Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Savory Lasagna Cupcakes

Cupcakes are so wonderful and cute and trendy these days, that I figured it was time to make some sort of savory cupcake. Now, while I am sure, you could make a cupcake that was cake-based, but still savory, I cam across a recipe for lasagna cupcakes made in ramekins which sounded like such a fun idea.  The recipe, which can be found here, was for white lasagna cupcakes. I liked the idea, but the cheeses and what not in the recipe didn't really d the trick for me, so I went ahead with the inspiration and created by own recipe for lasagna cupcakes. In addition, I made mine in silicon cupcake molds, which meant that they were a bit more of a true cupcake then if I had made them in ramekins., although perhaps a bit smaller. They were still delicious and made for a great Monday night dinner this week. This recipe should make about 8 or 9.

Sasha's Savory Lasagna Cupcakes
Pam to spray the silicon cupcake molds
4 T butter
1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 box of lasagna noodles, cooked
1/2 cup of flour
3 plum tomatoes, cut into slices
2 cups of skim milk
1 large egg
2 T parsley
6oz of gruyere cheese (grated)
salt and pepper to taste
slice of freshly made mozzarella to top each cupcake
silicon cupcake tray

Spray the silicon cupcake tray with Pam or a similar spray.  Preheat the oven to 350. Boil and cook the lasagna in salted water (make sure to add salt so they don't stick together) until al dente, and drain and cool with cool running water. Using a rounded glass, cut circles out of each of the lasagna noodles. Place one of these circles in each of the cupcake molds, and set the others aside for now.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and add the flour, mixing until clumpy. Add the skim milk and whisk over medium heat for about fine minutes, until thickened. Turn the heat off, and whisk in the egg and parsley.  Add the grated gruyere and a half a cup of the parmesan, and stir to combine.

On top of each pasta circle in the silicon cupcake mold, add some of the filling and a slice of the plum tomato. The add another pasta round, and top with more filling and another slice of tomato to fill. Add another pasta round at the top (of you have enough) and top with a tomato and a slice of mozzarella. Sprinkle some parmesan on top, which should require another half cup.  You can fit more in if you use ramekins, but I found the cupcake molds to be just fine.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes. The cheeses on top (parmesan and mozzarella) should be crispy and browned, just like lasagna. Using a spoon or spatula, press each of the "cupcakes" out of the molds to serve. We found that this recipe served two.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Banana Coconut Cream Pie

I decided to make banana cream pie, but I couldn't just stop at bananas. I thought it would be much better to have a combination of banana cream pie and coconut cream pie. This was quite delicious and a big success. I modified the recipe from a Martha Stewart recipe that I found online for banana cream pie and made it a banana coconut cream pie.

Banana Coconut Cream Pie
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup ice water (or very cold water)
1 large egg plus four egg yolks
6 medium-ripe bananas
3 cups lite coconut milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp coconut extract
5 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 T confectioner's sugar

First, make the dough by cutting the flour and butter (and the salt) in a stand mixer. Beat for several minutes, until sand like. Then, add the ice water and mix until it combines into a dough. Refrigerate for an hour, wrapped in plastic wrap.

Roll out the dough into a nine inch pie dish. It should be about a quarter inch thick. Fold into the pie dish and chill for about thirty minutes. Bake at 375 using pie weights for 25 to 30 minutes. Then remove the pie weights and bake for another 20-25 minutes. If you don't use pie weights it is not a big deal (I often don't), but using them will make your pie crust perfectly flat.

While the pie is baking prepare and ice bath. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and set aside. In a saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk, granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt, whisking constantly. Being to a simmer (do not boil) and whisk for about three or four minutes.  Add the egg yolks (I found there was no need to strain) and whisk over medium high heat until the custard is thick. Place in a bowl and put the bowl in the prepared ice bath for about thirty minutes.

Cut 3 or so bananas into 1/4 inch slices and place at the bottom of the baked pie shell. Cover with the custard using a spatula to smooth it. Beat the heavy cream and confectioner's sugar with a pinch of cream of tartar using the whisk attachment at high speed for several minutes to make what is basically whipped cream, and cover the pie with this. Top with sliced bananas and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Mandarin Orange Salad With Caramelized Almonds

I have been making this salad for years, as it has been handed down in my family. But I figured the super bowl would be a good time to write about it because according to family legend, my aunt discovered this salad at a 1971 Super Bowl party, long before I was born. The recipe has changed a bit over the years, and I have made my own tweaks to it. But its long been a favorite of everyone I have ever made it for. The combination of the tangy mandarin oranges and the sweet caramelized almonds is dynamite. Any time I see a can of mandarin oranges, it reminds me that it is time to make this salad for a nice, healthy dinner, especially for a football game. They go nicely with these Jets cupcakes I made last week (you can see where my sports loyalties lie as a New Yorker, even though they lost this past weekend).

I was so excited that ShopRite threw in a can of their mandarin oranges with their last package that they sent me, and I put together this classic salad that I love making with them. Of all the cans of mandarin oranges I have used over the years, these really stood out as having great texture, color and flavor. They were delicious. You really do not need to use a sweet dressing with this salad, as the almonds give you all the sweetness that you need once they are caramelized. My mom passed this recipe along to me and I am so glad she did as it is a winner!

Sasha's Mandarin Orange Salad with Caramelized Almonds
  • 3-4 hearts of romaine
  • 1 can of ShopRite's mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 of a cup of almond slivers
  • 1/4 of a cup plus 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 stalk diced celery (optional)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (for the dressing)
  • 2 T red wine vinegar (for the dressing)
  • 2 T diced parsley (for the dressing)

To caramelize the almonds, combine with the sugar in a small frying pan over medium low hear. You want to make sure the sugar melts slowly so you do not burn the almonds. Once the sugar begins to melt after a few minutes, keep stirring until the sugar and almonds are fully caramelized. Then pour onto a piece of foil a and allow to cool completely. This will make an almond brittle of sorts, which you will need to break apart. I used to do this by hand, and when I got tired of that, I pulverized a nut chopper blade doing this, but now I rely on the Slap-Chop and it works. Mix the nuts with the shredded hearts of romaine, celery and the can of mandarin oranges (draining the liquid first). Then combine the parsley, oil and vinegar for the dressing and add to the salad. Enjoy!

Related Posts with Thumbnails Share