Posts Tagged ‘hearty’

Lasagna Bolognese

Lasagna Bolognese

Fall is by far my most favorite time to cook. The recipes are so warm, hearty, and comforting. Italian is kind of the epitome of all these descriptors. I found this recipe for Lasagna Bolognese in my Fall Entertaining edition of Cooks Illustrated.

Bolognese is different from the Americanized lasagna we typically come across. Rather than using mozzarella or ricotta as a filler, it has a creamy Bechamel sauce made from a mixture of milk and flour. It was absolutely delicious, with perfect portions of meat, cheese, and creamy sauce.


Meat Sauce:

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1 medium celery, chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 ounces ground beef

8 ounces ground pork

8 ounces ground veal

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups white cooking wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Bechamel Sauce:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup flour

4 cups whole milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

Noodles and Cheese:

1 package “no-boil” lasagna noodles

2 cups parmesan, grated


Process chopped carrot, celery, and onion in food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl.

Chop whole tomatoes in food processor until finely chopped.

Heat butter in large, deep pot over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, and onion and stir to coat. Cook for about five minutes, stirring every now and then.

Lasagna Bolognese

Add ground meats and cook for about a minute, using a large spoon to break up meat into small pieces.

Lasagna Bolognese

Add milk and simmer to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, continuing to break up meat with spoon. Add white wine and simmer for 20-30 minutes more.

Lasagna Bolognese

Stir in tomato paste. Add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until meat sauce thickens. Let cool afterwards.

Lasagna Bolognese

As the meat sauce simmer, melt butter for Bechamel sauce in medium to large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for one to two minutes, whisking the entire time. In small batches, whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, continuing to whisk. Add salt, reduce heat to medium/low. Simmer for ten minutes, stirring constantly. (Make sure milk doesn’t burn at bottom of pan!) Transfer to another bowl and let cool.

Add 3/4 cup Bechamel sauce to meat sauce and stir. Cover lasagna noodles with hot water and let soak for about five minutes. Remove noodles and place on paper towels. Spray 13 in. by 9 in. baking dish with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

To prepare lasagna, pour about 1 cups meat sauce in baking dish. Even out with spatula. Place three noodles on top, close together, but not touching.

Lasagna Bolognese

Spread 1 1/4 cups meat sauce over noodles, (not entire pan, just to the edge of the noodles). Pour 1/3 cup Bechamel sauce over meat sauce.

Lasagna Bolognese

Sprinkle 1/2 cup parmesan on top. Repeat layering of noodles, meat sauce, bechamel, and cheese, until you come to the final layer of noodles.

Lasagna Bolognese

Add remaining Bechamel, then remaining parmesan.

Lasagna Bolognese

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray, cover lasagna dish, and bake for 30 minutes.

Lasagna Bolognese

Take off cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for 15 minutes, slice, and enjoy!

Lasagna Bolognese


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Duck Confit


Duck Confit

Hi. My name is Alyssa and I have a problem. If there is duck on the menu, I need to order it.

I’m not sure where this compulsion stems from. That being said, there could be worse addictions than duck-ordering, so I accept it for what it is. The only fault I will admit is being a lover of good food and a little close-minded when it involves menus and duck.

Eventually a learning opportunity was born out of this duck fetish when my obsession lead me to one question.  If you love duck so much, and you love cooking so much, then why don’t you make the duck at home? Yeah. Why not?

Duck ConfitSo, a few months ago I purchased a duck share from Cooks of Crocus Hill in Saint Paul. The share hailed from Au Bon Canard, a duck farm in Caledonia, Minnesota. They specialize in Foie Gras (another guilt-ridden love of mine), and it appears that you can order that directly from them. I’m not sure if they’ll sell you a whole duck directly, or if they distribute only to restaurants and specialty food stores, like Cooks. Worth a shot. Great duck.

It came with 4 legs/thighs, 18 wings, and a couple of balls of duck lard. Yeah, I said it. Duck lard. Naturally, I decided to make a confit. What else is one supposed to do with legs, thighs, and excessive amounts of duck fat?

