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.

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.

Gnocchi Verde

Although I have no plans to make corned beef/cabbage/soda bread for today’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I will almost certainly be eating something green-themed tonight. Natural colored green foods are acceptable, green-hued drinks are not. Unless you want to turn green, of course, which you might if you imbibe too many artificially colored beverages…..

But I digress. My beloved J just informed me that he has dinner with clients tonight, so it’ll be Alexander and I at home for dinner. Two carb-o-holic peas in a pod. Hey, that’s funny, peas are green, naturally. And naturally green. But we won’t be eating those, as it’s a pretty safe bet that he and I will indulge in pasta of some variety, most likely cacio e pepe for him, and pesto for me.

And pesto, which is made of basil, is green, naturally. And naturally green.

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I’ll show myself out.

Gnocchi Verde – adapted from Food52

These are not your standard run-of-the-mill gnocchi – but they are absolutely delicious and in our opinion, best served with marinara sauce instead of butter.

  • 4 tbs. butter
  • Two 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted completely, squeezed dry of all moisture
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • eggs plus one egg yolk
  • 6 tbs. flour
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tbs. melted butter, divided

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until almost all of the moisture has boiled away and the spinach starts to stick to the skillet.

Add the ricotta and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 more minutes.

Transfer the spinach-ricotta mixture to a large mixing bowl and use a rubber spatula to mix in eggs, flour, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, and pepper.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the mixture is quite firm.

Preheat the broiler and bring 6 to 8 quarts of water to a boil over medium heat in a large pot. Flour your hands lightly and shape the chilled gnocchi into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Drop the gnocchi gently into the simmering water and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until they puff slightly and are somewhat firm. Lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a towel to dry.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a shallow, ovenproof dish and swirl it around to evenly distribute.Arrange the gnocchi in one layer across the bottom, leaving about 1/4 inch between each one. Dribble the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over top, then sprinkle the gnocchi with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Broil for about 3 minutes, until the cheese melts and is golden brown. Serve at once, with additional grated cheese if desired.

Quinoa Greens Gratin

I’m not a health nut by any stretch, but I definitely enjoy cooking and eating healthy food. I’m very fortunate that neither the posse nor J are picky eaters – their list of “likes” is much, much longer than their list of “dislikes”. The biggest offenders that I can name right off the top of my head are anchovies (they are all quite vocal in their dislike of them), coconut (J), ginger (Alexander), and corn tortillas (Sabrina).

I haven’t quite figured out the tortillas aversion, in case you were wondering….

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Anyway, whenever I see a recipe that includes greens and cheese, I bookmark it. Over the past year, I’ve expanded our repertoire of leafy vegetables beyond spinach, escarole  and lettuce. Collard greens, turnip greens, kale, rainbow chard – we love them all.

Side note: I must point out that although my mother isn’t down with eating a plate of collard greens, I do think she would enjoy them. That is, if she could get past the southern accent she uses when she says the name of them….

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And one more thing: quinoa is not “kwee-no-a”, the proper pronunciation is “keen-wah”.

That concludes our elocution lesson for today. 

Quinoa Greens Gratin – adapted from Garden of Eating

  • 1 large bag of greens, (I used turnip greens)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed in several changes of water and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  •  Handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper –

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Oil a 2-quart baking or casserole dish.

Prepare the quinoa. Bring the water to a boil in a pot and add the quinoa. Stir and return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender but still firm. Drain the quinoa in a fine strainer or sieve and set it aside.

Heat a medium frying pan or a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the greens and cook/stir for about 5 minutes, until the greens have wilted but are still crisp. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add some more pepper. Stir in the quinoa and greens mixture, the cheeses, and the parsley. Mix well. Scrape the mixture into the oiled gratin dish.

Place in the oven and bake until nicely browned on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes, then serve.

 

Mushroom Ragu

Before we head into what will surely probably most definitely be a chocolate and sugar filled weekend, allow me to share with you a surprisingly savory and gratifying dinner that I made a few weeks ago.

In my previous life, I never would have given this recipe a second glance. An Italian ragu-style sauce made with just mushrooms? Without meat? No tomatoes? It’s egregious, unthinkable, and quite frankly, a little disturbing.

Yet, I made it, and I ate it. With gusto, and a whole lot of cheese.

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Delicious, even if it was outside my comfort zone of sauce. I think next time I’ll serve this over a piece of chicken instead of over pasta. Of course, that sounds suspiciously like Chicken Marsala to me…….

Mushroom Ragu – adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Marsala
1/3 cup heavy cream
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmesan

In a large skillet heat the oil. When almost smoking, add the onions and garlic over medium-low heat until the onions have wilted, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and season with pepper. Raise heat to high and saute until mushrooms are tender and all the liquid has evaporated. Remove pan from heat and pour in Marsala. Return pan to stove and allow wine to evaporate, about 3 minutes.  Add heavy cream and mix well. Take the pan off the heat and add the fresh herbs and Parmesan and mix thoroughly.

Stuffed Escarole Pizza

Last week, I continued my reign as the Girl That Blows Up Appliances. It’s quite the regal title, don’t you think? Although I prefer to look at it this way…. if nothing else, I’m consistent.

Consistently.

