If you freak, eat cake

The kitchen sister is freaking. I can’t find a few months of receipts for the tax man, my son doesn’t want to go to school anymore, my body is aging faster than some psycho science experiment, and there is dust in this house that laughs in my face when I walk in the door. On the bright side, it’s sunny, and I’m making a cake.

How could applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting not make me happy? Or devil’s food with thick chocolate frosting, yum. But I’ll tell you what I want, it’s a soft as silk yellow cake filled with sugared strawberries, and slathered with fresh whipped cream. One of my favorite cookbooks ever for cake is called “Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook”. I got it for 99 cents on the street, and thank the good Lord that the mold and water that ate almost every one of my other cookbooks stored in the basement, didn’t get that one. I keep it next to me bed. In there, they tell you that the secret to a light cake is to slowly rub the sugar into the softened butter, bit by bit. This is true, and you might be thinking that you have no time for this kind of craziness, but think about a kiss. It’s the same thing. Sometimes it’s worth the extra minutes for the life experience.

Be sure that your butter is room temperature. Beat one cup around the bowl with your hand or a wooden spoon until smooth. Add two cups of sugar, a few Tablespoons at a time, using your fingers to rub it into the butter, until it is smooth. Add 5 eggs, one at a time, (bring them to room temp by resting them in a bowl of warm water before cracking them). Whisk each one in, again with your hand, a wooden spoon, or electric mixer. In another bowl, sift three times, and then measure, 3 cups of flour. Add one Tablespoon of baking powder. Add this alternately with one and a quarter cups of milk, starting and ending with the flour. Grease and flour two 9 inch pans. Bake the cakes in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

Cut up a pint of strawberries, sprinkle with sugar, and add a Tablespoon of fresh orange juice. Whip a pint of heavy cream, just until ever so soft peaks form. When the cakes are cool, cover one with the strawberries, top with the remaining cake, and cover the whole thing with cream. If you like sweet cream, just add a little 10X sugar, and a teeny weeny bit of pure vanilla.

If you still need to make dinner, how about easy peasy tomato soup; just get a few whole cloves of garlic golden in your best olive oil, throw in about four red pepper flakes and a sprig of fresh rosemary with a little chopped parsley, and when everything is smelling delicous, add a 28 ounce can of crushed tomaotes. Let this cook for thirty minutes with a pinch of salt, and then spin it around in the food proceesor or use your immersion blender to smooth it out. Add whole milk until it is a lovely creamy color, taste for salt and pepper, and bring to a gentle simmer. Grate in a little parmesan and serve with cheese on toast or leftover turkey from the other day with a salad of raw carrots, celery, radishes, red peppers, steamed string beans, and olives with a little olive oil and vinegar drizzled over the top.

If you have to choose between dinner and cake, I say make the cake.

Get your love shoes on

If anybody really looked closely, they would notice that I have been wearing the same pair of jeans for a week. Ferdinand has a good three inches of wrist between the end of his shirt sleeve and his hand. I can’t shop. I lose my breath just getting close to a clothing store, and shopping on the web is like pulling teeth without any anesthetic. It’s not that I don’t like new clothes–I love new clothes–the truth is I’m cheap and I HAVE NO TIME. I will buy anything that looks like it might have hope, and I dont’ care what it costs. Then I get home, and I think, I could have bought a weeks groceries with this money, and who cares what I’m wearing really? Fine enough for me, but it’s not right that poor Ferd looks like the miniature version of the hulk. I have written it in my calendar to take care of the situation on Thursday. I’m calling the dentist, I’m doing my taxes, and I’m going to buy some clothes for myself and my son. I’m taking my tissues with me, in case I start to cry anywhere along the way. I tell you these things just in case you are wondering how it’s possible that I cook every night. I have a list of mandatory chores a mile long, left undone. My life goes something like this: why make a bed when you can make a turkey pot pie?

