Friday, May 23, 2008

Doc had a birthday

This week was my husband's birthday. Sometimes I feel like I've stolen him from his family of origin and displaced him into my own world. Reality tells me that we've done a good job of creating our own world with very good friends and close family.

One of my strengths is how easy it is for me to plan and feed a dozen friends. I decided this week to celebrate Heath's birthday with 12 or 15 close friends. Heath loves lasagna and so that's what I did for him.

Lasagna for 12

3lbs of ground beef browned with 1 bag of season blend (onions, peppers and celery. You could do the chopping but I didn't.) Add 4 cans of diced tomatoes, 4 large cans of tomato sauce, 1 cup of red wine, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, sugar. (a teaspoon or so of each.) Allow to simmer for as long as possible. You will need to assemble this at least an hour before it starts to bake to re-hydrate the lasagna noodles. No I refuse to precook those! I suppose you could but it's a pain in the ass and doesn't change anything. OK to assemble. layer sauce, then dry noodles, then ricotta cheese. sprinkles shredded cheese of choice: I used parmesan, mozzarella, assiago. You can adjust to your taste. cheddar isn't a bad idea, but for the love of heaven, let's avoid processed cheese food. NOW repeat layers, sauce, noodles, cheese, cheese. I would make sure I had at least 3 layers. Here's the secret to lasagna that will slice and not fall apart. cook low, 275 for about an hour and allow to sit for about 15 minutes before serving.

I also did a freak out. What if I didn't have enough food? This is almost never the case. But to be safe, and to make sure the little kids had a 2nd option I made a cheese lasagna. I think I made this one up on the fly:

melt butter in a pan and add an equal part of flour. To this add chicken stock and a splash of sherry. ok, maybe a gulp of sherry. Once this is bubbly I started adding cheese. cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, colby...whatever I had. The sherry gives it sort of a fondu flavor. I layered my cheese sauce with the noodles and separated noodle layers with ricotta cheese. this baked with the lasagna.

And of course the cake...

Jacob and I decided to try our hand at baking and we made a pretty good effort. We used a strawberry cake mix and added an extra egg to make the cake, hm, i don't know, more dense? we also added fresh strawberries. these turn purple in the cake and maybe it wasn't the best idea but it sure was good. after our cakes cooled we layered the first with sliced strawberries then a layer of a simple chocolate ganache. This is so simple that I am almost ashamed! heat 2 cups of heavy cream and pour over 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips. blend with a whisk until all combined. it will be glossy and yummy. place the top layer of the cake on. for the icing: 1 sick of butter flavored crisco. Trust me here, it holds up better than regular butter. Add a couple of cups of powdered sugar, then a couple more. You will know when the consistency is right. add a little vanilla paste and cream to help everything come together. Now I was frosting this cake after I took a sleeping pill so it was UGLY. I couldn't figure out how to get a good crumb coat and my layers were a little uneven. Even so, this cake was pretty good.

OK, I'm off to the barbeque world.


wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing.....

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