Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagna

This is SUCH a decadent meal for a Wednesday night but it was the American Idol finale so that's something to celebrate, right? I was supposed to make this on the weekend but never got around to it. Not the most healthy option in the world, but the flavour and melt in your mouth goodness really are worth a *few* extra calories. At first, you may think that butternut squash, rosemary & garlic don't work together but once it is all warm, bubbly and melted together it is delicious!

I am trying to find out if it is Lasagna or Lasagne. Both options seem to be acceptable. Please feel free to post a comment and let me know which is correct!

Ingredients & Preparation: (From Epicurious, original from Gourmet, December 1995)
Servings: Makes 6 main-course or 12 side-dish servings.
  • 3 pounds butternut squash, quartered, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 9 1/2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • nine 7- by 3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagne pasta
  • 1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (35%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs

Preheat oven to 450°F. and oil 2 large shallow baking pans.

In a large bowl toss squash with oil until coated well and spread in one layer in pans. Roast squash in oven 10 minutes and season with salt. Stir squash and roast 10 to 15 minutes more, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.

While squash is roasting, in a saucepan bring milk to a simmer with rosemary. Heat milk mixture over low heat 10 minutes and pour through a sieve into a large pitcher or measuring cup.

In a large heavy saucepan cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk mixture in a stream until smooth. Return pan to heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until thick. Stir in squash and salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.

Reduce temperature to 375°F [I missed this step (duh!) and baked at the high heat! No wonder the fire alarm went off. It didn't burn however, so no worries] and butter a baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches.

Pour 1 cup sauce into baking dish (sauce will not cover bottom completely) and cover with 3 lasagne sheets, making sure they do not touch each other. Spread half of remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Make 1 more layer in same manner, beginning and ending with pasta.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream with salt until it holds soft peaks and spread evenly over top pasta layer, making sure pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over cream. Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagne 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagne stand 5 minutes.

Garnish each serving with rosemary.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Baked Salmon with Lemon & Leek Cream

My friend Melissa inspired me to make this meal today! She was making salmon this weekend and I had one in the freezer so I decided to make this for our Victoria Day dinner. I hope we get our barbecue soon (we only just got grass in the yard) because I am growing tired of cooking fish in the oven. This fish would have tasted much better done on the grill but I didn't have that option. I didn't use a recipe so I am only going to be able to give you approximate measurements.

Ingredients & Preparation:
  • 1/2 wild pacific salmon (skin on)
  • herbs of your choice
  • fresh dill
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Dress the salmon as you like...I added a bit of lemon & herb seasoning, fresh dill, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt & pepper. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes covered in foil at 350F or until done.

Lemon & Leek Crème (the following is a variation of the sauce I made...this one is from Epicurious. The measurements will be better than my guesstimations!).

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2-3 medium leeks, halved, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream (I used crème fraiche)
  • 1/2 cup of white wine (optional)
  • salt & pepper
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leeks; sauté 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until leeks are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to medium; add lemon juice and stir until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Mix in cream (I used 1 cup of crème fraiche instead as I had no cream in the fridge). Simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

Transfer mixture to blender (or food processor). Blend until smooth. Strain sauce into same saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible (I didn't need to do this as the sauce was quite smooth). Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper (I also added about 1/2 cup of dry white wine at this point as the sauce was too thick. I actually preferred the flavour of the sauce once the wine was added).

I served the salmon with a side of Israeli couscous. I added chopped red peppers & parsley for colour. I also added half a vegetable bouillon cube for some extra flavour.

Banana Chips (for furry friends only!)

My dog is starting to get spoiled! I tried another recipe from the Cooking for your Dog cookbook today and made some banana chips and another batch of honey oat dog biscuits (recipe in older post). I promise our dog's friend Yoshi some treats as well, so he is getting his very own dog treat bag tomorrow.

Ingredients & Preparation:
  • 2 2/5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2/5 cup skim milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 puréed banana
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a mini-food processor, whiz up the banana and the milk until smooth. Add to the other ingredients and mix into a dough. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into small cubes.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment and place cookies on it. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Serve with a side of water!