Tuesday, 27 November 2012

mamma mia

Now, this may seem like a bit of a bland recipe post, but I honestly think a good spaghetti bolognese recipe is a must. I have tried so many crappy bolognese dishes, but thanks to help from my lovely Mum and some trial and error, I think I've come up with the perfect recipe. 

You will need...
500g beef mince
Chopped tomatoes
Tomato puree
Garlic (/puree)
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine
Beef stock
Dijon mustard

Now this is very simple, you know the score... fry your onions, garlic and mince in a little oil. You may want to drain off any excess oil once browned. 

Once browned add the magic ingredients... red wine (a good glug), balsamic vinegar (a little glug), chopped tomatoes, large teaspoon of mustard, squirt of tomato puree, teaspoon of sugar and a beef stock cube. 

Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve with spaghetti or pasta and a sprinkling of parmesan. 

To me, this is just the perfect bolognese. You could also add a little chopped bacon to give it an extra bit of oomph, or for Chilli Con Carne just add kidney beans and a generous sprinkling of chilli powder and paprika. 

Sometimes simple is best, no?

Friday, 23 November 2012

bookworm #13

The Thread by Victoria Hislop

I'd seen this book lying around my parents house for a while and showed no interest, I have to admit I judged it by its cover... not particularly inspiring. But after my Mum promising me it was a worthwhile read, I decided to give it a go. 

In a word... it's brilliant. Not only does it document the fascinating social and political history of Thessaloniki (Greece), including its involvement with WW2 and the Nazi occupation, but has a heart-warming story of love, friendship and family. The Thread tells the stories of Katerina and Dimitri; how their lives join together and the lives of their friends and families. The story moves quickly from moments of tragedy, to tales of happiness and love, all the time making us connect with the characters as if they were our own friends. 

I found this book a really easy read - although a large proportion of the book is factual and deals with some serious issues, it never felt too heavy or tiresome. Hislop has a way of describing places, people and events in huge detail without making it seem too educational. 

In short, I loved this book. Great storyline, characters and pace. 

Have you read The Thread, or any other novels by Hislop?

Monday, 5 November 2012

remember, remember

This has become one of my most well-loved recipes; something I learnt in my teens and have been cooking ever since. I picked this up from a kids recipe book and throughout the years have added to and adapted it... I can safely say it is one of the tastiest recipes I know. 

My parents and I used to make this every bonfire night and served it with crispy, buttery jacket potatoes. This year I've continued our little tradition and have prepared a big batch in anticipation of the fireworks tonight!

You will need...
Sausages (one pack)
Red pepper
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin baked beans
1 tin butter beans
Dijon mustard
Paprika (smoked if possible)
Red wine

Start off by chopping your onion, pepper, bacon and sausages. You should use 3 or 4 slices of bacon, and a pack of sausages (5 or 6). If you can, try to get chilli sausages as these give it a really nice kick! If you want, you can take the skins off the sausages and roll the sausage meat into balls. Alternatively, you could buy sausage meat and roll it into balls. Or just chop up your sausages!

Fry all of the above with a little oil until the onions are softened and the sausages are starting to brown on the outside. You may want to drain off any excess oil after this if needs be. Sprinkle in paprika to taste and cook for a couple more minutes. If you use regular supermarket paprika you'll want to use a good sprinkling, however if you can get the good smoked paprika stuff you wont need to use as much. 

Then, add the baked beans, chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of mustard, a good glug of red wine and a teaspoon of sugar. You can use supermarket/value beans for this - you wont be able to tell they're not Heinz!

Once this starts to bubble, turn down to simmer and leave to cook for about 20 minutes with the lid on. Then, add the butter beans and simmer for a further 10 minutes. You can use any type of bean in fact (borlotti, cannellini, haricot, kidney etc) but I've found butter beans work best in this dish. 

Serve with oven-baked, crispy jacket potatoes with plenty of butter. 


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