Posts Tagged ‘fresh pasta’


Monday, April 12th, 2010

Lasagna recipe halfway down this post… This past weekend was very relaxing, but also very refreshing. On Saturday, Allan and I spent most of the day cleaning the apartment, watching a couple movies at home, and playing video games.

Saturday was much needed, as it’s been a while since my entire family got out and did something together. Sure, we usually see each other every week… but it was nice to get out of the house and do activities together.

Dad's Tulips

First, Allan and I stopped by my parent’s house to pick everyone up. My dad’s tulips were out in full force…. reminding me that spring really is here!
Then it was off to the driving range.

Golf clubs Driver

Mom and Dad Byron (Little Bro)

It was fun to get together and hit a couple balls… although I ended up trying to teach them the golf swing most of the time, haha. Reminds me how I really need to get back into going to the range regularly before I’m ready to play on full courses again this year.

Allan on the tractor at the farmer's market

We then headed to the theatre to watch “Date Night”, Tina Fey and Steve Carell’s new movie. It was funny and endearing, albeit a little strange to watch with my parents. We also stopped at the farmer’s market in Richmond that my parents normally go to, and picked up a couple bags of produce.

Mom's Leche Flan

Then, it was back to the house where we madly consumed some amazing “leche flans” that my mom makes (it’s kinda like crème caramel)…

Finally, we finished the day at Granville Island where we picked up our weekly groceries and got supplies to make lasagne… Allan has been asking me to make my lasagne for a while now, so I FINALLY got to it. Last night we also watched Food Inc, which was quite the eye-opener, but I’m going to save that for another post.

Makes a 9×13 pan of lasagne, enough for 8-10 people

Allan declares this the best lasagna he has ever had (and he’s had quite a few), and quite honestly I would agree. I know that’s not very humble, but seriously, this lasagna will rock your world.

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

My lasagne recipe has changed a lot over the years. It started with a simple bolognese sauce recipe that I got from my mom when I started cooking after high school. It was always layers of pasta with the meat sauce. In my last year of university, I started using ricotta cheese to make the dish more rich. Finally, when I graduated and traveled to Italy, I had the most AMAZING lasagne and discovered the secret of béchamel sauce, which actually is a more traditional Italian way of making lasagne (or so they say) but not as widely used in North America. Now, several iterations later, I think I’ve managed to put together a pretty darn good lasagne recipe. I use “lasagne” and “lasagna” interchangeably here for my recipe, because I think it combines some good Italian traditions with a bit of a North America twist.

The secret? Fresh pasta, a rich tomato meat sauce, the béchamel sauce (far superior to ricotta in my opinion), and good quality cheeses. I also like a layer of zucchini in there, but of course it’s completely optional. Last night I tried cooking with veal for the first time instead of beef, and I’m totally in love. I realize that this may be a moral/ethical issue for some, so feel free to substitute beef/pork/chicken for the veal. But if you don’t mind, it really is divine and I can’t recommend it enough.

Please use high quality organic, local ingredients whenever possible.

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground veal (can substitute beef… but I highly recommend Montreal milk-fed veal from Granville Island or your local market)
1 lb ground pork
4 oz pancetta, chopped
1 Spanish chorizo sausage, chopped
2 red onions
6 cloves of garlic
3 carrots, chopped (if using non-organic carrots just use one large one)
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds (optional)
1 red pepper, diced
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 medium/large can of Italian tomatoes
1/2 cup strong red Italian wine
1/2 cup of 2% milk for the meat sauce, plus 3 cups milk for the béchamel
2 handfuls of fresh herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, and one bay leaf)
5 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of good quality flour
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground chili pepper or paprika/cayenne
About 1 lb of fresh pasta sheets (homemade preferred, but you can also buy from your local market)
1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 cup of freshly grated mozzarella (preferably a Tre Stelle mozza ball.. you can find these at supermarkets or Whole Foods in a pinch)
1 large Bocconcini ball (fresh mozzarella balls), sliced
Salt and pepper

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

1. Using a large saucepan or dutch oven (e.g. a big Le Creuset or other large pot), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, stir a couple times, and then add the carrots, celery and cook until translucent approximately 5-7 minutes.

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

2. Add the meats (veal, pork, pancetta, and sausage) and stir vigorously to break up the meat.  Use high heat to brown it. This should take approximately 10 minutes.

