WINTER COMFORT FOOD – VEGETABLE SOUP
Comfort Food is Food that warms the body and the soul. It makes you feel good and satisfied after eating it. I think Comfort Food is different for different cultures and different people but there are variations within the dishes that we call ‘Comfort Food’. The differences are not so much in the main ingredients but in the preparation techniques and the seasonings used. Here is another great Comfort Food that really warms you inside – Vegetable Soup – it can be served as a complete meal with the addition of some protein and delicious fresh bread. It can also be served as a first course and the leftovers are great for lunch.
I love to make Vegetable and it is one of my favorite ways of cleaning out the Vegetable in my refrigerator. If you have ever wondered what you are going to do with all those vegetables that you just can’t seem to getting around to use or even if like I do, you have little bits and little bits of that, Vegetable Soup is the perfect vehicle for using up those items. So when I taught school, I taught my students how to make ‘Clean Out the Refrigerator’ Vegetable Soup.
What you will need is a large pot and some Olive Oil and whatever you can forage from your refrigerator. If you don’t have items in your refrigerator that you can use, you can always visit your local Farmer’s Market or Grocery Store to pick up whatever you wish to put in your soup. For the last batch I made, I used Onions, (a must), Celery, Carrots, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Tomato Paste, Frozen Peas and Corn. For the batch before this one I used a Sweet Potato and Spinach. Visit vegetable-soup for the complete recipe.
Saute your Vegetables (starting with the Onion and Mushrooms) in Olive Oil. I always salt the Mushrooms as they do need and it helps to leech out some of the water in their pores. Once they have cooked and started caramelizing add the remaining fresh Vegetables and dried herbs. For the liquid I use either de-fatted Turkey, Chicken or Beef Broth, depending on what is in my freezer. Vegetable Soup does not need to cook for a long time – you do not want really mush vegetables. It is much better to have some texture left to bite into. About 10 minutes before serving bring the soup up to boiling and add about 1 cup uncooked Pasta. Once the Pasta is ‘al dente’ add fresh Herbs (in this case two kinds of Basil), and frozen Peas and/or Corn if you are going to use them. A couple of minutes is all you need for these frozen Vegetables.
To make a complete meal out of your Vegetable Soup, add some Protein such as Tofu (for Vegans), Chicken, Sliced Hot Dogs or Sausage or Turkey. Any one of the above make a great addition to your soup which is also delicious without it. Just serve it with some Hot Fresh Bread.
Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Farm Markets, Leftovers, Lunch Ideas, Main, One Dish Meals Tags: Celery, family dinner, kids recipes, Leftovers, Mushrooms, Pasta, Tomatoes, Vegetables
Homemade Ricotta in Cannelloni
Update to Homemade Ricotta – In July and September I posted Blogs about making your own Ricotta Cheese. The first batch that was made used Lemon Juice to curdle it. The second batch I tried using Rennet Tables but that did not work so well, so here I am back using the Lemon Juice which works great! This batch of Ricotta like the first batch made was very delicious and on a par (if not better) than the expensive brand I usually buy. When I buy Ricotta I buy a whole milk product which has much more flavor and body than the lower fat one. I usually pay between $5 & $6 for it. The batch I made at home this time, cost:
Milk – $2.99
Cream – 75 cents
Lemon Juice – free (the lemons were given to me – if you have to purchase the lemons you will need 1-2 lemons depending on the size – also the price will vary from store to store and from State to State.
Cheese Cloth – about $2.00 worth (but I was able to wash it and will be able to reuse it again)
So, my fresh batch of Ricotta which tasted delicious and was made right in my own kitchen cost me about $4.00 to make, not counting the gas and the hot water for washing the pot. Maybe it was as much as I pay for the finished product but it was well worth it as it is delicious. For the directions for making the Ricotta, please visit Adventures in Cheese Making
Now, what did I do with this batch of Ricotta. I made Cannelloni for dinner tonight and was able to freeze half of them for another meal. If you have four or more eating dinner, the whole recipe will be sufficient for 4- 6 people, depending on appetites. If teenage boys are involved, then you will have dinner only for four. If like us, there are only 2 people at the meal, then you will have at least 2 meals out of it and maybe more.
