Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pittsburgh Strip District Italian Deli Pasta Bake






Winter in Pittsburgh. Temps are in the 50's and 60's one day, the teens the next. I don't know about you, but my internal appropriate-recipe-for-the-weather indicator has been swinging back and forth like some kind of crazed pendulum. 

My kitchen is as likely to see a fresh off the grill sizzling chicken breast atop a crisp, green salad as it is a pot of stew or chili simmering on the stove. As a result, I'm behind on making my favorite cold weather recipes, like my family's favorite macaroni and cheese with ground beef and tomatoes. I'd bet this old fashioned, homey casserole is one of your family's favorites, too. 

My mom used to make the dish with elbow macaroni, browned ground beef, onion, green pepper, cubes of cheddar (or even Velveeta!) and a can of tomato soup. Nope, she used no seasoning or garlic at all except for salt and (maybe) pepper. 

My version, many years later, ditched the soup for canned tomatoes, added fresh spinach (to pack more nutrition and the kids never knew there was spinach hidden in there), sometimes I used feta, sometimes mozzarella, sometimes mushrooms made it in, and always garlic. The recipe has always been changeable, but still maintained the basic tomatoes, ground beef, cheese and macaroni base. As does this twist.

As always with this casserole, a visual sweep of what's on hand is the first step. At first glance, the fridge revealed leftover cooked hot sausage links from last night's dinner and several slices of some good Strip District Parma Sausage Salami Rustico. That would be waaaaay better than plain old hamburger! Looking further down, I discovered my own home-smoked hot pepper cheese and even a little home-smoked mozz! The pantry, as always, contained cans of San Marzano tomatoes thanks to Penn Mac in the Strip. The Strip District Italian Deli Pasta Bake came into being. 

Maybe there IS a benefit to this oddball winter. A warm and sunny day is perfect for strolling the Strip picking up components for a comforting casserole to make when the temperature inevitably dips back into the chill zone. Maybe this IS the perfect winter weather after all.



Pittsburgh Strip District Italian Deli Pasta Bake


  • 4 C cooked pasta - al dente, of course - I used gluten free penne
  • 2 links cooked hot Italian sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 C pre-sliced salami, cut into ribbons - I used Parma Sausage Salami Rustico, use whatever you have on hand...pepperoni works really well, too!
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, medium dice
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 C real San Marzano tomatoes, don't drain off the liquid, use it all!
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1 t Jane's Crazy salt or kosher salt
  • 2 T tomato paste - buy the tube so you don't waste the rest of a small can
  • 1/2 lb diced smoked hot pepper cheese (or use your own favorite - cheddar, smoked cheddar, hot pepper cheese that hasn't been smoked)
  • 1/2 C smoked mozzarella or smoked provolone for the top, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a shallow casserole dish with olive oil and set aside.

In a nonstick saute pan over medium heat, warm the cooked sausage slices and salami until both release their fats and the salami separates and no longer sticks together. Remove to a plate. In the same pan, add the olive oil and then the onion and garlic. Cook until soft, but not browned.

Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, basil, Jane's Crazy Salt and tomato paste. Combine well, then add the sausage and salami back to the pan. Combine all thoroughly.

In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked pasta and the tomato mixture, stir well. Add the diced cheese and mix gently again until everything is evenly distributed throughout. Pour into the prepared casserole dish, top with shredded cheese and bake 25-35 minutes.

Add a green salad and it's dinner, folks!

NOTE: If you like your version less spicy, use cheddar instead of hot pepper cheese and sweet Italian sausage in place of the hot version. Like it spicier? Top the casserole with pickled hot peppers after it comes out of the oven for a real Italian deli touch!




Monday, January 25, 2016

Chicken Thighs, Portobellos, Wild Rice & Noodle Bake





Maybe it isn't Thursday (or maybe it is by the time you read this), but what we've got here is a throwback. A throwback recipe, that is. Our cold and snowy weather outside had me remembering warm kitchens and tempting aromas of slower times and some old fashioned family recipes. 

Memories of a rice and egg noodle side dish I used to make back in the seventies kept nudging me until I looked up the old recipe. It included a little soy sauce and some water chestnuts along with chicken stock. In fact, it was kind of a made-from-scratch Rice-a-Roni twist...which (sigh) I couldn't have because of the celiac issue. 

