Brussels Sprouts Lasagna

Just when you thought it was safe to wear short sleeves..

Seriously, what’s up with this weather? Yesterday it was 83 degrees and picture perfect. Today, the wind is blasting and the temperature is 58. Tomorrow the forecast is 81 and calm.

And I’m accused of being fickle? Sheeeeesh……

Anyhoo, this lasagna, although unusual, was tremendously well received at Chateau W (aka our house). An amalgamation of two similar recipes, I used crepes instead of the standard lasagna noodles, and the end result was outstanding. It’s light, full of flavor and if you prepare the crepes ahead of time, it comes together in a snap.

Speaking of crepes, I always use Alton Brown’s recipe. They come out perfect every time – just make sure to follow the directions and let the batter rest for at least several hours. I usually make a double batch, stack the finished crepes between sheets of wax paper, and freeze them. However, the posse love them fresh out of the pan, dusted with cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

That sounds so good right now, I think I want to go prepare a batch….
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Brussels Sprouts Lasagna – adapted from Serious Eats and How Sweet Eats

  • 12 crepes
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, pale green and white part only, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 16 ounces white mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean, and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 3 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigian reggiano cheese
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the sprouts, shallots, and leek; season with pepper, stirring to coat. Cook until the sprouts soften and become bright in color, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the sprouts from the skillet and set them aside in a bowl.

Using the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil. Add the mushrooms, stirring well to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Season with black pepper and thyme.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Once it’s hot, whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly as the mixture comes together. Cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the parmigiano reggiano cheese, the marinara sauce,and pinch of cayenne.

To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the 9×13 dish. Lay three crepes across the bottom of the pan, then top with 1/2 of the brussels and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Sprinkle on 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the top of the cheese. Repeat layers, ending with a top layer of crepes. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the sauce, spreading it out to the edges. Cover with a  sheet of foil and bake until bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Phyllis Grants Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m very happy to report that my walk this morning was far less eventful than yesterday’s.

Which is a very good thing. 

I’m also happy to report that J is home, the Tacos al Pastor I made this evening were outstanding, and these cookies are in the house.

All good things indeed.
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Phyllis Grant’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups regular semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup large bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 375° F.

Sift flour and baking soda. Set aside.

All medium speed unless otherwise noted: In a standing mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until well mixed and light. Scrape down the sides. Add one egg. Mix for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add second egg. Mix for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add vanilla. Mix for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides.

You’re going to add the sifted flour mixture in 4 batches, stopping before adding the final batch. For the first 3 batches, mix at low speed just to combine, scraping down the sides between each addition. When you get to the final batch of flour, add the chocolate chips. They will get a bit crushed. That’s okay. Mix until there’s barely a trace of flour visible. Don’t over-mix. Sometimes, it’s better to be safe and do the final bit of mixing by hand.

Set up a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake one tray at a time or they will all cook at different rates. Make them spherical, not flat. The cookie size is up to you. I find the bigger they are, the better ratio you have between gooey interior and crisp exterior. 2 ounces is about right for that.

Leave a few inches between the raw cookies. Place sheet pan in the oven. They’re done when they’re brown and crispy on the outer border and raw in the very middle (8 to 10 minutes). Remove sheet pan. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then, with a spatula, transfer cookies to a cookie rack to cool. If you’re not going to eat them right away, they should be frozen.

If you’re not baking them off right away, portion them out with an ice cream scoop, place them on a sheet pan, and freeze. Once firm, store them in a Ziploc bag. Works great to bake them off when they’re frozen.

Thoughts and Randomness

Today was certainly one of the more unusual days I’ve had as of late… 

With J out of town, I found myself wide awake today at 4:50 a.m. By 5:00 , I realized I wasn’t going to go back to sleep, and made my way downstairs to take care of the pups. After getting them through their morning routine, and a quick morning coffee (for me, not them), I headed out the door for a 4.5 mile walk. I need/want/am determined to get back into my exercise routine, it really helps clear my head and I am able to get super organized for the day. Of course, at 6:00 in the morning, it’s still pitch black outside. I’m not deterred, however, as the temperature was about 60 degrees. Perfect early morning walking weather.

