Leftover Ingredients Shine

Every Thursday I plan my menu for the upcoming week.  I always look for a way to let leftover ingredients shine in a different dish.  And the majority of the ingredients in our dinner last night did just that.

As I planned my menu, I identified these ingredients that I had in the refrigerator that needed to be consumed:

  • 6 sheets of Phyllo dough leftover from making the spinach pie
  • 1/4 of a bag of frozen spinach leftover from making the spinach pie
  • ricotta cheese leftover from making the spinach pie
  • Haricot Verts leftover from making the Salad Nicoise
  • 1/2 of a cucumber from making a Greek salad
  • Fresh Dill
  • French Potato Salad from the Salad Nicoise

Those ingredients could, with the addition of the right protein and some staples I always have on hand, make a pretty fine Friday night supper.  I decided on a Salmon filet topped with spinach, ricotta and Parmesan mixture and encased in Phyllo dough.  The french potato salad with it’s vinaigrette dressing would be a good counterpoint to the rich spinach and salmon entree.

I can’t provide you with accurate ingredient measurements because I was making this up as I went along.  But here’s my best guess.

 Salmon in Phyllo with Cucumber Dill Sauce serves two

  • 12 0z salmon filet
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and wrung dry
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 6 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 3 tbl melted unsalted butter (more if the phyllo dough is a bit dry)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Chop the cucumber into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl with enough sour cream to make a sauce.  Add dill and white pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, mix the spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, salt and white pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as required.

Using a boning knife, remove the skin from the salmon filet.  Cut the filet in half the long way.  Lay one piece of phyllo dough on the workspace.  Brush with melted butter.  Lay another piece of the dough on top of the first and brush with butter.  Form half the spinach mixture into a rectangle the size of the salmon filet and place it in the center of the phyllo sheets.  Place the salmon filet on top of the spinach mixture. Be sure to tuck the belly flap of the salmon under the thicker part of the filet.  This will ensure even cooking. Bring the sides of the phyllo dough over the salmon and spinach.  Place the final piece of phyllo dough over the encased salmon and tuck under to form a package.  Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Brush butter over the top and sides of the packet.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients for the second salmon packet.

Bake in the 425 degree F oven until the phyllo dough has turned brown and the salmon is done, about 12 minutes.  A small slit in the dough will allow you to check on the salmon.

I steamed the haricot verts and dressed them with a bit of butter.

And this is how it turned out.

Salmon and spinach in phyllo with French potato salad and Haricot Verts

Salmon and spinach in phyllo with French potato salad and Haricot Verts

I was pretty happy that I used up all my leftover ingredients without feeling like I was eating leftovers.  That’s always a win in my book!

Posted in American Food, Cooking, Entree, fish, Food, French Food, Meatless Meals, Recipes, Salmon, Seafood, vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Best Summer Salad

We are still in the throes of summer here so I am relying on the best summer salad ever to get us through dinner when the outside temperature ventures into the triple digits, Salade Nicoise. I made it for dinner last night and there was enough left over to have as lunch today.

Google Salade Nicoise and you’ll find plenty of recipes.  But I stick with my tried and true favorite – Salade Nicoise from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” Volume One.  This particular version of the recipe requires you incorporate multiple components, some of which have recipes of their own.  This is not a dish you can decide to make at 5:30 and have on the table by 6:00.  But it is so worth the time and effort that I find myself making it over and over during the summer months. And frankly, once the potato salad is made you’re 90% there. I also love this dish for it’s simplicity.  Most of the items in this recipe are staples in my kitchen.  Haricot Verts may be a bit harder to find but you can substitute regular green beans.  After that it’s tuna, tomato, potatoes, tarragon, anchovies, hard boiled eggs, Boston lettuce, Kalamata (or other Mediterranean) olives, dry white wine, prepared mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil, white wine vinegar and optionally shallots or green onions. When purchasing the tuna be sure to get a good quality tuna in olive oil.  And yes, there is a taste and mouthfeel difference between tuna in water and tuna in oil.. You definitely want the oil version.

When I originally made this recipe I followed the instruction to a “T.” I made the French Dressing for the salad and made  the separate dressing listed in the recipe for the French Potato Salad.  I could find no real difference in the taste of the two dressings so now I just make one double batch to serve achieve both ends.  I make my dressing in a jar with a lid.  I have  a whisk that acts as a beater and does a great job turning the ingredients into a dressing.  And, if the dressing separates it makes it easy to blend again  by shaking the covered jar.

