Thursday, March 11, 2010

fire + roll

Profuse apologies to start. Oh, I know I promised 3+ weeks ago that I'd post every Monday, but time has been marching along, and then all of a sudden Monday, March 8th marched right across my face, as did March 9th and 10th. Whoops. Thanks to those who have been nudging (or prodding) (or kicking) me to update. I have a really good note from my doctor to explain my absence. Her name is Dpie, I hadn't seen her in almost 2 years, and we just spent a REALLY fabulous weekend (+ 3 days) together!

How, you ask?

Well...there was Cheeseboard. Fenton's. Lobster noodle/dim sum. The Dairy. And s'mores.

(Una and I enjoyed getting our knees seared by the crazy person-eating fire!) (Thanks to The Ranch brothers for being our Boy Scouts...and for the picture)

Dpie and I then proceeded to my lovely hometown, where we promptly got put to work on one of the most delicious things I've eaten thus far. Exaggeration? Hardly.

One day, The Mother and I were sitting around watching afternoon TV, and that hot mama of Italian cooking came on...yes, Giada and her ginormous head filled our small screen, and we were transfixed. As she talked, our eyes grew bigger and bigger, and we quickly jumped in the car the second the episode ended to get the necessary ingredients for dinner that night. Say what you will about Food Network celebrities; Giada knows what she's doing, and I'm so on board.

The Mother also makes her own sauce, so that just equals double delish. (Here, I am attempting to document the remains of our taste testing) (PS most of these photos are by Llamapie; isn't she talented?!)

I'll be honest with you; the lasagna rolls are mildly labor intensive. But I want you to know this, from every taste bud in my mouth to yours: worth it. Worth it, worth it, worth it!!!

Lasagna Rolls
(adapted from Giada's hotness)

marinara sauce
The most I could get out of the Mother (she's a secretive one) was this: chop up a bunch of onions, celery, carrots, and garlic pretty finely. Saute that all in a pot with some olive oil. When the veggies are soft, dump in 2-3 big cans of whole tomatoes (crushed is fine as well). Smash them with the back of the spoon you're stirring the sauce with. Simmer on low for a couple hours, season with salt and pepper as needed. At some point, pop in a couple cubes of frozen basil (or fresh if you've got it, of course).

lasagna part
1 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 oz. prosciutto, chopped
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of a package of lasagna noodles
1 8 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced

Preheat oven to 450. Grease a 13x9 pan.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, parmesan, egg, salt, and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt it and add a little oil to it (I never do this normally, but it really does help for lasagna noodles). (You can pull out the noodles a couple minutes short of the recommended cooking time, since they'll be spending some time in the oven anyway. Just make sure they're pliable enough for rolling.) While the noodles are boiling, make the bechamel.

bechamel sauce
2 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk
salt to taste
pepper too
pinch of nutmeg

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk for a couple minutes until golden brown. Whisk in milk and increase heat to medium-high. Keep whisking, add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. At some point the sauce will thicken and become wonderful and creamy. When that happens, remove from heat and pour the sauce into the prepared 13x9 pan to coat the bottom.

Back to the rolls. As the noodles finish cooking, remove from water with tongs and lay on a plate or other large flat surface. Take a big spoonful of the ricotta spinach mixture and drop it toward the end of one noodle, rolling the rest of the noodle around the ball of ricotta. (I find this easier than spreading the mixture down the length of the noodle before rolling.) Arrange lasagna rolls in bechamel-lined pan.

Spoon marinara sauce (homemade or otherwise) on top and around the lasagna rolls. Lay slices of fresh mozzarella on top and sprinkle with additional Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake until sauce is bubbly, around 20 minutes. Uncover and let the cheese melt and get all golden and melty, maybe another 15 minutes. And yes, you should probably make plans to double this recipe now. Go ahead and buy the 30 oz. container of ricotta!

Name a place/person of random inspiration for you! (I know, Giada is not the most random person, nor the Food Network the most random place in the world for inspiration, but humor me, please!)


  1. YES! Those Lasagna roll things are awesome. I plan to share this recipe with my small group this week!! Oh yea, and I made the apricot scone things..and they did not look or taste very scone like. My friends were all laughing at me because they came out looking like fat COOKIES! I don't think I added enough flour...

    All this to say that my weekend at your house was a food lover's dreaaam and I've tried/trying to replicate it since my return to good ol' Emeryville. Come play sometime very soon Steph! We have lots of adventures to embark on..clap clap clap!!

  2. giada is the best :)

  3. also, Momma Lai and Baby Lai did everything. i just stirred. so i would hardly call that labor-intensive.

  4. Laura: I want to come see you in E-ville soon!! Let's make that dinner with Leslie, Khanh, and Donna happen.

    Erin: Great Minds Think Like Giada?!

    DP: why yous gotta be so far aways from meeeee. Also, you took the photos! Labor intensive for sure.

  5. why do I read you blog... it makes my tummy angry at me for depriving it of such wonderfulness... and my eyes sad for having not seen Giada in years!!

    i'll get back to you on the inspiration thing... gots to think abouts it

  6. Nice tips for foods, I will try it latter.


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