So there I was, 2 miles into my walk, thinking and plotting and planning…when all of a sudden, I heard a man shout, “Don’t move!”

What would you think? 

Probably the same thing I did, which is that someone was being held up in the parking lot about 10 feet in front of me. I paused for a moment, trying to determine if I should run in the other direction and call for help? Or take a few more steps to see what was happening? In the split second that I was thinking, I heard the same man’s voice saying, “Don’t move, I’m calling for help right now..” At that moment, I turned the corner and saw a woman laying underneath a car, and a young man kneeling down over her, holding her hand and repeatedly telling her not to move. I ran up and asked if they needed help, and at that exact moment, another man pulled up (he was at the adjacent gas station and saw the commotion) and asked if he could help. The man standing over the woman said he was calling 911, but I told the man in the car that the fire station was literally one driveway away and he could drive there faster than I could run.

So while he drove off to get help, this poor woman was still trapped underneath her car, scared half to death and clearly in shock. I bent down, gently took ahold of her arm, and tried to reassure her that she was going to be ok, help was on the way. Seconds later, thanks to the man that went next door to the fire station, several firemen, a trio of EMS and the local Sheriff all showed up. They secured the woman onto a board, pulled her out from under the car, and from what I could understand (the noise from the trucks was deafening), she suffered a broken leg. Which, considering her minivan had just rolled over her, was miraculous.

But …. how did she get there?

According to the man that saw the accident, the woman had dropped her cigarette out of her window, and stopped her car to pick it up. She thought she had the car in “park”, but actually had put it in “neutral”.  When she opened the door to retrieve her cigarette, the car started to roll backwards, knocked her down, and rolled over her legs, thereby trapping her.

Scary.

I finally left when the Sheriff told me that I wasn’t needed, since I didn’t actually witness the accident. I headed straight home, a bit unsettled of course, but thankful that the woman was going to be ok.

Sabrina was at the kitchen counter when I walked into the house, took one look at my face and said, “Are you ok?”

I said, “Let me tell you about my walk…….”

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Rolls

Happy Monday!

Spring break is officially over in this part of town, which means the posse were dragging their feet on the way to school. Believe me, I wasn’t exactly overjoyed to face the traffic either – considering I took J to the airport at 4:15 this morning –  but more importantly, the massive migraine I was saddled with most of yesterday is completely gone.

Hallelujah!

It was a great week, though, and we definitely got a lot of projects accomplished. I think the biggest achievement (for me, anyway) was that J refinished the kitchen table. A few months ago, I set a hot casserole dish on the table, placing a towel underneath it to keep it from sliding. Unbeknownst to me, the towel was very damp, and the heat from the dish combined with the dampness of the towel left a not-very-nice looking circular watermark. The color was literally bleached right out of the tabletop.

I felt like such an idiot – I know that I should use hot pads…which I have plenty of……

Anyway, armed with a steel wool pad, a tin of mahogany stain, a bit of elbow grease, and 15 minutes of J’s time, the table looks brand new. All ready for Easter dinner, which I realized is less than two weeks away! Speaking of which, the Royal Family is coming to visit (aka Mom and Dad), so I’ve been thinking about what to serve. Of course, the usual suspect – a spiral ham – will appear on the table, and I’m leaning towards having J prepare a smoked turkey as well. I’ll be making these rolls too, since the dough can be mixed up a few days ahead of time and will make excellent sandwich rolls for the leftovers. That is, unless I can coerce The Queen Mother to make her outstanding popovers. I can’t quite master the hang of them, no matter how many times Ina Garten says, “How easy is that?”.  And…. if my negotiating skills fail, I can always call in the reinforcements.

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The posse. 

