Snow/ Spaghetti sauce day 3

No CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) bag today. No board meeting, no presentation, no rehearsal this evening, all called for snow, sigh. Time to make spaghetti sauce and warm the kitchen with a slow simmering pot, most of the day! And it smells grand! I couldn’t find my recipe, went looking in the paper versions, remember those?

I made a Marcella Hazan Bolognese last year and fed the freezer, for many easier evenings after long days away. I used to cook more in bulk when I was feeding more of a crowd. It is simpler now with just a couple again, but still fun to feed the freezer and free myself for binge- sewing, reading, the other stuff in this blog.  😉

So I cleaned out the veggie bins, asked my sweetie, who has a 4wd, to get some of the local hormone-free, extra special ground beef on sale this week, and off to the kitchen! Marcella’s Bolognese calls for the gentlest of simmering, over 5 hours, optimally, with the meat gently warmed in milk. I’d have never thought it, but it is okay. Here’s my recipe, a hybrid by necessity & for fun :

Get a big pot. I used a 13 qt. Le Creuset. Warm a cup each of butter and nice olive oil, then, on low heat, sweat these peeled and chopped veggies in it:

Veggies warming

Veggies warming

~2 cups of onion
~ a lb. of carrots
a couple of golden beets
a bunch of Toscano Kale (stems too)
1/2 a head of minced garlic
6 c. bell peppers, various colors
1 c. mushrooms, wish I’d had more

When they are all getting warm and just a tad cozy (not browning!), start to break the ground beef into the pot. It took a while, so stirring it in every so often helps. As it begins to cook, the color fades but it stays very soft. Add the milk and very slowly let it come to a low simmer, what somebody called just a “smile”. The milk should mostly steam away.
Those amounts are:
5 lbs. ground beef
3 cups of milk

Beginning to reduce...

With the milk, nope, doesn’t look like it.

Then add the tomatoes, pesto, oregano, pepper and wine. Come back and stir often, but on low, it should reduce very slowly.

3 qts. of chopped roma tomatoes (I used mine canned last fall)
1 bottle of wine, Marcella uses white, today I used red
1 T. each of dried oregano and ground black pepper
~1/2 cup of homemade pesto from the freezer

Meanwhile, the snow swirled outside, we fed the hummingbirds, got stuff done around the house, and noted that appointments, meetings, various schedules teetered and fell victim to safety concerns with the roads really slippery. Igor shoveled the driveway, came in and read journals.  When he got discouraged that his shoveling was covered by new snow, I went out and shoveled.

The sauce is nearly reduced, a good seven hours. I snatched some for lasagna for two, with bake in the dish pasta. Some kale tart filling from 101 Cookbooks last summer went into the eggy, cheesy part. The kitchen is comfortable, not enough to make us feel guilty for overdoing it. The sauce will flavor many different meals, more like a condiment than a main feature. This is traditional winter cooking.  Buon appetito!

lasagna resting, sauce finishing, almost time to eat!

lasagna resting, sauce finishing, almost time to eat!

Zucchini! Reply

We are having zucchini every day, isn’t that what August is all about?!  Baking before we left for the coast was one way to stay ahead. 🙂

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We are having zucchini:

  • Sauteed, with peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, fresh oregano
  • Baked with cumin, some other veggies and broiled to brown cheddar on top
  • Baked with basil, tomatoes etc., and broiled mozzarella topping
  • Shredded with chopped green onions into pancakes
  • Sauteed with whatever else is handy, including from the CSA bag, over really high heat, browning but still crunchy, then S&P, drizzled with balsamic.  And some sauteed, almost still crunchy garbanzoes.
  • Spears to dip into homemade hummus
  • Fresh salads, with those REAL SUMMER TOMATOES!!

The zucchini bread recipe came from 101 Cookbooks, a cool veggie blog from ~San Francisco area? I was not really brave enough to put in the cumin, curry, coriander etc., but used cardamom, wimped out- but no cinnamon!

The chocolate cake recipe was from church, the former choir director’s wife, thanks Joyce!

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

½ c. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 c. AP flour
½ c. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
1 t. baking soda
½ t. baking powder
½ t. fine sea salt
1 c. (packed) light brown sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. instant coffee granules
3 large eggs
2 c. unpeeled grated zucchini
1 c. chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar or melted bittersweet chocolate (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter or oil.
  • Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Process the sugar and butter until creamy (you can also do this by hand, armed with a sturdy spatula). Add the vanilla, coffee granules, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.
  • Reserve a cup of the flour mixture and add the rest to the egg mixture. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.
  • Add the zucchini and chocolate chips to the reserved flour mixture and toss to coat. Fold into the batter and blend with a wooden spoon—don’t overmix. Pour into the prepared cake pan and level the surface with a spatula.
  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen the cake, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
  • Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, glaze with melted chocolate.