Pasta Bolognese

Last year, when I first started this blog, I made a list of some of my favorite food.  Food I’ve always wanted to try, or family recipes I need to learn how to make. Pasta Bolognese was on the top of my list. My Aunt and Uncle make a delicious Bolognese sauce. Yes, it’s because they are very good cooks, but it’s also my Uncle’s family recipe and he is from Bologna, Italy. It’s only fitting that they would make a delicious Bolognese sauce! Needless to say, almost a year later, I made my first Bolognese sauce and I am proud to say that it was a success!

My Aunt Antonia gave me her recipe so long ago, but as I went back through my notes, I realized I had quickly jotted down what she was saying and left off some very important information. How many carrots and celery sticks was I supposed to use? How much cream do I use? Well in true Lucia fashion, I decided to wing it and go off my natural instinct. With fears of my days in Italy and my waist line rushing to the front of my mind,  I decided to cut back on the cream and use half cream, half skim milk. I added a bouillon cube to add back in some flavor.

I made the sauce the night before and it was delicious. When Laura got home from work she couldn’t stop taking bites out of the pot; I of course was joining her, too. When I went to heat it up before our actual dinner, it had really thickened over night, so I added a tiny bit more skim milk. Mistake. I was disappointed that it took out a lot of the original flavor. Laura and I of course noticed it because we were lucky enough to enjoy it the night before, but Maegan and Jordan thought it still tasted good! At least two of us got to experience it in its greatness before I made a cooking mistake.

Pasta Bolognese


Ingredients:

1/3 of a large onion

2 cloves of garlic

3 Carrots

3 sticks of celery

1 lb ground beef

1 pint of heavy whipping cream (I used less than 1 pint and the rest with skim milk)

2 cans of Hunt (cl) tomato sauce (add salt, pepper, a little less than 1/3 skim milk)

Directions:

Very finely chop carrots and celery and set aside. Finely chop onion and saute with garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add the chopped carrots and celery, ground beef and cover with heavy whipping cream. Let reduce while covered.

Once cream is reduced, add the tomato sauce. Let cook for approximately 3 hours.

Chopped Onion, Celery and Carrots

Cover the ingredients in cream and let reduce

Jordan waiting for some free dinner 🙂

Pasta Bolognese

I am glad that I can finally say I made a Bolognese sauce and proud that I now will know how to make it without even following a recipe. It’s always fun to make something for the first time and realize that while it may take a while, it’s not too difficult, and it’s also fairly cheap! And any meal these days that I can make without spending an arm and a leg at the grocery store is my kind of meal!

I am also proud to say that I have almost made it to the one year mark of My Big Fat Italian Life! It is crazy to think back of the first blog post I wrote, and remember it as if it were yesterday. I’m also proud that I not only made it a full year blogging and stuck with my kitchen adventures, but I’ve made a lot of delicious meals along the way and shared a ton of meals with my family and friends!

Until next time,

Lucia

Chicken Parmesan

With the craziness of the holidays and the new year, my cooking adventures had been few and far between. Hopefully, with the start of 2011 I can get back in the kitchen and continue making new food and recipes to share with everyone!

A friend at work and I were talking about a dish I could make that would be good, fairly simple, and liked by a lot of people. So she suggested Chicken Parmesan. As I  thought about making this for dinner I couldn’t believe that I had never actually made this before! My Grandma’s breaded chicken  is one of my all time favorite meals with pasta, but Chicken Parmesan is not something I typically order off a menu, and the version I have at home really isn’t Chicken Parmesan, so I decided to take on the Kitchen Adventure!

I didn’t have a family recipe for Chicken Parmesan, so I just went with what I thought would be included in chicken parmesan.

Chicken Parmesan

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Flour

3 eggs

Bread Crumbs

Salt and pepper

Olive Oil

Fresh Basil

Provolone Cheese

Spaghetti

Pasta Sauce (see my quick sauce*)

Clean the chicken and then wrap each piece of chicken in plastic wrap and pound thin. Put flour in a deep dish and season with salt and pepper (don’t be shy. Make sure you can see the flour. Give it a taste before you put the Chicken in it). In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add a tsp of water. In a third bowl, add the bread crumb.

