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Jamie Oliver’s Bolognese Ragu With Tagliatelle

14 Dec

You don’t have to frequent my blog that often to work out that I love Jamie Oliver. Out of all of the “celebrity chefs”, Jamie is my main man. I find his recipes to be the most approachable and, generally, the most simple to follow. As much as I enjoy other chefs, such as Thomas Keller and Gordon Ramsay, their recipes are typically more complicated than Jamie’s (especially Keller who usually has multiple recipes within one dish) so I prefer to eat at their restaurants rather than attempt to cook like them at home.

Knowing how much I love Jamie (and how this directly affects what he gets for dinner), B downloaded the Jamie Oliver app on the iPad for me. I was skeptical at first, as I prefer cooking from a cookbook, but I must say that I’m sold on Jamie’s app. It is so user-friendly – it creates shopping lists of ingredients, it shows you each step of the recipe (with photos), and each ingredient measurement is shown again at each step (no back-tracking to the ingredient list). I love it! The only downside is swiping the iPad whilst cooking. My hands are generally covered in something when cooking and so it is inevitable that you’ll swipe some food on the screen.

Step-by-step guide, complete with pictures.

Helpful ingredient list.

The first time that I used the app I used it to cook Jamie’s Bolognese Ragu with Tagliatelle. I am a sucker for pasta and was quite happy with the end result of this one. I don’t normally serve pasta when hosting dinners but I could see the benefit of this dish as, once you’ve got it in the oven, there is really not much else to do besides cooking some pasta. Easy! That gives you plenty of time to hang out with your guests whilst you wait for your sauce to cook up. If you really wanted to save some time you could easily make the sauce a day ahead, which would also allow the flavours to develop. A great dish to pair with a bottle of Italian red.

Jamie Oliver’s Bolognese Ragu with Tagliatelle – Serves 4

1 lb good quality ground beef
1 lb fresh tagliatelle
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
2 stalks celery
1 small bunch fresh Italian parsley
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 X 14oz can of diced tomatoes
1 dried red chile
2/3 cup organic chicken broth
2 oz Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup white wine
1 pat of butter
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Peel and roughly chop the onion and garlic. Trim and roughly chop the celery. Whiz in a food processor until finely chopped. Pick the leaves from the parsley and put to one side. Finely chop the stalks.

Put a medium oven-proof saucepan on a medium heat and add a lug of olive oil. Crush the fennel seeds and dried chile in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt. Tip the veggies from the food processor into the hot saucepan with the chopped parsley stalks, rosemary sprig and crushed spices. Stir well and fry gently for a few minutes until soft.

Add the ground beef, turn the heat up and fry for a few minutes – the beef will start to release all its juices. Keep stirring until the juices boil away and the beef begins to fry again.When it all smells delicious, stir in the tomato paste. A minute later, add the wine. Once all of the wine has evaporated, add the canned tomatoes and the broth. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and place in the hot oven to cook for 1 hour.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Take the ragu out of the oven and check the consistency. If it’s a bit watery, place on a medium heat for a few minutes to reduce and thicken up. Otherwise, leave covered to one side. Add a few pinches of salt to the boiling water and drop in the tagliatelle. Cook following the package instructions. When the pasta’s ready, scoop out and reserve a mugful of cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander.

Tip the pasta back into the hot pan and pour the ragu on top. Stir everything together then have a taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. If the sauce is a bit thick, add a little of the reserved cooking water until you get a good consistency. Finely grate over the Parmesan, then add the butter and stir through. Chop the parsley leaves and sprinkle over the top. Serve with extra grated Parmesan to be added at the table, if desired.

12 Days of Cookies – Shortbread Cookies – Day 12

12 Dec

As much as I have enjoyed being back in the kitchen, I breathed a large sigh of relief as the last batch of cookies went in the oven. After 12 days of baking a new recipe every day (and all of the cleaning, photographing, and writing that comes along with it), I am exhausted! It has been a good experience but I can’t lie, at times it has been a challenge. I decided to finish with a simple, traditional shortbread cookie. Although shortbread doesn’t rate highly on my favourites list, others seem to love these classic, buttery morsels, and I’m all about giving the people what they want. Seriously though, I was so tired when I made these that I just wanted the quickest recipe with the least ingredients – ta da!! – shortbread to the rescue!

With only four ingredients; flour, sugar, butter, corn starch, most home cooks have these ingredients in the house so you can throw these together at the last minute if you have some guests coming around and want to serve them some fresh, hot cookies. Plus, these are so easy to make that you could have your kids help with these ones.

Things I’ve learned about baking 12 batches of cookies in 12 days:

  • Baking is finicky and difficult.
  • I am not patient enough to deal with finicky recipes or making cookies look pretty.
  • You go through a LOT of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour when baking 12 batches of cookies.
  • Any cookie that is stuffed with candy is a crowd favourite.
  • You really can’t go wrong with jam in a cookie. 2 of my favourites were the PB&J Thumbprints and the Raspberry Cream Cheese Pastries.
  • Cookies are a good conversation starter.

Now that the 12 Days of Cookies challenge is completed, I’m going to focus on getting ready for my parents upcoming trip. Yes! After almost three years (!!!) apart, my parents will be spending Christmas and New Years (and my birthday!) with us in Vancouver! Can you tell I’m just a wee bit excited?! We have a bunch of Christmas stuff planned for them whilst they are here and we are taking a road trip down to Portland and the Oregon Coast. I. Am.So. Excited!