Don’t forget what I told you yesterday about turkey pot pie. Get your love shoes on.
In case you haven’t had a chance to roast a bird, you don’t have to in order to get a good Turkey Pot Pie. If you’re good to it, the turkey will be delicious just by gently simmering it with a few “odori”, or basically things that are going to add flavor to the water that the turkey is cooking in. If you want to, you can change the basic ingredient all together and poach some chicken breasts instead of a turkey breast in a lot less time. Whatever kind of bird you are using, get it in a pot with plenty of fresh water and bring it to a boil. Reserve the bird, and throw out the water. Start all over, with fresh water, and this time, along with the turkey or chicken, add an onion, a bay leaf, a carrot, a stalk of celery, a spring of parsley, and whatever else you like to put in there. Simmer this over low heat, uncovered for however long it takes for the meat to be cooked through, or to 150 degrees.

Remove the bird, and allow to cool. In another pan, make a roux of half butter, and half flour, about three Tablespoons of each. Whisk them together over low heat until the flour is cooked, but not brown. Add a pinch of salt, and then a little at a time, add the stock that you made. I like to add the first bit off the heat, until the mixture looks more liquidy than like paste. Turn the fire back on, and add about two cups of stock in total, whisking the whole time to make a slightly thickened sauce. Peel and chop a few carrots, and a few potatotes. I cook the carrots in the strained stock that I have left over with a little SALT added. When the carrots are almost soft, I add the potatoes. Be sure to cut both relatively small so that they don’t take forever to cook.

For the top of the pie you can either make your favorite pie crust, or I like to make biscuits. Just work 6 Tablespoons of cold chopped butter, into 2 cups of flour, half a teaspoon of salt, a Tablespoon of baking powder, and a teaspoon of sugar, with your fingertips. Add about two thirds of a cup of whole milk. Work this around with your hand until you don’t see any more flour.

Pull off the chicken from the bones, and add it to the warming sauce that you made. Get all of this into a baking dish, something like a lasagna pan if you are making a big one, or an 8 inch pan, if you are just making a little one. With a slotted spoon, remove the carrots and potatoes from the stock when they are soft, and add them to the chicken. Throw in a few spoonfuls of frozen peas, and if you need more liquid, just spoon in a little more stock. Gently fold everything together, and drop the biscuit batter on top in lumps. It is important that your oven is hot (400 degrees) and that the sauce is brought back to a simmer before you add the turkey and everything else. This way the biscuits will cook properly. Otherwise, you could always just heat up the turkey mixture in the oven on its own, and bake the biscuits separately on a sheet pan.

Be prepared for random expressions of love.

Just a note, I have no problem shopping for shoes.

