Eggnog French Raisin Toast – Noël en Juillet

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Eggnog French Raisin Toast - Christmas in July

Eggnog French Raisin Toast – Christmas in July

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is eggnog. Spane and I love eggnog. I like mine with a little Jack Daniels, Spane likes his plain. If we have any left, I make French Toast with it. Well, it’s July now, and no hope of going to the market and getting eggnog.

What do you do when there is no eggnog at the store? You make your own. Some eggnog tastes strange – last year I wound up giving one I didn’t like to an unsuspecting neighbor – they liked it, so no harm done. Based on what I made today, I’m confident that this Christmas, I’ll be making my own eggnog. I have a friend who raises chickens, and always has fresh eggs – he even has a big orange chicken that I am waiting to get old – I’ve named her Coq au Vin (seriously).

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Experiment in Cupcakes – Box Cake from Scratch and Boiled Frosting

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Boiled icing cupcake

Spane holding a finished cupcake

I had a dream, yes I had a dream. I dreamed of cupcakes with blue butter cream frosting.

I’m not much of a cupcake person, but they are nice if you’ve got a lot of kids. They are easy because you don’t really need a plate, and you don’t need a knife, and you don’t have to worry about someone saying their piece of cake is too small or too big. All the cupcakes are the same size.

Usually, I make a butter cake, similar to a 1234 cake, but it makes a three layer cake, and that was just too much for cupcakes. I know that a regular box of cake mix makes enough for cupcakes, but I don’t like things that come in a box. So I made my own box cake with fresh ingredients.

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The Good Plate Is Back with Warm Grape-nuts Breakfast

Well, I guess The Good Plate is “poopular” because our old host said we were too busy, so we moved to a new host. Lots of things happened while we were away, and I’ll have to get you all caught up.

We had a wonderful Halloween, and quite the turn out.  I was sick all that week, but I still made Halloween happen.  I cut my hair, and you can see in this photo that I look a little pale.  I was still sick.

But, enough about me, let’s talk about food!  It’s been very cold lately, and I don’t like sending Spane off to school without a warm breakfast.  When he was a toddler, his favorite breakfast was Grape-nuts and milk warmed up, softened, in the microwave.  I don’t like hot cereal, so I never tried it.  Well, after I doctored it up, it was very good.  You have to try this!
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New School Hamburger Gravy

When I was in grammar school at Cheremoya Avenue Elementary School in Hollywood, California, about once every two weeks we had Hamburger Gravy and Mashed Potatoes.  I really loved that dish, it was my favorite.  All the other stuff was pretty bland, and actually kind of nasty, especially the paper thin cheeseburgers.  For years and years, I have been trying to replicate the special taste of that gravy, and have been pretty much successful.

Years ago, when I first met Chef John Farion, he treated some friends and I to dinner at another chef’s restaurant on Melrose .  I ordered the filet mignon with blue cheese sauce.  It was truly fantastic, and I have been pairing blue cheese with beef ever since.  I guess I’m not the only one, even Carl’s Jr. now has a steakhouse burger featuring blue cheese.

I get my blue cheese at the Armenian stores, for several reasons, 1) because the cheese is of a superior quality, 2) because it is much less expensive than the major chain supermarkets, and better quality.  I just bought a half a pound brick a few days ago, and it was sitting in the cheese drawer waiting to be the star of some dish.

I had an epiphany!  Why not make hamburger gravy and add blue cheese at the end?  I tried it, and it was, well, fantastic!  This was much, much better than the gravy I had had when I was a child.  Now, just because Spane gave it a big thumbs up, I can’t guarantee that every child will like it as much as we did.

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Chicken Croquetas

Recipes in this PostChicken Croquetas (Croquettes)

When Noelle and I went to see this cooking demonstration at William-Sonoma, I did not make these right away. I made them tonight because I had left over rotisserie chicken. Maybe I will ask Noelle over to share, on second thought, as I sit here eating one, no!

Now, what did I learn in making these? Well, first I learned that I don’t have to get my hands very dirty if I use a fork during the breading process. Then, when I tasted one, I realized I don’t have to wait until I go to Porto’s anymore – I can make these little rolled pieces of Heaven myself!

