Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Lasagna

Miss Two's serving

I'm not having a great amount of luck with my Pioneer Woman's recipes I've tried. Her site is full of great sounding dishes, and lovely clear step-by-step photos, and thousands of comments from happy cooks. But I'm afraid they just don't do it for me. I tried the Apple Dumplings, and while they were diet-destroyingly good, DP had one, and didn't think that much of them. Likewise with her Lasagna. It was very nice, but I feel I've had nicer, and although it's touted as having caused marriage proposals, I think I could make a nicer one. Ok, so I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but we don't have breakfast sausage here, and I straight out refuse to buy or eat powered Kraft Parmesan cheese. Two points I'd like to make right here to all the Americans reading, and I say this knowing full well it may put some of you off my blog forever, but it needs to be said. Cheese is not orange, and it is not a powder. Sorry. I'll get off my soap box now.

Ok, anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity to show you all how I cook these days. It's all very sophisticated. At our last house I used to just bring the recipe up on my computer screen and then run in and out of the computer room to the kitchen while I was cooking to consult the recipe. I was connected to a printer, but it only printed with special ink, and I couldn't use the network printer for some reason. Well, those days are gone. I can print through the network on the laser printer now, and all my recipes go on the fridge while I'm cooking.

Miss Two underneath my printed out recipe

I'll let you go to Pioneer Woman's site for the recipe, since she made it up it only seems fair to let her get the traffic for it. But I did make a few tweaks. I can't help myself, even when I try so hard to copy a recipe it ends up different.

To start with, the quantities seemed very high, so I thought I'd make two smaller ones, after all, I'm not feeding a cowboy and who knows how many ranch hands. I also didn't precook my lasagna noodles. And they were perfectly al dente. I also substituted tarragon for the dried parsley, but only used half the amount. I was going to buy dried parsley, but DP told me not to - apparently the back yard is teeming with it. He said he'd pick me some, but I have yet to see any myself, outside or inside. I substituted grated parmesan for the powdered stuff, and full fat cottage cheese. Next time I think I'd make bechamel sauce, it's really not that hard, and add fresh parmesan to that, as it gave slight flavour to the white which is normally quite bland. I didn't dislike the cottage cheese, but it didn't do anything spectacular for the flavour either.

I almost followed the recipe for assembly, I placed a layer of noodles, then the cottage cheese mixture, then grated mozzarella (because I've never seen mozzarella slices here), but then I placed a layer of noodles in between the cheese and meat, because the two shouldn't meet in a lasagna - well, that's just the way my mum did it. I prefer nice thick layers too, so I only attempted one layer each of meat and cheese, especially as I was splitting the lot between two pans. The one we had tonight also got a layer of baby spinach inbetween the cottage cheese mix and the mozzarella, just because I thought it would be nice. I didn't put it in the other pan though, because I didn't think it would freeze well. Pity, because it cut through the richness a little.
On top of the meat, I used the rest of the mozzarella, plus what was left over of a bag of grated tasty I had in the fridge, and a few handfuls of the grated parmesan for good measure.

This was incredibly tasty, but mostly because of the mozzarella and parmesan. I think in future I'd make a bechamel sauce, and use my usual pasta sauce recipe for the meat part, perhaps with some basil (now that I have it in the house) and some tarragon... have I mentioned this week yet how much I'm loving that herb at the moment? lol

Before baking