Cook BIG

If you can roll up your sleeves and show your tatoos, Monday is a great day to kick frozen dinners to the curb and get a turkey in the oven. You don’t have to buy one the size and temperature of our frozen state up north, just buy a turkey breast. A six pound breast will roast in just over an hour, and will keep you happy until Wednesday with sandwiches, what-to-eat-from-the-fridge-at-midnight, and how about turkey pot pie? Did you know that some people are known to have married other people because they could make turkey pot pie? I don’t recommend it, I’m just telling you the facts, and I’ll tell you how to do it tomorrow, when you have all of that extra meat ready to be pulled off the bones.
Because it’s so cold outside, it would be a good thing to make gravy, and maybe some sauteed swiss chard with garlic, some mashed sweet potatoes with butter, and how about corn bread? I love corn bread. And black eyed peas! For salad you could just slice up an avocado and serve it with watercress and grape tomatoes.
For the turkey, PULL OUT EVERYTHING THAT IS INSIDE. Throw the neck into a sauce pan with an onion cut in half, a carrot, a piece of celery, a bay leaf, a sprig of parsley, or whatever you have out of that list. Let this cook until the turkey is ready. Do not wash the turkey, (this only spreads any kind of bacterial growth that might be on the skin) just blot it well with paper towels. Season the turkey all over, inside and out with kosher salt, cut a whole head of garlic in half horizontally, and set that into a baking pan that has been glistened with olive oil. Add a few sprigs of rosemary, and set the turkey on top. Roast in a 375 degree oven, adding a few Tablespoons of water after the first fifteen minutes. Continue to baste with water every fifteen to twenty minutes until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees in the thickest part. Over a 150 degreese kills everything, and if you cook it much longer, you get very dry meat. Remove all the fat you can from the liquid in the bottom, and discard. Make a roux by combining a few Tablespoons of butter, and a few Tablespoons of flour in a heavy saute pan. Whisk around until the flour is cooked, (about two to three minutes). Add a pinch of salt, and then ladle in your turkey stock, a bit at a time, off the heat, whisking constantly, until the flour mixture is smooth and more liquid than paste. Now it’s safe to add a good cup of stock without getting lumps. Put the fire back under the pot, and simmer until the gravy is as thick as you like it; add the reserved cooking liquid from the turkey to taste.
For the cornbread, use your favorite recipe, or make creamed corn! Reduce a half pint of heavy cream with a garlic clove and a sprig of thyme (or just the garlic) over a low flame until the garlic clove is soft. Add two small boxes of frozen corn, and season with salt and pepper.
Make the mashed sweet potatoes, the same way you would make regular potatoes, crowding them into a pan, and getting the water, just to the top of the potatoes. Make sure the water is seasoned with salt, and cook them over low heat until fork tender. Add butter and a little milk.
Cut up half an onion and cook it slowly over low to medium heat with a whole clove of garlic, and a sprig of marjoram. If you have a red pepper, chop it finely and throw it in. Season with salt, some red pepper flakes, and add a well rinsed can of black eyed peas. For liquid, either add about a half of a cup of your turkey stock, or just plain water. Finish with a little chopped parsley and a drizzle of your best olive oil.
When all this done, and you are still feeling like Betty Crocker with big muscles, you can make a fruit crumble. Cut up six pears or apples, forget peeling them, just get the cores out, and set them in a pan. Over the top sprinkle a mixture of half a cup of brown sugar, a quarter cup of cold cut up butter, one cup of flour, and a pinch of salt. If you like cinnamon, add it either to the fruit with a quarter cup of sugar. Bake at 350 degrees.

Sauce on Sunday

I know that I don’t usually post on a Sunday, but I came up with a delicious idea last night when I was making sauce for dinner, (that my husband never made it home to eat), and there is nothing better than a big pot of sauce simmering away on a Sunday. Sauce with a lot of depth can require a lot of work. My friend Gilda starts at 7 o’clock in the morning and doesn’t finish until 7 at night. There are all kinds of things involved with her sauce, meatballs, and secrets, and I would say love for more than everyone on her block. Her regular batch takes up the entire stove and must be enough to feed sixty four people. She lives alone, but the first Thursday of every month is sauce night at Gilda’s; she doesn’t care who you are, if she sees you coming, you’re eatin’ sauce at her house.
Cooking a meat sauce for a good bit of time is important to develop flavor, but you don’t have to go the twelve hour route. At least two though; if you have two hours, you’re all right.
Cut up a medium sized yellow onion, and get your best olive oil in the pan. Throw in three whole cloves of garlic, and give them a little color. Add the onion, and over low heat, cook the onion a good fifteen minutes. This is critical. Add a sprig of rosemary, a bay leaf, a pound of beef (or even better a mix of beef, veal and pork), seaason with salt, and here’s my idea: a couple of raw chicken bones! The other night when I roasted off some chicken breasts, I cut off the rib cages first, and froze them. You can just as easily add a few raw wings or a chicken leg for the same effect. Brown the meat and chicken bones slowly. When the ground meat is completely cooked through, strain the whole pot over the sink, to get rid of the fat. Put it all back in the pan, and add a 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, a can of water, a piece of carrot, a little piece of celery, and a few Tablespoons of roughly chopped parsley.
Cook this, stirring every once in a while until you can’t resist it any more. If you want to make it decadent, off the heat, add a few Tablespoons of heavy cream at the end and a good grating of your best parmesan. Don’t forget to take out the bones, the bay leaf, and the rosemary sprig.
This is really good with gnocchi, and if you come to my class in Italy I’ll show you how to make them!
I have added another week, June 10th to the 17th at Villa Giaggioli, just twenty minutes from Florence. Write me for details. Some nights we’ll be cooking in the kitchen, and some nights, we will be cooking under the stars.