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Lasagna alla casa di Boswell

Recipes in this PostLasagna alla casa di Boswell - ricotta spinach sausage

A few days ago, I found a box of no-cook lasagna noodles in the sale section of the store. I had never tried no-cook lasagna noodles, so I bought them with the intent of making my own version of Lasagna.

I have been making this lasagna for many years, and it seems to get better every time.  Yes, it is time consuming, but the rewards for the taste buds are worth the time and effort.

I do not make a standard red sauce, although there are tomatoes in the sauce.  There is a lot of meat – a little over three pounds all together.  Mushrooms sautéed with shallots in butter and sherry. Italian sausage cooked and sliced on the bias.

I don’t like ricotta cheese, I never have.  A lot of people who don’t like it use cottage cheese instead, but although I don’t like the texture of ricotta, I do like the flavor, so to compensate for the texture, I add spinach, nutmeg and Parmesan to the ricotta.  It gives nice flavor with more nutrients as well.

This is a great lasagna. Don’t let the complexity of this dish put you off. Once the sauce is done, you are home free.

Recipe: Lasagna alla casa di Boswell

Ingredients

Sauce
  • 1 pound Ground beef
  • 1 pound Ground pork
  • 2 Garlic chopped
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 2 Carrot chopped
  • 1 Green pepper chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 cup Red wine
  • 1 can Whole tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
– Ricotta Layer –
  • 2 cups Ricotta cheese
  • 1 package Frozen spinach
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
– Mushroom Layer –
  • 10 Mushroom sliced
  • 1 Shallot chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dry sherry
– Other Layers –
  • 1 pound Italian sausage sliced
  • 2 cups Mozzarella sliced
  • 1 package Lasagna Noodles cooked (or uncooked in this case)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

Make the sauce
  • Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl it around so the whole pan is covered.
  • Sauté the vegetables until they are translucent.
  • Add the meat. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, then add some of the milk.
  • Turn the heat down.
  • Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until you cannot see the milk. Then add more milk. Do this until all the milk has been incorporated.
  • When all the milk has combined, add the wine and the tomatoes, then cook down on low heat until the sauce is thick. Set aside.
  • Make the Ricotta layer

    1. Defrost and remove all the water from the spinach. You can do this by putting the spinach in the microwave for 3 minutes. Then add the ricotta, Parmesan and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
    Make the Mushroom layer
    1. In a sauté pan, melt the butter. Add the shallots and let them cook until they are translucent, then add the mushrooms. Add the sherry. Sauté the mushrooms until they brown with the shallots in butter and sherry. Set aside.
    Make the sausage layer
    1. Pan fry the sausages on medium heat. Turn to brown on all sides. Remove from the pan, cool slightly, then slice them on the diagonal.
    Make the pasta layer:
    1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta just until it’s done, then drain and leave in cold water while assembling the lasagna.
    Assembly:
    1. Spread some of the sauce on the bottom of the lasagna pan.
    2. Put a layer of pasta.
    3. Put the some of the sauce on the pasta, then put the mushrooms.
    4. Put a layer of pasta.
    5. Put a layer of sauce and mozzarella.
    6. Put a layer of pasta.
    7. Put the ricotta layer.
    8. Put a layer of pasta.
    9. Put some of the sauce and then the sausages.
    10. Put a layer of pasta.
    11. Put the rest of the sauce.
    12. Put the last layer of mozzarella and sprinkle with Parmesan.
    13. Bake in a slow oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheeses are brown and bubbling.
    14. Remove from the oven and let sit at least 10 minutes so the lasagna can settle.

    Quick notes

    If you have sauce left over, freeze it for another dish.

    Variations

    If you don’t like spinach, you can omit it. If you don’t want to use pork sausage, you could use turkey sausage instead.

    Preparation time: 3 hour(s)

    Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

    Number of servings (yield): 8

    Culinary tradition: Italian

    My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 22 review(s)

    Copyright © The Good Plate.
    Recipe by Adrienne Boswell.
    Microformatting by hRecipe.