Tag Archives: pasta

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

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.


Bites of Italy – Part 1 of 3

2 Mar

Italian food is some of my all-time favourite food and this was reconfirmed when we were in Italy last October. I was in my element as we dined for more than two weeks on pizza, pasta, risotto, gelato, robust red wines, fizzy Prosecco, cappucino, sliced meats, and different varieties of cheese. What strikes me most about Italian food is that it is honest and uncomplicated. Rather than relying on heavy sauces or complicated dishes, the Italians prefer the ingredients to speak for themselves.

As we were there in the Fall, we were just in time for the season of chewy porcini and fragrant truffles, of which we consumed a lot. Pasta was a regular item on our daily menu – which I was incredibly grateful for as I never tire of eating pasta – as were the divine Italian red wines that we sampled (our favourite being a type of wine called Nobile di Montepulciano).

The following images (and the others that will follow) are a capture of some of memorable dishes that we had the pleasure of experiencing whilst in Italy.

A breakfast of crema croissant and cappuccinos.

Flavour-packed pizza sold by weight. The porcini and proscuitto pizza was a favourite.

Piles of tasty and affordable panini from All’antico Vinaio, Florence.

Porchetta and truffle panini from All’Antico Vinaio, Florence.

Wine by the glass for only €2.

Heapings of Tuscan ham and mozzarella from Borgo Antico, Florence.

Duck tortellini in a light broth from Il Santo Bevitore, Florence.

 Shaved truffles over house-made pasta – simply divine.

Scallop Pasta with Champagne Sauce

5 Jan

I have a habit of taking photos of enticing recipes whilst reading magazines in waiting-rooms. My intention is to cook whatever it is immediately but the reality is that the photo sits on my phone for months, even years, without me ever glancing at, let alone actually making the dish. This is just pure laziness on my behalf and I’d like to change that.

On New Years Eve, rather than going out to party, B and I stayed in and I attempted to make at least a few of the recipes that have been lying dormant on my phone. I knew that B and I would be sharing a bottle of bubbles to celebrate New Years Eve so this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to stop procrastinating and make the Scallop Pasta with Champagne Sauce recipe that I’ve been eyeing off for ages. This recipe comes from the Spring 2013 issue of “Taste” magazine, which you can pick up from BC Liquor.

Of course you don’t need to use actual Champagne for this recipe. A good sparkling wine or Prosecco will suffice (and it is much cheaper). Another substitute you may have to make is with the pasta. I had difficulties finding angel hair pasta so I opted for spaghettini instead – I don’t think it really makes much of a difference. I found this recipe to be quite simple, yet impressive enough that I’d recommend it for a date night, or if you are trying to impress some guests (it could be served as an appetizer in a smaller portion). Happy New Year!

Scallop Pasta with Champagne Sauce – Makes Serves 4

1 1/2 cups (375ml) of Champagne, or sparkling wine
4 shallots, minced
4 Tbsp (60ml) whipping cream
1/2 cup (125ml) cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 lb (500 grams) of angel hair pasta, or spaghettini
2 tsp (10ml) butter
1 tsp (5ml) olive oil
1 1/2 lb (750 grams) of quality scallops, hinge muscle removed
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp (60ml) chives, chopped

In a small saucepan, combine Champagne and shallots and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has reduced to 1/2 cup (125ml), 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in whipping cream and cubed butter, a few cubes at a time. Return pan to low heat and continue whisking until all butter has been added. Remove from heat and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling, add salt and cook pasta to al dente. Drain and reserve pasta.

When sauce is ready, add pasta and stir to coat. In a heavy non-stick pan, heat 1 tsp (5ml) butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add scallops and sear until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange seared scallops on a nest of hot pasta and sprinkle with chopped chives.

First Glance – Vicino Pastaria & Deli – June 2012

25 Jun

68 East Cordova Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1K2

T: 604 336 0042

Another week, another Gastown opening! Vicino Pastaria and Deli is the newest addition to the Gastown food scene. Vicino is another offering from Nicli Antica Pizzeria‘s owner, Bill McCaig, and the stylish spot is nestled directly next-door to Nicli. It is a small spot, with about 16 seats, and the menu offers a select few pastas (at the time of writing it was four options) as well as deli options, such as salads, coffees, and desserts. There are also some produce items, such as butter, balsamic vinegars, olive oils, and salts, available for purchase.

B and I went to see the new kid in town on Saturday and had an enjoyable pasta lunch, although the agnolotti was a little too al dente. Prices were fairly reasonable, particularly for the portion sizes, and because we also received a side of warm bread roll and olive oil. I am interested to see how Vicino will be received, considering the success that Nicli has had.

Lamb Agnolotti – $12

Tagliatelle with porcini, peas and pecorino – $15

Vicino Pastaria & Deli on Urbanspoon

Campagnolo – Photo Visit – June 2012

18 Jun

1020 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 2W1

T: 604 484 6018

Brief Description: A casual, rustic restaurant that focuses on affordable seasonal cuisine from the Piedmont and Emigila-Romagna regions of Italy.

