I love lasagna. I’ve been making lasagna for about 10 years and have my own recipe mixed together from favorite flavors and methods from other lasagna recipes.. This weekend I made the best lasagna to date with some methods from Cooks Illustrated (who can do no wrong, in my eyes!). I really dislike ricotta, hence the cottage cheese usage here.
- Enough lasagna noodles to make 4 layers of lasagna in a brownie sized pan
- 16 oz. low fat cottage cheese
- 2 eggs
- 20 oz. spinach, stemmed and rinsed
- 1 lb. button mushrooms, sliced
- Spaghetti sauce (Prego in a jar is my favorite for lasagna)
- 8 oz. low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
- A few tablespoons of parmesan
For the spinach
- Fill a large bowl with ice water, set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to boil, add 1 tbsp. salt, add spinach and stir until wilted.
- Drain and immediately add spinach to ice water to stop cooking.
- Drain and squeeze spinach in a towel to remove all excess moisture.
- Chop up spinach.
For the mushrooms
- Sautee mushrooms in some garlic and olive oil until browned and no more liquid is released. This is important to not have a soggy lasagna.
For the cheese
- Add cottage cheese and 2 eggs to food processor.
- Process until smooth.
- Mix cheese mixture, spinach and mushrooms in a bowl until combined.
For the lasagna noodles
- If you are using regular lasagna noodles, boil them according to package. If you are using no-boil lasagna noodles, soak them in hot tap water for 5 mins.
- Agitate noodles so they don’t stick together while boiling/soaking.
- Drain and use immediately. If you let them stand, they dry up and stick.
To assemble lasagna
- Spoon a few tbsp of spaghetti sauce on bottom of brownie pan. Shake to evenly coat bottom.
- Add first layer of noodles.
- Evenly cover noodles with some spaghetti sauce.
- Spread 1/3 of cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle lightly with a handful of mozzarella.
- Repeat 2-4 2 more times.
- Spread rest of cheese mixture over noodles.
- Cover with remaining layer of noodles.
- Cover noodles with spaghetti sauce, making sure to cover all the edges so noodles don’t dry out.
- Sprinkle with mozzarella until evenly covered. Shake a few tbsp of parmesan over mozzarella.
- Cover tightly with tin foil that has been spray with cooking spray (so the cheese doesn’t stick to it).
- Bake 30 min in 350ºF oven. Remove tin foil and continue baking until cheese is bubbly, 15 min. Let stand 15 min. Serve.
For pie shell:
- 1 uncooked pie shell (frozen pre-made, frozen dough, make it yourself, whatever you want)
For crumble topping:
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 tbsp butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tbsp margarine, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup untoasted pecans or walnuts
For fruit filling:
- 3 large or 4 medium Gala and/or Jonah Gold apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (~2 lbs)
- ½ cup frozen (not thawed) cranberries
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 9 ½-inch glass deep-dish pie plate (6-cup capacity)
Make crumble topping:
Coarsely chop a bit more than ½ cup of walnuts in food processor by pulsing 5 times with Chop function. Set nuts aside in small bowl. Add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt to food processor – use Stir function. Add in butter with Mix function until large clumps form, then Stir in chopped nuts. Chill until ready to use.
Make fruit filling:
Stir together apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in lower third.
Transfer fruit filling to pie shell. Loosely cover with foil and bake until apples droop slightly, about 35 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Sprinkle crumble topping over filling and bake, uncovered, until crumble is browned, filling is bubbling, and apples are tender, 40-55 minutes more. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.
New version (August 2020)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2-4 Tbsp red or panang curry
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- Fish sauce
- In a wok or saute pan, bring 3/4 cup of the coconut milk to a boil and let it reduce until it’s thick and creamy, stirring frequently.
- Add the curry paste, and keep stirring for a few minutes until it gets really thick and aromatic.
- Add brown sugar, and kaffir lime leaves if using, then cook it for a minute or so.
- Add meat/seafood and toss it with the curry paste. You want to separate the pieces quite quickly so they will cook evenly.
- Once the meat is about half way cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk and stir just until the meat is fully cooked.
- Add pre-blanched veggies and take off heat. Add a splash of fish sauce.
- At this point if it looks too dry and you want something a little more saucy, you can just add a splash of water.
- In a medium saucepan, sautee 2.5 tbsp red curry paste in olive oil over medium heat until aromatic (~2 min).
- Add ½ can coconut milk and whisk into the curry paste, so the curry paste breaks up.
- Add ¼ can water (or clam juice).
- Bring to a simmer.
- Add ¼ tsp fish sauce and 2 tsp sugar.
- Add vegetables, meat or seafood once curry is simmering. Add the items that take longest to cook first, then add the quick cooking items, so as not to overcook them.
- Cook until vegetables, meat or seafood is done.
- Serve with rice.
My favorite dish, only quicker! Modifications made, original recipe from Cooks Illustrated.
- 3- 14-½ oz cans whole peeled tomatoes -OR- diced tomatoes
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- ¼ cup onion, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- salt, to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ – ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cups water
- 1/3 cup high quality vodka
- 12 oz (about 3-¾ cups) penne
- ½ cup heavy cream
- pepper, to taste
- parmesan, for serving
- (optional) sauteed sliced mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini – any veggie you’d like to add
1. Pulse tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until coarsely ground and no large pieces remain. (Skip this step if using diced tomatoes)
2. Heat oil and saute onion, tomato paste and ½ tsp salt; cook until softened. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes; cook unti fragrant. Stir in tomatoes and gently simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 mins or until tomatoes no longer taste raw.
