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The Hunt for the Perfect Bolognese Recipe

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I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect bolognese sauce recipe. Bolognese is basically the classic italian meat sauce often called “SpagBol”. It’s homey and filling. I had a very busy Q1 2014 but I decided one night last week to cook dinner for a change and focused on googling for a bolognese recipe.

Research has led me to so many recipes for this classic Italian sauce, I can’t seem to find a truly authentic one as I came across different variations but one over-arching ingredient shocked me! It was the addition of MILK – a meat sauce? with milk? you’re kidding me right?

Bologna is a town in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy best known for the multitude of agricultural bounty seen in their dishes rich with eggs, milk, cheese, butter, meat and soft wheat. Naturally, a sauce named for the region’s capital could not go without dairy. Also, further research led me to realize that milk helps cut down the acidity of the ground meat, making the ragu rich and creamy while the meat sublimely tender. and ORANGE!

I know, orange. Yes, you read that right. Classic Bolognese is more orange red than blood red emphasizing on the meat rather than the tomatoes and the sienna color comes from the milk. A-HA!

So why would I even post about this? I uploaded a photo of my spagbol on Instagram and everybody loved it and so many people asked for the recipe. So to make it easier, I decided to blog about it. LOL!

Anyway, after much googling, I picked to adapt Mario Batali’s recipe and tweaked it for what’s available here in Manila and my own personal preference. BTW, Batali is my favorite celebrity chef and he so happens to have trained in italian cuisine in a small town within the Emilia-Romagna region so I had a feeling he knows his stuff. πŸ˜›

For me, cooking is an art so I don’t believe in perfect measurements. What I will show you is a photo stream of the steps I’ve done with a sort of measurement of the ingredients to go along with it. Hope that works! πŸ˜›

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Prepared first the “soffritto” – very similar to the French’s mirepoix which is the base of all hearty soups and sauces. It’s basically celery(1 large stalk), carrots(half a large carrot), onions(one medium-sized red) and garlic(6 cloves – I KNOW! I love garlic).

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I added a variation of chopped chorizo de bilbao(1 sausage) and bacon(4 strips), fried them until brown and used the rendered fat to fry the soffritto for extra flavor.

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In medium high heat, saute the Soffritto until transluscent. That’ll probably take around 10 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t turn brown.

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Add the ground meat. In Batali’s recipe, he called for ground veal which is hard to come by here in Manila so I did a 1:1 ratio of lean ground beef and a somewhat fatty ground pork. At this stage, add back the fried chorizo and bacon from earlier and cook in high heat.

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Building a good ragu requires layers of flavor. Also, remember to brown the meat mixture and stir to avoid burning bits of meat.

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As soon as the meat is browned, pour in the tomato paste(half a tube/can), chopped canned tomatoes(I like the brand Capri – I used half a can), milk(3/4 cup – use whole milk) and white wine(1/2 cup – I used a sauvignon blanc). I also added some parmesan chips to add flavor. Heat should be brought down to the lowest possible temperature. Any cook will tell you, a good ragu requires at least 1.5 hours of a very slow simmer.

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This was at the 2-hour mark. I had adjusted a few times the seasoning according to my taste. I like it not too salty and I also like a good grind of black pepper. I also added maybe a teaspoon of dry basil and a teaspoon of dry oregano. If you have fresh, the better. For this batch, I cooked the sauce for 2.5 hours.

Note that a good sauce needs a finely cooked pasta as well. I’m still not Martha Stewart levels of making my own fresh batch of pasta but remember that the sauce waits for the pasta and not the other way around. So cook your pasta at the very last moment – make the water as salty as the sea and NO OIL in the water, PLEASE. Follow the box instructions on the cooking time. When cooked, I drain almost but not all the pasta water. I mix a pat of butter and a few teaspoons of parmesan to the pasta before I pour in the sauce. Here is the finished product!

Et voilΓ !

Obsessed with making the perfect bolognese and I think I got it! Based on @mariobatali's recipe but added half of a chorizo de Bilbao for taste. Secret of a good ragu? Whole milk! Who would've thought? #food #foodporn #bolognese #mariobatali

/pats self on the back. πŸ˜€

ENJOY!

Written by divasoria

May 2nd, 2014 at 6:18 am

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Brooklyn, rising

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I have been remiss with my vacation entries and yes, it has taken me three months to almost complete it! LOL. Sorry, the last three months have been a blur with so many new things happening in my life. I’m surprised I’m still sane(barely, believe me) but let’s just settle with fun stuff like traveling and vacations. So here goes – I finally got to probably my favorite part of my recent NY trip. A day driving around my new favorite borough – BROOKLYN!

