pasta

Ragu alla Bolognese


I went to a wedding recently, and the man giving the homily said this thing that I wrote down, he said, "Tell each other the story of being someone who has been loved well." 

Or something like that. 
And I thought, what a beautiful thing. 
The story of someone who has been loved well. 


I've been thinking a lot about marriage recently, maybe because all of a sudden, people my age and a little older are starting to get married, and I’m seeing all these newlywed people pop up in my facebook feed, and also in my real life. 
Some of them are even having babies. 
And it's all so magical and wonderful, but at the same time-- 

what. 

I mean. 

What. 

And the sort of quiet realization that the people you meet and maybe wake up next to and spend your minutes and hours and days with, does it all suddenly matter more? Is this the big leagues of life? Has it always been the big leagues and I just haven’t been paying attention???

It all suddenly seems much, much more real. 

The story of someone who has been loved well. 

In addition to being recently obsessed with the whole concept of marriage, I've also been obsessed with recipes that are stupifyingly simple. Because painfully and perfectly simple things are usually the best. So fuck crazy spices, fuck elaborate and trendy and especially fuck everything to do with quinoa. (I keep trying and I keep wishing and the supposed actual taste-goodness of quinoa keeps not happening.) 


But this ragu. 
This humble meat sauce with pasta. 
This is it. 
Like most painfully perfect simple things, it takes time and a little heartache and attention and also confidence. Because you have to be gentle with it, and you have stir it for forever, and you brown everything, and let juices evaporate, and then, most importantly, you let it simmer for a million years.
By the end of making this ragu, you’re basically in a relationship with it. 
And that’s okay. 

Baby, I’m wishing you good things. 
But more than that, I hope you know that you already own the story of being someone who “has been loved well.” 
You are already that person. 
You really are. 
But if you feel like maybe you need a little boost of confidence, then make this ragu.  
You’ll like it so much, you’ll wanna put a ring on it. 



I love you. 



Ragu alla Bolognese 
via TheWednesdayChef.com and her book My Berlin Kitchen 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, finely minced
2 large carrots, finely minced (you want roughly equal amounts of minced onion and carrot)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup red wine (open a fresh bottle and drink the rest with dinner)
1 28-ounce can peeled San Marzano tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1) Put the oil and butter in a large cast-iron pot over medium heat, to melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, until the onion is well cooked. Do not let it take on any color. Add the minced carrots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring now and then.

2) Add the ground meat to the pot, and using a wooden spoon, stir and chop up the meat so that it cooks and breaks down into uniformly tiny pieces. Raise the heat to medium-high or even high as you do this. It takes a good amount of elbow grease and a little bit of time. Continue to stir and cook until the meat is no longer pink (at no point, however, should the meat be browning). There will be liquid at the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until that liquid has mostly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

3) Add the wine and stir well to combine. Simmer until the wine has mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

4) Add the pureed tomatoes and the salt and stir well to combine. The sauce will come to a simmer almost instantly. Lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, put the lid on the pot, and let the sauce simmer for as long as you possibly can, stirring it occasionally. Seven hours would be wonderful, 5 hours is pretty good, but any less than 3 and you're really missing out. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer and more flavorful it will get. At some point in the cooking process, the fat will separate from the sauce and float at the top, so just give the sauce a good stir every so often to reincorporate the fat.

5) At the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Then serve tossed with pasta or use in a classic lasagne (this recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13-inch pan).

Peas and Shells Alfredo

I write you from a distinctly uncool coffee shop. I'm people watching and admiring the faint outline of a sign that used to say OYSTERS. 

I feel quiet. 

I love it when you know that Life is Happening, and things are exciting. 
Life is Happening is events: the party where you meet someone new, or a conversation that changes you, or a new job or move. 
When Life is Happening it feels like the gears of a watch are clicking into place. 



You can almost hear it. 

I used to believe that the exciting, crazy "Life is Happening" moments, are when you become who you are, and know what you're about. 

Now I think, that maybe those moments are just the product of the quiet, thoughtful days where nothing is really going on. The days when you're quietly and slowly figuring out how to make the dial of your watch click forward on your own. 



I made this pasta with some of the people I love the most. 
We had a round of toasts and then ate and laughed together. 
I realized then, that maybe, becoming the person you want to be, can be as simple as eating the meal you want to eat, with the people you want to eat it with. 



Maybe I'm all wrong. 

But I swear, this pasta made me feel like all the gears in all my watches were clicking into place. 


Peas and Shells Alfredo
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman 

Yield: serves 2 generously or 4 petitely. (We made extra, so about a pound of pasta.) 

Salt to taste
1/2 pound dried small pasta shells
1 cup fresh shelled peas (about 1 pound in the pod, but we used canned peas because we're lazy)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cooking according to package instructions. Add peas to cook during the last 30 seconds of pasta cooking time. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and set aside. Drain the pasta and the peas together. 

Dry out the pasta pot and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook it until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper, add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest. Add 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth, then toss in the drained pasta and peas. Cook the pasta in sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen the sauce. 

Divide the pasta among bowls. Garnish with remaining Parmesan and the flat-leaf parsley. 

Note: We also added the meat of one rotisserie chicken, mushrooms and some shredded spinach. For extra goodness. 

Tomato Sauce

I like it when songs perfectly fit into the rhythm of your life. 

