My Bolognese

I’m finally doing it. I’m jumping into the Great Bolognese Debate.

Hold on, let me give a little context here. The Great Bolognese Debate is basically an ongoing debate, well more like just arguing at this point, about the One True Way to make bolognese sauce, a meat-based sauce from Bologna, Italy. Comment sections of cooking videos on Facebook are riddle with it, and sometimes I like to skim through them to see who has what to complain about now.

How dare you use olive oil in this dish!

Where is the olive oil? Isn’t this an Italian dish? Why would you use butter!

You only use the fat from the meats, you heathens! 

Tomato paste and no sauce? 

Ewwww, who puts milk in it???

Red wine.

No, white wine.

Red wine!

White wine!!!

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Paste or no paste? Sauce or no sauce? Crushed tomatoes or none? White or red wine? So many questions with many different answers

I think you get the idea. Honestly, there is no point arguing in the comments section of a 45 second Tasty or Delish video about how wrong it or another person’s recipe is. I do find it funny that the people who complain the most about the recipe being totally wrong offer little to no explanation why and no alternative recipe. I do appreciate the people who leave comments saying that every nonna, Nanny, or Great Grandma in Bologna has their own recipe that is the claimed One True Way and passed it down for generations.

This bolognese recipe is what came of experimenting with a couple different recipes and ingredients since March. I’ve made it three times, all different ways, and then took my favorite aspect of each and combined it into my perfect sauce. I used a combination of the “official” ragù alla bolognese recipe from the Accademia Italiana della Cucina website (that one semester of Italian my freshman year paid off, I didn’t even have to translate the whole page), a Pinterest recipe, and another traditional recipe online. I prefer using the white wine instead of red wine, I do put milk in mine, and I only use the fats of the meats I’m cooking with, so no oil or butter. As much as I would love to use pancetta in mine, it isn’t the smartest purchase on a college budget, so I make mine with bacon. I’m sure my Italian ancestors (haven’t you noticed my last name is Russo?) are rolling in their graves, but hey, a girl has to make smart choices. Maybe my graduation present to myself will be buying some pancetta and making this sauce properly.

The bottom line for me is if the recipe sticks to the general roots of the tradition and it’s something you like and makes you happy, that’s all that matters. Isn’t that the point of recipes? I love the idea of every family having their own version that changes over the generations.

So here is my contribution, and why I simply called it My Bolognese.

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My Bolognese

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: ~2 hours
Total Time: ~2 hours and 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound of ground beef
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
1 and 1/2 cups of mirepoix
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup (3 oz) tomato paste
1  can (6 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk
1 (16 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, brown the ground beef with salt and pepper. Drain the fat and set aside.
  2. Do the same with the pancetta or bacon until it’s crisp. Drain most of the fat, leaving some for cooking, and set aside.
  3. Add the mirepoix and cook until soft, about 8 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the milk and tomatoes, stirring until combined.
  8. Add in the meats and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Bring to a simmer then partially cover and reduce to medium-low heat. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 hours.
  10. Serve over your favorite pasta, some fresh bread, or toast. Remember, it is how you want to enjoy it!

Side Note: I’m using a gas stove, so it cooks a bit faster and hotter than usual. Keep an eye on your food when cooking and adjust the cooking times and heats for your stove.

Enjoy!

 

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Cheers,  Josie

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Lemon Butter Cookies

I love summer because it means tons of lemon, lime, and orange flavored drinks and food galore. I live for key lime pie, and I’m so prissy about it that I even brought my own key lime juice from the Florida Keys to Wisconsin to bake with. I also love lemon desserts, like blueberry and lemon muffins. Oh, and lime and coconut shortbread! With all these different options, it is hard to chose what I want to make next! So, of course I took to Twitter to get some opinions.

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The Lemon Butter Cookies were the clear winners, and even though the Key Lime Pie got not love, I’m sure I’ll still get around to making one this summer. IMG_6699

This cookies are delicious though. They combine the butteriness of shortbread with the refreshing tartness of lemon that just screams summer. Just writing this is making my mouth water and now I want to make another batch. Even Rey was trying to get ahold of one. Note to self: don’t make anything that requires sticky glaze and do it where a kitten can reach. There was a lot of cleaning sticky paws and reprimanding that day. As you can see, it didn’t do much good. She lurked around on the chairs just waiting for me to turn my back so she could grab the parchment paper and try to pull all the cookies to the ground. There were a couple times she came close to doing it too. Kittens do not make a good sous-chef.

