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Hagarita -  the love of cooking and sharing food

mouth watering layers of meat sauce, ricotta and pasta, or as some call it : Lasagna

When it comes to pasta I must admit, I am pretty spoiled. Ever since I got a pasta maker as a birthday gift a few years back I had a really hard time going back to the pre-packaged dry version. Now don't think that every time I want pasta I pull it out and start rolling, but I definitely prefer buying fresh pasta if I'm too lazy to make my own.Lasagna is one of those wonder dishes that allows you to, pretty much, put whatever you want in it, and know that it will come out delicious. Today's Lasagna was constructed from a spicy lamb meat sauce, ricotta bechamel, kale and some Parmesan-Gruyere to top it off.

I use fresh pasta sheets, ground lamb meat, kale and half and half, you can change those basic ingredients and still follow the recipe.

In a sauce pan cook 1 1/2 cups of half and half with 1/2 an onion, 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves, simmer for 15-20 minutes, don't let it boil! While the cream is cooking dice 1 big onion, and 2 chopped cloves of garlic, in a cast iron or your favorite "meat sauce making" pan, sauté the onion and garlic in some oil (I like a combination of high heat oil, like sunflower oil, and some bacon fat) for 2-3 minutes, add 1 T salt, 1/2 T fresh pepper, 2 T paprika, sweet or spicy or both, 2 T dry oregano and a bay leaf or two. Cook for 1-2 minutes then add the meat and break into small chunks with a wooden spoon, cook for a few more minutes. Add 1/3 Cup red wine and cook for 8-10 minutes until the alcohol is cooked off.

Add 1 cup of diced tomatoes, either fresh, blanched and peeled or out of a can, 2 T of tomato paste and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Wash the kale and saute it in a wok for a few minutes until soft.

Remove cream from heat, discard the onion, cloves and bay leaf. In a second sauce pan on low heat melt 1 T butter add 1 T flour and whisk together until well blend, slowly add the cream, whisking constantly until all incorporate, remove from heat. Add 1 cup of ricotta, salt, pepper and a few shaving of fresh nutmeg.

Assemble the lasagna (yum): Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Pick a deep, large baking dish, first layer should be meat sauce, not too much, just a thin layer at the bottom, follow by a layer of pasta, then kale, ricotta sauce, another layer of pasta, some meat sauce, etc. The order is completely optional, just make sure to start with a layer of sauce before the pasta, or else you might have a dry bottom. I never boil my pasta before layering it, not the fresh nor the dry. Top the whole thing with some grated cheese, Parmesan and Guryere are my choices. Stick it in the pre-heated over covered with baking paper and topped with foil for 20-25 minutes if using fresh pasta, 10-15 minutes longer if using dry pasta, then remove the foil and baking paper and cook for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nicely crisped and golden in color.

Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes, its hard, I know, but you can do it. I find that taking it out of the oven before sitting down and then starting with some soup or salad is usually enough time, but it is most delicious the next day (like I can wait...)

Enjoy with some fresh arugula and red onion salad.

Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes

Sunday, it's noon and we are hungry. Last night we made Lasagna and I have some ricotta left, Tacuma wants pancakes... mmm... let me think..... I love Ricotta pancakes, and I don't need to be asked twice to make them, I also happened to have 3 Meyer lemons that been waiting to get used. perfect.

Now is the time to admit that I cheated when making the pancakes, I did use Pamela's Baking Mix instead of making the batter from scratch, but to my defense, it is so incredibly good that it just doesn't make sense not to use it. Especially on such a lazy Sunday.

for two people I used 1 cup of baking mix, I separated 2 eggs and added the yolks to the dry mix, then a 1/3 cup milk ( I used almond milk but you can use anything from water to cream), 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of salt and the zest of 1Meyer lemon. mix well until combined with no lumps, if the batter is too thick or too thin adjust with either more liquid or more dry mix. I don't add sugar to the batter, simply so I can later drown it in maple. whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into batter. turn your oven on and set to 200°F. on a hot cast iron, oiled or buttered, or both, pour the batter using a spoon or a small ladle. once the pancake seem firm and you can see bubbles appearing throughout, gently lift with a spatula and flip. once golden brown on both sides remove from heat and keep warm in the preheated oven until all pancakes are ready to serve. In a bowl combine 1/2 cup or ricotta, juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon, 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup, zest of 1 lemon and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. mix well and serve with pancakes.

Best served with.... Bacon!