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Illegitimi Non Carborundum

Archive for July, 2009

Spinach Lasagna

Posted by Tom on Jul-18-2009

Serves 6 to 8.   Published March 1, 2004, Cooks Illustrated.

Be sure to use Italian fontina rather than bland and rubbery Danish or American fontina. If it is not available, substitute whole milk mozzarella. To make the cheese easier to shred, freeze it for 30 minutes to firm it up. If fresh nutmeg is unavailable, use only 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Because the lasagna is broiled at the end of cooking to brown the surface, make sure to use a baking dish that is broilersafe.

INGREDIENTS

  • Spinach
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 20 ounces curly spinach (2 bags), stemmed and rinsed
  • Bechamel
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for baking dish
  • 5 large shallots , minced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (generous 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • Cheeses and Pasta
  • 8 ounces whole milk cottage cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles from 1 box
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 8 ounces Italian fontina cheese , shredded (about 2 cups)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  For the spinach: Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven or stockpot over high heat; add salt and spinach, stirring until spinach is just wilted, about 5 seconds. Using skimmer or fine-mesh strainer, transfer spinach to ice water and let stand until completely cool, about 1 minute, then drain spinach and transfer to clean kitchen towel. Wrap towel tightly around spinach to form ball and wring until dry. Chop spinach medium and set aside.

  2.  For the bechamel:  Melt 5 tablespoons butter until foaming in medium saucepan over medium heat; add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Do not brown. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, whisk in bay leaves, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Whisk in Parmesan and discard bay leaves. Transfer sauce to bowl, press plastic wrap directly against surface, and set aside.

  3.  For the cheeses, pasta, and assembly: Blend cottage cheese, egg, and salt in food processor or blender until very smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place noodles in 13- by 9-inch broilersafe baking dish and cover with hot tap water; let soak 5 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on kitchen towel. Wipe baking dish dry and coat with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Use rubber spatula to distribute 1/2 cup bechamel in bottom of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauce. Stir spinach into remaining bechamel in bowl, mixing well to break up clumps of spinach (you should have about 4 cups spinach/bechamel mixture). Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, sprinkle evenly with Parmesan, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, sprinkle evenly with 1 cup fontina, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 1 cup spinach mixture evenly over noodles, followed by cottage cheese mixture. Finish with 3 noodles, remaining cup spinach mixture, and remaining cup fontina. Lightly spray large sheet foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes, then remove foil. Remove lasagna and adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Broil lasagna until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.

Simple Lasagna with Hearty Tomato-Meat Sauce

Posted by Tom on Jul-18-2009

Cheesecake

Serves 6 to 8.   Published September 1, 2002.
If you can’t find meatloaf mixture for the sauce, or if you choose not to eat veal, substitute 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, for the meatloaf mixture. The assembled, unbaked lasagna, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil, will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. To bake, defrost it in the refrigerator for a day or two and bake as directed, extending the baking time by about 5 minutes.
INGREDIENTS
Tomato-Meat Sauce
1
tablespoon olive oil
1
medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
6
medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1
pound meatloaf mix or 1/3 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork (see note)
1/2
teaspoon table salt
1/2
teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4
cup heavy cream
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained
Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Pasta Layers
15
ounces ricotta cheese (whole milk or part skim), 1 3/4 cups)
2 1/2
ounces grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/4 cups)
1/2
cup chopped fresh basil
1
large egg , lightly beaten
1/2
teaspoon table salt
1/2
teaspoon ground black pepper
12
no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8- or 9-ounce package
16
ounces whole milk mozzarella , shredded (4 cups)
INSTRUCTIONS
1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. 2. Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ground meats, salt, and pepper; cook, breaking meat into small pieces with wooden spoon, until meat loses its raw color but has not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 minutes. Add pureed and drained diced tomatoes and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low and simmer slowly until flavors are blended, about 3 minutes; set sauce aside. (Sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days; reheat before assembling lasagna.)
3. 3. Mix ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and pepper in medium bowl with fork until well-combined and creamy; set aside.
4. 4. Assemble first lasagna layer according to illustrations below. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and sauce two more times. Place 3 remaining noodles on top of sauce, spread remaining sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup mozzarella, then with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Lightly spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake 15 minutes, then remove foil. Return lasagna to oven and continue to bake until cheese is spotty brown and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes longer. Cool lasagna about 10 minutes; cut into pieces and serve.

This Lasagna recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated. I was amazed at how good it is and how easy it is to make. You can have it on the table and ready to eat in 90 min. That’s about how long a frozen lasagna needs to cook.

Serves 6 to 8.

If you can’t find meatloaf mixture for the sauce, or if you choose not to eat veal, substitute 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, for the meatloaf mixture. The assembled, unbaked lasagna, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil, will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. To bake, defrost it in the refrigerator for a day or two and bake as directed, extending the baking time by about 5 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »