Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Love – “Food and Friends!”
Like many of you the “Love” theme for this week’s photo challenge could easily bring forth numerous and different images depicting love. One of my many “loves” is cooking. Since I’ve been working the last two days on a special Italian meal for our special friends for dinner tonight (We rotate and do this about every two weeks.) , I choose to make the focus of the photo challenge:”Food and Friends!”
Sorry, but at the time of this writing, the main dish, “Rick’s Awesome Lasagna” has not been cooked and a photo isn’t available. However, at the end of this post it my Lasagna receipe to die for. Really, it is worth the time and effort.
I became interesting in cooking when a “Boy’s Food Class” was made available at the high school I attended. For over four decades now I have loved to cook.
Rick’s Outstanding Lasagna
This is a time-consuming recipe & it works best doing some of the preparation over 1-2 days. Plan out about 3 hours of total preparation time, not including baking. You can make this ahead and bake when needed.
** Red Meat Sauce **
3 lb Sausage (Make sure 1 lb is spicy).
¼ C EVOO
1 1/3 C Chopped onion
1 T oregano heaping
1 ½ t garlic minced
1 T basil (fresh is best)
1 t salt
¼ t pepper
¼ t to ½ t red pepper flakes
1 C dry white wine plus 3 T
4 C crushed tomatoes in puree. Keep 2 T of extra juice for assembling in the bottom of the pan you cook the lasagna in.
2 pkg frozen spinach thawed and well-drained
Cook meat in large pan over medium heat and make sure it is crumbly. Remove from heat and poor through a colander to drain off fat. Reserve meat.
In the same large pan, heat olive oil and add onions, oregano, garlic, salt, blk pepper, and red onion flakes. Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes. Add spinach and reserve meat (This is why you need to use a large pan from the beginning.). Simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. You can make this the day ahead and place in the fridge.
** Bechamel Sauces **
3 C milk
2 C cream or “1/2 & 1/2″
Big pinch white pepper, thyme, basil (About 1/2 tsp.), & large pinch nutmeg (Round tsp.)
Note: I heat the ingredients in the microwave until near boil.
** Flour Mixture **
4 T butter
1/2 C plus 1 T flour
1/2 C plus 1 T Parmesan cheese (fresh is best) grated
3 T Romano cheese grated
In large sauce pan melt butter. When foam from the butter recedes, remove from heat, add flour and mix well. Return to medium-low heat and stir frequently, simmer 2-3 minutes to cook the flour (But not brown.). Gradually stir in the hot milk/cream mixture. Raise heat to medium-high & continue stirring until mixture is smooth and thick, about 5 minutes. Add Parmesan & Romano cheeses & whisk until smooth. This texture should be like wallpaper paste.
1/2 C bread crumbs
3 T Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 t parsley, finely chopped.
** Cheese Mixture **
Mix together the 4C mozzarella & 1C feta cheese. Can be put together the day before.
** TO ASSEMBLE & BAKE **
Cook lasagna noodles (Usually ¾ of a package works) drain, & let cool (Or rinse with cold water.) enough to handle.
Spread 2 T of the reserved tomato juice from the can on to the bottom of a baking dish (9 x 13”).
- Layer one layer of the noodles.
- Spoon on some of the red meat sauce.
- Spread some of the béchamel across the sauce in to diagonals
- Top with some of the cheese mixture
- Lay on another layer of noodles & repeat above steps.
- Sprinkle evenly the “Topping” (Bread crumb/cheese mixture.)
** BAKE **
Bake 400 degrees for 60 minutes or until sauce bubbles around edge and top is nicely brown. Check after 30 minutes and if brown, cover with aluminum foil.
~ Enjoy ~