I’m dreaming.

I’m dreaming of my perfect dinner tonight, and I think it would be a fondue with Grueyere and some little side dishes of roasted leeks, one of roasted corn with shallot, one of caramelized baby onions, and tiny little arugula leaves with a mustard, parsley, and red vinegar dressing. And wine. And a fire. And then for dessert, I would love an apple tart with caramelized apples and ever so softly whipped cream.
The reality is, I had a fight with my husband and we are having turkey meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Maybe I’ll make some escarole and garlic to go with it. But I’m not making tarts. And I’m not lighting any candles, not even under a fondue pot. Anyway, I don’t even have a fondue pot. I need a fondue pot. I know I have no time to be making fondue, and no energy to be building fires or stirring a little fork around in a cheese sauce, but some day I’m going to, and I’m going to be ready for it.

Turkey meatloaf doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I like to serve it with roasted tomatoes. Just pour about a quarter cup of heavy cream over a half a cup of breadcrumbs made from a crusty loaf of bread, and let it get mushy. Add a pound of ground turkey. Saute a few shallots and a few cloves of garlic with fresh sage, a teeny bit of rosemary, some parsley, and a little bit of fresh thyme. Don’t get upset if you don’t have all of these fresh herbs. You can use dried if you have to. When this has cooled down a bit, add a whole egg, and mush the whole thing around with your hand. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you are wondering if you added enough salt, just make a little tiny hamburger, the size of a quarter, and taste it to see what you need. Form the whole thing into a long, narrow free form loaf (it will cook faster) and roast at 350 degrees with a little soft butter smushed around the top. It will be done when you stick a sharp knife in the middle, it comes out hot to your lip.

Be sure when you make your potatoes that they are crowded in the pan, and that the water comes only up to the potatoes. Use plenty of salt in the water, and cook them over a low heat. Rinse the escarole well, and get four cloves of garlic slivered into your gorgeous olive oil until they are golden. Add the escarole, and cook until well wilted. Add salt, and if you like, a few (three or four) red pepperflakes. This is really good with crepes filled with whipped cream and chopped strawberries with sugar and a little lemon zest for dessert. Instead of confectioner’s sugar on the top, use a little granulated sugar that you added a little vanilla to.

It’s not getting any younger, you know.

I don’t want to get up on a soap box about this, but I’m climbing up there anyway. If you have old food in your refrigerator, THROW IT AWAY! When you open up the fridge and you see old food looking back at you, what do you do? You close the fridge, and you pick up the phone. No good. Old food does not get younger the longer you keep it. There is nothing wrong with an empty refrigerator; if you open the fridge and it’s empty, you’re just going to think, “somebody take me to the grocery store.”
Now this part is going to be hard for everybody, but I want you listen to me, and I want you to be strong. If you have old food in your cabinet, THROW IT AWAY! Just because dry food has a long shelf life, it doesn’t mean it can thrive for an eternity behind closed doors. Open up that bottle of Crisco, and smell it. Even Crisco has a limit. If it smells old, it is old, and it will make anything you cook taste like old Crisco. This goes for all oils, (keep them far away from the stove, and in a dark place), flour, grains, spices, some vinegars, and even baking powder. Get yourself to an international foods store, something that sells Indian or Pakastani food and look at the difference between their cinnamon and the cinnamon that might have taken up residence at your house quite a few years ago. I don’t want to make anybody feel bad, I just want you to get excited about cooking, and you can’t do that with old food. Buy things in smaller amounts if you can, and if you can get yourself to throw the old stuff away, it will get you in the mindset of eating fresh. If you freeze something, freeze it in single servings. Who is inspired to take out a gallon of frozen soup when they’re feeling a little hungry?
If you are a “never eat just pick person”, here is what you should have: hummus, all natural tortilla chips, raw peppers and carrots, low fat or whole milk yogurt (don’t you tell me that you like no fat plain yogurt, because I won’t believe you) to mix with a little garlic, grated cucumber, lemon juice and salt. You should have a can of San Marzano plum tomatoes to add after three whole garlic cloves are golden, and a few fresh basil leaves are dark green from simmering in gorgeous olive oil. For more mini meals buy one chicken breast, 4 ounces of filet, the highest quality dried pasta you can find, organic asian wheat or buckwheat noodles, some pre washed greens, a little artisanal or damn good cheese, olive oil that brings tears to your eyes, some canned beans, and some good olives. If you open your refrigerator and all of this is looking back at you, it is going to make you eat what’s in there.

