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Greek Tzatziki Sauce

I have been eyeballing the Greek Tzatziki sauce for quite some time now. Does yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill not sound perfectly delicious to you? or does it sound a bit foreign and odd? Well I assure you that it’s a wonderful creation! If you decide to make this sauce I would recommend that you make it one day before you intend to use it. Place it in the refrigerator overnight to really allow the flavors to develop. Also, make sure to use a plain Greek yogurt which has a thicker consistency. If you decide to use regular yogurt, you’ll need to let the liquid drain from the yogurt for 2 hours before using, to get the thicker consistency.

Making Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki sauce of course goes perfectly with the Greek Gyro sandwich. The first time I tasted a Gyro was actually in Denmark when I was a teenager and it left a big impression on me because it was super delicious….nothing like I had ever tasted before. Since then I’ve had Gyro’s from time to time, some better than others, and I finally decided to make the Tzatziki sauce myself. This recipe is truly wonderful, even my husband who does not eat yogurt or cucumber, really liked it – imagine that! Some other uses for the Tzatziki sauce could be served with Pita wedges as an appetizer, goes well with lamb, fish, chicken, veggies and falafel. I hope you enjoy this sauce as much as we have 🙂

Greek Gyro

Ingredients:

Tzatziki Sauce:

1 english cucumber, seeded

1 teaspoon salt, to draw out liquid in cucumber

1 lb Greek yogurt, plain (1 1/2 cup or 450 grams)

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tablespoon dill, chopped

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Gyro:

chicken, cut into bite-size pieces and cooked to your liking

onion, slice and cook until soft and sweet

Pita bread

lettuce

tomatoes

kalamate olives

feta cheese

Tzatziki Sauce

Directions:

To make Tzatziki Sauce: Peel cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds using a spoon. Chop or shred cucumber and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt to draw out the liquid. Place cucumber in a sieve to drain for at least 1/2 hour. In a small bowl combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and dill. Once the cucumber has finished draining, add it to the yogurt mixture and give it a quick spin in the blender until you have your desired consistency. Place in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours before serving to allow flavors to develop, or even better, leave it refrigerated overnight.

To assemble Gyro: Wrap gyro in aluminum foil and heat in toaster oven for a few minutes until warm. Add the warm chicken and onions. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese and Tzatziki sauce. Wrap loosely in foil to hold Gyro together and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

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Varme Hveder aka Hvedeknopper

It’s an old Danish tradition to eat warm Hveder Thursday evening before Store Bededag (Big Prayer Day), which is on the fourth Friday after Easter (May 4th 2012). Store Bededag was introduced in 1686 to consolidate the number of prayer days that could otherwise be used as productive working days. The tradition is from a time when Store Bededag was a work free day and this included the bakers. So the bakers made Hveder the day before Store Bededag for the people to buy and they could then toast and eat them the following day when the bakeries were closed. However, somehow the tradition turned out that people ate the Hveder the night before, perhaps because they are so good.

Hvede dough

Today fresh Hveder can still be found in all baker shops, in the days leading up to Store Bededag or you can bake them yourself. The buns are meant to be eaten when they are warm and toasted which really brings out the flavors. When they are cold they seem a bit dull and heavy. You can top them with butter, jam, cheese or cold cuts. I hope you enjoy these Danish Hveder as much as I have, it brings back wonderful memories for me. 🙂

Varme Hveder

Hveder – makes 16

Ingredients:

125 gram butter (4 1/2 oz or ~9 tablespoons)

4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 50 grams cake/fresh yeast)

3 deciliter milk (10 oz or ~ 1 1/4 cup)

1 egg

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

650 gram all-purpose flour (5 cups or 1 lb 7 oz)

1/2 deciliter milk – for brushing (~1 1/2 oz)

Directions:

Melt butter and set aside to cool down. Warm milk in microwave to 100-110 degrees F, add dry yeast to milk and let sit for 10 minutes.  In the bowl for your stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment add butter and milk/yeast mixture. Start mixer on low, add egg, salt, sugar and cardamom. Add flour in small increments until dough starts to come together (Note: you may not need all the flour). Place dough on a lightly floured surface and give it a quick needing to ensure it is homogeneous. Place dough in a large bowl, cover with a dry and clean tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 16 equal portions, by first dividing the dough into half and then into halves again and so on. Shape dough pieces into balls by folding the edges under and into the center until they are round. The small opening at the bottom is placed down on the baking sheet. Space dough balls 1 centimeter apart (almost 1/2 inch). Cover balls with tea towel and let them rise for 30 minutes. As they rise, they will start to grow together, this is what you want. Preheat oven to 200 degree C (390 degrees F).

