Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

portobello-lasagnaThis is one of Ina Garten’s recipes from “Barefoot Contessa at Home.”  It is a surprisingly easy dish to make and was really delicious.  I oohed and aahed about it so much that my friend Donna photographed the cookbook page.  So Donna, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

kosher salt
good olive oil
12 lasagna noodles
4 cups whole milk
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 lbs Portobello mushrooms (I used three 8 oz packages of sliced Baby Bellos.)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.
Bring a large pot of water to boil with a Tbsp of salt and a splash of oil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

Heat milk in a glass container in the microwave until just starting to bubble at the edges. In a large saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter and add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Add the hot milk, 1 Tbsp salt, the pepper and nutmeg and cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, for 3-5 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of oil, until shimmering. Add the first 8 oz. container of mushrooms. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released some of their juices and are starting to get golden edges.

Remove from pan, add a little more oil and butter and start second container of mushrooms. You’ll do the same for the third container.

Since each container gets its own layer of the lasagna, you can start creating the layers while the second and third batch of mushrooms are cooking.

To assemble the lasagna, pour about 1/3 of a cup of sauce in the bottom of a rectangular, ceramic baking dish. (My dish held three full lasagna noodles perfectly.)

Next, put three lasagna noodles, then about a cup of sauce, then the 1st batch of mushrooms, and about a 1/4 of the Parmesan. Second layer: again noodles, then sauce, then mushrooms and then Parmesan. Third layer: again noodles, then sauce, then mushrooms and then Parmesan. Add last three noodles and pour remaining sauce on top and sprinkle remaining Parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot. Yum!

Cranberry Jalapeno Dip

joanna-kosinska-488793-unsp

Image courtesy of Joanna Kosinska – Unsplash

Someone brought this dip to Thanksgiving and we all loved it.  So I found a recipe and made it for a get-together with friends last night.  It is crazy easy, looks pretty on a plate and is difficult to leave alone!  (Based on a recipe from SnackinginSneakers.com but with a few changes.) Quite a few recipes called for twice as much sugar but this one was sweet enough.

Ingredients

12 oz fresh cranberries (one bag)
1 large jalapeno, quartered and chopped with stem, seeds and ribs removed
4 medium green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
pinch of Kosher Salt

Two 14 oz. pkgs cream cheese or vegan cream cheese

Add cranberries, jalapeno and green onions to a food processor. Buzz a couple of times until you no longer see large chunks of  cranberries.

Add everything else and buzz for 30 more seconds. Turn out into a medium bowl and stir gently for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved.

Let sit for 30 minutes. Dump into a strainer and let excess liquid drain away for 5 minutes or so. It doesn’t need to be completely dry – just don’t want liquid running all over the serving platter.

Open foil surrounding each brick of cheese and slice horizontally into two thin layers. (You may not need all of it depending on the size of your platter.)

On a large white platter, arrange cheese to form a long, flat rectangle in the center. Neaten up the corners and edges and smooth the top with a knife. (You can stop at this point, cover the platter with cream cheese and hold it until you’re ready to serve.)

To serve, scoop the cranberry mix over the center top of the cheese and gently nudge it so it just sort of spills over the edges of the cheese. If you’ve saved a couple of cranberries and some Cilantro, you can add a few to the top.

If you’ve dashed off from home and left those behind, it’s still very festive looking.

Serve with a nice wheat cracker.

Also fantastic with leftover chicken or turkey in a sandwich.

Shrimp with Orzo, Tomatoes, Dill, Lemon and Feta

Great dish for supper last night! I found the original recipe here, but made some changes:  I swapped out celery for fennel, lemon juice for lemon zest and dried dill instead of fresh, because it’s what I had.  It was supposed to also be baked for 8 minutes at 450, but it cooked just fine right on the stove.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb shrimp, peeled
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups celery, in bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1⁄8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1⁄2 lb orzo pasta
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup pitted kalamata olive, halved if large (small is fine intact)
1 1/2 Tbsp dried dill weed
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2⁄3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
5 ounces feta, coarsely crumbled, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Dry shrimp with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add shrimp and cook 1 1/2 minutes per side, turning once. Remove to a plate, and turn heat down to medium.

Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to pan, and add celery, garlic, chili flakes, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Cook for several minutes, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.  Stir in white wine and let reduce for a minute or so.

Add orzo, garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, dill, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add chicken broth, stir again and return shrimp to skillet.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.  Cook for 8 or 9 minutes until Orzo is cooked to al dente. If it seems to be getting too dry, add a little more chicken broth. Check seasonings.

Serve immediately, with feta sprinkled on.

Note:  you may want to cut the tomatoes in half, as they got very, very hot and kind of exploded into tomato napalm in our mouths.

