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The Best Lasagna EVER

9 Apr

If you are on a diet stop reading immediately. Click the X at the top right corner of your screen. Come back tomorrow.

This lasagna is not for the weak. It will not disappoint. It will make you a bit fatter. You’ll be ok with that.

If you want to make new friends, this will do it. People bother me constantly to come over for this.

It’s time-consuming. It is worth every second.

I die.

The Best Lasagna EVER

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

For the meat sauce:

1 lb ground beef

5 hot italian sausages, with the casings removed

1 onion, diced

1 package of sliced crimini mushrooms (not a mushroom fan? just leave these out)

1 clove of garlic, chopped

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 can of tomatoes, blended in the food processor for a few seconds

1/2 a bottle of red wine (whatever kind you like!)

10 grinds of black pepper

For the white sauce:

1 tub of creme fresh

3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

10 grinds black pepper

For the assembly:

Lasagna noodles (whatever kind works for you, I use fresh oven ready, no need to boil them!)

1 package buffalo mozzarella sliced

2 cups of shredded Italian cheeses (whatever kinds you like)

Heat a large pan to medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Add the beef and sausage and saute and it up with a wooden spoon. Saute until cooked (about 10 minutes). Set aside in a bowl. Add another splash of olive oil and add the onions and mushrooms. Saute until soft (about 8-10 minutes). Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes. Add the meat back into the pan. Add the pepper and tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Add the can of tomatoes and wine. Stir to incorporate. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

At this point you should probably treat your self to multiple glasses of wine! You deserve it b/c you’re almost there!

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl combine the creme fresh, parmesan, salt and pepper. This is your white sauce! Oh god, it’s heaven!

Rub your lasagna pan with oil. Proceed to layer in any way you want. The only thing you must do is start with a bit of sauce on the bottom of  the pan. This way the bottom noodle won’t become attached to the pan when you cook it. How I layer is meat sauce, noodle, meat sauce, white sauce, buffalo mozzarella, noodle, meat sauce, white sauce, noodle, whatever sauce I have left and then the mixed italian cheese.

(yes that’s more cheese in the background. We need an intervention and some serious professional help!)

Bake for 35-45 minutes. At the end I like to put the oven on broil so that my cheese topping gets nice and brown. If you do this, just be sure to watch it very closely. It only needs a minute or two.

Let the lasagna rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

This is not the fanciest looking. Once you’ve had one bite you won’t care.

If I were to write a book on how to make friends, this would be my first chapter.

Again, I die.

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Eggplant Parmesan and Caesar Salad

4 Apr

After a busy weekend of “projects” comfort food was on my mind. Comfort food in the form of cheese disguised as dinner. Yes Please!

Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 4

Sauce:

1 small onion diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 jar of strained tomatoes

5 grind of black pepper

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

300 grams of whole wheat linguine (if its whole wheat it makes all that cheese good for you….)

Eggplant Stacks:

1 large eggplant, sliced thinly

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

3 eggs

chopped fresh basil for garnish

For the sauce, heat a pot on medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and saute the onions until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and saute for one more minute. Pour in the tomatoes, add the pepper and fresh basil and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and let simmer.

Leave the sauce to simmer away. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice your eggplant. Heat a large pan on medium high heat and add a splash of olive oil.  Set up an assembly line. Have your eggplant, followed by a bowl of the three eggs whisked together, followed by a bowl of the bread crumbs mixed with 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese. Dip an eggplant slice into the egg mixture and let any excess slide off back into the bowl. Then place the slice into the breadcrumb/cheese mixture, ensuring it is coated, the shake off any excess. Transfer into the hot pan. Repeat until the pan is full.

Once the eggplant slices have browned on one side (only a few minutes), flip and brown on the other side. Remove from pan and transfer to a baking sheet. Make 8 stacks.

Add a splash more olive oil to the pan and repeat with another batch of eggplant slices. Continue until they are all cooked.


While you are cooking the eggplant take a small spoon and place a tbsp of the tomato sauce onto each of the 6 eggplant slices. spread evenly on the slice, and top with a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese. When the next batch of eggplant slices are done, layer them on top of the slices 6 slices coated in sauce and cheese, and repeat the process until you have stacks. Then top with another tbsp of sauce and a generous serving of cheese. Place in the over for 25 minutes. While the eggplant parmesan stacks are baking boil a pot of water and cook your pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, toss it with the extra sauce.

Caesar Salad Dressing (adapted from Ina Garten)

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 small garlic clove grated or garlic pressed

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup olive oil

lots of freshly grated parmesan

Place all ingredients into a large bowl or glass and whisk together until there is no longer a separation of oil and vinegar. Toss with romaine lettuce (just enough to wet the leaves) and lots and lots of grated parmesan cheese. If you were being true to caesar salad form this would be the time to toss in the croutons. And, if you aren’t too tied to the no meat idea this also throw in some chopped bacon pieces.