If you are an “I need to eat, and I need to eat big with fifteen minutes of preparation”, here is what you do: Tie up a 5 pound roast piece of sirloin. Rub it with your olive oil. Season it well all over with kosher salt. Sear it on all sides in a heavy, oven proof pan. Stick it in the oven at 300 degrees for about forty minutes, or until a small sharp knife stuck in the middle comes feeling the same temperature as your lip when you touch one to the other. (125-130 degrees) Let the meat sit undisturbed, with one end on a wooden spoon for fifteen minutes.
Meanwhile, wilt a pound of your pre washed baby spinach with olive oil and a whole clove of garlic (get it golden first), and a pinch of kosher salt. Set aside, and wipe out the pan. Melt a few Tablespoons of butter over low heat. Whisk in a few Tablespoons of flour, and keep whisking for a few minutes, until the flour tastes cooked. Add a pinch of salt, and a cup of cold milk, a little bit at a time. Simmer until it is the consistency of a mayonnaise salad dressing. Add a grating of a whole nutmeg, and season with salt and a little black pepper. If you like cheese, grate in your favorite, or just a little parmesan. Add the spinach. Serve with buttered potatoes.
Be brave. I’m fightin’ for you.

Woo Woo

I’m all for being spontaneous, but it doesn’t always work. My husband is cutting a hole in the back of our house because he wants to put in a door. This is good, but it’s cold outside, so I started to look for a place to go with Ferdinand that was warmer than below freezing. I had all intentions of leaving at the end of the week, but what do you know, my cousin was in NYC and going back home to MA this morning at 7:30 am. I hate to drive so much, that I lost all sense of what day it was, and jumped in the car with my boy.
I have so many appointments that I may as well have been getting married. Spontaneity is good when there is no overwhelming fear involved. In other words, if you are afraid to bake, it is going to do you no favors to start a six week course in Paris in cake decorating on the day you should be making cupcakes for the kindergarten. Fear makes you lose sight of the whole picture.
Not only did I forget what day it was, I had made a whole pot of soup last night, thinking I was being so careful to leave food for my husband, and I forgot to put it away.
It was potato leek. Have I told you how to make potato leek? It’s easy, and you can even get spontaneous without it being a problem, as long as you remember to put it all in the fridge when you are done.
Whittle the green ends of the three leeks to a point, so that you get rid of most of the hard green leaves. Cut each leek in half, and soak in cold water. Drizzle the bottom of a heavy soup pot with beautiful olive oil, and add a Tablespoon of butter. Add a clove of garlic, and six chopped, peeled potatoes. Throw in a sprig of thyme, and sprig of parsley. Add the leeks. Stir around until the potatoes start to stick a little, and then cover with water, just to the top of the potatoes. Add salt. Cook over low heat, covered, until the potatoes are fork tender. If you like, (woo woo) you can add broccoli about two or three minutes before the potatoes are done. Whir up the whole thing with an imersion blender. Taste for salt, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with a spicy salad like endive and radicchio, some crusty bread, and maybe some cold roast beef and a good maytag blue.

