Warm family dinner: Fettucine with spicy meatballs!

I dare not call this an Italian dish because I don’t really know if they have “spaghetti and meatballs” in any authentic Italian kitchen or not (I guess it’s more of an American “invention”). Nevertheless, this is my own take on this “classic” dish and I promise this is a recipe that even Italians would love 😀 What’s brilliant about this dish is that the meat is so soft and succulent, the sauce well balanced and… it’s easy to make! You can do it in a big batch and just reheat when you need, so it saves a lot of cooking time as well. Now let’s get to the point.

*Ingredients: serves 4 people

– Meatballs:

  • 200 g minced pork
  • 200 g minced beef
  • 50 g bread crumbs
  • enough milk to soak the bread crumbs
  • 50 g parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 small shallot diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 300-400 g fettucine
  • fresh basil to garnish

– Tomato sauce:

  • 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 100 ml of beef stock
  • 1 diced shallot
  • 1 chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp basil, oregano, thyme

*Methods:

1. Warm the milk and soak the bread crumbs for 10-15 minutes.

2. Mix the meat well together with the spices, cheese and 1/2 of the diced shallots in a large bowl.

3. Add the soaked breadcrumbs and mixed thoroughly again.

4. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let rest in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.

5. Uncover the clingfilm and start forming the meatballs (the size is your choice)

6. Heat a non-stick pan with olive oil and start browning the meat.

7. In another pot, heat olive oil and stir-fry the garlic and shallots until fragrant.

8. Add the canned tomatoes and herbs.

9. Add the stock and turn heat on low , only simmering.

10. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook until the sauce is reduced to the right thickness!

11. Served with fresh fettucine. DONE!

Enjoy your meal!

 

Le Degustationator.

Authentic Italian cooking: Bucatini alla Bolognese (Mì ống sốt bò băm)

Okay, okay, for those who are real Italians (potential critics), I’m sorry that I used Bucatini but not Fettucine or Penne for this reach Ragu sauce but I just love Bucatini so much ! 😀 And for all my blog viewers, I’ve been really busy and lazy lately so it’s only until today that I’m updating my blog with a new post, I hope I can really make up for my laziness. I hope this point won’t disappoint you and I believe it definitely won’t!

Almost everyone has had a taste of some sort of pasta with the red sauce everyone calls “bolognese sauce” at some point in their lives, but how many of you had a real bolognese sauce? Do you in fact know what are the ingredients in a Bolognese sauce? And surprise surprise, a real Bolognese ragu uses very little tomato and the sauce supposed to be rich and velvety with a red/brown color from the meat juices. This is NOT a tomato sauce with a bit of minced meat. The authentic recipe also doesn’t require any spice at all, only the “mirepoix” vegetables (onion,carrot,celery) and there’s MILK in this essay as well (surprise again!) Oh and lastly, if you’re going to plan having this dish for dinner, I advise you to make it after lunch because it’s going to take a good 4-5 hours to get the best flavor out of the sauce. Okay, enough talking, let’s get to the point!

*Ingredients: serves 6 people

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g ‘pancetta’ (bacon NOT smoked bacon if you can’t find pancetta), diced
  • 200 g onions, diced
  • 150 g carrots, diced
  • 150 g of celery
  • 250 g lean minced beef
  • 250 g lean minced pork
  • 250 g lean minced veal
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 800g-1kg dried tagliatelle/fettucine/parpadelle/penne/rigatoni
  • 150 ml of milk or 100 ml of light cream
  • freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, to serve

*Methods:

1. Preferably a heavy-based cooking pot, set the fire on medium-high and render the pancetta/bacon.

2. Add the diced onion,carrot and celery to the pot. Turn the heat down to medium and stir-fry until soft.

3. Turn up the heat and add the meat gradually so they can brown a bit. Season generously with salt and pepper.

4. After the meat has been browned evenly, add the white wine. Turn heat on very high so that the alcohol can be evaporated.

5. After 2 minutes, add the canned tomatoes and turn the heat on very low.

6. Cover the pot. Stir the sauce every 30-45 minutes to ensure there’s no burning in the bottom.

7. After 3-4 hours, open the lid and add the milk and adjust the seasoning. Turn the heat on medium-high.

8. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package and serve with the Bolognese ragu and parmigiano reggiano cheese. DONE!

Enjoy!

Le Degustationator.

Back to childhood: Vietnamese stuffed and grilled tomatoes (Cà chua nhồi thịt)

I loved  this dish as a child and still love it now. One embarrassing memory was when I was 4-5 years old, one day, Mom decided to invite some guests over for lunch, she made this and since I was so so so hungry and I loved this dish so much (okay, I’m trying to make it sound more justifiable 😀 ) I decided to ate several pieces on the dish mom put on the table for the guests BEFORE they arrived!!! Mom was really angry I remember, lucky I didn’t eat all of them otherwise… let’s say it would get really messy and I mean really messy… for me and for her (mostly me 😦 probably ). Anyway, the point is this dish is simply beautiful. Large vine-ripe juicy tomatoes, stuffed with a fragrant and flavourful traditional Vietnamese filling that would blow your guests away. Even better, it’s HEALTHY! YAY!

