Its been a few
weeks. Months. I wish I had a good reason for neglecting this blog, but really, I don’t. Writers fall into funks and make excuses, but the important thing is to pull yourself out of it. And what better time than a brand new year? I have two recipes to share today, and both of them were made on the same day wayyy back at the end of September. Lasagna Soup and Beatty’s Chocolate Cake made up my mother’s birthday dinner. It may have been way back at the beginning of fall, but this Lasagna Soup is perfect for the dead of winter (though it was a balmy 60 degrees on Long Island today so I’d say that’s pretty lively).
What’s not to love, right? I think this is a great alternative to lasagna because it’s nowhere near as fussy. No messing with assembly stations and making all the components separately. The only thing you have to make outside of the stockpot is a small bowl of ricotta and Parmesan cheeses mixed together. Other than that, this dish is a one stop shop. It’s got all the main players from lasagna: cut up sausage, pasta with frills, onion, garlic, a tomato sauce (or broth really) and of course, the cheese. Also this soup allows for everyone to control the level of cheese based on their preferences. So, if Aunt Sally always complains there’s too much ricotta in the lasagna (do people really complain about this?!?!), she can put as much or as little as she wants at the bottom of the bowl before she ladles the hot soup over top.
The recipe is pretty straightforward too, brown the sausage, cut it into little rounds, and then saute the onions for a few minutes:
Then add the garlic, spices, and tomato paste and saute a bit more to let the paste warm through:
The you add diced tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock; bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for a half hour:
And finally, after it’s cooked down a bit, add the uncooked pasta of your choice. Now, the recipe calls for Mafalda or fusilli, but since Mafalda (or reginette) are hard to find around here and I don’t care much for fusilli, I was forced to make an alternate selection. I settled on Campanelle (or what my beloved Italian grandmother called ‘bluebells’) because they have a frilly edge to them which is reminiscent of lasagna, but easier to eat on a spoon:
Put a little cheese (okay a lot people, new year’s resolutions be damned!) on the bottom of your bowl, ladle this beautiful soup on top, and enjoy.
And now onto what I suspect most of you come here for, the dessert. And the chocolate. And also this time, some coffee, in your dessert.
Alright so I know these look like cow pies, but I promise you, they form the most delicious chocolate cake I have ever eaten. And I generally prefer yellow or vanilla cakes. This cake easily changed my mind. One note: the batter may seem strangely thin for a cake, but take heed, this is completely normal. Mine seemed thin but I trusted the recipe and it came out wonderful. The buttermilk keeps the cake unbelievably moist, and on the counter in a plastic domed cake carrier, it stayed that way for an entire week (the last piece had barely dried out at all, and I can speak from personal experience :)).
Now if you have it out for buttercream you may balk at the frosting, but I have had many buttercreams I found to be excessively buttery–and this was not one of them. The bitterness of the instant coffee along with the slight bitterness of the chocolate really balanced out the butter. I have trouble describing how much I love this cake and what that means considering my sometimes turbulent relationship with chocolate and its various uses and preparations. This is definitely a must try!
And I leave you with this:
Here’s to a new year full of happy birthdays!