Once risen, brush rolls with a little milk and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool. To serve Hveder, cut in half and toast them. Top with butter or jam, cheese, cold cuts etc. Enjoy!

Note: Dough can easily be frozen after they are formed into balls by placing in a freezer safe bag. Once ready to use, defrost in refrigerator. Allow rolls to come to room temperature and then rise for 30 minutes before baking.

This post will be linked to YeastSpotting!

Source: slightly adapted from Kvalimad

Other sources: Naturbageriet

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Stuffed Pasta Shells

I love stuffed pasta, actually I love anything pasta. But if the pasta is stuffed with just cheese, I am not a fan. So I like to mix something else in with that cheese, in this case, some spicy sausage and lots of fresh basil. The basil gives a wonderful flavor, and the spicy sausage adds a little heat and a better texture. It’s a win win! I hope you enjoy these Stuffed Pasta Shells as much as we did.

Ingredients:

6 oz jumbo pasta shells (1/2 box or 16 individual shells)

8 oz spicy ground sausage, cooked and cooled

15 oz ricotta cheese, part skim

1 egg

10 large basil leaves, chopped

1 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1/2 tsp salt

your favorite marinara sauce

mozzarella cheese, for topping

Directions:

Cook sausage, drain off fat and place in refrigerator to cool.

Combine ricotta cheese, egg, basil, parmigiano-reggiano cheese and salt in a small bowl. Add cooked, cooled sausage. Stir to combine and place in refrigerator to keep cool.

Cook pasta in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a baking dish place a small amount of marinara sauce. Fill cooked shells with cheese/sausage filling and place in baking dish. Top with more marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for 35 minutes. Enjoy!

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Hardy Carrot Soup With Tomatoes

What’s up with the weather in Virginia Beach? So far, winter has been unusually mild and the most snow we have gotten is a few flurries which literally melted within a couple of hours. It never ceases to amaze me how the weather here changes all the time. It’s been fluctuating between 70 degrees and close to freezing. But despite the temperatures bouncing around I feel like there is still a bit of winter left in the air, even though I saw daffodils in full bloom while driving home from work (the poor little things are confused too). So I say, there is still time for a delicious warm soothing soup.

One of my favorite types of lunch food is home-made soup. I make a big batch, divide it up and stick it in the freezer. Then just take it out as I need it, easy! This is my version of carrot soup, of course I had to add some tomatoes in there just to make sure I meet my daily tomato quota.  I didn’t want any dairy products in this particular soup but still got a wonderful creamy consistency by blending the vegetables. I choose to leave it a little on the thick side but it can certainly be thinned out by adding more stock. Please note: do not blend hot liquids or there is a good chance that you and your white kitchen cabinets will be wearing it. I speak from experience 🙂

Ingredients:

28 ounces canned whole plum tomatoes

5 large carrots

2 celery stalks

1/2 large white onion

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 tablespoon pesto

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Dice carrots, celery and onions. Place butter and oil in a pan over medium heat, add diced vegetables and cook until tender. Run canned tomatoes through a food mill to break up tomatoes and remove any seeds/skin. (If you don’t have a food mill, the same effect can be achieved with a food processor  and then pressing tomatoes through a sieve.) Place tomatoes into a cooking pot over medium heat. Place cooked vegetables in food processor (or blender) and process until desired coarseness. Add vegetables into tomatoes. Add chicken stock and pesto and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper in small increments to taste. Continue to simmer for 1 hour. Serve warm with crusty bread and enjoy!

