Classic Bolognese Sauce – A Recipe

Classic Bolognese Sauce   photo by Jen McCarter

When a classic is a classic, let’s keep it a classic. I’m all for experimentation. But after the new-fangled dust settles, let’s go back to homey goodness of what definitely works.

Bolognese Sauce. It’s classic version varies slightly but the usual suspects are still hanging around making sure the taste remains superb.

We recently made Bolognese sauce with fresh-made spinach fettuccine in a class of mine. Oh happy day.

Start off with that trio of bottom-flavor goodness: diced onion, carrot, celery…

Amie and I talking soffritto

Amie and I talking soffritto  photo by Jen McCarter

…AND some minced pancetta.

first ingredients

first ingredients  photo by Jen McCarter

Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and pancetta…sauté until softened…

soffrito cooking

soffritto cooking

Lindsay sauteing

Now it’s time to add the meat. Ground veal is the traditional ingredient. We added 1 lb. ground veal and 1/2 lb. ground beef.

ground veal and beef

ground veal and beef

Add it to the cooking soffrito and break up the meat into small pieces as you stir…

Lindsay breaking up meat

Cook meat until it loses its raw color…

browned meat

browned meat

Next comes the dry white wine or dry vermouth — about a cup…

pouring in the vermouth

pouring in the vermouth   photo by Jen McCarter

Cook until wine or vermouth evaporates. Now add the other liquid ingredients. We added a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes and about 2 cups chicken broth…

add tomatoes & broth

add tomatoes & broth

Season with salt & pepper and bring to simmer. Cook uncovered for about an hour or more until the liquids mostly evaporate and the sauce thickens.

cooked Bolognese sauce

cooked Bolognese sauce

We made some fresh made spinach fettuccine (looking for that recipe? let me know!) to go with our Bolognese sauce…

making fresh fettuccine

making fresh fettuccine   photo by Jen McCarter

Spinach Fettuccine w Classic Bolognese Sauce

Spinach Fettuccine w Classic Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 celery stalk, minced

2 carrots, minced

1 small onion, minced

2 slices pancetta, coarsely chopped

1  1/2 lbs. ground beef or a mixture of beef and veal

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1-2 cups chicken broth

¼ cup heavy cream or milk (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

In a medium heavy saucepan heat the olive oil. When hot add the celery, carrot, and onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta, cook another 3 minutes. Add the beef/veal and cook, breaking up the clumps until no longer raw. Add the wine. Cook until almost evaporated. Add the tomatoes and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a slow simmer and set heat to low. Let simmer for an hour or two until the liquid has reduced. Add cream and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Bonnie serving up the pasta

Thanks to Jen McCarter for some of the photos!

Gorgonzola Acorn Squash – A Recipe

You really don’t have to do much with acorn squash. At least that’s what I think. I like the taste of it. Just as is. I used to flavor it with butter and maple syrup. Now I’ve got gorgonzola taking over and making acorn squash a rock star.

Here’s how:

Cut squash in half. Scrape out seeds and stringy stuff. Place cut-side down on a foil-lined sheet pan. Add a little water to pan, about a 1/4-inch. Bake at 400 for 40-45 minutes until a paring knife easily pierces and flesh feels soft.

Baked Squash Just Out of Oven

Baked Squash Just Out of Oven

Flip over cut-side up.

Squash ready to stuff

Squash ready to stuff

Season with salt, pepper, and a little hot pepper.

Seasoned squash

Seasoned squash

Add some crumbled gorgonzola. (If you like add some butter and a pinch of breadcrumb, too.)

Crumbled gorgonzola in your squash ready to bake

Crumbled gorgonzola in your squash ready to bake

Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for another 10 minutes until cheese melts.

Tasty cooked sqaush

Tasty cooked squash

Eat with a spoon. Half a squash per person. Your own personal squash (half).

Eat it with a spoon

Eat it with a spoon

Gorgonzola Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

salt & pepper to taste

Pinch hot pepper

1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a small sheet pan (with at least 1-inch sides) with foil. Place the cleaned acorn squash cut-side down. Pour a little water in the pan to make a not too deep puddle. Roast squash for about 45 minutes until tender (test by poking a paring knife into flesh). Remove from oven and gently turn squash halves over making cut side up. Season with salt & pepper, add a little hot pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to each half. Sprinkle with gorgonzola, then breadcrumbs. Drizzle with olive oil. Return to oven for about 10 minutes until cheese melts and breadcrumb is golden.

