good time to embark on something that you have always intended to do.
• The evening meal takes some thought and planning and families can take turns creating meals, cooking can be fun for all ages. (Sign up with your local supermarket for home deliveries if you have not already done so).
• A couple of times a week Skype family and friends and dine together. We eat with our daughters in Berlin a couple of times a week or with the boys in Dublin.
• It has never been so easy to stay at home - books, films, e-learning at our fingertips and all those jobs you intended to tackle; arrange old photographs, clear out wardrobes, move furniture around and good old fashioned Spring cleaning.
• Limit access to information on the Covid-19 virus, we need to be sensible but it cannot take over our lives.
• Stay in and stay safe. Say no to visitors, including family, you feel awkward saying this initially but you get used to it.
• Time to write another cookbook I guess!

Eileen is reading the memoirs of the Sicilian writer, Giuseppe Tomassi di Lampedusa (author of the classical novel The Leopard). He starts off saying that while famous persons tend to write their memoirs, how interesting it would be to read the memoirs of the ordinary person e.g. Byron's waiter. So, start writing... (“Sorry,” adds Eileen, “I don't mean ordinary in the general sense of the word, rather interesting and intriguing!”)

So back to food - Eileen says why not make their Signature Dunne & Crescenzi Lasagna Tradizionale for dinner this week? It's one of their own favourites - perfect for a comforting, cosy home dinner…

“We hope you enjoy the recipe and we look forward to seeing you soon - in the meantime, keep in touch! Let us know how your Lasagna turned out, if you have any questions or if there are any D&C favourites you'd like us to share the recipe for! Ciao a tutti, Eileen” 

Serves 6-8
Ingredients for the ragu:
Soffritto: 1 diced carrot, 1 stick of celery and 2 shallots
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
50g pancetta, diced (optional)
200g quality minced beef
200g quality minced pork
1 glass of red wine
2 ripe beef tomatoes, chopped
500ml tomato passata or 2 tins of plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for white sauce (béchamel):
50g butter
50g plain flour
500ml milk

To assemble:
400g dried lasagna
200g grated parmigiano
200g mozzarella, diced

• For the ragu: Sauté the soffritto in the oil on a low heat and add the pancetta, cook for a couple of minutes and add the minced meats. Stir until the meats takes on a rich pink colour but avoid browning. Add the wine and increase the heat momentarily to cook off the alcohol, then add the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and cook on a low heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add some warm water if it becomes dry
• For the béchamel sauce: Melt the butter, and stirring continuously, fold in the flour little by little until it is absorbed. Gradually pour in the milk, little by little, stirring continuously until all of the milk is absorbed and the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
• To assemble: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Put a little oil in the bottom of a rectangular oven dish and line with lasagna sheets. Cover with a thin layer of ragu, drizzle béchamel sparingly over the ragu, sprinkle with the parmigiano and dot with mozzarella.
• Repeat this process for about 3 or 4 layers, finishing with a layer of béchamel, parmigiano and mozzarella. Place in the ovenfor around 40 minutes.
• Leave to rest for a couple of minutes before cutting.



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