29 March 2009

Daring Bakers: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

• Recipe's origins: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from "The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food"
• Recipe's orginator: Lynne Rossetto Kasper
• Our hostess: Mary of Beans and Caviar

• Our co-hostesses Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

As much as I love being a part of the Daring Bakers, I've often felt there's too many challenges involving sweet baking. Don't get me wrong, I love cakes and cookies and pies and whotnots, but I think it's important to remember that savoury baking can require just as much skill and patience as sweet offerings.
Is savoury baking the poor cousin to much-loved and sought-after sweet baking? Not in my books.
Needless to say, I was doing a little dance of joy when I found out our lovely hostesses chose home made pasta as an integral part of our challenge.
My Dear Little Cardamummy once attempted homemade pasta. It was...umm...disgusting. I don't think she followed a recipe and what she produced was doughy and stodgy and sat in my tum like a lead-lined brick. I did my best to discourage further experiments. Whether or not she continued, I don't know as I think I've blocked all other attempts at feeding me her pasta have been blotted out of my memory.
Fast forward to this past Christmas. The lovely people at KitchenAid met with me as a follow up to their 2008 Kitchen Trends Report (Adobe Acrobat required), which I co-authored, and offered me a pasta machine attachment for my stand mixer. Of course I accepted and immediately thought of a couple of things I wanted to try it out on...pasta and non pasta alike.
Yeah, I didn't roll the pasta sheets by hand, as required in the challenge. But I had a new piece of equipment and I so very much wanted to try it out. For those of you who have been salivating over the attachment--I'm quite happy with it--after hand kneading the dough, I ran it through the rollers a few times and came up with a very lovely product.
Home made pasta is quite easy (and I'm sure if Mum had a recipe, her attempt would have been much more successful). The only thing I would do differently is purée the spinach instead of finely chiffonading it. The chunks were a bit large and I think was the cause for a few nervous moments of dough tearing during early rolling stages.

I used the challenge's bechamel, but substituted half the milk for heavy cream--I had some in the fridge that needed using up. My word the sauce was good. I had to be careful to keep from...ahem...oversampling.
The ragu was my own which I made and froze a few weeks before I knew about this month's challenge. Quite simply: soften diced onions, carrots and celery in olive oil, add a small tin of tomato paste and fry for a bit. 300g each ground pork, beef and veal, then a 798ml tin of unspiced puréed tomatoes and a good glug or two (or three) of red wine. Add salt, pepper and basil, stir well so the meat is nicely mixed, cover and set simmer for about an hour or so. Stir every once in a while. Check for doneness and flavour, spice as you see fit.
I didn't want an overly tall dish, so I limited my layering, reserving the rest of the pasta and sauces for future use. The finished lasagne was delicious--one of the best I've had.

To see what the other Daring Bakers did, please visit our blogroll.


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glamah16 said...

Very nice Jasmine. I like the addition of the heavy cream to the bechamel. I bet that was rich and yummy.

NKP said...

I love my KA pasta roller too - easily their best attachment.
Your lasagne looks wonderful!
I agree about the bechamel, I pretty much licked the pot clean..

Mickle in NZ said...

Oh, looking oh so scrummy. I don't have a "pasta roller" but my Folks do.

A well made lasagne is a food dish full of joy - in the pasta, the loving and long cooked meat based sauce, the veggies we smuggle in, and the delicious, smooth cheese sauce component..

I'll have to keep eating the Autumn fare in my fridge and food stocks in my freezer. Because currently is no room for storing the various suaces at their stages in the fridge, or the finished article cut into generous servings in the freezer.

Sending foodie and cooking care and huggles. At last your nasty flu style lurgi has gone.

With my dodgy health and immune system, I've already had my flu vaccine, ready for the NZ winter that lurks.

Huggles from me and super-loud purring from Zebbycat, Michelle in Wellington, NZ, xxxxxx

Marta said...

Such beautiful photos! I'm sure your version was mouth-watering!

Coco Bean said...

Hello fellow Canadian. Love your photos of this challenge! Great work.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! Your lasagne look fantastic!



Lauren said...

Mmm, your lasagne looks amazing!! Awesome job on this challenge =D.

Sheltie Girl said...

Simply gorgeous lasagne! I wish I could put my fork into the screen and try out a bite.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Jenny said...

Looks good!
(Have you registered with the new site yet though, cause we have new graphics now. Email me if you need help finding them!)

Celeste said...

Your lasagne looks awesome! Great job on this month's challenge!