Over the weekend I realized that it had been quite some time since my last visit to Campagnolo on Main Street. Too long, in fact. So when B and I were looking for a brunch/lunch option on Saturday, I suggested Campagnolo. We used to visit more regularly a few years ago when B lived on Main so we are quite familiar with their menu and I was pleased to find that some of our favourite dishes remain on the menu after all of this time.

You might already know that I have a real soft spot for carbonara so I couldn’t resist the carbonara pizza ($14), which was finished with a whole egg and sporadic shavings of lemon zest. With so much good pizza in the city at the moment, this breakfast pizza did hold its own. Delicious!

We couldn’t turn out back on our old favourite, the pork ragu tagliatelle ($18). We were happy to find this dish still tastes as it did before but we did miss the individual portions of salt flakes and black pepper that we used to get alongside it to season the dish to your liking.

Final Thoughts: The food was just how I remembered it, although I was more taken with the pizza than the pasta this time around. Service was a little off but I’m putting that down to the rainy, grey Saturday. I’d like to return in the evening for dinner to get a better read on how smooth things run when busier.

Campagnolo on Urbanspoon

La Ghianda – Photo Visit – June 2012

5 Jun

2083 Alma Street
Vancouver, Point Grey
V6R 4N6

T: 604 566 9559

**Updated: April 2013 – La Ghianda is now closed**

Brief Description: This modest deli provides hearty, simple Italian fare at affordable prices. Dine-in and take-out options available. Limited seating. Closed Sundays and Mondays, open from 11am to 6pm.

It had been awhile since my last visit to La Ghianda and the reason for my hiatus was for no other reason than too many places to try, not enough time (we are so spoilt for food choices in Vancouver). I’ve always enjoyed visiting La Ghianda and when we went back on Saturday, we left pleased that things were as they have always been – affordable, comforting, and satisfying.

Porchetta panini

Linguine with beef cheek and potato 

The porchetta panini was loaded with pieces of pork crackling, thin slices of pork, and topped with salsa verde. Perhaps I am being particular, but I would have preferred the meat to have been warm. After indulging in many porchetta sandwiches from Meat and Bread, it was slightly disappointing to sink into cold meat.

As a carb-lover, I love the hearty servings pasta from La Ghianda, and their sister restaurant La Quercia. As usual, I found their pasta to be perfectly al dente and well seasoned. The potato was an interesting addition. Bravo!

Final Thoughts: An affordable and well-executed casual deli. You can’t go wrong with any of the three daily pastas and the generous-sized paninis will stretch your stomach to its limits.

La Ghianda on Urbanspoon

San Francisco – continued

11 Mar

I was so keen to visit Flour + Water that I made us arrive at the restaurant more than an hour before opening time. B was none too impressed but I didn’t want to miss out on the limited walk-in seating that was available (he later admitted that the meal was worth the wait). And that is how I found myself at the front of the line when the doors opened on Friday night.

Flour + Water is located in the Mission District (as it seems most good restaurants in San Francisco are) and they specialize in hand-made pasta and wood-fired pizza. We opted for the 7 course tasting menu for $60 each. Spoiler alert: everything we ate was absolutely outstanding so no running commentary is required.

1st Course: Citrus cured opah with fennel, avocado and radish.

2nd Course: Porcini and ricotta tortelli with pinenuts and sage.

3rd Course: Parsnip caramelle with salsify, preserved lemon and thyme.

4th Course: Saffron chitarra with clams, asparagus and capers.

5th Course: Radiatore with braised hen, prosciutto, arugula and meyer lemon.

6th Course: Garganelli with lamb sugo, broccolini and olive

7th Course: Citrus bonet with vin santo and brown sugar crumble.

I cannot rave about Flour + Water enough. It was easily the best meal that we had in San Francisco and I’d recommend a visit there over Delfina, even though Delfina was fantastic. I absolutely recommend booking well in advance, unless you want to line up and risk missing out. When we were there they were booked out at least a week in advance. The great thing is that they split half of their room for reservations and half for walk-ins so you could be lucky like we were.

In my last post I talked about the Ferry Building and how wonderful it was. Well, it got even better! We went there on Saturday morning for the larger farmer market and I could not believe how exceptional the food was. Surrounding the outside of the building were local farmer and food purveyor stalls that were over-flowing with fresh produce, or artisanal items such as meats and breads.

We got another Blue Bottle coffee and strolled around, trying to make the hard decision of what we would eat for breakfast. We finally settled on a breakfast burger from 4505 Meats. It was an absolute pleasure to wake up to great coffee, a delicious breakfast burger, and the buzz of happy people enjoying food.

Over-whelmed with so many choices, I ending up spending a small fortune on supplies for our journey to Napa Valley. Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, bread from Acme Breads, and salami and jerky from Fatted Calf Charcuterie, all found their way into my basket (and later, my stomach).

Wow! How can one area have so many purveyors of fine foods? It hardly seems fair! If I’m being completely honest, the Ferry Building Farmers Market puts Granville Island to shame (except for Oyama and a few other exceptions). If you are in San Francisco on a Saturday, make sure that you make the Ferry Building Marketplace a stop for breakfast and supplies. You won’t regret it.

Flour + Water on Urbanspoon