Archive for March, 2011

CULINARY MAKEOVERS – Number Three APPLE BREAKFAST LASAGNA

Baked Apple Lasgna

 

One of the things about using leftovers is that no matter how hard you try, you usually have to add some ingredients to the leftovers and voila, your leftover larder increases or just changes.  Take the Lasagna I just made from leftovers.  The Lasagna was great, but guess what?  Using the leftovers created more leftovers.  The leftovers I had this time were about 6 lasagna noodles and a half pound of Ricotta Cheese.  What do you do with such miniscule leftovers?  Here is what I did.

I have a large supply of apples in the freezer.  We have a very prolific apple tree and even though I probably gave away a hundred pounds of apples and made apple pies, apple turnovers, apple sauce and even apple brandy, I still had some apples that needed to be preserved before they went bad.  To preserve them I peeled them, sliced them and then sautéed them in some butter, sugar and cinnamon and then froze them in 1 quart plastic bags.  Freezing them in the 1 Qt. plastic bags, allows me to use them in small quantities and if I want large quantities, all I have to do is to combine one or more packages.

To make the Apple Lasagna, I used a Le Creuset Baking Dish bake the Lasagna in.  To prepare it, the following ingredients are needed.

  • Cooked Lasagna Noodles
  • Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Leftover Ricotta Cheese
  • Cooked Apples
  • Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, Jack, Mozzarella or Cheddar Jack)

 

Make an enhanced Pastry Cream (normal Pastry Cream requires 1 Egg; I used 2 for a richer taste and for the additional protein for a breakfast meal)  Stir the leftover Ricotta into the finished Pastry Cream.

To assemble the Lasagna, butter the bottom of the pan and place a layer of noodles on the bottom.  (If using a loaf pan, probably only 1 noodle will fit at the bottom – the pan is wider at the top and more noodles will fit at the top)

Use a silicon spatula [/amazon]to spread a thin layer of the Pastry Cream/Ricotta mixture over the noodles and then a layer of Apples.  Repeat with the Noodles, Pastry Cream and Apples until you reach the top.  For the top layer, add the pastry cream, apples and then a layer of shredded cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until hot and the cheese on top is melted.

The dish may be made ahead of time (especially if it is for breakfast) and then baked just before serving.  If baking the Lasagna right out of the refrigerator place it in a cold oven and then turn the oven on.  Baking will take about 5 minutes longer this way, but eliminate the possibility of the dish cracking due to extreme temperature changes.

Let the Lasagna set for about 5 minutes before serving.  To serve at the table, place on a heat-proof mat.  If desired, Whipped Cream can be served as a garnish.  If serving for breakfast, coffee and bacon will go well with this dish and of course, milk for the children.  If this is for a company meal, garnish with fresh Apples Slices and Mint Leaves.

A Serving of Apple Lasagna

If you would like the complete Apple Lasagna Recipe, please send an e-mail to [email protected]

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Posted by admin - 2011/03/26 at 10:04 PM

Categories: Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Dessert Ideas, Fruit, Leftovers, Main, Pasta   Tags: , , , ,

CULINARY MAKEOVERS – Number Two LASAGNA FROM LEFTOVERS

 

How many times have you wondered what to do with those leftover items in your refrigerator or freezer?  Take stock of what you have and imagine what you could do with them.  My latest creation was Lasagna, and delicious Lasagna it was.  The following is what I had in my refrigerator, freezer and cupboard.

  • ½ lb. Lasagna Noodles –left over from a previous larger lasagna dinner
  • 2/3 can Crushed Tomatoes – left over from Pizza Night
  • Sliced, cooked Italian Sausage & Bell Peppers (frozen) – left over from Italian Pizza Rolls
  • Minced Basil in Olive Oil – mincing and mixing with Olive Oil will lengthen the life of the Basil – it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.  You can also add minced Garlic  and Balsamic Vinegar – it will be ready to use for salads, sautéing or as a marinade for    meat.
  • Butter, Flour and Milk

Not to let anything go to waste, I decided to incorporate these leftover ingredients into a small lasagna dinner for 4 people.  The items I needed to buy were:

  • 1 lb. each Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese
  • Sliced Mushrooms

The other items that I used and did have on hand were an Onion, some Garlic and Olive Oil and Marsala Wine and dried Oregano.

Here is the sequential order  preparing the Lasagna:

Cook the Noodles in Boiling Salted Water in a 3 quart saucepan  for 4 minutes; drained in a colander and arranged on plastic wrap in a single layer to keep them from sticking together.