Hardy Carrot Soup With Tomatoes

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Penne Pasta with Shrimp

I had a craving for pasta and shrimp but didn’t want Shrimp Scampi since we had that not too long ago. Then i remembered this pasta dish which I have been meaning to try out. I made some adjustment to fit my likings and it turned out really good. The flavors are mild, a little sweet and creamy. I think I might add a little red pepper flakes next time I make this just to give it a kick.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound penne pasta

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup white wine

2 tbsp tomato paste

14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes

1/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

8-10 basil leaves, chiffonade

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Bring salted pasta water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente.

Peel and devein shrimp, season with salt and pepper and set aside. In a large pan, melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook for two minutes, turning shrimp over half-way through cooking time. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.

Add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil to pan and lower heat to medium. Cook diced onions until tender and translucent. Add minced garlic and cook one minute longer, add wine and reduce for 2-3 minutes.  Add tomato paste and stir to blend. Add canned tomatoes and continue to simmer covered until pasta is ready.

Add pasta, parsley, basil and half/half. Bring to a simmer and turn off heat. Add shrimp back into pasta dish and arrange on serving dish. Top with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Enjoy!

Source: adapted from Pioneer Woman Cooks Book

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Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes! I completely forgot about Sloppy Joes! That was until we were visiting my sister in-law Linda, and her husband John was making Sloppy Joes for a football party and the aroma filling the house was simply amazing. I have not had this dish for many, many years. Probably not since Nicholas was a very little boy and at that time it was probably not made from scratch either. But John’s cooking got me inspired to make Sloppy Joes again and what better crowd to make it for than Joe’s Blacksmithing buddies, aka the Burleymen 🙂

Just a little note about this recipe. Next time around I would go easy on the sugar. The full amount of 2 tablespoons of brown sugar may be a bit much in my opinion so I would add it in small increments, tasting as I go. Other than that, I thought it was a really flavorful recipe and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cup ketchup

1 cup water

1-2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

Worcestershire sauce, to taste

2 tablespoons tomato paste

salt and pepper, to taste

Kaiser Rolls

Butter, optional

Directions:

Add olive oil to large cooking pot and heat to medium-high. Add ground beef and brown, drain off fat. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add ketchup, water, brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Stir and let simmer covered for 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Slice rolls in half, butter if desired and toast on pan grill or in oven under broiler. Load meat onto toasted rolls and have plenty of napkins on hand because this is a messy affair. Enjoy! 

Source: adapted from Pioneer Woman

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Leverpostej

Leverpostej

Making Danish Liver Pate probably got me more excited than any other recipe I have had the pleasure to blog about. You absolutely must experience a warm, home-made Liver Pate. Fresh out of the oven, served with fried mushrooms and bacon or topped with some wonderful pickled beets. This is actually the first time I have made it myself. I have been wanting to make it for the past 25 years but somehow the thought of making it by myself was always overwhelming. And  now that I have finally made my first-ever home-made Liver Pate, I can’t quite figure out what the fuzz was all about.

Leverpostej – Danish Liver Pate

Liver Pate is everywhere in Denmark. It can be found, dare I say, in all self-respecting grocery stores. It is a way of life, as natural as the air we breath. The store-bought Liver Pate is very good but there is something to be said about a home-made Liver Pate and I think it is definitely worth the effort! The Pate can be served cold or warm on an open-faced sandwich often topped with either pickled beets, crispy fried onions, mushrooms, cucumbers or Danish Sky which is basically a beef jello. It can be made plainly with just one topping or it can be quite an elaborate Smørrebrød creation.

