Monday, December 8, 2008

Mmmmm Lasagna and Homemade French Bread

Yesterday being my day off, I thought I'd try my hand at homemade French Bread to go with my homemade Lasagna. Whenever I make Lasagna or spaghetti I love to run across the street and pick up a loaf of warm French Bread from Albertsons to serve with dinner. All things bread and butter are certainly my weakness. If I had to live on bread and butter alone, I would be all too willing to do it. This recipe took a little time, but was really quite easy. I don't mind recipes that take time if I can get things done whilst I make it and with this bread I could. The only problem I ran into with my bread was that I was all out of eggs so instead of doing an egg wash on top of my bread I just used some olive oil. I think that may be why it didn't brown as much as it should have. Needless to say, I was quite proud of myself for making it at home as opposed to running across the street and buying it from the store and it made for a yummy dinner and a yummy smelling house!

Grandma’s French Bread
from The Sister's Cafe

2 ¼ c. warm water
2 T. sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
5 ½ -6 cups flour-stirred before measured

Dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. Let this proof—or sit for a few minutes until it bubbles. Then add salt, oil and 3 cups of flour and beat well. Add in 2 1/2 -3 more cups of flour. The dough should clean off the sides of the bowl and not be too stick - but be careful not to add too much flour. Knead for a few minutes.

Leave the dough in the mixer to rest for 10 minutes and then stir it down (turn on your mixer for 10 seconds) and then allow to rest another 10 minutes. Repeat for a total of 5 times. Then turn dough onto a floured surface and divide into two equal parts. Roll each part into a 9x13 rectangle. Roll dough up, starting from long edge of loaf to seal. Arrange seam side down on large baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with corn meal, allowing room for both loaves. Repeat with second part of dough. With a sharp knife, cut 3 gashes at an angle on the top of each. Cover lightly; allow to rise 30 minutes. Brush entire surface with egg wash (one egg beaten slightly with 1 Tbsp of water). If desired, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Nats Homemade Lots a Layers Lasagna

1 Package of oven ready Lasagna sheets
1 container of Ricotta cheese (can use reduced fat if you want)
2 eggs lightly beaten
touch of salt
touch of pepper
1 Tbl spoon dried basil
2 cups of parmesan cheese (I only use freshly grated)
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
1 cup of cheddar cheese ( I use sharp)
1 cup of milk
olive oil
1 pound of hamburger meat (you could use more if you like more meat)
2 cans or containers of marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.

Step one- Brown hamburger meat in a small amount of oil (I always use olive oil) until no longer pink. Season with a little salt and pepper. Once meat is cooked through add the two containers of marinara sauce. Set aside.

Step two- In a small bowl, mix container of ricotta cheese, two eggs (lightly beaten) dried basil, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and one cup of parmesan cheese. Set aside

Step three- To make cheese sauce melt 2 tbl spoons of butter in a saucepan. Once butter is melted add 2 tbl spoons of flour to make a paste. Add 1 cup of milk to paste and whisk until smooth (stirring constantly). When white sauce begins to thicken add one cup of cheddar cheese. Once cheese is melted set aside.

To layer lasagna begin with a small amount of red meat sauce mixture on the bottom of Lasagna pan. Sprinkle a small amount of parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top of red sauce mixture. Follow with a layer of noodles. On top of the noodles carefully spread some of the ricotta cheese mixture (be sure not to use too much so that you have enough for all layers). On top of the ricotta mixture spread another thin layer of the red sauce mixture and repeat. First red sauce, sprinkle with cheeses, layer of lasagna noodles, ricotta mixture, red sauce, layer of cheeses, noodles and repeat until you have used all lasagna noodles.

Bake at 380 for 45 minutes. When cooked remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes so as to allow cheese to set up. (I'm never good at this part!)

Depending on how big and deep your lasagna pan is this recipe can make two lasagna dishes. One bigger one and one small. The deepest dish I have for lasagna is a 2 quart oval shaped corn ware dish. From this recipe I can usually make a 2 quart sized lasagna and a 1.5 quart sized lasagna. Depending on how deep the dish is, this recipe could probably make one 9x13 sized lasagna.

Note- For ease in layering the lasagna noodles, I boil them until they become flexible prior to making the lasagna, cool them on foil and then cut them to fit the pan. I am yet to find the perfect lasagna dish and so use this method so that I don't have to worry about trying to break the noodles whilst hard. That never seems to work out for me.

ARGH!!! My crappy camera does not do close up's well at all. Please pardon the pics of my Lasagna.

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