Monday, March 28, 2011

Busy Weekend

It was a very busy weekend around the Manor.  So busy, in fact I forgot to take pictures, so you'll just have to imagine the goings on.  The Earl and I spent Friday night visiting and dining with friends.  The hostess asked me to bring a coleslaw to go with dinner ( it turned out to be corned beef, and I was thrilled because I missed fixing corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's), so I fixed this one and it was so good.  As per usual, I didn't have all the exact ingredients, so I substituted a mixture of milk and white vinegar for the buttermilk (it makes me wretch, so I don't keep it in the house, but I do understand it has magical powers as an ingredient.  But still...) and left out the lemon juice entirely.  There was apparently a lemon heist at the Manor last week, because the lemons I thought I had, I did not.

I worked on Saturday, beautifying my neck of the woods.....

......aaaand the Earl and I were having a dinner party for 9 on Saturday evening.  It wasn't a typical dinner party, but a little thang that we call Supper 8 (or in our case, 9).  When we first started attending our church a couple of years ago I signed us up for Supper 8 right away as a way to get to know people.  I did another thing that I thought would be a good way to meet people too, but that's for another time.  Eeenyhoo, the idea is you are put into a group of approximately 3 other couples, or a mix of couples and singles to equal 8-10.  Each couple hosts a get-together, dinner, breakfast, Sunday lunch - whatever the group decides, once during the go-around.  As host and hostess, you plan the meal and provide the main dish and the others fill in with sides, salad and dessert.  I typically like to do a roast or some other budget-busting thing because it's simple and most of all, everyone really enjoys it.  And it's a great excuse to serve some of my favorite wine or this one.  I don't really need an excuse, but I like to keep up appearances.
This time for our turn at hosting the Earl requested my lasagna.  Since I haven't fixed lasagna for a loooong time, probably since the Duke and Countess du Greece were in residence I figured I could oblige him.  When we got home of Friday night, I set to it.

The Lady's Lasagna
(measurements are approximate, and vary with the amount of wine consumed whilst cooking - but close)

1 lb. ground beef
1 1b. Italian sausage (we used to like hot, but we're old now and I use sweet)
1/2 of a medium to large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed (use a garlic crusher so you get all that awesome juice, too)
  Saute and crumble this mixture until it's nice and brown.  Add:
28 oz. can tomatoes (I use 2 cans of chopped tomatoes - those that they claim are roasted - I dunno, are    they?)
2 cans tomato paste
about 1/2 c water or earthy red wine
2 T sugar (depends on my mood whether it's brown or white)
2 t dried basil (I always crush it in my hands as I put it in)
1 1/2 t dried oregano (again, crush)
1 T salt (don't skimp here)
1/4 t or so black pepper
a good handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  Simmer this, covered for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs.
Meanwhile, have a sip of your earthy wine and bring a big pot of salted water to boil.  Slip in 12 dry lasagna noodles.  If you want to use fresh noodles, I'll not quibble.  They're delicious, but I can rarely find them easily. I will make a judgement about 'no boil' noodles, though.  They're an abomination in my opinion. When using dry noodles, it takes about 7-8 minutes for them to reach the point I like.  I don't want them completely done.  When ready, drain, rinse and toss with a little olive oil.  Lay them flat on sheets of foil until you're ready to assemble.
Also meanwhile (this stuff keeps you busy), mix:
16 oz. ricotta cheese (I've used cottage cheese here, too)
2 eggs
3/4 c grated parmesan (people, I implore you, ditch the green can and buy grated or shred your own)
a little dried parsley here is nice but there will be no judgement made should you decide against it
When ready to assemble, you will also need:
8 oz. cream cheese (shocking, I know)
about 3/4 lb. sliced mozzarella (fresh is out of this world, but the other works fine, too)
about 1/2 - 3/4 c shredded parmesan

Lay four noodles flat, overlapping slightly on the bottom of a deep-ish rectangular pan (at least 9x13).  Top with a layer of meat sauce, a layer of the ricotta mixture, slices of mozzarella and then knobs of cream cheese.  Repeat twice.  Make sure you have good meat and cheese coverage.  The last layer should be:  noodles, ricotta mixture (thinner layer is fine),small knobs of cream cheese, meat sauce, mozzarella and top with shredded parmesan.  It's now time for a good rest in the oven, at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes.  The cheese on top will get deliciously bubbly and brownish - and the aroma in your house will drive you mad I tell you.  Do your best to let it rest for 10 minutes or so before cutting into it.
Easily 12 servings.
Enjoy with delightful people, vino delicious and Puccini for a memorable evening with new friends.  Or old friends, if you must.  If your friends are as wonderful as ours, they will bring delicious bread, salad and fruit to round out the meal and tiramisu for dessert.  And you'll fall into bed satisfied in every way.

If your friends are not that wonderful, you'll at least have some delicious lasagna while you ponder broadening your circle of peeps.

Buona notte per ora i miei amici

1 comment:

  1. Sounds YUMMY! I love the cream cheese added into it, ever since you did that for us. Sooooo good!!!