Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mushroom Lasagna with Garlic Béchamel Sauce

I'm struggling with what to say about this lasagna.  You should just make it.  I made it for two families that just had babies, and for a dinner party.  It's fancy comfort food, and a pretty inexpensive dish.  Sooo flavorful as well, which was surprising because the ingredients are so simple and basic.

Serves 6 to 8

Olive oil
3/4 pound no boil lasagna noodles
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, or to taste (less is okay)
1 1/2 pounds cremini or portobello mushrooms ( I prefer cremini, but I'm new to mushrooms)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

1.  Béchamel: Simmer the milk and garlic in a saucepan, and set aside. Melt 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time at first and stirring until combined. Once you’ve added half of it, you can add the second half all at once, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick. Set aside, reserving one cup for top and bottom of dish.

2. Prepare mushrooms: Slice mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium in large sauté pan. Cook half the mushrooms with a couple pinches of salt for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and release some of their juices, tossing to make sure they cook evenly. Repeat with additional oil and butter, and remaining mushrooms.  Mix into Béchamel sauce.

3. Assemble lasagna: Spread some of the reserved sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 baking dish.  Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more mushroom sauce (about 1/4 of what remains), and 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Repeat two more times then top with a final layer of noodles, your remaining reserved sauce and last 1/4 cup of parmesan.

4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beef and Broccoli

Emerging from the hazy fourth trimester.  We have been eating, I just haven't had the motivation to blog.  Hopefully this short post (and more coffee in my life) will get things back in motion.  Enjoy!  This was a great way to satiate some good red meat cravings.  Serves 4-6.

Chinese Beef Broccoli (adapted from Pioneer Woman)
1 lb tender chuck, top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into 1/8-in (3-mm)-thick strips
11/2 lbs broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cooking oil
Freshly ground black pepper to season the beef

3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (can substitute rice wine vinegar or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)

1 In a bowl or ziplock bag, combine the ingredients for the Beef Marinade. Add the beef and let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.

2 In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Stir-fry Sauce.

3 In a wok or large sauté pan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3-4 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain.

4 Rinse and dry the pan and set over high heat.  When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side.

5 Pour in the Stir-fry Sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.

Serve with rice or asian noodles.