Six Adults Get Together for Dinner...
Told you I had a plan. Really.
New blogs are going up EVERY SINGLE week on Sundays and Thursdays!
The goal is to feature a family based post and a businessy post every week. Bring on all the feel-good baby pics and tips and tricks for running a real business and authentic glimpses into the real life of running one.
Most of the time, work and life overlap, especially when your life is kind of your work, and visa versa. Yesterday was no such day. It’s not very often I get to spend the entire day at home and not check my email or open my computer or work on something in order to prep for something else. But yesterday, Joey and I spend literally the entire day in the kitchen making homemade pasta and Bolognese sauce to share with friends last night.
I’d like to be able to tell you that this is a post about how to coordinate the schedules of six adults and three children in order to have a dinner party with each other effectively. This is no such post. This dinner date with our best friends was a long time coming. I think it was over three weeks ago that we group texted and tried to coordinate an evening that would work. And not until two nights ago did we actually set a date (which in turn, was the next day, hallelujah).
Anywho, if you have tips for how to coordinate the schedules of a group of real adulting adults, let me know. We could use them.
Instead, this is simply a documentation of my day with Joey in the kitchen. And I even threw in my homemade pasta recipe for you, since apparently people get pretty excited about it. I’m telling you, flour and eggs never get such good press as they do when made into spaghetti noodles.
Also, I feel as if I should note that I think Joey is either the most patient baby ever, or that even at such a young age, children just learn to enjoy things that makes their parents happy, too. Such as in our case, the kitchen. Joey spends a lot of time either on the floor or in his chair on the counter, and of course, the kitchen brings so much joy here. Hence, he loves being a part of what’s going on in there… hence his patience with me yesterday. I think, anyway…
Our day started with a s**t ton of laundry, similar to how our day started today. We folded it, of course, on the kitchen floor.
But moving on, homemade pasta.
Here’s how you to do it.
One egg to each person, two eggs to each cup of flour. We had 6 adults for dinner, so I used 6 eggs and 3 cups of flour.
- Crack the eggs into a well make in the flour in a nice big mixing bowl. Mix it all up with one hand; it will be VERY messy and sticky and gross. Don’t wear rings. Or sleeves. Or clothes that you care about getting covered in flour.
- Once it’s all mixed together, drop it onto your clean, flour covered counter top and knead away.
- There’s no wrong way to knead it, just fold and punch and pull and throw it down. It’s a good little aggression getter-outer if you “knead” it. Hehe. Sorry, had to.
- Keep adding flour if needed, and then it will start to get all nice and smooth and stretchy. Once it feels kind of like the best pizza dough you’ve ever made, and looks like a smooth perfectly made huge pancake, then leave it be on the counter for a while. The egg needs to do its thing.
- I left mine out on the counter for an hour or two before I rolled it out. Really, this is a go-with-the-flow process. Noodles are the best homemade thing to make when you have a baby; nothing is time sensitive.
I started the Bolognese sauce while the noodle dough did its thing.
Start by grating a bunch of carrots, something like a nice handful of them. Again, go-with-the-flow.
Also, yes, it was 2 pm and I was drinking white wine. #cooking
Then, dice up a red onion, making sure to keep it far enough away from the baby as to not make their eyes water. Disclaimer – been there and DON’T DO THIS. You will never live it down. Ever.
Heat up some olive oil (don’t be shy about how much you use, and use good stuff, if you can) in a dutch oven on the stovetop.
Let’s talk about dutch ovens. I used a ceramic one this time, but I also like to use cast iron. Both work well, as does a regular pot. I like the dutch ovens though, as I’m able to throw them in the oven if needed and they do add lots and lots of flavor, and hold heat better. You want things like this Bolognese sauce to get and STAY hot while it cooks, and evenly distribute that heat. Dutch ovens do that best.
Add the carrots and the onion to the hot dutch oven, and let cook a few minutes. Only stir it once or twice. No need to keep it up.
Meanwhile, peel some garlic. Personally, I smash each clove with a knife and peel them. Leave them whole, or slice in half if really big.
