We begin a series of titles for our little bloggery that focus on great literature…those of us who live in Mississippi will understand this attention on our reading habits (or not) as of late. Those who do not live in this oft-maligned state need only know that a recent remark by a very famous author about Mississippians and our literari-ness left us with raised hackles.
Well, we are FINALLY seeing a light at the end of the remodeling tunnel here in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen!! And BOY HOWDY are we GLAD on an ELFIN scale. We have been doin’ the best we can with the chaos but enough is enough! We LOVE the new look (and we’ll share pics next week) and have taken some steps to de-clutter our clutteriness. Even though we HAVE cooked some during this week, we wanted to focus on one particular recipe because it was good and there are a few warts. We are sharing the link to the recipe but be forewarned that the person walking through the recipe (John Joseph) uses some profanity and phrases that can be/are pretty offensive. Be also advised that you may have to watch a commercial first.
The dish is a vegan lasagna, so nothing new or revolutionary about that. However, the intriguing component, to your Elf, was the sauce. We’d never seen sauce prepared with the ingredients he uses as well as the ingredients he did NOT use. And, this recipe makes a seriously LARGE pan of lasagna so feel free to half it or use smaller pans to have one (or two) to freeze. First, we melted some vegan butter and a little EVOO together
then added some of the most unusual ingredients for Italian cooking we’ve ever seen. We found a shot glass to put our spices in and it actually made a pretty nice picture. From the bottom up, we had turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds, sea salt and red pepper flakes.
These spices were added to the heated oil and allowed to bloom with the heat.
As soon as the mustard seeds began to pop, we added a can of Fire-Roasted tomatoes AND a fourth cup of BLACKSTRAP MOLASSES!!
Now, in the video, John uses fresh Roma tomatoes but frankly, we like the Fire-Roasted just as well and a can is a lot easier to open and pour. That got all stirred up and heated. Next up, we added some Italian herbs such as oregano, basil, and thyme and let them open up their flavors.
THEN, we added 10 (YEP TEN) cups of an organic vegan pasta sauce, turned down the heat and let that simmer for about 30 minutes.
Your Elf has made many a pasta/spaghetti/marinara sauce in her lengthening lifetime but this was a first. NO GARLIC, NO ONION, NO MUSHROOMS. But you have to admit, it’s really pretty! While the sauce was simmering, we steamed two broccoli crowns and two zucchinis until they were crisp tender. Poured them into a bowl and used our “Subway Chopped Salad Chopper” to, well, chop 'em up. SEE!
Next time, we will use an additional broccoli crown as this layer tends to cook down. Anyway, we set this aside and started on yet another layer…the ‘meat’ layer. We used two bags of Boca Crumbles and browned them. THEN we added the ricotta we made from scratch the day before, compliments of The Minimalist Baker.
We squished all this up, along with some Daiya Mozzarella shreds and set aside.
A word about the ricotta, it turned out quite nicely but we know what we will do differently next time. First of all, we will add more lemon juice and a wee bit more water. AND most certainly some herbs such as basil or oregano. We chose NOT to add herbs for this batch as we did not want to be too ‘herbally tasting’ when everything was cooked. We will also add more nutritional yeast…that really will boost the cheesy taste. The additional fresh lemon will help with more tartness and the water will help with blending it more smoothly. In any event, in the video, you are advised to get the Kite Hill Ricotta (3 tubs of it at a hefty price tag). First of all, we couldn’t find the Kite Hill Ricotta at Whole Paycheck, oops, Foods and second of all, we really didn’t want to blow an entire week’s food budget on a dish that may or may not work!!
Ok, here’s where we got off the rails a bit; we got so excited about putting all the layers together, we FORGOT to take pictures…damn! What we DO have is the next to final layer..first layer was lasagna noodles and the ‘meat’/mozzarella mixture, then a good layering of sauce. And BY THE WAY…the sauce is DELICIOUS!! Then another layer of noodles topped by the steamed and chopped veggies AND we opted for a big bunch of power greens instead of ‘just’ spinach. That was topped with more sauce!
The final layer was more noodles and sauce. We then covered the pan(s) with heavy duty foil and baked for an hour in a 350º convection oven. In the video, John suggests 350º to 375º oven, so we figured the lower end with the convection running would be about right. Well, that’s a yes and no…we’ll address that later. After an hour, we took the pans out of the oven, took off the foil added some Daiya Mozzarella shreds and returned to the oven for about 15 minutes, as instructed. Well, we had a final picture but for the LIFE of Your Elf, we cannot get it to load, so you'll just have to settle for a final verdict. We will also post the picture on our Elf Facebook page so you can at least refer to it.
First of all, the flavors, for the most part are wonderful. The sauce, we swear, is beyond what we imagined it would be with the rather odd line-up of ingredients. We can only predict that it will freeze well as we did have some left over. It is a hefty meal that can be paired with some good garlic bread and a salad for a true feast. Now, for the ‘warts’ and there were some, easily correctable but if you know at the get-go, you won’t have to deal with them. In the video, John says you do not have to pre-cook the lasagna noodles but just rinse them off. We actually soaked ours for about 5 minutes in warm water before placing them in the pan. The middle layer of noodles did just fine…however, the bottom and top layer did not. They were on the chewier side of chewy and we were not pleased; and the top layer was really tough. That’s where we think the convection option may have played a role…maybe we should have cooked at a lower temperature. So, what we will most likely do is pre-cook the noodles (really al denté) and not use the convection option. Secondly, as much as we LOVE the Daiya block cheddar cheese, their Mozzarella just doesn’t give you the a great mozzarella taste or a cheese-worthy melt. Bottom line, we wound up removing the top/bottom noodles and then enjoyed the hell out of it. Even Big Solid said he thought the flavors were good…notably absent was “OH MAN, THIS IS AWESOME!” But for a man who does not like Lasagna to begin with, this is progress.
Our final picture is of a great Moroccan Red Lentil soup…this is one of our favorite soups as it’s full of goodness and LOTS of kick.
Here's the link.
We were out of HARISSA, which we ALWAYS add, so we used BERBERE—slightly different but still a powerhouse spice blend.
We anticipate that this new week ahead will find us BACK at home in our Kinky Elfery Kitchen, cookin’ up a storm. OH!! We almost forgot…we discovered last week that our beloved Cusinart Food Processor was one of the models recalled for a potentially hazardous blade! We also understand that replacement blades have been woefully, repeat, WOEFULLY, long in being sent out. Well, we cannot do without the Food Processor, so it stands to reason to…what? BUY A NEW ONE!! So, we are expecting little to no slowdown in cookery as of Monday when the new one is arriving!! YOWZA!!
And that’s our Elfin wordiness for this week. We look forward to talking with y’all again soon but in the meantime remember always to Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can.’ DO EPIC and evil will never win!