Sunday, March 29, 2009

For some there was lasagne....

For others, there was a green pile of goo.

Similar to some other daring bakers, when I think of baking, I don't normally think of lasagna. I mean, yes, it bakes in the oven, but it doesn't strike me as a bakers dish. But, we both like lasagna quite a bit, and had the perfect opportunity to make it.

As second-year law students, we were required to take something called the "Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam," or the MPRE. It's a 60 question multiple-choice test about your ethics. Much like the bar exam, you have to pass it to become a lawyer. The test is surprisingly tricky, but because you can take it as many times as you want until you pass, there's little incentive to study. Erica and I trekked out to Walnut Creek for a morning of fun, and thought to reward ourselves and some of our law school friends with lasagna.

After going back and forth on whether to steam the spinach first (we ultimately did), the dough was beautiful - bright green, pliable, and ready to be rolled. I have a handcrank inherited from my mother (it still has the JC Penny's receipt inside from 1983) that we used for this project.

Look at those flakes of spinach! So beautiful.

As mostly vegetarians (and with a friend who is a strict vegetarian), Erica and I opted for a meatless lasagna courtesy of one of my favorite cooking blogs: 101cookbooks. Her thousand layer lasagna looked simple and likely to show off our homemade pasta.

We threw together some simple tomato sauce to complement the bechamel.

And then we started layering - tomato sauce, bechamel, cheese and pasta. Note that we had two pans - with seven of us eating dinner, we knew we had to make a lot. As you might also note, that pasta looks mighty un-cooked. It was. We figure that boiling the pasta ahead of time was unnecessary - that while in the oven, the pasta would cook. I've made lasagna this way before with hard noodles, and its always turned out just fine. Plus, boiling our big, wide noodles seemed a difficult task. This was a Big Mistake.

Tray one was delectable, or so I hear. Thinking that we had two trays of pasta, I served up four of our guests, and they set in. Complements around. Will, Cat and I waited for the second tray to be done. We waited and waited. I'd stick a knife in and it would come out gooey. Not just gooey with cheese, but gooey like paste. So we stuck it back in, and had some salad.

Sadly, the second tray was not meant to be. We eventually resorted to cooking it in other ways. In a skillet:

On the stove in boiling water (really bad idea, in retrospect, but hey - because we hadn't boiled the pasta, we figured we try it at this step):

And under the broiler:

It all tasted like paste. Why the difference between the trays? No clue - some slightly different tomatoes, and a slightly different tray, but I would have never expected perfect lasagna from one and paste from the other.

Thankfully, we didn't starve. Leftover soup, also courtesy of 101cookbooks, came to the rescue.

I'm hoping for complete success on the next go around....

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.


Heather said...

mmmm. looks yummy! love lasagna!

anjelikuh said...

lol, thanks for the details on each cooking method, great job on the challenge!

Becca said...

I'm so sorry you didn't get to try any from the successful pan! I don't suppose the boiled method would have made a good lasagna soup? Nah, probably not. Good job, and better luck on the next challenge.