Saturday, September 21, 2013

Doubled-Up Bolognese. Familiar classics.

These day I find myself cooking a lot of meals: those for us, and also our 1 year old boy. Chillies are out and cheese is in. I've been cooking much more traditional food. The stuff that is nostalgic and comforting and very very sturdy. Fits-all-food. All these meals can make life rather complicated though. The fear is that one will end up cooking 6 rather than 3 meals a day and be a constant slave. However, I am dodging this with some clever one-pot juggling. This evening I've a couple of friends coming round so I've cooked up a pot of vegetable heavy bolognese. The soffritto is packed with blended celery, chunks of carrot and loads of tomatoes. It's definitely more than 1 of your 5 a day! I stewed the whole pot right down without adding any sugar or salt and have kept a good few tubs aside for Billy (the boy). Meanwhile I have turboed up the remaining grown-up pan with seasoning (lots) and a generous dose of vermouth for kick. Roll on dinner time. It may be nursery food, but it's going to be very good nursery food. Here's the recipe, which feeds 3 adults and 1 child:

Classic Bolognese

2 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, blended or finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 carrots, blended or finely chopped
4 sticks of celery, blended or finely chopped
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
500g minced beef
100ml vermouth
1 dsp lea and perrins sauce
Sea salt, sugar and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed medium pan on a medium flame. Blend the onions and garlic together so that you have a smooth mix. Pour into the pan and sweat for a few minutes, mixing frequently. Now add the carrots and celery and again sweat, this time for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to simmer for half an hour on a low heat. Meanwhile heat some more oil in a frying pan. Add the beef and then quickly and meticulously stir and break it up as much as possible. There should be NO lumps. When the meat is beginning to brown, add to the vegetables and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.

At this point, remove however much you need for your child to a container and refrigerate when cool. Continue cooking the grown-up sauce, adding vermouth and seasoning and worcester sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Cook your spaghetti and add parmesan or mild cheddar to serve.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


The nice people at Carlton Publishing sent me a rather beautiful book recently. A whole book dedicated to kitchen stuff, Essential Equipment for the Kitchen, this book isn't the normal sort of thing that I talk about on here. But that's the deal: you get sent a book. You talk about it. I could dress it up with some sort of preamble but that usually looks a bit heavy handed. So I won't.
That said, this book is genuinely right up my street. And I'm not being paid to say so or anything! Each page is dedicated to a different design classic or kitchen object of desire. I do love a design classic.
The reassuring fact here, is how many of these design classics I actually own. It makes me feel like I'm really getting somewhere, building my tiny little empire of Kilner jars, pyrex jugs, Nambu Tekki saucepans (a wedding present). The beauty of this sort of a catalogue is that it makes you look at those ordinary every day objects with renewed respect. It's easy to forget how brilliant the ordinary is.
And then the other quality of a book like this is that it gets the juices flowing for the list of 'wants': my top three are the Robert Welch candlestick; the Jasper Morrison Kettle (so sleek!) and more Global knives. Anyone, feel free to gift!
This book makes for an excellent bit of bedtime reading and well worth giving to someone that a. likes design. b. likes cooking. Simple.