I make the French Potato Salad in the morning so the flavors have a real chance to meld.  Then, just before dinner, I assemble the salad in individual bowls and bring it to the table with a freshly made baguette and a nice Pinot Noir.  Nothing better on a hot summer night!

Salad Nicoise   Serves 2

Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe

French Vinaigrette  Makes about one cup

  • 31/2 to 4  tbl white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard ( I use Coleman’s)
  • 12 tbl olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tbl chopped tarragon

Beat the vinegar, salt and mustard in a bowl or jar until combined.  Then add the oil, pepper and tarragon and either whisk or shake together until blended.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Refrigerate until needed.

French Potato Salad

  • 1 lb small red potatoes
  • 2 tb dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup French Vinaigrette
  • 1 tbl minced shallots
  • 1 tbl minced tarragon

Cut an X in the skin of the potato to facilitate peeling.  Steam the potatoes in a steamer until they are just tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove the steamer basket from the heat and place under running cold water to slightly cool the potatoes.  They should be cool enough to handle but still have some residual heat.  Peel the potatoes and slice into 1/8 inch thick slices. Put them in a mixing bowl.  Add the white wine to the bowl and stir gently to combine.   Set aside until the potatoes have absorbed all of the wine.  Pour the French Vinaigrette over the potatoes.  Add the shallots and tarragon.  Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Salade Nicoise

  • 24 Haricot Verts, blanched and chilled
  • 2  tomatoes cut into eigths
  • 1/2 cup French Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 head Boston Leaf Lettuce, washed and dried
  • French Potato Salad
  • 2 cans (5oz) good quality tuna in oil, drained
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 cold hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 8 anchovy filets, drained
  • 2 tbl minced tarragon

This dish should be visually appealing so it is composed rather that tossed. Begin by lining two bowls with the Boston Leaf lettuce.  Place a mound of potato salad in top of the lettuce in the center of the bowl. Place Haricot Verts radiating out from the potato salad at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 position in the bowl.  Quarter the eggs and place them with the pointy side touching the potato salad between the Haricot Verts.  Place two of the tomato slices between just below and on either side of the eggs.  Dived the tuna into the four areas of the bowl.  Cut the anchovies in half and place across the tuna in a decorative manner.  scatter the Kalamata olives around the bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of the dressing over the salad. Sprinkle with the tarragon and serve.

Posted in Cooking, Entree, Food, French Food, Julia Child, Meatless, Meatless Meals, Recipes, Salad, Seafood, Tuna, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spinach Pie – But Not Quite Spanakopita

Back in May I found a recipe for Spinach Pie in  The Washington Post.  It was a repost of a recipe by Gretchen McKay in the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette.  It sounded really good and while it was not quite Spanakopita, it was pretty close.  I decided to give it a try. I made it several weeks ago and it turned out so well I decided to make it again for dinner last night.

The recipe is pretty simple tho differs from traditional Spanakopita in that it includes Ricotta and does not include a bottom layer of Phyllo dough.  But it tastes great and is perfect for a summer evening because it can be eaten directly from the oven or at room temperature. The original recipe indicated that it could be served with grilled or fried sausage links for a complete meal.  I omitted the meat component and just served a larger portion of the pie. More than enough for dinner and plenty for leftovers as well.  And I can attest to the fact that it is as good – maybe better as leftovers!

So here’s my take on the recipe.

Skillet Spinach Pie 

Serves 8 as a side or 4 as an entree.

  • 30 ounces of frozen spinach , thawed, placed in a dish towel and wrung dry
  • 6 tbl of unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • 3 tbl chopped fresh dill
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 sheets of thawed phyllo dough.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

In a 10 inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Transfer 3 tbl of the melted butter to a small bowl.  You will use this to brush each sheet of phyllo as it is placed on top of the pie.

Add the minced onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until they are softened – about 5 minutes or so.  You do not want them to brown.  Turn off the heat and move the pan off the hot burner.  Let pan and onions cool for a few minutes.