While the Ricotta was draining I made the Crepe Batter for the Cannelloni Shells and then refrigerated it. Crepe batter needs to rest for at least one hour after being made. For the recipe see Crepe Batter
While the Crepe Batter was resting, I started the Meat Sauce that was to go over the top of the filled shells. Next, I shredded the Mozzarella Cheese that was to go over the Meat Sauce. If you need a recipe for the Meat Sauce you can just use my Fresh Tomato Sauce but start out by sauteing a pound of ground beef, chicken or veal before you add the other ingredients. Or you can use only Tomato Sauce.
After the Crepes are made and the Sauce is simmering, prepare your Ricotta Cheese by adding an Egg, some freshly shredded Parmesan, Basil and about 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper or whatever your taste buds decree. The Basil that I added was actually a combo of minced Basil and Garlic in Olive Oil.
Set the Crepe Shells out on a flat surface and place 2-3 Tablespoons of the Ricotta filling on each Crepe (depending on the size of the Crepe). Fold in the sides and then the top and bottom.
Place each filled and rolled Crepe in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled with Olive Oil. Place them close together. When all the shells are filled, wrapped and placed in the baking dish top with the Sauce and some shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until everything is hot and the Mozzarella Cheese has melted.
Serve immediately with a mixed Green Salad and fresh Italian Bread, if so desired.
This dish will serve from 4-6 people, depending on appetites. We had enough leftover for a second meal and half the Manicotti went in the freezer for a third meal. Of course, we are only two people and so we are lucky enough to have more than one meal out of this dish.
Categories: Cheese, Dinner Ideas, Ethnic Cuisine, Italian, Main, One Dish Meals, Pasta Tags: Bread, Cheese, Eggs, family dinner, Gourmet Foods, Pasta, Salad, Tomatoes
Southern California Farmer’s Markets – Calabassas
Saturday Morning Farmer’s Markets abound in Southern California. Within the distance of approximately 33 miles, extending from the city of Ventura to Calabassas (at the far Western end of the San Fernando Valley) there are 4 markets that I know of: Ventura, Camarillo Old Town, Newbury Park and Calabassas. You can go further South and find quite a few more but of course, it would be difficult to attend all of them in one day. On my foray to Calabassas I also went to Newbury Park and could have hit Camarillo if I had so desired. The market is across the street from the most prominent and probably well-known business in Camarillo and that would be the Sage Brush Cantina. The Cantina opened years ago in a one store front location and soon took over the properties next to it, so that now the whole block (where there used to be a bakery and other businesses) is now all Sage Brush Cantina and their parking lot. It has become a gathering for locals and out of towners as well.
The Calabassas Market is probably the most diverse and exciting of the one that I previously mentioned. The time slot is from 9 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon. You can buy produce, flowers, artisan bread products and foods ready-made to eat on the spot.
The first thing when you walk into the market is a sign for Valet Parking and an attendant to manage it. The fee is only $3.00 which is the same that the parking lot across the street charges. There is very little street parking in Calabassas and since the Market is well-attended the lot or Valet Parking is well worth it. An alternative is to park in the shopping center on Valley Circle – it is about a one block walk but if you are carrying market produce it can be a little tireing.
There are many flower vendors and they are the ones that are most prominent in the front of the market. This is not to say there are no produce vendors there – there are plenty but the flowers are so colorful and beautiful that they do stand out. If you are planning on purchasing flowers as well as produce wait until you are finished and almost ready to leave – that way your flowers will have stayed fresh in water until you pick them and take them home. If you carry them around the market there is a strong possibility that they will start to wilt, especially if it is a hot day.