Anyway, as I was making the dough for this pizza, the mixer motor was skipping, chugging, sputtering and kept slowing down. A few minutes later, J walked into the kitchen and said, “Why do I smell a burning motor?”

Uh ohhhhhhhh. I finished making the dough by hand and silently thanked my mother for giving me her stand mixer, so I didn’t have to go into crisis mode yet.

Yet.

The next day, I set out to prepare the fig filling for our favorite Cucidati Cookies, as they are a MUST during the holidays. If you’re not familiar with them, they are close to a Fig Newton, but far, far superior. Of course, copious amounts of rum in the filling might have something to do with it. But I digress. I set a little mood music on Pandora (Jazz Holiday Hits), and tossed the figs, orange peel, almonds and spices into the food processor. And then pushed the start button. Chopping, chopping, chopping, stop.

What? No stop, keep chopping! The food processor, however, had other ideas. Like not working. Dang it.

I scraped the filling into a container and left to pick up the posse. When we returned home, J was at the house waiting for me. Imagine my surprise when he handed this to me:

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He said, “I don’t think the other mixer is going to make to the holidays”.

I was so overcome by his thoughtfulness and generosity that I didn’t have the heart to tell him about the food processor……

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Stuffed Escarole Pizza – adapted from Epicurious

  • 3 lb escarole (about 3 heads), tough outer ribs discarded and leaves thinly sliced (20 cups loosely packed)
  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 oz chilled Italian Fontina, coarsely grated (2 cups)

Put oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 500°F. Lightly oil 9″ springform pan. Cook escarole in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, then immerse colander in a large bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and press gently to remove excess water. Transfer escarole to a large kitchen towel, then gather corners and twist tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible.

Cut off one third of dough (keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap) and pat into cake pan, covering bottom. Brush with 1 tablespoon oil and prick all over with a fork. Bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let crust stand in pan on a rack.

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add escarole, black pepper, and crushed red pepper, and sauté, stirring, until escarole is coated with oil, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large shallow bowl to cool slightly, about 15 minutes, then stir in cheese.

Spread escarole filling over crust in pan, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edge. Roll out remaining dough into a 10-inch round (on a lightly floured board if it sticks). Transfer to pan, covering filling and tucking edge under bottom crust to form a flat top and completely enclose filling (stretch dough if necessary). Press edges to seal. Brush top with remaining tablespoon oil and bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Run a sharp thin knife around edge of pan. Invert a rack over pan and, wearing oven mitts and holding pan and rack firmly together, flip pizza onto rack. Turn pizza right side up and cool 15 minutes before serving. Slide pizza onto a cutting board and cut into wedges.

 

 

Leek and Greens Pie

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

Or at least in this house, it’s the Shih Tzu that’s getting fat:

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It’s not nice to say “fat” though …. so we shall say she’s getting….. plumpish.

She waits until Dyna the Indomitable Dachshund walks away from her bowl (Dyna eats one.piece.of.kibble.at.a.time… it’s maddening), then Daisy nonchalantly and very quietly moves in for the kill.

It’s quite genius, actually.

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And that story has nothing to do with this pie.

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However, making this recipe was a genius move on my part, because not only was it a cinch to put together, it was perfect warm from the oven (J and I had it for Thanksgiving dinner), and even better the next day.

Wait – I sense a familiar theme here… a genius move on Daisy’s part and a genius move on my part.

Great – I’m as intelligent as the dog.

Leek and Greens Pie – adapted from Food52

Cornmeal Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • pinch salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water, plus more as necessary

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt.

Add in the butter, then working quickly rub it in with your fingers or cut it in with a pastry cutter until it is mixed in and you have lumps about the size of peas. Stir in the quarter cup water with a fork until the dough just comes together into a bunch of large dough clumps. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to form the dough. Gather the pieces together and press them into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other, flatten them into discs, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

When you are ready to make the pie, take the larger dough disc out of the fridge. If it is too hard to roll, let it sit at room temperature 5-10 minutes, but you don’t want it to get too soft. On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece of dough out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Lightly drape the rolled dough over a 9-inch round pie pan, press it into the pan and trim the edges. Wait to roll out the other piece of dough until the pie is filled.

Line the bottom crust with parchment or foil and weight it. Bake in a 425F oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, remove the weights and lining, return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Then, set aside.

Greens Filling: 

  • 1 large bag of mixed winter greens
  • cloves of garlic, minced
  • medium leeks, washed well and thinly sliced – just the white and light green portions
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • cup packed grated Gruyere cheese
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • eggs
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the leeks. Stir and cook for 5 minutes over medium, then turn the heat to medium low and cook until the leeks are a lovely soft golden pile, about another 20 minutes. Turn the heat back to medium, stir in the greens and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes until the flavors have mingled and any extra liquid has cooked off.

Transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the cheese, lemon juice, eggs and sour cream until everything is well combined.

Spread the vegetable and cheese mixture into the prepared tart crust. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the second piece of dough into a 9 inch circle (use a pie plate to trace and trim it into a perfect circle), cut a shape or slits in the top and lay this over the tart filling. You don’t need to seal the top crust with the bottom, leaving a space gives the tart another air vent, and adds aesthetic interest.

Place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom shelf of your oven to catch any drips, and place the tart on the middle shelf. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and fragrant. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before attempting to serve

Serve the pie warm or at room temperature.