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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Pastitsio

 

Pastitsio (2)

Lately, I’ve been testing a couple of Greek Pastitsio recipes. Pastitsio, Greek-style lasagna is so delicious. Instead of just making one pan, It’s just as easy to make two. You can bet they’ll both get eaten.

Zitoni Lunghi a long tube-shaped pasta used specifically for Pastitsio. I used Bucatini in this dish because it is readily available at local grocery stores. I’d recently visited an International market, about 30 minutes from my home, and found the traditional pasta for this dish (pictures below).

I’m also going to make a few changes to this dish. As you know ground lamb is traditional for this dish. For my Pastitsio, I’ll be making a Bolognese-style sauce filled with vegetables, ground veal, lean ground sirloin, sweet Italian sausage, and a variety of Mediterranean spices. This is going to be a really hearty meat sauce.

Making Pastitsio is a labor of love and usually made on special occasions. There are three components to this dish, first the pasta, the meat sauce, and finally the Bechamel.

Let’s get started.

Pastitsio

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Oregano

Thyme

Thyme

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Pastitsio

Pastitsio (2)

 

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Yields: 18 servings
Equipment: 6-quart saucepot, 6-quart braising pot with a lid (Dutch oven) 3-quart saucepot, 2-9 x 11 deep-sided ceramic baking dishes, 10-cup food processor, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, 2 large mixing bowls, large slotted spoon, whisk, tongs

Ingredients For Meat Sauce:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, processed
1 red bell pepper, processed
1 yellow bell pepper, processed
1 Fresno chili, seeded and processed
1 Poblano pepper, seeded and processed
1 medium-size carrot, peeled diced and processed
5 cloves of garlic, processed
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound of lean ground beef
2 pounds of ground veal
1 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon
1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with their juice
1 stick of unsalted butter, reserve some for greasing the baking dish

Ingredients For Bechamel Sauce:
2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2 sticks of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
3 cups of grated Pecorino cheese (1 1/2 cups for the Bechamel, 1 cup to toss with the pasta, 1/2 a cup for the topping)
2 extra-large beaten eggs
1 cup of Greek yogurt, room temperature
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley plus extra for garnish
2 pounds of Zitoni Lunghi (300 Ziti), substitute ziti

Directions:
Start with grating the cheese. Dice up the Pecorino cheese and add it to a food processor. Pulse until cheese is processed, as seen in the pictures above. Transfer the grated cheese to a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Set aside.

Next, is to prep all the vegetables.
First, remove all the seeds from all the peppers including the Fresno chili, then roughly chop. Set aside. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion, set aside. Peel and chop the carrot into 1 1/2-inch dice, set aside. Clean then quarter the mushrooms.

Start by processing the mushrooms, then the onions and garlic together, next, the diced carrots, and finally all the peppers. Transfer the processed vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a 6-quart braising pot (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the sweet Italian sausage. Break up the sausage with the back of a wooden spoon. Next, add the ground sirloin and ground veal. Stirring occasionally, allowing all the meat to brown until there is no longer any pink, around 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon to drain any excess fat, transfer the cooked meat to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Discard any fat left in the pot.

Using the same pot over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. To the oil add the dried oregano, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, allowing the spices to *bloom and become fragrant about 1 minute. Next, add the processed vegetables Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Tun the heat up to medium-high, add the wine. Allow the wine to come up to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the wine reduces by half, 5 minutes.

Adjust the heat to medium, add the browned meat back into the pot, stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes with their juice. Stirring occasionally, simmer for another 45 minutes. Halfway through taste for seasoning. This is the perfect time to add a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper if needed. Once the sauce is done finish by adding fresh oregano and thyme leaves, stir to combine. Turn the heat off and cover to keep warm.

The next step is to *scald the milk/cream mixture.
In a 3-quart saucepot over medium heat bring the milk and heavy cream to just below the boiling point.

Making the *roux for the Bechamel sauce.
In a 6-quart pot over medium heat melt 1/2 a stick of butter. Add in the all-purpose flour vigorously whisking until the mixture becomes a paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the scalded milk/cream mixture to the *roux continuously whisking. Bring to a boil. Switch to a wooden spoon, add Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

Add 1 full ladle of the meat sauce, stir to combine. Allow the Bechame sauce to cool completely.

