Friday, 24 January 2014

A Family Favourite, Spaghetti Bolognaise Cooked Long and Slow

This sauce is my take on bolognaise. There are hundreds of versions of bolognaise, but this is my interpretation of the one my mother and my sister made.  My measurements are a little variable, but you can judge for yourself how much seasoning you want to add. The sugar takes away the acidity of the tomatoes, so I would advise you to add it. This sauce is quick to put together, but it needs to be cooked for a long time to really bring out the flavours. I don't have a slow cooker, so I leave it simmering for about four hours.   If you can make this sauce one day and serve it the next, it will be even better. This has always been my family's favourite meal.

The ingredients

Plus this.

Browned meat with celery and onions put in to soften.

With the addition of peppers.

Then tomatoes, herbs and spices.

Simmering away.

Served with pasta, a salad and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Ragu (Serves 6)

a good glug of olive oil (a generous Tablespoon)
1 1/2 to 2 lbs of lean minced beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
celery leaves
1 pepper, green, red or yellow
2  14 ounce tins of tomatoes
1 - 2 teaspoons oregano
fresh basil (if you have it)
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 4 ounce tin tomato puree

Put the olive oil in a good, heavy pan.
Add the meat and brown it, stirring to break it up.
Turn down the heat and add the onion, garlic, celery sticks and pepper.
Cover and cook for 10 minutes to soften the vegetables.
Pour in the tomatoes.
Add salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon of each), oregano, sugar, celery leave and basil.
Stir to mix and bring to simmering point again.
Turn down heat and add tomato puree.  Stir again.
Leave to simmer for at least two hours.  I cook mine for four hours until it is dark in colour.
You will need to stir it occasionally to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Serve with spaghetti or tagliatelli and freshly grated Parmesan.
A fresh green salad adds a nice bit of crunch and garlic bread makes the meal go farther.

Monday, 20 January 2014

A Belated Happy New Year and Goodbye to All That

The little Christmas tree waiting to be planted out.
Happy New Year.  It's a fine, crisp day in London. It's supposed to be the gloomiest day of the year, but there is a lot to be happy about and I am always glad to clear away all remnants of Christmas and return to normal living. Much as I love Christmas, I love the plainness of the rooms when everything is tidied up.
Yesterday, I risked life and limb to go into the scary part of the loft to put away the Christmas decorations.  Three years ago, I put my foot through a slat in the floor and, apart from being very frightened, I bruised my leg very badly.  I really don't want to go  into the loft any more, but needs must. So, phew.  That's done.
Our little tree has travelled to France and is resting in a sheltered spot until it can be planted out.  We still have to decide where.
Apart from that, there are signs of spring everywhere and I am enjoying that.
The white heather is France and London are holding out bravely.  The next hard frost will kill them off, but I am enjoying them while I can.

The white heather.

The brave little plants in France.

More white heather.

A few green shoots, just as the Chancellor predicted for the economy.
These will be little yellow daffodils called Cheerfulness.  Very appropriate.

Yellow hyacinths getting ready to bloom on my kitchen table.