Monday, 23 June 2014

Lasagna

Bun-jurno! Welcome to a special Italiano edition of Caker Cooking, sponsored by Ragù. (Okay, maybe not, but a caker can dream.)

In one week, I leave for Italy! (Or, as my mom calls it, “It-lee.”) This is a pretty big deal for someone who wasn’t allowed to cross the street until high school graduation. I’ll be travelling with all my in-laws. That’s 11 Italians. For 14 days. Something tells me I may need earplugs.

As most of you know, it was the Italians who called us “cakers” in the first place. And while that term isn’t exactly complimentary, a caker never holds a grudge. So I’m making this lasagna and bringing it to share with the people of Italy. (So long as the flight crew doesn’t get to it first. LOL!)

Caker lasagna is very similar to traditional Italian lasagna, only it has cottage cheese. And garlic powder. And, uh, tomato soup. And, well, canned mushrooms. But aside from that, pretty identical. I made this lasagna for my Italian better half and while he was “schkeeved” at first, who do you think went back for a second helping? (Leaving a trail of Pino Silvestre behind him, I might add.) Then I took some to my mom and she said it was the best lasagna she ever tasted! Not that she has the highest standards. Anyways, it's good.

Next week is the first-ever Pieathalon! A bunch of food bloggers got together and exchanged pie recipes. What did I get stuck with? Alls I’ll say is, “Check, mate.”

In closing, I have a few words I’d like to say to the people of Italy. I’ve asked my Italian partner to translate.

"Dear people of Italy, I hope you enjoy this lasagna. I love your food, especially Pizza Hut pizza. I’m looking forward to visiting the childhood home of one of my idols, Chef Boyardee. See you soon."

Translation:
"Gente d'Italia, correte!!! Vi raccomando di non mangiare questa lasagna di mangia-cake!!! Questi mangia-cake hanno massacrato la nostra cultura!!! Non posso continuare a mangiare questo cibo!!! Aiuto!!!"

1 pound ground beef
1 chopped onion
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato paste
½ cup water
2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (see note 1)
8 ounces mozzarella
1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350°. Fry beef, onion and spices. Drain. Add soup, paste and water. (See note 2) Boil and reduce heat. Simmer 30 minutes. Stir. Combine cottage cheese and eggs. Add to meat mixture. Arrange 3 alternate layers of noodles, meat mixture, mozzarella cheese, noodles, etc. Bake for 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Note 1: I’m sorry, but 9 noodles didn’t cut it. I did 4 layers of 4 noodles. So 16 in total. I think. I failed math. Just use the whole box. Remember to save some sauce to spread on the top layer. I used no-boil noodles (of course) but the top layer got dried-out. You might want to consider using the boil kind. Also, try reserving some of the sauce to put on the top layer of noodles.

Note 2: For nutritional reasons, my mom always added canned mushrooms to her lasagna, so I did the same at this point.

Source: This recipe book doesn’t have a cover, but I think it’s by Eatons employees.

29 comments:

  1. Hmmm. Tomato soup and your partner went back for seconds? I'm kinda not believing that, particularly given his translation of your Lasagna Address.
    I will admit to using cottage cheese in my lasagna, though I up the Eyetalian ante by using Ragu, or more accurately, the Aldi brand of spaghetti sauce.
    P.S. Mushrooms have no nutritional value.

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    1. He did go back for seconds. Of course, after he finished, he broke down crying. There was a lot of hand gesturing, too.

      My mom used to use Ragu, as well. I had a hard time deciding which caker lasagna to feature, because there are a lot of recipes, most of which call for spaghetti sauce. But I opted for the tomato soup version.

      Mushrooms are a super food. Dr. Oz said so.

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  2. Mmm, lasagna, my favorite. I'm also a big fan of ravioli ( or "raviola" as my caker grandma used to call it) I always use the no boil noodles- just put LOTS of sauce & cheese on the top and they'll stay nice and moist. As an aside, I have very little knowledge of Italian, but I wonder about the accuracy of your partner's translation???!!! I'm sure if any of the original sentiment was lost in translation it was completely by accident!

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    1. You know, I did start to suspect something with his tranlation when I saw all those exclamation marks. I figured he was just enthusiastic. Now I'm starting to wonder.

      I love raviola. And cannellona!

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  3. My mother did the tinned mushrooms as well. Honestly, I don't think I saw a fresh mushroom until the 80's.

    Bon voyage, and say hello to Chef Boyaredee.

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    1. I always thought canned mushrooms got a bad rap. I mean, they're a nice bronze colour. And you don't have to bother cleaning off the horse poop like you do with the fresh ones.

