Sunday, February 20, 2011

Roasted vegetable lasagna

This is one of my favorites. This is a vegetarian dish is a crowd pleaser among non-vegetarians as well.

The main ingredient is roasted vegetables. I roast things like eggplant, peppers and zucchini and garlic. Wondering what the green stuff is? I didn’t want to lose the spinach for its taste and nutrients, but I don’t care for the texture of the stringy, wet leaves in lasagna. So here’s a little secret: I puree the spinach with cottage cheese. Not only does this effectively disguise the texture of the spinach, it gives the cottage cheese a much nicer, smoother texture, similar to that of a ricotta cheese. I use Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, as well. The Mozzarella is a good melting cheese and the Parmesan provides a strong, sharp flavor.

Lasagna takes some work, but it goes a long way: It’s a great way to feed a group, and it’s a meal that can be prepared before guests arrive, so that you are free to socialize instead of sweating over the stove while your company waits. It also freezes well: It can be frozen prior to baking, then baked at a later date; alternatively, it can be baked, frozen, then reheated.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rustic Baguettes


This is sort of an aside. Baguettes are not going to appear in the cookbook. But there's something special about baking bread, and this was the first time that I've made baguettes in my kitchen. I finally got myself a nice perforated pan that bakes five loaves...
I was seduced by a good deal on a pan on the internet: I measured my oven and knew I was cutting it close in size. Sure enough, when the pan arrived, I discovered it was about a half inch too wide to fit in my oven.  In spite it obviously being too big, I made several desperate attempts to jam my new pan into the oven. When that didn't work, I slid it in on an angle. The situation was looking pretty grim. Luckily, my hubby came to my rescue and had the pan chopped, welded and alas, shortened! And it worked like a hot-damn, too.
I like the rustic look added by dusting with flour before baking, but I wish my cuts were nicer. Scoring with the lame is something that takes practice, I have learned. I took the baguettes out of the oven after the required baking time, and forgot to let them sit in the oven with the door open; they could've been crispier... next time they will be!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Phyllo Samosas

…with fresh mango chutney, which is an absolute must. Samosas are simple: The potatoes and cauliflower need to be precooked, then combined with peas, yogurt, coconut milk, butter and spices to make the filling. I use a mixture of olive oil and butter for brushing the phyllo. These are tasty even out of the freezer. The chutney freezes well, too, so I pack a little bit in a snack bag to freeze with each serving. Perfect, because I crave these little morsels like crazy sometimes, and now all I have to do is reach into the freezer!