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Illegitimi Non Carborundum

Skillet lasagna

Posted by Tom on Jan-27-2011

For the jarred tomato sauce I like marinara, but you can use whatever type you like. Any brand of curly-edged lasagna noodles will work here, but do not use no-boil lasagna noodles. If the pasta is especially dry and shattery, you may need to add extra water to the skillet while the pasta cooks. If you can’t find meatloaf mix, us ½ pound 85 percent lean ground beef and ½ pound ground pork. Like it spicy? Increase the amount of red pepper flakes up to 1 teaspoon. To make things go even quicker, you can replace the mozzarella and Parmesan with ¾ cup of shredded Italian cheese blend.

• 1-pound meatloaf mix
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
• Salt and ground black pepper
• 6 ounces curly-edged lasagna noodles (8 noodles), broken into 2-inch pieces
• 1 (26-ounce) jar tomato sauce, such as marinara (about 3 cups)
• 2 cups water
• ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
• ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
• ¾ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
• ¼ cup minced fresh basil

Mince the garlic and measure out the pasta while the meat cooks.

1. Cook and drain meat: Cook meat in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat, breaking it into pieces with wooden spoon, until fat renders, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain meat and return it to skillet.

2. Sauté aromatics: Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Simmer lasagna noodles: Sprinkle broken noodles into skillet, then pour in tomato sauce and water over top. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until noodles are tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Add Cheese: Off heat, stir in half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot heaping teaspoons of ricotta over noodles, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and let stand off heat until cheeses melt, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

Posted by Tom on Jan-25-2011

Keep the bok choy greens and stalks separate after they’ve been prepped, because they are added to the soup at different times. If you prefer your soup less spicy, use the lesser amount of curry past. Be sure to use light coconut milk here or the soup will be too rich.

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1-tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1-pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3-4 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 small head bok choy, greens sliced thin and stalks chopped medium
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans light coconut milk
  • 8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

Prepare the ginger and Bok Choy while the chicken browns. Slice the mushrooms and prepare the garnishes while the soup simmers.

1.     Heat broth mixture: Bring broth, fish sauce, and brown sugar to boil, covered, in large saucepan and set aside.

2.     Season and brown chicken: Meanwhile, pat chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate.

3.     Add seasoning and cook: Add ginger, curry paste, and ½ teaspoon salt to fat left in Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add broth mixture and bok choy stalks: Turn heat to low and stir in hot broth mixture, scraping up any browned bits. Add bok choy stalks and browned chicken. Cook, covered, until chicken is cooked through and not longer pink in center, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

5. Add coconut milk and mushrooms: Stir in coconut milk and mushrooms. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until mushrooms soften slightly, about 5 minutes.

6. Shred chicken: Add bok choy greens, season, and finish: While soup is simmering, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Stir in bok choy greens and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in shredded chicken and lime, juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle bowls with cilantro leaves before serving.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Posted by Tom on Sep-6-2010

Fettuccine Alfredo


Serves 4 to 6 as a first course.

Fresh pasta is the best choice for this dish; supermarkets sell 9-ounce containers of fresh pasta in the refrigerator section. When boiling the pasta, undercook it slightly (even shy of al dente) because the pasta cooks an additional minute or two in the sauce. Note that Fettuccine Alfredo must be served immediately; it does not hold or reheat well.

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 9 ounces fresh fettuccine
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese , grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg


  1. 1. Bring 4 1/2 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Using ladle or heatproof measuring cup, fill each individual serving bowl with about 1/2 cup boiling water; set bowls aside to warm.
  2. 2. While water comes to boil, bring 1 cup heavy cream and butter to simmer in 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat; reduce heat to low and simmer gently until mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
  3. 3. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water; cook pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta. Meanwhile, return cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low and add pasta, Parmesan, and nutmeg to cream mixture. Cook over low heat, tossing pasta with tongs to combine, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is just al dente and cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in reserved pasta cooking water; sauce may look rather thin but will gradually thicken as pasta is served and eaten. Working quickly, empty serving bowls of water; divide pasta among bowls, tossing pasta to coat well with sauce. Serve immediately.

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.


  • 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)



  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


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.
Tomato-Meat Sauce
tablespoon olive oil
medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
pound meatloaf mix or 1/3 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork (see note)
teaspoon table salt
teaspoon ground black pepper
cup heavy cream
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained
Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Pasta Layers
ounces ricotta cheese (whole milk or part skim), 1 3/4 cups)
2 1/2
ounces grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/4 cups)
cup chopped fresh basil
large egg , lightly beaten
teaspoon table salt
teaspoon ground black pepper
no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8- or 9-ounce package
ounces whole milk mozzarella , shredded (4 cups)
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 »