Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

Eggs, eggs and backyard chickens are everywhere! It's very exciting to see the enthusiasm for our feathered laying ladies at Homestead Gardens. We are lucky that Annapolis now allows us to raise our own laying hens. Eggs are used in both of the recipes to celebrate the gals and Easter. Local meat is employed in the creative lasagna and hopefully, you just might find local ricotta.

Greek Local Meat and Feta Lasagna 

Serves 8-10

Lamb, goat meat and ground turkey or chicken are mixed together to give a pleasant mild flavor-very healthy and very low in fat lasagna. You can use local meats usually available throughout the winter in our area. 

The lasagna is lower in fat than the traditional variety. It varies from the standard in that it uses “no cook” noodles, saving that extra and tedious step. Spreading the noodles with the ricotta mixture is another different and simple option. If assembling ahead, sprinkle with feta cheese just before baking. My lasagna was full to overflowing so make sure to line with a baking sheet pan.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion 
  • 9 ounces ground lamb or goat meat
  • 9 ounces ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • grated l rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup) 

 Preheat oven to 375°.

 Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add oil to pan. Add onion, both meats and rosemary; cook 15 minutes or until meats are browned, stirring to crumble. Add stock to pan; cook 3 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

 Combine ricotta and rind in a small bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon ricotta mixture over one side of each lasagna noodle.

 Spread 2 cups meat-tomato mixture in bottom of an 11 x 7inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. 

 Arrange 3 lasagna noodles, ricotta side up, over tomato mixture; top with 2 cups tomato mixture. Repeat layers, ending with 2 cups tomato mixture. Sprinkle evenly with feta cheese. Cover with foil; bake at 375° for 55 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes to brown top.

Alice Medrich's New Classic Coconut Macaroons

Makes about 22 cookies

Intriguing as it sounded I couldn't resist discovering what was so unique about this version of a cookie I have made many times. Food52 showcased the recipe and I just had to try it. First, I must admit I have fallen totally for the roasted coconut chips available at Trader Joe's; ...couldn't wait to test them here. Yup-quite special!

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 1/2 cups unsweetened dried flaked, not shredded, coconut (also known as coconut chips) or 3 cups sweetened, dried shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (available kosher for Passover, or can be omitted)
  • Slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel because the mixture will heat faster than in glass. Set the bowl directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water (if your bowl bobs in the water, simply pour some out). Stir the mixture with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly and turned from translucent to opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Using 2 tablespoons of batter, make attractive heaps 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. (You can also make these smaller and bake for less time, in 1-tablespoon heaps.) Bake for about 5 minutes, just until the coconut tips begin to color, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

Lower the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are a beautiful cream and gold with deeper brown edges, again rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time. If the coconut tips are browning too fast, lower the heat to 300 degrees. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. Let cool completely before gently peeling the parchment away from each cookie.

The cookies are best on the day they are baked — the exterior is crisp and chewy and the interior soft and moist. Although the crispy edges will soften, the cookies remain delicious stored in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days.

Upgrade 2.1: Chocolate-Topped Coconut Macaroons. Do this for any version of Coconut Macaroons: While the cookies are still hot, top each with a little piece of your favorite milk or dark chocolate. Or drizzle a little melted chocolate over each cookie.

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