My friend Holl is going to cooking school here in the city. I really admire her dedication. Three times a week on top of her regular full-time job she travels over to school, where her classes run those evenings for some five hours. She’s got cuts on her hands where when she was too tired in class, she accidentally cut her fingers. Most weeks she’s a little run down (most understandably), as she looks forward to her nights in resting on the couch watching America’s Next Top Model as much as she does those nights out on the town with the gals – both balanced with pretty even frequency. She’s a fellow Southern gal, she from South Carolina and of course me from Alabama. It’s hard to break those types of connections, for sure.
But her face will light up even on the day she’s most tired or sick when she starts to speak of her classes. Her cooking. Whatever they might have cooked the day before. And I love to listen to her talk. As much as I um enjoy food, I definitely do not have her skill on the preparation side and I love hearing the intricacies of the recipes she makes. The precise method in which they teach them to cut something as simple as an artichoke. The details that goes into the perfect sauce to accentuate the flavors of the meat and accompanying sides.
I was excited when she invited C and I over last week to watch America’s Next Top Model and enjoy some of her Tuscan lasagna, the preparation of which she learned in her week long cooking class she took last year in Tuscany. I was curious as to what all was included in the recipe in comparison to what is the norm here for lasagna. It was quite different.
Her response was…
Ground beef and pork
Garlic, Salt and Pepper
Fresh herbs: basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, bay leaf
A Mirepoix of carrots, onions and celery
Equal parts butter and flour
1 quart milk
Dash of salt and pepper
She explained the assembly went 1 layer Bechamel, then a layer of noodles, then meat ragu, then top with fresh Parmesan, repeating as many times as you can. Interesting that the recipe does not include the staple ingredients here of Ricotta and Mozzarella.
To give her time to prepare, C and I hit the “siesta hour” at Pata Negra, one of Holl’s favorite spots. She came down to meet us as it finished off. What a fabulous place, the likes of which are definitely not located at my front steps. And the lasagna did not disappoint. It was not heavy like lasagna typically is to me. It was very light and flavorful and super different from any other lasagna I’ve ever had. Absolutely fabulous. Although if I doubt her skills more, perhaps that will mean more taste testing to lead to perfection? If so, I’m happy to help with the cause 😉