This bolognese sauce is my new addiction. My friend Corinne made dinner for the kids and I last week saying “We’re just having bolognese, I’ll bring some over.” But there’s nothing “just” or ho-hum about this bolognese, which is hinted at by its somewhat random ingredients list, and twice cooked methodology. But man, is it worth it. Corinne’s bolognese is hands down the best I’ve ever tasted. I think perhaps she was well aware of our family’s penchant for Weetbix and porridge dinners, especially when dad’s away. But we so appreciated her kindness in sharing with us some of what she and her family were having for dinner that night, which just so happened to be amazingness masquerading as ordinary. To me, this best ever bolognese is called Bacony Kindness Bolognese, and I thank God for my friend and for hers. First published by Delicious Magazine, (photo credit too) this lovely gluten free and freezer friendly recipe costs under $20 to make and easily serves 10.
- 30g unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 200g bacon, any kind, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 500g each beef and pork mince
- 2 cups (500ml) milk
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) dry red wine (I just use a cheap clean skin)
- 800g canned chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups (500ml) beef stock (I use powdered, but use a gluten free variety if needed)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius.
- Melt the butter and olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until it starts to crisp. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the beef and pork mince and cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until browned.
- Add the milk and nutmeg and simmer over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the milk evaporates. Add the tomato paste and stir for 2-3 minutes until combined, then add the wine and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, stock and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, then cook in the oven for 2 hours or until thickened and reduced. Skim any fat from the surface, then serve with pasta.
Last week our family came home from holidays with a gastro bug, my dear husband suffering the worst of it. Overwhelmed and tired after a terrific break, but a long return journey, we were feeling rather ordinary and just so thankful to be home. Our weary hearts were made even more thankful by the countless expressions of care we received – more than one friend brought meals around for the days ahead in Vomit Land and we had countless offers to pick up milk and food for us, as well as prayers offered to our Heavenly Father on our behalf. On one hand, things like this happen pretty frequently among all sorts of people, but I’m still just struck by the fact that these kinds of everyday miracles are just how God rolls. Whether or not we realise it, he cares for us and provides what we need through the people he’s made us to be. In his letter to the scattered early church, James writes:
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:7
God is good, though it’s sometimes hard for me to see. He doesn’t change, he isn’t moody and I don’t need to catch him at a good time. He gives good and perfect gifts. One of them was this flavoursome and refreshing soup provided that night by our friends Ben & Renee for my green-feeling husband. It hit the spot. Renee shared the recipe with me which has come in handy this week, cause some of us are sick again, this time with colds and flus. Oh well, that’s life. But this yummy comfort food is also just what we feel like at the moment: It’s autumn, the weather has turned crisp and the kids and I are using up some school holidays visiting family in the Snowy Mountains (check out the view!). Not a bad time and place to be sick and snuggly with soup. This recipe is freezer friendly and a great option for those with special dietary needs (just use gluten free stock and leave out the cream if need be), and cheap to cook costing less than $5 to make more than 2L. We’re having it tonight with oven-ready bread and real butter. Thanks, Ben & Renee for the soup, and much more.
- 125g butter (half a block)
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 2 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
- 1 x 500g bag carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 8 cups chicken stock (I use powdered, reconstituted with water)
- salt, pepper and pinch of sugar
- cream for drizzling, if desired
- In a large soup pot melt butter and saute onion until golden. Add carrots and cook until soft and golden (this preliminary cooking step add lots of extra flavour to the end result).
- Add the remaining ingredients (except the cream) to the carrot, butter and onion mixture, and simmer for 45 mins.
- Blend with a stick blender in the cooking pot and serve with or without drizzled cream and crusty, buttery bread. Serves 8.
Earlier in the year my friend Jacqui gifted me with this gorgeous chocolate cake, ready to eat along with the recipe below, telling me how it’s a favourite in her extended family. We so enjoyed the cake she gave us and I’ve been keen to try it myself ever since, except for me, the ‘year’ has become the new ‘month’ and time has got away way too quickly. But as of yesterday afternoon it’s school holidays around here, and as much as I LOVE school holidays (no driving, sport, lunches, homework and washing uniforms) the thing that has the potential to drive me quite up the wall during this time is the constant question “Mum, what can I eat?”. So the ducks of need + time + energy have lined up and I’ve finally got around to making this lovely and dead-easy cake myself. This moist cake cooks evenly and comes out shiny and rich looking, but best of all it’s light and chocolatey and very easy to eat. Costing less than $3 to make with ingredients you’re bound to already have in the pantry, this cake is simply awesome. Thanks for sharing it with us, Jacqui.
- 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 level teaspoon bi-carb soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- 110g butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 eggs
- Grease and line a deep 20cm round cake tin, and preheat oven to 150 degrees.
- Beat all the ingredients except the eggs together for about 2 mins. Add the eggs and beat for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer cake mixture to greased and tin and smooth out evenly.
- Bake for around 50 mins, but start checking earlier with a skewer so cake doesn’t dry out.
- Ice with a simple mixture of icing sugar, butter, cocoa and a dash of milk, though as you can see I’ve used a jar of Betty Crocker’s chocolate icing cause it needed using up in my stores.
