Pasta with Ragù (Meat Sauce)

Pasta with Ragù (Meat Sauce)

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 900g ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, chicken, elk, bison)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 150 ml (5.5 oz) tomato paste
  • 800 ml (27 oz) canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash oregano
  • 4 cups dried pasta
  • 1/2 cup pasta water (reserved)
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

Directions

Add the olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot and heat on medium high. Add onion and garlic, sautéing until onions have softened and garlic is fragrant. Add the meat to the pot, and sauté, breaking the meat apart as it cooks. Add wine, cook until the liquid is gone. Add tomato paste and stir, mixing completely. Add the dash of oregano and nutmeg. Add beef broth, milk, and tomatoes and stir well. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Add the parmesan cheese, stirring in until fully melted. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add to the sauce, allow it to cook down further. Drain pasta. Mix the pasta with the sauce. Serve.

And now for the details…

Hi-yo folks! Here we are in day 6 of 14; almost halfway through quarantine and still making use of our generous friend’s grocery drop-off from last Monday, as well as our, thankfully, well-stocked freezer and pantry. We are starting to run low on fresh produce, though, now that almost a week has gone by. Luckily for us, another couple friends of ours have already stepped up and offered to go out tomorrow to top us up for the rest of our isolation period! We are feeling incredibly blessed by the support team we have at home, whether it’s in surprise gift drop-offs on our doorstep (we got fresh bread and cheese dropped by a friend this weekend, and a gag gift from other friends of a Kraft pizza kit), the full-on grocery deliveries, or the regular check-ins via phone or social media (or even on this blog! Lookin’ at you auntie ;D), we have been so lucky to have such a kickass group of family and friends. Now for a small ask: if you know of someone who is lacking this support network and needs some help during these times, reach out (but don’t touch!) to see if you can help in any way. Maybe it’s picking up a few extra groceries when you are buying your own, providing a social connection (while maintaining physical distance!), or running an errand that they cannot do themselves. We’re all on Team People, let’s take care of each other.

Let’s get to cooking.

We start by chopping the onion and garlic. Heat a large pot to medium-high, and add the olive oil, then add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant.

Next, you will add the meat to the pot. For this recipe, I had both ground beef and ground elk in the freezer. But you could use any mix and match of ground meat for your recipe, depending on your taste preferences, or what you have available. As the meat cooks, break it apart with a wooden spoon, so you end up with small pieces of meat. Once the meat has mostly cooked, add the red wine, and allow it to cook down until the liquid is almost completely gone.

Add the tomato paste, and just a dash of nutmeg and oregano (a small pinch of each). Stir to mix completely, cooking for about five minutes, allowing any liquid to be cooked off. Add the beef broth and tomatoes, and stir together. Then add the milk and stir completely.

Reduce the heat down medium, and allow the sauce to cook down, stirring occasionally to prevent any stickage (that’s a word, right?) to the bottom of the pot. Cook the sauce for around 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce has become very thick.

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. For the batch that I made, I used Mafalda Corta, which is kinda like smaller lasagna noodles that have been cut into pieces. Feel free to use whatever pasta you have available. Fusilli, rigatoni, farfalle, pappardelle, you choose! The biggest thing to remember: save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water after it is done cooking, and add it to the sauce before you drain the pasta. This addition of starch from the water will help to thicken the sauce further as you cook it down, and will allow the sauce to better stick to your noodles.

Fun fact that has worked well for me since I discovered it: keep a wooden spoon in the pasta and water as it cooks to help prevent the water from boiling over.

Reduce the pasta sauce back down after the addition of pasta water and add the parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper the sauce to your taste. Avoid adding salt before this, as both the pasta water and the parmesan will add a certain amount of saltiness, and you may not want to add any more.

Finally, once everything has cooked and the pasta is drained, mixed the pasta and sauce together, and serve, maybe with a bit of additional parmesan on top.

Happy eating.

Mahi-Mahi with Orange Scented Beurre Blanc Sauce

Mahi-Mahi with Orange Scented Beurre Blanc

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium-hard
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Ingredients

  • 2 pieces mahi-mahi, or other white fish
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsps white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 shallots, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces +1/2 Tbsp butter to cook fish
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp orange blossom water
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

Directions

Two options for cooking fish: 1) Set sous-vide machine to 53.5ºC/128ºF, cook fish in water for 30-60 minutes. Sear on either side in a pan with butter after removed from water. 2) Cook fish in buttered pan, flipping halfway through, until internal temperature of fish reaches desired level of doneness. Place shallots, wine, and vinegar in a pot and place over medium-high heat. Allow them to boil down until almost no liquid remains. Turn heat down to low. Start adding the cold butter in small increments, whisking constantly between adds. Just before the last few pieces of butter, remove from heat, add last pieces of butter and whisk until smooth. Add orange juice and orange blossom water. Salt and pepper to taste. Strain sauce. Plate fish, top with sauce. Serve.

And now for the details…

Day 5 of the 14 day quarantine challenge, and I’m going a bit “fancier” here with fish and a beurre blanc sauce. We have mahi-mahi in the freezer that we bought out of the back of some guy’s truck (no lie) a couple months ago and figured we should try to use it up! I have been wanting to try out my Christmas gift, a sous vide, on fish. But I knew that if I was going to do that, it would need some kind of sauce, or it would be pretty bland. I was thinking about sauces that I’ve tried in the past, but most are roux-based and are a little too thick/robust with a fish like mahi-mahi. Why not a beurre blanc?

