Savoury | Truly Tender Meatballs in a Rich Tomato Sauce … #comfortfood

“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”
Sophia Loren

Spaghetti & MeatballsIt’s been a while since I posted something savoury here on PAB. A link  that I followed after posting my #pieformikey led me to the beautiful Food52. There was this huge connect I felt; loved the honest to goodness style of posting. Meandering around with Jennifers voice playing in my head , don’t wait for tomorrow, my eye caught a link to Spaghetti and Meatballs… there was going to be no waiting now!
Spaghetti & Meatballs Delving deeper and deeper I landed up at this tried and tested recipe for Truly Tender Meatballs in Rich Tomato Sauce by lastnightsdinner that promised the best meatballs ever in a rich tomato sauce. I knew I had to make this without wasting another day … the tiresome teen had been begging me to make some for ages. Heed Jennifers advice … do it now!
Spaghetti & Meatballs This has entered my recipe folder as one of the BEST.COMFORT.FOODS.EVER! We are a family that love our food, be it the healthy version of Indian Butter Chicken, Pizza {with Peter Reinharts pizza dough}, Chicken Quark Crossover PastryThai Chicken Satay {not blogged yet but made recently & it was delicious} … Spaghetti & Meatballs… or then this version of spaghetti & meatballs. I’ve made meatballs before but these turned out to be the best to date. I think it was the ricotta in there AND a great recipe!!Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs Tell me dear readers, do you have a favourite bunch of comfort food main meal recipes you reach out for over and over again? Would love you to share the links with me.

 

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India




DRIED CRANBERRY & WALNUT BREAD from Ottolenghi for BBD, with Roasted Bell Pepper Pasta

“Bread is the warmest, kindest of all words. Write it always with a capital letter, like your own name.”
…from a café sign

Yay…finally managed to bake bread. No mean task these days. We live in the so called millennium city, but have suffered unannounced power outages this winter from 4 hours to 6 hours daily, sometimes even more. It’s bad enough for a daily routine, but spells desperate times for the baker in me.
But bread I had to bake for Jamie who is hosting Zorra of Kochtopf’s Bread Baking Day #26. Bake something special for Jamie’s special BBD theme -“Baking Bread for a Birthday Party”! How could I go to her birthday empty handed? So began the search for a suitable bread!

Didn’t have to look far because my current obsession made me reach out for Ottolenghi… a book that is possibly the best & most used one that I own. The fact that Jamie also has the same book, adds to the connect. {Add Hilda & Meeta to this explosive package, & you have the Ottelenghi sistah’s!! YAY}.

My attention was held by the Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick. I just had to make this. The pictures in the book are moreish. Bread that called my name because it looked so artisanal. Fitted in with my ‘Ten in 10′ resolution too… as it had healthy flours in it! Of course we have very limited flour varieities available here, so I substituted a bit here & there. Was thrilled to see buckwheat flour in the ingredients. I had buckwheat!! Yippee…
The Ottolenghi bread is much darker in the picture cause they use country brown flour. I used a combination of all purpose, whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Didn’t have sour cherries so used dried cranberries instead. The bread was wonderful. I made it over a 2 day period. Did the first rise & kept it in the fridge overnight to get a quick start the next morning. Worked fine, though I think warmer weather will give me a lighter, more airier crumb & texture. Can’t wait to try it again!
It tasted like an artisanal bread, full of deep wonderful flavours, the sweetness of the cranberries coming out beautifully with the nutty walnut. Also tasted quite like the artisan bread Jamie & I had with our sweet potato soup at The Natural Kitchen in London. I knew she was going to love this bread…so here it is for her, with flowers!! Happy Birthday twin sistah!

Dried Cranberry & Walnut Stick
adapted from Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick, Ottolenghi – The Cookbook
160ml lukewarm water (not more than 30C; I used a little extra)
2 1/4 tsp tightly packed fresh yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp active dried)
1 tbsp olive oil
40ml orange juice (from about 1 large orange)
200gm plain flour
50gm whole wheat flour
65g buckwheat flour
1 tsp salt
50g dried cranberries (or sour cherries)
50 gms walnuts, roughly broken up into pieces
Oil to oil bowl

Method:

Put the yeast into the warm water & stand for 10 minutes, then add the orange juice, olive oil & salt. Stir to mix well.
Mix the flours together in a big bowl, and knead with yeast mixture for 8-10 minutes into a smooth and silky dough, adding a little more water if required. Knead in the cranberries & walnuts. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap & leave in a warm place to double.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Trying not to beat too much risen air out, pull the edges so that they all met in the centre to form a puffed round cushion shape.Using a long object, divide the dough into 2 equal spheres.Press down a little & fold one half over he other. Crimp the edges with your fingers like you were making Cornish pastry. Now roll this on th floured surface to create a torpedo like baguette shape. Lay it gently on a floured tea towel, cover loosely with cling film, and leave to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 220C, place a bowl of hot water on the base. Roll the bread off the tea towl onto the baking sheet gently so as not to lose air. Use a sharp serated knife to give it 3 diagonal slashes, 1cm deep.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, till the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. (I baked for about 30-35 minutes). Leave to cool on a wire rack.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
This bread is off to  Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting!

