Tag Archives: Italian food

Laura’s Best Winter “Food for the Muse” Recipes: Pasta Bolognese

While I am taking this time of dormancy to write, and enjoying what Haven Writing Retreats alums are saying about creativity here on my blog, I am also cooking up a storm!  It’s the perfect balance to the act of writing because while characters and stories dwell and grow in my mind, with food creation, there is an immediately met trajectory.  I create it:  people eat it.  Complete creative arc!  We will finish the Haven Winter Blog series this week.  I hope you are enjoying these musings on the creative process.  In the meantime…here is one of my very favorite things to create, perfected over many years of trial and error…never before written down.  From my kitchen to yours!  May it fuel your muse! Buon appetito!

Now Booking the Haven Writing Retreats 2016 Schedule

February 24-28 (one spot left)
June 8-12
June 22-26
September 7-11
September 21-25
October 5-9
October 19-23
Sunday-Pasta-Tagliatelle-alla-Bolognese-2-640

Bolognese Sauce

(with apologies to the people of Bologna– this is an American woman’s best stab at what you do, and will always do, much better than this lowly lover of your cuisine)

I have learned to make this sauce over the years from the family I lived with in Italy, to Italian friends along the way in Chicago and Montana, and by cooking it over and over and becoming its friend, as with all favorite recipes.  It is my go-to happy meal and my family’s too.  Cook it when you need inspiration, when you feel inspired, when you’re in the dumps, when you want to dance in the kitchen for half the day, when you just…need…to…remember what it is to delight in holding beautiful lovingly grown manna in your hands and turning it into a blissful creation.  Sharpen your knives, clear the cutting board and counter, turn on some great music, (perhaps a bit of vino), and let’s go!  I serve this on the first night of my Haven Writing Retreats!  …food for the muse…

Note:  This is for a gallon of sauce!  It will feed a lot of happy people.  You can also freeze it.  I use about a quart for a box of pasta.

To begin:   The Sofrito– which is the base for many Italian sauces and soups

sofrito

Sofrito Ingredients:

2 yellow onions

4 cloves of garlic → 2 tbsp minced

4 cups chopped carrots

2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

 

Additional ingredients:

1 6oz can tomato paste

2 cups organic whole milk

2 cups dry white wine

3 28 oz cans of Italian whole plum tomatoes, hand crushed

 

Meat:

4 slices very thick pancetta, cubed

2 lb ground pork (no spices)

1 lb ground beef

 

Step: #1:  Meat

Add olive oil to cover bottom of pot

Let oil heat but not smoke

Add cubed pancetta

Remove pancetta when fat is rendered and brown (should take about 4 minutes) with slotted spoon so the grease stays in the pot — Don’t burn

Add ground pork

Remove with slotted spoon once brown, leave enough grease to coat bottom (note:  you don’t want the meat to stew– you want it to brown, so add each meat so that it touches the bottom of the pan)

Add ground beef

Remove with slotted spoon once brown, leave enough grease to coat bottom (ditto)

Set all meat aside and cover with foil

Step #2: Sofrito (cooking process takes about 20-30 minutes)IMG_0125

Saute onions in pot at medium heat, add large pinch of good salt, [no pepper until end-- makes it bitter]

Once onions are transparent and beginning to brown, add garlic, stir, add carrots

Once carrots begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, add celery and parsley, don’t brown

Cook sofrito until all liquid is absorbed

Step #3:  Combine meat to sofrito, and add liquidsIMG_0135

Add all browned meat and can of tomato paste, cook 10 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid burning

Add milk and wine, let cook ~15 min or until liquids are absorbed and bubbling

Add the crushed tomatoes and remaining juice (I like to do it by hand rather than buying diced tomatoes.  It’s a feel thing.)Pasta Bolognese

Let sauce gently simmer for an hour, adding salt to taste during the processIMG_0141

 

 

 

 

Step #4:  Assembly:

Bring water to a rolling boil in stock pot, add salt

Cook pasta until al dente– This pasta sauce can be served with any hearty pasta.  I like papardelle, penne, and rigatoni the best.


Strain in colander

Add sauce to stock pot and warm on low

Keeping burner on low, add pasta, grated Parmigiano Reggiano to taste (a cup or so), fresh ground pepper to taste, and stir lightly until pasta is coated (this is key, and too many Americans skip this step and pile the sauce on naked noodles.  Bad form!  The sauce never really marries with the pasta.)

