Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Simple Pleasures

I had two easy days this week thus allowing me to do two activities that I love doing. I was able to cook and bake. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday was lasagna day.

I was checking out the cabinet, looking for something to cook when I saw the box of instant lasagna. Perfect. I don't have to boil water to cook the lasagna sheets. All I had to do was make the meat sauce and the bechamel sauce. Except for the bell pepper and milk, all the usual suspects for the sauces were in the cabinet. I asked Kuya Allan to chop the onions and garlic for me. Ate Cory bought quickmelt cheese and bell pepper while I scurried off to CSI for some other grocery items and the milk. Before that I dropped by my dad's office and had lunch with the parents.

At around 4 pm I began preparing the meat sauce. In the pan went some butter, olive oil, chili flakes. I added the chopped onions and garlic. I added about half a kilo of ground pork and then some chopped red and green bell pepper. Salt and pepper and paprika followed suit before I added the tomato sauce, some sugar, herbs, a dollop of heavy cream and a handful of quick melting cheese. At the last minute I decided to add some stewed tomatoes that I rough chopped.
I then checked if the sauce was seasoned properly then I let it simmer a bit while I began the bechamel sauce.

For the white sauce, I melted some butter (like Ina, I'm not afraid to use butter!) and added some flour. This is called a roux. After a couple of minutes of whisking, the roux had a consistency similar to cake frosting. I then added the milk slowly and slowly whisked the mixture until thick. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and nutmeg. I also deviated a bit and added some grated quickmelt cheese.

Everyone knows how to assemble this dish right? Ladle some of the red sauce onto the bottom of the pan then arrange the pasta on top of the red sauce. Ladle some of the bechamel sauce this time then add another layer of pasta. Alternately layer the sauces onto the pasta. Onto the last layer of pasta, I ladled some of the red sauce and some of the bechamel sauce. Then I sprinkled the top with some grated cheese. Since I used instant lasagna noodles I had to bake it in the oven 30 to 40 minutes. Reduce baking time if using fresh pasta or pasta that you cooked in boiling water.

Wednesday was cookie day.

Two weeks ago, Kate (she's the one in the white shirt) and I were chatting on YM and we we got to talking about food and chocolate chip cravings. About two days later she gave me a ziplock bag full of almonds, dates and a bottle of pho base which I will use on Vietnamese Night (heaven knows what that will be).

Last Wednesday, I decided to make use of the almonds and made some chocolate chip cookies using Melissa Murphy's recipe.

Here are some slices of cookie dough. I had to roll and chill the dough. See the specks of chocolate chips and almond?

After 15 minutes in the oven, the slices of raw cookie dough looked like this. Aren't they pretty? I also made some plain ones using half of the batter for my sister Tanya. Then I made some chocolate cranberry cookies as well. Please see previous posts for the recipes or better yet buy the Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

After cooling on the wire rack, I packed some cookies in 3 separate containers. One for Kate. One for my grandma and one for the family.

I hope they enjoyed munching on the cookies as much as I enjoyed baking them.

Till the next baking session :)

Be safe.

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