Lasagna

For you Larry.

These are the directions from Mom as given to me when I first got married. Copied straight from the stained, wrinkled slips of paper. All of the tomatoes would have been canned from her garden, generously shared with me.

Meat Sauce
2 Quarts of tomatoes (or 2 32 ounce cans)
1 1/2 pounds chop meat

Saute onion and garlic in (olive) oil and butter. Add the meat and sausage and brown. No further directions are listed but… Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and a generous sprinkle of Italian Seasoning. Simmer about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook 3/4 pound of lasagna noodles in salted water.

Cheese Filling
1 pound mozzarella, grated
2 pounds Ricotta
2 eggs
parsley
grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
pepper (that would be black pepper)
onion powder

Although my directions don’t say this, reserve half of the mozzarella. Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Lasagna Assembly
Layer in a 9″ X 13″ baking pan:
Gravy
3-4 noodles, side by side
Ricotta
A little grated mozzarella
A layer of noodles
A lot of gravy
Repeat

Sprinkle the top with Italian Seasoning.

Bake at 350F about an hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
For the record my directions don’t say how to cook it or how long. You should know.

Simple Sesame-Soy Noodles

I have no idea where I took this recipe from. When our family first began eating a heavily influenced vegetarian diet I was on the hunt for any recipe that made tofu edible. I served these noodles with a Broccoli, Carrot, Cashew and Tofu stir-fry. The stir-fry was acceptable but the noodles are what carried the meal.

1/2 lb. Udon or Soba noodles
1 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. rice vinegar
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Begin cooking noodles
2. Whisk remaining ingredients, except scallions
3. Drain noodles, place in a bowl and toss with sauce. Top with scallions.

Broccoli, Carrot & Cashew Stir-Fry with Tofu
1 lb. firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp. dry wine (rice wine works fine)
5 heaping cups broccoli florets
3 large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally
1/3 cup unsalted, toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
Extra soy sauce

1. Heat oil & soy sauce in wok. Add tofu and stir-fry 2-3 minutes.
2. Add wine, broccoli and carrots. Cover and steam 5 minutes over medium heat.
3. Uncover, turn up heat and stir-fry 2-3 minutes more until liquid is absorbed.
4. Toss with cashews and serve.

Gemelli with Cream, Zucchini and Basil

Adapted from Jeanne Lemlin’s Vegetarian Classics. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2001.

Gemelli with Zucchini

Gemelli with Zucchini

1 pound gemelli, or any pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded fresh spinach
1/3 cup finely shredded basil
1 cup heavy cream
salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cook pasta.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute onion, zucchini and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add salt and pepper.

Add cream and bring to a simmer, cook until thickened. Add cheese and stir until heated through. Add pasta and stir to coat. Toss with fresh basil and serve.

Phat Thai (Pad Thai)

I just spent 2 weeks in England with my husband visiting his sick mother. Although I love to English sausage, cheese and fish and chips, 2 weeks of bland food had me looking forward to the spices and hot peppers in my kitchen. This is one of the first things I made upon my return.

Adapted from True Thai, The Modern Art of Thai Cooking by Victor Sodsook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1995.

I think this cookbook provides authentic Thai recipes.  My version is heavily modified.  I have easy access to the ingredients listed in this book, but I try to limit the special purchases to what I will use up.  I have given up on buying fish sauce because I hate to waste it but it does make a huge difference in the taste.

8 ounces dried rice-stick noodles, about 1/8-inch wide
1/4 pound medium shrimp
1/4 pound boneless pork loin or chicken breast (optional)
2 Tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
6 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon ketchup
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, pounded to a mash
2 Tablespoons shredded salted radish (optional)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts, crushed or finely chopped

For garnish:
2 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup peanuts, finely chopped
lime or lemon wedges
Finely sliced Thai chilies

Soak the rice stick noodles in warm water until they are soft, about 15 minutes.

Clean the shrimp. Slice the meat if using.

