February 27, 2009
Unfortunately, my blog has been affected by a delay in recent posts. The cause: writer’s block brought on by the silencing of my creative voice. The post attached to this recipe was about my time spent as a Supposed Mafia Princess. It only saw the light of day for 10 minutes before being stifled by maternal control. My anguish over this lost legendary anecdote (you thought I was going to go for the alliteration) had rendered me unable to post the recipe.
Today, that ended when the epiphany came; this recipe is one that needs to be shared and by doing so I can hack away at the beaver dam that is my writer’s block. There are ten or so recipes caught upstream. So please forgive me for not sharing the story of my faux Italian heritage and prepare for the flood that is about to come.
This recipe comes from the spiky haired brain of Anne Burrell. Some may not love her new show but the recipes are awesome. This is great for a lazy weekend day (because we all have so many of those). The effort you put in is definitely worth the result. I left the directions in her voice because I think it is very important to getting the correct results. Make sure you take the time to brown and develop the flavors in the veggies, meat, and tomato paste.
Alex rates this dish a 9 and I rate it a 9.5. The sauce is everything it should be. Creamy and favorful; it clings to the pasta like an pyscho ex-girlfriend.
- 1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
- Kosher salt
- 3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
- 2 cups tomato paste
- 3 cups hearty red wine
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.
Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don’t rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.
Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don’t be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the spaghetti. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted. Salty as the ocean! TASTE IT! If your pasta water is under seasoned it doesn’t matter how good your sauce is, your complete dish will always taste under seasoned. When the water is at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the ragu from the pot and reserve.
Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of Parmigiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil. Toss or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or 1 big pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.
February 10, 2009
Alex and I do not necessarily agree on everything. There are more than a few times that we are on opposite sides of the fence.
One of these times was one of our first dates. Looking back, it was quite romantically corny. Alex brought me to a park on campus. He parked next to a moonlight lake and turn the music up really loud. He suavely unbuckled my seat belt and took me out of the car to dance under the stars. Then, he decided that we should gaze up at those stars from the dock of the moonlit lake. The problem: the dock was over the river and through the woods. I voiced my fearful opposition based on the theory of woodland animals and serial killers awaiting our arrival. But, Alex, convinced of the increased romantic levels that were waiting for him on the dock, disagreed and we set out.
I am not brave. I do not pretend to be brave. If a serial killer attacked, I would throw you in front of him in hopes of making my escape successful. I clung to Alex during that five minute walk scanning my surrounding in search of impending doom. Each step was accompanied by a whimper. Every foreign sound warranted a plead to turn back. I was convinced that we were becoming the opening scene to some horrible B-rated horror flick. Alex disagreed.
We maneuvered our way down the dock. It creaked and swayed below our feet thus adding to my sense of security. We stood there for a moment and I began to relax. Then, right as we were getting ready to sit down and gaze up at the non-menacing stars, it happened. The forest shook and something or someone moved through the bushes. I reacted and pushed Alex out of my way and ran down the dock. Heart racing, I turned around frantically looking for my hunky protector. Alex was going to be no help to me though. He was knee deep in water pointing at a raccoon that had just wandered out of the woods. I explained my reasoning for sacrificing him while helping him out of the lake, all the way back to the car, and while I loaded his jeans into the washer. That we were in infinite peril and I reacted convinced he was stronger of the two with more of an opportunity to survive the supposed zombie attacker. Alex disagreed.
Honey Mustard or Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
Just another thing Alex and I disagree about. If you would like to try the fabulous Honey Mustard goodness like I do, that recipe is first. The stupid barbecue one that Alex enjoys is second. We both rate these sandwiches an 8.5. There is nothing better than this and a good beer to finish off a long work day.
Today’s Recipe is adapted from the brilliant mind of the Pioneer Woman
Honey Mustard Marinade
½ cup of Dijon Mustard
½ cup of Honey
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Salt
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Whisk until smooth.
½ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
½ cup Honey
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Salt
Sprinkle of Cayenne and Red Pepper Chili Flake
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Whisk until smooth.
