Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cheesy Mushroom Lasagna

We usually stick with your typical lasagna- red tomato sauce and either ground beef or Italian sausage, with basil, ricotta cheese, and Parmesan.  We decided to switch it up this time and use the fresh oyster mushrooms we had recently purchased.  I knew a tomato based sauce would over-power the flavor of the mushroom so we opted for a white cheese sauce.  Even though this lasagna is vegetarian, the mushrooms add a meatiness to the dish and they have a great flavor which complements the rich creamy white sauce.  We topped the lasagna with some roasted cherry tomatoes to add a little brightness to the dish.  Overall, it was rich and delicious, a definite recipe to pull out when you are trying to please meat eaters and vegetarians alike. 
1 package lasagna noodles*
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz wild oyster mushrooms, chopped
12 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 T olive oil
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) plus 2 Tablespoons
1/2 cup flour
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t salt
1 t nutmeg
2 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup (or more) cherry tomatoes, halved
*Note: I used the no-bake noodles, and it worked out okay but it was very thin... Next time I will try regular noodles that are boiled first to make it a little thicker.  Either way you probably won't need quite the whole box, depending on how large your casserole dish is.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  If you use regular noodles, heat a large pot of water to boil.  In a separate pot, heat the milk until it is hot, without boiling.  In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat.   Add the onion and saute for about 5-7 minutes until they are becoming soft.  Season with 1/2 t salt.  Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.  Add the two tablespoons butter, and when melted, add the mushrooms, and the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Stir to combine and saute for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and tender.  Season with more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour to create a roux.  Let it cook for a minute or two, and then add the hot milk.
Add the black pepper and 1/2 t salt.  Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens.  Freshly grate the nutmeg into the sauce, and finally add 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Begin to layer your lasagna.  Spread a thin layer of the white sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Layer the noodles, more sauce, 1/4 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  

Continue to build the lasagna layers in this order, until you have done 4 layers.  On the top, spread any remaining sauce and cheese.  If you are using no-bake noodles, it's important to make sure all the noodles are covered in sauce so they will cook through. Bake for 40 minutes or until cheese is starting to bubble and turn golden.  Remove and add the fresh tomatoes on top, and bake for 5 minutes longer.  Take the lasagna out of the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before serving.   Sprinkle the parsley on top and enjoy!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Corned Beef Hash

With only two of us in the house, we often end up with leftovers.  Even when we have people over, it seems I always make an enormous amount of food so there's enough left over for lunch.  After two days of eating the same thing you can get pretty sick of it no matter how tasty it is.  So, with leftover corned beef and potatoes that weren't going anywhere fast, we decided to turn it into corned beef hash.  We added a diced red pepper, onion, and garlic for some extra flavor.   With a fried egg on top, it is a delicious and savory meal.  A great way to transform your St. Patrick's day dinner leftovers!
2 cups chopped corned beef
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped boiled potatoes (about 1/2 inch cubes)
vegetable oil
salt and pepper
eggs for frying
chives, green onion, or parsley for garnish

Bring a cast iron or large heavy bottomed pan to medium heat.  Pour in 2 T oil and when the pan is hot, and add the diced onion and bell pepper.  Add 1 t salt to the mixture and stir.  Saute for about 6-8 minutes until they are soft and the onions are turning golden and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes longer.

Next, add the corned beef and saute for 2 minutes.  Then, add the potatoes to the mixture, stir to combine, and let it sit for a few minutes without touching.  Stir to scrape up the bottom that might have stuck to the pan.  Keep letting it sit for a couple minutes and stirring, to let the potatoes and onions brown.  After about 10-15 minutes it should be turning more of a crispy brown color.  You may need to add more oil if it seems to be sticking too much.

Add lots of freshly ground black pepper to the hash mixture.  Taste for more salt.  In a separate non-stick skillet, heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat, and fry the eggs with salt and pepper.  Top the corned beef hash with the chopped herbs and fried egg and serve hot.  Delicious for breakfast, brunch, or even dinner!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pasta & Broccoli

This is an Italian dish we learned how to make from our friend Lucian.  It's great because it's an entire meal in one dish, and it really lets the flavor of the ingredients shine through.  The chunks of pepperoni crisp up and become super tasty morsels mixed in with the pasta and steamed broccoli.  The garlic and red pepper flakes add some bite to the dish, and the Parmesan cheese rounds it out with some creaminess.  All in all, it's a wonderfully tasty dish that is simple, comforting, and very easy to make.
1 lb pasta (we used farfalle, but any short pasta will work)
1/2 lb pepperoni (ask for two 1/2 inch thick slices at the deli counter)
2 lbs broccoli (about two bunches), crowns and upper stalks chopped into bite-size pieces
1 shallot, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper

Heat a large pan over medium heat (we used our caldero).  Cut the pepperoni into little 1/2 inch cubes and place them in the hot pan.  Cook for about 15 minutes, flipping the pepperoni occasionally to make sure all sides crisp evenly.  Meanwhile, heat a large pot of heavily salted water over high for the pasta.

It should be nicely browned, but not too dark.  Reduce heat to medium low.  Add the garlic and shallot with a pinch of salt, and saute for a couple minutes until they start to turn golden.  Add the red pepper flakes and stir to combine.  Meanwhile- add your pasta to the boiling water and cook for one minute less than the suggested cooking time.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.
Place the broccoli in the pan with the pepperoni and stir to combine.  Add the pasta water and 1/2 t salt.  Stir and leave covered for 5-7 minutes to steam the broccoli.  Stir occasionally to make sure the broccoli is evenly cooking.  
When it is cooked to your desired consistency remove from heat and pour the broccoli and pepperoni mixture in with the drained pasta.   Stir in 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and 1/2 t freshly ground pepper.  Serve with remaining Parmesan on top.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits with Chive Butter

I was in need of a side dish to go along with our Maryland crab soup, and I immediately thought of cheddar biscuits.  I didn't have a lot of time so I opted for a drop biscuit instead of cutting layered biscuits.  To be honest, they taste just as good and are still light and fluffy, so there's no reason not to take this short cut.  I made some chive butter to go along with them and it was a great complement.  We're definitely keeping this recipe around!  I can't wait to try it with other types of cheese for some variety.

Ingredients: (makes 1 dozen)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 stick cold unsalted butter
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup buttermilk
2 T butter, melted
For the Chive Butter:
4 T softened butter,
2 T minced chives

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a silpat (or parchment paper).  Combine the first 6 ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces, add them to the bowl, and mix with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly and all the butter pieces are no larger than a pea.  
Add the shredded cheese and mix.  At this point you can wash your hands.  Next, pour in the buttermilk and stir with a spoon until all the dry ingredients have been combined.  Don't over mix- it is not supposed to be smooth.  

Place large spoonfuls (about 1/4-1/3 cup each) of the dough on your pan, about 1-2 inches a part.  

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the tops are starting to brown.  Remove the tray, and brush the tops with the melted butter.  Place back in the oven on broil for about 2-3 minutes longer (watch this step carefully so they don't burn!)  This should brown the tops nicely.  When they are at your desired color, remove them from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.  

For the chive butter, combine the softened butter with the chives and a pinch of salt.  Stir until combined and serve with the biscuits!  

These biscuits are so light and delicious-  they are actually better than when I tried to make flaky layered cheddar biscuits.  And they are a lot less work!  They went perfectly with our spicy crab soup.   :)