Heat Olive Oil in a 10″ saute pan;   sauté the  minced Onion and Mushrooms along with 1 tsp. of Salt and then add the minced Garlic.  Once the Vegetables are cooked  (just starting to caramelize)  add some Wine and let that cook down.  Next came the crushed Tomatoes, sliced cooked Sausage and Peppers and some dried Oregano and ½ tsp.  Black Pepper I let the mixture simmer while I prepared the rest of the ingredients and added 2 Tbsps. of the Basil/Olive Oil mixture at the end of the cooking sequence.  Fresh Herbs should always be added at the end, so that you do not lose their flavor.  Dried Herbs can be added at the beginning or during the cooking process.

Shred the Mozzarella Cheese and set aside.  Melt 1 Tbsp. Butter in a small saucepan  and then add the 1 Tbsp. Flour.  Stir until a paste forms.  Stir in 1 cup of Milk and cook until the mixture thickens.  Add ½ tsp. Salt and ¼ tsp. White Pepper and 1-2 Tbsps. of the Basil/Olive oil mixture.  Stir in 1 cup of Ricotta Cheese.  Refrigerate the remaining Ricotta for another use.

To assemble the Lasagna, spread a small amount of Olive Oil in the bottom of a  9×9 or 10x 10 inch baking dish and add 1 layer of Lasagna Noodles.  Spread a small amount of the Ricotta mixture over the Noodles; add a small amount of the sauce mixture and then some Mozzarella Cheese.  (I used the whole pound of mozzarella for the lasagna because we like it cheesy, however half pound would have been sufficient.

Add another layer of Noodles, but lay them in the opposite direction of the first layer.  (This will make it easier to cut and serve the lasagna without having it fall apart) Repeat the sequence as described in the previous paragraph.  You should end up with about 3 layers with the top layer being the Mozzarella Cheese.  At this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook and serve.

To cook, remove the Lasagna from the refrigerator about ½ hour before you plan to start baking it.  If your baking pan is glass or ceramic, place the Lasagna in a cold oven, turn it on to 350 degrees and bake for approximately half hour or until the ingredients are all hot and the cheese on top is melted and just starting to brown.  (You will know when the lasagna is hot as steam will start coming up from it).

Allow the Lasagna to sit at least five minutes before cutting and serving so that it will set up and not fall apart when served.  Complete the meal with a green salad dressed with Italian Dressing and some fresh Ciabatta Bread and perhaps a glass of Pinot Grigio.

If you would like a complete Lasagna Recipe, please send an e-mail to [email protected]

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Posted by admin - 2011/03/26 at 8:52 PM

Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Food as Gifts, Holiday Meals, Italian, Leftovers, Lunch Ideas, Main, Pasta   Tags: , , , , ,

CULINARY MAKEOVERS #1 – STRAWBERRY CREAM PIE

Strawberry Marshmallow Cream Pie

 

How many times have you tried out a new recipe or simply an old one that did not turn out right?  Did you eat it anyways, toss it or try to create something new out of it?  There are times when mistakes cannot be remedied, but most of the time, if you just think creatively, a new dish can be created.  Let’s take the old phrase “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” and turn it into something new.  How about “Creations born of mistakes”?

A recipe gone wrong need not be the only way that one dish can be turned into another.  This series will deal with foods that you can create from leftovers, overabundance and mistakes.  We are going to start with a Strawberry Marshmallow Cream Pie.  Everyone loves Cream Pie and almost everyone loves Strawberries.  Since it is almost always Strawberry Time in Southern California there are always vendors parked on the street, in front of the Post Office, in front of other stores, etc.  Having purchased several boxes and having more than we could eat before they would go bad, I decided to make Strawberry Marshmallows with them.  The reason I decided on Marshmallows is that #1 – I love Marshmallows! And there is nothing like homemade marshmallows.  They taste nothing like the commercially made ones.  They are light and fluffy and you can make them any flavor that you want.  Plus I had an abundance of Egg Whites left over from making cakes that used only the yolks.

Not having made Strawberry Marshmallows before, I didn’t want to increase thegelatin in the recipe before I tried it out as it was, except for the addition of the Strawberries.  Of course, the Strawberries, once they were pureed, increased the liquid content of the Marshmallow mixture and consequently, the marshmallows did not set up completely.  But once having tasted the concoction with a spoon, there was no way we could let it go to waste.  Therefore, I came up with the idea for a Strawberry Marshmallow Cream Pie.  The crust is made from pulverized  Vanilla Wafers with the addition of a small amount of butter.  I made a Vanilla Pastry Cream to go in the bottom of the pie and then added sliced Strawberries to that.

