Thursday, September 20, 2012

Victoria's Lasagna

Victoria's Kitchen

Recently I lost a life long friend to cancer. She didn't cook often anymore due to her hectic lifestyle, and no longer responsible for feeding her now grown up children. She did however take a couple of cooking classes to pass the time. Prior to her passing I learned that one of the things that she did enjoy making was her lasagna. The reason that she made it was that her two son's just loved it, and in her family lasagna was considered comfort food. 
She knew that I was working on my cookbook and blog and would often assist by doing an edit for me. We decided to work on her lasagna recipe so that she could pass it on to her sons. Victoria told me that her lasagna had a spicy sauce, almost like a  Cioppino. The comments are her own, or her family and shows how the recipe has changed in her family over the years.  
I decided that sharing her recipe would be a fitting way to say goodbye. 
1 small can Anchovies
1/4 cup Olive oil
5 cloves Garlic, minced
2 whole Bay leaves 
1 rib (stalk) Celery, chopped
1 medium Onion, diced
1  cup Red wine*  
2 tablespoons Red wine vinegar
to taste Basil, fresh, chopped
to taste Oregano, fresh chopped
to taste Italian parsley, chopped
8 whole Tomatoes, fresh, seeded, diced
1 can Tomato paste 12 oz.
2 tablespoons Lemon juice, fresh
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (for kick)
1 teaspoons Red pepper flakes (for kick)
1  teaspoons Fennel, crushed
1/4 cup Sugar (my dad’s idea)
2 tablespoons Butter (my dad’s idea)
1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
NOTE: *Any inexpensive red wine will do. If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it.
In a pot, warm up the anchovies in the olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and a couple of bay leaves. Add in the celery, onions, and sauté until tender but not browned. When the mixture becomes fragrant, stir in the wine and vinegar. When hot stir in the some fresh chopped basil, rosemary, oregano, and Italian parsley. Once the mixture begins to reduce, add in the diced tomatoes. Let all simmer until the tomatoes look saucy. Taste and add in more basil, parsley, oregano and rosemary to your taste. Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce (for kick again), and red pepper flakes. I also put in the fennel seeds that I sort of roll over first with the back of a spoon. Let this simmer till it looks saucy again, and then add one 12 oz. can of tomato paste. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar or more to taste. Stir in the butter and a 1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese (daddy’s addition). The sauce is finished.
Making Victoria's Lasagna
1 pound Ground beef, lightly cooked, drained
1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage, cooked, drained
1 pound Hot Italian Sausage, cooked, drained
Italian Sausage
NOTE: Meanwhile, I’ve lightly cooked 1 pound of ground beef, 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, and 1 pound of hot Italian sausage.

While the sauce is cooking, place the ground beef into a pan and cook until no longer pink. In another pan cooked the sausages completely. Drain the excess fat from the ground beef and the sausages. Set this to the side.  
1 12 oz. container Ricotta cheese (do not drain)
1 12 oz. container Cottage cheese (do not drain)
1 whole Egg, beaten
1/2 medium Onion, medium, diced
1/2 pound Spinach, fresh torn
as needed Basil, fresh torn
as needed Oregano, fresh
1 pound Mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced thin
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (shredded) 
as needed Olive oil
as needed Lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
In a bowl, mix together the un-drained Ricotta and cottage cheese, egg, onion, basil, and spinach. 
Ready for oven
Cover the bottom of two 9”x13” pans with olive oil. Spread a layer of sauce on the bottom, then dry lasagna noodles, overlapping each piece slightly. Add more sauce and then a layer of the cheese mixture, then layer of cooked meats, then layer of mozzarella. Go back and forth with all this till the end, then top with more sauce, more meat (if you have any left) and Parmesan Reggiano. Cover with tin foil and cook at 375 for about 45 minutes, checking to see if it is getting brown on the sides of the noodles. If so, you can add some hot water. Uncover and cook 10 more minutes. Voila!
As a final note with the recipe she said, "we’re having this tomorrow night with a Gorgonzola and Romaine salad, garlic bread, and Italian cookies for dessert. Can you smell it all from there?"
Ciao my friend
© TMelle 2012

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