Thursday, December 3, 2009

Comfort Food: Bolognese Sauce; Mixed Baby Lettuce and Apple Salad with Hazelnut Dressing; and Garlic Crisps

Memories contain so many wonderful moments in time. Several special memories included Mom making a meal for a friend's family to help out and to show how much we cared. My heart always felt so warm and fuzzy. The feeling kind of creeps up on you . . . even though Mom did all the work and I only helped clean up. My parents always were one of the first to help out. I think moments like those leave a huge impression on the young to hopefully be repeated in the future.

The bolognese sauce is the centerpiece of this comfort meal, paired with the salad and garlic crisps, matched with a small note and maybe even flowers. The meal makes a wonderful gift for a friend in need. The sauce makes enough for 2 separate meals since 2 cups of bolognese sauce is enough for 1 pound of uncooked pasta. The bolognese recipe makes 4 cups of sauce.

The sauce becomes very thick as it cools; leave a bit of the pasta water with the pasta when combining with Bolognese to thin the sauce. The bolognese sauce can be frozen for up to one month. Also, when do the final cooking, make sure the stove temperature is set to low for ultimate flavor mingling.

Bolognese Sauce
(adapted from Anna Magazine)
3 T. unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
1 small carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 ounce pancetta, minced
1 pound ground veal
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/4 pound lean ground pork
1 cup whole milk
1 cup white wine
1 (29-ounce) can diced good quality tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can crushed good quality tomatoes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Melt butter in large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add pancetta and cook 7 minutes. Add ground meats and cook until mixture breaks up but is not yet browned. Add milk and bring to simmer, cook 15 minutes. Add white wine and tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and partially cover. Cook 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 cups.

Mixed Baby Lettuce and Apple Salad
4 to 6 cup mixture of baby lettuce greens, washed and torn to bite size pieces
1 Fuji apple, cored and sliced
2 ounces Manchego cheese, shaved
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Hazelnut Dressing
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 T. Dijon Mustard
1 t. honey
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup Olive Oil

For dressing, whisk together all ingredients in small bowl; set aside.

To assemble salad, toss butter lettuce, endive and apple in large bowl. Pour dressing over salad; toss gently. Top with shaved cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Garlic Crisps (The best I have ever made)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. coarse salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 T. olive oil
1 loaf Italian bread, cut into thick slices

Preheat broiler.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, salt, butter and olive oil. Let sit for 30 minutes. Brush both sides of bread slices with garlic paste; arrange on parchment lined baking sheet. Broil bread until slightly golden, about 1 minute per side. Serve immediately.

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