There are many produce vendors but one of my favorite has produce similar to Underwoods in Camarillo in that they have those beautiful heads of Purple and Gold Cauliflower along with Romesco which is shaped like a castle with little turrets.
One of the ways in which I like to use the Cauliflower is to prepare it with a Cheese Sauce – the simplest Cheese Sauce that you will ever make. Simply shred as much Medium or Sharp Cheddar Cheese and combine it with enough Mayonnaise to make a spreadable mixture. Place the washed Cauliflower in a microwavable dish and spread the Mayo/Cheese mixture all over it. Microwave for approximately five minutes or until the Cauliflower is fork tender.
I love Mushrooms and one of the Vendors has a great variety of Mushrooms and they are locally (in the Conejo Valley just West of Calabassas) raised. Mushrooms grow best in the dark and not exactly knowing I asked the Vendor where he grew them – in a Greenhouse? The answer was no – he actually grows most of them in a warehouse building – probably in raised beds or flats. You could purchase one type of mushroom or a variety pack of different sizes and different prices. I couldn’t resist and did buy a $15 pack which did last me for several meals.
Also at the market were Citrus Vendors, Vegetable Vendors, Egg Vendors, Hot Sauce Vendors and many more. I am pictured below at the booth of a vendor from Central California – at this point in the day (about 1 hours before closing) his products were marked down to 3 for $5.00. An excellent and everything I purchase from his was of excellent quality.
This next vendor sells Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Beans at both the Calabassas Market and the Market in Thousand Oaks on Thursday afternoon. When I visit these markets her stand is always one that I stop at. The Cucumbers are of the Japanese variety and do not need to be peeled. They are always sweet and crisp and delicious.
One of the Vendors at the Calabassas Market was not selling produce but instead he had Pasta and Olives – the booth was called Zona de Italy. Lots of interesting pasta and delicious Olives of various varieties.
So take a trip out to Calabassas and check out their produce, flowers, pasta, etc.
Categories: Dinner Ideas, Farm Markets, Fruit, Lunch Ideas, Main, Pasta, Salads Tags: Apples, family dinner, Fruit, Mushrooms, Pasta, Tomatoes, Vegetables
VEGETABLE SOUP – COLD WEATHER FOOD
Cold Winter Weather always makes me want something hot and hearty – today it is Vegetable Soup. When I was teaching High School Culinary Arts, one of the things I taught my students was to make ‘Clean Out the Refrigerator Vegetable Soup. Now, that may not sound too great, but how many times have you had small amounts of many Vegetables that you really did not know what to do with? Making Vegetable Soup is the best way to use up these odds and ends and at the same nourish your family and keep them warm. So, here we go with ‘CLEAN OUT THE REFRIGERATOR VEGETABLE SOUP’.
The Vegetables that I had on hand were Celery, Carrots, Red Cabbage, and Onions. Small amounts of Red Cabbage or any other color for that matter are good for Vegetable Soup. You do not want to use too much or it will overpower the other Vegetables in your soup.
The Vegetables that I purchased for the Soup were Golden Beets and Mushrooms.
The Golden Beets are pictured before being peeled and the Onions are pictured with the
Mushrooms. I also used Frozen Peas, Crushed Tomatoes and Turkey Broth.
The Turkey Broth was my hold-over from Thanksgiving. It is a waste to just throw out the carcass because there is always some pieces of meat clinging to it and the bones themselves do provide some flavor and of course gelatin. To make the Broth, I placed the Turkey Carcass in my largest pot along with Onion, Celery, Carrots, Bay Leaves, Peppercorns and Parsley. Just cover it all with water, place a lid on the pot (offset) and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, remove the lid and turn the flame down to a simmer and just let it cook until the liquid has cooked down to at least half. Even more is better. Shut off the flame, let it cool to room temperature and then pour through a colander into a clean container. Refrigerate if you are going to use within a day or two or freeze until you are ready to use it.
