Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna
|So many new discoveries this month.. let's count!|
1- I CAN post more than once a month! I can!
2- Someone's bad karma CAN bite them in the ass eventually! (No, not me :P)
3- I can live on Totino's Pizza Rolls when I absolutely have to!
4- I'm the ONLY Daring Baker who couldn't wait for her lasagne to set up before slicing!
5- Who knew Hubbs would put the kibosh on green noodles??
6- Indoor plumbing is VERY! IMPORTANT!
Okay I'll stop on that last one.. yes, major plumbing issues this month.. and a husband who REFUSED to call a plumber because "I CAN FIX THIS". Two 100 foot plumbers' snake rentals, 3 wax rings and about eleventy billion loads of sopping wet towels later - we have working drains and faucets and toilets and showers and we didn't have to call a plumber.
Now ask me if I've started to hit the bottle around mid-morning snack time. :P
Cooking dinner without working plumbing isn't easy either.. and this is how I found out I could eat pizza rolls 3 nights in a row, where previously they would make me gag. Maybe I didn't gag because the only energy I had left at pizza roll eating time was swallowing.
So needless to say, the Daring Bakers challenge was put off, yet again, until the last week of the month. We were supposed to make it last weekend, but Super Plumber reckoned he deserved a weekend off to play with his brother, and Ivonne and I decided it was high time to get some unfinished The Daring Kitchen website business taken care of. So that left no room for lasagne as planned. But, we figured, this wouldn't be a big deal as there are two of us and only 1 lasagne to make. Should be a piece of cake! Mmmm hmmm....
First off, let me insert the information for this month's challenge:
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
Our lovely hostesses only had one thing to say.. we must make our own pasta sheets from scratch! HAR! Dough! Me! *thud* To say I was a little nervous going into this is truly an understatement. Dough hates me. Seriously, I could screw up a simple pizza dough, believe me. And they want me to make pasta dough? Flavored pasta dough? The kind you have to roll out MANUALLY?? *eek* Oh yeah, Hubbs didn't have a chance of getting outta this one. Even if we had made it over the weekend with all the time in the world, he still didn't have a chance.
Okay well, back to two of us and only 1 lasagne. We figured we'd make the pasta dough and the ragu on Monday night and then make the bechamel and assemble, bake and eat the lasagne on Tuesday night. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! Here's what happened..
Monday it rained, and Hubbs didn't have to work - so I asked if he'd mind making the ragu because that would save us so much time once I got home. We'd only have to make the pasta. Easy Peasy! He agreed.. and he made a mighty fine ragu in my opinion. His opinion.. slightly different.. he didn't feel that it was worth the 3 hours he put into it. When I got home from my 8 in the dungeon, we were to make the pasta dough - BUT - he had decided to surprise me! He made the dough while the ragu was simmering on the stove, bless his reinforced toe tube socks!
Problem was.. and I tried not to giggle, point and stare.. honest. I tried. But his "ball of dough" laying on the counter resembled something that most likely died of a really bad case of the shingles. The thing had scales. And lumps. It was kind of the shape of a ball.. like maybe a rubber ball that's sat in the sun for years and was just flaking apart when the wind hit it just right? I should mention, we did NOT make the spinach flavored dough as requested by our lovely hostesses. No, I'm sorry, but he will not eat spinach pasta. HATES IT. And since I'm not the biggest lasagne fan - I love it! But it's just too rich of a dish for me.. we eat it maybe twice a year, maybe - I really wanted to make a lasagne that he'd eat. So in discussing it the week prior, we decided that we'd take the unbelievably delicious slow roasted tomatoes made from the last of our tomatoes at the end of summer last year, thaw 'em out, puree them and use that in lieu of the spinach. Since the recipe called for 10 oz. of spinach and since spinach is so light, we figured 5 oz. of the pureed tomatoes would work. Apparently not. :) Not enough liquid to keep that dough ball baby alive. Jebus, it's death must have been painful.. poor guy.