Brooklyn has been THE place nowadays. Manhattan for the most part have become too expensive for young and creative types. I personally cannot imagine living in New York City now as a young twentysomething! I lived in the Upper West Side and at that point, I was lucky to find a good apartment with reasonable rent(I lived in NYC in my late teens to early 20s). Anyways, with the skyrocketing living expenses, many people have moved to the outer boroughs with very hip, progressive young things congregating in Brooklyn.

As an ironic side-note, I like to call myself a pseudo-Brooklynite – I use biodegradable garbage bags, buy organic produce and meats, do the occasional yoga, listen to The National and Phoenix and love to wear TOMS. If I had the patience to go thrifting and growing my own little herb garden on my balcony, I would fit right in Williamsburg! (of course, I KEED) Brooklyn is where the hip and not-so-young yupsters/grups (that’s yuppie-hipster hybrid for you, AHEM *points to self*, don’t worry, an entry on grup-dom is coming VERY SOON) go forth and multiply.

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I spent a day roaming around BK(that’s Brooklyn’s little initials on the city buses. I know, I sound like an ass-hat). Thanks to Fil for driving us around, I wasn’t sure how take the train from Manhattan and navigate BK by foot, but like i said, thankful for generous and fun friends.

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We started out at Red Hook to get some coffee and baked goods. For the record, I went to the Rose Hill Campus of Fordham which is in the Bronx. The campus itself is beautiful but the walk up the D train was..let’s say…not Madison Avenue. And Yah, I am so not prissy. You guys should know that by now(LOL!). That said, I’m not too sure about Red Hook. For the most part and what I could see, the place had one street that looked really cozy and fun, like I could see myself living there.

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There were interesting eateries and shops, but my biggest issue? “WHERE THE HELL ARE THE TRAINS?” It would be a bitch to go there at night or to go out even.

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Yup, this is not Manhattan. πŸ˜€

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After that quick Red Hook coffee run, we drove down to Bushwick for my Lunch special request – Roberta’s!

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Touted to be one of America’s most influential restaurants of 2013, Roberta’s serves probably one of the best pizzas in the great city. Don’t expect white linen though, it’s practically a shack made out of old container trucks.

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But wait, let’s focus on the food!

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The food at Roberta’s is simple and straightforward. My preference nowadays – I cannot stand foam-y, artsy, trying to be elBulli BS.

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You MUST order these two – the best bloody mary EVER plus this unique pizza. It’s called “bee sting” – spicy soppressata with honey. <3 <3 <3

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I also loved this, it’s called the Ojalda. It may not be the most photogenic but this was truly a party in my mouth made up of fried egg, burrata, avocados and thickly-sliced bacon. best breakfast bowl EVER.

You know you’re in Brooklyn when…

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I also have to note, Roberta’s had the best playlist when we had a meal there. Perfect mix of old school plus some really good indie gems. I would pay good money to get the mix tape of whoever did the music over there. I was actually half-expecting The National or Ira Glass walk into the joint. LOL! Yes, I really derive strange pleasure from labels and stereotypes. πŸ˜‰

Also, Roberta’s has a fantastic fine dining sister restaurant next door called Blanca. I wish I had more time but I would have loved to dine there based on Ruth Reichl’s review(good enough reason to take that train ride to Bushwick, huh?).

Roberta’s Pizza
261 Moore St,
Brooklyn, NY 11206

Written by divasoria

December 2nd, 2013 at 6:33 am

Westhampton Eats!

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Sleepy towns like Westhampton Beach are nice reprieves from the buzz of living in such a huge city like New York. One would expect less than impeccable food, but I was more than satisfied with the choices found in this enclave!

I have a thing for diners and when my friends told me that Anderson Cooper has a house in Westhampton Beach and when in town, almost always has breakfast at Eckart’s, I knew I had to go. LOL.

Oh come on, you guys, Anderson Cooper is my gay crush since Hurricane Katrina. A few years ago, I, along with a lot of my twitter followers, begged him to greet me on my birthday..but alas. I didn’t take it against him though. HAHAHA.

But I digress.

SO back top Eckart’s – everybody else in the house was too lazy to go have breakfast but thankfully Mia was game enough to accompany me. πŸ˜›

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Eckart’s has been around since 1911 and has been proudly family-run and the oldest continuously open business in the village.

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The place is very nostalgic and remember to bring cash!

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I LOVED the stack of old Life magazines and newspapers. <3

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Eckart’s Luncheonette serves down-home cuisine based on memories from childhood, it was very..uhmm…comfort food-y(I KNOW, I probably need a thesaurus or something to find a better word to describe the food there.)

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We ordered a simple fruit bowl and the eggs benedict! Nothing fancy but I really liked my eggs benedict. :) Simple food, IMHO, is always good.

And if you asked me if i saw AC? Nope. Better luck next time? πŸ˜›

Eckart’s Luncheonette
162 Mill Rd,
Westhampton Beach,
NY 11978, United States
+1 631-288-9491

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For our last night in the village, Ross booked a dinner at one of the Hamptons’ most critically- acclaimed restaurants, Starr Boggs.