You know, I reworked that old recipe into a one dish dinner with chicken thighs and beefy portobello mushrooms and ended up with an entire Sunday dinner that was even better than the original side dish. Instead of egg noodles, fine rice noodles worked perfectly. Instead of Minute rice, I used a box of Near East Wild Rice mix (this brand is gluten free). And, of course, I used wheat free tamari in place of soy sauce. Chicken, portobellos, wine....voila! A throwback recipe that was updated to be gluten free, that was almost a one dish dinner, and was everything I'd remembered. 

All that was needed was a salad or a green vegetable for a Sunday dinner that brought back warm memories with a whole new and easy dinner. They say you can't go back. Maybe, with a good old fashioned recipe in hand, there's a way after all.



Chicken Thighs, Portobellos, Wild Rice 
& Noodle Bake


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 5-6 skinless chicken thighs (or equivalent chicken breasts, if you wish)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps, sliced across in half and then into 1/2" pieces
  • 3 T butter
  • 4 oz fine rice noodles (half a box of 8.8 oz Thai Kitchen Thin Rice Noodles or same amount of another brand)
  • a 6 oz box of Near East Long Grain & Wild Rice mix (original), save the spice packet
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 20 oz low salt chicken broth
  • 1 T wheat free tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 can of sliced water chestnuts - do not drain

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On top of the stove, in an ovenproof Dutch oven, heat olive oil. 

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, then brown on both sides. Remove from pan. Add mushrooms to the pot and stir a minute or two until just cooked. Remove to same plate as chicken.

Add butter to pot and melt. Add noodles and stir until lightly browned in places; add the wild rice mix - do not add seasoning packet yet. Stir rice and noodles until coated with butter. Now sprinkle the seasoning packet over the mixture in the pot and pour the wine in; stir up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add chicken broth and tamari, stir again. Add water chestnuts, including the liquid, and stir well.

Top rice and noodle mixture with browned chicken and then with the mushrooms. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Serve with a side salad or green veggie.




Friday, January 15, 2016

Quick Shrimp & Penne With Bleu Cheese Vermouth Sauce






If you've heard the old saw that forbids the combination of fish or seafood with cheese, this is one recipe that dispels that misguided advice. Lets be real, there are loads of dishes that ignore that rule including Sole Romano or Flounder with Parmesan Crumbs; Lobster Mac n Cheese; Shrimp, Crab & Scallop Alfredo; or even good old fashioned tuna casserole. So go ahead, it's perfectly delicious to cheese up your fish with abandon!


Quick Shrimp & Penne
With Bleu Cheese Vermouth Sauce

Serves 2

  • 12 jumbo shrimp, tails removed, deveined
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 T dry white vermouth
  • 4 T half and half
  • 4 T bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 2 small green onions, sliced across - reserve 1 T of the green bits for garnish
  • lots of fresh ground black pepper
  • freshly shaved parmesan cheese for finishing
  • 2 C cooked penne
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes - stir, but do not brown. Once the garlic has softened, add the shrimp. Cook until just pink on both sides. Remove just the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Add green onions to the oil, garlic and red pepper in the skillet, then add vermouth. Stir up all the good stuff from the bottom of the pan. Add the half & half and stir again; add bleu cheese and stir until smooth. Season with pepper.

Plate the penne in two shallow bowls (to hold all that creamy, cheesy sauce), then divide the shrimp and sauce between them. Garnish with green onion and shaved parm. Add a green salad and dinner is ready in minutes!


NOTE: This really is a quickie recipe...as long as you have cooked pasta on hand, and I did. 

Pro Tip: Cook that whole box of pasta even if you only need part of it, and freeze what's left for fast future dinners (just be sure to cook it only to the al dente stage before freezing in 2 C portions). 









Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sweet & Spicy Baked Butterbeans, Brisket & Bacon





The holidays are over and I'm still dealing with a few bits and pieces of the Ghost of Christmas Dinner Past. Admittedly, this was a friendly ghost...there's nothing spooky about a great big smoked brisket!

Ahhhhhh, the brisket. Not to brag here, but this was the best brisket I've ever smoked....hell, it's the best brisket I've ever eaten! For sure, I've upped my skills over the years, but it was the quality of that huge cut of beef that made all the difference. 

Have you been to Butcher on Butler in Lawrenceville yet? Thank goodness I found them. Right after coming back from our trip to the Bourbon Trail, I hit them up for some really good thick-sliced bacon to recreate the Bacon in a Glass with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce we'd enjoyed at OBC Kitchen in Lexington, KY. Whoa! Best. Bacon. Ever! My version kicked some major bacon butt, too...again it's the quality of the meat. I knew right then and there where I was getting my Christmas brisket. (You can bet the bacon recipe will be hitting Dinner Plan-it soon.)