Happy Baking!

12 Days of Cookies – Glazed Lemon Cookies – Day 11

11 Dec

After days of heavy rain here in Vancouver, I think I was desperately looking for a “zing!” when I selected Martha Stewart’s Glazed Lemon Cookies to bake for Day 11. When you use real lemons (not a weird bottled lemon juice), you can certainly taste it; your saliva glands get all tingly and you may, or may not, make an ugly I’m-eating-sour-lemons face. These cookies called for lemon juice and lemon zest for the cookie and for the glaze, so there is no denying the citrus kick in these.

Do you remember on Day 8 when I said I was too lazy to make the glaze for the Chewy Oatmeal Cookies? Well, in an effort to redeem myself as a baking slob, I did make the glaze for this cookie and personally, I don’t think the cookie needed it. Without the glaze, the cookie was a good balance of slightly sweet and a touch of citrus. When I added the glaze, they became too sweet and too citrus-y. See, there is a benefit to my laziness!

The appeal in these cookies was, not only in the gentle hint of lemon, but also just how quick this recipe was to pull together. If you also skip the glaze, these cookies could be fresh on the table in 30 to 45 minutes. Boom! Cookie bomb. I’d absolutely bake these again…sans lemon glaze.

12 Days of Cookies – Outrageous Chocolate Cookies – Day 10

10 Dec

I love a good chocolate cookie, however, I prefer a rich, dark chocolate cookie to a sweeter chocolate cookie. These Martha Stewart cookies claimed to be “outrageous” but I’d say that they were more “lacklustre” than “outrageous” for me.

Although the texture and consistency was exactly as the recipe described – soft and chewy, with a crackly, shiny top – I had expected them to have a deeper chocolate flavour, but instead I found them to be overly sweet. Even in my picture (below), it’s hard to tell that they are chocolate on chocolate. If I make them again, I’d make them with a darker chocolate (rather than the semisweet that the recipe called for) to add more depth of flavour.

One thing these cookies had going for them was that the recipe didn’t take very long to come together at all so if you were looking to make some chocolate cookies in less than an hour, give these a try.

Martha Stewart’s Outrageous Chocolate Cookies – Makes 2 dozen

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

12 Days of Cookies – Rolo Stuffed Snickerdoodles – Day 9

9 Dec

We are closing in on the end of “12 Days of Cookies” and one of the most important things that I’ve learned from this baking challenge is that any cookie stuffed with candy is likely going to be a winner. The Chewy Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies from Day 6 have been my favourite cookie so far and so when I saw that this was another recipe that called for more candy to be added to cookie dough, it was quickly added to the list.

This recipe isn’t rocket science. You start with the very simple recipe for Snickerdoodles (this cookie dough is lethal for eating out of the bowl – I couldn’t say no to numerous taste tests) and then wrap the dough around a Rolo. Voila! Rachel Schultz’s blog has helpful (and tempting) pictures to guide you through mastering wrapping dough around a Rolo. That brings me to another thing I’ve learned from the baking challenge – there are some really talented food bloggers out there. The daily search for cookie recipes had led me to discover some pretty cool new blogs.

Now, back to the cookies, see that indent in the middle of the cookie in the picture? Yeah…that is a gooey chocolate/caramel pocket. Get in my face!

12 Days of Cookies – Chewy Oatmeal Cookies – Day 8

8 Dec

Confession: I am a lazy baker. We are all friends here so I can admit that I lack the attention to detail that other bakers possess. For example, when my cookies come out of the oven, they are rarely the same size or shape. Mine always end up looking a bit Franken-cookie. I’m the laziest when it comes to frosting things, like cupcakes. I love frosting, but I just want the cupcakes in my face – NOW! – so I rush through the frosting stage so I can get to eating stage. This recipe is a perfect example of where I was being very lazy. These were meant to be finished with a cinnamon glaze but I decided to give it a miss. See?! Lazy!

Take a look at Dessert for Two’s post on these Chewy Oatmeal Cookies. See how pretty they look? Yeah, mine don’t look like that. Sorry. My cookies also end up being less chewy, and more crunchy, which I’m going to attribute to my honey not being runny enough. Based on how mine turned out, I wouldn’t bake these again. If I was going to put the effort in for something decadent, it would be for the Chewy Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies from Day 6. These just aren’t “naughty” enough for me.

12 Days of Cookies – Peanut Butter & Jam Thumbprints – Day 7

7 Dec

We are now just over halfway through the baking challenge and I must admit that today I found it difficult to be enthusiastic about baking cookies. See, we hosted a sparkling wine party last night for my sister’s birthday and it was awesome. Today, however, wasn’t as awesome as last night. Regardless, I pushed through and baked these little cuties.

Perhaps it was due to my slight hangover, but these didn’t end up looking much like the picture in the recipe. Hmmmph. My dough seemed a little dry and I think it might have been because I used a natural peanut butter. The dough ended up being a little crumbly and so when I tried to poke the hole in them, they sort of fell apart. I’m blaming the peanut butter and not my compromised state.

Besides the crumbly dough, this was an easy recipe to follow but you do need to let the dough chill for 2 hours, so plan ahead. The recipe called for strawberry jam but I’m a fan of raspberry so I switched it out. No biggie.

Side note: these cookies go out to Celeste. You asked, babe, I delivered.

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