Monthly Archives: December 2010

Ragu alla Bolognese

Original Post Date: 8/21/2009

Never let it be said that I’m not a good cook — I am, I really am. I am, however, a slave to rule-following when it comes to reproducing recipes. This is both a blessing and a curse.

Where Columbus Foodie is flexible — sometimes to the point of making changes where they’re not needed, just for the sake of “creativity” — I’m the workmanlike technician, able to precisely duplicate a dish, given an accurate recipe.

This last Sunday night, I made a wonderful Ragu Alla Bolognese. I modified the original recipe somewhat to accommodate the ingredients I had available. I also doubled the recipe from the original requirements, which resulted in somewhat longer cooking times throughout. Your mileage will no doubt vary.  I served this delicious ragu over Trader Giotto’s (Trader Joe’s) imported Italian tagliatelle.  It was fantastic.

With no further ado, I present…
Ragu alla Bolognese

Ragu Alla Bolognese
Modified from the original recipe found in La Cucina Italiana, Sept/Oct 2009

1 (14-ounce) or 1/2 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, preferably San Marzano — I substituted Cento tomato puree
1-1/2 to 2-1/2 cups water
1 T tomato paste, preferably double concentrated
1 t beef base or 1 beef bouillon cube
1 celery rib roughly chopped
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/2 medium carrot, roughly chopped
3 T unsalted butter
2 oz sweet italian sausage, removed from casing
2 oz pancetta or slab bacon (I used double-smoked bacon), finely chopped
3/4 pound 80/20 ground beef (I used 1-1/4 pound ground beef)
3/4 pound ground pork (I used no ground pork)
1/2 pound ground veal (I used 3/4 pound ground veal)
Fine sea salt
1 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup whole milk
Freshly grated nutmeg

Puree tomatoes and their juice in blender until smooth; set aside (if using puree, ignore this step)

In a small saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups water to a simmer; whisk in tomato paste and beef base/bouillon cube. Remove from heat; set aside.

Make a battuto (the foundation for many Italian soups, stews and sauces) by finely chopping together (by hand) celery, onion and carrot.

Heat butter over medium-low heat in a dutch oven until melted and foaming; add battuto, sausage, and pancetta or bacon. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sausage is broken into small bits, then continue cooking, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened (do not brown), about 25 minutes.

Add beef, (pork) and veal; increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring until meat is broken into small bits, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for 10 minutes more (do not brown).

Add wine; bring to a boil and cook until wine and juices in pot are mostly evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Add reserved pureed tomato, reserved beef base mixture and bay leaf.

Cook ragu at the barest simmer, stirring occasionally (making sure to stir into edges of pot), until meat is very tender and sauce is thick (as sauce thickens, add water, bit by bit, if necessary, to keep sauce moist and just barely liquid), about 2-1/2 hours.

Add milk and continue cooking for 30 minutes more. Stir in pinch nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

North Market Jelly & Jam Contest 2009

Original Post Date: 8/20/2009

My wife, Columbus Foodie, will tell anyone willing to listen that for all my faults, I’m one HELL of a cannin’ fool.  I’ve singlehandedly canned all manner of jams, preserves, and now jellies since we’ve gotten into the whole food preservation thing.  Heck, right now I’ve got a tub of stinky little four-inch lovelies — pickling cukes — fermenting on the basement landing, where the temperature remains a comfortable 66 to 70 degrees (perfect to turn cucumbers into tasty tasty garlic dills).

Alas, that’s a story for another day.

Earlier this season, the mulberry tree in our backyard was literally bursting with dark little packages of berrylicious wonderfulness, and Dear Wifey made a point of gathering as many as she could as often as she could.  Additionally, her mother’s boyfriend, whom I will refer to simply as “J”, gathered a boatload of mulberries from a tree near their property for my use.

This provided me with about a gallon to a gallon and a half of fully ripened, plump, juicy, yet seedy mulberries a week for nearly a month.  What’s a man to do with such a bounty?    TURN THEM INTO JELLY!  Over the course of that early summer month, I mashed, boiled, strained, jellified and canned at least 20-25 eight ounce jars of glistening purple bliss and gave away a significant share of them to friends and family.  Thus, it was a no brainer to submit (especially at Columbus Foodie’s insistence) my Mulberry Jelly to the mercy of the judges at the Columbus North Market’s 2009 Jelly and Jam Contest.

I arrived early, and submitted my entry to the first organizer to arrive.  Thus, my mulberry jelly was the first product sampled by the judges.  Whether this hurt my chances of placing high, I’ll never know (I did not win or place).  By the time the judging was ready to begin, a total of fifteen entries had been received.  Here are some of the competitors:

Jelly & Jam Contest Entries at the North Market 8/15/09

Here are the rest (forgive the overlap, it couldn’t be helped):

More Jelly & Jam Contest Entries at the North Market 8/15/09

As you can see, my offering was merely one among many; there were quite a few interesting submissions.  The winning Organic Concord Grape Jelly fully deserved its prize, as it was one of the best grape jellies I’ve ever tasted.  Other notables included a sangria jelly, a lavender black&blue preserve, a hot pepper jelly, several cherry jams, and a blackberry jam which was quite good in my opinion.

All in all, it was an interesting and entertaining competition.  Expect to see me there again next year.

A Brief Introduction

Original Post Date: 8/20/2009

I am Paul, aka Fat Bastard, your humble host.  I hope to inform and entertain you in my exploration of food — and my other interests — here in Columbus, OH.

