Spaghetti Bolognese

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In the last week, Brian and I caught a cold and have been feeling pretty poorly. In addition to this, Brian refused to eat anything I made that contains dairy saying that it would just aggravate his cold.

In fact, earlier in the week, I made chicken pie...it went to waste once he found out I had put milk in it. In fact the only dairy filled dish he did not refuse was pumpkin pie. Typical.

Given that we can't all live off pumpkin pie everyday, I knew that I needed to make something equally delicious that would distract the stomach of my half Italian just enough so that that pumpkin pie would at least be number two on the list of priorities. I needed to make some good ol' Italian comfort food!

Looking around on the Internet, I found a recipe for spaghetti on food.com that called itself 'World Famous'. When something calls itself World Famous it must be pretty good...And you know what? It wasn't wrong. The Italian sausages are a great addition and really add to the flavour. I followed some tips and adapted this recipe to include half minced beef and half Italian sausages. I also skipped out on adding water and added bay leaves because I don't want my meat to feel naked. 

Please note that the recipe below will make quite a lot of bolognese. It produced about 10 decent sized portions. You can freeze the bolognese to eat another day and it will be just as delicious as the first day you made it. Otherwise, you could just keep it in the fridge and eat bolognese for lunch and dinner 2-3 days in a row...which is what we did! Just make sure to cook the spaghetti fresh each time. 

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Recipe adapted from food.com:

Spaghetti Bolognese (approximately 10 servings)

  • 1 lb. (400g) uncooked spicy Italian sausage, casings removed 
  • 1 lb. (400g) ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped 
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 tsps. basil
  • 2 tsps. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsps. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) red wine 
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Desired amount of spaghetti for one sitting (approximately 400g for 3-4 servings or 1 lb. for approximately 10 servings)
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Oil for cooking
  1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large pot. After you have removed the casings from the sausages, break up the sausage meat and add it to the pot along with the minced beef. Brown the meat.
  2. Add the onions and continue to cool until they become translucent. 
  3. Stir in your tins of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Add the basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, garlic, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Drop in the bay leaves. 
  4. After that has come to a gentle simmer, add the wine and stir well.  Reduce the heat to low, put a lid on top and leave for about an hour and a half. Check every 15 minutes giving it a stir, making sure the spaghetti isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan too much. The longer you cook it the better it will be. 
  5. When the sauce is nearly ready it will get deeper in colour and richer in taste. Towards the end, add a sprinkle of parmesan and any other seasonings to taste. 
  6. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti as per the package instructions and once ready, drain and serve on a plate. Top with the bolognese sauce and a little extra parmesan. 
  7. Excuse the fact the pictures don't have parmesan. I added it after taking the pictures!
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Apple Crumble Recipe

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I few weeks ago, Brian, myself and some friends went apple picking!

I had these amazing fresh apples that I just needed to make something with and I thought, what better to make than crumble!

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Crumble is one of those quintessentially English desserts that is best served warm with vanilla ice cream or Bird's Eye custard. In the U.S. they like to call it apple crisp - probably just to confuse us.

Crumble is one of those foods that makes me feel incredibly nostalgic. I used to love crumble as a kid. I remember going to school and eating crumble for dessert. I guess we were kind of lucky as I know most people probably recall their school dinners as not being very good!

There are different ways to cook the apples, either beforehand or cooking them in the baking dish at the same time as the crumble itself. I prefer pre-cooking the apples so that I can better control the amount of moisture in the dessert and ensure the apples have been sufficiently cooked!

And in case you wondered (because I know you probably did), the recipe below equates to a crumble:base ratio of approximately 1:1. If, like me, you are slightly obsessed with crumble, feel free to double the crumble ingredients. 

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Apple crumble (approximately 6 servings)

For the crumble:

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (45g) oats
  • 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 1 stick (115g) butter, diced

For the filling:

  • 4-5 apples
  • 1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp. lemon juice

  1. To prepare the filling, start by peeling the apples. Once cored, dice them into bite sized chunks. Put them into a saucepan with the water, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and cinnamon. Allow to simmer on medium/low for about 15 minutes stirring frequently. Do this until the apples start to soften and the sauce thickens. Some apples take longer to soften than others, Granny Smith apples work great. 
  2. Put this mixture into your baking dish and allow to cool whilst you work on the crumbly part of the recipe!  This recipe works for baking dishes that are approximately 9 inch square or 10x6. 
  3. To prepare the crumble start by mixing together all the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into the mixture and then rub together with your fingers until you get a kind of breadcrumb consistency. You will want to keep some parts of the crumble big and chunky.
  4. Spread the crumble mix over your base and pop the whole thing in the oven for about 25-30 minutes at 375 F (190 C). The crumble should turn a nice golden brown. 
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  This is best served warm with vanilla ice cream, cream or custard! 

 

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Chinese Honey Chicken

You know when you just crave chicken? (If you are vegetarian then probably not...in fact this post is probably not for you!)

Well I had that craving for chicken the other day. In particular...I was craving Chinese take out. I was so close to picking up the phone but an inner mental bet prevented me from doing so. I bet myself that if I could figure out a dish that would take the same amount of time or less than a takeout to arrive in my mouth then I could eat it. If I couldn't....then I would eat nothing. 

Come to think of it...it's not really a bet. The only person losing is me.  

Also, do you have inner mental bets? Brian seemed to have absolutely no idea what I was talking about. His sister on the other hand, completely understood.  

To elaborate, inner mental bets are stupid, ridiculous bets you make with yourself just to see how badly you deserve something. Like, if I can cut this onion in 30 seconds or less, I deserve to watch a TV show before doing my work. If I don't, then I deserve to do nothing but work hard with no breaks for 4 hours. 

I do this. I'm serious.  

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Anyway, I made the below dish in about 25-30 minutes. Which probably beats the amount of time it would have taken a Chinese take out to arrive at my door.  

Chinese Honey Chicken (2-3 servings)

  • 1.5-2lbs skinless boneless chicken legs or thighs
  • Oil, for deep frying

For the batter: 

  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 1 egg

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup  (120ml) honey
  • 2 tbsp.  soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar (rice wine or white vinegar are ideal)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup (60ml-120ml) water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp. water (to thicken)
  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized 1 inch cubes and heat the deep fryer until the oil is hot.
  2. In a large bowl mix all the batter ingredients together until thick and smooth. Add the chicken to the batter and coat thoroughly.  
  3. Make sure the oil is hot and drop the chicken pieces into the deep fryer. Be careful as the oil will spit!  Depending on your settings, they may cook in 4-8 minutes. Take them out when the batter is a golden brown and the chicken is cooked. I normally drain them on paper towels and before putting them into a serving bowl.
  4. To make the sauce, heat the honey in a saucepan and add the soy sauce, vinegar and water. Add salt. In a cup, mix together 1 tsp. cornstarch with about 1 tsp. water and when this is mixed, add this to the saucepan. Allow the sauce to simmer until thickened. It will thicken more as it cools. You can adjust the flavours as you wish with more soy sauce, vinegar or sugar. The above amounts are generally the amounts I would use however. 
  5. When you are ready to serve, pour the sauce over the chicken pieces and mix until the chicken is coated. This dish is best served with rice.  

 

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