Before starting to cook the Soup, wash and towel dry your Vegetables and then prep them.
- Onions -peel and dice
- Celery – remove any loose strings and then cut into 1/4 to 1/2″ thickness.
- Mushrooms – Cut up your cleaned and dry Mushrooms (how you cut them depends on the size and type tht you have. Mine were small brown Crimini so I mostly quartered them. Cabbage – cut into pieces about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick and about 3/4″ long.Beets – Peel and then quarter and then slice the quarters into smaller pieces. (The beets are actually easier to peel if they are par-boiled first or microwaved. If you do par-boil them, Scrub them clean first and then save the water to add to the soup.
- Carrots – either scrub or peel and then slice in half lengthwise and then cross-wise into about 1/4 to 1/2″ pieces depending on how small you want them or on how large your carrots are. Generally, the smaller carrots have more flavor and are sweeter. The larger ones are older and tend to lose flavor as they age – also they are less tender
To cook, start with the Onion -by sautéing in a small amount of Olive Oil. Add the Mushrooms to the Onions and add a little Salt. The Salt not only seasons them but helps them to release their water and cook down faster. Add the Cabbage and Celery and then the Carrots and Beets. Adding some dried Basil (fresh is best, but mince and add at the end so the flavor is not lost) After all the Vegetables are in the Pot, add your cooking liquid and a couple of Bay Leaves (dried or fresh – remove them before serving). You can also add some garlic to the vegetables while they are sauteing, but this would be a personal choice. Not everyone likes garlic. After the soup has cooked for a while, taste for seasoning and add more Salt and some freshly ground Pepper. Oregano is also good added to Vegetable Soup. If you are using canned Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce or Crushed Tomatoes, add it now and then thoroughly mix in. If desired, you can add some tiny pasta at the end or cook it first and then add. Add the frozen peas and or corn if desired at the very end. They need only minutes to cook.
The soup does not need to cook for a lengthy time – one hour is more than enough – 30 minutes will probably suffice. This soup can be eaten right away or you can cool it and refrigerate it – the flavors will intensify if held overnight in the refrigerator.
Serve and enjoy – this will easily make a delicious and hearty one-dish meal. Serve with Garlic Bread or Croustades.
Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Leftovers, Main, One Dish Meals Tags: Bread, Celery, family dinner, Mushrooms, Pasta, Tomatoes, Vegetables
CULINARY MAKEOVERS – #17: Fried Chicken Fettucinni
Time for another ‘Make-over’. When cooking for two people, it is often difficult to cook just the right amount of food. Especially when making Fried Chicken! Whoever heard of frying just half a Chicken? And who gets what? So, I always make a whole one and use the leftovers for lunches, salads, sandwiches and even a dinner.
This time I made Fettucinni with the Fried Chicken leftovers and Garden Fresh Vegetables. Yes, from our backyard Garden. The Vegetables that came from our yard were Tomatoes, Japanese Eggplant and Basil. The rest of the Vegetables that I used were Onions, Mushrooms, Red Bell Pepper and Garlic.
Start with the Chicken by boning and removing most of the skin. Next slice the Chicken against the grain into bite-sized pieces. Set the Chicken aside and prepare your Vegetables. Wash and dry all the Vegetables before prepping them. Peel and crush or mince the Garlic. Dice the Onion and clean and slice the Mushrooms. Mince the fresh Basil and set aside. The Eggplant I used was Japanese Eggplant and they are slender to begin with so I just sliced them into 1/4″ slices. (Thicker if you prefer) Dice the Tomatoes and Bell Pepper and set aside.
Cook the Pasta in Boiling Salted Water per package directions. (DO NOT OVERCOOK!) Drain in a colander and set aside.
In a saute pan, heat a small amount of Olive Oil and start sauteing the diced Onion, minced Garlic, sliced Mushrooms and sliced Eggplant.