The Ottolenghi cookbook is a celebration of tastes, texture, flavours, complexity, simplicity… so much. The glossy colourful pictures have the food leaping out of the pages, the presentation droolworthy. It is comforting, rustic and tantalizing! A book I have an instant connect with. Just my kind of book. Never have I baked/cooked so much out of a single book! Thank you Hilda.

We just had the bread for lunch…with this flavourful roasted bell pepper sauce pasta from Muneeba’s blog An Edible Symphony. I connect to Muneeba, her taste, her blogging style and her food, like I do to Ottolenghi. I know that whenever I stop by, she’ll tempt me to make something. That was the case with these Apple & Brown Butter Tartlets, and so too with this pasta. She said it was the fastest pasta ever…how true. I made the sauce while the pasta was boiling, and LOVED it. I didn’t have pine nuts, so I used walnuts instead. Worked fine!
Also used some garlic greens which I currently tend to use in all my savoury dishes as I really love the flavour this imparts to food. Lunch came full circle with Ottolenghi’s chargrilled broccoli made for the nth time on Mr PABs request. Never has broccoli been so popular in our home. (I made 3 heads of broccoli, all disappeared… & he’s asked when I’m making it again. YES!!)

The kids loved the pasta to bits, nuts and all. The flavours really come out deep and strong thanks to the roasted bell peppers. The sauce would have been redder, but I had 2 red & 1 yellow bell pepper, which explains the orangish hue! The recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe here. In Muneeba’s words, ” The Pioneer Woman, Ree, being a cowgirl who is also usually short on time and needs to take a break from her typical man-pleasing food, had the perfect recipe for me. A pasta dish that came together in almost no time flat.”

Pasta With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
adapted from An Edible Symphony
based on Ree’s original recipe
Serves 2-4
Ingredients:
3 roasted bell peppers(charred on the stove, skins removed, then deseeded)
3 tbsp walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 garlic greens with stems, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cream
fresh Parmesan, shaved or grated
fresh parsley OR cilantro OR basil
1/2 lb penne pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Lightly toast walnuts in a skillet and set aside.
Puree peppers with walnuts with a stick blender and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
In a pot over medium heat, drizzle in the olive oil, and saute the garlic and garlic greens till soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt and pepper – for some reason this sauce needs it.
Pour in cream and stir over low heat to combine. Add the cooked pasta and stir again. Taste for additional seasoning if needed. Place pasta in a comfortingly large bowl and sprinkle your fresh herb of choice over the top, as well as lots of shaved Parmesan.
…Then smile as you dig in to this bright, cheerful and super-quick pasta… in true ‘edible symphony’ style!!

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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ROLL BABY ROLL…The Daring Bakers make Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

“When the lasagna content in my blood gets low, I get mean”
Garfield the Cat

The net is buzzing with excitement as we, the Daring Bakers, take up our latest challenge biceps on’ … literally!! Rolling lasgna from scratch! Adding to the buzz is our new website ‘The Daring Kitchen’… spunky, creative & colourful. The labour of love of our talented creators, Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice who have nurtured it since November 2006. Today, The Daring Bakers span the world as bakers of all nationalities come together once a month to try something new in the kitchen! As Spring enters the northern hemisphere & Autumn descends into the southern, we present the March 2009 Challenge. True global input in every sense, with the three hosts living in three continents: Mary from Canada, Melinda from Australia and Enza from Italy, & their choice – Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno). The most important part of this challenge is the hand-made Spinach Egg Pasta. So welcome to our world where we march ahead & compare biceps, ooops, I mean lasagna!!
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
As the 3 very talented ladies say, “Lasagne is a dish that has successfully transcended borders and is today made around the world, albeit with many variations from the Italian original. Even within Italy, there are many variations and each region has its own lasagne tradition. But, as Lynne explains in her introduction to the recipe –and Enza, as our Italian expert for this dish, also agrees – the dish should always be a “vivid expression of the ‘less is more’ philosophy of cooking. Mere films of béchamel sauce and meat ragu coat the sheerest spinach pasta. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese dusts each layer. There is nothing more; no ricotta, no piling on of meats, vegetables or cheese; little tomato, and no hot spice. Baking performs the final marriage of flavours. The results are splendid.”

