Uncategorized

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

I decided to create this lasagna after having seen similar ingredients used in a different dish. I thought,”Ooh, that would make a great lasagna!”. So, I picked up a few ingredients at the grocery store that I didn’t already have on hand and I sat down and wrote the recipe.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

As I worked my way through the recipe, I tweaked it to follow what I actually found while making the dish. A couple of observations: I had three layers and no problems. I used an 11″x13″ baking dish and I had to break a few noodles to fill in some space where whole noodles would not fit…no problem. You could use a smaller dish and make more layers, but make sure you leave some room at the top, so that the sauce won’t bubble out while cooking. Also, I started with 8oz of mozzarella and upped it to 12oz, because I ran out and opened another bag. On the other hand, I didn’t quite use all of the parmesan cheese. Cheese should be to your liking. Additionally, I used cottage cheese, instead of ricotta, because I don’t care for ricotta. To me, it’s just to dense and pastey. The cottage cheese is lighter and creamy. I bought a one pound container and used a little over half. The toasted pine nuts were a terrific addition. You could skip them…I know that they are expensive, but a few tablespoons really make a big difference!

So good!!!

So good!!!

Toasting pine nuts...carefully!

Toasting pine nuts…carefully!

I also made some fettucine alfredo for my kids and had a little extra alfredo sauce, so I drizzled a little on the top of my serving. It wasn’t really necessary, but it looked nice. I didn’t have any leftover pesto bechamel, but if I had, I would have used it for a little drizzle. Finally, I chopped whole artichoke bottoms into a medium dice.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

You could use hearts, if you like, but sometimes you get a fibrous leaf or two…no big deal, but maybe not the best idea for guests. And I don’t think you would want to use “marinated” artichokes…just plain, canned. My wife thanked me for leaving out mushrooms…she has lost her taste for them recently, for some reason. But, in my head, I was thinking how good some sautéed mushrooms would have been! I hope you’ll try this recipe! If you do, leave me a comment on what you think of the recipe…and enjoy!

Pesto & Artichoke Béchamel Lasagna

(Using “No Boil” Noodles)

Ingredients:

1 box “No Boil” Lasagna Noodles

1 small jar prepared Pesto

1 12oz bag shredded Mozzarella (or more, if you like)

1 8oz bag shredded Parmesan

1 container small curd Cottage Cheese (or Ricotta)

1 can Artichoke Bottoms, drained and chopped medium

2 T. Pine Nuts, toasted (for garnish)

For the Béchamel:

2 c. Half’n’Half

1 c. 1% Milk

1 small Shallot, chopped fine (or sub. sweet onion and a garlic clove)

3 T. Butter

3 T. all-purpose Flour

2 c. Vegetable Stock

Pinch of Salt

 

Directions:

Make the béchamel. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Sauté shallot for 2 minutes, whisk in Flour, whisk until the Flour and Butter are well combined. Add Half’n’Half and Milk. Increase heat and bring to a simmer and allow to thicken/reduce for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock and continue to simmer for a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in jar of Pesto.

Roux

Roux

Bechamel

Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Assemble the Lasagna: Cover the bottom of an 11”x13” baking dish with Béchamel. Cover the béchamel with Lasagna Noodles and cover with Béchamel.

IMG_20150302_164220871

Start with pesto bechamel.

Dot the surface with small spoonsful of Cottage Cheese (or ricotta). Next, spread a layer of Mozzarella Cheese and follow with a light layer of Parmesan. Evenly sprinkle chopped Artichokes. Repeat with another layer and then finish with Béchamel and Cheeses.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375F for 50 minutes.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered. Garnished with pine nuts.

Remove foil and put under a broiler for a couple of minutes to brown a bit and bubble the cheese on top (or bake additional 10 minutes). Allow to set up for a couple of minutes while toasting the Pine Nuts in a small frying pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes…move frequently and do not burn! Sprinkle Pine Nuts evenly over the lasagna, cut into squares and serve.

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

Potato Au Gratin. It’s Probably Easier Than You Think!

Image

 

When was the last time you had potatoes au gratin? I mean, not dehydrated slices from a box and powdered cheese in a packet, but the real deal? It’s probably easier than you think! And if you have a decent food processor, it’s pretty quick, too. A quick search on Pinterest and I found a recipe by the ever-reliable Betty Crocker. Follow the link for the recipe:

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/au-gratin-potatoes/9fd8b127-ae50-4bb0-b1f3-98ed1f6e917e

I like to give credit where credit is due. It is nice to have some non-professional photos and personal experiences to encourage you, though! So, the most time consuming step is peeling the potatoes. Buck up, soldier! It’s not so bad, but learn to do it with a paring knife! Peelers are fine for carrots, but not so great for spuds. Next, slice the potatoes in uniform disks, about 1/8″ thick. I used the slicer disk in my food processor and zipped right through them.