Duck Confit melts in your mouth. No need to fork and knife it. Mine would have fallen apart from the bone if the wind blew the wrong way. Duck Confit is cured duck leg and thigh that is slow cooked in fat. I know, I know. It sounds kind of gross. But it tastes so good.

Making Duck Confit takes two days. Don’t be scared, you really just let it sit overnight and in the oven for 12 hours. You can go about your daily routine while the duck feast is being made.


2 duck legs with thighs attached

Excess duck fat

2 cups olive oil

 Handful of dried bay leaves



Recipe: Duck Confit

 Generously salt non-skin side of duck thighs. Press Bay leaves into one of them, and sandwich the two together.

Now salt outer, skin side, of duck portions.

Put fat in bottom of a coverable container. Place sandwiched duck thighs on top. Cover, and store, refrigerated, for 24-36 hours.

The next day, turn oven to 200 degrees. Remove duck from air-tight container. Remove bay leaves and set aside. Rinse salt off duck and pat dry.

Place bay leaves and duck fat on bottom of cast-iron pot. Place duck thighs, skin side down, on top. Salt generously. Add some pepper too.

Cover and cook for 12 hours.

Remove and pull duck meat froDuck Confitm bone. Separate fat. Store in an airtight container and pour liquid from pot on top until covered. Duck can remain refrigerated for future use for a few weeks. When you’re ready to eat it, take out however much you’d like and warm up in a pan. You can eat this alone or put it in another recipe.


Duck Confit

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Stuffed Artichoke

Stuffed Artichoke

This was the FIRST recipe I ever learned. I must have been about twelve. My parents and I went over to Maui every year growing up, (ahhh – the perks of being an airline kid). It was a tradition that during our first night in town, we would take our jet-lagged bellies over to Jameson’s at the Kapalua Resort.

No matter how tired we were, or how late our flight had arrived, we could always depend on satisfying our hunger at  Jameson’s with JJ’s famous artichoke. Since that time, the Kapalua was taken over by Ritz Carlton and Jameson’s was replaced with a new restaurant. I miss the old school Jameson’s very much. But I remind myself that I will always have the artichoke. And nobody can take that away from me. Artichoke

So here’s my artichoke story. JJ was a longtime employee at this restaurant, and rumor is he developed this masterpiece after a long day’s work, few ingredients to choose from, and severe hunger pains. In my version, he’s had a few Mai Tai’s as well, which boosted his creativity.

I would rave to the waitstaff about how much I loved the artichoke. One lucky night, they offered to take me back into the kitchen, to meet JJ, and watch him make an actual stuffed artichoke!! A childhood dream fulfilled. I sat in the kitchen, bewildered and amazed, as I watched him work his magic on our order. Then I was shuffled back to the table, where I anxiously awaited our artichoke. He even delivered it to us himself.

Alyssa and JJ

Last December, my husband and I went back to Maui with my dad. There we were, at one of the new restaurants on the Kapalua property, when JJ himself came over to our table. I was ecstatic. I even got a picture with him. I tried to explain the effect his artichoke had on us. I hope he got it and didn’t think I was totally nuts.

I’m not promising healthy eating here, people. But I can guarantee that each bite of this treat will send you right up to pig heaven on a first class ticket. Yum.


1 artichoke, stemmed and leaves trimmed

Marie’s Creamy Italian Dressing


Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Olive Oil 


Turn oven to 350 degrees. Chop up baguette into bite size pieces, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown and crunchy looking.

Meanwhile, prepare a large pot of water and set over high heat to boil.


Cut the stem off the artichoke.




Trim the sharp points of the leaves off. Trim the top part of the artichoke off, using a knife.

August 2009 052Artichoke

Now, line an ovenproof dish with aluminum foil. Make a circle large enough for the artichoke to rest in it.


Once water is boiling, drop artichoke in and cover with a lid. Steam for about 20 minutes. Drain waiter from artichoke.

Put artichoke in foil bed, and stuff leaves with croutons. Put a few pieces of butter in leaves. Drizzle Creamy Italian dressing all over artichoke. Make sure to get it in leaves. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.



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