Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crazy Cooking Classes

Ok, I'm not taking a class. I guess you could say I'm teaching myself to cook. And by teaching myself, I mean getting ideas on what to cook from friends and then bugging Justin to help me out and give me encouragement. Greg is my guinea pig...and sometimes my own worse critic. :) He feels the need to tell me all the time that recipes are just suggestions without taking into account that I don't cook so recipes are law to me at this point...and I don't break the law. Either way, he tells me whether what I make is good or not and frankly, that's all I care about right now.

On Monday afternoon I decided that I wanted to cook dinner. Galen suggested lasagna and I ran with it. Since I do not mix dairy with meat, I decided on a simple veggie lasagna. At first I asked Ani for the recipe her chef friend had given her but being a chef, Amy doesn't use measurements. So Ani and Amy weren't much help this time around. Damn you people who know how to cook! I looked to epicurious.com to help me out, instead. They did not fail me! I found an awesome sounding and simple recipe that I decided I could probably pull off. I went to the supermarket to get my needed items and got to work.

While I was at the store, Greg was nice enough to grate some parmesan cheese for me since he has a huge block of it and I can't really stand the smell of the stinky cheese until it's all melty and yummy. The recipe told me to mix the goat cheese (I used feta instead--what the heck is goat cheese?!?) with some herbs and olives. I did so and thought that I would not have nearly enough cheese for an entire lasagna...

The recipe calls for 7 oz of cheesy goodness. Umm, yeah. Go for more. A lot more! I would double it and then some next time. Seriously, I should have read the reviews/suggestions on the site before I went to the store but being new to this whole cooking thing, I didn't really think to look at them...and truth be told, I didn't even realize there were reviews until after I finished cooking. I'm an idiot.

After the cheese fiasco, I had to dice up some squash. Here is where I tell you that I do not cut vegetables. I'm not very handy with knives and I'm scared that I will cut my finger off one day. I tried to buy frozen squash so all I would have to do it defrost and go but my local, ghetto supermarket does not carry frozen squash. What's that about?!? I ended up getting fresh ones (as you can see in the picture above) and used the mandolin to first slice and then I cut the slices into little cube type shapes. It was quicker that I thought it would be and I still have all my fingers. Awesome!

So far so good! I then started to assemble said lasagna. Make sure you have two jars of sauce, if you don't make your own. I only had 1 and it wasn't quiet enough. Also, if you are going to add the roasted red peppers like I did, get the BIG jar. I only used peppers in 1 layer which is actually ok by me since cooked peppers give me heartburn. BUT, I know Greg likes a little spice and flavor in his food so I threw them into the mix. You're welcome.

I, of course, forgot to take pictures during the layering process but I assure you it looked messy and like there wasn't enough sauce or cheese. Again, 2 jars of sauce and double the cheese. Oh yeah, we didn't have any salvageable garlic in the house (that has NEVER happened before, I swear) and I didn't get Greg's text to pick some up until it was too late so I used garlic powder instead of minced garlic. I put a lot. I didn't even measure. We love garlic. You should do the same....just keep adding more.

After all the layering was done, and I sprinkled the parm cheese on top (I would double that as well...maybe don't even measure. Just keep sprinkling until you think you have enough on top), I covered my food with foil. Be careful not to have the foil touch the food. I wasn't so careful and everything was almost ruined when I took the foil off after baking for 40 minutes. Disaster was averted but I think I had a mini heart attack when the foil lifted some of the pasta up.

Sorry for the blurry picture. I always have to have at least 1... So yeah, after the 45 minutes or so of baking, I took the lasagna out of the oven and I was starving from the smell. It smelling good was definitely a good sign to me. How bad could it be? I let it cool while picking at it a little to try it. I loved it! The feta gave a salty taste to it that was amazing! And as a side note, I only like melted feta. Really the only thing I would change is the amount of the ingredients. I might even throw in some additional veggies next time. Who knows?!? The finished product wasn't pretty, though...I was actually a little sad about that but if I had enough sauce, I think it would have looked better and frankly, I was so hungry I didn't care too much.

You can't even tell that there was parmesan cheese on top! And yeah, there was some pasta that was still a little hard and uncooked...I think I should have smooshed everything down a little to ensure it all stayed together. It fell apart when I cut it but maybe more cheese would remedy that?

Yay! It was really yummy in my opinion and I think I did a good job. Greg did say I could make it again and agreed with me that more cheese is needed. So I would give this recipe a B as is. Once I fix it up a bit, I hope it'll be an A dish that I would be willing to share with someone other than Greg. haha


Anonymous said...

That's awesome you are teaching yourself to cook. My first big thing I cooked was a lasagna too! Except it was a meaty one since I don't need to be kosher.

May I suggest you to use the regular lasagna noodles and take the step of cooking them almost done? I assure you it's much better than the no cook kind. I know it's extra step, but it really makes it better.

And yes, I use lots of cheese too :)

Check out my sausage and broccoli pasta. You don't have to use sausage (I think it's not kosher). Ground beef or turkey or chicken is just as good!

Ani said...

I'll doctor the recipe to be perfect for you... good job beth! I'm glad you were able to make a dish!
I would have told you more cheese. When you're making something like a pasta from a new recipe, always get an extra package of cheese, JUST IN CASE.


Octopus Knits said...

It sounds delicious AND you are doing quite well learning to use a recipe as a suggestion - yumm! I want to try your feta cheese version (with extra cheese and sauce, of course) - I think "goat cheese" is probably referring to a soft, slightly tart cheese often sold as "chevre" (there's supposed to be an accent mark in there). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goat_cheese