Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For Culinary Success Just Add Worry

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For Culinary Success Just Add Worry

Article excerpt

LASAGNA - and I say this with all due modesty, which is not very much because the fame is deserved - is my specialty. For nearly three decades, friends have flocked to my house for my lasagna. Then they have promptly plopped down on the couch for a little rest, so sated were they.

(My margaritas have had a similar effect on guests, but for entirely different reasons.)

How good is this lasagna? It's so good that I won't eat lasagna in restaurants anymore, as I know I'll be disappointed. It's so good that people call me and say, "How about having me over for lasagna?" It's so good that one friend recently asked me to teach him to make it.

I dug out the original recipe from "The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book," published in 1968. Over the years, I've personalized the directions, putting in three times as much garlic, twice as many tomatoes and a tad more cheese.

My most secret ingredient is this: I worry.

Throughout the cooking process, I fret over each step as though I were making the recipe for the first time. I well remember how Tita's moods affected her cooking in Laura Esquirel's "Like Water for Chocolate," and I'm convinced that my lasagna is outstanding because I care so deeply.

Here is the recipe, complete with directions on the proper attitude.

WORRISOME LASAGNA

1 pound Italian sausage

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon whole basil

2 (14-ounce) cans tomatoes

3 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

1/2 cup of dry red wine (optional)

10 ounces lasagna noodles

2 eggs

2 (15-ounce) containers Ricotta cheese

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large frying pan, brown meat slowly while you regret that sausage isn't good for you. Acknowledge that it gives the lasagna a much better flavor than ground beef. Spoon off excess fat.

Add garlic, basil (crush it between your palms to release the flavor), tomatoes and tomato paste. If you've bought unpeeled whole tomatoes, worry that they'll lie in the sauce in big clumps. …

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