Monthly Archives: February 2009

Pasta Bolognese

I grew up in a family of six (four kids, two parents). I like to think this is why I’m completely incapable of making meals for just one or two people. It just never really occurs to me to halve a recipe. Or when I’m just creating something, it never looks to me like I’m making too much. Mostly, it’s not a problem. I, unlike most, like leftovers. I like them for breakfast or lunch or dinner. (There is nothing like pasta for breakfast. Mmmmm.) And, since I tend to cook big, I can usually feed myself for all three of those meals based on whatever I made for dinner the night before.

In the last year or so, though, I’ve finally come to appreciate my freezer. Sure, it was always a happy home to ice cream and the odd frozen pizza. Now I tend to freeze some leftovers for those crazy times when work is insane and there is a strange absence of groceries and I’m contemplating a dinner of peanut butter on crackers. And this Bolognese sauce is the perfect thing to have stashed away for dinner emergencies.

Ready to eat

I got it out of Real Simple magazine; the only magazine I’ve subscribed to since Chickadee and Owl when I was a kid.

So, I used to make this with fettuccine and then one time when I went to buy pasta there was no De Cecco fettuccine. But there was fettuccelle. Sure, that’ll do. But it was so much better than that. It’s now my pasta of choice. It’s flat like fettuccine, but better. Thicker, I think. Or something. Sigh. Just better; let’s leave it at that.

Pasta

There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of hot noodles (al dente, please!) with thick, rich sauce all chock full of tomatoes and beef that’s been simmering for an hour or so. So, I’m happy to make the whole batch of this, freeze half in ziplock bags and then eat the rest for a handful of meals. Then, the next time a craving comes, I still have my freezer stash.

And let me offer this handy ‘recycling’ tip. Don’t throw away the heels of your parmesan wedges. Throw them in as the sauce simmers; they will add a nice richness. (When I’m down to the heel of the cheese, I throw them in a ziplock and into the freezer so they are ready to go when I make the sauce.)

As usual, this is with my adaptations. (These are, for the most part, another carrot — yeah for more vegetables — and no pancetta. I have nothing against pancetta — mmmm bacon-y goodness — but I don’t typically have it on hand and can’t be bothered to go get some for this recipe as I generally have all the other ingredients. Oh, and I add the garlic later than they suggest. There is nothing worse than burnt garlic, so adding it with the celery and carrot seems a bit premature.)

Carrots, onions, celery and garlic

Parmesan heels

mirepoix

Beef, carrots, garlic, onions and celery

A good use for parmesan "heels"

Pasta Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese

  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diceed
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2  pounds  lean ground beef
  • 1  cup  dry white wine
  • 1  cup  milk (I use 1 per cent)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 14-ounce (398 mL) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4  teaspoon  red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 1/2  teaspoons  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • Parmesan heels (if you’ve got them)

In a Dutch oven or large, solid frying pan (I use one with straight sides), heat the oil. Add the onion and saute until they start to go transluscent, about three minutes. Add the celery and carrot and cook for five minutes more until they too start to soften. Add garlic and saute until you can smell it, about a minute. Add beef and cook until browned. Add wine, milk and the rest of the ingredients. (Don’t fret, the milk is going to look like it’s curdling a bit. It’s not.) Add the cheese heels and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot, drained pasta with fresh Parmesan.

Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk

Are you ever shopping and see something you think you need only to find when you get home that you already have, say, five of those already? No? Well, you’re smarter than me then.

A couple of months ago I saw coconut milk on sale, so I picked up a few cans. I like my curries and Thai Seafood Chowder and this great peanut sauce (which I should do a blog entry on; note to self) and so coconut milk is a good staple for me to have around. Unfortunately, I got home to find that I already had about four cans of it in the cupboard. Huh. Now I had eight cans.

On the upside, it means that I have the goods on hand when I see recipes like this one and want to give it a shot.

I’ve been on a butternut squash kick lately. Having never really eating squash for most of my life, I’ve found myself embracing it. It began with an acorn squash I randomly bought a few months ago. (It was so cute, and then it dawned on me that I’d actually have to do something with it.) I simply roasted it and then had it with a roasted chicken breast. Simple perfection. And there are apparently a lot of things you can do with squash. So goes my continuing education.

Butternut Squash

I liked the idea of this recipe. Soft, comforting squash with the exoticism of Thai flavours. And it was good, but if I can make one recommendation, I would suggest using this as a side dish. I’m sure this is the original intent of the recipe, but I made it on a whim and helped myself to a big bowlful. It was a bit rich to just eat on its own.

(I also should have reduced the sauce a bit more. Next time.)

Pre-simmering

Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk

This recipe comes from Closet Cooking, but has, as usual, been slightly adapted.

Butternut Squash in Coconut Milk

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce (such as sambal olek)

Heat oil in a pan. Add garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute until fragrant. Add chili sauce and saute for another 30 seconds, then add coconut milk, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and squash. Cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove squash and let coconut milk mixture continue to cook until it is reduced. Pour over cooked squash.