Test-kitchen tip: To test for doneness, insert the blade of a small knife deep into the center of the lasagna for 30 seconds. remove the knife and feel the blade. If it’s hot, so is the lasagna.
For béchamel sauce:
Bring milk and bay leaf to simmer in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk to blend. Cook 2 minutes, whisking almost constantly (do not let roux brown). Gradually whisk milk with bay leaf into roux. Add 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, nutmeg, and cloves and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Remove bay leaf. DO AHEAD: Béchamel sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill. Remove plastic and rewarm sauce before using, whisking to smooth.
For swiss chard and mushroom layers:
Blanch chard in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain, pressing out all water, then chop coarsely. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, half of garlic, and crushed red pepper. Sauté until onion is tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in chard and season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat. Add mushrooms and remaining garlic. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Mix in nutmeg and season with coarse salt and pepper.
Cook noodles in medium pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; arrange noodles in single layer on sheet of plastic wrap.
Brush 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish with oil to coat. Spread 3 tablespoons béchamel sauce thinly over bottom of dish. Arrange 3 noodles in dish to cover bottom (2 side by side lengthwise, then 1 crosswise). Spread half of chard mixture over pasta, then half of mushrooms. Drop half of ricotta over in dollops and spread in even layer. Sprinkle with half of Fontina, then 4 tablespoons Parmesan; spread 3/4 cup béchamel over. Repeat layering with 3 noodles, remaining chard, mushrooms, ricotta, Fontina, Parmesan, and 3/4 cup béchamel. Cover with 3 noodles and remaining béchamel. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with foil. Let stand at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake lasagna covered 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until heated through and top is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Original recipe with only Amurican measurements here.
300g unsalted butter (I bought salted so used that instead and omitted the salt)
340g best-quality bittersweet chocolate (I used 2 big bars of Spanish cooking milk chocolate. Not a big fan of dark)
1 3/4 cups superfine sugar (395g)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I didn’t have any in the house)
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (265g)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate buttons, chips, or morsels
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate buttons, chips or morsels
Approximately 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Special equipment: Baking tin (approximately 11 1/4 inches by 9 inches by 2 inches), sides and base lined with baking parchment. (I bought a disposable cooking tray, for ease of transport to the party)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (180)
Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy based pan over a low heat.
In a bowl or large measuring jug, beat the eggs together with the superfine sugar and vanilla extract.
Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and sugar mixture and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt. Then stir in the white chocolate buttons or chips, and the semisweet chocolate buttons or chips. Beat to combine then scrape and pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake for about 25 minutes. You can see when the brownies are ready because the top dries to a slightly paler brown speckle, while the middle remains dark, dense and gooey. Even with such a big batch you do need to keep checking on it: the difference between gooey brownies and dry ones is only a few minutes. Remember, too, that they will continue to cook as they cool.
To serve, cut into squares while still warm and pile up on a large plate, sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar pushed with a teaspoon through a small sieve.
Here’s a selection of images from my favourite bars in the Casco Viejo.
Mellila y Fez (Calle Ituribide)
Morocan kebabs. The best tortilla I’ve ever eaten in Spain. Music. Welcoming staff. This is my favourite bar EVER. And it’s very affordable.
Gatz (Calle Santa Maria or Andra Maria Kalea)
Award winning pintxos. Never fails to please and really affordably priced.
Motrikes (Calle Somera)
There are a lot of bars in Bilbao that are famous for their grilled mushrooms, but Motrikes beats the competition. According to urban legend, the recipe is a closely kept secret, and is worth a vast amount of money. All I know is that I love me some mushrooms fresh from the griddle!
After the espectáculo, the founder of the home took us out to a nice Argentinian restaurant as a thank you and a farewell.
Inside the restaurant was wide and spacious, with a tiled floor and a waterfall coming down an ornamental wall. The restaurant was packed with people celebrating Christmas in large groups, and the waiter took us into a small back room. We were the only people there and it was the perfect intimate setting for our farewell dinner.
We had a lovely broth to start with. This is really good to keep out the winter chills (it was only 15C outside…)
Randomly, there were coffee beans in the salt, as opposed to rice (for absorbing moisture).
Then we all shared a mixed grill from their own wood fired barbecue, which had a delicious selection of sausages, ribs, and rib eye steak. Yet another time I was in a restaurant where I was glad that I wasn’t vegetarian anymore.
As we were leaving, this sign was a reminder of the dangers of the city.
Have you ever had a dream that you were sat at Mexican mother’s kitchen table, and she was serving you the best comfort food in the world because she’s been honing her skills as a cook for a lifetime? Welcome to Nuevo Leon, where every dish is prepared with love, bringing you excellent home cooked food. This is a great place to grab lunch after visiting the National Museum of Mexican Art.