Spinach Lasagna


Life continues to be busy; I have been working 6 days a week along with some 10-12 hour days. Palm Beach is having a good season which hopefully speaks well for the economy. I am adjusting my schedule though, and hoping to have regular posts over the coming months, so please don’t give up on me. In the meantime, here is a great little recipe to try.

Lasagna

I found this recipe in one of my favorite cooking magazines, Cooks Illustrated, in the annual review of best recipes edition. I made some changes. It will be easy to make, and is low calories for a lasagna, only 350 per serving, and really delicious. Also, I should mention that it’s also inexpensive and I made it after work; it doesn’t take a lot of time or preparation.

Sauce
1 onion small dice
1 tsp canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups low-fat milk
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs. cornstarch
2 10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, dried
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 box lasagna noodles, cooked using package directions. Toss in oil when done to keep noodles from sticking together until you are ready to use them.

8 oz. whole-milk cottage cheese
1 large egg
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups fontina cheese, shredded; it is easier to grate this cheese if you freeze it for 30 minutes first.

1. In a large saute pan, cook the onion in the canola oil very slowly until softened, add the garlic and continue to cook for about a minute. Stir in 2 3/4 cups of the milk, the bay leaves and the nutmeg, and bring to a simmer.
2. Whisk the cornstarch into the milk and whisk it into the pot. Whisk frequently until the mixture thickens, 5 minutes or more. Meanwhile, thaw the spinach and dry it very well. This can be done by placing it in a colander and then putting another pot on top to weight it down and get the water out. Add the spinach to the sauce and stir in 1/2 cup parmesan. Set the mixture aside.

While the sauce is cooking, add the cottage cheese and egg to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Spray the bottom of the baking dish with cooking spray. Spread a layer of the sauce on the bottom, then layer the noodles next. Add another layer of sauce and some of the parmesan cheese, then another layer of noodles. Continue until you have 3 layers of sauce and noodles, top with the cottage cheese mixture and then the grated fontina cheese. Cover with foil.

Cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until a cake tester indicated the inside is hot. In my oven this took about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and place under the broiler until the top is brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Wait about 15-20 minutes before serving, to allow it to set up.

I decided to include a picture of our new tree. It’s called a clusia tree. They are originally from Hawaii, and it is nicknamed an autograph tree. The leaves are waxy, a shiney green, and you can write an autograph on them that will remain for years to come. The other photo is my peanut gallery: Stuart and Riley are wearing coats after a cold Florida morning, Cooper is tougher and doesn’t need a coat. I will think of that freezing morning this summer when every day for four months it is 90 degrees morning, noon, and night.

-Jeanne

house-dogs

Five, Six or Seven Onion Soup


onionsoup

I am currently cooking dinners at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, but for over three years, I was cooking lunch. For some of that time I made a soup du jour, which meant I was on a constant search for new and really good soup recipes. I discovered a recipe by Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network website which is a great place to look for ideas. I wanted a French Onion Soup recipe, but I thought this would be more fun.

Emeril’s title is Seven Onion Soup. Most of the time, when making it, I didn’t have all of the types of onions in the original recipe, or even all of the ingredients, but it always turned out terrific anyway. If you wish, you can omit the cream to lower the fat, and leave out the bacon for a vegetarian version. This soup can be pureed and served creamy or half pureed and not pureed at all.

There is a great vegetarian soup book I purchased at my favorite bookstore in the world, Barnes and Noble in Union Square in New York City, called Love Soups by Anna Thomas. It’s loaded with healthy soups, if you’re looking for some other ideas. – Jeanne

Six Onion Soup
1 lg. Red Onion, Sliced on Bias (not rings)
1 lg. yellow onion sliced
1 Sweet Onion sliced
2 leeks, washed well, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
6 scallions (green onions) sliced
1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup white wine (I use Carlo Rossi Chablis to cook with)
2 quarts of chicken/veggie stock (I use Swanson chicken stock, 2 26 oz. boxes)
Chopped chives for garnish
Shaved parmesan for garnish

ingredients

1. In a large large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the bacon. Cook the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy but not burned and remove it with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

2. Add the red, yellow, sweet onions and the shallots and season with salt and pepper. Saute onions until they are almost caramelized, about 10 minutes, stirring them occasionally.

3. Add in the leeks and scallions and continue cooking another 5 minutes or so, until these are well cooked. Slowly stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add the white wine and stir to incorporate, then cook until the wine is reduced to less than 1/4 cup. Pour in the chicken stock and mix well. Add in the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the soup for at least 30 minutes.

4. Add the cream, if desired and cook another 10 minutes. Puree half the soup and return to the pot, heat and serve, garnished with parmesan cheese, reserved bacon and chopped chives.
dogs

The bottom pics are my audience. My two Cavaliers, Stuart and Cooper, who watch and nap at the same time. Riley is a little guy we adopted from Animal Haven. My daughter Abbie volunteered there for years taking great photo’s and walking dogs. Riley was living in a hoarder situation in the Bronx and have never gone outside in his 10 years. He is doing great since they brought him to us, he loves the backyard and sits right by my feet when I cook.

-Jeanne