While the onions are cooling assemble the remainder of the filling in a large bowl.  The original recipe indicated you should add all of the filling ingredient directly into the skillet. Take it from me – that’s not a great idea.  You can’t adequately mix all of those ingredients in a 10 inch skillet and expect everything to stay in the skillet.  So remove the onions from the skillet and mix them together with the spinach, two cheeses, the beaten egg, the dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Place the mixture back into the skillet and smooth into an even layer.

Lay one sheet of phyllo dough over the spinach cheese mixture and brush with the melted butter.  Continue laying the 5 remaining sheets of  dough over the mixture, brushing with butter, rotating and scrunching each sheet as you go.  The edges should be offset and the top somewhat ruffled.

Place the pie in the preheated oven and bake until is is golden brown and heated through, around 35 minutes depending on your oven.

Spinach Pie Out of the Oven and cooling.

Spinach Pie Out of the Oven and Cooling.

I would suggest waiting a few minutes to make the first cut if you want to eat it warm.  My cast iron frying pan is pretty well seasoned so the slices came out really well.

We love it at room temperature, especially on these hot summer days.    I can’t wait to make this for my daughter who is a vegetarian.  Next time she visits from Chicago it’s on the menu!

Spinach Pie plated with tomatoes

Spinach Pie plated with tomatoes

Posted in Cooking, Entree, Food, Greek, Meatless Meals, Recipes, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That’s A Wrap!

As the summer weather hangs on and the pandemic forces me to stay home I find myself spending alot more time looking up new recipes for hot weather meals. I found an intriguing chicken dish and decided I liked it even better when I realized that’s a wrap!

I found a recipe for Horseradish-Marinated Grilled Chicken in my Garde Manger cookbook.  As the recipe in the book makes enough for 10 servings, I had to do some re-configuring of the ingredient amounts to pare it down to two servings.  The recipe also called for Creamy Black Peppercorn Dressing with a reference to the page number for that recipe. That recipe yielded 32 ounces of dressing, so additional adjustments had to be made. A couple of other adjustments. I butterflied the chicken breast making two breasts that would cook more evenly.  I used my grill pan to cook the chicken as opposed to cooking on the gas grill outside.  As I reviewed the recipe for the dressing I realized you were basically making a mayonnaise base so I opted to create my own recipe using store bought mayonnaise.  The recipe for the dressing is also include and has been featured in lunch salads during the week.

The wraps were really tasty and perfect for a warm summers evening.  I served it with hand cut oven fries seasoned with a southwest seasoning blend  – the veggie component was included in the wrap.  I will definitely make this again. And I apologize for the poor image quality.  George and I weren’t the only ones looking forward to this dinner.  Bart was just waiting for me to make one false move and leave the dish unprotected.  It is amazing how fast he can get into the kitchen from the dining area!

Additional note: Juniper Berries are available form Penzeys.

Horsesradish marinated chicken wrap with southwest seasoned oven fries

Horseradish marinated chicken wrap with southwest seasoned oven fries

Horseradish Marinated Grilled Chicken Wraps                         Serves 2

  • 1 8 to 9 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tbl bottled horseradish – not the creamy variety
  • 2 tbl white onion, grated
  • 2 tbl. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbl. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed juniper berries
  • 1/4 tsp chopped rosemary
  • olive oil as needed
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 6 oz mixed greens
  • Creamy Black Peppercorn dressing to taste

Trim any fat from the chicken breasts and butterfly the chicken breast.  Separate the two halves of the chicken breasts.  Place in a shallow baking dish.

Puree the horseradish, onion, vinegar, oil, garlic, juniper berries and rosemary in a blender.  Pour the pureed mixture over the chicken breasts, turn to cover all sides.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, turning once.

Heat a griddle pan or frying pan over high heat.  Remove the breasts from the marinade and scrape off excess marinade.  Blot dry with a paper towel.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill the chicken for about 2 to 4 minutes on both sides, depending on thickness of breasts. They should be cooked through and firm to the touch.  Remove from the pan and set aside for a minute while you dress the salad greens.

Slice the chicken and set on a plate.  Warm a tortilla in a skillet for about 15 seconds per side.  Frankly, I skip the whole skillet thing and throw the tortilla directly on the burner.  They get a bit of a char that we like.

Place half the sliced chicken and half the dressed greens in each tortilla.  Wrap tortilla and slice in half to serve.

Creamy Cracked Black Peppercorn Dressing    1 cup

  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbl. 2% milk
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • salt to taste

Using a whisk, mix all of the ingredients together until smooth.  Adjust the seasonings as necessary.

