Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ragù Bolognese: I Did It My Way!

Meat sauce Bolognese, in Italy known as "ragù bolognese" is one of those meals that is popular all over the world but it is rarely prepared the traditional way. One of the biggest "mistreatments" of the name is in super-popular meal "Spaghetti bolognese"! In Italy ragù bolognese is paired with tagliatelle not with spaghetti because spaghetti are not too common in cuisine of the region Emilia-Romagna.

The sauce is known for centuries but in 1982 the "official recipe" was protected at Italian Chamber of Commerce in order to preserve the traditional recipe and to keep the continuity of traditional gastronomy of Bologna.

Traditional recipe asks for minced beef from polpa di manzo (quite fatty part of beef), pork pancetta, red wine, beef stock, concentrated tomato sauce, onion, carrot and celery.

But you know how things work with food, we rarely follow the traditional recipe, we all like to add something new, something according to our taste. I heard tons of different recipes for bolognese sauce: with butter, with milk, some like to mix beef and pork, some like to add turkey... some use white wine, some use red wine... And that is OK. Food is too important part of our life to make any compromise, even with the tradition.

But, I do think it is important to know the "original one" because only that way we can be sure that we have improved the recipe and that we didn't deprive ourself by changing the original. So I promised to myself one of these day I'll try to prepare ragù bolognese following the traditional recipe.

Till than, this is how I prepare it. Well, not always, I'm one of those who improvise and never succeed to do same thing twice even when I really want to. One more very important fact - I'm no any kind of expert and I have no clue of cooking chemistry, I do not really know why I do things I do when cooking, so do not feel obligate to follow my lead. All I can say that at the end this taste heavenly!

Ragù Bolognese - My Way
500g minced beef
2 onions
4 carotts
500 g tomato - pelati
1 glass of white wine
salt, paper
I usually use pancetta too, but this time I simply forgot it.

Finely slice aromatics and fry them in olive oil on high heat until tender.

Add minced meat. Keep the heat hight all the time.

Fry the meat until you start to smell meat aroma. You will feel it, no worry.

Majority of recipe ask not to day meat, but I do exactly the opposite. I use this cooking tool (I do not know its name) to "squeegee" the meat's juices and to "break" the meat into the fine crumbs.

I fry meat until all fluids evaporate and meat crumbs get goden brown crust.

Add little amount of good quality white wine. Do not use some cheap wine because it has great influence on final taste. When wine evaporate, add again little amount of wine. Repeat several times.

Add tomatoes - pelati and mix well. Use that cooking tool that I do not know its name to break the tomatoes.

Turn the heat on low and cook for at least one more hour. Stir occasionally. Add salt, paper. I like to add 1 ts of sugar but that depends on carrot. If carrots are sweet enough, no sugar is needed.

Sometimes I like to add just a bit of Aceto Balsamico at the very end and once te meal is over I like to move it from the heat, rest it for few minutes to chill and them sprinkle with a bit of olive oil.
If you do not have the time, you can cook it just until you feel the tomatoes are cooked and meat is tender but longer you the meat will be tenderer and it will taste better!

You can serve it with pasta, palenta, lasagne or lentils tarts as I did!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Step By Step Photo Recipe: Bolognese Tart

We were making Pasta alla Bolognese, but I decided to try something little different - Bolognese Tart. And the result was great!

Bolognese is so well known sauce that sometimes it's seams to me that we take it for granted. Well I encourage you to play with it because it is so simple sauce but and it can surprise you what wonderful combinations with Bolognese sauce are out there which just wait to be discovered!

For tart dough I used recipe from Lentils Patties.

Once you prepare Bolognese and dough , rest was quite simple and I believe the photo guide will be sufficient...

PS: I'll send this recipe for this months WTSIM... Topless Tart

Thursday, November 22, 2007

This is not a post about how to make egg-coated chicken with sweet and sour sauce!

I really like to eat egg-coated chicken with sweet and sour sauce!

Especially when I prepare the sauce and Stiv fries egg-coated chicken. I do not know what exactly he does, but he prepares definitely the best fried egg-coated chicken.

This is not a post about how to make egg-coated chicken with sweet and sour sauce!

One of the reasons that makes me soo happy to prepare egg-coated chicken with sweet and sour sauce are leftovers of egg- coating which we use for making little fry breads! They are delicious even the morning after!

Combine leftovers of egg-coating with breadcrumbs, add little of spices as you like it, and drop the mixture by tablespoons into hot oil. Fry until light brown, roll them so they cook evenly on both sides.

Do not fry them too long because thy can soak lots of oil, and we don't want that.

Once fried, put the breads on thick kitchen paper to soak excess oil. If I'm using them nex day, I keep them in the fridge.

Next morning, worm them just a bit, take fresh cheese, slice cherry tomatoes, and you have delicious breakfast!

I'll send this post to Nandita for her blogevent Weekend Breakfast Blogging

Monday, November 19, 2007

Inside the Town's Belly

just a few photos of the inside part of the Dolac market. Please look the photos of the outdoor part here.