Liver Pate is not the most pleasant food to prepare, truth be told, it’s really kinda gross. BUT, the end result is making me feel like I’m in heaven. Let me just say that there are hundreds of different ways you can make Liver Pate. I’ve heard of adding potatoes, apples, anchovies, Bechamel sauce – or not, a lot of spices – or not, high-fat – low-fat, animal fat (called Spæk in Danish) vs just margarine, so there are many, many variations out there. This recipe is the one my Mother and Father uses and I think it’s simply just wonderful. Thanks Mom and Dad for helping me make my first ever Liver Pate! 🙂

My Mom and Dad, Ă…se and Ove

Please note that when you go to look for the fat (spæk) used in this recipe, it’s not something you’ll typically find sitting in the freezer section at your grocery store. Simply just ask the butcher in the meat department if they can give you a couple of chunks of fat. Often times, they wont even charge you for it 🙂

Ingredients:

For the Bechamel Sauce:

1 deciliter milk (3.4 oz)

4 deciliter water (13.5 oz)

1 extra-large vegetable bouillon cube (10 grams, 3/8 oz)

50 grams margarine (1 3/4 oz)

4-5 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Liver mixture:

500 grams Liver ( 1 lb)

80 grams fat (2 7/8 oz)

65 grams smoked bacon (2 1/2 oz)

50 grams onion (2 oz)

3 whole large eggs

Directions:

To make Bechamel sauce: In a saucepan add water and milk. Break-up vegetable bouillon cube into liquid and bring up to warm temperature, turn heat off. In a pan, melt margarine. Add flour and whisk until smooth, continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add warm milk/water in 1 cup increments while whisking. Mixture should be like a thick gravy. Add salt, pepper, allspice and nutmeg to taste. If you get lumps in this gravy simply just run it through a sieve. Pour gravy into a covered Tupperware container and allow to cool in refrigerator.

Cut Liver, fat, bacon and onion into 1 inch pieces. Starting with the fat, bacon and onion, either run them through a meat grinder twice or process in a food processor until you have a slightly lumpy mixture. Liver should only go through meat grinder once or add Liver to food processor and blend until pretty smooth. Mix together Liver and fat mixture. Add the 3 whole eggs and cooled Bechamel sauce, stir to combine. Pour into small aluminum forms (I got 4 small forms full) and if freezing cover top tightly with aluminum foil and store in freezer safe bags. When ready to cook Liver Pate, fill an oven-proof dish with warm water 1/2 way up the side of aluminum form. Bake uncovered in oven at 200 degree C (390 degrees F) for 1 hour 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Source: my parents Ove and Ă…se Frandsen

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Shrimp and Feta Cheese Quiche

This recipe is from an old Everyday magazine. I had made this quiche a couple of times and my guests always loved it. It’s the kind of quiche that dissappears from the pie dish in no time at all. Then I lost the magazine and I tried to recreate it from memory but something was missing. I looked everywhere for that magazine, or so I thought, until one day recently I was cleaning out a closet and found a stack of old food magazines. What a find! To me old food magazines are like new food magazines and so I started reading them again and sure enough I found the long lost Shrimp and Fata Cheese Quiche recipe. I absolutely have to share this recipe with you because I know that you’ll love it. The feta cheese gives the quiche a wonderful slight tartness and the combination of shrimp, roasted red pepper and chives is just fantastic. I hope you enjoy this quiche as much as I do. I wonder what else is in that closet?

Ingredients:

1 sheet store-bought refrigerated pie dough, at room temperature

1 tbsp unsalted butter

8 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 extra large eggs

1/2 cup half-and-half 

1 tbsp minced chives

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup jarred roasted red pepper, diced

3 oz crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Press the dough into a 9 inch pie or tart dish. Pierce the bottom of dough with a fork. Place tart dish on a baking sheet and line inside of pie dough with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and weights and reduce heat to 375 degrees F. Continue to bake dough until golden, about 12 minutes. Let tart shell cool on a wire rack.

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add shrimp to pan and cook for 2 minutes just until opaque, flipping shrimp half-way through. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, chives, salt and pepper. Arrange the shrimp, red pepper and feta cheese in pie shell and cover with the egg mixture.

Bake quiche in the 375 degrees oven for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of the pie comes out clean. Cool quiche for 10 minutes and serve. Enjoy.

Shrimp and Feta Cheese Quiche

Source: slightly adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

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Pot Roast

Fall has finally arrived and the temperatures here in Virginia are so much more comfortable. We have gotten quite a bit of rain lately, which I love,  and with the gloomy dark skies comes a desire for comfort food. And Pot Roast is just that. Inhaling the sweet aroma while the roast is cooking and tasting the delicious fall-apart meat and tender veggies…it’s a little piece of heaven!

