Monday, February 8, 2010

Adventure #004- The Recipe (Recept)

Dýňové a Špenatove Lazáně was the name of the recipe on the desk in front of me. The picture looked great, but the recipe was all in Czech. Could my limited Czech help me enough to cook from a Czech recipe? Why not try it?! After my Czech lesson, I felt brave enough to attempt it. I knew I could manage the list of ingredients (I like to eat so food is a necessary vocabulary section!), the real challenge would be the directions, but it's lasagna so how much could I mess it up?

Chloe had a pumpkin (dyně/dýňové) from her 'Orange Diet' so I bought some spinach (špenat/špenatove), garlic, pasta, and, on a whim, mushrooms (I am not great at following a recipe even in English, I consistently like to make changes.) I had her start the pumpkin so we wouldn't be eating around 11pm, not realizing (or paying attention) that the recipe called for sliced pumpkin (platky) and not pureed pumpkin (Improvisation #1).

I arrived home, turned the computer on to a translation site, and took out my dictionary (Czech has special letters that I can't type and therefore the site can't translate properly). So, after much poring over the dictionary and attempting to find the correct translations on-line, I got the gist of the instructions, at least enough to start. My Czech friend Marcel helped with the rest. I sauteed the garlic and spinach (adding the mushrooms for texture, Improvisation #2) and cooked the pasta. The pumpkin was pureed, and the directions told me to 'salt to taste,' which I did, but decided that just salt in the pumpkin wasn't enough, so I added pepper and basil (Improvisation #3.) As I layered the pumpkin then pasta then spinach then pasta, the flour and milk was cooking into a Bechamel sauce (as Chloe calls it) for the top (I also added basil to this, Improvisation #4). I don't have a very good casserole dish, so I made it in a smaller pan, which left me with enough stuff to make a second one (where I added more veggies- leeks, zucchini). I baked it for 40 minutes and voilá!, I had a Dýňové a Špenatove Lazáně!

I made something from a recipe in Czech! Wooohooo! That gave me a bit more confidence in my ability to actually learn this language. Here's the teacher portion of the blog: I could identify verbs and nouns and find the root 70% of the time! In a language where the words can have different endings based on 7 different cases, I was pretty happy!

The lasagna was pretty tasty, the pumpkin puree on the bottom was a little heavy, but altogether good. I ate it for lunch the following day, cold, and it worked. The mushrooms added a really nice (and needed) texture to the mix. The second version with leeks and zucchini was also good, but not much different. When I make this again, I will add either a tomato pesto or some cream (or both) to the pumpkin. It was just a bit too intense and threw off the balance of flavors. Chloe said, "It was good, but it could have been better."

If you want to try the recipe yourself, send me an email (English version only, I promise!). Doubrou Chut'! (Bon appetite!)

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