I’ve been eyeing this recipe for years. Finally, I mentally committed to making it this fall, but the weather never seemed to cooperate – it was always too warm. Eventually, I gave up waiting for the perfect day, and I started the preparations with the windows open wide, the temperature still in the 70’s with a warm overnight low predicted. (This was early this week, prior to the arrival of the Great Wind Storm of 2010.)
Of course I happened to pick a day where everything was already going wrong: an order I made appeared to be incorrect, I smacked my head on the bottom of the freezer, I had scheduling problems, I couldn’t find a business I was driving to…you get the idea.
And as I started making the lasagna, I forgot that I had originally intended on halving the recipe, but later changed my mind – after I purchased my mushrooms. In fact, it wasn’t until I assembled the lasagna that I realized my mistake with the mushrooms. Oh well.
Things continued to go wrong. For reasons I’m still not sure of, I decided to microwave the milk in a 4-cup liquid measure. Now, just two weeks ago I had problems with that measuring cup. Apparently, though it has enough room for 4 cups of liquid, if you add more than 1 to 1.5 cups of liquid, you cannot actually pour out any liquid without it spilling over and going everywhere. The spout just can’t do it – it’s too narrow and small. So, as I was making my béchamel, milk was spilling everywhere: on my counter, on the burner, on the cookbook (really not happy about that one). Pretty much everywhere except IN the saucepan.
And of course, I was sautéing the mushrooms while I was making my sauce. This is normal for me – I always multi-task in the kitchen, so I can save time. And besides, mushrooms are pretty low-maintenance when it comes to cooking. But with the milk disaster, and me running back and forth to my roll of paper towels to keep up with cleaning the mess, I lost track of the mushrooms, and they cooked too long. And did I mention I’m wearing a walking boot, so my “running” was really more of hobbling around while trying not to kick/step on my cat when she decided it was time to race back and forth through the kitchen?
With all of the cooking drama, I fell behind my schedule. The noodles, which were not-so-patiently waiting in my colander, had all stuck together (naturally), and I remembered why I switched to no-boil lasagna sheets.
I still assembled (though you can tell by the lasagna noodle in the picture below that I really no longer cared) and baked the lasagna, though I already had a hate-hate relationship with it, all because of a stupid measuring cup. (I’m still irritated. Can you tell?) Finally, the lasagna was done, and it was time for dinner.
Ina rarely disappoints me, but I simply was not crazy about this lasagna. I love mushrooms. I love parmesan. But I didn’t adore this meal. But, that’s just me. My friend had two sizable pieces, and I packed up most of the leftovers to give to him, so he ate well all week.
adapted from Ina Garten
¾ pound lasagna noodles
4 cups 2% or whole milk*
12 tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ pounds assorted mushrooms**
1 cup parmesan
Bring milk to simmer in saucepan or heat in liquid measuring cup in microwave.
Melt 8 tablespoons of butter in large saucepan. Add flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Pour in the hot milk. Add 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper & nutmeg, and cook over medium-low until thick. Remove from heat.
Discard mushroom stems. Slice caps ¼ inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in 12 inch sauté pan. Add half of the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Cook over medium for 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms to a bowl. Cook remaining mushrooms and set all aside.
To assemble: spread sauce on bottom of 13×9 inch baking dish. Cover with noodles, more sauce, and 1/3 of the mushrooms and ¼ cup cheese. Repeat. Top with final layer of noodles and sauce and sprinkle with remaining parm.
Bake 45 minutes at 375.
*I need to use lactose-free milk, and I could only find 2%. The sauce was still plenty rich.
**I used sliced white and brown mushrooms, though only about a pound total, due to my inability to decide what whether to halve the recipe.