Ingredients:

4-5 lbs beef chuck roast, tied

Kosher salt and black pepper

Flour

Olive oil

5 carrots, chopped

1 1/2 yellow onions, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 large leek, white and light green parts chopped

1 large potato, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

 1 cup white wine

2 cups chicken stock, homemade prefered

28 oz whole plum tomatoes in puree

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat beef dry with a paper towel, Season the roast all over with 1 tbsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp pepper. Dredge the roast in flour and set aside. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the roast and brown all sides, each side should take about 4-5 minutes. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tbsp olive oil to Dutch oven and add carrots, onions, celery, leeks, potatoes, garlic, 1 tbsp Kosher salt and 1 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes until tender but not browned. Add wine and bring to a simmer, Add chicken stock, 2 tsp Kosher salt, 1 tsp pepper. Break up whole plum tomatoes a little and add the remaining 28 oz can of tomato juices.  Put the roast back into the pot and bring to a simmer. Cut thyme and rosemary into small pieces, place on a small piece of cheese cloth, close cheese cloth ends into a bundle and tie closed with butchers string. Place herb bundle into pot and submerge into liquids. Cover Dutch oven with lid and place into oven. Cook in oven for 2 1/2 hours until meat is tender or about 160 degrees internally. Note: turn the heat in the oven down to 250 degrees after about 1 hour of cooking.

Remove the meat to a cutting board. Remove herb bundle and discard. If needed, skim off fat from the sauce. Place half the sauce into a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer on the stove top.

Place 2 tbsp flour and butter in a small dish and work them together using a fork. Stir into sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for proper seasoning.

Remove string from roast and slice the meat. Place on serving platter and pour some of sauce over. Serve warm and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa

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Lasagna

Lasagna is one of my son’s all-time favorite dishes, mine as well. But then again, I’ll eat any type of pasta, anytime. The thing about Lasagna is that it’s a time-consuming dish, so lately when I make it, I make two dishes and freeze one. You want to make sure you freeze the assembled Lasagna before it is baked. Then just thaw it in the refrigerator for a day before baking.

What I really like about Anne Burrell’s recipe is how the Basil is mixed in with the Ricotta cheese which gives it a wonderful flavor. In my opinion, the greatest thing about Lasagna is how versatile it is. You can make it a hundred different ways by substitute whatever type of vegetables and/or meats your heart desires. I don’t really think that I have made the same Lasagna twice because it is always a little different. A very helpful tip that Anne Burrell also gave on her show was to layer the lasagna noodles in a criss-cross fashion to help prevent the lasagna from gliding apart once it’s cut and to let it cool down for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting into. Fifteen minutes are an eternity when your hungry and it’s Lasagna your waiting for.

Ricotta Cheese with Basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Sausage and Spinach

 

Mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano

 

Home-made Marinara

 Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs sweet Italian sausage

12 oz mushrooms, sliced

a pinch crushed red pepper flakes

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 oz fresh baby spinach

2 cups ricotta cheese

8-10 basil leaves, chopped

1 egg

2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided

your favorite home-made marinara sauce

16 oz package lasagna noodles

1 lb grated mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles for 7 minutes, drain and lay flat on a baking sheet, set aside.

Break apart Italian sausage and brown in pan, set aside. Add sliced mushrooms and crushed red pepper flakes to pan, season with salt and cook until soft. Add garlic and spinach and cook just until spinach is wilting. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a small bowl combine ricotta cheese, basil, egg and 1/2 the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix to combine and season with salt. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish add a couple of ladles of marinara sauce and spread evenly. Arrange a layer of lasagna noodles over sauce. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Arrange a layer of lasagna noodles in the opposite direction and top with sauce, 1/3 of mushroom mixture, mozzarella cheese and some of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat these layers until all ingredients are used up and the pan is full. Make sure that the top layer consist of marinara sauce topped with cheese.

Place dish on baking sheet, cover with foil and bake in oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove foil for the last 15 minutes of baking time to brown the top. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

Lasagna

Source: adapted from Anne Burrell

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