Posted in American Food, appliances, Blender, Chicken, Cooking, Entree, Food, grilling, meat, Recipes, Salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Hot Mess with Cool Cucumbers

I didn’t start out on Monday expecting to have a hot mess making cold cucumber soup, but it turned out that way.

As I mentioned in the past, I had gone through my Culinary Institute of America Garde Manger book picking out some recipes for cold foods to be served on warm summer nights.  One of the recipes that caught my eye was Chilled Cucumber Soup with Dill, Leeks, and Shrimp.  It sounded really good and I thought the biggest problem I would have would be to adjust the recipe from 20 first course servings to make enough for dinner servings for two.   And if I hadn’t lost my mind that would have been the biggest problem.  The recipe requires you to make shellfish stock, saute onions and celery, simmer sauteed vegetables and the cucumber in the shellfish stock, blend the soup with sour cream and heavy cream, strain, season garnish and serve.

While I am sure that the CIA version of the shellfish stock would be wonderful, I was completely out of Lobster and Crab shells.  What I did have was shrimp shells so they would have to suffice.  The dish calls for the shrimp to be poached in the stock so I decided to poach the shrimp, peel them, return the shells to the cooking water, along with additional shells from the freezer, season it and cook until the water was flavorful.  If you’ve ever made shrimp bisque you know that once the shells have cooked for awhile you put everything in a blender to get the last bit of goodness out of the shells.  The resulting liquid is  strained and you are ready to move on.  I eyeballed the cooked stock and shell mixture and figured it took up less than half the volume of the blender so I would move right on with blending the ingredients.  I did have a fleeting moment of sanity when I thought ” Should I let this cool a bit” but it only lasted as long as it took to grab a potholder to cover the lid of the blender.  Anyone who has ever blended even moderately warm things knows that the hot liquid seems to expand like lava in an active volcano.  And that is exactly what happened on Monday afternoon.  The liquid in the blender erupted with such force it blew my hand off the top and proceeded to spew scalding liquid all over my face and right arm. Needless to say, dinner that night was NOT cold Cucumber soup.  After I bathed my face and right arm in cool water and picked some errant shrimp shells out of my hair, I headed to the pharmacy for aloe laced with lidocaine ( my new best burn friend, by the way.) After I dealt with my very red skin, I gathered up all my completed mis en place, cleaned off the cabinets, and, after determining that the remaining stock and shrimp shells were sufficiently cooled, completed the blending and staining to yield my stock.

The next day I finished the recipe and put it in the fridge to cool.  By the way, the second part of the recipe include directions to put the stock, vegetable, and cucumbers into a blender.  I waited this time!

The dish was delicious.  I will make this again.  I served with a baguette I made that afternoon.

Fresh made Baquette

Fresh made Baquette

Cold Cucumber Soup with Dill, Leeks, and Shrimp.

Cold Cucumber Soup with Dill, Leeks, and Shrimp.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Dill, Leeks, and Shrimp Serves 2

  • 4 oz. shrimp – 20 count
  • 14 fluid oz. shrimp stock
  • 4 oz. yellow onion, diced
  • 4 oz. celery, diced
  • 3 tbl butter
  • 1 lb cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 5 oz. sour cream
  • 2 oz. heavy cream
  • 1/8 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish

  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbl. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 small leek, white part only, cut into julienne and fried until crisp
  • hot sauce if desired

Make the shrimp stock by poaching the shrimp in water seasoned with salt and white pepper.  Peel the cooked shrimp and return shells into the water and continue cooking until the shells are softened and the cooking liquid is flavored.  Let the liquid and shells cool and puree in a blender.  Strain the liquid, discard the solids and set the resulting stock aside.

Melt the butter in a medium pot.  Add the onions and celery and saute until the vegetables are translucent. Add the diced cucumbers and the reserved stock and simmer for 30 minutes.  Let this mixture cool and puree in a blender until smooth.  Add the sour cream, heavy cream and dill and mix until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge until time to serve.

While the soup is cooling, prepare the garnish by dicing the cucumber, chopping the dill, and sauteing the leeks until crispy.

To serve slice the cooked shrimp half lengthwise.  Ladle the shrimp into chilled bowls.  Topped with sliced shrimp, peeled and diced cucumber, dill and fried leeks.  Serve with fresh warm bread.