Once the Vegetables have softened add the Chicken Pieces along with the prepared Tomato. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
Just before serving combine the Cooked Vegetable/Chicken Mixture with the Cooked Pasta. Add the diced Red Bell Pepper and Basil. Serve immediately.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Italian, Leftovers, Main, Pasta Tags: family dinner, Mushrooms, Pasta, Tomatoes, Vegetables
LET’S GET COOKIN’ TEEN BASIC’S CAMP 2014
Here are the photos from Let’s Get Cookin’s Teen Basics Camp held the Week of July 7th, 2014.
Monday, July 7th – BREAKFAST
The Students each made an Omelet for themselves. The rest of the items that were made were: Waffles, Bacon & Sausage, Home Fries, Granola, Breakfast Fruit Shakes and Eggs Benedict.
Tuesday, July 8th – LUNCH
Lunch Items made were: Clam Chowder, Vegetable Soup and Tomato Basil Soup. Salads were Pasta Salad and Grilled Seafood Salad which was made with Grilled Salmon. The students also made Buttermilk Biscuits and Chili Corn Bread to go with the Soups and Salads. Sandwiches were Portobello Mushroom Sliders and Southwest Chicken Wraps. Dessert was Chocolate Brownies.
July 10th – DINNER
Dinner items that were made were: Garlic Dinner Rolls, Baby Lettuce Salad, Caesar Salad, Vegetable Chili, Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Croquettes, Macaroni & Cheese Supreme, Scalloped Potatoes and Strawberry Granita for Dessert. Iced Tea was the Beverage.
July 11th – DESSERT DAY
The Dessert Recipes were chosen from a student request list. The items made were Apple & Berry Pies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes, Coconut Snowballs, Eclairs with Pastry Cream & Vanilla Ice Cream.
July 12th, – MYSTERY BAG DAY
On the final day, each group (4 in all) were given a ‘Mystery Bag’ containing a Protein, a Starch and a Vegetable from which they were to create a meal. The groups were allowed to use whatever they needed from the Pantry and the Refrigerator. The resulting products were quite amazing and delicious.
Group A – were given Beef Steak, Potatoes and Zucchinni. They made Seasoned Grilled Steak which they sliced thinly, Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Zucchini topped with Cheddar Cheese.
Group B was given Chicken Breast, Italian Rice, Snap Peas and Green Asparagus. They made Chicken Parm-Asian, Risotto with Snap Peas and Roasted Asparagus.
Group C was given Pork Tenderloin, Sweet Potatoes, Apricots & Apples. They elected to make Pork Lettuce Wraps with a Fruit Salsa and Sweet Potato Fries.
Group D was given Bowtie Pasta, Fresh Tomatoes, Yellow Squash and Italian Sausage. Included in their Package was Romaine Lettuce, Cucumbers & Carrots. They elected to make Pasta with a Bolognese Sauce and a Green Salad with Vinaigrette & Bruschetta with a Pesto Topping.
Categories: COOKING CLASSES, Cooking for Kids, Main Tags: Children's Cooking, kids cooking, kids recipes, Pasta, Tomatoes, Vegetables
CULINARY MAKEOVERS – #16 – SPINACH/MUSHROOM LASAGNA
Last Night’s Dinner was Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin with sautéed Spinach with Mushrooms and Onions. I had been busy most of the afternoon baking Gingerbread House Parts so my husband Ev, went to the store for me to pick up the Pork Tenderloin and a Vegetable. I had asked him to get whatever Leafy Vegetable he preferred and it could be fresh or frozen. He picked out frozen chopped Spinach. Now, I love Spinach, but chopped is another story. Anyways, I sautéed it with diced Onions and sliced Mushrooms. It came out pretty good, but the whole leaf would have been better. Anyways, I always cook too much for two people and there was a good size portion of the Spinach leftover. When we discussed what we would like to have for Dinner tonight, Ev wanted Pasta. I said okay but didn’t tell him what kind of Pasta we were going to have. Here is where the Makeover comes in. Listed below are the leftovers that I incorporated into the meal along with the additional ingredients that I had to purchase:
ON HAND PURCHASED
Lasagna Noodles Ricotta Cheese
Mushroom/Spinach Sauté Canned Diced Tomatoes
Egg & Cream Ground Veal (optional)
Fresh Basil & Garlic
Dried Oregano & Bay Leaves
Salt & Pepper
This was probably one of the easiest meals I have prepared in a long time. Below is the order in which I prepared this dish:
I – Making the Tomato Sauce
- Sautéing the Veal in a small amount of Olive Oil
- Crushing the Garlic and adding it to the Veal
- Add the Crushed Tomatoes along with the Dried Oregano & Bay Leaf
- Add half can (3 oz.) Tomato Paste along with Salt and Pepper to taste
- Allow to simmer until the Sauce is of the desired consistency
- At the end, add about 1/4 cup minced Basil
II – Spinach/Ricotta Mixture
- In small bowl I mixed 1 cup of Ricotta with 1 beaten Egg and then added about 1/4 cup of Cream.
