donderdag 6 februari 2014

Study food: comfort food (Spaghetti Bolognese)

Happy thursday everyone!

Oh naughty me... I should be working on a paper on Research Methods, I've only got 300 words to go and it'll be finished but damn it, I need to let out some inspiration first before I can finish this boring paper haha!

Me, not studying, in Barcelona, ahh the good times!

It is one of those weeks again, two paper deadlines and of course I've left it to the last minute to write them, I never seem to learn the trick do I? :P I'm not particularly stressed out either, I just don't want to do it, if I was stressed out I might have spent a little less time on facebook and twitter, but that's not the case for me this time! Still, most of the time this week I've been trying to concentrate on writing my papers and during those weeks I want easy, tasty comfort food. And what's better than making a whole pot full of delicious sauce that is too much for two people so you get to save a little bit for another meal during the week! It always makes me feel so satisfied... not having to think about what I'm going to eat in the evening and not having to do groceries every night of the week!

So last monday I decided to make Spaghetti Bolognese. Multiple reasons for that: it's easy, you can make a large pot, it's super tasty and it contains basic flavors that won't bore you after one night (which is necessary if you're planning to eat something more than once during a week if you ask me). Another personal reason was that my boyfriend thought he didn't like Spaghetti Bolognese, and I'm not bragging when I say this but everybody loves my Spaghetti Bolognese. I stick to a very basic recipe and I'm very keen on only using good products, fresh products, and I don't use any silly supplements.

In the Netherlands there is a commercial on television at the moment of a fake Italian chef who makes Spaghetti Bolognese with this 'powder', I've never really understood people who use powdered food... I've tried it, and when I first started cooking I did use it from time to time but the flavors are so bland and boring... With a couple of herbs, onion and garlic you can get so far and it isn't more difficult than popping a bag of powder in a pan with some water... So if you're one of these people who, out of habit, uses powdered food a lot, do me a favor and promise me to at least try this recipe. I can promise you that it is the easiest thing, you don't need a ridiculous amount of ingredients and you'll feel so satisfied and proud of the dish you've made from scratch!  (The only exception I make is for stock-cubes... It really takes a long time to make stock, and you can get pretty good quality versions of those stock-cubes).

I cooked this on monday and posted a little comment about it on twitter. A fellow blogger called 'perlenmama' commented on my tweet saying that she couldn't wait for the recipe even though I initially wasn't planning on doing a blog post about this week haha, but because she was looking forward to the recipe I decided to share it with you anyway, even though I didn't take a lot of pictures of it!

Spaghetti Bolognese

The final result

Makes 4 portions

a swig of olive oil
500 g of mince meat (half pork half beef)
a couple of slices of bacon, cut into pieces
1 large carrot
2 sticks of celery 
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
half a stock cube
1 small can of tomato concentrate
1/2 tsp of dried rosemary or oregano
25 ml of milk
Spaghetti (or any other type of pasta)
-optional: 100 ml of red wine-

Start by heating your pan and add the olive oil. When the pan and the oil is nice and hot add your bacon and fry that off for a couple of minutes. It doesn't need to be crispy, you just want to get the flavors going. When the bacon is cooked add the minced meat and fry that off until it really is nice and brown and you have some bits sticking to the bottom of your pot! At first, some liquid might seep out of the meat, just leave it on a medium heat so that it can evaporate and your meat can brown, no need to drain it because then you'll lose some of the great flavors!

While the meat is browning cut your vegetables in teeny tiny pieces, when they go in the pot you want them to almost melt in the sauce, Bolognese is not a sauce that's all about the vegetables (I feel a lot of students make this mistake...). The vegetables give the sauce it's flavor and sweetness but you'll need to prepare some vegetables on the side with this dish to make it a healthy one! When that's done add everything to the pan and make sure all of those little veggies go soft and yummy and release all of their sweet flavor.

When the meat is yummy looking brown, add the wine if you are using it. You want to use it to get the brown tasty bits off of the bottom of the pan and melt into the wine-sauce that you're making. The alcohol should evaporate immediately and you should be left with a wonderfully smelling kitchen! Then add your can of tinned tomatoes and stir it in. 

Now make a cup of stock-tomato tea: get a large mug, add half the stock cube and the tomato concentrate and some boiling water. Stir everything so that it starts to look like a strange tomato-soup and then add it to the pan! This is actually the first time I'm flavoring anything, the stock-cube will add some saltiness and the tomato concentrate with some acidity. 

As a last step add your dried herbs and spices (either the rosemary or the oregano, I used rosemary just because... I love the smell, sometimes I prefer oregano). Also add some pepper and some salt to taste: TO TASTE, that means that you should grab a spoon and taste what you've got so far! 

What is left to do is leave it for about an hour. Put the heat on low, you don't want it to 'boil', you want it to 'simmer' lightly. This is probably the most difficult part for anyone starting to learn how to cook: things get better over time! Thats not only the case for cheese and wine, but definitely for sauces as well. You want all of the flavors to marry and become one big family in a pot. 

After that hour (or 45 minutes if you really can't wait) add a tiny bit of milk to taste. In the ingredients list I said '25 ml' but that's just an estimation. The milk helps to correct the sharp tastes if there are any, this Bolognese sauce is all about the round and soft flavors. So grab a spoon and give it a taste, does it need that bit of milk? Does it need a bit more salt, some more pepper perhaps?  

During this last stage you should have also cooked your pasta according to the directions on the package. It usually takes about 10 minutes or a bit less for pasta to be done. 

Serve with some parmesan cheese and a green salad on the side then it should look something like the picture at the top of this article! 

I hope you enjoyed this post :) I feel it was very chatty in comparison to what I usually do haha. Please give the recipe a try and leave me a comment if you liked it! Also check out my twitter and my facebook page if you want to get in touch! (The last couple of days I've had loads of people from the philippines like my facebook page haha, hey everyone, I don't know how you found my page but I'm hoping you like the things that I put on there!)


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