Pasta Bolognese

I made this entire pot of bolognese for myself. Me, myself, and I [and maybe a little bit to Roma] could be found often eating it off plates, bowls, at the kitchen counter, straight out of the pan, in sweats on the couch, or at a normal place setting. All I was missing was candlelight. It’s safe to say this stuff is delicious. Felicia turned me on to this whole “frying leftovers in butter” thing. How did I not know about this? How? I feel like I’ve really missed out on a lot of pasta leftovers.

There should be candles of the scent this makes as it’s slow cooking in your kitchen. This is not like sauce out of a jar, no sir. It’s anything but. The rough and rustic nature of it makes it easy. Chop, brown, simmer. Delicious. I almost bought bread to go with it because who doesn’t like dipping bread in bolognese, but it seemed excessive since I was pretty much guaranteed to be eating a pound of pasta by myself. No shame.

Tasting the sauce as you go is essential to getting a sauce that you’ll happily shovel into your face. Tomatoes can be fickle. Sometimes they’re sweet. Sometimes they’re acidic. Throw in a whole bunch of cabernet and it’ll release its own sweetness. I found I wanted absolutely zero sugar in this. The tomatoes were plenty sweet on their own. I think about this bolognese fondly and on most weekends. It’s easy to throw together and let it simmer away. Cue the growling stomach.

Inspiration: Love.Life.Eat

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2lb ground beef [I went with 5% fat since the pork is pretty fatty at my store]
  • 1/2lb ground pork
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
  • 28oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups Cabernet or other red wine [sub beef stock if you don’t have/want wine]
  • 6 sprigs of oregano, leaves removed
  • sugar, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1lb dried pasta

Preparation

In a large pot, heat the olive oil on high heat. Add the beef and pork and a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Break it up and brown it.

While it browns, add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots to a food processor and pulse them until they’re finely chopped and the same size. Add the wine to the pan with the meat once it’s cooked through to scrape up the tasty bits that have surely formed. Add the vegetable mixture and cook for another 5-6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and oregano. Simmer everything together. Taste for salt and pepper before covering. Simmer for about four hours. The longer the better. Stir it once every hour or so.

Once you’re content with the sauce, make the pasta according to package directions. Drain it and reserve about a cup of the pasta water in case the sauce thickens too much [mine didn’t]. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir. Taste for more salt and pepper.

 

Chicken and Cornbread Dumplings

WordPress so nicely sent me a note that I’ve been blogging for six years as of this month. At first, I was like, “Oh yeah, of course.” And then a few seconds went by and it was like, “Holy crap!” Time flies. I am equal parts surprised and not surprised that I’m still doing this. I’ll never forget my first year. My grandma was so proud that I was writing and cooking that she printed every single page of the blog that year, put it in a three-ring binder, and gave it to me for Christmas. It sits on my bookshelf, more as a memory of her than anything, but it makes me laugh. That seems like such a grandma thing to do, and I still think about her nearly every time I write.

This winter is clearly a “things in bowls series.”

This recipe made me so happy. So much comfort in one little bowl. Cornbread is a weakness. Dumplings are a weakness. When their powers combine, I am weak.

Using buttermilk in the dumplings makes all kinds of sense because it’s cornbread, but it ended up being deliciously sour. I probably undercooked them by a minute, but by the time I was slurping my second bowl, all dumplings were cooked through. The brothy, chicken-y, vegetable mixture is the makings of a stellar pot pie but better. After I roasted the chicken thighs, I threw the bones into the mixture while it all cooked down. Can you have too much chicken flavor? Doubtful. I added some diced parsnip to the mixture because I wanted something starchy like a potato, but not actually a potato. The result sweetened the mixture, but not in a bad way. A parsnip is related to a carrot [I learn new things every day], so that sweetness makes some sense.

The dumpling batter reminded me of my days of spooning raw waffle batter into my mouth. I am was that kind of kid.

Inspiration: A Cozy Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup shaken buttermilk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil [because your Silpat finally bit the dust]. Place the chicken in the middle of the pan and drizzle it with olive oil and generously cover it with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The tops will be golden brown and the juices will run clear. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to cool so you can shred it. Set aside the bones.

In a Dutch oven or a medium sized pot, add the butter on medium heat. Once it is melted, add the celery, carrot, and thyme. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the flour and stir to coat. Cook for a minute before pouring in the chicken stock and the chicken bones. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then turn it down to medium-low. Cook for 6-7 minutes. The mixture should thicken a little.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour in the buttermilk and whisk until combined. Set aside.

Add a pinch or two of salt to the soup mixture after tasting. Add a ton [like 10 turns] of fresh cracked pepper. Bring the soup back up to a simmer and drop tablespoons of dumpling down into the boiling point. Repeat until all of the dough is gone. Cover the mixture and cook for 5-7 minutes. They should be fluffy and cooked through. I found stabbing one of them with a knife helped since I hadn’t cooked dumplings before. Move one of the dumplings aside and slip the shredded chicken into the pot. Let the chicken reheat before serving.

