There appears to be some flogging going on. I haven’t read all of the recent comments and blog posts critiquing our little Lasagna Cupcakes™, that would take forever, but I have made an attempt and I feel I must address some of our detractors because there seems to be a common thread of discontent.
Let me get the most dramatic out of the way first, the political ones that give wind that we are not sensitive or patriotic making a career out of something so fanciful like a lasagna cupcake when Egypt is in crisis and third world countries continue to suffer from hunger. To these accusations I say... you’re right.
Our kitchen is small and so is our political impact. We focus at this time on the crucial importance of reducing waste from our landfills by recycling all plastic and aluminum and paper and glass and cardboard. Also we are aware that we have purchasing power. We source out small farms that struggle to keep going when technology is rapidly moving in the direction of “meat-labs” and GMOs. We continue to seek out new ways to keep our eco-footprint light and our employees happy. We have big plans for the future concerning how to expand our potential for progressive change. We’d like for these intended actions to reach brave and peaceful protestors across the globe as well as desperately impoverished and hungry countries, but they certainly never will and for that our heads hang low.
There is also much talk over Marshall Heymann’s description of our repurposing of food. Allow me to elaborate because it does sound wildly off-putting and unsanitary as it is stated in The Wall Street Journal. For every catering party we pack an overage of food, we must in case unaccounted for guests arrive or we have big eaters in attendance. This excess food is security for us so we never run out and it is kept in it’s own packaging and if unused, goes back to the kitchen just as it came. What to do with these leftovers? Well we try out new recipes for lasagna cupcakes and taste them ourselves. If we like them they go into production, and I must correct Mr Heymann, we make 300 an hour not a day, far too many to be comprised of leftovers.
Many people complain about the price. At seven bucks a pop and an additional forty in shipping, I hear ya. Please know we make all our pasta by hand using organic eggs. Although the cooks making this pasta work fast, rolling enormous amounts of dough to meet our ordering demands is a tedious task and all of our employees are paid a living wage. Additionally we make many of our cheeses which requires space and time and the skill to do it, none of which comes for free. Our meats, as I already mentioned are sourced from small farms which charge more than commercial farms but not only can you taste the difference, it also is the ethical thing to do. Our produce, same thing. Very carefully considering all of the above, seven dollars is a fair price. As for shipping, take that up with Fed Ex, we don’t mark up.
Lastly, people are really upset by the name Lasagna Cupcakes™. They say it sounds “disgusting” and “nasty”, and if you've never actually tasted one, I suppose the pairing of these two words does indeed promote a visual (frosting on noodles anyone?) that is less than desirable. As caterers, we wanted to bypass sloppy family-style lasagnas in favor of individual sized lasagnas to make a buffet or a platter look prettier. Calling them mini lasagnas seemed so ho-hum, so Matt referred to them as "cupcakes" and I laughed. This is where the name came from and it just stuck. We were too busy making them to fret over it much. Moving on from that, we wanted to step outside the box of sausage lasagna. Have you tried our artichoke lasagna? You must, it’s terrific. Or what about the wild boar bolognese with fresh pulled mozzarella? Outrageously divine. The mac-n-cheese lasagna cupcake that got a rise out of some Yahoo Readers, well that's just our fresh pasta with everything that's represented in the most righteous mac-n-cheese casseroles: several types of cheeses and a béchamel, prosciutto is not mandatory but certainly recommended. Viola. Some critics consider this break from tradition to be nothing short of heresy. Others say, yawn, they've been making these themselves for decades.
In short, we are not pushing our company or our food as a "trend". We want to keep ourselves and our staff and our purveyors working during this economic slump and we want to do so with conscience. I hope this testament clears the air a little bit for those whom we have offended. Our mission is for our customers to eat well and to have a good time-- in the lasagna cupcake, whatever the flavor, we’re working to provide both.
Braised Short Rib Lasagna Cupcake™ with Cipollini Onions and Fresh Pulled Mozzarella
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."
"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, béchamel 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.
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."
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.