In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and ketchup. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Drain the noodles and set them aside in the colander.

Place all the stir-fry ingredients within easy reach. Arrange the garnishes so that everything will be ready when the noodles are done.

Heat wok over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot add the garlic and stir-fry a few seconds. Add the shrimp and meat, stir-fry until the shrimp and the meat lose their raw color, about 1 minute.

Stir in the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and gently toss in the sauce. Stir-fry until the noodles absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes.

Mix in the salted radish.

Break the eggs into the wok. Break up the yolks a bit, then mix the egg into the noodles. Cook without stirring about 15 seconds, then stir-fry until well blended.

Add the chili powder and scallions. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes. Stir in the bean sprouts and peanuts, mix well.

Serve immediately. Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a one-dish meal.

Penne with Eggplant and Tomato Sauce

1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 32-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, chopped, juice reserved
12 green olives, sliced
1 tbsp. capers, drained
Italian Seasoning
Garlic powder

1 pound Penne pasta

Start a large pot of water for the pasta. Heat the oven to 425F.

On a baking sheet toss the diced eggplant and peppers with the olive oil. Place in oven and roast about 20 minutes until nicely browned.

In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon butter or oil in a 3-qt saucepan. Saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and the reserved juice, the olives, capers, salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkling of Italian Seasoning or oregano and garlic powder. Add the roasted vegetables. Simmer about 20 minutes.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with the sauce. Serve with a freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Ravioli

My mother was Polish by descent but Italian by love.  I am fairly certain she learned to make Ravioli from my Noni. I don’t understand how this recipe was missing from her collection.

These directions make a large batch. We use a ravioli rolling pin to form the ravioli. These pins are readily available on Amazon. My Noni’s pin make small, 1-inch ravioli, Mom’s makes larger ravioli. Choose based on how much cheese to pasta you like.

Dough:
7-8 cups flour
8 eggs
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Place the flour in a mound on the counter. Make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well, add in the oil. With a fork, whisk the eggs and slowly bring in the flour, being careful not to break through the sides of the flour.

Once you have as much flour in as you can manage, knead the dough. You will not be able to get all the flour to combine into the eggs, don’t even try or it will be very stiff. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, a finger print pressed into the dough should pop back out, about 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough. Place the dough in the bowl and roll over to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

In the meantime mix the filling.

Filling:
3 pounds ricotta cheese
2-3 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely minced basil or parsley

Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

To form the ravioli, cut off a piece of dough and roll until very thin, almost translucent. We have a large board that we work on and you can see the grain of the wood through the dough.

Fold the dough in half to mark the size, open. Spread a 1/4″ layer of cheese over half the dough. Fold the half of the dough over the cheese. Using a ravioli rolling pin, roll over the dough. This will mark the shapes and from the ravioli. Use a rotelli or pastry cutter (this looks like a pizza cutter but the wheel has wavy, fluted edges) to cut out the ravioli. This should also pinch the ravioli closed unless you put in too much cheese, something I do to at least one sheet!

Dust cookie sheets with cornmeal. Place the ravioli on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Place sheets in freezer until frozen then remove to plastic bags.

To cook, boil in salted boiling water about 20 minutes.

Penne with Grill Roasted Vegetables

3/4 pound of penne pasta

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium zucchini, cut into cubes or sticks, 1/2″ thick

Penne

Penne with Grill Roasted Vegetables

1 red pepper sliced or use roasted peppers
6 oz. mushrooms, cut in half
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
—-
3-4 scallions sliced
2 cups finely diced fresh tomatoes
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup diced fresh mozzarella – optional

Bring the water to a boil.

Combine the vegetables, except the scallions and tomatoes, olive oil and salt and pepper and grill over moderately high heat. We placed them on a cookie sheet on the grill so we didn’t lose the pieces. The vegetables should be cooked through and browned. This will take about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the pasta. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot with the fresh tomatoes and scallion. Add the roasted vegetables and a little butter it seems dry. Toss, add the basil and the fresh mozzarella, if using, and toss again.

Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.

Sesame Tofu on Soba Noodles

This is a request from my sister. It is from the Eat Clean Diet Cookbook. I have never made this recipe put she swears it is delicious.

Marinade
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. black bean sauce
1 Tbsp. tamari sauce
1 Tbsp. water
1 lb. firm tofu, rinsed, drained and cut into approximately 2×4-inch strips

Mix all ingredients together in a shallow glass baking dish. Add tofu, make sure the marinade covers all the pieces and refrigerate.

Ingredients for Tofu:
6 quarts water
8 oz. dry soba noodles
2 cups arugula, rinsed and well drained
1 cup green onions, trimmed
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. black bean sauce
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds (mixed black & white)
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 rice wine
2 Tbsp. tamari

In a large pot cook the soba noodles in the water until slightly firm. Drain & rinse.

Remove tofu from marinade and blot on paper towels. Add the marinade to the soba noodles. Add arugula, green onions, red pepper and black bean sauce to the noodles.

Spread the sesame seeds on a plate. Roll the tofu slices in the sesame seeds. In a nonstick pan, add 1 tsp. roasted sesame oil and fry or grill tofu slices until sesame seeds turn golden brown. Remove from pan.

In a small bowl combine rice wine, 1 tsp. roasted sesame oil and tamari. Whisk and turn into pan and warm gently. When heated add soba noodles. Toss well.

Serve tofu alongside noodles. Serves 4.

Making Pierogies

I made pierogies today so I thought I would take a few pictures as a guide to the process.

Cheese Filling

I usually start with the potatoes & onions, boil the potatoes, fry the onions. Mash the potatoes with the onions, cheeses and cinnamon. Set this aside until ready to fill.

Next mix the dough and set it over a pan of hot water.  Let it rest 15 minutes before rolling out.

Dough in an oiled bowl over hot water

Yes, it is in the sink. There is not enough room on my counter.

Cut off a piece of dough and roll it out. Try to roll it as square as possible, just to reduce waste.

Roll dough and add filling

Put spoonfuls of dough on the filling about 2 inches apart along the bottom edge.  Fold the bottom edge over the filling, press close to filling to seal and squeeze out as much air as possible.

Fold Over

Mom used a glass to mark the half moon shapes on the dough, then she cut out the shapes.  But I learned with a friend to use a biscuit cutter, if your cutter is sharp enough it marks it and cuts in one step.

Cut out

Flatten the edges of each pierogi and pinch closed. Set them aside under a towel until the whole sheet of dough is completed. Cut off the trailing pieces and set them aside too.

Waiting….

Put all the pierogies and the “skins” (the spare strips of pasta) into the boiling water, bring the water back to a boil and cook 15 minutes.  Remove with a large slotted spoon, (I use a chinese spider, Mom used a strainer) and place on a cookie sheet to cool.

Boiling

Store in the fridge until ready to fry.  If you aren’t sharing with the world, the remainder may be frozen.

 

The recipe as listed makes what Mom called a “batch”.  We used to make a double batch and give them out to the family.  When I was young, Mom kept enough for dinner to feed the 5 of us living in the house, my sister Lois got to take enough home for her dinner (after she spent the afternoon making 600 pierogies) and Mom gave the remainder to aunts and whoever my Dad decided needed some.

Tomorrow, I will bring some to my aunts.  The legacy continues.

Vodka Sauce

From Beth D’Antonio.

Large can of crushed tomatoes (or 2)
lots of sweet onions, diced
heavy cream
vodka (1/4 – 1/2 cup)
dash of cayenne pepper
prosciutto, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Saute onions until soft. Add tomatoes and cook. Add vodka, be sure to cook off alcohol, cook about 30 minutes.

Add cayenne, cream and prosciutto at the end. Add enough cream to make the sauce pink.