Image

Then grate the onion with your grater attachment or finely chop by hand. (If my kids can’t see the onions, they are more likely to try the dish, so I grate them.) Then saute the onions in the butter and add the flour to make a roux.

Image

Add the milk and salt/pepper and whisk until fairly thick.

Image

Combine the sauce with the shredded cheese and whisk until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.In an oven-safe casserole dish, spread out the potato slices in a layer, slightly overlapping. You may have enough for more that one layer. Cover with sauce and repeat as needed.

.Image

 

Bake at 375F for one hour, uncovered. Mix breadcrumbs with the rest of the shredded cheese and top the casserole and pop back in oven for about 10 minutes more. Let rest ten minutes and serve.Image

Note: I used my processor to make bread crumbs from a dried out, leftover. Canned breadcrumbs would be fine here, as well. Enjoy!

Image

Standard
Uncategorized

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

I recently had a snow day. After getting the kids squared away with going out to play, I decided to make some English Sticky Toffee Pudding. I had been put in the mood for ESTP when I had some nice English Strong Ale from a local, new brewery that specializes in “English inspired Ales”. I had ESTP several times while in England for a vacation several years ago…it quickly became a favorite and “must have”. Well, I found a two-pack commercially available product in the grocery store…in the Britsh Stuff section. It was okay, to satisfy an immediate craving, but it wasn’t as good as I knew it could be. So, I jumped on Pinterest and read several recipes and found one I liked…one that used American measurements and ingredients. My only edits were adding a little more molasses, because I only had light brown sugar and substituting Half’n’Half for heavy cream, in the sauce.

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

(found at http://www.lafujimama.com/2012/08/sticky-toffee-pudding/ . Further credits referenced there.)

Ingredients:

Sticky Toffee Pudding ingredients

Sticky Toffee Pudding ingredients

For the cake:

6 ounces chopped and pitted dates
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons softened butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (or light brown and add 1 T. Molasses)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Sauce:

2 cups heavy cream (or Half’n’Half)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (or light brown and increase molasses by 1 T.)
2 1/2 tablespoons molasses
1 pinch sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and then grease an 8×8 square baking pan and line it with parchment paper.

Line your pan with parchment paper, about 10-1/2" square for an 8"x8"x2" pan

Line your pan with parchment paper, about 10-1/2″ square for an 8″x8″x2″ pan

2. Make the cake: Combine the dates and water in a sauce pan.  Bring the water to a boil, then remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the baking soda, (It will foam up…don’t let it surprise you!) then set the saucepan aside.

Dates, brought to boil, baking soda added, stirred, set aside.

Dates, brought to boil, baking soda added, stirred, set aside.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula a few times.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Next add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

5. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low.  Then add all of the date mixture and mix to combine. Then finish by adding the remaining half of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.

Mixing

Mixing

6. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until the cake is springy in the middle. (Test with cake tester or skewer…should come out clean…or almost clean. Better to be slightly underdone than over.)

Into the oven!

Into the oven!

Let the cake cool for 20 minutes and then poke holes in it with a skewer.  While the cake is cooling prepare the toffee sauce.

Poke the cake and top with sauce.

Poke the cake and top with sauce.

Toffee Sauce

Toffee Sauce

7. Make the toffee sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Let the sauce boil until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

8. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the cake and let it soak in until ready to serve.  Turn out cake onto a service plate and remove the parchment paper.

After the cake cools a bit, turn out onto service plate and remove parchment.

After the cake cools a bit, turn out onto service plate and remove parchment.

Serve in square pieces about the size of a cupcake.

Cut view

Cut view

Nap the cake with sauce on what has now become the top side. Use the rest of the sauce for serving along with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. This cake is best served warm!

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

I was very pleased with the results and I’m sure you will be too! Don’t be put off by the dates. if you just haven’t had experience with them before. They practically melt into the batter and just add a rich, sweet, caramel flavor. The little bits in the cake are pretty much indistinguishable…not like raisins or chips at all!  The only thing I may do differently in the future is look for a sauce that doesn’t use milk or cream. Technically, that would make it caramel. I know. But I seem to remember sauces more like dark caramel in England and I preferred them. I used Half’n’Half in this recipe, because I didn’t have heavy cream, but it turned out fine. I hope you’ll give it a try. Sticky toffee pudding is equally good with a nice English stout or strong ale, coffee or milk. A warm piece of Sticky Toffee Pudding on a cold day…mmm. Talk about comfort food! Drop a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top and really indulge yourself! Enjoy!!

Standard