Sunday, March 27, 2011

Veggie Lasagna revisited

So I was a bit disappointed last time as the lasagna was a bit loose. I adjusted the ingredients to tighten things up a bit and it turned out well.

Made a loaf of prosphora for home tonight and grilled some albacore tuna for tuna salad. I have to admit the tuna is amazing. We bought it frozen at Trader Joe's.  We are set for the rest of the week. Looking forward to New Orleans.

Last night we reconnected with some old friends at the BoneFish Grill. They just have the best food. I had trout with a pecan crust and it was amazing. Delish.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Boiled shrimps and blackened salmon

We have some leftovers and some slim pickings in the house today. I bought a cheap package of frozen salmon filets which turned out to be quite tasty after I balckened them with butter in the iron skillet. I threw in a pound of raw shrimps with a bit of Old Bay and iced them down. Have some leftover Greek pasta to eat also so not exactly a famine here.

A new commision came my way today for St. Efimia. Two lovely little girls are the namesake so each gets an icon from yiayia. How nice. Time to get to work.
Click to view full size image

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Grilled Steelhead and asparagus

Grilled a couple of sides of steelhead trout on non stick foil with olive oil and dill. Roasted some fresh asparagus and cooked some Greek pasta.  Just a typical Saturday night.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Leftovers and baked cod

Haven't had to cook much lately since we had more than enough lasagna left over for a few days. Still delicious but still a bit runny...maybe next time it will be better with some modifications.

We also had a bit of cod left from the fish I fried for Ben. I baked it and it was really tasty. A light topping of panko with a bit of butter...yum. I had the last of that for lunch yesterday.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
for the bechamel:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
some grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 chicken bouillion cube (amount that you would dissolve in 1 cup water)
note: if you are using Knorr bouillion cubes, remember they are for 2 cups of water - just cut them in half)

Vegetables to roast (you can use anything you like)
I used a combination of zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, 3 garlic cloves and some chopped up fresh spinach

Lasagna noodles for one 13x9 inch baking pan
I don't recommend "no boil" noodles for this lasagna.

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For the bechamel:
In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook for just a minute or so.  Slowly add the milk and keep whisking.  Add the nutmeg, white pepper and bouillion cube and whisk.  Cook for a few minutes, whisking, until the bechamel has thickened slightly.  Set aside to cool.  Stir it once in a while so a skin doesn't form.

For the vegetables:
Chop vegetables uniformly.  Mince garlic.  Combine half the mixed vegetables on a baking sheet pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for several minutes at 400 degrees.  Stir.  Roast for several minutes more until vegetables are soft.  You can roast a little longer, if you like them to be slightly carmelized.  Repeat with remaining vegetables.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Cook lasagna noodles for 5 minutes, until soft.  Shock in a bowl of ice water, lay on towels to dry.

Spray a 13x9 baking pan with a little cooking spray.  Spoon some bechamel thinly on the bottom of the pan.  Start with a layer of noodles, a layer of bechamel, some vegetables, and then a layer of a little parmesan and mozzarella.  Repeat layers until you have 6 layers of noodles.  On top of the last layer, don't use any vegetables, just some bechamel and the remaining cheeses.  Cover tightly with foil.

 At this point, you can refrigerate this for a day if you want.  When you are ready to bake, bring to room temperature for an hour and then bake for 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Remove foil.  Bake for a little longer until top is slightly golden.  Let sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

I made this with a few modifications. I made a ricotta layer and only used noodles on the bottom and top. I think it came out really loose. Probably too much water from the veggies and the layer of zucchini slices I used for a noodle layer. It was really tasty but runny. What would I do differently? Probably dry the riccotta out a bit, and mix the roasted veggies with a few tbls of flour to tighten everything up. Perhaps if more noodle layers were added it would absorbed some of the liquid but we are low carb eaters so that's not an option. I also used two egg yolks and some cheese in the bechamel since that is how I learned to make it.

Stopped at Trader Joe's again to pick up more Mahi for the freezer. I also picked up a bag of Ciopino for a quick supper...maybe for Pre Sanctified Wednesday's?

Saturday's Events

We were invited to some friends house in Glenwood for a fish fry. Fried crappie so sublime with a thin cracker crust and sides of potato cassarole and broccoli slaw. The new house was magnificent and the company was a hoot. We met several new folks. So much fun.

