Monthly Archives

March 2016

Food, Winter

Local Lasagna 

March 11, 2016

Pan of lasagna.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to eat local, especially in the winter, but I like a good challenge.

This last weekend I challenged myself to make a lasagna all from local ingredients. Raiding my pantry and freezer, I used the tomatoes I canned in August, and onions and peppers frozen from summer to make the sauce. I used milk from a local dairy, Merrymead Farm, to make the ricotta. The noodles were made with my whole-wheat flour from Castle Valley Mill and locally sourced eggs. I admit I could have made the mozzarella from the same local dairy, but time was not on my side this weekend. The mozzarella as well as the Parmesan was made in a local Italian market. I also had some local spinach in my freezer so I threw that in too. Here’s how I put it all together:

The sauce:

Ingredients

  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color) chopped
  • ¼ cup red wine (make sure you use something you will drink)
  • 2 quarts canned tomatoes
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried oregano to taste

Method

  • sauté onions and peppers with salt until soft
  • add wine and cook down for about 5 minutes
  • add tomatoes and combine (at this point you decide how chunky you like your sauce, I whiz it up in a blender. You could use an immersion blender or leave it as is)
  • add cheese and oregano and season with salt and pepper
  • simmer for an hour or two until you get the consistency you want

Making past with the stand mixer.Noodles:

The noodles were a recipe from Marc Vetri’s book Mastering Pasta. His recipe calls for 4 cups flour, 4 eggs, 1 tablespoon olive and 1 ½ teaspoons water. Bring the dough together either by hand or in a mixer, wrap it in plastic and chill it for at least an hour or up to 3 days. I used my Kitchen Aide pasta attachment to roll this out then cut it to fit my pan. Rolling out whole wheat dough can be a challenge, be patient.

Ricotta:

(Do this the day before you plan on assembling your lasagna)
My ricotta recipe was adapted from a recipe in Cathy Barrow’s book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen.
Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Cheese in a bowl.Method

  • Heat milk and lemon juice to 190 degrees (until bubbles start to form around the edge.
  • Remove from heat, cover and let sit 10 minutes
  • With a slotted spoon remove curds from the whey
  • Add an egg and some parmesan cheese before assembling

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but save the whey and let it sit, covered, at room temperature overnight. The following day heat this liquid up to 190 degrees and you will have more ricotta and clear whey; this can be used for smoothies, breads or any other baked good in place of water.
I assembled my lasagna in a metal 8×8 pan, but you can use what you have.

Start with a layer of sauce and then noodles. Put on some ricotta and mozzarella, some more sauce and, if you are using it, sautéed spinach. Keep layering until you fill your pan and finish with mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake in a 350 degree oven covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Let it rest about 15 minutes before you cut it.

This was a project and it did take commitment, but the lasagna was really good and I believe it was worth it.

Culture, Food, Winter

Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie

March 3, 2016

Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie.

Winter brings with it thoughts of soups, stews and things bubbling on the stove all afternoon. I like to raid the pantry and freezer this time of year because it’s too cold to go shopping and it can be nice to have a shot of summer on a cold day. Canned tomatoes can go into chili and frozen vegetables can make all kinds of casseroles or stews. One of Dan’s favorite dishes growing up was his Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother’s Chicken pot pie.

Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie is not what most people think of when they think of pot pie. This pie is not encased in a pastry crust; it’s more stew like, and instead of the crust on top it has noodles throughout. You can put any vegetables you like in your pot pie, Dan likes potatoes, carrots and peas. Potatoes and carrots can sometimes be found locally this time of year as storage crops. Peas are something that can be easily frozen in the spring when they are abundant. You can trade them out for whatever you have in your freezer, green beans and corn would also be good. Instead of a pie plate this dish is made in pot. Choose one big enough to hold all of your stock and vegetables.

I started by roasting a whole chicken so I could have dark and white meat. You can use whatever you like.

This is what else you will need:

  • 2 quarts good chicken stock (it’s best if you make it yourself)
  • 4-6 potatoes cut into 1 ½ to 2 inch chunks
  • 4-6 carrots cut into 1 ½ to inch chunks
  • whatever other vegetable you have on hand
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • cornstarch or flour for thickening (instructions at the end of recipe)

For the noodles:

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour plus some for dusting
  • ¾ stick room temperature butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

To make the noodles:

  • mix together with your hands the butter, flour and egg
  • slowly add the milk and mix until it comes together
  • roll out the dough to about ¼ inch and cut into squares

To put it together:

  • Add your potatoes and carrots to your stock and bring to a boil
  • Add your noodles a few at time, stirring gently to keep them from sticking
  • Lower to a simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes until everything is tender
  • If you are adding frozen vegetables do it now and cook for a few minutes more
  • Add your cream

Adding the noodles will help to thicken your sauce, but you may want it a little thicker. There are a couple of ways to achieve this. You could use a slurry, which is equal parts cornstarch and cold water mixed together or you could make a roux which is equal parts flour and softened butter stirred together. I used 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour. Whisk this in to your sauce and cook for a few minutes. When it is at the thickness you desire, ladle it up and enjoy this very hearty meal.