Saturday, April 23, 2011

Passing It On

One of the awesome things about being a father are the opportunities to teach and share your know how with the progeny. This Good Friday evening has provided just that circumstance. My oldest son JD returned to the Lowcountry today for a short Easter respite and an interview for his summer job. Accordingly, I decided that in lieu of dinner out on the town, we would fix some baked lasagna. So out to the kitchen herb garden I went to collect a harvest of oregano, parsley and basil and then back to the cutting board to instruct JD on the duty of mincing fresh herbs. While JD prepped the herbs, I grated some fresh Parmessan Cheese to use in the cheese layer of the lasagna.
There is just something very special about being in the kitchen with your oldest son teaching him to make what has become one of the favorite family recipes. While the Ipod entertained us with Harry Connick Jr., Dean Martin and Sinatra our culinary creativity was inspired with a Cabernet from the Western Cape of South Africa (Lindemans 2006).

After JD had successfully assembled the lasagna our attention turned to the Caprese Salad, another family favorite. I love to experiment in the kitchen with ingredients and I have always been a big fan of my wifes spinach salad with strawberries. Since it is the middle of strawberry season here in the Lowcountry and this years harvest is sensationally sweet and delectable, I decided to add a little something special to top off the Caprese. I figured the sweetness of the berries would be an excellent balance to the tartness of the balsamic vinegar and tomatoes and a compliment to the smokiness of the fresh mozzarella, and I was right.
The fresh basil from the kitchen herb garden added a mysterious complexity to a rather simple salad and the aroma of the italian casserole baking in the oven reminded us all that we would soon be elbow deep in cheese, noodles and meat.

Once the lasagna was served and enjoyed we realized that JD's lesson had been deliciously successful and I imagined that one day JD would hopefully have the opportunity to pass along to his son or daughter the art of baked lasagna as well. It was good to have JD back home if only for a night or two, and I am sure Noah is enjoying the break as well, since he got the night off from helping me in the kitchen and he had JD's assistance with the cleanup, because while Dad loves to cook he does create a little bit of a mess in the process.

If you are interested in the recipe we use for baked lasagna check out Charleston Receipts Repeats cookbook, it is available on Amazon. As for the Caprese, it is simple yet elegant. Use your favorite tomatoes, slice them about a half-inch thin. Use fresh mozzarello sliced likewise and layer the tomatoes and cheese on a dish. I sliced about 6 large strawberries very thin and layered them amongst the cheese and tomatoes. Snip fresh basil over the top and sprinkle sea salt according to your taste. To this, add some fresh ground pepper and garnish the top with several whole leaves of basil. Drizzle the salad with EVO (extra virgin olive oil) and finish it off with a good quality balsamic vinegar. Allow the salad to rest in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes and then serve, Buon Appetito.

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