Archive | February 2016

White Kale Lasagna

One of the stranger gaps I have in my cooking repertoire is that I’ve never actually made lasagna. Growing up it was a thing my mom or sister did, rather than me or my dad. A few years back, before I started this blog, I made a polenta lasagna, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten. Well, there is no time like the present to fill such a ridiculous gap, right? I found this recipe and it looked super tasty – and I only made a couple minor adjustments to it.

Parmesan Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons parmesan
a couple tablespoons chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk together. Add the milk and whisk so the butter-flour mixture gets thoroughly incorporated into the milk. Stir continuously – this is important, as it prevents lumps or sticking at the bottom of the pan. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat. Add the parmesan and stir it in (the sauce will still be warm enough to melt the cheese). Then add in the parsley.

Filling:
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1-2 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 bunch fresh kale
zest from 1/2 a lemon
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
olive oil
salt and pepper

Rinse the kale and rip/chop into little pieces. Heat some oil in a frying pan and saute the garlic and shallot. Stick in a bowl. Then saute the kale – you are going to have to go in batches, but you only need to cook them till they wilt, about 5 minutes. Stick the cooked kale in the bowl with the garlic and shallot. Let the kale mixture cool a bit (this is a good time to boil the lasagna noodles or start the sauce). Once the kale is cool, add the lemon zest, cheeses and salt and pepper (to taste) and mix it all together.

Assembly: Lightly oil the bottom of an 8X8 pan and stick the first layer of noodles down (if you stick cheese sauce on the bottom it will burn a little while the lasagna cooks)then stick some sauce on the noodles, and then about half the kale-cheese mixture. Then more noodles, and the rest of the kale cheese mixture. Then the top layer of noodles and more sauce. You can add a bit more mozzarella on top if you want as well. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. Serve warm.

lasagna

So the main issue I has with this comes down to the fact that I used the no-boil lasagna noodles. This was a bad idea, as apparently you need to add extra sauce, which of course I didn’t really intend to do since white sauce is more caloric than tomato sauce. Also, sticking white sauce on the bottom on a pan can easily burn, which is a little annoying. There were no problem exactly, but the noodles were a little gummy, so you should probably boil the noodles. Song of the Week: Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen. A classic for a reason – such a perfect song, and a perfect collaboration.

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Gobi Manchurian Or Globalization on Steriods

Months and months ago I saw this recipe for Gobi Manchurian, and have been meaning to make it. So apparently Gobi Manchurian is an cauliflower dish that is an Indian take/interpretation of Chinese food. So to be clear we have an American of Russian descent making an Indian take on Chinese food. I love Indian food and this looked tasty so like I said, I’ve been meaning to make it for ages. However, there are a few caveats. One, these were battered and fried, and I didn’t want fried food so I decided to roast the cauliflower instead. Two, I’m tired of buying spices that I then only use once and then just take up space on my spice rack so I just made do with what I had.

Cauliflower
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
oil
1 tsp powered ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 curry powder

Toss the cauliflower with some oil, soy sauce and the spices. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 until slightly crispy, 30-40 minutes I think. While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce.

2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tsp powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp paprika (or less of cayenne)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
pepper
1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch (cornstarch is better, but flour works)
oil

Saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add the broth and soy sauce and then the spices and let the mixture simmer. After its simmered a bit, taste and adjust the spices as you so desire. I added more curry and ginger. Add the flour and mix it in quickly to avoid clumps (why cornstarch is better). Simmer a bit longer as the sauce thickens a little. Once the cauliflower is done, divide it into bowls and spoon a generous amount of the sauce on the cauliflower. Add green onions if you have them (I didn’t) on top and serve.

gobi manchurian

 

To be honest, I have no idea how this recipe is supposed to taste so I have absolutely no idea if I did it correctly. I thought was really good, albeit a little on the salty side, so just use a little less soy sauce and omit any additional salt and you should be fine. It probably would be a little better if you batter-fry the cauliflower, but roasting is totally legit. I’m sure this would be improved if I actually used tandoori powder, but, for using only things I had on hand, I think I did an extremely good job. Song of the Week: Power to the People by John Lennon. I’m sure you can guess why I felt this song was appropriate this week.

Porcu-Pine Nut Balls

So, my mom suggested I make something thematic for Groundhog Day. Now as much as a love foods and holiday, especially of the strange mash-up variety, I was not sure how to do a vegetarian recipe celebrating a small furry animal (short of making something with Woodchuck Cider, which I very nearly did). Well, after a number of different ideas my mom mentioned that there is something call “porcupine balls.” Now, those are just meatballs with rice, but I thought what about making broccoli balls and coating them in pine nuts for spines? So that’s precisely what I did

1 head of broccoli, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 onion, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup shredded strong cheddar
salt
pepper
1/4 cup (or so) raw pine nuts

Steam the broccoli. While the broccoli is cooking, chop the onion and garlic and mix them with the beaten eggs, salt, pepper, and the cheese. Once the broccoli is cooked and has cooled a bit, chop it and throw in in the bowl. Mix thoroughly, and add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is nice and cohesive. Spread the pine nuts on a flat surface. Make a ball of dough (it’ll be really soft and sticky but largely cohesive) and lightly roll it in the pine nuts so it gets coated. Then place the ball on a baking sheet. The recipe should make 12 balls. Once they are all done, bake for 25ish minutes at 350, or until they are firm, and lightly brown (the nuts should be toasted). Serve warm or room temperature.

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These turned out really good. I had a few minor quibbles, namely I think that since they are baked which dries things out they should be served with some kind of sauce, maybe a yogurt or a mushroom sauce, and I used medium instead of sharp cheddar, which was on me. I feel like this would make a great snack or finger food at a party. Small, transportable, non-greasy, and they can in fact be eaten with fingers. Song of the Week: Seven Nation Army by White Stripes. This song has a great, borderline iconic opening, and is just awesome throughout. Also, it was playing at the coffee shop I was at while typing this blog up.