Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Classic Lasagna

Well after reading the title I'm sure it's no shocker that I made lasagna. It was my first go at it and turned out pretty dang good! Once again I referred to my Giada book. So far she hasn't disappointed! And I'm so glad it didn't disappoint because lasagna is a lot of work!! Especially if you don't already have all your sauces pre-made which unfortunately for me I didn't. So all the prep time before cooking took about 3 1/2 hours.  

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 15 dry lasagna noodles, I used the whole package from Barilla
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb beef ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork (the recipe doesn't call for pork but I had to use it up)
  • 1 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups béchamel sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 lbs whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
 Béchamel Sauce:
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups warm whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • pinch of ground nutmeg, plus more to taste
In a 2 qt. saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy, about 10 minutes (do not allow the sauce to boil). Remove from the heat and stir 1/2 tsp of salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.)

Marinara Sauce
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 32 ounce cans crushed tomatoes (san marzano is the best!)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer until the sauce thickens, about an hour. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. (This sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.)

Ok! On to the fun part!

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the vegetable oil to help prevent the noodles from sticking. Cook the lasagna until almost al dente, about 6 minutes (this will prevent the noodles from becoming mushy in the lasagna). Drain, then rinse the noodles under cold water to stop the cooking and help remove any excess starch. Cover lightly with a damp towel to prevent the pasta from drying out. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over a medium high flame. Add the meat and 1/2 tsp of each salt and pepper and saute until the meat is fully cooked, breaking up any large clumps. Remove from heat, drain any excess fat and let cool completely. 

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix the béchamel and marinara sauces to blend. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

In another medium bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper to blend. Set aside. Spread the butter over a 13x9 inch baking dish. Spoon 1/3 of the béchamel-marinara sauce over the bottom of the dish. Arrange 5 lasagna noodles atop the sauce, overlapping slightly and covering the bottom of the dish completely. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly on top of the noodles. Arrange 5 more lasagna noodles, then top with the ground beef. Spoon more of the béchamel-marinara sauce over it then sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Repeat until finished. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top. (This lasagna can be made 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Uncover before baking). 

Bake lasagna until heated through and the top is bubbling, about 45 minutes.  

 We enjoyed our lasagna and wine outside

 This last picture I just had to share because I found it so funny/cute. This is Brian zealously picking berries hoping that I would make him a berry pie. Well, I caved and made him one.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Over the Weekend

This weekend was filled with relaxing, eating, cooking and enjoying the sunshine. We went into Seattle, ate lunch at a favorite spot then walked to find some coffee. The coffee spot just happened to be a few blocks away from a tiny little opening to lake union. We sat, people watched, drank our coffee and watched the blue angels fly above. I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing afternoon. I also spent about 3 hours preparing a lasagna for Sunday...but I'll write about that in a separate post.

 I love the colorful doors! Across the street from the Little Water Cantina where we like to eat.

 That couple on their boards popped open a bottle of champagne and just hung out there. Brilliant.
We also visited the car museum in Tacoma on a whim. Super cool!!! I would definitely go back several times just to ooh and aaah.