Lasagna worth blogging about

Yo. Long time, no talk. I did everything I could to find the recipe online and share via FB, but it wasn’t out there anywhere. So here I am. I actually typed it out for you lucky ducks. You’re welcome. I served this lasagna for a little dinner party on Sunday night and I’m eating my second piece for lunch right this second. There is no ricotta or mozzarella in this version, just Parmesan and crème fraiche. It is truly delicious, and pretty to boot. What keeps going through my head is “Happiness is: a big fucking piece of lasagna. Or two.”

This little slice of casserole heaven comes from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I made it back in 2010 when I first bought the cookbook, but haven’t done it since. Well, note to self, don’t be an idiot and wait five more years. It’s that good. I made a couple of very slight tweaks, nothing crazy. He calls for lasagna noodles that require boiling. I see no need for that. The no-boil noodles work great and boiling lasagna noodles is frankly a pain in the ass. Read More

My Perfect Bolognese

You guys know by now that I am obsessed with food. I love meat. I love carbs. Put them together, maybe add a little cheese on top? Foodgasm…I’m getting worked up just thinking about it. That said, it will come as no surprise when I tell you I am total sucker for a good Bolognese. It is hard for me not to order this when dining at an Italian restaurant. Some of my Seattle faves for a bowl of this meaty goodness – Cantinetta, Il Terazzo Carmine and La Spiga.

I have wanted to find the perfect recipe and make a batch at home, but the timing hasn’t been right. I don’t typically have 2-4 hours of simmer time available, which is what you’re signing up for when you make Bolognese (normally I make Ina’s Weeknight Bolognese). But yesterday, I did have the time, and it was a perfect day for it. I went to the UW game on Saturday night with college friends, we had so much fun, maybe a little too much. Tailgating like it was 1994, but with triple cream brie and wine. The weather was awful, raining sideways, winds up to 60 MPH, my power ended up going out. I think we watched like 20 minutes of the game. Good thing I had my wellies to keep my feet dry! Read More

Easy Weeknight Bolognese

Yo! I’ve been a little lazy about posting with the holidays, but hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas if you celebrate! I haven’t been cooking too much this past week and by yesterday, I was dying for a Sunday dinner that was made by me. I’ve been doing Ina Garten’s Easy Weeknight Bolognese for the past few years, one of my favorite hearty pasta dishes and exactly what I felt like last night. There are so many recipes for Bolognese out there and most of them are very labor and time intensive, which is why I love this one. So flavorful and delicious, yet takes less than an hour.

Good enough to make for guests too! I had my friend Nicole and her 2 boys over last night. None of our boys were impressed with the sauce, they all ate plain pasta. Bo-ring! Nicole and I both had seconds.

Weeknight Bolognese from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean grass-fed ground beef
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (roughly 5 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided – I used a Cabernet and it was amazing, so rich in flavor, plus there was extra to drink!
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, or a 24-ounce BPA free box of San Marzano tomatoes –  I used the 24-ounce BPA-free box of San Marzao tomatoes, and it’s the same as using a 28-ounce can.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fine kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box dried orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box, usually 11 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

http://www.stylemepretty.com/living/2013/06/19/best-ever-bolognese-sauce/

Leftover Masterpiece – Pappardelle with Peperonata & Chicken Meatballs

I am not a creative cook, by any means. I follow recipes. I leave the recipe creation to people who have actual talent, like Ina Garten or Tyler Florence or Deb Perelman. Once in awhile, however, I happen upon a creation of my own and this week’s is worth tooting my horn. Toot toot!

It started with leftovers from the Pi Phi Christmas Party, I had a good amount of baked chicken meatballs and pureed peperonata in my refrigerator and I thought to myself, “Self, this would be darn tasty served over some pasta”. Well, I was right. I boiled up some pappardelle, tossed it all together and topped with grated pecorino romano. It was a little bowl of heaven. So nice to have a change of pace from a typical red sauce and the peperonata is flavorful, colorful and just delicious.

Pappardelle with Peperonata & Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Meatballs (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup milk 3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.

Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.

Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, 1/2 t salt and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in a 4-sided sheet pan (I used a 9×13 roasting dish).

Bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (though mine took a good 5 minutes longer).

Peperonata (adapted from Martha Stewart Living & Epicurious)

  • 3 large bell peppers, preferably 1 each orange, yellow, red – cut into strips
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add pepper strips and sugar, and toss for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover pan, and turn heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove cover; raise heat to medium. Stir in vinegar, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt & pepper. Cook stirring often, until most of the liquid evaporates and peppers are nicely glazed, about 3 minutes. Add a little water, if necessary, to avoid scorching.

Let it cool a little and then throw it in the food processor to puree completely, so there are no large chunks. Boil 120z Pappardelle.

You can add the meatballs and sauce back into a pan to heat. Serve over pasta with fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano. Deeeeeeelish.