      I will give Chef Boyardee a big kiss on the cheek for you.

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  4. You don't have to go all the way to Italy to see Chef Boyardee's house. I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Chef Boyardee's son built himself quite the mansion there. http://www.hgtv.com/real-estate/see-some-of-the-priciest-pads-in-america/pictures/page-2.html It's available for purchase in case anyone has a few spare million.

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    1. Looks like there was a lot of money in Beef-a-Roni. I got into the wrong line of work. Thanks for sharing this.

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  5. My mother attended a cookery course in New Zealand in the early seventies. As well as learning to make lasagne and profiteroles, she acquired a dish that throughout my childhood was referred to as 'rice risotto'. Maybe get a second opinion on that translation.

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    1. My mother took Chinese cooking classes in the 70s. Her chicken balls were the size of pebbles. Don't get me started on her rice. I tried making risotto once, but my arm fell off. Who can deal with all that stirring?

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  6. Loved the Pino Silvestre ad. Reminded me of when I was trying to get some lime gello to set for my Margaret Sullavan's Manhattan Salad last week. Have fun in Italy. I think there may be an extreme case of culture shock ahead. Take an EpiPen x

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    1. Apparently, the Italians eat pizza and gelato for breakfast. I have a feeling I'll be right at home.

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  7. I love canned mushrooms. And this lasagna sounds fab. Enjoy your travels!

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    1. Thank you! And a canned mushroom never did no one wrong. Plus, save the mushroom water and dab a little behind the ears when you're "in the mood." For eating, that is.

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  8. Hmmmm, Google translate revealed a rather desperate message. Is someone being held hostage to caker cooking? Should I be calling someone to intervene? Brian....is everything ok?


    ...A concerned former collegue

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    1. "colleague" sorry for the typo

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    2. Is that what the message says? That I'm holding him hostage to my cooking? What a flat-out lie. I'm going to let him out of the closet and give him a piece of my mind.

      P.S. No need to apologize for the typo. I would've spelled it "cawleeg."

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  9. This just reminded me: when I was in middle school (lo, these many years ago), we had the actual Chef Boy-Ar-Dee (Hector Boiardi) come to the cafeteria one day as the "guest chef". I can't remember the story behind this event, so why he was there at all is a mystery.
    And when you get back from Italy, we're going to expect a lot of pictures.

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    1. WHAT? You actually met Chef Boyardee? I would've thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I bet I know why he was at the school - to teach kids what good eatin' is all about.

      I'll try to post some pictures. Mind you, none of them will be very good.

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  10. I think you should open a caker diner so all of us can sample each week.

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    1. That sounds like a good idea to me, Suzanne. And I'd serve the samples in Dixie Cups.

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  11. BTW Chef Boiardi was French. Just sayin'.

    And we used to use cottage cheese, back in the old days (the 1970s) because you couldn't buy ricotta in stores in the places where I spent my prime years (college and grad school) such as Upstate NY, Texas and Virginia.

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    1. WHAT? He was French? I can't believe all the stuff I'm learning about Chef Boyardee.

      I had a hunch that cottage cheese was used in place of ricotta. But I still think cakers would've opted for cottage cheese if they had the choice. The reason? It's cheaper.

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    2. I just discovered your site and I guess I am a caker, your stroganoff recipe is the one I have been using forever (although I never got so fancy as to use real sour cream and Worcestershire sauce!) over no yolks noodles!

      My mother used cottage cheese and added a layer of frozen spinach (the only way any of us would eat spinach) but when I got older I found I don't like ricotta so that is what I use too.

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    3. My mom knew better than to try and slip some spinach into her lasagna. As kids, even the canned mushrooms were pushing our vegetable thresholds.

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    4. This is the translation I got..............
      People of Italy , run !!! I recommend not to eat this lasagna -eating cake !!! These eat -cake massacred our culture !!! I can not continue to eat this food !!! Help

      Sounds pretty serious to me

      Will miss you dearly.......... Good luck

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    5. WHAT?!? That's not the translation I asked for. As Tootie on The Facts of Life used to say, "There's gonna be truh-blll." Thanks for letting me know, Karen. I owe you a corner piece of this lasagna.

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  12. If you want to go even more caker, you can use kraft singles mozzarella like my ex's mom used to. PS- LOVE your blog! Look forward to it every week!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, Kraft Singles would kick this up a notch. Or would that be "down" a notch? Anyways, just make sure to peel the plastic wrapper off your singles. I'm speaking from experience.

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