Friday night we had Cook's Illustrated spinach lasagna that called for layers of a spinach and Béchamel sauce mixture, lasagna noodles, and three kinds of cheese: whole milk cottage cheese and freshly grated Fontina and Parmesan cheeses (My Microplane® grater made quick work of the Parmesan. How did I ever get by without it?). When I went to the store looking for Fontina cheese, I could only find Fontinella. I was perplexed. It seems to look and smell (yes, I sniff cheese) similar to Fontia, so I bought it hoping it would do. When I got home and did a little research, I discovered it seems to be an acceptable if not entirely accurate substitute for the Alpine region specialty cheese. Regardless, it melted well and gave the dish a wonderful texture and rich flavor.
I also used the Barilla no-boil noodles. I got hooked on these a few lasagnas ago. My Cooks Illustrated recipe lists these as a favorite but recommends they be soaked in hot water for five minutes to reduce cooking time. It did. Amazingly, my lasagna was done in 40 minutes as opposed to the 2-3 hours it normally takes.
Saturday I made Alton Brown's Coq A Vin (the two bottles of wine dish sans pearl onions). It was a very time consuming recipe to make but the results were way worth the trouble. I got a little panicked about halfway though cooking when I noticed the wine had turned the chicken a delightful shade of purple and the onions edges and garlic an ink blue. However, my worries were in vain. By the time it finished cooking, the color had mellowed to a rich burgundy. Served over egg noodles and paired with green peas in a cream sauce - it was a fabulous dish to behold (and eat).
(I am no wine connoisseur - not by any means - but think the Beringer Founders Estate 2007 Pinot Noir I bought to be quite tasty. What? You think I would serve something without first sampling a wee bit?)
We finished Saturday's meal with cherries jubilee. I'd never made this simple combination of dark cherries, lemon rind and juice, sugar and rum cooked into a sauce and served hot over vanilla ice cream but found it to be the perfect finish to our Valentine's Day meal. (PS - I didn't torch my eyebrows when I flambéd the rum - unlike the cognac and cream sauce episode.)
While there is plenty of lasagna and Coq A Vin, there are no leftover cherries. So, aside from any additional dessert, I don't have to cook the rest of the weekend. My only problem is deciding which leftover to serve for dinner today. Somehow I don't think there will be any complaints with either choice.