Not sure yet what Sunday holds for us. We have a date with good friends to see Nunsense at the Playhouse and then grab a bite after. I have the fixins for a nice Vegetable Lasagna with a Bechamel rather than red sauce. Thinkin maybe Monday's dinner.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blue Points and happy hour favorite foods and guilty pleasures. Fried calamari, clam strips and shrimps with a healthy dose of oysters and a 64 beer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grilled Ahi tuna

Tonights fare is Ahi Tuna, grilled to medium in cast iron. We generally eat it as steaks and then make salad of the leftovers. A bit of onion, celery, mayo, olive oil, lemon juice and dill. Delish

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mahi Mahi

My lovely bride stopped at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago and started stocking the lenten freezer. One of the items she purchased was Mahi Mahi. It's actually a good price and skinned. Today I thawed it quickly in cold water, and then panko breaded it and fried it in a bit of oil. Tender and mild with a cracklin' crust, its really great. We had some steamed broccoli and a bit of smoked gouda mac and cheese.  Lent is under way.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Last Supper before Lent

Monday is the beginning of Lent ofr us. It actually started 3 weeks ago with a non fasting week, followed by a week of meat abtaining then a week of dairy abstaining. We don't usually fast so severely and don't begin officially till Clean Monday this week. Tonight we are eating foods that we won't see for the nest 6 weeks. A simply grilled NY Strip and our usuall assortment of veggies.

I found this post interesting as it made me rethink the fast and how we approach others:

By Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

Some have over-interpreted the command of the Lord regarding one's refraining from showing others that we are fasting (c.f. Matt. 6:16-18), and when they are found among others who do not keep the fasts, they also do not fast, even though in their home they fast. "I ate meat", they say, "even though it was Friday, in order that I may not scandalize them!"

Of course, we must be very careful to not scandalize our fellow people, but this scandalizing which we must keep away from is the scandal which comes from violating the Law of God or the commands of the Church. Scandals which come from our keeping the Law of God or the commands of the Church (if in fact such "scandalizing" exists), should leave us completely indifferent!

If there exist (and surely there do) people who are scandalized when we blaspheme, swear, lie, do not keep the fasts, etc. etc., then our offense is doubled: we are offenders for both the sin which we committed and through this the scandalization of our brethren.

But if there exist people who are scandalized because we pray, we confess, we receive the Divine Mysteries, we keep the fasts, etc., let them be scandalized and let them say whatever they want!

We must understand well that it is one thing to expose and another thing to confess. The Christian who finds himself at a table with others which has foods one would eat on Pascha, though it is a fast day, should compose himself calmly and humbly, without pharisaical boasting and bragging, in denying the foods offered. This is not exposing, it is rather the basic consistency towards one's principles, it is a confession of one's character as a submissive child of the Orthodox Church. With this stance he will teach others that they are not keeping good standing with the legislation of the Church. If however this person also eats, he will in fact teach the others that they also can break the commands of the Church. "Since he", others will think, "who attends church often and confesses and communes, also eats, this means that fasting means nothing. We therefore do well also in not fasting."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

An experiment today. I am making a laminated pizza dough for a deep dish pizza. I have mushrooms and fresh spinach left over in the fridge and it is a meatless day so  time to make a pizza. Firstly though, for Ben, we made him some smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese.  Ben cooked the sauce and there's plenty left for seconds in the days ahead.

hot out of the oven
lots of oozing cheese and fresh veggies

Ok...that was great! Chicago style deep dish stuffed with fresh mushrooms and spinach on a bed of mozarella and topped with a freshly made sauce. All very easy but I do need to buy a better pan. This is killing my good Wilton cake pans. Time to visit Sur La Table. The crust was perfect, tender,  flakey and browned, crisp edges.

So how do you do it?

The crust:

3 c flour (all purpose)
1/2 c cornmeal
2 t yeast
1 1/2 t salt
2 t sugar
2 T melted butter
1 1/2 c water  room temp

I used the Kitchen Aid and a dough hook, mixing the dry ingredients first then adding the water and butter. Pull it into a soft dough and let the mixer knead it for 5 minutes or so. It will be soft. Olive oil the bowl and place the dough in to rise till double. (about an hour)

Once risen, roll it out to a 15 x 12 rectangle and spread 3 more tablespoons of soft butter. Roll up tightly, flatten the roll into a 4 inch wide 18 inch long shape. Cut in half. Take each half and fold in thirds, pinch edges closed, form into a rough ball then place in oiled pan covered to the fridge till double. (about 40 minutes)

When ready, roll the dough ball into a 13 inch circle. Place a tbl of olive oil in a 9 inch cake pan. Lay the rolled dough and press into the corners and 1 inch up the side.  Fill with 2 c of shredded mozzarella, fresh spinach, fresh sliced mushrooms and top with sauce. Bake 450 for 30 mins. Yum.

The sauce:

2 tbl butter
1/4 cup grated onion
2 garlic cloves thru a press
2 cans of Fire Roasted tomatoes (14 oz each)
1 t sugar
1 t salt
1/2 t oregano
1 t basil
1 T olive oil
pepper to taste

Cook the onion in the butter for a few minutes, add the garlic then tomatoes. Add the spices and sugar, oil. Allow to cook for 10 - 15 mins. Sauce is ready.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Current project

St. Euphrosynos the cook. Current icon in progress. Have been having a tough time getting to work on this project but I'll start up again in a bit.  This is my choosen prototype.


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