Dip the chicken in the flour and coat. Then, dip it in the egg. Make sure the egg yolk has dripped off and then add to the bread crumbs. Continue with all the chicken pieces.

In a large pan, heat olive oil. Lightly sear the chicken breasts, but do not cook through. While the chicken is cooking, add sauce to the bottom a baking dish. Once the chicken is slightly cooked, add to the baking dish. Cover lightly with sauce. Add a piece of fresh basil and top with a piece of provolone cheese. Cover again with sauce, but be sure to leave enough for your pasta.

Bake chicken for 15-20 minutes at 350º.

Bring salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook. Drain, rinse, cover with sauce and serve with chicken!

**I didn’t get to take a picture, but I thought it looked delicious!

I unfortunately didn’t have time to make my own bread crumbs, so that is something I will have to do next time around. It was a pretty easy meal to make and I am excited to try it again sometime!

Lucia

Cooking Fools – Making Pasta!

Months ago I purchased a Cooking Fools pasta making class with one of my friends through Groupon. I have made my own pasta before, but I have never actually taken a class on how to do it. I usually  just look at a recipe and go with it, so I was excited to maybe learn an actual technique. It was almost a year ago when I made Chicken Noodle Soup with homemade egg noodles (my favorite!). I want to say that I can’t believe this year flew by so quickly, but unfortunately 2010 was a long, drawn out, hectic year, and I am so glad it’s over and 2011 is here. I’m not saying 2010 was a bad year, but I don’t think I have ever experienced a year like 2010 in my life. There was a massive amount of changes and big events that 2010 left me feeling drained, exhausted and excited for some calm.

Anyway, back to the pasta  making class! I was running late due to work and got there just in time. Maegan had purchased a bottle of wine for us (which was much-needed that night) and we started making our pasta! The class consisted of making ravioli and pappardelle. There was also a demonstration on how to make Vodka Sauce and Basil Pesto. I had never used the pasta machine before and my first attempt at pressing the dough was not necessarily successful. My strip of dough turned out uneven, thin, and I ended up wasting a lot of it. For some reason I thought using the rolling-pin (like I had before) was easier.

Making Pasta

Pasta Dough
Yield: 10 oz, approximately 2 large servings
3 oz Semolina flour

3 oz all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

Mound flour on work surface. Build well in center of flour and crack eggs into well Use a fork to combine egg whites and yolks.Slowly, using a fork, begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, be sure to build up the sides   the well. When the majority of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together and you can begin kneading using your hands.Dust you hands with flour before touching dough. Use a light touch to prevent dough from sticking to your hands. Fold dough repeatedly until flour is incorporated, then knead for 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Ravioli & Pappardelle

I wish I could tell you how the pasta actually turned out, but they had everyone combine their dough and made a large batch of both meals. Anything mass-produced can be difficult, so I wasn’t that impressed with the end result, but it was a fun night and I enjoyed getting to spend time/catch-up/drink wine with Maegan!

A few things I DID learn…

  • The more you knead the dough the more the gluten comes out. You want your dough to have more gluten because it provides the necessary consistency for the pasta. When you are making dough for pastries or muffins, it’s the opposite. You don’t want too much gluten.
  • Making pasta with wine is extremely necessary.
  • Take out a small amount of the flour and put it off to the side. Add it in as necessary. The moisture and temperature in the room can affect the dough and you don’t want it to end up too dry.
  • Wish I remembered more, but we did finish the bottle of wine 🙂

Enjoying some Cooking Fools Food!

All in all I am glad I took the pasta class. It made me want to learn more about cooking and the technique. Yes, I can take a recipe and make it or find a dish I want to make and figure out the ingredients and make it on whim, but there is something about the science behind cooking that I find intriguing and I want to learn more. So hopefully there are more cooking lessons in my future!