I like it when the lyrics are what you would have written, if only you had known how to say it. Like this one

I like this time of year, because things are wrapping up. 

I like this time of year, because suddenly it's all about conclusions and twinkle lights and endings.

I like this time of year, because people make a lot of top ten lists, and a lot of top twenty lists, and a lot of top fifty lists. 

I might make a top ten list.  

I don't know. 


I want to make a top ten list of moments that I do not want to forget. 
There are too many. 
I don't want to forget all the doughnuts and the one drink too manys and the 3ams and the kisses and the hands out of windows in fast cars and the learning how to write songs and the clouds and the walks in the morning and the being bored and the being busy. 
Mostly though, I do not want to forget how beautiful everyone is. 
Everyone is so beautiful. 

My roommmates stood around me and ate this pasta. 



They are so beautiful. 

It was a top ten moment. 

I don't want to forget. 

xoxo

mary 

Tomato Sauce

This is no work. 

Take 3 cans of nice canned tomatoes. Add a hunk of butter. How much depends on how nice and rich you like your sauce. Chop an onion. And combine it all. Let it simmer for a while. Until the onions are soft. Ideally for about an hour or more. If the sauce starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, simply add water. When the onions are soft your can add cream if you're feeling luxurious. Salt and pepper liberally. 
Combine with cooked pasta and crumbled goat cheese. 

Macaroni and Cheese and Roasted Broccoli


What College Has Given Me:



-4am
-The Smiths
-Sleeping until noon
-Ability to wear bright lipstick
-Mild  Severe coffee addiction
-Friends who are so smart and so kind
-Roommates who see me at worsts and bests and somehow still tolerate me
-Overall improvement in personal style
-More facebook friends
-Fewer real books read



-Ability to ignore mountains of homework to write this blog
-Realization that truly brilliant professors are few and far between
-Desire to be Better
-Late Night Doughnuts
-Lots  of knockout conversations
-Realization that everyone is basically the same and simultaneously very different and very weird
-Opportunity 
-Realization that just because someone is hip does not mean that they know what is actually good
-Appreciation of cheap-ass champagne
-Decreased fear of meeting new people
-Every Wes Anderson movie (other than Bottle Rocket)
-Mistakes



-Ability to use bed for studying, sleeping, eating, AND drunken jumping
-New understanding of the relationship between race and dance in America
-Twinkle lights
-Several tremendous, Vesuvius-like, emotional meltdowns
-Ability to wear a dress and heels while riding a bicycle
-Less socially awkward (kinda sorta)
-Emojis
-Sunroofs
-Coffeeshops
-Clouds



-Re-realization that life is not fair
-Letters, received and sent
-Lots of milkshakes
-Unintentional over-sharing
-Fake it till you make it

Also. 

College and cooking for myself has also instilled in me a deep appreciation for pasta.
 Specifically macaroni and cheese. 



Some days, when the daily grind begins to wear you down, all you want is macaroni and cheese. 
With some roasted broccoli. To make you feel better about all those late night doughnuts and milkshakes.


xoxo

Stovetop One Pot Macaroni and Cheese 
via whiteonericecouple.com

  • 2 cups large elbow Macaroni, uncooked (about 1/2 lb)
  • 2 cups low fat Milk (about 16 oz) , or more if needed
  • **if more milk is needed, additional 1/4 cup milk at a time for final cooking. **Macaroni pasta varies so much! have additional milk on hand, or be ready to increase the heat if your macaroni doesn't absorb fast enough.
  • 1 tablespoon Butter, for flavor
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, plus additional for final season later
  • generous dash of Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Grated Cheese, any one or combination of  ( jack, cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, gouda)
  • black pepper to taste (optional)



Place raw pasta in colander and quickly rinse under water. Let it drain.In medium sauce pan add milk, raw elbow macaroni, salt, butter, mustard powder and nutmeg.On medium heat, slowly bring milk/macaroni mixture to a simmer, stirring the macaroni frequently as it comes up to a simmer. Stirring keeps macaroni from clumping together, keep an eye on things to make sure that mixture doesn't boil over. Once at a simmer, immediately turn to low (too high heat will evaporate milk) pasta will cook in milk.  Continue to stir the mixture frequently so that macaroni will cook and absorb milk. Keep stirring to prevent the pasta from clumping. It's a little bit like making risotto.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until milk has been fully absorbed.
If macaroni is not fully cooked, add some extra milk or water, and anticipate spending about five more minutes stirring the macaroni to absorb the extra liquid. Once milk has evaporated, stir in grated cheese, and throughly combine. Turn off heat. Place lid on top of pan and cover for about 5 minutes. This lets the macaroni absorb liquid. Stir a final time and salt to taste. 
Serve immediately.
Roasted Broccoli 
via amateurgormet.com

Two large bunches broccoli (about four lbs)
Lemon
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil
pinenuts (optional)
parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 F. 
Put broccoli on a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. (She says 5 Tbs olive oil, 1 1/2 tsps kosher salt, 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, but I just eyeballed it.) Now add 4 garlic cloves that are peeled and sliced and toss them in too. Roast in the oven 20 to 25 minutes, until “crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.”zest a lemon over the broccoli, squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli, add 1 1/2 Tbs more olive oil, 3 Tbs toasted pine nuts (I left those out), and 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I left these out as well.)