Bolognese – Authentic Edinburgh Cook Style

Bolognese EdinburghCook Style

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bolognese

Bolognese when I was a boy came from a Colman’s packet, a dry substance that was mixed with hot water and mince that had been browned for 5 minutes or so served with a bland starchy spaghetti. My sister and I desperately trying to convince my dad that it would be great idea, worth a change and add some variety to our menu. I can’t remember how we convinced him, but we did and it was horrible! Maybe it was us, we weren’t cooks, the sauce I remember was so watery and tasteless, we put a brave face on and made out it was great! We didn’t get to try again, probably a good thing!

As a student I moved onto jars of Dolmio probably buy 1 get 1 free and then later after graduation more sophisticated jars of pasta sauce with bake in the oven magic skills. At some point though I became aware that these jars came with sugar, salt and all manner of preservatives. I’m pretty sure they came with the word authentic across the label, or just like mama used to make. Somehow I became aware that all that was really needed was a tin of good quality tomatoes, some seasoning, good mince and some slow cook time.

I’ve come across many variations of a Bolognese recipe all claiming to be authentic and I’ve tried a few of them, hoping to come across the secret sauce, the be all and end all of all Bolognese recipes to end them all. I’ve come to realise that the authentic Bolognese is your own recipe…the one that works for you and your family.

Mine, I adapt for the mood, it’s always made with view of having enough to freeze, use up the onions and the carrots from the veg box, even the odd chilli and then I add kidney beans as well…..please don’t shoot me….I know it’s not traditional authentic…..it works for us though! I hope you get something from my recipe!


Credit: The Edinburgh Cook Recipe File
Prep: This roughly covers 12 portions, we get 3 meals for 4 in terms of freezer prep. Good sized casserole dish, heavy based pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 100g pancetta or bacon (I use ham ends from the butcher), diced
  • 2 Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 2-3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1kg mince (Our butcher now does minced pork, so I use 500g of pork and 500g beef)
  • 1 tblsp dried oregano
  • 300ml red wine (could use white)
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g split red lentils (controversial! Optional)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 150ml whole milk

To serve, up until recently we were big fans of Spaghetti or Fusilli. My recent discovery being that Spaghetti is a British/American take on the dish. More traditional would be Tagliatelle or Pappardelle and mixed into the pasta rather than served on top in a big dollop.

Goes without saying freshly grated parmesan adds that true authentic taste!

Directions

  1. Heat the oil, and gently brown the bacon
  2. With the heat at a gentle setting, add the veg to this and soften the onions, garlic, carrots and celery with the idea of creating a Soffrito, a soft base of veg
  3. At this point I tip this into a bowl and put to a side….just so I can really get stuck in with the meat. You can crumble the mince straight into the pan if you like.
  4. Turn the heat up slightly and using a wooden spoon break the mince down, browning it as you go. The mince needs to have lost all its colour.
  5. Once browned throw the veg back in if you went for the separate bowl option.
  6. Add the Oregano, stir through.
  7. Add a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper
  8. Add the Wine and stir through, bring to a simmer.
  9. Add the tomatoes and the purée, stir through and bring to a simmer then lower the heat and pop the lid on for an 1hr 30mins. You just want the ragu to talk to itself for an hour so. Keep an eye on it…I like to nurture it.
  10. At this point I stir in the milk….some people add a bit of dark chocolate. The milk adds a subtle creaminess that I like
  11. At this point I gage whether it’s too runny and add the lentils in, simmer and stir for 30 mins. This both soaks up the liquid at the same time as bulking out the meal for the boys who just seem to be eating more and more! You could just take the lid off and simmer slowly for 30 mins to thicken up

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Farfalline Minestrone

Farfalline Minestrone

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Hearty soup, based on minestrone

A few minutes spare in the Sorrento supermarket allowed me to take a moment to explore all the different shapes and sizes on offer. This particular shape took my fancy and it’s only now that I Farfalline translates to butterflies.

