Sunday, February 22, 2015


I am currently a bread/carb/pasta eating machine.  

It started with the flu last week when all I could stomach was toast with butter and jam and from there it downward spiraled into an all out obsession with anything made with all-purpose flour. Sourdough bread slathered in homemade nutella and strawberry jam? GIVE ME. Bean and cheese tortillas? I'll take 5!  Pasta covered in cheese?  Two bowls please.   

I like to think I am balancing out the world that is filled with Paleo/carb-phobic eaters.   

This on-going carb obsession culminated this past Sunday with me deciding if I was going to be stuck inside all day because it was too damm cold to walk more then one city block then my god I was going to make fresh pasta with bolognese. (We are officially hibernating people!)

Fresh pasta is up there with bread warm from the oven as one of the most perfect foods.  I mean it's the definition of pure comfort food.  The kind of thing your body craves wholeheartedly this time of year.  The kind of thing you should FEED your body with this time of year.   Bathing suit season is still months away.  

This bolognese recipe is adapted slightly from one I had photo-copied from my mom.  She and I share a love of creating binders filled with recipe favorites and I stumbled across this one one of the last times I was home.  It isn't difficult in the slightest and is the perfect thing to put together on a Sunday afternoon while you are puttering around your home.  It will fill your space with a fantastic scent i.e. the perfume of Italian grandmothers and leave you with a pretty fabulous dinner.  

Recipe tweaked slighly from Mama

Makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta.  Pasta recipe below.

2 slices of bacon, chopped 1 small yellow onion, minced
2 small-medium sized carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound ground beef, pork, or lamb or some combination of all 3 (I did half beef and half pork)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 13.5 ounces can crushed San Marzano tomatoes 
2 cups beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red or white wine
1/2 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy bottomed pot set over medium heat, combine the bacon, onion, carrots, and celery.  Cook until the bacon has rendered and the vegetables have softened and begun to lightly brown, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.   Add in meat mixture, and use a spoon to break up the clumps. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the meat is well-browned and cooked through. Add a good pinch of salt, a couple of grinds of black pepper, and the wine - continue to cook until the wine has been absorbed.

Mix tomato paste with broth and add to mixture along with the can of crushed tomatoes.  Simmer, uncovered, for an hour or so or until the mixture has reduced and the meat sauce has thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.   Remove from heat, add cream, and mix well.  If freezing or reheating, hold the cream until ready to serve.  

Toss with pasta and serve with lots of grated parmesan.   

Poor Man's Fresh Pasta 
Recipe from the great Lidia Bastianich

Makes about 1 pound  

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large whole eggs
¼ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons water 

Making the Dough:  Measure the flour and shake it through a sieve into a medium sized mixing bowl

Drop the eggs into a small bowl or measuring cup; beat briefly with a fork to break them up. Pour in the measured amounts of oil and water and mix well with the eggs. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour. Toss and mix everything with a fork until the flour is moistened and starts to clump together. 

Lightly flour with your hands, then gather the clumps-or use a flexible plastic dough scraper-and begin kneading right in the bowl, folding the ragged mass over, pushing and turning it, then folding again. Use the kneading action to clean the sides of the bowl. 

When you have formed a cohesive clump of dough, turn it out onto a small work surface lightly dusted with 1/2 teaspoon of flour and continue kneading for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny on the outside, soft throughout, and stretchy. 

Form the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 1/2 hour. Store, very well wrapped, in the refrigerator for a day, or for a month or more in the freezer. Defrost frozen dough slowly in refrigerator, and let it return to room temperature before rolling. Defrosted dough will need a bit more flour.

Rolling the Dough: Have your dough at room temperature and cut the dough into 4 pieces.  Work with one piece at a time and keep the others covered.  Have a large trade tray or baking sheet nearby, lightly sprinkled with flour, on which to lay the dough strips. 

Turn the knob to the widest setting  - you’ll work at this setting for a while . Press the first piece of dough into a rectangle, then fold it in half, and roll it through the machine two times.  Fold the now elongated rectangle in thirds, turn the dough 90 degrees (so the fold in on the side) and roll it through. 

Catch the dough; fold it and roll it through again with the fold on the side.  Repeat the folding and rolling six more times (total of 8) to straighten and smooth the dough.  Like kneading this will make if more resilient and workable. 

Resent the roller to the very next setting (slightly narrower) or skip to the third (even narrower).  Roll your strip through, short end in first (don’t fold it again).  Let the rollers grab and move the dough – don’t push it or pull it through – and catch it on your hand as it comes out. 

Reset the machine even narrower; you should be on the third or fifth setting by now.  Pass the strip through once again; it will lengthen rapidly, and you will need to catch and support it as it comes through the rollers.  Flour the strip lightly and cut the dough in half so it becomes a more manageable size.  You should now have 2 long strips about 5 inches wide and 13ish inches in length, dust them with flour so they don’t stick.   Cut them by hand into "pappardelle" width or via the machine.  Repeat the above procedure with the remaining 3 pieces of dough. 

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