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

3. Now, add the milk and stir in gently. This actually protects the meat from the acidity of the other ingredients so it is very important to add the milk first. Then, add the wine, tomato paste, and hand crush in the tomatoes from the tin. Add half of the tomato sauce from the tin, but set aside the rest for later. Stir for a few minutes, and then add in the fresh herbs. Season with salt, pepper, and a bit of chili pepper and then simmer this over medium heat for about 30-45 minutes until thick. When almost done, stir in the red peppers.

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. When the meat sauce is almost ready, you can now prepare the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan and then whisk in the flour until very smooth over medium heat. Keep stirring for about6 minutes until the mixture turns golden. Then, bring the 3 cups of milk to a boil in a separate small pot. Add a bit of milk at a time to the butter mixture, whisking the sauce each time to keep it very smooth. When you’ve used all the milk, you’ll want to bring the sauce to a boil, and then turn off the heat and stir in the nutmeg, salt, pepper, and chili pepper for another minute or so. Set this aside off the hot burner.

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

5. Yay, time to assemble everything! Grease the 9×13 pan with butter. Quickly douse the fresh pasta in cold water and gently squeeze off the excess liquid. Now cover the bottom of the pan with the meat sauce, layer the pasta, then pour half the béchamel mixture in and spread it out. Sprinkle half the parmesan over it, then layer the zucchini in rounds over it. Layer another pasta, then meat sauce, then pasta layer. Now for the last layer: Spread the rest of the meat sauce (should be fairly thin now), then the rest of the béchamel sauce, the rest of the parmesan… now place a couple bocconcini slices around the pan (approx one per “serving” of lasagne), and spread the rest of the grated mozzarella over the entire dish. Lastly, grind a very small amount of salt, and a regular dose of freshly ground pepper over the dish. It’s important to make sure that each layer of pasta is fully covered so that it cooks properly.

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

6. Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, but watch carefully and make sure the top is golden brown. Make sure you let the lasagne cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

Best Ever Lasagna (Lasagne) Recipe

7. DIG IN! It’s amazing :)


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Yes, this post is pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. Snowboarding, logos, food… yeesh!

VancityAllie Logo by Mike

First off, I want to share an awesome new logo/graphic that my long-time and good friend Mike M. made! He knows I love surfing and snowboarding, and so he created an amazing new identity for me to make into a graphic for my snowboard. I love it! Thanks Mike!

Before I get to the recipes, I wanted to talk a little bit about our plans for the upcoming easter weekend! Remember that contest that I entered for catboarding? Check out the video entry I sent in below. I was surprised several weeks ago to find out that I won! So we’ll be heading to Mustang Powder for three full days of sweet, sweet catboarding at their remote lodge including food and accommodation! Allan had to pay for himself so I’m going to help out with that… so really it’s more like getting catboarding for half price. :)

Vimeo Video Entry for the Mustang Powder Contest

Packing for the trip starts this afternoon, and then we’re off early tomorrow morning for a 7 hour drive almost near Revelstoke into the Monashees mountains where we’ll be picked up by snowcat to get to the lodge. I am extremely excited. You can bet that we’ll be taking lots of photos and videos.

In other news, somehow I got roped into cooking a couple times during this busy week, so I thought I’d post up a couple more photos and two more recipes for you to try out. The first is the arctic char. I actually had this dish at West Restaurant here in Vancouver, but there was no recipe for it in their cookbook. So I created this dish only from taste and memory, but I totally lucked out and it actually turned out almost identical! This is one of my favourite fish dishes because of the really crispy skin but tender buttery flesh, along with the contrast of texture and flavour of the fennel, mushrooms and spinach.

Crispy Arctic Char with Crispy Fennel, Buttery Mushrooms, and Spinach Puree Recipe

2 fillets of arctic char or one whole fish (we found ours at Granville Island)
1 bunch of spinach
1 fennel bulb
1 shallot
1 cup chicken stock
Half a paper bag assorted mushrooms (preferably chanterelles, Portobello or those small clumpy white ones that I’m not sure the name of, they usually come stuck together in a box)
4 tablespoons of butter
Olive oil, salt and pepper

First, make sure the fish is scaled, de-boned and filleted. Leave the skin on. Wash each fillet and then pat dry with paper towel. Salt and pepper both the skin side and the flesh side.