Once the onion has softened a touch, make a well in the carrot mixture in order to expose the hot bottom of the pan. Add your hamburger to the well.
We used some venison burger that Adam made, and it was really good. I also used two pounds, as I really wanted a super meaty sauce for the homemade noodles which tend to be a little more dense. But, if you want a “saucier” sauce, only use one pound.
Let the hamburger brown, stirring, again, just a few times. Make another well in the pot and add your herbs. I suggest oregano, thyme, basil and paprika, but, do with what you got. Yesterday, I had fresh oregano and dried basil. So that’s what we used. Apparently I need to do a grocery store run.
Let’s also have a quick chat about toasting herbs. When you expose your seasonings to the hot pan, they will release their fragrance much more abundantly than if you just stirred them into the sauce. This way, they distribute their flavor throughout the sauce, not just when you “taste” them themselves.
Stir together, then add your garlic. You add the garlic towards the end of the process so that they don’t burn or overcook. That’s yucky when they do that.
Then, add a can (or about a third cup if you use fresh stuff) of tomato paste. Slowly fold in.
Pour in about 2 cups of red wine. Good, bad, old, ugly. Doesn’t matter, any red wine will do.
Let that all get hot enough that you see just a few bubbles come to the surface.
Add one can of crushed tomatoes, a hefty pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper.
Kindly give it a stir or two, turn all the way down low and simmer that sucker for a nice long time. Basically, until you’re ready to eat it. For us, that was like, 5 hours from this point. Eh. Seriously, the longer the better.
Ok, back to the noodles.
Flour a nice big clean surface in your kitchen and roll that dough out with a rolling pin. Roll it until you think you can’t roll it any more. It needs to be paper thin. Toss it over, roll it. Turn it, roll it. Keep that surface floured, as you really, really don’t want any sticking.
Then, this is the best part. Using a pizza dough cutter or pasta cutter if you have one, start cutting strips of pasta. As thin as you can.
My routine is this : 10 cuts at a time. Peel them up, hang them. 10 more cuts. Repeat.
If you’re only cooking for two and can get some water boiling in a timely manner, go ahead and throw those fresh noodles into some salted boiling water and cook them fresh.
But, if you’re cooking for an army, like me, you’ll need to hang them up so they dry out while you cut the rest.
My makeshift pasta hanger is a rack from the smoker tied to my cabinet with some fishing string. Sure, I could buy a pasta drying rack. But who has the $35 to do that? I’d rather spend my money elsewhere. Like on groceries so I can make even more homemade pasta. Again. Tomorrow.
Let them hang until you’re 5 minutes from chow time. Then throw them in a very large pot of rolling boiling salted water and cook quick, like 2-3 minutes. Drain. Toss with dried basil and parsley and olive oil (or butter, if you’re doing a white/cream based sauce).
Top each helping with a generous helping of Bolognese sauce, some fresh parmesan cheese (please, don’t use the pre-grated stuff – over priced and so gross).
Want to get really fancy and impress people? If you can stand it, drizzle some heavy cream over each serving. Just enough to add some dimension to your dish. It will lighten your sauce’s color just a tad, and add a creamy, full bodied flavor.
Now, if you’re really on top of your game, top with some freshly roasted cherry tomatoes. Or sundried if you’re grasping things from your fridge. But the roasted ones are like candy, and can really, really make an impression. #justsaying
Serve with fresh sourdough bread if you also have the time (years) to make a nice crusty loaf of that.
Most important – please serve with a dry red wine. It makes the flavor of this Bolognese over the top good, and more points if you can find a dry red wine that’s also full bodied. Like Hess or Noble Vines. They paired perfectly last night. Don’t do the fruity stuff. Keep it Italian, kids.
Do y'all think I should post more recipes? I mean, I cook (basically from scratch) every night and make up things as I go. Should I share?
Hope you guys had as good a Saturday as we did. Eat well, drink well, and good luck coordinating schedules. Sheez.