Posted in American Food, appliances, Blender, Cooking, Family, Food, Meatless, Recipes, Seafood, Shrimp | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Whole Grain Bread Success

Yesterday I wrote about my first attempt at Whole Grain Bread. I used the recipe on the back of the King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Blend package. It was a success!

Whole Grain Bread Loaf

Whole Grain Bread Loaf

This picture doesn’t do it justice; you can’t see the actual grains and seeds that make this bread so good.  Trust me, it tastes great.  I would encourage any of you that bake bread to give this one a try.

And to give you a better idea of the grains:

King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Mix

King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Blend

For those of you interested, the Harvest Grains Blend packaging lists the following ingredients; Whole Oats Groats, Rye Flakes, Wheat Flakes, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Flaxseed, Poppy Seeds and Hulled Millet.

We had a slice for breakfast this morning toasted and spread with butter.  After one taste I knew this would be a bread I would keep in my bread making rotation.   Tomorrow I will make us each a slice covered with peanut butter.  Breakfast Heaven!

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Bread Day

According to my mother, my  grandmother (Nana) always made bread on Saturday.  It is from her I got my love for baking bread.  I got away from making bread for awhile and I certainly never had a particular bread day.  But during these crazy times I have sought the comfort of home made bread so my bread making has come back with a passion.

As a rule I make pullman loaves.  They are nice square loaves that are wonderful for sandwiches and toast.  I know everyone seems to be making sourdough bread during this pandemic.  I would too if I could get it to taste like the sourdough I’ve had in San Francisco. But that is impossible.  The air, the water, the atmosphere here in New Mexico is nothing like the air, water and atmosphere in San Francisco.  All of those things combine to make sourdough in San Francisco unique to that city.   I tried to make it before when I lived in Chicago.  I even brought back some sourdough starter form San Francisco but it still wasn’t the same.  Alot of work for a disappointing result.

I was, however, determined to try my hand at something other than my trusty Pullman loaf and I decided on  wheat bread with grains.  I could actually get whole wheat flour two weeks ago at the grocery store so I snagged a 5 lb bag.  Good thing I did because they are out of whole wheat flour again. But the grain portion of the loaf proved a little more difficult. To be honest, I had no idea what I was looking for.  There were a number of cereal options but I was not sure if that would give me the seed and grain studded bread I was hoping to produce.  A quick visit to the King Arthur Flour web site provided me with exactly what I was looking for .

Harvest Grain Seed Blend

Harvest Grains Blends

I ordered it on the spot but apparently everyone else had the same idea because it took two weeks to arrive.  It has been sitting on my island for the last few days while we finished up the last of the Pullman loaf I had in the fridge.  And we accomplished that today when I made Parmesan toasts to go with the cold carrot and ginger soup we had for lunch.

As I write this, my first attempt at a whole grain loaf is going through the second rise.  I used the recipe on the back of the package of Harvest Grains Blends.  Ingredients include all purpose flour, wheat flour, corn meal, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, water and the Grains Blend.  It has about another 45 minutes to rise and then another 45 minutes in the oven.  We won’t be having any tonight.  I used some of the pasta dough left over from the woven lasagna to make pappardelle noodles and they will be the base for my bacon and leek pasta dish on tonight’s menu.  Not a dish that cries out for whole grain bread.  But tomorrow morning for breakfast I will be looking forward to enjoying a nice slice of whole wheat grain bread.  At least I hope so!

Posted in American Food, Baking, Breakfast, Cooking, Food, Pasta, Yeast breads | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Woven Lasagna Part Two

On May 14th I wrote about making the woven lasagna featured on the cover of the June issue of Food and Wine  magazine. While it has been a bit more than a month, last night we had Woven Pasta Part Two.

It is still a lot of work but I was smarter this time.    So here is what I learned and I have included pictures to demonstrate.

I made my pasta dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer as opposed to a food processor.  I let it rest overnight and had my husband help me when it came time to roll it out.  The recipe calls for the dough to be rolled out to the highest setting in the pasta machine, in the case of my machine 9.  We got to level 7 on my machine and the pasta was tearing, so we started again and went to level 6.  Here’s how it looked rolled out.

Woven Lasagna Sheet ready for the pot

Woven Lasagna sheet ready for the pot.

