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My Happy List: Two Fun Classes

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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Recently I took two very fun classes. :D  Doing fun things makes me so happy, and it's even more fun when I'm learning something new.

My Happy List

1.  Cooking Class
   Williams-Sonoma hosts a book club cooking class once a month.  During March, our local store featured Nigella Lawson's cookbook, Nigellissima.  For the cost of the book, we learned how to cook a  main course, appetizer, salad, and dessert.  This served as our lunch, and we got a 10% store discount for the day.  I thought it was a pretty sweet deal, and I enjoyed the class!

Here is the menu for the class:

Sicilian Cauliflower Salad
Fettuccine with Mushrooms, Marsala & Marscapone
Chicken with Tarragon Salsa Verde
Instant Chocolate-Orange Mousse

Each dish received rave reviews!  The chicken was my favorite.

I love Italian food.  The recipes are so wonderful in this book, and the photography is gorgeous!

I cooked my first recipe from the book at home a couple of weeks ago.  I want to share it with you, and one thing I love about the cookbook is that it's written conversationally like Nigella is talking to you. 

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Don't be put off by the seemingly long recipe.  It's the easiest and most delicious lasagna I've ever cooked!

Quick Calabrian Lasagna

serves 6 - 8

4 eggs
2 T olive oil plus more for greasing
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 T Kosher salt or 1/2 t table salt, or to taste
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup red wine or vermouth
1 quart passata (or tomato sauce), plus 1 quart water
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (not buffalo)
1 1/4 lb lasagna sheets (dried not fresh)
12 ounces cooked ham, thinly sliced
1/4 c grated parmesan


1.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put the whole eggs into a saucepan of water, bring to a boil and let it boil for 7 minutes, then pour off the water and sit the pan under an abundantly flowing cold tap.  Turn off and leave the pan filled with cold water in the sink until eggs are cool enough to peel.

2.   Heat oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan (that comes with a lid), then add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and let cook for a few minutes until ti begins to soften.

3.   Add the meat and turn it in the pan just long enough for the raw red color to turn brown.

4.   Add the wine or the vermouth, then the passata, pouring water into the empty passata can or jar and swilling it out into the pan.  Bring to a bubble, then put the lid on the pan and cook at a robust simmer for 5 minutes.

5.   Peel and thinly slice the eggs, and thinly slice the mozzarella.  Both will be a crumbly mess. Place a deep, greased lasagna dish (9 X 13 X 2 inches) onto a baking sheet and get ready for the grand assembly.

6.   First, put a ladleful or so of very runny meat sauce into the bottom of the dish to line the base, then arrange a layer of lasagna sheets (using about a quarter of them) on top to cover the sauce.  Don't worry  if the sheets overlap.

7.   Add another ladleful of sauce, just to wet the sheets, then add a layer of ham slices, using up a third of them, before dotting with a third of the egg and mozzarella slices.

8.   Now add a second layer of lasagna sheets, another two ladlefuls of sauce, followed again by a third of the ham, then egg and mozzarella slices.

9.   Repeat with another layer of lasagna sheets, another two ladlefuls of meat sauce, then the remaining ham, egg, and mozzarella, befoer topping iwth a final layer of lasagna sheets.

10.  Pour the remaining sauce over the top, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese, and cover with aluminum foil making sure all the edges are sealed and put in the oven still on the baking sheet for one hour.  Please use the baking sheet in case of overflow.  :D

11.  When the hour is up, remove the foil to reveal the top layer "runkled like a shar-pei made of pasta," and push a knife point through the lasagna to check it is soft.  If not, recover it and return to the oven for ten more minutes.  Then let it stand uncovered, out of the oven, for 15- 20 minutes.  Nigella says that she prefers it barely room temperature if she can stand the wait time up to two hours).  Slice into hearty slabs and serve!

2.  Art Class  I attended an art workshop over the weekend, and I learned so much.  Jonathan Simon was the instructor, and his artwork is truly amazing.  I first met Jonathan last October at a Gamblin paint demo, and he did a great job explaining the different paints and mediums to us.

Below is one of Jonathan's paintings entitled "Waiting to Pee."  You can visit his website here.

"Waiting to Pee"
42" X 50"

I hope you'll share what's making you happy this week.  This is a link party!  :D

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. Hi RJ, I am glad you posted about this cooking class. I would love to have attended too but we were so busy. This recipe looks so delicious, one of Jim’s favorites foods so I need to make this. You’ve been busy..........I”m so happy, this beautiful spring weather and I’ve been doing a little tender loving care to my flowers. This makes me happy!
    Have a great day..........

    The French Hutch

  2. I love to take classes and it looks like you chose great ones! How fun!

  3. time they have a cooking class I want to go!

    Love your list this week, I'm hosting a Linky Party today so I can't take part :( but I will next week.

  4. Oh no, I should have made my post today into a happy list post. I have lots to be happy about it seems. :)
    That recipe looks fantastic btw, I am a huge Nigella fan.

  5. I always love your happy list. I really like the sounds of that lasagna recipe, Ricki....might give it a try. Fun painting- Waiting to pee- think we have ALL been there- xo Diana

  6. ooo, I might have to try that cooking class thing for my something new goal that I am trying in life.

  7. I would love to take a cooking class. This one looked so fun and you can't beat the price of the book..a win win! Glad you liked it. The recipe looks interesting with the ham and boiled eggs.

    Very neat painting...I have to have a look at his website.

    Have a great rest of the week!


  8. I love Nigella! I do have a couple of her cookbooks although not the one you mentioned. You're right about the way she writes. I find it so entertaining. I wish I could have taken that class at Williams Sonoma....what fun!

  9. Sounds like you are having lots of fun, Ricki Jill. I have never taken a cooking class, but maybe someday.

  10. Those two classes sound fantastic! So glad you're feeling better.

  11. The Italian cookbook looks great and I know you enjoyed the class. It's always fun to read your happy list! Hugs!

  12. The recipe "reads" delicious! I admire Nigella so much so will look for this cookbook. I'm sure you're full of inspiration to create after your two classes!

  13. Ooooooh! I always wing it when I make lasagna, and having the confidence of an actual recipe would be nice!

  14. Oh, I'm loving this lasagna recipe! I made chicken lasagna last night..but I can eat this every night!! Thank you for hosting sweetie. Big hugs,

  15. Almost forgot! The waiting to pee artwork is awesome. Going over to visit him!

  16. I love cooking classes. That lasagna looks delicious. Thanks for hosting, I put a post about collecting as one of the little things that makes me happy.

  17. when we eat lasagna from our fav Italian place they always have hard boiled eggs and ham in it, I have often wondered about where the recipe would be for it and now I have it!
    I think its wonderful to always be on the search for knowledge!

  18. My son loves lasagna but I am not very good at making it. I do however, love Nigella's recipes so will try this for sure. I was thinking of buying that book so I just might after your recommendation!

    Best wishes and thanks for having me!
    Natasha in Oz

  19. I love lasagna and think I will give this a try..............

  20. RJ, just reading the menu and seeing these images makes me hungry. Glad you felt like attending your classes. Hope you are feeling better and are back in the studio painting.
    I know that makes you happy! '-)

  21. That cooking class sounds like so much fun. I tried to make lasagna once and gave up trying to cook the long noodles correctly. :o/
    The art class looks great too. Makes me want to look up some classes for me to take.

  22. I love cooking classes and cookbooks!

  23. Ricki Jill, I love Nigella but we don't eat a lot of Italian and I wondered about her book. I would have enjoyed the class too!


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Hello, Lovelies!

I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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