Miri, where have you been? Why haven’t you been blogging? Well, let me explain. I started a new job in April working for a luxury cookie company. As if the new learning curve wasn’t enough, my health deteriorated a great deal. On top of that, the new job I have as Office Manager flared up some SEVERE carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. Finally, we’ve been experiencing quite a heat wave in Southern California, and as what I do is primarily bake things, new material was just way too hard to come up with.
So now, I have been doing this job for over 4 months and have developed my particular systems for getting my job done effectively. I also have health insurance now and was able to see a doctor about my hands. I’ve been wearing hand braces on my hands at night and that has made all the difference – I experience virtually no pain when typing now! And finally, the heat has subsided and I can make food in my home in comfort without the super noisy and distracting air conditioner.
So Miri, why lasagna? Why now? Well, truth be told I have made this recipe twice now and I decided it would be cruel to not share with you. See, I have this amazing boyfriend who lavishes me with all the kindnesses that affections should offer, particularly when it comes to taking me out to nice restaurants. He is so generous I am often left to wonder what I can do for him in return. This is actually frustrating, because my boyfriend is not picky and likes anything I make. One morning I was watching the Food Network show “The Best Thing I Ever Made”. They did a segment with Marcella who has this Mexican food show. She had this recipe involving corn and chiles and lasagna that I knew Matt would flip for – and did he ever. This dish is so sweet and savory, you can’t help but want seconds!
And while we’re on the subject of Matt, his birthday party was last night, and this picture was snapped of the two of us, ain’t we cute?! We went to this awesome bar in Silverlake called the Thirsy Crow. It’s a whisky bar that looks like a Pirate Ship. I seriously felt like I was at Disneyland about to pass by the Blue Bayou Restaurant. Anywho, they have over 100 kinds of whisky – and when I bought a certain kind for my love, they asked “what year?” Stupendous.
It’s not often we have pictures taken of both of us, because I’m usually he camera person, documenting my friends’ lives, so this was welcome gift!
There is one more thing I can say about lasagna that extra-amazing. You can prepare everything ahead of time, freeze it, and just pop the casserole dish in the oven when it’s time to eat it. I love that.
This is what makes cooking so much different than baking: you have to prep everything. So before you get started, let me tell you how to do it. You must roast the chiles over the range until they are completely black. Once they are completely black, you put them in a paper bag, wrapped tight, and leave them on the counter for about 20 minutes. After that time, you can run the chiles under cold water, removing the skin. Once the skin is removed, cut off the top, split the chile in half, and scrape away all the seeds inside with a knife.
You want to use fresh corn. So you take the corn, remove the husks, and cut the kernels off down the sides with a knife. One thing Marcela said to do was to cut off the kernels on top of a towel, so they don’t bounce or roll away. Good tip! After this you also want to slice the onions and the zucchini. So there you go, now is the time for actual recipe.
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise (or 2 small zucchinis)
4 poblano chiles, charred, peeled, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips
12 (7 by 3-inch) no-boil lasagna sheets (this is really important, the no-boil thing)
2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese, or mozzarella (I have never found Oaxaca cheese, mozzarella all the way)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
First off, prep everything as I said above. Sometimes these recipes have directions in the ingredients list. Remember, I didn’t do that to you.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 2/3 of the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Mix in the corn and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and thyme. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender (NOT a food-processor… TRUST me on this) and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Below is what you get when you’re done.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 1 minute. Mix in the zucchini and poblano strips and cook for 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.
Spread about 1/4 of the corn mixture over the bottom of an 9 by 6-inch baking dish. Cover with a layer of 3 lasagna sheets. Spread 1/4 of the poblano mixture and 1/4 of the cheese over the pasta. Repeat the layering 3 more times, beginning and ending with the corn mixture. I made you a little chart below:
1. Corn mixture
2. Lasagna sheets
3. Zucchini, onions and chiles
Cover with foil.
Bake until the pasta is cooked and tender, about 50 minutes. Remove the foil and turn up the oven temperature to broil. Broil until golden brown and bubbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
You see that picture over there? Yeah, I put the lasagna too close to the broiler, so it burned a bit. Be careful of that.
Ok, so like I said I made this for Matt, but he’s actually working today, but I thought it would be an AWESOME lunch to have throughout the week, and it’s finally normal Los Angeles weather, so I baked away.
It’s just the right amount of sweet and savory, an unexpected flavor from a classic (traditionally Italian) dish. Enjoy, everyone!