I made these for a NAMA party at the end of the year and it seemed like people really liked them! Of course since it was an agriculture related class, I had to use the cow cookie cutter I found for a couple of them. Give the recipe a try yourself and let me know what you think!

Lemon Butter Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

For the cookies (about 2 dozen):

  • 1 cup  of butter, softened
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 lemons, for zest and juice
  • 4 and 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
For the glaze:
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Zest one lemon into the mix, then beat in eggs, milk and fresh lemon juice.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients about a cup at a time to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  4. Cover and chill for 2 hours, then preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch cookie cutter. I didn’t have mine, so the lid of a mason jar worked just fine!
  6. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Allow cookies to cool for about 3 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  8. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon zest and juice from the other lemon until smooth. Dip each cookie top into the glaze, then let the cookies sit until icing has set.

Enjoy!

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Cheers,  Josie

Smoky Chipotle Nacho Dip

I’m a spice and oil hoarder. A weird spice I’ll probably use once? Need it. Flavored oils at the Dane County Farmer’s Market? Gotta have them. I knew I was doomed when one of my professors introduced me to Acala Farms flavor-infused cottonseed oils right before the summer break started. Lots of free time and a bunch of fun ingredients means new recipes, so how could I resist? I quickly swept up six of the flavors:

  • Fried Shallot
  • Jalapeño-Lime
  • Smoky Chipotle
  • Sweet Guajillo Pepper
  • Fresh Roasted Garlic
  • Chili Cumin

I’d never used cottonseed oil to cook before, so I was excited to give them a try. I also wanted to know what the benefits of using cottonseed oil are.

A high smoke point means that Acala Farms oils won’t burn, scorch or disappear in the pan, so they’re great for frying, searing, sauteing and stir-frying. The clear, clean, light body of these oils leaves no oil-taste halo, so the flavor you want is the flavor you get. Rich in antioxidants, the oils contain zero trans fat and zero cholesterol.

– “WHY COTTONSEED OIL?” Acala Farms

So far, I’m loving them. They add such great flavor to all the recipes I’m experimenting with, and doesn’t overwhelm other ingredients. I’m mostly coming up with the recipes with whatever the flavor of the oil inspires, like jalapeño-lime chicken sandwiches or fried shallot roast potatoes. Smoky chipotle made me think of a slightly spicy and smoky nacho dip, so that’s exactly what I made. Like a lot of the things I make, it is super easy and delicious. It’s a perfect quick summer snack to take with you to picnics and cookouts. You’ll be sure to impress.

If you’re not able to get ahold of Acala Farms cottonseed oil, I would recommend a mix of light olive oil and smoky chipotle seasoning when cooking the veggies and meat, and just adding seasoning to the cheese sauce with the other spices. Or you can use a similar flavored oil you find, especially since chipotle is so popular. But, I highly recommend trying these oils out! They’re worth it. With 14 weeks of summer left and five more oils, stay tuned to see what other creative concoctions I can make with these flavor-infused cottonseed oils.

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Smoky Chipotle Nacho Dip

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • Acala Farms Smoky Chipotle cottonseed oil
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 pound of ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 3 cups of shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 a teaspoon cayenne

Instructions

  1. Sauté the diced red pepper, onion, and jalapeño in some Smoky Chipotle cottonseed oil, about eight minutes.
  2. Brown the ground beef with a bit of Smoky Chipotle cottonseed oil, then drain.
  3. Heat the butter and flour, whisking until bubbling. Cook for about 60 more seconds.
  4. Whisk the milk into the mixture, bringing it to a simmer while whisking until thick.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in handfuls of shredded cheddar until melted into the sauce.
  6. Once melted, stir in the meat, veggies, salt, cayenne, and a little more Smoky Chipotle oil to taste. Serve with tortilla chips or pretzel nuggets and a light drizzle of the Smoky Chipotle oil on top.

Bonus Recipe! Pretzel Nuggets

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

  • 1 pound of pizza dough
  • 1/3 cup of baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F, and bring about 5 cups of water and the baking soda to boil. Pull pieces of dough and roll into small balls. I made about nine and they get pretty big after cooking.
  • Drop a few pieces of dough into boiling water, and cook them about 30 seconds before removing them with a slotted spoon to shake the excess water off.
  • Place them on a oiled cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Brush dough with egg and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake 10 to 12 minutes, then immediately remove to cooling rack for about five minutes. Serve pretzel bites with the fresh nacho dip.

Enjoy!

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Cheers,  Josie