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12-18 Months: Toddlers on the Move - Flavors from Around the World (part 2) - Lasagna Al Forno & Broiled Chicken Yakitori

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Lasagna Al Forno

Nothing is more of a crowd-pleaser than a big dish of baked lasagna—at any age and any time of year! Mixing the meat and cheese sauces may sound odd, but it makes the sauce taste richer.

1 hour

35–40 minutes

NOTE

A family of 4–5

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated

  • 3/4 cup chopped cremini mushrooms

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 14oz can crushed tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 tbsp ketchup

  • 1lb ground round

  • 2/3 cup beef stock

  • 1 tsp light brown sugar

  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles

  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Cheese sauce

    • 1/4 cup cornstarch

    • 21/2 cups milk

    • 1/2 cup mascarpone

    • Freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan and cook the vegetables gently until soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the vegetables to a blender and add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and ketchup. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Brown the beef in the pan, then add the tomato mixture, beef stock, sugar, and oregano. Simmer until thick, about 30 minutes. Season to taste.

  3. Make the cheese sauce by mixing the cornstarch in a saucepan with a little of the milk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until thick, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the mascarpone. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

  4. Lightly oil a large rectangular baking dish (about 11 x 7 inches). Mix half of the cheese sauce into the meat sauce. Spread 2 tbsp of the remaining cheese sauce over the bottom of the dish, then put on a layer of three lasagna sheets. Spoon half of the meat mixture over this, then add another layer of pasta. Spoon the remaining meat mixture on the pasta and top with a final layer of pasta. Cover with the remaining cheese sauce and scatter the grated cheeses over the surface.

  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the lasagna until golden brown on top and cooked through, 35–40 minutes. Test by inserting a knife down through the center; you should feel no resistance. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

  6. The unbaked lasagna can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. It can also be frozen wrapped well in foil; when needed, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. To bake a chilled or thawed lasagna, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 40 minutes, then increase the oven to 400°F and bake until golden brown on top and piping hot, about 10 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Broiled Chicken Yakitori

I find that broiled skewers of chicken thigh are more tender and moist than chicken breast, and this yakitori glaze is delicious. These skewers would also be great grilled over coals.

10 minutes

15 minutes

NOTE

A family of 4–5

  • 4 fairly large skinless, boneless chicken thighs

  • 4 scallions

  • 4 small bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes

  • 2–3 tbsp sunflower or olive oil

  • Yakitori glaze

    • 3 tbsp soy sauce

    • 3 tbsp mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)

    • 3 tbsp honey

    • 2 tsp rice vinegar

    • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

    • 1 small garlic clove, crushed

  1. To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a fairly thick and syrupy glaze, about 5 minutes.

  2. While the glaze cooks, trim away the excess fat from the chicken thighs. Cut each thigh into three pieces—they’ll be about 3/4 inch wide. Cut each scallion into three pieces.

  3. Preheat the broiler and line the broiler rack with foil. Open out the pieces of chicken and thread onto the soaked skewers, alternating with the scallions. You should have three pieces of each on a skewer. Place on the foil and brush all over with oil.

  4. Broil for about 5 minutes on each side, then turn the skewers and brush with half the glaze. Broil for 3 minutes, then turn over again and brush with the remaining glaze. Broil until the chicken is cooked through, 2–3 minutes longer.

  5. Remove the chicken from the skewers and serve, with the cooking juices spooned over, if desired.

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