My mother was an hour late for their first spaghetti dinner. She drove down the highway in the wrong direction long enough to start questioning her whereabouts, eventually turned around, and successfully arrived at Dad's door. Although I imagine her tardiness hindered his confidence some what, he didn't miss a beat, serving wine in earthenware goblets, heaping his homemade sauce onto noodles, and playing the fourth movement (the adagietto) of Mahler's 5th symphony. A man who cooks is a man who impresses, and Sal was smitten. As was he, I'm sure, by her energy that fills a room, huge smile and paranormal drive.
As children we have no access to our parent's deep history; it is incomprehensible territory. But if I've learned anything from these two, it's that perseverance in matters of the heart and eating together are incredibly important. I can't help but feel the influence of these values, and will surely put them to good use when embarking on my own romantic endeavors, or try to. However, different I am, and magical fate has a tendency to play a role in such situations, making sure we're okay and headed down the right path, despite what everyone says. So patiently wait I will for the moment when another fellow world conqueror comes along, and we manage to look not only at each other, but in the same direction.
Spaghetti sauce was the backbone of week-night meals growing up. A meal to eat after a road-trip, an epic day on the ski slopes, a hysterical fight, a day in the life... Even if you have to buy mediocre ingredients, spaghetti sauce will always be good; it must be the love you make it with. I've watched both my parents make this sauce a gazillion times, and Sal always says: Brown the onions and the meat first! That's what gives it flavour.
Last night I sequentially listened to every Radiohead album I own and made spaghetti courtesy of Jamie Oliver, who bakes his sauce instead of simmering it. Kelsey's family enlightened mine to his existence one Christmas, and the following summer my parents gave me one of his books for my birthday. Countless terrific meals have followed, and yesterday's was no exception. Plus, in the company of my dear friend Rosalind and a delicious bottle of red wine, which resulted in a lot of fast talking and general hysterics, what more could you need?
chocolate mousse to end it all.....
as adapted from Jamie Oliver
For 4 eaters
10 slices of bacon, diced
1 handful of fresh rosemary - or a tsp + a bit, dried
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 lb ground beef (or you could grind your own chuck steak!) I used ground bison.
1 glass good red wine (that you're going to drink with dinner)
1 tsp oregano
1 14 oz can of tomatoes
1 5.5 oz can tomatoe paste (or he suggests a small jar of sundried tomatoes, yum!)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1b spaghetti (or enough for whoever's eating)
2 handfuls of grated parmesan or peccorino for a saltier taste
Preheat oven to 325*
- In an oven-proof casserole (or in a frying pan and make the transfer afterwards) fry up the bacon, rosemary, onion and garlic in olive oil until slightly crispy and brown.
- Add the ground meat and cook until brown.
- Add the wine, reduce a bit.
- Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste.
- Season to taste.
- Put the lid on, or cover with wax paper or aluminum foil, and slide the dish into the oven for an hour and a half.
- 20 minutes before you take the sauce out of the oven, start boiling water for the pasta. When it's boiling, add lots of salt, and a bit of olive oil. Cook pasta how you like it, drain, and dish up! I went the granola route and made whole wheat pasta, it was delicious.
- Ros opted for something lean and something green, so I cooked broccoli, but a salad would be an equally nice touch.
* Jamie suggests you cook it at 350, but I found that was too hot and because when I took it out of the oven my sauce was bubbling to bursting.
"Cheeky Chocolate Mousse"
As adapted from Jamie Oliver
For two people and a bit
This is not your "traditional" chocolate mousse recipe where the eggs are cooked with the chocolate to achieve a custard, and the egg-whites folded in at the end, but it's SO EASY. I made this recipe in 15 minutes, and Ros really loved it, well, so did I, who am I kidding.
Jamie suggests serving this mousse with his Sesame Seed Toffee Snaps, which I didn't make, but I kinda wish I had. A glass of port had to do...
I also halved the recipe, so you can double this to make enough for four.
4 oz GOOD chocolate (Just do yourself a favour and don't skimp. I used a 71 % bar of Coca Camino dark chocolate, which is not the highest of the highest quality, but it's organic, fair-trade etc., and pretty darn good)
2 1/2 TBS butter
1 C heavy cream
1 large egg
1 TBS port (Jamie suggests Amaretto, and you could use whatever else tickles your fancy)
1 TBS honey
- Melt butter and chocolate over low heat. I used a non-stick frying pan, but a stainless steel bowl over boiling water would be ideal. If you stir it frequently, there'll be no problem with skipping the double boiler method, just make sure you do this over a medium-low heat. Take the pan off the heat when the chocolate and butter have melted together.
- Whisk up the egg, honey and port vigorously until it's foamy.
- Whip up the cream until soft peaks form, not too stiff.
- Slowly whisk the egg into the chocolate. Slowly being the key word because the chocolate might still be very warm and you don't want the egg to curdle. It won't though if you let your chocolate cool, even for five minutes.
- Fold chocolate mixture into the whip cream using light stirring strokes to keep in as much air as possible.
- Pour into small jars, or various cups, little bowls, or into one big bowl and refridgerate for two hours before serving. If you use one big bowl you'll need almost 4 hours hours, or overnight to achieve the right texture.