Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dinner for Two

While the Pigs and Potatoes endeavor doesn’t constitute a total failure, I was shooting for a slightly more impressive dinner using the three leftover spinach and garlic chicken sausages. I still had three containers of figs just waiting in the fridge to go bad, but I wasn’t entirely taken with the idea of a fig and chicken sausage casserole, although a variant of that was mentioned in my beloved Meats cookbook (chicken and peach casserole). The answer was lasagna.

Ok, I’ll admit I didn’t make the entire lasagna from scratch. I had half a box of lasagna noodles, plus a jar of spaghetti sauce that was just taking up precious space in my pantry. I’m sure I could’ve made both, but I did need to get rid of some surplus. Since only LA and I would be eating the lasagna, and neither of us are very good at leftovers, I made it in an 8”X8” pan, rather than the typical 9”X13”. We’d still have more than enough lasagna. My concern wasn’t the quantity, so much as the quality.

The chicken sausages were Target’s Archer Farms brand. LA felt they were the only bright spot of Pigs and Potatoes, so I assumed they would be good in the lasagna. I also like a bit of creaminess in my lasagna. This called for a bechamel (white) sauce. Luckily my milk still had a few days of life left in it, which saved me a trip to the supermarket in the rain. Bulking up the lasagna was the job of some wilting spinach I also had sitting in the fridge. I could saute that and add it as a layer. At least it would go with the sausages.

Finally came assembly. I chopped up the chicken sausage (I didn’t really want big pieces of it), added it with the standard ricotta/egg mixture, plus my jarred sauce. The spinach was the next layer. The final layer was bechamel and a heavy covering of mozzarella. I would like to take a moment to toot my own horn as well. I never measure when I make a bechamel. I just dump everything in and hope for the best, which I never get. My bechamel is always too thick and often tasteless. Today it came out perfectly. I was quite proud of myself.

I wrote up the evening’s menu on the dry erase board stuck to my fridge: figs, prosciutto, and goat cheese in phyllo tartlet shells; chicken and spinach lasagna; and oatmeal raisin cookies. I could pretend it was a real restaurant (Chez Lula).

We paid minimal attention to the fig and prosciutto tartlets. The golden, bubbling mass in the oven was our primary interest. I doled out “manly”-sized portions to both of us, and we dug in. LA made what I thought was the “I don’t like it” face. He finally admitted that he liked it but wanted to come up with a description more involved than “It’s good”. He finally came up with “It’s so good it makes me want to eat it on both sides of my mouth, even though I know I can’t.” I’d forgotten about his broken tooth. He ate the creamy top layer first, although I was saving this for the last. I always save the best part of my meal for the last bite. Neither of us finished the gigantic portion, even though we gave it our best efforts. LA was saving room for an oatmeal raisin cookie. I was sparing my self from a sense of gluttonous shame.

Before the cookies had even cooled, LA was sneaking one. “Best oatmeal cookie I’ve ever had.” Considering the dough has been in my freezer forever and I don’t even know where I got the recipe anymore, I was very pleased. I had sprinkled them with a little Fleur de Sel before baking, to give them a salty bite to offset the sweetness. I thought the touch added something. Based on the way in which LA inhaled three, I don’t think he had a chance to notice the salt. The inhalation of the three was compliment enough.

We’ve had two dinner services at Chez Lula: a potato stuffed with a sausage and a full 3-course meal involving lasagna. The second was definitely the more popular. I’m already planning future meals. Chez Lula is back in business and hopping, even if it’s only for two people.

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