Lasagna

The recent demise of mylasagnarecipe.com has prompted me to come out of hibernation and post my transcript of their recipe here. Caveat emptor: it is not an entirely faithful rendering. And I’ve never followed this recipe exactly as written. I’ve subbed mushed firm tofu for ricotta and Yves’ tofu ground beef for the meat, and really, it was almost as good (as long as you eat it hot, coldish tofu lasagne tastes like — tofu).

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) of sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 lb (450 g) of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) of chopped onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 28 oz (796 mL) crushed tomatoes
  • 16 oz (455 mL)  tomato sauce
  • 12 oz (340 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) of water
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) white sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) fennel seed
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) fresh Basil leaves chopped
  • 4 Tbsp (60 mL) fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Italian Seasoning [Ed. note: I don’t use this. I usually put some combination of dried oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary.]
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground pepper
  • 23 oz (680 mL) of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb (450 g) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup (240 mL)  grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 lasagna noodles

Directions

    1. Start with the following in a pot:
      • 1 pound (450 g) of sweet Italian sausage
      • 1 pound (450 g) of ground beef
      • 1/2 cup (120 mL) of chopped onions
      • 2 cloves of garlic chopped

The flavor of the Italian sausage varies from brand to brand. You may need to try a different brand the first couple of times you cook this dish. Find the flavor you like the best.

  • Brown the ground beef, Italian sausage, onions and garlic in a pot until they start to cook. It takes about 6 to 9 minutes to brown the meat. I like to use a Dutch oven to cook this portion of the recipe. I use a medium low temperature to brown the meat. It is optional to remove the grease from the meat once it is finished browning, your choice.
  • Add the following:
    • 1 (28 ounce) (784 g) can of crushed tomatoes
    • 2 (8 ounce) (230 g) cans of tomato sauce
    • 2 (6 ounce) (168 g) cans of tomato paste
    • 1/2 (120 mL) cup of water
  • Gently stir this into the cooking meat.
  • Add the following:
    • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fennel seed
    • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) fresh Basil leaves chopped
    • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh Italian parsley chopped
    • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
    • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Italian Seasoning
    • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground pepper
  • Gently stir these seasoning into the sauce.
  • Cover the pot and let the meat sauce simmer. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes. This is the ideal simmer time but not mandatory. If you don’t have time it will still be great after one hour of simmering.
  • I will sometimes make this sauce and refrigerate it after it finishes simmering. I will use the meat sauce the next day to put the rest of this recipe together. For some reason Italian meat sauce taste even better the next day. But that’s up to you.
  • Soak 12 lasagna noodles. The lasagna noodles need to be soaked in hot tap water for 15 minutes.
  • While the noodles are soaking you can make the cheese filling. Put the following in a mixing bowl:
    • 23 ounces (644 g) of ricotta cheese.
    • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) fresh grated nutmeg
  • Add the following:
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • Mix these ingredients together with a spoon.
  • Now we start building the lasagna layers. Use a 9×13 inch baking pan. Spread 2 Cups (480 mL) of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  • Remove your lasagna noodles out of the water bath. Shake water off wet noodles.
  • Lay 6 noodles across the layer of sauce.
  • Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the layer of noodles.
  • Spread 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta layer.
  • Sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella layer
  • Spread 2 cups (480 mL) of meat sauce over the cheese layer
  • Lay down the next layer of noodles
  • Spread the remaining ricotta mixture over noodles
  • Spread the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses saving some cheese for the top of the lasagna
  • Put the last layer of meat sauce on the cheeses
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  • Cover with foil. Bake in preheated oven at 350 F (177 C) for 25 minutes
  • Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for approximately 15 minutes.

 

Lasagna Layer Quick Reference

      10) mozarella/parmesan
------------------------------------
      9) meat sauce
------------------------------------
      8) mozarella/parmesan
------------------------------------
      7) ricotta
------------------------------------
      6) noodles
------------------------------------
      5) meat sauce
------------------------------------
      4) mozarella/parmesan
------------------------------------
      3) ricotta
------------------------------------
      2) noodles
------------------------------------
      1) meat sauce
Advertisements

Chicken Gulai

Chicken GulaiHere’s an easy, delicious recipe from an Indonesian friend of mine. I’ve always been intimidated by recipes involving lemongrass, but I really liked this dish so I asked if I could help her make it. It was worth it. Sweet, spicy, delicious comfort food at its best. (You’ll probably need access to a good Asian market for some of the ingredients.)

Ingredients

4 large chicken legs (with skin or without)
3 stalks of lemongrass
150 mL Túóng Ót Toi Viet-Nam chili garlic sauce
5 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 tsp ginger
3 bay leave
4 lime leaves
200 mL coconut milk
4-6 Tbsp sugar

1. Fine-chop garlic, onions, and ginger, then mix together and crush with a mortal and pestle.
2. In a large frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil.
3. Add the garlic-onion-ginger mix, garlic chili sauce, and coconut milk. Stir.
4. Add the lime leaves, bay leaves, and lemongrass.
5. Add the chicken.
6. Cover and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes or so (until chick is cooked through, and all the Sam ‘n’ Ella are dead).

Serve on jasmine rice and top with chopped shallots.

Note the original recipe called for aniseed and galangal, but I didn’t use either. Still tasted quite good to me.

Sweet Potato Burrito

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time for ranting at the moment. Instead, here’s a rough approximation of a recipe from my ex-wife, always popular with guests.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato or yam
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 540 mL can of kidney beans (black beans work too)
  • 5-8 soft large (10-12″) tortilla shells
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or monterey jack)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (use 1/2 tsp if you don’t like spicy)

Steps

PROTIP: To save time, cook your kidney beans while you boil the sweet potatoes!

