cooking lasagna

Heaven and back

January 21, 2021

   Back when I believed in reincarnation, I announced to anyone who’d listen that I wanted to come back as an Italian. “A tile and grout man, I really don’t care, as long as I have an Italian grandmother.” In other words, I wanted to reincarnate for the food. That’s why when I saw that Carol had bought me a pasta maker for Christmas, I thought I’d gone to heaven and had come back again.

   Today would mark my second attempt with the new toy. If my second attempt at pasta making went like the first (whatever bacteria thrive in an environment of flour, egg and water are probably opening retirement villas in that tiny space between the stove and the island counter right now), my days as a scratch Italian cook were numbered. So if I was going out, I was going out in style.

    I found something called “Italian Cooking Music Radio” on Pandora and cranked it up. Donned a hat I’d bought in Orvieto. Put on my Italian chef apron, opened a bottle of red, poured it into a jelly glass (no stemware for this Old Country cook), and set upon my tasks of opening cans, mixing beef, pork and veal and gradually turning the kitchen into a Capitol building after an insurrection, all to the dulcet strains of Dean Martin, Mario Lanza, Julius LaRosa and Louis Prima.

Aided by a video she found on YouTube, I was able to knead a small ball of dough without making the kitchen look like it had snowed inside the house.

   The marinara sauce, bolognese and meatballs all went according to expectations. The music played, the wine flowed, and Carol said it definitely looked like I’d gotten my groove back. Then it came time to make the lasagna noodles.

   Carol steered me away from any proximity to the stove area. Aided by a video she found on YouTube, I was able to knead a small ball of dough without making the kitchen look like it had snowed inside the house. Carol assisted in rolling out the noodles and assembling the layers of bolognese, ricotta and mozzarella into one of the creamiest lasagnas I’ve ever authored. Set the oven to 350, and watched my scratch creation bubble. Every detail followed to a T. Save one.

   As I watched the lasagna burbling in the oven, a question flashed across my mind. “Shouldn’t we have boiled the noodles first?”

   This sent Carol scurrying to Google. The answers (translated from the book, Mama Leone is Cookin’ in Brooklyn) varied from “So whaddya tink, dey cook demselves? Fuhgeddaboudit.” to, “Wassamattah for you, da noodles cook in the lasagna. Bada bing, bada boop.”

   They do.

   There were some new learnings to making pasta, and we’re pretty much sold on the fresh, homemade version now. My only fear is one day resorting to dry noodles from the store, and forgetting that those have to be cooked.

   That definitely sounds like a Reid.

   Since I have gotten better at working with flour, it’s been suggested I add homemade bread to the menu the next time around. That would make everything on the tavolo homemade from scratch, except the wine. The initial response on that suggestion was, “That’s not the way this house works,” a phrase I’ve heard from time to time, which translated into Italian means Fuhgeddaboudit.

   Also, I can’t get Julius LaRosa out of my head now.

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