To finish up put a heap of saucy pasta on the plate, followed by 2 stacks of eggplant parmesan stacks, garnish with fresh basil and serve some caesar on the side.

Sit back and let the food coma begin!

Crispy Tofu with Udon Noodles, Bok Choy and Mushrooms

1 Apr

Udon noodles are relatively new to me in my kitchen. Of course I’ve had them out at Japanese restaurants, but I rarely cook with them. They are amazing! Slurpy and comforting is what comes to mind.

What is it about eating something with chop sticks that makes it that much more fun?

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 package extra firm tofu cut into cubes

1 egg yolk

1 cup panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)

8 heads of shanghai bok choy (or the smaller heads of bok choy or ? cups of chopped regular bok choy) roughly chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces

400 grams of mixed mushrooms sliced into thin strips (I use a mix of shiitake and oyster mushrooms) – if you’re not a mushroom fan just leave these out.

2 cups of cooked udon noodles (sorry, this is a sketchy measurement – I usually just eyeball it!) You want enough for slurping so they are the main ingredient, but you don’t want to bury your bok choy and mushrooms.

1 tbs grated ginger

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

3 tbs oyster sauce (if you’re a vegetarian, use vegeterian oyster sauce)

2 1/2 tbs hoisin sauce

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook udon noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, toss the tofu with the egg yolk. Place the panko in a ziplock, add the tofu and toss until coated. Saute at medium high heat in a pan (large enough to add the noodles at the end) with a little bit of cooking oil (I use grapeseed oil). Cook until crispy and nicely golden brown. Set aside. Turn the heat down to medium. Add a dash more of cooking oil and saute the mushrooms, ginger and garlic until the mushrooms are soft. Add the bok choy and continue to saute for 5 minutes. Add the noodles, oyster sauce and hoisin sauce and toss to coat. Cook until warmed through.

Plate and top with the crispy tofu.

Be sure to eat with chop sticks. It makes it a lot more fun!

Slurp away!

*keep in mind the grated ginger trick from my butter chicken recipe.

Smoked Salmon, Dill and Lemon Pasta

27 Mar

After a busy weekend of work and housework (the excitement never ends around here), a simple Sunday night dinner was the only thing that was going to emerge from this kitchen. Since there is still snow on the ground (*gag*), a summery light dinner sounded perfect. Fake it till you make it…..

This pasta is a delicious, simple way to get a fresh and light summery dish without a whole lot of work.

(Please excuse my photos, I am a work in progress on the photography front – my sister has offered to help and I think I’ll be taking her up on that.)

This dish will serve 4.

Ingredients:

8 clusters of fresh fettucine (I like the fresh kind that have not been dried)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 large lemons

3 shallots (I used relatively small shallots – so depending on size, you may only need two)

1/4 cup capers

10 grinds on your pepper mill

a pinch of salt

1 cup of fresh dill chopped

a large package of smoked salmon, sliced into 1/2 inch slices.

Get a pot of water boiling for your pasta. While it’s coming to a boil half your shallots lengthwise and slice. Roughly chop your capers.

Heat a large sauce pan (large enough to hold all your cooked pasta b/c you will be transferring it to this pan once it is cooked) at medium heat. Add your olive oil. Once it has had a chance to heat up add your shallots. Saute for about 5 minutes until the shallots have softened.

Add in your chopped capers. Add the juice of three large lemons*.Add the pepper. Mix all together with a wooden spoon. Allow it to heat through but do not get it boiling.

Transfer your cooked pasta straight from the pot to the sauce pan with tongs. It doesn’t matter if some of the pasta water transfers with your pasta, it will help to loosen the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce and turn off the burner.

Add your chopped dill (instead of pre-chopping, to save time, I usually just stand above the pan with scissors and chop away). Then add your salmon and toss together.

I swear it looks nicer in person…..(my photography leaves a lot to be desired).

Enjoy with a simple green salad, or crusty bread.

From start to finish this only takes about 20 minutes (especially if you use the fresh pasta since it cooks so much faster).

While there is snow on the ground out there, it’s all summer in here. I’m now off to google “how to not be the world’s worst food photographer”.

Lemon Tip*I find that the easiest way to juice a lemon it to roll it under your palm a few times before slicing it in half. This allows for some of the little bead thingys (yes, technical term) that hold all the juices to break. This gets things moving for ya. It makes for an easier squeezing experience. Same thing for limes!

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