Since blogging about my prolific lemon tree lots of friends have sent me their winning lemon recipes, and so I’ve been enjoying the process of trying them out as needed, photographing and blogging about them (sorry I’m not faster at it… life doesn’t generally afford me the fun of cooking just for the sake of it!). Next cab off the lemon rank is Amy’s Lemon Bread, which she tells me is probably the cake she’s made more than any cake ever, and the one she still makes most often. This lovely loaf took little time and only a few dollars to make, lasted a good week in my take cake keeper and worked well with cream as dessert when needed. Thanks for sharing, Amy.
For the cake:
- 90g of butter
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 dsp grated lemon rind
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup almond meal
For the lemon syrup:
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup castor sugar
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
- In a small saucepan or microwave jug melt butter and mix in the sugar. Transfer to a large bowl, and add eggs one at a time, mixing well as you go.
- Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and then fold in lemon rind, juice and ground almonds.
- Pour into a greased or lined loaf tin and bake in moderate oven for 50-60 minutes, though start checking earlier if you’re oven is hottish or fan-forced.
- While cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup by stirring lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
- When cake is cooked and still hot and in the tin, gradually spoon over the lemon syrup. Allow to cool completely in the loaf tin.
This easy-peasy banana bread has become my frequent go-to for using up fruit that’s quickly losing freshness in my fruit bowl. Originally from Nigella Lawson’s excellent book, How To Be A Domestic Goddess, this banana bread is cheap to make, freezer friendly and super versatile. If bananas have become over-ripe I often throw them straight in the freezer whole, skins and all, and then thaw them out to use another time – upon defrosting the insides just slop right out of their skins, and don’t even need mashing. And this recipe copes really well with almost anything you want to throw at it: old, bruised strawberries, rhubarb, a drained can of pineapple chunks/crushed pineapple, a handful of nuts, crystalized ginger… whatever floats your boat. Just keep the bananas!) The loaf pictured above features rotten bananas, too-far-gone pears and a handful of frozen raspberries from the freezer, and cost about $5 to make.
- 175 grams plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 125 grams unsalted butter (melted)
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 small very ripe bananas (mashed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas, along with any other fruit you’ve decided to use – just blitz it in your food processor first. Then, with your wooden spoon stir in vanilla extract and any other ‘bits’ you want – nuts, raspberries etc… Add all this to the flour mixture, then scrape into a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm) and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1¼ hours (start checking at 1 hour). When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer. Also can be toasted and spread with butter for a yummy brunchy breakfast.
So my lemon tree is going bananas (check out my heavy-laden little tree!), which has seen me searching high and low for good lemon recipes. Ages ago a friend made this lovely cake for me when visiting with them and it was such a delightful thing to eat – zesty and fresh with a lovely depth and moistness resulting from the addition of sour cream. And trying it out proved so simple I could do it while catching up with an old friend on the phone. Make this cake in whatever shape you like – a ring tin is a lovely option, or do as I did and use a regular 22cm round one. This cake is great when you’re in a rush cause it doesn’t matter at all if you need to ice it while it’s still a little warm – the drizzled glaze effect is perfect for this cakey genre. Turn it into a terrific dessert by serving with a dollop of cream and enjoy the cost effectiveness of this affordable option, which costs around $6.80 if you need to purchase lemons from a shop, and $3 less if you scrump some lemons from elsewhere.
For the cake
- 220g butter (melted or at room temp)
- 330g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 120g sour cream or cream or greek yoghurt
- 60 ml lemon juice / juice 3 lemons
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest / zest 2 lemons
- 300 g all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
For the lemon icing
- 320g icing sugar (sifted)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp water (boiling)
- Preheat the oven to 160°C if fan forced or 170 degrees otherwise. Grease and line a 22 cm round or ring tin with flour and butter or baking paper.
- Place the butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, lemon juice and zest in a stand mixer or food processor and mix well until batter is well combined and smooth.
- Add the flour and baking powder and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a greased pan and bake for 40-45 minutes (or until a skewer inserted comes out clean). Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and take off the pan. Let it to cool completely.
- To make the lemon icing: place the icing sugar, juice and water in a bowl and mix to combine. Drizzle over the cake.
Although I hear that some people don’t like bacon, to me, it’s a food group all of its own, along with Diet Coke and good coffee. What follows is another delightful recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the third and final in this series for summer hospitality and easy back to school non-sandwich lunches. These cheesy, bacony, and very pretty muffins are fluffy and so eatable. The recipe below produces 12 and costs less than $6 to make.
- 1 tsp oil
- 100g streaky bacon, cut into 1cm pieces
- 1 red onion, finely diced (I used a regular brown one)
- 250g wholemeal self-raising flour (I used plain white flour)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 200ml buttermilk (replace with yoghurt, sour cream or ordinary milk if need be)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped chives (optional, I like chives so put in 3 tablespoons)
- 150g strong cheddar, grated
- Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
- Warm the oil over a medium heat and fry the bacon in it until just crisp. Lift the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. In the same fat, sauté the onion until just softened, about five minutes, then set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- In a jug, whisk the eggs, butter and buttermilk, stir them into the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined, then fold in the cooled bacon, onion, chives, if using, and two-thirds of the cheese until just evenly distributed.
- Spoon or scoop the mixture into the muffin tins, sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, and bake for about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.