3. Stir in water and vodka, then add pasta. Cover, increase heat and cook, stirring often and maintaining a vigorous simmer until pasta is done.
4. Stir in cream and heat through; stir in basil and season. Stir in sauteed veggies (optional). Serve hot.
After having my first quiche in Paris about a week ago, I decided to make my own! I read about a dozen recipes before mashing it up and making my own version.. With a ready-to-bake pie shell, the quiche took about 15 minutes to put together, 30 in the oven, then my mouth!
I made two and one is going into the freezer.
It’s spring and asparagus is in season! I went nuts in Chinatown when I saw that the most beautiful asparagus was only $0.79/lb and bought two huge bunches. Then I had to decide what to do with the asparagus, so the first night I made a tomato sauce with zucchini, onion, mushroom, asparagus and kielbasa sausage for my spaghetti. Plenty of sauce was left over and this brunch was born.
Hash browns topped with the pasta sauce, finished off with two poached eggs and roasted asparagus with a sprinkle of Irish cheddar.
What do you do when both you and your roommate bring home 2 dozen eggs each? Go egg crazy and make eggs three ways!
One: (more) Chinese tea eggs
I made 15 more Chinese tea eggs as my first attempt to use a lot of eggs. Yum!
Two: eggs en cocotte
I’ve read many, many recipes for eggs en cocotte, but never made them before because I rarely have heavy cream in my fridge. This Saturday morning, I did, and I had a friend coming over so I decided to try it based on what I remembered. I like that eggs en cocotte is a true “leftover” recipe – you can use whatever leftover veggies or light dish you have on hand and just add an egg. In this case, I sauteed some spinach, mushrooms and a leftover onion and put them in a small Pyrex bowl. Topped with 2 tbsp’s heavy cream, some Irish cheddar (my new favorite cheese – way better than parmesan!), cracked an egg on top and put it in the oven. I wasn’t really sure why the recipes say you have to add heavy cream, but once you try it, you’ll never go back. The heavy cream added a creamy flavor to the veggies that paired well with the baked egg. I also didn’t add any butter to my recipe, so it felt healthier.
Three: eggs baked in tomatoes
Loosely based off this recipe, I picked up two large tomatoes, hollowed them out, cracked an egg in each, topped with a little Irish cheddar and baked. Tomatoes are up there on my list of favorite foods, next to eggs, so this was the most delicious dish to me. The egg whites were loose, but not runny – perfectly cooked in my opinion. Next time, I’m going to rub the inside of the tomato with pesto before baking, which should give it more flavor. Again, no butter or oil in this recipe, so it tasted healthy to me (besides the fact that I ate 3 eggs for brunch).
On a recent visit to SF Chinatown, street vendors were selling Chinese tea eggs as a Chinese New Year specialty. I decided to make my own as a treat for myself since eggs are one of my favorite foods. I adapted from a few recipes I saw online and came up with my own method for the recipe.
I love eggs and eat them like candy if I can’t help myself, so I decided to up the recipe to 10 eggs and soft boil them with my tried and true method – cover eggs in room temperature water in a pot, high heat for 10 minutes, then rinse eggs under cool water.
The main variation in my recipe was inspired by my desire to multi-task. The longer you simmer the eggs, the more flavorful they get, but I wasn’t about to sit around for 2 hours watching the stove and adding more water to my simmering egg + tea leaf mixture, so I bought the tea leaf mixture to a boil and threw everything into a crock pot (slow cooker). 15 hours later, I had the best tea eggs I’d ever tasted – the yolks were infused with the flavors of the tea and spices, while the whites were perfectly marbled and pretty (my friends think it looks like a dinosaur egg in my photo).
Storing the tea eggs is important, too. I didn’t want the eggs drying out, so I put them into a large glass jar and covered them with the remaining liquid mixture. This way, as they keep in my fridge, they will derive more flavor from the liquid!
The tea eggs are delicious as a snack or in ramen and I love how they look. I’m keeping the leftover liquid for my next batch.
Lamb is one of my favorite meats to cook because it’s one of the hardest meats to perfect. It can easily be overcooked, under seasoned (leaving a heavy gamey flavor in the meat) or poorly cut (you end up chewing through fat and muscle more than meat).
Julia Child has a few marinade recipes that work for lamb, but I think the marinade matters less than the cooking method. If you’re making an entire roasted leg of lamb, I’d suggest studding the lamb with garlic cloves – this imparts a great flavor to the meat, without being too strong. Just take a knife, stab the meat and put cloves into each hole. The garlic cloves are pretty well caramelized and edible after roasting, too! You can see the garlic cloves in the meat in this photo:
Cooking method best summed up by Simply Recipes:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange two racks in the oven – a middle rack to hold the lamb, and a lower rack to hold a roasting pan with which to catch the drippings. Place the empty roasting pan in the oven while the oven is pre-heating. Note that this arrangement of racks and pans, with the roast sitting directly on the oven rack, will create a natural convection of heat in the oven, causing the roast to cook more quickly than if cooked the traditional method in a rack in a roasting pan.
Roast at 425°F for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 300°F and roast an additional hour (for a 6 pound roast), about 10-12 minutes per pound.
In the lower pan, put some fingerling potatoes tossed in olive oil. The drippings will give the potatoes flavor and make the outsides crispy. These are the best potatoes I’ve ever had.