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Friday, August 10, 2007

A Detour on the Road to Japanese Home Cooking

Chiko is still in Japan, enjoying the bounty of the ocean and the wonderful seasonal vegetables. She has been up to Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido to visit her sister, and is now visiting her dad and high school friends in the vicinity of Tokyo. She assures me that she has been taking tons of food photos, but amazingly enough in a country as technologically advanced as Japan she has found it virtually impossible to find wi-fi hotspots for her laptop (apparently Japanese people primarily use cellular connections rather than the "Wireless G" that we use in the U.S. and Europe).

Ten days alone in Connecticut with no one to cook for but the dog, and I was getting a little bored. I've been baking bread several times a week, so I had a batch of multi-grain Ciabatta/Pizza dough already made that I decided to turn into something special. A few weeks ago I called in to Morning Living and was speaking with Dean Olsher about Pasticcio, an Italian baked pasta pie. I adapted this recipe from something Mario Battali did on

Mario makes this with a butter crust, which I have also done and it is fantastic but a little on the heavy side. Using a yeast dough yields something a little more rustic and not nearly as greasy. For the filling you can use pretty much anything, as long as you start with a filled pasta (tortellini is traditional, but I have also done it with ravioli). I always alternate a ground meat product (cooked meatballs or sausage) and a vegetable (kale is great, but today I was in the mood for mushrooms).

Everything starts with mis en place.

In this case, I have a spring form pan lined with parchment paper, bechamel (Italian cream sauce flavored with nutmeg), cooked tortellini, slices of cooked Italian sausage, sauteed mushrooms and shredded cheese.

Line the pan with rolled out dough, ladle in some
and a layer of tortellini.

Layer with sauteed mushrooms.

Add a layer of sausage.

Cover with more bechamel and a layer of shredded cheese.
Repeat the layers lasagna style, until you reach the top of the pan.

Top with a layer of dough and crimp edges.

Bake at 450 for 1 hr 20 minutes.
Unmold and cool completely on a cake rack.

Slice with an electric knife and enjoy.

This is a very dense pie which is a complete meal in itself. Slice it very thin and serve with a little simple tomato sauce. Chiko's coming home on Monday, so we should be back to Japanese cooking next week!

1 comment:

mrfusion said...

Wow, that looks awesome (and very heavy). Great step by step pictures.