This past week I fell over twice because my backpack was so heavy, which simultaneously made me want to laugh and cry.
I chose to laugh, but really wished that someone would just give me a hug instead.
You don't celebrate you enough.
I want to applaud you for your acts of ordinary bravery. For reaching out to someone. For reading a book. For sleeping. For doodling. For completing the crossword. For going for a walk. For trying to make a new friend. For belting along to the radio while you're driving alone. For clearing your clutter. For writing a letter. For giving yourself a break. For making a goal.
I want to give you a big hug and warm meal, for being YOU.
Way to go!
To be more specific, I want to make you this meal:
I want to make you the most comfortable, cozy meal in the world,
Pasta with Bolognese Sauce.
That's just how much I love you. Really truly.
It will make your soul sing cozy songs.
Pasta with Bolognese Sauce
from The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef, pork, veal or a combination of the three (I used beef)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes, diced or whole or whatever
1 pound dried pasta (I like fettuccine)
Heat oil and butter in a 6 to 8 quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add meat and cook, stirring until meat is no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cook, stirring until most of milk has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
Coarsely puree tomatoes, with their juice, in a blender or food processor. Stir tomatoes into pot. Cook sauce at a bare simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/4 hours (sauce will thicken). Season with salt and pepper.
When sauce is almost done, cook pasta in a 6 to 8 ounce quart pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt per every four quarts water, not to be specific or anything) until al dente; drain.
Immediately toss pasta with sauce in a large bowl. Serve with cheese.
Monday nights are the night when I cook for my family, because I am the only one who is home on Monday night. So I made this, with some eventual assistance from my brother Michael. We are a good team. I like Monday night. I like them because no one bothers me an I can waste time doing nothing in particular while I putter around the kitchen and pretend to be VERY BUSY. But it was nice to have some brotherly help. I love sitting down to a meal. It's such a beautiful habit. Because often dinner is the only time my family gets to gather together and share a meal. It just feels so special. I also like that because I cook, I don't have to wash dishes. That ranks high on my list of good things in life. I don't want a maid, I want a personal dishwasher.
Pork Ragu al Maialino
from The New York Times
1 pork shoulder, bone in, roughly 4 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 rib celery, cut into large pieces
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into large pieces
1 quart chicken stock (or enough to almost cover the pork)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 9-ounce boxes dry lasagna, broken into 3-inch shards
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated grana Padano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Small handful arugula leaves, cleaned.
1. Using a sharp knife, remove the thick skin from the pork, leaving a sheen of fat on top of the meat. Season aggressively with salt and place in the refrigerator until ready to use, as long as overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a deep saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When it shimmers, gently cook the onion, celery and fennel until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the stock and thyme and bring to a simmer, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Rinse pork to remove excess salt, dry with a paper towel and add to seasoned broth. Cover and place in the oven for 90 minutes or more, until the meat just begins to pull away from the bone.
3. Allow both meat and broth to cool on the stove top for 30 minutes, or until you can touch the meat with your hands. Remove the pork and gently pull the meat from the bone, then tear the chunks into bite-size shreds. Place these in a large bowl.
4. Strain the liquid into a separate bowl and then pour enough of it over the meat to barely cover. (Use the rest for soup.) Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
5. Put a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
6. Place a large pan over medium-high heat and add the pork and braising liquid. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the butter and stir to emulsify.
7. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water according to the directions on the package, 10 to 12 minutes. When it is finished, drain and add to the sauce along with a splash of pasta water. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the lemon juice, half of the cheese, a tablespoon of olive oil and the parsley. Stir to incorporate.
8. Serve immediately, topped with arugula and the remaining cheese. Serves 4. Adapted from Nick Anderer at Maialino in New York