*Ingredients:

– 600 gr minced pork

– 10-12 medium/large tomatoes

– 100 gr vermicelli

– 100 gr wood ears

– 100 gr sun-dried shiitake mushrooms

– 1 large onion

– 3 medium/large eggs

– 2 tbsp pepper

– Salt to taste

– 2 tbsp tomato puree (to thicken the sauce)

– 2 tsp sugar

– Chicken/Pork rib stock

*Method:

1. Soak the wood ears and mushrooms in warm water for 20-30 minutes in total to hydrate and soften them. Squeeze out all the dirt inside them and change the water every 10 minutes. Finely chop them or put in a food processor to save time.

2. Soak the vermicelli in warm water for 15 minutes. Change water once and soak for 10 more minutes until it’s soft. Cut into short threads. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

4. Finely chop the onion, mix together with the minced pork, wood ears, mushroom, vermicelli in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper, a little bit of sugar if you will. Add 3 whole eggs and thoroughly mix them. Set aside.

5. Cut the tomatoes in halves. Use a spoon with sharp edges, spoon out all the meat of the tomatoes and set aside in another bowl. They will be used to make the sauce later on.

6. Stuff the tomato halves with the meat. Lay them on a baking tray with the tomato side on the tray.

7. Bake the tomatoes for 45 minutes.

8. Blend all the meat of the tomatoes in a food processor into a smooth paste.

9. In a pan, add finely chopped onion, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tbsp of tomato puree and the tomatoes. Stir and add the chicken/pork rib stock to the sauce. If you need to thicken, add more puree. If you think it’s too sour, add a little bit more salt and stock, add a little more sugar. The sauce should not be too runny in the end.

10. Spoon the sauce over the grilled tomatoes and SERVE!

Enjoy 🙂

Le Degustationator.

A taste of Home: Vietnamese Snail Noodle Soup (Bún Ốc)

You visit Hanoi and you will definitely see this dish being sold literally everywhere, it’s a big hit with the locals and maybe the tourists as well !? The key is to get over the “snail” part which sounds kinda scary but actually tastes quite nice if done properly. The snails have to be fresh, not gooey, slightly chewy (Vietnamese people love chewy food 😀 ) but it must never be so firm as giving the person eating it the feeling of chewing on a bullet!!! But the tough part is the soup which the dish totally depends on for it’s success or failure. The perfect soup should not be too oily, too cloudy, too sour or too sweet/salty. It’s all about a delicate balance. The subtle sweetness and flavour of the broth comes from the snail borth in combination with the juice of the pork ribs which are slow cooked for hours prior to making the soup. Now let’s fine out how to make this traditional Vietnamese favourite… MY WAY!

*Ingredients: (everything must be cooked to taste, I don’t have the exact amount)

a) Main ingredients: serves 4-5

– 2 medium shallots, chopped
– 4-6 fresh tomatoes, seeds removed, quartered
– 300 gr canned tomatoes
– 400 gr fresh snails (w/o shells)
– fish sauce to taste
– salt to taste
– 100 ml of special rice wine vinegar (in Vietnamese we call it “giấm bỗng”)*
– vegetable oil
– 400-500 gr rice noodles
– 10 cups of pork broth (recipe follows)

b) Broth:

– salt to taste
– pork ribs 400 gr
– pork belly 500 gr
– 1 medium shallot
– 1 small ginger

c) Chili oil:

– salt to taste
– 1 tsp sugar
– 200 ml neutral oil
– spring onion: as much as you want!
– chili powder 3 tbsp
– 1 clove of garlic, chopped
– 4-5 fresh red chilies

d) Garnishes:

– morning glory (Rau Muong, aka Chinese Spinach ‘ong choy’), stems only, thinly sliced or curled
– bean sprouts
– Vietnamese coriander (rau ram)
– Perilla leaves
– Fried tofu
– shrimp paste (if you will, it has a very strong smell and pungent taste)
– fresh Chilies
– lemon/lime

*This type of vinegar is difficult to find if you’re not in Vietnam, it’s not the common rice wine vinegar you find, it has a very nice and subtle acidic flavour and quite unfortunately, it is extremely crucial for a successful “Bún ốc”. I don’t even know how it is actually made 😀 Sorry!!!

*Method:

1. Cook the rice noodles according to instructions on the package. Shock in cold water afterwards.

2. Put pork ribs and pork belly, water, ginger and shallots into a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium low. Simmer for 3 hours, skim any scum as it appears. Reserve the pork belly, we’ll use them later.

3. Add vegetable oil to turn on on medium heat. Sautee  shallots until translucent about 2 mins. Throw in fresh tomatoes and season liberally with salt and sauteed until soft about 5 mins.

4. Pour in canned tomatoes including the juices and pork broth and bring to a boil.  Turn down to low heat and simmer until ground pork is cooked. Season with fish sauce, salt and sugar (shrimp paste if you will)

5. Stir fry the snails in some shallots, season with salt.

6. Pour the 200 ml of oil in a sauce pan, turn on medium heat. Add the white parts of the spring onion and stir fry until fragrant. Add chopped garlic. Add chili powder and fresh chili. Finish off with the rest of the spring onions. Season with salt and a bit of sugar. Transfer to a jar to use later.

7. Blanch the rice noodles in hot water to heat the noodles up.

8. Slice the pork belly into thin slices.

9. Plate the dish up and serve with fresh herbs!!!

Leave comments if you love it 😀

Le Degustationator.