When Jeff visited last week, I served Blackberry Crumble for dessert. He asked for the recipe and I told him I'd trade him the recipe for a guest post on making a do-it-yourself TV antenna. We got the better end of the deal since the recipe is so easy, I could've just given it to him on the spot.Read More
Since we've arrived in Las Vegas, I've been hard-pressed to keep up with Mary in the cooking department. She's does most of the cooking and sometimes allows me to be the sous-chef, prepping veggies, etc. That's okay with me, she's a terrific cook and seems to do it all effortlessly. I pick up a tidbit or two whenever we cook together. Every once in awhile, however, she's either not around for dinner or needs a break from her cooking duties and I have to dig into my Nine of Cups recipes for something for dinner. Easy and tasty are necessary ingredients for anything I make and Nine of Cups Lasagne fits the bill on both counts. I make this on the boat when I have the ingredients. On land, it's a piece of cake … I mean, lasagne.
- 3 cups ricotta cheese, drained (or 3 cups of creamed cottage cheese ... cheaper, lower fat and calories and just as good)
- 1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tsp salt / 1 tsp pepper (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 2 large eggs
- 1 lb (1/2 kg) ground meat aka mince (beef, chicken, turkey or even sausage meat)
- 1 15-oz can/tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
- 1 6 oz can (170g) tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp basil
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced fine
- Lasagne noodles
- 2-3 cups Mozarella or Italian blend cheese, grated
- Combine cheeses, parsley, salt, pepper and eggs till smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Cook meat and garlic till lightly browned and then drain as necessary. Add tomatoes, paste and herbs/spices and simmer for about 15 minutes uncovered, till sauce is thick.
- Lasagne noodles do not need to be pre-cooked nor do you have to spend extra to buy “pre-cooked”. Just rinse dry noodles under water before layering in the casserole. I usually use about 2-3 lasagne sheets per layer and I make either a 2 or 3 layer lasagne.
- Spray a medium size rectangular oven-proof baking dish with cooking spray.
- Each layer of the lasagne includes: Lasagne sheets (2, 3, 4 ...whatever will lie flat in your baking dish without too much overlap. Breaking noodles to custom-fit your pan is allowed.) Depending upon the number of layers, divide the ricotta filling evenly and spread on top of the noodles. Divide the meat filling evenly and ladle on top of the ricotta. Spread 1 cup grated mozarella on top of the meat filling
- Note: If you're using a smaller, deeper baking dish, it usually requires 3 layers instead of two.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes in 350F (180C) oven till cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and let "rest" for 10 minutes, till the layers set. Serve with garlic bread and salad and maybe Chianti wine?
Beyond the fresh baguettes, croissants, pains au chocolat, and palmiers, there was definitely a lot of France in French Guiana when it came to cuisine, mixed with the local flavor of spice and tropical fruits. We don't frequent restaurants all that often, but eating out is part of the experience, so we felt obligated.
Moules frites is the the national dish of Belgium, but very popular here. We tried it at Le Mombari, a local, popular restaurant in Saint-Laurent and then again while we were in Cayenne. They serve a kilo of mussels in a marmite (black kettle) with a large plate of frites (French fries) on the side. We found a kilo was plenty enough for two to share.
The traditional way to enjoy mussels is to use the empty mussel shell from the first one you eat as pincers to extract the subsequent mussels. Served with cold white wine, and French bread to soak up the delicious, creamy broth, it was really a feast for the palate.
I checked out several recipes on-line for preparing the mussels. Here's the one I thought most closely resembled what we had.
- 2 tablespoons (30g) butter
- 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- pinch of salt
- 1.5 cups (375ml) dry white wine
- 2 tbsp (8g) fresh parsley
- 2 pounds (1kg) mussels
- 1/4c heavy cream
- Plus 750ml (1 bottle) of chilled, dry white wine … for the cook as she's preparing the meal
- Cook shallots and garlic in butter till translucent.
- Add wine and bring to a boil.
- Add cream, salt and parsley and stir gently, then slowly add mussels, stirring gently once again.
- Cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes till all mussel shells open.
- Serve with bread.
A couple of other French culinary finds …
Pain perdu – We call it French toast. It's made here with leftover baguettes. Literally, “lost bread” because a day-old baguette is … well, a day-old baguette. It's stale and dry until you dip it in an egg and milk mixture, with a little sugar and nutmeg and fry it up. Oooh, la, la.
Jamais gouté - a fish caught specifically in the Maroni by Amerindian people which translates literally to “never tasted” and unfortunately, we never did get a chance to taste it. Next time maybe?