Chickpea Curry

There has been a whole lot of nothing going on around here lately thanks to the Snowpocalypse in Portland. The 8-12″ of snow is only just starting to melt. It’s going to be a slow, slow process. As easy as it would be to cook right now, it’s important to get out those nearby businesses and support them. This can’t be easy.

This was deliciously spicy. Two very simple things [chickpeas and tomatoes] shouldn’t taste so good, but they do. It’s amazing what seasoning can do. I’m looking forward to making this again now that I have my very own mortar and pestle to mix things like ginger, Serrano chile, and garlic together. I’m convinced the flavor will be even better. The little food processor worked just fine, though. Faster too. Thanks to that chile, the leftovers are going to get hotter as the flavors marinate. That’s just the way it goes.

I shoveled this in with a spoon, without rice or naan, but I wouldn’t have said no if it was presented to me. I was feeling lazy. Also lazy is not having fresh cilantro around. That would be the perk of having a little rabbit like my friend Emma has, but that’s just not happening.

Inspiration: Eating Well

Ingredients

  • 1 small Serrano, seeds removed
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2″ piece of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • cilantro and fresh lime for garnish

Preparation

In a small food processor, chop the Serrano, garlic, and ginger finely.  You can do this with a knife if you’re so inclined. Add the onion and pulse until it all comes together. Don’t over pulse or it will become a watery mess.

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Add the coriander, cumin, and turmeric and stir. It should be evenly incorporated into the mixture and smell heavenly. Cook that for two minutes. Keep stirring so the spices don’t stick and burn.

Add the chopped tomatoes and about a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally for about five minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and garam masala. Cover the mixture and cook for another five minutes. Top with cilantro and lime juice before serving.

Weekly Reads 12

If I were the kind of person to set an intention or resolution for 2017, I think “eat well, travel often” sums it up quite nicely.

The last couple of weeks have been about self-care—massage, facial, sleep. It’s been heavenly. We were able to catch the last Friday of the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, and our friends invited us out to a Blazers vs Lakers game in the middle of the week. I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to ignore the below freezing temperatures outside with multiple layers, hot lemon and ginger water, and cleaning out closets. I decided this would be the year I would wear beanies/knit hats. Currently, I’m wearing one in the house out of necessity because it’s cold and once I start wearing it, I get hat hair immediately. No one needs to see that. Not even Roma.

Source
 

I’ve been swooning hard over Cat’s watercolor prints and paintings.

Between this guide to meditation and reading 10% Happier, I’d say I’m interested in this whole stress reduction thing.

Brussels. Apple. Cheddar. Rye. I’m sold.

Adrienne came to Portland, had Ebelskivers at Broder Nord, and then made cornbread ones. I love her.

Of a Kinds’s podcast has been one of the newer ones in my feed. Their #ReadingThings book club is on point.

These pimento cheese potato bites need to get in my mouth. Had I gone to a NYE party, I would have brought them.

I read The Moon Juice Cookbook and it inspired me to make my own almond milk. I just need to figure what I want to do with the pulp.

I find myself checking out Japanese travel blogs all the time now.

If you’re into the restaurant scene at all, I’m sure you’ve read this article about the restaurant industry bubble. If you haven’t, you must.

There is a lot of great things to take from this list of ways to be your best self this year.

This 31-day career detox is probably the only detox I could ever handle.

Italian White Bean Soup with Rice

I’m pretty sure I used the last jar of my grandma’s tomatoes. Or maybe it was salsa. She made that sometimes. Regardless, the tomato based and that’s what I was looking for. We have this habit of saying “Thanks, grandma!” out loud anytime these jars get opened. There aren’t many left.

This came about in a fit of “I don’t know what I want to eat, but I don’t want to go get anything.” I manage to surprise myself with whatever I have in the pantry. It never feels like much until I start digging into it. This is perfectly acceptable peasant food, and for some reason it has me thinking of An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. It’s still sitting on one of my grandma’s bookshelves. I should get that back one of these days.

I thought about going the pasta route, but I need to really be in the mood for pasta and beans. It feels like too much a lot of the time. I went the canned route, even though I did finally make a batch of beans from scratch for the first time at Christmas. What a difference. That would be exceptional here, but canned work. I’m not going to pretend I’m going to go all-homemade-everything around here. That’s a resolution I’m just not making [as I have my first batch of homemade almond milk in the fridge…]. Speaking of resolutions, these cooking resolutions are inspiring. I’ve already got my eye on this pot roast and to freeze some leftovers. That kind of meal planning is unheard of in our house. The fact that I even remembered to take the last of the steaks out of the freezer is worthy of a pat on the back.

Inspiration: Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans of cannellini white beans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preparation

Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and celery, cooking it until soft. It should take about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir for 30-seconds. Add the stock, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. Bring the mixture to a boil before stirring in the beans and reducing everything to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the rice before serving. Top with grated Parmesan.