Monday, November 13, 2006
five pounds of cheese
Cheese seemed to be my crafting medium of choice this weekend. Saturday the whole day was taken up with a meeting that I didn't really want to attend, though it had its highlights. Sunday I cooked, a lot.
Sunday morning I woke up early to drink a whole pot of darjeeling tea and make a dozen sandwiches for the cafe at a charity craft sale. It was fun to get an assembly line going so early in the morning.
First I made the messier ones: avocado and sharp cheddar with red onion on a whole wheat pita with chipotle mayo and salad greens. Then the simpler ones: tomato and mozarella on white pita with pesto mayo and salad greens. I hope the vegetarians got a little thrill from actually having a selection to choose from. I neglected the vegans, though. Sorry vegans. It was a cheesy weekend.
Later on, after the craft sale and brunch with my mom and her sisters, a trip to the Monet exhibit at the NC Museum of Art and a nice, windy walk in the woods with HWWLLB, I got down to making two lasagnas. This is where the other four pounds of cheese came in.
First I made the easier lasagna, which was sort of a Greek spinach lasagna. It had the usual cheese filling: ricotta with lots of parmesan, but I replaced half the mozarella with a very large dose of Greek feta. I also cut the usual amount of tomato sauce in half and punched the spinach way, way up. Each layer had about 1/2 pound of fresh baby spinach in it, plus sliced olives. Tonight before I bake it, I think I'll crumble more feta on top.
The other lasagna was a mushroom lasagna with white sauce that I adapted from one that was in Cook's Illustrated this summer. I did not do quite all the insane things this recipe included, such as cooking each of the four different types of mushrooms separately and with different methods. But it was a long, slow, enjoyable process and the whole house still smells woodsy from cooking all those mushrooms. The recipe uses a porcini-bechamel sauce (a.k.a. white sauce) instead of tomato sauce, a whole lotta mushrooms, and replaces the typical mozarella cheese with fontina.
We will be eating them both tonight at a volunteer appreciation party at my house. Our volunteers are wonderful and it was fun trying a new recipe to share with them (the Greek-style lasagna was not anything new, but an old reliable in case the mushroom thing turns out to be horrid). We have two cases of locally-brewed beer to accompany the lasagnas, so it really can't be that bad no matter how weird the food.
All the cooking was all a good warm-up for Thanksgiving, which we always host as a potluck at our house. It is sneaking up on us quickly. Time to start planning the menu and the games!