Monday, August 23, 2010

What's for Supper?

Most of the meals I make now are one-pot meals. They look like a lot of fuss but are incredibly easy to make, like this Skillet Lasagna.  AJ and I invited Richard and John to dinner, our first guests! Also on the menu, Spinach Salad and Chocolate Sponge Cake with Strawberries. I adapted the Skillet Lasagna recipe from an America's Test Kitchen recipe, changing the diced tomatoes to seasoned, using ground turkey, and increasing the red pepper flakes to 1/4 teaspoon.
Skillet Lasagna

1 (28 ounce) can diced seasoned tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion minced
1 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
8 ounces (10) curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 ounce (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces (1 cup) whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil for garnish

Pour tomatoes and juice into a quart measuring cup. Add enough water to equal 4 cups. This means to add the equivalent of 1/2 cup water. 

Heat the oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet until shimmering. Add the onions and salt and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add ground meat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, to break up the large chunks. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the noodle pieces evenly over the top of the cooked meat. Pour on top of the noodles the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer. Occasionally push the wooden spoon on the bottom to loosen the meat and noodles. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the noodles are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should look watery after 15 minutes of cooking. If it doesn't, add 1/4 cup more water.

Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dot heaping tablespoons of ricotta all over the noodles. Cover and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve, passing the extra Parmesan cheese.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

We ate the lasagna with a side of strawberry spinach salad tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. This recipe is from my sister Ardis, a kindred foodie!

1 bowl of washed baby spinach leaves
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup almond slivers
3/4 cup cranberry raisins
Balsamic vinaigrette

Combine ingredients except balsamic vinaigrette. Just before serving, add the vinaigrette.

Chocolate Sponge Cake
This recipe comes from the South Beach Diet cookbook so we didn't have to guilt ourselves out too much! It turned out a tad overmixed and the chocolate ribbons were sort of splotchy,  but it tasted fine nevertheless.

7 egg whites
1/3 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm temperature

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Have ready a two-piece tube cake pan.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until soft peaks form.

In another large bowl, combine egg yolks and vanilla. Use a slotted skimmer to gently combine the two mixtures. First, fold in 1/3 of the meringue mixture to the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the remaining meringue all at once.  Do not over mix. Sift the cup of flour on top of the batter and gently fold in. Gently fold in the cooled butter. Spoon into the tube cake pan. Smooth the top and bake, 40-45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Cool in the pan upside down, about 40 minutes. My pan has little legs to rest on the counter-top. If your pan doesn't have them, stick the center tube over the neck of a thin bottle to elevate it off the counter top. When it is cooled, run a thin knife blade around the edges and the center tube to loosen the cake. Remove the center column by inserting a knife between the bottom and the cake.

Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler over hot but not boiling water. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Drizzle over cooled cake in a zig zag pattern.

2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar

Toss strawberries and sugar together in a bowl. Let sit about 30 minutes to macerate. The strawberries will start to release their juices. Serve with slices of warm chocolate sponge cake.

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