Monthly Archives: July 2014

Lasagna alla Vodka: Part 1

This time last week, I embarked on an epic adventure – Lasagna Alla Vodka.

Lasagna

Sure, you’ve seen penne alla vodka before, and I’ll bet you have a favorite recipe for lasagna too. Now combine the two and we’re onto something big.

The BF and I are big fans of both, and the BF might be the biggest pasta fan out there.

In an attempt to make this something really special to kick off his birthday celebrations, I spent all of last Sunday cooking like crazy. Today I present to you the first step in this beautiful meal.

Part 1: Prepare tomatoes

Time to completion: 45 minutes

Peel tomatoes

I was inspired by this mish-mash of images that Buzzfeed took from around the interwebs, so I roughly followed their instructions to poach and peel my own whole roma tomatoes, a feature ingredient in every quality vodka sauce out there.

The good news: it worked! And it was easy!

The bad news: this adds a considerable amount of time to your lasagna making. If you start with this step in the recipe, be prepared to add an additional 30-45 minutes of prep-time. It is slightly more cost-effective to do so when tomatoes are in season, and will create a creamier sauce that will save you a few calories along the way since you will need to add less heavy cream to the finished product.

To begin with – gather tomatoes and prepare a large bowl of iced water to blanch your tomatoes. Start a large pot of unsalted water to boil. There should be enough water to full submerge the tomatoes. For my recipe, I used 15 roma tomatoes, or about 2.5 pounds worth.

Tom and water

Next, core and score all of your tomatoes. Don’t worry about scooping out all of the seeds; they will cook down and puree later. Just remove the stem for now. For scoring, you can make a deep cut across, or actually score the skin lightly, whichever is easy for you to handle.

core and score

Working in batches, place tomatoes in the boiling water. I was able to fit about 5 at a time. Boil until the skin begins to crack in such a way that it will be easy to peel, or for up to 1 minute.

crack side

Once the cracks are visible in some of the tomatoes, dunk the tomatoes into the cold water for 1-2 minutes.

tom to water

Peel the tomatoes with a paring knife or your fingers (or a combination of both!) and place in the medium bowl.

peel

Break apart the tomatoes gently with your hands, using caution not to spray tomato juice all over your kitchen like I did.

crush

Set aside while you continue with your sauce.

Part 1 = complete!

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming tomorrow: Making the Sauce!

Condensed version

Ingredients: 2.5 pounds roma tomatoes

Instructions:

  1. Fill a larg bowl with ice water.
  2. Boil water in large pot, using enough water to cover the tomatoes.
  3. Core the stem of each tomato, and score the bottom of the skin with a large “X”
  4. Working in batches, boil as many tomatoes as can be submerged in the water for up to a minute, or until the skin begins to peel back from the tomatoes.
  5. Move boiled tomatoes to the ice water bath to blanch the tomatoes.
  6. Allow tomatoes to cool 1-2 minutes.
  7. Peel tomatoes gently with a paring knife or with hands.
  8. Repeat with all of the tomatoes.
  9. Crush tomatoes in half to break open for juices.

Birthday-Sized Margaritas

The weekend is here, and not a day too soon!

The BF is celebrating his birthday on Monday – coincidentally on his first day on the new job too! So we’re celebrating in advance to usher in the holiday, the weekend, and the birthday celebration.

And I LOVE birthdays.

To me, they’re one day or weekend (or heck, week!), that can be unabashedly about you! Unlike thanksgiving, in which we come together with family, or Christmas, which we share we thousands of others, birthdays are often celebrated for one person alone.

So day 1 of our birthday bash and pre-4th of July celebration is a Margarita Day!

Main margarita

Also – new festive glasses + cocktail shaker. Yay, festivities!

This recipe is from Bon Appetite’s “The Secret to a Perfect Margarita“, and it is pretty spectacular. It might even be better than a Donny T’s margarita in LexVegas.

Yeah, I went there.

Shelled lemons

So squeeze out a couple ‘a limes to get started.

No key lime nonsense. Big, fat, juicy limes are way more time/cost/energy efficient. Organics for us were $0.50 each, but lovely and limey.

Lemon hull

 

This catch-all juicer is great. But if you don’t have one, just roll the whole lime back and forth real quick to warm up the juice, then cut and squeeze. Use a fork to press out any additional juiciness. But if you plan to make margaritas often, I highly recommend the upgrade.
All ingredients

Add some fanciful tequila, and scale up to Reposado if you’d like to up your game. This is the first type of tequila that goes through an aging process.

Tequila = Extra Anejo > Anejo > Reposado > Oro > Blanco.

And since we’re not drinking the tequila straight, the reposado, with 100% agave, will go down smoothly and blend nicely with the 3 other ingredients in this drink.

Petron is crazy expensive – try some Hornitos or a comparable reposado tequila for half the price.

Lemon juice

So!

Place ice in shaker.

Pour tequila, triple sec and fresh lime juice over ice.

Place lid on shaker.

shaking

Shaka-shaka-shake!

When glass is frosty…

BAM. Pour smoothly.

Pouring

The birthday boy even did the honors!

So check it out! Bon Appetite’s recipe is spot-on.

My measurements (for others who don’t know how to measure ounces offhand):

  • 3/4 cup reposado tequila, like Hornitos
  • 3/4 cup triple sec, and the cheap kind is just fine
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice = ~ 2 full, juicy limes

Shake to combine, and pour over a handful of ice cubes in a festive glass.

Makes: 2 generous birthday-sized, 4th of July-ready margaritas!