Don’t forget to soak.

I’m not saying that I made chicken sateh tonight, but I ate chicken sateh tonight, and it’s not hard to make at all. The most important thing you have to do is remember to get skewers and coconut milk from the grocery store. Somehow, my deli on the corner manages to pack in every almost every ingredient known to man on this planet in a space no bigger than a one bedroom apartment. It is a grocer’s miracle. It takes a while to learn how to maneuver the pronged claw that they leave around to get the stuff on the shelves nearest to the ceiling. I’m thinking library ladders would have been fun, but out of control when it came to insurance.
For the chicken, just get cutlets, and make a marinade of half a cup of coconut milk, a hefty pinch of sugar, a half a teaspoon of turmeric, a zest of lime, and about a teaspoon each of whole cumin and whole coriander SEEDS that you grind up in your little mortar and pestel. Pour this over a pound of chicken, and let it sit for about a half an hour. Remove the cutlets, and lay them onto a piece of wax paper. Season each of them on one side with kosher salt. If you have a grill, slice them into strips and skewer them before grilling (soaking the skewers first), or saute the chicken first, just enough to cook it through, and then skewer after the chicken is cooked by slicing the cooked chicken into 2 inch by 1 inch pieces, and threading the sticks through. This is a great way to do it if you forget to soak your skewers.

For the sauce, mix half a cup of all natural peanut butter with a little lime juice, a few Tablespoons of coconut milk, a Tablespoon of sugar, and a dash of some hot sauce (or red chili sauce). Add a drop of water if when you taste it, it’s perfect, but needs to be thinned out a bit. Water can be your best friend in these situations by either making the flavor a bit less intense or smoothing out the consistency of something without changing its makeup.

On the side serve jasmine rice cooked with a bay leaf and a little butter and salt.

For the salad serve mango wedges with watercress and avocado, with a little olive oil, salt and lime juice over the top.

For a second salad, you could slice up a cucumber and drizzle it with a little white vinegar, a dash of hot sauce, and a pinch of sugar.

Going to China

My family is coming today. I have lost all sense of time, I’m not getting enough oxygen, and I am considering buying a last minute ticket to the Far East for this afternoon. New York is a big city; I’m sure that they can entertain themselves once they figure out that I’m not home. Plus, I have never been to China, and I can’t see why this isn’t a perfectly good time to go.
In case I make it another hour and a half, here’s what they’ll be eating: Tuscan lasagna with homemade noodles (I’m not going to even give you the recipe for the noodles. No one should have to spend their day making noodles the same day that they make lasagna. That is for desparate times, like the middle ages, or before the invention of packaged pasta. The only reason I made the noodles was to keep myself occupied. A ticket to the Far East can be prohibitively expensive. There are noodles all over my kitchen at the moment. Just peeling them off the counter is going to take me at least another hour.) You would think that since entertaining is my job I could entertain in my own home, but ixnae.
I know this looks like it is incredibly involved, but you can make two and freeze one, or you can just make loads of extra sauce and freeze that. I love making my own frozen food.

Lasagna starts with a meat sauce, gently cooked for a few hours, and if you get this part right, it’s hard to go wrong. Layered with a white sauce, grated Parmesan, and a good noodle, it is up there with the best of baked pastas. Lasagna can be refrigerated or frozen; follow the directions to the end, and bake the day of, or stick it in the freezer before baking it, and put it directly in the oven. For this method, you will need to allow an extra hour of baking time.