Okay, back to the brisket. I put the 11 1/2 pound deckle-on, spice-rubbed beauty on to smoke Christmas Eve. Christmas morning there was a miracle of a gorgeously smoke-ringed, juicy hunk of brisket waiting to be sliced for dinner. Opening the door of the smoker was just like opening a Christmas present!

After using the leftover brisket in sandwiches, brisket hash, and such, I had one last hunk...and I was looking for something a little different to use it all up. A one pot wonder perhaps...and so a nice pot of rich, hearty, smoky beans with brisket and bacon - and a little heat and sweet was born.


Sweet & Spicy Baked Butterbeans, Brisket & Bacon

  • 1 lb large lima beans, soaked overnight according to package directions - reserve the soaking water!
  • 1/2 lb thick sliced slab bacon cut across into 1/4" lardons (yes, I got it at Butcher on Butler!)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) fire roasted diced garlic tomatoes
  • 3/4 pound smoked brisket, cut into 1/2" squares
  • T instant coffee powder
  • 3 T maple syrup - the real stuff, not fake pancake syrup
  • 1/4 C blackstrap molasses
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 T Jane's Crazy Salt
  • 2 T Mike's Hot Honey
  • LOTS of fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 C reserved bean soaking water - add chicken stock if you don't have a full 4 C

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Using a large ovenproof Dutch oven or large, deep enameled casserole dish, saute the bacon long enough to release the fat. Add the onion and jalapenos and saute until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. 

Cover the dish and bake for 4 hours. Increase the oven temp to 400 degrees, UNCOVER the casserole dish and continue baking another hour. 

NOTE: I went back to B on B for my good luck New Year's kielbasa to tuck in with some good ole Pittsburgh sauerkraut. When I picked up my order after waiting in a long line with other meatlovers in the know, the meat sticks were still warm from the smoker. Meat heaven!







Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Christmas Pickle Story



Did anyone else happen to glance at the calendar and exclaim, "Holy schneikes! Next week is Christmas?!" Well, I did. Luckily, I just came from a visit with the Pittsburgh Pickle brothers. What's that got to do with Christmas? You DO know about the Christmas pickle, don't you? Let me tell you the story....

Legend has it that Germans hid a pickle deep  within their Christmas trees. On Christmas morning, the first child to spot the pickle got an extra present and the first grownup to spot it would have good luck for the new year. Does pickle spotting sound a little bogus to you? Your cynicism is well founded. 

Research reveals that's something the German never did...not one German can be found to substantiate the story. Yet, the Christmas tale - and tradition - continues right here in America. You can even buy glass pickle ornaments for your very own tree at the Heinz History Center! 

Here's my theory. Germans and Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh and Heinz; Heinz and pickles; pickles and Heinz History Center. Full circle! Of course, Heinz pickles are made right here in Pittsburgh, right? Wrong! They moved that function out of Pittsburgh long ago. So who keeps the pickle homefires burning here in the 'Burgh? Well, the Pittsburgh Pickle Company, of course!

The Patterson brothers (John, Will, and Joe who also own the Beerhive), last year founded their pickle business after having made pickles for use in their Strip District hotspot. The pickles were a hit, customers wanted to buy the long green spears to take home, and a spinoff business was born. And let's face it, the brothers not only know a thing or two about pickles, they have good business bones - one brother is a CPA and another an accountant.

Come one, let's take a little tour of the very hands-on pickling process at their facility in Verona. You can tell every jar is packed with not just pickles, but with love.


You can't have dill pickles without dill.

You especially can't have pickles without cucumbers...crates and crates of the green beauties!

Cucumbers, pre-pickling, washed and in waiting. Buckets of them!

Sliced by hand, trimmed by hand, made by hand...gloved, of course.

What goes in the best garlicky dill pickles? Garlic and dill. LOTS of it in every jar. 

And cucumbers...
On go the lids, then into the water bath they go.

After a nice long pickle-hot-tub spa session, the jars come out of the bath, are cooled down quickly and await the appropriate label for the variety of pickle within. This day it was the Dill-Mill variety (kind of sounds like "steel mill" pronounced in yinzer speak), the kind with extra dill and garlic. On other days, it might be the original Pittsburgh style dill that's a little sweet, too. Or maybe their newest, Fire & Smoke, that gets its dark and smoky color from the addition of a whole dried chipotle chile in every jar. The color reminds me of what the night sky above the steel mills used to look like. 