As I said before this photos were taken with no intention to be published, all this photos are taken with mobile phone camera, so they are not too good and I promise to try to make some more appropriate with much more detail soon....

My own Shopping Mecca!

Let me introduce you Dolac - the belly of the Zagreb, one of the oldest and biggest (so they say, I wouldn't know for sure) European open air farmers market. It was open in 1930, it works 7 days a week, in the very center of the town and offers wide selection of fresh, local products, fruits, vegetables....

Outdoor part of the Dolac seams like big square but actually it is the roof of the indoor market where you can find dairy products like meat, milk, cheese, nuts...

These photos are taken during my several visits to Dolac. I did not take them with intention to publish them so they are not too good, some of them are taken with my mobile phone camera, but it will give you at least a bit of Dolac charm and beauty....

The outdoor part:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ain't life beautiful!

This really was exacting week!
Firstly my recipe for Green Tomatoes and Aceto Balsamico Jam entered among six finalist of Green Tomato Contest at Apartment Therapy: the Kitchen!

I would like to thanks to all who voted for me. I didn't win, but it was fun anyway. And it seam that I'm going to get some kind of present packet from Apartment Therapy: the Kitchen! And I'm such a sucker for presents!
Thanks AT!

As this was not enough I earned my very first 0,03$ form Amazon Associates!

The true is that I didn't exactly sell any book from my lists, but somewhere, there in blogoshphere there is an blogger who entered Amazone site thru mine blog and purchased some book... and I goot 0,03$ from that order!
I would like to thank him/her too!

Ain't life beautiful!

Friday, November 9, 2007

I'm the fourth of six Finalist - Green Tomato Contest

I can't believe, my recipe for Green Tomatoes and Aceto Balsamico Jam entered among six finalist of Green Tomato Contest at Apartment Therapy: the Kitchen

Check it out here and vote for my recipe - off course only if you think it deserves it!

Than you all in advance!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Green Tomatoes and Aceto Balsmico Jam - Why not?!

I never ate green tomatoes. I only saw the movie. So I was surprised when I stumble upon bench with green tomatoes last Sunday on Dolac (the biggest open market in Zagreb). I remember reading about green tomatoes contest at Apartment Therapy, so I thought: "Why not?!"

The farmer who sold them told me that they are used for pickling, but I was feeling little more adventurous than that. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to play with my green tomatoes during the weekend so, once again, I had to improvise. I, literally, run trough Google search results for "green tomatoes" and end up with something completely new.

I decided to do some kind of jam, but I discovered that I do not have any lemon, and all of the green tomatoes jam recipes I found used lemon. Since it was Sunday, late at night, I decided to use Aceto Balsamico instead of lemon. And what a great combination Aceto Balsmico and green tomatoes turn out to be.

I have to admit I'm really very proud of this one because it was complete improvisation with something I've never not just cooked but not even tasted before.

Green Tomatoes and Aceto Balsmico Jam

5 green tomatoes

Aceto Balsamico

Brown Shugar

3 pieces of Clove

2,5 gr gelatin

cinnamon, pimenta, honey

In a stainless bowl, layer thin slices of green tomatoes and dark brown sugar, sprinkle with Aceto balsamico. let macerate overnight.

This is how it looked in the morning.

The next day, separate tomatoes from liquid. Put liquid into pan. Add amount of water equal to amount of liquid from tomatoes . Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, cloves, cinnamon, piment and more sugar (the amount of sugar depends of your taste. I added less sugar but I did add more honey at the end to make it sweeter).

Cook jam for one hour, boiling briskly and stirring so it doesn’t burn.

Mix the gelatin with 3 spoons of cold water and leave it for 10 minutes to swell up.

Take the tomatoes mixture off the heath. Add one spoon of honey. Add gelatin and stir for additional 5 - 10 minutes until gelatin melt completely.

Transfer to a warmed sterile jars.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Zucchini From My Parents Garden

Last year my parents started small garden in their beck yard. They are complete novice to gardening. While I was with them in Split I wanted them to try to develop bio-dynamical garden and I bought some books on bio-dynamical gardening, but I have to admit that it was all little bit SF for us, city slickers!

I'll try again when I go beck to Split, but I do not have high hopes.

Anyway, they do have small garden but with a help of their neighbor, who is experienced garnered, they do grow some very tasteful vegetable like: zucchinis, paprikas, beans, cabbage, beetroot, melons, tomatoes...

So, here it is, risotto with the zucchini form my parents garden. This summer was their very first harvest! And this zucchini is maybe the last one form this season. All we can do now is wait next spring and new zucchini.

Brown risotto with the zucchini
1 big zucchini
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
1 cup of brown rice
3 cups of hot vegetable stock
1 cup f sweet corn
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to serve
freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Toast brown rice on low heat in fraying pan. Toast rice for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly so that grains do not burn. Rice should turn a medium brown. You will know that it is ready when you smell "bread like" aroma.

