Thursday, April 1, 2010

Non-nutritive Cereal Varnish

Here's the thing about unprocessed foods. They mold...or rot...or ferment (in a bad way). I'm currently in the process of pouring my moldy goat milk yogurt down the drain since I've been too busy to keep my kitchen properly stocked and rotated. Aaargh!
Annoyed in San Francisco

(P.S. Props to anyone who gets the non-nutritive cereal varnish reference.)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lasagna - The Old School Way

Yes, I understand that the above photo is more like spaghetti than lasagne, but we made them on the same day. And, while the lasagne looked (and tasted, I might add) fantastic, this photo won out. Surely, you can see why.

This dish is a labor of love. Feel free to incorporate only the "scratch" parts that interest you. For example, if you are much too tired to make pasta, use store-bought, but find the time to make the sauce. You get the idea.

The pasta recipe below will make about twice as much as you will need for this dish. You can either cut the recipe in half, or reserve the extra for making ravioli or spaghetti. It's probably better to go for the extra dough since you are already in the process of making pasta. Dry the noodles by hanging them over a rod, and then store in the freezer.

When you assemble the lasagne, don't fret too much about the layering. If I have failed to clearly articulate the idea, just be sure to end with a nice coating of sauce topped with a hearty dose of cheese - that's really all that matters!

Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
15 plum tomatoes, cored, halved, and squeezed free of seeds
Bouquet garni - sprig of thyme, sprig fresh oregano, 1 dried bay leaf (tied with twine)
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch basil, finely chopped

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. In a large flameproof casserole, heat olive oil over high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the onions start to become tender.
2. Add red pepper flakes, toasting for 1 minute to release the aromas.
3. Add tomatoes, bouquet garni, wine, and black pepper. Bring liquid to a boil.
4. Place the casserole in the oven, and cook for 45 minutes.
5. Stir, breaking up any large chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard bouquet garni. Stir in basil.

Roasted Eggplant

2 medium eggplants
Olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Make sure the oven is still set at 400 degrees. Remove the top and bottom of each eggplant; discard. Cut both into 1/2 inch slices.
2. Place a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet. Lay out the slices of eggplant (it's ok if they overlap slightly). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 25 minutes or until tender.


6 1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup plain goat's milk yogurt (ok to sub cow's milk)
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot, slowly bring milk, yogurt, cream, vinegar, and salt to a boil. Boil lightly for 2 minutes or until you can see visible curds forming.
2. Spoon the curds into a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Pour the remaining liquid over the curds. Wrap the cheesecloth around the ricotta and squeeze to drain. Place a weighted object over the top and leave to drain for 30 minutes.
3. Stir in oregano, egg, and parmesan.

Whole Wheat Pasta

3 cups whole wheat pasta
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch salt
Flour, for kneading

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all of the ingredients. Mix on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until the dough forms a ball.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute or 2, or until the surface of the dough is smooth. Cover with plastic, and let it rest 10 minutes.
3. Using a pasta roller or a rolling pin, cut the dough into sections and roll to a paper thin consistency. (On our machine, this was #5, with 7 being the thinnest.) Cut the rolled dough into 12 pieces that are 3 inches by 9 inches. As you complete them, lay the pieces on a plate with waxed paper or parchment between each layer.

Lasagne assembly

Olive oil, for greasing
2 cups mozzarella
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. Set the oven to 350. Grease a 9x9 baking pan.
2. Begin by spooning 1/5 of the tomato sauce into the pan, spreading it to the edges. Top the sauce with three pieces of pasta, laid side by side to form a complete layer. Sprinkle 1/4 of the ricotta and some mozzarella on top of the pasta. Lay approximately 5 slices of eggplant across the cheese. Begin again with the sauce, and repeat until the pan is full. You should have 5 layers of sauce, 4 layers of pasta, 4 layers of ricotta, and 3 layers of eggplant. You will not use a fourth layer of eggplant, instead ending with sauce and the remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top.
3. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden and crunchy.
4. Cool 5 minutes before slicing.

Easter Bread

Eggy loaf for the holiday
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick, Globe Correspondent | March 31, 2010

An important symbol of the end of Lent and the celebration of the resurrection, this rich, yeasted bread has as many versions as there are denominations of Christianity. In Austria and Germany, bakers produce wreaths known as osterkranz. Italians bake at least five variations, including the Sicilian centerpiece shaped like a crown of thorns; recipes differ with the addition of pine nuts, citrus zest, and candied fruits. Many cultures place dyed eggs in the bread, representing new life and spring’s fertile optimism. In Argentina, Roman Catholics favor rosca, a ring-shaped loaf topped with pastry cream and chocolate.

Enlist the children to dye the eggs. Room temperature eggs bleed less, preventing unsightly streaks on the finished loaf. A simple twist resembles traditional braids, yet can be accomplished by a novice. If twisting seems too difficult, try a ring, round loaf, or two strands intersected as a cross.

Makes 1 loaf

Butter (for the pan)
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped
1/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk, heated to warm
2 eggs
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon anise seed
Flour (for sprinkling)
Oil (for the bowl)
3 dyed hard-cooked eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Butter a rimmed baking sheet.

2. In a small pan, combine the dried fruit and brandy. Bring to a boil; set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes.

4. In a mixer with a dough hook, mix butter, milk, and 1 of the eggs. Add the yeast mixture, and blend. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, and anise seed. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes.

5. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour and dried fruit mixture. Mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until dough begins to form a ball.

6. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead for 1 minute, or until dough is smooth.

7. Oil a bowl. Add the dough, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

8. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch strand. Lay the strands side by side, and twist together, securing both ends.

9. Place the twisted dough on the baking sheet. Carefully tuck the dyed eggs into the crevice between the strands. Cover with a clean towel. Set in a warm place, and let the dough rise for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

10. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and 1 teaspoon water. Gently brush the risen loaf with the egg wash.

11. Bake the bread for 30 minutes, rotating from front to back after 15 minutes, or until crust is a deep golden brown.

12. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack. Cool for 15 minutes.


1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice.

2. Place the bread and the rack on a baking sheet.

3. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cooled loaf. Leave it to set.

Opening Day!

Check out some fun ways to bring the ballpark to your living room couch in today's Boston Globe! I highly recommend the soft pretzel recipe!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Food For Thought...or Health

Check out this quick slideshow from Glamour...a great list of foods you should try and eat more of!