Passover Lasagna

Matzo Lasagna

This recipe will serve around 9 people, depending on how you slice it!

Ingredients:

6-8 sheets of Matzo
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups ricotta cheese (or low fat creamed cottage cheese)
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded hard cheese, like mozzarella
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ricotta (or cottage) cheese, along with the parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper. Then layer the lasagna as follows: sauce, Matzo, cheese mixture, grated cheese. Repeat, making as many layers as you can, ending with a sheet of Matzo, sauce and grated cheese on top. Bake for45 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Let sit for 15 minutes before cutting into. Enjoy!

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Sauce 2 – Béchamel Sauce

bechamel-sauceThis is a basic béchamel sauce recipe that is used for dishes like moussaka or the base for an Alfredo. This recipe will make about 2 cups.

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons clarified butter or ¼ stick unsalted butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ onion, peeled
1 whole clove
kosher salt, to taste
ground white pepper, to taste
pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let it boil. Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it’s liquefied. Don’t let it turn brown, though — that will affect the flavor. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale-yellow-coloured paste. This paste is called a roux. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour.

Using a wire whisk, slowly add the hot milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it’s free of lumps. Now stick the pointy end of the clove into the onion and drop them into the sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 20 percent, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn’t scorch at the bottom of the pan. The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it’s too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until it’s just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the sauce from the heat. You can retrieve the clove-stuck onion and discard it now. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth. Season the sauce very lightly with salt and white pepper. Be particularly careful with the white pepper — and the nutmeg, if you’re using it. A little bit goes a long way! Keep the béchamel covered until you’re ready to use it.

Mornay SauceMornay Sauce Recipe

The Mornay Sauce is a classic cheese sauce made by enriching a standard Béchamel sauce with Gruyère and Parmesan cheese. The Mornay Sauce is an ideal accompaniment for eggs, vegetables, pasta or fish. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 pint Béchamel sauce
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup whole milk, hot

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the Béchamel to a simmer. Add the Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and adjust consistency with the hot milk if necessary. Serve right away.

cheddar cheese sauceCheddar Cheese Sauce Recipe

The cheddar cheese sauce is a classic cheese sauce for vegetables made by enriching a standard Béchamel sauce with cheddar cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. It’s an ideal accompaniment for vegetables, pasta or fish. Oh, and did I mention nachos? Or macaroni? I mean, honestly, it’s a cheddar cheese sauce. Is there anything you can’t serve it with? This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 pint Béchamel sauce
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup whole milk, hot

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the Béchamel to a simmer. Add the cheddar cheese and mustard powder and stir until the cheese has melted. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and adjust consistency with the hot milk if necessary. Serve right away.

Soubise SauceSoubise Sauce Recipe

The Soubise Sauce is a classic cream sauce for vegetables made by sautéing onions and then puréeing them before adding to a basic Béchamel sauce. The Soubise Sauce is an excellent accompaniment for vegetables, eggs or chicken. Note: For a simple variation on the classic soubise sauce, add some tomato purée to the sauce just before serving. This recipe will make about 1 quart of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 lb onions, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 quart Béchamel sauce
2 cups tomato purée (optional)

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onions until soft and translucent, but don’t let them turn brown. Transfer cooked onions to a food processor. Purée briefly and then return them to the pot. Whisk the Béchamel into the puréed onions and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add optional tomato purée and serve right away.

Salmon en Croute

Salmon en CrouteIngredients:

1 salmon fillet (about 1 ½ pounds), skin removed
½ cup sour cream
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
16 oz. fresh baby spinach or 10 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted and drained*
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
¾ cup dry bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
½ cup parmesan cheese (grated or shredded)
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 (17.3 oz) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet on medium-high heat, sauté the spinach, onion, garlic and lemon juice until the onion has become translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add about half of the salt and pepper to the spinach mixture and stir well to combine. Set aside, and allow the mixture to cool. In a small bowl mix together the fresh dill, the lemon zest, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and remaining salt and pepper. Set this aside as well.

You are going to want to completely encapsulate the fish, so it is easiest working with two pieces of pastry dough, rather than one large one. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Lay one sheet out on a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish or cookie sheet. Spread about a tablespoon or so of the sour cream on the dough. Then lay the salmon on the dough. Next, spread the remaining sour cream on top of the salmon. Then sprinkle on the bread crumb mixture over the sour cream. Then gently spread out the spinach mixture on top. Finally, finish with a layer of the chopped up hard boiled eggs.

Pull the edges of the dough up around the sides of your salmon pile. Then top with your remaining piece of dough, using your beaten egg to help seal the two pieces together. Use the remaining beaten egg as a wash over the top of the pastry. Cut a few slits to allow steam to escape, and take the opportunity to decorate the top of the pastry with slits or designs to your liking. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with a cucumber dill or tartar sauce.

* click here to see how to properly clean fresh dill and baby spinach.

Risotto Milanese

Risotto

While risotto can be labour intensive, with all the stirring involved, the end dish is so worth it! This is a classic recipe in the Milanese style, calling for the use of Saffron. Saffron for those who are not familiar with it is the stigma from the crocus flower. It is pollinated and harvested by hand, making it one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. Luckily, a little goes a long way.  Saffron lends a distinctive taste and colour to this dish, and in my mind, is worth the price. This recipe makes 4-6 servings, as a side dish.

Ingredients:

extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
kosher salt
2 cups Arborio rice
2 large pinches saffron
3 to 4 cups vegetable stock, kept HOT
1 to 1 ½ cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
½ to ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Coat a large saucepan generously with olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt and sweat them until translucent, about 5 minutes. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, letting the rice slightly stick to the bottom of the pan and scraping it off. It should also sound crackly. Add the saffron to the hot stock; the stock should turn bright yellow. Add the wine to the pan until it covers the surface of the rice. Season with salt and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the wine has absorbed into the rice. Add the saffron stock to the pan until it covers the rice. Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the stock has absorbed into the rice. Repeat this process two more times with the hot saffron stock. When the third addition of the stock has absorbed and the rice is very creamy, bite a couple grains of rice to be sure it is cooked perfectly. If it is still a little crunchy, add a little more stock and cook the rice for another couple of minutes. When the rice is cooked perfectly, remove it from the heat. Toss in the butter and cheese and “whip the heck out of it.” The rice should be creamy but still flow and hold its own shape.