Toasting rice will reduce cooking time of rice. Also, I was told that it is good to toast rice in fall and winter because this way rice will give more energy to your meal and keep you warm.

Slice the onion and zucchini. Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and fry onions over a medium heat until softened. Add the zucchini and fry until zucchini let its fluid. Add a pinch of cinnamon.

Stir in the toasted rice. Pour in the stock and simmer, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed. Add more stock and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock and simmering until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice becomes soft as you like it (some people like rice to be "al dente" and some like to be little overcooked).
Add sweet corn and stir into the risotto. Add salt and pepper. Sparkle with some olive oil. Serve with freshly choped parsley and Parmesan cheese.

I'll submit this recipe to this months Grown Your Own blogevent.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pumpkin and Pomegranate Layered Cake

This was busy weekend. I played a lot with pumpkin preparing sauce, dessert... And once I started I couldn't stop playing! So I decide to try some new fun staff and I prepared this layered so called cake which I'll send to this months WTSIM...

I just hope it will be accepted as layered cake since it is not baked, but I'll try and we will see!

Pumpkin and pomegranate layered cake

Prepare Pumpkin Pudding as described here. Once pudding has completely set up, cut it carefully into three slices.

Mix 5g of gelatin with 2 spoons of cold water and leave it for 10 minutes to swell up.

In medium saucepan bring to boil 250 ml of water and 2 spoons of brawn sugar. Add 150g of pomegranate. Simmer for 3-5 minutes. Move from the heath, add gelatin and stir for additional 5 minutes. Live it to chill for about 15 minutes, Stirring occasionally.

Rinse quickly under cold water four cups wider than molds used for pumpkin pudding. Don't dry cups in order to facilitate unmolding them.

First pour small amount of pomegranate mixture in cup, just to cover the bottom. Put one slice of pumpkin pudding in the center. Cover with some more pomegranate mixture. Be sure to pour mixture around the pumpkin pudding slice too. Add another slice of pumpkin pudding. Pour more pomegranate mixture to cover it. If your cup is big enough add one more pudding slice and cover it with pomegranate mixture.

Let it cool first on room temperature and then transfer them into fridge to set up which will take at least 4 hours.

To unmold, carefully dip bottom of the cup in hot water briefly. Run a thin knife around edge of the cup. Place the cup on chilled serving plate (topside down). Shake gently to release cake from the cup and carefully lift it off.

Pumpkin &Me

When I first came to Zagreb, some 14 years ago, I wasn't really fan of pumpkins. In Dalmatia we do not use it much (if at all), and I have to admit that the first pumpkin based meal I had , most probably, I had after I arrived in Zagreb, and, again most probably since I do not really remember it, it was cake called Bučnica (after Buča - pumpkin) which is very popular in Zagreb and continental part of Croatia.

I fall in love with bučnica immediately but it took me few more years before I started to cook with pumpkin myself.

Well, to be honest, I did start just last year. But it was a good start and I couldn't wait this year fall to go to the open market (it is called Dolac) which turn all pumpkin-orange in this part of the year, and by myself some pumpkin!

I started with the Pumpkin and Shitaki sauce for "In The Bag" event, but I wanted to do something sweet so I started my search. On Internet, off course! I find so many great recipes like Pumpkin Creme Brulee or Pumpkin Panna Cotta.

And I did what I do best, read all recipes, commingle them a bit, and voilà!... I'll name it Pumpkin and Coconut Pudding! (not to original but... whatever...)

Pumpkin and Coconut Pudding
300g pumpkin (peeled, de-seeded)
180ml milk
180ml cream
50g brown sugar
50g coconut flour
10 g of powered gelatin

Cut the pumpkin into small cubes. Cook it in medium saucepan together with milk and sugar. Bring it to boil stirring constantly. When pumpkin starts to soften add coconut flour and cook on medium heath for additional 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Mix the gelatin with 3 spoons of cold water and leave it for 10 minutes to swell up.
Puree the pumpkin mixture (with stick blender of in food processor), add gelatin and stir (without bringing it beck to heath) for additional 5 - 10 minutes until gelatin melt completely.
Pour the mixture into cups and let it cool first on thee room temperature and then transfer them into fridge to set up which will take at least 3 hours.

Step by Step Photo Recipe: Pumpkin and Shitake Sauce

Full recipe for this Pumpkin and Shitake sauce read here!

1. prepare: pumpkin, Shitake mushrooms, butter, white wine, leek, rosemary, salt, paper.

2. Slice leek into thin slices and fry them in deep pen with butter.

3. Add pumpkin cubes, splash with with wine and cook until wine evaporates then add 1 cup of stock.

4. Cook until pumpkin turns soft and fluids evaporate. Take half amount of pumpkin from the pan and mince it in food processor.

5. Meanwhile, clean Shitake and sliced them into thin slices. Put the minced pumpkin back in pan and add sliced mushrooms.

6. Stir lightly for additional 10 minutes. At the very end add rosemary, salt and paper.

7. Serve with Lentil patties.