Buon appetito in 120 minutes #2

Today I would like to share with you my second menu to cook in on a week night in a couple of hours after work. This menu includes seasonal recipes that are more suited for this winter season.table.png

APERITIVO:
– Filled mushroom heads

PRIMO:
– Mushroom lasagne

SECONDO:
One- pot roast chicken
Brussels sprouts 

CHEESE AND DESSERT:
Cheese platter
– Chiacchiere

As always, we do not start the cooking before we have split the tasks among the two of us. J is our master peeler of the house, so while he peels and chops the veggies, I start preparing the starter.

Filled mushroom heads
This this is super easy and yummy recipe for this time of the year. After washing the mushrooms, carefully remove all the stems, without breaking the head, so that you get some space to put the filling – the best way to do it is to twist the stem. Place the mushrooms in a baking tray, with the empty part up, ready to be filled. For the filling: in a blender, mix some bread from the day before (too hard to eat, but still good) with Emmental cheese, or any other cheese you like, parsley, salt and pepper. Cut the stems in very small cubes and simmer them for 5 minutes in a pan with some salt and pepper. Add them to the mixture you just made and add some vegetable stock, as mumushrooms.pngch as needed to get a smooth paste. Fill the mushroom heads with this paste and top them up with more cheese. Bake in the over at 180 degrees for 20/30 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and a little crust has formed (try the last 5/10 minutes with a grill function, if your oven has one)

Mushroom lasagne
While the appetizers cook, I can start preparing the lasagne. As I turn to J, I realize that as by miracle, the 750 gr of mushrooms are already finely cut (!). This can be done by hand, or with an electric cutter, to reduce the time. In any case, after thanking the master peeler and cutter, I cook the mushroom in a large pan with fresh thyme, salt and pepper for 15-20 minutes on a medium heat.

In a separate pot, I prepare the besciamelle sauce as follows: melt 100 gr butter and add 100 gr flour slowly to create a thick paste. On a low heat, add 1l of milk while turning, to prevent creating lumps. Add nutmeg to your taste, salt and pepper.

Now you are ready to put the lasagne together: in a large baking tray, place some besciamelle sauce, and parmesan, spread to cover the bottom of the tray completely, then start with a layer of pasta, besciamelle sauce, mushrooms and parmesan and make as many layers as you wish. Finish the last one with parmesan on top, so that you can get a nice crunchy top in the oven. Cook in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes (or depending on past cooking time, as indicated on the box).

One- pot roast chicken
chicken
This recipe is so simple and will do most of the job sitting alone in the oven, so it’s perfect for an evening after work like this! All you have to do is spread the chicken with olive oil,  lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs (my favorites are Herbes de Provence, but you can also use simple rosemary or anything else to your liking). Inside the chicken, I like to put some old bread, onchicken 2.pngions finely cut, garlic and lemon slices with the same seasoning as the one I brushed the outside of the chicken with. I decided t
o cook it in my Le Creuset for cast iron, and I added in directly the potatoes, as well as some onions and garlic. Let it roast in the oven at 180 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, turning it every now and then, to ensure that it cooks evenly. Depending on the size and on your oven, cooking time might be longer. Once you see that it is ready, simply turn the oven off and let it in, so that it stays warm.

Brussels sprouts
After getting rid of the little stem and cutting them in half. Roast them in the oven with some oil, salt and pepper, for 15 minutes. At this point, while they are not completely cooked, place them in a pan on the stove with raisins and/or bacon and finish the cooking.

I know that most of us remember Brussels sprouts as the veggies served in the school mensa on bad rainy days, but this version will change the way you think of them, I promise!

Cheese platter
Not so much to say here, just pick 2 to 4 different kinds of cheese, preferably mix some soft and some hard cheese, so that all preferences are satisfied. Add some grapes as well as honey or other special jams to go with them!cheese.png

Chiacchiere
This is the typical dessert that we eat in Italy during Carnival, before Lent starts. It is very simple yet yummy, once you start eating one, it’s hard to stop. The name literally means “chit-chat”!
In a bowl mix 1 egg, 1 table spoon of seed oil, 1 table spoon of Pastis (or any other anise liquor), 1 table spoon of sugar, a bit of lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Once this is well mixed, slowly add 140 gr of flour. Work the dough until it becomes uniform. Now you should use a rolling pin to get the dough to be a thin as possible; however, I have tried to make it with a pasta making machine, and I managed to get it very very thin, without doing the equivalent work with the rolling pin of 2 hours of weight lifting. So if you have a pasta machine at home, definitely use it! Otherwise get rolling and save up on your gym session this week! Now cut them in squares and make some cuts in between as in the picture. Deep fry until golden. I used a deep fryer, which made the process quicker and helped me to avoid having the smell linger in the whole apartment (if you set the temperature to the maximum, 1 minute for each one is enough). If you don’t have a deep frier, simply deep fry in a large pan. In either case, make sure you turn them at least once while they cook.
Let the fat absorb on paper once you take them out and place them nicely on a plate with abundant powdered sugar on top. Delicious!
Note: you can make them the day before, to make your work easier. They won’t get bad, on the contrary they will only be better as the powder sugar will make its magic effect!

I hope you will enjoy some of these recipes. Entertaining can be simple and with these tips you will manage everything in only a few hours, you won’t need to wait for the weekend to see your friends!

Love,
VOH

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