Sunday, January 17, 2010

Carmela Soprano, meet Anna Sultana by Margaret Ullrich

Okay... I'm out of excuses. We'd finished the turkey leftovers. It was time to tackle my new cookbook Entertaining with The Sopranos.

Where to start?

I hadn't made a lasagne in quite a while. Lasagne was a basic part of every big dinner at Ma's house. Ma's dinners came in courses - soup, salad, pasta, main course, dessert, fruit, nuts. There were a lot of people at Ma's table. When we ate, we ate. There was enough for everybody.

Lasagne is a nice filling casserole for two. Just the thing for a Winnipeg winter dinner.

Carmela's Lasagne, for the most part, was what I grew up with, except for Carmela's use of basil leaves. Her recipe called for a large bunch of fresh basil. Now, my Ma, Anna Sultana, might've made lasagne with lots of fresh basil when she lived in Malta. But, when I was growing up, we lived in College Point, a German Irish town. It was the 50s. Ma was stuck shopping at the local A & P - a small supermarket - after working a full week at Lily Tulip and raising 3 kids. Ma was a little busy. She made lasagne with what she found at the A & P - she used dried oregano and parsley.

Carmela's Meat Sauce also is a little more upscale than what Ma made. Ground beef sirloin? Hamburger was more Ma's style. My parents weren't both working full time for their health.

Time for a reality check.

I wanted to make a lasagne. Lasagne is basically macaroni and cheese with a meat sauce. My family liked Ma's recipe. I liked Ma's recipe. My husband Paul liked Ma's recipe for lasagne. I don't even know If we'd like all that basil. I'm not on a quest like Julie Powell was to recreate Julia Child's classic recipes. I just want to get back to my food roots, so to speak.

Okay... I'll use the Soprano book as a reminder of favorite recipes and as an introduction to a few new ones. When I have a perfectly good recipe - or can't be bothered hunting down obscure ingredients - I'll stick to what I know.

I made Ma's recipe for lasagne. Paul and I enjoyed it. It was a success.

Since lasagne required a meat sauce it was a two-for-one deal.

Two recipes down. Eighty-four more to go.

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