Calling all Cooking Channel Addicts.

I admit it. I spend a LOT of time watching cooking shows, a lot. I’m obsessed¬†with them, sometimes I imagine I am sitting in their kitchens having a glass of wine while they tell me about how they came up with the concept for the dish. One of my favorites is Extra Virgin, hosted by Debi Mazar (of LA Law fame) and her husband, an Italian farmer and chef she met while traveling in Italy. They’re a really cute couple and they prepare all the meals in their own quirky little kitchen. I want their kitchen.

Banner taken from CookingChannelTV.com

A few weeks ago, The Hubbz¬†and I were watching a marathon of episodes on a Sunday afternoon, when we saw it. They made lasagna. Not just lasagna, though, Lasagne¬†alla¬†Bolognese. What I found out about this delicious dish is that it is less tomatoey, less cheesy, but still super creamy. Similarly to how my Mami¬†taught me to make lasagne, the Bolognese incorporates quite¬†a bit of B√©chamel Sauce, which I’m now realizing isn’t a traditional component¬†of a basic meat lasagne.

The Bolognese sauce consists of a slow cooked creamy ragu. In their recipe, Debi and Gabriele used a combination of¬†beef, veal, and pork and they added pancetta to the sofrito. I decided to use lamb instead of veal and Spanish chorizo, instead of the pancetta. Traditionally, the Bolognese¬†calls for Parmesan, in an effort to bring in my Latin roots to the table, I opted for an Argentinian Sardo cheese. Sardo is similar¬† in flavor to Parmesan, it is made of cow’s milk and has a mellow, yet rich, and lightly salty taste.

The lasagne was intensely flavorful and rich and, yes, creamy.The Hubbz loves to cheese up his meals, and even though there was very little cheese added, his need for cheese was satisfied. The sauce needs to cook for a while, so you’ll do well to start there, maybe even the day before. I actually made it in the space of a couple of hours, maybe 3 altogether.

Lasagne¬†alla Bolognese for the Latina’s Soul

For the sauce:
1/2 cp Spanish chorizo, cubed
5 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb each ground beef, pork, lamb
Salt & black pepper
1/2 tsp each nutmeg and allspice
2-3 cps red wine
3 large cans stewed tomatoes
1 cp whole milk

Saute the chorizo in the oil for a few minutes before adding the onion, carrots, and celery; continue cooking until the onions are translucent. Then add the meats, break it up the large pieces with a wooden spoon; once the meat begins to brown, you can add the garlic, season with salt & pepper, and the spices.

After a couple of minutes, add the wine and cook briskly for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate completely, make sure to scrape any bits that may be stuck on the bottom of the pan. In the meantime, pulse the tomatoes in a blender or food processor, then add them to the meat. Taste the sauce and season again with salt and pepper as needed. Lower the temperature to medium and cook for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Finish the sauce by adding the milk, stir well and set aside, to cool off. While the sauce mellows down, start working on the bechamel.

For the Bechamel sauce:
1/2 cp butter (yep, that’s a whole stick)
1/2 cp flour
4 1/2 cps whole milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and black pepper

Melt the butter over medium heat and briskly stir in the flour, taking care to dissolve any lumps. At this point, you want to slowly toast/cook the flour without burning it. Gradually add the milk to the flour mixture, make sure to whisk it constantly and slowly bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for a few minutes, until it thickens. Season the sauce with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Puting it all together:
Butter
Bolognese Sauce
Lasagne noodles
Bechamel sauce
3/4 cup grated Sardo cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the pan well–I used a 9×13 pyrex–and add a very thin layer of meat sauce. Followed by a layer of noodles, then Bechamel, and finally Sardo. Repeat a couple of times. At the top, cover the noodles with meat sauce and some Bechamel, add a few thin slices of butter and finish with some Sardo.

Bake for about 30 minutes.

Are you looking for more foodie porn? Click here.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

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Childhood Faves

What’s your favorite one? My mom did a.lot.of.cooking. And baking. And entertaining. She made us fun stuff, like PBJs, pancakes and doughnuts! She also made us eat the serious stuff like pumpkin, spinach and carrots. She wasn’t able to get okra passed me, though. I hope she’s not too hard on herself for that. To this day I can’t deal with that slimy veg. I best stop thinking about it before I make myself sick.

Yumness on a plate!

This is one of my fun foods. I remember pleading for this, then covering it with ketchup. I don’t do the ketchup part anymore, I honestly can’t tell you what possessed me to do that in the first place. I’m guessing I had a red infatuation, who knows. I’ve taken my mom’s standard and jazzed up a bit. It’s really yum!

Mom’s Spaghetti Omelette
If you have some leftover pasta, that’s perfect or you can cook some up for this (I do it all the time).
2 cps spaghetti or other noodle pasta, cooked
2 eggs
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp Herbs d’Provence
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

In a medium size bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, pepper and HdProvence. Add the pasta and mix it in.

Preheat a 12-inch frying pan over medium high heat, add the oil and butter until it melts. Dump the pasta in and spread it out evenly to cover the bottom. Allow it to brown, it will take about 5 minutes per side. Flip the omelette and brown the opposite side.

Slice it in quarters and top with parmesan cheese, if desired. Can you stand it?

~~

If only there was taste-a-blog code...

Italian Meat Sauce

This is my basic meat sauce. It is a wonderful base to lasagna, goes superbly over any kind of pasta. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Meat Sauce Ingredients
2 lbs ground chuck
1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cps onions, chopped (about 2 medium)
1 tbsp sea salt
1 cp carrots, finely diced (about 2 medium)
1 cp celery, finely diced (about 3 stalks)
2 cps button mushrooms, diced
1 cp red bell pepper (about 2 medium)
5 Roma tomatoes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed (about 2 tsp puree)
1 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tsps sugar
3 bay leaves
1/2 cp parsley, chopped
2 cps red wine or beer
1 cp water
3 tbsp tomato paste

Process:
Roast the reds (optional) ‚Äď You can roast the bell peppers and tomatoes over a stove burner. Get the skins scorched all the way around, then dunk in a bowl with cool water and peel. Remove the seeds from both, the tomatoes and peppers before dicing.

Heat up a large saucepan and add the ground beef, sausage and salt. Stir the salt in and make sure you break the meats apart, you want it to resemble coarse meal.  The moisture in the beef will come out, so initially it will cook in its own liquid. Once the liquid evaporates, you will be able to begin browning the meats.

As the meat browns over medium high heat, add the onions, carrots and celery, cook it until the onions begin to look translucent. Then add the mushrooms, garlic, black pepper, Italian seasoning, pepper flakes, basil and bay leaves. Mix all the herbs in before adding all the tomatoes, bell peppers and parsley. Stir it all very well, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any drippings that may be stuck. Now you can add the wine, water, sugar and paste; stir everything well and allow it to come to a boil.

Once this comes to a boil, bring temperature to low and cover it with a lid. Allow it to simmer stirring it occasionally. It will need to simmer for about an hour. Remove from the heat and let it cool.