Once the Bechamel has cooled, add the beaten eggs, the room temperature Greek yogurt, and 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Pecorino cheese, whisk to combine. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Ziti (Zitoni) pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta really well.

Well, that’s the last of the components for this dish. Now it’s time to put this bad boy together.

Use half a stick of butter to butter both baking dishes, sides included.

For the first layer, divide and arrange the hot pasta (as seen in the picture above) equally between the two buttered baking dishes. Add 4 tablespoons of softened butter to the pasta. Using a pair of tongs, gently toss allowing the butter to coat all the pasta. Next, add the Pecorino cheese, once again, gently toss to coat. Repeat for the second baking dish.

For the second layer, (equally, divide) ladle the Bolognese sauce over the pasta.

For the final layer, (equally, divide) ladle the Bechamel sauce over the Bolognese.

Sprinkle a good helping of the freshly grated Pecorino cheese over the top of each dish. Transfer the baking dishes to the middle rack, in the oven, and bake for 1 hour until bubbly and the top forms a golden-brown crust.

Sprinkle freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley over the top.

Allow the Pastitsio to rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes to set before cutting.

Freezing Baked Pastitsio:
Let cool completely, wrap in foil, then again in plastic wrap really tightly. Label and date them so you can have Pastitsio any time you like. When you ready, place a pan into the frig to thaw overnight. Next, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Take a new piece of foil and lightly spray, the dull side, with a non-stick cooking spray.  This will prevent the cheese topping from sticking to the foil. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until hot all the way through. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until bubbly and the Bechamel top is lightly golden.

*Bloom is the process of gently frying them in oil and is a quick way to deepen their flavor.
*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces.
*Scalded milk is milk heated to just under the boiling point. This happens when you see small bubbles appear around the inner rim of the pot.

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Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

2014-08-26 17.37.40

Last night I made an awesome Bolognese sauce. I always have quite a bit leftover so for tonight’s meal, I had a great idea on how to use up my leftover Bolognese sauce.

I went to the Farmers’ Market today and bought some beautiful Portobello mushrooms along with some fresh arugula. I’m going to grill these mushrooms and use them as the base for my Portobello Mushroom Pizzas.

To get my recipe for Bolognese Sauce, click on the link at the bottom of this post. I’d recommend making these Portobello Mushroom Pizzas any time you have some leftover homemade sauce you want to use up.

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Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese.JPG

2014-08-26 17.37.40

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
Equipment: indoor grill pan, rimmed baking sheet pan, chef’s knife, 3-quart saucepot with a lid, vegetable peeler

Ingredients:
6 large Portobello mushrooms (dark black gills and stems removed), grilled
1 16-ounce package of BelGioioso fresh mozzarella, pre-sliced
1 4-ounce package of arugula, prewashed and dried
6 cups of Bolognese sauce (substitute a good jarred Marinara sauce)
1/4 cup of Canola oil
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
3 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings

Directions:
Start by heating up your (leftover) sauce on low heat, in a covered saucepot, stirring occasionally.

Preheat an indoor grill pan on medium heat. While the grill pan is heating up, prep all 6 Portobello mushrooms. First, remove the stems, next, using a tablespoon, scrape off the dark black gills from the underside of the mushroom caps.

Brush the top side of the Portobello mushrooms with Canola oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper and garlic powder. Place the mushrooms presentation side down first on the hot grill. While the mushrooms are starting to grill brush the underside with Canola oil and season with freshly ground black pepper and garlic powder. Grill on each side for 3 to 4 minutes, or until caramelized and deep golden brown. Turn the grill pan off and transfer the grilled Portobello mushrooms, presentation side down, to a rimmed baking sheet pan.

Set the oven to broil.
Lay a slice of the mozzarella cheese to each one of the mushrooms. Sprinkle Kosher salt and the remaining freshly ground black pepper all over each of the slices. Transfer the sheet pan to the top rack in the oven leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Keeping a close eye on the mushrooms, melt the cheese until a bubbly and golden brown on top, 1 to 2 minutes.