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Rolls – adapted from Artisan Bread In 5

2 1/3 cups lukewarm water
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbs granulated yeast
1 1/2 tbs sugar
6 1/2 cups bread flour (I do half white and half whole wheat)

In the bowl of an stand mixer (or a large bowl, about 6 qt capacity), mix together the water, buttermilk, yeast, a pinch of salt and sugar. Add the flour and mix using the paddle attachment (or mix by hand with a wooden spoon). Do not knead the dough.

Lightly cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size, then collapses.

At this point, the dough can be used immediately, or it can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container and used within 5 days. The dough can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.

When you are ready to bake, cut off your desired amount from the dough. I shaped the dough into 3 oz rolls, and set them onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the rack in the center of the oven with the baking stone, if using. Lightly brush the top of the rolls with melted butter. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.

Waffle Iron Hash Browns

There’s nothing quite like waking up on a beautiful, sunshine-filled Sunday morning with a debilitating migraine.

True story.

I only just started to feel human again about an hour ago, thanks to two doses of Alleve, one Excedrin Migraine pill, two strong cups of coffee, one hot shower, and a whole lotta hanging on the edge of the bed, praying to the Gods not to throw up.

Nice visual, I know….

The last time I had a headache this bad was last August, when J and I were in New York. That one, fortunately, dissipated after a few hours, but today’s version just doesn’t want to give up. The nausea, thankfully, has passed, which means I better get my act together and think about making the accompaniments to dinner – J is grilling a leg of lamb, and I’m going to make this winter greens gratin, and potatoes in some format.

Which, of course, brings me to this recipe. I was inspired by Food and Wine’s video of their Assistant Recipe Tester, Justin Chapple, demonstrating how to make these. What a clever idea, really – I wish I had thought of it and tried them sooner. The posse and J loved them, and the only recommendation I can offer is to squeeze the excess liquid from the potatoes before mixing them with the butter and seasoning.

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Now that I’ve ventured out of only-using-a-waffle-iron-for-waffles, the next recipe I want to try is for Waffle Iron Fried Cheese….

Waffle Iron Hash Browns – adapted (not really!) from Food and Wine

  • 2 russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter

Preheat waffle iron.

In a mixing bowl, combine shredded potato, salt, pepper and butter. Pile shredded potatoes into waffle iron, and close lid. Cook potatoes for 5 minutes, then begin checking them. They are ready when potatoes are golden brown and crispy around the edges; mine took about 4 to 5 minutes longer.

Dorie’s Apple Squares

Sometimes, it truly is the little things in life that make you happy.

For example, I spent the better part of Monday spring cleaning. I tore apart my closet and made room for almost all of my warm-weather clothes that have been packed away for the winter. Kinda like coming out of hibernation, I suppose.

The clothes, not me…

However, in more exciting news, I have a new oven to try out today! Can I get a “hoooo-rah”? The owners of the rental home we are in decided that since they had to replace the dishwasher (which conked out 2 weeks ago on its own), they decided to also replace the old, outdated range as well. The old oven and I were not on the best of terms – I couldn’t understand it, as the broiler element was on the bottom. Nothing cooked evenly, and I really had a hard time adjusting to it.

But not anymore! I can’t wait to try out the new one today – I have a few errands to run and then if you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen :)

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Dorie’s Apple Squares – adapted from Dorie Greenspan

  • medium apples (juicy, sweet)
  • 1/2cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbs. whole milk
  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled (but still liquid)
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Heat the oven to 400° F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Peel the apples. If you have a mandoline, slice the apples thinly, turning when you reach the core. (The slices should be thin but not transparent.) If you don’t have a mandoline, simply core and slice as thinly as you manage. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for a couple of minutes, or until the sugar dissolves and the eggs become pale. Whisk in the vanilla, then the milk and the melted butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. With a spatula, gently fold in the apples until each slice is coated. Scrape the batter into the pan and roughly even out the top.

Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden and uniformly puffed. A skewer in the middle will come out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool, then slice and dust with the optional confectioners’ sugar.