Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Luscious Lasagna

Every once in a while, you find a recipe that you just can't wait to cook. And every now and then, the recipe really lives up to the photo. This one, exceeded all our expectations. It is both healthy and tasty. Made with a bechemel sauce and swiss chard, some fontina and the right spices, and wow, was it good. We decided to use a farro pasta, which added another more healthful element. For the filling, saute 1 lb of sweet Italian sausage until brown, then remove and drain. Reduce heat to medium, add olive oil to coat the pan, saute 2 shallots cut crosswise into strips and 1/2 a diced onion until translucent. Add two bunches of swiss chard, chopped finely, stems removed. Cook a few minutes then add 3 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 Tbl grated lemon zest, season with salt and pepper. When chard is wilted, add 2 Tbl lemon juice. Transfer to colander and drain the liquid out, pressing until the chard is dry. In a saucepan, make the bechamel by melting 5 Tlbs butter over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup flour and stir until smoothe. Add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes,and 1 tsp salt. Whisk 4 cups of heated milk into mixture, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer until thickened around 10 minutes. To assemble lasagna, cook pasta until it is soft to the touch, put a layer of bechamel on the bottom of the baking dish, then layer with chard, sausage, some fontina cheese (start with 8 ounces grated) divided between the layers. Finish the top with the pasta, bechamel and cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Serve with a light salad for a delicious, nutritious meal.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Few things motivate me to rant as much as a terrible hotel stay. Here are just a few of my pet peeves.
As I checked in to a hotel recently, the first question I was asked at the reception desk as I checked in, was "Do you have a room preference?". I stated that the only thing I cared about was quiet, the desire for peace in the sanctity of my room. As I opened the door to my room, I noticed it faced a courtyard, seemed innocent enough, but later I learned that it was to host a wedding rehearsal dinner-then a disco birthday party later that night on the rooftop garden-guess where?- right down the hall from my room. As the weekend wore on, I became more noise waery. Saturday night the dreaded wedding happened, and the outdoor bar area crowds spilled into the courtyard like an overwatered plant. I thought the noise would never end, and sometime after midnight it did. Settled into my much needed sleep I was awakened by a goup of drunken business boys up-chucking over their indulgences right outside my door. Clean-up on aisle 3 was my request to the security guard as I called the front desk for help. Then, the overzealous groom was sitauted next to us as they celebrated their wedding night! VERY LOUDLY! Silly me, I thought a Harvey Wallbanger was a cocktail from the ‘60s named after a surfer. Yeah right!
Yes, you can’t make this stuff up. Lesson here, it’s best to choose your noise if you can, but never think you can beat the odds. Traffic noise, the airconditioning unit, the nearby elevator, all possible irritants.
In the room, at first things seemed peaceful enough-until I banged my shin into the hidden bed post. Why create a beautiful inviting bed, with a hazard like that? Another hazard, no towel rack next to the shower, so you have to cross the bathroom floor, dripping wet to retieve it. Better think ahead on that one. And watch out for that shower curtain. If it is not tightly sealed, all the water drips onto the bathroom floor, causing you to use all the precious towels to mop up the floor before you dry your body. Next, the hot water was so hot I burned my foot stepping into the tub before testing the water. Good news, bad news!
My complaints to the hotel desk in the morning led them to ask if they could comp the room to make up for my lousy stay. Sadly, I was already a guest of the hotel. My advice though, complain if your situation is sincerely problematic, but pick your battles. A quiet spot was what I needed, but it was not what I got!

Friday, November 21, 2008

On the blog again


After a very long hiatis, (2 years to be specific) we are writiing again. Our voice has been
strictly audible, on our radio show "A matter of Taste" and we thought that was enough. But after much prodding and demand, we will once again try and keep a daily if not weekly post. Look for Rachel to rant about a recent hotel stay in the near future.