Cooking the spinach

Cook the spinach with a tablespoon of butter in a pan until vibrant green. Place into a blender (but don’t blend yet) and set aside.

Chopped vegetables

Slice the fennel bulp into small strips (peel outside layer).

Crispy Fennel Buttery Mushrooms

Cook the fennel with another tablespoon of butter (yes, this is about taste and not healthiness, feel free to substitute for olive oil) at a very high heat until crispy and browned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Then cook the mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter until browned, and add salt and pepper.

Frying the Arctic Char Crispy Arctic Char

Start boiling the chicken stock. Lastly, heat the last tablespoon of butter with tablespoon of olive oil and cook the arctic char fillets skin side down until VERY crispy, approximately 3-4 minutes. Then flip over and cook another 2-3 minutes until the fish is firm yet still soft and flaky inside.
Quickly blend the boiling chicken stock (approx half a cup to a cup, depending on how much spinach you have… you want a creamy texture) in the blender with the spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Crispy Arctic Char with Crispy Fennel, Buttery Mushrooms  and Spinach Puree

Serve! Spoon the spinach puree into the bottom of a large bowl or plate, and then top with the fennel and mushrooms, and lastly serve the arctic char skin side up. Delicious!

Next up… beef short ribs last night. This was heavily adapted from a Mario Batali recipe. This is Allan’s favourite meal in the whole world and he constantly pesters me to make it. It’s fall off the bone delicious, and very rich. It also makes a large batch and heats up great for leftovers. This is a great way to make any man fall in love with you ;)

Tender Beef Short Ribs with Red Wine and Creamy Pappardelle

4 x 12-14 oz beef short ribs with bone, well marbled (we like ours from Tenderland Meats at Granville Island)
2 cups nice red wine, preferably a Barolo if you’re baller, or a cheaper Cabernet Sauvignon
3 Carrots
2 Celery stalks
4 shallots
5 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig oregano
2 sprigs parsley
2 Bay leaves
1 Tablespoon dried juniper berries
1 can Italian tomatoes
3-4 cups veal or beef stock (Stock Market at Granville Island is awesome)
Fresh homemade pasta or dried pappardelle noodles
Assorted wild mushrooms
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
Handful of pine nuts
Olive oil, salt and pepper (also white pepper if you have any)

First, salt and pepper the ribs. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Heat a deep dutch oven or large saucepan (Le Creuset if you have it) over high heat with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the short ribs about 3 minutes each side until deeply browned, approx 15 minutes. Set the ribs aside on a plate.

Putting the wine in the pot

Now cook the shallots, carrots, celery, and garlic in the same pot, making sure to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan until the vegetables are slightly soft and browned. Crush in the Italian tomatoes by hand but do not add the juices. Add the wine and stir.

Herbs and sauce cooking in the Le Creuset

Now add the veal or beef stock. Try adding 3 cups and see how the levels in your pot look. Would it cover the ribs? If so, that’s enough. Otherwise — add another cup. Then add the herbs, juniper berries, and any extra spices. Cover and place in the oven, cooking for approximately 2 1/2 hours.

Making Homemade Pappardelle Pasta

Meanwhile, make your fresh pasta or ready your dried pasta. When there’s about half an hour before you take out the ribs, start by placing 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and on medium-heat, melt until bubbly. Add the whipping cream and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes until slightly thick. Meanwhile, in a separate pan cook the mushrooms in a little olive oil or butter until soft. When the cream mixture is thick, add some white pepper (or normal pepper), salt, and the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Stir in until smooth and creamy.

Finished Short Ribs

Check on the ribs. At 2.5 hours, take the pot out and let sit uncovered for a few minutes. Take the ribs out to cool.

Straining the sauce Mixing the beef short ribs in sauce

Scoop out and discard excess fat and oil from the pot. Strain the rest of the mixture through a sieve. Shred the beef and then place into the strained sauce.

Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Just before serving, mix the mushrooms into the cream sauce and stir in the cooked pasta noodles.

Recipe: Tender Beef Short Ribs with Creamy Papardelle Pasta

Enjoy! Serve the noodles up and then place pieces of beef over the noodles. Sprinkle some pine nuts and slices of Parmigiano Reggiano over to finish. Yum!


And that’s it… see you guys on Tuesday when we are back from our trip! What are your plans for the Easter long weekend?

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