Beurre blanc directly translates to “white butter”, which is very appropriate, since the sauce is basically melted, emulsified butter with some flavour. Don’t be discouraged by the “medium-hard” rating I have given this recipe. It is not too hard to do, but you do need to be able to give the sauce your undivided attention while cooking it.

For the sauce in this recipe, I decided to flavour it with some fresh orange juice, and I used some orange blossom water. Orange blossom water can be found in your grocery store where you would find other middle-eastern ingredients, or in some specialty stores. It had a glorious smell to it, and when you aren’t using it for sauce flavouring, it is a great flavour addition to sparkling water, desserts, or cocktails.

I chose the orange ingredients as a hat tip to Spain. We evacuated very quickly from what we had thought would be the trip of a lifetime… and while we were sad to leave, and stressed to get home, we left behind a country that is still struggling to combat the outbreak, and is now the second largest outbreak in Europe, after Italy. For a country that I had read about being so gregarious, generous, and tactile, I cannot even begin to imagine how this would affect day-to-day life. A particular moment struck me as we were seeking to make it home. We were on our way to the airport and needed to take the train. We were walking through the abandoned streets to get to the train station, and that’s when the moment hit. When I had been planning our vacation, I was so hoping we would get to see and smell orange trees in bloom while we were vacationing. And there were the trees: planted just outside the train station. They were in full bloom, with some full grown, bright orange fruits sitting in the boughs. The smell was intoxicating. The moment was a calm, joyous moment amidst chaos for me, and reflecting on it, I am holding on to hope. Hope for this confusing, scary time to pass us by. Hope for the countries so heavily affected to be able to achieve the supports they need. Hope for life to return to to a level of normalcy.

Sorry for the emotional divergence… and thanks for humouring my verboseness.

Let’s move on to cooking, shall we?

We start with the fish for this one. I used my sous vide for the fish, and if you are going to cook the fish this way, set your sous vide machine in the water and set the temperature to 53.5ºC/128ºF and let it heat up. Add the fish (in plastic) into the water and let it cook for 30-60 minutes. If you are able, salt and pepper the fish before adding to your bag, but ours was already vacuum sealed, so I actually just cooked the fish right in its package, no flavour added. If you are cooking the fish without a sous vide, we will wait until the sauce is mostly ready, and cook the fish just before serving.

Next, we will get ready for our sauce. If you are sous vide’ing the fish, wait to start the sauce until just when the fish is done.

Before we begin cooking the sauce, remove the butter from the fridge, and cut it into small chunks (~3/8″ or 1cm pieces), and place the butter back in the fridge to stay good and cold.

Chop the shallots finely, and add them to a pot with the white wine and white wine vinegar. Put the pot over medium-high heat, and allow the mixture to heat up to a boil and reduce, about 8 minutes, until there is almost no liquid left in the pot.

Turn the temperature down to low, and take the butter out of the fridge. Now is where we will start adding the butter in small increments, which will form up your sauce.

Using a large wire whisk, whisk constantly as you add in the butter pieces, a few at a time. Let the previous pieces almost fully mix/melt before adding the next few pieces.

Continue this until you have only 3-4 pieces of butter left. Then, remove the pot from the heat, and whisk in the last few pieces of butter. Squeeze the 1/4 orange into the sauce, and the orange blossom water, whisking them both into the sauce.

Strain the sauce to remove the shallot pieces, and set the sauce aside.

Finally, the fish. If you are cooking in a pan, salt and pepper the fish on either side. Heat the 1/2 Tbsp of butter in a pan, and cook the fish on medium-high heat, flipping halfway, until the interior of your fish reaches your desires level of doneness. If you sous vide’ed your fish, do a quick flash-fry in the pan with butter on high heat to get a little brown sear on the fish pieces.

Finally, plate your fish, drizzle the sauce on top, and garnish with some fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Happy eating.

Homemade Holiday Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Ingredients

  • 680g (24 oz) fresh cranberries
  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground cloves

Directions

Add cranberries, juice and zest to a saucepan. Stir well and place on medium-low heat. Add sugar and spices and cook until cranberries have popped and sauce has thickened to desired consistency.

And now for the details…

Long time no post, and this one is so easy, it seems like a good one to come back with. Timely, too, since Christmas is tomorrow and turkey needs it’s cranberry sidekick!

Need help with the rest of turkey dinner? Fret not! Remember Mo’s the Turkey’s Grand Adventure? It can provide you with step by step instructions for a tasty turkey, starting with the brining of said turkey this evening!

Homemade cranberry sauce is super simple. Maybe not as simple as opening a can, but then again maybe it is, since you don’t have to attack it with a spoon to try and smoosh it down from a cylinder to try and make it look like something resembling sauce…

To start, simply toss the cranberries into a large-ish saucepan and place on the stove at medium-low heat.

Next, zest two oranges into the pot, then juice those same two oranges and add both zest and juice to the pot.

Stir in the sugar and spices, and let the sauce cook away, letting the cranberries cook and break down.

The great thing about cooking this sauce is that you do not need to keep constant watch. Let it simmer away, stirring occasionally, but it will cook for about 15-25 minutes as it slowly turns into a nice, thick sauce. As it cooks, the natural pectin in the cranberries will thicken up the sauce. If you want to cook it for longer but it is becoming too thick, add a little bit of water and let ‘er go.

In the end, you will have a nice thick sauce to have with delicious turkey!

Happy eating.