Christmas Dinner!

It has been a long time since I’ve been able to get organized to write a post. I have a backlog of recipes that I want to share. But, instead of going back in time… I’ll write up some recipes I used for our Christmas dinner celebration. It was a wonderful feast with good friends, friendly pups, and lots and lots of fabulous food. On the menu was turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans, risotto with scallops, stuffed onions, stuffed peppers, butternut squash soup, and butternut squash salad (if you can believe it, I think I may be missing menu items!). I brought over cauliflower gratin and veggie lasagna. Both turned out wonderfully! The lasagna is very time consuming, but work every minute!

Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Gratin (from Food Network)
What You Need:
– 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
– 2 cups heavy cream
– 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese , coarsely grated
– 2 cups grated Parmesan
– 6 ounces goat cheese, cut into small pieces
– Salt and freshly ground pepper

What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Layer the cauliflower, heavy cream, and the 3 cheeses in a medium casserole dish.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the sauce has thickened slightly. 5. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Veggie Lasagna (from Gourmet Today Cookbook! Go out and buy it! I love this book)
Note: This is a complicated recipe. I made the ricotta a day in advance and then worked through the recipe. I organized it by each of its components.

What You Need (Sauce):
– 3 tbl olive oil
– 1 med onion
– 4 garlic cloves, minced
– 3 tbl tomato paste
– 2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice, Italian, drained, juice reserved, and finely chopped
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp black pepper
– 3 tbl chopped basil

What You Do (Sauce):
1. Heat oil in heavy pot over moderate heat and add onion, cooking for 6 minutes.
2. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
3. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, juice, sugar, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
4. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 45 minutes.
5. Stir in basil and remove from heat.

What You Need (Ricotta Cheese):
– 3 cups whole milk ricotta (see my post for how to make homemade ricotta)
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano
– 1/4 cup chopped parsley (flat leaf)
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp pepper
– Pinch nutmeg

What You Do (Ricotta):
1. Stir together in bowl until combined and refrigerate.

What You Need (Roasted Veggies):
– 1 pound eggplant cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch think slices
– 1 pound zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch think slices
– 3 tbl olive oil
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp pepper

What You Do (Roasted Veggies):
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Oil two large baking sheets.
3. Arrange eggplant slices on one and zucchini slices on the other.
4. Brush veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Bake, turning once, 20 minutes.

What You Need (Creamed Spinach):
– 1 1/2 cup whole milk
– 3 tbl olive oil
– 3 garlic cloves minced
– 3 tbl flour
– 3 tbl parmigiano-reggiano
– 2 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
– Salt and pepper to taste

What You Do (Creamed Spinach):
1. Heat milk in a small saucepan until warm.
2. Heat oil in heavy saucepan over moderate low heat until hot.
3. Add garlic an cook, 4 minutes (or less).
4. Add flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes, to make roux.
5. Add warm milk in a steady stream whisking constantly.
6. Simmer sauce until thick 3-4 minutes.
7. Stir in cheese, spinach, salt and pepper.
8. Cook until heated.

What You Need (Lasagna Assembly):
– 1 pound fresh lasagna noodles (Vace is a great source in Cleveland Park, Washington DC)
– 1 pound mozzarella cheese (fresh, from Vace or check out my post on mozzarella), grated

What You Do (Lasagna Assembly):
1. Oil a 13-9 inch glass baking dish.
2. Spread 2 cups tomato sauce into dish.
3. Cover with lasagna noodle(s).
4. Spread ricotta, then cover with eggplant (overlapping to fit).
5. Top with more lasagna noodle(s).
6. Spread 1 1/2 cup sauce and top with spinach mixture.
7. Top with more lasagna noodle(s).
8. Top with zucchini (overlapping to fit).
9. Top with last of lasagna noodles.
10. Spread remaining sauce and sprinkle top with mozzarella.
11. Cover with well buttered foil and bake for 45 minutes at 375.
12. Remove foil and bake additional 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Let rest and enjoy!

Wish I was a food photographer to get some good shots of the meal. But here are samples of our colorful and full plates:

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