Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Bolognese Blues

I have the Bolognese blues.

This weekend's Bolognese sauce battle has been in the works for months at my request, and I am home instead of being in Connecticut at a farm house with my beloved families (my two friends since grade school and their parents).

The head cold I had from 3 weeks ago manifested itself into my body, and I am on the mend from not having an appetite for a week now and only eating simple foods (hence lack of posts here on A Twist of Spaghetti). After getting scolded this morning by my doctor for not taking care of myself and being run-down, I sent my beautiful Bolognese sauce to battle without me.
I slept throughout the day and will sleep early tonight, drinking lots of water in between.

I did make some pasta to be topped with my sauce so I could post it here. I had a few bites, and I have to say this is a winner. I think I have a good shot at first place this despite my absence and hope that my family enjoys it. I miss them so very much tonight.

Bolognese sauce is a wonderfully rich "sugo" that takes time and attention to make right and perfect. You cannot rush the sugo, and the trick is to layer the sauce at each phase with lots of flavor. This is my recipe adapted from others - I am proud of how it has grown since I started making it over 8 years ago! It really is better the day after since it has time to sit with all the flavors and aromatics.

Amy's Winning Bolognese Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
2 slices of thick, center cut bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
2 pounds of ground beef, pork, and veal mixture
1 cup dry red wine (I used Shiraz)
1 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 14 ounce cans of beef broth
1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree
3 splashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 splashes of low sodium soy sauce
splash of heavy cream or half and half
grated pecorino romano, for serving

1) Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and saute until beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.
2) Add onion, celery, carrots, thyme, and sage, sauteing for 5 minutes.
3) Add ground meat mixture to brown, breaking up meat with back of fork, for about 10 minutes.
4) Add wine and bay leaves, simmering until liquid is slightly reduced, 10 minutes.
5) Add broth and tomato puree. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce thickens, about 2 hours, stirring constantly.
6) Once sauce has thickened, add the splashes of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and the nutmeg.
7) Blend sauce with a few pulses in the food processor for a good texture.
8) Splash in some cream before serving and top with grated pecorino romano. You can use whatever pasta you wish...I really like mine with rigatoni or rotelli.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

Giulia Melucci, author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti (a memoir of good food and bad boyfriends), is not just an amazing writer and amazing cook, she is an amazing person.

If you have not read the book, I suggest you go on Amazon immediately or head to your local bookstore. Whether you are male or female, heartbreak is universal, so I recommend this book to anyone, especially a foodie!

Why is she an amazing person? I had emailed her last week and she responded within 24 hours with words that were kind, supportive, and truly funny! I am meeting her next week at a book signing and cooking demo and look forward to writing more about my interaction with her and posting some photos from the special event.

In the meantime, I am making her recipes! And wow, are they fantastic! This weekend I made an adapted version of a delicious pasta sauce called Lachlan's Rigatoni with Eggplant. He was a bad boyfriend but a good cook. Enjoy!

Lachlan's Rigatoni with Eggplant (adapted from Giulia Melucci's ex-boyfriend)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 large (28 ounce can) crushed tomatoes (I used Red Pack's Italian style)
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon sugar (tomatoes, wine, and eggplant are acidic, do not omit this!)
1 pound rigatoni (I used rotelli primavera to be healthier), cooked al dente
freshly grated Romano cheese

1) Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper and saute until onion is translucent.
2) Add the eggplant and 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 20 minutes, allowing the eggplant to get a little brown.
3) Add crushed tomatoes, wine, sugar, and the remaining salt. Place lid half open on the pot and simmer for 1 hour.
4) Serve over hot, cooked pasta with grated cheese on top.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Would Have Licked the Wok!

A few weeks ago, Mark Bittman posted a recipe in the beloved Dining Out section of The New York Times for vegetable pad thai. It inspired me to make my own despite having a good Thai restaurant not too far from where I live.

I was going to try his recipe, but I wanted some kind of protein in the mix. I then started looking for recipes that included chicken and shrimp, and as I read more and more, they all varied greatly! There are no two pad thai recipes alike on the interwebs! Some called for tamarind paste, some for honey, some for fish sauce, others for oyster sauce. Some had egg on top, others did not. All had cilantro, and I hate cilantro, so that was not happening on my plate. I did not want rice noodles at all. I am now officially a Dreamfields fan and prefer that as my noodle choice, and linguine worked just fine!

I was getting discouraged and then decided to Thai in all the recipes together and create my own based on what I had and what my tastes were. I also wanted to make this a weeknight meal...some of the recipes were complicated. This took me 45 minutes start to finish. It would have taken a bit longer had I opted to add the egg, and I would go back and do that on a weekend! That being said, I had one bite and wanted to lick the wok, let alone the plate after I was done!

What is your favorite dish to cook in your wok?

Chef Aimee's Pad Thai

1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut satay sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
3 tablespoons wok oil (available in Asian aisle - has some great flavors)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup of zucchini, sliced julienne style
1/4 cup Chinese chives, diced (these are my FAVORITE kind of chives)
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut up into bite sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 pound linguine noodles (Dreamfields is my choice), cooked and drained
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Chopped peanuts, for garnish

1) In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, satay sauce, hot sauce, and oyster sauce until smooth.
2) Salt and pepper the chicken and then coat with ground ginger.
3) Heat a large wok with the wok oil and make sure oil is very hot. Once hot, add the garlic and let cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the chicken and vegetables and stir fry until chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Add noodles and toss to coat.
4) Add satay/spice paste, brown sugar, vinegar, and lime juice and toss to distribute. Cook until heated through, another minute or so.
5) After plating, top with chopped peanuts. (You can also add mung bean sprouts and cilantro)