In this season of gift buying, food shopping and entertaining, please, remember that not everyone has a family or will see their family. Please check on your neighbors, especially the older folks – invite them for Christmas dinner or bring it to them; contribute to the coat and clothing drives in town; give to any food pantries and support your animal shelters.
That being said, what I really want to talk to you about is family. Whether we like it or not, we are that. New York could not have gotten on its feet after 9/11 as quickly as it did; New Orleans and Mississippi could not have rebuilt after Katrina and all the states experiencing earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes would not have recovered without the help of those volunteers who came from all over the country. No one asked what political or religious group they belonged to. It did not matter their color, education or socioeconomic background. They wanted to help, and we could not have asked for more. No matter what, we are family – yes, a really dysfunctional one — but one nonetheless. So, in this celebratory season, I wish for you the gifts of peace, love and kindness. Oh, and below is what I am making for Christmas dinner.
P0RTOBELLO MUSHROOM LASAGNA
Preheat Oven: 375° Serves: 6 (This is easily doubled)
3/4 pound Dry Lasagna Noodles (about 13)
4 Cups Whole Milk
12 Tbsp. (1-1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, Divided
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1-1/2 # Portobello Mushrooms (Caps)
1 Cup Italian Cheese (your choice)
Bring large pot of water to a boil with a Tbsp. of salt and a splash of oil (to keep the noodles from sticking). Add lasagna noodles and cook for about 10 minutes or until the noodles are al dente. Drain and set aside.
For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 Tbsp. of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add a little salt, the pepper and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the spoon and then with a whisk for about 3-5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat. Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4” thick. Heat 2 Tbsp. of oil and 2 Tbsp. of butter in a large (12”) skillet. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with a little salt & cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more butter. Toss occasionally to make sure they cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set them all aside.
To assemble: spread some of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms & cheese. Top with a final layer of noodles & sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake in 375°oven for 45 minutes or until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.