Meat Sauce

For six to eight people, buy a one pound pack of mixed ground meat (veal, pork and beef). Chop a medium to largish yellow onion into a small dice, and cook with three to four cloves of garlic in quality olive oil. If you like the flavor, chop up the livers from a chicken, and cook these for a few minutes in the onion. (This is Umbrian style) Add the ground meat, and cook for at least half an hour over a very low flame. Skim off any fat. Throw in a twig of rosemary, a bay leaf, and a sprig of parsley, with half of a carrot, and half a celery branch. Stir this around a bit, then add 2 28 oz. cans of whole plum tomatoes, that you have squished with your hand, into the pot. Add a few pinches of kosher salt, and cook for at least an hour, preferably, two to three hours, over a very low flame. Continue to stir occasionally, and skim the fat from the top as it cooks. It should reduce to be quite a thick sauce, with a deep, rich flavor. Remove the rosemary, parsley, celery, carrot and bay leaf. Add one and a half pounds of seriously al dente pasta, and a few Tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley. Stir around to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce. Serve with Parmigiano Reggiano. The classic pasta for this sauce is Tagliatelle.

White Sauce

You can use any white sauce recipe for this, but I like to slowly melt two Tablespoons of butter in a pan with about the same amount of flour. It should come together in a light paste, not too thick, when you stir it with a whisk. Slowly add about two cups of milk (if you heat the milk first, it’s easier to incorporate), and continue to whisk, until the sauce thickens slightly. If you love garlic, you can simmer a whole clove in there, along with half a bay leaf, which gives it a nice flavor. Just don’t forget to take them out when you are done. To make the white sauce really rich and extravagant, and why not, add one third to half a cup of mascarpone cheese. Even a few tablespoons of regular (not low fat) creamed cheese will add a nice oomph, if you can’t find the mascarpone.

For the lasagna, I like to use the Barilla noodles that don’t require pre cooking, or a fresh lasagna noodle that you purchase, or make yourself if you have the time and inclination. Otherwise, you have to blanch the lasagna noodles in salted water, and lay them out in an oiled pan, so that they don’t stick together. Once you have your noodles ready, spread about a half cup of meat sauce in the bottom of the pan. Cover with one layer of noodles. Cover with meat sauce, and drop white sauce over it, in tablespoonfuls. Let there be a few inches in between each spoonful of white sauce, because this will spread, as it cooks. Scatter with grated parmesan, and repeat these steps, two more times. Cover the lasagna tightly with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Uncover, and bake for fifteen more minutes so that the top browns and bubbles slightly. If this doesn’t happen for you, you can set the pasta under the broiler for a minute, but don’t leave it, because it only takes seconds to burn. Let the lasagna sit for fifteen minutes before serving, which allows it to rest, and makes it easier to slice. The only thing you need to serve with this is a simple salad, and maybe a dish of your favorite olives.

Single vs. Married

I think if I had never gotten married, I would have eaten nothing but bread or bread products at home for the last I don’t know how many years. Men inspire me to eat. Which is a good thing. After so many bagels, muffins and hunks of just plain bread, your body starts to talk to you: “have you ever heard of soup, what about chicken, have you ever even seen a chicken?” It’s just that bread is so convenient, and you don’t have to think about it, and it’s cheap, there’s no mess, so because my husband is working tonight, I had peanut butter and jelly. That’s a cheap trick as far as you’re concerned I know, because I’m supposed to be thinking of things for you to cook, so how about sandwiches? At the restaurant that I ate lunch at the other day, they wanted 9 dollars for a croques monsieur. I don’t even know how to spell it, but I can tell you how to make it so that you don’t have to spend nine dollars on a sandwich. Plus I would feel bad if you put peanut butter and jelly on the table for dinner, and somebody said, “who’s idea was this”, and you had to go ahead and tell them the truth, that you got it off your new cooking site. I can just see them nodding their heads and saying “great.”
Anyways, here we go. Melt a half a stick of butter. Grate about two cups of cheese for four people. Gruyere is fine. Stir a few Tablespoons of mascarpone into it, if you have it, or something like it, like sour cream. On top of the cheese add a slice of ham for each piece of bread. Cover with another piece of bread. Butter the top, and invert into a medium hot saute pan. Brush the remaining side with butter. Cook until the cheese is melted, and then cut on the diagonal. Serve with sides of tiny nicoise olives, roasted peppers, radishes, and string beans with extra virgin olive oil or artichoke hearts.