Thursday, 28 August 2008

Back home

I've just returned from Italy. Two weeks with no newspapers, no internet, practically no television, but quite a lot of books, pictures, wine and nice food. It was wonderful. I want to go back.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

solzhenitsyn dead

I'm sorry to say he is. Here is the account of the life.

He wanted to be Tolstoy. That was his genius, and his tragedy.

Spaghetti Bolognese

You may think you know how to make this. Perhaps you do. There are competing ideas, several of which are good, as there are with puttanesca or even pesto genovese.

This is one way. It is incredibly easy, but it needs one thing: time. Serves four, or six, or even eight, depending on appetites. It keeps well for a couple of days and also turns into good chilli con carne with the addition of kidney beans and more chilli.


Couple of onions, diced finely.
Couple of strips of celery, peeeled and finely diced.
Couple of carrots, peeled and finely diced.
Couple of cloves of garlic (Italan purists oppose this) finely chopped.
Pinch of chilli flakes or paprika
Couple of tablespoons olive oil
Knob of butter
Handful of oregano, tarragon and basil, very finely chopped
Half a glass of sherry/half a glass red wine
One and a half pounds lean steak mince, or a mix of veal, pork and steak mince
Four cans of tomatoes
Couple of tablespoons tomato puree
One tablespoon Heinz tomato ketchup

Dried Spaghetti
More olive oil

In a large pan, place the oil and the butter, the onions, the minced herbs and the carrots, celery, garlic and chilli. Soften over a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the wine and mince. After half an hour (adding a little water if required) put in the tomatoes, puree and very small squirt of ketchup (it provides the sugar and vinegar content).

If you have a few old vine tomatoes or cherry tomatoes knocking around (you probably do), chop 'em up and stick them in too. Season with sea salt and black pepper, and leave on the lowest possible heat for about six hours with a lid on.

If you can, check after a couple of hours, and add water if required, or even a splash of milk (sounds strange, but it is quite common in ragu).

When it's time for dinner, boil spaghetti for about 10-12 minutes, until sticky but still with bite. Drain. Toss with a little olive oil. Mix with sauce. Put lots of basil and grated parmesan on top. Serve.

The only bit of this recipe which cannot be adapted is the six hours bit. If your hob is unreliable, do it in the oven in a casserole dish.