Archive for the 'pasta' Category


Lasagna 1

Apologies for the uninspired portrait of this lasagna; it was taken in haste as it came out of the oven and sat for a few minutes while we gathered plates and forks and tore off paper towels in lieu of napkins for everyone around the table who had come to celebrate Mike’s birthday.

Lasagna 3

W chose lasagna for dinner, and the next day my friend Emily Richards’ beautiful new cookbook arrived in the mail – a book of recipes from the kitchens of her extended Italian family. When I make a lasagna – not that I have for ages – I generally make a big pot of meaty tomato sauce, grate piles of mozzarella and then wing it, starting with tomato sauce spooned over the bottom of the pan, then noodles, more sauce, spoonfuls of ricotta, grated cheese, and so on. I used fresh lasagna sheets this time, which are as inexpensive as dried noodles if not as convenient to keep stashed in your cupboard, but are a dream to work with – there’s no boiling and handling slippery noodles, or crunchy edge from the no-boil kind that didn’t manage to get adequately covered with sauce.

Lasagna 2

Emily is a fantastic cook and a solid recipe writer, and excels in the realm of Italian home cooking; when she came to visit this summer, she brought me a gnocchi board handmade by her dad, and deftly mixed and shaped a batch for dinner one night as we hung out in the kitchen. If I went out looking for a lasagna recipe, there’s no one I’d trust more.

Fortuitously, I had just simmered a big batch of fresh tomato sauce in the slow cooker, and cooked up a bunch of ground beef and Italian sausage that needed cooking. I followed her direction fairly loosely (I think I added more ricotta), but in the end was layers of meaty sauce, ricotta, grated cheese and fresh pasta sheets, baked as per her instructions, and it came together like a dream.

Emily’s Meat Lasagna

Adapted only slightly from Per La Famiglia, by Emily Richards

extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey or veal – I used some crumbled Italian sausage too)
salt and pepper, to taste
6 cups homemade tomato sauce (bottled is fine too, just make sure it’s the good stuff)
1 pkg (about 350 g) fresh pasta sheets
1 container ricotta
1 ball mozzarella, grated (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or extra old Gouda

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and oregano and cook for another minute, then add the beef and cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until it’s browned and no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch or lasagna pan. Top with a layer of lasagna sheets, another cup of sauce, some of the ricotta cheese and some of the mozzarella. Repeat with pasta sheets (I cut mine to fit), sauce and cheeses. I put all the ricotta in between the first two layers, then top the last pasta sheet with sauce and mozzarella, and then the Parmesan.

Cover with foil. (Emily recommends putting your lasagna on a baking sheet, but I like to live dangerously.) Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden.

Serves 8-10 very happy people.

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October 27 2015 | beef & bison and one dish and pasta | 3 Comments »

Ramen with Egg and Cheese

Screen shot 2015-02-08 at 11.28.46 PM

This is shorter and sweeter than I intended to be tonight, but I need to share my new favourite thing before too much time passes and I forget – it’s instant ramen with a bit of butter, egg poached right in the broth, and melty cheese. Cheese (the processed, wrapped in plastic kind) is a Korean thing, and far more delicious than it sounds – unless you think it sounds delicious, in which case you’re bang-on.

LA food truck chef Roy Choi shared his recipe for doctored-up ramen with the New York Times last year – it’s his staple, his grilled cheese, his bowl of cereal. And although packaged ramen has never particularly been my thing, it kind of is now – I want to go out and stay out late and have too many gin and tonics just so I can come home and make a bowl of this – I imagine it tastes even better at two in the morning. The processed cheese melts into the hot broth, making it a sort of cross between ramen and mac & cheese. Of course as with any noodle bowl, feel free to add any other additions you like – bits of veggies or roast chicken or pork – and spice it up with a squirt of Sriracha.

Just don’t forget the cheese.

Chef Roy Choi’s Perfect Ramen

This is pretty basic ramen – feel free to doctor it up with any additions you like, or spice it up with a squirt of Sriracha.

1 pkg. instant ramen noodles
1 egg
1 tsp. butter
grated carrot, fresh spinach, or leftover veggies (totally optional)
2 processed cheese slices
toasted sesame seeds
chopped green onion

Cook the noodles like you normally would – according to the package directions – when the noodles are about halfway cooked, crack in the egg and poach it in the broth over low heat, basting with broth or covering with a lid briefly to help it cook through.

Carefully pour the lot into a bowl, add the butter and any veggies you like, and immediately top with the cheese slices. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onion and Sriracha to taste and serve immediately.

Serves 1.

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February 08 2015 | leftovers and one dish and pasta | 7 Comments »

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