The Best Green Beans Thomas Has Ever Eaten.

My brother-in-law Thomas has fallen hard – for the green beans I made for Thanksgiving.  When someone declares that they are the best green beans he has ever eaten, you know something’s gone right.

So Thomas – this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

3 lbs. of fresh green beans, stems removed and broken into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 large onions, sliced into thin wedges
1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (add more if you really love garlic)
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Butter (I used vegan butter and it was delicious.)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add onions. Saute for at least 8-10 minutes until they are completely softened and starting to brown up. Clear a space in the middle, add a little more oil and let it warm up a bit. Add the garlic and saute it for a minute of so. Blend with the rest of the onions and cook a couple of minutes more.

While the onions are cooking heat a small pan over medium heat and add almonds. Toast and stir them for several minutes until you start to see little brown marks and they smell thoroughly cooked. Pay attention and keep them moving as they can burn easily. Remove from heat to a small bowl.

At the same time, start a large pot of water boiling with a big pinch of salt.

Add green beans and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll want to watch for the beans to start to darken up a bit, and check with a fork to see when they’re just about fork tender. Once they are done, drain them and add them to the onion/garlic mixture. Add in the almonds, butter, salt and pepper and toss gently to combine.

Check seasonings and serve immediately.  Serves a large group.

Autumn Soup – a Very Reliable Form of Soup

My mom, Marilyn Hunter used to make Autumn Soup from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and we loved it.  It was a pretty simple soup – but filling and delish.  I was pleased years later when I came across a reference to this soup while reading “A Girl Named Zippy” which is a wonderful autobiography by Haven Kimmel.

Haven grew up in Mooreland, Indiana and approached life with an irrepressible spirit.  She mentions that her friend’s mother made Autumn Soup, which she called “a very reliable form of soup.”  So if you get a chance, order the book, read it and make Autumn Soup to celebrate Marilyn, Haven Kimmel and reliable food!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups water
1 cup each chopped carrots and celery
1 cup diced potatoes (peel first if needed)
2 tsp salt
1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
2 fresh tomatoes, diced

Heal oil in a dutch oven. Add ground beef and brown. Add onions and cook stirring frequently for several minutes. Add all other ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes. Check seasoning and serve.

Note: The original recipe called for six fresh tomatoes completely intact added to the pot. Each bowl would get a giant tomato smack in the middle of the bowl, but my Mom never made it like that, and six diced tomatoes would just be too much.

 

Warm Bourbon Sauce

This is a wonderfully boozy sauce that we love on Bread Pudding.  It’s from Emeril’s Louisiana Real and Rustic Cookbook.

Ingredients

4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
4 egg yolks, beaten in a small bowl

Melt the butter in a double boiler. Add sugar and whisk to dissolve. Add bourbon and whisk for one minute. Remove from heat.

Drizzle in several spoonfuls of the hot syrup into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Return all to the pan, and continue whisking until the sauce is pal and slightly thickened. Serve immediately.

I store any leftover sauce in a mason jar, which I reheat by placing back in simmering water. If the sauce is too thick add a few drops of water.

 

Po’ Boys for a Crowd

how-to-make-a-po-boyThere was Moon over Bourbon Street at our house recently, and we served Po’ Boys for a crowd.

Making Po’ Boys is quite easy, and they are so tasty! We offered a choice of beef brisket or Cajun Roasted Cauliflower for fillings, along with fresh, sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, Remoulade Sauce or Mayo and hot sauce on a split french roll.

We served the Beef Brisket in one 1/2 catering tray, and the roasted Cauliflower in another 1/2 catering tray. Both trays fit in one large tray, with 1/2″ of water in the bottom to keep them warm, with two tins of chafing dish fuel.

Each Beef Brisket 1/2 catering tray makes 16 – 24 sandwiches, depending on how much brisket people use. The Cauliflower is probably the same.

For each half tray, you’ll need

5 lbs. of sliced beef brisket (We used 2 packages of beef brisket from Costco.)
10 cups cauliflower florets, seasoned and roasted
3-4 sliced tomatoes
3-4 cups shredded tomatoes
Remoulade Sauce or Mayonnaise
Hot Sauce
18 French Rolls (Again, we used the french rolls from Costco.)

To heat the brisket, just add two packages (5 lbs.) of brisket to a 1/2 catering tray and add 1/2 cup water. Seal tightly with aluminum foil and bake at least 30 minutes. We warmed out trays up ahead of time and kept them in a warming oven.

For a vegan version, make only the Cajun Roasted Cauliflower, and serve with Remoulade Sauce or vegan mayo.

To serve, we kept a little sign by all the Po’ Boy fixings and let our guests assemble them. People loved them!