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time
10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce
1 recipe Country Style Ragu
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

You can find the recipe at The Daring Kitchen in the recipe archive, or you can visit Mary, Melinda and Enza.

YAY…I was finally done. I rolled & rolled like there was no tomorrow. The lasagna got huge THUMBS UP & HIGH FIVES all around. I had a question though. With that amount of dough, I got enough lasagna sheets for 2 batches, though my chicken in the ragu, & the bechamel was only enough for one batch. My kitchen was like a laundrette with sheets hanging all over the place. I used quite a few, rolled a few into cannelloni … till they were coming out of my ears. Then it got to me, & I just did away (???, sorry about that) with the sheets remaining on hangers. Did I roll it out too thin? O BTW, you gotta see my biceps guys!!!

Mary was quick to reply to my ‘roll too thin’ query…”No, you didn’t roll it too thin – thin lasagne sheets have a sublime silky taste. The recipe amount allows for thicker pasta but part of the challenge was to aim for that lovely thin sheet. Well done…Guess it’s too late to tell you to freeze undried pasta sheets between plastic – not something a true fresh pasta fanatic would do, but I do. (Sorry Enza, you can thump me in person, hahaha)”. Yes, it was too late, but seriously will give this a go more often. Tough to go back to store bought tough lasagna sheets again. They look so dry & unappetizing now!

My first shot at home made pasta, and lasagne never looked & tasted so good before. I was so thrilled that the layers came out so beautifully. It was T E D I O U S to roll out, & took the whole morning. Don’t attempt it if you are pressed for time, and you have kids to deal with. This takes long, but is well worth ever moment.

I started the chicken off in the morning while the dough was resting, & made the bechamel while the rolled out sheets were drying. Assembled & baked the whole thing covered in foil the previous day, cooled it & refrigerated it. Then baked it again the next day for 10 minutes with the foil cover on, & then for 15 minutes without the foil so the cheese got nice & brown. Rested it for 30 minutes before slicing & serving, & it behaved so well. I served garlic buttermilk ranch baked baby potatoes & garlic butter artisan loaf on the side. Forgot all about the salad in my hurry to take pictures…we had that later!I made the basic tomato sauce for the ragu 2 days before & refrigerated it. Ragù is an Italian term for a meat-based sauce, which is traditionally served with pasta. The word is phonetical Italian spelling of the French ragoût, a noun derived from ragoûter (to revive the taste).. RAGU / TOMATO SAUCE
Ingredients:
8-10 plum tomatoes, peeled & roughly chopped
2 roasted bell peppers – red & yellow; chopped
1 onion; chopped fine
1 head roasted garlic
2-3 bay leaves; torn
6-8 balls of whole black pepper
Handful of fresh oregano leaves (or 1 tbsp dried)
1 finely grated carrot
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil Method:

  • Heat oil, add whole black pepper & torn bay leaves. Add onion & saute till pink, then add roasted garlic. Mix well.
  • Add the tomatoes, bell peppers & carrot, oregano leaves. Mix well, season with salt & pepper & simmer for 30-45 minutes till thick & chunky. ( Sometimes I pressure cook it for 5 minutes, & then simmer for 10-15 minutes). Run an immersion blender roughly through it to get a chunky sauce .
  • Take plenty of chopped garlic & onion & saute in oil for 2-3 minutes till light brown. Add chicken, & saute on high till water dries & chicken nice & brown. Add the tomato sauce &3-4 fresh peeled & chopped tomatoes & cook till sides leave oil, & no moisture remains. A dry ragu will make sure that the pasta doesn’t get soggy.
  • The bechamel recipe is from hosts site. I used loads of freshly grated nutmeg.

Garfield was my fave cartoon strip right through middle school, through college & even now. I just couldn’t get enough of this mad cat … from comic strips, to tees, to coffee mugs, to posters, to suitcase tags, to key chains … he ruled my life. He’s obsessed and can never get enough of lasagna, though it was one thing I never developed a love for, until now! My first memories of lasagna were queuing up in the BA canteens at training centres at Heathrow & Gatwick where lasagna reigned supreme. Pasta was unheard of at our table back home in those days, pizza being the only link to the Italian culinary world.The hub declared that this was the best ever lasagna he’d ever had, the kids didn’t notice ‘green‘ within, (big sigh of relief), & the daughter packed some before lunch for her pals at school. Smart girl coz she knew it wouldn’t last, & it didn’t! Thank you ladies for making me a proud ‘pasta from scratch’ DB. Must admit I was slightly skeptical to begin with, but this was just fabulous! Do check out here what the other Daring Bakers have been rolling out this month. There are quite a few surprises as I’ve seen some stunning sneak peeks at our forum, including some awesome sweet lasagna too!

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