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Lasagna and clafoutis and cocktails – oh my!

29.June 2009

In other weekend eating news, I tried Sweet Amandine’s clafoutis recipe with a few too many berries (again with the moisture issue), but it came out gorgeously. (See the pre-batter photo, as the post-baking result wasn’t as pretty as it was delicious.) The clafoutis was dessert for a rather decadent dinner involving lasagna and a newly invented cocktail.

But first, the lasagna. I followed the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook recipe (if you don’t have this book, buy it immediately). They handily start with a vegetarian version (Simple Cheese Lasagna) and offers options for other versions (Meat, Mushroom & Spinach, etc.) and clear instructions.

First, the sauce recipe (it is delicious for lasagna or other pasta).

1 T olive oil
1 minced onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz.)
1/4 t. dried oregano (I used fresh)

1/8 t. red pepper flakes (I used cayenne)

You basically do what you would expect to: cook the onion until it softens, add the garlic until it’s fragrant. If you’re making it MEATY, add the meat (I used 1 lb. ground turkey and 1/2 c. diced prociutto) now. Then tomatoes (don’t drain!) and season with oregano, cayenne pepper (or pepper flakes), and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until it’s a little thicker.

And then the process of the lasagna itself. The book (quite rightly) recommends no-boil noodles, but I only had yes-boil noodles on hand. There are four basic layers that you repeat as long as your pan holds out.

  1. Sauce. You can make the sauce from the recipe above or use jar sauce.
  2. Noodles. Three standard lasagna noodles will cover the bottom of a 9″x13″ pan.
  3. Happy, rich ricotta mixture. This is comprised of 15 oz. ricotta mixed with 1 c. Parmesan, 1/2 c. minced fresh basil, an egg, and salt and pepper.
  4. Mozzarella, grated.

Layer these one over the other until the pan is full. If you’ve ever seen me packing a suitcase, you understand the method I find useful to employ: pour in more goodies and apply pressure until it all fits. Just be prepared to get a little dirty. Finish this layering process with a layer of noodles, then sauce, then a cup of mozzarella and the final 1/4 c. Parmesan. Then cover the lasagna with oiled aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes at 375. Remove the foil and continue baking for 25 more minutes until bubbling and brown on top.

But, as I mentioned before, there have been a couple of cocktails created in the last week: First, the heady one. I have a little herb garden growing on my balcony, which includes a curious plant called Pineapple Sage. It is primarily decorative and aromatic, but is perfectly safe for culinary use and I had read it recommended for cocktails. So, I got adventurous.


For four generous pours:

Muddle:
8-10 small Pineapple Sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 T. brown sugar

Mix in about 4 oz. gin

Pour about an oz. of this mixture into each glass and top with ginger ale. Garnish with an additional sage leaf.

The other cocktail was a little less aggressively flavored (probably a good thing, as it followed lasagna and clafoutis and we were all practically collapsed with heavy food). It was smooth, citrusy, and herby and went down quite easily.

Muddle:
ca. 5 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 T. powdered sugar
1 lime, cut into eighths

Mix in about 4 oz. vodka. Pour about an oz. of this mixture into each glass. Top with club soda. Drink up! Oh, and I haven’t named these cocktails yet. Any ideas?

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