Monday, August 20, 2012

Easy Lasagna Recipe with Portobello Mushroom and Tomato Ragout

The word Lasagna defines comfort food for me.  It is always satisfying and tastes even better the next day.  Lasagna is simple to make and is wonderfully versatile.  Try this twist on a classic dish with Portobello mushrooms substituted for meat and please let me know your thoughts.  My youngest daughter a connoisseur of Lasagna and a most picky eater didn't know there was no meat. 

Lasagna with Portobello Mushroom and Tomato Ragout

Serves 6

6-8               Cloves garlic minced
1                  Large onion diced
1                  Tbs rosemary minced
1/2                Cup dry red or white wine
1-1/2lbs        Portobello Mushrooms
1 28oz          Can diced tomatoes
1 14oz          Can tomato sauce
4-6 Cups      Béchamel Sauce ( see below )
1 Box           Flat no boil Lasagna Noodles
2 Cups         Grated Parmesan cheese. 

Pre Heat oven to 350
In a large pot or skillet with a healthy shake of Olive Oil saute Onions and Garlic under med-high heat till soft and fragrant.  Add mushrooms and cook down until they start to give up some liquid stirring occasionally , add wine and rosemary, cook five minutes more.  Stir in canned diced tomatoes and half the can of tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil and add salt and pepper to taste with 1/4 cup of water.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 min.  If sauce is to thin add extra tomato sauce, if to thick add a touch more water.  You want it to just coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Béchamel Sauce

5 tbs        Butter
5 tbs        Flour
6 cups        Warm Milk
1 tsp        Nutmeg
2 tsp        Salt
In a medium sauce pan melt butter under med-high heat.  Add flour and stir to a smooth paste. Cook 5 min until golden, sandy color.  Add milk one cup at a time stirring vigorously until you get a smooth glossy sauce.  Cook 10 more min stirring occasionally and season with salt and nutmeg.  Set aside until ready for use.  Note (this sauce is very easy to thicken or thin out with more milk or more flour to your taste.  It is done and correct when it pours like melted cheese).

Assemble Lasagna
In a medium baking dish spoon in just enough Tomato/Mushroom sauce to wet the bottom of the dish.  Arrange one layer of dry, no boil Lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the dish.  Spoon a generous amount of Tomato/Mushroom sauce over noodles and spread to cover.  Pour warm Béchamel over top and spread out with a spoon.  Repeat this until the dish has 3-4 layers as desired.  The top layer wont have the Béchamel over the Tomato/Mushroom Sauce instead sprinkle fresh grated or packaged Parmesan Cheese over the top of the Lasagna.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 min until the edges start to bubble, uncover and bake 10 more minutes till cheese browns.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paris, an afternoon in Paris with the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre

I spend quite a bit of time in Paris throughout the year,  however most of it is spent in a dark hotel room sleeping and preparing for our next flight.  Once in a while we get to spend a few days and when we do I head into the city and simply wander.  Paris is absolutely everything you have heard.  Wonderful, Charming and Romantic.  It is very difficult to find a bad meal unless you try very hard.  My favorite times spent in Paris have been wandering the streets aimlessly with no direct agenda.     My most recent stop through Paris left me with one full afternoon to check out the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.
The Louvre from the Eiffel Tower
The Louvre

Death of Cleopatra by Giovanni Pedrini Giampietino

The Metro system is very inexpensive and simple to use making it very easy to pop around Paris quickly.  If speed and efficiency is not your thing, you can opt for a gorgeous draft horse and carriage ride.

 Food is in abundance in Paris from sidewalk cafes, brasseries and bistros to a global melting pot of restaurants.  Simply walking with wanderlust as your guide will never disappoint your stomach.  After my afternoon with the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre I found a small bistro off of a side street near the Arc de Triomphe.   I settled on a special which drew me in from the sidewalk chalkboard. 

Arc de Triomphe, from the Eiffel Tower
Alas my simple yet amazing lunch of Parisian Braised Lamb Shank with French Beans and Garlic.
Bon Appetite!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Maldives, Indian Ocean Gem

The Maldives are made up of over 1100 tiny coral islands spread out over 26 major coral atolls.  They lie roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka dotting the Indian Ocean right on the equator.  Industry in the Maldives is driven by Tourism and Fishing and flourishes from both.  The capital city Male sits on a tiny 2.2 square mile island where more than 100,000 of the countries 350,000 people live.
Culinary visitors especially will not be disappointed as the regional cuisine is a blend of flavors from neighboring countries India and Sri Lanka with fresh caught local seafood.   A trip to the Male fish market quickly reveals the sustainable seafood industry in the Maldives.
Yellow Fin Tuna a Maldives staple, Male Fish Market

Cleaning Yellow Fin Tuna at the Male Fish Market

Local and International chefs alike are drawn to the Maldives to get education and ignite new ideas.

Maldivian Curry Tuna
 The warm crystalline Indian Ocean, the amazing food culture and dramatic sunsets make the Maldives a global treasure not to be missed.