Sweet Potato

  1. Peel the sweet potato.
  2. Cut it into chunks (for faster cooking).
  3. Boil in salted water until soft in the middle (stick ’em with a fork).
  4. Remove from heat, drain water, and mash.

Kidney Beans

  1. Peel the onion and chop it coarsely.
  2. Drain and rinse kidney beans.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil on medium heat.
  4. Add onions and cook until soft.
  5. Add beans, soy sauce, cumin, and cayenne to the onions.
  6. Mash it all together in the pan. (The mixture should look like refried beans.)

    Mashed kidney beans (left) and yams

  7. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan.
  8. Remove from heat.

Burritos

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Dress each tortilla with equal parts bean and sweet potato. (You have enough of each to make between 5 and 8 burritos, depending how much you want to put in each.)

    PROTIP: Make sure you leave enough room to fold the burrito properly! (See picture.)

  3. Sprinkle cheese over the bean and sweet potato.

    Dressing a burrito: bean, sweet potato, and cheese

  4. Place burritos on an oven pan and cook for about 10 minutes or until the tops start to brown. (Optional: flip and cook for another 5 minutes.)

Serve with salsa. I use Safeway Select Chipotle Salsa Medium. Or if I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll make a nice mango salsa.

Curry Chicken

I may not be around much next little while. I still have lots to blather on about, but a couple real-life concerns are demanding my attention. Before I go, here’s a recipe.


There’s a curry recipe I like to follow, but I’m not a fan of how it’s written; the garam masala is in a separate recipe, which makes sense and I appreciate the modularity, but I don’t currently make any other dishes requiring it, so for me, I’d be happier having it in a single post.

Also, for someone like me, this is a complicated recipe, as it requires preparing a marinade, marinating overnight (for best results), and a few steps once it gets to the stove top. Still, I’m happy to make the investment of time and energy because the results have so far been really good, i.e., really tasty.

To make things a bit easier for myself, I’ve taken to prepping ingredient bowls for each stage of the cooking (see picture). And since I’ve taken that picture, I find it really helps me to remember both the ingredients and the steps, and I no longer need to refer to the written recipe as much.

Ingredients

Marinade

1 cup plain yoghurt (I use Balkan style)
1-2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vegetable oil

Garam Masala

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
(Note you will only need 1 1/2 tsp of this mixture)

The Rest

1/4 cup ghee (I use either 1/4 cup canola oil or a bit less margarine)
4 lbs skinless chicken (I just buy 4 good-sized legs)
1 – 1.5 cups chopped onions
3 – 4 cloves crushed garlic (I press it)
2 tsp grated ginger
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 – 1.5 cups crushed tomatoes (if more tomatoes, use less water)
0.5 – 1 cup water (if more water, use less tomatoes)
2 Tbsp curry powder (I use store-bought but you can also follow this curry powder recipe)

Marinating Instructions

  1. Mix yoghurt, ginger, oil, and lemon juice.
  2. Put chicken in a plastic bag or other container suitable for marinating (I use a glassware baking dish)
  3. Cover chicken with mixture
  4. Refrigerate overnight for best results, but even an hour or two helps improve flavor

Preparation

To make your life easier, prepare ingredient bowls as follows:

  • Bowl 1: chopped onions, cayenne pepper, salt
  • Bowl 2: crushed garlic, grated ginger
  • Bowl 3: 1 1/2 tsp garam masala, curry powder, bay leaf
  • Bowl 4: crushed tomatoes

Cooking

  1. In a large frying pan, heat your ghee, oil, or margarine.
  2. Remove chicken from marinade and place in the pan.
  3. Cook on medium heat until brown. (I brown both sides.)
  4. Remove chicken and put aside.
  5. Empty bowl 1 into the pan. Cook until onions are soft (5 minutes).
  6. Empty bowl 2 into the pan. Cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Empty bowl 3 into the pan. Cook for 1 minute.
  8. Empty bowl 4 into the pan. Cook for 5 minutes.
  9. Put chicken back in the pan and add the 1 cup water. Lower heat a little (low-medium?) and cook until chicken is tender. (20 minutes or so.)

Serve with basmati rice (white or brown) and naan bread.

Walnut Burger

It’s not vegan. It doesn’t pretend to be a beef burger. It just tastes good and it’s easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 200 grams crushed walnuts (the finer the better, IMHO)
  • 200 grams cooked rice (jasmine is tasty, but brown is okay too)
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped (or more, no such thing as too much garlic)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp black sesame oil (use the real stuff)

(Makes 6-7 standard hamburger sized patties)

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add rice, crushed walnuts, and eggs. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Add garlic, onions, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and sesame oil. Mix thoroughly.
  3. In a heavy bottom skillet, put a couple tablespoons of canola oil (or some other high-burning point vegetable oil), enough to coat the bottom.
  4. Heat the oil to medium temperature. (Drop in a tiny bit of the burger mixture. If it sizzles, it’s ready.)
  5. Spoon the mixture into the skillet, creating small mounds. Then flatten them into patties. (Note unlike ground beef burgers, these do not shrink when cooked.)
  6. When the edges of the patties begin to brown, flip them over.
  7. When both sides are cooked, remove from heat.

You can serve on a bun with burger condiments or with rice. I like it crumbled into bits served with Sambel Cap Jempol Chilli Sauce.