Paul at Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

What are my other interests?  I’m a dark beer, ale, and stout aficionado.  I also enjoy riding my semi-recumbent bicycle, a Day6 Dream 21.  I’m also an unrepentant nerd… so sue me.

Anyway, that’s enough for now.

Admin Note: Columbus Foodie + 1

If you haven’t noticed, things around here have been rather quiet the past few months. Between almost nonstop travel and catching up with a bunch of much neglected administrative tasks, it has kept me from posting as often as I like. It’s just gotten to the point where in many ways, it was too much for me to handle all at once, especially since I’ve been feeling under the weather since spring.

I haven’t, even for a second, considered ending the blog or anything that drastic. Even after 5 years, I still love what I do here, and still have a passion for seeking out new experiences and foods to write about. There are still thousands of untold stories left in me.

But my lack of posting means that you all get the short end of the stick, because even though I’m working like a dog behind the scenes, you don’t get any of the benefit of it. There are restaurants I’ve gone to and written reviews of but can’t post them because it’s been too long since my visit.

To that end, to relieve some of the load, and because he has his own stories to tell, my husband Paul will be coming aboard officially as an integral part of the Columbus Foodie site. He started his own food blog a while back, but his posts have been few and far between – i.e. he doesn’t generate enough content to warrant his own site, but definitely has enough to say that it’s a win-win situation for all of us (you readers included). He’s a craft beer and liquor aficionado, with a passion for making recipes that are so complex or time consuming that I’d be pulling my own hair out and running the other way. But he also has a fun side, which I’m sure will come out as you get to know him, in his own words, instead of vicariously through my posts.

He had a dozen or so posts on his own site, which I’ll be merging into this one – expect to see the posts of his that I import in the next day.

And thank you all for being so patient with me and for continuing to visit even when there haven’t been updates – I appreciate each and every one of you.

San Francisco: Day 3

Ah, now that I’m back from NJ and back in front of a working computer (the Bluetooth on my MSI Wind bought the farm, and P. was kind enough to give me his Netbook since he rarely uses it), I can finally finish the story about my trip to San Francisco.

I was up really early on Sunday morning, partly because I had gotten plenty of sleep the night before, partly because I knew I had a couple of places to hit before going to the airport. I had scheduled a later flight to return home because the earlier flights would have had me missing the Farewell Brunch, but once I realized I wasn’t going to the brunch, I wanted to see if I could get an earlier flight. Can I just interject that Delta is a nightmare to deal with? Based on some bad information I was given by one of their customer service droids, I had rescheduled the airport shuttle to pick me up at the Ferry Building at 10:30 rather than noon. When I called in at 10am like I was supposed to (to be able to get an earlier flight for an extra $50), I was told, nope ain’t gonna happen. Grrr.

But about the Ferry Building – the day before I had tried to buy some canneles from Boulette’s Larder, but they were sold out – so I preordered (and prepaid) for some canneles that I would pick up the next morning when they opened.

Since I got there well before they opened (at 9:15ish) and since I had all my luggage with me (minus the stuff I had shipped back home via FedEx), I planted my butt across the way at the Frog Hollow Farm space. I ordered some hot chocolate to pass the time.

SFO Day 3: Hot Cocoa from Frog Hollow Farms @ Ferry Market Building

And since I didn’t know when I’d eat again next, I ordered a carnitas empanada. Not too filling, and a good way to start the day.

SFO Day 3: Carnitas Empanada from Frog Hollow @ Ferry Market Building

Canneles in hand, and it raining like crazy outside, I planted myself on the front steps of the Ferry Building to wait for my shuttle. I got to the airport, breezed through security (fortunately, they hadn’t started using the full body scanners at SFO yet – cause I’ll be in for the pat-down of my life when they do, because I can’t raise my left arm above my head without losing circulation in it).  Then started the big long wait, considering I got there at noon and my flight to LAX wasn’t until 6pm.

Some time in the afternoon I gave into hunger and went into the only sit-down restaurant in the United terminal. BIG mistake. Easily one of the worst meals I’ve had this year.

Since I had a long wait ahead of me (both for my food and my flight), I decided to order a cocktail. Another big mistake. While the underlying mixer wasn’t that bad, it got absolutely ruined by the rotgut they call vodka there. $8 down the drain.

SFO Day 3: Bloody Mary at San Francisco Airport

From their appetizer menu, I ordered their crab cake sliders ($13.50?), minus the buns (since the last thing I wanted was to load up on carbs). Man, are those some sorry looking crab cakes or what? Teeny tiny and mostly filler. The salad was the best part of this dish, and it was just some romaine w/ OTC salad dressing and a few croutons.

SFO Day 3: Crab Cakes/Caesar Salad at San Francisco Airport

I also ordered their special of the day, a lamb shank served with pilaf ($22.95?), which was also pretty darn nasty. The shank was cooked unevenly (some parts were super tough, others were fall apart tender), and the olives ruined the whole dish for me. I don’t mind olive oil, but don’t like actual olives. I ate what I could of it, but still left over half behind because it was inedible.

SFO Day 3: Lamb Shank at San Francisco Airport

Truthfully, this was pretty much the last thing I ate before getting home. Delta was having major problems with their equipment, so our flight ended up being delayed for 2+ hours, and whatever short layover I would have at LAX was eaten up by the delays. We got there in just enough time to find a bathroom, because they were boarding for my flight to CMH when I got back 5 minutes later.

I loved San Francisco from a food perspective, but wish I had more time to explore, and had someone with me that I could explore with. As it stood, I was glad to get home to be fed a real home cooked meal.