Friday, June 12, 2015

And now, the stunning conclusion of "The Lasagna Chronicles" Trilogy, a Culinary Comedy in Three Parts

So I don't hate lasagna anymore.  Oh my God, where have lasagna rolls been all my life?

But before I finally finish (cue the "Theme from Rocky" here) this magnificent Italian creation, permit me to grouse a bit.

I have been on my new medication for two days, and I have an unexpected side effect - headaches.  I haven't been having headache problems since I got new glasses after my eyesight took a sudden nosedive, so this is pretty damn annoying.  If I want a headache, I can go to court. Also I lost more weight, which may have nothing to do with the medication, which is supposed to actually cause weight gain.  So I am now six pounds less than I was when my doctor noted that I "hadn't lost any more weight in five months", and "if you stay at this weight, you'll be fine."  Sorry, Doc.

You've heard of Three Dog Night?  I got them beat -

Meet the Morning Menagerie.  I made the mistake of getting out of bed.  I guess they figured I was done using it.  Good incentive not to crawl back into bed to oversleep.  That and the fleas.  Damn fleas.  But, I got up, stayed up, walked downstairs, burned some toast for breakfast, and finished the lasagna rolls.  All I had to do was prepare the béchamel and put all the elements together in the baking dishes.  The noodles were already rolled around the filling, the meat sauce was done, the cheese was grated for the topping.  Baked, melting cheeses, oooh ...

I'm eating cabbage soup for  dinner.  I did not make it, I got it in Toojays. Mine is better (okay, it's my grandmother's recipe), but this ain't bad, not bad at all. Which is good, because this is the third night I'm eating it. I bought a take-out "bowl", and it's taking me three days, and I can't finish this.

I could not even consider to eat one of the lasagna rolls, as much as I would like to, so I tasted around the edges.  I SWOONED.  You will SWOON.

By now, you should have ready the meat sauce (Mom's Spaghetti Sauce I), the cheese filling, the additional filling and the cooked lasagna noodles. First, you want to make the rolls, so place 1/4 cup cheese filling on each noodle; spread evenly across the noodle, leaving the last 1 1/2 inch empty. Next, add the miniature  pepperoni slices and the the cooked mushroom, and then roll up carefully so as not to squash the filling or press it out of the noodles. Place the rolls on a lightly oiled surface. If you put these in a lightly oiled baking dish, you can refrigerate the rolls overnight.

About an hour and a half before serving, prepare the béchamel sauce. This is what really sets this particular dish apart from other lasagna rolls. The contrast between the béchamel on the bottom, and the best spaghetti meat sauce in the world - marvelous.  The way the béchamel enhances the cheese filling and topping - incredible.  The desire to lick the plate after you finish eating the lasagna - inevitable.  I saw a béchamel sauce used with lasagna in Bologna, Italy, and then when I was researching recipes for lasagna rolls online, I came across one version from Giada de Laurentiis which called for the lasagna rolls to be placed on top of a nice layer of white sauce.  Her version uses a lot less cheese in the filling - less than half of mine - and a jarred sauce.

Béchamel Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
2 1/2 cups half-and-half (plus a little extra, if needed)

Additional shredded mozzarella or Italian 5-Cheese Blend
Additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter and add the flour.  Whisk together continuously to make a roux (about 3 minutes or until the flour loses its "raw" smell).  Whisk in the salt, white pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg.  Now, whisk in the half-and-half in a continuous stream. Once it is fully incorporated, raise the heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a steady simmer, whisking continuously.  As the sauce heats, it will thicken.  Once done, take off the heat.  Put a cup of the bechamel in the bottom of two lightly oiled aluminum baking dishes.  Put 6 of the rolls in each dish, making sure they do not touch.  Spoon the remaining white sauce over each roll.  If the sauce has thickened, whisk in a little bit more half-and-half.  Spoon the meat sauce over each roll, and finally sprinkle the lasagna with additional mozzarella and/or parmesan.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Lower the heat to 350 degrees, remove the aluminum foil, add more cheese on top, and put back in the oven until the cheese is melted and the lasagna rolls are heated all the way through.

Apparently he read yesterday's blog post:  Why Does Stephen Curry Have A Hebrew Tattoo?

I was watching the game last night, and Stephen Curry is not the tattooed man, but Golden State did win Game 4, so the Finals are now two wins for each team.  We are cheering on the Eastern Conference Cavaliers, but have a new respect for Golden State and Stephen Curry.  If they do win, well, it's been a good series and both teams have been awesome.

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