The sheet was rolled out and cut to the dimensions called for in the recipe – 32 inches by 5 inches. You need two of these.  I also found that I used about half the dough for this recipe.  The rest will be turned into pasta rags or pappardella.

The next step is to boil the sheets, one at a time in 4 quarts of salted water.  Putting the sheets into the pot was one thing, getting them out was another thing altogether.  The directions say to use a spider and tongs, which we did.  Still an adventure trying to get all of the pasta out without tearing.

Woven lasagna sheet cooked and cooling

Woven Lasagna sheet cooked and cooling

We had a few tears but nothing I was going to worry about. The directions tell you to oil the sheets and fold in half.  I ended up using two large cookie sheets to accommodate the two cooked folded pieces without overlapping them as well..

The next step is to make the filling.  I assembled and prepped all of the ingredients.

woven lasagna filling ingredients

Woven lasagna filling ingredients

Filling ingredients include 6 oz of prosciutto, minced, 16 oz of whole milk ricotta, 3 ounces of Parmesan and 2 tbl. of fresh rosemary finely.  All of these went into the food processor to be combined into the filling that would be piped into the the lasagna and the pasta woven around it.

Filling piped into lasagna

Filling piped into the lasagna.

While this isn’t the greatest picture, you can see the rows of filling. This is the second row I put into the pan.  They went into the troughs left when the pasta sheets were tucked around the piped filling.  After the last adventure making this dish, I decided I really needed to purchase a sturdy piping bag with the appropriate size tip.  Fortunately the local Michael’s is open and I could find what I needed in the cake and candy decorating section of the store.  They worked much better than the plastic bag with a 3/4″ tip cut into the end that the recipe called for.

Once I used up all of the filling it was time to cover the filling with the final sheets of lasagna noodles and trim the excess.

Woven lasagna ready for the 24 rest period.

The woven lasagna ready for the 24 hour resting period.

As you can see, the pasta sheets now completely encase the filling.  At this point you need to place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the lasagna let it rest, in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

The next night I was ready to cook the lasagna for dinner.  You unmold the lasagna by running an offset spatula around the loaf pan and turning it out unto a cutting board.  I find it easiest to place a cutting board over the top of the loaf pan and then inverting the pan.  A quick tap on the inverted loaf pan and the lasagna popped out.

I used my electric knife to cut two 1 1/2 ” slices from the loaf.  They get placed on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and then the top and sides are coated in olive oil.

Woven lasagna ready for the oven

Woven lasagna ready for the oven.

The final touch is a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese before putting them into an oven preheated to 500 degrees F. The recipe calls for them to be baked for 6 to 10 minutes but they take a little longer at altitude.

While they were cooking I made the spinach sauce for the plates.  And here’s the finished product.

Woven lasagna plated

Woven lasagna plated and ready to eat.

And to give you an idea of the impact of using a good piping bag, here’s the image I shared back in May when I made this for the first time.

Woven lasagna made in May

Woven lasagna made in May

The ridges of filling are much more defined with a good piping bag.

I als0 discovered the recipe indicated you can freeze the loaf before cooking.  I divided the remaining lasagna loaf into two pieces which will be enough for two more meals.  And the best part – virtually no additional work!

 

Posted in appliances, Cooking, Food, Food Processor, Italian, KitchenAid stand mixer, meat, Pasta, pasta machine, proscuitto | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Speed At Last!

Those of you that follow my blog know that I stick pretty consistently to subjects regarding food and cooking.  But today I want to share my excitement over our new internet provider and my joy in GOOD INTERNET SPEED AT LAST!!!! For the last several years we have used CenturyLink as our internet provider.  There is no fiber in Corrales so we were on a DSL line.  We rarely, if ever, got the advertised speed but it was acceptable.  Over the last few weeks the speed has degraded to the point where you couldn’t even log on to email.  Doing my blog was out of the question as loading to the server more often than not resulted in the link timing out.  So we switched providers and boy, what a difference!

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking and trying out some new things.  I just couldn’t share the fun.  Since I last posted I have been on a shrimp kick.  I’ve made a cold shrimp remoulade salad that was lemon based as opposed to chili sauce based.  Served with sliced avocado, it made a great cold supper.

This past Friday I made Spicy Shrimp Rolls.  I found the recipe in the Washington Post.  It is a take on the ever popular Lobster roll, but with a budget friendly substitute.  And quite frankly, fresh lobster is really hard to come by in Albuquerque.

