Trav’s Corner: Blog Lasagna

11:30 Decide to make lasagna for dinner. Do a quick inventory and realize I no longer have a good pan for lasagna. This will need to be purchased. I can make the sauce now, but lunch first: pinto beans over spring greens with chopped roma tomatoes and hot sauce.

12:22 Assemble ingredients for sauce: 1 lb ground beef, 1 pkg Johnsonville Sweet Italian sausage (removed from casing), 1 onion (chopped), 8 cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped), dried basil, & oregano, ½ a bottle of 2003 Terrazas Malbec Reserva, V-8 low sodium, 1 regular size can of diced tomatoes, 4 large cans of crushed tomatoes. Grabbed a small stockpot.

12:29 Heated up pan over high heat with a little olive oil. Threw in ground beef and sausage. Stirred it around with a wooden spoon, breaking up meat until finely crumbled. Threw in 2 tbsp basil and one tbsp oregano. Let the water cook off, then stirred occasionally, letting the meat brown and caramelization develop on the bottom of the pan. Poured off some of the grease, and then threw in the onions. Sweated the onions some, threw in the garlic and stirred for about a minute. Poured in the red wine and brought to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan with a spoon. Added about 1 ½ cups of V-8, brought back to a boil. Added all the tomatoes, brought back to a boil, tasted and added 1/2 cup of sugar. Covered and set aside to cool. Done at 1:10.

3:59 Purchased 9 x 11 Pyrex pan w/silicone lid. However, realizing that I have a lot of sauce, also purchase two “deep lasagna pan” foil containers. 

4:52 Begin assembly. Preheated oven to 350. In each pan, put the following layers, bottom to top: sauce, uncooked noodles (4 across, then one broken noodle going sideways (alternate sides of sideways noodle)), sauce, mozz, noodles, sauce, mozz, a 24 oz container of small curd cottage cheese mixed with an egg, noodles, sauce, mozz, noodles, sauce mozz. I regret not getting parm to mix with the mozz. I have to open a 26 oz can of Del Monte “Traditional” spaghetti sauce to finish the last layer and a half of the second lasagna. Covered with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Thought about how every time I tell someone about this, they ask “won’t it melt?” To which I have always bit my tongue and said “no, it won’t. Seriously.” Put the lasagnas in the oven at 5:27. Set timer for 1 hour and twenty minutes. 

6:47 Looked at lasagnas. Noting that there was no overspill from the pans, decided on another 15 minutes. 

7:01 Took off covers and set timer for 30 minutes. 

7:30 Took out of oven to rest and cool. 

7:40 Couldn’t wait any longer. Cut a piece. Mmm…

 

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Trav’s Corner: Speckled Trout Tacos

One of the great things about being a food junkie is you get to find other food junkies and learn how to really cook things right.  Our S. Texas buddy, Travis, is a REAL foodie; a bona fide professional chef who left the trade for a normal job.  We’ve invited him to share some of his favorites from time to time here on AE.

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My corner of Arcadia is on the beach at South Padre Island. We’ve got a little place on the bay in Port Isabel with a dock and we keep an underwater light there that comes on at night to attract speckled sea trout. Not only are these fun to catch, but they’re also real good eating. My 7 year old son likes to catch a couple every night. We keep them for trout tacos. Here’s how I do it.

First, you’ve got to filet the fish. Start by laying the fish on the cleaning station with his back towards you.

 

Lift up the side fin and position your filet knife right next to the fin with the back of the knife at a diagonal towards the head:

 

Cut straight down to the backbone, and then turn the knife so that it cuts along the backbone.

 It’ll be tough at first as you’ll have to cut through some ribs, but after you get through that, it’ll go real easy all the way to the tail. Some people like to leave a piece at the end attached to the tail to make it easier to skin, but I prefer to cut it all the way off. Next you’ll want to remove the ribs. Place your knife right along the rib line and cut down at an angle, following the rib bones.

 

 

To get the skin off, lay the filet flat against your cutting surface, skin side down. Holding your knife flat, start at the tail end and cut through a little piece of meat to the skin.

 

Hold onto this piece with one hand and move the knife back and forth with the other. Let the knife do the work. Don’t try to push the knife along, and don’t pull the skin. This takes practice, but you can just trim off any skin you miss. Now turn the fish over and repeat.

 After you wash them off, you’ve got two nice filets. The next step is seasoning. I could put together some bad ass blend, but Tony Chachere already did:

 

 

Sprinkle this stuff on liberally, and then the filets go into a hot nonstick pan with canola oil. Cook over high heat until browned and then turn over and do the other side:

Note: searing with Tony’s can result in some pretty caustic fumes. Make sure your vent hood is on (assuming it vents to the outside) or make sure your kitchen is well ventilated. Once the filets are browned on both sides, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel or rack to drain.

While they’re draining, heat a tortilla in a dry pan until warmed through. I like Mission multigrain tortillas with this for health reasons (and cause they’re really good), but you can use corn or flour or whatever.

Once you’ve got all the tortillas warmed up (two filets makes about 6 tacos) you can start assembly. Break off a piece of filet long enough to cover the tortilla lengthwise. Next, spoon on some Greek yogurt:

 

 

This is some good stuff, and you can use it like sour cream. Next, squeeze some lime juice on there and start adding toppings. Here’s one with tomato, avocado and sprouts, but you can go with what you like here, including cabbage, peppers, onion, lettuce, cheese, cilantro, etc.

 

 

Now sprinkle on your favorite hot sauce and go to town. I usually serve with rice and beans.

Special note: you inland types can sub bass or catfish for the trout. Tilapia will do in a pinch. Just go with white fleshed fish and you should be fine.