Thursday, February 3, 2011

Matt Discloses Our Secret Book Title to a National News Outlet, Dang-It

[SCENE1]Dan Steinberg for The Wall Street Journal
Heirloom-LA co-owner and chef Matthew Poley.
You thought the cupcake craze would just fizzle out? No chance. It's just moving away from sweet and into the direction of the savory.
At Trader Joe's in New York, they're selling frozen turkey meatloaf muffins, topped with spinach and mashed potatoes, which, by all accounts, are particularly good. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the entertainment industry's latest obsession is lasagna cupcakes.
Lasagna cupcakes, or individual lasagnas in the shape of cupcakes, are the creation of Heirloom-LA, a catering company based in Eagle Rock, a town near Silverlake. About 18 months ago, Matt Poley, a partner in the company, said a parent had requested macaroni and cheese for a children's party, "but doesn't a big dish of macaroni and cheese look so unappealing?" he asked on a recent visit to his kitchen. "So we made individual macaroni and cheese, and we realized we could do this with every type of lasagna."
Dan Steinberg for The Wall Street Journal
Chefs prepare a batch of lasagna cupcakes.
"The truth is," Mr. Poley went on, "it's kind of hard to dog on a lasagna cupcake. As long as they aren't scalding hot, you can eat them with your hands. In fact, we encourage it. You might get some spillage, but not a lot."
The lasagna cupcakes are so great "because they're all corners, they're a wall of crust," said Jenni Konner, a television writer, who has regularly served and seen them at parties around town. "And I hate the cupcake trend."
On a recent afternoon, Mr. Poley demonstrated how to make an artichoke lasagna cupcake. The pasta is cooked from scratch with eggs and flour; then it goes into a pan, and is cut into sheets. Three sheets, about half the size of a ruler, are placed in a cupcake dish, crossed inside the pan. Three layers of mozzarella cheese, b├ęchamel cream sauce, artichoke, some wild arugula and a little parmesan cheese are added. Then the pasta is folded over, and "there you go, that's a lasagna cupcake," he said.
Dan Steinberg for The Wall Street Journal
A tray of lasagna cupcakes ready for the oven.
Mr. Poley makes the lasagna cupcakes in all different sorts of flavors. A dozen of them are standard, including the mac and cheese, a Bolognese and one with short ribs. Others depend on the season.
"It's all market driven," said Mr. Poley, who is working on a cookbook tentatively titled "Animals and Cupcakes.
"When corn rolls around, we'll make them with corn. Or sweet peas. It's really hard to do pumpkin year-round. Maybe we'll come back from a party with some pork ribs that went uneaten and make some barbecue pork rib lasagna cupcakes. That's where our beef stroganoff idea came from. We just lasagna cupcake'd it."
[SCENE4]Dan Steinberg for The Wall Street Journal
A platter of the finished cupcakes.
Dana Fox, the screenwriter of "Couples Retreat" and "What Happens in Vegas" had lasagna cupcakes at her wedding in Virginia. "Brides aren't supposed to eat, but I couldn't stop," Ms. Fox said. "They're uniformly delicious. If you thought a beet lasagna cupcake was disgusting, you'd be wrong. This just in: it was delicious, too."
Mr. Poley said that Heirloom sold about 10,000 lasagna cupcakes in December. At the moment, his catering kitchen—which has 15 people making lasagna cupcakes, as well as new offerings like tamales and pizza bread pudding —can produce 200 to 300 a day. The cupcakes are available in freezers around the city of Los Angeles and for mail order to—yes, New York City—in frozen packs at the company's website.


Vicki Bensinger said...

I love this idea. Making savory dishes in cupcake form is perfect. You don't over eat and get just enough.

Tell me though, is the top of the lasagna cupcake covered with a sheet of pasta and then topped with a sauce or is it left open? I read the article but couldn't quite picture how it was made.

From what I gathered it was 3 layers but not sure if the last layer covers the top with the noodle.

I look forward to your reply.

Heirloom-LA said...

Hi Vicki!

We call them "cupcakes" really only because they resemble a cupcake and we thought it was funny, but they are all lasagna.

We make our own pasta and many of our own cheeses and certainly our sauces. Our meats are sourced out from small farms that raise their livestock humanely without the use of hormones. We've had lots of fun creating all sorts of flavor combinations which you can see on our website.

We construct them by cutting three pieces of pasta to make layers in the ramekins with all the above goodies, finishing off by folding over two layers of pasta so that when it is baked off there's a crispy top that's outstanding.

If you're in Los Angeles, they're sold at Silverlake Wine and Cookbook and Village Gourmet.

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