This weekend I was DETERMINED to make Smitten Kitchen's mushroom lasagna. I'd even bought the pound-and-half of mushrooms and they were in my fridge, probably creating more mushrooms. Can mushrooms do that?
Two things that made me think of:
1. Benoit Mandelbrot has died. He is responsible for, of course, the Mandelbrot set, and for fractals. Fractals are incredible, and the videos in that link will give you a nice mind-break. Also, there's this fractal-broccoli that I never buy when I see it. What's wrong with me? Mathematical gorgeousness + cruciferous vegetables = I should be all over that.
2. The little girl I babysit thinks mushrooms are icky, so when we find some in her yard she stomps on them. One day she was really going to town on all the offending fungi (band name!) with a stick. I looked over and noticed a greenish-yellow dust floating up from her target. I told her to stop (just in case she inhaled the spores of whatever-the-crap-that was) but wasn't too concerned. Upon hearing this anecdote, my mother told us about a time in her youth at Girl Scout camp, when some others scouts had eaten some mushrooms and become so ill they had to be taken to the hospital. This sounds awful when I write it out, but it struck me as really funny too. This is probably related to all the other "at Girl Scout camp" stories my mom has. Like losing a chicken underground.
So, I made the lasagna, with a few minor changes. When I was assembling, I alternated the direction of the noodles for each layer, and it seemed to help it hold together quite well. I used 2% milk instead of whole. I didn't use the extra butter to brown the mushrooms, just oil. I threw some spinach leaves in with the mushrooms. And I cut this into 12 lovely pieces and froze most of them for future lunches.
This is a very calm and mild lasagna. The most forward flavor, besides the mushrooms, is the garlic. When I make this again, which I will, I will add some rosemary to the mushrooms while they soften, and perhaps layer in some fresh basil leaves. I think a tiny basil leaf baked on the top of each portion would pretty this up, too.
You may be wondering about the lead photo. That, my friend, is a picture of Mint Chip Mini Cookie-Cakes. With sprinkles. Oh yes. This is a cookie dough that bakes up quite soft, so I put balls of the dough into mini-cupcake papers for a nice cookie bite that's almost like a brownie. The mint chips (Guittard brand) were on sale recently, and who can resist chocolate chips on sale? People stronger than I, that's who. If you're not a mint fan, you could certainly substitute some other sort of chip (peanut butter, butterscotch, vanilla, or regular chocolate chip).
1 c. butter, room temp
1 c. brown sugar
2 lg. eggs, room temp (stick them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes)
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
12 oz. mint chips, divided in half
Cream together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 6 minutes, scraping the bowl and beater once or twice throughout. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the cocoa powder.
In a seperate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add 1/4 c. at a time to the butter mixture, scraping the bowl and beater as needed, until smooth. Add half of the mint chips and turn the mixer up to high. This will not only mix in the chips, but chop them up a little, too, so the mint flavor is streaked throughout the dough. (Alternatively, you can roughly chop up half the chips ahead of time, then just mix them in all together.) Turn the mixer back down to low and stir in the rest of the chips.
Cover the dough and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.
Heat the oven to 350˚. Scoop out balls of dough and use two spoons or your clean hands to roll them into approximately 1 1/2" balls. Put the mini-cupcake papers in the mini-cupcake tins, and put a dough ball in each papers. (You could also just bake the cookies on a cookie sheet. Grease it first, and reduce cooking time to about 12 minutes.)
Bake for 15 minutes. If you want to put sprinkles on, shake them on about halfway through baking.
Put on a rack to cool. Makes about 32.