2 Big Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
3 Strips of Bacon
Your favorite kind of Cheese (I use Sharp Cheddar for Honey Mustard and Pepper Jack for BBQ)
2 Hearty Can Hold Onto a Filling Rolls
1. Rinse the chicken breast and pat them dry.
2. Butterfly the chicken breast and cut down the seam. This will give you two halves of equal width.
3. Place the chicken breast in marinades, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.
4. When ready to make the sandwiches, fry up some bacon. When finished cooking, reserve ¼ cup of the bacon grease and clean out the skillet.
5. Preheat the oven to 400.
6. Return about a tablespoon of the bacon grease to the skillet along with 1 tablespoon of Canola Oil. Place the pan over medium-high heat.
7. Remove the chicken from the fridge and drain off the extra marinade.
8. Place the chicken in the pan and cook 1 to 1 ½ minute per side until the chicken starts to brown.
9. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a cooking sheet.
10. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and cook chicken about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
11. While the chicken is cooking, prepare your roll. You can toast or untoast and add lettuce, mayo, tomato, onion etc. I like to eat the Honey Mustard with a little honey mustard sauce.
12. Place a few pieces of bacon on top of the chicken and sprinkle generously with cheese.
13. Return the pan to the oven and cook for additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Place the chicken on the prepare roll and enjoy!
Honey Mustard Sauce
¼ cup Mayo
1 ½ tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 ½ tbsp Honey
Splash of White Vinegar
1. Combine all ingredients ( taste is very subjective you can add more mustard or honey as needed) and whisk.
February 1, 2009
I had a lot of idiosyncrasies when I was a child. I believe childhood actually lends itself to them. I mean how many of us have skipped around the grocery store avoiding cracks to keep our mothers safe from harm or only stood on the brown squares because the white ones are death traps of fiery magma. A child’s imagination is a constant flow of neurotic thought followed by an illogical physical response, in hopes of avoiding such a fate.
These idiosyncrasies reared their head in every area of my formidable years including meals. To this day my favorite thing about mashed potatoes is the gravy lagoon contained inside its starchy valley, which eventually overflows and kills the villagers (corn) down below. Of course, I don’t like gravy so instead I watch Alex’s plate like a hawk until the inevitable destruction happens. Then, the four year old inside of me laughs with maniacal glee.
Waffles also come with their own irrational rule. I had to fill each individual square with syrup to the top of the depression and then, stop the sugary flow so as not to taint the containment wall until I reached the next golden hole. This process continued with impeccable precision until all the holes (including the triangles ones on the side) received their sugary deposit. I would have been brilliant on an assembly line. After completing this methodical process, I would then break the sections apart and stack them as high as I feasible could, pretty much destroying all of my painstaking work from before. My reasoning: they were more fun to eat this way; sounds completely reasonable to my 7 year old self.
Most of these ticks have been abandoned for more convenient, logical, and rational thought. However, this “maturing” also makes life a little more mundane, rigid and ordinary. So this morning, I chose to eat my waffles this way and later in the car, I will try to control the traffic lights with my mind.
Note: Alex apparently cannot relate with this entry. So two theories can be made:
1. Boys are different than girls and did not do any of these things
2. Alex is a robot sent here to eventually destroy me. I will be doing research on this and will report back later.
Comes from the Domestic Diva Martha Stewart
The waffles were perfectly golden and crispy. You can taste the cinnamon in the waffles and it gives them a depth of flavor. Alex rates them an 8 and I am refraining from rating because it would not be fair to the waffles. I am getting over being sick and cannot taste flavors. But, they sure looked good.
Serves 4 to 6
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) melted unsalted butter, plus more for waffle iron
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
- 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Grease waffle iron with a small amount of melted butter, and heat. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour into dry mixture, and combine.
- In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter.
- Ladle about 1/3 cup batter onto each section of the waffle grid; spread batter almost to the edges. Close lid, and bake 3 to 5 minutes, until no steam emerges from waffle iron.
- Transfer cooked waffles to a baking sheet; place in an oven set to low heat, about 200 degrees, while using remaining batter.