- Stir in the Mushroom/Spinach Mixture
III – Assembly
- Place a very small amount of Olive Oil at the bottom of the baking dish and spread it with a paper towel to cover the entire bottom surface.
- Arrange a layer of Noodles on the bottom
- Add a layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
- Add a layer of shredded Mozzarella
- Add another layer of Pasta and top with another layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
- Sprinkle some Parmesan Cheese on this layer
- Add another layer of Pasta and top with another layer of the Spinach/Ricotta mixture
- Add Mozzarella Cheese
- Half hour before serving bake at 350 degrees until the Cheese is melted and slightly browned and the dish is hot all the way through – (about half hour)
IV – Serving
- Let the Lasagna rest for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving it.
- Serve with the Veal/Tomato Sauce and additional Parmesan Cheese as desired
Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Italian, Leftovers, Main, Pasta Tags: Cheese, family dinner, Leftovers, Mozzarella, Mushrooms, Pasta, Spinach, Tomatoes, Vegetables
LASAGNA DINNER – RECORD BREAKING PREPARATION!
My Stepdaughter was scheduled to come over our house for a belated Birthday Dinner Tuesday Night, but Monday afternoon at about 3:45 Tina called and said she had forgotten that she had concert tickets for Tuesday Night and that she was working all the rest of the week. (She works 12 hours day in the Emergency Room of our local hospital) Could she come over tonight instead? She had requested Lasagna for dinner along with Chocolate Cake for dessert. My plan was to spend most of Tuesday baking and cooking and I was going to make home-made pasta for the Lasagna.
Well, plans got shifted dramatically. Fortunately, I had done the shopping for dinner on Monday except for the Lasagna Noodles which my husband went out to buy. At 4 in the afternoon I started cooking Lasagna (usually an all-day project) for dinner at 6:30. Here is how it went.
This was going to be Mushroom Lasagna and I had purchased 4 different kinds of Mushrooms for it. We had:
Crimini (Baby Portobello
I put on a big pot of Water so that it would be ready when my husband returned. I then diced an Onion and started sautéing in Olive Oil in my Dutch Oven.
While the Onion was sautéing, I cleaned and sliced the Mushrooms. The Brown Crimini were first. While they were sautéing, I then cleaned and sliced the Lobster Mushrooms. The Lobster Mushrooms are named, not because they taste like but Lobster, but look like Lobster Meat. These Mushrooms are somewhat denser and tougher than the Brown ones and need to cook for a bit longer.
Next came the White Mushrooms and then the Oyster. Again, the Oyster are named for their appearance. They have the shape of an Oyster and when growing are clustered together almost like Oysters do in the Oyster bed. I did salt the Mushrooms while they were sautéing. Salt not only adds flavor but tends to pull out the excess moisture from the Vegetables.