When I started to spoon out the Marshmallow mixture, I realized that it was so airy that by the time I got it into the pie shell on top of the pastry cream, that it would not hold its shape.  To remedy that situation I whipped up a cup and a half of whipping cream and folded the marshmallow mixture into the whipped cream and then layered that mixture onto the pastry cream.  To finish the pie, I placed some sliced strawberries around the edges (small whole ones or halves would be more elegant) and then made some  chocolate curls for the top and placed a whole strawberry in the middle.  Voila!  We now have a delicious and beautiful spring or summer dessert.

I still have Egg Whites and will make another batch of Marshmallows, although not strawberry this time, because by the time we eat the pie we will have tired of strawberries for a while.  Look in your refrigerator and try to figure out what you can do with the leftover food in there.  You will be surprised at what you may come up with!

For the recipe for this pie please go to strawberry-marshmallow-cream-pie/.  The Pie recipe and the Pastry Cream recipe will be there.

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Posted by sylveee - 2011/03/22 at 5:31 PM

Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dessert Ideas, Food as Gifts, Holiday Ideas, Lunch Ideas   Tags: , , , ,

THE DELIGHTS OF CALIFORNIA STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries at the Farmers Market

One of the most delightful taste experiences that greet the arrival of Spring in many states in the US is that of the sweet, plump and juicy strawberry.  If you are lucky enough to  live in California, you don’t have to wait for Spring or Summer to enjoy this delicious fruit.  Strawberry Season lasts all year in California.  Starting with the San Diego area in  Southern California and going up the coast to the Monterey area, just short of San Francisco, there are strawberries of one kind or another growing all year round.  Along the 101 Freeway in Oxnard the strawberries are ripe starting in January.  By July the fields have been torn up and in late August the new crop is planted.  As you go further up the coast, different types of strawberries are available throughout the year.  In fact, in Oxnard, there are different types of strawberries growing all year round and there is almost always, a truck parked on a corner selling fresh strawberries.

The area near Monterey produces the largest amount of strawberries with Oxnard following close behind.  There was a time when the San Fernanado Valley produced a fair amount of berries, but unfortunately those days are gone.  Most of the cultivated land that used to exist in this area is now covered with buildings and/or concrete.

Strawberries are picked by hand and are almost always picked when ripe or almost ripe.  The strawberry is a fragile fruit and should be handled carefully.  If they are not going to be used immediately, they should be stored in the refrigerator.  But even in the refrigerator most types of strawberries will not last more than a day or two.  However, contray to the previous sentence, there are some types that will last longer.  There are many varieties of strawberries available.  One of the largest berries is the Gaviota, but large does not necessarily mean that the fruit will be sweet or sweet enough to suit your tastes.  The best way to purchase strawberries is either directly from the grower, a farmer’s market or a truck parked on the corner.  These vendors will almost always allow you to taste their wares before you purchase them letting you see if that is the fruit that you want to buy.

Not only are strawberries sweet and delicious, but they are also a healthy fruit that is low in calories.  One cup of strawberries contains only 45 calories and they are high in Vitamin A as well as other vitamins and minerals.   To clean strawberries, just wipe them with a damp paper towel.  If you do feel that you have to wash them, place them in a colander  and gently spray them will cool water and dry with a paper towel.  Wash or clean them only as you need them because washing them will hasten the deterioration of the fruit.  To remove the stems and leaves (hull) simply twist and pull or you can use the tip of a  paring knife. There are also  tools made to help you remove the hulls, but I think it is easiest just to use the  paring knife.

Strawberries are good just to eat out of hand or they can be used in a multitude of dishes. Try them on your cereal or with cream or sour cream.  They can be used in pastries, pies, ice cream, milkshakes, jams, jellies and syrups.  Of course, one of the favorite ways to prepare strawberries is strawberry shortcake.  They are also good on  waffles[/amazon], pancakes or inside crepes which are a very thin pancake that can be rolled or folded.  Nordic Ware has a pan that creates waffled pancakes;  by using this pan, you do not have to decide between having waffles or pancakes.  You get to have both in one fell swoop.  Try some of the recipes that interest you in our recipe section and then create your own.

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Posted by sylveee - 2011/03/03 at 12:08 PM

Categories: Breakfast Ideas, Dessert Ideas, Food as Gifts, Lunch Ideas   Tags: , , , , , , ,