What I Buy at Costco – Part One

Campo dei Fiori, Rome, Italy

Campo dei Fiori, Rome, Italy

Costco ain’t Campo dei Fiori. But…

I resisted for a long time. The idea of paying a yearly fee to shop didn’t sit right with me. But my mom (my voice of reason and still my advisor) encouraged we join. So we did. Little by little we discovered and tried and explored and now have a list of regular stuff we buy and rely on.

Costco’s brand is Kirkland. It’s not the only brand they sell, but when you see the Kirkland label you know it’s reliable and (so far that we’ve tried) really good quality.

Everything is extensive at Costco. Huge produce department, cheese department, meat and fish, big frozen food department, aisles and aisles of jarred, canned, packaged foods. I push around the SUV-sized shopping cart thru aisles stacked, stocked & full…agape at this Museum of Giant Food.

Here’s what helps: my mom and I often share stuff, which means we can get the multi-can package of baked beans, or the large bag of mini-cucumbers, or the 8-to-a-pack artisan romaine lettuce, or the 4-lb package of unsalted butter sticks. And because of my classes I often pick up the “large” size; my menus absorb quantity. STILL a single shopper can do great (helps to have a freezer).

I’ve got a long list of favorites but here’s a partial roundup. It would be fun to take people with me when I shop so I can show them where I get my ingredients. People in my classes often ask. In lieu of that, here’s a Costco shopping tour on a page!

Large Bag ‘O Lemons/5 lbs.

Costco Lemons

Costco Lemons

I LOVE lemons. Not only do they sneak into many of my recipes but I’m in the habit of making Duane and I a lemon elixir every morning. We split a squeezed lemon and a squeezed orange with a little water. It’s a shot of toxic-clearing liver-cleansing goodness. (This morning drink was recommended by Mom, but, added to that, I remember long ago when I was doing a residency at the MacDowell Colony, a long-time-resident writer there would drink a cup of hot water with lemon every morning. She was about 95 years old.) Costco lemons are beautiful and sometimes as large as the ones I found in Amalfi! Here’s something fun to do with lemons inspired by the Amalfi Coast: Click Here for TV Demo SegmentClick Here for Recipe

Columbian Coffee… 3 lbs

Costco Columbian Coffee

Costco Columbian Coffee

Okay. My mom’s advice again. She insists Columbian coffee tastes the best and loves this coffee. I don’t drink coffee (except espresso), but Duane drinks coffee every morning. He’s not fussy about what kind but likes this one just fine (it certainly smells heavenly). The price for the quality is excellent.

Citterio Italian Rosemary Ham… 2 – 1/2 lb. packs

Citterio Rosemary Ham

Citterio Rosemary Ham

Imported from Italy. This ham has a slight hint of rosemary giving it an exotic irresistible spin. Comes in a 2-pack. I cut them apart and freeze one for later.

Already Peeled (except for tail) Raw Shrimp…2 lbs.

Kirkland Shrimp

Kirkland Shrimp

Kirkland brand, 31-40 to a pound. So easy to defrost in 1/2 hour (put in a bowl and run cold water on top, then let sit in cold water until soft). I love shrimp (okay, who doesn’t?). Here’s a fav shrimp recipe: Spaghetti w Shrimp

Grated Parmesan Cheese…3 lbs.

Cello Grated Cheese

Cello Grated Cheese

Yes, I know. Grating your own parmigiano or grana padana is IDEAL. But I go through a lot of cheese in my classes. Not only is grating yourself time-consuming, parmigiano is EXPENSIVE. I found this Cello brand grated domestic parmesan to be a superior quality and it complements so many of my recipes. It’s reliable and affordable. (Put some in a container in your refrigerator, freeze the rest until you need more.)

Campari Tomatoes…2 lbs.

Campari Tomatoes

Campari Tomatoes

The size of these tomatoes is seductively charming. I can’t resist. They have a lovely taste and adapt to cooking or salads or pairing with mozzarella. And their name is Campari (my favorite drink). I love these for making Fish in Crazy Water (Acqua Pazza), which is a tasty, easy way to make fish: Acqua Pazza Recipe

Kirkland Unsalted Butter…4  1 lb. boxes

Kirkland Unsalted Butter

Kirkland Unsalted Butter

Butter? Oh, yes. I often have pastry-based desserts on my class menus: tarts, pies, galettes, and savory pies, too. I use a lot of butter. 1 lb. goes in the fridge, the rest in the freezer until needed. This brand has a great taste and works well in recipes.