One WHOLE chipotle goes into every jar!

In fact, the entire pickle lineup is inspired by the very real, gritty, hardworking people of our city's industrial (and industrious!) past. You might even say the Patterson brothers embody that very same spirit.  



The brothers generously handed me a trio of jars - one of each variety - as I left after a long, productive morning. And I had plans for those colorful jars of pickles...especially for the Fire & Smoke ones. 

I couldn't wait to make one spicy, smoky Bloody Mary. You can tell by the first pic (at the top of the page) that I didn't wait for long. My Fire & Smoke Bloody Mary doesn't even have hot sauce...the smoky, chipotle pickle juice (and just a smidge of Mike's Hot Honey) gave my favorite brunch cocktail that kind of slow, sweet heat that creeps into quite a gentle warmth. 

Fire & Smoke Pickle Juice Bloody Mary


  • 8 oz V8 original - I use high fiber V8 for a healthy morning drink!
  • 2 oz Pittsburgh Pickle Fire & Smoke pickle juice - drained from the jar of pickles
  • 1/2 t celery salt
  • 1/2 oz Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • just a drizzle of Mike's Hot Honey - check Amazon...amazing stuff
  • 3 oz vodka - I use Pittsburgh's own Boyd & Blair
  • a lemon wheel
  • a nice long Fire & Smoke pickle
Stir all ingredients except for the lemon wheel and the pickle spear together in a cocktail tin. Pour over ice in a nice tall glass and garnish with the lemon wheel and pickle spear. Merry Christmas!

 If you're having a big group of guests over for brunch, John shared the Beerhive's recipe for a nice big batch of Bloodies:

Pittsburgh Pickle Big Batch Bloody Marys

  • 46 oz can of tomato juice
  • 3 oz lemon juice
  • 3 oz lime juice
  • 2 t fresh minced garlic
  • 1 oz Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T horseradish
  • 1.5 t sriracha
  • 1.5 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 Pittsburgh Pickle Company pickle spear for garnish
Mix all but the pickle (of course) in a large container. For each drink, pour desired amount of vodka into a glass, add the mix, add ice, and add the pickle spear. Enjoy.

On Christmas morning (next week...eek!), I hope you're lucky enough to find a pickle in your tree and even luckier to find a jar of Pittsburgh Pickle Company pickles!






Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Traveling The Bourbon Trail...Finally!





No recipes for you this week, folks, Kimber and I have been traveling! Finally I made it to Kentucky to tour the bourbon distilleries between Louisville and Lexington...it's been a dream for quite a while. So come on, buckle up your seat belt and join us on the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky!


After a 6 hour drive, we headed straight to El Camino outside of Louisville for a late brunch. I mean, who could resist Mexican Tiki?!

Kimber's chilaquiles with chorizo. Magnifico!

Once fortified, we headed for our first stop on the Bourbon Trail, Woodford Reserve. This is an elegant spot to learn about and sip a little bourbon. 


Waiting for the tour to begin.....
Even the room with copper pot stills were elegant!

Barrels as high as the eye could see.

Finally...our first taste of bourbon and the first of many Kentucky Bourbon Creams to come.

What next on our first of three days? Dinner, of course. We checked into our centrally located hotel - halfway between Louisville and Lexington so we could bop back and forth easily - and hit up the OBC (Old Bourbon Country) Kitchen. 

Bourbon and honey thick-sliced bacon and the peanut butter dip. Heaven for Kimber!
Having checked out restaurants ahead of time, the OBC stood out because of its bourbon selection and small plates...especially the Bacon in a glass with peanut butter dip. And then there was the Surry-ano ham (Virginia ham from Berkshire hogs akin to a Spanish ham) that was like butter!

Despite the name, the Sweet Potato Pie was well-balanced and not cloying at all as a result of an acidic sweet potato shrub. Not to mention, we encountered one of the most knowledgeable and affable bartenders on the trip. Thanks, Adam!

Our next, and last for the evening, stop was the Buffalo Trace Distillery and the Ghost Tour. We didn't see any ghosts, but we did sample bourbon and a delightful Bourbon Cream that puts Bailey's on notice that there's a new kid in town! And the distillery is the only place you can buy it. Came home with three bottles...two for gifts. (Really they are.)