Yes, guys, the name of the place is Starr Boggs. It sounds like it was coined by a Filipino. LOL. This spot is a perennially “in” place and is only open during the peak season in the area – around late spring to fall.

Known for showcasing the area’s produce, meats and seafood, Starr Boggs boasts of a well-edited menu that’ll definitely suit a whole range of tastes. Remember to book Sunday dinners, this is when almost the whole menu is on a special Prix Fixe. Amazing value for really top-notch food.

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It’s been a few months since I went to the Hamptons so forgive me if I can’t remember the names of the dishes we ate but I hope these photos can do justice.

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They were all pretty good, but special kudos to the foie gras and the duck, both sourced from Long Island farms!

Also a treat to find some original Andy Warhols in the old converted house that is the location of Starr Boggs.

P.S. Lots of cute WASP-y preppy boys during Sunday Dinners! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

Starr Boggs
6 Parlato Dr,
Westhampton Beach,
NY 11978, United States
1 631-288-3500

Written by divasoria

October 21st, 2013 at 6:10 am

Posted in food

Weekend at the Hamptons Part Three

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Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Long Island is starting to market their wines and the vineyards doting the area. So part of the “Art with Ross” Saturday was to visit their favorite, the Sherwood House Tasting Room in East Marion.

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The tasting room had a main house where they served wine and a very chic barn house with different paraphernalia and tchotchkes.

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Nope, not a painting. Pretty barn house at the Sherwood House Vineyards. #barnhouse #americana #sherwoodhouse #longisland #newyork #igny #instatravel

I super loved the barnhouse! I am sure it’s not authentic but it is expertly art directed! I super love the very subdued colors. It was very me!

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This was at the back of it, doesn’t it look like a painting!

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My friends were all raving about the White Merlot of Sherwood House. White? merlot? Not a wine expert but this maybe one of my most favorite white wines. EVER.

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We bought a box of these puppies for our consumption and we decided to do a quick barbecue back at the house. We ended up going to the kiosks selling produce along the roads and bought some meats in the supermarket. SO FUN!

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This was the menu – Andrew’s f-amazing watermelon, feta, arugula salad, the sweetest corn from long island and grilled pork(expertly marinated by MOI!), sausages and peppers.

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Plus glasses upon glasses of the white merlot. WHAT A PERFECT WAY TO END SUCH A LOVELY DAY. :)

Sherwood House Vineyards
260 Huckleberry Hill Rd.
East Marion NY 11939
(631) 838-2090 (631) 477-8527

Written by divasoria

October 7th, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Weekend at the Hamptons Part Two

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My friends and I decided to do “Art with Ross” Saturday and go on a road trip. Ross, our friend and host, is a budding art collector and he’s pretty up-to-date with various events involving the art scene in the city. He had heard about a gallerist friend of his doing an art show in his Long Island house and off we went.

We went all the way to East Marion, a hamlet in Southold. Farms, vineyards and lovely lavender fields lined the roads and after what felt like a long time, we finally took a left to the property welcomed by this huge white country house.

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The concept of the show focused on displaying the art work all over the property – from the shed to the fields to the trees. I am no art expert but I actually had to ask my friends “hey is this art?” πŸ˜€

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I had googled the “orient focus people”, I had originally thought that was the name of the show but it turns out it is the Native American tribe that had inhabited this part of New York since 1000 BC.

Now for some art –

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(not sure if this is art – is it? :D)

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A silver dolphin balloon and our friend Andrew – is this art?

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How cute is this?

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NOW – this I want for my flat. Anyone? Christmas gift? Please?(not the couch, ok?)

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We were all actually raring to leave East Marion to look for some grub because we were famished! I had insisted we get some lobster rolls – because seriously – how can you not drive around the northeast seaboard/long island and not have lobster rolls? And big props to Fil’s googling skills because we ended up driving to the North Fork Table and Inn.

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The inn’s lunchtime foodtruck is touted to have the area’s best lobster rolls, we were just right at the nick of time as other sandwiches were getting sold out and they were closing in 10 minutes!

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We wanted to try everything!!!

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SO LUCKY to catch the last few minutes of the food truck!! I was focused on the lobster rolls but I tried the pulled pork sandwich and THAT was amazeballs.

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Here was my attempt to stylize πŸ˜€

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IT WAS SO GOOD! Buttery roll, big juicy chunks of lobster, just a touch of mayo. DIVINE. I DIED. MUST GO BACK FOR THIS AND THE PULLED PORK AND THE HOTDOGS. AHHH!

The Lunch Truck @ The North Fork Table and Inn
57225 Main Rd Southold,
NY 11971, United States
+1 631-765-0177

Written by divasoria

September 23rd, 2013 at 10:01 pm