Monday, 11 August 2014

Ragu alla Bolognese (Beef Ragu) from My Berlin Kitchen - A love story (with Recipes).

One of the best food memoirs I have read is My Berlin Kitchen - a love story (with Recipes) by Luisa Weiss from the blog The Wednesday Chef. It is heartfelt and honest and full of mouthwatering recipes that made you feel like you were on one of her secret Berlin weekends eating pizza on the balcony or rugged up in her Berlin kitchen through her first winter there.

My copy of her book is full of tabbed pages with recipes to try. I have even gone so far as looking up how to grow elderflower bushes in pots to make her elderflower cordial and where to buy them online. And the stories about fruit picking... I just love the idea of going fruit picking then making jams and compotes out of it to have for months after when the fruit is no longer in season but the memory of the times you had while picking are in that thick slather you put on toast or add to a pudding. Sounds so poetic. Oh and I adore the love story in it and the happy ending. I'm a sucker for a happy ending!

One of the worst things about the book is that it ended... I could have kept on reading more and more but thank goodness she has her blog, The Wednesday Chef. She started her blog to cook through her mountain of newspaper clippings she had collected.

I've been wanting to make a recipe from My Berlin Kitchen ever since I finished reading it to keep the story going and one of my favourite foods as a kid was Spaghetti bolognese. I have done my research and much more food educated now in that fact that in Italy, there is no such thing as spaghetti bolognese. The meat sauce needs a thicker pasta for the sauce to cling to as you twirl your fork full of pasta and fill your gob.  There was no way I could pass up the Ragu alla Bolognese (Beef Ragu) in the book on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. So few ingredients and so much trust needed not to add anything extra. And no I did not use spaghetti for those Italian's out there...I used fettuccini.

Now just a little about my childhood... The bolognese my mum cooked was always made in a microwave until I was about ten years old. Yes I said microwave. Microwave cooking was the height of technology in the 90's and my mum loved it! She could make bolognese, risotto, lamb chops, quiche, pasta, rice... you name it and my mum could cook it in a microwave. My sister and I never knew that the bolognese we were brought up on had a slight microwaved cooked meat smell and taste to it until we started having bolognese at other peoples houses and realised that mums tasted a little funny (at least she never put beans in hers!). One night we asked her, treading ever so carefully so we didn't hurt her feelings, if she could cook it on the stove tonight and she did. From that day on she never went back to the microwave (for bolognese) and I have never had a microwaved bolognese from that day onwards again.

Ragu alla Bolognese (Beef Ragu) from My Berlin Kitchen

Ragu alla Bolognese (Beef Ragu) from My Berlin Kitchen

Back to Luisa's Ragu... all I wanted to do was add some garlic or add a bay leaf or teaspoon of dried oregano but she specifically says - "don't follow the urge to add celery, a bay leaf or a dash of cinnamon. You'll be rewarded for your obedient focus with a meat sauce that truly tastes of Italy" - I trusted her. I did what she said and was I rewarded?... yes! An extra hour cooking and I'm sure I would be even more rewarded but time is of the essence and as much as I wish I was organised enough to start it 5 hours before we wanted to sit down and eat dinner, I'm just not that organised (yet). The sauce is as simple as beef mince, pork mince, carrot, onion, olive oil, butter, pureed tomatoes and some salt. Oh and some red wine but thats a given because you're already going to open a bottle, right?
Don't let these simple every day ingredients fool you. This combination will make you rethink your own bolognese ragu recipe.

So delicious served over steaming pasta with some freshly grated parmesan. Lip licking good!

Pretty excited that we have some leftovers in the freezer for a quick mid-week dinner.

Ragu alla Bolognese (Beef Ragu) from My Berlin Kitchen

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