Lasagna Bolognese with Fontina Béchamel

Lasagna Bolognese with Fontina Béchamel

With a crunchy top and a creamy center, Lasagna Bolognese is the king of baked pastas. Our version adds fontina cheese to the béchamel with adds to the earthy richness. 

Greetings, rebel scum!

Before we get into this week’s recipe, I want to make a clarification about last week’s post: the chocolate babka. You might remember that one of us (okay, it was me) declared it to be an excellent treat for either Easter or Passover, whichever was your preference. We were inundated with literally several letters pointing out that the babka is yeasted, and a traditional Passover, one might say, tends to skew towards the unleavened. The Hebrews fleeing Egypt weren’t, after all, told “Take what you have and scarper, there’s no time to let your bread rise, oh, unless you’re making babka or something, that would be awesome, oh, good work on the pyramids btw”. So, my apologies for that slip, and please tell Uncle Mort it won’t happen again.

Lasagna Bolognese with Fontina Béchamel

This week’s dish is so much recipe – very so much recipe, wow – we actually had to enlist the help of a third Nerd, our most excellent and game friend Heather, who stayed with us this weekend and whose initial idea it was to make lasagna. Now, I made lasagna at uni – I think we all did – and it’s the easiest thing imaginable, you buy your jar of Ragu and a good cheap packet of dried lasagna, bit of cheese of some kind, Double Gloucester probably, cheddar will do at a pinch, bit of milk, nutmeg, there you have it, one lasagna, lovely.

(That sound you hear is Emily retching and then fainting).

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Chicken, Leeks and Spinach in a Creamy Wine Sauce

In our ongoing quest to resurrect interest in under-appreciated vegetables, I present this week’s subject: the leek.

We don’t get too excited about leeks in the U.S. but we should. They’re healthy, easy to grow*, cheap to buy, and best of all, really tasty.

Chicken, Leeks and Spinach in a Creamy Wine Sauce
Leeks, mushrooms, garlic, spinach, cream and white wine.

* Theoretically, and according to rumors I read on the internet. Matt and I, conversely, have zero luck growing leeks. Nada. Zilch. They sprout beautifully but then … nothing. They turn spindly and never really get very big. They end up more like thick scallions. It’s quite rude of them if you think about it, because here I am telling the world (our 5 readers, anyway, hello there *waves*) how great leeks are and they can’t even be bothered to make an effort in the garden. Oh well. It’s broccoli rabe this year, I’m telling you.

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Creamy, Homemade Aïoli (Garlicky, Lemony Mayonnaise)

Creamy, Homemade Aioli (Garlicky, Lemony Mayo)
Our homemade aioli

I’m totally the type of person who, if it were socially acceptable, would outfit everything in my house with ‘the clapper’. In fact, if someone invented one that cooked dinner and made cocktails, I’d be flamenco-ing myself silly.

What I’m saying is, I don’t really like to make extra work for myself.

Even though I obviously enjoy cooking, I’ve never been tempted to make my own ketchup. Heinz already rocks that market. Make my own Worcestershire sauce? Um… no thanks. Mayonnaise? That’s another story.

Creamy, Homemade Aioli (Garlicky, Lemony Mayo)

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Basil Pesto with Walnuts and Pecorino

Basil Pesto with Walnuts and Pecorino

When life gives you basil, make basil pesto. It’s the perfect accompaniment to salads, pasta, as a bake-in sauce for chicken and many other dishes. Since we’re cheap, we substituted affordable walnuts for pricey pine nuts. 

We’re finally getting better at this whole “growing stuff” thing. Our first year here we struggled with just a few herbs on the deck. We grew some thyme, a bit of sage, a little rosemary. One scraggly little basil plant that got some sort of fungus and never recovered. Our second year was a little better. The rosemary was bushier, the chives flowered beautifully. Basil seemed happier.

This year, pow! Basil explosion. We’re growing them in large pots in a very sunny spot and they’ve gone absolutely bonkers. It’s like Day of the Triffids out there.

Basil

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Chicken with Lime, Garlic and Cilantro

Chicken with Lime, Garlic and Cilantro

In the 1970s, the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I grew up was a true melting pot of cultures. I went to a bilingual grade school where classes were taught in both English and Spanish, and staying for dinner at a friend’s house often meant getting to have Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas) or Mofongo (mashed green plantains with chicharrones).

My absolute favorite dish back then was Pernil (Roasted Pork Shoulder), which is flavored with lots of citrus, cumin and cilantro. Just thinking about it is making me hungry, but until I find the time to make a whole pork shoulder, I thought I’d take some of those great flavors and turn it into a much more weekday-friendly chicken dinner.

Chicken with Lime, Garlic and Cilantro
Garlic, cilantro, lime and cumin make the sauce bright and tangy.

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Red Cabbage Salad with Spicy Miso-Ginger Dressing

Red Cabbage Salad with Spicy Miso-Ginger Dressing

A crunchy, spicy red cabbage salad flavored with miso and ginger. Ideal as a side for Asian meals, or as a standalone lunch. Just don’t call it a slaw!

When I was thinking about what I wanted to serve alongside the Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps we were planning on making, I knew I wanted something bright and fresh to counter-balance the rich grilled beef.

That’s when I decided to take our Asian Cabbage and Fennel Salad recipe and mix it up a bit. I love, love, love miso and the addition of it gives this dressing a richness that is almost creamy, though there’s no mayo or any dairy in it. It’s actually almost a nutty flavor. Matt said it tasted like the peanut sauce you get with satay, but even better (and there’s no peanut in it either). It also happens to be vegan and can be made gluten free if you use tamari in place of the soy and use a GF miso, like this one).

Red Cabbage Salad with Spicy Miso-Ginger Dressing
Vegetables are so pretty.

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