Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Time is Here

I've been asked to do a lasagna for Christmas at the LaRoches. I am a very experimental cook. I don't do anything the same way until I get a recipe just the way I want it (i.e. my pea soup recipe is the same every time now--it only took me about 5 to 6 years to perfect that, but I made it a lot then). I'm getting close with lasagna but I'm not there yet. I am however, compulsive in some ways, so god forbid, I just buy some freaking Classico and noodles and cheese. No, I have to do it the hard way, making the sauce from scratch (although not quite...I've been known to start with actual fresh tomatoes instead of canned, but I don't have that kind of time, you really need home grown tomatoes for that, and it's winter... yes, I'm quite aware that I'm delusional, thank you.) Here's the latest incarnation, just for the hell of it. Yes, I know I said on Facebook that some of the ingredients were secret but who cares. Can you guess which four or five of the weird ingredients are the same every time and which are new additions?

Lasagna spaghetti sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 onions (diced finely)
7 garlic cloves minced with a Pampered Chef garlic press
3-4 celery ribs (quartered lengthwise and then sliced into small pieces)
1 carrot grated with a Pampered Chef microplaner (so that it's more carrot goo than shredded carrot)
the equivalent of one red pepper from a jar of roasted red peppers (chopped finely)
2 tbsp of Italian Seasoning (I was being lazy)
1 tsp of thyme
1/2 tsp of ground ancho chili pepper
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
20-30 grinds from the pepper grinder of 4 color peppercorns
1 lb of hot italian sausage (remove casing and cut or divide into 1 inch pieces)
1/2 c. water
1 6 oz can of tomato past
2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 35 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (chopped up with juice)
3 drops of Marie Sharps Grapefruit Habernero hot sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp of brown sugar.

Take a frying pan and put half of the oil, garlic, onions and celery in it and cook between low and medium, sweating them until the onions turn transluent. Empty contents of fry pan into 8 qt stock pot. Put carrot, roasted red pepper, and dry spices in 8 qt stock pot as well, and mix to combine, then put aside. In fry pan, put other half of the oil, and brown sausage until cooked. Empty contests of fry pan into 8 qt stock pot. De-glaze fry pan with 1/2 c. water and empty into stock pot. Mix to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes, whole peeled tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix to combine. Add the remaining ingredients, mix to combine, and simmer for an hour and half.

Other lasagna stuff:
4 cups mozzarella shredded cheese
2 cups italian mix shredded cheese (provolone, parmesan, romano, fontina, asiago)
(normally, I'd shred some smoked gouda too, but I didn't have time today)
32 oz container of ricotta
2 boxes of lasagna noodles (I don't use oven ready because I think they taste like paste, but have at it)
(sometimes, I put sliced black olives in, but I didn't have time today, because I won't buy them already sliced because I think they aren't as good if you don't slice them yourself...see, delusional again...)

Parboil lasagna noodles (little stiffer than al dente). Take 9x13" pan and grease bottom with olive oil. Put a noodle layer down. Spread ricotta on top of it. Put some sauce on top of that. I am never stingy with the sauce. I freaking hate dry lasagna. I'd rather it fall apart on the plate than eat dry lasagna. Then sprinkle some of all the cheese. Repeat until the pan is full. Cover loosely with foil, tenting it so it doesn't touch the cheese. (You can use tooth picks too if you have to.) Bake at 375 degrees for about and hour and a half. During the last half hour, remove the foil so the cheese gets nice and brown and crispy.

I have to say, the sauce is pretty killer. I could eat it with a spoon with no pasta. It still needs some fiddling with, but I'm getting there. You're going to have a bit of sauce left over if you follow the recipe, but just freeze it and eat it later with some cheese ravioli or tortellini.

In fiber news, on Sunday I finished the limb warmers, wrote up the pattern and put it on Ravelry for a dollar, just because it did take me a bit to write it up, but it is very silly. If you want to get it, click here. I did get the yarn for the helmet liner on Wednesday of last week and I started the helmet liner on Sunday. You can get the pattern here.

I've been writing this in between waiting for the sauce to finish, putting together the lasagna, and finding room for it in the fridge, until I get up an ungodly hour tomorrow so it can cook, before we head to the LaRoches. It's now eight p.m. and I'm getting around to eating some dinner between leftovers and a little mini lasagna with what was left over. I still haven't written Shawn my Christmas letter. I'd like to do that tonight, but I'm not thinking it's going to happen. We're not doing our personal Christmas until Sunday and he's working tomorrow night (2 pm to midnight ish) so I might be able to squeak it in then. If the weather cooperates, my mother, sister and my aunt Murph are going to visit for the day. I've already informed them that no cleaning will take place. They will just have to deal with the state of the place as it is.

Merry Christmas everyone, hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

No comments:

Post a Comment