Plate and garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley

Serve additional fresh ground pepper and grated Reggiano for people to add themselves.

YOU WILL HAVE VERY HAPPY PEOPLE AT YOUR TABLE…who will all know that they are eating food made with love.

Enjoy!

yrs.

Laura (and my daughter, Ella, who cooked this with me, took the photos, and recorded the recipe which had never before been written down…and told me a long time ago that my food was “made with love.”  High compliment.)

 

pomodoroNow Booking 2016 Haven Writing Retreats

February 24-28 (one spot left)
June 8-12
June 22-26
September 7-11
September 21-25
October 5-9
October 19-23

Leave a Comment

Filed under My Posts

Eataly– Bless you, Mario Batali.


I love markets. Whenever I’m travelling, whether it’s in a third world country or in a massively gentrified city, I try to go to the central market. It not only is a feast for the senses, but it holds the pulse of the place. One of the highlights of my book tour, and I mean SERIOUS HIGHLIGHT, was dinner with my fabulous agent and gal-around-town New Yorker, at Eataly. Run don’t walk. This is the sort of place that makes me want to weep for joy whilst in its walls, and weep for deprivation whilst back in Montana– where the grocery stores just don’t have live uni or kobe beef or towers of Parmigiano Reggiano or…well, you get the picture. Here’s the scoop:

Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world, is finally here in New York. Two years after Oscar Farinetti opened his groundbreaking food and wine market in Turin, Italy, he has teamed up with Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich of Batali-Bastianich (B&B) Hospitality Group to transform a 50,000 square – foot space in the Flatiron District into New York City’s premier culinary mecca.

The marketplace located at 200 Fifth Avenue (the former Toy Building) is the city’s ultimate destination for food lovers to shop and taste and savor – an extravaganza includes a premier retail center for Italian delicacies and wine, a culinary educational center, and a diverse slate of boutique eateries. This gourmand’s delight features cured meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh fish, handmade pasta, desserts and baked goods and coffees.



Here’s what The New York Times has to say about it.

7 Comments

Filed under Food, My Posts

Ceres’ Table– Fantastic New Chicago Restaurant!

Ceres’ Table: 4882 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640 773. 878. 4882

Ceres is the ancient Roman goddess of the harvest. She was born in Sicily, like our chef.

Recently I had the pleasure of dining at a new Chicago restaurant in a part of town that you might not stumble upon if you aren’t a local. The Sicillian born owner, Giuseppe Scurato (formerly of Boka and Landmark) brings the freshest, most local ingredients to his tradition of Sicilian cuisine, which given its trade history and geographical orientation, is quite different from my idea of Italian food. Sicilians have long enjoyed spices and flavors not indicative of other Italian regions, so I found myself eating unlikely items– currants, saffron, sardines, walnuts– and in preparations I’d never seen in my year living in Florence. Sicilians eat very little meat and the menu reflected that, full of halibut, swordfish, scallops, cod, and crab.

These were some of our favorites: (but it was all food that made you want to weep it was so good!)
Day boat scallops with lobster agnolotti, baby carrots, spring onions, cress and lobster cream sauce.

Corzetti (hand-stamped pasta) with fennel, anchovies, currants and pinenuts.

Anancini– rice balls made with artichoke and saffron rissoto, filled with taleggio.

Yukon Gold potato gnocchi, with a pesto Genovese, green beans, toasted walnuts, and parmagiano reggiano.

 
It was the kind of menu I love: the prices were very fair, and the portions perfect for sharing. My friends and I were joined by Giuseppe’s wife, Carolyn, who graciously walked us through the menu and suggested her house favorites, and since she lives with the chef, in this case “house” really means “house.” She is intimately apart of these dishes and you can see the pride in her eyes for what she and her husband have co-created.

In short, we ended up ordering most of the small plates, and feasting for hours all the way through to Giuseppe’s delicious homemade Limoncello.

Ceres is getting great reviews all over Chicagoland, and I was thrilled that my local friends were savvy enough to find this little gem.  It’s nice to have foodies in every port!

Leave a Comment

Filed under City Hits, Food, My Posts