Fireside in the Blanton mansion at Buffalo Trace. 
Up bright and early on Sunday, once again we set out on the Trail in search of bourbon enlightenment. The historic Spanish Mission-style site of Four Roses was our next destination. 


Did you know the origin of the distillery name and logo is actually a love story? The founder, Paul Jones, Jr., fell in love with a southern belle, proposed to her by letter, and awaited her answer. She replied that if she accepted his proposal of marriage, she would be wearing a corsage at the grand ball they would both be attending. When she descended the staircase, she was wearing a corsage made of four red roses...thus the logo and legend were born.




From there, we'd intended to tour the Wild Turkey facilities, but despite their advertised hours, we (and others behind us from the Four Roses tour) arrived to find the distillery closed, orange cones blocking the entrance to the gift shop and start of the tour, and we were forced to turn around Turkey-less. Wild Turkey turned out to be the Wally World of distilleries. There should have been a giant turkey at the driveway entrance that said "Sorry folks, distillery's closed!"

We stopped for a nosh along the way, then set the NAV for what we'd been told was the epitome of bourbon bars in Bourbon Country...Haymarket Whiskey Bar And Bottle Shop. "They" were right. There's nothing I like better than a dive bar with an amazing selection of bourbons and one of the most informed and friendly bartenders ever encountered. The bartender being Dave. If (no, WHEN) you make this trip, do NOT miss the Haymarket! It's dirty, gritty, and on just about every "best of" list in the U.S. Those lists are spot on.

There's nothing like an authentic Kentucky Mint Julep made and consumed IN Bourbon Country!
For you fellow bourbon fans, a little detail of a very special bottle of Angel's Envy.
The front of that beautiful bottle...one of my favorite bourbons.

Monday. Our last day of the trip and there's SO much we have left to do. First, a little breakfast in Bardstown and a little local atmosphere. Although the name is less than PC (Mammy's Kitchen), the breakfast is stellar!


Country ham, eggs, fried apples, and hash browns. Oh, and a Kentucky Bourbon Bloody, too. (I can't believe I didn't photograph that!)

Our last stop on the Bourbon Trail was my favorite. The grounds of the distillery are warm, inviting and beautiful...just like the people who work there. I was lucky enough to meet Bill Samuels, Jr. this summer in Pittsburgh during a tasting of Maker's Mark on one of the Gateway Clipper boats. Clearly, Bill's friendliness and storytelling ability flow through the employees at the distillery. 

The view from the back porch of the tour start.
The view in the other direction.
Our tour guide pointing to the hillside excavation where Maker's 46 will be aged in a cavern.
Chihuly glass ceiling between a barrelhouse and the gift barn and "dipping" area. Chihuly glass was the original reason I wanted to do the Bourbon Trail...just to see this magnificent installation. 
Do you see the angel? Obviously enjoying his angel's share! (Is it just me or does the angel actually look like Dale Chihuly?!)
I mentioned "dipping" above. Here's a cheesy picture of me, in proper protective gear, having just dipped a bottle of Maker's White in their distinctive red sealing wax. My daughter, Mieke, said I look like the opening of Laverne and Shirley! She may have a point.

"Schlemiel, Schlemozzel, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!"
(I'm holding Maker's White...only available at the distillery. Delicious!)
One place I forgot to mention in our travels was the stop we made after brunch the first day at Bourbon Barrel Foods. What a wonderful spot to pick up all sorts of items to cook with! Their tagline is, "Eat your bourbon!"

I can't wait to get cooking!
Believe it or not, I'm already planning the next trip to visit the places we didn't get to this time. Having fallen in love with Bardstown, I'm planning on making that our base camp at one of their lovely bed & breakfasts - it IS centrally located (sort of) on the Bourbon Trail. 

There are stops on the Trail I'll revisit (OBC Kitchen and Haymarket Whiskey Bar) and those earmarked already not to miss next time - Heaven Hill, Barton's, Willett (Angel's Envy is opening up in 2016!). And who knows...maybe Wild Turkey can redeem itself. But you can be assured I'll call ahead this time!




Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Smoked Portobello & Smoked Mozzarella Lasagna (Gluten Free Version Included)




There is nothing quite like sitting around on a lazy afternoon, drinking bourbon and smoking cheese with a really good friend. Wait. That doesn't sound quite right. We didn't actually light up any cheese, we simply put it into the smoker and watched it like hawks whilst sipping some excellent Kentucky distilled spirits. That's better. 

