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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: , , , , ,

SALSA: TOMATOES, CILANTRO & CHILIES

Walk down the Mexican food isle of any grocery store and you will probably see at least a dozen different kinds of Salsa.  Salsa which is a well-known Mexican condiment is just one of many types of sauces that are used by cultures around the world.  Salsa, a favorite in Mexico and the South Western portion of the United States is made with Tomatoes, Garlic, Cilantro, Lime Juice, Salt, sometimes Onions and of course Chilies.

It is relatively easy to make your own Salsa and the happy result is Salsa the way you like it.  Some like it hot and some like it mild and some like it in between.  My favorite is Salsa Cruda and I don’t put onions in it. Salsa Cruda is made from raw vegetables:  I just use diced Tomatoes, Cilantro, Garlic, Lime Juice, Salt and a small amount of Jalapeno Chilies.  When the Chilies are diced and you can see the pieces, believe it or not, they won’t impart as much heat (unless of course you bite into one) as when the Chili is finely minced.  One Chili finely minced has the heat equivalent of at least 2 or 3 diced Chilies.

There are cooked Salsas as well as raw ones.  The cooked are usually more of a sauce in which you cannot necessarily see each individual ingredients whereas in Salsa Cruda, you know exactly what is in it.  The cooked ones are usually made with chilies and tomatillos which look like little green tomatoes.

Cilantro which is a popular ingredient in Salsa is used widely throughout the world.  In the Western World it is called Cilantro and in the Eastern part of the World it is called Coriander.  They are both the same herb.  At one time in the United States, Cilantro was also known as Chinese Parsley and it does belong to the parsley family.

In Argentina, a popular condiment is known as Chimichurri Sauce and no one in Argentina would think of serving a meal without Chimichurri on the table.  Chimichurri is made with parsley, garlic, Olive Oil, Salt and Vinegar.  It is not hot like salsa can be, but it certainly can be pungent because of the garlic.  Every restaurant and every family has their own version of Chimichurri; there are probably as many versions of Chimichurri as there are Salsas.

Salsa is made in many forms.  It usually is made with tomatoes but it can also be made with just onions and cilantro as the main ingredients; there is mango salsa, peach salsa, and pineapple salsa.

Chilies which are popularly used in salsa are Jalapenos and Serranos.  Jalapenos are hot but they have more of a tang than the absolute hot heat that the Serranos have.  As a rule, the smaller the chili, the hotter it is.  When you are handling Chilies you need to be careful because once you get the capsaicin (the heat element in chilies) on your fingers it is very difficult to get off and you need to be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, mouth or other bodily orifices.  It is best to use gloves when handling the chilies.  The hottest portions of the chili are the seeds and the ribs inside.

Salsa or its equivalent is a dish with never-ending possibilities.  It is delicious and can be made hot or not, depending on the taste buds of the person preparing it or who it is being prepared for.  Try your hand at making your own version of salsa.  Be original and don’t think you have to stick to any format.  You never know what you may come up with!  Maybe the next great condiment!  Be sure and use the correct tools when preparing your Salsa.  A small  paring knife  will come in handy for removing the seeds and ribs from the Chilies (the seeds and ribs are where all the heat is).  A  cutting board is a must for dicing your vegetables and a rubber mat or damp towel to put under the cutting board is also an important tool.  The mat or damp towel will keep the board from slipping and sliding when you are dicing your vegetables and thereby avoid injury.   Your garlic can either be minced with your paring knife or you can use a garlic press.

Try the recipes in our appetizer section and then after you do, create your own variations.  More Cilantro, Onions if you want, more garlic, more lime juice and for the adventurous more chilies!  Salsa does need some salt, but be careful!  Too much can ruin your product.  Enjoy creating and eating your salsa.  Salsa can be served as an appetizer with chips or vegetables or it can be used as a salad dressing or a condiment for your meat dishes. Try one or two of the recipes below.  The country next to the name is where it originated.

Salsa Cruda – Mexico

Mango Relish – Tropics

Chimichurri Sauce – Argentina

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by admin - 2011/02/24 at 10:19 PM

Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Lunch Ideas, Main   Tags: , ,

Thanks Mom for the Most Incredible Cake Ever!

This year for my Birthday, my mother, Sylvia of Sylveeeskitchen.com, for whom I help operate this web blog to share her years of talent with others, asked me what kind of cake I wanted for my Birthday on November 26th.

My first thought was that I didn’t want a cake since we usually celebrate my birthday on Thanksgiving and there is always too much food and far too much that she always does to make it  a great day for our entire family.

But then a little devil inside me said, Hey, I will tell her to make Andriano Zumbo’s famed eight layered V8 cake as featured on Masterchef Australia this season. One contestant described this cake as eight layers of hell.

I figured it was so complicated and difficult to even attempt that she might opt out and then I would get my wish that she not make me a cake and give herself a break this year.  But to my surprise, she took on the challenge of making this monster of a cake.

While not technically perfect cosmetically as this would take any master pastry chef many attempts to even come close, she made what was one of the best cakes I have ever had.  It was truly amazing in flavor, texture and was everything I thought it should taste like.   I have posted some of the pictures on the cake on Sylveees Kitchen Flickr Album.  Please take a look.  Thanks Mom, for the best cake ever.

Andriano Zumbo’s Recipe from Masterchef Australia 2010

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Posted by admin - 2010/11/26 at 6:39 PM

Categories: Birthday Parties, Dessert Ideas, Food as Gifts, Main   Tags: , , , , , ,

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