Next I crushed some Garlic and added it to the Mushrooms. To this I added some Marsala Wine and cooked it on high heat to reduce it down to just its flavor. To all this, I added 2 cans of Crushed Tomatoes. You want to use a good quality of crushed Tomatoes (or use fresh and crush your own). Lesser quality Tomatoes will be watery and you want to avoid this. I turned the heat down to simmer and let it cook while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. The time now was about 4:45. At the end of the cooking period I added some fresh minced Basil. Fresh Herbs should always be added at the end so that they do not lose their flavor.
Usually I will make a Béchamel Sauce (White Sauce) as a vessel for the Ricotta Cheese but today I did not have time, so I just added two Eggs to 1 lb. of Cheese and thoroughly mixed them in.
Then I shredded the Parmesan Reggiano and cut up the Mozzarella. Usually I will chop the Mozzarella in the Food Processor but the Cheese I had purchased this time was sliced, but sliced too thickly so I had to cut it up into small pieces.
The Water had come to a boil and my Husband had returned with the Pasta. I put a good portion of Salt into the Water (this was a big pot) and added the Pasta. Salt not only adds flavor to the pasta but also helps to increase the temperature of the water and therefore shorten the cooking time. This particular Pasta took about 10 minutes to cook. I recommend using Italian Pasta for all your Pasta dishes, unless you prefer to make your own which in that case is the ‘best’.
While the Pasta was cooking I washed the package of Asparagus that I had purchased and cut off the bottoms to save for Cream of Asparagus Soup. I then placed them in a oven-proof baking dish and sprinkled with Sea Salt and Olive Oil. Over this I added a package of Beech Mushrooms, diced Tomatoes and African Blue Basil Leaves. You can use any kind of Basil. The African Blue has small leaves and does not need to be snipped or crushed to use. I covered this with Aluminum Foil and set it aside to put in the oven when the Lasagna was half-done.
Next I drained the Pasta into my largest Colander and rinsed it just enough to keep the pieces from sticking together. Next oiled my Pasta Baking Dish and started assembling the Lasagna. First came a lengthwise layer of Pasta which was then topped with the Ricotta Cheese Mixture. Next came a layer of Sauce topped with Shredded Parmesan and Mozzarella.
On the next layer the Pasta was laid cross-wise (this makes it easier to cut the Lasagna when serving) with a layer of Ricotta, Sauce, and Parmesan. The next layer repeated the first except that no sauce was added. Layers one & two were repeated with Mozzarella being on top. I could have gone another layer but there were only four of us for dinner and I didn’t want to have too much left over.
I then set the Lasagna aside to prepare the Salad. The time now was 5:15.For the Salad I had a mixture of different types of Organic Baby Salad Greens. Added to this were diced Home-Grown Tomatoes & Cucumbers. The dressing was a Balsamic Vinaigrette which was added just before serving.
Since this was a Spur of the Moment Dinner, Appetizers were re-heated Vegetable Tempura from the night before (Mushrooms, Carrots and Home-Grown Asian Egg Plant.
The Bread that was served was an Olive Bread that I made from leftover Pizza Dough. Purchased Olive Salad was spread on the Pizza Dough that had been rolled out to a thin rectangle and then rolled up Jelly Roll fashion. It was baked at 400 degrees until the bread was well-browned. About 30-40 minutes.
Dessert could not be the Chocolate Cake that was planned for today, but we did have Chocolate Brownies that I had made the day before and since this was the cake version of Brownies, they worked perfectly for dessert.
Out Beverage was home-brewed Iced Tea. All in all, in spite of the short time notice, dinner turned out very good and everyone loved the Lasagna, especially my Step-Daughter for whom the meal was made. I figured this could be a rehearsal for a Cooking Competition Show in which the contestants have a limited amount of time to prepare their dishes. Watch out guys! I may give you some competition!
Categories: Baking, Bread, Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Italian, Main, Pasta Tags: baking, Cheese, family dinner, Mushrooms, Pasta, Salad, Tomatoes, Vegetables