My dear friend Marti, from Maryland, had attempted smoking cheese many years ago and ended up with loads of melted cheese. Keep in mind, she and Mike gave cheese smoking a whirl in the 70's...long before smokers became more sophisticated and home-smoker-friendly...they were so ahead of their time! 

Marti and I discussed plans, fine tuned them, adjusted them mid-smoking and actually accomplished our mission. Lovely, smoky, NON-melted sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese eventually emerged from the MasterBuilt...well, with just a bit of fiddling around to maintain a low enough temp to avoid a cheesy meltdown.

Finished Product ready to be wrapped and aged for a few weeks...if we can wait that long!



Having a win under our belts with our smoky mission, we wrapped our treasures securely and waited a couple of weeks for proper aging. Okay, except for a few weak moments of "quality control testing." 

Besides adorning crackers with our home smoked cheese or arranging it among salume and pickled veggies on a charcuterie board, what else? Mozzarella and lasagna were MADE for one another, right? Right. But wouldn't a red sauce overwhelm delicate, smoky sweet mozzarella? White lasagna it would be. I really wanted the smokiness to shine, so I went with a bechamel based lasagna instead of a ricotta base to emphasize the mozzarella. So far, so good.

If smoky lasagna is good, wouldn't a double smoked pasta dish be even better? Thus the smoker was fired up once again with BIG portobello mushrooms luxuriating in the smoky interior.

Portobellos fresh from the smoker.

Then to assemble the dish and invite a few friends over to sample the result. (What a shame Marti was long ago back in Maryland and couldn't join Jenn, Michael and me.) And? Smoked Portobello & Smoked Mozzarella Lasagna turned out to be...sublimely, richly, decadently so...a pasta dish to be reckoned with. And repeated for the most discerning of guests.

Here is my recipe for the lasagna. Buy smoked mozzarella if you don't want to smoke it yourself or don't have access to a smoker. The same goes for the portobellos. If you don't have access to a smoker, cook them along with the rest of the mushrooms. It will still be an excellent lasagna!


Smoked Portobello & Smoked Mozzarella Lasagna
(Gluten Free Version Included)


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 4 LARGE whole smoked portobello mushrooms, sliced - (if you don't smoke them, slice and saute with the rest of the mushrooms)
  • 10 oz baby bellos or other brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves black fermented garlic (I get mine at Trader Joe's), smashed with the flat of a knife and pressed to a paste
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream (nobody said this was a diet dish!)
  • 8 T butter (ditto the above comment)
  • 1/2 C flour (gluten free flour to make this GF)
  • 1 C freshly grated parmesan - the GOOD stuff!
  • nutmeg, a little of a freshly grated whole nutmeg or a smidge of the jarred stuff
  • 1/2 lb smoked mozzarella, shredded
  • a box of lasagna noodles (gluten free to make this GF)

Heat olive oil and 1 T butter in a large skillet. Add the baby bellas and shitake mushrooms along with black garlic. Stir and let the black garlic paste incorporate into the mushrooms and liquid in the pan. Once the mushrooms are cooked down and the liquid begins to disappear (NOT dry out), add the sliced smoked portobellos and stir well. Then add the wine and let the mixture simmer until the mushrooms are still moist, but the liquid is nearly gone. All the buttery, wine-y, garlicky goodness will be absorbed by those gorgeous mushrooms! Set aside.

This is how the sauteed and wine-d mushrooms will look when they're done.

 In a medium sized, heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium, heat. Stir in flour and continue stirring until completely incorporated and smooth. Cook another minute or two, then slowly add milk - stirring constantly. Next add the cream, again stirring constantly. Cook until thickened, then add nutmeg and stir well. This is your bechamel; set aside.

Toss the shredded mozzarella and grated parm together in medium bowl. Set aside.

While you're doing all the above, cook the lasagna noodles in a big pot of well salted boiling water until al dente. When done, drain in a colander and separate the noodles. You're ready to assemble.

In a lasagna pan, ladle a little bechamel in a thin layer on the bottom. Add a layer of noodles, a third of the bechamel, half the mushrooms, a third of the cheese mixture; repeat this layer. For the last layer, just do a layer of noodles, the last of the bechamel and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.

Cover the dish loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350; uncover and bake another 20 minutes until browned and bubbly. Let stand 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving. (It will hold together nicely that way instead of sliding apart.) 

Enjoy!