The ingredients are pretty standard, except for the split top hot dog buns. And, as usual, I made some substitutions.  Here’s my version.

Spicy Shrimp Roll   Serves 2

  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1/8 c mayonnaise, or more to taste
  • 1 tbl. fresh squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1 tbl grated horseradish – not the creamy kind
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 good dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 8 oz peeled, deveined and cooked large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn
  • 1/2 tbl fresh parsley, chopped can have additional for garnish if desired.
  • 2 hot dog buns
  • unsalted butter
  • lemon wedges to pass

Combine he celery, mayonnaise. lemon juice, horseradish, salt, cayenne pepper and hot sauce in a large bowl.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.   Set aside in the refrigerator.

Slice the corn of the cob.  Chop the shrimp into bite sized pieces.  Add the shrimp, corn and chopped parsley to the dressing and return to the refrigerator.   Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This gives the shrimp time to absorb the seasonings in the dressing.  Taste after 30 minutes and add mayonnaise, lemon juice or additional hot sauce based on your preference.

Prepare the buns just before serving.  Warm a large skillet over medium heat.  Butter each hot dog bun with softened butter.  Place the buns buttered side down into the skillet and cook until golden brown.  Remove the buns and stuff with the shrimp mixture.    Garnish with additional parsley and lemon wedges as desired.

Another shrimp dish that enters the “Keeper” file!

Note: The original recipe calls for frozen corn as an optional recipe ingredient.  I definitely wanted to add corn to the mix but I prefer fresh when I can get it. The remaining corn that came off the cob will be used in a black bean and jalapeno salad with chipotle honey dressing.

Posted in American Food, Cooking, fish, Food, Meatless, Seafood, shrimp | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bakery Hamburger Buns

When we moved out to Corrales over 17 years ago I never thought one of the things I would miss most was a good bakery hamburger bun.  You know the type I’m talking about.  A crisp crust with a soft interior that cradles the burger but stands up to condiments without getting squishy, for lack of a better word.  And one that is in proportion to the size of a standard burger.  I used to be able to get them from the bakery section of my local grocery store.

And then we moved to New Mexico.  Now we have the option of Kaiser rolls, which while holding their own with a burger tend to be on the large size.  A bakery item called hard rolls are also an option but once again they can be quite large.

Of course you can get the 8 in a pack  standard burger buns distributed by bread companies.  We find they are way to soft and have a tendency to get gummy if you load them up with condiments.

I had pretty much resigned myself to oversized kaiser or hard rolls until the June issue of Food and Wine showed up in my mailbox.  I was almost all the way through the issue when I spotted a recipe for Lobster BLT’s on potato rolls. The lobster part was a little to rich for my blood as it requires 1/2 lb of lobster meat for two servings.  In today’s market that’s about $18 to $20 worth of lobster.  Or, if you follow the alternate lobster source suggestion in the recipe, $19.99 at Whole Foods.  Nope, not for two sandwiches.  But what really caught my eye was the recipe for the potato rolls.

Last Saturday night, burgers were on the menu so I decided to try my hand at making the rolls.  A pretty bold leap of faith because if the recipe failed we would be without buns.  I had all of the ingredients on hand, even the potato flour, so I decided to dive into the deep end and try my hand at home made buns.  To be honest, the recipe is pretty straight forward.  I had to make minor adjustments to account for altitude but didn’t want to go too crazy on my first attempt on buns.

A scale is really critical for this recipe.  It ensures you get an equal amount of dough for each bun and an even cooking time.  I did get a little paranoid about making sure I had rolled the dough into even size balls and flattened them to the right dimension  prior to the final rise.  I also added a sprinkling of corn meal under the buns before placing them on the baking sheet for their final rise and bake.  Once out of the oven the buns are brushed with butter and allowed to cool.

I ended up with enough dough for 8 rolls plus a little left over.  That’s why you see the cooks roll in the leftmost corner!

And here’s the result:

Hamburger Bund

Hamburger Buns fresh from the oven

They were great!  The crust had the right crunch while the interior stood up to the burger and condiments without turning soggy.  I don’t know how they stand up to Lobster BLT’s  but they made the perfect burger bun.  Right size, right texture, what’s not to love!

Posted in American Food, Baking, Beef, Food, meat, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment