Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Archive for the category “Italian”

Lasagne al Forno


Lasagne al Forno.  So delicious.  Homemade ragu bolognese, fresh pasta, creamy balsamella, nutty parmigiano throughout with a sprinkling of mozzarella to top things off–this dish is so worth the effort and the leftovers are amazing.

If you’ve been following my posts leading up to this grand finale, you’ve had a sweet peek into each of the delicious ingredients in this authentic Italian lasagne.  Yes, this dish is a labor of love, but the results are nothing short of delizioso.

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Sorry, no picture for this post.  Though this recipe is really a quickie and part of my ongoing series of Lasagne al Forno posts, I thought it might be easier to do a separate post for this last ingredient.

Balsamella, more widely known as bechamel, is a thickened milk sauce with a wide variety of uses.  One of the four ‘mother sauces,’ balsamella uses a roux mixture to thicken milk, creating a velvety sauce or base for such dishes as cannelloni, macaroni and cheese, creamy sauces, and more.  Depending on the ratio of flour and butter used to milk, this sauce can range from thin to rather thick and may be used plain or flavored with herbs, spices, cheese, and more.

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Fresh Pasta

Fresh Pasta

It has been awhile, hasn’t it?  Funny how time can fly by between posts.  We’ve finally gotten into some warm weather, which makes it hard to stare at a computer screen.  Plus, we are now expecting our THIRD kiddo (due in November), and there’s nothing like a little first trimester funk to suck the motivation out of a would-be blogger.

In any case, and at long last, I’ve finally gotten around to the next installment in my series of posts on homemade, authentic Italian lasagne.  While you can certainly buy dried lasagne sheets or even fresh sheets for lasagne, for whatever reason, I had a sudden urge to make my own pasta from scratch.  Gotsta justify owning a pasta press, right?

The recipe for pasta is quite simple, though I’ll say right now that making pasta with a couple of ankle biters running around is a whoooooole lot different than the first time I made pasta back in college.  As I recall, the boyfriend and I made a date night out of it and I can still clearly picture the fettuccine he had wrapped around and around his neck in a serious effort to make the longest strand mankind has ever seen.  Now that I think on it, my future husband’s help may not have been that different than my 4-year-old’s…

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Ragu´ alla Bolognese


I have had this serious desire for some real lasagne.  So serious that I made this delicious bolognese today and will make fresh pasta tomorrow.  Layered with besciamella (or bechamel, in French) and freshly grated parmigiano, this is a truly authentic lasagne al forno.  I will, of course, do a post for the fresh pasta as well as for the construction of the final masterpiece.

The recipe I use here is an adaptation from Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian.  What a beautiful cookbook!  The photography alone makes this one worth owning, not to mention the authentic cuisine.

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Pizza Dough


I love pizza.  Anytime.  Anywhere.  Unfortunately, ordering up a pie of any kind on a regular basis is a sure and fast way to amply fill out those skinny jeans.  Have you ever checked the nutrition info on your favorite slice?  Most have around 350-450 calories per slice!  And let’s be real.  You’re not just eating one slice, are you?

So how does the avid pizza lover turn this greasy indiscretion into sensible fare?  The answer is to make your own!  This recipe makes a fantastic pizza, not to mention delicious bread sticks and calzone.  In fact, over the next few days I’ll be posting recipes for both Homemade Pizza as well as Twisted Herb and Cheese Bread Sticks for your eating enjoyment.

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Italian Braised Beef

Nothing beats a delicious braise on a cold, rainy day.  And, though you might be tempted by the relative ease of a Crock Pot, nothing beats the performance of enameled cast iron.  Yes, there are often more steps involved and you can’t simply dump your ingredients and hit the ‘on’ button, but the exchange in flavor development is immeasurable.  Now, lest I be caught out on this one, I am sure that at some point, I’ll post a Crock Pot recipe.  But not today.  Vive Le Creuset!

This recipe is an adaptation of Giada’s Short Ribs with Tagliatelle.  Though I do enjoy short ribs, they can be rather fatty and I can’t say I relish getting a mouthful of fat goobers when I’m expecting a bite of meat.  Chuck offers nice flavor and is much leaner.  I’ve also adjusted the braising liquid to my taste–that is, more wine, less beef broth.  Finally I really prefer to braise in the oven versus on the stove top.  Not only does it keep my stove top clear for the cooking of other dishes, but the heat is much more even and consistent.

If you happen to be watching your waistline, definitely add this recipe to your line-up.  Forget about low-cal meals with lackluster flavor; though wonderfully rich and satisfying, this dish clocks in at a modest 525 calories when served with 1 cup of pasta.

Click here for the recipe!

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