Arrange 3 of the Portobello mushrooms on each plate. Ladle a little of the (leftover) Bolognese sauce onto each one of the mushrooms. Top with arugula. Serve my Portobello Mushroom Pizzas with a few shaving of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top.

Note: Depending on the sauce you choose, this dish can be both gluten-free and vegetarian.

 

Pappardelle alla Bolognese

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Pappardelle Alla Bolognese

2014-08-25 16.53.42

My Pappardelle Alla Bolognese will have you coming back for seconds. The beautiful thick flat pasta known as Pappardelle is perfect for this ragu, known as Bolognese, to complement these ribbons of pasta. Let me tell you how I make this delicious sauce.

I wanted to mention that whenever I make any type of tomato sauce I always have extra. This time is no different. What I decided to do is to post one or two recipes using my leftover Bolognese. At the bottom of this post is a link to one of those recipes. I hope you’ll check out my Portobello Mushroom Pizzas.

Sweet Italian Sausage

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Chicken Broth

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo With Sweet Italian Sausage (2)

Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes

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Sweet Basil (2)

fresh basil

2014-08-25 16.53.42

 

Prep Time: 30
Cook Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sauté pan, 6-quart Dutch oven, large slotted spoon, 1 large mixing bowl, 2 medium-size bowls, 10-cup food processor, mini food processor, large stockpot

Ingredients:
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound of lean ground sirloin
1 pound of ground pork
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 large carrots, peeled cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 a red onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3 ribs of celery, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup of Cabernet (a good red wine)
1 cup of unsalted chicken broth
1 12-ounce jar of Piquillo peppers, puréed (substitute roasted red peppers)
1 14.5-ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 28-ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 fresh bay leaves (substitute dry)
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
2 tablespoons of brown sugar (light or dark)
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1 cup of fresh basil leaves for garnish
2 16-ounce (2 pounds) packages of Pappardelle

Directions:
First the meat. Here I’m using three types of meat, sweet Italian sausage, ground pork, and lean ground sirloin.

In a large sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. To the pan, add the sweet Italian sausage, ground pork, and ground sirloin. Next, add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, and 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, stir to combine. Frequently stirring, sauté the meat for 12 to 15 minutes until browned through. Turn the heat off.

Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a large platter lined with a paper towel allowing for any excess fat to drain. After the meat has drained, again using the slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a large mixing bowl.

The next step is to prepare the *sofrito (vegetable mixture) and purée the Piquillo peppers.
In a food processor add the chopped carrots, diced onions, garlic cloves, and chopped celery. Pulse the vegetables together until finely minced as seen in the picture above. Transfer the sofrito to a bowl. Next, add the Piquillo peppers to the food processor, pulse until the peppers are puréed again as seen in the picture above. Set the bowl aside.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for 1 minute allowing the spices to *bloom (to release their essential oils).

Next, add the *sofrito, 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, and tomato paste stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently allowing the vegetables to release their water and soften around 5 minutes.

At this point add the unsalted chicken broth and red wine. Stir and allow the liquids to reduce by half, 3 to 4 minutes. This completes the base for the Bolognese.

Next in the pot goes the cans of tomatoes. Add the whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and the diced fire-roasted tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon break up the whole tomatoes. Add bay leaves (don’t forget to remove the bay leaves when the sauce is done), 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, and the brown sugar. Stir to combine.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Next, add the browned meat to the sauce, stir to combine and let simmer on low heat for another 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off. Tear fresh basil leaves dropping them into the sauce, stir to combine, and cover to keep hot.

In a large stockpot filled with 8 quarts of boiling salted water, drop both packages of the Pappardelle. Cook according to directions on the package, al dente 8 to 10 minutes, drain really well.

To the bottom of a large, family-style serving bowl add 1 cup of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Add the cooked pasta to the bowl and toss coating all the pasta. Ladle 2 to 3 large ladles full of the Bolognese and toss through. Garnish with fresh basil. Top with more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Serve hot.

*Sofrito is generally a Caribbean sauce or Latin American sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs. In this recipe, it’s the use of carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and Piquillo peppers.

*Bloom is a term used in cooking. Blooming spices or herbs in fat before the liquid goes into the pot can extract far more flavor than by simply simmering these ingredients in water.

 

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

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