Dear SOS: Would Lawry's California Center share its delicious recipe for Mexican Lasagna? It uses tortillas instead of noodles.
--MRS. L. B.
Dear Mrs. L.B.: The sauce in this tortilla lasagna is, as the Lawry's people say, "a little zingier" than that in regular lasagna. The dish also can be made early in the day and refrigerated or frozen. But do add 10 to 20 minutes to the baking time if the lasagna is baked from a cold or defrosted state. Another suggestion: Round out the menu with mixed green salad and fresh fruit.
LAWRY'S MEXICAN LASAGNA
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
8 ounces ricotta cheese
9 corn tortillas
10 ounces Jack cheese, shredded
Brown ground beef in large skillet until crumbly. Drain fat. Add seasoned salt, taco seasoning mix, tomatoes, tomato sauce and chiles. Blend well. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
In small bowl, combine ricotta cheese and eggs. In bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish, spread half of meat mixture. Top with half of tortillas. Spread half of ricotta cheese mixture over tortillas and top with half of Jack cheese. Repeat once more, ending with grated cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Makes 8 servings.
Dear SOS: Would you please print a recipe for Baklava, a Greek dessert. I would appreciate it.
--B. R. D.
Dear B.R.D.: Certainly. This standard recipe for the elegant nut-filled pastry is from the Malibu Women's Club. Filo dough comes in large paper-fine sheets that are rolled and boxed. The sheets are easy to work with once you've gotten the hang of it.
When you unravel the roll, be sure to keep the sheets with which you are not working tightly covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel to prevent them from drying. Patch any tears that occur with other pieces of filo, and don't be afraid to handle them. You can use the sheets to make small and large pie shells, turnover pastries and strudels.
2 pounds filo pastry sheets
2 cups unsalted butter, melted or preferably clarified
1 1/2 pounds walnuts, pistachios or skinless almonds, finely chopped
Butter baking pan that fits pastry sheets and is at least 2 inches deep. Stack 4 sheets filo in bottom of pan, brushing each sheet with clarified butter. Spread with some nuts. Repeat, buttering sheets and spreading some nuts between every 4 sheets. Continue layering sheets and brushing each sheet with butter. Brush top sheet generously with butter.
Cut pastry in pan diagonally to make 1-inch diamond-shaped pastries. Do not remove from pan. Bake at 300 degrees 1 hour or until lightly browned. Do not overbrown. Pour cooled Sugar Syrup over hot pastry or hot syrup over cooled pastry. Makes 20 servings.
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon orange flower water, optional
Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Cook until thick enough to coat back of spoon. Add orange flower water and cool before using.
Dear SOS: Do you have a recipe for German-style pot roast, using raisins and vinegar in the gravy?
Dear Marian: Do you mean sauerbraten? This recipe is from the Old Heidelberg in Van Nuys, where the sauerbraten is served with cabbage, potato dumplings or pancakes. You can add plumped raisins if you want.
OLD HEIDELBERG SAUERBRATEN
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
8 whole cloves
1 sprig thyme
1 teaspoon peppercorns
5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 (5- to 6-pound) bottom round beef roast
1/4 cup lard or bacon drippings
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, mashed
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup raisins, plumped, optional
Cooked cabbage, potato dumplings or potato pancakes, optional
Combine vinegar, water, cloves, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves, rosemary, onion, carrots and celery. Bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes. Cool.
Place beef in earthenware dish or crock and pour cooled marinade over meat. Marinate in refrigerator, making sure meat is completely submerged, at least 14 days to blend flavors.
When ready to cook, remove meat from liquid and dry thoroughly. Melt lard in large kettle and cook meat until browned on all sides. Remove meat from pan and set aside.
Strain vegetables and spices from marinade and add to pan drippings. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are golden brown. Add sugar, garlic, tomato puree, wine, beef stock, remaining marinade and beef and bring to boil. Simmer until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove meat to platter and slice. Keep warm.
Strain liquid in pan through fine sieve. Melt butter and stir in flour until smooth. Cook, stirring, until flour mixture is golden brown. Stir small amount of liquid into flour mixture, then return to liquid and cook, stirring, until thickened. Add buttermilk and sour cream to finish gravy. Stir in raisins. Serve with cabbage, potato dumplings or potato pancakes. Makes 8 servings.