Eggland’s Eggs…18 eggs

Eggland's Eggs

Eggland’s Eggs

You can certainly get Eggland’s eggs in any supermarket but this dozen and a half pack is a good price. I like these eggs. They make me happy. Got eggs? Why not make a frittata? Frittata Recipe

Stay tuned for What I Buy at Costco Part Two. In the meantime let me know if you try any of these products and how they turn out. I’m not sponsored by them or anything. Just a shopper, eater, teacher, appreciator!

When Meat Loafs. (A recipe.)

Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf

So is it only Italians who put mashed potatoes in their meat loaf? (Let me know.)

I put mashed potatoes in my meat loaf because my mother puts mashed potatoes in her meatloaf and she does it because her mother-in-law (actually it was my dad’s stepmom and she was from Sicily) put mashed potatoes in her meatloaf and so that’s how my dad liked it and so that’s how my mother made it. (Mashed potatoes gives your meatloaf a nice, tender-soft consistency.)

potato and onion about to be in maetloaf

potato and onion about to be in meatloaf

I also put in onion, but dice it and cook it till soft in a little water first (got that habit years ago from David Rosengarten’s Dean & DeLuca Cookbook meatloaf recipe). Then drain the onion and add to the mixture.

All my other ingredients are favs and/or what happens to be hanging around the refrigerator and looks like a good meatloaf addition. (In today’s case: gorgonzola cheese, parsley, and hoisin sauce. Hoisin is good in any ground meat shape including meatballs and hamburgers, think: Chinese-spare-ribs-flavor.)

today's meatloaf ingredients

today’s meatloaf ingredients

I love deep flavor condiments like hoisin. I also added Dijon mustard and sriracha.

some choice condiments for meatloaf

some choice condiments for meatloaf

I’m sure you’ve got some goodies to add, too. (Worcestershire sauce, ghost pepper sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, horseradish, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and ____????) Go on. Load it in. The meat’s loafing, not you.

meatloaf mixture

meatloaf mixture

Meatloaf (my style) (for today anyway)

1 baking potato, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 small onion, peeled & diced

1.5 lbs. ground beef

1 egg

1 bunch parsley, minced

1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola

2-3 tablespoons, Dijon mustard

2-3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1-2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

salt & pepper to taste

3-4 strips pancetta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan heat about an inch of water. Add the diced onion and cook until softened. About 3-4 minutes. Drain and let cool. Put the cut up potato in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cook till potato is soft, about 7-8 minutes. Mash potato, let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, break up the chopped meat. Add the egg, parsley, gorgonzola, condiments, cooled mashed potato & onion. Mix well. Season with salt & pepper. On a foil-lined sheet pan, shape the meat into a “loaf.” Drape strips of pancetta on top. Bake in oven until deep brown and pancetta is crisped, about 45 minutes.

Then eat it. (Any leftovers? Meatloaf is even better the next day.)

meatloaf, half-eaten

meatloaf, half-eaten, with stainless cake knife (why not?)

45-Minute Minestrone Soup Recipe

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

45-minutes. Hearty homemade soup.

I LOVE soup. I love hot tea. I love hot espresso (w milk and sugar–call it a cortado). I love drinking straight broth. And green, earthy vegetable cooking liquid just after the cooking is finished.

There is something restorative about soup. It makes you feel human again. It’s relaxing. It literally warms you up inside. (Well, if not physiologically, then certainly experientially). Spooning hot soup into your mouth makes you feel like you’re finally doing something right.

This morning I wanted a good homemade soup. But I only had 45-minutes. And I knew this would work in that amount of time. I was excited to prepare and cook it. And then, of course, eat it. (Best part.)

I started with carrots, an onion, and celery. Dicing, slicing, and mincing…

carrots, celery, onion

carrots, celery, onion

Then sautéing in a little olive oil…

sauteing

sauteing

When the vegetables get a little softened (about 3-5 minutes), I add some broth, either boxed or canned or homemade (about 2-3 cups), and a 15-oz can of petite-diced tomatoes OR dice some fresh tomatoes and add with their juices.

diced tomato

diced tomato

When that comes to a simmer add about 1/3 cup of small cut pasta like pastina, ditalini, orzo, acini di pepe, or small farfalle.

Pasta shapes

Pasta shapes

Let soup return to a simmer and add a 15-oz can of cannellini beans…

cannellini beans

cannellini beans

I happened to have some turnip greens, too. (This s the kind of soup that loves whatever vegetables you’ve got.) I love turnip greens and loved the opportunity to get greens into the soup and zingy ones at that (no timid spinach here).

turnip greens

turnip greens

I cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces and stirred them in.

simmering minestrone soup

simmering minestrone soup

Season with salt & pepper and cook for 10 minutes or more. Serve with a little grated cheese.

