Make Do With What You Have by Jamie Bordoshuk

With both kids out of the house, my wife and I decided to try our hand at living in California for a couple of weeks. Why not? We had nothing keeping us here. The thought of warm weather, sunshine and the beach was all the convincing that I needed to book those two airline tickets out of this Midwestern icebox.

Two weeks in someone else’s kitchen. Our beautiful rental home in Santa Barbara, two blocks from the beach, boasted a “gourmet kitchen”. True, it had a six burner Viking range. But, where was the overhead light? The built-in Sub Zero refrigerator was huge. But, only one shelf? Tons of cabinets and drawers, but not a single spatula to be found. No cheese grater, but enough lemon and lime squeezers to put a full-service margarita bar to shame.

As my mother used to say, you just have to “make do with what you have”.  Despite the meager supplies, I decided to forge ahead with Friday’s dinner party for our California friends and family. I would make two lasagnas – one for the California vegetarians, the other for us Midwestern meat lovers.  Thursday was sauce day. I literally opened every drawer at least three times looking for tools, pots, pans and serving pieces. At home, it was second nature to locate everything without even thinking about it. I quickly realized that I would have to improvise if I was going to pull this off.

Two mismatched pots sat side by side on the Viking range. One tall, dark and non-stick. The other was squat, bright and stainless steel. The sauces simmered all afternoon and by 3 o’clock, the kitchen smelled absolutely amazing – just like home. I turned off the pots to cool and we went out for our daily walk on the beach.

tgl-lasagnaFriday morning came around and it was time to build my lasagnas. As every good chef knows, preparation is the key to success. I guess that warm ocean air had gotten to me, as I didn’t think to look for two 13 x 9 pans BEFORE I decided on the lasagna. After 20 minutes of opening up every cupboard and drawer again and again, I remembered my mom’s wise advice. Make do with what you have.

I grabbed a 5×8 loaf pan and a pie tin and got to work.

Classic Meat Lasagna
Serves 8
  1. 1⁄2 box lasagna noodles, no-boil
  2. 1 lb. ground beef
  3. 2 t. Worcestershire sauce
  4. 1 small onion, small chop
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 T. dried oregano
  7. 1 can 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  8. 1 can 14.5oz diced tomatoes
  9. 1 lb. Ricotta cheese
  10. 1⁄2 lb. Provolone cheese, sliced
  11. 1 lb. shredded Mozzarella cheese
  12. Kosher Salt
  13. Fresh cracked black pepper
  1. In a sauté pan, heat oil. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until it begins to brown. Add ground beef with some salt and pepper and sauté until cooked through. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano and Worcestershire sauce. Cook on a simmer until thickened slightly - approximately 25-30 min. Remove from heat.
  2. In a 9x13 pan, spread a small amount of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer in the following order: Lasagna noodles, sauce, thin layer of ricotta, provolone, a sprinkled layer of Mozzarella, another layer of uncooked noodles. Repeat layering process to the top. (The last layer will be Mozzarella)
  3. Cover lasagna pan with foil & place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until nice & bubbly (approximately 45min.). Remove foil & continue cooking until cheese on top begins to brown slightly.
  4. Remove from oven & allow to sit for 20 minutes. Cut & serve.
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