Now that halloween is safely behind us (until next year that is), I can come out of hiding. For someone who loves Christmas as much as I do, I am surprised that I don’t get into the full joys of halloween too. As all kids do, I used to dress up, usually as a cat as I can recall but now that I am semi grown up, I don’t get excited at all by halloween. Don’t get me wrong, every year when halloween comes around, I see all the costumes and tell myself that next year I will make the best outfit or find something really cool to wear. This year was no different. After our visit to Venice, I really thought that I might make something this year. I wanted to make a Venetian carnival mask and outfit and go out and wow everyone or wear my wonder woman outfit (who doesn’t want to be wonder woman?). Alas as with every year, when the time came, I realised the year has once again flown by and I had no costume. Besides that, we had nowhere to go anyway. No parties, no invites, no trick or treaters in our area and nothing to celebrate. Christmas is definitely more my thing!
Back to work this week after being in bed for what felt like eternity, exhausted but full of beans again. You see, I like to be busy (even if it is doing the laundry!). There is one highlight to my week so far. On Tuesday my family received a text message. My friend and honorary family member Patti made a surprise visit to Dublin from Italy. For those of you who don’t know who Patti is, she was my Au Pair when I was eleven and living in England. She has been my close friend ever since and a dear member of our family and inspires my love of all things Italian including pasta and tiramisu. Patti had made the trip to Dublin with her family (mother, father and sister) as they all had a few days off and wanted to see our city. I had not seen her family in over twenty years. I stayed with them when I visited Italy many years ago and they have not changed at all! They came laden down with gifts big smiles, kisses and warm hugs. It is always rather embarrassing when she visits as it is always a surprise and we never have gifts in return, so she had to make do with my nutty chatter and hugs in return.
So we all talked, drank wine and coffee and talked about old times. Patti reminded me that when she lived with us, there were only three things that she made. Pizza, Soup and bolognese! Tiramisu was only for special occasions. Although my recipe for bolognese isn’t from Patti, our conversation made me want to go home and fire up the stove and make spaghetti.
Pasta is something I could eat all day every day and when I was younger I did just that. I used to get up in the morning before school and cook my lunch, pasta! I covered it with a layer of ragu sauce and popped it in my school bag. There would always be some that didn’t fit into said lunch box so I would eat that for breakfast and in the evenings I would come home and make more pasta for dinner. No such thing as too much pasta! But my ultimate favourite sauce is bolognese. My mother made the best bolognese when we were young and we ate it all the time. Not always with pasta, sometimes potatoes. There were variations. The ground beef also became burgers, meatballs and lasagne. But I could just live in a tub of bolognese! And with chocolate chip cookies to end the meal, well here is a well fed and happy camper!
This is a great sauce and is my go to recipe on cold wet days. It is also the base to my lasagne so when I make this, I portion it and use half for the spaghetti and freeze or use the other half to make a mini lasagne when I’m home alone. You can add or subtract ingredients depending on what you like.
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 stick celery choppe
- 200 – 300 g ground beef
- hand full chopped basil
- tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup or glass of red wine
- 1 cup of beef stock
- 2 tins tomatoes chopped or 1 jar of passata
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 bay leaf
- parmesan to serve
Start with the onions. Fry with a tbsp of oil on a gentle heat for a few minutes to soften. Then throw in your garlic, carrot and celery and some salt and pepper. Stir and cook for a further 5-8 minutes. Once the carrots are starting to cook and soften, add the beef and brown for a minute. Throw in the stock, wine, tinned tomatoes, puree, and herbs. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 30 – 40 minutes, if at any stage the sauce is slightly dry, add some boiling water or more stock. Put down all tools and sit and have a glass of wine.
When the sauce is nearly ready, cook the spaghetti and when al dente drain and add the spaghetti to the sauce. Allow to cook for a few minutes so the spaghetti absorbs the sauce flavours. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan and chopped herbs.