Quick Minestrone Soup

Quick Minestrone Soup

Molto buono! :)

 

Lentils are Coins: Let’s Eat a Million

Originally posted on Chef Paulette:

When I lived in Rome my Roman roommate (and soul sister), Enrica, made lentils for lunch one day. In Italy you can get lentils in a can, pre-cooked, like you buy baked beans here. They’re called lenticche in Italian. Enrica emptied the can into a small saucepan and heated the lentils. Then in a small saute pan she heated a little olive oil, added a garlic clove, and cut a few slices of bread into small triangles and fried them to crispy. We each sat down to a bowl of hot lentils topped with crispy garlic croutons. It was, actually, heaven in a bowl.

Lentils are adorable. Have you ever really looked them over? What a sublime invention of nature. So it’s no surprise to me that they represent the possibility of good fortune and prosperity. That they are the go-to traditional meal of New Year’s Eve in Italy. That they…

View original 450 more words

Fav Nashville Eats: Christmas in Chinatown

Good Fortune

Good Fortune

I always wanted to do it. Go out to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner.

You know, there’s always the standard, traditional, you-gotta-do-it Christmas dinner. Turkey. Goose. Roast Beef. All great stuff. But sneaking off to a Chinese restaurant instead …makes you kinda giggly.

For the 2nd year in a row my mom, sister (Nina), Duane, and I have done just that. The first year we didn’t know where to go and just followed the local online suggestions. We went to Chinatown in Green Hills. LOVED IT. We’ve been back several times throughout the year. The hostesses & the waitresses know us now. And we have our favorite waitress, too, but love them all. Everyone who works at Chinatown is especially friendly and all of them smile so very easily.

So this Christmas we knew exactly where to go. We also heard that reservations might be a good idea altho we never made them before. But we did this time and it seemed to work a little magic for us in the overly stuffed entryway crowded with guests trying to get in, picking up a take-out order, or just making an attempt to get to the desk to check in for their reservation. This is a very ambitious group and you have to be sure to bring your patience when arriving at Chinatown on Christmas day.

Crowd waiting for tables

Crowd waiting for tables

We got to our table and our favorite waitress ran over, obviously in a frenzy (but with an enjoying-it smile), already apologizing for delays. But she got our hot Chinese tea, beers, crispy noodles & dipping sauce, and scallion pancake out right away.

Noodles & Dipping Sauce

Noodles & Dipping Sauce

I love Chinese oolong tea.

I love Chinese oolong tea.

Then we ordered our Chinatown favorites (read: best things on the menu according to us): Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef at Chinatown

Mongolian Beef at Chinatown

Shrimp w Black Bean Sauce

Shrimp w Black Bean Sauce at Chinatown

Shrimp w Black Bean Sauce at Chinatown

(We passed on our other fav: Pineapple Shrimp in favor for:)

Shrimp Lo Mein

Moo Shu Vegetables (you know, the one with the pancakes)

Nina likes it.

Nina likes it.

Let me divert here for a minute…my family LOVES Chinese food the way we knew it & tasted it made by Chinese people in New York restaurants. They called it Cantonese, but I’m not sure if that is indeed what they cooked in Canton (egg foo young, shrimp in lobster sauce, pepper steak, wonton soup, fried rice, lo mein, chicken chow mein, spare ribs, shrimp toast). Still, that was Chinese food to us.

Fortune Cookies at Chinatown are from Brooklyn, NY

Fortune Cookies at Chinatown are from Brooklyn, NY

Nashville’s Chinatown delivers some of this nostalgic taste plus their spin on classics, and many of their own signature dishes. They take it all many steps higher. WOW.  i.e. the Pineapple Shrimp. You have to try this. Little squares of pineapple (like those little math block squares) and chunky shrimp dusted with a mystery coating and fried or sautéed (hard to tell which). It’s a surprise with every morsel. WHAT IS THAT FLAVOR? I think it’s heaven.

Just Give Me A Shrimp And I'm Happy.

Just Give Me A Shrimp And I’m Happy.

At this restaurant, you don’t have 5 entrees on the table all basically tasting like soy sauce. Every time you try a new dish you’re sampling a whole new flavor.

We liked it.

We liked it.

It’s a year-round regular stop (for dinner or lunch). It does not disappoint. And if you go next Christmas, make a reservation. I’ll see you there for sure.

Profound.

Profound.

Heavy.

Heavy.

[If you’ve got a minute (well, actually 4.5) I’m betting you’ll love this little film. It’s about eavesdropping at a restaurant– but it kinda connects.] CLICK: Table 7