So I made the pasta dough this time.. and I upped the amount of slow roasted tomato puree to about 8 oz. and threw in 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Perfection! OHMYGOD I MADE PASTA DOUGH and it didn't give me the big F!U! in return for my efforts! I'm grinning from ear to ear right now, and this happened several days ago! teeeee!
So I started kneading.. and kneading.. when I realized I should be taking photos! Yes Photos! I'm a blogger after all! This is for my blog! "Ohhhh honeyyyy.. can you take over the kneading so I can photograph it??" Muahahahahaahaha And that he did:
We decided to let the dough rest until after we'd had dinner - I think he had micro-waveable creamed beef on toast and I had a hot dog? Something.. might have been cereal.. no wait.. yeah, it was pizza rolls. *sigh* And after our nutritious and very low sodium dinners, we said screw the pasta and watched Two and a Half Men.
The next day after work, we came home and rolled the pasta. No wait.. when I say "we" I really mean "he" - I had to be super photographer again, doncha know? It took him approximately 2.5 hours to roll that dough out to what we thought was paper thin. He went in sections.. very small sections.. and my job was to take pretty pictures and to hang the sheets (I use that term loosely) over our kitchen table chairs. Here, look for yourselves:
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA! All I could do that night was think about Silence of the Lambs.. remember how the serial killer would take pieces parts of his victims' skin and sew them together to form a mask? Holy cow he would have peed himself had he waltzed into our kitchen! Look at this one! It's got the eyes and mouth hole already built in!!
By the time rolling was done, we looked at each other and again said, "screw it". He ate the pizza rolls and I had cereal that night. I think I watched a few Ellen shows I had tivo'd.
Now we're on day THREE. And come hell or high water, we were going to eat this bitch TONIGHT. We were DONE dammit. So I started the bechamel (which neither of us wanted, but I had already cheated with the tomato flavored dough so I couldn't make any other changes without the possibility of the Daring Lynch Mob coming after me), and he put the water on to boil and heated the ragu. 20 minutes into it, we realized that our noodles WEREN'T paper thin and wow.. they were kinda thicker than we thought. So imagine the two of us standing in the middle of our kitchen holding up steamy fakkin hot strips o'noodles debating on whether or not we could see each other through them. "I can see you plain as day! Quit moving", "I didn't move". "oh.. maybe I'm looking at Chloe then?" "Well I can see you!", "Yeah, well I don't doubt it as you've got both eyes open and I'm about 140 times wider than that strip of pasta."
Ahhh.. newlywed love. Can you feel it?
ANYHOO.. we assembled the lasagne and gently covered the pan with foil.. slid her into the hot oven and listened to our stomachs growl for about an hour. At this time, the lasagne was finished and looking wonderful - smelling even better. I should have waited a while for it to cool down a bit and set up, but I truly thought I'd be signing divorce papers had I not cut that baby tout de suite. I mean the man was standing over me with a fork in one hand and a glass of milk in the other. ;)
So I cut.. and it oozed a lil.. and then I slid my favorite fish flippin' spatula underneath and slowly lifted a piece of what smelled like heaven.. and then.. *sploooooge* It totally slid apart and I barely got it on the plate:
This did not deter us from eating it right then and there. And let me tell ya'll.. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO happy we didn't fall from the recipe a second time - the bechamel was divine with the lasagne. OMG SO GOOD. The ragu was delish, the pasta had a lovely texture, although we couldn't really taste it's flavor with it being buried under all that other stuff.. but all in all, the judges gave this lasagne a 10. No longer will I ever make the heavy lasagne I grew up on.. this will now be my go-to lasagne with maybe just a few small alterations here and there to cut some time.. but nothing major because I wouldn't want to lose that flavor and lightness it had.
Thanks so much for a great experience and a new go-to recipe, Mary, Enza & Melinda!!