Prep: Large Stock Pot with Lid, As ever don’t get precious over the veg you use, just pick a few good wholesome root veggies and the liquid ratio is yours to choose depending on how thick you like your soup

Ingredients

  • 150g Puy lentils
  • 50g Pearl Barley
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 2 Celery Stalks, diced
  • 1 tbsp Bouillon
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 3 Carrots, diced
  • 1 Parsnip, diced
  • 4 slices Smoked Bacon, diced
  • 4 Potatoes diced (500g)
  • 1 tin of Borlotti beans drained and rinsed
  • Glug of Olive Oil or Rapeseed

Directions

  1. Start with soaking the lentils and barley, give them a thorough wash in plenty of running cold water, then soak in the 500ml of water
  2. Glug of oil in the pan, heat through and then add the bacon
  3. Dice the onions, and add to the pan
  4. When the onions start to soften add the crushed garlic, the celery, and turn over, soften for a minute or so
  5. Add the root veg, and turn over on low heat for 8 minutes or so
  6. Add the bouillon (I do this dry) and the mixed herbs…..stir through.
  7. Pour over the Puy lentils, plus barley and the 500ml water
  8. Top up with water from the kettle (1.5 litre). Cover the veg by 4-5 cm.
  9. Simmer gently for 15 mins
  10. Add in the pasta and simmer as per the length of time on the packet.  About 6 mins for the Farfalline
  11. Judge the water level as you stir through to stop things sticking to the bottom
  12. I briefly pulsed a hand blender to thicken a little…..but it doesn’t really need it
  13. Feel free to season to taste with salt/ground pepper

Spiced Root Vegetable Soup

Spiced Winter Root Soup

  • Servings: 12 (Great Freezer Prep)
  • Difficulty: easy
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Robust winter root vegetable soup, spiced with curry powder and ginger.

A huge piece of ginger came in the veg box this week, huge by our standards anyway. We’ve only been known to buy a thumb sized piece….this one was at least 4 thumbs. The box also contained a stonking turnip and a huge ugly parsnip.

Prep: Large Stock Pot with Lid, don’t get precious over the veg you use, just pick a few good wholesome root veggies and the liquid ratio is yours to choose depending on how thick you like your soup

Ingredients

  • 250g split red lentils and 350ml water
  • 2 onions, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 mild fresh chilli’s, deseeded
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger peeled
  • 1tbsp Curry Powder
  • A large sweet potato (or 2 medium)
  • A large swede or turnip
  • A large parsnip (or 2 medium)
  • 2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • Glug of Olive Oil or Rapeseed

Directions

  1. Start with the lentils, give them a thorough wash in plenty of running cold water, then soak in the 350ml of water
  2. Dice the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli. (I use a mini food processor to make this quicker, or you could grate the ginger and finely slice the chilli)
  3. Glug of oil into the pan and gently soften the onion mix for 5 mins on low heat
  4. Add the curry powder and continue to cook for a minute or so
  5. Peel and chop the root veg into chunks, add to the pot and turn over, cook for a minute or so
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir over
  7. Add the red lentils which should be looking a little plumper by now and stir over
  8. Top up with water from the kettle. I usually do this to just about cover the veg
  9. Simmer until the chunks are soft
  10. Pulse with a hand blender, or mash with a potato masher to the consistency you like

Chunky Oven Chips

Oven ChipsTried to sneak some oven roasted potato wedges past my nephew this lunch time.  Unfortunately he wasn’t having any of it despite serving with sausages.

We thought we were being really clever, both in using the veggie box staples and catering for a fussy eater who we knew liked chips.  I think that my youngest tipped him off and from that moment on it just wasn’t going to happen!

Place a good sized oven tray into the oven at 180°c, with a little rapeseed oil.

Prepare your chips. We used 2 baked potatoes,  peeled and as best you can cut into straight chunky squares.

I then par boiled for a minute just to take the cold chill from the fridge off them.  Probably not necessary…..I just wanted these to work!

Carefully put the chips onto the heated tray and place back in the oven.

Turn over at 15 mins

At 30 mins sprinkle with a little salt

At 40 mins probably done, depending on how chunky they are

First Veggie Box of the Year

2015/01/img_0953.jpgSeries 2 of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Food Feast kicked off on the 2nd of January just in time to influence my foodie resolutions. It’s a fairly fun magazine type of cooking program that the kids watch with us as well. One of the articles was about the amount of veg that gets thrown away because it’s ugly. Essentially supermarket chains pre selecting and specifying only the finest shaped food for consumption. When in real life carrots grow in all shapes and sizes. It prompted us to look at our veggies and we decided to take up a weekly veggie box from east coast Organics. We tried them about 10 years ago, and I don’t think I was up to the culinary skills that I thought I needed, then we had kitchen issues, eg none for a good 8 weeks, so we dropped the box and just got out of the habit.

However now we have the impetuous and two growing boys to feed….who are starting to hoover most things up and the great thing is that a bag full of potatoes is a blessing rather than a curse……so we’ve gone for it.

Potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes (or sweet potato), kale, butternut squash, leeks, parsnips, red pepper.

I’ve been trying all week to post some of the recipes we used to get through this small mountain……they will come honest!